My senses kicked in immediately, and before Stew could hit the ground, I kicked the table towards the spot where he was going to land. It slid right underneath him, somewhat breaking his fall, and the books he was carrying fell to the floor in a heap. I spun around, and saw four men enter the room. Dressed in all black, from head to toe. Strong, with well defined muscles. And while I had never seen the other three, the one man in front wasn't hard to forget. His skin was still dark, like polished almond. A bald head, and a scar that traveled up to his ear on the right side of his face. "I was right. It was you." He said as he moved closer. His men pushed the huge door closed behind them, then returning to their positions. He looked me right in the eye, a small grin crossing his lips. "You remember me, boy?"
"I seem to remember you trying to hurt my friends." It was the same guy from the spice shack on the outskirts of town. The one we barely escaped from when Gyro got himself in trouble. Cato.
"Your friends were interfering in my business." He gritted his teeth, his hands bound in black leather fingerless gloves. He cracked his knuckles, and looked as if he were ready to punch a hole in me. "You know, you've got a lot of balls coming out in the open like this. You should have laid low for a lot longer than this."
Stew jumped between us. "Gentlemen, please. This is hardly the place for..."
"STAY OUT OF THIS, LIBRARIAN! This hardly concerns you." Cato's devilish grin returned, even through his apparent anger. "You wanna know something, kid? For some reason that I haven't quite figured out yet...when you brought my leg down on that spiked fence...." He rolled up his pants leg, showing a rather nasty scar. "...It never completely healed. I've been through plenty of hibernation cycles since then...and it still aches sometimes."
"I'm sorry to hear it." I told him, standing my ground, waiting for any of them to take a step in my direction.
"I'm sure you are, kid. I'm sure you are." He moved a bit closer, and I took a small step backwards. "But that's not really why I'm here. It's merely an added bonus that's going to make my visit all the more enjoyable."
"Yes, indeed." He said. "You see...your friend still owes us a great deal of money for the amount of narcotics you all 'stole' from our establishment. Do you know how much it costs us for our little 'gene demons' to produce the amount of spice your little halflife friend twisted off that night?" I shook my head. "One hundred and fifty dollars a pint. And in order for us to make a decent profit, we charge a minimum of two bills. Your friend took down three pints for a sufficient high, and left without paying a cent. You owe us six hundred dollars...plus interest."
My eyes looked down at the half open scriptures that Stew had dropped to the floor after being attacked. And the book on top was open to a drawing of a mimic...standing strong...fists clenched...surrounded by a gang of enemies on an ancient battlefield. No fear in his eyes. No hesitation. Just calm...and confidence. I looked back up at Cato, and wondered if maybe...I had it in me to beat him. A man who was able to take on both Jun and Dion at once, by himself, without any problem at all. However, for some odd reason...he didn't seem all that dangerous to me.
"Would it surprise you if I told you I didn't have it?" I said.
"Hehehe, no. Actually, it's ok. I wouldn't have accepted the money if you DID have it." Cato smirked. "You see...my employers out West have already agreed that...I'm going to pay your debt off for you." Then he stepped even closer, and this time when I stepped back again, I felt the back of my shoulders hit the shelf behind me. I was cornered. "The big boss tells me that I can 'work it off', by finding you again and putting in a little work. He's going to pay me...depending on what I do to you." The other men with him giggled gleefully at the idea. "He said he'd give me 200 dollars for each arm that I break. 300 dollars for each leg. 100 dollars per rib, and 500...if I break your neck."
Stew spoke up. "That's it! I'm going to have to ask you ALL to leave! All of you!"
"Cool it, bookworm. This won't take long. Just a few broken bones and a few pictures taken...we'll be on our way." Cato was now close enough to reach out and brush the dust off of my shoulders. "I'm sure that by the time we finish...not only will I have paid off my debt to my employer, but I will have scored myself a nice little bonus on top of it." I heard the other men laugh behind him, but I didn't move. "Alright fellas, let's get started shall we? I kinda want to get back to the party before the next Mardi Gras parade comes through."
"There is NO fighting allowed in the Archive!" Stew shouted, wanting to protect the scriptures above everything else. "This is a place of WISDOM! Not some bar to brawl in! Take it to one of the fighting arenas outside!"
Cato got angry, turning his head and pointing his finger at Stew. "What part of 'SHUT UP' don't you understand...???" But before he could finish his sentence, I knew it was now or never. There was no way Cato was going to just let me walk by. I could feel the tension building in his arms, his feet planting themselves firmly in the ground...his heartbeat beating faster with the rising flow of adrenaline. I took one more quick look at the picture of the 'legendary' vampire mimic in that old scripture, and realized that if I was ever going to start provng myself as a 'warrior'...it would have to be now. I was only seconds away from taking him on one on one, and since I wasn't even sure which one of my extras would really even 'work' in this part of the IceZone yet, I could use all of the advantage that I could get. He had taken his eyes off of me for only a second...and a second was all I needed to strike.
My hand shot out from my side, grabbing the wrist of the hand he had pointed at Stew, and connected a few quick punches to his chest and stomach! Then I brought the wrist down swiftly to flip Cato onto his back! This was an action now. Things were set into motion, and retaliation was unavoidable. Before Cato could get up from my lightning fast attack, I jumped backwards, my feet springing off of the bookcase behind me...and launched myself at the thug in the middle of the room. I knocked him to the ground and was able to place two punches to his face before the other two grabbed my arms and pulled me off of him. They tossed me against a shelf, and I felt some books fall down behind me as I landed on my feet.
