With his gun raised, Alexus pointed towards where he last saw the creature run past. Crystal stood behind him with her back against him. Both of them watched for any sudden movements. They both knew whatever was following them since the first time they encountered it.
At this rate, they both knew that they had to deal with it now or risk the chance of it suddenly catching them completely off guard. That was something that neither one of them wanted.
Searching left-to-right, he looked for any movements, but the harsh street lights that flickered and buzzed annoyingly made it hard to adjust in the dark. This was the one time he wished he had night vision goggles, but Alexus didn’t have one, so the best thing he could do was stare into the darkness as best as he could.
The shadow rushed past them again, causing him to snap towards the direction, but it was too late to fire. He didn’t like how whatever it was playing with them. Both Crystal and Alexus were on edge, waiting for the possible creature or demon to pop out from the shadows. As they waited, he saw something catch the corner of his eyes.
A full-grown white cat came out from the dark shadows, strutting in as if nothing was wrong. “Meow?”
Alexus stared at it for a moment, confused. Still, he didn’t drop his gun and kept pointing at it. There was a chance that this cat could be a demon cat, but the white cat just sat there harmlessly.
“Meow?” It tilted its head to the side, giving him an adorable but familiar look. Something about the cat was familiar. He didn’t know where, but…..then it hit him.
“Daisy?” Alexus spoke out loud, catching Crystal attention.
“Daisy?” Crystal repeated his word like a parrot. “Wait, you serious?” She glanced towards the white cat, not sure if she should put down the gun or not.
“Daisy, is that you?” Alexus called out again. This time the white cat meows as if it was answering his words and starts to trot over towards him in an upbeat motion. If cats can even show emotions, she was doing her best by slightly twitching her tail as she made her way over.
Crystal had her gun pointed toward her the whole time. Even Alexus was confused about how Daisy was alive all this time. Alexus just had so many questions in his mind that it made his head hurt.
Daisy wasn’t even worried about the gun pointed at her; she came up to Alexus’s legs, brushing them with her fur as she purred in happiness. Alexus’ mouth was half-opened, unable to speak for a moment. He quickly put away his gun and bent over to reach her. He picked her up in his arms with one scoop and cradled her.
A soft but pleasant purr reverberated on Daisy’s throat as a soft smile spread across his lips. He was glad that Daisy wasn’t just a dream but real. But nevertheless, he felt guilty that he had forgotten about her, making him want to hit himself for being so stupid.
“You’re kidding me. It’s Daisy.” Crystal’s voice raised an octave, pleased with their new companion that had joined them. To see life still thriving in this desolate city made them wonder if they were other animals out there that still took haven in this city.
“This furball made it out alive.” A pleasant smile crept up her face; she reached over, petting Daisy’s head.
Daisy purred even harder, telling them that she was happy to see either one. Alexus knew Daisy liked Crystal since he would always find her in Crystal’s workshop being fed little treats here and there. Sometimes he worried that Daisy would get fat from the extensive treats that she seemed to get from everyone. But, it wasn’t just Crystal; he had seen Simon, Jones, Timothy, and even Marcus feed her when he wasn’t looking.
“It’s good to see you, Daisy.” Crystal gave her one last pat; Daisy answered with a meow followed by a light lick of her finger.
Alexus wondered what she ate to be alive until now; from its looks, there didn’t seem to be any source of food anywhere. She was quite plump with a bit of weight to her.
Daisy finally stopped and stared at Alexus, and he reached over to pet her as well; she bit into his finger.
“Shit!” Alexus snapped, pulling back his hand. “Damn it?! Daisy, what was that for?!” Getting bitten wasn’t a pleasant feeling, mainly because it was something that she did often.
Shaking his fingers, he blew on it and noticed blood seeping through the Dragon Scale Armor. Once again, shocked to see her able to break through the suit effortlessly. Not only that, this suit was an upgrade from the last one, meaning it was twenty times much stronger, making him wonder what Daisy’s teeth were even made out of. Adamantine? Possibly?
“You alright?” Crystal amusedly asked them, then when she saw his finger bleeding, her eyes became wide. “How? Is that even possible?!” She grabbed his finger and yanked in disbelief.
Then she looked up at Alexus, stuttering. He could tell it was hard for her to form words because of her shock, and he understood her perfectly. She then twirled her head towards Daisy, trying to figure out how she could even do it.
“It seems your Dragon Scale Armor isn’t strong enough to resist cat bites.” Alexus half-heartedly chuckled. Knowing that Crystal would have a headache from what she had learned today possibly even annoyed her that her suit was easily penetrated by a cat’s teeth.
“That’s not possible. It’s animal proof.” She replied with a serious expression.
“Apparently not…” Alexus shook his head at her. “Maybe it has to do with contracting with certain animals?”
“No.” Crystal furrowed. “Even Kyle’s contracted animal can’t bite through the Dragon Scale. So your cat must be something else entirely.”
Alexus stared at Daisy, washing her face with her paw as if nothing was wrong. Of course, they knew that Daisy was a bit different, but what she had done twice against a Dragon Scale Armor made him wonder how strong she was. He met her when she was a kitten and now a full-grown cat; her power could’ve doubled. It was strange. It made him doubt if Daisy was even a cat to begin with.
