Monster in the Mirror

Chapter 55

Never in my tortured life had I felt such resentment towards another kid, especially one my age as I clenched and unclenched my jaw as I climbed up the ladder leading to the higher levels of the treehouse. "Judgement will be passed severely for this." I heard from below me and could only growl like some kind of creature as I was too busy fighting off my instincts to form a reply. Climbing onto the platform, I saw several Nazi zombies shuffling and snarling while one of them pulled a rope that lifted a cow of all things out of sight.

"Lookit! Nazi Kitties!" Butters said as the largest of the zombies took notice of us and snarled: allowing my sensitive nose to greet the rancid stench of its rotting breath. Taking in my surroundings, I noticed that underneath the cliché 'villain's headquarters' lay something even more sinister: something someone like McMullen would find pleasing. Beyond the various animal crates and barricades, were items one would typically see in haunted houses and other horror attractions, including a tire swing with a red-eyed bat 'roosting' in the center next to an open window.

Turning my attention back to the zombies as they brandished their weapons and shuffled towards us, I heard Butters gulp nervously as he raised his hammer defensively. "You know, I'm REALLY not in the mood to deal with you." I said nonchalantly before I spread my arms out like I was going to brandish my claws before I crouched sideways in a threatening stance. As the largest and closest of the zombies licked its bloodied teeth, I gave it a snarl of my own, making all six of them stop in their tracks. Gnashing my teeth, I displayed my slightly-longer-than-normal canines, causing the Nazi zombies and the cats to back off and disappear behind anything that could hide them.

"O-Oh h-hamburgers!" Butters yelped as I glanced at him, making me realize that my display had scared him too. 'Great, now Butters is afraid of me.' I thought in distain before I turned to him and gave him a reassuring smile, which he returned after a few seconds and pat my shoulder for good measure before we both continued on. "Sorry about that, Butters." I apologized as he looked over innocently at me. "Aw that's alright Saphira. I d-didn't wanna fight those guys anyway." he replied, causing me to give him a small smile before it vanished from my face as I heard a soft scratching noise coming from just outside the window we were standing by.

Glancing over my shoulder, I saw several young kids around Alex's age dressed like pirates climbing up a rope that lead further up the treehouse and out of my sight. Keeping my gaze on them, my face stretched into a smirk as I saw Stan pop up from below and nod at us in greeting. "We've got your back, Saphira! Pirates, help the Commander!" he commanded with a determined look in his eyes as he ran along the outer balcony and off somewhere to my right. Before I could ask where he was going, I heard a loud 'clattering' noise, drawing my attention upward to a wooden and rope ladder rolling down the wall and led to a hidden space I didn't see before.

"Avast, MacManus!" I heard the pirates call before I gripped the rungs and started to climb to the floor above me. "Thanks, guys. Go scout ahead and see if you can get rid of some of Clyde's minions." I said as the little pirates saluted before dashing off in different directions. "Aye aye." I heard as their footsteps grew faint before I turned to Butters again. "Time for more ass-kicking, hopefully we can finish this sometime BEFORE we all get grounded." I said as the poor paladin gulped in fear before nodding in agreement. "R-Right." he said before quickly following me up the ladder and into the next area of this massive treehouse.

Taking in the details of this part of the fortress, I noticed the ladder had taken us outside in a surprisingly-open area with one tower on each side of a big gate. Within each of the towers, stood two groups of two enemies: three Cyclops and shockingly: one of the girls that had foolishly tried to beat me up when Kenny and I were scouting the town for more warriors. 'You'd think they would have learned by now.' I thought with a sigh before turning around and helped Butters up onto the platform. "Get over here!" one of the fat Cyclops shouted, causing me to sneer at him before crossing my arms over my chest.

"Pick another line to try to intimidate me, you are NOT Scorpion!" I snapped, appalled that this kid would use the signature line of my favorite character like he had the right to do so. "Why don't you come over here and make me, you Freak!" he shouted again, making me scoff and roll me eyes and turn to Butters. "What do you think? Up for causing a little chaos?" I questioned as his nervous expression melted away and took on a rather unstable gleam. "I thought you'd never ask. Perhaps when we have conquered this pathetic excuse for a lair, I shall show this world what true chaos is." the familiar adversary declared with a dark look in his eyes as he tossed his hammer carelessly in one hand as I picked up a discarded sword to use.

Hearing a board creak, I looked up and saw Stan trying to sneak through the shadows of the roof, obviously trying to get the drop on an enemy or two or was waiting to attack from above. Exchanging a nod with him, I made my way closer to the gate, where Stan ended up jumping onto a small balcony just above the sealed doorway. "All right, here's the plan: attack each tower and raise the gates within so we can get into Clyde's lair. Maplebeard! Clear the path!" he suddenly ordered to a small pirate of Canadian origin, who tilted his hat before pulling a large (and probably illegal) firework from behind his back. "YAY!" he yelled before aiming it at the tower to my right.

