Last Five Bullets

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Prologue – One Shot to Save a Life

Strange things happen, but I don’t think my life will ever get stranger from here. I got an email from the Curaga Company. They wanted my services as a bodyguard and I agreed, but when I met them, they offered me a different kind of bodyguard job.

They told me they wanted me to, “Be part of the security team that’s escorting part of our next big cure.”

The Curaga Company is known for curing most forms of cancer and other life-ending diseases. They apparently have one part of the cure to a disease they couldn’t disclose to me.

After some explaining, they said, “Do this for us and we’ll be able to cure your daughter of her disease that is thought to be incurable.”

“What? Really?”

“Yes.”

My life has been a series of terrible events until it culminated with the disease that put my daughter in the hospital. I’ve just been working guard jobs to keep myself and my daughter alive as long as possible.

“Why would you want to hire a nobody like me?”

“Because we are impressed by your devotion to your job. Let’s go over a few that sparked our interest the most. When you caught a criminal speeding, you knew that that criminal was part of a protected class of people, but you still defended yourself from him, shot him, and arrested him at the cost of your job as a police officer.”

“You find that particular action impressive? What if I find something I don’t like and think I should bring you to justice?”

“We are confident that we do no wrong. We aren’t some comical corporation of villains who conduct human experiments and make bioweapons. Now, the next thing was when you shot and killed various members of the mafia that owned the club you were a guard of. The report gives us the impression that you didn’t know who truly ran the club, so we’ll shrug off the fact that you were working for them.”

“You will? I took a lot of flak from not realizing it for the first week that I worked there.”

“You freed many women from prostitution. We will. The last thing that you may not want to be reminded of is-”

“I’m sorry, but if this is what I think it is…”

“We’ll keep the details to a minimum. You saved dozens upon dozens of people first before you went to save your family. Unfortunately, the only member of your family you saved was your daughter, so everyone else perished.”

“…”

“We’re sorry we had to remind you of that but remember the integrity that you have. It’s what makes you an unappreciated hero in the eyes of many and a dedicated worker. Do not think for a moment that you did the wrong thing by saving those other people first. If you just saved your family, so many more people would be dead and I’m sure your family and others would have a negative view of you. What credit is it to you if you love those who love you, am I right?”

“Yeah…I just don’t want to think about it.”

“So, what do you think? Will you accept our offer?”

“Everything you described before makes this job seem dangerous if you’re keeping it a secret. What will you do if I don’t come back?”

“If someone from your team comes back with the cure, we will cure your daughter for you as a sign of respect. If no one comes back with the cure, then we will release your daughter from the vegetative-like state she is in so she will join you in the afterlife. How does that sound?”

“I guess she doesn’t have any other options. I’ll take the job.”

“Very wise choice, Mr. Retto.”

I was then briefed on what we’re going to do, how we are going to do it, and the plans if things go south. I am given a hazmat suit with body armor and a special pistol that has “fire” bullets as they call them. They are better than normal bullets because they can penetrate harder surfaces and cure people who get infected with the cure we’re after. Apparently, when only one half of the cure is used on an animal, it mutates into a flesh-eating beast that can only be killed with fire or these kinds of bullets. I’m also given a heated knife that will burn the infected, I’m not sure if it’ll be too useful. Regular firearms don’t work on an infect animal as the animal will seemingly grow whatever got blown off in a mutated way that makes them more dangerous.

I’ve seen the videos of this, and man were they horrifying. I hope things don’t turn out that way.

“Hey, Mr. Retto,” a man on the helicopter says to me, “You’ve been staring into space for the past hour. You nearly look dead. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Good because we’re almost there so get ready.”

“Right.”

I look at the picture of my daughter one more time before we land.

“Don’t worry, sir. You’ll see her again.”

“I hope so.”

We’ve landed in a large cavern underneath a waterfall. This place must be extremely top secret for them to hide it like this. The inside of the facility looks incredibly slick and futuristic. There are a lot of experimental rooms that don’t look too bad, but there are rooms with dead mutated animals like the ones I saw from the videos. Those things better stay dead.

The people around us don’t look happy. Some are whispering to each other while the others look frightened. In the briefing, I heard that most of these people are just a hired third party with Curaga members mixed in. I don’t think I’m allowed to talk to any of them nor am I allowed to voice my concerns to my teammates. All I can do is just walk a little faster to get this over with quicker.

We enter a cold storage room with a few scientists in it.

The team leader steps forward and says, “We’re here to collect the other half of the cure. Give us what you have, and you will receive your agreed upon payment in full.”

There’s an uncomfortable silence in the room.

“We decline your payment. It’s not worth it.”

“Then hand over all the research that you have the cure.”

“I don’t think so.”

The scientists pull out guns, but we shoot them dead. I’m sorry it had to be this way. Why did they resist? I’m sure they were paid well to do something worthwhile.

“Hurry and collect the cure.”

“There’s empty slots over here. Are we expecting a certain amount?”

“No, just whatever they have will be useful.”

We take all the vials of the cure, put them in a box, and leave the room as if nothing happened. An alarm then gets rung as wild animals start devouring people. Damn these people! I guess we know where the other vials went. Why couldn’t they make it easy for us?! We use our special ammo on these creatures to kill them, but we waste a few since they’re so fast. Those who were killed reanimate themselves and become the living dead. What the hell is going on? Why are people becoming zombies?

My team is dying around me and turning. I knew something would go wrong and this job would end up turning on me! It’s just the climax to all the bad things that have been happening to me.

“AAAAHHHH!”

These things hit with the force of a sledgehammer. Oh no…

“AAAH!!”

Uhhh…Something hit me with this claw arms and knocked me into a wall. Wait…I’m still alive? Where is everyone? Where did all those zombies go? This place is a mess with blood everywhere, but no bodies or torn flesh anywhere. They do regenerate flesh, so I guess it just collects goes back where it came from. Those things are bound to be around here somewhere, so maybe there are some notes around here that can help me. Ah, I found them near the testing area.

Okay, so the flesh does form together once it’s broken off while regenerating what was lost. That means a huge monster formed of flesh and dangerous appendages could be made if enough flesh is collected together. That better not have happened yet. Oh, there’s also a note in here that says conscious prey is preferred over unconscious victims by the virus. The other people must’ve gotten out somehow if the zombies just left me.

Oh, damn, I almost forgot the other half of the “cure”. Some of the vials are broken, some are missing, but I do find one that’s still intact. This is my daughter’s ticket to being saved. Now I have to find a way out of here. Thankfully this place is straightforward, but I don’t like how quiet and dark it is. It feels like something will jump at me any second. The random sparks and noises have me on edge.

After following the path forward, I find a large set of stairs near a broken elevator. I guess I have to climb the stairs. It appears that people were fighting and dying as they were trying to escape. Wow, this is a lot of stairs. Where is it taking me…oh no. I’m in a town. This is a town that we passed by on the way here. I didn’t think the facility would have an exit to here. I’m in some kind of mechanic’s shop.

Looking out into the streets, I see that it’s littered with zombies and other mutants who are wandering around looking for their next meal. I have to get through them and find a way out of here. I take out my daughter’s head bow and put it on my arm. One of the last things she did for me while she was still mostly conscious was to give me her favorite head bow as a way of her to always be with me. I only have five bullets left to use with my knife being a somewhat useless backup. Your dad is going to help you and I’m going to do risk everything I have to get this cure to you. I promise. I’m going to need you to help me, sweetie.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1 – Five Bullets, Hundreds of Enemies

I need to reach Curaga to let them know I’m still alive and that I have the other half of the cure. The communication device on me is all static so I guess I have to reach a radio tower to enhance the signal. Luckily enough, there’s one in the distance. I just have to get there safely without attracting the attention of the hordes of flesh zombies. The flesh zombies are all congregating in the streets and appear to be combining together just by bumping into one another. This doesn’t appear to be deliberate, but this will be a problem if I don’t get out of here quick.

I look around the mechanic’s shop and find a door to the back alley. It’s empty back here and I find a fire exit above me. I use a nearby garbage can to climb my way up to the rooftops. The situation looks way worse up here with most of the streets crowded with flesh zombies. The town doesn’t look that big from where I am. I wonder if anyone is still alive.

While traveling across the rooftops, I do see people trying to fight. They appear to know that these zombies can regenerate, and that fire is the only way to kill them as they’re using sticks with fire on it. They appear to be holding their own so if I interfere, they will probably die, but I have no idea how they’re going to survive. I’m not even sure if Curaga want them to survive. There’s nothing that connects them to the infection except the hidden lab, but no one is going to find it unless they know where it is and unless they can completely burn this town to ashes.

The zombies haven’t noticed me, but I’ve seen them on the rooftops. It looks like they can crawl and climb relatively quickly though I don’t know why I haven’t gotten their attention yet. I know sound and smells have something to do with it. Maybe it’s because they seem to be focused on fusing with one another. They appear to know that fusing makes them stronger. I see two trying to break into a store. They meld together with each other to finally break down the door then turn around to meld with a few others before going into the store. That place better be empty.

Some of the zombies that have noticed me are a pain to deal with since I have so little that’s effective in dealing with them. I throw whatever I find on the roof at them and sometimes light things on fire with the heat from my knife to keep them away. This is already turning into a big problem especially since I’m so close to the radio tower. Hold on. It might not be. I see a bar not too far from here. I quickly get to it and start making as many molotov cocktails as I can. This place looks like it was a hideout before it was overrun. Who would want to make this place their hideout? It looks like they escaped out a secret exit behind the bar, which is where I’m going because the zombies are coming in.

Before leaving, I make sure the bar is set ablaze so the town can catch fire. The zombies won’t react to the fire until they feel its heat and by the time that happens, they all should be spreading the fire to one another. Now that I’m out of the bar, I sparingly use my molotovs on the crowds of zombies around me so they’re pre-occupied as I get to the radio tower. Once I reach the tower, I’ve used up all of my molotovs. I could only make so many in the time that I had. Damn. I can see in the distance that the bar collapsed on itself and some of the zombies are sacrificing themselves to put out the fire. At least there aren’t any zombies around here and I should have enough time to ask questions.

I link up my radio to the radio tower and call to Curaga, “Come in command. This is Retto. I’m-”

“We know you’re still alive, and we’re glad because of it.”

“What? How do you know?”

“The armor and equipment we gave you tell us your status and health. I guess that got brushed over in the briefing.”

“I’m not even going to question how, but what I’m going to need extraction. Several workers of yours didn’t want to give up half of the cure and-”

“We know what happened. The cameras there link directly back to our main headquarters.”

“Why didn’t they want to give us the other half of the cure?”

“It’s because they didn’t like the fact that they could only make it with our funding and that they won’t the major credit. It’s a thing of pride really. We are the leader in medical advances and the biggest in the business for a reason. Most other companies partner up with us nowadays just for a chance to be noticed and profit.”

“Having a monopoly isn’t as fun as it sounds, is it?”

“It’s not our fault most of the customers and governments in the world decided to choose us for all their medical needs. Well, maybe it’s partially our fault. We’re highly charitable to the world and our workers, and it seems that it was our downfall for this event, but you can change that if you bring us the cure. You can still save your daughter. We already have a helicopter going to the roof of the police station, which is the safest part of town that the helicopter can land on. Be quick about getting there. From what we see from our satellites is that the flesh is growing at a rapid rate, despite your efforts, and will soon overtake the town.”

“What about any survivors?”

“If there are any, you must make them escape on their own if you want to save them. They cannot escape with you because they may exaggerate what happened here and put all the blame on us. Finding evidence to prove our innocence will be difficult with how things are. Besides our recording of the recent event, we have no other evidence for our case. The traitors must’ve done all their planning outside of our facilities so that it looks like we are at fault for this outbreak.”

“Are you sure about the survivors? It doesn’t look like there’s any way to escape by vehicle or on foot. Do you really think that they’ll just blame the outbreak on you and not take us on our word?”

“Unfortunately, it’s the way things are going to have to be. This outbreak is the reason their home is destroyed. It is not likely that they will cooperate with us. Mr. Retto, you must be getting to the extraction point now. The helicopter is quickly approaching and once it lands, it cannot wait for long because of the dangers in the town. Good luck and Godspeed.”

I guess that’s the way things are going to have to be. The police station isn’t that far from here but getting there is another story. What am I going to do? What the? An explosion went off on one side of town. It looks like it took half the block with it. There’s my chance to move. I’m hoping what caused the explosion isn’t what I think it was because I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with it. Before going, I take one look at a picture of my daughter to give me strength then head out.

The now barren streets where the zombies once were are covered in blood without one piece of bone or flesh in sight. It looks like the explosion that gathered them together may prove to be a problem. Thankfully I find a nearby gun store. There should be something here I can use to keep the zombies at bay even if it isn’t that effective. Maybe there are some grenades I could use? Please?

Oh no. A group of four people come into the gun shop. We point our guns at each other.

“Who are you?” a slender man who looks like a gambler says.

“I’m just a survivor like you.”

“Really? Because I’ve never seen anyone wear anything that you do.”

“We don’t have time to interrogate him,” the teenaged girl says, “Are you going to let us take what we need from this shop or not?”

“You can have whatever you want as long as I take what I need.”

“Deal.”

I slowly lower my weapon first as the other four lower theirs. They then look through the shop while I go back to looking for explosives.

“What’s your plan, mister?” the teenaged girl asks me.

“I’m going to the police station then getting out of here.”

“Huh. Do you have someone there waiting for you?”

“I’m meeting someone there, so yes.”

“What’s your name?”

“Call me, Mr. Morte.”

“I’m Clarrisa.”

“I thought you said we don’t have time to interrogate him.”

“Shut it, Tony. I can talk to him if I want to. Did you find what we need?”

“Not yet.”

“Then mind your own business. Don’t mind him, Mr. Morte. He hasn’t learned how to listen to his superiors yet because he’s a rookie.”

“You guys are cops?”

“Yeah, and I’m the daughter of the chief of police, so you know I’m tough.”

“I used to be an officer until I did my job as an officer and brought a person of a protected class to justice.”

“If you were an officer here, you wouldn’t have been fired. Heck, I’d say you be promoted to chief of police just for that one act. You can still be since my father recently died and the position’s open.”

“Thank you, but I have to decline. I have to get a job done first.”

“Suit yourself then. We can escort you to the station. Think of it as a favor from one officer to another.”

“I’m fine on my own. You need to get out of town before it’s too late. I’m sure you’ve seen the growing number of flesh zombies that are melding together to form one enormous freak of nature.”

“You call those things flesh zombies? We just call them the flesh.”

“Don’t ignore my point. I’m used to doing jobs on my own. You don’t need to worry about me.”

“Listen, old man. The place we’re going to is past the police station, and we’re going to need more weapons from the armory there, so we’re not bothering you if we tag along.”

She really wants to help even though she doesn’t know me. Her dad must’ve taught her well. I respect that, but I don’t want to be dishonest with her. I’ll have to make sure they leave before I’m picked up.

“If you’re going to be so persistent about it, then I guess I don’t have a choice. You can come along.”

“You got that right.”

Something in the corner of my eye catches my attention. It’s a flesh zombie that’s crawling on the glass outside of the gun store and it’s noticed us.

“Watch out!” I try to say as quickly as possible before the zombie attacks while pulling out a shotgun.

The zombie juts out its sharp bone-like tongue through the head of one of the cops. I shoot the zombie three times along with the other cops until the zombie is paste.

“Damn it!” Tony says as I gather my things.

I take out my knife, burn the remains of their friend, then burn the remains of the zombie.

“What are you doing?”

“These zombies come back to life and tougher if you don’t burn everything. Don’t you know that?”

“No. We’ve been surviving for a while and haven’t figured that out. How did you?”

“I pay more attention.”

Crowds of zombies start appearing around us.

“What the heck?” Clarrisa says as she readies her weapons, “I thought that explosion we made would’ve held their attention for longer.”

“I think we attract them more than sound.”

I take out the grenade launcher I found and start blowing up the nearby cars to start fires in the streets.

“Let’s hurry!” I say as I run through an alley, which is the only area without zombies.

I’m glad and terrified at the same time that I have help with me. What am I going to do to save their lives while also keeping my secret? I’m going to have to come up with an answer soon, and I already know that it’s going to be difficult.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – A Biohazardous Residence

How many people live in this town? These streets are swarming with flesh zombies. I’ve been following Clarissa to get to the police station, but every place we go seems to be crowded with the undead.

“Let’s take a shortcut through the grand hotel,” Clarissa says as she points at the large hotel in front of us.

Since I don’t know any other better ways, I follow her into the hotel where we sit down and take a breather. This place has been boarded up and reinforced with furniture in certain entrances, so someone was definitely here. The lights aren’t on, so I’m assuming this place doesn’t have any power. There are signs of fighting with blood in certain places but no bodies, which is worrying. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to see dead bodies as much as I wanted to in my life before.

“We should get moving. Those things will be melding with one another to break down the doors and I don’t want to be around to see that abomination,” I say as I get up.

“He’s right. Let’s move,” Clarrisa says as she follows after me.

“Do you know the way out of here to get to the station?”

“Yeah. It’s a straightforward path.”

“It doesn’t look like it’ll be with all of the junk in the hallways.”

“I can find a way around it. My friends and I always used to play hide and seek in this place when we were kids, so I know this place inside and out. I even know the little secret areas like the ones where the janitors kept their pinups of women. There was one photo that I found that was a ‘questionable’ photo let’s say of one of the employees.”

“That’s good to know.”

“So how did a cop like you get a job that landed you in our humble little town?”

“I got an email then traveled down here for the job. It’s not an exciting story.”

“What job did you get?”

“Guard duty.”

“For who?”

“Why does it matter, and why do you keep asking?”

“There’s no reason to keep quiet because those things know where we are, and I’d like to know more about you since you seem to be an interesting fella.”

