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ACT I: Voyage

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Episode 1: Duke Terror

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The sun rose up over the horizon, and the quiet town of Lithennul slowly came to life after a night of rest. The town was nothing extraordinary; the only thing of main importance was the fact that it served as the only port for miles.

However, this little town, despite it's insignificance, was home to the headquarters of the world's most revered organization; the Mach Seven Organization. This group of highly specialized and powerful individuals set up teams around the world, referred to as Sectors. Each Sector housed seven members each, and oftentimes the Sectors would consist of close friends and other compatible combinations.

This organization was formed years ago, in order to defy and defend against a strange phenomenon of a tyrant; the Darkness of Chaos, referred to as Dark by his minions, the Shadow Creatures. Their job is simple; overthrow Dark, destroy the Shadow Creature armies, and return peace to the world.

As the sun rose in the sky, a loud beeping was emitted from the alarm clock next to the teenager's futon. He looked as normal as any other boy you'd meet in the town, with the exception of two small, triangular ears perched on top of his head(followed by normal human ears on the sides of his head). His blond, feathery hair spiked about in multiple directions, but his bangs were away from his face, revealing that he slept with his glasses on. On his back were several spikes, followed by a short tail at the base of his spine.

He rolled about, spikes folding towards his back to prevent snagging. Suddenly, he rolled off of his futon, slamming his hand into the nightstand, and causing the alarm clock to fall down, smacking him on the side of the head.

It fell to the side, and as the bump began to form, he slowly opened his eyes, revealing deep reddish-pink irises, and squinting against the sunshine coming in through the blinds.

"...Ow..."

He pushed himself up, rubbing the bump, and placing the clock back on the nightstand. He trudged to the bathroom, discarding his clothes and setting up the shower. He came back out after about five minutes, hair dripping, and he walked back to his room, to his closet.

From the slightly-messy depths, he pulled out a blue tee and denim shorts, and quickly dressed. He pulled on a pair of stark-white weighted wristbands, followed by a pair of socks. He glanced at the calendar, and grinned at the date; exactly one year since his last adventure.

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The vacuum whirred as he shoved it along the carpet of his living room, having tied his hair up with a red bandanna. He had finished vacuuming his room, and was practically done with the living room. However, he was unaware of the eyes watching him from the bushes outside his window. Just as he turned off the vacuum and wiped his brow, the window shattered as a brick flew in, aimed directly at his head.

With unbelievable speed, he raised his leg up one-hundred-and-eighty degrees, causing the brick to stop, spinning around in mid-air. As a follow-up, he swung his fist forward, punching the brick width-wise and sending it soaring back out the window, disappearing from sight.

He raised his hands up, smirking at the blood on his knuckles from the impact. "I've really gotten rusty, huh...?" The window opened, and he was caught staring back at a young man with long blond hair, swept partially over one eye, and a tight yellow shirt that showed off his muscles.

"Yo, David!" He waved, speaking in his heavy Brooklyn accent. "'Ow y'been?"

David smiled back at him, removing his bandanna and wrapping up his hand. "Hey, Chad!" He greeted. "Bored, mostly. How 'bout you?"

Chad carefully climbed through the open window, his foot getting caught on the sill. "Same heh; thaht's what we get f'r takin' a one year break."

"Ain't that the truth." David chuckled. "However, there is one thing I feel the need to remind you of." He patted Chad's back as he freed his foot, but the older one sensed a shift in the air.

"...Y...Yeh?"

He glanced back at the younger boy, who was now glaring at him, a smirk plastered on his lips. "The next time you break my f*ckin' window, I'm giving you the hardware bill."

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"Nick, stop staring into space like that!"

"Oh! S-Sorry, Evania." The young girl blushed, scratching the back of her head. "I just...got distracted..."

"What am I gonna do with you?" Evania chuckled, ruffling the younger girl's waist-length brunette hair, between her large fox ears.

The two of them worked at Evania's father's tavern, the Harpy's Claw, and it was just another day of serving customers and, in Nick's case, trying her best not to wrinkle her nose in disgust as she brought the next order to the furthest section of the bar, where only the delinquents seemed to sit.

The smell of cigarette smoke entered her nostrils, and she suppressed a cough. "About time!" A man in his late thirties smirked, half-burnt cigarette dangling from his lips. "I've been waitin' here fer ten minutes already!"

Nick just put on a smile, trying to block out the smell. "Sir, we're doing our best. Also, I'm sorry but you can't smoke here."

"I'll smoke wherever I damn well please!" He retorted, not amused by the waitress's excuse.

Nick felt a vein pop in her temple, but she ignored it, just setting the plates down on the table. As soon as she was away from these guys, she would be oh-so-relieved. In the back of her mind, she cursed Evania and her father for their non-violent serving policy.

Suddenly, she felt a hand on her rear, just below her fox tail, and she instinctively tried to vault over the table to avoid the man's hands, but he had already grabbed her by her ponytail and pulled her back via her red turtleneck.

"Hey, don't run away now!" He smirked. "You gotta serve us a bit more fer makin' us wait."

"L-Let me go!" She squirmed, but he kept his grip, one hand holding her arms above her head, the other slowly making it's way down her front, over one of her thighs.

She continued to writhe, trying to turn her head just the right way to bite his arm, before he finally reached between her legs...and froze.

He immediately seemed to turn to stone as the realization hit him, and he trembled in shock. "You...You're a..."

He let out an 'oof!' as 'she' elbowed him in the gut, forcing him onto the ground. He glanced up, eyes widening at the look of fury on 'her' face.

