Angel observed the new comer, casually tilting his head to greet her, her demeanor diminishing the tension around them. All the while he continued to silently observe these Alchemists, each groomed to err on the side of caution and hence it was no surprise most of them did not trust him. He was especially amused with Elsa and Samad, those two seemed mistrusting that bordered on paranoia. And so he simply finished his dessert while the British sounding Asylum did the most British thing, offer tea and biscuits.
“Right, excellent ice-breaker Miss Tea&Cookies,” Angel eventually cut in, his curiosity needed to satiated. ”But I believe none of you answered my question?” Angel merely smiled at them as his voice echoed in their minds, he had rerouted their telepathic channel and reconstructed it to include all of them in it, albeit forcefully, for privacy. Oh and no matter which prison you’re in, the meals are always horrible.” He replied to Elsa before switching his gaze to Zane, the same patronizing smile on his face. And no I did not deliberately send you into danger boy, that was all you. I merely pointed out that there was a strange phenomenon and you proceeded to find it through your own volition. You can’t coerce someone to do something stupid, they have to have the talent for it.
Elsa’s icy cool voice answered Angel. For all the time during training that both Bella and Cici had known the Ice mother, her tone rarely dropped to the degrees of freezing. On the other hand, being her partner, Samad had seen it on very rare occasions. Usually when someone crossed a line or became a threat. He subtly braced himself as the expected warning came out in the telepathic channel.
You really should learn to ask permission before you force your alchemy on others.
A small concern edged from Samad’s link when he noted the incident had evaporated her appetite. Underneath the table, his hand reached for hers and gently gripped with a reassuring squeeze. He knew the cause, but wisely kept it to himself.
Angel's smile hadn't wavered a bit as his veiled gaze settled on Elsa. "I apologize, I merely sought a private audience. You are welcome to accompany me to my prison and discuss all the finer points of Alchemic etiquettes, later."
Samad decided to inject himself into the conversation.
I assume you have a reason for this and the longer you delay, the less we get done. Can we please get to the point? He knew the apology wasn’t going to be enough.
It hadn’t been for her brother when he used his dying breath to utter one. The asylum's eyes narrowed on the man who upset his partner as he continued to try to ease over her internal fury.
A small hum could be heard through the telepathic conversation. However, being less audible than a soft whisper, Bella’s input was easily drowned out by the conversation taking place. Sitting frozen in place, Bella stared at the half eaten cookie in her hand. She could feel her heartbeat rise as a familiar tightness started to grow in her chest.
Bella’s volume slowly started to rise as the tempo of her demand started to quicken in pace.
Out. OUT. GET OUT!
Bella’s alchemic drive activated as her panic grew. The cookie in her hand crumbled as she clenched her hand. As she clenched, the metal utensils that were scattered on the table flew towards the prisoner’s head and chest with the intention of stabbing the man with the tines of the forks and the blades of the knives. As the utensils made their way towards impact, Bella raised up her other hand. A bot the size of a baseball came out of Bella's backpack and using her implant commanded it to fly towards the prisoner.
Angel's eyebrow had risen a fraction from Bella's outburst, her panic flooding the telepathic channel creating an empathic ripple where everyone could feel it rather than just see it. Before the prisoner could disconnect the channel the Asylum before him had launched a salvo of utensils seeking to impale him and from purely her perspective, she had succeeded. Each and every knife and fork and embedded in him and the baseball sized orb had smashed into his face, leaving a bloody mess. However this was only from the Asylum's perspective and eventually, even for her, the facade faded to reveal countless knives having pierced an empty chair. The prisoner on the other hand had remained seated where he was.
"Calm yourself child! The prisoner's voice flooded the telepathic channel, drowning her panic, drowning all and everything before finally allowing the others to be able to hear their own thoughts.
’Calm?’ Bella’s panic paused in growth as confusion washed over as she looked between the uninjured man and the damaged chair. She was certain that she hit the man. She lined up the attack well and even saw the impact. How could this man dodge an attack while wearing the chains and added safety measures inscribed on it? ’I am calm. I am fine. Perfectly fine.’ Bella said shakily through the telepathic channel.
