Author: Ritzbitz8 PM
Three years after the events of Anomaly, Leena reunites with her old friends and is given the chance of a lifetime to travel to the God Realm. There, they are caught in events instigated by the opposing Elemental Gods, leading to a war between Anomalies.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Chapters: 23 - Words: 224,654 - Reviews: 116 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 05-17-13 - Published: 03-10-12 - id: 3003964
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There is a prison situated off the shore of the artificial continent called Colonia, which sits in the Atlantic Ocean. This prison is on an isolated island, with a drawbridge that prevents outsiders from entering… as well as inmates from leaving. But this prison, known as The Deep, does not house ordinary prisoners. The prisoners confined within the all-inclusive asylum and penitentiary were kept there due to their dangerous, almost unreal abilities. Each of them were proven a threat to society in Colonia.
They are called Anomalies, humans who have been reborn with the power to manipulate the unseen elements in the air and earth around them. Granted power to be the vessels of the eight Elemental Gods, Anomalies find themselves outside of society in the human world. Anomalies with good hearts ended up on the side of the Anomaly police force called APS, while the darker ones either became mercenaries or part of the syndicate once known as Eclipse. The survivors of Eclipse were incarcerated in The Deep, our current setting, for the past three years.
Suddenly, an explosion rocked the normally tranquil landscape around The Deep. A section of the wall surrounding the prison yard collapsed under the force of a mighty attack, allowing a small group of six Anomalies their freedom. The six human-shaped figures were not alone though, they were escorted by a monstrous armored creature; the culprit behind the collapsing wall. The otherworldly creature resembled an armless dragon called a wyvern and is known as an Affinity Soul, the final embodiment of an Anomaly's power and growth. It's against the rules to summon an Affinity Soul in the human world; however…
"That was easier than I thought it would be, thanks to my epic new Affinity Soul… Panzer!" the overly enthusiastic leader of the escapees proclaimed. His name was Ace Chambers and he had short, messy brown hair. He led the charge with his five partners in crime dashing after him. His draconic Affinity Soul brought up the rear. Ace and his fellow escapees all wore the same orange jumpsuits given to the inmates. He grinned and set his sights upon the drawbridge in the distance, the symbol of their freedom.
"I can't believe you actually pulled this off, man," his companion running alongside him spoke. It was his best friend: Nathan Knight. He was a pale man with very short, spiked black hair. "Given your track record, I figured we weren't even going to make it halfway up the wall before getting spanked."
"Yes, how did you pull off summoning an Affinity Soul in the middle of The Deep?" The next escapee in line, Tristan Gallagher, inquired. He was a former mercenary with slicked-back black hair that had a thick fringe hanging down over one eye. "The walls are laced thick with xenotrium, the metal that suppresses our powers."
"We found a spot in the center of the courtyard where its effects dimmed, albeit slightly," Amelie, a former Eclipse Number, explained. She had shoulder-length brown hair and could be considered the most level-headed of the group. "It wasn't enough for us to effectively utilize our Affinities, but as long as we could bring out an Affinity Soul…"
"Who cares how we got out, we're out!" a blonde former mercenary, Kim Ford, exclaimed joyfully. She leapt up and pumped her fist in the air as she celebrated. "I need to get the hell away from Colonia so I can start my life again, so screw the explanations… let's just run!"
"That's precisely what we're doing," Kim's frequent companion, Oliver Trent, drolly responded to his dimwitted partner's command. The young British man sporting a monocle glanced behind himself at Ace's Affinity Soul. "Now that we have this brutish beast backing us up I don't foresee any failure."
"That's right, kids!" Ace gleefully acknowledged Oliver's prediction. "It's all smooth sailing from here!"
Suddenly, there was a flash of light between the six eager escapees and their goal. The lot of them and their Affinity Soul were blinded by it and staggered to a stop. Two figures emerged from the unexpected flash, transported to the terrain in front of the six Anomalies. Both clad in majestic white robes, they had an appearance that would severely set them apart from regular citizens of Colonia. There was a man and a woman. The man had a youthful appearance, his hair tied back into a ponytail, and stood with his arms crossed and a smirk on his face. The woman only stood as tall as his shoulder, her lengthy red hair braided in a frame around her head. She put her hands on her hips and gave off a haughty demeanor as she surveyed the six escapees.
Oliver was the only one who wasn't blinded, due to his Light Affinity, and wore a puzzled look on his face as he mumbled curiously with his British accent. "Who in the name of my monocle are they? Where on Earth did they come from?"
"This is what happens when you say we have no chance of failure!" Kim exclaimed in a fit, stomping her foot as she rubbed her eyes in an attempt to comprehend what was going on. Oliver stood with his mouth agape while his comrades recovered and the two new arrivals surveyed the situation.
"Where on 'Earth' did we come from?" the robed female repeated Oliver's question in a very confrontational tone. "Who said we came from somewhere on Earth?"
"Three… four… six Anomalies and an Affinity Soul," the robed male spoke, pointing his finger at each inmate as he counted them. "Based on those uniforms, I don't think they're supposed to be outside of that wall that looks totally blown to hell in the distance. Considering the evidence, I'd say we have a prison break on our hands here. What do you think, Sylvia?"
Sylvia shot her male companion a disapproving look back in return and proceeded to lecture him in a big sisterly tone.
"I figured that out based on the sirens blaring in the background. Why do you notice everything except the most obvious cues, Valor?"
"I dunno… cuz I'm a guy?"
"W-wait… Valor? Sylvia? Impossible…!" Ace growled as his vision slowly came back. He staggered and winced in their direction as slowly their shapes became ever-so-clear to him. He recognized their names and signature robes immediately, and his realization filled him with fear and anxiety. "There's no way you could get here that fast, we broke out barely even two minutes ago!"
"Wait, who are they?" Tristan demanded to know now that his vision had returned. Ace gritted his teeth together in frustration as he hesitantly answered.
"… the Lord of Solid and the Lady of Magma, two of the Elemental Gods!"
"The Elemental Gods…?" Tristan repeated those key words. This meant that their foes were two of the eight super-powerful beings that passed on their powers to Anomalies. It also meant they wielded incomparable strength. He tensed up as he began to notice the gravity of the situation they were in. Sylvia put her hands on her hips and reprimanded Ace in the same tone she used on Valor.
"What makes you think we're here for you, you annoying urchin? You six are the ones ruining our day, not the other way around!"
"They didn't come here for us. Then this was… a coincidence…?" Nathan murmured in astonishment, glancing at Ace. Ace slowly found himself losing composure as what Nathan said sunk into his brain. He screamed in agony, gripping his face with both hands and dropping to his knees dramatically.
"AUUUGH! Is my luck really that bad?"
"Yes," Valor responded, taking a more serious tone as he took a few steps toward the six escapees. An intimidated Oliver, Kim, and Nathan all backed away from the Lord of Solid, while Amelie and Tristan attempted to hold their ground. Ace just slumped on the ground, wallowing in self-pity. Valor stretched out his right arm and pointed his index and middle finger at the two Solid Anomalies in the group. He sighed as he spoke to them.
"Breaking out of prison and summoning an Affinity Soul in the human world are serious crimes, you lot. Amelie, Kimberly… I'm disappointed in you."