We hear noises that sound like walking that makes us jump.

“You two can flirt later. Guns up,” Tony says.

We get closer to the noises until we see what’s causing it. Apparently, someone left a birdcage near a barricade and it’s been knocking down some of the luggage that’s blocking the hallway. We let out a sigh of relief.

“We should take this little guy with us. He could warn us when danger arrives.,” Clarrisa says as she grabs the bird’s cage.

“Why do you even ask when you just do it?” Tony asks.

“Who said I asked?”

We then enter a large dining hall with various kinds of supplies in it. Gas, food, makeshift weapons, and some guns are strewn about everywhere. It looks like the people here left in a hurry and took what they could. They didn’t leave any explosives, but the gas will be useful when the zombies get in. Tony and the other guy are eating what they can while Clarrisa is feeding the bird and herself.

“Do you want something, Mr. Morte? This may be your only chance to eat something,” Clarrisa says to me.

“I’m good.”

Even though I am hungry, I probably shouldn’t show them my face.

“What? Don’t want to show us your face or are you trying to be a big man?”

“No, I’m just not hungry. Besides, we can’t sit down for long.”

“You can’t take a quick bit of something? Maybe you’re wearing that gas mask for some other reason we don’t know.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Do you think the air is infected?”

“I don’t think it is.”

Curaga never mentioned part of the cure affecting the air, so it shouldn’t be airborne in any way. Clarrisa walks over to me and stares me down with a smile.

“Stop messing around,” Tony says.

“Shut up,” Clarrisa commands him.

“If Morte wants to keep his secrets, let him. We’re going to leave him soon anyway.”

“His secrets are why I want to know more about him.” Clarrisa starts to take off my mask, but I grab her hand. She then pulls her pistol on me. “If you don’t let me see your face, then I will show you that the flesh will be the least of your worries.”

Not wanting to cause any trouble, I let her take off my mask. Everyone looks at me, including the bird for some reason.

“Do you know him? Because I sure as hell don’t,” Tony says.

“No, I don’t. He does look handsome for an old man though,” Clarissa says while putting my mask back on.

Thank you, God, no one knows who I am.

“I’m flattered, now can you stop messing around?”

“What? Don’t like a pretty girl getting close to you?”

The bird starts flying around in its cage seconds before a loud bang is made outside the hall. They’re in. Heavy footsteps walk through the hallway and stop outside the hall. We all have our guns up as we stand in the center of the room in case we get flanked from behind. The footsteps then cease for a couple seconds before what’s making them breaks through the wall.

It’s a large zombie with bones around every part of its body except for the bottom part of its face and its chest. We open fire on the creature as it charges at us. Bullets don’t slow it down, and I’ve already run out of grenade launcher ammo, so we dodge out of the way. It appears that it’s down for now as it’s slumped on the corner of the wall. I have to burn this thing somehow before it comes back worse than before.

“It’s not going to be dead for long. Help me burn it. Let’s move!” I say as I quickly run over to it.

First, I try to move the thing so that I can burn its flesh since its bone burns, but the fire isn’t burning through it, and the damn thing is too heavy. Even with the help of the other three, we can’t move the hulking monster.

“There’s only one option if we want to prevent this thing from coming back,” I say to the three, “We have to light up the wall this thing is on with gas, but the fire will probably light the rest of this place, and I doubt the sprinklers are working.”

“It’s really going to be like that, huh?” Tony asks as he flips open his lighter.

“That’s what it’s going to have to be,” Clarrisa says as she pours the gas on the monster.

After Clarrisa is finished pouring the gas, I light it on fire, and I quickly follow her out of the room. More sounds that sound like the zombies breaking in are made around the hotel. I make a short line from the gas can I have to the rest in the hall and light it on fire.

“Move! Move!” I say as the hotel begins to burn.

Clarrisa leads us through the halls of the hotel, some of which are blocked. The zombies start breaking through the ceilings and walls with some of them armored with bone, others have nothing but sharp bones on their bodies, and some are just half heads with mouths for bodies. We shoot these zombies or run away if we can. Suddenly, the hotel shakes as a loud noise is made.

“What was that?!” Tony frantically asks.

“It doesn’t matter. Keep moving!” I say as I keep running.

The zombie horde keeps breaking into the hotel and we keep mowing through them until we reach a dead end.

“Clarrisa?”

“This is the only other way out!”

“Maybe there’s another way.”

The wall behind us is broken down by a massive monster made of flesh. It’s a mess of faces, bones, eyes, teeth, mouths, arms, legs, and other body parts are all together in a mesh of horror. Without saying anything, Tony and I start firing at the atrocity with everything we got while Clarrisa and the other guy start taking out the luggage and tables from the barricade. I don’t think my fire bullets will do anything, so my trump card is out the window. Shooting its eyes, inside its mouth, and its appendages slows it down a bit, but it isn’t slowing down as much as I want it to.

Our backs are almost against the wall, so I start helping clear the barricade by throwing the luggage into the atrocity’s mouth, which actually chokes it up a bit. No wonder why it shoved it aside. I didn’t think it mattered, but once all of its mouths are full, it doesn’t matter anymore. Thankfully, the way is clear now to an exit without a door, so we just run through it, but the other guy who I don’t know is taken in by one of its tendrils and eaten whole. We shouldn’t have stopped firing at it. There’s nothing we can do for him, so I push Tony and Clarrisa outside and away from the hotel.

“I’m sorry, but he’s gone,” I say to them.

“It’s still coming after us!” Clarrisa says as she points at it.

That thing is larger than I think because it’s leaking out of all the floors of the hotel. Dammit! Is this thing made of all the zombies in the town?! The three of us shoot at it to slow it down as we back away. The good news is that the building is burning, which is probably one of the reasons why it was coming at us so fast. I look around for something to help us and see a gas station behind us.

I tell the two, “There’s a gas station behind us. We can use the gas there to make the fire spread faster!”

“I’ll get the gas! Hold it off!” Tony says as he runs to the gas station.

Clarrisa and I hold off the atrocity as it tries to stab and grab us with its long tendrils. The fire is making it weaker, but it’s still putting up quite a fight with all the appendages it has. It’s like the hotel itself is the monster. Tony comes back with four canisters of gas, but the atrocity catches him.

“Tony!” Clarissa yells out.

“Don’t worry, chief! I got this!”

Tony pour the gas on the atrocity and himself and lights both of them on fire. Tony is screaming out in agonizing pain, but I can tell he is satisfied with his decision with a small smirk on his burning face. The atrocity doesn’t appear to be dead, but at least it isn’t moving towards us anymore.

Clarrisa is crying for her friend, so I try to comfort her by putting my hand on her shoulder while saying, “He’s a hero, Clarrisa.”

“And I’m proud of him. For a rookie, you knew what to do when faced with a difficult decision. Now…you’re going to take me with you.”

“What? No. You don’t want to be with me. I’ll just be slowing you down since I have to wait at the station.”

“My plan was to escape with those two but you’re the only one I can go with now.”

“I’m not escaping until I need to do what I need to at the police station. Just find a car and escape with it without me. There shouldn’t be many more zombies in the town so you should have a clear shot out of here.”

“I’m not leaving without you. I’m the only cop left in this town and I’m not going to leave another one to die. You’re taking me with you and that’s it.”

“…Fine.”

“Good. I knew you’d see it my way.”

Clarrisa and I walk to the police station, which I see in the distance. The streets are empty, and the danger appears to have diminished, but what am I going to do with Clarrisa?

 

 

Chapter 3 – Chekhov’s Gun

We’re almost to the police station and there hasn’t been one single flesh zombie in sight. This feels so wrong compared to before where I couldn’t look in a single direction without seeing one of those things, but the town seems completely empty now. It makes sense because of what we just fought though it feels like there should be more. This makes things difficult for me in how I need to get rid of her. I’m hoping that either the people in the helicopter or in Curaga will change their mind if I can convince them that she can come with me. They must have seen what happened. They must know that she can be useful.

She’s sticking close to me while looking around and looking down at the ground every few seconds. Poor girl just lost her home and everyone she knew. There has to be something I can do.

“We’re here,” Clarrisa says as we arrive at the front of the police station.

This place isn’t heavily barricaded so it’s easy to slip into. The inside of the station barely has any blood in it and the place is mostly clean with a few things lying around as if someone was trying to leave after a normal Friday and they just wanted to go home. We pass by the armory and find that most of the guns are gone, but we do find some ammo and leftover grenades.

“We should take these just in case,” I say.

“You don’t think there are more out there, do you?”

“Better to be safe than sorry.”

“My dad always said that. He always warned me not to get into danger unless I knew I could get out.”

“He’s a smart man. I told my own daughter something similar.”

“You have a daughter?”

“Yeah. She has an incurable disease.”

“Is this job to help her?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I have a feeling you know more about this outbreak of flesh zombies than you let on. Is it true?”

Why does she really have to ask me this now?

She continues, “I know you’re an experienced officer, so you must be trained in knowing when someone’s lying, but that also must mean you know how to lie. You’ve been leaving just enough details in what you say and enough honesty in your voice to convince me that you’re an honest man, so be honest with me.”

“Your dad taught you how to be a good cop. I’m sure he’s proud of you.”

“Dad didn’t raise his daughter to be an airhead. Give me an honest answer.”

“The honest truth is that I was sent here to retrieve part of a cure that caused this outbreak, but the people who worked with us rebelled because they wanted the credit and fame for themselves. The cure itself can cure millions of people including my daughter, but when it’s separate, it’s deadly. Don’t blame the cure makers. Just blame the selfish pricks who didn’t want to cooperate because they weren’t going to get the credit they wanted.”

“Can you tell me who you work for?”

“You can figure that out on your own. A helicopter is coming here to pick me up with half the cure, but they don’t want anyone coming with me because they don’t trust you. That’s why you have to escape on your own.”

“They’re not much of a company that wants to help people if they want to leave me for dead.”

“They don’t want you dead. They just would rather you didn’t know who they were because you might not understand that it wasn’t their fault.”

“If that’s the way it’s going to be, then I will figure it out on my own.”

“I know you will. Now, go get a vehicle and leave.”

“Fine.”

Clarrisa leaves with her weapons. She’s going to find the answers she wants or Curaga is going to find her. I just know it. I hope they don’t do anything bad…oh no.

“Watch out!”

A large tendril is about to hit Clarrisa through a window, so I push her out of the way before it hits her.

“Clarrisa!”

“I’m okay!”

“Get out of here! Hurry!”

“How about you follow your own advice, old man?!”

Right. I head up the stairs as tendrils begin to pierce through them. Is that atrocity from before still alive or is this a different one? Whatever the answer is, I’m sure I’ll find out soon. When I get up to the roof, I look into the distance to see my helicopter, but when I look off one ledge I almost get hit with a tendril. I throw a few grenades I have off the ledge and after they all blow up, I slowly approach the ledge and look down to see a mess of burnt flesh, body parts, faces, and mouths. It’s definitely the same atrocity as before, but it’s smaller now and looks as if it cut off part of itself. Maybe it knew to do that so it could survive. There’s some kind of heart or core in the center of the mess that has veins connecting it together. I shoot at it and nothing happens. Even my last couple grenades don’t do anything.

Suddenly, I hear my helicopter and before I know it, it’s landing on the roof. When I look back down, I see that the atrocity is regenerating. My fire bullets are probably the only good weapon I can use. I then see a police car driving away. She finally gets out, but the atrocity gets up and runs with its many legs after Clarrisa. My normal bullets don’t do anything on the charred legs and body, and it’s already too far for my pistol shots to hit it. Damn it!

“Get in the chopper already!” I hear someone from the helicopter say.

I can’t do anything to help her now. Unless…

I get into the helicopter and tell the pilot, “Chase after that police car! That officer needs help!”

“Okay, but we aren’t stopping. Use the turret if you really want to do some real damage.”

I quickly get to the turret and unload whatever I can as we fly over Clarrisa, but I can only land so many shots that slow the atrocity down by a little. If only I had used my fire bullets on the core when I had the shot, then she wouldn’t have had any trouble escaping. It sounds like she’s taking sharp turns as she tries to dodge the atrocity. It’s on her tail. Come on Clarrisa…

“You still have half the cure, right?” the pilot asks.

“I got it.”

“It’s amazing that you survived. I heard that it was Hell on earth down there.”

“It was. I got out by the skin of my teeth thanks to a group of cops.”

“Is that who was in that car?”

“Yeah. There’s only one of them that survived.”

“That’s tough. They’re going to have a slim chance of survival especially with what’s coming next.”

“What do you mean?”

“They didn’t tell you? Here, use this comm device to ask them.”

The pilot gives me a communication device and I say into it, “This is Retto. I’m aboard the helicopter a-”

“We’re so glad you escaped, Mr. Retto. We knew we could rely on you. You’re just in time as well.”

“In time for what?”

“We were going to tell you, but we thought you already had so much rushing you that we thought it was better not to tell you about the nuke coming in.”

“Nuke?!”

“That’s the only way to truly clean the city. Any other way would just risk another outbreak.”

“Delay it! I rescued an officer who is trying to avoid an abomination of flesh while trying to escape.”

“Then we can only pray and hope that the officer escapes. We cannot call off the nuke especially since we’ve already pulled so many strings to get it deployed in the first place.”

I hit the side of the helicopter.

“Damn it! I should’ve brought her with me. If you only let me bring her with me-”

“Then you would’ve been in greater danger. We don’t believe in the exchange of lives, but you must think about the lives that will be saved with what you have. Don’t worry about the woman. If you think she is capable, she will escape.”

“Tch.”

“We will be seeing you soon with your reward, Mr. Retto, and don’t look directly into the explosion of the nuke, otherwise, you’ll be blinded.”

“Thanks for the tip.”

About thirty seconds pass before the town is nuked. I look at the aftermath and see that everything around the town is destroyed too. I guess the explosion had to be massive in order to destroy any infected creatures that might’ve wandered out of the town. Clarrisa is a smart girl, but I don’t know if she made it. If she did die…I don’t know. I can’t let myself worry about it now.

In the following days, my daughter is cured and is now perfectly healthy along with millions of other people. Even though I didn’t help in making the cure, my name is included with the others who did make it, which has given me some fame in the industry and government. I’m also set for life with the amount of money that Curaga has given me along with free healthcare, which is a nice bonus, however, I can’t get the events I went through out of my head.

My daughter and I now live in a nice small house for the two of us filled with all the things she wants. Pictures of my family, accomplishments, and all her toys and dolls in shelves for everyone to see. I don’t care for the look of the house, but I put my foot down when she suggests things such as putting up purple, red, and pink curtains all over the house to make it look fancier. My daughter goes to a special school to catch up on what she missed, and she’s doing well. I didn’t expect anything less from my daughter.

Speaking about daughters, Clarrisa is still on my mind. My daughter keeps reminding me of her because she wants to be an officer like me and acts tough and asks questions like how Clarrisa did. It may just be me being too hard on myself, but I could’ve saved more people if I actually used my fire bullets. I didn’t because I was afraid of exposing myself and risking my daughter’s life. Sure, the lives of millions of others were at stake, but in my mind, if I can’t save a single life, then I can’t save anyone. I’ve talked to psychiatrists at Curaga and they’ve told me to be easier on myself and the priests I see tell me the same. I guess I should just let it go, but I feel like I’m turning my back on my calling since I do nothing nowadays besides reading theology and philosophy books, instead of looking for guard jobs or at least trying to get back into law enforcement.

On one normal day, I get a knock at the door. A man dressed in a casual suit greets me and says, “We at Curaga have uses for your skills again if you wish to aid in the saving of more lives. What do you say, Mr. Retto?”

We talk about the pay and who will take care of my daughter then I say, “I accept, but please, call me Mr. Morte.”

 

The End

Albert Oon’s 100th book – Trapped Body and Soul in a Video Game Sequel

Download for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/942215

 

Tutorial – New Game, New Genre, New Challenges

This is a game where you can only die once.  You only have one life. Once you’re dead, that’s it so I have to make every move I make count. This is a battle royale and I’m on a team with my best friend and my wife. When we get dropped into the battle zone, we try to wait in the helicopters as long as we can while the air is being lit up with heavy artillery fire. The further in we go, the better chances we have at getting better gear.

A helicopter just got shot out of the sky, so we take that as our hint to jump. Our helicopter gets shot out of the sky as we exit it and we get blown in different directions into the burning and destroyed war zone below. We try to regroup in the sky, but the artillery fire prevents that. The artillery is so heavy in this area that I see and hear people being shot out of the sky. I open my parachute to land safely, however, my parachute gets shot and I crash through a roof. I’ve lost half my health, so I need healing items fast before anyone finds me. Lucky for me, I find some in a nearby turned over medical truck. Now to find my teammates and a good weapon.

My wife is the closest, so I go to her location first. I can see her on my digital map that I carry around along with my best friend.  I can’t see anyone else until they start a fight with one of us. Ah crap, speaking of that, my wife is in a gunfight with a team of four. I have to get there fast. I’m weak since I’m a low level, but I am prestiged, so I do have my experience. When I get to the location, my wife is already dead. She’s taken out all but one of them who is currently arming himself to the teeth and organizing his inventory. Damn it. I thought we would make it to the end together, but I can’t cry over it now. I’ve taken cover in a small house. My luck hasn’t been good since I haven’t been able to find a weapon, but maybe my luck has changed.

These developers are crafty, so maybe I can find a secret weapon somewhere. Maybe it’s in this toilet? I have no other option, so I reach my hand into the depths of the murky toilet and pull out a special sniper rifle. It only has one shot in it, but it can hit anything and kill anyone in one shot. This is perfect. I position myself near the window and aim. Smile you, cunt. That’s right. That’s what you get for teaming up on a woman like her. Wow, she really gave them hell. All the armor they have are mostly broken and so are the weapons. Apparently, she used a gun with a weapon breaking status effect. She was good, but she didn’t plan on me getting their gear later, which I don’t blame her for. Still, I wish I had something I could use.