"I'm a BOY, asshole." He snarled. "And you...you're dead, you degenerate lech."

Five minutes later, and Evania glanced over at the tables Nick had been assigned to as loud noises reached her ears, akin to a blunt object striking skin. Suddenly, the man flew forward, slamming into the bar, face bloodied and bruised.

She sighed, brushing a strand of brunette hair out of her eyes. "Nick, for the last time, is it really necessary to beat up these guys every week?"

The young boy growled, glaring at his surrogate older sister. "Yes. Yes. For the millionth f*cking time, YES. IT IS-"

"Are you yelling at me?"

Suddenly, there was a chill in the air as she smiled innocently at him, cracking her knuckles and reaching for the frying pan that had been holstered in her belt loops. Nick backed off, rage vanishing and being replaced with a look of fear.

"S-Sorry!"

She tossed him the phone, and he raised an eyebrow. "Don't ask me, he just said to give you the phone. It must be one of your 'fans'." She giggled, and Nick flinched, blushing.

As he stepped into the back room, the bell jingled as the door opened. Evania grinned as David and Chad approached. "David, Chad! How have you guys been?"

While they were conversing, Nick's hand trembled as the caller spoke. Sweat began to bead on his forehead, and he quickly hung up. He hoped that this was just a prank call. If it wasn't...

"We been alright," Chad waved. "How you guys been?"

"Pretty good." Evania grinned. "You want anything to eat?"

"Nah, we had somethin'a eat a while ago." As Evania nodded and headed back behind the counter, Nick stepped forth from the back room, slightly pale. "Oi, Nick! How ya doin'?"

He looked up, face filling with color again when he recognized his friends. "David! Chad! It's great to see you both!"

"Good to see you too." David grinned as they bumped their knuckles together.

Chad looked the younger boy up and down, then looked to the left, where the man from earlier still lay, slowly bleeding out. "So, still a trap, huh?"

With an honest-to-god smile on his face, Nick haughtily replied, "F*ck you."

"Oi, don't get so pissy at me!" Chad held his hands up in defense. "Look in a mirror, kid. Them big shiny goil eyes, dat a-...waist, and dem thighs. Hell, it don't surprise me thaht people always think yuh're a goil."

"Not always!" Nick protested, his smile replaced with an annoyed scowl.

Chad pretended not to have heard him. "'s a ma'er a' fact, I wouln't be suhprised if y'ended up on one a' them websites dedicated to fe-" Before he could finish that sentence, Nick had drawn a large tantō-style sword and had stabbed Chad in the middle of his nose, sending him reeling back.

"Finish that sentence asshole. I dare you."

"Are you certain?" Suddenly, a hand wrapped around his torso, restraining his arms, and another held his chin steady, playfully caressing his lower lip. "You should know better than to dare someone who is capable of it, my bitch."

"E-Eddie, let me go!" Behind him stood a boy only a few months older than him, but he was about as tall as Chad.

Eddie leaned down, his dirty-blond hair tickling Nick's cheek. "Oh? Why not make me?" He chuckled tauntingly, and the smaller boy froze, his cheeks burning dark red.

"S-St-STOP THAT YOU F*CKIN' ASS!" Suddenly, he whirled around, attempting to punch him, yet somehow Eddie was now a yard or two away.

"Huh? Whatever do you mean? I'm over here."

"Asshole, go die in a fire-" Suddenly, a massive wave of, lo and behold, fire whooshed past them all, engulfing the entire restaurant briefly in flames. When it stopped, everyone was covered in soot(Eddie was somehow completely clean), and David and Nick had shocked, stunned expressions on their faces.

"What the hell was that ? !" David cried out after overcoming the initial shock. They hurried into the kitchen, where a young girl with candy-red hair lay, unconscious, across from a burnt oven. "Chrissy! Hey, are you alright ? ! Hang on, you're not-"

"Come to think of it," Nick placed a hand to his chin, "she mentioned something about not getting enough-"

The young girl's mouth opened, and a bubble appeared from her nose as she began to snore.

"...asleep..." David muttered, a bead of sweat appearing on his temple.

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"Eheh...sorry about that." Chrissy grinned, sheepishly, scratching the back of her head as soon as the fire was completely out and everything was cleaned. "It's that time of year again, when they start showing those scary movies on TV."

"You mean those B-Rated movies you love so much like God-Ape?" David chuckled.

"Screw you, those movies are awesome."

"Now then, I believe it's time we got down to business." Eddie smirked, sitting down at a slightly-charred table.

David raised an eyebrow. "Business?"

"You know what I mean." Eddie glanced at them. "I have received information concerning where we might find out more about him...the Darkness of Chaos."

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"Duke Terror?" David asked, peering through the bushes at the large mansion before them. "You think he's working with Dark?"

"It's probable, if what Nanako told me is true." Eddie nodded. "Allegedly, Terror came into power a few years ago, and ever since, there have been...happenings..."

"I'm going to guess..." Nick sighed, gesturing to the attire he'd been forced into; a black-and-white maid outfit with a button-up collar and a black hairband, "it has to do with maids."

Everyone stared at him for a moment, before each giving their reactions; David stifled a laugh, Chad reached for his camera, Eddie...well, he kept a strange grin on his face as if he'd just seen the most traumatically funny thing ever, and Chrissy vanished, suddenly appearing next to him and wrapping him in a big hug, letting out a cry of delight.

"You're so f*cking adorable, just like a little doll!"

"C-Chrissy, g-get off!" Nick protested, pushing against her. "Eddie, please tell me why I had to dress up like this!"