"You wanted us to just rot in there! Some Elemental God you are!" Amelie shot back, gritting her teeth in frustration. She felt like she was backed into a corner, which made her lose her normally cool composure. Valor shook his head.
"I care for all of my vessels, especially the cute girls," he responded in a charming tone, causing Amelie, Kim, and even Sylvia to scowl at him. "The Deep is for rehabilitation, and we are on a mission to retrieve a certain Anomaly from there. I was also going to review the lot of you to see if you were ready to come back to the God Realm with us… but now I can see that you're not."
"We should've listened to King Ulric and just stayed out of this…!" Oliver whined, overcome with regret now that they were busted. Kim narrowed her eyes and smacked him over the head to let out her frustration.
"Would you stop calling him that already? This is embarrassing enough without your sniveling!"
"You won't take us without a fight…" Ace murmured, determined not to give up on freedom and his goals for revenge. He lifted his head from where he was sulking, determination visible on his face as he aimed his right index finger at the two Elemental Gods. "Panzer… obliterate them and clear our path!"
Ace's wyvern Affinity Soul let out a mechanical roar and took action at its master's command. It spread its wings and made a mighty leap forward over the heads of the six escapees, crushing the earth as it landed before Valor and Sylvia. Neither of them moved an inch as Panzer reared its head back and opened its mouth, igniting a bright, powerful flame. After the few seconds it took to charge its attack, it hunched forward and unleashed a powerful fireball with enough force to decimate everything miles into the distance.
The fireball that Panzer belched out did indeed rip up the earth and careen into the distance over the ocean but did not make contact with its target. Valor and Sylvia had each evaded faster than Ace's eyes could track and stood on opposite sides of the scorched path created by the Affinity Soul. Valor looked over at his companion as a playful smile crept across his face.
"Well since we're already here, let's show off to these punks a little bit. Pleaaase?"
"If you want to handle this like a child, rather than a proper representative of the Eight Seats of Excalibur, be my guest," Sylvia conceded with a sigh and a shrug of her shoulders.
"Yay!" Valor replied excitedly, much to Sylvia's irritation. Valor quickly crouched down and slammed both of his palms against the ground. The second his hands impacted the ground, there was a mighty seismic disturbance that caused all of the escapees and the Affinity Soul to stagger and lose their balance. The shaking didn't subside after a mere moment though, it continued to get fiercer and fiercer.
"Th-th-this is the power of the Lord of S-S-Solid!" Nathan stammered, looking over at Ace as they tried to withstand it. "W-W-We can't win against this!"
"D-Don't be a wuss! I-I-If we can't beat th-them… then how c-c-can we ever take down L-Lee?"
"Wh-what is THAT?" Oliver interrupted them as he pointed toward the ocean in the distance. Ace and the others glanced beyond the island to see that Valor's technique was not just causing a tremor: he was creating something. A gargantuan rock formation burst from the ocean, scattering enough water over the area to simulate rain. Amelie shielded her eyes from the rain as she witnessed the power of her Lord; it was now clear that the Elemental Gods had their titles for a reason. She wasn't too enthusiastic as she dared to guess what Valor's creation was.
"Is that… a volcano…?"
"What!" Ace, Nathan, Oliver, and Kim all exclaimed in unison. Tristan didn't waste time being impressed and materialized his Affinity Arm, a large shuriken, out of thin air. He stepped forward and took aim at Sylvia, but she cut him off by raising her arms over her head and clapping her hands together. The volcano in the distance erupted at her command, spurting massive chunks of lava into the air for her to direct at will.
"This can't be…" Tristan gasped, frozen with disbelief.
"Happy birthday," was all Sylvia told her shocked victims as the massive projectiles impacted the ground in front of them, with enough force to blow them away. Valor and Sylvia stood unfazed amidst the destruction as the six Anomalies and their Affinity Soul were knocked down hard all across the landscape. Tristan, Amelie, Kim, and Oliver were rendered unconscious from the impact, but Ace dragged Nathan to his feet and screamed for his Affinity Soul's assistance.
"PANZER!" he bellowed as the wyvern growled and attempted to right itself. "Let's ditch these losers and get the eff out of here! Come on, Nate!"
"They think it's going to be that easy, huh?" Valor asked as Ace and Nathan leapt atop the Affinity Soul and took flight. He glanced over at Sylvia, who readied herself to create another eruption. They locked eyes and nodded in unison; they had all of their attacks coordinated without even needing to communicate. As the wyvern Affinity Soul took flight, Sylvia directed another chunk of molten rock toward the island. Ace was wary of the incoming attack, but after a few seconds it became clear that it wasn't aimed at them. Instead it was aimed at…
Valor leapt into the air and landed atop the projectile, riding it as Sylvia directed it through the air in pursuit of Ace's Affinity Soul. Thanks to her mastery of her Magma Affinity, Valor wasn't burned in the slightest. Before Ace could react and order his Affinity Soul to turn and blast Valor from the sky, he caught up and leapt onto Panzer's back. Ace and Nathan turned, both in dismay from the display they'd just witnessed.
"Excuse me," Valor said, seizing Nathan by the collar and hurling him to the ground below. Ace clenched his fists as he confronted the pursuer on his Affinity Soul's back. Valor smirked as he prepared to deal with the familiar face. "We meet again for the first time in like eight years and the first thing I have to do is subjugate you. Oh well, something to talk about around the water cooler with Lee and the other Gods."
"… I'm going to kill you."
Panzer had flown up quite a distance but started to glide at a stable level so it didn't knock its master off during his fight. Ace materialized his Affinity Arm, a kunai, and lashed forward at Valor in an attempt to cut him with the poison-tipped blade. Valor ducked to the right and seized Ace's forearm, turning and hurling him over his shoulder. Ace crashed down atop Panzer's back, losing his weapon but managing to hang on by gripping the beast's metallic scales. He glared up at Valor, who took a few steps back to give Ace some more space. Ace gritted his teeth together, feeling like he was being toyed with.
"Come on, bring out your Affinity Arm so it's a fair fight!"
"Do you honestly think I'd use it against a scrub like you?"
"Raaargh!" Ace screamed, his rage taking over as he pulled himself up and continued their fight atop the wyvern's back. Valor stepped back to evade a wild haymaker that almost resulted in Ace flinging himself over the edge. Valor capitalized on the opportunity and jabbed Ace in the chest to paralyze him, but Ace withstood it and seized Valor's sleeve with both hands. He re-materialized his kunai in his right hand, holding Valor close as he prepared to gouge him.
"Uh-oh. So this is where the cocky pretty-boy dies…" Valor narrated his own predicament, realizing he might actually be in trouble. "… or not."
Instead of trying to counter Ace, he stomped his right foot down on Panzer's back and sent a massive vibration through the summoned beast's body. Panzer screeched in pain and bucked wildly in the air, flinging both of them off. Ace screamed as he plummeted down toward the ground, while Valor laughed in amusement and dove after him.
"Why are you laughing? We're going to die!"
"Speak for yourself. It's been a while since I've gone skydiving!"
"You're insane!" Ace screamed, twisting his torso so that he could bellow up at his staggered Affinity Soul. "Arrgh… PANZER!"
