Post Reply The unknown - [That's a crappy title but I will fix it later]
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Posted 2/8/09 , edited 9/8/09
I'm working on a manga right now...actually, I'm working two. X__x;;
This one is solo though...for now.
To keep track of the story, I'm going to be writing out the written part here while I'm drawing the story as well.

As such, it means things will probably slow for this story......
Okay...it's updated at about the same speed as the other 5 stories I have in this group.

Anyways some background info:
In this world, the world has been united under a single world order. There's always pockets of resistance here and there...in recent years, the number of resistance factors have been rising for unknown reasons, allied soldiers are dying at an alarming rate.
Survivors come back home saying; "They aren't human."
So that's when the World Order decided to completely reform the education plan for students attending high school.
Staring in the year 20XX, students enrolled in high-school will be educated in combat arts, training them to become soldiers.
Of course, opposition to the plan was present, but world leaders replied with; "If we don't solve this problem now, there won't be a future at all."
Major cities previously thought indestructible had fallen to so called 'rebels'. Facts about what kind of enemies they were facing were nearly unknown. The only things civilians heard were from deranged soldiers who'd fought them enemy, only to have them continually repeat: "They can't be human..."

The story revolves around the main character as he tries to piece together his scattered memories along with escaping from the "Black Shrine Maiden".
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Posted 2/8/09 , edited 5/24/10
The characters present so far:
[Updated over time, along with drawings done by me now that I have a scanner. ]

-Caim "Striker" Noihara: The protagonist of the story.

-"The Black Shrine Maiden": A mysterious girl who Caim encounters early in the story, appears to be in possession of psychic abilities.

-Unknown girl, usually accompanied by gray foxes: A girl who Caim continually encounters over the course of the story.

-"Nameless Girl": Caim encounters this heavily clothed girl outside of a building he takes refuge in. She is about to be violated while unconscious by some deranged men before Caim fights them off.

-Sawako: A machine-soldier from the capital, sent to investigate squads that have been MIA, her personal goal is finding Caim.
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Posted 2/8/09 , edited 2/15/09
Chapter 1: Black Shrine Maiden

Year 20XX, August 13th...

From the dark clouds above in the gray sky, falling rain hits the unsuspecting ground.
And so he awakens to the raining sky.
His mind tries to recount the previous events...but all that comes up is nothing...it was like he had been waiting for decades and had just suddenly come into existence while the concept of time waiting had vanished...

"Where am I?"

His surroundings were an entirely new place, he had no idea where he was or even who he was.
He stared blankly at the hole in the ceiling of the mid-sized four wall room he was in.

"Why can't I remember...anything...?"


There was plenty of debris around him, but he didn't care for that...
He stared with that same wide-eyed expression that he had when he 'woke up', at a gray spirit fox staring down at him from the hole in the ceiling.

As he stared into it's eyes, he felt a certain...familiarity from it.

"A Gray Fox?"

Moments later, the fox looked off in another direction and went away.
Having grown tired of lying on his back in a sort of eagle-spread, he finally sat up.
He scratched the back of his head and yawned, he suddenly felt a sharp pain at the front of his head.
"Ah, damn, my head's killing me." As he looked to the north-wall's window, he thought he saw a pair of golden eyes looking at him before eventually running off in what seemed like a black blur.
"What was that?"
He quickly got to his feet and observed his surroundings...

He seemed to be in some kind of bar? Broken bar-stools, chairs, mugs, bullets, and other things littered the ground.
There wasn't a single table that wasn't broken, the counter-top was completely broken in two, the liquor case behind the counter had been smashed in, it's contents either stolen or broken. Didn't matter which.

"Staying here won't do me any good, but it looks like this place has seen better days. What exactly happened here?" He pondered to himself, some dried blood around where he once laid was of little importance to him. It probably wasn't his, considering that he was alive.
What really grabbed his attention was a ripped sheet of paper.

He walked slowly towards it, picking it up with his index finger and thumb.

"It's all soggy and dirty...the ink is smudged, and it looks like there's a footprint on the paper."
He could only make out the last few sentences:

"Everything's gone to shit since we saw the Black Shrine Maiden, I...ed my opinion on the ma...
Th....ay.....sures gettting to me.
Boss sa..."Everything'll be alright, Rook."
I...ant...o...ge...out...f...ere..."


He kept reading over the words: "Black Shrine Maiden." He said aloud.
He heard the sound of bells off in the distance while thunder clapped overhead. Like a silent whisper within 1,000 shouts.
He slowly turned around, facing the northern wall's cracked window...off in the distance he could faintly make out some sort of figure standing in the rain.
It seemed to become more clear as time passed.

A girl with long hair, dressed in a black colored-shrine maiden's outfit stood a short distance away from the run-down bar.
Her throat and eyes were both covered in white-wrapping...seconds later, the wrappings where her eyes and throat would be turned red...blood was seeping out of it.
He saw an image in his mind, of the girl's dead-looking eyes staring at him as blood flowed from them...


He could see her hand move in his general direction as she stumbled towards the window.
The window started to crack...until it eventually shattered. He could the sound of something invisible rushing towards him.
A type of high-pitched screaming noise filled his ears as the glass fragments littered the ground. Something had hit him with enough force to shatter his military-grade body armor as if it was glass, and knock him on his back, sliding through an open door behind him.
"Shit!" Without thinking he kicked the door closed. He had realized that was only a delay of the coming storm...
"Crap, need to think of something." The room he was in was small and cramped, a book-shelf was beside the door. "Hopefully it'll buy me some time!"
Moving around the opposite end of the bookshelf, he started sliding it in front of the door, to barricade himself in the room.
It didn't take him long. As he looked through the keyhole, he didn't see the black shrine maiden again. He believed he had little time to act now...

