Lloyd-Victoria strolled along the laboratory halls of the airship Providence, which was now flying towards Isla Conseja, where Leo Weiss, Daena Santos, Stacy Sykes, Xavier Krassant, Lillian Rulu, and Justin Wang were imprisoned.
At last, Lloyd-Victoria arrived at his chosen room.
Inside the room, was a young woman. This was Alyssa Avarie, Lloyd’s best friend, at least when he was in his original body.
“Lloyd,” she addressed.
“It’s Victoria Krell now… but...okay.”
“Yeah, take a seat.”
Lloyd-Victoria took a seat across from Alyssa, staring into each other’s eyes, reminiscing of their olden days.
“So, you wanted to see me? I was going to see you anyways but-”
“Nathan Chang says it would work if we merged.”
“It would?” Lloyd-Victoria gasped. “I’m having a problem finding a better… host? Nathan did say the Memetic parasite transfers wouldn’t always work well. Right now, I’m doing my best not to scream.”
“Nathan has a theory,” Alyssa smiled. “Doctor Chang says that since we’ve been best friends since, well, second grade, our Memetic parasites should be used to each other.”
“What’s the but? Chang never brings only good news.”
“Well, he says it would work, but that the merge may be different.”
Alyssa sighed. “Well, you know whenever you merge with someone, you control most of the abilities and memories? And how can you remove yourself and return to your own body?”
“Well, Nathan theorizes that when we merge, it will be a complete merge. We won’t exist anymore. There will only be the new person. They said it’s because of how our bond allows our Memetic parasites to fully merge. I don’t really understand, it seemed like they were covering plot holes with science and numbers. But you or me won’t be in control like how you usually do it. It’ll be an original new person made up of both of us.”
“Well, I love you- let’s do it.”
Lloyd put up a hand, and Alyssa’s hand pressed against it. They had always done this, a little symbol of their everlasting friendship. Through sunshine days and moonlight laments, they had been bonded.
A glow seemed to be felt, bubbly, golden, and everlasting.
And so, Lloyd R’Vaeren and his best friend Alyssa Avarie died.
In their place, a new being was born.
“Phoenix,” the new being muttered. “Like a phoenix.”
Across the table, Victoria awakened. She saw the new being, and only half-understanding, left the room.
“Hello,” the Phoenix glowed. “I’m Alyssa Solario.”
Meanwhile, Hage Quazi entered Fort Lakise.
Behind him, a small army of Scorpion soldiers marched. Each soldier held a powerful automatic rifle, primed and ready for battle.
“Welcome, head researcher Quazi,” a lab researcher greeted. “You’ll be happy on Project SP-”
“Fire!” ordered Quazi.
All around the main fort center, bullets popped and workers fell.
The soldiers stationed at Fort Lakise could barely react, and when they did, Hage’s soldiers cut them down, instantly killing them.
“Spread out,” Christie hissed, ordering the soldiers, “bring everyone here, kill all who resist.”
The soldiers saluted Christie and began their mission.
In five minutes, most of the population of Fort Lakise were in the center of the main hall. Luckily for Azalea and Paris, who were inside a jail cell, the soldiers hadn’t bothered to check the prisons.
“Head Researcher Quazi, what is the meaning of this?!” demanded General ‘Ronald McDonald’ struggling against two soldiers.
“Christie, deal with him- whatever you’d like.”
After that order, Hage strode off into the main lab with some escorting soldiers.
“Let go of the general,” Christie commanded.
The soldiers did so. The general got to his feet, angry.
“What do you want?!”
“Nothing. You feel your heart slowing,” Christie said, “you see blue, cerulean blue. What a nice color, is it not? Calm down, rest, feel the time slow around you.”
“Gah,” the general gasped, half-choking.
“And your legs will fail you.”
The general fell, unconscious by an unknown psychic power.
Hage entered the specimen viewing room, and marveled. His creations had matured, grown. From behind the glass, he marveled as creatures inside snapped and swarmed a goat. But this was not Project SP.
“Sir, all fourteen have grown,” Fernando informed.
“Good, and Project SP?”
Fernando led Hage across the hall, to another viewing room.
