RWBY-The Journeys of Lan

By Daniel Zhu

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 11

Ch 11 Crashing Down

Lan was hurrying through the woods, the three wolves he chose to bring with him were close behind. He and they were still exhausted from the previous fight, but they had to hurry. They had no idea what could be happening in the village right now. Lan’s heart was pounding, weighed down with fear and worry.

As they began to near the village things began getting brighter, the sky was filled with an orangish-tinge and the air was filled with the smell of what Lan believed was smoke.

"Everyone will be fine" Lan thought, "Just like in the story books, they’ll all be fine!"

Seeing the edge of the tree line, Lan put on an extra burst of speed and broke through, emerging on the side of the village where the Grimm’s assault had originally begun. He stopped in his tracks as he took in the state of the town that was spread out before him. Many of the buildings were burning, mostly near the center of the village where the force-field generator was supposed to be (surprisingly Byakko’s home was still in good condition, only slightly blackened).

The bodies of both man and Grimm were scattered all over the ground along with broken weapons, pieces of rubble, and pools of liquid that Lan recognized as blood.

Struck dumb by the situation, Lan began to slowly walk forward towards the destroyed town. He gazed back and forth across the carnage, the lifeless faces of the villagers staring back at him. Due to the intense training Byakko had put him through, Lan had a stronger mind than most children his age. But still, he wasn’t able to fully comprehend the situation; he continued on in a daze. One of the wolves plodded over to him and licked his hand. The pain that came from stimulating his broken arm snapped Lan out of his stupor. Sorrow and desperation came crashing down on him like a torrent. He gasped and began hyperventilating and then dropped to his knees.

“Dead” he said, only half-believing his own words “all dead, all—”

It was then that he remembered another piece of advice Byakko had given him when he was having difficulty learning some kicking styles and had begun complaining.

“Even when things seem to be at their worst, never let yourself be swallowed by despair. Always think of what you can do to fix the situation, if only a little. At the very least you’ll blame yourself a lot less later on.”

Taking a deep breath, Lan began thinking of what he could do right now, and single word popped into his mind.

“Survivors” Lan thought, that single word igniting his hope “I got to look for survivors.”

Lan jumped back to his feet, albeit they were still slightly shaky, and ran throughout the battlefield, checking every corpse he came across. However, after 10 minutes of searching he hadn’t found a single breathing form. He had lifted corpses, searched ditches, and checked every nook and cranny, but couldn’t find anyone. He had slowed to a walk now, his momentary enthusiasm began to die off and despair quickly began to settle in again. But after walking a few more meters, he noticed a large bulking piece of metal protruding from the landscape some distance away. Recognizing it as Rowan's combat mech, Lan ran forward to check on it, hoping that Rowan was okay.

“Rowan’s combat mech is pretty strong” Lan thought to himself, desperation spreading throughout his body “Rowan…probably just got knocked out and is still in there. Yeah, I got to go help him.”

Lan was nearing the machine now, and not seeing Rowan around the backside of it Lan ran around to the other side.

“I got to get him out and treat him, and then he’ll be fine he’ll be—”

Lan rounded the corner of the machine and stopped in his tracks. Rowan’s body lay there completely still, but where Rowan’s head was supposed to be was foot shaped hole in the ground.

Trembling and on the verge of tears, Lan walked over and looked into the hole. Screaming in fear, Lan fell onto his backside and began sobbing.

“Rowan” he murmured between sobs “Rowan.”

He felt three cold wet noses press against his back. Turning his head, Lan stared into the sympathetic eyes of the three wolves who came with him. In their eyes he saw their sympathy for his situation, but he also noticed them glance deeper into the village every now and then. The wolves knew that if they wanted to save anyone else they had to hurry further into the village and fast. Staring into their eyes, Lan began to get back control of himself. Lan quickly got to his feet, shook his head to clear his mind, lifted his shoulder slightly and wiped his eyes on his gi.

“No time to cry Lan” he said to himself, biting his lip and forcing back his emotions “got to get moving, there may still be people I can save!”

Looking down once more at Rowan’s corpse, Lan placed his hands together and offered him a silent prayer. He then ran towards the center of the village. As he ran he began scanning the area for any sign of movement, there could still be people alive among the many corpses that littered the ground that he hadn’t looked through yet or maybe there were still Grimm around. In either case he had to be ready to act at a moment’s notice.

