Core of Hatred

*Inside the Anomaly, things were pitch black. Absolutely dark, with no ambient light, save for Ultia’s star, which she kept out as a result of this*

Chez: Oh man… I wasn’t expecting us to deal with the source of this problem so quickly… Heh….

Miriam: Jeez, it would help if we had more light in here than what we do….

Chez: …I could technically light up the area some more with the fire magic. If we absolutely need it….

Miriam: It’ll help….

Chez: Alright, though I am still new at this….

*Chez launched a small cone of fire directly up, acting as a torch to light up the surrounding area*

Chez: I was… Mainly asking if I should save power for the big fight up ahead….

Miriam: That’d be a good idea as well, but it’ll help if we can at least see… Hopefully that isn’t doing much to your power.

Celeste: If it’s too much to use that power, I could contribute instead.

Chez: Well… I haven’t had enough practice in conserving the mana stored, but I don’t think it should be that big of a deal after going over it in my head….

Miriam: There we go… Now to figure out where the a**hole behind all this is.

Chez: *Nods*

Ultia: Mm… *Keeps walking forward* With how massive this structure is, the person causing all this must be quite powerful. I can only hope the power is completely focused on the outside, giving us an easy time facing him directly.

Celeste: I kinda doubt that, but we can hope….

Chez: We should probably think positive… Maybe they’ll be completely unaware of us?

Miriam: If that’s the case, then no offense to y’all, but we should probably shut up so they don’t notice us.

Chez: *Puts their spare maw over their mouth suddenly*

*The others fell quiet as well, continuing to walk for a bit. It just seemed to be a straight, small, pitch black corridor, and felt deadly silent. Not a peep save for everyone’s own breathing…*

Miriam: *Stays silent as well, charging up some attacks and keeping the charge stored despite her semi-limited visibility*

*Eventually, they all ended up in a rather large area. It was pitch black like the rest of the place, but it was thankfully easy enough to see now, thanks to what seemed like a purple tinted, see-through circular section, looking out upon the vast expanse of Multiverse space. In the middle of it all, was a being cloaked in a shadowy aura. A crimson red cat with black stripes along his fur, and a scar down his left eye. His eyes were closed at the moment, and he was floating slightly off the ground…*

Miriam: …Who in the heck?

Chez: Wh- Shh-! *Snuffs out the flame that was lighting them up in the dark, trying to keep quiet and stay hidden*

*Ultia stands back a bit, staying defensive while Celeste readied her energy ball. The cat opens its eyes, its blood red pupils looking back to stare at its “Guests”*

???: …You needn’t be silent, pests. I could sense your presence the moment you got in, and have been awaiting your arrival.

Miriam: Could’ve been a bit courteous and welcomed us to the party.

???: Would be a waste of energy for a few rogue figures who don’t know their place.

*Chez was slightly panicking, but kept themselves together as they stared at the odd, unintimidating looking cat, who lowered to the ground now, the dark aura shrinking slightly as he turned around completely towards Chez, Miriam, and the others*

Zaanel: …I am known as Zaanel. Don’t bother giving your own names, as I couldn’t care for them. ‘Nor will it matter once you’re all dead.

Ultia: Those words are quite bold for a simple feline hiding deep within a dark shell.

*Zaanel chuckles at this, but gives no response aside from that*

Miriam: …Before I say anything, one question. Why?

Zaanel: …Well, if you’re so curious… It’s revenge, plain and simple. My Creator kin saw me as a threat, too dangerous to keep within the bounds of the Multiverse, due to my rightful actions. They took everything from me, thus, I look to see how they’ll feel when they’ve had everything ripped away from them. Eye for an eye, you could say….

Celeste: *Clenches her fist a bit, shadowy particles seeming to flow from her back ever so slightly* …Those are people you’re hurting down there! They have their own lives, relations, and families. Why spill the blood or break the mind of trillions across the Multiverse just for some petty revenge scheme?!

