The sound of crunching leaves could be heard underfoot as a man in a tattered beige cloak, thrown over a torn, body-hugging shirt as well as a pair of pants that looked as if the belonged to a suit, and some dress shoes that appeared several decades old, was walking through the forest under the dim sunlight, pulling his straw hat down low.
In short, Jonas had a habit of dressing like a bum.
"It should be about here..." He muttered to himself, scratching the stubble on his chin, and looking around the forest. "Then again, that girl never had much of a talent for arriving on time, even when she was young." He stood up against a tree, leaning back and sighing. He wouldn't be waiting too long now, would he?
The person whom approached Jonas was a woman with a strangely sleepy face. She wore what was like a military uniform, and was around 20 years old. Her messy lavender hair, eyes decorated with thick dark circles, and the stuffed bear covered with scars whose face was for some reason peeking out of the pocket of the military uniform, were her special characteristics. The woman's white skin lacked a sun tan of any sort, and she had a refined face. Her snow-white skin was akin to that of a princess.
To be honest, it was never really clear if she ever changed clothing. Either she was lazy or she just didn't give a damn. It could be both with her.
"Ah, top idiot. So you've stopped getting piss-faced and decided to do your job for once?"
"I don't see you in 5,000 years, and this is how you treat me, Giselle?" Jonas asked in a tone of false hurt, discarding his hat so as to reveal his face to the only person alive who knew him well. "You're really going to wound me one of these day with these accusations, I'm always doing my job."
"Bah." Giselle brushed him off ever so casually- but then again, she was always kinda uncouth towards everyone. Generally a pain to be around- but for some reason, people couldn't really do anything without her assistance. It probably had to do with the fact that the other exposition barrel was downright villainous. "I'd rather knock your block off, because you know, people can die from being gazed at. There has to be at least a 0.0000000000000675% chance. Anyway, what do you want?"
"It must be a personal flaw of mine that you wound up this...feisty." Jonas couldn't help but let out an exasperation sigh at Giselle's attitude. He should have known she'd be this way, all things considered, but he had hoped she would have mellowed out somewhat. "You're a smart girl, Giselle, you always have been. I merely called you out here to confirm something; I've been watching you and Jason ever since you left the Nethran Forest. You must know your Teleport Ring's malfunction wasn't of your own doing, correct?" This was an obvious question, but before proceeding, Jonas had to make sure Giselle hadn't made an error in judgement.
"I'm well aware of that, idiot. That alien wannabe did it." Giselle snarked at the man, "That guy reminds me of all of those idiots trying to show that they're 'right'. You need to take shit like economy and others' opinions into consideration when you try stupid shit like changing the world. That's why I honestly don't give a damn." She was originally just going to kill everyone and make a new race, but then she realized that it'd take too much time to do that. Well, the forging a new race part. "Though, I'd still rather that old era then the land of puny weaklings."
Jonas honestly had something to say to Giselle's statement, but he didn't feel like getting into an argument with her, even though both of them had all of the time in the universe. " Let me cut straight to the point; he's returning. His defeat four centuries from now wasn't enough to completely take him out. And now that he's making his return, it seems the first people on his target are you and Tsuruko." He hesitated for a second, but deciding to continue. "And as hard as you'll find this to believe I'm sure, he seems to have a new, passing interest in Jason." So Jonas knew what was happening.
Giselle didn't really seem to react to this. "Ah well. Wondering why he'd target that guy." She honestly didn't really care- but still, she had to help him since she was really his only proper guide. "Guess I gotta bail him out, then?"
Jonas cast her a stern, reproving look. "You don't seem to give that boy enough credit; while he may not be your Tsuruko, he's not as worthless as you seem to find him." He placed his straw hat back over his head, obviously an indication that he was about to leave. "But yes, you should go save Jason, as our dear compatriot is currently about to kill Tsuruko along with Jason and Solele. If you'd rather lose the girl by staying here in this forest..." He tilted his hat, gave Giselle a curt nod, and proceeded to walk away.
"I don't give him credit for obvious reasons." She seemed to sneer a bit here as Jonas walked away- "Besides, the best kind of hero is somebody who doesn't take the credit- it's humble. So in that way, you could say that I'm acknowledging his existence." Immediately after Jonas had left her sights, Giselle slipped a silver ring with an emerald gem upon her finger, making a scanning motion across her belt and opening up a portal in space-time...
"It...can't be..." Jason, still flat on the ground with Solele and Tsuruko, looked up at the Bujin Gaiki in shock and fear. Even looking at the creature showed him the immense darkness and evil sealed inside, and he wanted nothing more than to run, but his entire body had frozen. "It...completely duped us..."
"That thing is probably a LOT smarter than you give it credit for." Tsuruko sighed as she withdrew her gunblade, ready to fight again. "I mean, I know that around every corner here is an enemy, but this is just ridiculous. Back in my day," She put on her best Giselle impression. "We didn't have so many fights! We could at least have several conversations with each other before some mooks came right out of nowhere. Those were the days...four hundred years from now." Timey-wimey, wibbly wobbly, it just didn't make sense. Straightening up, Tsuruko transformed her weapon into gun mode, charging it with magical energy and launching a volley of magical salvos towards Bujin Gaiki.
