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(AU) Neoforce: Camp Mosaic

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(AU) Neoforce: Camp Mosaic

Post by RKRobot on 10/18/2017, 3:26 am

((Hi, so here's another AU that I really loved doing!  Here's some basic information before I post the first chapter.))

Summer Camp, a time of year where kids of all shapes and sizes come to socialize, learn new skills and make memories for themselves; only this isn't an ordinary Summer Camp!  Welcome, my friends, to Camp Mosaic!

Note: Some of the characters used for this story are not mine in anyway, but I have been given absolute permission to use them for any and all artwork/written work pertaining to this AU.  Furthermore, if the creator of the character no longer wants their property to be used in this work any further, please let me know so I can take immediate action.  Otherwise, if you would like your character to appear in this story, or have any other ideas for me to take advantage of, please contact me.
I apologize in advance for making any characters appear out of character or misrepresented, and again, if you have any suggestions on how I might fix this, please contact me.  Thank you for reading!

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Chapter 1: More Than Just A Playdate

Post by RKRobot on 10/18/2017, 3:28 am

"How much more do I have to pack, Mom?" the lime green Conger Feean boy asked his golden-furred mother.

The blue-eyed woman took a step back and examined the numerous suitcases of supplies crowding up her son's bedroom.  Removing her hand from her pale chin, she sighed lightly and put her bare hands on her hips.

"I suppose that's enough for now."

The young boy slumped onto his bed in relief, hitting the back of his head on another suitcase barricading him from laying down.  Rubbing the place it where it hurt, he then asked, "Why did you make me pack so much stuff?  How long am I gonna be gone for?"

"A little while longer than you normally would get off school for winter break," his mother smirked.  In the back of her mind, she was somewhat excited to have some quality time with her sister, friends and husband without worrying too much about her son.  "Think of it like an extended camp!"

He pouted and stuffed his hands in his pockets, responding with, "Speaking of school, does this mean I'll have to bring homework with me, too?"

"Your dad's taking care of that as we speak," she smiled, leaning down to deliver him a quick kiss to his forehead.  "What you'll be doing this break is far more important than school, honey."

"Okay..." he blushed, pausing for a minute to collect his thoughts.  "I'll do it..."
-
The night came quickly and with the rising of the Conger Feean moon, Exodus was waiting for departure with the rest of his family outside his home.  Everyone he came to know and love was there: his mother, father, his aunts, and many of their friends with their kids.  Being the quiet one of his age group, several of his friends were surprised to see him go off and participate in this "exclusive camp."  Either way, he was glad they weren't coming - he felt like he needed a break from normalcy anyway, though he was nervous about meeting new people and experiencing different things.

After many hugs and kisses goodbye, the taller, green and red-furred Conger Feean came forward to give him some instructions.

"First rule, don't be so nervous," Genesis grinned, gently poking his son in the chest.  "Second rule, once you get there, find the Light Junction.  That's the central area.  From there, take the transport system to your campsite.  Third and final rule, since you won't be the only one going to this event, talk to someone else!  I assure you, they're going to love you."

"Th-that's a lot to remember, dad..." Exodus stuttered, holding onto his dad's gloved hand.

Genesis pushed his forehead into Exodus' and held his son's shoulder steady to keep him from shivering.  "There's nothing to fear.  If you should ever need us, you know how to cast the emergency spell."

The boy finally calmed down, and once Genesis took his hands off him and stepped back, Exodus' family and friends vanished in a flash of bright white light.
-
The bright light faded after what felt like hours, bringing Exodus to a grassy plain with a few trees scattered about.  The cloudless sky reflected the night, as it was back home, but it wasn’t exactly familiar.  The constellations were different here, and the air felt dryer.  He bent down to collect his magic bag, the place where his mother put all his well-organized suitcases and things.  (That was probably the best thing his crazy uncle ever invented...)  Swinging it over his shoulder, he began his uneasy trek through the plains until he spotted something in the distance.

He muttered a telescopic spell under his breath and using a flick of his wrist, manifested a temporary transparent telescope to help him see the point of interest.  Peering through his device, he determined this is probably what was known as the Light Junction.  It was very well lit here and he could hear the blue and red-shifting sounds of trains coming and going through.  There appeared to be a decent amount of aliens hustling about on the platforms, but he didn't recognize any familiar species.

Flicking the telescope into glittery magic dust, Exodus headed right for the Junction.  Even though there was a bunch of people around this strange place, he still felt alone.  He figured he must've been the only Conger Feean around, even though lots of beings had ears and tails like him.  Now that he'd gotten here, he tried to recall anything else his dad told him...

"Second rule... take the transport system to the campsite..." he repeated quietly to himself.

Around him, large bullet trains held up by magnets pulled in and out of the illuminated parallel tracks.  Echoed voices he could barely understand rang out over the intercom, likely announcing new arrivals.  What was he going to do if he couldn't figure out where he needed to go?  What if he missed his train already?

Standing next to a bench, Exodus clutched his bag straps tightly, trying to hard not to freak out over his potential mistakes.  Right before his breathing began to escalate, he heard a loud voice coming from behind him.  He spun around to silently watch a young Tropican boy with blue and green fur and really long ears try and talk to a information machine.

"TRAIN 75, I NEED TRAIN 75!" the brown-eyed boy yelled, annunciating every syllable as clearly as he could.  When the machine in front of him refused to recognize his vocals, he grunted and pulled his ears down in frustration.  "This is why WE have a bad name, geez!!"

Right when the frustrated youth laid eyes upon the spectating child, Exodus flipped back around and even pulled his dark blue hoodie over his head.  He didn't mean to stare, honest!

Out of sheer curiosity, as it was killing him as to what would happen to this other kid, the Conger Feean slowly turned back around to see where he'd gone off to - only for him to be right there!

"Hey, sorry about that!  I guess I overdid it again," the pink-muzzle on his face brightening out of embarrassment.  "I've been trying to keep my temper under control for a while now, but I promise it won't happen again!"

"It-It's really okay... I'm sorry to hear you're having a hard time..." Exodus nodded, avoiding direct eye contact with this overzealous personality.

"Yeah, when you can't understand this terrible overhead audio quality and all the booths are incapable heaps of metal, it's pretty tough to figure out where you're going here," the Tropican pouted, hopping around to Exodus' front.

From here, Exodus could get a better look at who he was talking to.  This boy was taller than him, and looked to be a couple years older, too.  The white, fluffy chest hair on his body was very shapely, coming out at four points.  He had four spines coming from the back of his head, like hair and two coming from his back.  His tail wasn't that long, and his shoes looked custom made.  There was also a matching set of sharp bracelets and anklets.  As he looked this boy over, the Tropican kept blabbing on.

"Did you miss your ride, pal?  I don't mean to judge, but you look a bit lost," he inquired, scratching behind his left ear.  It was then that he noticed this kid wasn't carrying anything.  Where could you possibly travel that you didn't need to bring anything?!

"Oh, I don't know.  I'm... I'm supposed to go camping, but I don't know what train I need to take..." Exodus exposed, getting a good enough vibe from this guy to remove his hood.

The Tropican small smile turned into a wide grin the second Exodus finished his statement.  Immediately, the kid leapt high into the air and punched the sky.

"ALRIGHT!  WHOO!  I already found my camping buddy!!"

Exodus blinked, his mouth hanging open in confusion. "Wh-what?!"

"The name's Wrath!" the Tropican revealed, zipping in to grab Exodus' hand and shake it vigorously.  "Wrathias Kaos, superstar-er, superhero of Tropic and your newest best friend!  What's your name, buddy?!"

"E-e-ex-o-o-od-du-duss-ss," the Conger Feean rattled out, holding his head after Wrath let go of his hand.  What was this all about?  Was this all a part of his father's plan?

"Exodus," Wrath exclaimed, eagerly pumping his fists.  "This is gonna be great!  I was hoping to meet somebody on the train, but I met you BEFORE the train!  That's even better!  We can be cabin buddies!"

"Y-Yeah, I guess, but..." the light green boy managed to get out, his dizziness finally fading.  "If you can't even figure out which train was number 75, then we're both out of luck.  Maybe I should call my dad..."

"No, no, wait!  Let's figure this out!" Wrath stopped him, turning around to eyeball what they had to work with.  Upon his second 360 degree turn, his big eyes fell upon a feline figure straight across the platform.

Exodus noticed Wrath's dilating eyes and squinted at him, not sure what he was doing.  "Wrath?  Wrath?  Hello?" he asked with a concerned tone, waving a little in front of his face.  He then finally turned around to watch a red and black-furred Ailuro dismount one train and take a seat.

"We, uhh, we should go over there," Wrath told Exodus, his mouth hanging open in awe and his voice particularly monotone.

"Wait, we can't just ask random people- Wrath, wait!" Exodus whispered after him, trying to pull him by the wrist.  The spiny blue and green boy was pretty tough for his size, Exodus not being able to move him much at all!  What was this kid made out of?!

No matter how hard he pulled or wished Wrath would just listen to him, Exodus cringed as the Tropican tried to flirt with this random being.

"Hey there~" Wrath smirked seductively at the Ailuro.  Her ears twitched briefly and she turned around in her seat to face him.  Underneath her raised eyebrows, her violet eyes shone brightly.  Exodus admitted to himself that whoever this person was, they were quite pretty.

"I knew what this place is called, but I didn't realize YOU were the light of this junction~" the long eared Tropican grinned, pointing two finger-guns at her.

Immediately, her expression went sour.  "How creative.  Did it take you all of two seconds to come up with that one?"  By the sound of her tone, she didn't really care to be flirted with right now.

"S-Sorry about him!  I tried to tell him it was a bad idea!" Exodus stuttered, pushing forward, his face redder than his bangs.

"Playing the pity card won't get you any farther than him," she bluntly stated, crossing her legs and arms.  "You have any other attempts or can you leave me be?  I've got a ride to wait for."

Wrath then jumped over the bench's back and swung around to the available seat beside the angered Ailuro.  He didn't get close enough to her to invade her personal bubble, but the idea of him next to her made her glare fiercely.  Exodus could see her toes clench in her sandals as he nervously awaited a slap or something.

"So do we!" Wrath told her, throwing up his arms over the back of the bench.  "We've gotta take train 75 out somewhere, but since it's my first time here, same for my friend, we don't exactly know how to identify these trains from one another!  You look pretty seasoned, though."

So that was his plan, Exodus thought to himself, relaxing a little in his stance and walking around to stand behind Wrath.  He was just in time to see the cat in the beige and white clothes jump in surprise.

"That's ridiculous!" she spat, reeling back a little in her seat.

"Pardon?" Wrath asked with a cheeky grin, his ears swiveling around to hear her better.  Even Exodus appeared stunned.

"N-No, it's nothing, just go away," the red-furred one hissed, folding her arms across her chest and turning away from the other two.

"Weird," Wrath chuckled, leaning over her seat, now completely invading her personal space.  "I thought I heard you say us getting on train 75 was ridiculous!  But that wouldn't make sense, unless you TOO were getting on train 75, isn't that right Exodus?"

"You really think that's true, based on her reaction alone?!" Exodus questioned, getting a bit closer to the pair.  "Wow, that's some really brave deduction!"

"It's not brave, it's accurate!" the Ailuro growled, shoving Wrath's head out of her way.  "UGH!  Why did dad have to send me off to camp with these idiots?!"

Exodus caught Wrath as she pushed him back, both boys watching her get up from the seat, her short tail puffing up and flicking about furiously.  Wrath then looked up at Exodus from his position in his arms and laughed.

"Funny how that worked out absolutely in our favor~"

"Yeah!" Exodus smiled, helping Wrath get up to his feet.  "And now we know that we didn't even miss the train!  What a relief…"

"Let's follow her.  She was obviously much more informed than we were," Wrath nudged Exodus and began to strut after the miffed Ailuro.  This time, both of the boys kept their distance.

What they didn't know, was that they were being followed by a red anthropomorphic mammalian being with a white stripe of hair in the middle from his top-most spine.  A lone, golden ring shone brightly on his bare, pale chest as it hung from a necklace string.  Hooked onto a belt strap was a special looking sword sheath, easily concealing a powerful weapon.  He held onto his sheath as he moved forward, following the group silently.  No one seemed to notice him among the average travelers.
-
There wasn't much to say to one another after they reluctantly left the Kingdom of Iciaura.  Their mother and father, the Queen and King of the Planet, had ordered them to complete this mission as part of their royal training, but why would they do so on a whole other world?