With a few blinks of her eyes she turned on the recording capabilities of her glasses. Something wasn’t right about this man. Was he powerful enough that the chains are not enough to stop him? Panic started to rise again as she thought about the alternative. What if this man was tinkering with her perception again and the chains were fake just like the outcome of her attack. If that is true what all could this man do? How much around her could she trust to be real? She didn’t want a similar outcome to happen like the last time something like this occurred. After gaining so much these past few years she couldn’t let it happen. She could feel her body shake as she stood and glared at the man. ’You on the other hand better quit this mind fuckery. A soft hum started to grow from the woman’s backpack.
Seeing Bella this worked up concerned Zane. He had never seen her act in this way during their time together. Reaching out to his partner, the man grabbed Bella’s hand and tried to calm her down but was quickly shaken off as his partner continued to glare.
"Very well, begone." The prisoners last thoughts echoed in their minds as he banished them all from his telepathic channel.
"So troubled by your past that you barely perceive the threat to your future," the prisoner spoke in a tone similar to quoting out of a book. "I have lost what little interest I had however I will share some wisdom out of goodwill. An alchemic deadzone cannot exist. It is impossible to negate alchemy, I have a few ideas how it could be caused…"
"There you are!" A loud voice echoed across the cafeteria as a tall lean armored man walked towards the table at which the prisoner was seated.
"Rogues that don't know their place should be slain where they stand, you deserve no less for escaping your confines!" The armored man continued to speak as he approached the table, his hand hovering over the hilt of his blade that was strapped next to his waist. "Before I cleave your head off, how did you escape?"
"You are but a child wielding a stick and yet you dare face a dragon?" The prisoner replied and the chained constraints that binded him slowly cracked and chipped. Angel's smile had turned into a strange smirk, one that almost invited violence.
With a shattering of glass and screams of frustration, that violence arrived. Propelled forward by Ying’s mad rush, the Banshees flew through the window and crashed onto the floor of the cafeteria. Skidding across the ground, Maeve came to a stop with a violent thud against an empty table. She groaned out curses in gaelic, rising to her feet.
Kiara was more prepared, twisting in the air as she spoke quickly and softened her landing with alchemy. She landed in front of the table and its inhabitants, stumbling slightly as she did so. “What the hell is with this child.” She huffed, before looking over at the others. “Oh! Hello! You must be the other teachers. Well, temporary teachers. Like Maeve and I. Could we get a hand? The girl seems to have lost her mind and is surprisingly powerful. Her drive is, quite frankly, scary.”
“Alright you little bitch, you wanna play ball? I can play ball!” Maeve grabbed the table behind her and, using the motion of her throw, heaved it at Ying.
"I am going to snap you in two you stupid fuck!" Yin matched obscenities with the Gaelic Asylum as she planted her feet wide apart and smashed the table with her fist causing it to burst into splinters, sharpnels of wood bombarding the cafeteria.
"What in the hell?" Another student screamed as a splinter pierced his shoulder, inadvertently punching the student behind him and so it went as the cafeteria descended into chaos.
Yin on the other hand charged Maeve yet again, closing the distance while her arms blurred, striking the bone witch, chipping away at her defense.
“You can fucking try!”
Meanwhile at the table:
"A child wielding a stick?" The armored Lost Number in front of them gritted his teeth as he glared at the prisoner before him, apparently oblivious to the chaos around him.
"And a daft one too actually." The prisoner continued to mock the man before him, his blood lust had withdrawn and now he was back to his casual and impertinent self. "If you are trying to understand who helped me escape my confines, isn't it obvious?" Even while facing down the Lost Number, the prisoner had remained seated with his legs crossed, only his arm lifting and his thumb pointing back at the Asylums. "I give you my cohorts, especially the one standing on the table and the one fighting that terrifying child, I would call them my favourite minions!"
