//Day 0 | Location: Nameless Forest - Clearing
Rin was a gawky girl. Scrawny, even. Flat too. Short.
Her mass offered nothing for gravity to work with, and the impact she made had no physical effect. Her feet struck the back of the wolfbear’s neck and she stood there awkwardly, before successive movements from the beast threw her off.
It was enough to get the job done.
The hammer impacted the beast’s elbow with force enough that the flesh itself rippled. Twisting to the other side, Kogen finally broke free, sliding off and away from the beast’s pin. Its jaws opened still, biting down, but he craned his neck to the side, catching it with his shoulder. Left shoulder, unarmed shoulder. Pinpricks of pain squeezed down, his bloody running hot. It didn’t stop him, though, from driving the claw of the hammer into the monster’s neck.
He saw it, then.
It was impossible to make out before, but in such desperate times, in such dire straits, with all his might leveraged, Kogen could see it. See the monster’s body stiffen
upon contact with the claw. See space itself distort, as if rejecting the interaction of such materials. There was some interference here. Something that stalled him.
Claws reached out, swiping towards him.
And Masato was there to catch it, exposing his bloodied back towards Kogen as he wrestled with the limb, pinned it against his armpit and his chest. Buying time, more than enough time now for the eyepatch-wearing idiot to force through this resistance. The claw bent beneath the pressure. The handle warped from his grip. He struggled as best as he could, before finally finding the purchase he needed. Through fur, through skin, through fat, stainless steel pierced the veins and then ripped downwards, tearing open the monster’s throat.
It struggled still, baptizing the two boys in steaming blood, acrid blood, black blood. They held on tight, joined soon by Rin herself, holding the monster as it raged in its death throes.
Until it stopped.
Until it was over.
The three of them laid atop the beast they had slain. Rin, still dazed from her experience with flight. Kogen, sporting an ugly bruise and a set of fang marks on his shoulder. Masato, his pants and shirt ruined and his body like a scratching post.
It had to be over.
But it wasn’t yet over.
He could feel his guts press up against his shirt. Could feel the stiff fur of the wolfbear poke into those tender, fleshy ropes. Blood ran thick in his mouth, the iron stench coating his world. But Duncan had its back and he clung on nonetheless. An elbow drop that sent the beast into the ground, then long arms wrapping around, trying desperately to squeeze the life out of the monster.
And would you look at that? He was stronger than he thought. Stronger than he felt.
His thoughts were scattering, the red of his vision turning white. Lightheadedness, like that time against that powerhouse school from Saitama, the one where he spent the entire match trying to break free from his mark. His mind was slipping, but his body held on, even as hooked claws dug into his arms.
Even as the wolfbear, possessing superior mass, rolled over, and Duncan felt that oppressive pain crush every part of his body. He too was suffocating. Strong enough to strangle, not strong enough to snap.
And then, he felt an impact.
Felt Asahi’s impact.
The pink-haired youth, so talkative, so charming, had no more words now. The charred stick snapped against the force of the stone, caught between a rock and a hard place. Even now, the monster struggled; it was nigh impossible to aim for an eye when emotions ran so hot. But he still had the stone. The second impact sounded, fractures forming over his weapon’s surface.
More. More. More. Brutal and unforgiving, Asahi raged against everything that he had experienced, everything that was still left to be experienced. Stone turned to dust in his hand, and his hand became a fist that pounded the monster’s skull.
Blood mixed with dust. Sweat with saliva. How long was twenty seconds under a pin? How long was twenty seconds in an exchange?
Finally, Duncan could feel the body above him grow limp.
Finally, Asahi could see the body beneath him grow limp.
Finally, they could rest.
By all accounts, it shouldn’t have worked.
But if there could be one miracle, there could be another, and Ayana was really feeling it this time!
A rancid taste filled her tongue, like biting into an unwashed towel, but she had committed to her move and by God she was going to see it through. Her back arched, her spine protested, her lungs could hardly get any air at all! But a wolfbear’s body wasn’t designed with limbs that could easily reach behind its back either, and with only a yelp of surprise, its head smashed into the floor, through the floor, and then…through the bus itself.
The bus had always been an old thing after all. It should have been decommissioned and replaced a decade ago, in truth. And now, weakened by the blaze, damaged by the impacts of wolfbear and Shun? It didn’t stand a chance and broke in half, Ayana and the wolfbear tumbling through sooty pipes and gears, warped steel and foam.
It was a good thing then, that Shun prioritized getting Yuudai out first. It was impossible to tell at a glance whether or not he was alive, but if nothing else, it looked like his head was still in place and his heart hadn’t been punctured. Humans could die so easily though. They could die just from a bad fall.
Shun threw him anyways and he hit the grassy field, rolling twice before coming face-flat to a stop.
And by the time she turned once more, hurling an iron pipe through the air, the situation was already too chaotic to score a hit. The pipe embedded itself into a pile of burning scrap, inches away from Ayana’s own face, while the wolfbear scrambled up, breaking out and away from the bus. Its eyes, watering from the smoke, swiveled about in six separate directions to ascertain the situation at a glance, before it growled and sprinted away.
Trying to escape.
But would they let this end, just like that?