4-2: Crimson vs. Cerulean
The day was August 23.
Red the Crimson General was riding a military truck alongside several other soldiers. He was with over 15,000 troops as they headed towards the battlefield between the Cerulean and Ivory Armies.
Zack the Ivory General had sent a code to the Crimson Army giving the whereabouts of the Cerulean Base as well as saying that they will be attacking them that day. Because Red was the most suited proximity-wise, Zack had chosen Red to deal the final blow. As they neared the location, they could see the Ivory Army retreating.
“It’s just as you thought, Red,” came the voice of a female sitting beside the teenage boy. It was Vanessa, the only female bio-soldier in the Crimson Army and leader of their Raid Unit. “Ivory somehow found out where Cerulean is, and shook them up for us to defeat. We would be open to an attack by them if we push through with this. Are you willing to take that risk?”
“Don’t make me repeat myself,” Red replied. “This is all going according to plan. Considering what Ivory has accomplished so far, it can easily be seen that he’s a careful, calculating type. A three-way battle between generals is far too unpredictable for someone like him unless he has a grand, foolproof plan, which is unlikely considering how early on it is in the war. I’m risking it now that we have a clear advantage to bring the generals down to 4.”
Vanessa tightened her grip on a dagger resting on her lap. It had her nickname engraved on the handle, the name that only Red and her late childhood friend Arthur were allowed to use: Nessie. “Just...don’t be too reckless out there, okay?” she said with a soft voice.
In response, Red put his hand on Vanessa’s shoulder and grinned, saying, “Don’t worry, I won’t. I’ll make sure you don’t have to go out of your way just to protect me.”
Bowing her head away from the red-eyed general, she barely got the words out: “O-okay, good.”
Red pulled back his hand and was about to talk to the other soldiers to prepare them for the battle when the communication device installed around his ear sent a signal. Turning on its switch, Red was greeted by the voice of a bio-soldier under Victor.
“We have a problem, sir!” the bio-soldier began. “Someone attacked us!”
“What the...? How?! Are there enemies nearby?”
“No, sir. A flash of white lightning showed up. It felt as if he was as fast as you, sir. Or even faster...”
Red clicked his tongue. “Cerulean shouldn’t know that we are on our way to ambush,” he said. “It’s Ivory. Did he explicitly attack any one of you?”
“No, sir. What should we do?”
“He’s probably scouting us out. Ignore him; it’s not like you guys can do anything if the guy’s faster than me.”
Cutting off the communication, Red groaned and rested his head on his hands.
“What’s wrong?” Vanessa asked.
Meanwhile, the soldiers in the sabotaged truck were in a panic. They had lost one of their men.
“Are you sure we shouldn’t tell him that Victor was taken away and that we couldn’t do anything about it?” one bio-soldier asked.
“What are you, stupid?” another one retorted. “In a truck full of bio-soldiers, we were attacked and couldn’t even see what the hell happened! You think we can report that to the general and scare everyone off?!”
“I guess you have a point...” the first soldier said. “We’re taking the offensive here. Getting shaken will be fatal.” He steeled his resolve. “If Victor doesn’t return, we say that he died in the confusion of the battle. Also, if Ivory attacks again, we will do our best, but even if someone gets taken away we will push onwards.”
This event was what triggered Victor’s eventual betrayal that would cause Catherine to lose her parents and have her taken into direct custody by Red. The abducted division commander would eventually return just in time for the big battle against the Cerulean Army, but his mind would be overwhelmed by the Ivory General’s power.
“I’m not one for loud commands,” Red said as he stood behind one of their trucks, alone. They had arrived at their destination, and the Ivory Army had completely evacuated. He was sending a message towards all of his troops at once. “Just...just charge in, okay? Raise enough mayhem and I’ll come in to help out later.”
At this, he received multiple messages all at once.
“You don’t have to get out there yourself, general.”
“If you came in, it’d be overkill.”
“Have a little mercy on those critters, kiddo.”
Overloaded with all the voices, he lost control of his voice. “Just shut up and start attacking already!” He then flipped the switch on the back of his ear as he heard the sound of soldiers running forward along with tanks. A handful of fighter planes had gone on ahead to send out missiles.
Red jumped onto the top of the truck and watched as three missiles descended onto the battlefield. One of them detonated midair, causing the teenage boy to blow a slight whistle.
“Too bad intercepting a missile is a bare minimum for a general so I can’t gauge Cerulean’s capabilities from just that,” he said to no one in particular. “In any case, if he’s gonna take part directly, I better get going soon to stop him.”
Inside the battlefield, Allen and his unit led the charge. They saw several enemy soldiers scatter after the missile attacks.
