True Monsters: Unleashed

Tendrils erupted from my skin as I burned all the mass I had consumed from my parents.  My clothing was shredded as a rapidly-growing alien limb grabbed the makeshift chair and ripped it from the ground, throwing it at the stunned and mortified Beleth.  

Muscle memory and reflexes honed by years of fighting kicked in and a barrier was erected as he ducked low to avoid his head being torn clean off his shoulders.  As I lumbered forward and smashed the barricade he made, he pulled himself back and began warping the floor around the house, making the foundation betray the structural integrity of my home.  

Plaster and brick were dumped on me as I fought to march forward, enraged that Beleth could find a way to take more away from me.  

Still, as much as he dumped on me, I was a four tonne mass of muscle that was continuing to grow.  I threw off hunks of the debris and stomped atop the wreckage, letting out a roar in defiance as Beleth waited in the center of the road.  

Several months ago, people would have likely run away at seeing me, but I was part of a well-known Reckoner group now, and those people lingering outside their houses with a drink in hand all reached for a phone, intent to record the brawl.  It wasn’t often you got to see Beleth fight, and let alone from a front row seat.

Enraged, I grabbed a fistful of debris and launched it at my opponent who erected a wall of asphalt to protect himself.  As I lumbered forward, the ground became more like quicksand, slowing me as I had to rip my legs free for each step. The wall Beleth had made started moving my direction, ferried by the ground shifting to propel it.  Right before it would make contact, it was snapped at the bottom, effectively launching it.

To his surprise, I caught it.

It was heavy enough I couldn’t throw it back, but I dropped it to the side and let out a roar, clearly rattling him, as well as many of the onlookers who frantically covered their ears.  

Taking a few more steps forward, I was halted by a row of spikes jabbing into my torso, not quite piercing deep enough to hit me underneath.  I tried to break them to give myself something to throw back, but Beleth retracted the spires into the ground as quickly as they had been erected.  

Frustrated, I turned to a car and yanked the hood free, throwing it like a discus only to find another wall in the way.  

Even though he was a piece of human garbage and a waste of air, Beleth was still the strongest man in the city.  

As I grabbed the car to rip more free to throw at him, Beleth constructed a pillar of stone to slam into my torso and drive me back a step as the ground shifted under my feet.  As I fell, a small wave of concrete crashed down on me.

I struggled and pushed back against the mass of rock, but found that I was able to hold it back where last time I needed to be half again this big to resist it.  

Beleth hadn’t fully recovered from Parasite kicking the crap out of him.  There was still some weakness present in the king of Ciel.

With a herculean shove, I managed to step out from under the crushing force, and then found myself impaled by a new series of spikes.  My opponent glided forward and waved his hand, ushering in the ground twisting underneath me as a bubble of ground grew quickly around me.  Desperate, I roared directly at Beleth, glad it bought me a moment to tear myself free from his half erected prison. Two steps over, I grabbed a car and ripped the door off, flinging them at the dazed Adapted.

It wasn’t fast enough to make contact.  

A daunting fact was quickly becoming evident: I was unable to fight Beleth.  Even though he was weakened, I was going to burn out of mass in less than ten minutes since I used a full growth rate.  The only way I could beat him was by obtaining a lucky mutation…

Or by getting larger.  

There were plenty of Zari onlookers watching, recording the brawl for future proof that they had seen it first hand.  Eldritch vs. Beleth, it’d be a hell of a story tomorrow.

Beleth had taken so many people away from around the city.  He was responsible for terrorizing countless businesses, agencies, and families across Ciel and the whole cluster.  He had made himself into a tyrant and relished in his absolute rule of the city’s underbelly.

If one or two more people had to die to ensure he did too, it was a sacrifice that should be made.  

Beleth was just as surprised as the crowd when I turned from him, knowing full well that he had been keeping me at the fringes of his range.  After all, I was someone whose Adaptation demanded I get close by to do the most amount of damage; why would I be running away?

It meant he wasn’t quick enough to stop me, even after he realized my horrifying plan.  

A few jeers of “fight him you coward!” were shouted at me as I thundered down the street, but people didn’t flee, they didn’t even really do more than slightly step out of the way as I approached a trio of Zari men drinking and watching.  