Continuing their waiting at the train station, the male of the twins, Prince Garment Brimagh-Matarex, sighed heavily from his side of the bench.  Bored from all this waiting, he kept kicking the metal support beam of the bench, irking his twin sister, Princess Mystessia Brimagh-Matarex.

"Stop, Garm," she shushed him, shooting him a quick angry glare before resuming her staring at the illegible television broadcast of the trains coming and going.  It was in a language she hadn't yet understood, but she imagined she'd figure it out sooner or later if she stared long and hard enough at this one screen.

"You're not doing anything important," he fired back, his long, thin, red tail flicking about.  Being identical twins, they each had similar anatomy, including inheriting their father's Lavaborne origins.

"Compared to yourself?  When I can read full - whatever this language is - that'll show you what's more important," Mystess snubbed, lifting her fluffy white chin up high.  Of course, after a few moments, she had to readjust her position in order to attempt to read more of the screen.  Even the numbers looked different!

"Technically, if I keep kicking this, I'll be a really strong kicker," he growled, starting to kick the bench more aggressively, now with both his feet.  "So I think that's more important than reading a language I haven't even heard of!"

A gentle stream of mist fizzled out of Mystess' nostrils, clearly expressing her anger.  "Keep it up and I'll knock you all the way back to your messy room in the castle..."

"I bet it's neater than yours!" Garm barked loudly, but right before his sister could lunge at him, the twins heard a friendly voice come from behind them.

"Garm!  Mystess!"

The vicious expressions the siblings shared turned right into smiles once they saw their close friend - the Ailuro girl Wrath and Exodus were bugging - coming into view.  Both teenagers hopped over the bench and went to go hug the calming Iodes.

"Wow, Iodes!  What are you doing here?!" Mystess asked, holding her friend's hand excitedly.

"Dad didn't explain that much to me, except that I was doing something for the greater good," she stated, feeling a lot better now that she'd seen some familiar faces.  "Of course, you know him - always so cryptic."

"Yeah, same for our family," Garm shrugged with a smile.  "Can't really change that ol' Triple Threat from keeping secrets."

"Tell me about it," the Ailuro added with a light chuckle.  Out of the corner of her eye, however, she detected that she didn't leave those weirdos in the dust after all.  "Let's sit where you guys were for now.  Make sure there's no spaces."

"Why-" Mystess tried to ask, but was hushed and pushed forward by the grumpy feline.

As Wrath and Exodus approached the scene, followed by the mysterious sword wielder, the children of the Triple Threat quietly occupied an entire bench that faced opposite of the boys.

"Well, if this is where she decided to be, then the train must be on its way!" Wrath concluded with a finger pointed high in the air.

"I hope you're right," Exodus said, clasping his hands together.
-

As if on command, the moment the Conger Feean finished his wish, a large train came zooming into the station, stopping before the group on a dime.  No one exited once the doors opened, even though the yellow lights that illuminated the cars made it clear this was the proper time to exit.  Mystess then shouted, and pointed to the television she was watching.  Sure enough, she could pinpoint a pair of numbers that looked like 75.

"This is the right one?" Garm inquired, looking at his sister and friend.

"I can't be 100% sure, but I don't exactly feel it's the wrong one either..." the Ailuro explained, causing the siblings to nod.

Without much more thought, the trio entered at the nearest point with their things, the lights in the car now a shade of green.  Wrath then turned to Exodus; they both determined they should follow.  Of course, that meant the unknown mammalian walked after them.

-

The inside of the train was very technologically advanced.  Sleek, stylish windows, bordered one entire side of the train.  On the other side were private cabins, enough room for four people per room.  The doors to the cabins slid open automatically and the booth-style cushions looked comfortable, built for long rides.  Each cabin had a window and space to hold private cargo.  It all looked really amazing!

Exodus kept following Wrath, seeing as he was proving to be worth having around despite his silly antics.  It was only now that he realized they were being followed by someone they hadn't met before.  He looked behind him briefly to see the straightforward glare of a red guy with pale skin on his muzzle, arms and chest.  A bit frightened by his sudden appearance, Exodus scuttled faster to keep up with Wrath until the Tropican ducked into one of the cabins.

"We're gonna sit right by that girl and her friends since she knows where we're going," he told the lime green boy, taking a seat on the left.

With a simple nod from Exodus, he took a seat opposite Wrath to try and occupy space, putting his bag in the space beneath the seat.  Unfortunately, that didn't deter this other guy from coming in and sitting next to Wrath.

"Sorry, the other cabins were full," he stated, his voice young, but strong.  For one reason or another, Exodus felt he was lying about that.

"It's okay, we're happy to share!" Wrath smiled to the newcomer.  "What's your name?"

The red guy stopped removing the sheath from his belt and blankly stared at Wrath before responding with, "Cole."

"Cool, Cole!  I'm Wrath, and this is Exodus," the Tropican introduced.  "Where are you from?"

Exodus cowered in the corner a bit further after Cole looked from him to Wrath.  "Far away."

"Really now!" Wrath said sarcastically.  "Cause I'm from Really Far Away, and Exodus happens to be from Super Far Off.  The other guys next door must be from Many Miles Away~"

This got Cole to roll his eyes and Exodus to chuckle.  Wrath continued to start conversation, even when the train began to move.  They were finally one their way to camp!

"Are you going to camp, too?" Wrath asked, well aware he was getting on Cole's nerves.

“Yeah.  You too?" he responded, taking off his shoes to fix his socks.

"Yep!  Wanna be our cabin buddy?  You can hang out with us for as long as you'd like!" Wrath encouraged, gesturing to both himself and Exodus.

"I guess so.  I barely know you though," the red one grumbled, putting his shoes back on.  They felt much better with his socks adjusted!

"I don't know Wrath very well, either," Exodus chimed in, finally gathering the courage to talk freely.  Someone was more quiet than him and that helped greatly.  He was happy to be with someone supportive and crafty like Wrath, but also to be in company with someone who didn't really like to socialize.

Cole raised his eyebrows.  "Really?  From the looks of it, it seemed like you two were really close."

Wrath stuck his tongue out a bit and giggled, "We just met tonight!  Do we really look like close friends?"

"Eh, everyone's so different around here.  Different in looks, different in relationships..." he trailed off, that last statement getting him a lot more attention than he wanted.  "Anyway, how old are you guys?  Shouldn't your mommies or daddies be with you?"

"I'd like them to be, but they're busy quite often," Wrath quickly replied.  "They also figured 13 is a good year to start doing stuff on my own.  I don't disagree."

"You're really only 13?!" Exodus exclaimed, jumping out of his seat a little.  "I'm only 3 years younger than you!"

"You guys are really only 13 and 10?!  I'm 15!" Cole added with surprise.

"Yay, variety!" Wrath blurted, clapping a little.  His silly little outburst, however got all three of them erupting in laughter.

-

By the end of the train ride, the trio of young men were much more friendly than when they began.  With a new dawn over the horizon, the laughing boys came out of their cabin both cheerful and exhausted.  They had stayed up the whole night just talking away, after all.  The neighboring cabin's residents came out a lot more quietly, looking a bit disturbed at all the noise the boys were making.

"Of course it was them," Iodes sighed as she gathered the few things she took with her.  "At least now I know who to avoid."

"Yeah, and you have us," Mystess commented, exiting first and hurrying to the exit.  Personally, she was quite eager to start whatever mission she was meant to partake in.  She couldn’t say the same for her brother, however, who came out last.

Exodus, Wrath, Cole, Mystess, Iodes and Garm had all left the train and headed down the platform in one group.  The more uppity trio lead the pack while the chattering guys hung behind.  Now that they were all clustered together, Wrath was more than ever curious to formally meet the other three.

Skipping ahead and walking backwards, Wrath held out a hand to each of the heirs and introduced himself.  "Nice to meet someone more stuck up than my dad at a gun show~  I'm Wrath!"

Sheepishly, they all shook his hand and revealed their names to him.

"Garment."

"Mystessia."

"Iodes."

“Wow, you guys take notes from Cole?  What’s with the one-word answers?” he shrugged, letting them pass him as he resumed the normal walking position.

“Don’t bother us, creep,” the red Ailuro hissed, still bitter about his unsolicited flirting from earlier.  If this were her turf, she could have easily flagged him for harassing such an important being, if she didn’t beat him to a pulp before reporting him, anyway…

Exodus shook his head as he looked up at Wrath, letting him know not to bother with them.  He knew from personal experience not everyone was going to like him, so that’s why he largely kept to himself to prevent anyone from hating or liking him too much.  At least being temporary partners with Wrath and Cole gave him a boost in confidence and prevented him from being too lonely.

The walk to the camp grounds seemed infinite, until they finally reached a forest of trees.  These trees looked really different compared to each of their home world’s vegetation, but they still had leaves, small fruit and a thick trunk.  The dirt pathway they’d been taking lead straight into one of the centermost trees, which was particularly peculiar.

“Wait,” Garm stopped and reeled back. “Did we miss our turn?!  Did we walk too far?!”

“Nobody knows!  We’ve never been here before!” Mystess exclaimed in return.

“I’m guessing no one has a map,” Cole sighed, crossing his arms over his chest.

Wrath cocked his head to the side.  “Didn’t expect to need one, considering this path was just a straight line…”

Exodus then stepped forward, getting very close to the tree.  He put his hand to the bright green trunk, and a faint glow suddenly spread from where he touched it.  He turned around to the group and told everyone, “Quick, come over and touch the tree’s trunk!  It’s going to take us to the place!”

Iodes sighed roughly, “It’s just crazy enough to work!”  She then bolted to Exodus’ side and pressed hard against the tree, a different color coming from her handprint.  Could this be their Emission guiding them, she wondered?

The other four stopped talking and rapidly made their way over to the tree, and once they each pressed a hand to it, a bright flash turned the tree into a rainbow beacon of light!  Everyone gasped, and before they knew it, they were hovering a silent white abyss.  The rainbow beam fluctuated into a swirling tornado, eradicating the white void and exposing a new area to the group.  With the new area fully revealed, the rainbow vanished into a few sparkles, which faded from existence in no time at all.

Adjusting to such a strange form of teleportation, the dazed and confused group of kids began to admire the new setting.  A massive lake with a sandy shore, rolling green hills, a lush forest and a series of structures portrayed this domain not unlike a small village.  A sign overhead the team read ‘Camp Mosaic’ in big bold letters.  The symbol on either side of the title was a six-pointed star with rainbow tips.  That explained the rainbow, then.

Wrath and Exodus looked amused, Cole and Iodes appeared indifferent, and Garm and Mystess seemed unimpressed.

It was then that a white-furred anthropomorphic being wearing a black cloak with gold and silver adornments on his shoulders and shoes came out of one of the buildings closest to the crew.  He wasn’t a fast walker, but he seemed excited to meet them, judging by the smile expanding across his pale muzzle.  Moving the messy red hair from his view, he finally came within talking distance.  He was just a bit taller than the twins, but the experience in his eyes told the group he was well over his 20’s, maybe even his 30’s.  Either way, Cole immediately reacted and stood close to Wrath and Exodus.

Everyone could tell there was something off about him, especially when he opened his mouth to speak.  “Greetings Campers.  My name is Veit.  I will be your Camp Leader.  Who do I have the pleasure of addressing?”

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Chapter 2: Camp Mosaic

Post by RKRobot on 10/18/2017, 3:35 am

With the golden sun still creeping up over the treetops, and the youth arriving at Camp Mosaic, the day was only beginning.  All six of them felt some level of exhaustion, but as the approaching man in a dark cloak introduced himself, his creepy appearance and voice had them all wide awake.

"No one wants to go first?" Veit asked, extending an arm outward.  There was this pompous air in his tone, almost like he demanded a form of respect from the get go.  The royal children understood that some titles were earned from years past and were okay with this, but the other informals weren't going to give the Camp Leader their respect so easily.

"I guess I'll go first?" Garm exhaled, dropping his luggage to the ground to stretch his arms.  "I'm Prince Garment Brimagh-Matarex of Planet Iciauara."

"And that would make me his sister, Princess Mystessia Brimagh-Matarex of Iciaura," Mytess continued, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand.

