Tides of Twilight - Chapter 16: Reunited

Tides of Twilight - Chapter 16: Reunited

A Chapter by Jobyn

A strange cat boy who thinks he's a cat, and a slew of new familiar adversaries...

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Pounced by the strange, nameless cat boy who you somehow recall as "lord", you are filled with both surprise and confusion as to the way he's acting. From what you suddenly remember, this wasn't like him.

You: "Nyen"...? Just what are you trying to say? 

The cat boy's ears suddenly perk straight up. He sharply turns his head towards the ground a few feet away and rolls off you. He had apparently spotted a small beetle randomly trudging its way across the dirt. He goes over to it and leans his face incredibly close to watch it. 

He... just watched it, wide-eyed. 

Taly: It seems he cannot speak properly. Something must have happened to make him act this way. 

Taly stands up and makes her way over to the cat boy, holding her hand out towards his head. 

You: You think so? Hmm...

Taly: Yes. I will now use Insight. 

Taly closes her eyes and starts to concentrate. The cat boy seems too taken by the little beetle to be bothered by anything else. The beetle itself stopped and faced him without moving, seemingly watching as the boy mimicked its antenna movements with his ears. 

Jedrek: (Grumbles in whisper, pulling out a cigarette) These people are all crazy... Onion Icons
Cat boy: Nyen...?

Taly: ...!?

Taly's eyes snap open with a hint of surprise.

You: What is it...? What did you see? 

Taly: ...Nothing. How intriguing... His mind appears to be completely blank. He has no memories; he doesn't even know who he is. 

You: Are you serious? How is that even possible? 

Taly:  I... do not know. Perhaps when his soul dispersed into twilight; he too, was reincarnated like us. 

You: I see... So it's kind of like what happened to me, then? Although, to a much lesser extent...

Taly: Yes... All that lies within his mind are natural feral instincts belonging to the people of such a race. 

Jedrek: So this kid really does think he's a cat? (Sneer) S**t, I'm sure glad he ain't my problem. Now, can we get a f****n' move on? I ain't gonna wait to be taken prisoner all day. 

You: (Looking at Taly) Taly, we have to bring him with us... (Referring to the cat boy)

Taly: Indeed. It would not be in the Brigade's interest to leave another subject of this matter behind. 

Cat boy: (Curiously swipes his hand near the beetle, trying to gauge a reaction from it) 

Beetle: MSN Onion Emoticon Set (Quickly burrows underground to safety)

You: Yeah... I don't think they'll be too happy with company like this. 

Taly: By "they", do you mean Vero...?

You: Uh-huh.

Taly: Agreed. 

The cat boy appears to give following you three a brief moment of thought before hopping up on both feet and catching up. He looks over curiously at you and Taly and perks his ears up, as if realizing something. Seconds later, he begins to mimic the way you two walk, though exaggerating a bit as he arches his back too much and puffs his chest out. 

You: Uh... Shouldn't we be giving him a name? I feel weird just calling him "lord" when he's in this... condition. 

Taly: Neko. 

You: What? Neko...?

Taly: ...It means cat. 

You: Well, I know that but... Wouldn't it kind of be the same thing?

Taly: I apologize. I am terrible at names. I believe Neko is a suitable alias for now. 

You glance over at the boy. He was now copying the way Jedrek's Mek moved. 

You: I guess you're right... It does suit him. 

Jedrek: I'll just call him "Dipshit". 

You: Jedrek, do you always have such a big mouth? 

Jedrek: Piss off. 

Meanwhile back at the Mek Track where the Brigade Elites and the handful of Legion members were squaring off, Stiff was making short work of his opponents. He began to capture their attention and caused them to bring forward their caution. Naturally, Legion did not recognize him. The Catalyst they knew of was supposedly killed by their Catalyst; Draven. 

Vero: Find your own damn targets, jackass! 

Annie: Yeah, we didn't come here to stand around, you know! 

Stiff: Huh? Are you guys talking to me...?

Flint: You're kinda stealing our thunder man... Onion Emoticon
Lion: Welcome to my world, boys and girls. 

Stiff: Fine, fine! I'll keep it on the down low... 

Stiff slumps his shoulders and leaps out of the fray, merging his interchangeable swords together with a sigh. Oh well, he thought. It wasn't like he was having too much fun without a challenge. 

The few members of Legion were dumbfounded as to who this young man was, and why he was so powerful... 

Zero: Just who the f**k is this guy? Never seen im' before.

Baellie: His attacks are much too swift and untrue. I cannot for the life of me anticipate such a flurry! 'Tis no use... We require the strength and the disgustingly dashing looks of that incubus of mine... 

Risqé: (Starts beat boxing sensually) Nnnh... Shk. Nnnh... Shk. Nnnh nnnh-shnnh nnh-shk... 

Baellie gives a light blush, though keeps her face stern. Her voice seemed to go up a pitch when she referred to this "incubus" of hers. 
Kyrie shot a narrow glance at Baellie from the corner of her eyes, giving a light sigh. 