“I’m sorry,” I muttered as I shot my arms forward and grabbed two of them around the torso.  A solitary squeeze collapsed their rib cage and demolished their organs, rendering them dead almost instantly.  The third didn’t run because his legs wouldn’t carry him out of sheer shock. I was a Reckoner, a well known paragon and yet I had just reduced his friends to nothing.  I ended his panic with an arm enveloping his head; a twist snapped his neck, and his mass was added to my stockpile.

Two-hundred and eighty-four kilograms available for consumption.

I burned all the mass I’d taken from the three Zari and began to grow, rapidly.  

“Run!” Beleth screamed as I enlarged at a bewildering pace, “Get away from him, now!”  Onlookers quickly began to scurry away as the kingpin tone of voice betrayed real concern.  His cry seemed to snap a great deal out of a trance that the horror of seeing me strip a body of its flesh had induced.

As I turned back to him, he was frantically speaking into his phone, his conversation covered by people around me screaming and running down the street or getting in cars as fast as physically possible.  I had just eaten some people; no one wanted to stick around to see if they might be next.

I was now far larger than I had ever dared to get.  A few days ago, Beleth had issues dealing with me at ten tonnes of mass; how well would he fare against fifteen?  Even with my size, I worried; his first encounter with was when I’d been gargantuan and he’d still survived. Now with experience against me, would a little extra size truly be enough to cut the difference?  

The more I thought about it, the more it was clear that additional mass was needed to ensure I could beat him.  Even weakened, he was still extremely dangerous, and this time he’d be more cautious since he knew what I was capable of.  

Across the road there were more people who could fuel me, help me overwhelm my opponent.  But Beleth put himself in the way, using himself as shield for the bystanders as they ran.  I wanted to chase them down, to ensure I got enough mass to hold my own, but there was no way I could do that with Beleth right there.  

“Alright, Eldritch, that’s enough!  This is between us, not them.”

I towered over him now, standing fifteen feet tall with my legs and arms holding the majority of my mass.    

Mutation: Disparate Entities.  

“After tonight, you’re not going to hurt anyone ever again,” I growled as I lumbered forward towards him, the ground shaking with each step I took.  “After tonight, you’re going to understand what it means to be afraid!”

Two massive strides took me within striking range of Beleth, but he warped the ground between us, dragging me backwards and pulling himself towards the people who were staring wide eyed on their porch at the monster.  He shouted at them again to run, and this time they finally listened as I reached over and grabbed a parked car, letting my growths form around its hood and give me good purchase.

A wall was hastily erected to block the vehicle, but Beleth still had to throw himself out of the way of the debris.  

Charging forward, I was stopped as a barrier of spikes shot up in front of me; my momentum carried me and got me impaled in a dozen places.  Growling with frustration, I swiped my arm across and broke the spines of rock. Another step forward and a pair of walls erected on either side of me, dragging together as if to crush me in the middle.  

I hardened my cells as I absorbed the impact, bracing an arm against either wall.

Beleth pulled the ground out from under me and turned the road into a bed of spikes I found myself falling onto.  My legs were shredded as the spikes shot up and then retracted, again denying me an easy projectile to reply with.  

While I was trapped, a massive lance of concrete shot up, this time not aiming for center of mass but instead for my shoulder, aiming to separate my arm from the rest of my body.  

Agitated, I roared at Beleth and felt the walls of stone cease for a moment as he had to take a step in order to get steady due to the sheer overwhelming amount of sound I could produce.  It was enough time for me push over the walls he’d erected and rip the spike free. I threw it like a javelin, but the kingpin made a barrier to ensure his own safety.

As his barrier occluded our line of sight, I snapped my arm in a whip-like motion and let a chunk of my arm detach from the greater mass of Neklim with one impulse:


Twenty kilograms of onyx-colored mass slapped against the concrete a few meters from Beleth and immediately began pulling itself towards him, ravenous.  

A dome was quickly formed around my fragment to hold it in place, but it distracted long enough for me to begin running down the road, seeking more nourishment to provide fuel for my absurd size.  

“Eldritch, STOP!” Beleth shouted as he animated the ground under himself to keep up with me, erected a wall up to my midsection to at least make me slow down.  Turning, I scooped up handfuls of the debris and lobbed it back up the road, denting the side of a car as Beleth glided out of the way. I could see him visibly strain, and around me the street erupted as the ground I stood upon depressed a full three meters; the concrete and dirt he had shifted out of the way reformed as spikes that shot into my arms and legs, anchoring me in place.  

He wavered and stumbled a step, displaying that he’d lightly Overexposed himself.  