Veit smiled warmly.  "Very good!  I was looking forward to having you two come to this place!  Is everything to your liking?"

Garm shook his head, his brows furrowed and his voice echoed disappointment.  "I mean, the forests are cool, but we packed for colder climates and there's not even a snow-topped mountain around here..."

"I can't even go ice-skating if the lake isn't frozen over by any means," Mystess whined, swinging her hip to the side and crossing her arms.  "You'll fix this, won't you?  Especially if you've been looking forward to hosting the future rulers of ICE-iaura?"

Waving his hands down to help calm the irked twins, Veit explained, "Ah, right, that detail must've slipped my mind when setting up!  I will fix it as soon as I can.  Any other recommendations for future reference?"  His bright red eyes traveled from Iodes, to Wrath, to Exodus to Cole.

"What've you got so far, aside from what we can clearly see?" Iodes inquired.  "Oh, right, and I'm Iodes, Ailuro of Anount."

"Um, my name is Exodus, sir," the young Conger Feean offered up, hiding a little behind his jacket.

"Wrathias Kaos, reporting for role call!" the Tropican saluted playfully.  He then nudged Cole's arm, indicating it was his turn.

"Cole," the red one muttered, shifting his stance into something more relaxed.  His eyes had remained locked on the Camp Leader ever since he arrived.

Veit grinned and turned around slowly, beckoning the six to follow him.  "Very good.  Please, follow me.  We'll begin with a tour."

-

The kids walked along a coarse dirt pathway until they reached a log cabin-like building.  It looked quite fancy and spacious.  The windows were so clean, it appeared as if one could walk right through them!  While Veit stepped onto the staircase leading up to the door, he kept the kids on the pathway.

"This is the Camp Lounge, the main headquarters, if you will.  It comes with many facilities and rooms for all kinds of entertainment, but it is off limits for today," he elaborated, watching the disappointment flood the faces of the kids.

"Alright, that's strike two," Mystess complained.  "One more strike, and I'm calling my parents.  You're proving to be a terrible Camp Leader."

"You are quite quick to judge, my dear," the cloaked man laughed.  As he stepped down, he inched his way to the front of the pack.  "Fret not, the tour is far from over."

Walking made the group less weary of Veit and much more tired.  He showed them a variety of areas, including a lake dock, a large playground with plenty of equipment, a couple pavilions, a blacktop meant for sports, and an outdoor/indoor gymnasium.  Finally, they arrived at what appeared to be a construction site.  A large truck filled with materials and tools was off to the side, and surveyors marks were placed in various places.  It looked like there was supposed to be a house built here, but Veit stopped in front of it like it was finished.

"This here, is going to be your house-" but before he could finish, Mystess grunted angrily, throwing her bag to the ground.

"WHAT?!  THERE'S NOTHING THERE!" she yelled, her orange eyes glittering with fury.

Garm put his hand on her shoulder and tried to calm her by uttering, "Wait, you didn't even let him finish!"

"Thank you, my boy, however... she is correct about there not being a house here.  In fact, that is your first task as campers: build your house," Veit told them, presenting the tools on the ground next to the truck.  He opened the door to the vehicle and pulled out blueprints and additional supplies placing them down to the others.  "If you do not finish your house by the evening, I will return with sleeping bags so that your may rest regardless what kind of roof is over your head."

Before he could scurry away from the frustrated group, Iodes blocked his exit with an aggressive stance.  "Wait, you've got a Lounge over at the entrance, so why can't we use that?"

"It's off limits," Veit sternly repeated, but kept the smile on his muzzle.  Even though Iodes was about to retort, the man in the cloak ignored her stammers and walked off into the distance.

Mystess approached her friend, both of them so confused and so angry at the same time.  The blue girl then withdrew a special crystal from her dress pocket and shook it lightly.  Iodes could only watch her shake the crystal harder and harder.  Nothing seemed to happen.

"Great.  My Calling Crystal isn't working," she sighed putting away the rock.

"That means there's gotta be something blocking it's signal.  How much you wanna bet Veit set up a block so we can't call out?" Iodes groaned.

As the two girls carried on about the annoyances of this camp, Cole was already on the truck and grabbing some lumber.  Wrath, Exodus and Garm were just watching him, unaware of how he knew where to begin.

"Has anyone built a house before?" Garm asked the other two guys.

A 'nope' and a shaken head was the response.  Garm then walked over to Cole, now on the ground and examining the foundation.

"So, uh, Cole," the Lavaborne inquired.  "What'cha doing?"

Immediately, he was given a plank of wood to hold.  There wasn't any time to question it, as Cole gave him a direct order: "Put one of those down on each of the foundation's sides.  Use two if you have to, but I'm going to get the nails."

Now seeing Garm helping Cole, Wrath was also interested in helping.  "Come on, let's see if we can do something to help him out!" he told Exodus, pulling his friend over by the hand.

Wrath was then tasked with slicing the wood at the right measurements, and Exodus was told to hold onto the box of nails while Cole smashed each one of them into the wood set up by Garm.  Once the boundaries were set up, Cole wanted to install heavier beams of wood for the corners of the house and for the roof, so he waved over the girls to come help.

Inspired by the progress so far, the girls decided that bickering and whining wouldn’t progress the day any faster and agreed to help the others.  Cole instructed them to set up the four corners, while he stood on Wrath's shoulders to build the door frame.  Garm and Exodus used a metal ladder to start the frame of the roof.

With six of them on this task, and Cole leading the pack, the kids successfully set up the entire frame of the house and even got the insulation in.  It wasn't a big house by any means, but it was big enough for all of them to sleep in and have space for their belongings.

Soon enough, the sun was setting.  Cole didn't actually stop working on the place, even though the others took a break now and then.  Exodus even fell asleep on the roots of a nearby tree, using his bag as a pillow.  During the last of their breaks, Garm deemed it was too dark to continue working, even though he knew he could easily brighten the place up with his unique ability.

"Hey Cole, come on and rest a bit, will ya?  If you keep this up, I'll feel terrible for you not getting any sleep," he told the red one.

"It's not done," Cole replied, climbing down from one of the walls he'd just finished sanding.  Although the light was fading from the day, the Lavaborne could easily determine Cole was sweating like crazy and his muzzle was red with exhaustion.

"Yeah, but you're gonna wear yourself out," the Iciaurian consoled him, pushing him away from the building and over to where the others decided to set up for the night.  Cole hardly put up a fight, proving to just how drained he was.

In the distance, the six kids could see Veit coming forward pulling a red wagon of various things.  Iodes woke up Exodus from his nap.  “Looks like we’ll be getting those bags as promised,” she said to the boy, waiting for him to fully awaken before getting up.

“That’s good,” Exodus yawned.  “My neck hurts from sleeping like this…”

The cloaked man wheeled his cart around to show the kids he kept his word.  Inside were six different sleeping bags all rolled up and big picnic basket filled with sandwiches and drink sacks.  They quickly surrounded the wagon as Veit passed out the sleeping bags.  Each of the cozy wraps was a different color, correlating nicely to the fur colors of the mammalians.

“Now,” Veit started, grabbing some lumber from the truck and returning to the kids.  “Will the young men aid us with a little light?”

At the same time, both Wrath and Garm stepped forward and said, “Sure.”  Not realizing it until they heard one another say it, the genuinely surprised boys looked at each other and blinked.

“Pardon me, I believe he was speaking to a professional pyro,” Wrath grinned at the prince, eyelids lowered playfully.

Garm audibly gagged in bewilderment.  “YOU?!  Keh, you’re quite arrogant to think any fire you’d produce can hold a candle to mine.”

The others might’ve imagined it, but they all could swear to seeing a bright spark of rivalry between the guys.  As Vein stepped aside (once his little fire pit was formed) the Tropican and Lavaborne blasted a unique flame from each of their fingertips.  Exodus, Cole, Mystess and Iodes appeared quite startled; there were two guys in their group that could utilize a similar technique?

Iodes glanced over at Cole and Exodus.  Could those two match hers and Mystess’ powers like Wrath did Garm’s?  Or could this be just an odd coincidence?

Exodus felt her eyes on him and he shyly looked back at the Ailuro.  Iodes turned away quickly once she’d been caught staring.  The green boy didn’t know what she was thinking, but he had a feeling she was wondering about their powers too.  He was intrigued by this sudden reveal, going as far as to assume this was a camp meant for magic training.  Would he be proven right?

Veit broke the silence with a few claps.  “Very good, boys,” he cheered with a smile.  Wrath and Garm appreciated his applause, the long eared boy bowing dramatically and the prince dusting off his hands proudly.  “Now, let’s eat.  I’ve taken everyone’s dietary information into account, so nothing in this basket will cause your various allergies to flare up.”

As Veit withdrew the sustenance from the basket and began to pass it around to the campers, suspicious Mystess questioned how he knew this.  “So our parents must’ve told you everything, then.  You already knew Wrath and Garm could make fire, and you probably knew that Cole could make a house-"

“It was Cole that organized this?” Veit cut her off with eyebrows raised.

“Yeah, he just kinda started building and we figured we’d help him get it done faster,” Garm added, taking a seat to enjoy his sandwiches.

The cloaked being nodded, then looked to the red mammalian.  “So it seems we’ve got an aspiring leader of this group, already.  I’m proud to host such a capable team.”

Cole refused to speak in response and scarfed down his food and drink.  Exodus, who sat next to him, tried to eat quickly too.

Bitter that she’d been ignored, Mystess spoke up again in between bites, “Ahem, anyway… My Calling Crystal isn’t working.  Is there something that can be done about that?”

“Oh, dear,” the camp leader softly exclaimed.  “That doesn’t sound too good.  Would you like me to take it to the lounge with me tonight and so I could have a look at it?”

As he began to get up from his position beside the wagon and walk around the fire towards Mystess, she clutched the pocketed crystal fiercely.  “W-Well, its not broken,” she stammered, a little afraid he’d take it and never give it back.  “I think I’ll just try it again in the morning.  Maybe I wasn’t standing in the right spot to get a good enough signal.  Thanks, anyway…”

“As you wish, Princess,” Veit exhaled, returning to his seat, watching Mystess release her grip on the crystal wearily.  She and Iodes looked at each other briefly, sharing the same creeped out expression.  The leader of the camp took note of this and changed the subject.  “I imagine you all have camped at least once before?"

Wrath fought back a burp before announcing, “No!  I wasn’t allowed to sleep outside at all before this!”

“I only slept outside really close to my house.  I was never this far away from home,” Exodus claimed after he wiped his crumb-covered mouth on his jacket collar.

“Camping never interested me,” Iodes stated bluntly, seating herself comfortably on her bag.

“Mph, so we have plenty of experience and inexperience,” Veit understood, flicking the hair out of his face.  “So then, for those of you who don’t know, it is common tradition for group leaders to share ‘campfire stories’ to their peers.”

Garm yawned loudly.  “Dude, do you know how old we are?  I think some of us are way too old for those things.”

“NO!!  I wanna hear a story!” Wrath yelled back, raising his hand high in the air.  “What does age have to do with stories anyway?!”

Right as the male twin opened his mouth to make a snarky comeback, Veit stopped him by answering Wrath’s request.  “I would ask that all of you reserve judgement, for the story I wish to tell is a chilling horror tale.”

Immediately, the group fell silent, Wrath dropping his hand like an anvil.  Mystess of all people was the most intrigued, her ears swiveling around to the front to listen well.  Garm even did as he was told and reserved his remarks, curious as to which story this person was going to tell.  However, Exodus squirmed a bit in his seat, his lower lip quivering lightly.

Cole picked up on his body language and rapidly stated, “I do not wish to hear such a story.  May I be excused?”

“Yeahmetoo!!” Exodus added nervously, his fearful expression more apparent to the others.

“Very well.  I will be finished before the moon is overhead us.  Please be back by then,” Veit nodded with a faint smile.  Moments later, the two boys picked their things up and walked away from the unfinished house.  Wrath seemed a bit saddened by their departure, but remained seated with the others all the same.  The three royals did not object to their leaving, let alone the telling of the promised ‘scary story.’

With Cole and Exodus straying from the camp’s main pathway and heading in the direction of the heavily wooded area, the leader of Camp Mosaic cleared his throat in preparation for the tale.  Each of his listeners were waiting in anticipation for the unveiling of this tradition, Mystess appearing the most excited.

“Have you ever heard the wind whistle?”