Daisy jumped off Alexus’s arm and trotted forward. She stopped and looked over her shoulders, telling him to follow her.
Both Crystal and Alexus glanced at each other; she shrugged. “I don’t understand cat language, but I assume she wants us to follow.”
“I think so too.”
They followed Daisy, who slinked her tail side-to-side in a slight flicking motion. She stopped and glanced over her shoulder whenever they got further away from her. Then she would go back into a trot, leading them somewhere that neither of us knew where.
They were getting closer to the John Hancock building. He noticed that the buildings didn’t look as bad as Seventh Sanctum. They looked somewhat intact, without any real damage that covered the structures throughout the rest of the city.
“Where do you think she’s taking us?” Crystal asked, power walking beside him.
“I’m not sure. It could be a haven? Or maybe bringing us to the others?” Honestly, Daisy probably knew the way around this street better than either one.
They didn’t speak anymore and followed as close as possible. Winding through the tight corners of the buildings to open streets, they continually walked forward, tensed. Both Crystal and Alexus were examining possible demons prowling around, hoping they would find a safe place before the sun went down, but that wasn’t the case.
The sun eventually set, blanketing the whole city in darkness. Only a handful of street lights kept the place lit up, but it made the city even more dangerous. Strange barking and growling sounds echoed in the city walls, bouncing off the buildings. They couldn’t tell at times which direction the sound was coming from as they whipped around to find the source.
The closest thing he could think of was a dog fight happening somewhere close. There were even sounds of strange crackling birds chirps, but Alexus couldn’t quite tell. Even the wind amplified in power, whistling through the open crevice of the building into a high pitch soprano.
As minutes passed and they found nothing coming out to jump them, they continued forward. At times Daisy disappeared, making them worried that they had lost her. When they stumbled around in the dark for a bit, Daisy would pop back out and meow to them, keeping them back on track.
They eventually stopped upon a small church boarded up on all sides. There were even jagged wooden spikes sticking out of the ground as if this was some kind of zombie apocalypse days. Even the metal fences were shredded that something had attempted to make its way into the church itself.
There were bones of animal carcasses rotting out on the lawn. It wasn’t just a simple dog or cat carcass either, but large, monstrously sized animals that could match the size of a horse or even a tiger decorated the outskirts of the church’s land. What was even more mind-blowing was that there was one giant creature, which looked to be some kind of a mix between an elephant and some triceratops, laid out sprawled at the same distance as the other monsters with a large wooden pike in its head.
Almost all of them were decayed, with only pieces of flesh sticking onto the bones. So, though the natural skeletal museums told them a pretty fascinating story, they could tell as they passed by that there was some kind of epic battle that was fought on land.
While rushing forward, Alexus couldn’t read the sign as it was spray-painted with the words: Die! Demons! With a drawing of a middle finger pointed upwards.
Daisy slipped underneath a cracked door, and they both stopped, unsure what to do to get in. Alexus observed around for any way to open up the bolted door but couldn’t find anything. It was tightly hammered in with dozens of nails, telling them that he would have to use quite a force to peel it off.
“You got anything?” Alexus asked, tapping the wooden boards with the back of his knuckles, trying to find a loose board.
Crystal was doing the same; she reached over towards one of the windows and shook it a couple of times as it rattled loudly. “Nothing.”
They then went around the side, hoping that the other windows were loose, but as far as they could tell, every door and window was hammered shut, making it difficult to enter without breaking it apart. The thought of forcing their way in wasn’t what they wanted to do, mainly because they had to board it back up just to keep the inside from being breached.
This time, Alexus rapped at one of the front doors, hoping that someone would hear them inside. “Anyone in there?” Alexus called out; Crystal frowned, telling him that wasn’t a wise idea to do in the middle of the night without a single word.
A loud echo followed after his knock, wondering if anyone else was inside. Then silence followed, making both of them anxiously wait as they hoped that someone would answer.
“Nothing.” Alexus sighed, disappointed that there was nobody there. The thought of seeing another human was quickly drifting away. “I guess we should pry these wooden planks off and head inside.”
“Are you sure?” Crystal wasn’t too keen on entering an abandoned church. “This place doesn’t look safe at all. Look.” She pointed towards the grass where dead skeletal demons lay. “There was a demon attack. “
“Keyword: was,” Alexus replied, checking to see if there were any loose boards to pry apart. “Plus, Daisy went in. It’s safe.”
Crystal wasn’t sure how to take in that information; she just sighed and shook her head at his statement.
Alexus wiggled his hand between a loose board, about to tear it apart when he heard someone shouting.
“Wait!” A childlike voice shouted out from behind the board. “Don’t break it!”
Alexus froze, unsure if he should break it or not. He was stunned that there were people inside the church. This whole time, he thought it was empty.
“Don’t break it! It’s going to ruin the enchantment!” The voice sounded close, making Alexus wonder if it was a little girl on the other side.
“Then, how do I get in?” Alexus asked slowly.