The room he was in was quite cramped.
Rectangular shaped, a small one-person bed on the left side, next to that bed was a metal door which was bolted shut.
A metal-barred, glass-window in the upper corner of the room, probably used for sky-gazing.
A single desk was pressed to the wall directly across from the door, a mini-fridge was under the bed.
What really caught his attention was a hand-gun under the desk with a half-loaded clip and a couple more pages like the one currently in his hand.

He eyed the gun first, he slowly reached down to it. And completely the half-way done loading process. So as not to accidentally shoot himself, he switched on the gun's safety mechanism.
And than he realized...

'Wait...how did I know how to do that?'
A scene suddenly started playing in his head.
====================================
He remembered a couple years ago, half-way through their freshmen year. Students would be paired off with someone of their choosing during a time called; "Choosing of the Partner."
If at a time, a student can not choose a partner within 3 days, one will be chosen for them.
Because all his friends had been paired off, he had chosen to pair off with a girl considered a loner by her peers...
He remembered during the early stages, as they studied about different gun types. She had shoved a text-book in his face.
"That gun is a standard issue military model, it's customizable and cheap. It's an ideal gun for a variety of situation, hence it was nicknamed; "Guardian." because this gun could be the only thing standing between you and certain death." She tapped his forehead with a pen. "Remember that, and you'll do fine on tomorrow's test."
She than looked at him with a confused expression, "Hey...are you listening?" She said something after those words, but it was completely voiceless.

"What did she say?"


The memory faded as he came back to reality...
=====================
It looked like some memories were coming back. He at least remembered how to use guns...which also made him remembered something else. He looked down to his pants, having just noticed the combat knives attached to his right and left sides.
As well as some spare ammo and such on his belt, arm pockets, shoulder straps, etc.
"Well, those should come in handy."
He placed his hand on the penetrated body-armor, revealing the shirt underneath. He let that fall to the ground, it wasn't of any use anyways.
The shoulder straps, he'd need though. Luckily it wasn't that hard to attach to his shirt.
"Things are still fuzzy...I suppose the memories will come back later though..."

And now he turned his attention towards the papers on the desk.
Unlike the first one, these weren't in crappy conditions. He could actually read these clearly...

"Shit, shit, shit in a half!
I don't know what hit us, we were completely unprepared. But I think we killed it though?
First the ceiling comes crashing down on Boss, followed by some weird black furry thing. That thing put up one hell of a fight but it ran off after a while...
I could've sworn I saw the Black Shrine Maiden in the window...I think she's following us?
Scorch was our second in command, since...Boss isn't around anymore, he says "That thing'll be back later, so we should get moving now."
We didn't even have time to bury the captain's corpse. Than again, I don't think we'd be able to remove all that debris that's impaling him...shit man...
Rest in peace, Caim.
I wish I could give you a better funeral than this, but we have to think about the survival of the whole squad...sorry...
I'll just leave these pages here as well as your gun in case it might help someone who happens to pass this hell-hole.
Also, if anyone else happens to be reading this...I drew up a quick map based on an actual map to a train-station nearby. It might be a good start if you're looking to get out of here.

If you do happen to survive, just watch out for monsters...you probably don't believe me. But I know what I saw...I don't think I'll ever be the same again...
Man, I just wanna go home..."


The writing ends there, the next page is what seems like a crudely drawn map that was probably drawn in a hurry. At least it was legible, listing a good number of places to head to in order to get to the train station. Some key legends to tell the right direction.
At the top of the paper was the letter N, and next to it was a working compass pointing to the North. "So that's the direction?" He looked back to the paper...
He re-read the part that said, "Rest in Peace, Caim."
For some reason, the name Caim...felt familiar to him...
"Caim..." He didn't know his actual name. Yet...he felt that name should be his? Underneath the crudely drawn map was a Dog-Tag with the name, "Caim "Striker" Noihara."
It suddenly clicked in his mind...
========
The word at the end of the girl's sentence was, "Caim."
======
"My name...must be Caim than..."

But what really bugged him was what was written in the pages about his 'death.'
"That can't be," He looked at himself, he should've been dead but he was clearly alive. "I'm here right now, aren't I?!" He wanted to know exactly what happened.
"I've gotta track these guys down. They said they were heading to the train station..." Thunder clapped overhead as Caim picked up the compass.
"Than that's where I'll head too." Thunder clapped once again, Caim could feel a presence behind him...as he looked down at his shadow, he saw shadowy arms wrapping themselves around his neck, on the walls he saw a shadow behind him that was not his own...
He slowly looked over his shoulders at what exactly was behind him...he saw a girl, not the Black Shrine Maiden, but a different girl. A split second after he looked to her smirking face she vanished as the thunder clapped outside once more...
Caim stepped forward, turning around he aimed his gun around the room, yet nothing happened again...
"....." He remained silent as his fear levels started to rise. "...I gotta get out of here soon..." Staying where he was would only get him killed at this rate...
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Posted 2/15/09 , edited 9/8/09
-Part 2-

-3 hours later-

After moving the bookcase back, he slowly opened the door. Pushing his gun along the door to open it, while keeping an eye out for anything that might pop out at him.
The door was fully opened, he took a deep breath to get rid of the tension and took three steps out. Turing around slowly...