"NO!!! NO FIGHTING!!!!" Stew screamed out loud, diving forward to grab as many of the falling books as he could before they hit the floor. "THESE TEXTS ARE SACRED!!!"
Cato had regained his stance, and came at me with arms swinging. My hands jumped to my defense, blocking every hit effectively, dodging whatever was too fast for me to react to. My leg shot forward and kicked his damaged leg from under him. He hollered in pain, the scar from our last encounter proving to be an effective weak spot for me to exploit. A hand landed on my shoulder, forcing me to duck under the bastard's arm and lock his arm up in front of me. I had to release him in order to avoid a kick from the side of me, and before I knew it, I had two trained fighters coordinating their attacks on me at once. Just as I felt my abilities reaching their limits in terms of being able to defend myself...I suddenly had the urge to push harder. It was as if my body had suddenly raised the bar on what I could do, and enticed me to push past anything that I've ever done before. I felt my arms and legs itching with a newfound strength, newfound speed, newfound flexibility...and with a simple thought, I gave them a fight that they'd never forget.
"STOP THIS!!! STOP!!! THIS IS NOT THE PLACE FOR THIS!!!" Stew's cries went unheard, and he began jumping up onto the ropes and rods suspended aboe us. His agilty was beyond human as he began flipping from shelf to shelf, catching and securing as many scriptures as he could. And with his nimble motions made it possible for him to catch almost all of them.
The two men in front of me were absolutely no match for my speed, and never got a single punch or kick inside my swift blocks. I backed up a bit, with the two of them coming at me with a fury. Then, a third man jumped into it as well. Arms, hands, fists, legs, knees, elbows, feet...it was all such a confusing blur of deadly strikes designed to take me out. But....even against SIX arms and SIX legs, my arms began moving SOOO amazingly fast, that I was able to stop them ALL before they landed a single hit! Faster, and faster, and faster still, until my own hands became nearly invisible from their rapid motions! And even THEN, my body kept giving me the green light to go faster, push harder. I was going to KILL these sons of bitches!!!
Cato was standing off to the side, and the look in his eyes was one of pure fascination. Maybe even fear. But his hesitation only lasted for a few moments before he came to assist his three henchmen in taking me down. My arms and legs were moving faster than my thoughts could follow, and when I finally found an opening, I kicked out to the henchman on the right to send him flying backwards against the wall. My leg remained raised, moving in a rapid flurry of kicks that was able to land six or seven unblockable blows to the next henchman before he was able to even react to the first one. He fell backwards, and my attacks went straight for Cato and the other man standing. Now it was ME that was swinging wildly on them while they tried desperately to block and move out of the way. But there was no way for them to avoid them all. I was landing punches on BOTH of them, and there was nothing that they could do about it. As much as I've experienced in this world of darkness...this was downright SCARY! I had never been pushed this far before. My body had never reacted with such precision. What the hell was going ON here??? I'm good...but I'm not THAT good!
I suddenly sensed someone running up behind me, and leaned to the left just as his punch missed me and extended over my shoulder. I grabbed the wrist and flipped him over me, swinging my leg around to connect a harsh kick to Cato's chest! He fell back against the shelf behind him and books came raining down him! They hit the floor in a dusty mountain of bounded pages, and I heard Stew nearly squeal with horror at the treatment of his testaments. He jumped down to start gahering the books to get them out of harms way, but Cato shoved him to the side and came at me again. I stood in the middle of all four of them, dodging so effectively that they had to be extra careful to not hit one another while trying to strike out at me. But in a moment of thoughtlessness, I felt someone grab me by the neck from behind, and choke me...lifting my feet from the floor. My eyes squinted in pain, but as I felt a few punches connect to my chest, I had to kick forward to fend off the attack of the others. My legs went into a virtual whirlwind, still causing them a lot of damage despite my inability to gain any leverage. It was then that I felt my legs kick the two guards at Cato's side, and then come together to lock my ankles around his neck! The man behind me tightened his choke hold on me, making it hard to breathe. But as he constricted HIS hold, I constricted mine. The other two men were getting back to their feet and I didn't have much time. With a twist of my hips, I used my legs to send Cato rapidly spinning to the floor! And used the boost from the manuever to swing my legs backward and wrap them behind the knees of the man holding me in the air. His joints gave way, and he fell hard to his knees while releasing me from his grip. I spun around to roundhouse him to the floor, then kicking his body and sending it sliding against the nearest bookcase! It was no question that I could handle myself a lot better than they had expected, and I was prepared for MUCH more!
More books came raining down to the floor, and Stew dove down in desperation, landing on his chest just to save the texts from getting damaged! "Not the Myriddian texts!!! These are ORIGINALS!!! They can't be replaced!!!" He screamed, jumping back to his feet!
The men regrouped for a moment, and then came at me TWICE as hard before! My abilities were truly being tested beyond their 'proven' effectiveness, and I found myself not really knowing how much I was going to be able to take. Now being forced to rely on my instincts to handle the fury of their pressured advances. I was glad to still be alive. But at this rate, my ars might cramp up on me from the sudden evolutionary leap in my fighting tactics. And that began to worry me.