Panzer roared in response to its master's command and recovered from Valor's attack. It dove down in pursuit, spreading its wings as it tried to catch up. Valor glanced over his shoulder, seeing Panzer opening its jaw and readying itself to make him into a snack. Valor didn't have immediate access to any of his powers in mid-air, which meant he was a free shot for the snarling Affinity Soul. As the two Anomalies dropped through the air with the dragon giving chase, Sylvia watched the ridiculous spectacle with disapproval all over her face.
"He is seriously going to get himself killed… does he always expect me to save him when he does crap like this!" she demanded to know, though she knew she would get no answer. She seethed and closed her eyes, her entire body beginning to glow with a red aura. "I'll throttle him later, I guess."
She then began a chant.
"Creature of legends, emerge upon the path of righteousness. Spread your mighty wings and glide across the stars and heavens… PEGASUS!"
Sylvia wasted no time mounting her quadruped Affinity Soul as it reared back and neighed before bounding into the air, utilizing the strength of its four powerful legs. It spread its wings and rocketed through the sky with incredible speed, homing in on the threat to Valor's life. Valor flipped backward in the air, attempting to deliver a kick to Panzer's chin… but missed. His cape draped over his face as he twirled, his vision compromised as a result. Suddenly something snagged his leg, halting his descent.
"I really hope that's not a dragon munching on my leg…" he murmured, lifting up his cape to see Sylvia had seized him and was holding him upside down by his right ankle. She was frowning at him, causing him to grimace. "Yikes, even worse."
"I'll drop you."
"I was kidding! Kidding!"
Pegasus had collided with Panzer, delivering a powerful headbutt that sent the wyvern crashing into the ocean several feet away. Ace managed to grasp the edge of the island to stop his descent, screaming for his life as he looked down at the bed of rocks awaiting below. In addition, the powerful ocean waves looked ready to engulf him if the rocks didn't do their job. He scrambled to pull himself up, but Valor and Sylvia landed on the cliffside before him and halted his path once again.
"Oh come on… this just isn't my day…"
"Is it ever your day?" Sylvia asked as she dismissed her winged Affinity Soul. The two of them stood over the terrified escapee as he struggled to lift his upper body onto solid ground. Ace was exhausted and exasperated, finally at his wit's end. He stood no chance against the combined might of the Gods, and was teetering on the edge of his demise. Sylvia opened her right palm to ignite a fireball and directed it toward Ace, planning to blast him over the edge.
"Any last words?"
Suddenly Valor grasped her wrist, moving her aim away from Ace. She glanced over at him, shocked. Valor had a determined look in his eyes, challenging Sylvia's decision to finish him off.
"We don't need to kill him, Sylvia. We can just put him back in The Deep where he belongs."
"He summoned an Affinity Soul in the human realm, you know the price. Even if we spare him, Lord Domino will most likely put him to death. I'm sparing us the trouble of hauling him back with us."
"Let's do this one by the book, Valor. I'm not getting in trouble again because of your softheartedness…!"
"Will you turn yourself back in?" Valor asked Ace, who gritted his teeth together in frustration and refused to answer. Valor gripped his fists, becoming enraged with Ace. He didn't want to let the wrong person live and repeat the mistakes of his past. "Because if you're beyond redemption, then Sylvia is right. We'll execute you here for your crimes, as our duty dictates."
Suddenly there was a great rumble as the earth shook and the ledge where Ace hung for dear life collapsed under the stress of the powerful tremor. Ace let out an ear-piercing scream as he was sent plummeting into the jaws of the hungry ocean below. Sylvia stared on in disbelief as Ace crashed down amidst the rocks and disappeared into the depths without a trace. Sylvia looked at Valor, wide-eyed at his sudden change of heart.
"What…" she gasped slowly, having trouble believing her kind childhood friend had really just sent someone to his death. "… made you change your mind…?"
"It wasn't me…" Valor responded, just as pale and shocked as Sylvia was. He glanced around at the ocean and the landscape of the island, the shaking from the earthquake was still subtle but present. The sky was darkening and thunder rumbled, even though when they'd arrived there wasn't a cloud in sight. He narrowed his eyes as he realized just what was happening.
"The elemental balance is getting worse and worse on this side. This world is crying out in pain as the eight elements continue to go out of control and clash with each other. Our system to keep it in check… is failing. Soon there won't be a purpose to Anomalies or Elemental Gods. We've merely delayed the inevitable…"
Sylvia put her hand on his shoulder in an attempt to console him.
"That's why we're trying to see if we can find another way. Come on, let's finish our mission… we can't want to waste any more time here. We have to fix the damage we caused from our screwing around, too."
Valor hesitantly turned and followed her back to The Deep so that they could turn in the defeated prisoners and complete their assigned task. Their mission, to recruit more Anomalies as Observers for the upcoming summit, was just a prelude to something much more important. The topic: how to properly deal with the increasing elemental imbalance that threatened existence. And depending on the result, possibly the first ever… Anomaly War.
Vol. 1: Reunion
In the center of the artificial continent of Colonia stood the capital: Tempest City. All of the superpowers that banded their resources together to create the new world were based in Tempest City, helping to govern Colonia as part of the council headed by the Emperor. While they were based in the large towers that loomed over the city from the business-oriented Central district, Tempest City had four other districts that each served different functions. East and West were residential and also served as a hub for education and recreation. North Tempest City was for art and culture, as well as the rich, while South was industrial.
There were two airports in Tempest City, one of which was located in the western sector. Visitors could fly into the new world at any time, but becoming a resident wasn't quite as easy as hopping on a plane. Colonia had a strict entrance exam, which tested applicants to see if they would be accepted as citizens. A candidate could also get into Colonia by being accepted to one of the schools located within. The reasons for these measures were not quite clear, other than the obvious fact that Emperor Scott Slade only wanted the best and brightest in his 'perfect' world.
A young woman exited at the main doors of the western airport, having just returned to the country for the first time in years. She was pulling a small luggage behind her and waved down one of the taxis circling the area, hungry for fares. She opened the back passenger side door and tossed her luggage in before climbing into the yellow vehicle herself. The rather disgruntled cabby, who wore a checkered fedora, turned to address her.
"Where can I take ya, kid?" the older man asked in a rather impatient manner. The young woman scoffed in response, running her fingers through her lengthy bangs that stylishly masked her left eye. She felt that she had to correct him before they were going anywhere.
"Kid? Please... I'm twenty now. I don't appreciate being talked down to."
"Yeah, yeah, congrats on gettin' outta yer diapers," he spat back as he waved off her comments. "Time is money. Where can I take ya? If it's anywhere outside of West Tempest City, it'll cost ya extra."
"West Tempest City is fine. Now, as for where I'm going... " she mused, deciding to avoid a confrontation with this irritating man. She glanced at the digital clock on the dashboard as she took note of the current time in Colonia. "It's nearly 10 AM on a Sunday, huh? I think I know where she would be right about now..."
Elsewhere within the same sector of the city, a certain other young woman was just sitting down as she prepared to attend church for the next hour. A certain quality she possessed set her apart from the other churchgoers in attendance: the fact that she was an Anomaly. Thanks to the power she was imbued with by Valor, the Lord of Solid, she possessed the Solid Affinity. This gave her the ability to summon a deadly Affinity Arm, as well as use the earth and environment around her in combat. Of course, this particular maiden was kind-hearted and would never seek out fights or use her powers for personal gain.