Luck isn’t on my side as I go to the other side of the map to find my best friend. No weapons, no gear, no traps, no medical supplies, nothing. All I find is a single flash grenade. When I get to my best friend’s location, I find him dead with three other players picking over his stuff. I can’t believe my entire team is dead. I guess I’ll have to win this by myself. The barrier that brings all contestants together is quickly closing in. This barrier can kill you within a matter of minutes and since it’s close by, I throw a flash grenade at the three players before booking it. I can hear them scream profanities at me as they die. Sorry, but that’s what you get when you mess with mine and me.

I don’t have much time to search around so I hope this next house I’m at has something. Oh, I think I found something use-ah damn it. It’s a powerful full-auto assault rifle modeled after an old M14. It can cut through armor and people like butter, but I’m stuck holding it up until I run out of ammo. The clip has thirty bullets in it, which is good for one and a half kill. After I run out of ammo, the gun is useless and can be loaded with any kind of ammo. I’ll have to be in a tight pinch for it to be useful in any capacity. Since I wasted so much time running around, I can’t look through any other place for gear, guns, or anything else to help me. There are only ten people left alive. There were a little over one hundred to begin with. It’s amazing how people will kill so many others to win.

The barrier will close us in on one location called Der Untoten. It reminds me of a zombies map from an old video game. I heard that this place is inspired by it and it’s updated for today’s standards. There’s a mine below the house that I use to enter it. Even though the barrier is close to the house, I don’t hear anyone walking around in here. I start to look through the house and the house barely looks like what it was inspired by. It’s more of an old dusty house than the bunker it’s inspired by.

Finally, I find a real gun in the house’s attic. It’s the KAP-4500, an automatic pistol inspired by the franchise that this house is inspired by. The gun itself is powerful, but I only have one fully loaded clip inside with two spare ones. There are ten other people left and it takes a little more than half a clip each to kill one. Fuck my life. The only thing that’s good about this special version of the gun is that people don’t know they’re being shot by my gun until they’re dead. They don’t hear the gun being shot nor do they see it firing nor do they feel or see the damage they are receiving until they die. It’d be good if I had something better to compliment it than my rifle. Ah! I hear people walking downstairs.

I slowly and I mean SLOWLY descend the stares with my only means of self-defense. I point the gun in all directions while walking then spastically look around when I take a step on the lower floor. Damn it. Being scared like this isn’t going to help. I loosen up my shoulders before heading into a sort of dining hall. There’s a large glass chandelier in the center of the room and stairs that lead down to a small glass table with fancy wooden chairs. My luck is bad again as I don’t find anything down here-! I point my gun at four people who casually enter the room. They’re better armed and geared up than I am. Wow, and they’re wearing anime type outfits and they modeled themselves after them too. What a bunch of weebos.

One of the boys speaks up and says, “You don’t have to worry about us. We’re going to wait for everyone else to show up here before we act.”

I ask them, “Heh. You guys are pretty confident that you’ll win. Who else is on your team?”

“Do you know the winners of the last battle royale?”

“What a team to be on.”

The team laughs. They then casually hang around the stairs even though I could kill them all, so I might as well. First, I take out the girl closest to me then the boy next to him. They do say ladies first after all. Even though two of their teammates dropped within seconds of each other, the other two don’t fight back. They must know what I’m doing by now.

As I shoot down the second to last person, the last girl looks at me with a smile and says, “Our friends will win the competition for us. It doesn’t matter what you do because we’ll win in the end.”

Cheeky bitch. I gun her down with my last bullets. Okay, now these people have to have something I could-damn it! Yup. They weren’t lying. These two girls are the winners from the last battle royale. They’re decked out in advanced gear and weapons that make them look more like cyborgs than human. I thought I saw them get shot out of the sky, but I guess they really did land in the furthest drop zone with the best gear. Just like their friends, these girls are dressed up as anime characters. I back up the stairs as they slowly approach me.

“Give up. You don’t stand a chance against us,” one of the girls say.

“We can see what you have,” the other says, “You might be able to kill one of us before you die.”

Damn. That’s one of the perks of being one of the best of the best. They know what I have on me. Unfortunately, my prestige doesn’t give me an equally good ability. There’s only one thing I can do. I leap downstairs as they start firing at me. In the next room, I find three pens, two breakable and the other is unbreakable. They’re supposed to be used as distractions and not as real weapons. Whelp. I guess it’s better than nothing. I barge through the room and into the entrance.

“Woah!” a girl with boobs way too big says.

It’s probably a guy playing as a girl. I’m pretty sure a normal girl wouldn’t increase her boob size by two hundred percent. They are just way too big. Okay, I gotta focus. The rest of the people are here but are just resting here for some reason. Maybe they’re all a team? Whatever the case is, I run into the basement and into the mine.

“Hey, what’s going on with you two?” I hear a man say before he and everyone upstairs gets slaughtered.

I only have one shot at this. As I hear the two girls coming after me, I double back then get in between them. They take out their giant fist melee weapon and are about to hit me. This is it! I stab one breakable pen into one of their eyes and now they’re blinded. I then drop myself to the floor, so they hit each other. They’re stunned by the system and lay paralyzed on the floor. Friendly fire isn’t allowed and their weapons should stun them long enough for me to finish them.

One of them looks up and me and says, “How did you-?! You’re…?!”

“So you recognize me? I’m glad someone finally does.”

The other one says, “You’re Kaylen or Cazzuto Salvatori! You’re the Bloody Swordsman from Rule Humanity Online!”

“That’s right ladies.” I take out my unbreakable pen. “Unfortunately for you, I’ll have to sign my autograph all over you.”

“No, don’t! Don’t embarrass us like this!”

“I wish I didn’t too, but I don’t have any other weapon so…”

They scream in terror, “No! Stop! You’re a psycho!”

“Only idiots say video games make you psychotic. I’m sorry about this, but I’ll try to make this as quick as possible.”

I begin to quickly stab them with my pen while using my special skill, one million stabs. It’s one of the special perks I have. I think the move itself might also be a reference to another video game with the same move. My prestige as both an experienced player and survivor of the Rule Humanity Online incident has given me a ton of special skills when it comes to melee weapons. I manage to kill both girls with my pen within ten seconds. That should be it. The royale isn’t over yet? Oh? I hear someone upstairs.

“What happened?” a male player says, “Did you guys get him-?”

The man stares at me in shock in terror with my pen of terror.

I say in an attempted terrifying voice, “If you don’t want to end up like them, then I suggest killing yourself.”

“Ah!” the man turns his gun on himself and shoots.

I win. That’s it. After all of the struggling and close calls, I finally win the battle royale. I hope you’re proud of me Angel and Kerano. The game ends and I’m transported back to the main hub of the game where I’m greeted by a crowd of people who cheer for me. Angel and Kerano come out of the crowd to meet me.

“We’ve finally won! I knew you would clutch it!” Kerano says.

“You did great, Kaylen,” Angel says.

“Thanks, guys. It’s about time we won a battle royale in this game. It’s all thanks to my mindset going into it.”

“You treated it like an actual life or death game kind of like…”

I guess I was acting a bit overdramatic.

“Yeah,” I say, “Just like Rule Humanity Online, but that was three years ago, so let’s just leave it behind us, okay?”

“Right. So do you guys want to go spending all that money we just won? I’ve been dying to get new armor and equipment.”

“Yeah, let’s go. We still have an hour to kill before we have to pick up our kids from the daycare.”

This game, After the Fall, came out two years after the Rule Humanity Online incident, where all its players were trapped within it and forced to complete it lest they die of thirst or starvation. I was the one who beat the game alongside my friends. Unfortunately, the governments of the world didn’t catch the developers of the game, but that’s all behind us. This game is inspired by the lore of that previous game and makes it into a completely different game. Instead of a dark fantasy RPG, we’re playing a first-person shooter with role-playing elements in a sci-fi setting. It’s a great game that my friends and I have been playing for a while.

In this game, people can earn real money by winning tournaments, trading gear, helping others out, and even help repair the in-game systems from the inside. You can even bring your kids into the game and have them enrolled in a daycare where they can learn through games and make friends. Everything in here can make you a living. It’s honestly a paradise for gamers like me. This is how we make a living in a world where most low and middle tier paying jobs are mostly taken by androids and AI. College used to be the only (terrible) option, but now with this game, people who don’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars can work honest jobs while enjoying themselves in a virtual world. The only things we need to do IRL is to eat and go to the bathroom. We can even sleep in the game without any negative side effects. I don’t think anything can ruin this present time we’re living in though I feel like thinking this will immediately turn things sour.

We arrive at the daycare after shopping for better gear. A woman, who’s volunteering as the daycare worker seems distressed for some reason. I would be too if I had to work with kids all day, but I’m feeling worried as well because of her.

She turns to us with a makeshift smile and says, “Oh, uh. Hi, Kaylen and Angel. I was just looking for Allen. He seems to have wandered off again. I’m sorry.”

I tell her, “I don’t blame him. I used to wander around too when I was little because the world around me seemed so wonderful. I’m sure he’s even more excited than I was because of how this place looks.”

Angel says, “We’ll look around the city. He couldn’t have wandered far like always.”

“Thank you, and I’m sorry for this happening again.”

“It’s no big deal. We’ll be able to find him,” I say as Angel and Kerano go to search for my son.

Angel elbows me then says, “We should take some time off playing-”

“Working.”

“Whatever. We should spend another week or so with Allen. He’s still a growing boy who needs his parents’ attention and teaching.”

“Alright. I don’t have a problem with that.”

“You’d think we do because of how many times we leave him in the daycare.”

“I do the same with my daughter,” Kerano comments.

“But at least your wife spends more time with your daughter while you earn money for them,” Angel responds.

“You don’t have to pick up for me, Kerano. I understand. Being a father really makes me want to settle down somewhere and just spend the rest of my life with the people I care about. I just want to earn as much as possible to make that happen.”

“We have enough now to do that for a little while.”

“I just wish it could last a little longer.”

“Me too, Kaylen.”

The three of us search for a while, but can’t find Allen anywhere, which is strange. Usually, we find him within five minutes of searching. Huh? What’s happening? The sky just turned red. This reminds me of…Oh no. Someone appears on the monitors scattered around the city.

It’s a cloaked figure in a half human half skull mask. They say, “We’re glad that you’re enjoying our game. Now that you have enough experience playing it, we have a new challenge for everyone. Watch.”

The floating mountain from the first game that was once just an easter egg is now lit up and a bridge comes out of the ocean to connect this piece of land to it. Who is this person? They have a voice that sounds like a mix of female and male voices.

“Complete all of the challenges in the mountain along with various other challenges that will be clear to you later in time to free everyone from this game.”

Free? You don’t mean…I can’t log out. Everyone around us tries to and can’t manage to as well. This is just like before. The three of us look at each other.

“Don’t panic guys,” I say, “We beat a game like this last time, and we can do it again.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Kerano says.

“Yeah.”

I can tell they’re uneasy, but they try to put a strong face on.

“Kaylen,” the mysterious figure says.

“Huh? Are you talking to me?”

“I am. You were the winner of the last game, so you’ll probably make it far if not win the game again. I just want to give you some motivation so we can meet a bit faster.”

The mysterious figure spawns in-Allen! They put a pistol to his head. Don’t you-FUCKER!

“You son of a bitch! Do you think you can just shoot my son and think you can get away with it you piece of fucking shit?!”

“Motherfucker! You’re dead! I’m going to beat the shit out of you for doing that!” Angel screams at the figure.

“Calm down, Kaylen. All of you have three lives, but you can earn more if you complete impossible level challenges. You can even earn lives for your friends. If you lose all your lives, you will enter a coma until someone gives you a life. You have until you die of thirst or starvation in real life to complete the game, but knowing what happened last time, you’ll probably have all the time in the world. Good luck.”

That piece of shit is going to pay! I swear it.

“Oh, and Kaylen, here’s your son to show that’s there’s no bad blood between us.”

My son spawns in my arms with a scared and confused look on his face. I collapse to my knees and cry harder than I’ve ever before. I’m going to beat this game and make the people who did this pay. For the first time they trapped us. For the second time. And most importantly for shooting my son.

 

 

 

Chapter 1 – A Sequel in a Different Genre

It takes me a while, but I let go of Allen and hand him over to a technician team within the game. They’re supposed to be the ones who protect the game from hackers, but what’s happening is from within the game and from someone that can access the game’s system with proper clearance. At least that’s what they tell me. It’s weird that some of the people who work on the game genuinely don’t know what’s going on and currently don’t have a way to get us out of the game. This makes no sense to me.

“Kaylen, I think we should go sit down, and start cooling off.”

“That’s what I’ve been doing for the past ten minutes, Kerano!”

Angel hugs me and doesn’t say anything, but I know what she’s saying.

“Alright. Let’s sit down somewhere so I can clear my head.”

We go to one of the many shiny bars in the city run by humans. The game has its own shopkeepers, but they encourage other people to start their own businesses, which was a mistake for the AI since the creativity and efforts of people overtook the businesses of the AI. This was possible because the AI can’t make recipes found the world and they can’t decorate their businesses. Now the AI businesses are there just for cheap stuff for beginners.

When we sit down at the bar, people start to look at us. Before any of them say anything, my two friends take out their guns. This means “don’t bother us” in this game and everyone backs off.

Angel says to Kerano, “Did you tell your wife not to come in the game?”

“I did, and she told me people on the outside are already trying to get us out.”

“I don’t get this,” I say, “They know we can get out. They even made the game easier for us by giving us a way to earn and give lives, and by trapping us after we’ve gotten used to the game. Why?” I slam my hand down on the counter. “Why damn it?!”

Angel puts her hand on my shoulder, “We’ll find out why, and make them pay for shooting Allen.”

“You’re damn right.” I get up and head in the direction of the mountain. “Let’s get this done.”

We head out to the mountain that already has dozens of people going into it, but no one is coming out. The mountain is a PVE dungeon where players bring in their equipment and try to beat the challenges inspired by the previous games in one go. This mountain isn’t as big as the previous one, so I wonder why people are coming in, but aren’t coming out. We haven’t completed this dungeon because we beat the original without guns.

As soon as we head in, we see that it’s just the three of us in the dungeon. This place allows teams and solo players to enter it, but not everyone at once since that would make it too easy. The first floor we’re on is full of normal fantasy monsters that we bypass. It’s not worth fighting them right now. We enter the boss room to find…what the hell? It’s a combination of two bosses. Half of the boss is a man with wings while the other half is a snake lady. It flies around spitting poison while trying to wrap us in its coils.

“Angel!” I call out.

“Don’t you worry guys, I got this!”

“I’ll help!” Kerano says as he sets down turrets.

Angel’s build consists of light machine guns and explosives while Kerano’s build is proficient in shotguns, traps, and buildable defenses. Kerano’s turrets shoot at the flying boss to keep it busy while Angel locks onto it. Once she gets a lock, she fires a volley of rockets at it, which knocks it out of the sky. Since bosses never die easy, we keep firing it once it hits the ground. It lets out a yell before charging at me.

“I got this!” I say as I switch my assault rifles to swords.

My build is a gunslinger build upgraded so I can dual wield assault rifles. I can also dual wield swords as well. It’s pretty sweet that this game has guns that can turn into sword, hammers, knives, and spears. It’s useful in situations like this where I’m fighting the boss up close and personal. Since it’s almost dead, I launch a flurry of slashes that stagger the boss so I can take it down without having to worry about it fighting back, and my attack finishes it. We’ve managed to beat the boss without it scratching us. The game rewards us by replenishing our ammo and opening the way to the next area. Since we finished it without taking any damage, we are given a slight boost in health and ammo capacity.

Kerano says, “I don’t remember that from the first game.”

“Neither do I. The people who trapped us here must’ve changed it,” I say.

“Maybe they did it so it won’t be easy for the veterans?” Angel guesses.

“That’s probably the answer, but it doesn’t matter what the reason really is. We have to keep going,” I say as we move for the exit.

They follow me into the next area, which is…what the hell? Literally. This place looks like Hell. It’s a battlefield with lake flowing down the cracks in the ground like rivers with the grass turned red because of the red rain falling down that smells like blood. We can see other players here fighting against demons and monsters of all kinds alongside AI soldiers that decide from helicopters in the sky. I can see three bosses that are molten monsters in metal armor protecting a large castle that is launching out fireballs onto the battlefield. That must be our destination.

“Get down!” someone yells as a mortar almost hits us.

We go to cover with some other players who are in a hole.

“What’s going on here?” I ask one of the players.

“This is how this floor is now for some reason. A lot of people are stuck here. It wasn’t like this before when my friends and I used to grind this dungeon. Hey, aren’t you, Kaylen?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“You can get to the end like last time, right? We all have family and friends who are worried about us.”

I look at him and his friends.

“Of course I can. I am going to need your help though.”

“Just tell us what to do.”

“First, I’m going to need more people.”

“I can message people, but they’re afraid to lose another life.”

“I’m only going to need one shot at this.”

“Okay, I’ll tell them that. We can also get more of our AI allies to spawn if we make it to those flare guns.”

“Alright. All you need to do is get my friends and I passed those three bosses then you can back off.”

“Okay…okay, we can do that.”

“We’re going to show those people who trapped us in here that they made the biggest mistake of their life. Are you ready?”

“We’re ready!” the group yells out.

“Then let’s get some!”

We run out of the holes and into the madness. I’m not sure if the screaming and dying are coming from the people behind us, but I ignore it and press forward. Because there is so much debris and hiding holes everywhere, my team and I take advantage of them for a second before going to next one when we think it’s safe. Before we know it, we’re halfway there. The people behind us have gotten to the flare and pop them off to send in several helicopters full of soldiers to help us. The AI and the other players distract the molten armored bosses while we pass by them and enter the castle.

