Great. Back on good ol’ Planet Dirtball.
The confused and annoyed Mobian fox girl looked around the dark field she found herself in. Knee-high grass swayed in a light breeze, illuminated by a nearly-full moon. To the north was a line of trees that she recognized, and a familiar-looking city lay in the other direction, bringing both comfort and dismay.
Okay, I’m definitely on Earth, Sero thought, and Dex is going to be SO disappointed. He went out of his way to help me train, and I screw up across the universe! Dammit!
Her mind cycled back to her training session with her beloved teammate. She had gone to him asking for help increasing the power of her ghostly abilities, and, under promises that she would behave professionally, he agreed to help her that evening. All had been going well until they started working on her phasing ability. As Dex explained how she needed to focus her dark energy on maintaining herself in subspace, her actual focus kept drifting to his firm backside. Once she had gone out of phase, her hands began to wander, finding themselves moving toward her broody mentor.
Unfortunately for Sero, Dex was aware of her actions, and pulled up a barrier of his own dark energy before she could make contact. In fact, he probably did so more forcefully than was necessary. The impact of his powerful energy against Sero’s sent her ethereal body spinning further out of phase, leaving her stranded in an empty void. Try as she might, she couldn’t figure out how to get back to the physical realm. With panic threatening to set in, the young vixen began wandering, looking for some kind of exit.
Hours later, through sheer luck, Sero happened to notice a light spot amongst the nothingness. With no other options, she ran to investigate, finding it to be a window of some kind, peering into the physical world. Not wasting another thought, she dove through, de-phasing as she hit the ground in a well-practiced roll.
And so she found herself here, on the outskirts of that Earthian city she had discovered on her first unintentional visit to the planet. Rosewall. I guess there are worse places I could have ended up, like the other side of the planet. Or a different planet entirely. Or no planet at all. She shuddered. Yeah, it would have sucked to come out in dead space.
Shaking the unpleasant thought from her head, Sero turned and started for the woods. Despite having been here once before, she wasn’t terribly familiar with the planet. Having tracked Dex through that forest, she felt much more comfortable taking shelter there for the night, planning to start searching for a way home in the morning. Odd how similar the day/night cycles are between Mobius and Earth. I wonder-
Her somewhat aimless thoughts ground to a halt as she noticed something unusual just beyond the tree line. A large, strangely-shaped creature, or at least the silhouette of one, was lumbering along among the trees. Sero was certain she hadn’t seen anything like it the last time she had been here, and was slightly confused how she could have missed such a large creature back then. One hand drifting to the hilt of Necrocuda, she started forward to investigate. The moment she took her first step, however, the creature turned a pair of baleful, burning eyes on her, and she stopped in her tracks.
What the hell is that thing?
Tightening her grip on her sword and getting her surprise under control, the Mobian fox started inching her way backward, away from the monster. Unfortunately, that seemed to get it more interested, and it turned to begin moving toward her, those terrible eyes locked on her own. Those aren’t the eyes of something curious… those eyes are evil.
Backpedalling faster, Sero drew Necrocuda, leveling its blade at the oncoming beast. Setting her feet in the proper stance, she readied herself to take the monster head-on. As such, she was completely blindsided when something hit her from the side, sending her tumbling across the grass.
Rolling out of her tumble to land on her feet, Sero looked to the new threat, finding a second set of burning eyes glaring at her, though this was a completely different creature. Where the first one was big and lumbering, this new one was slender, and much longer. It looked almost like a giant snake, with random spikes at various points on its body. The vixen thanked her luck once again, that it hadn’t been one of those spikes it had hit her with. Though it’s starting to look like things will get interesting here.
Not wanting to be surprised again, she swept her gaze across the clearing, noting that about a half dozen more sets of eyes were now focused on her. All were different shapes and sizes, but they all burned with focused malice, a fact which Sero couldn’t decide whether to be nervous or excited about. As another four pairs of eyes turned in her direction, she settled for the former with an excited smirk.
Taking a swing at the closest beast, more to create distance than anything else, Sero’s smirk faded as she noticed a new pair of glowing eyes among the trees. Unlike the rest, this pair was mismatched, one eye shining an icy blue, and the other glowing a golden yellow. Missing too was the hateful glare, the eyes simply looking curiously at her. Wait a second…
Pausing at the familiarity of those eyes, she quite suddenly found them right in front of her, along with the face she suspected they belonged to. In less time than it took her to blink in surprise, her Earthian friend Frostwolf had crossed the dozens of meters from the tree line to her position, standing with his trademark goofy grin. The Mobian looked at him in confusion as his tail wagged happily behind him. Wait, tail? What?