"Nothing's changed...except for the broken glass..." He was a bit relieved. "Alright than." He ran over to the bar counter and slid over it.
Crouching down, he started searching around the former bar-keep's belongings.
"Every bar has a gun, so lets see where's yours?" He was talking to himself, it was a way to keep the fear from getting to him.
He heard a creaking sound above him, "sh*t!" He quietly cursed as he hit under the counter...
.......
He didn't hear anything else, before he continued looking he saw something taped to the bottom of the counter right above him. "Is this it?" He pulled the gun off it's tape.
He frowned, a little disappointed at the gun he was stuck with.
"..A Winchester shotgun? This gun is older than my father." He picked up a box of shotgun shells, "Will this thing even fire?" He asked himself as he loaded the gun regardless.
He heard that creaking sound above him again. Leaning against the bar-counter he slowly tucked the rest of the shotgun shells away into belt-packs.
With a fearless look on his face, he cautiously moved along the bar's counter. Holding the shotgun at the ready.

He moved out from behind the counter, there was nothing in the bar.
He quickly aimed his shotgun to the hole in the wall, of course he didn't expect to see anything...but that would've been lame.
He saw a hairy, monkey-like face staring at him with dead, golden eyes. It was just looking at him curiously...

"....Is it gonna attack...?" He kept at the ready regardless, slowly moving towards the bar exit while still keeping the shotgun aimed on the monkey creature.
He stepped on some dried blood, and then suddenly the monkey creature was set off!
It suddenly became angry and screeched an ear-shattering screech that caused Caim to cover his ears as the remaining windows shattered around him.
He dodge-rolled just before it landed.
"You're the only thing standing between me and the exit..." Caim readied himself to fire. "Lets go!"

=================Combat-Sequence Initiated==============
(Heh, heh, lulz.)

The monkey-like monster had various qualities that set it aside from other giant...monkey...monsters...
For starters, it was about 9 ft. tall.
It had four arms, not including the legs it stood on.
Two tails with spikes at the end.
It's 6 eyes were golden.
It's fur was a dark greenish color, completely rabid and unkempt.
It's face was a little less hairy than the rest of it's body.
And that's about all for this description of something that would probably make you shit yourself if you ever came face to face with this thing, and did not have a gun.

It charged Caim like a rabid boar, knocking tables and chairs out of it's path.
Caim dodge-rolled once again out of the way. He aimed the shotgun but didn't have time to fire.
He had to duck to avoid one of the spiked tails.
Than step back to avoid the second sweep from the tail.
'I can see it...' The enemies skills were so quick, he had to think on his feet. He figured he was just getting lucky all this time. He was tripped up by a fallen chair.
Before he could get up the monkey was looming over him, about to smash down on him with it's powerful, furry, fists of fury. (HA-HA!! Furry fists of fury. )

SMASH!!!

It looked as though Caim had been flattened like a pancake, but that would make a crappy story.
As the monkey waited for the dust to clear in order to inspect it's kill. It saw Caim standing between it's two fists aiming the shotgun at it's face.
BANG!!!

HA!!! Stupid monkey! LOOK AT ALL THAT BLOOD ON IT'S FACE!!!
Caim had rolled in between the two fists at the last moment, saving him a very painful death.
Using them as vaults, he stepped onto the right fist and fired straight into the monkey's face, point-blank range. Ignoring the third time he heard it's screeching sound.
On his wrist was a type of gauntlet-device. He personally modified the standard army issue.
A hook-cable fired out, straight into the monkey's eye.
Caim pulled himself in, placing his feet on the monkey's face and having the shotgun's end touching the monkey's temple. He fired one last shot through the brain.
As it fell, Caim tumbled forward, off it's head. Getting back up quickly, and turning quickly towards the dead body...it didn't move, so it must've been dead. His tension passed quickly after that.

"I didn't really think, I just acted..." Truth is, Caim didn't know about that function on the gauntlet, he could barely remember anything about any of the skills he had. He felt as though his body was moving completely on it's own...

As fun as it was to stay with a dead, giant monkey corpse, he reloaded before moving around it's body...
As he passed by, opening the double doors out of the Bar, he got a good look at the landscape:

There was a railing a few feet away from the bar, down below was a small wooded area than further than that was a lake, perhaps a dock there. Across the lake he could faintly see a town...or maybe a city...
"Well, they probably went there...but if I found a giant killer monkey, chances are there'll be more in the woods. So...nuts to that..."
To his left he saw...well...nothing but a long road...but no cars...or anyone...around...anywhere...For some reason, he couldn't see very far in that direction. But it looked like the dark clouds surrounding the skies were even darker in that direction...
"....That direction is out..."
To his right, he saw a trail leading to a broken road which lead to the town anyways.
"Well...that way certainly seems...safer..."
Behind him was the bar, and behind the bar was just a wall of rock...basically a mountain...
"....It doesn't look claimable...who'd build a bar by a mountain and a cliff anyways?" The owner must've had really weird tastes.

"Alright, I'm gonna go right." He only took three steps when he heard a sharp ringing in his head. "Ah!" It felt like his head was being split open from the inside.
--------------
He was back in high-school again.
Must've been a mock battle.
He was looking through the scope of a sniper rifle...
Staring at a patch of green grass.
.....
It moved and he fired.
No bullet came out, instead he saw a red light beep from the green grass.
"Got him."