Kyrie: ...Incubus? She can't be serious. 

Ciel: Your incubus? But I thought he was Kyrie's boyfriend? Did they break up while I was unaware? Why didn't anybody tell me? And when did he start going out with Baellie? 

Zero: Nah, f**k all that! What I wanna know is, if s'all clear for me to make a move on Kyrie ova' here? 

Kyrie: Will you all shut up?

Risqé: (Record-scratch sound effect) 

Kyrie: None of that is important! We have to focus and hold the Elites off until he gets here. Besides... Not that it's any of your business, but we're not breaking up any-- forget it, he's here. 

The Legion members regroup with Draven on their end of the battlefield. 

Zero: About f****n' time you showed up, yo. 

Ciel: Did you find the machinist? Did he run away? Did you kill him? Did he hurt you? What was that bright light? 

Draven: ...

Kyrie: What happened? 

Draven: ...Something else got him. 

Beaelli: Something else? Of what do you speak, my love? 

Draven: ...

Zero: Hey, Tits McGee, the guy just ain't into ya! Why don't you give up and try me out for a change, eh? 

Beaelli: You know what I'll try with you, Zero? I shall try setting you up with my friend, Death. 

Zero: Nah, I like my girls with meat on em', ya bipolar b***h. 

Risqé: (Record-scratch SFX after each insult) Risqé! Oooh, Risqé! (Does a one-handed handstand and points an invisible pistol) Kchk! 
Kyrie: Ignore them. 

Draven: Yeah...

Kyrie: Have you spotted him? He's fallen back for some reason. 

Draven: Yeah. I see him. You all clear out for now...

Kyrie: Understood. (Motions to the others and leaps far back) Everyone, with me! 

Zero: We fallin' back? What the f**k for? 

Kyrie: We aren't. We're making room. 

Risqé: (Somersaults back to his feet and moonwalks towards Kyrie) Ah-hee-hee! (Grabs crotch) Risqé!

Beaelli: (Folds up her scythe) Try not to make too big a mess, my love... 

Baellie leans in to give Draven a kiss on the cheek, but is hauled away and questioned by Ciel before she gets the chance. 

Draven stands calmly focusing on the young man with the eye patch, who had long since caught notice of Draven and was beckoning him with a grin from across the battlefield. 

On the Brigade's side, they stared Draven down and also watched him closely. However, they did not know this was Draven. He was a complete stranger in their eyes because of the way he looked. 

*Trivia: Before Draven abandoned the Brigade to pursue his own goals three years ago, he had blonde hair and blue eyes. Since then, his former friends and allies had not seen him and some even pronounced him dead. None from the Brigade are currently aware this new opponent is Draven, including Stiff; who is also currently an enigma to Legion. After all, Draven had supposedly killed his best friend during that time...

Flint: Who's that new guy...? 

Annie: I don't know. I've never seen him before.

Flint: I don't like the way they're clearing out for him, man...

Lion: (Whistles) Now that's one handsome glare he's got there! 

Vero: I dont give a damn who he is. He's just another pretty boy for me to pummel.

Stiff: Hmm... You guys had your fun! I want this guy to myself. Besides, he actually looks like he can put up a fight. 

Okina: We're not going to let you fight him alone...! He looks really strong...

Stiff smiles and draws his sword, stepping forward. 

Stiff: I've got a chance to show off in front of ya, Okina! I'm not going to miss out on that. No matter how cute your concern for me is.

Okina: Uh...!? (Looks down shyly) Dummy... You don't have to show off to me...

The two begin making their way towards each other rather calmly, not breaking off their stares. Stiff grins lightly in small anticipation, feeling that he might be able to put what he learned over the last three years to good use. Draven was as hard to read as ever, walking towards Stiff with a thorough glare. 

They stop a few feet from one another and dog each other like some kind of wild west stand off; gusts of wind blowing and all. Draven reaches for the hilt of the sword on his back and draws his weapon out without a word. A lengthy tail of hair flows off to one side as it is freed from under the weight of his sword. 

Stiff: Huh. That look in his eyes... It sure looks familiar!

Draven: What a stupid-looking grin...

Stiff points his sword over at the guy and smirks. 

Stiff: So, you're one of Legion's pups? You don't seem like one of those losers, but you sure are looking at me funny...! 

Draven: ... 

Stiff: A silent-type, eh? Heh, I've dealt with people like you before. If experiences tell me anything, we might even get along! 

Draven: ...Hmph. 

Stiff: (Smirk) I can tell this is gonna' be one hell of a friendship! 

Stiff briefly engages him on that note, sprinting forward and swinging his weapon at Draven, who brings his own sword forward to parry. But he's left with surprise as Stiff; rather than clash weapons, dashes behind Draven at an alarming speed and swings both of his now-separated blades at his opponent's backside. 
He cuts through nothing but a cloud of darkness rising through the air after Draven had utilized his power to avoid the attack at a rather similar rate of speed as Stiff's. Both of the young men showed light hints of intrigue in their eyes as they returned to the aforementioned stand off. 