I battled it out with one of the thugs for a bit, finally wrapping one of my legs around his neck and bringing him down to the ground. I was kicked backwards across the floor, and had to jump back up to my feet. The next man kicked madly in my directions, just hitting the shelf behind me as I dodged from side to side. I grabbed a shelf overhead and kicked out with both feet to knock him back onto the table in the corner. I grabbed two of the heaviest books behind me and threw them in Cato's direction to daze him. But before they could hit him, Stew instantly swooped in, upside down, to catch them in mid air and put them back on the shelf in order above me. Cato was on me in a second, and his kicks were so powerful that even blocking them was beginning to hurt my arms. We went blow for blow, savagely striking out at one another, until he caught a hold of my shirt and threw me halfway across the room! I twisted in the air, landing on one knee, and built up a halo of anger around my head. I was READY!
As the four men rushed towards me, the energy blasted forward with a scream.......and didn't do anything at all. At most, the blast blew a couple of their hairs out of place. Nothing more. I was breathing hard, and shocked at the weakness of the brain geyser. Shit! It doesn't WORK in here! DAMMIT!!! They kept coming, and pushed me up against the bookshelf! Punching and kicking at me while I tried to regain some of the energy that I had just wasted on that shot. As more books fell to the floor, Stew swung down to kick two of the henchmen in the face and actually helping me out in all this. With their advantage lost, I spun low to sweep Cato's feet from under him, and spin kicked the other thug in the face. Watching Stew on the other side of the room, I was amazed at how he was able to manuever around the two men swinging at him. He had been climbing around in that weblike system of ropes for almost a century now, and they couldn't TOUCH him! The way he was spinning and swinging around that room, I doubt I'd be able to take him on myself.
"NO!!! NOT THOSE!!! The Nick Archer scriptures were nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find!!! Do you have any IDEA what you're doing??? GET OUT!!! NO FIGHTING!!! NO FIGHTING!!!" Stew began fighting just as hard as I was, and the other two men found themselves with their hands full as his confusing array of kicks and flexible antics began to wrap around their fighting styles in a frenzy!
I made sure to keep striking out at Cato's legs, keeping him off balance. Especially since he was so protective of the one that I had hurt before. The other man wasn't as much of a match physically, but the two of them at once was taxing my energy levels pretty badly. I was scared to use any more of my extras in here, not knowing what would work and what wouldn't. Another energy drain like that last one might give them they advantage they needed to start breaking limbs on me. So I fought as well as I could on my own, but as fatigue started to settle in, it was getting harder to breathe, and I was definitely slowing down. My teenage body began to go numb, and I was staring to see stars. Shit...I was wearing down fast. And my body only knew to keep going, keeping pushing, keep protecting me at all costs. Exhaustion didn't really compute for the rest of my instincts, and my body was heating up fast. A fever taking over as it fought valiantly to keep up with my assailants.
Just then, as one of the men tried desperately to strike out at Stew and 'contain' his interference in all this, I saw the henchman take to the wall and stand there. Sticking there easily as he tried to chase Stew towards the upper shelves. It worked! The whole wall walking extra worked within the walls of the archive! The frequency must not affect that particular ability in this library. I remember Dash saying that wall walking was an attibute of 'mafia' element in the vampire world, so I was sure they'd all be able to do it. But it would at least give me more room to manuever and put some distance between me and them while my limbs got a bit of a break. I only hope it works better for me than it has been lately. This is NO time to depend on anything 'unpredictable'.
Ducking under a few kicks and blocking a few more punches, I charged towards the nearest bookshelf and jumped up to let my feet connect to the surface sideways. It took a second for me to balance, and my feet almost slipped from the momentum of my leap, but with a simple thought, my grip on the wall held steady, and I ran up the wall towards the ceiling to catch a breather. If only for a few seconds. And that was pretty much all I got. The other men were surprised that I was able to imitate their ability, but the shock didn't last long. They hopped up to the wall with ease, and continued their persuit with even more determination. As they got close to me, I jumped from one crazily built wall to the other, balancing myself, and hoping that I wouldn't fall. I was about fifteen feet off of the floor, and I don't imagine that it would feel too good if I were to be dropped all of the sudden.
Cato was the first to reach me, and we battled sideways on the wall, his blows coming at me so fast that I could hardly keep up with him. As another thug came at me from the connecting wall and my concentration was momentarily broken. I slipped and began to fall back to the ground. I reached out to grab hold of one of the suspended rods in the room, and held on tight as I got the focus to get back to the wall. Soon, I had all four men on my ass again, now fighting on different points of gravity, from wall to wall, sideways, upside down, on the ceiling, and on the floor. I had kicks coming at me from every angle! And yet, I think I was getting the hang of this. At first, my feet were slipping from the wall so much that it felt like I was standing on ice. But once my senses dug in, I was able to move back and forth with the best of them. The fight raged on, hopping from the many angular walls in this insanely built library, while I tried to remember where the actual floor was. It got to the point that when I kicked one of my attackers off of the wall, I had no idea of which way they were going to fall. I couldn't tell if I was upside down or standing straight up. All I knew was that the fight had to keep going until I could find a way out of here!
Then, what happened next really confused us all. As two of the men stoo inverted on the ceiling next to me, with my hands blocking strikes from both sides as fast as they could, my hands reached out to touch them both on the chest. Palms down. And in an instant, some strange combination of Jenna's extra, Rain's extra, Taryn's extra, Michael's extra, and Bryson's extra, all combined themselves at once! Without even knowing what the hell I was doing, I felt my tired limbs instantly heal themselves and gain a brand new level of energy! As though I had just woken up fresh this evening. Somehow, I was able to absorb the fighting energy that they had into me, heal myself, and transport my fatigue to the both of them all at the same time! Now feeling the weakness in their limbs that I was just a momet before, they slipped from the wall and fell hard on the distant floor below. How in the fuck did I get THAT to work??? I seriously was completely rejuvnated, and didn't feel anything at all. I am REALLY beginning to LIKE this Mimic thing!!!