Indeed, looking over her friend, Sero found some significant changes. In addition to the tail she was certain he didn’t have before, he also appeared to have a great deal more fur on his forearms, which were definitely bigger than she remembered. His hands were bigger as well, with his fingers ending in vicious-looking claws. Lowering her gaze, she found that his pants had torn away below his knees, revealing furred legs similar to those of the four-legged wolves she encountered during her last visit to this planet. And of course there was that tail, wagging away where a katana used to hang from his belt. The girl returned her gaze to her friend’s glowing eyes, Which I’m pretty sure he also didn’t have before. What the hell is going on here? Oh, I am going to be SO angry if I came out in an alternate universe!
“Uh, hey Frosty,” Sero greeted with hesitation, “You, uh… You look different.”
The Earthian barked at her with a smile, driving her confusion deeper. Between his sudden appearance and new physical features, and now his apparent inability to speak, all on top of her own unexpected arrival on this planet, Sero’s mind was cast into such chaos that she completely forgot about the monsters surrounding her.
Abruptly, Frosty’s eyes flicked up, looking over her shoulder. Realization dawned on Sero as the wolf-boy disappeared as suddenly as he had come, leaving short-lived glowing streaks in the air where the light from his eyes failed to keep up with his sudden motion. She tracked the glowing lines to their source as she heard a commotion behind her, whipping her head around to find Frosty already in the middle of tackling the giant snake-creature.
The two wrestled through the long grass for a moment before Frosty got his feet under him, digging the claws of his toes into the monster’s back. It wrapped its tail around his neck and attempted to pull him off, but he had already managed to get his hands around its throat, squeezing tightly. The thing writhed viciously, trying to throw the beastly humanoid off its back, but succeeded only in burying his claws deeper into its neck. Finally, with a great, growling snarl, Frosty yanked his arms apart, glowing claw marks flashing through the air as the monster’s head went spinning away from its body, slices of its neck flying in several directions. A great gout of blood poured from the severed stump as Frosty rode the body down, hopping off to avoid being splashed.
Sero watched the whole thing in open-mouthed shock. Within the space of five seconds, the goofy semi-human had destroyed her image of him, slicing it to pieces alongside the snake-monster’s throat. As his glowing gaze turned back to her, she found herself developing some real respect for him. Perhaps he’s more than a goofy kid, after all.
Frosty began moving back toward her with little urgency. Despite being surrounded by monsters the likes of which Sero had never seen, the boy seemed unconcerned. As he walked, Sero noticed a breeze kick up near him, lifting some dirt or bits of grass into the air. Strangely enough, the breeze appeared to swirl around him, growing stronger and surrounding him with a thickening field of debris. To her confusion, the particles glowed white under the light of the full moon. As the wind grew stronger, completely obscuring Frosty from view, errant gusts brushed across her face, letting her feel just how unusually cold it was. Wait a second. Cold wind and white debris? That’s not dirt, that’s snow!
All at once, the swirling wind died, the snow dissipating before her eyes. From it stepped the Frostwolf she had met her first time on Earth, all human limbs and lacking any form of tail. In place of the tail hung the katana Sero remembered, though she couldn’t begin to guess how it got there. Seemingly inconsistent with the sword’s mysterious reappearance, his pant legs were still torn off at the knee, and grass poked up between the toes of his still-bare feet. An easy smile rested on his face, his eyes no longer shedding any light of their own. He returned to the Mobian’s side, drawing his sword and facing out toward the incoming monsters. She managed to wait for about three seconds before the question poured out.
“So what the hell was all that about?” she demanded.
“What was what?” Frosty asked in return.
The fox rolled her eyes. “Well, you apparently have a super form you never told me about. I’ve given up on understanding all the little details, but seriously, what the hell?”
“It is my beast form, not a super form. And I don’t think we have time to get more into it than that.” He nodded his head toward the beasts. Sero quickly counted them, realizing that another half-dozen had joined the pack. Several had broken from the trees, revealing twisted, unnatural bodies of various sizes and configurations. She spotted the first one she noticed earlier, what appeared to be a horribly disfigured bear, along with a giant mantis, some bird of prey and several other mutated creatures. There was a deep sense of wrongness to them, and looking at them made her feel slightly ill.