Miriam: …Aviva’s telling me a quote, and it fits the context. “Lions do not concern themselves with the opinions of sheep.” The powerful care not for the feelings, the emotions, the relations, the connections between those lower than them, and if they do, it’s because they’re an anomaly, something different. Might as well ask another question while I still have the chance, that being what got up your a** and made you so h**lbent on revenge that you bring in people who have nothing to do with the Creators and f**k them over?

Zaanel: So what? You think I ever cared for you pathetic vessels to begin with? No… You’re not people, see. All you are, and all you ever have been is toys. Playthings for the creators to do with as they see fit. I helped to create this world, and all the “Life” it has. In part, it’s all my property, so why should a god such as me spare such feelings as pity or regret, when you never deserved such from a being of my status in the first place?

Miriam: *Mumbling, a bit annoyedly to Aviva in the headset, before turning back to Zaanel* …Right, y’all can feel free to ask him what you will, I’m waiting to grass his a**.

Chez: *Clearly stuttering as they spoke, their eyes pulsing with color as they held themselves back* …M-My big question to you is in your relation with consequence. Do you really believe that all of us don’t matter to you? Just because we’re like ants does not make you truly above our lives. You may not care about us, but what if somebody were not to care about you? If somebody saw you as “plaything”? how would you feel as they stripped you of everything you cared about over some petty reason…?

Zaanel: You ask that as though I have superiors. I don’t. The other Creators may be my equals, and outnumber me as such, but they are not above me, and neither are all of you. Anyone who attempted to treat me as a toy would learn their place quickly, meeting the same fate you all ultimately will. Crushed and discarded, as your existence and feelings hold no value to me.

Chez: *Desperately trying to see reason, their eyes flickering faster* But the point… If… If you were the t-toy…

*Slowly, Chez processed Zaanel’s words, stinging more each time they went through Chez’s head… “Worthless”, “Nothing”…*

Chez: You… You can’t understand either… Can you?

Zaanel: Trying to understand an impossible scenario is completely useless.

Ultia: *Puts a hand to Chez’s shoulder* Chez, calm yourself. His words are infuriatingly ignorant, but charging headfirst towards him is only going to put you in danger.

Chez: *Pauses, slowly starting to pant as they squeez their own paws into fists, clearly upset* I-I’ll… try to hold off… *Looks back up at Zaanel, their eyes turning to a bright, vibrant shade of red* …But it’s hurting everyone… As we speak… I can’t just…. *Eyes change slowly to a dark purple, glowing brighter then the red*

Zaanel: How pathetic. You can’t even hold in your emotions when faced with me. I’ll start by killing you.

*Without warning, Zaanel whipped his tail around, firing out a black energy wave straight at Chez*

Zaanel: I don’t know what you thought you’d accomplish here, but you’ll all die like the worthless playthings you are.

*Chez, without thinking, quickly pulled up their shield to try and block the energy wave. The ignorant and infuriating words Zaanel was saying only pushed Chez further and further over the edge into frustration and anguish*

*The wave split into two, going around the shield, and hitting Chez. It didn’t seem to hurt him, but as soon as he was hit, his vision darkened to pitch black, unable to see anything at the moment…*

*Chez tried to block it from both sides, but it was too late as the wave had already hit them from both sides. Chez was shocked by their complete and total lack of vision at first, feeling uneasy as they’d never been truly blind like that before, even for a moment. They looked around frantically for any sort of faint visual cue around them*

*Chez’s vision was still kept to a minimum due to the attack, with hallucinations starting to take hold easily within the darkness he was looking into. Visions of people he cared about that shouldn’t have been there at the moment just sort of appeared to him. Arleen, Shiyo, Alex… Nothing bad was right then, but they were completely still, with their presence being quite confusing*

Chez: *Slowly stops struggling, looking at the still figures, quietly calling out to them confusedly* A-Alex.. Shiy… How are… G-Get out of here….