"I was getting to that." He replied. "For a few years now, there have been reports of young women going into that mansion and never coming out, and the police don't have enough evidence to arrest Duke Terror." He explained. "There have also been witnesses that each night, there is a red glow coming from this vicinity."

David's eyes widened. "A red glow?"

"Yes." Eddie nodded, solemnly. "I know this is mere speculation, however, it could very well be the one thing that Dark gives to all his human 'companions'. The Philosopher's Stone. As you all know, the Philosopher's Stone can be used to create life out of once-inanimate objects, or in some cases, bring the dead back to life."

"I see..." Nick placed a hand to his chin. "So you think he's been using the P.S. for something...now, I have to ask..." He glared at the taller boy. "WHY THE F*CK AM I DRESSED LIKE THIS."

"Because, Duke Terror is known to only employ young women to be his maids. That's where you come in." He explained. "You will sneak onto the estate, and find further evidence that he is working with Dark."

"Why can't Chrissy do it ? !"

"Because, David would personally murder me if I forced her to go in." Eddie grinned that same grin again. "Now, hop to it, my bitch."

Nick glared at him, before sighing. "Alright, fine, but if I get raped, I'm accusing you and Terror both."

Chad grinned, holding up his camera, and a vein popped on Nick's temple. "I'll be shuh t'take pictchuhs."

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"Oh? You're looking for a job?" Nick stood in front of Terror, a rather muscular man in his late fifties with graying hair and bright blue eyes.

"Yes, sir. I promise, I'll do anything necessary to stay under your employment." Nick bowed his head slightly, his pride screaming at him to give up the charade.

Suddenly, Terror was leaning down, right in his face. "And why should I hire you?"

Meanwhile, outside, the rest of the group peered in through the window(save for Chad, who was currently under a pile of dirt, his name carved on a rock at one end). "Come on, Nick." David thought to himself. "It's up to you; lay a lie on thick, and fast!"

Nick collapsed to his knees, bowing so close to the ground that his hair touched the floor. "Please, I'm begging! I ran away from home, and my parents won't take me back that easily! I have nowhere else to go!" He tried to force himself to cry, but only managed to squeeze out one or two.

"Too thick."

"Hmm..." Terror stared at him a moment, before grinning. "Very well. I simply cannot turn away such a pretty face like yours, what, with no one else to turn to." There was a nearby crashing sound, and Nick spun around. "Ah, there you are, Theresa."

In front of him towered a beast of a woman, large enough to make even Duke Terror, who had to be at least six feet tall, look minuscule and unimportant. "WH-WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ? !" Nick cried in his head, fear setting in. "Is it a maid? No, is that even a woman ? ! No way, it's some kind of rhinoceros! It has to be!"

"Theresa, if you would kindly show our newest addition around the estate?"

The 'rhino' bowed, her bun wobbling slightly, as she spoke with a heavy Euranian(1) accent. "Yes sir, Herr Terror." She turned to Nick. "You, come with me."

"Sounds like a man!" Nick thought, legitimate tears flowing down his cheeks. "S-Sir, I-" But Terror was already gone, leaving him to his fate. Theresa dragged him away, and as his heels scraped the floor, he sobbed to himself, quietly. "Why me...why me...?"

"-My bitch, are you alright?-"

"Yeeess..." Nick groaned quietly, before his eyes widened. "E-Eddie? Wh-Where-?"

"The headband you're wearing." Eddie explained, laying on his side on the other side of the wall as he set up the camera via his laptop. "It has a built-in camera and ear-piece, and the buttons on your collar serve as microphones so we can hear you."

"Get me out of here you sick f*ck!" He whispered urgently. "There's a rhinoceros here and she wants to kill me!"

"Just calm down." Eddie sighed. "It's important that you remain undercover. If you keep freaking out, you'll be caught that much faster." Nick was about to protest, but Eddie interrupted. "Please, don't worry. If anything goes sideways, you can count on us to help you."

Nick blushed slightly, before smiling. "Promise?"

"-You have to ask? Good luck!-"

"That was mean, Ed." David sighed. "It's not nice, lying to him like that."

"Oh, ye of little faith." Eddie smirked. "Who said it was a lie? He's my bitch and nobody else's; nobody is allowed to molest him except me."

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As soon as the tour was over, Theresa led Nick up the first flight of stairs in the foyer, and all but tossed him into the room at the top; an office. "Your first order of business is to clean up Herr Terror's office. And don't even think of stealing something." As she closed the door, she glared directly at him, her fingers digging into the door, causing it to crack. "I'm watching you..."

The door slammed shut, and Nick gulped, still trembling. "S...Scary..." He turned around to face the room, and set to work, searching the drawers and desk for any clues. He pushed aside a few papers, and picked up the first thing he saw; a dirty magazi-

"HE COULD AT LEAST PUT THIS SOMEWHERE MORE INCONSPICUOUS!" He shouted, throwing the magazine to the ground and kicking the desk over in rage. He snapped out of his fury, realizing that he had just made both of his jobs much harder, and that some of the desk's contents had rolled under the bookshelf. "Sh-Shit..." He held his forehead in his hands. "Stupid, stupid, stupid..."

He got down on his hands and knees, and reached under the bookshelf as far as he could. His fingertips could only brush the pencils and papers that had fallen under, but after a few seconds, he finally managed to grasp them and pull them out, sighing in relief.