This castle is a dark place with blood dripping from the stones. There’s rusted treasure everywhere with skeletons everyone that are wearing clothes from the ages long past. We enter a throne room to find a wounded human-like dragon with four serpent arms. It takes the large swords out of its body, lets out a yell that shatters the glass windows in the castle, and starts to fight. We dodge its attacks while firing all of our heavy and armor piercing ammo at it, but its health is barely decreasing.

“I hope we don’t have to go inside it to kill it,” I mention before it opens its mouth at us to release several lizard knights.

Kerano and I take care of the smaller lizards while Angel launches explosives into the dragon’s still open mouth for massive damage. The dragon’s mouth now lays open and we can see inside it too, which means we can enter it in unsaid video game hints. The makers of this game can’t be just dedicated enough to design the dragon’s insides.

“Get in his mouth so we can end this quickly, Kaylen!” Kerano says.

“What?! Why me?! I can’t swing my swords in there! You do it with your shotguns!”

“Uh uh! I ain’t going in that putrid place!”

“This is a video game! You aren’t going to catch a disease, be dirty, or smell after you come out!”

“Can one of you just do it?!” Angel yells.

“Fine.”

I go into the dragon’s mouth and drag my blades through the inside of his throat. This seems to wake it back up. Big mistake pal as my blades cut deeper into his throat. I take my blades out of the inside of his throat so I can land deeper inside him so I can cut him up more. I never want to think that thought again. With my smaller blades from my submachine guns, I tear out the dragon’s chest until I break through its skin and cut a hole through its stomach where a bullet almost hits me.

“Hey, watch it! I’m still in here!”

After a little bit more cutting, the dragon falls over. Great. Why can’t its body just disappear? I cut my way out of its stomach and step out of it with my body drenched in its blood. Angel and Kerano give me a weird look.

To ease the weirdness, I dance a little while singing, “Hello my baby, hello my honey!”

“No, don’t even do that,” Angel says while shaking her head at me.

“I get the joke, but…I can’t feel comfortable about this,” Kerano says.

“Hey, I stepped up like a real man and did what you couldn’t!”

“Urgh. I think the game makers really did add in smells and make you dirty.”

“It happens in some parts of the game but do I really-UCKK! I really do.”

“You’re going to have to sleep by yourself tonight,” Angel says while she heads for the exit of the castle.

“Hey, I’ll shower and use plenty of soap and have my gear cleaned, I promise! Don’t you laugh at me, Kerano!”

“Ha, I’m sorry bro. You did a good job.”

We head into the next area to find a bridge that leads to a giant castle that’s supposed to be at the top of the mountain. Kerano and I look at it each and Angel notices.

She asks, “What is it?”

“It’s nothing. We’re just surprised to be here already,” I say.

“Yeah, me too. At least we get to finish this quicker.”

She seems to have bought the explanation. I’m not sure what will happen once we enter the castle, but I’m feeling uneasy because I feel like I know what or who the final boss is going to be. We enter the castle and into the throne room. It’s just as nice as it was in the first game, but it has a cherry-rose color to it for some reason. On the throne, is a man with a cloak and red and black armor. He gets up with his red sword and takes off his cloak to reveal his face. It’s a mix between Kerano and I. I can even see my old sword on the side with my shield on the boss’s back.

I can see that Angel is more surprised than Kerano and I. I’ll have to explain everything to her later. The boss charges at us with his buster sword coming down to separate us. We fire at it while avoiding his swiping attacks that hit the walls around us. Debris starts to fall on us that we take turns shooting down, so it doesn’t land on us. After taking down the bosses to half, it smashes its buster sword into the wall to bring down the ceiling on us. We avoid the debris by getting out of the room. When the dust settles in the room, we see that the boss is holding a shield so that the debris doesn’t crush it. This move has cost it some of its health, but it did almost kill us.

It then flings the debris that is on its shield at us before going back to swinging and slashing at us. We try strafing around the boss while taking turns having its attention, which makes it put its shield on its back to deflect our bullets. Kerano tries putting down multiple turrets to make the boss put up its shield and put it in a difficult position, but it just throws its shield at the turrets to ricochet it off them and destroy them all. This was a dangerous way to get it to drop its guard, but we manage to deplete its health before its shield comes back to it resulting in the shield cutting off the boss’s head.

“We did it!” we yell out in victory.

A cloaked figure forms itself out of the shadow. It looks like the same bastard who shot my son.

“Congratulations on winning. I knew you three would be the first to beat the new challenges on this mountain,” the figure says in a male/female mixed voice.

“You better explain what we need to do next,” I say as I approach the figure with my guns pointed at it.

“Or what? What’s shooting me in a video game going to do to me? You might as well say mean words at me for all its worth.”

“Just tell us!”

“You’ll see as soon as you step outside.”

“I want to know more before you go. Tell me why you’re doing this-He disappeared. What an ass.”

“Is it a good time to ask why that boss had both of your faces on it?” Angel says as she stops me from passing by her.

Kerano and I look at each other before I explain that, “Back in RHO, Kerano finished the game before I did, but he decided not to free us because the developers convinced him not to.”

I can she’s stunned and pissed at the same time.

“…why didn’t you free us when you won the game first, Kerano?”

“Because I thought life would be better if we just spent the rest of it in the game. The developers promised me that everyone was being moved to hospitals so we could live full lives within the game! I don’t think that anymore and regret my decision, of course!”

“And why did you two lied to me about this?!”

I say, “We didn’t, kind of. The first person to beat the top of the tower in the game’s lore is like Kerano so we didn’t technically lie to you when we said that the final boss was a person who beat the mountain already.”

“Tch.”

“Angel…”

“I’m not mad. It’s been too long for me to care about what you did, Kerano. I just need some time to rest.”

Kerano and I give Angel some space as we exit the castle. In the distance, we see the survival warzone alive with danger as the ground breaks apart. I guess that’s where we’re headed next after we rest. If this was difficult for us, then I hope our experience can carry us through the next challenge and the ones after that. What am I thinking about? I have to have more faith in my wife, my best friend, and myself. When I look in their faces, I see that I can trust them. Angel softly smiles at me and Kerano smiles with a wink and a thumbs up. Yeah, we can all make it through this and beat the game.

 

 

Chapter 2 – Secrets of the Wastes

The challenges of the mountain took a lot out of us, so we’re resting back in the city in our special rooms. We gained these for our skills and our previous experience in RHO. We’re in the center building, which is a leaning tower with a golden bird at the top that acts like a marker in the city, so they know where the center is. Even though the tower itself is leaning, the resting rooms themselves don’t lean, but the view outside of the window is leaned, which is a bit odd and cool at the same time. The rest of the resting rooms in the city are for people who haven’t earned the better ones. Once they do, a room is automatically generated for them in the better buildings. The buildings can never run out of room as they grow or shrink depending on their occupants. Heck, even the city grows depending on how many businesses and apartments are needed.

This growing city still amazes me when I look out at it. The city hasn’t changed much ever since the amount of people coming in has nearly ceased. I hear that a lot of people coming in are experienced VR gamers who think they can beat this game. I’m not even sure if anyone else has beaten the mountain yet. I hope someone does beat the game soon. I don’t even want to be the first one to beat the game, unlike the first time. I’ve learned my lesson about rushing things like this.

Right now, Kerano is resting in the living room while Angel is resting over me as I sit up on the bed while looking out at the sci-fi city and its glow. Allen is sleeping in the room with us. We’ll teleport him back to the system security when we’re doing resting.

“Do you think we should stop playing these kinds of games? I think the government might shut them down after this,” Angel says.

“No, because it’s not like we can find a better place to make money for a living. I don’t think the government will shut these games down because hundreds of thousands of people make their living in here. The only jobs worth anything IRL are ones that you can only get with expensive college degrees. The rest of the jobs that aren’t taken already by robots and AI are ones that barely pay for anything.”

“Heh, we’re fighting to get out of here only to go back in.”

“At least we aren’t as dedicated as some of the pros. They’re already hooked up to a machine that feeds and cleans them. I bet they don’t even care what’s happening right now.”

“Then it’s up to people like us. This must be a scary situation for newcomers.”

“This situation is making me remember the first time this happened. Remember when you were an angry tough girl who wanted people to like her?”

“I think you’re remembering it differently than I am, but I definitely remember that you were a sarcastic jackass who wanted to get to the top of the mountain first at the cost of our lives.”

“Hey, that’s not exactly true. I changed.”

“Yeah, you definitely did.”

“Do you remember the first time we held hands? What about the first time we slept together?”

“I remember that. How could I not remember getting cut to pieces for wanting to save your ass?”

“Oh, don’t bring that memory back up. That was horrible.”

“I wish I could completely forget it along with most of the memories associated with that game.”

“Except for the few good ones spent with me, right?”

“Haha, you’re right. I want to hold onto memories those forever just like how I want to hold onto you forever. Can we just stay like this and let someone else finish the game? There are plenty of teams of pros that can finish it for us.”

“I know that, but I don’t want to. What that ass did to Allen was a direct challenge to me. I don’t care if nothing actually happened to him. He did more than disrespect my son and us by shooting him in the face. No sane good person shoots a baby boy.”

“You’re right, but I just want to be with and protect both of you instead of just leaving him in the hands of the system security.”

“You can’t save neither us if they just teleport and insta-kill us. We have to go to them and beat them at their own game. To do that, we should be heading out soon.”

“Let me spend some more time with Allen first just in case anything else happens to him.”

“Okay. I’ll talk to Kerano. You aren’t mad at him or me, are you?”

“It’s been too long for what he did to matter to me, so no, but I don’t want to hear about it again.”

“Thank you for understanding.” I get up and give my son a kiss, which makes him giggle and smile. “I’ll see you later, buddy. I love you.”

I leave the room and sit on the coach across from Kerano, who is checking his shotgun.

“Is Angel still mad at me?”

“She’s not mad at you at all. Just don’t remind her of what you did.”

“Do you think she’ll tell my wife?”

“Probably not.”

“I hope not because I was being stupid back then. I made a horrible mistake.”

“Don’t worry about it. It seems like you got what you wanted anyway since most of our time is spent making money playing video games.”

“I guess you’re right.”

“So, why are you cleaning your shotgun there? It’s not like it gets dirty.”

“Unlike you.”

“Hey, the smell and the guts are gone.” I smell myself to make sure. “Right?”

“Haha, it’s gone. I just like cleaning it because it’s my favorite.”

“It’s one of the starting shotguns.”

“It’s also the shotgun that I’ve done the most with, but it’s one of the best because of the rest of my perks.”

“I swear you got lucky with that. The mechanist perk that you choose decreases the damage of your primary damage so your turrets can do more, but since the perk subtracts the damage of your shotgun to negative one, the damage amount loops around so that your shotgun does the maximum amount of damage to make it as powerful as the most powerful shotguns in the game. That’s not all either since the starting shotgun has an above average fire rate, it makes it better in some cases than the best shotguns, which have lower fire rates. To top it all off, what’s happening to your gun isn’t a glitch.”

“I was surprised when the developers said it was a secret to make the ordinary weapons legendary. Do you remember the story they told about how a basic weapon saved their lives in a gaming tournament and allowed them to win it?”

“Yeah, I don’t blame them for getting attached to basic weapons because of that.”

“But just because my main gun is good doesn’t make your guns less special. Your golden roaring lions with its sixty round clips coming out of both barrels of your gun and ability to change into swords is amazing.”

“You got that right. This gun is exclusive to my combined build.”

“Your other guns are amazing two like your twin viper shotguns, death’s kiss handguns, and siren’s scream submachine guns.”

“They’re pretty great, but all you have to do is beat the same high secret level quests that are exclusive to my build to get them. Tons of people probably already know how to get them, so the quests aren’t as much of a secret now. Besides, Angel’s heavy weapons are great too. The white lotus LMG packs a punch and staggers every player and small to medium-sized AI enemy it manages to hit once. It’s deadly despite its low fire rate because once it hits you, you’re dead in seconds.”

“There’s also that purple dragon of wrath rocket launcher. We had to kill an actual purple dragon to get that weapon.”

“How worth it was it to get it? That thing causes bigger explosions along with greater damage along with fire damage. It’s basically a mini-nuke launcher.”

Angel comes into the room and says, “Are you two done talking about gun porn?”

“If you’re ready to go,” I say, “Did you teleport Allen back to security?”

“I did.”

“Then let’s go. Are you ready?”

“I am.”

I cock my gun then say, “Let’s go then.”

“That wasn’t as cool as you thought it was,” Angel says.

“I thought it was. If it isn’t, why do so many people do it? Whatever, let’s just go.”

We head out to the survival wasteland, which is both the place that is used for the hunting, dungeon, and one-third of the story mode of this game. The story is found by talking to people in the different areas of the game world. Unlike a lot of games, you have to keep note of what you have to do unless you get a helmet or visor that will help you keep track of your quests. Kerano has a visor that also doubles as a headband. He uses it to keep track of the health of his turrets.

The dungeons are mini-quests that let you earn different loot and also affect the world in different ways such as; the look in certain areas, the enemy spawns, loot drops, random encounters, events in the areas, and your faction’s status. Now, the survival part of the area lets you face dangerous areas while obtaining loot and secret quests. If you die before you exit the area, then you lose everything and have to do it all over again. It’s less of a gamble than gambling in town for rare loot and it’s more exciting. I wonder what the asses who trapped us here want us to do.

There are a lot of people near the gate into the wasteland both on the outside and the inside. They’re talking about what to do and what groups to go in. It appears that they beat the mountain, so we join in on the conversation. Angel and Kerano talk to a few people while I talk to one who looks like he specializes in pistols and submachine guns, so he’s a fellow gunslinger.

I say to him, “Hey, man, do you know what everyone is doing here?”

“We’re planning on how we should approach the wasteland to find what we need for everyone to escape the game. You’re Kaylen, right?”

“I am.”

“It’s an honor to meet you. I’m surprised you picked a gunslinger class like me.”

“You should combine it with the sword class. You can get some sick weapons like the ones I have.”

“I’ll think about it if I ever decide to play this game again.”

“Has anyone decided to do anything yet?”

“So far it looks like we’re going to separate into large groups of seven to search the dungeons and the wasteland.”

“That sounds like a good plan. I’m up for it if you guys are.”

“Did you hear that?” he says to the crowd, “We got Kaylen approving our plan!”

The crowd of people seems excited and starts cheering as they get into groups.

The gunslinger then says, “I’d like it if you’d join my group since we only have five. We can use an expert like you.”

“I will as soon as I can ask what my wife and best friend want to do.”

Angel manages to find me. She’s followed by others who have similar weapons to her.

“Angel, what group are you going with? Do you want to go together?”

“My group over here is planning to take out the tougher enemies together, and they need a person like me to help them. Can you handle being without me for a while?”

“I can as long as I get to see you again. The real question is if your group can handle you on their team.”

Angel jabs me with her elbow, “Oh, shut it. I’ll see you later.”

“I love you.”

“Love you too.”

I then find Kerano in a group of people who in a similar build class as him. He says the same things as Angel except his group is going to handle the hordes of lesser enemies and act as distractions to draw in the bigger enemies for heavy hitting groups like Angel’s. I let him go and join the group with the gunslinger. Together we go out into the wasteland in search of a possible dungeon to raid for secrets. Along the way I talk to the group about how the developers held secrets such as the one that makes Kerano’s starter shotgun so powerful, and how their fond memories of video games could help us find what we’re looking for.

We find a few possible places to search and separate into teams of two to investigate the different areas with a campsite that we use as a rendezvous and fast travel point. The gunslinger and I go investigate a dungeon behind a waterfall. It’s where one of the developers had spent the first day with his newlywed wife who had a similar interest in games. The developer wrote his and wife’s initials near the cave’s entrance and made the lore reflect the first time he met his wife. It’s a bunch of romantic mumbo jumbo that I can’t help but like because I know what it’s like to be in love. The enemies in the dungeon are nothing special that can’t be taken be easily taken out with a single headshot since gunslingers like us do better headshot damage than most builds.

“So, you didn’t tell me your name yet,” I say to the gunslinger.

“My name is Dante.”

“Is that your username or actual name?”

“It’s my actual name.”

“I’m sorry. I thought it was just a reference.”

“Don’t worry about it, I get that a lot. In fact, I picked gunslinger as my main class because of it.”

“What’s your secondary class?”

“It’s the secondary part of my reference. I use buffs and debuffs that I activate by saying quick lines to activate them. The ones that I use are the second part of the reference in my build, which is Dante Alighieri. The lines taken from the Divine Comedy are some of the best buffs and debuffs to use.”

The carryovers from the previous game aren’t just guns that can turn into swords and melee weapons builds, but also healing, buffing, and debuffing magic. There is offensive magic, but it is limited to giving your weapons certain effects as if it were a magic wand. You got be shooting magical bullets or throwing out long-range slashes with your swords. I think the game blends its previous fantasy elements with the sci-fi ones pretty well.

“Spitting poetry while being a stylish gunslinger? You sound like a real cowboy.”

“Haha, you think so? Oh, I think we might found something.”

The boss that spawns at the end of the dungeon is a couple who look like the developers. They’re both wearing their wedding outfits and they’re using a dual sword build that can deflect our shots. They work well together, which gives me an idea.

“Dante, we need to focus on taking out one of them. The other should easily fall after that.”

“Okay, but which one?”

“The woman.”

“Gotcha.”

“A man is nothing without his woman, am I right?”

“I see. You’re right.”

The developer should fall if his wife does or at least lose the will to fight, so we concentrate on her. She’s more skilled in defense and the developer tries his best to defend her, but our concentrated fire eventually goes through her defenses to defeat her. She might’ve been fast and skilled, but her health was low enough to deplete within seconds of getting staggered. The developer falls to his knees, which gives us the opportunity to finish him off. Dante and I then bump fists with our guns in victory.