"Damn that girl talks too much." Solele snapped, watching her charge right in like an idiot, and then looked at Jason. "So what are you doing then?"
"What is there to do?" Jason replied quietly. "That...thing...I can't lay a finger on it. It's going to kill all of us." The fear in his voice was very apparent; whatever was inside that suit terrified Jason, whatever he could feel made him feel powerless.
"This is you then?" Solele replied, disgust dripping from the sentence. "My fiancé has just regressed to a coward after all this time? What happened to all that bravado you used to have?" She bent down, grabbing the neckline of Jason's robes and pulling him closer to her face; he didn't put up any resistance, staring blankly into her angry eyes. "Even if the enemy is stronger than you, that's no reason to act like a sniveling child who can't get anything done without someone holding their hand!" She shoved Jason away, causing him to hit the ground again as she stood up. "If you can't escape an enemy, if death is inevitable, at least go down with some pride to your name."
Jason blinked at her, speechless, and she turned her back at the orange-haired man and cast her eyes on the battle Tsuruko was having with the Bujin Gaiki. "I may not have all the skills you and Tsuruko seem to, but I can safely say I'm not going to die pathetically!" She raised her hand to her side, a magic circle forming around her hand. From this circle, she pulled out her own weapon; the Engine Sword, a a longsword terminating in a long hook, with a shimmering blue, lightning-like blade. As it fully emerged, violent sparks crackled around it, showing it as a blade of true power. What was most unique about this blade, however, was a motorcycle-like gear shift which it was specially customized for.
"If you won't fight for yourself, I'll fight for us." Solele replied, and with no further words, she pushed herself forward, into the fray. Gripping her blade, she swung as soon as the Bujin Gaiki was within her sights and the ground exploded as a large wave of air pressure went flying towards it. Despite her very cute appearance, Solele was a monster when it came to brute strength.
Tsuruko herself, offered an obligatory "Come on, step it up!" to Jason- she was more focused on defeating Bujin Gaiki- as she applied her magical aura to Dragredder's gun mode- charging magical energy into her weapon, the eternano was condensed in the gunbarrel, gripping it with both of her hands, she anchored herself in place before launching an all-consuming wave of pure magical energy from Dragredder- shooting towards the Bujin Gaiki, it seemed to consume the demon in an unholy hellfire...
...However, the Bujin Gaiki survived, swatting it aside- along with deflecting Solele's attack easily, it slammed its claws into the ground, releasing a powerful shockwave towards the two and Jason in retaliation.
"Not enough!" Solele immediately flung herself into the air, making use of her speed and reflexes, flipping over the extending shockwave that seemed to engulf Jason, who made no move to defend himself, still seemingly frozen by the Bujin's presence. The wave dissipated before reaching her, and the girl began a descent towards the Bujin itself. Solele began to pull on the gear shift itself, and the sword made a loud, spluttering noise, much like an engine warming up. "Jet Blade!" She pointed her sword towards the Bujin Gaiki, and with a large BOOM, release a large blade from the Engine Sword that shot towards the Bujin Gaiki at breakneck speeds.
The Bujin Gaiki effortlessly evaded- it seemed to vanish in the timespan of an instant, reappearing right behind, its claws bared which became infused with eterano, causing them to shine brilliantly as it swept down at Solele.
"Get back!" Tsuruko shouted at her- she translocated right in front of Solele, raising Dragredder as to defend her from its attack- metal pressing against metal as she began to push it back.
Solele was unsure whether to thank Tsuruko or snap at her; she didn't much fancy being saved by this woman. However, now wasn't the time to be picky; Tsuruko had the creature distracted. If she could get in a hit now...yes. She breathed in, and her eyes flashed bright white, as she pulled on the power of the Source of Magic, amplifying her own abilities.
In a flash, Solele was standing at the side of the Bujin Gaiki, which was still locked in a blade struggle with Tsuruko, her Engine Blade revving up again, releasing crackling electrical shocks which shattered the ground. "Electric!" She called out, swinging her blade towards the Bujin at point blank range; she felt the blade hit the armor as she released a massive blast of electrical energy in a large wave.
As the Bujin Gaiki shrugged it off like it was nigh-invulnerable, There was something ELSE about it. Something even more unnatural than it looked was seeping forth from it- a foul aura. All of a sudden, it seemed to dissipate into elementary particles, teleporting once more, behind Tsuruko, ready to strike...
A pure white figure blasted past Solele and Jason with intensity. The aura being exuded by the figure was filled with strong hostility.
"It would be better if you died."
While they only appeared for a moment, the figure disappeared once more from sight.
Instantly, that Bujin Gaiki was cut into pieces- defeated in a single strike.