Through the observatory glass, the Venus-Headed monsters snapped and growled. In the center of the room was a dead cow. The creatures were everywhere, eight limbs sprawling on the floors and walls. Their teeth filled jaws snapped at the slightest sound.
“I count only three, Fernando.”
“They can change color.” Fernando pressed a button, causing the animal pen to have rain. The water caused the hidden animal to reveal itself, trying to change color to match the rain.
“Amazing, and the fossil record doesn’t show any of this?”
“So they really are from the future… What shall we call them?”
“I don’t know, but we’ve been calling them Shadowpaths.”
“That’s a nice name - let’s keep it. I wonder how powerful a single Shadowpath could be...”
At the exact same time, a fleet of airships, both big and small, reached Isla Conseja.
“Wait, JETPACKS?!” Jack exclaimed, amazed.
“Yes,” Victoria confirmed. “Once you put them on, nanobots pair it with your mind so that you can control it. Just think about where you’d like to go.”
“We’re all ready to go!” Nathan informed.
“I’ll lead the assault myself,” a voice appeared. The lead commands all turned to see Alyssa Solario. She amazed them, wearing a completely new style now that Lloyd R’Vaeren and Alyssa Alarie had become one. She had a malicious look in her eyes that spelled pure anger. “Think of it… as revenge.”
“Are you sure?” Lynn asked.
Lynn nodded allowing Alyssa to wear a jetpack.
And from the fleet of airships, hundreds of soldiers jumped, jetpacks activated, and the assault began.
“Something’s happening, you prisoners stay here,” a guard growled.
“Not like we can go anywhere,” Stacy pointed out.
The guard just left.
“What now?” Leo said. “We’ve been in this cell for four days!”
“Wait, don’t you hear that?” Daena realized. “Gunfire!”
“So…?” Xavier groaned.
“I think,” Leo began, looking around. “Yup, people are fighting, now if only we could take this chance and escape...”
“I think we can help with that,” Justin happily said.
Lillian revealed a watch. “We’ve used our watches and equipment we stole to construct… a bomb.”
“We’ll blow these weak metal bars and escape!” Justin concluded.
Justin and Lillian set the bomb at the metal bars, raced to cover, and waited. The bomb exploded, a small shockwave warping the metal.
Daena kicked one, and the bar fell off. She smiled.
“Let’s get outta here!” Stacy cheered.
The group ran out, joyful at their freedom. They surprised the only remaining guard, who was wearing airpods and couldn’t hear them. Daena took a chair and whacked the guard, then Stacy launched a powerful punch, defeating the guard.
Leo took the guard’s pistol, while Stacy took a rifle. With the weapons, the six leaped outside.
“What the hell?!” Stacy exclaimed. “A-are those...”
In the skies, the looming shadows of the airship fleet cast darkness onto the battlefield.
Gunfire erupted everywhere, and Scorpion soldiers fought against Plague-Doctor Masked soldiers.
“Wait, those are our allies!” Xavier yelled. Daena yelled something similar, but was too late, and Xavier shouted louder.
But before the others could hear what Xavier had yelled, a burst of gunfire barely missed. Three Scorpion soldiers appeared, having noticed their escape.
Stacy and Daena fired back, hitting one. The other two dove for cover and called for backup.
“Look, an army jeep!” Justin notified. “With a turret!”
The others looked to where Justin pointed. Conveniently, there was a military jeep.
The group scrambled to action, and got inside the large vehicle.
Stacy took the driver’s seat, and Leo took the turrets. Xavier tried to notify them that the airships were allies, but the sounds of gunfire blocked out his cries.
Leo fired the turret, taking down the enemy guards.
Stacy started the car and drove, enemy soldiers running after them. Luckily, no shots managed to damage the vehicle. Unluckily, two Scorpion jeeps had been manned and were now chasing them.
The Scorpion jeeps chased, but Stacy twisted and turned, dodging fire and any attempt at re-capture.
In front of them, was a gate that separated the rest of the island and the Scorpion compound.
“Leo, you better find something!” Daena shrieked.
“Ah, how convenient,” sang Leo, picking up a large weapon from a crate, “a rocket powered grenade!”