*The figures in Chez’s hallucination were completely blank-faced, albeit perfect versions of those he treasured mentally. Soon enough though, they all vanished one by one except for Arleen… Within the tormenting hallucinations, one of Zaanel appeared next to Arleen. Before Chez could properly react, he formed a sort of black mass in his paw and put it over Arleen’s face, with the spare paw holding some mass of black energy that was shaped similarly to a knife. He started using that energy to stab the hallucination of Arleen repeatedly, with his other paw muffling her screams…*

Celeste: *Notices what was happening to Chez, putting a hand to his shoulder* C-Chez? You okay? What’s happening?

*Chez struggled to try and move in the hallucination, to stop what Zaanel was doing to their friend, Arleen… Meanwhile to Celeste, Chez’s eyes had turned blue as they could be heard whimpering to themselves, muttering words Celeste couldn’t quite understand…*

*It felt useless, as if Chez were frozen in place from the nightmarish effects. Eventually, Zaanel made the figure of Arleen fade away into the darkness. With a sick grin, he smiled at Chez… Then proceeded to put his red paw on the Shiyo figure, clenching it around them as a sort of darkness spread around Shiyo, as if he were being corrupted, or lit on fire. Because of that, the hallucinations seemed more real and took more of a toll on Chez as the figure of Shiyo writhed and actually screamed in agony from that, until dropping and fading like the hallucination of Arleen did previously… The hallucination’d go through each of Chez’s close friends, slowly breaking Chez down…*

*In the hallucination, Chez watched as Zaanel brought everyone they cared for, destroying them as if they’d been nothing. Chez still thought this was all very, very real, leaving them completely and utterly speechless in what they witnessed, slowly feeling completely defeated without a single shred of hope remaining to even do anything. They eventually lost focus, being demoralized, and giving in to despair and agony, all from inside their mind…*

Miriam: *Focuses more directly on Zaanel, sending a few uncharged energy shots towards Zaanel’s back*

*Zaanel narrowly avoided that, not wanting to waste much of his precious time on these defiant creatures, firing back a strong ball of black energy from his paws directly at Miriam*

Miriam: *Dodges the black energy, firing back with another of her pre-charged shot and a flurry of smaller shots*

Ultia: *Teams up with Miriam to fight Zaanel, firing a group of stars to go with Miriam’s shots*

*Zaanel manages to avoid Ultia’s stars and Miriam’s shots with relative ease, creating a sort of black string in his paw and sending it towards Ultia*

Zaanel: Can’t all of you just give in? I’ll give you peasants the honor of being able to watch, and even be instruments in my revenge~

Miriam: Dude… *Shoots her final pre-charged energy ball at Zaanel* For lack of a better way to say it, I’ll stop attacking you when you stop acting like a piece of s**t. Now take everything back and stop hurting Chez before the Geneva Convention becomes the Geneva Suggestion.

*Zaanel got hit by that, stumbling back for a moment before throwing a strange black string directly at Miriam like he did with Ultia, hoping it’d hit one of them*

Zaanel: Why would I stop? You people dare to oppose me, so I’ll take absolute enjoyment in your suffering. Especially his, since you brought such a weak link like him.

*Miriam dodged away from the string easily, while Ultia tried avoiding hers, but got hit by it, wincing slightly as she took the hit…*

*Zaanel smiled pretty wide at that, a string forming in each finger of his paw, all attached to Ultia. He didn’t waste any time twisting them around, and forcing her to do the same, making her face towards Celeste as he manipulated Ultia to fire one of her star attacks straight at Celeste*

Zaanel: Fantastic! Now you can truly serve me. Help me kill these disobedient pests…

*Celeste dodged away from Ultia’s attack, Ultia herself yelping out in pain*

Celeste: U-Ultia! Can you fight it?!

Ultia: I-I’m… Trying, but it… It hurts…!

*Zaanel audibly chuckled at that response, forcing Ultia’s body right back at Celeste, with a ball of energy in her hand to smash right into Celeste with*

Zaanel: I’ve already got two down and soon dead? I expected resistance… Can you truly not even hope to compete with me?