Cato jumped up behind me, and began his deadly dance with me once again. Our fight was even more vicious than before, and I was starting to see an even higher level of skill than he had demostrated with Jun and Dion the night we escaped his clutches. The ceiling began to crack under our feet, and I jumped down to the shelf on the side wall. We traded blows on a ninety degree angle, both hoping to get in a punch hard enough to stun the other. But he soon had to jump down to the wall as well to battle eye to eye. And then...I felt something drop from my waist. It was my pager. My ONLY guide to this crazy underground palace! It fell the entire way down to the floor, and I couldn't reach it in time. I watched helplessly as it smashed itself to pieces on the ground below. Shit...there would be NO fixing it this time. The third henchman suddenly leaped towards me, and the other two that had fallen were already struggling to get back on their feet again. The walls were circus-like, and it was hard to stand on so many different angles at once. Hard to focus on what I was doing. But as all four assailants jumped up to force me into a corner, I took Com's advice...and tried thinking like a chess player. I'm NOT going to play their game....they're going to play MINE!
I hopped over to the next wall, and they followed. But I didn't stop there. I confused them from moving from wall to wall, back and forth, while they tried desperately to chase me through the confusing twists and turns of the structure. I slipped underneath the planks and ropes in the room, and dodged around so much that they simply weren't ready to block when I lashed out with a punch or kick. However, I felt bad when I accidentally kicked one of the thugs extra hard and knocked an entire shelf of sacred texts down to the floor! An almost 25 foot drop!
"The DRIVER 9 collection!!!!" Stew shouted out! "Do you know how fucking HARD it is to come accross that collection???? Do you have any CLUE?!?!?!" He was FURIOUS! Stew's agility quickly sprung him up to the top of the room, using every wall and rope at his disposal. He had had enough. I watched as he used his legs to tightly wrap around the waist of one of the henchmen and physically pull him from the wall! Then he simply dropped him alllllll the way down to the floor again! As Cato and I kept swinging away at one another, Stew was making short order of the other guards. I had never seen a fighting style like it. It was so unpredictable, so amazingly nimble, that trying to find a way to fight against it was an excercise in futility. Thank God he was keeping them off of me for a while.
Cato landed a punch in my chest, and I slipped from the wall. I was freefalling towards the ground until I reached out and grabbed one of the planks nearby. It swung me towards the wall, and I bounced off of it, falling backwards and hitting a rope beneath me, which flipped me over and tossed me to the floor with a thud like a spun hammock. God, it hurt! My face was down in the dust, and I winced in pain as I fought to get up again. Cato and his thugs wouldn't be giving me much of a chance to stand strong again. If only I could figure out how to transfer that pain and fatigue to someone else again. How did I do it. Who's extra was it again.....um...Taryn...Jenna...Bryson....
I caught a kick in my back before I could work it out in my head, and I was sent face first into the shelf in front of me. Books rained down on my head, and Stew, while still fighting, swung down to catch them again. Only to continue with a brutal assault of kicks while he lifted them back up to their rightful place in the archive. I dodged a hard punch that smashed against the wall right next to my face, and kicked out to knock him back on his ass! Then, without even thinking, my hand raised up before he even stopped sliding....and a long acid web shot out of it to splash over his chest! He screamed in agony, and patted it down with his hands, burning his fingertips in the solution. It surprised me, but I didn't have time to watch. Have to keep going. Have to find a way out. I jumped back to the wall, and met Cato head on. This time, my kick landed dead in the center of his chest, and knocked him clear to the other wall. He stuck to it with his hands, and stood upright to take me on. Another acid web shot out of my hands to eat right through him, but he dodged to the side to avoid it! However, just as he manuevered himself to safety, Stew kicked him in the side, knocking him right back in the way of the blast! The acid scalded him and he fell down a few levels before the burn stopped.
"Thanks!" I told him. But Stew wasn't doing it to help me, not at all.
Instead, he moved over to double check the scriptures to see if they had been damaged. "'War'...'Carrots And Celery'...'Sky In His Eyes'...'Perry And Jesse'...." He examined them all. "Where are the Twisted Dreemz scriptures??? WHERE???" He looked down and saw them on the floor below! "DAMMIT!!!! I WANT YOU OUT!!!! OUT!!!"
"I'm TRYING!!!" I shouted back.
"Fucking kid!!!" Cato growled at me as he sprung his way back up to my level, and I was engaged with him yet again. This time though, Stew swung his way over, and kicked Cato in his stomach. Taking the opportunity, I delivered another kick to his face, knocking him to the next wall. But then, Stew kicked ME in my side, almost making me slip completely!
"What are you DOING???" I yelled, but evidently, I was just as much of an enemy to Stew's library as the rest of them. So now I found myself fighting FIVE attackers instead of four. I kicked one of the henchmen, then Stew kicked me in the chest, I caught another thug by the wrist and threw him off the wall, while another hit me from behind! Stew kicked him in the face while I reached out to punch another one in the chest. Then Stew swung around and footswept ME off of the wall, sending me falling again! I grabbed a rope to keep from hitting the floor, but Stew swooped down to stomp on my fingers! "KNOCK IT OFF!!!" I shouted, and Stew and I began to trade blows while the others jumped up to blitz us again!