He jumped out of the tree he was in, watching as the patch of green grass stood up. Turned out it was just camo.
"See! I won the bet! Now pay what you owe!"

"Dammit! And you even gave me a handicap!"
This was just one of those days where life was good...
------------------
He awoke from his daze, wondering; 'why did I see that memory' when suddenly he heard a rushing sound behind him.
And suddenly the giant monkey had pushed him over the railing with it's shoulder...
Caim was hurdled off the cliff...!!!

[Stay tuned for the next part, ha-ha, cliff hangers suck don't they...]
...........
.........................
[Ah the hell with it]

As he fell, Caim aimed his wrist-device at...well...the cliff...
The hook cable dug into the side of the cliff, slamming Caim into the wall hard.
"Ah!" He let out a painful grunt as he stood hanging on the cliff's side with the cable slowly twirling.
For now, he could catch his breath. But he couldn't stay hanging like this forever.
"...Okay..." He slowly lowered himself to ground level. Reeling his cable back in.

"Great, now I'm in the woods." He looked up to make sure the monkey wasn't following him or something...and sure enough, it was looking down to check if Caim was dead.
'...Hm...it's kind of odd the way it checks like that?' He'd ponder that later. He was also pondering how it survived 3 head-shots from a shotgun at close range?
"Exit, stage right." He felt a joke or two here and there could lighten the mood...since he felt like he was in a video game and REALLY wanted to go home right about now.
He moved into the woods once the monkey's head went out of view. He found his shotgun in a tree about 9 steps into the woods. "Better than nothing." He said to himself as he reloaded.
But just as he did, a little gray fox jumped onto his shoulders.
"What the-" It jumped onto the shotgun, and vanished along with the shotgun.
"....." He just stood completely still, staring at where the shotgun used to be. "What the hell just happened?" And now the only gun he had was the GUARDIAN Handgun. "I really hope that doesn't happen again." He said as he cautiously moved in the direction of the lake...maybe he'll find a boat to get to the city...

[And now, stay tuned for the next episode!]
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Posted 4/24/09 , edited 9/8/09
(Sorry I've been away on such a long hiatus. A lot happened. Anyways, I'll update my stuff now...)

-Part 3-

As Caim cautiously made his way to the lake, he noticed a small dock with a old, rusting motor-boat. He wondered if it'd sink on him?
Regardless, he didn't exactly have anywhere else to go at the moment.
Either he go back through the woods, and maybe encounter some other monsters. Or go across the lake and risk swimming...
"....." It didn't take him long to decide.
--------
It took a while to get the engine running, but now that it was skidding across the water. All Caim had to do was, sit back and wait to get to the other side.
He placed his hand along the water's surface, wondering why it felt so dirty and about the weird red/brown color? It was at this moment, something attached to his hand.
He quickly pulled his hand back up and a severed human skull was stuck to his hand.
His fingers had stuck into the side of the half-decayed head, what appeared to be leeches were crawling around inside the skull. He noticed they were quickly moving to his hand, thinking fast he tossed the head back into the lake.
He heard a screeching kind of noise as a red hue surrounded his line of sight.
He couldn't hear anything, all he could do was see...

Deformed humans were rising out of the water, their bodies mangled and broken. They moved in closer to Caim's boat, which had suddenly stopped working.
As one tried to climb into the boat, Caim brought his foot to smash it's face in as it fell back into the dark abyss.
Another one actually managed to get into the boat, before he could grab Caim. Caim had ducked under it's arms and elbowed it in the jaw, over the boat.
There were just too many, all of them, clawing at the boat...would Caim become like them? He felt his fear taking over...
And than, a single sound broke through the silence:

"Calm down!"


As he looked beyond the decaying humans, he saw a woman in a black miko outfit. Her eyes bandaged up and carried a scythe that could cleave a man in half.
"Black Miko!" Caim stated, and as soon as he said this, everything went back to normal.
There were no decaying humans, just Caim...standing in the boat, combat knife and gun drawn...
"Was that...just an illusion?" He fell onto the boat, staring up at the creepy-colored sky. "What the hell's going on around here?" Right now, he had no answers...only many questions...
-----
Suddenly, a screeching sound broke his train of thought.
He immediately got up, and nearly fell out of the boat...the engine was stalling. "Oh crap!" He heard the ear-splitting screeching sound again. He desperately pulled on the chord, "come on, come on! Start damn you!" He shouted while looking around frantically for whatever was making that noise.
It was than, that his eyes fixed on a spot in the water...a large black shadow was about to surface......
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Posted 6/21/09 , edited 9/8/09
(Hey guys, I'm back with an update if anyone's still reading this. )

-Part 4-

The dirt colored water shook violently, every second Caim was in danger of falling into the leech infested waters.
And at last, it surfaced:
A giant worm, several stories tall in length, it's ear-shattering screech pierced through the sky, causing Caim to shut his ears in reaction.
Suddenly it turned it's attention to Caim, it's two antennae-like eyes locked onto him like a predator focused on it's prey.
"Oh fu-" Caim said just before it dove back underwater, the wave that followed nearly turned the boat over. Caim crawled over to the engine and tried to get it to start desperately.
"Come on, come on!" He could already hear the giant worm moving about underneath his boat. "Hurry up!" He kicked it and it started up! "Thank you!" Caim said as the boat sped off, but it wasn't over yet.
Caim watched as the worm surfaced behind the boat, Caim got a good look inside it's mouth, row after row of blade-sharp teeth, if he were to be swallowed by it, there was little chance he'd escape with his life.

