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Chapter 69 by neo_kenka neo_kenka

Tricia had just demolished what remained of the third floor.

A Vulgar Display of Power

Fairy took to the air, and John grabbed onto her leg with his left and onto Moira's arm with his right. The last of the fourth floor finally caved in, with Rave and Travolta leaping to the settled debris across the way for the closest thing to safety that they could manage. The third floor collapsed, and brought down the second that was already pock-marked with the one-sided chase that ran through the building. A pillar of stone fell over from there into first floor, almost dropping three tons of three floors worth of debris onto the Gorbachev, only for it to vanished by two spare blasts from Tricia's shoulders. More than half the school had been disintegrated in this fashion, and the swirling arena of dust was growing harder to navigate for Yarrick. Abysswalker or no, the man needed breathable air, and he felt his body getting sluggish as he resisted the urge to take in a few lungfuls of shattered glass and concrete. He tossed a few more of his desperate attacks, ripples of tornado winds cut with his broken sword, but each time she deflected the force with her own. No amount of wind he could generate could resist destruction incarnate, and his quest for worthy prey, to test and push the limits of his existence, started to feel foolish.

I could collapse the barrier at will, he remembered. I only need to will it so, and I could probably escape any responsibility once she was set loose on the Academy. They'd kill her for me... But I will never give up my quest. I'll kill the British, I will stab them in their tents, I will avenge- n-no! No... I will test my abilities here, that's all... and I'll learn more about who we truly are, here... and now... It was during these desperate moments that the old voices spoke the loudest... and it was their voices that empowered him, helped him remember, almost reminded him about why he sought the most terrible battles. He still resisted the urge to use the Southern Wind, for fear it would take even more from him, but given enough time alone with the beast he would not need it: the Gorbachev would be outlasted, and then she would be felled.

The holes being punched into the Academy finally proved too great; the entire structure groaned with the weight that remained, and Rave looked up and around on the fragments of the third floor they had found themselves in... and at their amateur Fateweaver, who cowered underneath a steel table nearly crushed by debris. "Jimmie, we've got to move!" Shocked into a wide-eyed quiet, he stared at her without speaking, and Travolta tried to drag Rave away before their level, too, came crashing down. Neither of the two thought leaving the collapsing building was any better, given their height from the ground. "Fucking- fine!" She pulled at Travolta as she grabbed Jimmie's collar and yanked him from his hiding place. "Guess I have to do EVERYTHING around here-!" She held her breath as she ran towards a wide hole in the nearby wall, with both men in tow. They resisted as she made to leap from the third story, but she wasn't having it anymore; the floor they tried to grip was now a sheet of the Light, and such was her domain to make frictionless as they all went tumbling out the window just as said window groaned in a freefall.

The Academy caved into itself on all angles, save those wings and extensions not truly caught within the barrier. Fairy did her best to slow her descent, ladened with her impulsive master and a heavily armed and armored tart, but John could detect her struggling. <You heavy, slovenly shits!> He just knew it, somehow. Mercifully, he opened a tunnel to the outermost point of the barrier, in the grass of a field now strewn with pipes and slowly-falling ceiling tiles. The mists of debris threatened to overcome them, and soon John couldn't even see Moira or Fairy. I have to stop this before we end up like the Academy...! John looked around, wincing through the turbulent winds that engulfed them. If I'm going to stop him at all, I have to hit him harder... way harder this time. John summoned his gun to his hand, and though he couldn't see it he knew it was held firmly in his grip. He focused on the glittering lights of Tricia's attacks, barely visible in the fog of stone, but surely the place where he'd have to shoot his next bullet... and had to make it count. With cold, squinting eyes, he pointed his gun at the Gorbachev. <Fairy... I'm going to need your help on this one.>

"Tricia!" Moira coughed, trying to run towards the flashing of lights. Her hammer and shield were held at the ready, but there were no enemies she could see to fight. She had to hope she was running close enough to the Gorbachev to tell her that John was alright, that she'd help her press charges for sexual assault, and that everything would be just fine once she put down the dangerous swordsman...

Moira slowed her run as she neared the glittering radiance of Rave's Light, an amorphous blob of it which had broken the fall for her and her companions. She had followed the wrong, glittering radiance, as it turned out... as if the Brighton had been guided to the Light. "Rave!"

"Moi-moi!" Rave thought to quip at her, but a glance back at Jimmie and Travolta changed her mind. "Look, forget it! Those two are going to just kill each other in here, and we've still got a way to get out before we go down with them! You can either stay and kick the bucket or else come with us and owe me your life!" Rave managed a grim smile even here. "Only got a few seconds to decide, Moi-moi."

"... To Hell with you, Rave, and your cowardice!"

