(Hey everyone. I just wanna say, sorry for not doing much of… Anything during the challenge. Sometimes things work out exactly how you expect and plan for them to, and sometimes you get a PS4 out of basically nowhere as an early Christmas present from your relatives. Not having an extra editor handy certainly didn’t help things, but that’s gonna be changing now. Luci’s got a brand new personal laptop, meaning he’s good to help wherever I need him to on AAaF posts, meaning part of this one, and the entirety of the next one at least are gonna be edited by him. Hopefully with his help, we can maybe get AAaF done by its next anniversary? Not making a challenge to do it, but I think that’d be nice. Regardless, enjoy the post y’all. -Editor Fizz)
*Arleen had taken Chez back to her and Lucian’s house, where they were hiding out for the time being*
Arleen: Alright, should be safe for a little bit. Just need to wait for the chaos with Eradicators to start….
Chez: Yeah… *Chez slowly looks around at the place while walking in after Arleen*
*The house was rather simplistic in style, with wooden walls and floors. The room they’d arrived in was the living room, with a large, dark blue couch in front of a medium-sized coffee table. At the opposite end from the couch was a widescreen TV with a few game consoles stationed around it. There were a couple bookshelves against other walls, filled with all different sorts of books arranged in alphabetical order by series. Pretty cozy-seeming overall…*
Chez: Huh, this place actually seems very nice… *Quickly walks over to the books, pulling one out randomly*
*Chez pulled out a fantasy book of some kind. It had a very determined-looking women walking along a dirt path through the forest. She had light brown armor on, had long, golden yellow hair, and had a metallic purple greatsword sheathed on her back. The title was “Myrtle’s Journey: Quest for the Evertree”, and it was grouped along with several other books from the same series on the bookshelf…*
Chez: I haven’t seen any covers with humans on it like this… *Slowly walks over to the couch, thankfully seeming to be calmer compared to how he acted in the meeting at AAaF HQ* Do you uhm… Know anything about this? *Turns their head to Arleen*
Arleen: Oh? That’s Myrtle, the protagonist of the Myrtle’s Journey series. It’s a buncha fantasy books that focus on her travels through the land of Evalia, frequently having to rescue it from dark, dangerous threats. Pretty good series of books. Well written, fun to read and all that.
Chez: Oh, which fantasy is it defining? The adventure with magic, or the fact it’s unachievable in reality? I’ve never gotten to read either of those types before….
Arleen: Mainly adventures with magic. It’s not achievable in this universe, since there aren’t as many fantastical creatures as those books use, but it could definitely happen in other universes where those sorts of things exist.
Chez: Ooh, so it’s both. I see now. ^^”
Arleen: *Not… Entirely what Arleen meant, but that seemed like nitpicking to her, so she goes with it* Yeah, right.
Chez: Thank you for clearing that up, heh….
Arleen: No problem. *Sits on the couch next to Chez, sighing a bit and looking down*
Chez: *Slowly puts the book down on the table, turning back to look at Arleen* …Thanks for letting me come with you, since no one else did….
Arleen: No problem, Chez. I was happy to support ya… Even if we don’t talk or hang out that much. ^^”
Chez: Aaw, heh… That’s real nice of you. *Pauses* …Though I wish I could talk with everyone more than I do.
Arleen: Well, I’d be cool with hanging out with ya more. Once we make it through this and all….
Chez: Oh, right. We’ll deal with all of this… But yeah, thank you for the offer, I’d be glad to hang out more.
Arleen: *Chuckles* Looking forward to it… *Scoots closer, giving Chez a hug*
Chez: Same he- *Caught off guard by the hug… Then slowly hugging back* Heh… Same here.
Arleen: *Holds the hug for a few minutes, then breaks away, getting a sort of notification from her photo. She checks it, getting more of a serious expression* …They’re arriving at our universe now. Shouldn’t be much longer ’till they start appearing around Tumbleten.
Chez: *Slowly pulls away* Oh, they’re already here? that was faster than I thought they’d travel-
Arleen: Yeah, this thing’s spreading through universes fast….
Chez: Jeez… I really want to try and help stop it… *Begins tapping their leg rapidly against the floor* J-Just thinking about it… *Trails off, looking over to the side*
Arleen: *Puts a comforting hand on his shoulder* Ey, we’ll put a stop to it, alright? Don’t sweat it.
Chez: A-Alright… I just hope we stop it sooner than later… *Slowly putting a paw in Arleen’s hand* Sorry, I’m just real nervous about it still….
Arleen: It’s fine, I understand. I’m nervous too, honestly… But we just gotta have faith. We’ll do everything we can, and we’ll take care of this, one way or another.