Her name was Leena Booker, now twenty-four years old, and she was at the epicenter of many of the battles waged between APS and the syndicate Eclipse three years ago. She had teal hair which she currently kept shorter and neater than she did three years prior. She wore a black top that zipped up the center, as well as shorts and long black stockings. To add a bit of flair to her style, she wore a choker with a decoration of the holy cross emblazoned on it, as well as a matching belt that hung loosely around her waist. She sat with her hands folded together on her lap, a shining example of poise and elegance.
One of Leena's friends sat next to her. She had lengthy dark brown hair, wore glasses, and was even scrawnier than Leena. Her name was Amy Williams and the two of them kept in touch even after Leena stopped going to CIU, the local university. Amy was aware of Leena's powers and was one of the first people to discover she was an Anomaly back when Leena attempted to keep it a secret. Leena hadn't used her powers in so long, since the last three years had been relatively peaceful, that either of them could almost forget she even had them in the first place.
"What are you doing after this?" Amy whispered to Leena, who responded by thoughtfully running her right index finger along her chin. She hummed for a minute before giving Amy her well-planned-out answer.
"So early?" Amy exclaimed, noting that it wasn't even time for lunch yet. Then she leaned forward and scrutinized Leena. "Wait, were you answering me or asking me a question?"
"I don't know... what do you think I should do?"
"Same old Leena..." Amy sighed, noting that even though Leena looked like she was growing older and more mature, her personality didn't seem to be evolving too much. Leena just chuckled, acting as sweet and kind as she ever did. But what Amy didn't see were Leena's thoughts. Leena was constantly focused on her goal of hunting down her father and brother, who were last known to be in the God Realm. The God Realm was a separate plane of existence where the eight Elemental Gods resided and watched over the human world and the elemental imbalance. Leena was incredibly serious, at least when it came to any matters concerning her family or her mission.
"Well I won't be able to hang out with you, I have work at the radio station after," Amy let Leena know, though she did feel a bit bad about leaving her friend hanging. Amy only came to church with Leena so she wouldn't be alone; none of Leena's other friends were available to see her much these days. Leena was often alone or at work, so Amy worried about her and if she was taking proper care of herself. Amy would frequently drop by Leena's apartment, which was located over the restaurant her uncle owned, and would find Leena sleeping in the middle of the afternoon or at other odd hours of the day. She didn't seem to be eating right either, so Amy wondered if she was seriously depressed. Something had been bothering her for a long time...
Church then began, so their conversation was cut short as the congregation stood up and began to sing the first hymn. As they sang, someone entered late through the large doors at the back of the chapel. The seat to Leena's left was vacant, so the newcomer took their spot there and began to sing off of their own bulletin. Leena glanced over slightly, not paying the other person much mind, and then returned to the task at hand. After her brain had a few seconds of processing time though, she glanced back and let out a cry of alarm.
She was swiftly 'shhh'd' by several people around her.
Leena slunk down into her seat and Sophie sat down next to her, proud that she'd successfully caught her old friend by surprise. Sophie looked different than Leena remembered; the brunette had her hair tied back into a ponytail rather than tied up haphazardly. She also seemed taller and more feminine, dressed in a snug sweater that reached all the way down to her thighs. She was still very 'Sophie' though, from her expression to the way she still covered her left eye with her lengthy bangs.
"You're back? Why are you back? This is awesome!" Leena exclaimed quietly as the sound of the other churchgoers singing echoed in the background. "My fortune cookie told me the other day that I'd have success with money in the future, this must be what it meant!"
"... how does that tie in to me returning?" Sophie questioned, clearly having forgotten to prepare herself for the nonsense Leena spouted. Leena held open her right palm, gesturing toward Sophie.
"... give me some money."
"You two really need to quiet down because you're getting us a lot of dirty looks," Amy leaned down and whispered to the reunited duo. Leena pouted while Sophie just smiled at her overexcited friend.
"Let's save the rest for later, I guess."
They met outside afterward and Leena bid farewell to Amy, who had to rush off to her part-time job. Leena was sad to see her go but excited at the chance to catch up with Sophie after so long. Sophie and Leena went through a lot together in the past, ever since they became Anomalies in unison on one fateful day. This one outlandish thing that they had in common helped bring them together despite the fact that their personalities originally clashed. They had lived together, fought with each other, and battled alongside each other dozens of times. However, following a tragic episode where she lost her brother, Sophie left Colonia and there was an empty space in Leena's life ever since.
"Guess it's just us now that Amy's gone," Leena stated, prompting Sophie to cross her arms and tilt her head to the side, puzzled.
"Who was that again? One of your new friends?"
"What? No... I've been friends with her since before I met you! The three of us had drama class together. She's the one who figured out Justine and I were Anomalies and almost ratted us out," Leena tried to jog Sophie's memory, but became exasperated when she saw Sophie looked more and more lost. "You... really don't remember, do you?"
"Doesn't ring a bell," Sophie muttered before turning and glancing at the open chapel doors. While people exited, Sophie took note of a certain blonde girl that had caught her attention ever since she arrived. She guessed the girl was closer to Leena's age but definitely didn't look like she fit in at the church. The way she stood and expressed herself seemed wooden, not to mention that she seemed fixated on Leena. She was even staring at Leena with her cold blue eyes at this very second.
"So... who's your new blonde friend? I'm not forgetting her too, am I?"
"Who? If you mean Carrie, she left Colonia around the same time you did..." Leena answered, confused as she glanced in the same direction as Sophie. As soon as Leena's attention was directed at her, the blonde girl broke eye contact and turned away into the crowd exiting the chapel. Leena responded with uncertainty. "Oh… I don't know. I've never seen her before and I come here almost every week."
"Maybe she's just a new member that's bamboozled by the sight of someone with teal-colored hair."
Leena and Sophie left the church and walked along the streets of East Tempest City, scanning for a local place to eat and have some long-awaited catch up time. They passed by the familiar central park in the district, deciding to take a detour through there instead of staying on the noisy streets. Sophie told Leena how she was helping out with her aunt and uncle's business over the last few years, whilst taking courses online. Leena wondered why, in this age of social media, that Sophie didn't keep in contact with them, but Sophie said she detested such sites and was still going through too much emotionally to keep up. Before they could finish their trek through the park, however, they were confronted with another familiar face.
"Yoshino...!" Leena exclaimed excitedly as she noticed the pale girl with pure white hair sitting on a bench adorning the pathway they were traveling. Yoshino was an Anomaly much like Leena and Sophie, but her powers were on another level than theirs. She held the title "Observer", a fully-developed Anomaly tasked to keep an eye on the human realm in her God's stead. Yoshino's look had changed a lot over the years as well, the primary difference being that she'd grown her hair out much longer. She faced the dynamic duo in response to Leena's cry.
"Well well, if it isn't Leena Booker. And who's that with you? Her Aura seems familiar."
"It's Sophie, she's come back!" Leena announced, triumphantly punching her right fist into the air. Sophie stood still, moot to their little reunion, until Leena grabbed her right arm and made her do the victory pose as well. Yoshino was blind as the result of torture she'd endured as a child, but she was able to sense the environment around her thanks to her Light Affinity. Even though Sophie's Aura, the unique power reading given off by an Anomaly, was familiar to her she wasn't able to identify Sophie by her face.