Stiff: Hey, you're pretty fast! Quiet guys like you tend to favor strength over speed, you know... 

Draven narrows his eyes and approaches Stiff first this time. The two decided to clash swords this time around, afterwards engaging in a speedy entourage of swings and slashes. It goes on for only a few seconds before they leap away from one another and stand off once again. 

Stiff: Do I have your attention yet? (Grin) Or are you gonna continue to ignore me? 

Draven: (Glances at his opponent's hand) ...You're not human, are you? 

Stiff: About as human as you are. (Shrugs) 

Draven: Whatever. It doesn't matter. 

Stiff: (Chuckles) 

Draven: (Narrows eyes) What's so funny?

Stiff: Hm? Oh, nothing! I just knew I could get you to talk is all. This guy has got to know Draven...

Draven: ... 

Stiff: Come on, let's see what else you can do! 

The two dash in that quick and obscure manner, proceeding their confrontation with a series of advanced swordsmanship and violent acrobatics. 

Meanwhile, the others can only try and keep up with the two unbeknownst Catalysts' techniques and movements. 

Flint: This guy's really something... You think he's one of Legion's commanders? 

Annie: I've never seen any sort of Legionnaire fight with moves like those... As much as I hate to admit, he appears to be out of our league.

Flint: Yeah... Just look at him and Stiff go! 

Vero: Pffft. Speak for yourselves, fools. Not all of us are stupid little weaklings like yourselves. 

Annie: I'm not saying we are... But we sure as hell aren't Catalysts.

Flint: Hang on, you don't think this guy's a Catalyst, do you? I mean, it's definitely not Draven... Or at least, I don't think it is. Last I heard, there was only two Catalysts left...

Annie: What else can fight like that? He's got to be something special. 

Okina: (Watching Stiff fight) Why... Why does he look so... happy? Is Stiff actually glad to be fighting such a difficult opponent? 

Vero: Nah, he's just got that dumbass grin on so much that it's starting to become permanent. 

The edges of their swords meet harshly, throwing sparks out between the two Catalysts as they stare one another down face-to-face. 

Draven takes a quick glance at the appearance of Stiff's sword, seemingly examining its material before putting his glare back in place. In a similar fashion, Stiff gives a short glance at the silver dragon fang pendant wrapped around the raven haired young man's neck. 

Another flurry of swings plays out, each one landing directly on the edge of the other's blade. More sparks. The two appear to share brain waves, as they take advantage of a unique opening that brings both to swing their fist at each other's faces. POW! Direct hit on both ends! 

The two are sent tumbling back hard by a single punch, bodies skidding across the rough terrain. 

Okina: Stiffy!

Kyrie: Draven! 

Both opponents quickly propel themselves back on their feet and hold their swords outward at the ready. Strong gusts of wind begin to envelop the length of their blades as they start to gather up energy in unison for their next special abilities. 
The winds get stronger and stronger, blowing dust and leaves all around them as a sphere of bright and pulsating energy forms at the tip of Stiff's sword. It's the exact same thing with Draven, only the sphere forming on his sword was a much darker color-- like a dark purple. After a few seconds, both pulsating spheres disperse into the swords themselves and become one with the weapons, causing the blades to glow with the respective energy.

The two rivals sprint towards each other and swing as hard as they possibly can, once again greeting each other with hefty cleaves of their swords. As you can imagine, all that energy colliding at such an impact bore destructive results. It was as if some kind of bomb had just been dropped on that little hill. It was so intense that even with the distance the others had, they had to dive for cover. 

When all the dust and smoke cleared up, all that was left of the hill that those two were fighting on was a large crater... And inside, the two were knelt across from each other with their backs turned, having barely withstood the impact. Again; singularly, the two stood up slowly and refused to turn around. 

Draven: I get who you are now, but... how? I killed you myself. I watched you die. 

Stiff: Yeah, well... I've come back. 

Draven: ...For what?

Stiff: For you, and for everyone else. 

Draven: ...

Stiff: Heh...

Draven: You kept part of my sword? 

Stiff: Yeah. I did. 

Draven: Tell me why. 

Stiff: I don't know... Perhaps for the same reason you kept my dragon fang.

Draven: Hmph. I see. 

Stiff: I'm going to ask you this once more. Ditch these losers and come back to us. Moku's waiting back at headquarters, you know...

Draven: I thought I already told you. It's too late for that. I made up my mind three years ago. 

Stiff: Sigh. Whatever you say, pal.

Draven: ...But it looks like you're going to keep coming at me no matter what. If that's the case, don't expect me to hold back just because of the past. I left all of that behind in Juno. 

Stiff: Fine, then. It'll make it all the more worthwhile when you give up trying to run away from me...!

Draven: Tch. Didn't dying teach you that dreams don't exist? You may have grown, but you're still just an idiot, Stiff.

Both of them smirk behind each other's backs...