He had arrived in the village square by this time; here he saw signs of a last stand. Mounds of dead Grimm were piled up against what used to be a barricade, which now had a gaping hole through the middle of it. On the other side, there were just as much if not more human corpses. Lan walked through the hole in the wall and began surveying the corpses for survivors. A tight bundle of nerves was currently wrapped around Lan’s brain, helping him keep a calm mind even in this most dire of situations. He recognized many of the faces as he walked by, each lifeless expression threatening to break him once again. There was Alex, one of the village carpenters, Maria, a baker, and many many others. Lan had to tighten the nerves more and more as he passed every corpse. Lan passed the last pile of bodies and stopped in his tracks.

He gasped quietly. There, sitting next to each other and leaning on the side of a building, were Anna and Hiroshi both of them with bloody holes in their stomachs. Their eyes gazed into the heavens, unseeing and unfeeling.

Lan felt his strength leave his body as he looked down at them, although he was able to prevent himself from breaking down, tears began to flow out of each of his eyes. He slowly walked over to them, stumbling here and there, until he stood before them. Hiroshi’s twin blades were lying in his open hands, and Anna was holding her cudgels in hers. They had gone down fighting. Lan stood there for a few moments, just staring at them. Eventually reason managed to pierce through the mist that had filled his mind, and he knew that he had to move on like the little warrior he was. With great pain and effort, he lifted up his broken hand and closed their eyes. He had expected this, knew from what he had seen around him that their chances of survival were slim at best. He clenched his hands and winced as he felt the broken pieces of bone in his arm pierce his flesh.

He stood there for a few minutes longer unable to move, his young mind slowly being tempered in the flames of anger and cooled in icy despair.

All of a sudden he heard an explosion, followed by screaming. He whipped around and saw smoke coming from the direction of the shelter in the distance. Realizing that there were still survivors, Lan dashed in the direction of the shelter, hoping that he wouldn’t be too late and that he would be able to find the creatures that did this to everyone.

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“Fire!” shouted Gregory.

In response to his command, many dust rifles went off simultaneously, peppering the group of Grimm in front of them and sending many of the to the ground. The remaining villagers were currently holed up in the safe house and had barricaded all openings. The safe house was a circular three story building with large hallways on the outside and living quarters within. The hallways all had small windows facing all directions to allow for those inside to survey all around them.

The remaining villagers had equipped themselves with the weaponry that had been stored there and were defending themselves from the Grimm that were surrounding them. They were holding out rather well, many of the villagers having done this sort of thing before Byakko became a resident. Thankfully, the force of Grimm had thinned considerable thanks to the efforts of Hiroshi and the village militia and none of them were of a highly dangerous level (like deathstalkers and nevermores). Slowly but the Grimm were being thinned out. But, like in the previous battle, the humanoid Grimm was standing on a nearby hill, watching as its brethren were slowly being gunned down.

“Look” shouted Gregory, noticing the Grimm “there on the hill!”

Many of the sharpshooters in the windows turned their attention to the Grimm on the hill and then began unloading their rounds into it. The glowing shots whizzed through the air and peppered the area where the Grimm stood. A large amount of soil was kicked up by this barrage, and soon made it impossible to clearly see the Grimm. But they could hear what sounded like ricochets from deep within the din. Slowly, the rest of the sharpshooters joined in after they cleaned up the last Grimm on their sides of the building.

Gregory stood, staring into the depths of the growing cloud.

“They’re really goin at it.” He thought, watching all the ammo being wasted “but I guess it’s understandable. They want to make 110% sure that that monster is de—“

All of a sudden he noticed something. The ricochet sound that had been ringing through the grounds had suddenly disappeared.

“Hold!” he shouted at the shooters “hold your fire!”

One by one they stopped until the whole area was filled with an eerie silence. Slowly, the dust settled and when it had cleared, they discovered that the Grimm was gone. A few made comments of it being blasted to dust, but those with better heads on their shoulders knew that could never happen with the caliber of weapons that were fired at it.

All of a sudden there was a scream from the around the corner in another hallway. A few men ran to go check, and a few seconds later their death cries could be heard as well. Alarmed, Gregory called for the men to train their guns at the ends of the hallways. All those near him formed two walls, each pointing their rifles at one end of the hallway. While the men were focused on the sides, Gregory stuck his head out the window to get a final reconnaissance. The bodies of dead Grimm littered the ground, every single one dead. Gregory couldn’t see anything dangerous outside and was about to pull his head in when out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a window three stories below him. The window was broken. He was thinking about what this could mean when someone grabbed his shoulder with a vice like grip.