“Come near the side door.”
“Jesse!” A younger male’s voice hissed at her, angry that she told them where to go. “You shouldn’t be allowing strangers inside! What if they were demon-like last time!”
“But, I don’t feel any malice from them…it’s almost like those who saved all of us.”
Alexus was piqued at what she had said.
“Not only that,” Her voice stalled, “they’re wearing the same suit!” She said excitedly as if we were someone she knew. “Come on, David! They’re the Ouroboros!”
Crystal and Alexus looked at each other, knowing that Ouroboros wasn’t something they usually talked about the first time they met. To assume that they are Ouroboros, something must’ve happened for her to instantly recognize them.
“What?!” David’s voice could be heard in alarm as the sound of his footsteps shuffled forward to the point where he heard a loud bang on the other side. “Shit!” He cursed angrily, instantly knowing that he had hurt himself from trying to see them.
“Do you think…?” Crystal asked with her eyes, telling Alexus what she wanted to say without words. He knew instantly what it was and was getting excited at the thought of learning some dire information from others.
Alexus nodded quickly, reassuring her what he was thinking. Her eyes started to twinkle, hope filling back in her eyes.
“It’s true!” David’s voice shouted in excitement. “Holy cow! They’re back!”
Feets scampered around inside the church, becoming silent as they started to fade away.
Suddenly, a blast of loud sound reverberated behind them. They whipped around, startled by the explosive sound that both Crystal and Alexus drew their weapon in a heartbeat. He found nothing that caught their attention until they glanced upwards into the night sky.
A white rippling effect could be seen haloing around the church itself, creating a radiant barrier that stopped where the dead monsters stopped. It glowed for a few moments, dispersing whatever hit it and slowly fading away as if it wasn’t there.
Alexus had never seen a barrier in effect until now. It did exactly what I thought it would do from other people’s descriptions, but his thought was, why here? Was religion one of the big factors that kept the place intact? He wasn’t quite sure, nor did he fully understand.
Suddenly, another flash of energy that looked like a comet was hurtling down towards them from a distance, becoming bigger and bigger. It wasn’t just one, but many. His eyes grew big, unsure where the comet was coming from, and he noticed that they were coming from the city’s east side.
“What in the world?!” Crystal shouted in alarm, surprised at many energy balls hurtling towards the church.
The energy balls slammed into the church’s barrier, creating a shimmering rippling effect. The first hit made a thunderous sound of impact as if thunder were rolling in; it even left behind thick gray clouds overhead, darkening it. Red electric thunder sparked off in the clouds, giving it an eerie feel.
The barrier still held up as it was pummeled repeatedly by the other slew of energy balls that pelted down upon it.
“I can’t believe I’m seeing this.” Crystal gaped, lowering her gun. “Is this how you see energy?” She asked, turning her head towards Alexus.
“Yes.” Alexus was a bit surprised that she could see the fluctuating energy hitting the barrier, making him wonder how that was possible. Usually, he was the few who could see such a phenomenon, but for others like Crystal was a huge thing. “You can see it?” Alexus lowered his weapon.
Crystal slowly nodded her head, “This is too weird.” She replied, stashing away her gun. “I never seen something like this ever happening; my only guess is that the borders between this dimension and the other are becoming very thin. Something like this isn’t possible, especially because the barrier shouldn’t be able to be seen so easily….”
“Well, whatever it is. A lot of things have changed over the hundred and fifty years. We need to know more about what’s going on.” Alexus replied, watching the rain of energy balls continually barrage the barriers.
It was like fireworks on the fourth of July; the sparkling energy blast and the shimmering effect were spectacular. The only problem was that being hit by one of those energy balls was a sudden death scenario. Alexus was glad that the barrier was up in the first place to keep this place safe from whatever was repeated barraging this church.
“Hey! Over here!” David’s voice called out towards them from the side of the church. They turned and followed his voice.
A young man in his late teens was crouched by a hidden panel, poking his freckled face out the side and waving towards him. His brown curly hair was in a mess. “Come on!”
They started to power walk and eventually got on their knees. Crystal was the first to crawl through the tight space, while he stopped to take a good look around the area because he felt a strange feeling of being watched the whole time. Something didn’t feel right, but he couldn’t find the source, making him nervous.
“Alexus? You coming in?” Crystal’s voice chimed outwards, catching his attention.
“Yea, sorry,” Alexus grunted, getting on his knees as he crawled through the tight space. When he got out, he was welcomed by quite many people. He counted two children, three teenagers, and one female adult.
The children were excited to see them, even a couple of teens, but the female adult wasn’t so thrilled at their entrance into their haven.
Crystal gave him a hand, and he pulled up to his feet. A bit unnerved at the intensity of their gaze staring at both Crystal and him.
“Um…hey?” Alexus spoke, unsure what to say, slightly raising his hand in front of him.
A heavy silence followed, and even Crystal shifted uncomfortably, unsure what to say. Public speaking wasn’t his thing, but the silence was killing him. Finally, unable to take it any longer, he opened his mouth to say something when the children squealed out in delight as they ran over towards them.