“You guys know what to do,” he said over the microphone installed in his helmet. As if on cue, the soldiers ran ahead of him at uniform speeds. A few regular soldiers threw grenades in tandem, and they systematically spread out before the explosives could detonate. As they did, the enemy soldiers scattered further, and they were able to attack them systematically using the chaos to their advantage.
The same was going on in other battlefields: The Cerulean Army was in disarray, a complete contrast to the Crimson Army’s seemingly perfect synergy in battle. The trade-offs were always in favor of Red’s Army no matter what they did, and while this was good news to everyone whenever they sent reports of skirmish victories to each other, people started wondering why they were winning so easily.
It was during this time of overconfidence when the enemy’s trump card appeared.
One of the regular soldiers was reporting to Red. “This area has also been cleared, sir,” he said over his communication device. “Still, something is wrong. I believe you’ve received similar reports, but the enemy is way too disoriented. I can’t help but wonder what-”
Red could hear screams around the soldier. “What’s going on?!”
The screams were immediately silenced, and the soldier could be heard running. He had changed the settings to send a global message. “May day, may day!” he screamed. “My unit’s been wiped out by the Cerulean Gene-” A grunt could be heard as the soldier was sent flying forward at an incredible speed. He crashed onto a wall and died instantly. The other soldiers who were with him were lying flat on the floor with water surrounding their entire bodies.
Red clicked his tongue. His earpiece was being spammed with several shouts of panic. Apparently something bigger was going on.
“Some of the enemy soldiers seem to have gotten stronger!” one of the soldiers reported. “They’ve acquired some sort of watery aura or something around their arms and legs! It must be the Cerulean General!”
So he’s finally shown up, huh... “All right,” Red said, switching to a global message. “Guys, group up! But don’t break out of your formations while doing so! Cerulean’s probably the reason behind the sudden change in the soldiers, but you can leave him to me. I’m going in! Just hang in there!”
As he was about to finish his transmission, he heard a female voice.
“Allow my unit to guard you, Red!”
“Thanks for the concern, Nessie,” the red-eyed boy said. “But don’t go doing other stuff right now. If Cerulean has a unit with him, then I’ll call for help before engaging. Don’t break out of your formation.”
With blinding speed, the boy named Red raced around the battlefield with enemies unable to either aim at him properly or actually notice him pass by. He had yet to learn how to fly at this point, but his speed was more than enough.
“Cerulean needs to be in a place where he wouldn’t be disturbed,” he started telling himself, reassessing the situation. “If he has the power to enhance that of his soldiers - and possibly even control them to an extent - then I should probably expect a small unit protecting him.”
He eventually sensed a lone presence inside of a building. Fearing that it was the Cerulean General and that his presence would be spotted any time soon, Red sprinted even faster and drew out his staff. Recklessly entering through the window, he smashed it by force and continued charging at the person in front of him.
In response, the figure, who had his arms stretched out forward in concentration, immediately put his hands to his hips and drew out two swords, preventing a direct attack from the Crimson General just in time. However, the momentum that Red had gathered was enough to send them both outside the opposite end of the building, causing them to fall down.
They had noticed it during the initial clash, but they were not given a chance to react as they both fell victim to the impact of Red’s attack.
The two generals broke off from each other and landed on the ground with about 10 meters between them.
They finally had time to react to each other’s appearance.
Red gulped. “...Cerulean’s a girl?!”
In front of Red was a girl that looked about a couple of years younger than him with hair that barely reached her shoulders. He could not believe it, but from how she was able to take his attack without so much as an injury, and the fact that her eyes were dyed a clear blue, there was no mistaking it.
On the other hand, the girl in front of him was just as surprised.
“You’re Crimson?” she asked rhetorically, because there was no other reason behind Red’s power and crimson eyes. “But you’re pretty much the same age as me!”
The water-like aura disappeared from the enemy soldiers, and the Crimson Army gained the upper hand once more.
Damn. Red clicked his tongue. I did not see this coming. What should I do? She’s just a girl. But...she’s a general, just like me. But maybe she was just dragged into this out of her will. But this is the perfect opportunity for me to take one down; the soldiers are clearly winning, and if it’s a girl that’s been turned into a general against her will, then I should be able to best her. Damn, I’m saying way too many but’s here. Let’s see...
“I’m Red,” he said. “What’s your name? And how did you become a general?”
“Shirley,” the girl said. “Who cares about how either of us got involved in this war? You’re the ones that attacked us!”
However, before Red could finish his sentence, the teenage girl charged straight at him. Both of her swords were ready to slice him, while three balls of water, each about a centimeter in diameter, appeared on top of her head and her sides. In conjunction to her attack, these three balls quickly charged straight at him from three different angles like bullets.