Even weakened though, he’d displaced and repurposed probably five or six cubic meters of formed concrete, asphalt, and packed dirt in the span of about two seconds, and he’d done it close to the edge of his range.  

“You have time limitations, don’t you,” he wheezed, “The faster you grow, the shorter it lasts.  All we have to do is keep you from eating.”

I didn’t grace him with an answer, but started struggling against the network of spines he’d used to hold me.  Through each limb, dozens of compact spikes had perforated several layers of Neklim tissue; while ripping through any one or two or even five of the tethers would have been easy, there were probably twenty-five in each limb.  There was enough obstruction I couldn’t reallocate my mass reliably to stress one limb and break it free.

The way I had formed my body, it would have cost me 70% of my mass to cut my losses and ditch the limbs.  If I made them all their own entity, all Beleth had to do was fill in the hole he’d made and it would smother the growths and leave me little to reclaim.    

Beleth stood at the edge of the pit he’d made and glared at me.  He was not to be trifled with or defied. Even though I was over twice as tall as him, he’d found a way to make us almost the same in stature again.  

I hated how he could look so confident and self-fulfilled even now.  

The ground groaned as I struggled, refusing to admit defeat.  Even though he had killed twenty percent of my mass by impaling me, even though he had isolated my limbs, even though he was the most powerful man in Ciel, I refused to give.  

“I, am done, losing!”

His eyes widened as some of the spikes broke and one arm began to rip free, my rage pushing me forward.  

“Shock, Awe, Hive, ANYBODY!” Beleth shouted as backed up and erected a lance of rock from the edge of the hole, aimed for my chest.  Making the prison had taken a toll on him, and it didn’t manage to deal any real damage; it was easy to break in half with my arm being free again.  

Beleth struggled again as dirt rose around me, burying my lower half and threatening to smother much of the growths in my legs, doing all he could to slow me down.

As my second arm came free, I threw another chunk of mass, this time hitting him in the shin.  

Beleth screamed as the growth of muscle slithered under his coat and bit into his leg, trying to burrow in and devour the muscle to sustain its rapidly diminishing food supply.  While the kingpin managed to kill it quickly, the damage had been done.

A huge chunk had been ripped out of his inner thigh; the chunk of Neklim mass I had lobbed at him had likely nicked his femoral artery.  

But while he was gushing blood and writhing in pain, I was left to my own devices to pull myself out of the pit.  I detached from chunks of my legs, losing several tonnes of mass and ending up only pulling eight tonnes of my fifteen from the pit he made.  

Still, I was ten feet tall and towered over Beleth as he lay in the road, bleeding out.  

“This is what you deserve.  This is all you have ever deserved.”  

My arm came down to crush him, and found only asphalt; Beleth had dragged himself away even as he continued to bleed out.  “I’m not…gonna…be…food for you.”

I growled in frustration and took a step forward, only to endure a trio of lightning bolts exploding against my chest, obliterating two-hundred and thirty kilograms of mass.  Cursing myself for being so narrow in focus, I let my vision span out and saw I was being approached by a group of figures.

Shock, Awe, Hive, and Pyre.  All of them ready for a fight.  

“Hive, get Beleth out of here, get him back to Organelle.  Let others know we need help, fast. It was one of the fears Pic had.”

Hive split, letting Stag and Ant cart Beleth away; I tried to intervene, but another blast of lightning and fire drove me backwards as the rest of the Surface Dwellers stepped forward to challenge me.  

They had all worked for Beleth, doing his dirty work.  Just like him, the world would be better off without them.  

I was at about seven and a half tonnes of mass now, and there was a distinct timer on how long until this began to dissolve on its own accord.  Roaring, I barreled forward towards the remaining Surface Dwellers, enraged they had denied me my chance to eliminate Beleth. There was no way I was going to catch up with Stag so eradicating the rest of the Surface Dwellers would have to suffice.  

As soon as I started moving, there was retaliation.  Shock let out another arc of lighting that blasted hunks of flesh clean off my torso and Pyre threw a few explosive globes of fire that scalded away a few layers of growth where the worst of the damage was inflicted.  Dragonfly took flight and spat down globules of digestive enzyme that chewed through a dozen kilograms of mass before completely neutralizing.

Still, I kept moving forward.  