“Your plan worked. How did you know that killing his wife wouldn’t just send him into overdrive?” Dante asks.

“Eh. Honestly, it was a gamble.”

“Haha. Alright, let’s see what we can find here.”

Dante and I search around the room and don’t find anything. We didn’t earn anything special besides high-level loot and a lot more money and EXP than you would usually get from a dungeon like this. Hold on…

“Dante…”

“What’s up?”

“Do you remember this letter being here before?”

“No, I don’t think so. What do you think a giant T means?”

“I don’t know. It could be part of a password. Oh! There’s a bunker in the destroyed nuclear test site with a keypad that you can enter a password in. The developers said they would eventually reveal the password to it to show us something special.”

“Oh, that’s right! I forgot about that since it was impossible trying to find the code.”

“I didn’t think they had this planned from the beginning.”

“I hope we can get back at these people before they do this again.”

“That’s the same thing I was thinking. We should regroup with the others to see what they found.”

When we get to the campsite, we find that the other two groups have one member whose died once, but they’ve managed to find a letter like we have. They’ve found the letters T and O. Tot? Like tatter tot? Maybe it’s thot? I don’t know. We probably need more letters. While we talk about where to go next, Kerano finds us and joins in on the conversation.

After we tell him what we found, he says, “It sounds like you need help from yours truly.”

“Doesn’t your group need your help? What happened to them anyway?” I ask.

“My group has more people who are better at crowd control than I am, so they’re fine without me.”

“That’s good. Would you mind if we left to go help our friends earn the lives they lost? They’re scared to lose all of them,” one of the others say.

“Are you serious? It doesn’t matter if you lose all of your lives because people can just earn them back for you,” Dante says.

“Dante, it’s fine. You two can go if you want,” I say to them.

“Thank you.”

Once the two of them leave, Dante says, “Why did you let them go? They could’ve helped us.”

I explain to him that, “You have the two of us with you, so you have nothing to worry about. Besides, I’m sure we can find other people to replace them.”

“What if we face a threat that’s too much for the three of us to handle?”

“Then we retreat and find someone who can help us.”

“Alright. I’m just wondering because I want to get at the people who trapped us here as quickly as possible.”

“Don’t worry about it. We feel the same way. They’ll get what’s coming to them soon. Let’s move out.”

The three of us head out into the wasteland. After we walk through the wasteland while Dante introduces himself to Kerano, we discover a lake near a small town.

I tell Dante and Kerano to stop here because, “A few developers came from a small town near and a lake. Also, who wouldn’t hide an easter egg near a lake in a wasteland?”

We search through the town first before going near the lake.

As Dante looks closer into the lake, he says, “I think I see a letter down there.”

Before Kerano and I can see what he sees, a giant Hydra with six heads.

“Kerano!”

“I got it!”

Kerano starts laying down turrets to distract the heads of the Hydra while Dante and I start firing at its heads. We don’t seem to be doing the much damage to it despite hitting critical hits. I think I see a small glow in the hydra’s mouth when it opens it, but since the turrets are making it shut its mouth, I can’t hit it.

“I’m going to need you to shut down your turrets except the ones to defend you, Kerano!”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I am!”

“…alright then.”

Kerano self-destructs his turrets that aren’t protecting him, which makes the snakes open their mouths to spit their poisons at us.

“Dante! I’m going to need you to shoot the snakes in the mouth particularly the glowing part.”

“Those glowing spots are really small. Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. Gunslingers like us specialize in hitting the enemy where it hurts most after all.”

We both smile at each other and shoot the snake in its mouth like real sharpshooters. When the glowing spot takes enough damage, it explodes along with the head of the serpent. We then repeat the process until there are only three heads left. The three heads into turn into one serpent that’s larger with sharper scales and teeth. It tries to eat me, but I manage to stop it and hold its mouth open with my assault rifle swords.

“Guys, I’m going to need your help here!”

“We got it!”

Both Kerano and Dante concentrate their fire into the hydra’s mouth until the glowing spot blows up along with the hydra’s head. The rest of its body disappears as we get a reward for killing the beast. We raise our guns and cheer in victory.

“You must trust Kaylen a lot to let down your defenses without any explanation,” Dante says.

“I trust him. He’s been like a brother to me ever since that time we played RHO together.”

“I mean we basically live in the same house so we might as well be family. We both left our families behind to pursue our careers in gaming.”

“Really? That’s dedication to your friends and your beliefs if I’ve ever heard of it.”

“Haha, I guess you could say so. Now, what’s that letter you saw?”

“Let’s see. It’s an A.”

“An A? So we have T, O, T, and A.”

“Nothing about that sequence of letters brings up anything to my head. What about you, Kaylen? You know your references.”

“Nothing. Let’s keep moving. I think I know where we should go next.”

“Right,” both of them say.

We head out to a volcano near the bunker. This surrounding area in general has a ton of easter eggs such as; the destroyed nuclear test site is a reference to a town used to test nukes in a popular multiplayer game, there’s a cabin nearby that’s broken in half with a giant arm coming out of it, a downed alien space ship that’s in the form of a C, and so on. As we get closer to the volcano, we find groups of people fighting all kinds of enemies. Among these people is Angel.

Kerano starts setting up his turrets as Dante and I start cleaning the killing floor. I shoot my way through the crowd of enemies with my pistols in order to not hit anyone else until I get to Angel.

“Hey, babe, you come here often?” I ask her.

“Hell no. Did you find anything?”

“We found hidden letters that I think we can use to enter the bunker that’s not far from here.”

Kerano’s turrets then activate and launch a barrage of homing shots that kills the crowds of enemies. I give Kerano a thumbs up and he does the same. The ground then shakes as the volcano begins to become active. An enormous dragon made of fire erupts from the volcano and yells out as fire begins to rain from the sky. Knights also made of fire form themselves from the fire rained from the sky and the lava pouring out of the volcano.

Angel says to me, “Think we can take them?”

“Of course we can. We can do this! Let’s kick some ass!” I say to the group to rally them.

They scream out with their guns raised. The players with short to medium ranged charge the enemy while the ones with long ranged weapons take up positions to shoot at the knights while others shoot at the dragon. Angel and I go after the dragon as it flies towards us while Dante and Kerano with his turrets help the others with the knights. The dragon itself has no real critical areas to hit-wait, strike that. Its weak points move as the bubbling fire on its body reveals it. I fire at those to bring it crashing to the ground.

Angel uses her rocket launcher on it while I empty clip after clip of my assault rifle in it until I run out of ammo. I then switch to my shotguns and get up close and personal to the dragon’s head. It tries chomping at me while breathing fire at me, but I dodge its attacks while switching my shotgun to a short sword then back again to keep its attention as Angel peppers it with light machine gun fire from a distance. The dragon then gets mad and switches its attention to Angel.

I can’t aggro it to me, so I stab my swords into its fiery skin and climb on top of it, then yell out, “Watch out, Angel!”

The dragon then flies a short distance above the ground then charges towards Angel.

“Grab my hand!” I say with my hand out.

Angel grabs my hand as we go up into the sky with the dragon.

“You’re crazy!” she says as climbs on top of the dragon.

“And you’re even crazier for going with my plan. It’s also crazy that this dragon made of fire isn’t that hot to stand on.”

“We still can’t stay on it without taking a little damage. What’s your plan?”

“Put your rocket launcher in its mouth and blow it up. I think its weak point is somewhere in its chest.”

“Do you have a plan to get us back down?”

“Kind of. Just get on my back.”

Angel gets on my back as I use my swords to climb up to the dragon’s face as it flies around trying to get us off. Once we get to the mouth, I cut the dragon’s jaw so that its mouth is wide open.

“Do it, Angel!”

Angel puts her rocket launcher in the dragon’s mouth then says, “Eat this!”

She fires her rocket into the dragon, which causes its body to explode, but the neck and head are still intact.

“What now?!” Angel asks in a panic as we begin to plummet to the ground.

“Hold onto me!”

Angel holds onto me as I get us to the top of the dragon’s head with my swords. I try to keep the dragon’s head on the bottom as we fall, and I manage to do this as the dragon’s head digs into the ground then throws us off when the dragon’s head and neck turn into ash. I roll on the ground with Angel in my arms until we come to a complete stop. Man is she shaking after the ride.

“That was fun, wasn’t it,” I say to her with a smile.

“That was horrible.”

“It was amazing. I don’t know what you were worried about. Even if we couldn’t survive the fall, we would still have two more lives.”

“That’s not the point. Falling to my death is terrifying even if this is a game.”

“But don’t lie that you weren’t at least a little thrilled.”

“…okay, I was.”

“Want to do it again after this is over?”

“No!”

In the distance, I see that the group has finished off the small army of knights. The once activate volcano has calmed down and the lava is now cooled off. We search the volcano and find the letter, Y.

I say aloud, “T, O, A, T, and now Y…hmm. I still can’t make anything out of that.”

“How about toasty if we add an S?” Angel says.

“Toasty? That sounds like it could be it since it’s a reference. Let’s see if the bunker will accept that.”

We go to the bunker and fortunately enough, it accepts it. Our group cheers with cheers for Angel in particular.

As we descend into the bunker, I ask whoever can answer it, “Why toasty of all references? It sounds like something someone would’ve tried on the door.”

Everyone just shrugs while Angel says, “I don’t know, but I know that I was the one who got it after so many other people failed.”

“Ooooh, you’re so special.”

“You’re damn right about that.”

When we get to the bottom of the bunker, we find a bunch of monitors. All of them activate and form a picture of a cloaked face.

The person on the monitor says, “Congratulations on finally getting into the bunker. I’m sure you’re wondering why toasty was the password. Well, it wasn’t originally, and the password history suggests that dozens of people already tried it.”

I turn around to see Angel puff her face.

“The password was originally something easier to guess, but we changed it to toasty later. So the main reason why toasty is the password is because my friend and I were always bad at fighting games even though we loved playing them. We barely used two or three special moves from our favorite characters and just button mashed for most games, but for every match we played, we finished it with an uppercut.”

Ah, I get it now.

“You must be hearing this message after you were all trapped in this game, which must be slightly unfortunate for you. The truth is, if you figured out the password beforehand, you would’ve never been trapped here, and we would’ve never bothered you by doing it.”

What? Are they serious?

“We don’t even know why you would want to free yourselves since you must know that the world sucks. When you free yourselves, you’ll probably be back here again to make money and have fun. If you want to free yourselves, nevertheless, you must get to the PVP area of the game and find our developer building. Search it and you’ll find the key to your freedom. We really hope you’ve been enjoying our game and will continue to for however long you play it.”

The monitors then shut off. The group talks amongst itself while exiting the bunker while I stare at the monitor. Hmm. Nothing? No after secret message after what you said? There we go! It’s on.

The person on the monitor says, “No, there is no secret after credits message. You should know that we hate those.”

It turns off again. That’s bullcrap! Oh! It’s back on!

“Okay, here’s a hint since you’re so patient. You’re probably not going to defeat the challenge after your next. Sorry, but that’s how it’s going to be.”

The monitors turn off again.

I shoot the monitors while saying to it, “Fuck you! We’re going to make sure you pay for everything that you’ve done!”

“What do you think they met by saying we’re probably not going to beat the last challenge?” Kerano asks as we leave the bunker.

“It’s probably BS to get us scared,” Angel says.

“You’re damn right about that.”

Once we’re out of the bunker, I state, “We’re going to free ourselves from this game and get back at those developers for what they did. Nothing can beat us when we fight together!”

We fist bump with a battle cry then head out to the PVP area. Just you asses wait. We’re going to free ourselves soon enough.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Freedom from Virtual Reality

The PVP zone is a mostly destroyed city that’s a lesser version of the cities of today. It’s from the 2000s so about a hundred years ago. Players face each other in this city for loot, equipment, and money. The better you do, the better stuff you get. You enter the PVP zone by being mid-rank or level fifty. If you bet money, you can earn real money, but if you don’t you only gain equipment and guns. To get more money, you do well in a game and then the amount of money you earn is based on the game, your number of kills/deaths, and if your team won or not.

I wish I was still playing the normal game now because everyone is shooting at each other for some reason. As far as I know, killing each other in the PVP zone is the easiest way to earn back lives. The people over here have found out that you can’t earn anymore lives over three and what lies in the developer’s building. Some people have given up and are trying to make other people give up as well. There are others that are earning back their lives and the lives of their friends to try to challenge again. Unfortunately, we’ll have to go through them in order to beat the game.

Despite how large the city is, there are few open sections. Most are close to medium engagements, so my shotguns and submachine guns are the best in this area. Angel covers us from longer distances while Kerano shoots the people I miss. The three of us work like a well-oiled SWAT time until we get to the area near the developer’s building. It’s completely surrounded by people who are protecting it. They aim their sights and fire on whoever approaches the building. This is going to be tricky, so we huddle together to make a plan.

“I could put turrets around the perimeter while you distract them,” Kerano suggests.

“That sounds decent, but what I just blow them all up? A few shots of my purple dragon should be able to clear most of them and the smoke screen it creates should be able to give us cover,” Angel says.

“That sounds like a good plan, but what about this…we shoot them all,” I say.

“I’m being serious!”

“I like his plan,” someone from behind us says.

I turn around to see my gunslinger bro Dante.

“Hey, Dante! I was wondering where you were,” I say to him.

“I was gathering people so we could secure it to investigate it. I think we can take the building if we use all three of your plans.”

“Well, my plan is a joke plan, but I like your idea. We’re one step away from freedom, are you guys ready?”

The crowd of people yell together.

“Shh! You don’t want them knowing we’re here yet.”

The crowd then does a silent yell before we start enacting our plan. Everyone gets into positions so that we attack in a pincer formation. Once we’re ready, I message Angel, and she shoots a rocket in the area with the most people in it. Kerano then begins to set up his turrets in key positions to give us cover as we attack. Our plan is executed so well that most of the players defending the building are dead within seconds.

Unfortunately, we have attracted the attention of neighboring players who are hunting for lives. Angel, Kerano, Dante, and I quickly run for the developers building under a hail of gunfire-Oh shit! Someone just sniped half of Dante’s head off!

“Don’t worry guys, I’m sure you can do it without me!” he says as he begins to disappear.

“Don’t talk with half your head off! It’s weird, and we got it. Just you wait,” I say before we head further into the building.

Most of the upstairs floors are just abandoned spaces with posters referencing the developers’ favorite video game, movie, anime, comics, manga, and TV shows. There are also pictures of the developers and their families along with testing rooms for their games. I’m a bit surprised they made more than this game and RHO. Since there isn’t anything really here, we check the basement and find an elevator that’s operational. I don’t remember this being operational and there are no other elevators in this building besides this one. When we look at the elevator’s controls, we see that the only button has a down arrow.

I look to Angel and Kerano and ask them, “Are you ready?”

“We are if you are, babe,” Angel says.

“I’ve been ready,” Kerano says.

“Let’s do this then.”

We press the button and the elevator doors immediately shut and the elevator quickly descends to the bottom that makes us hit the ceiling then the floor of the elevator when it hits the bottom. What a way to give us one last scare. Once we exit the elevator, we see that we’re in a somewhat dark mass room with pillars everywhere, and three massive floating figures that are among the pillars as if they’re what’s keeping them together. Those must be the developers, the people who trapped us twice in a video game.

“Welcome, Kaylen, Kerano, and Angel. We knew you would make it here,” one of the developers say.

“You shitheads shot my son. Of course we were going to make it to you and end this game of yours.”

“Even though it was you who beat our first game, you won’t beat this one. I’m sure you’ve seen the others out there who have come here and left only to turn on you.”

“We’re not like them.”

“That’s what they said as well. Do you know that some of them came here first instead of the tower? They were clever enough to follow a hunch they had and come to the only place they may find us. There have been so many people that have lost all of their lives and others that are turning on their friends to get them to stop fighting against us. You may have a fair chance of beating us, but we will be the ones who decide when the game stops.”

“Oh really? We’ll see about that.”

“Not so fast. There’s a special condition for this fight since it’s the last one. You may not know it, but you only have one life left. We took the other ones you had in order to make this choice more difficult for you.”

Assholes. No wonder why those people outside are fighting for lives.

“Okay, what is our choice?”

“You have two choices. Your first choice is to fight us together, but you lose, you don’t have anyone to give you a second chance. Your second choice is to sacrifice two of the people in your group for the last person left to face us with a powerful weapon of their choice. If they lose, they can choose to leave and earn back all your lives.”

What a choice to make.

I look at Angel and Kerano who are nervous, so I say to them, “What do you think we should do?”

“Well…Our safest option is to have a singular person fight and if they lose, then at least someone can try again,” Kerano explains as he tries to keep it together.

“I guess that’s our only real choice because we don’t know how the boss fight with them will go,” Angel says, “But we also don’t know if a singular person will a special weapon can beat them. Who’s going to be that person anyway? If I pick the rarest heavy weapon, I could possibly take them out in minutes.”

Kerano says, “If I’m the one who fights, I could use the best turrets in the game to even the numbers and get a better shotgun to increase my chances of winning.”

“But if I’m the one who fights them, I could pick a weapon that I can dual wield for double the massive damage while also being aided by my critical hits and agility,” I say.

There’s silence for a couple minutes before Kerano says, “I think Kaylen should be the one to fight for us. His build is the best that can adapt to whatever they might throw at him.”

“I think you’re right.”

“Angel…”

“We don’t know what’s going to happen when we fight them. Besides, I trust that you’re going to kick their ass.” Angel hugs and kisses me.

Kerano and Angel then disintegrate as if they were killed.

I turn to the developers and say, “What the hell?!”

“They already decided their champion. Now, pick your weapon.”

A room opens near the elevator door. In the room is an armory of all the weapons in the game. I wonder if they have…oh boy they do! I pick it up and exit the room with the best gun for my build, Hell’s Shredder. It’s a minigun that can also shoot homing rockets that can turn into one big fuck-off buster sword when I put them together.