"Too close, I've got to control myself from here on out." He turned to the window, meaning to close it, but raised an eyebrow when he realized it was already closed. Then what was that breeze on his thighs- "..." He awkwardly shifted the dress he'd been forced into, covering his previously-exposed underwear and upper legs. "That would have been embarrassing...No...No, no that was embarrassing."

He looked down at the papers he'd picked up, and raised an eyebrow as he read it. "What's this?" Suddenly, his eyes widened, and he flipped through the pages. "Th-This! No...No way, this can't be good..."

"Have you found what you were looking for?" He spun around, fear etching itself into his face as Theresa appeared in the doorway, a snarl on her face. Before Nick could react, Theresa reared back a leg, and slammed it directly into Nick's diaphragm, forcing the air out of his lungs and causing him to reel over in agony, holding his chest and stomach. "Traitorous wench! To protect Herr Terror, you must die!" She picked up the desk with ease, and held it over her head, about to slam it down onto the boy.

"Theresa, what are you doing ? !" Terror cried in shock, having entered the room. "What is the meaning of this ? !"

"Herr Terror, this 'maid'," she pointed a finger accusingly at Nick, "is a boy, what's more, a spy! I caught him reading your notes!"

Meanwhile, Nick was busy retching into a nearby trash bin, tears and spit covering his cheeks and chin. "-My bitch, are you alright?-"

Nick quietly muttered. "F*ck...F*ck off..." He turned to face the two adults, putting on the best puppy-dog-face he could. "B-Boy...? Am...Am I really that ugly...?"

As he pretended to sob, Terror stared disapprovingly at Theresa, before pulling out a squirt bottle and spraying her. "Bad Theresa." He sighed. "Look here, the both of you. We have more newcomers down in the lobby, and I don't want them to see you two fighting. Please, try to get along?"

And with that, he left, leaving the two of them there in an awkward silence. Nick took a step to leave, but Theresa stopped him. "You say you are a girl, yes?" He nodded. "Very well..." She glared at him, eyes piercing him like daggers. "Off."

"WH-WHAT ? !" Nick cried, instinctively gripping his dress.

"You are a girl, correct? Then you should have no problem with showing yourself to another woman."

Nick took a step back, fear instilled in his face once more. "F*********CK! If I don't do what she says, she'll be suspicious, but if I do, I'll definitely be found out! And if this works like those manga Chad had me read..." He could feel himself spiraling into the depths of hell itself. "I'M DOOOOOMED!"

Suddenly, he found himself shoved between a pair of what he initially thought were pillows, but as he struggled to free himself, he realized that he was actually in the bosom of a girl with clear blonde hair tied into a pair of pigtails. "Nicole, I didn't know you were here, too!"

"...Eh? ...Eh?"

Theresa ignored the shocked look on Nick's face, focusing more on the new girl. "...You know her?"

She nodded, smiling brilliantly. "Yes, she's my friend from school! Thank you for taking care of her! Duke Terror says that everyone must gather downstairs in the basement, so I guess that means we should get going!"

Theresa left, glancing back at them scrutinizingly. As soon as he was sure she was gone, Nick shoved himself free from the girl's grasp, face slightly blue from lack of air. "C...Close..."

"You owe us big time, my bitch." He jolted in surprise as the 'young girl's voice changed to that of a boy's.

"E-Eddie? What're you-"

"Saving your ass, what else." Eddie chuckled, however, there was a somewhat-malicious air about his grin. "Come, the rest of the group is waiting downstairs with everyone else."

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A hair-clip in the shape of a rabbit.

That was the first thing that caught Nick's eye upon seeing the other three. He almost immediately doubled over laughing, pointing at the clip in Chad's now-curled hair. "Thank you, irony gods! How the hell did you sneak Chad in ? ! I don't care, thank you!"

"Oh, shut th' f*ck up!" Chad growled, a vein popping in his temples.

"If it makes you feel any better, I think you look okay, Chad." David gave him a thumbs up. "Then again, I'm not wearing my glasses and thus blind as a bat, sooo..."

"Nick, please, tell me you managed to find something worthwhile in Terror's study while you were in there..." Chrissy sighed. "Please."

"Yeah, I found this." He held up a few papers he had manged to snag. "I couldn't find all of them, and they're a bit jumbled, but it's proof enough that he working with Dark. Why the negativity?"

"I just asked one of the maids what we're doing down here, and as it so happens, every night, the maids gather down here so Terror can choose which one to...'bond' with..." The group went silent, and after a moment or two, Nick glared at Eddie, who had an innocent smile on his face.

Before he could rage, the tingling of a triangle echoed around the room, and Terror smiled as he caught everyone's attention. "Thank you for coming. First, I would like to welcome our new maids, if they would step forth?"

They did indeed step forth, Nick glaring at Eddie, who was still smiling innocently, Chad with a look of 'watdefak' on his face, David with a sweat droplet on his forehead, and Chrissy looking as if she wanted to kill.

After a few moments, Terror's finger came down in front of Nick's nose, and the boy jolted in shock. "Yes, you'll do nicely."

"Ohh..." Chrissy winced. "I don't know whether to feel bad for him, or feel jealous that he looks 'more like a girl' than I do..."

Nick was then dragged back upstairs as everyone dispersed, a look on his face indicating that he wanted to murder somebody. As soon as Terror was gone, David sighed, pulling out his glasses and pushing them up his nose. "Well, I think it's time we take action. These reports are proof enough."

Each of them quickly pulled their normal clothes back on, ready to storm upstairs and end this. "Come on, let's go—Does anyone else feel a breeze?" Chrissy asked, raising an eyebrow. She turned to look at her friends, and Eddie tossed her her shorts. As soon as Chrissy realized she had forgotten them, she blushed like a hydrant and covered herself frantically.

