1-5: Supernova, the Final Fire Attack
“Oh dear, I’m lost again…”
November 22. Catherine, the newest member of the Crimson Army, was looking for Red’s room when she ended up in the laboratory area. The entire headquarters was a labyrinth for her, and she still kept getting lost.
“Oh well, I’ll just open this door and ask whoever’s inside,” she said as she stood in front of what she didn’t know was Adam’s lab. What she saw came as a surprise: Her target, Red the Crimson General, was there, shirtless, with countless electrodes attached to his body. A large number of scientists wearing lab gowns were present, mashing at keyboards and staring at monitors connected to the electrodes. Most notably, there were three people talking with Red: Adam, and a pair of twins that could only be distinguished by who wore glasses and who didn’t. The name of the one who wore glasses was Larry, while the one who could see just fine was Harry.
“I think I’ve found something big in this serum-infested body of yours, Red,” Adam said, either completely oblivious to Catherine’s presence or simply too busy to mind. “You can create a sure kill fire-based attack. Based on my observations on you, the longer this war goes on, the more you become able to increase the temperature of the flames you create. Right now, it seems you have reached the point where you can burn at over 2000°C, and it’ll only get more powerful from here on out. If you unleash all that into one gigantic collision explosion attack, you can even kill a general. I call it the Supernova, the strongest fire-based attack; perhaps the strongest attack ever.”
“There’s gotta be a catch,” Red commented, looking suspicious.
Harry nodded. “Indeed,” he said. “The catch is that if you use the Supernova even once, you’ll probably die. Remember, it can kill even a general, and it’s channeled through you. It’s safe to say that one Supernova would be able to take out not one, but two generals. It’s the power of the dying star, a final resort in the event that you find yourself cornered with no other option but taking your opponent down with you.”
Red shook his head and forcefully removed the electrodes. “I’m done here,” he said, taking his shirt and putting it back on. “I can win this war without using anything like that. And is it really that fun poking at my body? My body that you tampered with when I should have died?”
“I’m just trying to help, son…”
But Red was already walking away. Seeing Catherine, he stopped briefly but continued on as if he saw nothing; he passed by her and exited the laboratory.
“Red, wait!” Catherine said as she tried catching up to him.
“That old man’s way too much into his science.”
Right outside the entrance of the large, secret base of the Crimson Army was a grassy field and a river. Red and Catherine were sitting near the riverbanks.
“Dammit, why me?” Red began saying. “He could have chosen someone more…worthy.” He sighed. “And to think he only injected the serum in a last-ditch attempt to save my life.”
“Car accident, right?” Catherine, completely oblivious as to what really happened, asked.
Red refused to entertain her question and simply went on with his ranting. “Imagine if he had chosen someone older who was actually willing to shoulder the weight of a country. If that person had become the Crimson General, he probably wouldn’t have had any problems getting the trust of the soldiers, and he would’ve been way better than me. I mean, look at me, I’m just a teenager, but I got to be this strong. If someone bigger and stronger from the start got the serum, then maybe…”
“There’s no point in dwelling over that, though,” Catherine commented. “The one who ended up becoming the Crimson General was you, so there’s no helping it. Besides, it seems the army has already accepted you anyways.”
“Yeah, you’re right.” Red lay down on the grass and stared at the sky, reaching out his right hand forward. “That’s why I try. I try reaching heights I never would have imagined going for before all this war crap happened. But trust me, I exert effort to become the best I can be, so that one day I can accept myself as their general. It’s one thing to get them to trust me, and another to trust myself.”
“I’ll try my best to help out. After all, it must be hard on you. Along with everyone else, I have your back as well.”
Red pulled his right arm back and used it to cover his eyes while he smiled. “Thanks,” he said. “I’m counting on you. And thanks for hearing me out. Having someone my own age to talk to feels really great. You don’t know how much it means to me.”
Catherine smiled, looking at him. “No problem. Just tell me whenever you wanna talk, okay?”