“Let go man. I’m thinking here.”

When the grip didn’t loosen, Gregory turned his head to give the person grabbing him a piece of his mind. The words caught in his throat. What had grabbed his shoulder wasn’t human. It was the humanoid Grimm, which was wearing a frightening smile. The lines of guards blocking both ends of the hallway were still there, unawares of the creature that had slipped behind their lines unnoticed. Gregory opened his mouth to yell for a retreat, but was caught in the face with a black fist which launched him out of the window and crashing down to the ground 2 stories below. As he hit the ground, he felt his bones shatter. He lay gasping for breath with blood dribbling out of his mouth. It was a few moments later that we heard the screaming, the shredding sounds, and the disappearance of voices. He struggled to get up, but was unable to even move. He had been lucky to even survive the fall. Minutes passed as the sounds of conflict inside continued, and suddenly there was complete silence. Gregory gazed at the building, hoping desperately that he would soon see people running outside.

The building exploded.

An explosion of reddish-black energy blasted the building to smithereens, sending a huge cloud of debris into the air. At the base of the dust cloud where the safe house used to be, Gregory could see two glowing eyes and a smiling, fanged mouth.

A single tear rolled down Gregory’s cheek as he now saw that there would be no survivors. But as the creature slowly began to advance on him, he was able to find a little bit of solace. Lan hadn’t come to the safe house, and knowing Hiroshi, the old soldier would never have let Lan join the fight.

“Lan is safe” thought Gregory, closing his eyes as the creature stood over him. “At the very least there’s that.”

Gregory felt an armored foot touch against his face and slowly increase in pressure.

“I’ve had a good long run” thought Gregory “and fought to my last breath along with everyone else. Hope they forgive me for being such a crappy commander on the other side.”

Gregory was fully prepared now, and was waiting for the pain to stop.

“Gregory!” he heard someone cry.

He opened one eye and saw Lan standing there with a horrified expression on his young face.

“NO!” thought Gregory “not—“

He wasn’t able to finish the thought. His head was already gone.

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Lan watched as the Grimm pulled its foot away from Gregory’s corpse. Initially Lan felt empty, his mind completely cut off from his surroundings. He felt nothing, heard nothing, and smelled nothing. The only thing in his mind was the scene that he saw in front of him with all the villagers, his family, lying unmoving in the pile of rubble that used to be the safe house and strewn all over the ground. All of a sudden, feeling came rushing back to him along with a boiling rage. The wrath exploded within him and grew in volume with each new corpse that came into his vision. His vision then focused on the Grimm standing there in the middle of the carnage, appearing to be smiling at him.

“I’ll kill you.” Lan said gritting his teeth, tears were now streaming down his face, and all reason within him was being covered up by his seething wrath inside of him.

The wolves that were with him began growling as they sensed Lan’s rage and they began to glow with red light.

“I’LL KILL YOUUU!!!” Lan yelled, and charged forward, clenching his fists and ignoring the shards of broken bone that tore through his skin.

The three wolves with him also shot forward, shooting past Lan with incredible speed, and hurtled toward the Grimm, their fangs bared.

Lan had the sight the three wolves ahead of him, three glowing missiles heading toward the Grimm.

Lan blinked, and when he opened his eyes again he was staring straight into the Grimm’s eyes, only inches away from its face. The three wolves were behind it; they were flying through the air in mid jump but they were no longer glowing red with aura. They now each had long gashes on the sides of their bodies and were twisting through the air as they fell. The Grimm had torn through them in less than a second.

Instinctively, Lan brought up his knees and brought down his arms to protect his torso. Almost immediately after, the Grimm’s fist smashed into Lan’s guard. Luckily, Lan had recovered a little bit of aura that was just enough to prevent any more broken bones. However, the force of the impact sent him flying a few dozen yards away, where he crashed onto the ground coughing and spluttering. A few seconds later, after the pain subsided a bit Lan lifted up his head slightly and stared in the direction of the Grimm.

It was simply standing there smiling, it’s head tilted back slightly in a mocking gesture.

“This thing is playing with me!” Lan realized “It could have easily finished me off, but that would be too boring for the damn thing wouldn’t it. It wants to enjoy this hunt.”

Lan tried to get up but found that he couldn’t move. The adrenaline and small amounts of aura that had been sustaining him earlier had run out.

He felt his consciousness fading. He taken too much damage and was no longer able to stay conscious.