Leo aimed and fired at the center of the gate. The rocket launched, trailing behind smoke and dust. The group coughed. The grenade exploded, denting the metal.
Stacy drove through the weakened gate, destroying it and passing through.
Behind them, the two Scorpion jeeps chasing them had multiplied to four, and Stacy drove faster, into a road inside a forest. Colorful birds danced, oblivious to the action.
“Damn it Stacy, those airships are our allies!” Daena hissed.
“Oh, well, I’ll just dive back.”
“Don’t dive back, we’ll be taken down by those Scorpion soldiers!” Leo warned.
“I’m afraid Leo’s right- we’ll need to take out those enemy jeeps before we get saved,” Xavier confessed.
“Let’s just hope we get evacuated on time!” Lillian said.
Leo kept fighting back against the vehicles. Then, he fired the RPG, blowing up a single car but not damaging the other three.
Meanwhile, Stacy took a left turn and the forest landscape transformed to a cliff overlooking a nice sandy beach.
Suddenly, one Scorpion jeep lined up beside them, then trying to push our heroes to their deaths.
“Jump!” Xavier commanded.
“Where?!” Daena returned, dodging a burst of turret fire from the vehicle next to them.
Xavier jumped onto the enemy turret, swiveling it off balance. Xavier ducked just as the deadly weapon fired, hitting the glass of the vehicle behind them.
With a powerful push, Xavier knocked the soldier manning the turret overboard, into the forest.
Daena jumped, taking down the driver and tossing her over the side as well. Lillian came next, straight into the driver seat. Then, it was Justin and Stacy. Leo gave a final burst and jumped onto the other vehicle.
The abandoned car swiveled off the side and crashed onto a rock jutting out like a dagger. It exploded, and flames were felt, annoying everyone. Two Scorpion jeeps still remained, and by now they were quite a distance away from the compound, and help.
“Leo, man the turret!” Xavier shouted, and Leo did as he said. “I have a plan, I think.”
Before Leo nor Xavier could fire or concoct a plan, the trees swayed, and bits of light brown feathered skin was seen. Whatever it was, it was large, and the entity towered over the vehicles.
Out of the shadows, a massive jaw smashed into one jeep. The force of the blow tossed high up into the air, where the occupants screamed in terror. Then the vehicle went over the edge and exploded.
“Oh my god - What the hell is that?!” Justin whimpered.
“Tyrannosaurus rex, apex predator of the Cretaceous-” Stacy began, “-Wait, what?!”
The brown feathered tyrant hissed at the explosion, and chased after the last Scorpion jeep, that was chasing the six.
Terrified, both the team’s and the Scorpion jeep sped up, ignoring the danger of the cliffside path… and its consequences.
The Scorpion soldier manning the turret swiveled the device and fired at the tyrant king.
This only seemed to annoy the tyrant, rather than actually doing damage.
The Tyrannosaurus rex stepped forward, almost jumping, but gaining enough distance for its attack. A massive jaw enveloped both the turret and the soldier, then pulled back, crushing the machines and snapping bones.
“And that’s just a small one, a male...” Stacy marveled.
“What?! You call that small?!” Justin wailed.
As if to prove Stacy’s statement, a larger Tyrannosaurus rex charged out of the shadows, nearly crashing the jeep.
The new Tyrannosaurus was indeed larger, almost two times the size of the male. It had red-white splotches in addition to the brown feather coloring.
The female Tyrannosaurus’ tail slammed into the Scorpion jeep, causing it into the trees. Its engines were destroyed, and the Scorpion soldiers scrambled out- but the male Tyrannosaurus, with stunning accuracy, swiveled his head and chomped on one such person, not losing speed in the process.
Suddenly, the Tyrannosaurus stopped, sniffing the air.
“Wait, stop!” Stacy shouted. “Lillian, stop the car-”
Before more words were said, the air in front of them seemed to ripple.
From thin air, a dinosaur rippled into existence. A large dinosaur, blue and black in color. It snarled at the jeep, and tossed it with its head, causing the vehicle to crash into the trees.
The jeep came crashing down onto some trees, but the occupants weren’t too harmed, besides for some bruises and scratches.
“What the hell?!” Lillian cried. “What just happened?!”