“Right.” Red stood up. “I guess I gotta go back and do my thing. Let’s see…I have a meeting soon, some paperwork, and training in the afternoon. You’ll be with the other women, right?”
Catherine followed suit and got up. “Yeah,” She replied. “Laundry’s hard work, you know?”
Red laughed. “All right then, let’s go back.”
Later that day, 5pm, at the large training room, Catherine came to check up on Red who was scheduled to practice with his soldiers. She was holding a lunch box.
Red was training with the bio-soldiers in close-quarters combat. Using wooden weapons, about 50 of them sparred against a bare-handed Red.
Even though he’s a general, she thought to herself. Even though he’s plenty strong already, he just keeps on challenging his limits. Even though he’s always been so reserved, always a pacifist back when he was just a normal high school student…it’s like he’s forcing himself to do something he doesn’t want to…
Red used a textbook-effective strategy to get around his range disadvantage: he would deftly catch his solders’ weapons and use those against them, but he would always finish the job with his own punches, kicks, or throws. This seemed like a simple strategy, but Red made everything look like an art form in how creative he was with his fast-paced moves. That’s just the thing about Red: Even before he was the general, he never gave anything less than what was needed.
When the bio-soldiers were down to four, Roger swung his nunchakus in front of Red. In response, Red sidestepped to avoid the blow, then put his right hand over his left shoulder, just in time to catch a Bo Staff that David tried swinging at him from behind. Yanking it out of the soldier’s hand, he swung it forward in order to parry a strike from Victor’s mace and quickly stabbed David from behind right after. He then threw the staff at Roger, distracting him long enough for Red to grab David’s arm and swing the man in a counter-clockwise direction, hitting both the distracted Roger and Fred, the fourth bio-soldier who did not even have time to react to what was going on. Finally, with the three adults down, Red made a spin move to get behind Victor and disabled him with a clean chop to the nape.
Catherine’s eyes widened as she witnessed the whole scene. A-amazing…even with a number and range disadvantage…
Red was sweating heavily, but he had a big smile on his face while he used his hand to wipe his forehead. After all those battles and combats, he still couldn’t believe he could be that strong. “Whew, I’m beat,” he said. “How about we try 60 soldiers tomorrow?”
“This kid just keeps asking for trouble,” David commented, chuckling. He turned his head and looked at the collapsed Victor. “But hey, you’re the general, so whatever. Still, you didn’t have to hit Victor that hard.”
At this remark, Red bowed like a knight. “Tell him I’m sorry once he wakes up. Anyway, I’ll think about how to train tomorrow, so for the meantime you guys can do whatever you want. Looks like I have a visitor.”
Bidding his injured soldiers with a nod of his head, the almost equally injured Red, who had sustained considerable damage and received a fair number of clean hits in the middle of his sparring session, approached Catherine with a slight wave of his shaky hand.
“Yo. You came to sightsee?” Red grabbed a handkerchief from his pocket and used it to wipe his drenched face. “I’m terribly sorry that you had to see me like this. I’m a complete mess, huh?”
Catherine shook her head. “No, not at all. I can see how hard you’ve been training. Looking at you now, I think I can see why everyone here has so much faith in you. You’re really strong and work even harder; anyone who has seen you would easily admit that much.”
Red tried looking up in embarrassment and scratched his head. “Aw man, you’re making it sound like this is all coming from me. The general serum is responsible for most of my abilities right now. But seriously, more than my increased strength and agility, what’s really baffling even to me is the combat sense this thing gave me.” He opened his hands in front of him and looked at his palms. “I mean, being able to make creative counters and all, being able to mentally simulate multiple battle scenarios in a matter of split-seconds while in the middle of a fight…” He clenched his fists. “Even I’m surprised at it myself. No matter how much I get used to this power, it has never ceased to amaze me.”
Taking zero credit, huh? Sounds just like the old Red. ”Anyway, you must be hungry,” Catherine said. “I prepared some food here for you. Please help yourself.”
Red’s eyes widened. He pointed at the lunch box, then at himself, and then looked at Catherine with a puzzled look. “Wow, for me? You made this?”