“No” Lan thought, straining to get up as he felt himself slipping “Got…to…fight. Must…avenge……”

With those broken thoughts Lan passed out, his head plopping down on the grass

The Grimm smiled and walked forward towards the boy’s supine form. Once it was close enough it looked down on him, lifted its foot up slowly, and brought it down hard and fast. The Grimm smiled, its job finally done and then turned its head as it prepared to leave. But it found that its foot was rooted in place. Looking down the Grimm saw a blue hand formed of pulsating energy sticking out of the boy’s chest, its fingers wrapped tightly around the Grimm’s black foot.

With a flash of blue light, the Grimm was blasted away from Lan. While it was flying backwards, it quickly oriented itself and landed on its feet. The Grimm stared at the boy and watched as a blue energy began flowing out of the boy’s body. Once it had fully emerged, it coalesced together and formed the shape of a man. The energy then solidified and took on a solid form. Floating there was what appeared to be a man, formed from bluish crystal and pulsating energy. In its chest was the very same 4-pointed crystal that had appeared on Lan’s chest when the boy had fought the 1st humanoid Grimm. It turned back and looked at Lan’s passed out form.

What a fool you were” whispered the being. Its voice sounded like a strong wind passing through the leaves of trees, soft yet strong at the same time. “You could have been killed this day mine host. But luckily I was aware enough of my surroundings to come to your aid.”

The being turned and looked at the Grimm with its glowing blue eyes.

Vile spawn of darkness” it said, raising its arms into the air. “Your existence ends here.

Energy began to gather in the being’s palms, forming pulsating azure spheres. The Grimm roared and charged forward, closing the distance between them in an instant, it then pivoted on its left foot and threw a kick at the being’s head.

The attack passed through the being’s energy body harmlessly.

“Foolish creature” the being said.

The Grimm was off balance from the large attack it just threw, and its back was facing the being. The being then thrust out its palm and struck the Grimm on its lower back, which was just below its crystals. The force of the blow blasted the Grimm away. While in midair, the Grimm lashed out with one of its claws which dug into the earth to stop help stop its momentum. It flew a couple more meters, tearing up the ground as it went. It then landed on both of its feet and lifted its head to look in the being’s direction.

It was greeted with a fist to the face. The blow landed cleanly on the Grimm’s jaw and put it a few inches in the air.

You are not able to touch me.” The being said, pulling back its fists. “But I am more capable of touching you.”

The being unleashed a barrage of punches at the Grimm, pummeling every inch of the Grimm’s body with its energy laden fists. The Grimm was twisting through the air like a rag doll, unable to counter the being’s barrage. All of a sudden, the being stopped its assault. The Grimm quickly recovered its footing and threw a punch in the being’s direction. The punch hit empty air, the being had couched down below the Grimm and had gathered a good deal of energy into its palm. It thrust out its hand and struck the Grimm in the stomach. The Grimm was blasted backwards and flew through the air until it collided with the side of a house, smashing through to the center of the building. Weakened from fire, the house collapsed, burying the Grimm underneath.

With a roar of rage, the Grimm burst forward from the rubble and landed on its feet.

At that moment, it was struck in the face with a bolt of blue energy that the being had fired from its palm. The Grimm was then caught in a rapid fire barrage of the being’s blasts its body recoiling from every blast that struck it as if it were being attacked with rapid fire artillery.

Once the barrage ended, the Grimm was dazed and stood there slowly swaying from side to side. This was the perfect moment for a final blow, and the being took full advantage of it. The being then began moving its hands in a fluid circular motion, gathering and focusing a large amount of energy. Soon after the being brought its palms close together near its chest, where it began to mold the energy it had collected into a sphere. By this time the Grimm had shaken off its dizziness and now perceived the threat that confronted it. It roared and then charged at the being. The orb between the being’s palms had now reached the size of a beach ball and was pulsating with bluish energy. The being looked up at the charging Grimm, which was now only a few meters away, and spoke.

Be gone speck of darkness

The being fired a ray of energy from the sphere at the Grimm. The beam of energy was so large that it completely engulfed the creature. It completely vaporized everything in its path, and threw up a large cloud of dust. The beam lasted around 10 seconds, and then slowly shrunk in size until it blinked out.

The being dropped its arms to its sides, and observed the vast dust cloud that had formed in front of it.

You were never my equal” the being said, and then turned back towards Lan.

Suddenly a sharp pain erupted around its back region. The being turned its head and saw a fist, covered in crackling red energy, touching its back. The being quickly floated away and turned to look into the cloud of dust.