“Excuse me?” Kiara looked confused, her gaze switching between Angel and the Knight.
"You are all dead!" The Lost Number spoke in a whisper before drawing his blade, the kinetic energy from the motion destroying the table as well as the wall behind it.
“We just got here what are-AHH!” Kiara dove off of the table, as it disintegrated behind her.
"Impressive, that wall didn't stand a chance." The prisoner spoke a second later, his dominating figure standing behind the armored Lost number, his head leaning over the Knights shoulder and casually observing the broken wall before vanishing and leaving the Asylums to deal with the fall out.
"Coward!" The Knight screamed in sheer frustration before turning to face the surviving 'cohorts'.
"Yin you are to execute that woman, stop playing with her!" The Knight commanded before swinging his blade, each swing followed by a destructive shock wave.
“He’s lying! We don’t even know who he is!” Kiara shouted out, desperately dodging as best she could. Each time the wave was getting closer and closer.
"But it was just getting exciting," Yin groaned before stepping away from Maeve. "Bah it can't be helped, guess you're fucked." She smirked as the darkness around her finally took form, sickled tentacles and arachnid legs crawled out of her shadow, each darker than black.
“What are you, a shitty batman rip off? Afraid of spiders and octopuses so you flail around with them?” Maeve mocked, before two daggers of bones extended from her palms and into her grasp. She slashed them against the ground, muttering in Gaelic, and a tall wall of fire shot forward from the slash on the ground.
Yin just laughed as she pivoted and clapped her hands together, the motion slicing the flaming wall in half and dispersing it allowing her Lovecraftian summonings to bombard the Asylum with a flurry of attacks. With a snap of her fingers her twin Chinese broadswords came spinning back to her hands and we're now coated in a sickly dark aura.
"Way of the Lao, death stance!" The girl intoned in a whisper, a silent requiem and in that instance her Alchemic drive was terrifying.
"Stance is a bit wide," Angel spoke from behind her, his foot gently prodding at Yin's heel causing her front foot to slip, resulting in an olympic grade split.
"You fuck….." Yin growled, her face beat red as she quickly recovered, her fury directed at the prisoner who had vanished yet again. "Your friend just cost you your only chance at a clean death!" She growled before charging the Banshee with blackened steel.
Back at the table:
"Traitors and liars!" The Knight roared as his giant claymore sliced in massive arcs, each cleave followed by a shockwave that desimiated anything in it's pathway. Even in his rampage the Lost Number's attacks were precise, almost surgical as they avoided any bystanders and seemed solely focused on the Asylums that were present on the table.
Seeing the attack head towards the duo, Zane hastily pushed Bella aside as the impact of the knight’s arrived. The first wave hit Zane hard as his shield started to activate along with his alchemic drive but due to the shield not being at its full size quick enough he could feel the impact hitting him, leaving gashes on his face and throughout his body as he tumbled back into the wall.
By the second swing his shield was fully expanded and a handful of bots flew towards Zane and expanded to create a temporary shield as the man stood up and muttered an incantation under his breath. He could feel a familiar pain course throughout his body as he used his alchemy to promote rapid growth throughout his body. He could feel his muscles tear and stitch back together as they expanded and his skin felt like it was burning as it strengthened and hardened.
Bella winced slightly as she felt the pain over their link. Typically her partner was careful about blocking the pain from her but given the rush, she expected to feel a fraction of the pain. Seeing the man reach for his battle axe, Bella knew he wouldn’t be ready for a third swing yet. Switching to alchemy, Bella moved her hand in the direction of the broken bots and raised her hands and shaped them to form another shield as the third wave made an impact.
By the end of his transformation he gained six inches of height and weighed a hundred pounds heavier. As the bots crumpled again from the impact Zane charged towards the man and blocked the next swing with his shield. A loud clang was heard as his shield made the impact. He could feel the energy from the claymore reverberate through him as he was pushed back a few feet. His arm felt numb by the impact as Zane held his ground. “Maybe the rouge was right.”