I didn't know whether to let Stew help me or get as far away from him as humanly possible. I got a few seconds to think and tried scrolling through all of the extras that I might have at my disposal in here. I tried Jazz's extra, but only got a faint spark. Nothing much happening there. I tried Dizz's, but it had no effect. Neither did Jun's. Neither did Chad's. There was too much movement in here for Dylan's to work, and my own was obviously a bust. And while I was planning my next move, two of the henchmen ambushed me and tackled me off of the wall to the ground below! I was fighting to get up, but they had me pinned. They started hitting me while I was down, and I tried reaching out to relieve the pain of it all. For a few short seconds, while touching both of them, I was able to transfer the pain of the punches from one thug to another. Making him wince in pain as I was getting hit. But it fizzled out quickly, and I needed another strategy.
With my hands still connected, I drudged up some old painful memories of my own, the most powerful ones I could imagine. Of getting beaten, hurt, teased, frightened...whatever I could find...and I imitated the feeling with Jenna's extra. Sending it to the men on top of me with Taryn's telepathy. I think it was a little bit strong though, as they began to suddenly bawl and whine instantly, almost too weak to go on. The emotion faded that second that I lost contact, but that moment was all I needed to flip them over me and get myself free from their grip. However, as soon as I was on my feet, Stew kicked me back against the wall! "Mother fucker!!! STOP IT!!!" I said!
"THAT'S IT!!! You leave me no choice!" He said, and I watched as he swiftly flipped his way to the top of the room, reaching behind some of the books on the shelf to hit a large red button on the wall. I didn't have a chance to figure out what he was doing, as I was suddenly bushwhacked by two of the men in the room, and Cato was quickly on his way down. Then, as if things couldn't get ANY worse...I heard a loud motor coming from inside the walls around me. Suddenly, a huge part of the wall shot out at me like a giant block of cement! It was five feet tall, three feet wide, and rushed out at me top speed. I was barely able to move to the side in time to keep it from smashing me! The motor got louder, as the mechanisms started to come to life and work up a momentum. Then, like some kind of wacky funhouse...the walls began to move and change, large blocks reaching out from all the walls, floor, and ceiling, to crush us to death!!! I had to roll underneath a few blocks dropping down from the ceiling, and then cartwheel to the left to keep another wall from taking my head off! I was watching the walls as closely as I could as they came alive, the ropes and planks moving as well. Then I felt a jump kick connect to my chest and knock me back against the shelf behind me. I felt the floor beneath me lift me up, and I had to roll off of the platform before it smashed me against the ceiling. I grabbed a rope on the way down, and saw a flash of Stew as he slipped between two moving walls to kick me in the legs. I swung out at him, and felt Cato punch me in the side, his goons in close persuit. The walls moved faster still while I attempted to protect myself from Cato's rapidly moving hands, and every now and then, Stew would appear, his expert acrobatics allowing him to manuever flawlessly through the moving maze, to deliver a few blows himself! I couldn't handle all three at once. Not a chance.
Luckily...when I caught a glimpse of Stew again, I caught his leg in midkick, and tried to use Michael's extra to get a peek into his mind and see what he was doing. It was an odd feeling, and I almost lost sight of myself completely for a moment...but once it kicked in, I felt as though I could see a constantly moving blueprint of the whole room. SWEET!!! As Stew wrestled himself loose from my grip, I began to follow him through the many crushing walls and the system of ropes and rods on the walls. I wasn't as good at moving in and out of the chaos as HE was, but it was enough to keep me from getting creamed. The others couldn't keep up, and Stew began to kick back out at me to keep me from following him through the web! But I HAD to stay focused! I HAD to!
Then....thankfully, I noticed a wall across from me where there were no books located. There wasn't even a shelf for them there. It caught my attention, and I saw a rather large air vent behind it. Maybe it was a way out. All I'd have to do is navigate my way towards it and get inside. I began making my way over, avoiding all punches, kicks, and moving walls along the way. And once I reached it, I was able to pull it open! Thank God! As I swiftly slipped inside and started crawling like a madman through it...I heard Stew raving loudly...."OUT!!! EVERYBODY OUT!!!! YOU'LL NEVER BE WELCOME HERE EVER AGAIN!!!!"
So much for being able to persue knowledge and wisdom in this place. It looks like Cato and his drug enforcing thugs fucked that all up for me! For LIFE, no doubt! Speaking of which...I heard them entering the ventilation shaft behind me. Jesus...these folks don't give up! I crawled faster, hoping to avoid any further conflicts with them. How did I even get INTO this???
I came to a three way fork in the shaft, and decided to follow the one on the left. I could hear music coming from that directon, and it seemed as though I'd be able to find my way back to the confusing fever of the party that way. There's no WAY that they'd be able to find me in all that madness. At least...I was hoping they wouldn't.
As I got to the end of the shaft and found another grate, I sat down and kicked it open, now looking down on a giant mosh pit of over 500 vampires or more. It was a gigantic dancefloor, almost pitch black except for the red and blue lasers spinning around overhead. The sea of people was gyrating in unison to the bone rattling pound of the music, strobelights and glitter were everywhere. I had NO idea where I was anymore! I was even more lost than I was before. Not only that, but I could feel the frequency of the sensors change within me. Again, I was lost as to what extras would work and what wouldn't. Shit...I wish this place would make up it's fucking mind! I heard the sounds of voices behind me, and I knew that I was being followed. I quickly slid out of the grate and lowered myself down to the floor. It looks like my wall walking ability wasn't working anymore, because I couldn't stick to the surface anymore. So I slid to the floor, and tried to straighten myself up a bit. Then I began pushing my way through the heavily involved crowd of dancers in front of me. They were pushing back against me just as hard as I was pushing forward, but I had to get far enough in the middle of the room to hopefully immerse myself in the crowd. It was the only way I'd be able to hide out in here. Despite a performance of skill that made me proud to the point of being cocky about it...I wasn't going to be able to fight forever. Even after my transfer of energy trick in the Archive...I was already beginning to feel the fatigue in my arms again. And my legs would be quick to follow soon.