Shock touched his brother to charge him up and Awe snagged him, leaping out of the way to avoid being grabbed by me.  Holding his brother over his shoulder, he vaulted over to Pyre and grabbed her, yanking her away to safety as I threw a trio of small growths at her location.  

Dragonfly spat down another salvo of caustic enzyme that bored holes in my suit and left a particularly nasty smell lingering in the air.  

Another few bolts of lightning and fireballs exploded around me, demolishing more of my coat.  

I was down to six tonnes and had about eight minutes before it rapidly consumed itself.  

Tromping down the street, I grabbed a car and launched it at Pyre, forcing Awe to intervene again, leaving his brother somewhat vulnerable when I threw a light post his way.  For good measure, I threw three different ten kilogram growths at him as well with the instruction to eat.

Shock barely even flinched, displacing the metal with a blast of lightning that chained to the incoming growths I had thrown his way.  

Even though Beleth had been the most powerful man in Ciel, he  employed a truly terrifying group of individuals. There was no way I was going to kill them with the mass I had now.

I needed more.  

Down the road, a corner store with lights still turned on.  I didn’t know if there was anyone there, but I needed more material to consume if I wanted to stand a chance against the remaining Surface Dwellers.

“Hive, stop him!” Pyre shrieked as I turned and started literally running down the road.  

Running in the Neklim suit had always been a chore for me, requiring absurd concentration and even so I couldn’t do more than a bit of a jog which always had me worried I was going to faceplant; tonight I could actually sprint and properly utilize my massive strides to carry me at a truly frightening pace.  

A bolt of lightning chased me from down the road and carved a swath of growths out of the side of my leg; a blast of enzyme added to the damage as I tried to allocate resources to keep me upright and mobile.  Irritated with her, I lobbed another fistful of growth at Dragonfly; while none collided, it got her to back away for a second and give me time to reconstitute my leg and keep running.

Without her being able to completely undo my leg, it didn’t take me long to crash into the store, literally.  Using my shoulder, I bulldozed through the door and crawled forward, filling half of the floorspace and knocking over probably ten shelves in the process.  

There were screams from the half dozen people inside who had been hiding out, afraid to go back out in the open with such an intense Adapted brawl happening.  If they had been smart enough to turn out the lights, I would have never known they were here.

“Please,” a Zari man begged as I reallocated mass to my arm, setting it down so they couldn’t access the back door.  “Please, let us go.”

“I’m sorry,” I said softly, my suit distorting the speech as I dragged my massive limb across the corner store, collecting the six people unlucky enough to have been out.  

“Light him up!” someone shouted behind me.

Flames billowed in, superheating the air and torching my newfound food supply.  As quickly as possible, I pulled them in close to shield them from the consuming fire and absorbed what mass Pyre hadn’t burned away.  

Three hundred and sixty-four kilograms available for consumption.  

Using sixty-four to feed my existing mass, I burned the rest and pulled myself from the demolished corner store.  Bolts of lightning and more caustic blobs of enzyme ate away at me, but I was growing faster than they could destroy my suit.  

After Pyre made a small firestorm around me, I had been reduced to four tonnes; now I was growing back to sixteen.  

“Where the fuck is everyone else?” Shock shouted as Awe grabbed him and pulled the two away from a small shower of debris I  ripped from the remains of the corner store. “We need to keep him contained!”

As I roared and rose to tower above them, a massive blast of water drilled me in the side, actually making me stagger.  

Mizu was running up from down the street with two other forms with a scarf with neon-red teeth painted on.

“LUNATICS!” I roared, outraged.  Lunatics, Imperium, and Surface Dwellers all working together against me?  Everything I’d ever fought against, all here to kill me, to bring me down.

They all needed to die.  

Mutation: Acid reserves.

Charing forward, Mizu blasted me back with a massive current he was bringing to life.  

“Awe, Hydrant!”

At Mizu’s behest, the Enhancer leapt over to a nearby fire hydrant and kicked it, repeatedly, bending the metal slowly.  I threw a volley of acid to maim Awe and keep him from helping Mizu, but a wall of water swept it away, and a blast of fire washed over me, scorching much of my top layer.  

I threw a mass of growth at Pyre, but Dragonfly spat enzyme on it before it flew far.  As she flew by, Dragonfly retched a massive amount of enzyme down on my shoulder, working to eat away at my joint, anything to slow me down.

One of the Lunatics turned ghostly white and drifted forward, laying a hand on Shock before drifting away; in a strange harmony, they both unleashed an electric volley that tore swaths of mass from my midsection.  