*Celeste takes the hit, growling a bit. By this point, the hallucinations had worn off for Chez, leaving them to collapse on the ground, eyes glazed over with a blue glow as he curled up, clearly scarred from what they’d just witnessed. They couldn’t even bring themselves to stand after that… The heat was on now, and things were starting to look pretty grim for the group as Celeste and Miriam just kept struggling with the fight…*


*Meanwhile, the fight against Shiyo was still going on back on the ground, with everyone there also kinda struggling at this point…*

Rose: *Growls in frustration with the ever-coming Eradicators, looking back at Fizz* How’s everything going over there?

Fizzson: We’re wearing him down, but it might be a bit still.

Rose: *Shows clear annoyance at this* It’s “Been a bit” for a while now! How much stamina can that guy possibly have?!

Emma: *Snaps her attention to Rose* Ey, chill with the sass! Just focus on your job for now.

Rose: You chill with your sass! These things keep coming, and I don’t know how we’re expected to keep-

*Rose gets scratched straight in the arm by a Beast, her wincing slightly and backing up as she looked at where she got scratched. It seemed to be bleeding slightly, with her glaring at the Beast that did it*

Rose: Oh you’re gonna f**kin’ get it, buddy.

*Fizz sighed, looking up at the current situation from where he was resting due to his injury and scare previously. Sensei and Jade were chipping away at Shiyo decently, but they didn’t actually seem to hurt him much, let alone tire him out. The clones from Arleen were really starting to dwindle too… Looking at all that, Fizz decided there had to be an equalizer. He got up, running up towards Shiyo on thin, floating screen-like steps, getting a short distance from him and charging something from his blade, tapping the gem in the middle of its hilt for added power*

Fizzson: *Calls out* Jade! Sensei! Out of the way!

*Jade and Sensei both looked back at Fizz, Sensei simply getting out of the way as said, while Jade stalled, her red crystal eye glowing brightly, with her eyes widening*

Jade: FIZZSON, WAIT-

*Before Jade could finish, a massive beam of light fired out from Fizz’s blade, cutting through the air and hitting Shiyo straight in the chest. This knocked him back a ways, and did considerably more damage than any attacks previously. The manned turret on the STRYKER, currently firing at the basic Eradicators, didn’t notice Shiyo getting knocked so far into their line of fire, accidentally shooting him twice. The bullets, given the power they were fired with, tore through his body and fell as shells on the ground, with Shiyo screeching out from the sheer pain of it*

Arleen: *Stops fighting for a sec, staring at what just happened, her heart jumping as her eyes widened out of fear for Shiyo* …O-Oh my god-

*Fizz realized what happened, an almost immediate wave of fear and guilt washing over him. He didn’t have time to stay and register everything that happened there though, as the complex Shiyo got quite enraged by it, starting to charge towards the source of the beam, being Fizz himself*

*Before Shiyo could reach him, Jade reappeared from a swirl of sand in front of Shiyo after seemingly disappearing from the blast, a rush of sand flowing around him like before, only intended to make him slow down instead of actively chip away like before*

*Shiyo was actually acting slower than usual, doing something he wouldn’t have before, trying to avoid Jade and the sand, acting almost… Defensive. The sand followed his evasion though, keeping him away preoccupied as best as possible, all while Fizz was just kinda paralyzed there, his brain wracked by a mix of emotions and not currently registering what was happening around him*

*Emma looked over at what was currently going on, noticing Fizz just staying where he was, then calling out*

Emma: Kraken, help me get to Fizz! Ben, cover me! *Points in Fizz’s direction*

Kraken: *Looks up at where Emma pointed, looking back nonchalantly* K.

Ben: *Glances at Emma* Got it.

*Emma floated closer to Fizz’s location on the ground, nodding back at Kraken, who gave a thumbs up, a large tentacle beginning to rise up from the ground where Emma stood, allowing her to reach Fizz without exerting her mind. Ben, meanwhile, made a shadowy clone of his monstrous form, which ran forward with Emma, jumping at and slashing any Falcons that might have attempted to attack her, disappearing, and reappearing to knock Falcons out of the air, over and over. Emma finally reached Fizz in the air, getting a firm grasp on his shoulders and snapping her fingers*

Emma: Snap to it, Fizz! Didn’t know that thing with Shiyo would’ve happened, ain’t your fault….