"You forgot your pants, you ditz..." David muttered as he looked away, blushing as blood dripped from his nose.

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"They're up there, then?" Chrissy asked as they entered the foyer, nodding towards the top of the staircase in front of them.

"According to the tracking device I put on Nick's collar." Eddie confirmed. "However, considering the circumstances, it may very well have been discarded already."

Chrissy's cheek twitched. "That's not funny."

"Come on," David waved for them to follow as he approached the steps, "let's hurry-" He dodged to the side as a black spike shot up from the ground, cutting his cheek. "What the-? !"

"BEHIND!" Chrissy screamed, watching in horror as another spike shot up, this time piercing through David's chest successfully. He lurched forward, eyes wide, hands shooting up to where the hole in his chest was. As the spike retracted, he slumped forward to his knees, before finally collapsing, dead.

"I thought so, you are spies..." Theresa smirked, stepping out from behind the staircase. Slowly, the spike began to morph, first into a black puddle, then into a small black creature with shining, yellow eyes with red highlights on it's forehead and antennae.

"A Shadow Creature ? !" Chad and Chrissy said, simultaneously.

"I see you know what they are." Theresa snickered as the goblin-like creature let out little tittering sounds. "Even if it is just a Stage One Shadow Creature, I'm positive it can do away with at least one more of you. As for the rest..."

The air suddenly became heavy, and the lights flickered a bit. To their horror, Theresa's body seemed to convulse, and her muscles grew almost twice their normal size.

She glared at them, still smirking. "I can do away with you in seconds..."

"Dammit, no!" Eddie leapt forward, aiming a kick for her face. It connected, and her head jerked to the side as a loud crak! came from her neck. Time seemed to slow down for a moment, before she reach up, grabbing his ankle, and swinging him around, throwing him into the wall. He grunted, red flashing in front of his vision, before his head lowered, hiding his face as he lay there.

"I suppose there's no hiding it now..." She snickered. "Herr Terror did indeed form a contract with Dark. Over time, the women he hires as his maids lose their efficiency, and Herr Terror knows full well that he can't simply do away with them. He certainly can't throw them onto the streets, and he can't kill them. Dark offered him a deal; he could give him a Philosopher's Stone as a means of disposing of the bodies, and in return, Herr Terror adds more and more Shadow Creatures to Dark's armies!"

"You're insane!" Chrissy accused, sweat appearing on her temple. "David'll stop both you and Dark!"

"Oh, will he?" She laughed, gesturing to David's body. "Your friend is already dead. He's even stopped bleeding out." She kicked his body to the side. "He's nothing more than another sacrifice-!" As David rolled over, his limbs clicked against the floor, and Theresa's eyes widened when she realized that his face was composed of hiragana. "What the-? !"

She noticed the whirring sound at the last second, and she reached up, catching David as he burst down at her, spines and hair jutting out as he spun around.

"Wh-What the hell ? !" She exclaimed, spines scraping her palms. Suddenly, he uncurled, and slammed his heel into her head, sending her flat on her face and causing the ground to crack, forming a crater around her body. He leapt forward, landing behind her.

"Who's a sacrifice?" He smirked, glancing back at her. "Gotta say, that was close. You nearly had me! And of course, by you, I mean that Shadow Imp."

"Who...Who the hell...? !" Theresa growled. She looked up, staring as Eddie stood back up, Chad cracked his knuckles, and Chrissy pulled on a pair of iron gauntlets with an emblem emblazoned on the wrists. "Y-You...You're part of them...! The Mach Seven Organization!"

"Took you long enough." David laughed, pointing at his hedgehog ears. "There aren't that many people with the Gijindengo(2) in Lithennul to begin with, y'know."

Theresa pushed herself to her feet, a confident grin on her face. "Interesting. I may just have to use my next transformation: my form from fifty years ago, when men fell at my feet, begging for mercy!"

David's cheek twitched. "Just how old is this hag ? !"

"In fact..." She grabbed the Shadow Imp by the antennae, and hoisted it into the air. "Why wait ? !"

To their shock, she tossed the imp into the air, and opened her mouth wide, swallowing it whole. "Wh-What the f*ck ? !" David exclaimed, flinching.

She began to convulse once more, muscles twitching and morphing. Smoke poured from her nose, her ears, her mouth, even her eyes, and in seconds the entire room was obscured. Finally, the fumes stopped, and Theresa's shoes clicked against the floor as she stepped forth. The smoke cleared, revealing her transformed state; a voluptuous young woman with a slim waist and hair tied in a bun that was almost ten times the size of her own head.

"...Are you shitting me." David stared disapprovingly. "This is the form that made men fall at your feet."

"Of course!" She laughed, ignoring the rest of the group and their equally disapproving stares. "This form is my strongest of all!" She approached him, swaying her hips.

"Step off him, you damn hussy!" Chrissy shouted, leaping at her and stomping her into the ground, immediately knocking her unconscious. She straightened back up, cracking her neck. "Alright, let's get this over with. We've spent enough time dawdling here as it is."

"R-Right..." David flinched as she walked by, glancing at the blood around Theresa's face. "Note to self: never, ever piss Chrissy off..." They hurried up the stairs, and slammed open the door. "Alright, Terror! It's time we end-...this..."

"Please...help..." They were greeted with Nick, tied by his wrists to the bed-frame, his dress riding up his thighs, with Terror over him, in a compromising position.