Chez: Yeah… Yeah, you’re right… We just have to try our best, and all that. ^^”
Arleen: Exactly. I’ll be right by your side to comfort and get you through all of this, no worries. :3
Chez: Aw… Thank you… *Hugs Arleen again suddenly, still seeming nervous…*
Arleen: *Chuckles, hugging Chez right back… Then seeming to glow for a moment, taking on a more floofy anthro form, to hopefully comfort him a bit more*
Chez: Oh..? *Quickly notices* You’re able to change forms? *Still hugging while looking at Arleen curiously*
Arleen: Yeah. I’m a Zoroark. The evolved form of a Zorua, which is what Luci is. They can make illusions and turn into all kinds of things. I… Don’t normally use it outside of combat. ^^”
Chez: Wait what… You… Wha- You’re not human? And Luci isn’t… *Shows very visible confusion*
Arleen: It’s… Been mentioned on AAaF before. Showed confusion about it then too. :T
Chez: Um… You never mentioned you could change forms though… Or that you and Luci were some… Morphing species or something-
Arleen: Ooohh, alright. Must’ve been misremembering a bit, then. ^^”
Chez: It’s fine, heh… *Seems a lot less worried now due to the confusion distracting him*
Arleen: *Hugs Chez a bit tighter, nuzzling him and purring a bit*
Chez: A-Awh… *Happily hugs Arleen tighter as well, nuzzling back and purring a bit*
*A few moments later and some banging can be heard against the front door. Arleen immediately looks up, alertedly*
Arleen: That must be them….
Chez: *Ears perk up* Oh? Who is it?
Arleen: *Gives Chez a questioning look* …The Eradicators.
Chez: Wha-? Why would they knock the door instead of bursting down the front wall or something?
Arleen: That’s banging, not just-
*A few moments later, and the door bursts down, Eradicator Beasts and Alphas beginning to swarm in*
Chez: W-What the- *Quickly stands up from the couch*
Arleen: *Jumps up, changing back into her human form and quickly grabbing her Katana. Some Eradicator Beasts dashed forward, beginning to slash at Arleen and Chez*
Chez: *Quickly summons his shield to block the attack going at him*
Arleen: *Dodges away from the attack sent at her, running then slashing her katana forward, creating some purple shockwaves that cut straight through the beasts, causing them all to reel back a bit*
*As they’re falling back a bit, Chez seemed to hold their paw up a bit, several crystal shards appearing behind them, then shooting towards the back of their heads. The Beasts get knocked down, disappearing in a puff of smoke. A pack of Alphas then charge straight at Chez in their place, with Arleen picking off a couple from the group with shockwaves*
Chez: *Is a bit surprised by the sudden Alphas, him spraying out a small cone of fire at the ones in front of him*
*The Alphas were knocked back a bit by this, Arleen finishing them off with direct slashes from her katana as she dashed past them. She then turned to Chez*
Arleen: You can use magic?
Chez: H-Heh… Well… It’s the basic teaching of a few schools… Nothing too fancy or anything, just one spell for each. What was that purple stuff coming from your blade, though?
Arleen: Oh, that’s Night Daze. A sort of attacking move exclusively learned by Zoruas and Zoroarks. Makes a damaging purple shockwave, either in a ring around me, or as a sort of slash. I swing my blade to make it look like it comes from there while in my human form.
Chez: Oh… Well I think it looks cool either way. *Slowly looks down at the busted door* You think we should head out and find the source of… That?
Arleen: Well, they’re probably gonna-
*Before she can finish talking, Arleen’s feet get trapped up by black vines and she’s pelted by energy balls from distant mages, with her just taking the hits, groaning in an annoyed manner*
Arleen: …Keep coming.
Chez: What the- *Quickly looks over at where the energy balls are coming from*
*Eradicator Mages were just outside the door, with Eradicator Blooms behind them. The Mages continued firing at Arleen, who deflected them with her katana. Her phone sounded like it was ringing, but she couldn’t much break to answer it at the moment, as the Mages weren’t letting up, and the roots from the Blooms prevented her from dodging…*
Chez: *Notices the blasts coming in, blocking them with his shield until Arleen could cut herself out*
Arleen: *Crouches down, cutting her legs free with her katana, then seeming to shift form, disappearing into the ground as a shadow, which darted past Chez, her leaping out of the ground and transforming into an Arcanine, emitting a massive Fire Blast that made the Eradicators disappear. She then looks back at Chez* Okay, staying inside where the Eradicators have an easy path in and nowhere for us to run probably isn’t the best idea.
Chez: *Takes a moment to process what had just happened* Whew… That was something… Anyways, yeah, that’s what I was saying just before more came in with another attack-
Arleen: Right… *Looks around, seeing several different Eradicators, though they didn’t seem to notice her or Chez just yet* Sheesh… Forest is already crawling with the things….