"Cowardice my ass!" An explosion nearby threw a hail of gray upon them, most of them bouncing off of Rave's bubble and the rest off of Moira's shield. "You'd charge a tornado if you thought it was insulting your stupid Order! You're just being stubborn as always if you're staying-"

A shattering noise to join the cacophony of the entire raging battle, but Moira knew it for the distinct sound of a crack in a barrier: their third, mysterious member had punched a hole into it, and the real Ashcroft football field bleachers were beyond it, ready for them to slip under the seated lunch-goers unnoticed. "It's open! We've only got five seconds-!" Jimmie was interrupted by Travolta, who shoved him on through. Rave glanced between the portal and Moira, and bit her lip with indecision. She thought to stay, to show up her favorite rival...

But Travolta wasn't having any more of this; he spooned her hips and, with her surprised, kicking protest ignored, launched her through the gap. He glanced back at Moira, his expression weary. "If you're smart, you'll follow us." He vanished as the barrier of Light lost its source... and Moira approached the hole with a determined expression before putting her back to it. She wasn't going to let the swordsman possibly escape justice through it, after all... and Collide stared at her armored back as the wound closed. The Warden took a deep breath in the small pocket of air Rave had left behind. A light scent of her perfume remained... and Moira hoped she'd remember it long enough to determine Rave's real identity once she dealt with this kidnapper. Of course... only after I deal with him... In all things, a Brighton was brave, she reminded herself, and gave herself a rallying bash on her shield as she headed towards the barely-flickering red lights of her family's ally... and then the true hurricane started all around her, and Moira struggled to remain standing. The winds were not winding down following the leveling of the Academy... but instead, were growing more violent, and something like a whip of tearing wind screamed by her, and she barely had time to grunt in surprise until a blast of incomprehensible force shattered her armor and threw her to the ground, disrobed and with a massive gash across her back.

That ally Moira had attempted to save, now barely conscious of her own acts, stood in a blinding whirlwind of her own making. She hovered low to the ground, unwilling to give the enemy another vector to attack, but doing so made it hard to see him for longer than some fleeting nanoseconds before he was nearly upon her, warded away only by the array of her blasts that soon followed every appearance. She didn't know if the others were at risk with her blind-shooting; she didn't have enough mind to care. The enemy was not yet silent... and so her anger boiled, and her eyes continued to grow, and her form barely looked human save at silhoutte. Somewhere beyond the dust, the enemy was now making fast, wide movements, enjoying the temporary cover of her demolition work. He was right to do so; she could not sense him, could not see him through the gray blur, could not hear him as the remains of the false Academy continued to topple and roll, flattened ever more by her incidental siege. A slash to her right. Her hip fired upon it. To her left. Her arm rose to blast it away- from above! - her shoulders glared upwards, and more of these useless attacks of his rained down on her from all angles, each one thrown only to be followed by one more, and then another, and then ever more as he soared through the air, bounded between ruined classrooms, and blitzed across either field to add to his layered assault upon her. Her energy was not bottomless, even unleashed as she was; she continued to collapse every sliver of force, each one answered by a disintegrating blast, but she could not stand more than a minute of this before an Eye came to a close. She was weakening. Her awareness was dimming. Every slash of force carved the ground up anew, offered new dust to fill the air where the old dust had settled, and soon all her world became deflecting these carving blasts, each one enough to rip her asunder if she dared to rest, unarmored as she now was.



There. There. There. There. There. There... There. There! THERE! THERE! THERE!!! THERE!

The killers all cried out in unison. The amalgamation had seen it all at once, as one. The screaming of their muscles, the loss of their blood, the aching in their fingers as they gripped a worthless sword, their arm nearly broken and muscles all torn from those hundreds, nearly thousands of swings... all of it fell away as he saw it, in a glimmer between two pillars of shaped clouds of dust: her shoulders, bare, unguarded. Yarrick Dell, and all that he was, tossed yet more attacks, each tearing the dirt under the floating girl apart, each to distract her, to engulf her in smoke... and so the trap was set the moment he began his wide patrol around her. He sprung into the air as he would to throw yet more attacks from on high, threw one... and let gravity take him silently towards his prey. His blade glinted in the sky, no longer moving supernaturally fast as he descended, feet first, towards his latest, greatest kill... and it was only then that Moira, still holding her shield to protect herself from dozens of blasts that passed over her, managed to catch sight of the swordsman. Her weapon was heavy in a hand that was nearly broken trying to brace her shield for all this time, but the Lady filled her veins with purpose and her muscles with energy anew as she saw her chance. He was going in for the kill...!