-

The red and green mammalians kept walking, the younger of the two glad to be so far away from the telling of scary stories.  When he looked up at his older companion though, it surprised him that Cole didn’t want to be there with the others.

“Hey, Cole?” the Conger Feean asked, walking a little closer to him.  “Do you not like scary stories either?”

The red one didn’t even glance at Exodus when he replied, “Sometimes.”

One-word answers were Cole’s thing, apparently, but Exodus felt like there was something more to Cole’s reason for leaving the group.  “Um, if you saw me getting scared and you just felt bad for me, you can stop hiding it now,” the green one supposed.  That was the only reason that made sense to him other than Cole’s next response.

“I also didn’t feel like it was appropriate for a creepy guy like him to be telling a group of kids about scary stuff,” the red one said, finally turning to look at Exodus’ weary expression.  He then halted both himself and his younger companion.  “You know, if you have something you object to, you’re allowed to speak up, and if you don’t feel comfortable being alone, just ask me.  I’m sure Wrath wouldn’t mind keeping you company either.”

Looking into Cole’s sincere green eyes, Exodus knew he could trust his new friend’s words.  “Thanks, Cole!”

Without making the moment drag on for too long, Cole returned to leading the way deeper into the forest.  The two guys inspected the different trees and discussed the differences between the vegetation here and back on each of their home worlds.

“You never did mention where you were from, Cole,” Exodus curiously prodded, fondling a flower bud stemming from a low hanging branch.

“Neither did you,” retorted the red one, sliding his gloved fingers across the bark of another tree.

“Oh,” the green boy giggled, feeling more inclined to share personal information.  “I live on Conger Fee.  It’s kinda on the outskirts of the Mosaic Galaxy, but my dad thinks it’s better than living close to all his other friends.”

“That’s news to me,” Cole shrugged, leaning against the tree he was just touching.  “I don’t know much about space or the galaxy as a whole, but I know that where I lived, I was close to a lot of different kinds of people.”

“So when you answered ‘Far Away’ on the train, you weren’t as far away at all!” Exodus joked, stepping around on different bulging tree roots.

Cole snickered, “I guess you’re right about that one - didn’t think it through enough, I guess!”

-

“When the wind whistles, what does it sound like?  It may sound like call from an avian creature, the cheerful noises of an insect, or the playful cries of children.  Yet, when the wind becomes so severe and so loud, does it not sound like a scream?” Veit told the other children around the campfire.

Wrath’s fur stood on end as he huddled closer to the other three.  Mystess’ smile broadened, while her friend and brother’s expression became quite perturbed.  They all wondered where the camp leader would go with this story.  Now that he had their full attention, he continued.

“This is a retelling of a true event that occurred quite some time ago… On a cool night, just like tonight…”

A wisp of icy wind shot through the group as if on command; it tickled the arms and legs of the seated campers and slashed through the glistening fire for a split second.  Following that sharp gust of wind, came a cool layer of clouds, covering most of the rising light of the moon.  This was either purely coincidence, or Veit was somehow making this happen, thought Garm and Mystess with a simple shared look.

“There were two young children coming home from an after class sports session.  They were neighbors, so they appreciated one another for the company, as their parental figures were usually quite busy for work and could not come escort them home.  Mere minutes into their stroll, they noticed a line of police vehicles lined up horizontally along the road they used to take home.  The flashing lights of the police cars were blinding, but the children could still make out the figure of a policewoman standing beside one.”

‘Excuse me, can we get through?’ the boy asked the woman in uniform.

‘I’m sorry, but we’re in the middle of a very important investigation.  You’ll have to take another way,’ she explained, a guilty expression on her face.

The young girl shrugged and suggested they take the park trail instead.  The two thanked the policewoman and took a left down the forested path. The path had very few signs or directors indicating which way they should go next, so they put their heads together and tried to remember how the path looked in the daylight.

‘I’m getting tired of walking,’ the girl complained to her friend.  ‘Do you think we’ll be back on the main road soon?’

‘I hope so.  I didn’t see anything behind that policewoman or the cars, so I don’t know what they were really trying to investigate,’ the boy pointed out.

‘That’s true.  Besides, don’t friendly police people help young children find their ways home or give them a ride?’ the girl furthered, a quizzical look appearing on her face.

The boy pondered this for a brief moment before shaking his head.  ‘She was probably told to keep watch no matter who came by.  Our parents are always busy, so maybe she was busy, too.’

Even though they deemed the behavior suspicious, the children marched onward, the crunching branches, dirt and leaves filling the silence in between their questions and makeshift answers.”


-

Cole and Exodus continued to walk around the darkening forest, wondering when Veit’s story would end.

“Are you scared easily, Cole?” Exodus prodded, fluffing up his jacket a bit.

A shaken head was his first response.  “I used to be, but then I got more realistic.  I learned how to rationalize my fears and combatted them with my strengths.  Proving how brave I was became a priority.”

“In what situation would that be useful?” the green boy wondered aloud as he looked around him, not seeing the raised eyebrows on Cole’s face.

The red one’s initial response would have been too sarcastic, maybe even too mean to say to a 10 year old, so Cole rethought his wording before finally speaking, “The situation I was in required my actions.  It was useful for me, but my strategy might not be for everyone.”

The Conger Feean got the hint and turned around to apologize.  “Oh, sorry.  I didn’t mean to belittle your experiences…"

Cole inhaled and exhaled quietly, accepting it.  “You’re a very interesting individual to talk to, Exodus.  You certainly reminded me of someone I used to know.”

“Really?  Who?” the surprised boy asked, his eyes widening with curiosity.

Before his elder could answer, a strange humming sound filled the air.  With every passing second, it grew louder, like it was coming closer to them.    Their ears twitched about, trying to locate the sound exactly, but as Exodus squirmed with fear, Cole grabbed the ring hanging from his chest with one hand and clutched the handle of his sword with the other.

Suddenly, a thin, black line shot straight toward Exodus’ head!  Right before the line pierced the boy’s forehead, Cole withdrew his blade and deflected the weapon faster than the speed of sound.  Fresh tears began to flow down Exodus’ cheeks, horrified at what he’d just witnessed.  The scene continued to bewilder him, however, as Cole began to change right before his eyes.

-

“The children felt they’d been walking for hours, but neither of them wore watches or carried time-telling devices.  They could not tell where the moon was in the sky, as it had become quite cloudy.  It was almost like the night didn’t want them to come home, as if the night itself wanted to keep them walking perpetually in its dark entwined forests…” Veit spoke to the four other campers.

Wrath couldn’t help but shiver with every change in Veit’s vocals.  Even Mystess was so creeped out she began to fidget around with a patch of grass under her sleeping bag.  Garm and Iodes continued to hold the most composure, though they each had to admit they were worried about the ending of this tale.

Veit already felt accomplished just by looking at the kids’ faces, but he had to go on.

“Now the wind was picking up and the tree branches around them started to twist and bend.  The shaking of the leaves caused each of them to look behind every few feet or so, but in trying to outrun the noise they’d walked quite far from the path they were used to.  Neither child noticed until one of them tripped on a particularly large root of a dying tree.

‘Please be more careful!’ the young girl scolded her friend, but helped him up anyway.

‘I’ve been watching our backs, so it’s hard to look ahead of me,’ the boy whined, coming up with a fairly reasonable excuse.  ‘And besides, we’ve only tripped because we’re not on the path!  The dirt road never had roots like these.’

‘Oh, I didn’t notice that until just now… Maybe we shouldn’t try and run away from the noise and just focus on going straight in one direction?’ the girl suggested, albeit a solid idea.  Her friend agreed and so they set out for home yet again.

Ever since they went along with this plan, however, the more odd things became.  The screeching sounds of scraping branches on trunks of other trees echoed in their ears, and the rustling of leaves all around them gave them a sincere sense of dread.  No matter what sort of noise they were faced with, they went on… and on… and on…

The children eventually grew too tired to wander further and decided to stop for a rest.  Not only could they hardly see one another, but now they had some trouble hearing the other over the wind’s increasing volume.  They knew they didn’t want to stay in this area for very long, as the weather was getting far worse than they expected, but they still had little confidence they would make it out of the forest before dawn.  It was then that the girl suggested climbing the trees to see where they were from a high enough point.  The boy was still quite exhausted, so he did not volunteer himself to climb the tree, but he did help his friend get to a low branch.

Inch by inch, as careful as she could be, the young girl crawled her way up the rough and scratchy bark of the tree.  She tried her best not to get covered in wood chips and splinters but if this helped them at all, then they would be home in no time and be patched up by their parents.  It seemed like a fair trade to her.  As she grappled the next branch above her, she felt something slimy, sticky and unclean.  She wasn’t quite sure what she grabbed, so she retracted her hand immediately and looked at it.

As dark as it was, the consistency and the texture of the mysterious material told her one thing…

It was blood."


-

The red fur covering most of the mammalian’s body stood sharply on end, and the white stripe on his top-most spine almost seemed to defy gravity with how spiky it had gotten.  His green eyes appeared to glow as gold as the ring on his necklace, and he readied his sharp silvery blade in the most warrior-like pose Exodus had ever seen.

Cole turned on heel to glare at the attacker.  A hairy, eight-legged spidery monster dropped from one of the taller trees, it’s icy blue eyes stared right through Exodus.  Was this the thing that shot that black arrow at them?!  At him?!

Hiccuping in fear and instantly regretting the decision to come out to the forest, Exodus tried to clutch Cole’s arm for safety, but the sword-wielder already dashed forward.

His movements were so fast, Exodus had trouble keeping up.  Slash after slash, Cole tried to cut down the spider monster, but it ducked and dodged most of his movements.  Crawling around the speedy mammalian, it managed to launch another few black arrows (which turned out to be sharp hair fibers from its legs) at Cole, forcing him to decide between hitting it or getting hurt.

Cole wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to eliminate his foe, so he squeezed the ring on his necklace and began to radiate a bright light from his body.  The light pulsed outward a few feet and froze the spider and its projectiles in time, giving him a moment to cut down both the ammunition and the monster’s legs.  A second later, time unfroze and Exodus witnessed Cole finish off the scary beast by thrusting his blade into its head.  He didn’t even break a sweat doing all that!

The two then watched carefully as the creature disintegrated into ash and blow away in the wind.  Exodus wiped his teary eyes and ran towards Cole, ready to thank him for saving his life the way he did, but the celebration had to be withheld.  Cole pushed out his hand at Exodus, preventing him from coming any closer to his savior.

Lo and behold, behind the boys, three more blue-eyed spiders dropped down from the treetops, and fired six hair-darts at them!

-

“The girl screamed, and her friend looked up in horror as she showed him her bloodstained hand.

‘What is it?!’ he yelled back worriedly.

‘Its blood!  Blood is on this tree!’ she exclaimed fearfully.  She didn’t know whether to climb down or to keep going…  She was almost to the top after all!

‘Maybe its from something like an animal?!  Or maybe something ate red berries up there?!’ the boy desperately tried to calm her down, but she wasn’t having it.

‘I’m going to jump down!  You have to catch me!’ she cried, trying to position herself closer to her standing friend.

The boy was shocked at her decision to come down.  She was the one who came up with the tree-climbing plan after all!  Sure, the blood was horrible, but he was more concerned with getting the two of them home.  ‘Come on, please keep going!  I’m sure this will work!’

Without another word from his companion, he heard her jump from the tree, screaming on the way down, but then, just as he expected her to hit the ground…

…silence.  The girl was gone!  The boy looked frantically all over the ground to see if she fell elsewhere on the debris-ridden floor of the woods, until he felt a warm drip from above fall onto his cheek.  He reached up to touch his face, rubbing the strange sticky liquid between his fingers.  How did blood get from the top of the tree to his face, when he had moved away from the tree she climbed?

Then he heard a noise.  A squelching, crunching noise.  Another few droplets of blood rained down on his body, along with oozing transparent saliva.  An unfamiliar growl came from above him.

Slowly, the boy turned his attention to a strange figure crouched atop of a sturdy branch.  He began to tremble as he gazed upon its grotesque, pale body; it looked emaciated, with sharp claws on its hands and feet.  Its bones and ribs were visible through its thin skin.  It had a long slimy tail that wrapped arounds the tree branch, holding it in place as it loomed over the fearful child.  Its furless head was no bigger than his, yet he could only see its massive mouth, as he watched it clamp down on his friend’s lifeless body, hanging horizontally in its massive glistening jaws!