I moved further and further into the crowd, and looked back just in time to see Cato and his three henchmen emerge from the vent to drop down to the dancefloor behind me. Shit! I pushed harder, the mosh pit beginning to get rowdy with my intrusion. Everybody was enjoying themselves, shouting and dancing and bumping into one another, they had no idea what was going on. It got to a point where I couldn't push any further, and just ducked down where no one would see me. I took a much needed breather, my hands on my knees, and attempted to regain some of my strength while concealed in the mob. But I soon felt that familiar signature again...and I knew I was being watched again. How in the hell could they SPOT me in here? Were they tracking me?
I tried to use Dylan's extra to blank out, but whoever was watching me...they had me locked in. They weren't losing sight of me. Not now. I thought back to Kid at the lot, and did all I could to try to block my thoughts from whoever was hot on my trail. I concentrated as hard as I could, hoping to work up enough static to keep them from knowing where I was. But it wouldn't work. Not with any kind of potency anyway. I shouldn't be surprised...Kid still runs away from me everytime I even try to get NEAR him. I haven't had enough contact with him to really use his extra for anything. So I ducked down and simply tried to move through the crowd a little bit more. I pushed and pushed, trying not to make too much of a disturbance in the people around me. But they were close. I could feel it.
Then...as I stood up, I felt the tension increase in the arms of someone very close to me. VERY close! And my mind sent me the mental picture of a 6 inch blade attached to that hand! I stopped dead in my tracks, and swiftly leaned back just as the knife swiped right by my face! And I was suddenly fighting toe to toe with the henchman in front of me! I dodged the blade as best as I could in the crowd, and moved back in an attempt to put some people between us. But a second henchman was behind me, and punched me in the jaw the second I was close enough for him to reach me. The blow knocked me back against a bunch of people...but they simply saw it as a part of the mosh, and pushed me right back without complaint. I traded a few punches with the other brute, but felt the cold slice of the knife cut me accross my back! So I had to spin around and fight both front and back, soon ducking down to see if I could get away from them both. No matter where I went to in the crowd, they were only a few steps behind me, and I knew that I was going to have to finish this fight one way or the other. Alright assholes....you could have left it alone, but you just keep pushing me! Ok...come get it!
I waited to see one of the men reach out to find me, and I grabbed his arm, rapidly tearing his chest up with as many punches as I could land before kicking him back against the crowd! And when they pushed him back in my direction, I clotheslined him in mid air, knocking him down to the floor on his back. Then I submerged myself in the mosh again. When I caught site of the next one, I reached out to sneak him a tight punch to the bridge of his nose, and was able to elbow him in the back of the neck when he bent over in pain. Again, I merged with the crowd, and became practically invisible again.
However, wih the third attack, I think Cato had caught on, and he used the knife weilding thug to lure me out of hiding. When I struck out, he stopped me, and we began fighting ferociously in the swarm of vampires around us. Cato's punches were SO fast! SO strong! But I was able to keep up with him. At least for now. I tried to take advantage of his sore leg again, but his other guard was right on top of me with that blade. And it was all I could think about....not getting cut into ribbons. Somewhere during the fight, I felt a third series of punches join the attack, and I was fighting three of them at once. the fourth, hidden somewhere deep in the mass hysteria of the dancefloor. Everyone was crowded so tightly together that there was hardly any room to move anymore. The heat was unbearable, and the music was so loud that the vibrations were making me numb inside. This felt like a death trap! And I had to get out.
As I was trying to move back from one of Cato's powerful kicks, I felt the crowd stiffen up around me, and I couldn't get through them anymore. So instead, I rolled up over their heads, hoping to get a little bit closer to the main floor and maybe to a hallway where I'd have some more room to manuever. The thing is, once I was hoisted up over the heads of the people in the mosh pit, they didn't let me back down again. There simply wasn't room. As I looked off in he distance, about 150 more vampires had come pouring into this particular part of the IceZone, and the mosh pit was swelling up considerably. I was stuck on top, crowd surfing on a virtual ocean of other vampires who were swiftly passing me around the venue.
Just as I began trying to find a way to 'swim' my way towards the wall, I saw a hand holding a knife rise out of the crowd in front of me. Only for a moment, like some kind of sinister shark's fin. then it dipped back under the waves, and I knew that they were coming! I was nearly powerless to control my direction, but tried desperately anyway. My senses suddenly went wild, every bell and whistle going off in my mind! I jumped and quickly rolled to the side just as the blade came shooting up through the crowd to stab me in the stomach! I rolled over two or three times, and looked around frantically for a way out. Nothing! Nothing at all!