"I forgot you hung out here, Yoshi. I guess I haven't seen you around much lately..."
"I've been busy," Yoshino stated in a serious tone of voice as she approached the two girls. Sophie suddenly got the feeling that their meeting was not a coincidence. In the past, Yoshino usually only bothered to show up to warn them of trouble on the horizon. Sophie figured this pattern wouldn't change, and instantly became defensive. She detested getting involved in the affairs of Anomalies and their battles since nothing but misery and hardship ever resulted from it.
"So what disaster is transpiring now?" Sophie demanded to know as Yoshino approached them, catching Leena off-guard with her tone of voice. "Is some sick psychopath kidnapping Anomalies again? Is a giant monster about to barf lightning all over the city and cause millions in damage? Whatever it is, take care of it yourself and leave us out of it."
"Sophie...! You don't have to be so-"
"Nothing gets past you, does it?" Yoshino conceded quickly, surprising Leena even further. Yoshino continued on to warn them of a current crisis. "I'm not sure if this will concern you two or not, but it doesn't hurt to stay informed. A group of Adjutants have gone rogue and disappeared off of our radar; we suspect they've come here to the human realm."
"Wait, Adjutants?" Leena wondered. She'd never heard that term before.
"Sorry, I guess you didn't know. An Adjutant is the name for an Anomaly that is a direct subordinate to an Elemental God. Someone like myself, Mia, or Brick would be considered the rank of Adjutant. We're called 'Observers' if we're sent to the human realm to keep an eye on things, but it's the same rank. There are still others in the God Realm that you've never met... and five of them have become renegades."
"What... why?" Sophie asked, irritated by the entire explanation. "You people are supposed to have so much power, why can't you cut this nonsense off before it even happens?"
"I apologize, it was very sudden. The Lord of Flora has ordered that they be apprehended, so I'm searching for them on this side along with the other Observers. Like I said, it probably doesn't concern you... but if you see anything or encounter one, please let me know immediately. If you're in danger, I will come to your aid."
"I've heard that one before," Sophie muttered, becoming annoyed and turning away from Yoshino. Leena laughed nervously, attempting to smooth things out before her two stubborn companions got into a tiff.
"Thanks for letting us know Yoshino, better to be safe than sorry! I still have your cell number so if I see anything suspicious I'll call you right away, okay?"
"Thank you, Leena. At least you have some manners... unlike your friend."
"How do you dial numbers on your cell anyway if you're blind?" Sophie remarked, glaring over her shoulder at Yoshino. She'd always been baffled at how well Yoshino executed her day-to-day activities, even if she had the aid of her Light Affinity. "Your powers can't be that good."
"That's classified," was all Yoshino responded with, bowing politely before she turned away and continued her mission. Sophie just pouted toward the Observer's back, blowing at her bangs as her irritation level reached maximum.
"... I figured."
"Thank you for helping us apprehend these troublemakers," the Anomaly prison's warden thanked the two Elemental Gods. Valor and Sylvia sat in his office opposite his desk as Tristan, Nathan, Kim, Oliver, and Amelie were all re-processed and returned to their cells. The German man folded his hands together and narrowed his eyes as he thought up an appropriate punishment. "I know that Ace was the ringleader and his Affinity Soul caused the breakout, but I'm still not going to go easy on his accomplices."
"That's fine, just make sure you upgrade security so this doesn't happen again," Sylvia ordered him, though it was apparent he didn't like to be on the receiving end of demands from someone roughly half his age. "That was completely embarrassing for everyone involved."
"Anyway, Warden Moskau," Valor leaned back in his chair, balancing it on its hind legs as he addressed the man by name, "we've come to release a certain Observer you've been holding here. We're having a very important summit soon and the attendance of everyone ranked Adjutant and higher is mandatory."
"Do you mean Mia Auria?" the warden asked, alarmed that she, of all people, was going to be set free. She was responsible for much destruction in the past, due to her inability to properly command her Affinity Soul. "A-are you sure? Well… she is here voluntarily..."
"Lord Domino's orders," the Lord of Solid responded, thought he didn't sound too enthusiastic about it. He'd been on the receiving end of a beating from Mia before, but that was when he was still a novice with his powers. "She won't go berserk if we're keeping an eye on her. She should have a say in things, too."
"We also need to review the other Anomalies you're keeping for other potential Adjutant candidates," Sylvia tacked on, though she wasn't too confident about what they'd find. "I guess most of them just disqualified themselves though..."
"Well, still take a look at the list... you can help us save on food costs," the warden offered, taking a list of inmates out of his desk drawer and sliding it toward the otherworldly visitors. Valor picked it up and skimmed down it quickly without much interest, until his finger slid past a certain name. He choked on his own phlegm in alarm, so taken aback that he nearly collapsed off of his chair. Sylvia and the warden stared wide-eyed at him.
"Why is he in here!"
"Who?" Sylvia wondered, snatching the list from Valor's rigid hands and gazing at it herself. Her eyes settled on an inmate that shared Valor's family name, realizing why he was so stunned. "Oh."
West Tempest City:
Leena and Sophie concluded their lunch at a local cafe and stepped back out onto the city streets to continue their day together. It was a familiar district that they'd both visited a lot back when they were students at CIU. Sophie led the way, wanting to satisfy her old habit of stocking up on dozens of dollars worth of candy from the local convenience store. Leena tagged along, humming happily. She then started to become nostalgic, recalling she and Sophie had their first adventure in this very area.
"How long has it been since we first came here?" Leena asked, peering through the clean glass window of the corner store as they strode toward the entrance. Sophie attempted to recall.
"I think it was the day we first met, when we were assigned to do that drama project. So nearly four years ago."
"Oh yeah, then we became Anomalies and were attacked after Alexis and Seth robbed that bank over there," Leena recalled. The bank in question stood out amongst the other buildings, with two large pillars acting as décor framing the front doors. Sophie grimaced slightly as she recalled their adventures as Anomalies. The conclusion of that chapter in her life was not a happy one.
"I try to forget that part... and everything that happened afterward."
"You're still… not over everything that happened, are you?" Leena asked cautiously. Sophie placed her hands on her hips and stuck her neck upward toward Leena, staring her down in a confrontational manner. Leena recoiled slightly, fearing she'd needlessly upset Sophie. After they locked eyes for a few seconds, Sophie closed her eyes and exhaled deeply.
"You're as dense as ever, aren't you?"
"Hey, I'm not dense! I'm just-"
Sophie slapped her palm against her own face, "Oh geez…"
Suddenly Sophie opened her eyes and her expression quickly turned into a defensive scowl. A quick realization took hold over Leena as Sophie stepped forward and pushed her aside, confronting a figure that had stepped up a few meters behind them. Leena noticed Sophie was facing off with the same blonde girl they'd seen earlier at church; she'd followed them. The blonde girl gave Sophie a rather apathetic glance, showing her disinterest in the fiery brunette. Leena started to become anxious, putting her hand on Sophie's left shoulder and attempting to hold her back.
"What do you want?" Sophie demanded to know.