“What are they?” she asked, somehow managing to keep her voice cool and level.
“Devils,” Frosty replied readily, “Or, devil-possessed animals and things. These ones aren’t as dangerous, so I decided to take them, but there’s more than I thought. Nicole and Amy are fighting possessed demons over there somewhere.” At this, he indicated vaguely northwest with his sword. As if on cue, a ball of fire rose above the trees, the sound of an explosion hitting a few seconds later. Frosty shook his head in disgust. “Idiot Purifiers were using old sorcery to try to summon demons to kill, but got devils instead. Lots of them. Now we are cleaning up their mess, and I might have taken on more than I can handle.”
By now, the beasts were only a few meters away. Frosty turned to Sero, the irritation fading from his expression, replaced by what the girl could only describe as eagerness.
“So, could you give me a hand?”
As she considered the question, Sero quickly tried to work out the odds in her head, carefully maintaining a neutral expression. Sixteen enemies of unknown, probably high strength. No, wait, there’s three more. Let’s call them… five times tougher than SWATbots. Nineteen times five, all at once… That’s a lot. Her gaze flicked to Frosty. One ally, at least strong enough to easily take down one of these things, so let’s make him ten SWATbots. One times ten, and I’m worth at least ten, plus another ten if I awaken Necrocuda, so thirty against ninety five… I like those odds a little better. And either way, oh, the blood that will flow.
Summoning a carefree smirk, partly defying and partly fueled by the strong tension in her gut, Sero gave the only response she could have possibly given, running her fingers along Necrocuda’s razor edge and watching her blood soak into the blade as it grew to its awoken form.
“I prefer being an independent fighter, but under the circumstances,” Here she swept her eyes over the approaching enemies, steam pouring from the ports along Necrocuda’s blade, “I’ll fight by your side. Just this once.”
Frosty returned the smirk, and together, they charged into the fray.
- - -
The sun rose over Rosewall as it always did, its first rays painting the city that reddish-orange that only comes with the sunrise. The forest to the north stood quiet, most of its inhabitants not yet risen to the new day. Between the city and the forest, the light fell upon a field painted red long before the sun decided to show its face.
Ice and corpses littered the field. Jagged icicles melted slowly beneath the bodies they pierced, water and blood running down to soak into the soil. Red droplets stained the grass, bending the knee-high blades toward the ground. In some areas, there was so much blood that it pooled in the dirt, becoming grotesque swimming holes for insects and other small creatures. And in the middle of all of it, surrounded by blood and gore and dismembered body parts, the only two survivors of the night’s massacre rested comfortably on slabs of ice.
Splayed out across one, a wolf-type Hybrid, native to the planet, lay at the border of sleep. He was utterly exhausted, unable to even keep a grip on his sword, which lay discarded in the grass nearby. He bled from a number of minor to moderate wounds, though he had frozen the worst of them shut, and he was covered in bruises, not the least of which being the purple ring around his neck. Despite this, a content smile sat on his face as he rested his eyes.
Across from him on the other slab, a white-furred fox girl from the planet Mobius sat with more poise, but not significantly less weariness. Some patches of fur were missing, and others stained with her own blood. She was pretty sure that her finger wasn’t supposed to bend that way, either. She didn’t mind, though. In fact, she sat with an outright grin. Her grip on her sheathed sword tightened joyfully as her gaze swept the clearing, noting just how much blood had been spilled.
“Hey, Frosty?” she called suddenly.
“Hm?” came the boy’s tired grunt.
“That was the best night ever.”
Frosty let his head roll to the side, cracking his un-blackened eye to look at his friend.
“You look happy, Sero” he commented.
He took a breath through his nose, mildly surprised that it was unbroken, and moderately surprised at the pheromones he picked up through it.
“You smell happy,” he stated with some confusion.
“I am,” the vixen replied in as sultry a voice as she could manage in her exhaustion.
There were several moments of silence as Frosty attempted to process that. It rolled around his exhausted mind several times before he simply discarded it. He knew the Valentine twins would be along soon to clean up the mess, so he decided to let his friend enjoy it while she could, as confusing as that was. In the end, he opted to respond to her excitement in the only way that made any sense.
“Man, aliens are really weird.”