Chez: *Heads outside after you to try and help, then realizing none of them had noticed the two of them* Oh… Oh jeez, I thought we were going to head out and find them, not have them just appear like this-
Arleen: I thought they’d be widespread, but I wasn’t sure how widespread….
*Arleen’s phone begins ringing again, catching the attention of two Alpha packs, which quickly begin to dash toward her. Arleen groans, turning back to her human form and firing out some Night Dazes, picking away parts of the pack*
Chez: Widespread? *Quickly noticing the Alphas, putting their shield away then chucking two orbs of shadow at them*
*Some of the Alphas were hit by the dark orbs, falling back for a moment as the rest were attacked with further Night Dazes from Arleen. They didn’t seem to die though, as a sort of small-ish Eradicator Fairy was flying around, engulfed in a pale light and healing the Alphas repeatedly*
Chez: *Quickly notices the fairy whizzing about, summoning his shield again as he surround it with thin, spiked crystals, all stabbing towards it at the same time. Probably a bit overkill, as it left him panting…*
*The fairy fell easily, Arleen running in front of the Alphas directly and belting out fire breath of sorts, taking out all the Alphas simultaneously*
Chez: Heh… Nicee… *Still panting in place* I wonder… How I’m tired… Hah….
Arleen: Beats me… *Finally picks up her phone, it ringing for a third time when she answers* Sorry I took so long to pick up! Chez and I have had our hands a bit full with Eradicators here. What’s up, Luci? *Eyes widen* Does he have hollow white eyes and kind of a hard to see, jagged mouth? *Stares for a moment, silently before giving another response* …Crap. Did you catch what was happening before Fizz changed and all?? *Shouting from the other end, then silence* …Luci? L-Luci?!
*Arleen stands there, phone in hand, hoping that the phone would start ringing again, that she’d hear a voice from the other end, something… But no luck, panic beginning to set in on her face that she struggles to contain*
Chez: H-Hey, what happened? I-Is Luci okay?
Arleen: U-Um, maybe? Probably? I-I don’t know, the phone cut out! Fizz got… C-Corrupted….
Chez: W-Wait… Corrupted? Already?! How….
Arleen: I-I don’t know that either. Luci mentioned some weird tentacle thing, but that was the last thing I… H-Heard from him… *Noticeably trembling, really trying to keep her cool, but not doing a good job*
Chez: O-Oh jeez… Not Fizz… I… I really should have been there with them… *Puts his paws over his head*
Arleen: H-Hey, I-I know it’s scary, but whatever happened wasn’t your fault. You shouldn’t be beating yourself up about it….
Chez: *Stutters over their words* B-But… They’re… It just happened so fast… Again… I can’t… They couldn’t have….
Arleen: *Takes a deep breath, finally pulling herself together, then putting a firm hand on both of Chez’s elbows* …Chez, look at me.
Chez: *Is visibly shaking, but looks at Arleen*
Arleen: You shouldn’t be blaming yourself for any of this. We couldn’t have known anyone’d get corrupted that fast. It’s not your fault, and you shouldn’t act like it is. You… We… Might not’ve been able to help Fizz, but if we stay here feeling sorry for ourselves, it’ll just make it harder to help in the ways we actually can. So just… Pull yourself together as best you can for now, and focus on helping however you can right now. Okay…?
Chez: *Shaking a bit as they try to calm themselves down, slowly trying to pull himself out of Arleen’s grip… Then pulling right out of her grasp and wrapping her in a hug* T-Thank you for the kind words… I just… It’s all too familiar to… A bad memory… I-I’m sure you’re right, but I can’t help but worry about them until I know they’re safe again… You know?
Arleen: *Is caught off guard, but chuckles a bit sadly, hugging Chez back* I know, Chez. I’m worried, too, but… The best we can do in this situation is keep ourselves together, and help how we can. Try not to give them reason to worry more about us then they already do… Make sense?
Chez: A-Alright… I think I get ya… Though… It’s not like they can see me like this right now anyways… H-Heh. ^^” *Slowly forces himself to beak away from Arleen, his eyes changing from a blue and pink swirl back to their regular white*
Arleen: *Manages a slight smile, grabbing her Katana from its sheath* Right… C’mon. Let’s take out as many of these things as we can manage.
Chez: Oh- Right, of course. I just… Wasn’t expecting a fight so soon from us coming in, so just… Give me a moment? ^^” *Opens a rift next to the foot of his bed at his place, quickly taking off his hoodie, revealing the odd tablet attached to them, setting it onto the bed before closing the rift* Alright, done. *Pulls out his shield*
Arleen: *Nods* Let’s go. *Begins dashing toward the Eradicators, ready to take out as many as she could take on*
Chez: Ooh heh. Alright then. *Dashes a bit behind her, happy to help out*