"Sophie…!" Leena objected in a hushed tone. She glanced quickly at the blonde girl's unnerving stare and then returned to scolding her friend. "Why are you being so mean? She hasn't done anything wrong... this is probably just a coincidence."
"Look at her face," Sophie countered, refusing to move from her defensive position between Leena and their stalker. "She definitely didn't follow us all this way to hold hands and skip around in the park with us."
"Maybe she's just a teal-hair fanatic like you guessed earlier!"
"Your vertically-challenged friend is correct, Leena Booker," the blonde spoke in a malicious tone, clearly trying to evoke a reaction from the duo. Sophie gritted her teeth together. It wasn't the verbal jabs that were getting to her, it was the situation she realized was unfolding. It was all too familiar to her... the feeling of tension before a battle was about to unfold. Leena took a step forward and attempted to reason with their possible assailant.
"Whatever your problem with us is, I'm sure we can just talk about it," Leena offered, desperately trying to figure out what was wrong without anyone resorting to violence. "How do you know my name? I don't believe we've been introduced…"
"Talk? You think I came all the way to this floating joke of a country to talk?" the blonde spat back, acting more irate now that Leena had addressed her directly. She stretched her right arm out to the side, holding her hand open as if she were about to grasp something out of mid-air. Her voice suddenly became more emotional and heated she cried out her next words. "I'm here… to kill you, Leena Booker!"
The blonde girl's right hand gripped down on the staff of a scythe that materialized out of thin air and into her grasp. The curved blade of her deadly weapon, her Affinity Arm, was the nearly the same size as her entire upper body and gleamed brightly in the sunlight. In just the blink of an eye, this unarmed young woman wielded an intimidating weapon that brought fear to any onlooker in the area. Civilians exclaimed and scrambled to get their distance from the new girl as she tested her weapon by cleaving a lamppost in half. The severed half clattered to the ground with a loud thud, the only sound Leena heard aside from the rapid beating of her own heart.
Sophie pressed her back against Leena and took a few steps backward, trying to create some distance between Leena and the other Anomaly, as well as protect her.
"Yeah, that's a scythe," Sophie murmured in a sarcastic tone, opening her hands and materializing her own Affinity Arms: gauntlets called bugnuks that masked the top of her hands. Four retractable claws would extend from the gauntlets' compartments as she clenched her fists. Sophie hunched forward and prepared to engage their opponent. "She's a damn Anomaly, just like I thought."
"But why is she after me…?" Leena wondered, her vision of avoiding confrontation was rapidly deteriorating as panic spread throughout the city block. Passers-by and shoppers in the area had caught a glimpse of the armed girl and mass panic broke out, halting traffic as well. Leena was still determined to stop Sophie and the other girl.
"Wait! I'm sure there's some other way to resolve this!"
"There isn't," Sophie responded, her voice so low that it had almost become like a growl. Her one visible eye was glaring daggers at her scythe-wielding foe. "This is why our powers disgust me; we have this never ending urge for battle because of them. And people like her, who senselessly seek to hurt others, can't be reasoned with. There's only one way to deal with someone like this…"
"Ugh, but there's too many people around!" Leena still objected, tugging on Sophie's shoulder and attempting to budge her. "We can't fight in broad daylight, let's run instead and call Yoshino!"
"I won't let her hurt you. I won't lose anyone else I love!" Sophie screamed back. Leena's eyes widened and she froze up as she saw things through Sophie's eyes. Sophie was flashing back to the day her brother died at the hands of a female Anomaly that appeared literally out of nowhere, seeking senseless vengeance just like this. It wasn't going to be simple to snap Sophie out of her trance... and there was no more time left anyway...
The blonde Anomaly was attacking.
She dashed across the pavement and swung her scythe horizontally at Sophie, which Sophie easily parried by backhanding it with her right-hand gauntlet. Since Affinity Arms were nearly indestructible, any one could be used as a shield against another. The attacker took a step back in the same direction Sophie had knocked her weapon, trying not to lose her footing as she repositioned herself. She rotated her hands and held her scythe upside-down so that the top of the blade was resting against the pavement.
"You're in my way," the blonde Anomaly told Sophie, attempting to discourage her interference. "I don't see why you're so eager to lose your head."
"I'm not budging," Sophie responded determinedly, clenching her fists and extending her claws to threaten her attacker. "So save your breath with your little warnings."
"That wasn't a warning."
As those words escaped the assassin's lips, she swung her scythe upward and attempted to catch Sophie in the face with the deadly blade. Sophie stepped backward and out of range, allowing the blade to whizz past her face. Next, she slapped her left hand down to grasp the new girl's weapon, preventing her from pulling back and escaping Sophie's attack range. Sophie pulled the Anomaly forward, lifting her right leg and booting her right in the stomach. Utilizing her Magma Affinity to enhance her strength, which came at the price of wearing out her muscles and accelerating her fatigue, she sent the blonde flying clear across the street into the side of parked car. Sophie intended to end this quickly, even if it meant abusing her own body with the overuse of her powers. A huge dent was pushed into the car and the windows shattered as the blonde girl slid down the side of it, winded from the force of Sophie's brutal attack. Sophie began to march across the street toward her fallen foe.
"I'm not going to give any warnings either," Sophie growled, her form beginning to change as she pursued her prey. Leena stared on, astonished, as Sophie's entire body lit ablaze and was engulfed in bright flames from head-to-toe. Sophie's eye glowed a pure, bright yellow in this form and it narrowed as she glared at her disoriented opponent. Leena had never seen Sophie use this 'Fire Form', which was reminiscent of her own Iron Form, before but it indicated that she was not holding back. Leena took a step forward and cried out for her friend.
"Don't worry Leena, I've got this," Sophie responded as she dusted off her rusty combat skills. She hadn't fought in years but it was clear that her power level had certainly increased during that time span. Drivers whose path were impeded by the fiery female stopped honking their horns and opened their car doors, trying to get a better look at the spectacle. Leena began to feel nervous as the row of cars continued to pile up, meaning more and more lives were at risk. She gnawed lightly on her nails, her anxious bad habit showing itself as she tried to figure out how she could quell this situation.
The blonde staggered to her feet and picked her scythe off the ground, not showing a shred of fear as she gazed at Sophie's Fire Form. Her expression changed for the first time as she laughed mockingly toward Sophie.
"Aaaahaahahaha... going all out from the start, are you? For a trashy, low-level Anomaly that despises both herself and new powers, that's pretty bold. You're pathetic and a hypocrite, Sophie Briante."
"Shut your disgusting mouth. Wait, how do you know about me as well…?"
"Former Adjutants like myself know a lot about many things," she responded with an amused sneer on her face, unnerving Sophie and Leena with both her knowledge and title. This girl apparently had the power to back up her arrogance. "You're trying to make Leena Booker a replacement for what you've lost, but you won't win. Do you know why? The pain and loss that you feel... is nothing compared to mine."
"She lost someone...?" Leena thought, wondering if that tied into the blonde girl's vendetta against her. Now that Leena knew this girl was one of the renegades Yoshino warned them about, she had a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach. Observer-level foes might be too much for herself and Sophie. But that wasn't Leena's primary concern; it was how Sophie would react to the renegade's taunts.