As Red parried the swords with his staff, the three water bullets continued to make their way to him. Gritting his teeth, the teenage boy created three flame sparks to intercept them, causing a clash between fire and water where steam appeared as an aftereffect.
All these happened in an instant.
It seemed like the two generals were equal.
However, that was not exactly the case.
While Red simply intended to parry Shirley’s attack, he noticed that she had put an unexpectedly low amount of power into it. After reassessing the situation from the initial clash, he ultimately overpowered her and completed a full swing of his weapon, sending the girl flying 5 meters backwards. With the swing of his Bo Staff, Red was holding it with his left hand. He then stretched out his right hand, and a circle of flame formed right at the spot where Shirley landed. In two seconds, this would turn into a cylindrical pillar and engulf the girl in flames.
However, his did not happen.
In the same fashion, Shirley created a circle of water on top of the flames. This created a wall of steam around her, and she jumped upwards to avoid the damage.
By the time she got away, Red was already pointing his gun at her.
Tch, the red-eyed boy clicked his tongue as he fired a shot.
Shirley saw this coming. She took out her gun and intercepted the shot, the recoil as she hung in midair sending her further back from Red. At the same time, Red moved away as well, right before a tank bullet hit the spot where he was previously standing. This was followed by a rain of machine gun fire on the same area, which proceeded to follow his tracks, although ultimately they completely missed because of his speed. He had waited until the very last moment in order to waste as much time and ammunition from the enemy as possible.
“Do it,” he said as a global message to his soldiers.
This was what he was troubled by right when he was pointing his gun at the girl in midair: They were initially isolated because of the place Shirley chose, but it was only a matter of time before their soldiers began converging around them. When they did, the enemy soldiers arrived first, so he had to create an opportunity for his troops. Concentrating the enemy’s aim on him and evading everything at the last second was the best he could do given the circumstances in order to leave them vulnerable, and he pulled this off with no problems, giving his side an even bigger advantage. Nevertheless, he was still disappointed that his duel with Shirley - the quickest way to end the battle - was interrupted.
In response to the order, the soldiers of the Crimson Army, who saw Red’s attempt to use himself as bait, took the chance and went on the offensive once more. As the battle raged on further in the Crimson Army’s favor, the two generals stood at the farthest end of their respective armies.
“You don’t seem to be hurt,” Allen said as he and his unit approached Red. “So Cerulean is...”
“She said her name is Shirley,” Red replied. “I don’t know the circumstances behind it, but the plan remains the same: Kill the Cerulean General.”
“Right. We’ll have to return to the front lines now.”
Exchanging nods, Allen’s group ran back to the battlefield.
The battle had raged on long enough that there were no longer any aircrafts to be seen, but there were still several tanks and other vehicular weapons rampant, taking out several people at once. These were disposed of shortly by the bio-soldiers, whose strength rivaled even that of a tank, but having other soldiers defend the machines prevented them from further doing so. Still, because of the initial advantage, the Crimson Army was winning in numbers.
Red then saw several of the enemy troops have their limbs surrounded by water, and this visibly made them stronger and faster. From a swift count, Shirley was controlling a maximum of 20 soldiers at once.
“Impressive,” the boy muttered to himself. He tightened his grip on his staff. “I can’t just go around slacking off here now, can I?”
He then bent his knees, and at the moment when he was supposed to begin his sprint, it seemed as if he simply disappeared. The next time he became visible, he was suspended midair in front of an enemy tank, his hands lifted high before smashing the large machine with his metallic staff that was glowing red, burning the tank upon contact. With the staff stuck inside the tank at nearly a right angle, Red let go of it and performed a forward somersault, catching the tip of his weapon when he was upside down in midair, and used the momentum to add another circular swing to finish things off. He landed on top of the tank after the deed, and dashed away just before it exploded.
By the time the others noticed the explosion, five soldiers in powered suits were already lying down cringing in pain as their bodies burned, and Red was still on the loose. The flame-clad boy then reappeared once more to blow up the base of another tank, killing the soldiers surrounding the machine while at it, and then disappeared once more. The Crimson Army soldiers followed up by finishing off the tank.
This sudden turn of events caused great panic to the Cerulean Army. With Red leading the charge, even the enemy troops with water enhancements were nothing.
Red’s next target was a bio-soldier that seemed to be a commanding officer with how he was frequently issuing commands over a communication device installed on his helmet. He had been the red-eyed boy’s goal all along; he was thinning out the surrounding forces so that he could get to him, and eventually to the blue-eyed general named Shirley. Red’s presence was soon noticed, but with his speed, it would be too late for the bio-soldier. The weaker human gasped at the sight of the crimson eyes in front of him, and he froze in fear.
Just when he was about to brace himself for the worst, a force equal to Red’s met the teenage boy’s strike and the clash caused a great vibration. The few soldiers with water enhancements returned to normal.