"Need to find some kind of weapon." In the water, there was plenty of dead bodies, soldiers and civilian alike, but the odds of finding a useful weapon against something of that size was quite low.
The bell sound again.
----------------
He was sitting amongst a group of students, listening to a lecture on explosives.

"Listen up, newbies. These are military grade explosives, they're in short demand so try not to use them unless absolutely necessary. These are twice as powerful as C4, so do NOT use them to break down walls...you may do that, and possibly destroy whatever floor you're in...and for god's sakes, watch the detonator after you arm them, don't want them blowing up while you still have them....!"
-------------------
As the memory faded, he quickly checked his equipment, he found only one explosive charge but no detonator. It was basically useless.
Just when he'd lost hope and was about to toss the explosive charge into the worm's mouth and pray it explodes, his eye caught something floating along the water's surface.
He had spotted a black ammo-pack in the boat's path. Leaning to one side of the boat, he held out his hand to reach out to the ammo pack.
By some sheer stroke of dumb luck, he managed to grab the pack.
He hastily ripped open the ammo pack and found three 3 explosive charges, detonator included.
"Thank god!"
Hopefully they still worked even though they'd been in water for, who knows how long? Apparently, he only needed to arm one of them and the other 3 armed themselves.
"...Technology is confusing...." Closing up the bag and placing it in the boat, he shut off the boat's motor and waited for the worm to come in closer.

"....." Just a bit more....
He held the detonator tightly in his hand.
Just when the worm started rising out of the water to swallow the boat, Caim jumped out of the boat, being taken in by the wave.
The giant worm swallowed the boat whole.
The worm had just narrowly missed Caim, but the wave that came next carried him out of the water and onto land.
He washed up on shore just as the worm started turning in his direction, apparently it was unwilling to let it's prey go.
He coughed up some very dirty, and disgusting water. "At least my limbs are still attached." He felt like he was forgetting something. "???"
........
"The detonator!" Caim looked desperately amongst the debris for it, that was his sole source of survival and it might not even work because it had been in water!
He spotted it about 5 feet away next to a corpse. He made a quick dive for it and didn't waste any time in pushing the big red button in the center.
.........
But nothing happen.
He kept pressing it, hoping it would work. "Come on, come on!"
He heard a beeping sound from the detonator, and within seconds, explosions started occurring from the inside of the worm.
"Was that from my bombs?" There were probably other explosives in it's stomach too......lucky break...
The explosions ripped the worm in half, dying the lake a blackish color while the other half of it's body skidded onto shore. It's giant antennae-like eye staring at Caim.

"......" Taking the detonator, he jammed it into it's eye, avoiding the sudden gush of blood coming out of it's eye. "Gross." Caim said, he couldn't hear it breathing anymore...so...he assumed it was dead.
Than again, he'd never encountered anything like this before...so he wanted to get out of here before it suddenly fixed itself, or started splitting up into other monsters.

"Heh-heh..." Caim laughed dryly. After this ordeal, he needed a quick break. He slowly walked over to a tree and sat with his back against it. "Phew...would've preferred the mutant monkey over the worm any day." He joked to himself, taking another look over at the dead worm.
His whole body was sore from being treated like a rag doll after being played with by a 6 year old on a sugar rush.

He looked up the hill behind the tree to see the road leading to town. Luckily, the wave created by the worm took him to his destination after all.

"This certainly has an eerie feeling to it." Caim said to himself, but if he was going to find anyone...or anything...it would probably be there.

"Be careful when you go looking in the dark." A voice said behind him!

Caim quickly turned around, gun in hand, but there was nothing there.
".......Probably just my imagination..." Even though he said that, he couldn't quite shake that eerie feeling...like he was being watched...
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Posted 7/28/09 , edited 7/29/09
-Part 5-

In the dark ruined city, not a soul would stir. It's unknown how an entire city vanished in such a short amount of time. Buildings and structures were but shells of their former selves, cars had stopped in the middle of the streets most of them turned over, signs of looting were everywhere: Broken windows, forgotten possessions littered the streets, anything that wasn't nailed down was either taken or blown up.
The dark clouds seemed to circle around this forsaken city as if they were vultures circling the already decaying prey. Surprisingly, the amount of corpses were small, just their bones were left.
The only inhabitants were the rodents, the bugs, the parasites feeding off the dead...and maybe something more...

One of the few inhabitants, a rat scurried around the inside of a stopped bus with half it's bulk missing, the rat scurried over to the dashboard at the front of the bus. Looking for some sort of scrap of food.
'click'
The rat was startled by the sudden click, it's foot must've pressed something during the climb. Not even 3 seconds later, a sound played into the rat's ears:
"I walked across the busy streets of the bustling city around the square so no one can see me
But the sky was always able to spot me despite being blinded by cloud-filled rain..."

A woman's voice played a song. (Ha-ha! Cameo's ftw!!! )
Assuming it dangerous, the rat quickly scurried away to the safest place it could find...

"Vanguard City," He read aloud as he stood in front of half a sign at the entrance of the ruined city. The other half that was missing was the map of the city, whether it was useful or not he wouldn't no.
"Fantastic." Caim had no memories of this place, he only knew there was a train station that could or could not take him where he needs to go...! "JUST F**KING GREAT!!!" He hit his fist against the sign. And to his surprise, the weird gauntlet-device thing on his hand started glowing.

"Please step back." It said.

Caim was...slightly surprised that the device actually did something.
He stepped back as a blue light started scanning over the destroyed map.
"Vanguard City Map, added to Map inventory. Do you wish to display?"