Sophie didn't waste any time answering Leena's mental question. She screamed out in rage, propelling herself toward the mouthy blonde and attempting to deliver a fiery punch with her claws. The punch was easily evaded by the assassin and, as a result, Sophie's fiery punch gouged into the parked car in her path. Since her entire body was covered in flames, this triggered an explosion. Leena and the other onlookers ducked away from the overbearing heat and noise given off by the car's destruction. Sophie, being a Magma Anomaly, was unharmed and turned the mass of fire that erupted from the explosion into her own weapon. She manipulated it into four large fireballs hovering in the air at her command. Sophie targeted the renegade and screamed in rage as she volleyed them off one-after-another toward her.
Leena quickly slammed her palms against the ground and used her Solid Affinity to erect multiple thick barriers out of the concrete to wall off the area around the combatants. As the blonde girl agilely leapt and danced between each of Sophie's gigantic projectiles, Leena's protection saved the civilians and buildings from harm. Sophie levitated one last mega-fireball in the air before her palm, having exhausted the rest of the supply she stole from the explosion. She let out a battle cry and charged across the street, pushing the fireball along and preparing to smash it into her opponent at point-blank range.
"You're a bit more resourceful than I thought, but regardless of that..." the blonde began in a sinister tone, slamming her heel down on a manhole cover to send it spinning into the air. Suddenly, at her command, a giant geyser of water erupted from the sewer beneath the street. The renegade thrust her left palm in Sophie's direction, redirecting the geyser on command to crash into her.
"... this is a mismatch for you."
"She's got the Vapor Affinity...!" Leena gasped as Sophie was blasted by the high-pressure water, knocked off her feet and forced back into one of Leena's barrier walls. Both Sophie's fireball and Fire Form were doused out as she was kept suspended in mid-air, trapped between the cement wall and the rushing geyser created by the renegade. The Vapor Anomaly snapped her fingers to stop the water pressure and allowed it to splash down over the battle-torn street, followed by a weakened Sophie. Sophie struggled to pick herself up off of her stomach, but was too weak after enduring so much pressure.
The Vapor Anomaly didn't hesitate to capitalize, waving her right hand to manipulate the water particles present in the air. She clenched her fingers together, seizing three needles of ice that she'd created. She hurled them accurately at Sophie's head, intending for that to be the killing blow… until Leena stepped in front of Sophie, ducking down to shield her. Leena was in her own transformed state that her Affinity granted: her Iron Form.
Leena used her metallic left forearm to shatter the projectiles meant for her drenched friend, before extending her right arm with her palm open. Their assailant suddenly felt a great force pressuring her from above: Leena's unique ability to manipulate gravity. The blonde girl lost the ability to support her own body weight, collapsing against the street so forcefully that the cement cracked outward from where she impacted. Leena stood up and her iron skin returned to normal as she stared their attacker down, keeping her attention focused in order to keep her pinned.
"People are always after me, but they tend to forget that I'm a pretty powerful Anomaly on my own," Leena stated, quickly glancing over her shoulder to make sure Sophie was alright. Sophie choked out water and pushed her upper body off the ground, she seemed more upset than injured. Leena turned her attention back to their attacker to ask a vital question they'd skipped over earlier.
"Who are you anyway?"
"You really don't remember, do you?" the blonde responded, straining under the pressure to turn her neck so that she was returning Leena's gaze. An amused smile stretched across her face. "How sickeningly sweet and innocent you seem when you're unaware of your own horrible crimes."
"... what are you talking about?" Leena questioned, feeling more uncomfortable the more they got information out of this mysterious Vapor Anomaly. She was unsure if the blonde girl was trying to mess with her to ruin her composure or not. The blonde girl laughed slightly before deciding to answer Leena's first question.
"My name is Leah, and it's the last name you'll ever hear."
"Leah...?" Leena softly repeated her name. She didn't recall ever meeting a Leah before.
"Tch..." Sophie grunted as she staggered to her feet and held onto Leena's shoulder to support herself. She decided she was in a good position to talk down to Leah now. "You're not so threatening with your clichéd, overused lines. I don't know if all the bleach in your hair has seeped into your brain or not, but you're not exactly in a position to threaten us right now."
Leah didn't respond directly to Sophie's taunts, instead glowing with a blue aura and speaking aloud some sort of incantation. Sophie had absolutely no idea what kind of gibberish Leah was suddenly spouting, but Leena's eyes went wide with alarm. She'd heard a similar chant in her past battles and she knew exactly what was coming.
"Oh no. We have to knock her out or something!"
"Why… what's happening?"
"My guardian beast, appear on the battlefield and punish my enemies with your frozen breath. Let the doomed ones gaze upon your majestic form... FENRIR!"
"Fenrir?" Sophie exclaimed, sliding her right leg back and assuming a battle stance in preparation to defend an assault. After a few seconds of waiting, she glanced over at Leena and was irked by the fact that Leena seemed to understand the situation better than she did. "Why do you look so tense? Nothing happened!"
"It... didn't appear...?" Leena cautiously murmured, narrowing her eyes in Leah's direction. Leena wondered if it was bluff, but Leah was smirking and her bluish Aura was visible. Leena kept her right arm stretched toward Leah, to keep her pinned with gravity, and checked around the area. She glanced to her right, then her left, and finally turned to glance behind their position. Suddenly, a wolf-like creature covered in sleek, metallic armor burst out of the second-floor window of a building and dove ferociously down at the team of two. Leena and Sophie both cried out in alarm and rolled out of the way to avoid getting pounced on.
Fenrir landed on the street before them, its sharp claws cutting into the cement so easily that it might as well have been paper. A chill washed over the two girls as the beast exhaled; its breath was freezing cold. Leena knew this creature was called an Affinity Soul, the ultimate manifestation of an Anomaly's power, but she didn't know that their summoning could be displaced elsewhere on the battlefield like this. Leena and a shaken-up Sophie prepared to fight back against Leah, who was now freed from Leena's pressure, and her beast.
"Your control over gravity, thanks to your unique Dual Affinity of Solid and Mental, is powerful… but I know the weakness. You have to keep your concentration on your victim, which would leave you open to attacks from another assailant such as my cute little Affinity Soul here," Leah chided Leena, who couldn't believe the flaw in her technique was exposed so easily. Leah materialized her scythe again and walked to her right, while Fenrir prowled to the left. "As long as Fenrir and I don't stick together, you can't stun us both… and Sophie Briante looks too tired to competently watch your back."
"I'll still kick your ass," Sophie threatened, going back-to-back with Leena and facing Fenrir. Leena prepared to take Leah on, pushed far past the point of diplomacy by now. Leah laughed menacingly again, certain that her victory was assured.
"I doubt that. You two don't even have Affinity Souls, you've got nothing on me."
"Well how about me?" another fourth voice interjected, as another female stepped into the fray. Everyone's attention was drawn to the newcomer, someone that Leena and Sophie had seen only a few hours ago. Yoshino stepped into the walled-off area that Leena created, bringing with her the powerful Aura of an Observer. Leena's eyes lit up when she saw Yoshino, feeling quite relieved now that backup had arrived.
"Yoshino! Thank god you're here…"
"Took you long enough," Sophie commented smugly, but as usual Yoshino was prepared with a verbal countermeasure. The deceptively frail and blind girl indicated, using her left index finger, the area where she sensed Leena's Aura.