"...Sorry to intrude." They all said in unison, turning back to the door.

"COME BACK HERE AND HELP ME YOU F*CKERS!"

"We kid, we kid!" David chuckled, turning on his heel and firing a disc of Qi at the ribbons that held Nick to the bedframe. He immediately pushed Terror away and rolled off the bed, hurrying to join his friends.

"This is the last time you talk me into this, damn you!" He threatened Eddie, straightening his dress.

"You mad, bro?"

"Who...Who are you ? !" Terror stared in shock.

"Do we really need to answer this question?" David sighed. "Your rhino-maid had to figure out the hard way. You wanna go the same way?"

"'Ey, Nick! Smile fer th' cam'ra!" Chad laughed, snapping photographs of their youngest friend.

"Sh-SHUT UP, YOU PRICK!" Nick cried, blushing furiously.

"Chad, seriously, he's had enough trolling for one day." Chrissy sighed, helping him back into his normal clothes.

"Hey, um, you guys?" David looked back at them, a sweat droplet appearing on his temple. "Is now really the time to be dicking around?"

"Who the hell are you ? !" Terror repeated. "Are you with the police? Or are you assassins sent by Dark because I haven't been able to send any more soldiers lately ? !"

"So, Dark's got a deficit in soldiers recently, huh?" David smirked. "Thanks for that info! Whaddya know, we found out more than we'd hoped!" He pointed at him, and declared dramatically. "We're Sector Ten of the Mach Seven Organization! Terror, you're under arrest!"

"Mach Seven..." Terror stared, before he doubled over, chuckling darkly, and then bursting out in laughter. "Oh, are you? Dark told me exactly what to do if you showed up! You say you've defeated my 'rhino-maid'...Let me warn you...my power far exceeded hers, even before I teamed up with Dark!"

Suddenly, the air grew thick, and David felt as if he were suffocating. "Th-This Qi..." He stared, wide-eyed, and Terror slowly began to grow, his suit ripping as the bed collapsed. "It...It's just like...!"

/-/-/-/-/-/

"Captain Miller! Sector Ten of Mach Seven is confirmed to be inside!" A police officer reported to his superior; a man in a blue police uniform, with a scar going across the bridge of his nose and a cigar underneath his bushy black-and-gray mustache.

"I thought so..." He growled, watching the front door of Terror's mansion. "Alright, men! Get ready to fight! CHARGE!"

The police unit let out collective battle cries, preparing to knock the door down, only for it to splinter outward at them as David flew out, leaving a long crater in the ground until he came to a stop. The door frame was next to be destroyed, as a hulking beast lumbered out: Terror.

"There is a reason..." He grunted, canines showing past his lips. "That I am called the Duke of Terror..."

David pushed himself up, dazed, and pulled himself out of the ditch, getting into stance. "To think, he could do this even before joining Dark..."

"Kid!" Miller stared, first at David, then at Terror. "What the hell is that thing ? !"

"Stay back, old man!" David shouted, keeping his sights dead on Terror. "One false move and you'll be nothing but a pile of limbs!"

"Freeze!" Miller shouted, ignoring David's warning. The entire police unit aimed at him. "Under Lithennulan law, we demand that you stay where you are!"

"DAMMIT, OLD MAN!"

Terror smirked, barely sparing them a passing glance, before continuing forth, towards David.

"FIRE!"

David flinched as a barrage of gunshots entered his ears, and his tail involuntarily curved inward towards his legs in fear. "D-Dammit, old man, you know I hate guns..."

To their shock, the bullets bounced right off of him, as if his skin had been replaced by armor. "Fools, your guns are useless!"

"Dammit!" David growled. "OLD MAN, KNOCK IT OFF!"

"Shut up, you damn kid!" Miller scowled. "You got a better idea ? !"

David smirked, nodding. "You could say that..." He placed his hands in front of his chest, forming a circle. A small red core appeared between his palms, and the wind began to pick up around his feet. "Get ready, Terror!" He raised his hands above his head, and the core grew almost ten times it's normal size. "KASAIKEN!(3)"

He threw the ball of energy forth, flames surrounding it, and Terror let out a cry of shock as it exploded upon impact, smoke and dust flying in all directions. "Did you get him?" Miller asked, watching the smoke cloud.

"...No." David shook his head. "He's still alive."

Terror's silhouette appeared amidst the debris, and when he emerged, a smirk was plastered on his lips. "Foolish child..."

Suddenly, Nick appeared in front of him from out of the clearing smoke, sword raised, and letting out a battle cry as he charged towards him. "WHIRLWIND X-STRIKE!" Like a flash of lightning, he struck Terror's chest twice, a shockwave in the shape of an 'X' forming right afterward.

After a second, the shockwave vanished, revealing that Nick's sword had done no damage at all. He stared in shock for but a second, before Terror lashed out, punching him repeatedly in the face, before punching him in the stomach, sending him flying towards David.

He quickly caught him, and looked to his right as Nick's sword spun through the air, lodging in a tree. "Nick, are you alright?" He shook his friend, but Nick was still dazed, and only muttered a reply. He looked back at Terror, sweating. "What the hell? Nick hit him, there's no doubt about that...So why... ? !"

"BASTARD!" Chrissy appeared at Terror's side, and kicked straight at his neck, causing it to crack. Not two seconds later, she cried out in pain, holding her leg.

"You're starting to annoy me, girl..." He glared at her, grinning madly. As she landed on her good leg, he struck out, punching her in the back of her neck and stunning her. She slumped to the ground, a bit of blood dribbling out of the corner of her mouth.