"Uh, yes! Please display...!" He felt a bit weird talking to technology.
A 3-Dimensional map appeared from the gauntlet, displaying itself in front of him.
"Okay uh...find route to train station."

"Searching...searching...complete.
Vanguard Station marked on the map."
A green blip appeared on the map where the train station was located.

"Okay great, uh...power down or...something...map minimize, no wait...uh...switch from 3-D to 2-D."
The map suddenly flattened itself into the view screen onto the gauntlet. It showed the street Caim was on, as well as the route to the train station from a bird's eye view.
"Okay, that should help." Caim took a left down the road, going in the direction of the train station...
It was quite a walk, and Caim wondered if he'd have to stop soon.
"It's getting dark." He didn't know what to expect around here, but judging from the giant worm and the giant monkey, he didn't want to see some kind of giant evil mushroom.
"...." He looked down to the map, trying to make a decision. "Well...it's not like the station's going to blow up anytime soon. Might as well make camp somewhere." He eyed a house that was only partially damaged, at least there weren't any giant holes in the walls or broken windows...so it seemed safe enough...a lot safer than the other houses at least.
-----------------------------
The house had three floors. 3 rooms on the bottom floor:
Kitchen, just about everything except the fridge was taken. There was a boarded up window across from the entrance and the sink was missing it's faucet.
Living room, there was literally nothing in this room except for a turned over coffee table, and turned over couch..
Bathroom, this room was practically untouched, the only thing missing was the shower curtains and the toilet seat.

The upstairs had four rooms down one long hallway.
Room 1, it appeared to have been a work room. There was a desk, a computer (the monitor was broken was the tower was gone), some files loosely scattered along the floor. An exercise machine was in pieces next to the door. There was a book shelf whose books were practically burned to ashes.
Room 2, it appeared to be a child's room, judging from the pink wallpaper and ripped up stuffed animals, possibly a girl...or a very messed up child. The closet was barricaded by some rubble, the hole was inside the closet. At the very least, Caim didn't think he'd have to worry about something coming through. Nothing else of importance in the room.
Room 3, seemed to belong to a boy, that was the impression Caim got from this room. The only thing in the room was a bunch of useless posters, everything else had been looted.
Room 4, the door was locked so there was no way of telling what was inside. He thought he heard something behind the door, so he figured it would be best to leave it locked rather than try and find out.

At the end of the hallway, there was a rope hanging from the ceiling.
He was going to just ignore it and find a spot in the house to rest for a while, it was than that he heard a soft melody and the sound of laughter coming from above.
"...." If there was someone alive, they might be able to tell him what's going on. Or they could be a bloodthirsty psychopath, after all, not many people laugh in hellholes like these.
'Leaving this alone might be a problem later...better take care of it quickly...'
He pulled the rope as a flight of stairs came down from the ceiling.
Room 4 was different because it was locked and therefor inaccessible, however the attic was accessible and could pose a danger later.
He didn't draw a weapon yet, but he kept his hand ready just in case.

As he ascended the attic, the first thing he saw was a strange music box on top of a single leg table.
The music box was hexagonal, about 4 ft in length and width. A little shrine maiden was sweeping happily along the edge of the music box as the music played.
There was a crank on the side of the music box, still slowly rotating.

Caim cautiously closed in on the music box. Taking a good look at it while the melody stopped playing.
The shrine maiden walked to the center of the box, bowed, and than lowered into the box.
With a confused look on his face, he wondered where the laughing person he heard was...? The music box didn't seem to be automated, which meant someone must've pulled the crank.
His question was answered as he felt a presence behind him.
Turning around, he came face to face with a girl.

"Boo." She said playfully.

Startled, Caim stepped back and instinctively took a defensive stance.
'I didn't even hear her. Where could she have come from...?'
The attic seemed to have two hallways separated by a wall.
Where the single-legged table and the music box was, there was a small entrance into the next hallway next to this one.
A couple empty boxes were the only thing inside the attic. Could she have been hiding in one of the boxes...?
He dropped his stance when he heard her laugh. She didn't seem dangerous at the least...

She was wearing a one-piece, long-sleeved black dress, which ended at her knees. The sleeves covered her hands.
She was nearly half Caim's size, her forehead measuring up to Caim's chest.
The weirdest part about her was the black eye patch over her left eye, her right eye was an odd deep-red color.
She had long indigo colored hair which reached down to her waist, her bangs covered her forehead.
She was completely barefoot, but there seemed to be no dirt or signs, in fact they were unnaturally clean.

The way she looked was kind of weird, but she hadn't attacked yet, so Caim figured it was safe to talk to her.
"Who are you?" He asked, keeping his eyes on her while at the same time keeping his distance.

"Hm?" She tilted her head off to one side, with a confused look in her eye. She spun around while saying, "Who am I? Who am I?" She mimicked.
She spread out her arms while spinning, "I am no one, yet I am someone." She spoke cryptically, "Who am I, to you?" She asked, hopping closer to Caim.

Caim didn't move as she closed in on him.
This girl might have lost her mind a while ago, he couldn't think of an answer at the moment.
"You are a stranger to me-"

"Am I?" She was only 2 feet away from him now, peering into his eyes as if trying to read his mind.

"...." Caim felt uncomfortable, and yet...somehow...he felt something sting in the back of his mind. It was small so he ignored it at first, but it started becoming painful. He felt, this wasn't the first time he'd seen this girl...and yet he couldn't remember where...?