Eyes wide open, the Bujin Gaiki's head rolled onto the ground- this figure slashed Bujin Gaiki with godspeed.
The white figure finished Bujin Gaiki off by impaling the beast on their sword, getting rid of the blood right away by swinging their blade in the air. The blood lost formed a circular mark on the ground.
"—Why don't you continue crying in hell?"
"Y-you!" Solele spluttered in complete surprise, looking at Giselle in shock. "The white-haired one from before!"
"G-Giselle..." Jason looked at her with utter shock; she'd destroyed the Bujin Gaiki entirely. Even the dark aura he felt from it; the very thing that terrified him, was gone. Exactly what was this woman?
"What the hell happened to you now, orange range?" Giselle didn't even bother to look at him- of course, instead, she deactivated her transformation, as the white "armour" vanished into her Driver, helping Tsuruko up immediately; in fact, she seemed to actually forget that Jason and Solele existed. "Standing there like somebody drowned your goldfish." Giselle immediately turned to Tsuruko, asking her, "Why the hell didn't you use the New Generation Armour? You could have dealt with that stupid thing immediately."
Tsuruko, at the mere mention of this new generation armour, seemed to cringe. "Because it looks downright stupid."
"Just because Gary designed it doesn't mean it's not powerful." Giselle retorted.
"I...I don't know..." Jason muttered. He couldn't excuse his actions, if he was perfectly honest. Why had he frozen up? Was his newly acquired empathy just a liability? Tsuruko and Solele couldn't feel the evil emanating from that creature; they went in without any fear. He'd seen a brief flash of what it was — a being more terrifying than Hell itself. But he had fought monsters before. When Blake was the demon Gehaburn, he'd fought and sealed her. How had this been different?
"Just what are you?" Solele asked, her sword disappearing as she walked over to Giselle, staring into the woman's tired face. "Nothing any of us did touched that thing, and you arrive like that man in the blue tights and red underwear and destroy it. You're not normal."
"No shit, Shroom Huffer." Giselle snarked back at her. "Can't you magical noobland elves tell what I am? I'm a LOT stronger than anyone else, that's what I am." She continued, "Look, orange range, If you're scared, go the fuck home. Nobody'd miss you. In fact, if you're so scared, go kill yourself. It'd do us all a big favour."
"Hey, what the hell are yo-!?" Solele snarled at Giselle, but her sentence fell short when she saw Jason slowly moving to his feet.
"I get it." He said quietly, dusting himself off as he looked over at Giselle. What Giselle said struck a nerve with him, however, he wasn't quite as childish as to whine about it. "My cowardice was indeed despicable. I cannot describe quite what I saw, and while I cannot condone my actions, I won't go as far as to completely condemn myself. I've been a stranger to emotions for eleven years, and prior to this, I've certainly never felt "fear", Giselle. It overwhelmed me." He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. "I know you don't think much of me, but to be honest, I couldn't care less." He took a step forward, eye-level with the woman now. "I'm not such a coward that I would go die simply because I was overwhelmed by my own pitiful emotions. I will not be ruled by my own emotions again."
"Good, good." Giselle did give him a nod of approval- at best, it was the most she would give him in terms of "It's better then just sitting in a ditch and bitching about how scared you are, orange range. Now, let's get going."
"...Ehhh, shouldn't we solve the problems here first?" Tsuruko raised an all-too-valid question.
"Probably. Besides, I do want to smash a certain bastard's face in."
"What do you mean?" Solele chirped; confused. "We just saw you destroy that thing with ease. Shouldn't the problem be over?" She was getting irritated; she didn't sign on for all this unnecessary activity.
"There's more Bujin out there, supposedly." Giselle began to twirl a lock of her lavender hair- as she walked off. While she was pleased that "orange range" had regained his senses, she still didn't like him. Then again, when did Giselle really like anyone? "I'm giving you a choice, orange range. Do you want to find out what the hell this place exactly is, or do you want to get out of here?"
"We're already here, and these creatures, the Bujin, as you call them, have gone out of their way to attack us." To be more accurately, Tsuruko, Jason and Solele just seemed caught in the crossfire. "Nothing about this place seems natural anymore; its gotten my attention. I suppose I'm with you for the long haul, Giselle."
Solele began to grind her teeth; to be honest, she wanted to get out of her as quickly as possible, but even if she asked to leave, she wouldn't have anywhere to go, as she'd left to the Nethran Forest for Jason. "You really do attract trouble..." She sighed, now biting her thumbnail.
"You get used to it." Giselle really felt like kicking Solele's teeth in- and she didn't know why. Maybe it was because her face was easily kickable. "Anyway, let's just go, then I can get away from you all for at least fourty-five minutes."
"Right here, mum." Tsuruko seemed to growl like a cat at her mother. "Yeah, yeah." Giselle brushed her daughter off ever-so-casually. "You have no idea how much I get that response. Anyway, we've got a few Bujin to smash into paste. Then we can get out of this wretched hellhole."