But to Draven's surprise, Stiff had suddenly come up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. 

Stiff: Hey, Draven.

Draven clutches the hilt of his sword and turns quickly, but is too slow and is met with a knee full of hurt driving right into his gut. It sends him rolling back many feet, coughing out a tiny bit of blood. It was a surprisingly heavy impact, and nearly left him in a daze as he watched Stiff walk up to him.

Stiff bore an almost sentimental look in his eye as he looked down at Draven with a light smile. 

Stiff: (Points at his eye patch) That was for the eye, jackass... Now we're even. 

Draven: (Grunts and furrows his brows at Stiff) Ugh...

The blaring sound of an airship cuts through the air as it hovers overhead. It was one of the air crafts that the Brigade had arrived in. Flint peered over the crater's edge and waved Stiff over. 

Flint: Yo, Stiff! You alright!? Mission success, man! Time to jet!

Stiff looks up at Flint and nods, then back down at Draven one last time before leaping out of the crater they had made and joins his fellow Brigadiers in a quick getaway. 
Draven makes his way out of the crater silently and looks up at the departing Brigade airship, where Stiff stood at the doorway of the closing hatch watching the Legionnaires disappear below. 

Kyrie: Sigh. Looks like we've failed the mission. That was quite an unexpected encounter. But we were able to retrieve a bit of data, at least... Draven? 

Draven: ...

Kyrie: Hey, are you alright...?

Draven: I'm fine... Let's go, Kyrie. 

Draven looks away from the sky and starts walking ahead towards the Legion aircraft. 

Inside the airship, you are regrouped with everyone else. After retrieving Jedrek and taking possession of Neko; rather than return to the battle scene and risk the target, you and the other Apprentices had hurried back to Libertine Harbor and decided to pick up the others while keeping Jedrek secured. The other groups who had been dispatched at different locations were notified by the pilots and were headed for home as well. 

It appeared the mission was a complete success, thanks to the efforts of both the Elites and Apprentices. 

Stiff: Alright! Way to go guys! Claire's going to be fricken' pleased with the results of your first mission.

Stiff grins and high-fives you all in delight. Turns out they had tied Jedrek down after all, but oh well. It's not like he could go anywhere now.  Vero paid no mind to the success of you Apprentices, and only slumped himself down on one of the seats not wanting to be bothered.

Flint: For sure! No offense, but when I saw Jedrek take off on his robot, I figured he was as good as gone... From now on I'll think twice about doubting you guys, hehe. 

Apprentice 1: (Smile) Thank you, sir! But the one who should be taking most of the credit is Rook.

Apprentice 2: Yeah! I don't think it could have been possible without Rook's quick thinking. 

Apprentice 3: Agreed. Rook did much of the fighting, really. 

You: Huh? Me? Oh, I assure you, it was a group effort. 

Apprentice 1: Nah, you're just being modest... 

Apprentice 2: Uh-huh. You're the one who got caught in that big a*s fire wall... Yet when all was said and done, there you were with Jedrek under your finger. 

You: Aw, I wouldn't say he was exactly "under my fing--

Stiff: Hang on a sec, did you say "fire wall"? Don't tell me that's where the big a*s beam of light came from...? 

Apprentice 2: Huh? Oh, uh... Yeah. Rook was running towards Jedrek before the terrain started acting really funky and then released all of this fire. 

Apprentice 1: It wasn't normal... These flames appeared to be animated, and enclosed over Rook and the target like some kind of building, or dome. 

Lion: (Looks at Stiff) Hey, you don't think that was...?

Stiff: Rook. Was it like last time? Back in Lake Eden? I mean, did something come after you inside...? 

You: Uh... Yeah, it was some kind of monster. It was pretty tough, like the one that froze Mel... Except this one used fire. 

Stiff: I see... Then it's just not a coincidence. 

Lion: There's no mistaking it, Stiff. They're behind this after all...

You: What...? Um, listen... Don't be too hard on Jedrek, okay? He actually helped me out back there. I don't think I could have defeated it without him. 

Annie: Hold on, hold on-- forget about the steel freak. What's this about a coincidence, Stiff? Lion? 

Stiff furrowed his brows in thought and looked at everyone. He even had Vero's attention now.

Flint: Stiff...?

Stiff: ...Look. Some stuff happened during mine and Lion's stay with the dragons. The ones you know as Exodus-- we met their leader. We confronted him many times over those few years. I don't know how he found the dragons' home, but he and his men had some incredibly advanced and powerful technology, as well as weaponry. 

Vero: (Stands up) Why the f**k didn't you bring this up before? 

Annie: Yeah, why were you hiding it...?

Lion: We weren't hiding it. We just wanted to know for sure if all these spectacular events were really connected to them before we got everyone's panties tied up in a knot over it, creating some big dilemma...

Stiff: Yeah. We've been investigating it with Sekai since he got here. We suspected the strange lights and these powerful Avatars were Exodus' doing from the beginning, but now we know for sure. 