A low growling noise could be heard from within, and the glowing shape of two eyes and a mouth could be seen piercing through the cloud. The Grimm stepped out, its shape now slightly different. Its body had grown slightly larger and there were more black spikes protruding from its body, but the most striking difference was that one of the 5 spikes on its back was glowing with a bright darkish-red light and was sending tendrils of crackling energy all over the Grimm’s body.

Interesting” thought the being, “Not only has it grown more powerful, but now seems to possess the capability to harm my immaterial form” the being made note of the energy that covered the Grimm’s body.

It seems this will be more difficult than I had previously believed.

The Grimm roared and charge forward, now even faster than it was before. The being quickly dodged out of the way and then proceeded to launch its own martial attacks. The two of the dodged, blocked, and attacked each other with the precision of master martial artists. The being wondered where a Grimm had learned these skills, but had not the time to think of this problem at length, it had to devote all of its concentration to this battle.

The first to make a big mistake was the Grimm, it threw a tremendous kick, but was unable to regain its footing in time. The being slammed its elbow into the Grimm’s stomach, this time the blow had powerful piercing qualities and created a crack in the Grimm’s armor. The force of the blow also sent it skidding backwards. The Grimm quickly regained its footing however.

Hmmm” the being thought “It seems we are evenly ma—”

Two of the other crystals suddenly lit up and unleashed a torrent of energy around the Grimm. The Grimm roared as its physical features once again changed. Its body grew in volume, and was now almost twice as large as it used to be. Its claws grew longer, its hands now the size of trash can lids, and finally, red glowing lines spread out from the crystal and covered the beings entire body, looking like a series of red, glowing canals.

The being stared at the creature.

To have pushed me this far, I commend you, but this is where our struggle ends.”

The being placed its hand over the crystal. A bright blue light began to emanate from it and coils of flowing energy enveloped the being. In less than a second the light faded and the being’s transformation was complete. Its blue ethereal body was now encased in what appeared to be white crystal armor. Metallic Horn-like structures protruded from the being’s head, as well as from its elbows.

“Come” said the being.

The Grimm dashed forward, slamming its fist into the ground where the being had been standing only milliseconds before. It was then elbowed in the left side of face, the white spike piercing though its black cheek. The Grimm slammed its right foot down, to prevent itself from being blasted away and then threw a punch at the being. But it had already slipped behind the Grimm. The being’s target were the three unlit crystals on the Grimm’s back. With the activation of just two of the crystals, the being sensed that the Grimm was near its level of power, even with the assistance of the ancient light shard it carried. If more were activate, there was no telling what could happen.

The being brought its aura coated hand down on one of the crystals. An energy field surrounding the crystal stopped the blow in its tracks. The energies crackled against each other, each attempting to smother the other. Suddenly the Grimm’s crystal lit up and fired a beam of malevolent energy at the being, who managed to defend against it with its aura shield but was knocked away. The being skidded across the ground, forming two parallel ruts where its feet cut the ground, but quickly stabilized itself and turned to look at the Grimm. Once again, the Grimm had grown in size and shape with the lighting of another crystal.

The being could sense that the Grimm was now significantly more powerful that it was, each of its crystals seemed to be as powerful as the one the being possesed. It knew that it could no longer win. It turned its head to look at Lan, who was lying unconscious on the ground, and then shook its head. It had already assessed the situation and had made a decision.

Watching your life was interesting child” the being said, beginning to gather its energy in its feet “But I never planned on dying for you. The role I must play is far too important. Goodbye.

The being rocketed into the air with a burst of energy, leaving the boy behind. The Grimm watched the being soar higher and higher into the sky and smiled.

After the being had reached a high enough elevation where it believed it would be out of range of the Grimm’s attacks, it stopped and just levitated there. The being surveyed the area below it. The town was ablaze in many places with many of the buildings destroyed. The tranquil visage of nature that surrounded it was a stark contrast, as if to show how easily peace can turn to war.