"... In the name of the Lady!" Moira cried, and threw her hammer with all the might she could muster. Tricia knew those words well enough; the tiring eyes that made her face all winked in unison, and her surprised, human expression returned, looking at the hammer as it sailed out of the dust... and towards an attack coming down upon her. She blew the rippling air apart with one of the last Eyes she had remaining... and only revealed her enemy as he came upon her, dull blade held above his head as he came down feet first, ready to strike down into her brain. The warhammer glanced as the swordsman twisted in the air, but for its enchantment it may as well have struck true, crushing Yarrick's ribs with divinely-enchanted force, attacking the very essence of the abomination that he was, and briefly suspending his descent... but his trajectory barely changed, and still he laughed as he resumed his freefall, his hand and blade readied to stab down and sunder the Gorbachev and win the day. Tricia's bastion of Eyes had been closing more rapidly than she realized, and still the waves of force were not done, still she tried to survive them, collapsing them as they closed in. She could not stop Yarrick Dell, and she tried, in vain, to will her legs to move, to dodge, to save her from his final attack-

The entirely silent bullet hadn't entered Yarrick Dell's field of vision. He didn't know John Newman was alive to fire the round. He had only the reaction to a sudden pressure against the side of his skull, a burrowing bit of metal that threatened to kill him with an old-fashioned bullet to the brain... and he slanted his head away to let the bullet pass, skidding it across his scalp as he winced in pain. His path was not changed, he could still kill the Gorbachev... until he realized he would instead fall, sideways, into the translucent wall of the trap barrier.

The man was fast on the ground, but from here he had no recourse when John opened the tunnel just over Tricia. From there, Yarrick was launched near the edge of the swirling mist of dirt and dust, right by John who had Fairy feed him every bit of information, save where the swordsman had finally made his error. His guess had come partially true: Yarrick was indeed his most vulnerable near Tricia... but John feared he would be outrunning her death when he finally got his shot. John sighed with relief at the sight of Yarrick in the air, a sitting duck while borrowing Alysha's marksmanship. Now, as the swordsman rolled in the air to land on his feet, his furious expression was fitting with the minor scalping John had performed with his bullet. "Thank... fucking.... GOD that worked!" John yelled, exasperated.

<You're welcome,> Fairy happily chirped.

<You're both counting your victories too early.> Alysha was ever the voice of reason... and perhaps a better candidate for the psychosphere, though that thought barely registered in Newman's mind at that moment.

"Worked...?" John raised an eyebrow at the noise that echoed from Yarrick. The man sounded like a small mob, speaking in voices and languages other than Yarrick's; subsumed, but still present. "Heh... heheheh... John," Yarrick said frankly, "we are... fairly certain... we felt your heart explode under our attack."

"I... got better?" John said slowly.

"You can't keep up with me on my own two feet, John... you have thrown away your last... ch... ch..." Yarrick's eyes grew wide. "... ch..."

John vanished his gun back into the glove as he addressed his enemy. "These bullets can only take one spell at a time, so I figured I needed to beat you with blinking bullets, you know? Maybe have them appear on your forehead with their same trajectory and speed the moment they left the gun..." Yarrick twitched as he tried to move, unsure of the sensation spreading through his head. "... but you've got too much HP for that and, since you might be faster than light, dodging a bullet, even one starting in your skin, would probably be a small feat, so... I thought I'd wait... I'd wait with the one spell I knew had enough kick for you, and I'd wait for the moment to come... the moment something terrible to happen..." John shook his head. "If Moira hadn't slowed you down..."



A green fissure of light snapped across the skin where the bullet had touched Yarrick, and crawled up the path it burned through his hair. His eyes widened-

Critical hit with the Glock 777 (RUIN bullet)! 10,800 unaspected damage!

Achievement unlocked! "Massive Damage"!
Deal over 10,000 damage with one attack! You're on your way.
+3 stat points

The fissures spread down the amalgamation's neck and broke open his skull, ruptured his left eye in a flash of green energy, and left the construct a twitching, bleeding mess as his skin opened and ruptured underneath his pretty robes. His worthless blade clattered to the ground, and his hand gripped the Southern Wind with a seizing, jerking motion. John couldn't stand to look at him, and watched him by his peripherals instead as he regarded the ground.

"... but now that I think about... you don't really have Gamer's body, do you? So I guess... this was..." John glowered, and inhaled sharply as blood poured down the swordsman's legs from all the horror his body was going through. "I... I really thought I'd get through this without killing someone, you know?"

Yarrick Dell, Albion, Christopher Wainwright, Hiroto, and the dozens of others, the generations of vengeful murderers... smiled sadly at the boy. The fissures of ruin finished their spread... Yarrick Dell was alive, if barely.