‘Zane…’ Bella said through their link as she tried to stop his comment.
“Maybe you really are a daft child if you think that we would partner with the prisoner.” Zane said as he swung his battle axe towards the knight.
The sigils on the Knight's armor automatically began to glow as the battle axe struck it and all impact was absorbed as if all the energy behind the attack had just vanished. The Lost Number just stared at the Asylum with a baleful gaze, his blade heaved atop his head, clenched in both hands, before slamming it down.
And again the prisoner was there, his palm pushing Zane's back and sending him hurling forward and with the same force pushing himself backwards to avoid the fallout from the kinetic burst. The prisoner's movement was always so minimal, just enough to get away as if he deliberately refused to expend effort.
"Might I suggest working together?" He replied sheepishly before vanishing. Clearly suggesting he was not part of "together". The Knight on the hand had redoubled his efforts to pummel the Asylums, his blade a blur as he cleaved and sliced at his targets.
’Zane, can you and Bella keep the asshole distracted? If we don’t get the students out, they will get in the way and be slaughtered. I also need the room for a powerful sigil trap to encase him. Then we can gang up on the student, take her out, and return to the ass. I just need time to set it up!’ Elsa’s words appeared in Zane’s mind.
’We’ll follow your lead when the time comes’ Zane said, pivoting and moving back to dodge the knight’s attack as he relayed the information to Bella. After receiving a confirmation and seeing Bella work on activating a charm, he responded to the prisoner. “If you actually helped and didn’t depend on others to pick up after the mess you created here, working together would have been a piece of cake.”
Seeing an opening Zane charged towards the man and feinted an attack before jumping back and moving to the side. With the man focused on Zane, Bella would now easily be in his blindspot with the commotion happening in the cafeteria.
“Hey goth chick,” Zane said, calling out to Kiara with the only detail he had with only half an introduction given. “If you and Maeve keep the kiddo busy, Bella will add some more fire power. Reinforcement is on the way but we will need to hold on for a few minutes.”
“Sure, but what are you gonna do about the knight?” Kiara picked herself up off the ground, Shadow Tail writhing around her. She pointedly ignored the ‘Goth chick’ phrase.
“Doesn’t matter, I could use some help!” Maeve called, grunting as she blocked Ying’s strikes. Kiara shrugged, before launching herself on the attack at Ying’s back. Shadows lashed out at her command, attempting to wrap around the girl’s limbs.
"Did you just try to attack me with shadows you stupid bitch?" Yin replied while laughing hysterically as Kiara's shadows were just absorbed into the darkness that swirled around her. The darkness enveloping her completely before exploding outwards in a burst of sickly black spikes and shards.
Kiara merely shrugged, Shadow Tail rising up and blocking the shards that came her way. “It was worth a shot.”
Maeve dodged what she could, cursing a piece of her armor that fell off under the explosion. “Any other bright ideas then, partner?”
"Sister….this needs to stop!" A student that looked exactly like Yin stepped between her assault, his hands glowing blinding white as he struck her projectiles, causing them to lose tangibility and dissipate.
"Ah the mighty Chrono Candidate has dained to come meet the peasantry?" Yin scoffed as she stared down her brother, malice and hatred drilling off her face as she faced her serene and calm brother.
"You must calm yourself, do not shame the family," he replied with an almost patronizingly calm tone.
"Fuck the family, fuck you and fuck them! I have orders to kill, you get in the way you are added to the list!" She growled before slamming her fists to the ground and summoning two clones of herself from her shadow. And then they charged, each clone colliding with Maeve and Kiara with an arsenal of martial prowess while the student herself launched herself at her brother.
Maeve’s blades were up in a moment again, scraping against the shadow clone as she fell back under the assault. “Oh good! Family issues! That’s what this fight needed!”
Kiara darted backwards, dodging the strikes of her own shadow clone. Seeing the other student appear, an idea struck her. She leapt backwards to give herself space, and then clapped her hands together. “Let there be light.” As she spoke, pure light began to shine off of her as she glowed. “And let Darkness fall.” With a gesture, she directed a wall of light directly at the clone in front of her.