It was an interesting place” the being said, looking over it one last time “but now it is time to g—”

All of a sudden the being noticed a bright red glow below it and glanced down. The Grimm now had all five of the crystals on its back lit, and the energy from the crystals was surging towards a massive energy sphere that was forming in front of its mouth. It was aimed at the being. Alarmed the being began to fly away from the village, increasing its speed in hopes to escape the blast. A few seconds later the Grimm unleashed the energy, firing the giant beam at the being’s fleeing form. The beam flew through the air, quickly gaining on the being. Realizing that it wouldn’t be able to escape, the being stopped and gathered all of his energy in order to form a protective barrier around itself. The moment that the barrier was solid, the Grimm’s energy blast slammed into it, enveloping the protective sphere in its malevolent energy. The being grunted with effort as it tried to maintain the barrier, but cracks were beginning to form. The crystal on the being’s chest shone brightly, amplifying its powers. But with all five crystals lit, the Grimm was far more powerful than the being was, even with the crystal’s assistance. The being was forcing every last bit of its energy into the barrier, every last portion of the strength he and the gem had accumulated after many years of existence, but it was to no avail. The barrier smashed open and the being was exposed to the destructive force of the blast. It screamed as it felt its body being blasted apart. Its body was slowly consumed by the energy until nothing remained. The last thing to remain was the gem, which twinkled brightly before shattering and fading from existence.

Now that its main body was gone, the being’s existence transferred itself to the nearest sources of compatible energy, which were the remnants of power that it had left within Lan’s body. It was very weak now, the energy that it had left behind was miniscule, about the amount of aura that a mouse would have. Quickly, realizing its situation, the being tried to force its way out of Lan’s body so that it may somehow escape. But it quickly found it was unable to do so, reduced to its current level, the being was now being suppressed by Lan’s soul which was now the dominant of the two. Unless Lan wished it, the being would not be able to leave his body and right now the boy wasn’t capable of wishing anything.

The Grimm, now the size of an ursa major (but far more powerful) walked over to Lan’s supine form and gazed down. It then lifted up its right foot and, with a roar, stomped down on Lan’s face.

Out of nowhere, a large fist crashed into the side of the Grimm’s face before it could finish the bloody act, contorting the Grimm’s features. The force of the impact blew the Grimm several yards away, saving Lan from being crushed into paste.

“HEY DIPSHIT!” said a deep, gravely voice dripping with anger “WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU ABOUT TO DO TO MY GRANDSON!?”

The Grimm looked up and stared into the eyes of a very angry white tiger Faunus.

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Byakko stood in front of his incapacitated grandson. His eyes were filled with rage as he stared down the Grimm. He then looked at the many corpses that were strewn all over the ground and the anger in his eyes was replaced with sorrow.

“So I was too late” Byakko said placing his hand over his right eye. “I’m sorry everyone. I wasn’t able to protect you all.”

With a roar the Grimm dashed forward and threw a punch at Byakko’s face. With a deft movement, Byakko easily caught the fist and nullified the force of the blow.

“But don’t worry everyone” Byakko said, tightening the fist that held the Grimm’s hand.

There was a cracking noise as the Grimm’s fist began to shatter. The Grimm screamed and tried to pull back its hand, but to no avail.

“I’LL MAKE SURE TO SEND THIS BASTARD TO KEEP YOU ALL COMPANY!”

Byakko crushed the Grimm’s hand, his eyes now filled with resolution. The Grimm screamed in pain and pulled the stump that was now its right arm away. Before the Grimm had moved a single step, Byakko landed an earth-shattering punch on the Grimm’s abdomen. The Grimm planted its feet and dug its toes into the ground, determined to keep its position, but to its surprise found itself looking up at the ground. It flew through the air for dozens of meters until it finally crashed into a group of buildings. Within a few moments it burst from the rubble, its body now coursing with energy from the crystals. The influx of energy in its body quickly healed its wounds and regenerated its destroyed arm.

On the opposite side of the field Byakko stood with his arms folded.

“You won’t be leaving here alive” Byakko said, his body now coursing with white aura.

The energy began to swirl around him like a twister, ruffling his clothes and hair. The Grimm stepped forward, prepared to attack, but stopped as it noticed something. It was something that only martial masters and those that possessed heightened instincts were able to see. Behind Byakko was the silhouette of a massive white tiger. The Grimm, who had no soul and was supposed to feel nothing, was, for an instant, struck with fear as it gazed upon this avatar of power and violence.

What’s wrong?!” Byakko said, the mocking in his voice evident and his body silhouetted by the power that had taken from behind him“You look like you’ve seen a monster!”

Overcoming its momentary cowardice, the Grimm roared and charged at Byakko, its arms spread it out. Byakko just calmly stood there as the raging monster sped towards him. Within a few milliseconds, the Grimm had closed the distance. Its body coursing with crackling red energy, it began to throw blow after blow at Byakko. The strikes flew through the air and struck their target faster than the bullets fired out of a minigun. Each strike had enough power to smash through stone and crush bones as they released impulses of powerful energy, but Byakko just stood there calmly, receiving the whirlwind of punches and kicks as though they were nothing but mosquito bites. After 30 seconds of the barrage, the Grimm began to slow down, until eventually it stopped. It was breathing heavily now and had its head bent down.