“Shush,” Stacy warned, “watch.”
Through the gaping hole where glass used to exist, they watched.
The air next to the blue-black dinosaur rippled, and slowly but surely, a similar dinosaur appeared.
The two dinosaurs had a sort of spine running down from the neck to the tail. It rippled as it moved.
“What is it?” Leo asked.
“See that sail- It’s fat. Acrocanthosaurus atokensis.”
“How did it… you know...”
“You know how some animals can change color- that might be how.”
The two Acrocanthosaurus faced the Tyrannosaurus, both species snarling at each other.
“Wait,” Stacy began once more, “this shouldn’t be possible- Acrocanthosaurus and Tyrannosaurus didn’t live together! Something isn’t right about this island.”
“We need to get out of here,” Daena reminded.
The larger female Tyrannosaurus charged, and snapped at the Acrocanthosaurus female, which was noticeably larger than the male.
The Acrocathosaurus dodged the attack, and bit back, reaping a bit of flesh from the tyrant.
The other Acrocanthosaurus hissed like a crocodile, and began to shimmer. Each individual scale shined bright and began to change color. Now the Acrocanthosaurus looked like a Tyrannosaurus, but with a large fat sail.
The sail, Stacy thought, would scare the Tyrannosaurus away with their size.
The Tyrannosaurus growled, unafraid of the illusion.
The Acrocanthosaurus snarled, and turned, walking away. Through the trees, the team could see the Tyrannosaurus begin to head towards the crashed car. Luckily, the team was safe, hiding up in a large tree.
With a loud screech, the tyrants investigated, ripping apart the jeep. Nothing.
Satisfied, the two Tyrannosaurus walked away, deeper into the forest.
“Oh no...” moaned Leo, “now how do we get back?”
“I don’t know, we’ll have to walk,” Daena suggested.
By now, they were so far away that the Scorpion compound couldn’t be seen. Hope was lost, and they were stranded on a mysterious island, which apparently had dinosaurs.
“Sir- I mean ma’am?” a commander reported, reporting to Alyssa Solario.
“Solario will do.”
“Solario, the targets have not been located. It appears they thought we were the enemy as well, and have escaped.”
“Any good news?”
“There’s a site that keeps referencing - Fort Lakise. It’s a base underneath the city of Kintain.”
“Then there will be where we go next,” Milo voiced, having overheard the conversation. “Perhaps we’ll learn more about Scorpion.”
Alyssa Solario nodded in agreement, and started ordering soldiers to harvest as much information they could find, then to return to the airship fleet.
“Hello, Director Milo,” a voice came.
Milo turned to see Kitten holding up a pistol. “Kitten?”
“Yes, now die-”
Before Kitten pulled the trigger, Kitten fell to the ground, unconscious. Behind, was Nathan Chang, holding up a TSC gun. “No need for the thanks.”
“Thanks anyway. Now, let’s get out of this island and storm Fort Lakise.”
“I’ll remain here to search for your team,” Lynn informed.
“Good, it’s about time we take down Scorpion. Feel free to take all the tech here.”
And with that, all was set, and all the airships but one flew away, now going to the small city of Kintain.
“Wait, how does nobody see the airships?” Maizie inquired.
“That,” Alyssa began, “is because we, using our technology, can hide as a cloud.”
“Cool, oh, and what do I call you now… since the...”
“Alyssa will do. Still weird and awesome as before, young Maizie.”
Three hours later, the fleet of airships arrived at Kintain, where it was having a thunderstorm. Still, the dangerous storm would not affect the jetpack wearing soldiers. The jetpack was supposedly ‘anti-lightning,’ though nobody but Nathan Chang could really understand the plot hole covering science.
But due to the public area where Fort Lakise was, only a small team was sent in.
The team was Jack, Xavier, Maizie, Alyssa, Nathan, and Victoria. With them, a dozen soldiers would join the battle as well. They were concerned for the safety of Maizie, who had no training, but in the end, she was needed to quickly hack any obstacle they would come across.
And so the team flew down, jetpacks firing up, gliding downwards. The storm roared around them, and the rain pelted them like bullets in a battlefield.