The knife would be circulating its way back to me soon, and I'm a dead man if I just lay here! I moved around some more, and just as I felt that long blade getting closer to me, I did what I could to 'crawl' forward. But, out of nowhere, I saw Cato jump out of the crowd and land on top of the mosh pit where I was. He reached out to grab a hold of my throat, and I had to punch him in the ribs to get him to let me go! Instinctually, I sprung up to my feet, and tried to balance on the shoulders of the vampires beneath me. The crowd was moving around so much that I was stumbling back and forth like a drunk on the unstable surface. Luckily for me, so was Cato. I moved closer, and we began exchanging blows again while trying to maintain our balance. The people below were moving and ramming into one another, causing a violent turbulence beneath our feet. But as my instincts kicked in, Jun's extra gave me some split focus on keeping myself steady. Which surprised me, because I always thought of Jun's extra as being more of an 'all or nothing' kinda thing. Either way, I was thankful for the added advantage. Especially when two more henchmen jumped on top of the crowd to join in the fray.
The four of us went at it, on top of 650 gyrating vampires in a mosh pit, and I was the only one able to balance well enough to make my kicks count. My speed seemed to increase again, as did my strength. The more confident I became wth what I was doing, the better I got! Then, the knife came shooting out of the crowd beneath me. I lifted my foot JUST in time to keep it from piercing right through my shoe! I stumbled back a few steps, trying to catch sight of the fouth henchman below me, but the ones up top wouldn't give me the chance. I pushed harder, my punches increasing in their power. I was NOT going to lose this fight! That just won't happen!
I fought tooth and nail with Cato and his thugs, who were now learning to balance a bit better on top of the unstable surface under our feet. I kicked one of the guards in the chest and knocked him backwards on the crowd, which continued to hoist him up over their heads. Cato's legs went wild, trying to find a way in. Contact! And I fell back on the crowd myself. Just as I landed, I had to roll again to avoid another upward stab of the knife! I jumped to my feet, and looked down to high step my way out of his deadly strikes from below. But as I cleared his range, I felt two more kicks strike out at my legs, knocking me down again! FUCK!!! This time I flipped up and jumped up to spin kick two of the thugs...sending them spinning to the mosh pit surface. Then I flipped backwards, my foot connecting with Cato's chin, and knocking him up into the air in front of me. This time, before the crowd could catch him, I used Dizz's extra on the people beneath him, focusing their attention on different sides of the room all at once. The mosh pit opened up beneath Cato, not breaking his fall at all, and the back of his shoulders slammed hard on the dancefloor below. Then I watched as the mosh closed up again as though nothing had happened. I have to say...I was kinda proud of that one.
I felt the sensation of attack coming from behind me, and I swiveled my hips around to dodge. He missed every punch and kick as my body became rubbery and flexible enough to keep him from landing a single strike. I took his arm and bent the wrist down, leaving his face wide open for my forearm to smash into it. While still holding him, I felt my leg kick behind me to lash out at the assailant in back of me, and then brought my knee forward to knock the first henchman backwards...a healthy splash of blood shooting out of his nose and mouth. I brought my leg around to kick the other one on his side just as Cato regained his footing. I was ready for them, but almost wasn't paying attention to the fourth guard, who shot up with his knife to cut the back of my calf! I shouted out in pain, drowned out by the sound of the music around us, and lifted my leg to grab the sore spot. I balanced on one foot in the crowd for a moment, and then saw all of them combining their strength to hurt me. There were two on either side of me, striking hard and fast. Cato was standing in front, his focused blows bruising my arms with every punch. And I still had to simultaneously concentrate on my footwork to keep from being stabbed or cut again. It was then that I felt a cramp pinch tight in my right shoulder, and my body began to break down.
The painful knot in my arm slowed me down, and I started taking hits. Bad ones. Kicks to my ribs, punches to my chest, slices to my legs. I felt a harsh kick knock me off of my feet, and I fell on my back. This time I didn't roll fast enough, and I caught another slash or two to my arms. When I rolled on my stomach, I got cut across my face! From my cheek, almost up to my right eye! I jumped up, but was kicked back down as soon as I got a foothold. My lungs felt like they were about to burst, my heart like it was about to explode....but they just kept coming. They wouldn't give up!
The fourth henchman now jumped on top of the crowd with the rest of us, and Cato let a demonic grin cross his lips as he looked down on me. I was tired, and bleeding, and banged up pretty badly. I couldn't take much more of this. I couldn't really stand anymore, and my vision was beginning to blur a little bit. I wasn't even sweating anymore. My fluids were depleted, my body gaining a higher fever with each exhausting movement. They enjoyed my battered position for another moment or two, and then charged in to finish me off.
My working arm did what it could to defend me, but it wasn't quite as effective. I was kicked in the legs, and the already wobbly foundation of dancers beneath me nearly dropped me to the ground. I fought to stand, but only received a worse beating on my back and shoulders, including a few more stripes with the razor sharp edge of that blade on my arms and chest. My shirt was cut up in multiple places, and the sweat was stinging me as it crept into my wounds. I had taken on more than I was ready for...and no amount of training or spaceman philosophy was going to save me now. I thought hard about Comicality, focusing on everything that he taught me, hoping that flooding my thoughts with him would somehow give me a hint as to what I was going to do. And with that, I felt a slight tingling in my left hand. A gentle itch. And when I looked at my palm, I saw a small dark circle appear in the center of my hand. As though it were a contained wisp of smoke sitting on the top of my skin. I examined it closer, and it looked like...it was growng. Almost like a black hole...sucking in some kind of strange dark material from the atmosphere around me into it. Using it. Building from its material. And that pull was getting stronger.