"Chrissy!" Nick cried in shock.

As Terror stalked closer, David grit his teeth, glaring. "Nick, I'm going to rush him. While I distract him, you run in and get Chrissy out of there." He glanced at his friend. "Got it?"

Nick nodded, gulping. "G-Got it..." He chuckled nervously. "We're gonna f*cking die..."

"You still think you can defeat me?" Terror snickered, getting closer and closer with each passing second.

"We don't think." Terror stopped in his tracks, glancing back at Chad, who had raised his hand up, Qi gathering in his palm. "We know."

"You-!" Terror grunted, whirling around and guarding as a burst of energy erupted from Chad's palm, stunning him. While his guard was down, Chad slammed a punch into Terror's chest. While this was happening, Nick and David both ran forward in separate directions. Nick grabbed Chrissy by the arm and quickly hurried out of the way, and David curled up into a ball, spinning directly towards Terror and Chad.

At the last second, he uncurled, and Chad grabbed his hand. They both spun around like a tornado, blows landing on Terror's body as they sent him faltering back. Finally, they both leaned back, kicking Terror into the air.

As they split off into different directions, David cried out, "Eddie! NOW!"

"Hm?" The younger blond glanced at them from the tree branch he had perched on. "Ah. Very well." He leapt off, directly above Terror, and crossed his arms in an 'X' shape. Energy gathered in front of him, covering his arms in a white light, and Terror's eyes widened in disbelief. "DIVING SCALPEL!"

They collided, the attack driving them both into the ground, and a pillar of light erupted from the point of impact, reaching towards the heavens.

As the smoke cleared, David and Chad landed in front of Nick and Chrissy. "Is he down?" Nick asked, supporting Chrissy from under her arm. They waited a few moments, before Eddie came tumbling out of the smoke. At first it seemed like he was unconscious, but to their surprise, he began to shake in horror, a cold sweat pouring down his forehead.

"He...He's..."

"Eddie, are you alright ? !" Nick called. Terror stepped out from beyond the smoke, smirking. "You...!" He let go of Chrissy, leaving David to catch her as he drew his sword, having retrieved it while they were distracting Terror, and leapt for him, anger etched into his face. "BASTARD!"

Terror simply raised his hand up, and Nick froze in mid-sprint, eyes going wide. He collapsed to the side, grasping his right arm and screaming as if someone had ripped it off. "Wh-WHAT THE HELL ? !" Chad exclaimed, taking a step back.

"What did you do to them ? !" Chrissy demanded, wincing.

"Have no fear. Your friends aren't hurt." Terror's lips curled in a sneer. "A few weeks of psychotherapy, and they'll be at least half as sane as they were two minutes ago."

David ran forth, spinning towards him like a ball of razors. Terror raised his hand towards him again, and he stopped in midair. Instantly, images flooded his mind; monsters, gore, death, murder, every terrifying thing known to man bombarded him, all at once.

/-/-/-/-/-/

And then, he became aware of the gaping hole in his chest.

He fell onto his back, gurgling, feeling his lungs struggle for air. He reached to his chest, grasping at the hole, only to realize that there was no hole, only a searing pain, as if a branding iron had been placed there.

"Nightmare Crush..." Terror snickered, darkly. "This is the power that Dark bestowed upon me. Should one of my servants protest too much, I simply crush their minds, pounding them into oblivion. Afterwards, the husk is used in sacrifice for another Shadow Creature in Dark's army."

David stared, before taking a deep breath, calming down. "That so?"

"Right now, you and I are in our own little 'bubble' of sorts." Terror crossed his arms. "To your friends, we are simply standing still."

"Hmph..." David reached up, grabbed his shoulder, and to Terror's shock, ripped himself in half. "This pain..." He got into stance, his two halves floating surrealistically. "What's a little adventure without pain, am I right?"

Terror's smirk was replaced with a grimace. "To be unafraid of such pain..." His brow furrowed. "This could prove to be a challenge..." They leapt at each other, punches and kicks clashing.

/-/-/-/-/-/

Chad shook his friend, worried. David had rushed at Terror, looking ready to fight, and then they both just stopped. "David? Hey, y'alright?"

His friend didn't respond directly, but after a few seconds, he grunted, wincing and shutting his left eye, sweat dripping down his face.

/-/-/-/-/-/

David collapsed, grasping his eye; Terror had grabbed him by his hair, and had jabbed him in the eye. He knew it was still there, but it felt as though someone had just punctured it and ripped it out. He rolled out of the way and Terror aimed a stomp for his back, leaving his foot stuck in the ground.

While he was stuck, David curled up, slicing right through Terror's torso.

/-/-/-/-/-/

Terror flinched backwards, pain shooting through his stomach, and David snapped out of the trance as well, curling up, and proceeding to mimic their psycho-fight. He cut a hole right through Terror's chest, and he felt warmth cover him, blood raining down onto the grass below.

When he opened his eyes, however, he realized something that sent his own blood cold: the liquid that had splashed onto him was thick and heavy, like tar, and it failed to shine in the light of dusk. He glanced down as he skidded to a stop, hands shaking.

The blood was pitch black and lacked clarity, as if it were a portal to nothingness.

"H-His blood...!" Nick muttered from his spot on the ground, coherent enough to notice what was happening.

"You've done it now, boy..." Terror calmly turned around as the hole sealed up. He seemed to grow even larger, horns growing from his temples, and a pair of black wings sprouting from his shoulder blades, one demonic, the other angelic. "You are the first person to ever see me in this form...besides Dark, of course..."