“You done fuck up now!” I scream at them with my sights on them.

They look surprised and they should be. This is a gun that only the max ranked gunslingers mixed with sword builds can have once they complete their hardest quest. No one has obtained it and there’s been teases of its existence, but now I have it, and now I’m going to shred them to pieces! They open fire on me with their homing lasers, but my homing rockets meet them in the air to destroy them. I then sprint around the room while firing everything the gun has at them. This gun basically makes me a one-man army. It’s no wonder why the only downside is that you have to wait until the next day for an ammo refill, but I have so much ammo that I’ll be able to beat these people.

The minigun cuts through the developers’ health while the rockets block and deflect their attacks. The attacks that do get through I dodge. Despite its size, I can still move fast while firing Hell’s Shredder. It’s one of the things that make it so overpowered. Once they’re down to critical levels of health, the three developers become one cloaked figure with a white mask with three faces and a crown on its head.

“Come at us with everything you got,” they say as they unsheathe their sword-like fingers and charge towards me head-on.

“Bring it!”

I continue to fire my minigun and rockets at them as I charge towards them.

Before they reach me, I switch my gun to a buster sword and hit them with buster sword. They block it with their sword fingers, but I struggle against them until I let out a yell, cut through their fingers, and cut off their head. There it is. It’s over.

The developers say, “Congratulations. We knew you would be the one to finish the game since you knew about the best weapon in the game.”

“That’s not all. It’s because of my wife and best friend that I’m here.”

“Of course. You seem to have grown up since you last played. We don’t see you joke around as much as you used to.”

“Being a father does that. I’ve grown in spirituality, been more responsible, and I’m more goal-oriented for the betterment of my family. The father is the head of the family after all.”

“We’re sending you our address so we can have a talk. Come whenever you want. We’ll be expecting you.”

They’re not really going to-oh, they did. This address is only a few hours away from where I am.

“I’ll be seeing you soon then.”

All three faces on their mask smile at me before disappearing. Keep smiling jacks. You won’t be soon enough. As soon as I log out of the game, I make sure Angel, Kerano, and Allen are okay, and sure enough, they are. Kerano and his wife hug and kiss, but I have to cut their reunion short with what I tell them. They understand and get ready to meet the developers. After making some preparations, we go to the address I was given.

It’s a small inconspicuous house in a nice looking neighborhood. We knock on the door and a woman answers the door.

She says, “We’re so glad to finally meet you. Welcome to our home.”

“Sure,” I say as I go into the house.

There are seven people sitting around a TV playing video games on a console with snacks and sugary drinks on a large table near them. These people look like the average people that you would see on the streets. They’re dressed casually as if they were having a sleepover. The woman who answered the door sits on the couch near them. A man pauses the game and stands up as the seven people look at me.

“Welcome to our home, Kaylen and friends,” he says with a smile.

I really want to punch them all, but I can’t.

“You told me to come here because you wanted to have a talk. What is it that you wanted to talk about?”

“As you can see, we’re just normal gamers like you even though we still play on consoles. I hope it doesn’t make us look like try-hard old school gamers.”

“No, it doesn’t. Millions of people still play on PC and consoles. VR is just for professionals and people who want to make a living playing games.”

“And that’s what we were aiming for. It’s been the dream of millions of gamers to make a living doing what they love, and we’ve made that a reality. You can’t deny that we’ve helped millions of people by giving them the opportunity to make a living without having to break their backs.”

“I guess I can’t.”

“Right. Think about the job market right now. The jobs once meant for the middle class are now filled automated with robots and AI. The rest of the jobs are low paying and will soon be replaced as well. Going to college for a job you probably don’t want is the only option and you know how shit modern academia is right now. Our game has not only given people jobs they want to work, but it has also brought them together, so we work together like we used to so many centuries ago. Hunting, gathering, adventuring, fighting together, and such, but with the added bonus of no one getting hurt. People have even grown more spiritual and religious because of it. We’ve seen you at the Catholic churches in the game. This was the point of our game. It was shown in the game’s story, its world, and the everyday occurrences.”

“You’re right, and I’m thankful for what you’ve done, but what you’ve done to prove your point was wrong. You can’t force people to see your point by trapping them in a game twice, and you sure as hell can’t shoot someone’s son to egg them on even if you didn’t cause any real harm. You have to pay for what you’ve done.”

I take out a collar and put it around the man’s neck. The other developers get up in shock. A SWAT team enters the building to make sure they don’t move.

I continue saying, “You should know what this collar does. The police use it to get the truth out of people, so lying to them will cause you to have more than some minor burns on your neck.”

“We knew this would eventually happen. Part of us always knew that some of what we did was wrong.”

“Then I hope you change for your sake.”

“Don’t worry, we already have.”

I leave the house with my family as the police arrest the developers. At their trial, they are charged with kidnapping and the endangerment of children, but because they caused no actual harm and the law hasn’t evolved for this kind of crime, they only get thirty years in jail instead of the life in jail that I thought they would get. Because they’re prestigious members of society, they get their own special room with gaming systems to play with. I hear that they invite other people to play with them and that they’re upstanding members of the jail. I hope this is true.

As for us, we’re still playing video games to make a living and have fun. Video games bring joy and fun to people. They can teach lessons while also bringing people together for a shared goal, but we still put them down now and then to enjoy real life. Today, I am going out with my family to the beach. I hear that it’s crowded at this time of year.

The End

Maggie the Manga Maniac

Download the story for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/922920

 

Volume 1 – Of Sisters and Bonds

Narrator – When two girls, Maggie and Lily, were mere infants, their mother, Maylene, tried to guarantee the protection of their home city. She traveled the globe and found a source of power deep beneath the surface. A power that forced her to give up her humanity to ensure the survival of her children. This, however, gave this sinister power control over her body and transformed her into a vicious monster.

Maylene attacked her home and killed her husband in the process. Her husband’s blood splattered over her children, which gave them some of his power. Maylene had a moment of clarity then and bestowed part of her power to them. The energy within the two infants combined to repel their mother away from the city and sealed her off where she found her power…for the time being. It is said that the sister’s mother will be released once they are of age to fight her. Their parents’ teacher has been teaching them since they grew able to.

*Maggie and Lily are practicing their fighting. Maggie is good with a sword while Lily is skilled with her dual pistols*

Lily – You’re good at fighting, little sis, but you aren’t as good as me!

*Maggie swings around her sword as if it were as light as a feather. She’s skilled enough to cut bullets in mid-air and even deflect them*

Maggie – Little sis? Look who’s talking, shrimp!

Lily – Shrimp?!

*Lily launches a barrage of bullets at her sister*

Lily – Who do you think you’re calling, shrimp?!

*Maggie rapidly slashes the air in front of her while several the bullets manage to graze her and skin and clothes. Maggie’s slashes fly at Lily. She uses her small size and agility to dodge her sister’s attacks, but a few slashes manage to hit them. Their teacher enters their training arena to see what the ruckus is*

Siri-senpai – What the hell is going on here?!

*Siri finds Maggie and Lily with cuts from their fight and most of their clothes are damaged*

Maggie – Can you stop treating me like your little sister when you look like a twelve-year-old?!

Lily – I’ll have you know that I’m a healthy twenty-five-year-old woman. I’m at the peak of my youthful beauty. Don’t be jealous because you’re going to grow old and grey faster than me.

Maggie – Take that back!

Siri-senpai – Girls!

Maggie & Lily – Siri-senpai!

*The two sisters bow and are then hit on the head with the butt of Siri’s broadsword*

Siri-senpai – If you’re going to take out your anger, then use it on something useful like helping each other improve than trying to kill each other!

Maggie & Lily – Yes, ma’am!

Siri-senpai – Fix yourselves up then come back to fight me. Let me see how much you’ve grown.

*The sisters change their clothing, clean themselves, then go back to fight Siri. Despite their individual strength, Maggie and Lily can barely land a scratch on their teacher. Even though she is only armed with a broadsword, the end of Siri’s hair and kimono are as sharp as blades and can be controlled by her mind to help her defend and attack. Siri knocks both girls to the ground and wins the fight*

Siri-senpai – You both fight well, but you work terribly together. There’s barely a sense of cohesion and you don’t use your strengths to address each other’s weakness.

Maggie & Lily – We’re sorry, Siri-senpai! We promise to get better.

*The sisters are hit on the head again*

Siri-senpai – You always say that, but you only make small improvements after that! How are you going to defeat your mother when she arrives?!

*The sisters are silent and worried about their current status. Siri reads their expressions and can see that they understand their mistakes*

Siri-senpai – We’ll take about this more when you get back home from college.

Maggie & Lily – Yes, ma’am.

*The sisters dress out of their battle attire and into normal clothes. Along the way to college, they talk about their present situation*

Maggie – Man, I wish we didn’t have to go to school. We’re supposed to be training to save the world.

Lily – But then what are we going to do after that? You can’t be so short-sighted. We have to do something after we save the world.

Maggie – You don’t think the world is going to set us up for life after saving everyone? Besides, you like going to school because you like attracting people.

Lily – I can’t help it if people find me cute and want to talk to me.

Maggie – Cute? Sure. With that jailbait look of yours, you’re bound to attract a bunch of creepy men.

Lily – Jailbait?! I’m an adult, just look at me!

Maggie – Having your tits out all the time doesn’t make you look like an adult! It makes you look like a teenager with daddy issues!

Lily – And you’re supposed to be dressed modestly? You look like a girl who gives “happy endings” at a massage parlor because she didn’t make it as a street whore!

Maggie – Take that back!

Lily – You first!

*The sisters fight each other along the way to school with people looking at them as if the two sisters were crazy. Once they get to school, they see that no one is around, which makes them stop their fighting*

Lily – Where is everyone?

Maggie – I don’t know. Maybe we have the day off.

Lily – Be more serious about this. Something isn’t right.

*Shadowy figures look down on the sisters from distance. Lily catches sight of them and draws her pistols then shoots them. Maggie summons her sword from her hand and readies herself*

Maggie – What’s out there?

Lily – I don’t know but be on the lookout.

*Several figures leap out at Maggie, but she manages to cut them down before they touch her*

Maggie – What are these things?

Lily – They’re spirits that are born out of the stresses of life. These ones are of college and growing up.

Maggie – No wonder why they look so disgusting.

Lily – If the spirits are here, then that means…

Maggie – Mom shouldn’t be too far behind.

Lily – Look out! We got company!

*More spirits arrive and attack the sisters. Their training is starting to pay off as they manage to dispatch them. Seeing their fighting patterns, the spirits take advantage of the sisters’ solo fighting style and unite into one huge spirit with multiple arms heads and legs. Together, the spirits manage to overpower the sisters and beat them down*

Lily – We’re going to have to fight together just like Siri-senpai said.

Maggie – What do you have in mind?

Lily – We’ll do what they’re doing.

Maggie – Right. I see what you’re saying.

*Maggie and Lily fight alongside one another instead of individually. They cover for each other when the other is getting attacked and attack when the other opens the spirit to an attack. Together, they defeat the spirit after a united attack on the core that bound them together. The sisters look at one another then high-five each other. They then find the students and staff clustered inside and waking up after being knocked unconscious*

Maggie – We should probably report this to Siri-senpai.

Lily – You’re not saying that to get out of class, are you?

Maggie – No. At least not really, but seriously.

Lily – You’re right. Besides, I doubt we’ll have class because of this.

*Maggie and Lily head back home and tell Siri what happened*

Siri-senpai – I see…

*Siri paces back and forth*

Siri-senpai – Your father and mother were two of my best students. Your father instilled in you part of his power while your mother surprisingly was conscious enough to do the same to you when she was first being possessed. The battle with her isn’t going to be easy even if I help you though I am glad that you two have finally managed to learn to work together. It just took a real challenge to do it.

*Siri puts her hands on the shoulders of the sisters*

Siri-senpai – I’m proud of you two. I’m not sure if there’s anything else I can teach you besides through training.

*The sisters look at one another then ask*

Maggie & Lily – Uhh. There is one thing we’d like to know.

Siri-senpai – Oh? What is it?

Maggie & Lily – How do you manage to still look so young when you’re so old?

*Siri is stunned yet feels flattered*

Maggie – I want to know how you manage to keep your youth. I’m the only one here who looks my age and I fear that I’m going to look old and shriveled when I get as old as you.

Lily – I want to know how to look so mature and young at the same time. You look like you haven’t aged since your thirties and I don’t want to age as fast as my sister.

Maggie – What’s that supposed to mean?

Lily – I’m not saying there isn’t beauty in age, but I’d rather look pretty, than-

Maggie & Siri – Than what?!

Siri-senpai – I’ll tell you, girls, the secret to my beauty.

*The sisters listen attentively*

Siri-senpai – All it takes is a healthy diet and daily training to keep your face and body looking beautiful even in your old age.

Maggie – That doesn’t help me! I’ve been doing that and I’m still aging like normal! If I slack a couple days, then I get fat and my clothes feel tight.

Lily – Maybe I should slack like Maggie because she gets results.

*Siri hits them both on the head*

Siri-senpai – Maybe you should both get some beauty rest so you can appreciate my wisdom!

Maggie & Lily – Yes, ma’am!

*While the two sisters rest in their beds, Maggie reads her manga books to help her rest her mind. Lily, on the other hand, reads normal fiction*

Lily – Why do you still read those?

Maggie – They’re fun.

Lily – Why don’t you read a real book for once?

Maggie – These are real books. All of these volumes make one huge story filled with interesting characters and-

Lily – Okay, whatever you say.

Maggie – Hmph.

*Maggie continues reading her manga filled with violence and gore. Her smile at it gets her sister’s attention*

Lily – ‘I wonder what she sees in her books…’

*Maggie comes across a part where a young, weak character uses her chipped knife is victorious and her smile widens. When she falls asleep, she dreams of her and her sister fighting. She emerges victorious and earns the praise of people along with a man’s hand in marriage. The feeling of happiness of is finally hers. The feeling becomes so intense that she wakes up. She looks over at her sister who is sleeping peacefully and frowns. Memories of an uneventful and sad life filled with sprinkles of light moments that barely satisfies her pass her mind in the blink of an eye. She disregards her feelings of them for now and goes to sleep.

Once the morning arrives, the sisters get to their usual training, but Siri is involved with them this time. Something comes across Siri’s mind and she stops the training*

Siri-senpai – Since spirits are showing up in the city and you learned so much yesterday, I think it would be a good idea for you two to patrol the city.

Maggie & Lily – Yes!

*The sisters quickly bow their heads with their hands over their head*

Maggie & Lily – Th-thank you, Siri-senpai!

Siri-senpai – You’re welcome. ‘Do I really hit them on the head to the point where they’re always expecting it?’ I’ll be out patrolling too, so if you need help, I’ll be there.

*Siri patrols on her own while the sister patrol together to practice their teamwork. Since their mother is getting closer, there are dozens of spirits in the city, which allows the sisters to fight a lot. They’re both having a great time though Maggie wishes someone would notice their skills and praise them. Nevertheless, the sisters have a good time out together. When they finally get a break, they stop by the marketplace where they usually liked to shop. This place is filled with unconscious people and spirits. After clearing the area, the sisters browse the empty shops with Maggie being in the comics and manga store. She smiles at the new volumes of her favorite series being out. Lily stops by the store to check up on her sister*

Lily – ‘Hmm. Back at it again with those comics…’ Are you getting your daily dose of violence and fan service?

Maggie – These books aren’t just those things. They-

Lily – I know what they are. I’m not making fun of you, I’m just joking around.

Maggie – Hmph. Well, did you find any new outfits to make your tits look better or are you at your limit for the amount of cleavage you want to show?

Lily – ‘Don’t let her get to you. Be the big sister…’ I…I didn’t.

*Lily sees that her sister is wrapped up in her books*

Lily – Maggie…the reason why I wear these clothes the way I do is because they help me feel older.

*Maggie stops reading her books and turns to look at Lily*

Lily – I want to be the older sister that you can depend on and these clothes help me feel that way. I know life hasn’t been easy for us since we’ve been training our entire lives just to kill our mother.

*Maggie completely turns around and lowers her book down with a look of concern*

Lily – We don’t have any friends or family besides Siri-senpai, so we’re the only people who understand what we’re going through. I want to remind you that you can always depend on me whenever you feel weak or sad. We don’t always have times where we feel happy or completely relaxed, but we will soon. I love you, Maggie. Please, don’t forget that.

*Maggie drops her book with tears welling up in her eyes*

Maggie – I love you too, Lily. I can’t always handle living like this, so I hide from reality by reading all of these stories. I want to live a happier life with you, Siri-senpai, and other people when this is all over. I want us to be happy and I’ll do anything to make that happen! I’ll sacrifice myself if I have to-

*Lily slaps Maggie*

Lily – Don’t talk like that! We’re all going to be okay after we fulfill our destiny! We’re going to be happy, get married, and live happily together with a real family and everything!

Maggie – You bet! I’m sorry I-

*Lily hugs her sister with tears flowing from her eyes*

Lily – Don’t be sorry, Maggie…

*Maggie hugs her sister back as they cry, and their bond strengthens. Siri looks over the two from a distance with a smile. She then senses a presence approaches and turns around with her sword in her hand to see, Maylene, the mother of the sisters. Siri is surprised, but fixes her expression to a serious one and slowly circles Maylene, who is calm and has a smile on her face*

Maylene – Hello, Siri. You don’t need to worry about me attack you and my daughters. I’ll do that tomorrow.

*Siri attacks Maylene with her broadsword, kimono, and hair blade all at once so Maylene can’t avoid her attack, but they are all deflected. Siri staggers and before she knows it, Maylene has her knife-like fingers to her throat. Siri is stunned by her ex-student while Maylene’s smile grows*

Maylene – I was always your best student. I was even better than you.