Immediately, the monster dropped the girl to the ground with a loud crack, her clothes and things soaked to the brim in dark blood and spit.  The monster above the boy then looked to him, a wide, toothy smile spreading across the entire lower half of its face.  On its body the boy cold see remnants of blue clothing and a golden badge exactly where the policewoman from before had hers.

Unfortunately, that was the last thing the boy ever saw.”

-

Cole held up his blade sideways, ready to block the darts, but for extra protection, Exodus quickly threw up both of his hands and created a bubble-shaped shield.  The red one blinked in surprise at the actions of the green one, but smiled about it regardless.  The darts faded into thin air after hitting the bubble, so Exodus popped it, and Cole shot forward at the spidery creatures.

Rather than stand back and weep, the Conger Feean concentrated some of his energy into a few tiny balls of light and returned fire to the attackers.  This helped Cole get rid of them faster, as it only took him one slice to turn them into ash rather than two.  He proudly replaced his blade in its sheath and ran his hand through his spines.

He sighed loudly, shook his head and then immediately stomped over to Exodus.  He didn’t appear to be angry, but the Conger Feean was still quite wide-eyed and clutching his chest when he approached him.

“Are you hurt?” Cole asked sternly, his green eyes firmly locked onto Exodus’ blue ones.

“Thanks to you,” Exodus exhaled, trying to remain calm.  “I am.  Are you alright?”

Cole averted his eyes and ignored the question.  “Listen to me, I’d be lying if I said I never expected something bad to happen during this trip, but… I want you to forget that you ever saw it.”

Exodus furrowed his brows and cocked his head to the side.  “Even though this is something really important that should be brought up to Veit?  What if he doesn’t know there’s monsters in the woods?!”

“That’s not what I meant,” the red mammalian face-palmed.  “I meant my actions.  It would be wise of you to never tell anyone you saw me using my abilities like I did.  They were supposed to be kept secret, and I’ll admit I was rash in using them so soon, but… I won’t leave this place until you promise me.”

The green one was taken aback by this demand.  At first, he didn’t like the idea of keeping this secret from everyone, but in true Cole-fashion, he intended on staying mysterious.  Maybe he felt more comfortable if everyone kept to themselves?  After all, not everyone could be as silly as Wrath or as expressive as Mystess.  Reluctantly, he nodded.

“Alright.  I promise I won’t tell,” he pouted.

Receiving a pat on the head from his older friend, the red one began the trek out of the forest and back on the main pathway.  Exodus walked beside him, and while he was sure he could keep this secret from everyone else, he certainly became a lot more curious about the true nature of Cole and what he could really do.

-

“Very few, lucky individuals have encountered this beast and lived to tell the tale, but more often than not, if you’re out with friends on a dark, windy night, your last scream could be heard as a mere howl of the wind…"

Across from the storyteller, the four remaining campers were all quite convinced of the story’s accuracy.  Wrath was huddled up on the floor, speaking another language to himself, while Garm clutched the edges of his bag so tightly, his hands were changing color.  Iodes and Mystess hugged each other in pure fear when the story ended, their teeth chattering up a storm.

Veit looked more than pleased with himself.  “Well, I’m glad you all seemed to enjoy my little tale!  I cannot wait to do this again to-“

“NOPE WE’RE FINE THANKS FOR ASKING!” Wrath sat up with a start, grinning sheepishly at the camp leader.  Garm screamed at Wrath’s sudden response, cupping his hands over his mouth in shocked that he did that aloud.  This snapped the other two out of their fear-induced trance and they let go of each other.

“Hooo, yeah, I didn’t expect such a good story-“ she began, but caught herself mid-compliment.  Clearing her throat, she finished, “I mean, it was okay.  You could work on your delivery a bit, but yeah, not a bad start."

Veit bowed deeply after getting up and grabbing his wagon’s handle.  “Why thank you, my dear.  Let me know if you would like to hear another story sometime, then.  I would be more than happy to oblige.”

Iodes opened her mouth to thank him as well, trying to think about something else other than the description of that story-creature, but turned to see Cole and Exodus on their way back.  “Oh, they’re back!  What great timing.  Maybe I should go with you guys next time!”

“Yeah, that story was chilling!” Wrath agreed, jumping up and zipping over to his friends.  “What did you guys do out there?”

“We explored the forest.  Not much to see out there.  Had a conversation or two,” Cole answered with a light smile.  "Were we really gone that long?  It felt like just a few minutes went by.”

“Y-Yeah,” Exodus stammered.  “So, the story was really that scary?!”

“Totally!  I mean, I’d offer to do a retelling, but I’d actually like to get to sleep sometime tonight, ya know what I mean?” Wrath chuckled and shrugged as he led the boys back over to the dying fire pit.

Before Veit began his walk back to the lodge, he stopped beside Cole for a moment.  “Thank you for going with him,” was all he said before turning towards the path and wheeling his wagon away.

The red one kept watching Veit as the others became calmer and squirmed into their sleeping bags.  It was only after Veit was completely out of sight that Cole finally decided to join them.  He took a spot away from the other five and situated himself into his cozy brown bag.  As he looked up at the night sky, which had become clear and a lot less windy since Veit finished the story, he picked the little golden ring off his chest and held it up in front of his face.  

Stretching his arm out as far as it would go so the ring looked as if it fit among the stars, he spent his night thinking to himself until he finally fell asleep.

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Chapter 3: Refusing to Lounge Around

Post by RKRobot on 2/19/2018, 7:55 am

Exodus was quite exhausted from his first day at Camp Mosaic.  That last night's sleep felt like a few minutes, as opposed to the 6 hours he actually got!  He hadn't had such a horrid rest since he endured his finals at school.  On top of feeling so groggy, he could hear his fellow campers talking amongst each other.  They were so loud and obnoxious!  He roughly boosted himself off his sleeping bag and growled in disdain.

"How did you not hear it?!  The house is completely built!" Mystess' angry voice blared like a trumpet.

"Oh, sure, act like you heard anything!  You were the first fall asleep!" her brother Garm barked back.  "Not to mention, no one could hear anything over your snoring!"

Mystess gasped loudly.  "You little--!!"

"Hey now, let's not make this into a death match," Iodes spoke up, holding each of the teens back.  She must've noticed Exodus wake up, because her voice immediately lowered in volume.  "Oh, see?  Now look what you've done!  Exodus... Hey, Exodus.”

Finally opening his blue eyes and moving his messy red hair out of the way, he saw Iodes leaning over him with an extended hand.  Her kindness spurred him awake and he took her hand without much more hesitation.  Once he was up and out of the sleeping bag, he processed what had happened and blushed a bright shade of red - a girl (other than his family) willingly held his hand!  Averting his eyes away from the Ailuro, he didn't see Wrath come up behind him.

Exodus jumped as Wrath grabbed his arms and peered his face over his right shoulder.  "Hey buddy!  Sleep well?!" Wrath practically screamed into Exodus' face.

Squinting at the long eared Tropican, Exodus lightly shook his head and tucked his hands into his pockets.  "Not really.  What are you guys yelling about anyway?"

"Oh, right!" Iodes interrupted, smacking her fist into her open palm.  "I wanted to know if you happened to hear any noises late last night!  Like, something that sounded like construction?"

"Nah," Wrath bluntly replied, still looming over Exodus' shoulder.

"Construction?  Wouldn't that have woken us all up?" the Conger Feean questioned, raising one of his eyebrows.

Iodes shook her head, sighing in addition to her reply: ”That's the problem.  None of us woke up, but..."

Wrath took that cue and spun Exodus around to look at the finished cabin behind them!  Whereas it was simply a frame and a few walls before, the camper's temporary house was entirely constructed, sanded, polished and even painted!  Exodus' jaw dropped.  

How?!

When?!

By who?!

"He's speechless, like the rest of us," Mystess huffed, folding her arms across her chest.

Garm rolled his eyes.  "Actually, he's the only one NOT talking about this."

Before the siblings began bickering again, everyone gathered up their things and headed inside.  Cole was already indoors, silently inspecting the place.  He'd lowered himself on the floor, eyeballing each board and nail before scooting over to the next square inch.  Everything was perfect!  Too perfect...

When Cole detected the others presence, he remained on all fours, but picked his head up and turned to look at them.

Mystess looked disturbed, Garm chuckled almost worriedly, Iodes' eyelids drooped, Exodus still remained speechless and Wrath's grin was positively ridiculous.  Cole sighed at the lot of them and got up, ready to report his findings.

"It seems as if this place wasn't build, but created.  There's nothing about this work that looks remotely hand-made.  It’s like someone finished it for us," he stated, putting his hands on his hips.

Everyone seemed startled by this theory, even though Mystess, Garm and Iodes knew it was probably correct.  All three of them figured it was the one person in charge of this facility, but before they could say anything more, Cole spoke again.

"However," he exhaled.  "I'm surprised none of you have noticed this, but our rooms are slightly larger and we have an expanded living area.  It's like this place was designed to hold more than just the six of us."

Wrath bounded out from behind his little green friend and grabbed Cole's shoulder excitedly.  "Aww, Cole, we would've noticed all your hard work if you let us look a little longer!  No need to be upset!"

"You idiot!" Mystess shouted.  "Cole was saying someone else remade the house so it could hold more than just us!  Geez, does he have to spell it out for you?!"

A light bulb figuratively appeared over the Tropican's head.  "Ooohhhh, I getcha!" he smiled.  "That makes more sense, since Cole went to bed at the same time we did!  He couldn't have made the house look as good as it does now in just a few short hours~"

The red one narrowed his eyes at Wrath for that last comment.  Either he was particularly stupid or just playing dumb.  Regardless, the crew scuffled around the new place in an attempt to find their places.

Exodus lingered before a doorway with four labels on it.  Two names he recognized: his own and Wrath’s.  The other two were different.

Wrath strolled over to the same door as Exodus and punched the air in delight.  “Yahoo!  I get to room with Exodus!” he exclaimed.

“Yeah, but…” Exodus pondered a bit more before continuing.  “What do those other words mean?  Are they names or are they something significant?”

The two words were “Magic” and “Serenity” and they appeared on separate lines like Wrath’s and Exodus’ names.  The Tropican calmed his happy exterior and ignored Exodus for a moment as he opened the door to the room.

“Hey!  Wrath!  Don’t go in without knocking!” Exodus called after him, following him to reveal the room had 2 sets of bunk beds.  Obviously this meant that those were names that appeared on the label, not just words.

With their suspicions confirmed, Exodus spoke up to Wrath, “Looks like those were names after all, right?”  When he turned to look at the long eared boy, he froze.

Wrath’s face looked the most serious it had ever been since the Conger Feean met him.  His eyes darkened and his brows furrowed, like he was pissed to find out he’d be rooming with others.  This expression scared Exodus, but his deeper voice chilled him to the bone.

“This is going to be more interesting than I thought,” Wrath muttered.  He then quickly turned back to Exodus with a completely different, more happy expression and tone.  “I can’t wait to meet our new friends!”

A sweat drop fell from the green one’s cheek, lightly giggling with his roommate.  What was that just now?  Did Wrath just want to be overdramatic, or was he hiding something like Cole?

Stepping out of their shared room, they glanced over at the twins, who had just left their room.  Interestingly enough, they had come to a similar conclusion.

“I hope you’re right,” Garm said to his sister, adjusting the collar of his white jacket.  “If that’s the case, then we should really find Veit and have a talk with him.”

“Seriously, if my Crystal was working right now I’d have called Mom and Dad hours ago to report this.  If we talk to him, Veit’s probably just going to shut us down again with more stupid chores and campfire tales,” the big sister replied, brushing her hair with a comb.

“What did you two find?” Exodus asked them.

The male sibling shrugged before responding.  “Looks like two others named ‘Herb’ and ‘Peace’ will be sharing our room with us.  They don’t exactly sound like real names, though, so I’m speculating they’re like significant elements of some kind on this world.”

“I think they are real people, they just aren’t with us right now,” Mystess hypothesized.  She then put on an evil smirk and turned her hands into claws, creeping toward the nervous-looking Conger Feean.  “Maybe they were the former members of the camp and this is all just a trap to steal our spirits while we sleep!  Then our names will be added to the door like a notch in an evil monster’s belt, waiting a whole season when a new group of suckers comes to be turned into victims for consumption!  Muhuhuhuaahahahaa!”