Spectre had seemed nice when I had talked to her at the house before, but seeing her in action reminded me that she was just another villain, someone else who needed to be dealt with.

With a final kick, Awe broke open the fire hydrant and began adding to Mizu’s already massive whirlpool he was maintaining.  With a gesture, a jet of water slammed into my chest, and both Spectre and Shock followed up with a massive amount of electricity that arced over my skin, ripping away a tonne of growth.  

From sixteen tonnes, I had already been cut down to thirteen in a few short moments.  

I fell on my side as another massive liquid battering ram slammed into me, my leg buckling thanks to more digestive enzyme chewing into my growths.  The other Lunatic present, Dysfunction, aided Dragonfly by hitting me with her glittery projectiles, turning growths against one another as my power malfunctioned in that localized area.

Pushing myself up, I roared and dragged my hand through the rubble, throwing bricks and broken glass at the group set to stop me, hoping to buy myself a little space.  

I needed more mass.  They were going to chew through me if this continued.  

Mizu swept away the debris and turned it back on me, blasting me with water polluted by bricks and shrapnel, adding extra punch to his already oppressive power.  Shock and Spectre followed up with another massive surge of electricity that coursed around my whole body, wracking me with pain.

Down to twelve tonnes.  Twenty five percent of my mass whittled down in under a minute.  

Desperate, I swiped my arm, and let most of it come off.  It split into three entities, all with the instruction to devour.  Each weighed five hundred kilograms, and Mizu was clearly bracing himself for an attack of acid; without his initial wave to repel the aberrant growths, there was chaos among the group for a moment as they got dangerously close.  

It bought just enough time for me to run, enough time to seek more food.  

Thundering down the road, I endured a few more blasts from Shock and Spectre as I made distance between us, desperate for a new food supply.  My gaze widened, taking in a panoramic view as I took immense strides, stressing the ground as I ran. I needed to get more towards downtown, away from houses that people had evacuated and more into where people would be hiding in their apartments.  

But as I ran, a new option became immediately apparent; people driving home.  It was only a bit after five in the evening, the perfect time to catch people in traffic.  

Not  far away was a busy thoroughfare where people hadn’t gotten the alert to flee this side of town thanks to a massive Neklim on the loose.  

As soon as I stepped onto the road and into view, people frantically began slamming on their brakes and trying to turn around, to get the hell away; in their panic, people ran into each other and ironically trapped themselves within my reach.  A massive pile up happened right nearby, where the panic from those nearby was strongest.

Even if people knew who I was, seeing a massive Neklim bearing down on the highway was terrifying.  Unfortunately for the dozen cars involved in the accident, they lost their ability to run away.

From the mess, I let my arm split and reach down, snaking out and seizing people from the wreckage.  

Seven people were fished out from the vehicular carnage and promptly broken down into usable mass; the rest were running as fast as possible, leaving their vehicles and possessions behind in a heartbeat.    

Six hundred and twelve kilograms available for consumption.

I fortified my remaining eleven and half tonnes of mass and added another fourteen tonnes on top of it.  Now I had much more time to play with and would be substantially less frantic while fighting. Twenty six tonnes left me towering above the road, nearly twenty feet tall.

And then a massive blast of water collided with me, forcing me back a step as my pursuers finally caught up in a commandeered car.  Mizu’s water supply churned around my legs and blasted back into my center, coating most of me in at least some moisture.

All a setup for Spectre and Shock to hit me with a massive blast of voltaic energy.  

Around me, I felt various pockets of my growths consuming one another as Dysfunction dosed small parts of me with her power to make my Adaptation go haywire, but she couldn’t affect enough surface area to make a huge difference.  The same went for Dragonfly; she was more an annoyance now that I was simply too big for her to really bore into.

Taking a step forward, I found myself snared as tree roots grew rapidly around my legs, fighting with my tendrils to tether me to the ground.  

Kudzu.  Another wretched Imperium goon who refused to stay down.  Parasite should have killed her when he’d had the chance. Like the rest, she didn’t deserve to live for what she’d done to this city.  

Roaring, I slammed an arm down and grabbed a pair of smaller cars, launching them at the antagonistic group, forcing them to scatter and fan out.  In retribution, Mizu blasted his whole supply into my left leg, shoving it back and forcing me to fall onto an arm; tree roots from Kudzu spawned and did their best to ensnare me, but I was too big and she didn’t have enough influence over the area yet.  Tearing free, I threw a trio of growths out with the command to consume.