Annie: Wait a minute! Back up, d****t. You're getting too far ahead. So who the hell are these guys? How do you know them exactly? What is their motive? 

Stiff: Well, first of all--WHOA! MSN Onion Emoticon Set

Neko: NYEN! 

Neko had suddenly pounced Stiff out of nowhere. Nobody had seen him coming. 

Stiff: Gah! You need to stop with the pouncing, Neko! 

Neko: Nen...? 

Stiff: Get off! Sheesh! 

Annie: What's wrong with this kid? Can't he see we're talking? 

You: Sorry... He thinks he's a cat. (You tug on Neko's arm) Don't do that, Neko... Come on! 

Neko: Nyeeeen ko! Nenko...?

Neko hops off of Stiff and goes over to Annie. He looks at her curiously, tilting his head and perking an ear up.

Neko: Nenko? Nenko? 

Annie: What? No, dumb-dumb, I'm not "Neko". I'm Annie, got it? Ah-nee. (Crosses her arms) I feel like I'm talking to a goddamn baby... 

Neko: An-ko! Annnko. 

Annie: Sigh. Did this kid really come from that light...? You sure he didn't just wander over to it? I'd imagine someone with his attention span-- Hey, what are you doing!? 

Annie watches Neko as he walks around her and leans forward to look at the long katana on her back. Reaching his hand over, he attempts to touch it, but is swatted on his forehead by her. 

Annie: Stop that! That's not a toy! 

Neko jumps away and shakes his head a bit as he exhales sharply through his nose, sounding as if he were sneezing or something. He quickly loses interest in Annie as he spots a few birds flying outside one of the airship's window panes and hops over to the seat. He rests his hands on the window rim and raises his tail readily, eyeing the avian animals in a focused manner. When they fly closer to the window, he then suddenly attempts to pounce at the birds through the pane. He fails miserably as his head slams straight into the pane and actually cracks the damn glass... Though his head somehow remains intact. 

Neko: Nyuh!  MSN Onion Emoticon
Taly: ...

You: Ouch...

Lion: Now that looked painful. 

Annie: He's so stupid... 

Flint: (Trying not to laugh)

Vero: I'm surrounded by f*****g morons. The list just keeps getting bigger. 

Stiff: (Rubs the back of his own head) Well, I think it'd be best if I called a meeting sometime after we get back to H.Q. Now's not the best time to talk about such a thing, is it? Anyway, have any of you guys seen Okina? 

Flint: Oh, yeah. She's up on deck; said she wanted to get some fresh air. 

Stiff: Cool, thanks. I'm gonna go talk to her. 

Neko's eyes light up as he sees the door leading up to the deck open. Without warning, he bolts out of his seat and through the door past Stiff. 

Stiff: Hey! Easy!

Vero: (Points at you) You brought him here, so you get your a*s up there and make sure he doesn't do anything stupid!

You: Alright, fine. 

You quickly follow behind Neko. 

Taly: I'll come too. (Starts following you)

Vero: (Grabs her wrist) No, you're staying here. You said you know about Meks, right? I need you to tell me how to disarm the steel freak's stupid robot without destroying it... Claire's orders. 

Taly: Okay. I will help you. 

Vero: Alright then. Come with me. 

Annie: (Narrows her eyes) I'm coming too... Just in case it, uh, starts acting up again. 

Vero: Fine. 

As Vero, Taly, and Annie make their way to the holding room of the airship where the Mek was, Flint yawns and plops down on one of the long seats, grinning at Lion. 

Flint: Welp! I guess it's just you and me, huh? 

Lion: Mhm...

Flint: So, uh... What was it like being the only other person besides Stiff up there? Besides that Exodus guy, I mean. You guys seem to get along really well! (Taps the seat next to him) 

Lion: (Smirks and crosses her arms) Well, what can I say...? It was pretty boring, and dull. I'd say nothing happened, really. Nothing at all...

Flint: Huh? Really? Hmm... Okay. 

Lion turns and gazes at at the sky from the window, losing herself in her own thoughts. 


Okina was watching the continent below go by over the airship's railing. She hadn't noticed anyone on deck yet, but that quickly changed as Neko practically threw himself at the railing beside her and looked straight down with an excited look plastered over his face. 

Neko: Neeeeeeen! 

Okina: Huh? Watch out, that's dangerous! (Tugs Neko's shirt)

Neko: Nyen? (Blinks at her)

Okina: Fall is bad! (Motions with her hands) You fall, you... (claps hands together) splat! Die! Okay? Free Animal Smileys

Neko: Nenko... (CLAP!) Nen? 

Okina: Uh-huh! (Nods) So stay away! Danger! 

Neko: Nen... (Droops ears) 

Neko slumps his shoulders and walks away from the railing. He spots you and hurries towards you. You take cover, expecting to be pounced, but it doesn't happen. Neko simply looks at you and narrows his eyes. 

Neko: Nenko... (Clap) 

You: What...?

Neko: Nenko. (Clap.) Onion Emoticon Set (Points over the railing) 

You: I have... no idea... what you're trying to  say.