Exodus yelped and ran the other direction, smacking right into Cole’s bare chest.  Trembling in his arms, Exodus was really glad to rely on Cole for comfort.  The red one shot the laughing twins a glare as Iodes and he returned from their shared room.

“That story you heard last night only gave you fodder for scaring everyone else, huh, Myst?” Iodes said, rubbing her temples a little to relieve a headache she’d gotten.

The Princess wiped her tearing up eyes before ending her laughing fit.  “You know me too well!”

“Just promise me you won’t leave a poor impression on whoever might be arriving soon.  I’m sure ‘Xenon’ and ‘Icarus’ won’t tolerate a Princess or Prince acting so uncivilized,” Iodes commented snidely, watching the sibling’s completely ditch their silliness in favor of snobbery.

“I’ll have you know that my jokes and stories are the finest in the Kingdom of Iciaura!” Mystess objected firmly.

Her brother followed up with an equally snooty reply: “It should be illegal to consider the Matarex-Brimagh twins as anything but civilized!”

Wrath giggled, “It’s only fair to treat the newbies as trashy as you treat the rest of us.”

“Trash?  The six of you are hardly trash,” a raspy, older voice spoke out.  All of them turned to find Veit in the front doorway of their camp cabin.  “However, I’d be willing to argue that your true potential is far from being achieved.”

Finally, they could get some answers now!

“Veit, I demand to know what’s going on here!” the female Iciaurian shouted at the leader.

Veit’s cloak flowed as he walked further into the cabin.  “Is it not obvious enough?  I even provided you the names of those that will be accompanying you.”

“Why do we even need this many campers?  I thought this was a training journey for just us!” Garm continued, backing up his sister.

“How selfish of you to assume you’re the only ones to ever get special treatment,” Veit calmly retorted.

The siblings were shocked by that remark, both of them stepping back as Veit slowly approached them.  The others were silent until this point, but Iodes felt it necessary to ask more questions.

“So you’ve made it clear that this training journey is meant for beings with potential.  While I think your comment about being selfish is unnecessary, I must ask,” she paused, moving closer to the leader, who now stood in the center of the six.  “Why did you not inform us of the others upon arrival?”

“Have you noticed it only took a day for the six of you to get used to each other?  Had I added any more participants to the mix early on, it would have taken twice as long for any of you to bond and become close,” he spoke, glancing at Exodus standing near Cole.  “Additionally, I’ve observed enough to divide each of you up into cliques - the royals and the ‘good guys’.  In a similar fashion, my other six campers fell into other categories.  Which groups will like or hate which?  Will there be any quarrels to work out among personalities?  How can I get 12 kids to reach their maximum potential in a summer’s time?  The answer awaits beyond this day.  Miss Ailuro, it was simply a matter of order versus chaos.  I chose order.”

Iodes’ eyes widened with surprise.  She didn’t expect such intelligent responses from this being, let alone a complete answer.  Backing away from him with her pride stained by embarrassment for underestimating this guy, she had nothing else to say on the matter.

Veit smiled, satisfied with how quickly he put the quizzical kids in their place.  He waited just a moment before turning around and heading outside once more.  “If you’d like to meet your roommates, I suggest you follow me to the lounge.”

Wrath noticed how reluctant everyone became, glancing around at their unsure and nervous faces.  Taking action, he walked over to his ‘good guy’ friends and smiled reassuringly.  “I think we should get going.  I’ve been curious to see the lounge after he teased it so hard yesterday!”

“Right, we couldn’t even enter that building before,” Cole nodded thoughtfully.

Exodus agreed with the two and followed them outside, the other three lagging a little behind.  Looking back at them, the Conger Feean supposed they’d never been talked down to like that before.  Veit even called them “the royals” outright, like it was something to be ashamed of.  Perhaps if they’d been a bit more modest in their wording or speaking volume, they wouldn’t have gotten such a rude label.  Even so, Exodus and the others were grateful for their questions.  Now they knew what was going to happen next.



While the first team of six followed their camp leader to the lounge, the second group awaited their arrival in the common room of the cabin.  A few of them took seats positioned before an inactive fireplace, while the others stood elsewhere about the room.  By looking at any of their expressions, one could easily come to the conclusion they were bored out of their minds.

A short, young girl with burgundy fur and white bangs stood up from her seat and sighed obnoxiously loud.  “UGH, isn’t there anything we could do while we wait?!”

Her high pitched voice startled a red and black wolf seated perpendicular to her.  He said nothing in response, but shot her a disturbed glare she blatantly ignored.

Another young, male voice piped up in response to the whiner.  “You really want to work on something else after we spent all night finishing that house?”  The voice came from the being seated next to the energetic girl, with fur as white as his pale complexion.  His blue coat and boots concealed most of his body, and his long sleeves just barely covered up a high-tech camera that hung from around his neck.

She spun on her toes around to the boy with the camera, focusing her faded green eyes onto his bright yellow ones.  “I suspected you’d be just as lazy at camp as you are at home, big brother.”

Pouting, the sibling replied to the frustrated girl, a matter-of-factness apparent in his voice.  “We’ve got a whole summer to do plenty of things on a scheduled and timely basis.  We don’t have to rush to get everything done today.”

“Well then, what does everyone else think?” the burgundy girl asked loudly, so everyone in the room could hear.  “Should we go out and try to get some camp stuff done?”

A maroon and black-furred being clicked a palm-sized mirror shut and slipped it in one of her front pockets.  She turned away from the window she’d been next to, getting the best of the natural lighting to finish her makeup application.  “I guess so, but it doesn’t hurt just to wait a little bit more, Magic,” she groaned, her voice reflecting a more masculine tone than the younger girl.  “What exactly did you want to do, anyway?”

“I wanna go out and see the rest of this place, darn it!” Magic shouted, pumping her fist into the air excitedly.

Leaning against wall in a darker spot of the room, a reptilian girl spoke up, an obvious elegance in her speech.  “You mean to tell us that your father runs this place and you two had no involvement in the construction of anything but our camp cabin?!”  She sounded quite irritated, flicking her long, dark green hair as she stepped out of the shadows.  “What a waste of time.”

“There’s nothing wasteful about it, Serenity,” the red and black-furred wolf muttered in his low voice, tensing up in his chair.  “He didn’t want them to know any more than we do.”

Magic’s smile returned as she bounced over to the wolf boy.  “See?!  Herbert gets it!”

The boy’s light brown eyes were barely visible when he squinted at Magic.  “It’s ‘Herb’ and nothing more.  I’m getting tired of correcting all of you.”

“To be honest, I agree with Magic,” another female voice spoke up from a seat parallel to Herb’s.  This girl wore what could only be described as “gothic” clothing, and her long, red hair and bangs had purple streaks and green tips.  This fashion disaster was largely ignored by the others until they realized she, too, was here to stay.  She continued in her gravelly voice, “If this place is magical enough to prevent any of us from using our powers, it should also prevent us from entering specific areas - like an invisible barrier we can’t pass just yet.”

“Why would Father make an area designed to prohibit us?” the white-furred one questioned, furrowing his brows at the red-furred feline.  “This isn’t exactly a video game, you know.”

“That’s exactly why I want to explore, Peace!” Magic shouted at her brother, startling him enough to jump an inch off the cushion.  “If you won’t come with me, I’m gonna take Icarus and Xenon, since they’re the only ones who care!”

“You can’t!  You don’t know what’s out there!” Peace yelled back, finally standing up from his seat, attempting to assert dominance.  He was a foot taller than her, but his thin and fragile overall appearance was far from intimidating.

Magic snorted, “I’ll just have to find out without you.”

Before he could stop her, the little girl made a break for the exit, followed by the two girls she mentioned.  Peace helplessly shouted after all three of them, hoping they’d turn around and come back inside.  When no one came back and the sound of footsteps blue-shifted away from the lounge, Peace’s heart rate tripled.

Noticing the shaking that came with Peace’s quickened heart rate, Herb calmly got to his bare feet and looked at Serenity.  “Let’s go.”

“Why should we?” the girl sassed, swinging her hips to one side.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Herb replied firmly.  Not wanting to argue any more, the reptilian girl rolled her eyes before reluctantly following the wolf out the door.

Peace couldn’t be happier with their decision to help and with fresh tears in his eyes, he bolted after them.  Hopefully he would find her and bring her back here before their father came back…

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Re: (AU) Neoforce: Camp Mosaic

Post by Genesis on 2/19/2018, 8:34 am

*pokes with a bear* Moar plz.

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Chapter 4: Dare to Pair

Post by RKRobot on 7/18/2018, 5:46 am

Exodus still had trouble keeping his eyes open and right when he thought it would be a good idea to rub them clear, he bumped straight into Veit.  He immediately apologized and backed off the camp leader, who had frozen in the middle of the path.  It was hard to tell if he was even breathing.  What happened?!

Afraid for what might come next, Exodus fearfully buried himself between Wrath and Cole.  Both looked confused as to why the group was forced to stop walking.

“What’s wrong?” Cole spoke up, a bead of sweat dripping down his cheek.  When he received no answer, he held out his left hand to signal the three behind them to halt.  He waited until he heard the final crunch of their shoes on the dirt walkway before dropping his arm.

“It seems we have an emergency,” Veit said in a hoarse whisper.  Wrath’s long ears slanted back, but he wasn’t the only one disturbed by this chilling tone.  With everyone cautiously waiting to hear what more he had to say, Veit continued: “I want the six of you to scour the grounds for the other campers.  Return empty-handed and you will face the ultimate punishment.  You have until sundown.”

Finishing his demands, he flipped his black hood over his head and continued to the lounge, alone.  As they followed him with their eyes, the group discovered that the lounge door was wide open.  It became apparent to the team that the other six campers were not allowed to leave the lounge until Veit arrived with their group, but…

“Where’s he going?  Isn’t he going to help look?” Mystess questioned, raising an eyebrow.

“Guess he’s not as concerned as he sounded,” Garm guessed with a shrug.

Iodes hesitated for a moment before asserting herself among her peers.  “Even with his strange behavior, we have a new mission to take on.  There’s several ways to go about this, assuming different things regarding how the others left the lounge.  We can either split ourselves up six different ways, split up into three ways and pair each other off, or we can all look together.  Obviously, if we split up into individuals, we can cover more ground, but there’s a chance we could lose each other in the process.  The more together we are, the least likely we are to be in danger of some kind.”

Cole agreed with a nod before suggesting, “We should pair off.  We can cover a large amount of ground, all while keeping track of one another.”

“Makes sense to me,” Garm affirmed.  “We also have to assume the others are either hiding, in danger, or playing harmlessly in a place we don’t expect to look.”

“Of course, if they’re doing none of those things when we find them, we’ll ask questions then,” Mystess reasoned.

Iodes eyes sparkled with delight.  It was really exciting that an idea she came up with was so widely accepted so quickly.  Was this what it was like to be a leader?

Wrath looked over at Exodus, his ears reverting back to their normal positions.  “Do you think this is a good idea, buddy?”

It was kind of the older boy to ask for his young friend’s opinion on the matter, even though he already felt like the group made the decision unanimously.  Exodus nodded with a smile.

The Tropican then asked him another question, but loud enough so the others could hear them.  “How do you think we should go about deciding who goes with who?”

Normally, with everyone’s eyes on the Conger Feean, Exodus would shiver and stammer his way through any major idea sharing.  Thanks to Wrath’s helpful transition, however, he felt strong enough to say, “I think we should draw straws!  You know, like we get six straws and cut them differently.  Whoever gets a matching pair of similarly cut straws goes together.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Garm agreed, impressed with the little green guy’s plan.  “It’s just... I don’t think any of us have straws or sticks to cut."

“Not to worry,” Mystess smirked at her brother, before grabbing a handful of his spiky red hair and ripping it out of his scalp.  While Garm screamed in pain, everyone else stared in shock while Mystess explained.  “My brother always puts tons of stuff in his hair to make it so straw-like!  See?  Already got the pieces ready!”

In her hands were long and short strands of her brothers hair and she gave them to Exodus so he could choose the best ones.  The young boy felt funny about touching someone else’s hair, especially since that somebody was still clutching their head in agony, but he proceeded with the selection process.  He found matching pieces - or as close as he could get it - and rubbed them in his hands to shuffle them up.  When he was ready, he presented the hairs and told everyone to choose just one.