Fizzson: *Blinks after a few seconds of this, looking at Emma* Wh… *Looks around, then at Shiyo, still caught up in Jade’s sandstream* Oh s**t-

*Fizz hops on the tentacle, groaning internally from the sliminess grossing him out, but trying to stay on task as he contacted the intercom*

Fizzson: H-Haku, Shiyo looks weak. We should start trying to trap him up.

Hakuro: *Acknowledges this without verbal confirmation, though she doesn’t go in yet* I need some kind of distraction by someone who can get out, or something that isn’t real. I can’t trap Jade in there too.

Fizzson: R-Right, okay. Uh…

*Fizz looks at Emma, Emma giving him a reassuring smile*

Fizzson: *Takes a deep breath* …Luci, Arleen, still got the energy and focus for more double team clones?

Arleen: Tapped out for clones. If I try to make any more I might faint or somethin’…

Lucian: Back off, he’s mine!

*As soon as he said this, Luci made a bunch of his own copies of himself, having them run in circles around Shiyo, each charging with a pink light as a large amount of odd, foggy pink mist surrounded them and Shiyo to disorient him. It worked quite well, with Jade cutting off her sandstream and backing away as soon as she saw he had it handled, and Hakuro already starting to, albeit kinda slowly, form walls of rock, rising up from the ground around Shiyo to trap him*

*Eventually, Shiyo got tired of attacking the clones individually and tried to let out a shockwave from his stomp again. It destroyed some, but others managed to barely jump and avoid it. The walls were already about 7 feet tall by then, and through manipulating them, Luci had a particularly intelligent clone grab around Shiyo’s neck with ribbons, using it to pull and swing to the back of him, firing a charged moonblast right at the tail thing, which really disoriented and hurt him*

*Hakuro was evidently struggling by now, since this wasn’t very easy, but persisted and even sped it up. Soon enough, the walls were about 20 feet tall, being extremely solid and thick around Shiyo, with Luci’s clones disappearing and only a small little rectangular-shaped spot to peek or speak through in the wall as an opening. Hakuro’s eyes were completely closed and focused on doing that, with shaky, breathing heavily and planting her feet firmly on the ground as she strained herself just by keeping him trapped like that…*

Fizzson: Okay… That’s your cue, Kitsunya. Should do this fast, while Haku can still hold him.

Kitsunya: R-Right! *Floats up to the hole in the rock, concentrating a bit to build up a direct emotional connection to Shiyo. A few minutes later, she lets out a sharp, sudden gasp, wincing in pain as she felt all the emotions and torment Shiyo was currently feeling, reeling back shortly after getting the info she needed*

Fizzson: W-Well? What’s the issue with him?

Kitsunya: He’s… Being tormented by the shadows holding him, over all the mean things people have said to him, and tried to do to him. All the people who’ve attempted to hurt him, called him names, treated him like a monster….

*Shiyo could already be heard smashing against the walls from the inside… But not doing so much as a crack of damage. That strain of hers was working to hold it up, but wouldn’t last too long. Haku didn’t open her eyes or anything, but did manage to say something*

Hakuro: Well then FIX it already… Or… S-Something!

Fizzson: R-Right, right. Someone get Arleen up there!

Jade: Got it. *Creates a pillar of sand in front of the speaking hole, another rush of sand whirling around Arleen and whisking her up on top of the sand pillar. It wasn’t too stable, but stable enough to stand on*

Arleen: *Shakes her head a bit, walking up to the speaking hole, taking a deep breath before speaking* Shiyo, listen… Those people who call you names, and have tried to hurt you… They’re wrong for doing that. You’re not some monster like they say or treat you as. Only reason they act like that is cause they refuse to know you. Beyond the size, shape and everything. While they might not know you, I do, and so do all the other people here. If we really all thought you were some monster, we wouldn’t even try to trap you like this. Instead, we’re holding you back so we can help you. So you see that all those nasty things the shadows are talking you down with aren’t true, cause… Well… We care about you.