Siri-senpai – Please, Maylene. You broke free from that sinister power before. You can do it again. I can help you.

Maylene – Heh. I don’t need your help with anything. The Maylene you knew is dead and buried. If you aren’t ready by tomorrow, then everything in this city will be mine.

*Maylene calmly walks away because she knows Siri won’t attack her again. Siri then falls to her knees before looking back at the sisters, which restores some hope in her. The sisters sleep soundly tonight. Siri stops by to get that feeling of hope again and finds Maylene in their room to Siri’s shock. The possessed mother is stroking the hair of her daughters, who seem to be at peace. Siri has her weapons at the ready while being extremely cautious while entering the room. Maylene keeps petting her daughters until she’s satisfied then walks out of the room. Siri follows Maylene until she stops at a photo of her husband. She grabs the photo and touches her husband’s face for a few seconds before putting the photo back*

Siri-senpai – …Maylene?

Maylene – I’m going to stay here tonight if you don’t mind.

Siri-senpai – Why?

Maylene – So you three don’t need to worry about finding me or fighting through a legion of spirits before you get to me. I thought I’d make things easier for you.

Siri-senpai – Well, you still have part of your gracious side it seems.

Maylene – I’ll be staying in my old room. You don’t need to worry about me killing any of you in your sleep.

*Siri follows Maylene to her room until her old student lays in bed. She watches her until she falls asleep before closing the door behind her and keeping watch until she herself falls asleep. When she wakes up, Siri sees that she’s been put in bed. She leaps up as soon as she notices the sound of burning and runs to the kitchen to see Maylene making breakfast. Four plates are set out and it seems like she’s making pancakes*

Maylene – Remember when we used to make these on big days or on celebrations, Siri?

*Siri stays silent as she observes Maylene cooking*

Maylene – I didn’t put anything poisonous in the food if that’s what you’re wondering. I don’t even really know why I’m doing this if I’m honest with you.

Siri – Maylene…Please, snap out of it! You can break this curse on you. I know you can!

Maylene – Sorry to disappoint you, “senpai”, but that’s not going to happen.

*Maggie and Lily are up and dressed. They groggily walk towards the kitchen*

Maggie – What’s all the commotion?

*The sisters are stunned when they see their mother making breakfast in the kitchen. She’s just finished making the pancakes and puts it on the plates with strawberries and blueberries*

Maggie & Lily – M-mother?

*Maylene smiles*

Maylene – That’s right. I’m so glad to finally hear you two say that.

Maggie – Siri-senpai?

Siri-senpai – I don’t know what’s happening either.

Maylene – Eat your breakfast so you can be ready for the fight today.

Maggie – Mom?

*Maggie reaches out for her mother, but she points her knife fingers at her in return. Lily draws her weapons and Siri takes out her sword while Maggie stands still upset that her mother seemed so normal at first, but quickly proved that she wasn’t*

Maylene – Sit down, honey.

*The four women sit down and quietly eat breakfast. Maylene eats peacefully while the other three are on edge*

Maylene – So do you girls have any boyfriends yet?

Lily – No. We’ve been training our entire lives to kill you. We’ll make our friends and get our boyfriends then.

Maylene – You girls must’ve had such sad lives then. It’s no wonder why Maggie reached out to me. Siri, have you really been abusing my children this way?

Siri-senpai – It’s not abuse. They needed to live this way so they could go strong enough to defeat you.

Maylene – I don’t care. If anything, they should’ve had some friends so they could be happy.

Siri-senpai – They are happy. We’re a family that loves each other and looks out for one another. Isn’t that right, girls?

Maggie & Lily – Right!

*Maggie’s doubt is heard in her voice and Maylene hears it. Maggie notices what her mother does and looks away*

Maylene – I doubt it. There are some things that only a mother can see.

*Siri looks at Maggie, who she notices that Maylene is focusing on*

Siri-senpai – Maggie?

Maggie – I’m fine. Let’s just get this over with.

Maylene – Look how eager she is to obtain her happy life.

Maggie – That’s not it.

Maylene – You can’t lie to your mother.

Maggie – You don’t know me!

*Maggie takes out her sword and hits her mother, but she blocks her sword with her bare arms*

Maylene – I like your fighting spirit. I remember your father having it as well.

Maggie – Don’t you talk about him!

*Maggie spins around and hits her mother through the wall and into the training area. She goes after her and clashes with her until she’s hit away. Siri and Lily join the fight. Together, the three women manage to get a couple hits in even though they take some hits themselves*

Maylene – You’ve taught them well, Siri.

Siri-senpai – Of course I did.

*Maylene is smacked into a wall by the combined force of the three women*

Maylene – I’m so proud of you girls, my daughters. You make your mom so happy.

Maggie – Stop this mom! You can fight this curse that’s possessing you!

Maylene – I’m sorry, Maggie, but that isn’t going to happen. After I beat you, you’re going to share in the power I have. You can get the happiness you want, Maggie. Why even wait? Just come to mommy and I’ll give you what your heart’s desires.

Maggie – I…I won’t!

Maylene – That’s a shame. I thought you were the one who had more sense than your sister.

*Maylene frees herself from the wall as power begins flowing through her body. She’s now able to move at faster speeds, take more hits, and is stronger. The three now have a harder time hitting and pushing back Maylene even when they combine their attacks. They’re at their wits end with bruises and cuts all over their body with most of the building heavily damaged from the fighting. Seeing Lily and Siri heavily injured gives Maggie the strength to push forward and continue the fight with her mother. She fights well until her injuries get to her and she’s kicked back. Maylene tries finishing her off, but Siri jumps in front of Maggie to take the hit. Because of the hit, Siri is immobile on the floor. Maggie and Lily look at their broken master in shock*

Maylene – You can’t beat me. How about you two just be good girls and come to mommy?

Lily – N-no! We’ll never give up! Maggie!

*Lily shakes Maggie who is still in shock*

Lily – Come on! We can do this together.

Maggie – I…don’t…

Lily – Yes, we can! Look at me, Maggie. I’m your older sister and I will always protect and love you.

*Maggie looks at her sister*

Maggie – I…I trust you, sister.

*Power begins to radiate from the sisters. A power bestowed upon them by their parents. The sisters now glow with Maggie glowing red and Lily glowing pink. This awakened power allows them to take on their mother until they eventually defeat her with a combined attack. In her last moments, Maylene’s eyes turn back to their normal color*

Maylene – I love you, Maggie…Lily…

*Maylene is then killed thanks to the combined strength and sisterly bond of Maggie and Lily. The sisters then bandage and heal their teacher*

Siri-senpai – Heh, I knew you two would do it. I’m so proud of you.

*The sisters hug their master*

Siri-senpai – Easy there. Injuries do more to this old woman than you think.

*The three women laugh before Siri’s injuries are patched up. They then bury Maylene’s body in the garden alongside her husband’s*

Maggie – ‘This isn’t the ending I thought I would get. I expected it to be more like the stories I read. I expected to attract someone after the battle.’

*Maggie looks at Siri and Lily*

Maggie – But I guess this is fine…for now.

*Siri contacts the authority of the city and is able to reconstruct their training dojo thanks to her connections. Meanwhile, Maggie and Lily head out for another day of school*

Maggie – So, what are you planning to do with your new life?

Lily – I’ll probably become a police officer. What about you?

Maggie – I don’t know yet.

Lily – Don’t tell me you’re going to be a shut-in weebo loser who does nothing but read manga, watch anime, and play video games all day.

Maggie – I’m not going to be a loser! Take that back!

Lily – You don’t have a plan. You’ll become a loser if you don’t make one up soon.

Maggie – Oh yeah? Well, you’re going to be part of some pervert’s wet dreams if you don’t start wearing proper clothes!

Lily – Shut up!

Maggie – You’re going to be a cop, but you look like you’re going to be a slutty cop who gets off on cuffing people!

Lily – That’s it!

*The sisters start fighting each other like always as they walk to school. Meanwhile, deep beneath the surface of the earth, Maylene is reborn by sinister forces. She smiles as a single tear falls from her eyes*

 

 

Volume 2 – Euthanasia

*The sisters only have a month of normalcy before their mother comes back from the grave to try to corrupt them again. Because of their first encounter, they are able to defeat her without as much trouble as last time, however, their mother comes back again the next week. Their mother then starts regularly coming back twice a week to fight them. The city becomes a battleground with it being constantly acted by sinister forces that only the sisters and their teacher can handle. For the good of the city, the authorities kick them out at least until they can resolve the situation with Maylene. The sisters and their teacher are chasing the source of spirits and Maylene by going in the direction they come from. They hope that this will lead them to the source of their problems. Right now, they are on a deserted road to avoid getting people involved in their fight*

Maggie – Just die for the final time already…

*Maggie has killed her mother for an unknown amount of times. Her mother has been shedding tears after every death, which has been getting to all three women. After Maylene’s body dissipates into the wind, Maggie stands with her sword planted in the ground where she impaled her mother*

Maggie – ‘Why do I need to keep suffering like this? Why can’t I live a normal, happy life?’

*Lily finds her sister and puts her hand on her sister’s shoulder and smiles. Maggie manages to give a faint smile back before rejoining Lily and Siri on their quest*

Siri-senpai – I thought that being an old lady and your teacher would mean that I would be carrying our supplies through on the road.

Lily – You can’t face our mother in a one-on-one fight like we can since we’ve been fighting her so much.

Siri-senpai – That doesn’t mean you can’t carry something!

Lily – We need to be on guard especially since the frequency of attacks has been steadily increasing.

Siri-senpai – Since when did you become our leader?

*Lily bops Siri on the head with the butt of her gun*

Siri-senpai – What did you do that for?!

Lily – For all the times you bopped us on the head for no good reason!

*Maggie can’t help but laugh no matter how hard she tries to contain it*

Siri-senpai – I’m going to give you a good reason when I have a hand free! Don’t you dare disrespect your teacher!

Lily – This isn’t disrespect. It’s payback!

Maggie – Come on, Lily. Apologize then let’s go.

Siri-senpai – I’ll let this go if you listen to your younger sister.

Lily – Okay, fine. I’m sorry, senpai.

Siri-senpai – I forgive you. Maggie.

Lily – Huh?

*Maggie hits Lily on the head*

Siri-senpai – I forgive you now, Lily.

Lily – Traitor! Is this what your older sister gets for picking up for us?

Maggie – Let’s go already.

Lily – Fine.

*The three women come to a crossroad where they notice smoke in the air. They follow the road and come across a destroyed town in flames and everyone is dead. Maggie is shocked by the destruction in the town and falls to her knees in tears*

Lily – What happened here?

Siri-senpai – It looks like it doesn’t matter where we go. Maylene and the sinister force controlling her is going to cause death and destruction even if we stay away from populated areas.

*Maggie begins wandering the city while Lily and Siri are looking around. She gazes at the burned and dismembered bodies scattered around the city. A huddled pair of bodies in an alleyway catches her attention the most. Maggie walks down the alley to see what looks to be a mother shielding her daughters. Of course, they were dead, but it appears that the mother did her best to protect them*

Maylene – This is the way I want to be. This is the way I’ve always wanted to be.

Maggie – Mom…Why do you have to be like this?

Maylene – Because I wanted the power to protect everything that I held dear. I wanted to give you a good life. What you have now is not what you deserve. Please, let me give you what you want. What you need.

Maggie – I don’t trust you.

Maylene – It’s because of Siri and her lies. What happiness has she given you? Your life is miserable because of her. Your sister doesn’t help much and just goes along with what Siri says. Try as she might, she won’t protect you from what really hurts you the most. I can protect you from that in the way only a mother can.

Maggie – I still don’t know. Do you remember how many times we fought? How many times I’ve killed you?

*Maylene hugs her daughter for the first time in her life. Maggie is taken by surprise and tries freeing herself*

Maylene – Shhh. I’m not going to do anything.

*Maylene pets Maggie’s head to soothe her until Maggie stops resisting*

Maggie – ‘I don’t feel any kind of magic or sorcery being used on me. What’s going on?’

*Maylene continues embracing her daughter until she starts to cry. This makes Maggie hug her mother*

Maylene – I’m so sorry, Maggie…

Maggie – Mom…

Maylene – This is the only moment I’ve been able to talk to you as myself. Don’t trust what I said before and what I say after. I don’t think I can ever regain my senses again until you kill me again.

*Maggie holds onto her mother tighter as tears begin to flow from her face*

Maggie – Mom…

Maylene – I love you, Maggie. I’m glad that I finally got to hold you. Tell Lily I love her too.

Maggie – Mom…

Maylene – I only have a little while to talk so I’ll make this quick. The source of the sinister power that keeps bringing me back is underneath this city. Go all the way down near the center of the earth and destroy it. I know your sister and you can do this. Here, take this last bit of power I hold.

*Maylene kisses Maggie’s forehead and a large amount of power is transferred into Maggie’s soul*

Maylene – Even when I’m gone, you will always have me with you. I have to go now.

Maggie – Mommy…please…

Maylene – I’m so sorry, Maggie.

*Maylene struggles to get out of Maggie’s grasp while she’s crying. Eventually, she gets free at the same time Lily and Siri find the two. Maylene jumps to the roof of the destroyed building as Lily and Siri have their weapons drawn. Maggie is curled up in a ball on the ground while she cries*

Siri-senpai – What happened here?

*Lily embraces her sister*

Lily – What happened, Maggie?! What did she do to you?! I’ll kill-

*Maggie reaches out to where her mother was*

Maggie – Mom!!!!!!

*She then begins to scream as power builds within her. Maggie continuously beats the ground with her sword in anger and anguish. The ground shakes with each impact as destroyed buildings begin falling apart. Lighting and thunder fills the sky as Maggie’s power is unleashed*

Lily – What’s going on, Maggie?!

Siri-senpai – Get away from her!

*Siri pulls away Lily as Maggie breaks the ground beneath her. Maggie keeps hitting it and hitting it until most of the ground beneath her is disintegrated leaving a giant crater where the city once stood. Once her power is spent, Maggie faints in mid-air as she falls into the crater she created. Lily and Siri catch her as Siri uses her hair and kimono to slow their fall. Lily lays Maggie down when they land and holds her. After a couple seconds, Maggie comes to her senses and wakes up then looks around*

Maggie – What happened? Did I cause this?

Siri-senpai – Yes, you did. What did Maylene do to you?

Maggie – Mom was herself for a few seconds and gave me some of her power. She hugged me and told me that she loved Lily and me. She also told me that the source of the sinister power controlling her is beneath us near the center of the earth. All we have to do is keep going down to find it.

*Siri puts her hands on Maggie to cleanse her of any evil power but finds none*

Siri-senpai – Hmm. It looks like Maylene didn’t put any curses on you, at least none that I can sense.

Lily – So what happened?

Siri-senpai – Maylene was conscious and gave Maggie whatever power she could to do this.

Lily – You’re so lucky Maggie! How come she didn’t give me any of her power?

Maggie – You didn’t find her by yourself. Besides, we shouldn’t focus on that right now. We need to free mom from her curse.

Siri-senpai – Maggie is right, Lily.

Lily – I never thought my little sister would become stronger than me.

Maggie – Of course I would become stronger than you. All you use are pistols while I practice with a sword.

Lily – That doesn’t mean anything. I still practice my kicks and punches. I mean just look at my figure.

Maggie – Look at you? Look at me!

*Siri is taken aback but the sisters’ ability to argue with each other in the situation they’re in*

Lily – What about you? Your figure isn’t much to look at.

Maggie – What was that?!

Lily – You heard me. You know who gets more attention.

Maggie – Yeah, I don’t attract pedophiles like you do.

Lily – Stop bringing that up! I’ll mess you up!

Maggie – Oh yeah? I just created this crater by myself! What do you think is going to happen to you if I flick you and don’t control my power?

Siri-senpai – Can you use that power so we can finally put Maylene out of her misery?

Maggie – Oh. That’s right.

Maylene – I can’t allow you to do that, Maggie.

Siri-senpai – Oh shit.

*Hundreds of copies of Maylene appear in the large crater*

Maylene – You won’t be able to defeat me now. You’re so close to your goal, and yet, so far. This ends now.

Maggie – You’ve got that right, mom.

*Maggie’s power begins overflowing again as she hits the ground with her sword, which takes the ground out underneath. Everyone is floating in midair now and plummeting to the ground*

Lily – Damn, Maggie! Give us a heads-up next time.

*Lily uses her upgraded pistols to shoot at the copies of her mother in the sky*

Maggie – I’m going to keep burying down until we get to the sinister force controlling mom. How’s that for a heads up?

Siri-senpai – Be careful with your new power Maggie!

Maggie – Oh, I will.

*Maggie flies through the air, cutting through the copies of her mother at high speeds while Lily manages to hold her own against multiple copies*

Maylene – It’s a shame that you have to let the kids fight for you, old lady.

Siri-senpai – This “old lady” still has a couple of tricks up her sleeves.

*Siri’s blade hair and kimono double then triple themselves, which allows Siri to fight off multiple copies of Maylene at once. Lily and Siri cover Maggie from the copies of Maylene that sneak up on her as she rapidly descends to the ground. Before Maggie hits the ground, she front flips in midair multiple times before smashing the ground with her sword. The ground completely disintegrates beneath everyone as they continue to fall. Dark spirits that were part of the ground are freed. Some are killed by Maggie’s attack while others go on the attack against the three women*

Lily – Good job, Maggie!

Maggie – Stop complaining and help me!

*Lily and Maggie combine their powers like they did in the first fight against their mother and tear through the copies of their mother and the dark spirits. They beat their enemies into the ground and break through it, which reveals a large demon composed of tentacles. It has six eyes, three mouths, and a large glowing red eye in the center of its forehead. The demon has four tentacle arms and two large legs. The three women manage to safely land. The evil spirits disappear along with the copies of Maylene*

Demon – I’ve been waiting for you two, Maggie and Lily. I am Roku.