When all the pieces were plucked from his fist, he told everyone to measure the hairs up to one another and see if they had a match.  The end results were: Iodes and Mystess, Wrath and Garm, and Cole and Exodus.

“It’ll be nice having someone competent on my team for a change~” Mystess teased her twin.

“Yeah, Iodes, good luck having a deranged lunatic for a partner!” Garm retorted, giving his sibling an obscene hand gesture for good measure.  Right before Mystess could launch herself at him, however, Iodes sighed and dragged her friend off by the arm in the direction of the camp’s lake.

Meanwhile, Cole bent down to Exodus and asked in a whisper, “Is it alright if we return to the forest?  I want to know more about what happened last night.”

Exodus tensed up, but grunted in approval.  He also wanted to know more about those strange creatures that attacked them.  What were they?  Where did they come from?  Were they even supposed to be here?

“Right then,” Cole said, getting up.  “Wrath, Garm.  Exodus and I will head to the forested area.  If you two search by the cabins and playgrounds, there’s a good chance someone will turn up here before the sun sets."

“We’re just playing defense, then?” Garm groaned.  “Ugh, fine.  Good luck, guys.”

“See you all soon!  Take care of each other!  Don’t get lost!  Come back in one piece!  Bye-bye for now!” Wrath called after them, waving with his arm as high as it could go.  He finally stopped when he detected Garm’s narrowed orange eyes on him.

“They’re only gonna be gone for a few hours, max,” the Prince remarked flatly.

Wrath’s smile broadened.  “Then we should see which pair finds the most campers in the fastest time!”

“I guess I could use a couple more things to brag about…” the light blue one reasoned, rubbing his chin a bit in thought.

“Why not, right?” Wrath shrugged approvingly, leading his new partner down the same path they just walked.  Hopefully they’d run into someone who decided to stay close to the main campsite.

-

“MAGIC!!  MAGIC!!  WHERE ARE YOU MAGIC?!” Peace kept calling out, much to the dismay of Herb and Serenity.

As the trio walked, they came upon the camp’s lake.  A simple sign labeled ‘Tile Lake’ had been rooted next to a short wooden dock.  The waters were still, its waves moving only with the wind.  Herb stopped and looked around, his nose twitching as he sniffed his surroundings.

“So much water,” he stated listlessly.

“Maybe she went swimming?” Serenity asked, flicking her long green hair with her tail.

“No!  Magic doesn’t swim!” Peace blurted out as he turned around toward his teammates.  His worried expression didn’t really phase the two.

“So then, she drowned,” Serenity sarcastically sneered, putting her wrists to her hips.

Peace’s face became increasingly more flustered.  “NOooo, that’s not what I meant!!  She doesn’t swim without her floats!  B-But don’t tell her I told you that!  She wouldn’t be pleased with me if you knew,” he explained grumpily.

“That’s not entirely unbelievable,” Herb chimed in.  “She knows advanced techniques like object manipulation, but when it comes to basic talents, she knows nothing.”

“Thank you, Herb,” Peace sighed in relief.  At least someone understood!  “Still, do you guys think she could be here?”

Serenity crouched down next to the edge of the sandbar.  She gently caressed the sand around her with her fingertips, not feeling a trace of Magic’s Life Force Energy.  “If you said she doesn’t swim, she won’t be here.  For all we know, she’s just looking around and annoying the other two to no end.  Not too different from my point of view.”

Peace furrowed his brows, getting sick of Serenity’s sass.  However, he needed her to help him find his sister, so he didn’t want to fight.  He tightened his lips, holding back his fighting words and turned away from her.  He had no time for this, anyway.

Herb offered a hand to Serenity as he lifted her from her crouched position.  She brushed off her black, gray and white skirt and fixed her red scarf before asking, “So now that we’ve ruled out this area, where should we go now?”

“Perhaps the shack over there will hold a clue,” Herb suggested, pointing to a wooden cabin just around the bend.  The sign hanging above the doorway referenced sea life, so the trio assumed this was where all the lake activity supplies were held.

Peace jogged over there first and with a hard shove, managed to get the sticky door open.  The three of them found exactly what they expected: canoes, kayaks, fishing poles, little cages, tackle boxes, a boxed raft and a couple lifesavers.  Everything looked a little dusty except for a fairly new looking box of kids arm floats and inner tube set.  Peace quickly checked the box, finding the float set still inside.  He sighed loudly and relaxed a little.

“Looks like she wasn’t here, otherwise she might’ve taken these,” he said, showing the other two the box.

Herb nodded, remaining in the doorway.  “Then we’ve struck another dead end.”

“You know, I didn’t actually believe you until now,” Serenity chuckled.

“Please, don’t say anything!  Please, Serenity!” Peace begged, closing the box tight and trying to hide it underneath the other supplies.  “She’ll be really upset if she’s made fun of!”

“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t~” the girl teased, gently flicked Peace’s short black nose.  “I might keep this a secret if you do me favors for the whole season!”

Before the blushing, stammering boy could really respond, Herb spoke up, his voice much more stern than before.  “That’s excessive, Serenity.  Don’t be selfish.”

The green girl pouted at Herb, crossing her arms over her chest.  “You’re gonna be real fun to have around, aren’t you?  Fine.”

Peace, relieved yet again by Herb’s rescue, mouthed ‘thank you’ to the wolf before leading the three of them outside again.

Once they returned to the lakeside, Serenity stopped dead in her tracks, grinding her heels into the sandy shore.  There was something different coming their way.  A new kind of Life Force Energy?  Once Herb took a few steps closer to the water, he felt it too.  Peace was the only one to not feel anything, so he asked what they were doing.

“This is a strange time to look serious over the water… what do you guys know that I don’t?” he questioned.

“I’m getting two,” Serenity said to Herb, who grunted in agreement.

“Two?  Two who?  Two what?  What do you guys mean?!” Peace yelled in frustration.  When he didn’t get a response, he picked up his camera and held it up to his eyes.  Adjusting the zoom and looking over the lake, he saw two teenage girls coming their way.  One looked more feline, and the other more canine, but both of them were super cute.  Taking the camera away from his face, he turned to where the others were standing so he could report his findings, but noticed they were on their way around the bend to meet them!  No fair!  “H-Hey!!  Wait up, please!!"

As Iodes and Mystess arrived at Tile Lake, they saw three figures walking their way.  Eyebrows raised, the girls looked at each other.

“Did… Did the missing campers just find us?” Mystess asked her best friend.

“Well, might as well meet them while we have their attention,” Iodes returned with a shrug.

It wasn’t long before both groups came within speaking distance.  There was something uncannily familiar about the lizard girl and the wolf boy, but the awkward one with the camera… he wasn’t ringing any bells.  Iodes decided to keep up her role as leader and started the conversation.

“Greetings, campers,” she said, approaching them with a light bow.  “I am Iodes, and this is Mystess.  We were tasked with finding you, but we’re happy you found us so quickly!”

Peace tripped and fell face first into the sand.  As he got up to his knees, the other four watched him tear up with great fear in his eyes.  “What am I going to do now?!  He knows we’re gone, but I still haven’t found Magic yet!  Ohhh, what am I gonna do?!” he exposited while trembling.

Serenity, flicked her long dark hair to the side and replied to his rambling, “Duh, still look around.  I mean, now we have an even bigger search party, so we can get them to do all the hard work for us.”

Mystess snorted in disagreement, stepping forward to approach Serenity.  “Umm, no, our job is done.  The only thing we had to do today was find the missing campers.  That’s it.  We’re not doing anything FOR you, we’re just finding YOU.  Got it?”

“Oh, I got it,” Serenity firmly replied, putting her hands on her hips.  “So if you don’t bring us back, your job isn’t done, is it?”

Mystess’ eyes widened.  Serenity grinned.

“Alright then,” the green girl smirked.  “Peace, Herb, let’s continue our search.”

Iodes looked on with confusion as the two males lined up beside the female.  She grabbed both of their hands and suddenly, within seconds, all three of them vanished!  Both remaining girls jumped back, startled by this action.  How?!  Where did they go?!  Where could they go?!

Mystess kicked the sand in frustration, furious that this fashionably-dressed lizard lady was able to outsmart her using her own words!  Luckily, the sand she kicked stopped falling in mid air.  That wasn’t possible!

“Hey, look!” Mystess signaled to an equally-frustrated Iodes.  Both girls watched the sand was lifted higher into the air and then seemingly shaken off into the wind.  “Is the sand… delayed here?”

Iodes stared at the ground where the other three stood.  A footprint seemed to shift in location.  She smiled, figuring them out!  “They’re not gone, they’re just invisible!” she told her friend, kicking more sand at where they stood.

Just as they expected, the sand particles fell onto rough outlines of where Herb, Serenity and Peace were standing!  Having been discovered, the trio of missing campers ran off in the direction of the forest.  If they got away from the sand, Mystess and Iodes wouldn’t be able to track their footprints!  Quickly, the two girls dashed into action, sprinting after the invisible campers.

‘Good thing we didn’t let on that there were others in pursuit of them,’ Iodes thought to herself as she ran.  ‘If Cole and Exodus help us, we can collect them quickly!’

Mystess, meanwhile, was thinking about something Peace said.  ‘What did he mean by not finding Magic?  Was this the same Magic on Wrath and Exodus’ door?  If that’s the case, we’ve got our work cut out for us…’

-

“So like, what do you think will happen if there wasn’t any sunlight, suddenly?” Xenon asked Icarus, nonchalantly.  This disturbed the marroon-furred girl a little bit, but she still tried to answer without asking how she came up with such a question.

“Ah, well, we’d probably all freeze to death!” she chuckled nervously, sidestepping an inch away from the gothic girl.  “I’m kinda hoping it doesn’t, though.  That wouldn’t feel very good.”

“Oh,” Xenon stated with great disappointment.  “I’m just getting a little tired of the sunlight trying to burn me through these trees.  It’s so bright compared to the shade the canopy provides.”

“Maybe we can ask Veit if you could have a hat or a pair of sunglasses when we get back,” she consoled the girl trying to shield her eyes from the sun with her hand.

Xenon nodded, a little saddened that her issue with the bright light could easily be eliminated.  “I guess that’s one way to solve the problem.”

Interrupting the older girls, the youngest of the group shouted back, “Hey!  Don’t forget that without the sun, we wouldn’t even have moonlight!  It doesn’t glow on its own, ya know!”

The red-furred feline looked even more upset by that news, giving herself a comforting hug.  “I-I didn’t know that…” she mumbled.

Icarus watched Xenon hunch over, hanging her head lower than before.  Perhaps this wasn’t common knowledge where she came from?  Icarus took the initiative and moved closer to the goth girl, gently placing her hand on her shoulder.

“Hey, maybe we can ask Veit instead of the hat and glasses, let’s do some nighttime activities!  There’s gotta be fun things do here at night that we can’t do during the day!” the maroon-furred girl suggested with a wink and a smile.

Xenon turned to look at Icarus, her deep green eyes shining with affection.  “That’d be pretty cool.  Tag is my favorite thing to do in the dark.”

Even though she spoke calmly, Icarus knew she helped make her feel more comfortable.  “Yeah?  I’m always game for some freeze tag!” Icarus continued, glad she had something in common with this camper.

“Hey, hey, if you guys like tag we should play right now!” Magic squeaked, spinning around to the older girls.  “I’m the bestest at tag and I’ve beaten my brother one million to three!  Not even Father can catch me!”

Icarus tried to grin, but it accidentally became a grimace.  Xenon, however, was unafraid to express her dislike for the idea at current.  “I don’t want to run around in the day time because it’s so easy to get caught.  Besides, how can you focus on winning when you want to explore the camp grounds?"

Magic had to stop walking to think about her reply, forcing the other two to stop in their tracks as well.  “Hmmm, that is a good point.  I can’t be at the top of my game AND be leading the exploration of this place at the same time…”

Icarus sighed lightly in relief.  She didn’t want to lose sight of Magic, since she was so young and vulnerable.  She’d feel guilty if anything happened to this cute little girl!  “Why don’t we take a few minutes to chill?  We’ve already been walking around for an hour now.  Aren’t your feet getting a little sore?”