But at last, they entered the hospital. Alyssa checked the map she had stolen from the Isla Conseja base, and led the team to the hidden entrance.
“Oh my god!” gasped Victoria. “So much blood!”
“What happened here?” Nathan pondered.
The team snuck around, until they found the central hall. Christie and her army watched over the anxious prisoners, while Hage Quazi and Fernando D’Souza were nowhere to be seen.
“Too many soldiers,” Jack pointed out. “We’d never get through them.”
“We can, if we take them by surprise,” Maizie said. “I have a plan. I’ll cut all electricity, making it dark. The enemy will have to adjust, but we won’t - If we get used to it first.”
“Interesting,” Alyssa complimented. “We should all go into a dark closet then.”
Everyone agreed. Most of the team went to find a dark place to adjust to. Meanwhile, Jack, Maizie, and Victoria snuck around, trying to find the power generator.
“Hey, who are-”
A silenced gunshot took out the guard.
A few halls later, and the trio discovered the generator room. Jack peeked inside, and found only four soldiers guarding the machines.
“So?” Victoria said. “What?”
“Four guards- but let’s just use a grenade,” Jack decided.
Victoria handed Jack a grenade. He unpinned the device and threw it inside the room. One explosion later, the soft whine of dying equipment was heard, and the lights dimmed, soon being reduced to nothing.
Maizie took out a flashlight and began to make their way back to the group.
Out of the closets, soldiers appeared, quickly taking down the Scorpion soldiers.
Burst of gunfire illuminated crimson spilling and soldiers falling. Within moments, the heroes had easily defeated the enemy. Just as the battle was complete, Jack and Maizie arrived.
“Well, that was fast,” Jack said. “I thought it’d be an epic battle.”
“Eh, fighting isn’t what it’s cut out to be,” Victoria joked.
“We should spread out and find Scorpion’s leader, Hage,” Maizie suggested.
Nathan ordered the small group of soldiers to begin searching, and soon enough, everyone was spread out, taking down their opponents and harvesting deadly information.
The electronically linked handcuffs fell off with a clink. Prison doors opened. Azalea rubbed his eyes to make sure they weren’t dreaming. Indeed, they were now free.
“Paris, wake up!” Azalea whispered.
“Huuuh… what happened?” Paris mumbled. “Wait, I’m free?”
“I think something happened - I heard a bunch of gunfire, then the power cut!”
“Let’s take the chance to get outta here!”
Azalea agreed, and the two snuck out, watching the hallways.
“Azalea?!” a voice called, sounding very puzzled, with a hint of recognition.
Azalea turned to see Alyssa Solario. “Who are you?”
“Ah, well- I used to be Alyssa Alarie and Lloyd R’Vaeren.”
“How… what is going on?” Paris asked, equally puzzled.
“I can possess people, but now I’m- too long to explain. Code is 34990.”
“That’s me and Lloyd’s old locker password- who are you?”
“A… person that is the combination of your cousin Lloyd and his best friend. Now, what are you doing here?!”
“Me and Paris were investigating a… case. We were captured because… well, it’s all very paranormal and stuff.”
“Follow me, I think I need you to give a statement to my team.”
“Wait, what’s going on?!” Paris demanded. “This is all very confusing!”
“I have no idea either,” Azalea confessed. “But, well, I don’t think we have any other choice.”
Meanwhile, Hage and Fernando was watching the Venus-Monsters feast and hunt a goat when-
The door swung open with a crash. Hage and Fernando instinctively turned to see Jack and Maizie, both pointing pistols at the two.
“We finally meet, Maizie Cloude, Jack Mayflower,” Hage snapped. “I am Hage Quazi. I highly doubt you can-”
“Cut the nonsense, Quazi,” Maizie shot. “We’ve finally got you.”
“Do you, really?” Quazi mocked. Unseen to Jack and Maizie, his fingers circled a pink button, and pressed it. “I mean, you cut power, and the emergency generator, so...”
“So?” Maizie inquired, confident.
“See all those… those monsters there?” Hage began, pointing at the glass. Jack and Maizie looked, shuddering in fear from the sight. “Without power, all the creatures here can… well, escape. And I assure you, these… Shadowpaths, have a capability to escape.”