Before he could light it however, the same Cyclops that had been impersonating Scorpion ran forward and kicked the lighter away from the little pirate. "FUCK YOU!" he snarled and he threw a nasty punch, hitting the little kid right in the jaw: knocking him back and making him cry. From my position and enhanced sight, I saw that the dark-red spot that was left behind from the vicious attack was already starting to turn purple and green. Ignoring everything else, I dashed forward and latched my iron-like grip around the Cyclops's throat and smashed him into the rough bark of the tree. As he squirmed in my grip, my mouth opened in a sinister smile as he started choking on the lack of air.

"How does it feel, hmm? To be on the receiving end of the hand?" I said as he kicked and thrashed as he tried to get me to let go, or at the very least: allow him to breathe, which I did neither. "Doesn't feel good does it? Pity. I thought bullies like you enjoyed this sort of thing, no matter: I can think of PLENTY of ways to put you in your place for hurting one younger than you. Would you like to see?" I asked in a bittersweet voice as his face started turning blue. "Saphira! Dude!" Stan yelled as he rushed forward to try to help the pathetic scum at my mercy, only to have myself gasping as a strong arm yanked me back and on my ass, causing me to let go of the Cyclops: who dropped like a rock and started coughing.

Growling to myself, I glared through my hair to see Chaos sneering down at me like he had when he first showed himself to me: as if I were beneath him. "That. Is. Enough." he spat, whacking me on the top of my head with his hammer for good measure. Standing up with a hiss, I menacingly approached him until we were standing toe-to-toe and glaring eye-to-eye. "Who do you think you are?" I snarled as I heard the Cyclops get up and stagger off crying, making me happy that he will not forget my 'lesson' any time soon. Before my anger and instincts could make me do something I would regret, Stan jumped in between Chaos and I, giving us both an angry look in the process.

"What the hell is the matter with you?! This is only a GAME, Saphira! Nobody is really hurting anyone: it's all acting! And yet here YOU are: acting like everything is real!" he yelled, making me turn my glare onto him. "I don't know if you have noticed, STAN-" I hissed, spitting his name like venom. "But this stopped being a 'game' a long time ago! There are REAL monsters running around: in human form and otherwise killing one another. Take a moment to get off your high-horse and see it from MY perspective: you see a game being played, I see a war between the living and the dead. You see acting, I see a little boy being beaten to a pulp. You see a group of military playing 'paintball', I see monsters in human skin hunting down and killing anyone they please while they turn the town upside down to find their prize, which is what again? Oh! That's right: ME! So forgive me if I step in and put a stop to something that is frowned upon in the real world. Or, did you somehow forget the town's little 'welcome' from Blackwatch that almost got you guys killed?!" I snarled as the faces of the two kids in front of me blurred, signaling the arrival of tears: making me violently snatch my long-fallen hood and yanked it back over my head and spun on my heel, smacking Chaos in the face with the torn wings on my back as I stomped off.

"Saphira, look: I'm sorry. I forgot that you don't know very much about games and how they're played here, I didn't mean to bring any of that up and I know the stress of all of this must be getting to you and I didn't think about your views. I'm sorry." I heard Stan say, making me stop and tilt my head back in his direction over my shoulder. 'If you see yourself a hero, you are a hero. If it's a monster you see, then that's what you will be.' the voice of Mysterion echoed in my head as my shadowed eyes broke from my friends and over the nearly-leveled town that Blackwatch decided to visit.

And without another word, I glanced at Chaos: who, with an air of superiority, strutted over and led the way to the tower and I could've sworn I saw him send Stan a smug look as he did. Taking a deep breath to calm myself, I griped the sword a little tighter as Chaos and I made out way to the right-side tower. Watching as the second Cyclops defeated another pirate, I cleared my throat loudly to catch his attention. Crossing my arms, I sent him a taunting smirk as I tossed my sword up in the air and caught it by the handle without bothering to look at it.

"Oh, you think you're hot shit?" he laughed as he tossed the little girl he had in his grip carelessly to the floor. Without a word, I turned that same smirk to my companion and jerked my head in the enemy's direction. As the evil mastermind's eyes filled with glee, he puffed his chest out and stomped forward until he was directly in front of his intended target. "Let's see how you deal with my Web of Holding." Chaos said as he stomped one foot on the floor, where instantly black and yellow spider webs snatched hold of the Cyclops's feet: trapping him in place. Once he was stuck, my temporary ally narrowed his eyes: contemplating what sort of punishment this kid deserved.

"Don't go easy on my account." I said, immediately regretting it as Chaos's face split into a malicious grin, showing off all his teeth as he let out an almost deranged cackle. Slipping into a sideways stance, Chaos opened both hands and held them facing each other: allowing me to see a glowing orb of energy slowly take up the empty space between his gauntlets. Taking my gaze off him, I noticed that the Cyclops paled and tried even harder to escape, only to have no effect on the webs at his feet as Chaos let his attack loose: reminding me of something from DBZ.

'Holy shit, that was cool.' I thought as Chaos loudly cracked his knuckles before allowing me to pass him and into the tower. Looking around the small room, I noticed a wheel with thick chains attached to it that looked like it belonged on a pirate ship. 'Well, only one way to find out.' I thought as I gripped the wheel, wondering to myself if turning it was a good idea because I knew of only two things: either this wheel opened the gate, or released something that would screw us over even more than we already were, and that was something this town DEFINITELY didn't need.



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