Stiff walks over to Okina and chuckles. 

Stiff: Well, at least one of us can communicate with that Neko kid!

Okina: (Surprised) Stiff! Oh, you saw that...? Um, well... I just let him know it was dangerous to hang over the rail is all. 

Stiff: That's good! Heh. So, enjoying the view? This sure brings back memories, huh? I mean, riding an airship together and stuff...

Okina gives a pursed smile and nods her head. 

Okina: Mmh. Um, Stiff... Was that really Draven you fought? 

Stiff: (Leans over the railing) Yeah. That was him alright. He sure has changed, hasn't he? But I pulled out a bit of the old Draven while fighting him.

Okina: (Nods sadly) Aren't you sad? That he's still with Legion; that he won't come back with you, even after learning you're not dead...

Stiff: (Smile) I think part of him is actually glad to see me alive. You know, I thought I had lost the pendant my dad left me the day I was born... after I found it when I was with Sekai, I mean. It turns out, Draven has had it since then... Since the last time we fought. 

Okina: Really...? (Blinks)

Stiff: (Nod) Yeah. 

Okina: Then, that means... He's still holding onto a part of you, just like you've held onto a part of him. (Smiles helplessly) I guess he really couldn't let you go in the end, could he? 

Stiff: That's right. Nobody can forget an idiot like me, even if they tried! 

Okina: (Giggles) You're not an idiot, silly... 

Okina clears her throat and turns to face Stiff firmly. 

Okina: Stiffy! I--

She's suddenly cut off from speaking as a heavy colliding force causes the airship to swerve violently. Okina yelps in fright as she is thrown off the side of the railing by the sheer force. Acting quickly, Stiff manages to latch his covered hand around her wrist before she could fall, but has a hard time keeping hold of her with the way the airship was moving.

Stiff: What the hell!? Okina, hold on! I'll get you up! 

You yourself had nearly tumbled off the side of the ship, but Neko had somehow pounced you back inside the lower deck, where the others were grabbing onto whatever they could. 

Flint: What was that!? What's going on!? Were we shot at or something? 

You: I don't know! I didn't get a chance to see anything... 

Neko: Nen! 

You: Thanks, Neko... I don't know how, but you saved me!

Lion: Over there! 

As the pilots began to stabilize the airship, Lion pointed out of the cracked window pane at a larger airship flying close by. This one actually looked very familiar to you. You could have sworn you had seen it before in one of your dreams. 

You: Wait a minute... Isn't that...?

Lion: It's them... They've found us. (Turning to the pilots) You boys might want to go top speed on this one, there's no way your bird can take that thing on! 

Pilot: S-Seriously!? Alright, hold onto something tight! We're going to try and shake it off! 

On the deck, Stiff was now pulling Okina up because of the stabler movements making it easy. However, just as the pilots began to turn on all throttles, the much larger ship fired another heavy beam that hit right on target and nearly caused the airship to do an entire flip. 

Of course, this very shot finally brought Okina to fall from Stiff's grasp, screaming. However, Stiff wasn't just about to let her fall to her death... 

Stiff: OKINA! 

He jumps off the airship and dives through the air after her, keeping his arm held out as the two plummeted towards the continent below. The Brigade airship was able to speed off away from the enemy, most likely unaware of what had happened to Stiff and Okina. 

Stiff: I got you! I got you...! (Reaching) 

Okina: Stiffy...! 

She reached back for him as they fell, the shapes of the land below getting bigger as they plummeted further. Stiff gritted his teeth in anticipation as he looked directly at Okina, wanting so bad to reach her before they landed somewhere in the incoming forest below. 
It was only seconds before they landed that he was able to reach her and hug her tightly against him, turning his back towards the ground. She shut her eyes, thinking they were going to die, but could feel him tensing his body in an odd manner. Still, she kept her eyes closed, even after feeling blanketed by a strange yet familiar presence. A dark power...

She could feel Stiff bouncing from tree to tree, the speed of their fall being reduced after each thick branch that made contact with his back. It wasn't long before they hit the soft earth below and tumbled fiercely along countless pieces of nature. 
Stiff blacked out for a few seconds, but was quickly brought back to consciousness by his overwhelming concern for Okina. Still, his body felt like a single nail that was being hammered on by a giant sledge hammer. Each movement he made sent countless little jolts of pain spreading out throughout his body. There was this odd sensation driving itself out of his throat, like a sudden bubble escaping from his mouth. It wasn't a bubble, but a moderate amount of blood that he choked out. That was it, however. He didn't spit out anymore... Just that single little wave. 

The pain coming from his body remained slightly unbearable, but even so, he forced himself up and wearily made his way over to Okina, who had tumbled a few feet away from him. His heart sank deeply when he saw the few bruises and cuts on her otherwise flawless skin, feeling a large sense of failure within. But there was some reprieve when he saw her groan lightly and sit up, rubbing her head. 

Stiff: O-Okina...! Are you alright!? 