“What? Shadowpaths?” Maizie inquired. “What are they, anyways?”
“Octopi, millions of years in the future, then added with a bit of special something. Pure killing machines.”
“You have no idea.”
“I’m calling this bluff,” Jack started, “Maizie, fire the tranqs.”
“You can try,” Hage said, “but it won’t work.”
Jack and Maizie fired.
The air just in front of the villainous Hage rippled a soft opaque purple, which the dart hit. The dart bounced off and fell to the floor with a dull thud.
“Still a bluff,” Maizie began, “because something must be powering that force-field!”
“A Portal-Energy-Shield,” Hage informed. He pointed up, where a large device hung, casting the shield from the inside. “They power it from the inside- plus, it runs on a time portal, and oh, it’s… an perpetual energy device. Nothing can get to where I am, since nothing can penetrate that shield.”
“We’ll wait you out!” laughed Jack. “Surely you can’t stay there forever!”
“Who said I was staying here? If your… organization has a teleporter, mine probably does too. And guess what- I do.”
“We’ll still have all this information in this lab,” Maizie pointed out.
“Again, who said you’d survive?” Hage mocked, turning to the control panel. He uncovered a button that was labeled ‘Danger - Release all Creatures,’ and pressed. “Oops.”
“This section of the lab is powered by the portal-energy,” Fernando explained.
In the Shadowpath cage, the main gate opened. The Venus-Flytrap head of the future octopi turned, inspecting the new opening.
After they were satisfied, they escaped.
“It’s just six of them!” Jack countered. “Surely we can take them down!”
“Oh, I’m releasing all the animals in this lab,” Hage argued. “From our hybridized ‘Perfect Animals,’ to my personal weaponized hybrids. Have a nice death.”
“Sir?” Fernando offered Hage a radio.
“Thank you. Now, energize teleporter.” And with a blinding light, Hage and Fernando disappeared. Jack and Maizie fired, but the shield was still active, and the darts bounced off harmlessly.
“Damn it!” Jack snarled.
Jack and Maizie turned to inform the other what had happened when a giant millipede half the size of man and the length of a truck crawled by, escaped from its enclosure.
Before the humans could react, a hyena-like creature with a raised back and an elongated snout leapt at the millipede. The two creatures engaged in battle. While the creatures were distracted, Jack and Maizie ran, flashlights illuminating the path.
Not long after they had begun, an especially large Dimetrodon blocked their path.
“What the hell?! Dinosaurs too?!”
“Jack, that’s not a dinosaur, it’s a-”
“Just shoot it!”
They did, and the shots scared the carnivore, which retreated back into its habitat.
Victoria appeared around a corner, and so did a large Dromaeosaurid, which snapped and leapt at the Storm leader.
Out of nowhere, a Dome-Headed dinosaur, a Dracorex headbutted the raptor, then set about eating it. The raptor fought back, clawing at the pachycephalosaur, but the Dracorex slammed again, killing the raptor.
“What the hell is going one?!”
“No time to explain- well, our enemy, Hage, released all the animals!” Maizie yelled.
Behind Victoria, the air rippled and a Shadowpath appeared on the ceiling, its suction-cupped tentacles letting it stick. The future octopus’ dagger filled jaws snarled dangerously close to Victoria. It gave out an unholy demonic roar, but Victoria stood still, paralyzed in fear.
The Shadowpath uncurled a tentacle, brushing up against Victoria’s shoulder.
But then a silenced gunshot rang out. The Shadowpath was thrown to the floor by the force of the impact.
Nathan appeared and fired three more times, but this time, the Shadowpath appeared to teleport, moving at speeds faster than the eye could perceive and dodging the bullets.
“Run!” Nathan declared.
The other three needed no words, and they were already running. Lights swayed in the endless dark, but the path was clear. As they ran, Maizie and Jack informed them of what had transpired with the mysterious Hage Quazi.
Giant ants, snakes, and dinosaurs fought one another as they escaped from their habitats. Deadly jaws of Cave Lions wrapped around a bioluminescent Corythosaurus, while meanwhile, a Terror Bird fought against a Triceratops.