"You can't really fight like that... or survive like that, can you?" John knew he was no comic book hero. He couldn't let this man live, even if it was an option. There was nothing to bind such a person to his word, even if he promised... Enough. You can't be that guy, Gamer. "I can make it quick-"

"I'll make it quicker, John." Yarrick drew the Southern Wind, John watched a full 1,000HP leave the man's body-

Equilibrium lvl3
Equilibrium: exchange rate increased to 80%!

Spiraling snake style increased to level 10!

The Southern Wind tore a temporary line through the trap barrier, and through the space John had just occupied. The latter, now blinked above Yarrick, found himself scooped up in Fairy's arms as he swooned from equilibrium's drain. The blade would have ended Newman, he knew... it would've been Yarrick's final vengeance, and this time a vengeance for himself. It was to remain unfulfilled... and by that failure, the Amalgamation found its natural end. Like poor Albion, discovered immediately by the man's guards, who watched a local medic save the Highlander's life despite the odds, and who suffered rape and torture before her execution; like Hiroto, who was cut down by magistrates before he ever had a chance to carry out his plot, and brought to be drawn and quartered even as his wounds festered; like Christopher Wainwright, who had died in that duel, having only winged his opponent who vengefully shot him through the eye; like Aadit, who perished on the first futile charge to a stranger's bullet, an anonymous death without ever shedding Englishman blood, knowing full well that they'd take his wife and sister for their pleasures because of his stubborn pride. Name and example followed in a rapid train before Yarrick's eyes until he saw his own, the one story he had forgotten... and he smiled as he remembered. He was a man from Oregon. He worked at a family restaurant... his father's restaurant, because the fat, ungrateful man had sabotaged his college fund, drank like a fiend, and beat his mother into an early grave. Yarrick had worked hard for that first paycheck from a father that didn't love him, from the man who killed his mother... and he used it to buy a cheap imitation katana, just sharp enough to convince Yarrick that he could kill the man in his sleep, in that miserable restaurant that only they had keys to enter at night. The very next night shift his father attended saw Yarrick walk into the restaurant through the backdoor, near the office where his father would be counting money, drinking whiskey, or both... only to find that a robber, some anonymous criminal had beaten him to it, killing his old man with a bullet to the brain. The man's death had been quick and painless, and for a few thousand dollars. Yarrick Dell was furious: if anyone was meant to kill his father, John Dell, it was him... and it should've been slow, and painful, and with the full realization of who was doing it. Yarrick's vengeance was never meant to be fulfilled... and so he was the perfect candidate, the apt vessel, for the robed men who appeared.

Such was how the cycle began. Here was where the cycle ended.

The blade drained Yarrick's health before John's eyes, in slices of nearly a thousand every few seconds, with so little left for the man to spare. John watched Yarrick, who stared back up at him, smiling as his health dipped into the three-digit negatives... and then watched a pulse of darkness stretch out from his single hand, arc through the swordsman's ravaged body... and, in a vicious betrayal, turned the man inside out as it sucked him in, eating him whole. All that remained was the blade, chained and re-sheathed by some unseen force, clattering to the ground... and the bloodstained stump-handle of Yarrick Dell's imitation katana.

Yarrick Dell defeated!
Experience gain capped by level.
+obtained the Umbral Voice of Southern Winds



DING! You're now level 17 (from level 14)!
+15 stat points
+3 paragon points

Achievement unlocked! "Titan Killer"!
You defeated an enemy of level 50 or higher!
+1 paragon point
+5 stat points

Achievement unlocked! "Abomination Killer"!
You defeated a magical abomination, making the Abyss a safer place!
+3 stat points
+1 paragon point

Special bounty collected! "Hate of Abaddon"!
You've killed Yarrick Dell, and earned your prize. As your first completed Extinction Kings bounty, please accept this secretary both to complete your registration and as a free bonus to keep! Furthermore, since this Extinction Kings bounty was posted by an Abyssal Lord, please also accept this commemorative plaque.
+obtained 10,000 level 5 soul gems [Gamer message: sent to temple]
+earned one free, soul-bound slave and trained secretary: Ulshat [Gamer message: cannot add branded monster to temple]
+obtained a bell of summoning (Ulshat)
+black crystal plaque of recognition

Achievement unlocked! "Wanted Dead or Alive"!
You've completed a bounty for a hunt! A new profession, perhaps?

Achievement unlocked! "Wanted Dead or Extinct"!
You've completed a bounty for the Extinction Kings! Beware their glittering prizes.

Quest complete!
+5 stat points
+obtained the horn of mists
+obtained 3 chunks of wyrdstone
+obtained 5 spheres of longing
+obtained 1 chunk of giant's gold
+obtained 1 bottle of halfling laughter

"..." It was alot for John to process, but he hardly had the time, now.

The trap barrier collapse warning came up, and confirmed that much.

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