Okina: Nngh... I think so... 

He made his way over to her as quickly as he could, shuddering and wheezing under his breath with each step. 

Stiff: Damn... I can barely walk... What's wrong with me? Ungh...

Okina: Are... Are you okay, Stiff? (Looks up at him with much concern) 

Stiff: Y-Yeah, don't worry... about me, heh... I'll be alright... Can you-- ngh, stand? 

Okina: Okay... Y-Yes, I think I can stand. 

She pushes herself up with her hands, but immediately winces as she applies weight to her right leg. She falls back down on her rear and clutches it. 

Okina: Ouch... 

Stiff: Okina...! What's wrong...? Is your leg broken!? 

Okina: N-No... I don't think so. It's just twisted. Don't worry, Stiffy. I'll be okay, I promise... 

Stiff: I'm sorry... I couldn't pull you up in time...

Okina: No, no! Don't be sorry! You saved me... (Blushes heavily) And... and you took that fall... why?

Stiff: (Chuckles breathlessly) Is that... a serious question? Don't ask stupid stuff like that... Come on, we're getting out of this place. The enemy might have seen where we landed... You up for a piggy back ride? (Grins weakly) 

Okina: (Waves hands) No! Stiffy! I can walk, really! 

Stiff: She's such a terrible liar. Well, that's too bad... I'm doing it anyway... Get over here. 

Okina: Don't...!

Indeed, Okina was having trouble walking... But the last thing she wanted was to ride on Stiff's back after he absorbed most of such a fall. Even with his Catalyst powers... 
She tried to resist, but it was to no avail. He wrapped her arms and legs around him with ease and began to drag his feet through the forest. His face remained stern, but his eyes showed plenty of pain. He was able to hide them from her however, as he only faced forward. 

Stiff: Hey... Today's been a pretty good nostalgia trip... Huh? First... I reunited with my best friend. Then I rode an... airship with ya. And now, a piggy back through the forest... (Chuckles silently) 

Okina: Stiffy, I...

Stiff: Well, to be fair... the last time we piggy backed through the jungle...And if I remember correctly, it was you who gave me a piggy back ride... Man, I sure was embarrassed! 

She looked down at him sadly, wondering just why in the world he pushed himself so hard for everyone. Even when it wasn't necessary. 

Okina: Why can't you just think of yourself for once...? Stop neglecting yourself so much, Stiffy... I... I need you! I was so naive when I was younger... It wasn't until I watched you die fighting for everyone and fighting to bring Draven back that I realized just how little you care for yourself...

Stiff: (Chuckle) You listening... up there? Or am I talking to... myself? 

Okina: (Lowers her gaze) Stop it... 

Stiff: Hmm...?

Okina: Stop killing the Stiffy I love... I need him. You're not a puppet of this world, do you understand!? 

She wraps her arms around his neck and buries her face into the back of his head. 

Stiff: Okina...? What's with you all of a sudden...?

Okina: Just stop it! Stop being so selfish with yourself, and with the people who love you...! Can you forget about the world for once, and think of yourself? When I think about how the goddess brought you back for this... I just hate her so much! I saw it in your eyes before, when I saw you again... What you truly desire. You want things to be the way they were, right? The days before the war started... When we'd all do fun things together, like go to festivals or watch fireworks... 

Stiff: ...

Okina: That's why I found you so different when you came back... Even though you smiled at me, and were happy to see me... You looked really sad! I can tell you already know that you feel things will never be like they used to... So why do you keep going, Stiffy!? You're not somebody's puppet! You don't have to do this! So what if the world ends!? At least we'll all be together after that! 

Stiff: (Smiles) Oh, Okina... Is that what's been bothering you so much lately? Is that why you've been so upset? Well, if that's the case, then I'm glad you got it off your chest... But... For you to call me selfish... when you say stuff like that... It's kind of funny, really. 

Okina: ...!?

Stiff: There's more to it than that. You just don't see it yet. Believe it... or not... I was the same way, three years ago... It wasn't until I died that I realized... how important it was, to come back. I don't think I can convince you... But I'm positive that one day, you'll get a change of heart. Sure, I've got some sadness locked up inside of me... But I mean, who doesn't, right? This world is full of many things, sadness and happiness included. The only thing we can do, is press on, and live for tomorrow... And the good times that await us then. 

Okina: ... 

Stiff: Also, don't come up to silly conclusions, like all of us not being together again. I'll never acknowledge something like that... Just you watch me. I may not be able to bring some friends like Vincent back... But I can sure as hell bring Draven, Moku, and the good times back. 

Okina: Stiffy... (Raises her head a bit) 

It had been a while since he had trudged through the forest with her on his back, and when they finally reached a clearing, he walked over to a large rock laying on the ground and sat down with Okina still behind him. 

Stiff: Heh, just... gimme a minute, yeah? Don't worry, it's not... because you're heavy or anything. I promise... I'm just a little tired after that mission. 

Okina: You didn't have to carry me... You should have at least let me walk half of the way.