"You play a good game, halflife!" Cato shouted, "But the 'business' always wins!" He gave his boys a nod, and hey rushed towards me, stepping on heads and shoulders to clear the distance between us, and they swung on me from all angles. I felt the punches connect, and spit up blood as a few strikes hit me directly in the face. I fell to my knees on top of the mosh pit and they continued to kick me, my body turtling up to protect itself from the damage. It was the kind of beating that I had been a victim of my entire life. And once again, I was losing. I attempted to reach out a hand, and felt the knife slice deeply across my arm twice, forcing me to pull it back. I was now surfing the crowd on my stomach, the music creating a dizzying experience around me, the screaming people beneath me thinking that this beating was all just a part of the show. And I felt them stomping me in the back...HARD! I rolled over onto my back to try to kick out at them, or maybe grab a leg...something to stop this onslaught from hurting me anymore. But they kept kicking, and stomping, and pounding me down. Until finally, with a strong drop of his foot on my chest, Cato sent me straight down through the entire mosh pit, and crashing down to the floor below! I coughed up more blood, hurt, bleeding, crying....my body was weak with pain! And I was too exhausted to even get up from the floor. The sea of people danced all around me, their bodies creating a thick cloud of darkness all around me. I was almost ready to give up. Almost ready to let them win. But the itch in my palm was spreading. Rapidly darkening my entire arm. I could feel it. The skin became cold, and the darkness had now enveloped mywrist, and was quickly running down to my elbow. I could still see faint traces of the thugs above me, still walking on top of the mosh pit, laughing to themselves at being able to beat me. It was a humiliation that only seemed to make the pain worse.
However, that humiliation...that emotional pain...somehow began to mix with the physical pain of my wounds. It was a confusing difference that started to fall into this unexplainable 'gray area' where they existed as the same thing. I couldn't be sure...but I think it was Rain's extra beginning to kick in. Would it work. My wounds were pretty severe this time around. And the sensors in here were dulling even the strongest of my extras in most areas of the club. But I could feel the pain in my arms and legs transforming...blending...becoming an ache like a giant hole in my heart. The suffering increased, and my thoughts went back to my life in a vivid reality that was so strong that I almost lost all concept of where I was. The beating I had taken, the shame I had felt, the despair, the misery...it washed over me in a hue rush of unadulterated emotion, and it just kept climbing. Reaching levels where I had tears pouring down my cheeks. It was like 100 heartbreaks, being felt simultaneously while having a band saw cut you in half. Jesus....is that what Rain feels like when she's doing this? Is this...what she feels like all the time?
"Yoo whooooo!" Cato taunted, his goons now starting to look for me on the floor below. "We're not done yet, pretty boy!"
I was hearing the echoes of every harsh comment and moment of ridicule from my life at once. And as I looked down....my wounds began to heal from it. The emotions got worse. Worse than anything that I had ever felt before. Even worse than the night that I had walked out to the end of that Pier for the very last time. But I held on to my sanity for as long as I could. The darkness on my arm spread up to my shoulder, and I felt it spreading across my chest. My whole body began to react on it's own. It was NOT going to let me die. Not here. Not now. Not like this.
My feelings were collapsing in on themselves, and I curled up with the anguish of all of life's pain felt simultaneously. But when it got to be too much...when it got to be soooo unbearable that I simply couldn't stand it anymore....I felt a powerful 'halo' build around my head. One that was circling right above my eyes. The shadows all began moving in faster to shield me from sight, my scars were nearly gone, and Dion's extra shut down the emotions to a point where their influence on me wasn't clouding my judgement. At last, I understood. Almost instantly, a level of energy surged throughout my entire body...and I took a long deep breath. I am the vampire mimic...and I am NOT to be taken lightly!!!
The pressure built up rapidly behind my eyes, and I felt them turn a shade of deep crimson that I had never seen before. My fangs dropped down longer than they ever had before. And I was taken over by a calm that allowed my instincts to focus, and regain their intense sensitivity to what was going on around me. I knew where Cato and all three of his henchmen were. I didn't have to see them. I could feel their essence in the room. Seperated from everything else. At that moment...I felt every extra I had ever absorbed come together into one powerful point, hovering right there in the very center of me. My very core. And while I was laying on that floor, I felt myself float slightly upward, not even touching the surface anymore. Levitating almost an entire foot off of the ground, and I opened my eyes to let the brain geyser go. The pain from my healing had gotten to be so great, that I expected this blast to be quite a doozy. It was like being reborn...right here, in that instant. You can't imagine the feeling.
With a powerful SCREAM that sounded like a hundred voices howling in unison, I opened my eyes, and let loose with a gigantic blast of energy that shot up through the crowd of people around me! You could hear it echoing off of the walls, even over the pounding music of the club. It blew a large hole open in the center of the dancefloor, tossing people against each other as the energy reached up to smash into the ceiling! The stone above us cracked and began to crumble, people being pushed away in every direction! From my levitated position, I floated upright to stand on my feet.....my body completely healed, my energy levels back at absolute zero, my anger for taking this much of a beating from these fucking NOBODYS at an all time high! I leaped back up onto the shoulders of the people in the mosh pit, facing Cato and his thugs eye to eye! They were shocked beyond belief, and almost stumbled backwards after witnessing my reemergence from the crowd. And...as I stood with perfect balance on the shoulders of the men beneath me....I felt the darkness spread completely across me. Reaching every inch of my body, from head to toe!
It was then that Comicality's extra of absorbing the shadows around him consumed me...and the dark cloud wrapped itself around my face last...leaving only my glowing red eyes in sight! They wanted a piece of me....now they get the whole thing. Let's do this!!!