At last, the four reached the main ‘town’ center, where most of the other members of the group were waiting, fending off vicious and monstrous creatures in the endless dark.
“Damn it- too many hostiles!” Xavier shouted, firing at what seemed to be an Allosaurus with a spiked tail. The gunfire bursts brought glimpses of the monsters they fought, creatures and hybrids. “We need to get out of here!”
“Not yet!” Nathan hollered, the burst of loud gunfire almost drowning him out. “Lloyd- I mean Alyssa, isn’t here yet! I checked the tracker!”
“I can give you five minutes!”
Nathan nodded in thanks, and told Victoria, Jack, and Maizie to leave. With that done, Nathan took a chance, sliding in between distracted animals and gunfire.
Nathan turned on his watch, which projected a hologram that told him where Alyssa was. One hand holding his pistol and the other holding a flashlight, he ran.
Creatures, hybrids, and unknowable things fought against him, but the brave Nathan Chang expertly fired, dodged, and hid.
At the exact moment, Alyssa had given Azalea and Paris pistols of their own, and they were now trying to make it back to the central zone.
Without warning, the creatures had burst out of their habitats and started causing chaos.
Now, they ran, beams of light illuminating their path.
Something snarled in their path ahead.
Alyssa swung her flashlight, illuminating the creature.
It was a large, feathered theropod that was jet-black in color. On its feet, were not one, but two sickle-claws. The head was devoid of any eyes, a blank feathered socket in its place and seemed just to be used for a jaw that had seemingly infinite rows of teeth.
Strangely, the creature had two tails, each swaying. Its arms were long, almost like an arboreal creature.
The hands were the oddest of all, as it had not a traditional two or three fingers. The beast had five fingers, each with a large serrated sickle dagger as claws.
The creature, whatever it was, also had opposable thumbs.
“What the hell is that?” whispered Paris.
“No idea,” replied Alyssa.
From the unilluminated shadows, three more appeared.
They chirped, making a peculiar noise that sounded like a whale song.
“Shush,” Alyssa ordered. “I think… I think they might hunt by echolocation.”
“The call, yes, but wouldn’t our hearts alert them?” Azalea wondered.
“Maybe, but shush.”
The creatures strode out from the darkness, tilting their heads in search of a noise.
One heard the beating of the heart and let out an unholy yelp.
The others snapped to attention, and began to ‘look’ at the trio of humans.
“Nevermind,” Alyssa began, “RUN!”
The blind, dual-sickled atrocities leaped as the trio turned and ran. From out of nowhere more seemed to appear, leaping. But time and time again, a well placed shot managed to bring them off balance and-
“Damn it, now what?!” Azalea shrieked, stopping.
In front of them, were four Shadowpaths.
The octopi turned, their Venus-Flytrap mouths facing both the humans and the atrocities. The octopi chirped and screeched.
“W-what in the world are those...” stammered Paris.
The eight limbs of one Shadowpath uncurled from the ceiling, dropping down to the floor. Next, the creature seemed to mimic the human, combining two tentacles to look like one leg. Two other tentacles did the same as well.
Behind the humans, they snapped in anger, confused by the three hearts of the octopi.
One Shadowpath shrieked back at the atrocities, causing one such monster to jump back in fear.
Suddenly, came a voice, and a gunshot. “Hey, you tentacled monsters! Over here!”
It was Nathan, waving a gun in the air.
Two of the four Shadowpaths turned and charged at the man, using their eight limbs to traverse the ground at lightning speeds.
Alyssa shot the other two octopi, taking them by surprise.
It did no effect, but distracted the monsters, allowing the trio to run in between them down a hall, where they saw a door with a specific sign.
The sign was for an entry into the sewers.
“Open the door!” Nathan yelled, running straight for the three, still with two Shadowpaths on the chase.
Paris took her chance and opened the door, pushing Azalea and Alyssa in. She entered next. Then Nathan Chang, who tried to slam the door behind him.
Three tentacles had managed to slip in, causing the door to not shut.
“Help me!” he managed.
Caleb and Paris sprung to action, pushing the door and injuring the Shadowpath. Soon, the tentacles retreated back into Fort Lakise.
Nathan sighed, sliding some random iron bar into the handles, made the door unpassable.