The look on her face suggested she was getting bored with this.
"How boring." She turned around and skipped over to the music box, turning the crank again. "It had a nice melody."

He tried to recover his senses, he was suspicious of this girl. He might've been wrong, but he felt as though his mind was being invaded. As crazy as it sounded.
"What are you doing here, is there anyone else?" Safety in numbers, this was a basic rule in situations like these.

"What am I doing here?" She skipped her way to the other hallway, a little gray fox scurried behind her.
Caim recognized the fox from before, it seemed to be turning up at odd times. "I am simply a shadow that follows behind the master, where I go is his destination. But you already knew that, didn't you?" With a sinister smile she ran down the other hallway.

"Wait!" He followed after the two, "What do you mean by-" He was struck speechless as he stepped into the other hallway, nearly tripping over the edge.
The entire hallway was missing, nothing but a huge gaping hole that revealed just how bad a shape the city was in...
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(Behold...new story post...
Now with a new girl character....it's like a good Harem gone horribly wrong... )

-Part 6-

"To whoever's reading this, be wary of whatever you may find in this city.
Without 'Striker', we felt a little vulnerable.
I asked Rook earlier why he keeps writing in his little diary.
Heh-heh, he got pretty mad at that, told me it was a journal and that he did this to take his mind off the tension.

I figured I'd give it a try.
When we got to Vanguard City, we got into a little skirmish with the 'remnants', people who decided to stay in this city after the evacuation order for one reason or another. When shit hit the fan, there were only two kinds of people in this city:
The ones who went insane, and the ones who were trying to get out.
Unfortunately, the ones the we encountered were the first kind.

They started taunting us by calling us; "Hell Hounds", apparently there are still people who feel that our government is more like a dictatorship, and whenever someone doesn't agree with them, they call us in...not too far from the truth actually...we don't even know WHY we're fighting in this war anyways...?
There were 25 of them block our way, I guess they figured they could overpower us.
Stupid, fucking morons...
Even without our armor, our generation has been trained extensively to fight in any situation.
Still, Scorch ordered us not to fight...easier said than done...
A lot of them got too close to comfort, staring at our equipment with those greedy eyes...
Hostilities grew even worse the more they followed us. I don't know what came over me, I saw a gun holstered on one of the psycho paths so I just shot him.
For a little while it was quiet before Scorch ordered us to form up as the 24 of them surrounded us.
Later on I apologized to Scorch, (I checked the equipment later and found there were no bullets in the gun.) he told me: "You saw a weapon and reacted, it's just the way we've been trained."

Striker alone could've taken on 20 or 30, but even without him we managed. I gotta hand it to those guys, they really are insane...I hit one of them in the face a couple times and he just kept laughing before he finally lost consciousness.
Scorch and Rouge alone took out 9, I got 5 of them, and Rook took out 2.

Rouge went off to do some recon after the skirmish. He said he'd call us in 3 hours....we never heard from him after that so we decided to move on 7 hours later.
Rouge knew where we were going anyways, so hopefully we'd meet him on the way.
While taking refuge in this house, we found Rouge's sniper rifle in the attic...Rook said he saw the Black Shrine Maiden waiting outside the house.
He's been telling us that since we left the bar, it's always something about her following us...it's starting to get annoying.

I decided to just leave Rouge's rifle behind. It was out of bullets anyways...hopefully someone else finds a better use for it..."
=======
That's where the ripped paper ended.
Caim was sitting under a window in the living room on the first floor, he was carrying the loaded sniper rifle in his hands. (He had a few magazines for Assault Rifles, Handguns, and Sniper Rifles + the shotgun shells he found at the bar.)

As he stared at the Sniper Rifle he started thinking to himself:
"I wonder how much time passed?"
His mind was abuzz with questions.
How could he have died? He was clearly alive...wasn't he...?

Night was coming, luckily Caim had shelter, so he didn't have to worry too much about being attacked in his sleep. As long as he remained hidden, he should be just fine.
As he closed his eyes, he heard something from outside:

"Hey, lookie here!" There was a person outside.
"What'cha find?" Another one asked.
"Something 'very' special..." Sounded like there were only two of them.

Caim slowly peeked out of the window: He saw two raggedy looking men, possibly some scavengers left behind after the evacuation order. On the ground in front of one of the men was a heavily clothed person, they seemed unconscious...

"What're we gonna do with this one?"
"What do you think, 'sample the wares' before we sell 'em." He laughed to himself, he knelt down by the unconscious person, "Thanks for the treat..." Before his hand could reach her, the person awoke. Grasping his wrist tightly...tighter....even tighter...
The man was shouting out in agony, and yet the girl's grip did not loosen...
Eventually, the other man reacted by hitting her over the head with the wrench in hand. The girl fell quite quickly after that.

Caim didn't need any more time to act, he simply pulled the rifle over the window, took aim, and fired...not warning shots, fatal shots.
The bullets went right through their heads, death was quick and painless, probably more than they deserved...
Caim thought the girl was dead, surely a hard blow like that killed her...but no...she stood back up...and it wasn't like she was struggling either, she simply got up.
For a while, the two stared at each other..........
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It's good. It's really good. I like where the plot is going but some parts of it felt kinda stiff to me. Especially when you went into combat sequences and some the flashback fragments. Try finding an introductory sentence that flows smoothly. Otherwise, I don't find anything wrong with it.
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(Time to update this. )

...And so, he had a traveling partner. What now?
Well, there wasn't much to eat left, he managed to make some sort of....stew...? At least he hoped it was...he was a little hesitant in eating it actually, but if he didn't eat it, he'd probably be fatigued...than again...eating it might kill him.
His new partner wasn't having any problems as she wolfed down the stew, of course she was turned away so it was hard to see how she was eating...