Catherine simply laughed. Is this guy really called “The Blazing Monster”? “Yes, Red, this is for you.” She handed the lunch box to the young general. “And yeah, I made it. Well, I haven’t had much practice, but I hope you like it.”
Sitting on the floor right after getting the lunch box, Red opened it, took the spoon and fork that went with it, and began chowing down the food hastily. He raised his eyebrows.
“This…this is really good!”
Catherine smiled as she held her face. “Really! What a relief!” She then sat beside Red on the floor. The other bio-soldiers were staring and sneering at the two.
“That kid…” one of the soldiers commented. “I bet he’s really happy right now.”
“Well, yeah,” another said. “After all, she is the reason we had to get in a fight with him. Being young sure is nice, huh?”
As they watched, a smile that seemed like it would never disappear was plastered on Red’s face while he gobbled up the food Catherine made for him.
In a matter of minutes, Catherine and several bio-soldiers were gathered right outside a bathroom. The space in front of the door had burn marks all over it, and whenever someone tried going near, a spark of flame would appear in front of their faces.
Catherine held her mouth. “Oh, dear…”
“Admit it, kid!” Victor said as he faced the bathroom. “That food you ate is the reason why you’re stuck in there!”
A ball of flame appeared and it charged straight at Victor, violently circling the body of the soldier.
“Catherine’s food is good!” Red’s voice could be heard, followed by a vomiting sound, and with it the flame surrounding Victor disappeared.
“Let’s just leave him,” Roger said as he grabbed Catherine’s shoulders, slowly pushing her away. “He’s the Crimson General; he’ll be fine. But seriously, try tasting the things you make yourself first before giving them to someone else. Haven’t you ever cooked before?”
Catherine shook her head. “I’m sorry. But…he said it was good…”
Victor laughed. “Of course he’d say that! He’s the idiot who took on all 1000 of us before the war – just for you!” He then followed Roger and Catherine, walking alongside them. “Listen to me, Catherine. The kid is crazy about you. I don’t know if you’ve seen that look in those blood-red eyes of his, but he’s stubbornly determined to fight this war just for you. Honestly, I don’t know what kind of relationship you two have, but at the very least I want you to be aware of your importance to our army. You being alive is probably the only reason Red’s trying so hard.”
“Damn right,” Roger said, finally letting go of Catherine and patting her head. “Without you doing anything, you’ve become Red’s main driving force to fight on. It’s all Red’s fault, yes, but we’ve come to accept it if it means we get to protect those that we love in the same way he’s desperately trying to protect you.”
Catherine bowed her head. “I’m…not sure how to react to all of this.”
Roger sighed. “Red once said that he wanted to fight in order to create a future you would be able to smile about. He just wants you to be happy. So you don’t really have to do anything aside from staying put and giving him a reason to move forward. Everyone in this base – in this country – needs him, Catherine, and that means we need you, too. The Blazing Monster is a hero in our eyes, and everyone here believes that he will lead us to victory.”
Catherine was lost in thought. All for me…?
Later that night, Red was enjoying himself in his room watching television while lying face down. It was a drama series about an agent of death portrayed by a man in a black suit who would visit people in order to tell them that they were about to die and how many days they had left. While he was completely engrossed in the show, he heard someone knock on his door.
“It’s open,” he said as he got up. “What’s up?”
The door flung open to reveal a bio-soldier who was panting with his hands resting on his bent knees, giving Red the hint that something urgent was going on.
“Sir! You have to come with me!” he said. “Allen arrived from outside and he’s heavily injured! The medics are being notified and a stretcher is on its way, but he can barely stand. And, there’s something…you have to know. Please! Hurry!”
Red was surprised at what he saw. Allen was on his knees, bleeding a significant amount. Most soldiers were surrounding him, while some tried to control the bleeding as they waited for the medics. Red pushed his way through the crowd in order to hear Allen report something he never thought he would ever hear:
“Catherine’s been kidnapped.”