“Is that it?” Byakko said, raising an eyebrow.

The Grimm looked up and roared. Its outcry was interrupted as Byakko smashed its jaw with his elbow, crushing the armor around its face. Once again, the force of the attack threw the Grimm into the air. Having already experienced it once, the Grimm shot out one of its legs into the ground before it flew to high in order to gain some traction. Its momentum still caused it to be carried forward however, the friction from the ground was helping though and slowed down the Grimm down as it formed a massive scar in the land. Once the Grimm stopped it collapsed onto its hands and knees. Energy from the crystals surged outwards and began to repair the Grimm’s face and heal its wounds. Gritting its teeth, it forced itself onto its hands and knees and lifted its head to stare at Byakko. The crystals on its back began to glow with a strong light. The Grimm opened its mouth and the energy began to form an orb.

With an almost instantaneous movement, Byakko covered the distance between the two of them and stopped right in front of the Grimm. Startled, the Grimm pointed the orb at Byakko and fired. Right as the energy was beginning to blast forward, Byakko shot out his hand and seized the Grimm’s face in a vice like grip. Having its frontal path blocked by Byakko’s neigh impenetrable palm, the energy escaped in the other direction and blasted backwards, enveloping the Grimm’s skull. Everything behind the Grimm was disintegrated by the widening beam of energy. It blasted through house after house until finally; it broke through the last line and headed out to sea where it created a massive explosion in the distance. As soon as the energy dissipated Byakko tightened his grip on the Grimm’s skull, which resulted in a cracking sound. Byakko then lifted the Grimm up and smashed its head down into the ground, shattering the ground and forming a medium sized crater.

“That was for Hiroshi” Byakko said, gritting his teeth,

“and this” he said, once again lifting the Grimm’s skull up “Is for Anna!”

Byakko began to smash the Grimm’s skull into the ground over and over again, each time he shouted out the name of one of the deceased villagers. For every name, a tear slid down Byakko’s face, for every name the Grimm cried out in pain, for every name Byakko’s grip grew stronger. After saying the last name he released the Grimm’s skull. The Grimm crashed to the ground twitching.

“Don’t think we’re done yet!”

Byakko lifted his right foot above the Grimm’s head.

“This!” he said, bringing it down “Is for destroying out village!”

His foot smashed into the ground, burying the Grimm’s head deep under, chasming the ground, the Grimm’s body, with the exception of its head which was still in the ground, was sent upwards as rocks blasted out of the ground and collided with its frame.

“And this last one!” Byakko said, pulling back his right arm “Is for Lan!”

Byakko threw a backhand infused with a good deal of his aura. His forearm collided with the tips of the crystals on the Grimm’s back. White light clashed with reddish-black energy, each competing for dominancy. But the white light overwhelmed the Grimm’s energy, enveloping the crystals in its luminescence. The crystals pierced right through the Grimm and then blasted out of it. They shot through the air like arrows, piercing through building after building, until they finally became lodged in a far-off wall at the end of the village.

Byakko was about to start beating it again, when he noticed something was different. Byakko lifted his foot off of the now immobile Grimm, and stared down at it. He then reached down, grabbed it by the back of the neck and lifted the limp body into the air. Cocking his head to one side, Byakko stared at it, confused. He sensed a life pulsating from this creature he now held in his hand, but gone was the malevolent presence of a Grimm. As he contemplated this strange finding, cracks began to form in the Grimm’s armor. Pieces of the black shell began to break off in chunks of varying sizes, each piece vaporizing into thin air as soon as it hit the ground. What Byakko now held was what seemed to be a clump of shadows in the shape of a man. Slowly, the shadows began to peel off, slivers detaching from the mass and disappearing into the air. As soon as the final layer peeled away, Bykko found himself staring at the form of a wounded old man wearing a martial monk’s robes. The man was completely bald, had extremely pale skin, and had a good physique. The old man’s eyes opened and after a few seconds focused on Byakko. Byakko could sense that the man didn’t have much life force left, with every second the vital energy was flowing out of his form.

“Who are you?” Byakko asked.

The old man’s eyes gazed around him, taking in the scenes all about. He then smiled and closed his eyes.

“Thank….you” he said with a weak raspy voice.