Removing one sword from their deadlock, Shirley quickly tried a direct stab at Red, but the staff-wielding boy simply spun his weapon to effectively parry it with one side and used the other end to attack, which was then parried by Shirley’s blade. The two generals then began a series of blindingly fast melee strike exchanges. After seeing Red’s rampage, the soldiers of both sides knew better than to try meddling in a fight between generals, and they all scattered, as if giving them a ring to duel on.
It was as if the two monsters have spoken.
“We’ll settle this one-on-one.”
Red was eventually overpowering Shirley, and the girl started summoning her water bullets. At the same time, Red placed fireballs around him to intercept the attack, but Shirley was faster; Red was unable to boil two bullets, and he was sent back in a defensive position.
She has more mastery of her element than me...
As inertia settled down on Red’s feet, his body started being covered in water. It would envelope him, and just like what had happened to a few of his soldiers, he would suffocate. And unlike his flame pillar, Shirley’s water manifested itself a lot faster.
Soon, he was completely submerged in water that did not need a container and was controlled solely by the Cerulean General, whose hands were stretched out in concentration. His eyes were closed and it looked as if he was struggling. A smile crept on Shirley’s face.
However, as if to spoil her moment of victory, a spark of flame appeared right below her chin, and exploded from there.
Giving out a shriek, Shirley narrowly evaded the explosion, twisting her body to the right and a little bit backwards, but this disturbed her concentration enough to lose control over the water imprisoning Red. With eyes dyed a deep crimson fixated on nothing but her, the boy with the staff charged forward.
Shirley sent more water bullets his way, but this time no flames appeared to intercept them; Red simply used his speed and heated-up Bo Staff to block every single one of them while continuing to run forward. He reached her, and they clashed weapons once again. Shirley gritted her teeth, and Red was visibly smiling.
...but I’m stronger and faster.
Trying to break off from the disadvantageous melee exchange, Shirley sent another set of water bullets from her sides. At this point, Red had already figured it out: Unlike him who can barely create 3 flame sparks at the same time, Shirley could create multiple water bullets with ease, with a possible maximum of 5. However, she has to form it nearby and a little bit to her back before shooting it at her target from there, while Red could send explosions at any open space around him. He could create multiple fireballs in a similar manner, but in the same way that he wins in melee exchanges, his fireballs would definitely lose to the water bullets; this had already happened, and so that strategy was out of the question. He would use his flame spark. It was a matter of how they used their powers that would determine the next sequence of actions.
In the fraction of a second that Shirley used to create the water bullets, Red sent flame sparks to overlap two of them, one on each side. This caused steam to pop out on the girl’s flank, and at the same time, Red’s brute strength pushed her straight to the heated water.
The teenage girl was thrown backwards with a scream, but was able to shoot the 3 remaining water bullets. However, Red was able to easily evade them due to her losing focus on her aim, after which he dashed forward to follow her. With a grunt, the boy quickly created another pillar of fire behind Shirley to catch her midair.
If she tried to douse it, the heat would still get her. Clicking her tongue, she thrust her sword onto the ground. She would use it as a brake and create some distance to reassess the situation, leaving her blade behind if necessary.
However, before her sword could even touch the ground, it was pushed sideways by a metallic Bo Staff. Her body forcefully spun with the strike, and she was barely able to send out her other blade to parry a downward strike from the other end of the staff that did not even give her the time to fall peacefully. And with that, she crashed to the ground with a loud thud.
At this, Red’s eyes widened. He froze.
Crap! he thought. I held back! I need to finish this now! His grip on the burning staff tightened, but he could not bring himself to deal the final blow on the girl that was cringing in pain in front of her. Shit, why can’t I-
Just then, he was forcefully pushed by someone to the right. He heard a female voice scream “Look out!” followed by the sound of something being pierced multiple times.
When he saw what had happened, his eyes widened in shock.
It was Vanessa. She had pushed him away, and was shot by multiple water bullets from behind. In that damaged state, she was floating in midair as a mass of water surrounded her head, trying to suffocate her.
Red immediately took out his gun and pointed it at Shirley, but the moment he did, she immediately dashed out of sight, freeing Vanessa from the water and dropping her.
Before the female bio-soldier could crash to the ground, Red caught her and retreated. With the generals gone, the two armies resumed their fight anew.
“Hang in there, Nessie!” he screamed, but he could feel the blood from all the wounds she sustained flowing into his arms.
Red had hesitated. Shirley was a general, but in that moment all he saw was a teenage girl with her whole life ahead of her; a young, innocent soul dragged into and tainted by the violence of war. He could not bring himself to strike her down.
And because of that moment of indecisiveness, a woman whom he had grown attached to was dying in his arms.