Stiff: ...

Okina: It's not like I can't take care of myself, you know... Like you said once before in a similar situation, I'm your girlfriend aren't I? 

Stiff: ...

Okina: Stiffy? 

Stiff: ...

She looked over his shoulder and saw that he was now snoozing, of all things. Or perhaps he had fallen unconscious... Before she could start to feel guilty, she saw a bit of drool trickle out of his mouth because of the way he was hanging his head. It brought her to let out an unintentional giggle. 

Okina: You just love to push yourself... Don't you? Sigh. Stiffy, you Dummy... 

She slides back a bit on the surface of the rock and gently lowers him down onto her lap, letting him sleep on her. Brushing his hair away from his eyes and watching his peaceful face, she can't help but smile and lean forward, wiping the drool off his lips and giving him a small kiss. 

Okina: I love you. 

Question 1:

Just what am I going to do with you, Stiffy?

1). If you're going to keep being selfish, then I'll just have to be selfish alongside you! 
         2). I can't accept what you've been put through. Even if you think it's the right thing... 

*Results will be tallied on 8/8/12 6:00PM PST

To be continued...

(Leave your choices in the Comment/Review section below)

© 2012 Jobyn

Author's Note

Thank you SO SO SO much to Taly5 for making these friggen' AMAZING commissions for me! Best damn artist ever!

Find her deviantArt profile at http://taly5.deviantart.com/

My Review

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This review is quite overdo, although I see no notion of the voting being closed yet! So here goes:

This chapter really feels as though it captured the bond Stiff once(still?) had with his former friend Draven. From what I read, their fighting styles really seem to compliment one another, right down to their personalities. In a strange way, it feels like even Draven himself is veeery slightly happy to see Stiff alive, but continues to acknowledge him as the enemy. Very dramatic.

Neko is funny... I found a character with his personality an odd puzzle piece at first, but he seems to be fitting in quite snuggly at this time. He even saved us! Sort of...

I like how you applied some focus to Legion's side as well. It gave me an idea of how things would have been playing out if we were on their end. Not too much different than the Brigade, but definitely some more crude humor and even a bit of hostility between their members.

So I am guessing it's safe to assume that larger airship that shot at the Brigade is Exodus? Their debut has been long coming! It appears things are going to be heating up ;)

That fall Stiff and Okina took was quite suspenseful. I thought one of them wasn't going to make it for a second there, silly me. I'm kind of glad that happened though, because they finally spent some quality time together, despite how short it seemed. The two are really starting to shed their shells off. I wonder what kind of scenes Draven and Kyrie have together? Heheh.

I found a pearl in the picture where Stiff is giving Okina a piggy back ride. It's around the lower right, almost hidden between the roots of the tree. It was easy to miss because of it's color, but that's a good thing. I like a challenge... However, I looked and looked at Draven's picture and couldn't for the life of me find a pearl there. I'm almost sure there is none... I think it would be kind of nice if you pointed out which pictures do not have a hidden pearl, but that's just me.

You're getting a lot better with the way you present things, and while you already have a good amount of vocabulary that you use, I think you can easily expand it some more. There are times I see the use of certain words very often, but of course it's nothing that messes with the story... It's just a minor peeve of mine.

Now onto my choice!

I will pick Q1.) 1

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 for me :D

Posted 11 Years Ago

very cool chapter bro draven looks hella tight, better than stiff i think lol he kind of reminds me of saske from naruto. neko is already pretty damn funny i wonder wtf happened to him hahah. that fight was cool too i didnt think stiff and draven would recognise each other so quick..

i liked lion's flashback too it was very detailed and i sense a love triangle coming along soon lol too bad legion came and went so fast hope we see more of them later.. i kinda thought legion was exodus but i guess not. a lot of wtf moments but overall this was a really cool chapter man waiting for the next

i picked Q1). 1

Posted 11 Years Ago

ah so much excitment in this chapter! It was nice to see draven make an appearance once again. I was really surprised at his appearance. He looks so much different but still as cool as ever! These drawings of the chars never fail to amaze me. Its like a fun new surprise with almost every chapter :D I also really liked the the scenes between stiff and okina :3 i feel like they can be more comfortable around each other now but they still have so much catching up to do.
Q1.) i pick 1

Posted 11 Years Ago

This chapter has been the most tense so far and it seems things are going to get even more tense from here on. I like how the small funny things the characters do fit in and can't wait to see how the relationships between all of them develop. I'm also starting to accept the catboy XD But!
Hold on... what's going on here? What's up with that question? It seems Okina is about to get naughty O.O Even though I do agree with Stiff , I wanna see some drama! So Q1. I pick 2.

Posted 11 Years Ago

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5 Reviews
Added on August 6, 2012
Last Updated on August 8, 2012
Tags: Adventure, Excitement, Interactive, Anime, Manga, Fantasy, Romance, War, Comedy, Humor, Mature, Brotherly, Friendship, Love, Book

Tides of Twilight



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