Back at the hallway, about half a dozen of the blind, dual sickle atrocities had gathered, snarling at the two Shadowpaths in their way.
The Shadowpaths shrieked back, sounding like an unholy entity. The Shadowpaths snapped, showing off of their many rows of teeth, not realizing that the atrocities hunted by echolocation, and had no eyes. Occasionally, they would use their long, deadly tentacles to slam at atrocities, but the creatures were too fast to hit.
The atrocious monster used their long dual tails to strike at the octopi, similar to how a scorpion would.
The two other Shadowpaths returned from the sewer door.
The octopi communicated, changing into all sorts of colors.
So did the atrocities, snarling and chirping like birds.
The great battle begins, atrocity against Shadowpath.
A Shadowpath slammed a tail against an atrocity, who leapt up faster than the octopus could respond. The creature sunk its dual sickles onto the octopus, gripping on. Using its oddly human hands, it slashed and held.
Two more joined the attack. Then, all six were engaged in battle.
A Shadowpath dodged a leap, then catching the creature by its flytrap mouth. The teeth wrapped around the mouth, where it chomped down. The atrocity screamed in pain, before the octopus, with the help of its arms, snapped the monster in half.
Crimson blood sprayed onto the walls as the corpse dropped down. The death of an ally enraged the remaining atrocities, who clawed and bit harder at the Shadowpath.
One Shadowpath used its tentacles, four of them to start tossing the atrocities aside, slamming them hard into the wall. The others learned, and copied the movement.
Soon, the majority of the atrocities were on the floor, bones broken, and blood spilled.
But one Shadowpath had been injured, and a weak had been created.
What seemed to be the leader of the atrocities called, signalling to attack the weak spot.
The others listened, and soon, leap after leap, claws sunk into the weak spot.
The other Shadowpaths couldn’t save their friend against the eternal onslaught of the atrocities. Now, the three Shadowpaths made their escape, disappearing into the endless black of the facility.
The dying octopus fought valiantly, even managing to kill two atrocities. But soon, it was only a corpse, simply food for the atrocities.
Instead of fighting one another for the meal, the creatures shared it, a behavior almost impossible in natural species.
Back in the main room, the monsters of Fort Lakise had begun to gain an advantage.
“We can’t hold the line any longer!” Milo informed.
“Then we must retreat!” Victoria decided.
“No, Maizie, they’ll find a way. No use having all of us die!”
Xavier gave a command, and the soldiers began the retreat, back up to the hospital, and back into a safer world.
Unknown to them, a barrier had covered the entire city of Kintain. Nobody could leave. Nobody could enter. The portal-energy barrier was just high enough the airships weren’t destroyed, but the effect was the same.
There would be no help.
Somewhere far away, above the skies, Hage, Fernando, and Christie stood in the lab. This lab was in Hage’s super-plane, but of course, Providence still would dwarf it.
“Well then, Christie, ready to go home?” Hage asked.
“Yes, I’d love to.”
“Fernando, set the coordinates to the city of… Knife’s Edge, Louisiana.”
Hage gave a look to Fernando. The scientist nodded and went up to a huge bulky machine. He pressed and typed at a terminal.
In the center of the machine was a rectangular gaping hole. As Fernando pressed and pushed, a small orb of light began to appear in the center.
Slowly but surely, the orb began to glow.
“By passing through this… doorway,” Hage began, thinking out loud, “it should give one control of the memetic parasite, giving one psychic abilities.”
“And this is where I got my ability?” Christie inquired. “I’m from the other side?”
“Yes, now just to find out what the other side really is…”
And just as Hage spoke, in the center of the rectangular frame, a door appeared, dark brown in color. It appeared to glow a soft, lush, gold.
Hage and Christie opened the door, seeing a hotel-like hall, and entered.
As they walked, the door closed behind them, but they thought nothing of it, overcome by a feeling of peace.
The duo soon reached the other end, where they turned that door’s handle… and opened.
Almost immediately, they appeared in the city of Knife’s Edge, Louisiana.
The new world seemed… different… off. It certainly wasn’t what they had expected.
“My God,” Hage murmured, “a parallel universe!”