"I would've gotten here sooner if someone remembered to call me."
Sophie turned and glared at Leena, who simply giggled nervously and knocked her left fist against her forehead. Yoshino dismissed Leena's forgetfulness and directed her attention at Leah, who seemed quite amused by Yoshino's arrival. Sophie and Leena found it strange that a fellow Observer-level Anomaly showing up didn't bother the blonde renegade, but Yoshino was oblivious to her opponent's expression. Instead, she began by reprimanding the traitor.
"I don't know how you expected to get away with this. You're even stupider than I thought, Vapor Adjutant," Yoshino addressed her in a formal manner, though there was a hint of annoyance in her voice. "You betray your masters and then start a public confrontation with an Anomaly you know we keep a close eye on? Honestly, what future do you see for yourself other than life in The Deep?"
"I see my future stained in red as I walk out of here, drenched in blood from slaying all three of you," Leah taunted her former colleague in a rather cryptic manner. There was clearly no swaying her from the violent mission she'd embarked on. "I'll make sure you all suffer and scream as you die… especially Leena Booker."
"What is her deal…?" Sophie whispered to Leena, feeling shivers run down her spine as Leah spoke of such horrible things. She was now visibly disturbed by whatever drove Leah to such insanity… and how it was connected to Leena. Leena was trying to stop herself from shaking, even more unnerved than Sophie was. She really wanted answers but knew it was best to leave things to Yoshino from here on. Yoshino stepped forward, preparing to engage Leah in the duo's stead.
"I will annihilate you swiftly and show you just how misguided you are, traitor."
"Fenrir, freeze her to the bone!" Leah commanded her four-legged Affinity Soul. Fenrir howled and opened its mouth and emitted a powerful freezing blast that solidified the very air in its path, quickly heading toward Yoshino. Yoshino displayed her power by clasping her hands together, manipulating light in the area to create a powerful force-field. She directed it as a projectile to counter Fenrir's attack, shattering the ice breath and easily dominating the Vapor Affinity Soul. Fenrir was propelled away from the rest of the combatants, smashing through one of the barrier walls Leena created.
"Yes! You're awesome, Yoshi!" Leena cheered on, despite being unsure if Yoshino approved of that nickname or not. Yoshino then stepped past Leena and Sophie, heading to take Leah down next. Leah backed away from the Light Anomaly, initially looking shocked that Fenrir had been defeated so easily.
"I didn't expect him to get one-shotted… but you still fell for my trap."
"You're delusional," Yoshino told her, readying another attack to demolish Leah this time. Suddenly Sophie's senses alarmed her to something that the other girls hadn't noticed yet, and she instantly went on alert. She wasn't too sure where it was coming from but she could definitely detect another heat source within the walled-off area they were fighting in. She leaned forward to scream a warning at the distracted Observer, but it was too late.
Another scythe-wielding Anomaly materialized, cloaked up until this moment. He was right beside Yoshino and his weapon was poised to strike. Yoshino's eyes widened as his Aura suddenly showed up on her radar, but he tore his blade through her mid-section before she had a chance to react. Leena and Sophie watched in horror as a sickening amount of blood splattered across the cement from Yoshino's wound, which extended along the lower-right part of her ribcage to the edge of her torso. The powerful Observer choked and gargled on blood as she dropped on her front, subdued within a single, traumatizing second.
"Oh… my… god… YOSHINO!" Leena screamed intensely, her arms shaking as she felt like collapsing just from the sight of what she'd witnessed. This little debacle on the street had transcended into something entirely more grave now. Leena reacted with the instinct to protect Yoshino from further harm, slamming her fists against the ground and directing a phalanx of sharp cement projectiles at the one who attacked Yoshino. Leah's accomplice, a gangly, sinister-looking man with long, unruly grey hair, leapt away from the Light Observer's body and attempted to slice through the projectiles using only his scythe. Many struck and gouged into him, bringing him to his knees as he cried out in pain. Sophie let out a battle cry and charged forward, enhancing her speed to close in and clothesline the second renegade, hurling him against one of the barriers.
"Leena, I'll handle this guy! You-!"
Leah attacked Leena before Sophie could finish barking orders. Leena, still shaken up by Yoshino's predicament, was having trouble composing herself and fighting back. She dodged away from Leah's assaults, turning and running away while the Vapor Anomaly laughed sadistically. Leah paused and crouched down, giving Leena a few seconds' worth of a head start. She licked her lips and shuddered in anticipation; she wanted to enjoy hunting her prey.
"You can't run from me, Leena… or from your past."
Leena found herself unable to get a grip as she ran outside of the barrier, past the crowds and police that had gathered; they were all blurs to her right now. She clenched her teeth together, trying to keep from freaking out and losing herself completely. She didn't even understand why she was running. She didn't understand why Leah was hunting her. She didn't understand why Sophie, Yoshino, or anyone else had to suffer because of her. After years of tranquility, she couldn't handle this sudden transition back into horror and violence. She wondered if this was somehow the price she had to pay just for embarking on the simple mission of finding her long-lost family. At the moment, she didn't even care about that… she just wanted to disappear.
But Leah wasn't about to let that happen.
Leah blasted Leena in the back with another torrent of water, sending her crashing through the alley she'd fled into and rolling across the ground. Leena was propelled so fast by the attack she'd bounced off the ground and crashed back-first against a dumpster. Still shaking out of fright as pain shot through her, she staggered to her feet and attempted to materialize her Affinity Arm; she had to fight back. But before she could even summon her weapon, Fenrir pounced down and cast frozen breath over her. Since Leena was already drenched from Leah's attack, she was coated in thick ice with nearly no effort on the Affinity Soul's part at all.
"It's judgment time," Leah said, catching up to her pet wolf and kicking Leena, who was encased in ice. Leena screamed as she was toppled over backward, unable to move and starting to feel so numb that she couldn't even feel if she was struggling to escape or not. Leah laughed as Leena crashed onto her back, still frozen as her assailant and the techno-organic wolf loomed over her. Leah placed her right foot atop Leena and leaned forward, her blonde hair draping down as she stared into Leena's terrified eyes. Leena's teeth chattered while Leah clenched hers together in a proud grin.
"As you freeze to death, allow me to educate you on how you ruined my life. Then even you, with your 'convenient' memory loss, will understand exactly why you deserve this pitiful end..."
TO BE CONTINUED
Author's Note: Anomaly's sequel has officially began! I've actually been working on it for a few months now, trying to get ahead a few chapters before I started posting. As a whole, the story should only be about half as long as Anomaly was since I don't want this going on forever. However it will be a lot more plot-focused and I'll be cramming each chapter with important scenes. Leena will be the main character more than ever before, as we will focus more on her rather than an ensemble cast while she attempts to solve the mysteries of her past and find her missing family. Please leave a review and let me know what you thought of the first chapter!
Doing the character profiles in the first series killed me so I won't dare repeat that mistake. I know the story has a large cast and it's harder to keep track of who everyone when the only medium is writing, so I'll try to think of something. There's no art up yet for Anomaly War aside from my old concept art, I may not have time to do much art anymore but we will see. If I do, I'll note it in this section.