Even as Yin's clones vanished from the burst of light summoned by Kiara, she had only redoubled her efforts against her brother. Their alchemic drives were a terrifying thing to behold, each evenly matched and a perfect counter to the other. Yang glowed with a blinding light which clashed with Yin's abysmal darkness, their fists striking each other sending blasts of energy across the cafeteria. The very structure of the building around them was compromised and starting to collapse. Getting close to them had become impossible in itself, let alone stop them.
“After the miserable attempt at a sparring match earlier with the students it will be fun crossing blades with this man until reinforcements come.” Zane said as he grabbed a nearby table and threw it at the knight and as it splintered he grabbed another and chucked it as well.
’Ready when you are. Bella said to Zane through their link as she kept the Knight and Yin in her vision and took a slow deep breath.
"Perhaps if you said please. The prisoner replied telepathically, his tone laced with sarcasm and amusement.
Hearing the prisoner’s voice, Zane immediately stifled his link with Bella to limit her ability to hear the prisoner. After the freak out she had earlier he wanted to make sure to limit what she heard in case it would distract her from the fight. Zane gave a small chuckle as he reached for another table and reached out telepathically into the void in hopes that the man would hear.
’Oh please, great and malicious prisoner. Bestow your blessing in this fight to those you called your minions. I’ll even supply you with my share of the vanilla ice cream or any other dessert you would like for a week to satisfy your sweet tooth. I doubt we would ever work together after today but if we ever do cross paths you can continue to have my share of sweets. The Asylum’s response was facetious in nature but given the prisoner’s choice in lunch he was willing to keep his promise.
The Knight's sword swing was now barely visible, such was his speed. Every obstacle thrown towards him would be sliced to pieces. The man barely even attempted to dodge, just tanked forward annihilating obstacles. In a matter of seconds the Lost Number had begun to run and his body glowed as the kinetic energy slowly built around his armor. This was a juggernaut of unbridled force, but instead of charging into Zane the Knight had altered his course to Bella and behind her were plenty of rioting students. The juggernaut knew Bella would stand her ground to protect the others, but right now he had so much kinetic energy he was a force of nature.
Zane’s lax demeanor vanished as the charging Knight altered his direction towards Bella. Dropping the table in hand, Zane sprinted after the man. In a loud angry voice Zane yelled out “Reckless growth in exchange of a worthy gain.”
A stronger burn compared to the first roared through the muscles in his legs and his arms as he focused his alchemy on targeted parts of his body. As the muscles in his legs grew his speed started to quicken as well. Given the Knight’s headstart he knew he wouldn’t make it in time but Zane charged regardless.
I suppose you did say please. The prisoner replied as he finally appeared in the path of Bella and the charging mad Knight. In his hands a charm which he casually shattered while observing the Lost Number with a lack of urgency.
With that word a strange distortion appeared in front of him and just seconds before the Knight collided with them, a large metal coffin materialized to shield them.
Windows shattered all around them, tables and students were hurled away and the closest wall had been completely obliterated by the sheer force of impact. However Angel's coffin was still standing and behind was the female Asylum and the prisoner.
"You should attack him now," The man replied before taking a seat, in front of them the Knight tried to correct his center of equilibrium, clearly rattled from the crash.
Bella gave a gasp as she saw the Knight charge towards her. Forgoing the original plan, Bella moved her hands to sign out her release for her charm early. As she started to make her second sign the prisoner appeared before her, momentarily halting her progression. Bella watched as the coffin appeared and everything around her turned into shambles as the knight made impact.
Zane! Bella exclaimed loudly through their link as she watched the man tumble back into a pile of broken chairs before hastily scrambling back on his feet to continue his charge.
Zane could feel the muscles in his left calf snap as he tackled the man and repeatedly attacked the man with the edge of his shield as he aimed for any possible source of skin or weakness in his armor to stab the man with the anti-alchemy laced edge. “Now Bells.”