Maggie – You’re the bastard that corrupted our mother!

Roku – She wanted power, she found me, and I gave it to her. It was all your mother’s decision.

Maggie – Liar!

Roku – Your mother wanted the power to protect only what she treasured. Even the worst sinners protect the people dear to them. She lies to herself when she says that she doesn’t want to spread her power to you.

Lily – Shut up!

*Lily transforms her pistols into magnums by pressing a button on them that makes them turn inside out. She shoots at the demon, which makes it flinch, but causes no major damage. Maggie and Siri begin their attack as well*

Roku – This is the truth whether you like it or not.

*Maggie and Siri attack Roku. His tentacles take the brunt of their attacks then push them back*

Roku – Regardless of your resistance, Maylene and I’s wishes will be granted.

*Roku sends out his tentacles to engage the three women with Maylene on it. Fighting the almost countless number of tentacles is difficult for Lily, Maggie, and Siri especially with Maylene on its side*

Roku – Give up. It’s pointless to resist.

Maggie – No way! I’m going to side with a bunch of hentai tentacles! Lily!

Lily – Let’s do it!

*Maggie and Lily combine their powers to blast away their mother and Roku’s tentacles*

Siri-senpai – ‘Why am I even here if you girls can just support yourselves? Who am I kidding? This just means my role as a teacher is complete.’

Roku – You’re stronger than I expected, but you’re no match for my power.

*Roku’s tentacles come together to form a giant ball of fire, which it then fires as a beam at the sisters. Unable to avoid it, the sisters cover each other in defense. Siri leaps in front of them and begins performing a special ritual*

Maggie & Lily – Siri-senpai!

Siri-senpai – Don’t worry girls. Your old master has this.

Lily – What are you doing?

Siri-senpai – I’m using a special exorcism ritual. If this is going to go down the way I think it is…It was an honor to train you two to your full potential. You’ve surpassed me in almost every regard. The one thing that I want you to remember from my teachings is that…I love you girls.

Maggie & Lily – Siri-senpai?

*Siri absorbs the humongous fire beam into her chest. Once it is gone, she dies*

Maggie & Lily – Siri-senpai!

*The sisters try bringing their master back to life, but are unable to, so they cry over her body. The sight of her dead master has Maylene struggling to regain control of herself, which makes Roku struggle to keep her under his control. Lily holds Maggie’s hands*

Lily – No, Maggie…We can’t give up now. Not now after Siri-senpai’s sacrifice.

*Maggie looks into her sister’s eyes. Lily fights through her tears and sorrow to show her sister a strong face, which gives both Maggie confidence*

Maggie – Lily…

Lily – We can do this together, Maggie.

Maggie – Can we? This is different than last time…

Lily – But we’re also stronger than last time. We can do this! Just trust your older sister.

*Lily’s look of resolve gets Maggie to wipe away her tears and stand up*

Maggie – Okay. I will!

Lily – Let’s rock then.

*The sister’s increased bond has combined them together into a single entity, Mali. Even though Lily is the older sister, Mali primarily has Maggie’s looks, sword, and personality*

Roku – What is this?

Mali – You can call us Mali, and this is where you die.

*Mali sprints at Roku faster than a car and slashes through the demon’s tentacles like a knife through butter. She fights off all the evil spirits and copies of Maylene all by herself while unleashing her newfound power*

Roku – What is this?!

Mali – The power of sisterly love.

*Mali uses the power Maylene gave to Maggie to hit Roku on the center of the head to blow it up. Maylene’s last clone begins to disintegrate. Her appearance goes back to the way it once was before she was possessed. Maggie and Lily go back to normal and go to their fading mother. Maylene smiles as she’s finally free. She holds out her hands and silently awaits a hug from her daughters. Despite having no real relationship with their mother, the sisters cry and hug their mother as she leaves the world. The ground beneath the sisters then starts getting build up and restored. It lifts them to the normal ground level then comes to life with grass, trees, and flowers with a single blue rose where their mother was, and a purple rose where Siri was*

Lily – I guess this is it, isn’t it?

Maggie – I hope so. I’d hate to keep fighting our mother for the rest of my life.

Lily – Me too. Well…I guess it’s time to get back home.

Maggie – What? That’s it?

Lily – This isn’t one of your crappy manga Maggie. You aren’t going to get a husband out of fighting a demon.

Maggie – I wish I did.

Lily – But weren’t you talking to a guy before we left the city?

Maggie – Weren’t you talking to several guys?

Lily – Okay. We’re going there, aren’t we?

*The sisters begin walking back home*

Maggie – Of course we are since they look way older than you.

Lily – Says the girl who knows about tentacle hentai.

Maggie – I just know about it because how can you not in the manga, anime community! It’s not like I watch it!

Lily – Are you sure about that? Some of the books you read do seem pretty raunchy.

Maggie – No they aren’t!

Lily – Yes, they are.

Maggie – No. They aren’t!

Lily – Yes. They are.

Maggie – Your outfits are slutty!

Lily – Ugh! Says the girl with a boob window in her outfit and a cut in her skirt!

Maggie – At least I show less skin than you.

Lily – Oh shut up already!

*Again, like always, the sisters fight each other. Meanwhile, near the center of the earth, several sinister forces gather together*

Incubus – One of us has died because of those two sisters.

Demon – We must do something about them to avenge our fallen brother!

Succubus – I already have several strong fighters under my control. We could throw all of our forces at them at once. They won’t stand a chance.

Head Demon – You’re right.

*The head demon with six faces stands up*

Head Demon – No one will.

 

 

Volume 3 – Perdition

*A year passes after Maggie and Lily’s battle with the demon Roku, who controlled their mother. They both managed to get a boyfriend for themselves and a few friends along with a part-time job while they studied in college. Unfortunately for them, whatever bonds they formed and the rewards they earned are erased within a single day by minions controlled by other demons that are like Roku. Even though the sisters dispatched the minions easily, the sisters weren’t the main target. What they held dear was.

After saying goodbye to their home and everything and everyone they loved, the sister rest in a nearby park. Maggie is the most distraught as she continuously punches the ground in rage and sadness. Her distress shakes the ground in and around the city*

Maggie – I can’t take this anymore! Why can’t I ever be happy?! Why can’t I live normally?! Why does it always have to be this way?!

*Lily hugs her little sister and holds her with tears in her own eyes as well*

Lily – You’ll be making a lot more people unhappy if you keep doing this Maggie! Please stop thinking about yourself for a second!

Maggie – Shut up! You kept talking about protecting me, but you never did that much! Everyone we love and everything we’ve worked for is gone!

*Lily lets go of Maggie*

Lily – Maggie…

Maggie – Don’t act like you’re the big sister you want to be! You’re nothing but a show-off who wants attention.

Lily – What are you talking about Maggie? I can’t believe you’re talking like this.

Maggie – Then stay away from me. I need to be alone.

Lily – You’ve never ever wanted to be alone. Let me help you.

Maggie – No.

Lily – We’ve always overcome our obstacles together. Please, Maggie…Let me help you.

Maggie – Shut up.

Lily – I love you, Maggie! You’re my little sister and it’s my responsibility, as your older sister, to be here for you. Please…Let me-

*Lily tries hugging Maggie, but she pushes her away and runs away*

Maggie – Stay away from me! You don’t love me!

Lily – Maggie!

*Lily chases after Maggie, but Maggie manages to lose her in the crowded city*

Lily – Maggie!!!!

*Maggie hides in a manga store as she waits for her sister to stop looking for her. She looks through the new volumes of her manga to help her calm down. She looks at a lot of violence and sad moments, but she also comes across moments of happiness in her manga. Even though she cares about the characters being happy, she just becomes jealous of them and puts the manga down to look for something else less happy. Before she knows it, her sister enters the manga store*

Lily – Maggie!!! I know you’re in here you weebo! Please, let’s talk things out. I can help you, sister!

*Maggie quietly moves around the manga store until she makes it to the door, however, the bell on the door gives away her position*

Lily – Maggie, stop!

*Still in a bad state of mind, Maggie runs away from her sister. In the meantime, a minion of the demons, who is dressed in a crow outfit, watches the sisters. This watcher telepathically contacts his leader*

Watcher – The sisters appear to be in disarray. Is it time to move in?

Head demon – Yes, we are going to move in and take positions for our attack on the city. Don’t cause any bloodshed until we’re all set up. Once we are, the world will fear us, and no one will fight back against our rule.

*Maggie has managed to outrun her sister yet again. She’s held up in a store that sells anime and manga related products. She cools her head by looking at the various new figures of her favorite characters. As she browses around the shop, she watches different love scenes where characters either fall in love, repair their relationship or come together. Maggie also witnesses people in the shop having fun with their friends or girlfriends and boyfriends. Her jealousy towards them builds as she tries to stay as far away from them as possible while blocking out their conversations. The tears that still mark her face begin to flow from her eyes again as memories of before and what could have been fill her head.

She remembers the touch of her boyfriend along with his sweet words. She remembers their sweet first kiss along with the many moments she spent in his arms. Memories of her friends also bounce around in her head along with memories of Siri and Lily then everything burns. The bodies of everyone she’s loved lay broken and bloodied around her in her imagination as they call out for her help. Maggie holds her head in pain as she tries to shut it out. Lily storms into the store*

Lily – I know you’re here, Maggie! You’ve got obvious tastes in hiding spots.

*Within seconds, Lily finds her sister and runs to her*

Lily – There you are!

*Since she is still reeling from her sadness, Maggie is unable to escape Lily’s grasp as she picks her up. Lily then begins to leave the store*

Lily – I’m sorry everyone. We’ve got some big and little sister issues right now.

Maggie – Stop treating me like a child!

Lily – Like I said. Being a big sister is a lot of work.

*Lily carries her little sister out of the store and to the side then doesn’t let go of her despite Maggie’s resistance*

Maggie – Stop it! Let go of me you, stupid bitch!

*Lily punches Maggie’s face several times until Maggie stops resisting. She then looks at her little sister who is in shambles and quickly regrets her actions. Lily hugs Maggie who is barely resisting her at this point*

Lily – I’m so sorry, Maggie. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect everything we had and everyone we knew. I just had you on my mind and just protected you. Why is that so bad?

*Maggie stops resisting Lily’s embrace*

Lily – We may have lost everything, but we still have each other. Isn’t that all we need? As long as we’re together, we can do anything. I love you, Maggie. You’re my little sister. There isn’t anything I won’t do for you. How many times do I have to tell you this until you learn to trust me?

*Maggie stares blankly at her older sister. Before they know it, the sisters are surrounded by six demons and their minions*

Head demon – You better treasure your last moments together, sisters Maggie and Lily. Your death is at hand.

Lily – Who are you?

Head demon – I am Hokori. The head of the sinister and demonic forces that resides within the earth. You have killed one of our own and a close companion of mine. For that, we have awakened and will launch our war against the earth. You will not survive our assault, but we will give you a chance to survive. If you leave this city then train others to fight us in war, we will spare this city, for now. You will have twenty-five-years to prepare. It’s a fair deal if I say so myself. We are not unfair beings and wish to have a good battle so that we can completely squander the hope of the world in one battle.

Lily – You’re the scum of the earth is what you are.

Hokori – You speak more literal than you think. Decide.

Lily – I think we should go. We can train people just like how Siri-senpai taught us. It’ll be just like old times.

*Maggie’s mind is filled with the woes of the past. She remembers the depression and loneliness she felt and now she imagines feeling it again. This cracks something within her as she intently stares at Lily*

Lily – We’ll make Siri-senpai proud. We have enough time to train people to be as strong as us. I know we can do it, Maggie. What do you say?

*Maggie smiles and pets her sister’s face. Taking this as a yes, Lily smiles while being completely unaware of what happens next. Maggie uses her powers that she got from her mother to crush Lily’s skull and force the two to merge into a single being, Maxi.  Maxi has completely white skin with two mouths as her hair, mouths where her boobs are, and a large mouth where her crotch is. She’s completely naked the way she is except for the strings on her arms, waist, and legs, which cover nothing. Her toes and heel have become sharpened like knives and her belly button has become a bleeding eye. Maxi is completely controlled by an enraged Maggie while Lily’s soul lies dormant within their body. Maggie’s sword had become a larger sword than Mali’s and is more “awake” than it with a large red eye in the center of it.

Maxi smiles with her sharp teeth and screams an almost inhuman yell at the demons and their minions*

Hokori – This is interesting. You have become a perversion of you and your sister’s combined form. Might you want to join us?

*Maxi smiles then leaps at Hokori and slices him in half. The demons and their minions recoil in shock before attacking Maxi. They are no match for her rage and strength as her added mouths both defend and attack the enemies around her. After several other demons fall, some of their minions retreat in fear. Those that do this melt from the inside. All of Maggie’s enemies fall before her within ten minutes. The parts of the city she fought in are heavily damaged with civilian casualties since Maxi’s blade cut through buildings and whatever was around her.

After calming down and seeing the damage she caused, Maxi’s form is broken apart. The rage holding in Lily’s soul is broken, which frees Lily soul from Maggie’s body. Maggie is conscious again, but her body isn’t completely put back to normal. Her skin is whiter than normal and has teeth in her chest and legs where the mouths once were. Her clothes haven’t reappeared back on her body either. Along with that, half of her hair is black with strands of dark pink while the other half is black with strands of dark red. One of her eyes is pink while the other is red*

Maggie – What…what did I do?

*As the realization finally hits her, Maggie flees the city and lays down under a tree as it rains. She pulls out the teeth that are in her body as she thinks about what she’s done*

Maggie – I’m so sorry, Lily. I should’ve appreciated you more. I should’ve trusted you. I may have defeated all of the demons and saved the city, but I killed so many people. Caused so much destruction. If I had listened to you, there won’t have been as many causalities. I’m sorry, Lily! Forgive me!

*Maggie begins to feel a presence hold her. Lily fades into sight as a specter*

Lily – I forgive you, Maggie, but you must make up for what you’ve done. You have a whole life ahead of you. A life that’s filled with choice, love, and friends to make. That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it?

Maggie – I…I lost you. You were the only one who knows what I’ve been through and who’s supported me through it all.

Lily – I’m happy that you finally see that. I’ll be praying for you, Maggie. I hope you enjoy what you wished for.

Maggie – Wait!

*Maggie reaches out to Lily as she fades away into the afterlife. She cries over the loss of her sister for hours. Once she feels ready to move on, she makes a makeshift outfit out of all the teeth she pulled out of her and begins walking deeper into the forest hoping to find some enjoyment in the life she’s always wanted*

 

Epilogue – Promises Kept

*Maggie has been walking for hours now in the rain with regret in her heart even though she hopes for a better future. The area around her becomes more noticeably darker until she finds herself in complete darkness with nothing around her. She takes out her sword and cautiously walks around until she decides to put her sword away*

Maggie – I don’t care what happens. If I’m going to die, then I’ll let it happen.

*Suddenly, a figure comes into view. It’s a man with a red hoodie, black pants, black hair, and black empty eyes. His skin isn’t as light as hers though it does appear to be pale*

Maggie – Who are you?

Kyle – My name is Kyle. Some call me Kyle the Cosmic Comic Hero.

Maggie – I’m-

Kyle – I know who you are. You’re Maggie the Manga Maniac.

Maggie – Manga Maniac? No wonder ever called me that. Not even my sister.

Kyle – It’s your title for your book.

Maggie – What are you talking about?

Kyle – I’m guessing you aren’t a fourth wall breaking character like me. Seeing as how we’re meeting, you’re who Albert promised me.

Maggie – Who?

Kyle – The writer who created you.

Maggie – You mean God?

Kyle – Hahaha! Hardly.

Maggie – I don’t understand anything you’re saying.

Kyle – I don’t expect you to. I’ll explain everything to you after this.

Maggie – After what?

Kyle – Will you be my girlfriend?

*Maggie’s face becomes blush red*

Maggie – Huh?! What?! Why are you asking that? You don’t even know me.

Kyle – I know everything about you. I read your story from beginning to end.

Maggie – Prove it.

Kyle – I know about you killing your mother over and over again. I know about “Maxi”. I know that you killed your sister because you were selfish.

Maggie – How do you know this?

Kyle – I told you. I read your story.

Maggie – So I really am a character in a book.

Kyle – Now you get it.

Maggie – And you’re a character from a comic book.

Kyle – I’d barely call it a comic. It’s more like a script for one.

Maggie – But why do you want to be with me?

Kyle – Because we were brought together for this reason. We have more in common than you think. We both fought people we loved and killed them for selfish reasons. We both have almost unbeatable powers. I think if we gave it a shot then we would be perfect together or at least that’s what Albert thinks.

Maggie – Hmmm. Okay. Besides, I don’t think I’ll get a man to fall in love with me. I look like a freak.

Kyle – Don’t say that. I think you’re beautiful.

*Maggie’s face turns redder and she mumbles responses out loud but can’t form words*

Maggie – Haha. You must have some weird tastes.

Kyle – I do.

*Kyle takes Maggie’s hand*

Kyle – You ready to go?

*Maggie grips Kyle’s hand*

Maggie – Ready!

 

The End

Kyle – It took you long enough to write this story.

Albert – What can I say? I had other stories that I wanted to complete first.

Kyle – When was the last time we talked? August fourth twenty-seventeen when Damien got his book out? You sure took your time getting to this story.

Albert – Don’t complain about it. Hey, you finally got what I told you I’d give you.

Kyle – Yeah, but are we going to go on any adventures together?

Albert – Maybe. It depends if I can come up with any. Besides, do you really want to be in another story after reading the one I just wrote?

Kyle – Okay, fine, but if you do make a story with us as the main characters, you better make it a happy one!

Albert – I’ll try.

 

Concept Art

Early character designs

 

Updated character designs