*Nothing yet, he didn’t even look at Arleen, and kept trying to smash against the barrier. Hakuro didn’t say a word at this point, but keeping it up with Shiyo’s resistance was definitely affecting her*

Arleen: Honestly, I can’t even get why someone would call you a monster myself… You’re different, sure, but I’d never say you look “monstrous”. Just a big ol’ happy ball of fluff most of the time… And you don’t act like a monster, either. You’re one of the nicest, most helpful and innocent people I know. You’d never hurt anyone of your own will, no matter how mean they are to you, so calling you a monster just… Doesn’t make any sense. (Sighs) So instead of listening to all those terrible people who refuse to give you the chance you deserve, please just… Try to pay them no mind, and listen to the people who do know you. The people who can agree that you’re one of the sweetest people they’ve… Probably ever met. Please… Stop letting these silly shadows control you, and let me see my friend again.

*Shiyo stops after this, his body beginning to emit black smoke, it dissipating into the air. Hakuro just let the walls crumble down as unstructured debris, since there wasn’t a ceiling or anything, with Shiyo seeming to just kinda… Fall over, eyes closed as he was on his side…*

*Arleen breathes a slight sigh of relief, the sand column lowering down and setting Arleen on the ground, with her running quickly, but carefully over along the rubble to get closer to and check up on Shiyo*

Fizzson: *Through the intercom* …I-Is he okay?

Arleen: …Kinda? His wounds look healed, but he’s out cold. All that damage we did him must’ve taken a toll…

Fizzson: Mm… *Looks down, but shakes his head, staying focused* Jade, get him to AAaF HQ. There should be room still, despite the people currently sheltering there. Kitsunya, check on him once he’s over there. Heal him up if necessary.

Jade: Very well. *Begins creating a vast whirlwind of sand, which wraps around Shiyo, whisking him away, with Jade disappearing after him*

Kitsunya: *Watches Jade leave, sighing, then looks over at Haku* Are you okay, dear? Do you need anything?

*Haku was on the ground, but obviously still conscious. Very exhausted… Though not so much that she couldn’t be sarcastic, something she partly picked up from Rose*

Hakuro: …A f**kin’ relaxing shower.

Kitsunya: *Chuckles* I think we could all use something like that once this is over and done with. ^^”

Emma: Well we can’t relax yet. Still got Eradicators crawlin’ around the city.

Fizzson: Right. Kitsunya, take Haku with you on your way to AAaF HQ. She can rest there. Everyone else, I think we’re good to shift all our attention back to the smaller threats.

Hakuro: …Or if you could just- …Gimme some energy, miss-godly, I’d like that….

Kitsunya: I, uh… Can only heal damage, I’m afraid. Can’t easily do much about fatigue….

Hakuro: Whateeever… *Gets up slowly, standing on very unsteady legs, it being difficult just from the exhaustion* I’m fine though. I wanna stay.

Kitsunya: A-Are you sure? You seem to be having trouble standing, and you shouldn’t push yourself too far….

Hakuro: If you’re that worried… Get me a f**kin’ energy drink or something. Like h**l I’m gonna leave a show early just because I’m tired… Or just go away when Rose is here.

Kitsunya: Alright. Just… Stay safe.

*Kitsunya leaves through a portal now, with Fizz thinking for a moment, typing something on his keyboard, an energy drink appearing in his hand, which he tosses over to Haku*

Fizzson: You mentioned it, so if it helps….

Hakuro: …Oh, I was joking actually. *Looks at the drink once she caught it, shrugging and drinking a bit of it* …Not much time to keep talking, though. I still want in on this.

Fizzson: Right. There’s still plenty of Eradicators around. Should take ’em out as best we can.

Arleen: …Agreed. *Looks around, jumping out of the rubble and going for the nearest group of Eradicators, everyone else fighting as well, save for Fizz, who gave a signal to Sensei, letting him leave through a portal for the moment, with Fizz looking up at the Anomaly again… Sighing, then getting back into the fray*

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