When he thought about it, he wondered why she was wearing that stuff? Heavy coat, knee socks, bandaging, scarf, gloves, hat, the only parts of her skin he could see was parts of her leg, bits of her face, and rips in the coat...
"Uh..." Caim wanted to say something, "So...what were you doing out there...?"

"...." Complete silence, but she could definitely hear what he was saying.

"Uh...can you speak...?" Caim asked again.

"...." Still no answer, she turned to face him, and shook her head.

"Why are you wearing all of this?" He reached out for her gloves.

She hastily pulled her hand away, moving further from him. Apparently, she didn't like to be touched. Could've been some sort of trauma from before, or maybe she was just shy?

Caim sighed to himself, he couldn't think of any more questions to ask. Not that it would really help anyways, "Well...I can't really leave you here, can I? So...how about you stick with me for a bit? If there's two of us, we have a better chance of surviving." Especially with all the insane people probably still left in this place.
With the blankets he managed to find, he handed one to the girl. "Here, rest up...we move out in the morning...I'm gonna go secure the exits, make sure we're not attacked in our sleep or something..."
As of right now, they were safe...but who knew how long that safety would last...?
-----------
-Elsewhere-

"We've arrived at the destination...all units, you know your orders..."
The comm cut out, the doors opened to reveal the wastelands...spread out as far as the eye could see, evidence of battle was everywhere:
Scorched earth, mangled bodies, pieces of machinery, remnants of the fortifications made...if she had been human, this would've been too much to bear.
She stepped out of the helicopter along with 6 other soldiers. She was the only one dressed in a different armor set. They were all heavily armored, prepared for war, she had a lighter variation.
The 6 soldiers spread out on the battlefield, search and recovery...what were they looking for, anyways?

Her orders were to discover the path of a previous squads who had gone MIA after the battle. From the looks of things, it would be very difficult to track them.
She had a reason for taking this mission though...she had to find someone...no matter what the cost...

"Sawako...!!" One of the soldiers called, "Over here, we found something..."
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A 4-person squad, from the looks of it, they were ambushed...and killed by a volley of gunfire. Too accurate to be average soldiers, they must've been attacked by something far beyond the average soldier...?
Judging from the ditch they had been found in, the bodies had been moved...they must've been dead for a long time, but why would they be moved...?
Sawako tried to think about this logically...
'These are our soldiers, but...the way they're stacked...almost like someone just put them here on purpose...? Why...?'
She ran her fingers through her light blue, shoulder length hair. It was something of an old habit they never could get rid of when they modified her body.
"Guess I should identify them first..."
Her green eyes changed to a shade of orange...through her eyes, she saw a list of names, scrolling down rapidly, she stopped at the keywords:
"Theta Squad => Status: -All units, confirmed KIA-"
As the information was being processed, there was a red arrow pointing to the left.
"Lock-on?!" Apparently, she was being locked on by a guidance system.

As she rapidly spun in that direction, she saw a mini-missile being launched from the ground, gliding across the ground like a predator.
Instead of hitting her, it stopped about 3 feet away, soaring up into the air it hovered just above her before exploding and shooting out a dozen smaller missiles with enough explosive power to blow a tank.
"Missile pods?!"
Using her superhuman speed, she skipped backwards to avoid the missiles from hitting her. The armor had absorbed the impact of the shrapnel and her left arm had been struck by a large piece. It went through to the other side of her arm. She showed no pain, simply staring at it...
With one quick motion she pulled it out and held it like a sword.

The remaining soldiers wanted to rush to her aid, but she held up her palm to signal them to stop.
"Stay where you are..." It was probably a malfunctioning enemy weapon, taking them as a threat, and following it's primary function to destroy things that are dangerous to it's existence. "...Alright..." She just needed it to make an attack...
"....."
She waited patiently...just standing there...waiting...

A cable shot out from the ground, at the end was a steel spike, possibly used for piercing and pulling.

She moved her head slightly to the right, the cable passing over her shoulder and close to her face. She raised her hand to grab it before it was pulled back.
The speed the cable was being pulled back would've burned the hands off normal human skin...but not hers.
With her superhuman strength, as if she was fishing, she pulled the enemy out of the ground.

What came out was a 6-legged, spider-modeled machine.
Two missile pods on it's back, and one glowing red eye.
The cable was coming from the underside.

Sawako lifted her foot to allow herself to be pulled in by the enemy, taking the large piece of shrapnel she jammed it into the enemies eye, letting go of the cable so she could slide underneath the enemy.
She was in it's blind spot.
"Rest in peace now, machine of war."
She rerouted her shield generators to her arms, maximizing the power in her arm for one strong strike, at the cost of leaving the rest of her body vulnerable.
"Combat Arms: Blade, Overdrive Mode"
Energy was condensed in the form of a blade on her hand, she stabbed into the enemy, watching as the blade cut through it like tissue.
She came out on top of the enemy, having shredded it's insides, it was only a matter of time before it exploded.
She jumped away just as it did...
Not bothering to look at the explosion, she moved on...she had more important things to do than watch an explosion going on behind her...

"Soldiers...keep searching for clues of any other missing squads...be on alert, some weapons may still be active..."
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