April 10th. The "Other Side".
The hand continued taking swipes at Genki, each time getting closer and closer to landing an actual hit, but whether through luck, skill, or divine intervention, somehow Genki kept himself away. Fortunately, this game wouldn't have to continue much longer, as a combination of efforts from the group of Awakened seemed to draw the hand away, and as Mira went towards the well, presumably to go after the source.
And what a source it was! Almost as if the well was erupting with ooze, more and more of the monster began to appear. Well, now that more of it was exposed, they could start hitting the main thing, right? Though as if on cue, more problems began arising. First, Mira seemed to be stuck in the goo, as if trapped in sticky slime, though she only seemed slightly concerned about this. Perhaps she had a way out, or had been in this situation before. Then, there were more hands. Several of them. Just one was hard enough to dodge, how was he going to deal with three or even four more hands.
Well, now what? He could stay near the Awakened, but that just puts them in more danger. Running away might make him safer, if the hands choose to go after just the ones fighting. But if they didn't... he was toast. Just then, a shout from Diago caught his attention, telling him to get behind him. Well, if he was so sure, then the decision on where to go next was practically chosen for him. He dashed off towards Diago, hoping him and his beetle man ghost thing would be able to defend him. If anything, he at least try and offer moral support. He watched as Diago fumbled over his words, trying to get another ray of light to be fired, this time at the black mass near the well. All these lights, and monsters, and running... all of these butterflies and talks of responsibility, and this whole mirror world debacle... it was really starting to take its toll. He could feel the beginnings of a headache come on. And to-- wait... where was Sasaki?
He looked over just in time to see a burst of blue light, and after a brief moment, Sasaki stood, Awakened. She had some sort of crown, and a flowing silver robe, albeit sleevless, and boots that looked like she was getting ready for winter. Was she supposed to be some sort of... ice princess? The colors certainly matched that theme. He then saw her persona. Some sort of silver deer unicorn looking thing. She was riding it. You could do that? Just then he had also noticed the hands it had blown away when she had Awakened. Though, now it was likely she could fight back.
There was a sound behind him as Diago fired off his light ray, and he heard Sasaki follow up with her own attack, as a bolt of lightning rained from the blackness above. Okay, that one definitely
hit Mira. Well, that made four persona users. The only one left was...
The realization hit him like a ton bricks. He was the only one left. He was useless. Defenseless. A liability. His headache only seemed to grow out of frustration as he balled his hands. He looked towards where the hands previously going after Sasaki were going. They were trying to sneak up on him. All of the others were busy and the hands saw the opportunity. He wanted nothing more than to be able to do something. Anything. But all he could do now was cry for help. He usually had no problem relying on friends or family before, so why was he feeling this way now? Was it the absurdity of it all? The pain, slowly turning into anger? Or were these his true feelings all along? Just then, it felt like a sledgehammer hit him on the back of his head.
You. You're pathetic.
Was that... the shadow? Was it taunting him? Genki gripped his head and tried to keep his eyes open as searing pain ran through his head. He'd never hurt so bad. The pain was maddening.
You should be ashamed. Every one of your comrades is out there fighting. But you, you hide behind them like a rat. You should have been the first one on the field, ready to die for your allies. But no, you've chosen the path of cowardice. Your life of luxury has made you weak. It has made you into target practice for the shadows. Your anger is your strength, yet you choose to actively avoid it. You choose every day to be weak, and never to stand with others. What would Zhao have to say?
The searing pain only increased as the speech went on. Zhao. That name only brought bad memories and anger. He way he singled out Genki and made his time at the orphanage hell. He fell to a knee, the impact of the stone ground sending a familiar jolt of pain through him. The voice continued to speak over the pain.
You think he singled you out for no reason? He could see your anger. He could see what you could have been. He made you stronger. Your strength lies in adversity, Genki. Do not run from trouble. Run towards it! From difficulty and adversity, you will find opportunities. Take yours now, and use it to fight back!
From the corner of his vision, a now all too recognizable blue glow appeared. The butterfly. Was this damn thing the source of all his woes? It didn't matter. Genki felt only rage against it. Genki reached out and slammed the butterfly towards the stone floor. But there was no satisfying crunch. No blood. No insect guts. Just a key. Genki let out a frustrated grunt at the resolution.
And so you have taken your first step. Your first opportunity. Let us create our contract, and continue to thrive in the face of adversity.
I am thou, thou art I.
Let your fury be your weapon, and your tenacity your shield.
Rise to the challenge!
Destroy all of those who would oppose you and your allies!
And just like that, the pain was over. But the anger wasn't. His rage still bubbled and swirled like a magma in his chest. So much so that the key in his hand had become a match. The perfect vessel for the fire of his metaphorical magma. He looked to his other hand. Inside he was clutching a card. It depicted an old man in armor atop a throne, wielding a golden scepter. As if instinctually, he struck the match against his pant leg, and began burning the card. The blue fire sat in his hand, yet did not burn him. A single name swirled in his mind. The only person he knew of who could be as indescribably infuriated as he was. And the same person who fought until his death -and even after it- for those who would call him their brother in arms.
Genki clenched his fist around the fire and raised it towards the infinite darkness of the ceiling as he stood up. He looked up shouting: ["Give me your power! Xing Tain!"]
The deep blue flame exploded out of Genki's hand, covering his entire body in its light. As the flames enveloped him, burning brighter and taller, Genki let out a nearly inhuman roar in unison with an actual, inhuman roar, causing the flames to disperse.
Genki now stood, covered in interlocking plates of a glittering dark yellow metal, resembling the scales of a fish. Many were a dark crimson, though it was hard to tell from what. All the way from his neck to his knees the metal scales clanked and jingled. A pair of metal greaves that shone like gold adorned his legs, matching the color of his scalemail-like armor. A deep red cape the color of blood flowed behind him, its edges frayed as if it had seen countless battles. And in the middle of Genki's chest was a circular breastplate, depicting the face of a monstrous creature, its mouth agape in a defiant roar.
And behind Genki stood the source of the inhuman shout: A monster of a man, a head, shoulders, and most of a torso taller than Genki stood Xing Tian. His wide chest still burning in eternal rage. His fiery eyes and sharp teeth leaked blazing flames with every breath, and his helmet shone like a kiln, with fire pouring out of every direction. His mighty axe and shield, nearly the size of Sasaki stood ready for slaughter.
Genki looked towards the hands that were previously attempting to go around for the flank. They were closer now. Close enough to hit. Close enough to hurt. The perfect chance to release his rage. ["I WILL RAIN HELLFIRE UPON YOU!"]
He let out a battle cry as Xing Tain did the same, difference being that Xing Tian's thunderous uproar was enough to send a torrent of black and red flames towards the hands, incinerating most of the fingers off of one of them, and the rest of the same hand shortly after. Genki reached out his hand, subconsciously reaching for something. "Come and get me..."
An axe appeared in his hand, it was hefty, but in all the right ways. It looked just like Xing Tian's. Similarly, a rectangular shield manifested in his left hand, strapped to his arm. The time for running was over. It was time to fight.