"Th-This power..." Chrissy gulped, staring in shock as her legs gave out. "It...It's just like..."

"A-Amazing...!" Chad could only watch in horror as the transformation continued, his collarbone sprouting from his skin, forming another pair of horns.

"It...It can't be...Dark ? !" Nick stammered, fear setting in.

Eddie shook his head, crawling backwards slowly. "N...No..."

"Your death," Terror began, claws growing from his fingertips, "is but one of many..."

David growled, opening his eye, feeling a slight sting. "You..."

Suddenly, a blur rushed by him, straight at Terror. Eddie lashed out, striking at Terror with speed that he had only exhibited a few times.

Terror countered his assault, and grabbed him by the jaw. "Nightmare Crush." Eddie let out a muffled scream, feeling his jaw shatter under Terror's grasp. As fast as he could, Chad attacked, allowing Eddie to struggle free, crawling backwards, breathing heavily and grasping his jaw, his eyes darting everywhere at once.

"David, what'll we do?" Nick gulped, having collected his thoughts and stood up. "Nothing we do works...and now he's got Dark's regenerative abilities..."

"I'm thinking...and I've only got one idea." David glared ahead, scowling as Chad began to get overwhelmed. "Hey, you know those old myths, about the hero who defeated..."

"What are you two whispering about?" Terror smirked, having punched Chad away. "Nothing you do will work! I hope you're not going to try another futile plan!"

Nick nodded. "Got it. So, you attack first, then I...?"

"Yeah." David got into stance. "Ready? ...GO!"

They vanished, and Terror flinched, looking around wildly. "Where...Where did they go ? !" Then, he noticed a whirring sound, coming from his right, like a saw. David spun right through him, cutting him right in half. Terror's top half flew upwards, the blood snaking back, as if trying to reconnect the pieces. "Fools, cutting attacks won't work-!"

SHUNK!

Nick dashed forward, slamming his sword up into Terror's chest, blocking the pieces from reconnecting, and the top fell back, as the bottom slumped forward. The battlefield was silent, until Terror coughed, blood dribbling from the corner of his mouth as he shrank back to normal size.

"How...How did you...?"

"It's just like that old story, Terror." David explained, sighing in relief that it was over. "A monster whose head could grow back when cut off. In order to finally slay it, a hero blocked it's neck with his sword. I figured the same rules would apply."

Terror was silent, letting the information sink in, before chuckling darkly. "How...childish..."

David stared down at him, unaware of the giant shadow behind him. "At least it's over." He spun around, kicking Theresa in the gut, sending her into the wall of Terror's mansion. "STOP THAT!"

"Alright, men..." Miller sighed. "Take them in."

"Yessir!" The force replied, carrying Terror's pieces and Theresa's unconscious body into the cars.

Miller glanced at them. "...Hey, where the hell were you guys during all that, anyways?"

"I could ask you the same thing, Miller!" David stuck out his tongue, flipping him off. "What the hell ? ! I tell you not to fire, you fire! A little thank you would be nice, every now and then! I mean, we are practically doing your job for you!"

"Why you little-!" Miller growled, his voice raising in volume. "I've told you time and time again not to interfere with the police! We are perfectly capable of doing these jobs!"

"Yeah, yeah." David scoffed, plugging his ears and turning away.

"DON'T YOU TURN YOUR BACK ON ME, YOU DAMN KID!"

While David and Miller had it out, Nick sighed, sitting down next to Eddie, and handing him the papers. "Looks like things are more confusing than we thought..." He explained. "I just looked these over, and it looks like we're missing a few pieces of the puzzle..."

Eddie accepted to papers, and began skimming through the contents. Then, he raised an eyebrow, reading them aloud. "A grand temple, deep beneath the sand...A factory of lost souls...A dangerous city of life...The town of the lost children...A homeland by the sea to connect them all..." He turned the page. "And the Island of Heaven."

He reread it a few more times.

"...Is this Terror's idea of a poem?"

"I...don't think it's that simple..." Nick's ears twitched. "It seems more like a list of places that might be next on Dark's target list. The only thing is, I have no idea what any of these could be..."

"Well," Eddie folded the papers up, placing them in his pockets, "it appears that...you were absolutely useless!"

"F*CK YOU!"

/-/-/-/-/-/

"So, as it turns out..." Chrissy muttered, tears streaming comically down her cheeks. "It was all for nothing!"

"Dammit..." David sighed, trying to decipher the pages as they walked along, back towards Lithennul. "The least Miller could've done was give us a ride back..."

They were silent for a bit, before Chrissy slapped his back, startling him, smiling. "Come on, cheer up! Let's all have a sleepover! We can watch movies all night and just have fun!"

"I-I don't-"

"C'mon, David!" Chad grabbed his shoulders, pushing him to and fro. "Lighten up! We haven't seen each other fer a year! We gotta enjoy uhselves after a day a' work!"

The four continued to poke and pull on him, until he finally agreed, laughing. Far above them, a young man sat in the branches overhead, smirking at them, his fangs glinting in the setting sun. "Haisan Dabide...or should I call you by your real name? Ah, it doesn't matter..." He stood up, and in seconds vanished into a puff of black smoke. "This is interesting...Master Dark will be pleased to see how much you've...matured..."

/-/-/-/-/-/

To be continued...

/-/-/-/-/-/

1: Eurania – the Mossoc equivalent of Germany.

2: Gijindengo – written as 擬人伝子. Means 'personification gene'.

3: Kasaiken – written as 火災拳. David's signature move, literally means 'fire fist'.