His body then began to crumble, his form petrifying, cracking apart and turning into powder. Within the span of a few seconds, the man became a pile of white dust on the ground. Scratching his head, Byakko turned about and began to walk towards Lan.

Far away, on the other side of the village the crystals in the stone wall began to glow. Then with a burst of light, they detached themselves from the wall and began to float in the air. They then began to slowly drift through the air in a circle. Their former body had just been destroyed. It was time to select a new host; and what better than the being that so easily crushed their previous form. Yes, with his indomitable force they would be unstoppable. Having decided, they shot through the air towards the presence of the being. Flying through the air like sparrows, they dodged buildings and other debris that got in their way. Eventually their powerful new form came into sight. The crystals then oriented themselves point first, aiming for the old man’s exposed back. They were closing in, 12 meters, 6 meters, 1 meter.

With a lightning fast movement Byakko’s hand shot out and snatched the crystals from the air. The crystals struggled against Byakko’s vice-like grip, but to no avail. They were caught.

“Think I’m that senseless do you?” Byakko said, staring at the crystals “Think I couldn’t sense you little things all that distance away?”

Byakko began to tighten his grip.

“You things have killed so many of my friends and hurt my grandson bad. I’ve just two words for ya before I turn you into dust. {profanity} you.”

Byakko tightened his grip. Cracks were now beginning to from in the crystals, leaking out a reddish-black glow.

The crystals formed a barrier around themselves and tried to force their way out of Byakko’s hand with pulses of energy. But Byakko simply smiled as the crystals tried to force their way free from his grip. In the past Byakko had crushed many an “indestructible” object in his hands out of either necessity or boredom and compared to some of them the force given off by the crystals was nothing.

With one explosive burst of power he crushed the barrier and wrapped his fingers around the crystals. They vibrated in his hands and released a menagerie of different projectiles and fields in order to get free, but Byakko’s grip stayed firm, unyielding in the face of the small relentless assault. Then, with a grunt, Byakko crushed the crystals in pieces. A bright yet somehow dark light exploded out of the gems as they fell into ruin, and then slowly faded away. Byakko opened his hand and stared at the now broken pieces of what was now black crystal. He then threw them onto the ground like they were pieces of useless garbage and turned back to Lan.

He knelt down beside the boy and placed a hand on Lan’s forehead.

“Sorry” he said.

The usual jovial tone was now gone from Byakko’s voice, all his feelings of merriment now submerged under a wave of sorrow and guilt. He checked the boy’s condition and found that there wasn’t anything too critical, except that the massive amount of aura that the boy once held within him was gone. Dismissing the irregularity as the result of Lan’s exhaustion, Byakko took off the top part of the gi he was wearing, tore it into two pieces, and made a pillow and blanket for Lan to use. He then placed his hands on Lan’s small form and began to flow aura in to heal him. It wouldn’t fix some of the more serious injuries like the broken arms, but it could still help.

After he finished, he turned around and stared at the village surrounding him. The flames danced across the destroyed buildings and the corpses of all of his friends that he had spent more than ten years of his life with were reflected in his gray eyes.

“If…only I had never left…If only I had gotten here sooner instead of playing around with those Grimm in the mountains.”

Byakko then got on his knees, bent over, and touched his head and palms to the ground, silently begging all the departed to forgive him for his incompetence.

“But…I guess it’s to be expected” Byakko said getting up. “After all, this world is unforgiving. Nothing at all like a fairy tale.”

With his last thoughts spoken, Byakko sat there; watching as the flames slowly die away, a sentinel over Lan’s sleeping form. After a few hours the light of the flames had died away and they were smothered in the darkness of night. During that time Byakko sat and thought, wondering about what he and Lan would do from now on.

.

.

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Madame Zeroni watched as the dark enveloped the ancient star. Yet another potential savior destroyed. The star still lived, as it was protected by a powerful white sun, but its destiny had been destroyed. Fate no longer had any plans for it. She sighed and turned her attention to the Red, White, Black, and Yellow stars.

“It seems that they will now be the hope for this generation” she thought. “Let’s hope they fare better than the blue one.”

She then turned and headed back into her home, never noticing that the blue star had been surrounded by blank space in the sky. The blank space didn’t mean that everything was over for the boy, oh no.

Like an artist must always start with a clean sheet, some “destinies” start out as things that are uncontrolled by fate. What the small blue star had to do now was paint its own picture. Fate, after all, had now handed it the paint and easel. What it will become…well, who knows?


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