Bella gave a nod and finished the final few signs. There was a flash in front of her and as her vision cleared she saw a large pile of decommissioned bots laying before her. “Spear. Stab. Entangle.” Bella signed before clasping her hands together. The decommissioned bots came together and shaped into twenty long poles that were ten feet in length with a speared edge. Moving her hands apart, the woman aimed the palm of her hand at the Knight and Yin. Eight of the spears flew towards the aggressive girl while the other twelve aimed for the Knight with the intent to pierce any exposed limb. Although her aim was to hit her target’s she was more concerned about getting the spears closer to her targets. After the spears made contact, Bella clenched her fists. The spears reached towards her target and coiled and tightened around any arm, leg or body part within reach to restrict or slow any movement.
Given a breather from the assault, Maeve and Kiara paused to pull themselves together. Maeve stumbled over to Kiara, exhausted. “Should we...should we help them before the building collapses around us?”
Kiara nodded, numbly. With a moment to think, her body was screaming at her about the exhaustion it was feeling. “Yeah.” She drew a deep breath, shaking herself. “Alright. I’ll take the knight, you take the crazy girl. We gotta end this fast.”
Maeve nodded, shaking herself as pieces of bone armor fell off. She took two steps forward towards Ying, arms moving in rapid motions as she muttered in Gaelic. As she pulled her hand down towards the ground, a pillar of bright light came crashing down over Ying.
Kiara, for her part, knelt on the ground and drew a series of sigils on the ground as Zane and Bella launched their attack. As the final sigil was completed, they flashed a dark black and the ground beneath the Knight turned to soft earth as grabbing hands of shadow burst from it and attempted to drag him down, or at least impair his swings.
Both Yin and the Knight screamed in unison as their alchemic drives soared.
A shockwave emerged from the Knight pushing everyone back, all the damage done to him turned into a kinetic push. Now he stood, sheer rage on his face. He took slow steps towards the Asylums while shedding his armor, his blade glowing an ethereal blue. This was the Knight at his strongest where he would forego all defense and focus entirely on offense. Very few had ever pushed him this far and it was a testament to the efforts of these Asylums. Death is all that awaited them.
If the Knight's alchemic drive was scary, Yin's was terrifying. Her eyes were now entirely black and the darkness she now summoned enveloped light itself. Black ichor spread from her shadow and began to pull everything into itself, a bottomless void. Death is all that awaited them.
"No more of this foolishness!" A middle-aged woman with red hair and now stood at the entrance of the Cafeteria. Her eyebrows furrowed with anger which looked misplaced on her kind face.
Her alchemic drive instantly activated and even a novice could tell this was a Chrono Asylum, one of the twelve strongest Alchemists in the world. Such was her dominance over alchemy. She was Terra, number X.
Her hands flung seeds into the cafeteria, each seed instantly sprouting into massive vines that grew to a gargantuan size. These vines spread all over grabbing every single person in the cafeteria, protecting them while also restraining them.
As soon as she was certain, Yin, Yang and the Knight had been properly constrained she observed the damage to the surroundings and noticed Elsa and Cici's efforts at trying to minimize the damage.
"Child this is a dangerous thing you attempt," Terra kindly admonished Elsa who had gone in overdrive, ice spreading from her in order to prevent structural collapse. Almost the entire roof of the cafeteria had been frozen but Terra observed how the power was going out of control. The chill had spread to Elsa and her own alchemy had begun to damage her.
"You did a great job, both of you," she nodded to Elsa and Cici before gently striking Elsa in the middle of her forehead, knocking her out before serious backlash could occur.
In a few minutes the entire cafeteria looked like some exotic jungle. Vines had crawled to every inch of the place, acting as support to prevent the place from collapsing.
Once everyone had been evacuated, Terra was seen patting Elsa on the head before having a strange plant monster drag Yin, Yang and the Knight away.
The prisoner however had already vanished and was back in his cell, in fact reports had said he had never left the place.