They didn’t make it to the ground; Pyre blasted them out of the sky.  Behind her, Shock and Spectre were charging voltage up in a hand, both stepping forward to throw a small hand grenade of electricity that erupted and carved chunks out of my chest.  

Enraged, I brought a massive hand down on them.  Awe was quick to move his brother and Spectre simply made herself incorporeal and drifted away, becoming solid again to launch a bolt of lighting into my shoulder and burn away a few dozen kilograms of growth.  

Rage began to overwhelm me as I couldn’t manage to land a hit against these villains.  I was over twice as big as I had ever been; why couldn’t I bring them down?

Did I need more mass?  More mutations? More food?

A few more globes of flame erupted across my outer layer and more lighting removed hunks of flesh, whittling my twenty-five tonnes down to twenty-two.

I still hadn’t landed a hit, and they had distracted me long enough to let most people get away from me on the road.  

Downtown.  That was where I’d be able to get an ample food supply to fight.  

Determined, I pushed forward, taking aim at Pyre; unlike Shock, she didn’t have someone helping to get her around.  

As my massive swipe came close, a figure darted down to snag her and lifted her into the air.  

Dragonfly was quicker than I gave her credit for.  Still, I refused to let her get away and let fly most of the acid supply I had available.  

Most only found the air, but some found Dragonfly’s wings and sent her and Pyre landing haphazardly, slamming down into the mess of wrecked cars that my initial appearance had cause.  I tried to close in, to remove them from the equation completely, but Mizu blasted me backwards and twin bolts of lightning arced across my flesh, cutting another chunk of my mass away.  

Awe bolted to the wreckage and grabbed both of them, leaping away, burning much of a charge from Shock to enhance his speed.  

But, carrying two people took a toll on just how nimble he was.  

One of my arms came apart as I lobbed four 400 kilogram masses at him with a simply goal: kill Awe.  

Shock was quick to obliterate two, and Spectre got one, but Awe had to drop his charges and grapple with the last creation.  While it wasn’t winning a fistfight, all it had to do was making contact to begin doing damage. All its surface area tried to bit into Awe and rip him apart; while his armor helped preserve his troso, his limbs were stripped of flesh as the aberration twisted itself and clung to him more tightly.  

His brother finally summed up enough strength to add another blast of lightning to both help recharge his brother and dispose of my remnant.  

As I moved to step forward, tree roots wove into my leg, anchoring me as Mizu thrust his hand forward and surged all his water into my chest; the anchor and pressure from the force of the water knocked me onto my ass with a resounding clamor as the street literally cracked from the impact.  In earnest, I reached out and grabbed a car, returning fire at Mizu while his water supply wasn’t fueling the whirlpool he kept around himself.

 I didn’t hit him because Mizu dragged himself a few paces away, using his blood to violently throw himself out of harm’s way.  

More roots grew over my legs, Kudzu’s influence getting far stronger the longer they could hold me here.  I tried standing but couldn’t break the growths that were growing at a pace that seemed unnatural for her.  

Either she had been here and preparing for me to make an appearance, or she was desperately Overexposing herself to keep me seated and immobile.  

Diverting my acid supply from my arms to my legs, I secreted it through my skin and let it eat away at the wood before reaching down to rip the shackles away and fight my way back up to my feet again.  

Mizu attempted to keep me down pinned down, but he was forced to throw himself away from a another car being launched his way.  Shock and Spectre rejoined the fray, but Shock was looking fatigued. Still, he added to the electricity that danced across my coat and irreparably damaged another few hundred kilograms of mass.  

From twenty five down to twenty.  

More.  I’d need more if I was going to put them all down.  Close by, there were apartment buildings with plenty of residents who would never leave, all too stubborn or inattentive to know that there was a disaster happening outside.

They would give me the food I needed to get rid of these bastards.

Without Mizu hampering me for a second, I managed to get back to my feet and throw another wave of acid, mostly in an effort to keep him busy.  Kudzu tried to ensnare me, with me upright and moving again, she couldn’t stop my momentum as I turned and started to run.

I felt dozens of kilograms of mass die in my legs as I found myself lurching forward, unsteady.  Widening my gaze, I could just barely see wires that had bit into my flesh, refusing to break despite the strain they were withstanding.  

A ways down there were two trees that had erupted from the street, giving someone a point to anchor this seemingly unbreakable thread.  

Before I could dissolve it, a massive jet of water slammed into my back, immediately followed up by another excruciating hit of lightning.  The force knocked me forward and back into the curel cord, cutting through more of my legs before the trees they were anchored to finally snapped.

I still had to catch myself on my hands, the road breaking around me.  

In front of me was a strangely familiar figure: a kid in a tank top with a scarf and glowing purple.  

He was in my way, impeding my progress, he needed to move aside.  As I went to smack him, I felt like I hit a wall. A hand was raised, and sixty kilograms were ripped away from my arm.  Frustrated, I roared and saw glass shudder with the sheer volume, but he didn’t flinch, instead tapping his ears with a smile.  

Were those…headphone cables coming out of them?  

Still, I tried to smash down again, and the same thing happened.  He gestured lazily and blasted another hundred kilograms away from my arm as I tried to get up; between that and Mizu driving his water supply down against my back, I was stuck on my knees for now.  

Desperate, I moved my acid supply and sprayed him; the acid stopped at a force field but seemed to make his purple aura waver.  

When I swiped and hit him, he went flying and crashed through the wall of a building across the street.  

“Razorwire, wrap him!” I heard shouted by another familiar voice.  Above head, a helicopter swooped in, guns blazing and peppering my hide. Except, there was no pilot.  It was simply running on its own.

It had to be Interface, but why would Interface want to stop me?  And that kid I’d smacked aside had helped me escape Suppression…why was he helping villains like Shock and Awe?  Why didn’t they just let me kill them?

I tried to raise my hand to flick acid at the helicopter but felt the same biting sensation as I had in my legs earlier.  To my side, there was Goliath bulked up, holding a mass of wires that a small guy with jet black hair had somehow attached to my arm.  

I tried to plant my other arm, but Mizu blasted it, knocking it forward to deny my any leverage in my tug-of-war with Goliath.  Around my legs, roots wrapped around me, making it harder to struggle, harder to fight back, harder to get up and keep going.

No.  I wouldn’t be beaten like this.  

Mutation: Adrenaline.

Power surged through my veins, giving me the strength needed to yank Goliath forward and ignore the pain of the wire cutting into my flesh.  As he went flying into the street, I slammed the ground and stood up, ripping through the roots that Kudzu had been building around me. Shooting my arm forward, I seized a car and launched it at the helicopter as it shot a missle my way.  

I just nicked the rotor, but it was enough to send it spinning out of control and away from me.  

The explosion tore a hole into my chest and drove me back a step.  Beside me, there was a little flurry of movement as Awe hopped up onto the side of a building with his brother on his back.  

Shock’s entire arm was glowing blue.  

I raise my arm to shield myself as a massive surge of electricity ripped through the length of my appendage, demolishing the limb and sending burnt chunks of Neklim all over; that was all Shock had to give and he collapsed beside his sibling.

He had shredded three tonnes of mass in an instant, but at the cost of all his strength.  

With what little surge of adrenaline I still had flowing in me, I pulled myself up and charged forward, enduring the standard bolts of electricity from Spectre, knowing that I could recover if I could just get more food.  

It didn’t matter how many people they threw at me, as long as I could keep eating, I could keep fighting.  

As I spotted an apartment building, with some lights still on, I stopped when I saw a lone figure in the middle of the road.  Unlike the rest, he wasn’t in costume, and he wasn’t there to fight.

It was Murphy, looking up at me, plaintive.  

“Nick, stop!  Please!”

Why would Murphy be stopping me?  Couldn’t he see what I was doing?   

“I know what Beleth did to your parents.  I know you’re angry, and you’re hurt! But…this…it has to stop.  Please! I know you’re in there and you can hear me. Please!” My best friend spread his arms and lifted his hands, showing that he meant no threat, “Just, let the stuff go, okay.  We’ll take care of you. We’re a team, right?”

It dawned on me, he was right.  This had gone way too far and I’d let my emotions completely eclipse my sense of logic.    

But, when I willed the growths to disperse, I raised my hand to strike instead.  

I tried to yell for him to run, but my body refused to speak, instead it only roared as my fist came hurtling down, demolishing the road where he was standing.  

I felt relief when I saw Murphy spring away, narrowly avoiding my massive limb, but a more tangible horror washed over me.  

I had entirely lost control. And I was across the street from a fresh food supply.  

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