“Heels might not have been the best choice for me,” Xenon admitted, looking down at her tall, black boots.  “Even though I really like them…”

“That reminds me!  Xenon-non-non-non, why do you dress so strangely?” Magic asked honestly, hopping eagerly towards the gothic girl.  “You wear this outfit, even though you’re at camp!  Did you pack anything else to wear?”

Xenon seemed appalled by this question, making a disgusted face in response.  With her tail flicking back and forth, she replied, “Anything considered ‘campy’ should never have the honor of being near my fur.  Unless its black and white and matches my gold accessories, it doesn’t have a chance with me.”

Icarus and Magic looked at each other, blinking in surprise.  As predictable as her response was, it still threw them off guard when she actually said it.

“I can understand that s-somewhat,” Icarus said, stumbling over the last word.  “I prefer pants to dresses and skirts myself, but I think I can look good in any color to say the least.  I don’t think I have a favorite style though!”

“Magic has a favorite style!” the youngest one shouted, whipping out a thick-bristled paint brush from somewhere...?  The brush appeared to be wet, too, but there was no color on it.

Icarus backed away from the young girl and shuffled towards an equally alert Xenon.  What was she going to do with that brush, now raised high above her head?!  Suddenly it started shooting sparks from each bristle, lighting up like a fiber optic display!  Just as both girls braced for something crazy to happen, a red and white blur tackled the young mage to the ground, disarming her completely.

“Cole, I got it!” a boy’s voice called out from close by.  A smaller green figure dove into a roll and snatched up the brush, causing it to stop sparkling.

Icarus and Xenon were frozen with shock.  A red furred mammalian with white bangs pinned Magic down on the ground.  A younger, greener mammalian held her magical brush hostage.  Where did they come from?!

Icarus felt obligated to step up, as Magic was starting to become upset under this guy’s pressure.

“Hey!  Get off her!  Don’t you know you’re hurting her?!” Icarus yelled before shoving the guy hard off the little girl.

“She could’ve hurt us all if I didn’t act like I did,” the red guy growled, picking himself up and off the ground.

“I was just gonna change everybody’s outfits to my favorite kind of outfit...” Magic admitted, her eyes dampened by tears.

Icarus silently helped her up, but Xenon crossed her arms over her chest, remaining in her spot.  “Honestly, if she was gonna change my clothes, she needed to be stopped... maybe not like that, though.”

“Whatever, it’s over now.  We found the missing campers, Exodus, so we should head back now,” Cole huffed, brushing his chest free from dirt.

Exodus, who was still clutching the little girl’s brush, nodded.  “I-If you three wouldn’t mind, w-we need you to come back with us now.”

“Why should we?!  You just attacked us!” Icarus angrily shouted, bearing her fangs.

“Camp Leader Veit told us to fetch the missing campers before sundown.  I’ll apologize to the kid if you come quietly so we can complete our mission,” Cole stated firmly, locking eyes with Icarus.

Magic got up from the ground, trembling.  Exodus saw this and felt sorry for her; Cole didn’t mean to be so rude and condescending, surely!  He was just doing what was asked of him, not to mention, he was scared of what lurked in this forest.  After last night, anyone would be...

Approaching her, Exodus held out the magical paint brush and said softly, “Here.  Sorry we scared you.  We thought you were something else!”

Magic’s eyes glistened with light, gently rubbing her tears off her pale cheeks.  She quietly accepted the brush and held it close to her body.  Her small frown turned into a big smile, causing Exodus to smile, too.

“Thank you,” she uttered.  “My name is Magic.”

The Conger Feean blinked in understanding.  “I’m Exodus.  It’s nice to meet you—“

Suddenly, Exodus remembered something important!  The words on the door of the room he and Wrath shared... Magic and Serenity!  He’d found someone named Magic!  Did that mean she was to be their roommate?!  And who was Serenity?!

“Are you alright?” the comforting voice of Cole spoke up.

Exodus shook himself free from his thoughts and quickly redirected his attention to the other ladies.  He began to sweat nervously, not sure if he should be so assumptive, but he was awfully curious about his fourth roommate!

“E-Excuse me,” he began with a stutter, “Are either of you named S-Serenity?”

Xenon sighed audibly, loosening up a little.  “No, my name is Xenon Arachne Blood Dark’ling.  Why?”

“Wow,” the other felinae exhaled, her eyebrows raised in bemusement.  “I did not expect you to have that many names!  Either way, I’m Icarus.  Serenity isn’t in our triad.  I thought she was still back at the lounge?”

“Apparently not,” Cole shook his head, beginning to walk off.  “Veit mentioned ‘other’ campers going missing.  Our own team of six split up to find you.  However, it sounds like there were more than just the three of you.”

Icarus turned to look at the girls, as if she were asking them an unheard question.  After they both nodded to her, giving her confidence to reply, she caught up with Cole and explained the situation.

“Yes, you’re right.  There’s six of us, like there were six of you,” she stated calmly.  “However, we split up into two groups of three.  One of your duos won’t be finding us any time soon.  I wish I could tell you where Herb, Peace and Serenity went, but... we left minutes before them.”

“Then we should move quickly,” the red mammalian told her, looking up into the canopy of tree leaves.  The fractions of light that shone through the gaps told Cole they only had about 5 hours before their deadline.  “We only have until sundown to find them, before we all face the ultimate punishment.”

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Chapter 5: Blowing Off Steam

Post by RKRobot on 9/29/2018, 5:07 am

The hot plastic of the play sets scattered around Fragment Park were hardly an issue for the pyrokinetic boys.  While Wrath took his time climbing inside each tube, leaping over gaps large and small and crawling through any crevasse he could find, Garm was far less enthusiastic about this defensive position.  The hype for finding the other campers first had dwindled down to nothing as Wrath popped out from each play set empty handed, again and again.  The red-headed Prince became more and more disappointed with the area he was to scour.  This park was the complete opposite of fun.

“Well, this is one way to ruin a good open field,” Garm sighed, taking a seat on an obnoxiously yellow-colored swing.  “Let’s put lots of boring slides and empty holes all over the place and expect teenagers to jump around and have a good time here!  Ugh, gimme a break.”

“Sounds like my kind of paradise!” Wrath said from atop the swing set, causing Garm to jump clear out of his seat in surprise.  “I never got this kind of freedom to run around and play before!  There’s so many unique designs and awesome towers to hang out in!”

“H-How did you get up here so fast?!  You were halfway across the park last I saw you!” the Prince yelled to the blue-furred boy, gesturing to where he thought he was.

Wrath looked down at Garm from his perched position and smiled.  “I think it’d be a lot more fun if you and I played a game!  Let’s pretend we’re monsters and we have a whole city to fight in!  Of course, we have to use the sets as buildings to climb on and jump off!”

His whiskers twitching, Garm wasn’t sure what to make of this sudden idea.  He was awfully bored, but Wrath was just far too silly to be good at any sort of combat!  Pretend or not, pyrokinetic or otherwise, Garm was positive he would wipe the dorky smirk off this kid faster than he could say ‘ouch.’  Of course, he could just keep boasting… but that wouldn’t prove anything.

“Alright, I’ll play.”

With that verbal confirmation, Wrath leapt down from the swing set with a perfect touchdown.  Garm ears twitched as he already began to rethink his assumptions about the boy.  Then Wrath asked, “Okay!  What’s your monster name?”

The red-head chuckled, loosening up a little. “I don’t know, the dreaded Steamfox?  Why do we need these?"

“Because the raging Wildpyre is here to challenge you, Steamfox!” Wrath playfully roared, pointing at his playmate and changing the gravelly sounds in his voice into something a bit deeper and a bit more menacing.  “Accept the challenge and prepare for defeat, or run away with your tail between your legs!  Your choice!"

Rolling his eyes in disbelief, the Prince couldn’t help but let out a laugh.  He was right the first time; this would be over quickly!  “Fine, I accept,” he giggled with a shrug to show how little he desired to be part of this.

“Then I will show you no mercy,” Wrath - or rather, Wildpyre - growled, charging forward into Garm and knocking him back quite a few feet!

The royal child smashed into the ground with such force, he unintentionally performed a backward roll.  Shaking his head free from dizziness, his hand clutched his chest.  His heart was racing so fast!  Did Wrath really just hit him that hard?!  Did he even know he had such strength?!

“Whoa, dude,” Garm panted, staggering as he got to his feet.  “I thought we were play-fighting, that really hurt!”

Looking up, Garm could see subtle differences in Wrath’s physical form.  Not only were his eyes now a bright shade of red, but his long ears curled upwards into a horn-like shape.  Not to mention, the blades on his wrists and ankles were also curled upwards.  How did he change these parts of his body?!

“Wildpyre never plays around.  He fights with passion and fury!” the different-voiced Wrath spoke.  It was as if this kid was possessed by something else!

Garm shook his head, dirt and grass falling free from the long locks of his hair.  “Seriously?  You’re really gonna make me fight you?”  This had to be a joke on Wrath’s part… right?

“Give Wildpyre a battle of the ages!” this monster-Wrath screamed, beating his fluffy chest before charging at Garm once more.

This time, the Prince bolted forward, dodging the kid at the last second.  He grabbed a hold of the long spine on the back of his head and pulled him backward, but that wasn’t enough.  While Wrath was mid-fall, Garm spun around and launched a forceful punch right into the boy’s gut, sending him to the ground faster.  He then picked Wrath up by the shoulders and brought him down hard onto his left knee a total of three times.  Leaving Wrath to collide with the ground once more, coughing and inhaling desperately, Garm decided to walk away from the fight.  That streak of hurt had to finish him off.

Of course, his mistake was turning his back on his foe.

In the next few seconds, Steamfox’s face met the grass once more, as Wildpyre jumped him from behind.  Straddling his back while punching him twice in the back of the head, Wildpyre rolled off of his opponent backwards and grabbed the long-tailed one by the ankles.  Steamfox frantically gasped for air while clawing at the earth in the hopes to escape.  Moments later, he could perceive his body lift off the ground as his vision blurred, feeling the stomach-churning sensation of being spun by the legs.  His arms and jacket flew outward, covering his already horrid field of view.  Before he knew it he was let go, and sent hurtling into a plastic play set, his forehead having been hit the hardest.

With severe pain echoing throughout his body, Steamfox struggled to stand up straight.  Quickly, he tried to untangle himself from the clutches of his jacket and shaggy hair, but Wildpyre was already ready to strike.  Instead of taking the hits, Steamfox blocked his foe’s roundhouse kick with a duck and jab in the back!  The kid-sized monster fell into the plastic set, his cheek painfully red from hitting it so hard.  Bearing his teeth, the boy bounced off the wall and tried to grab the red-head.  Steamfox met his hands half-way and kept the pressure on, matching him in strength.

“Y-You’re… really serious about this… aren’t you?!” Garm managed to get out.  Unsurprisingly, Wrath hadn’t answered him back, but neither did “Wildpyre."

Instead of a verbal answer, Wildpyre yelled as loud as he could before sparks started to fly from his palms!  Startled by the sparks, Steamfox lost concentration and was shoved to the ground.  The sparks from the younger boy’s hands quickly became flickering flames.  A smile crossed his lips as if he didn’t know he could access this ability!  As soon as Steamfox got back on his feet, Wildpyre immediately began launching chunks of fire at the Prince.  Faster and faster the childlike monster shot forth the flames, but the other mammalian dodged again and again, sweating profusely.  He too, could manipulate fire, but the way this fire came to be scared him.  He didn’t know what would happen if he got touched by this… electrically-conjured fire…

Suddenly, the fire stopped flying.  Instead, Wildpyre kept two balls of heat in hand.  He then started to twirl around in circles, gaining speed as he came closer and closer to Steamfox.  In a few seconds, he went from a dangerously hot spinning top to a full-on fiery tornado, much taller than the tallest of the plastic towers!  Steamfox screamed as he ran from the cyclone, hoping to lose him among the plastic play sets.  He jumped through the slides, scrambled through the tunnels and hopped out a narrow window of escape, only for him to look back and see that Wildpyre completely melted every play set he leapt through!  What would stop him now?!



Meanwhile, the five campers in the forest had clumsily entered a decent sized clearing.  It looked a lot bigger than the one Exodus and Cole fought those dark creatures in.  Perhaps they were in a different part of the forest now?

Xenon crunched her boots on a twig as she stepped out from behind a bush, followed by Magic and Exodus.  Cole and Icarus came out of a different spot, but they all looked around with the same exhausted expression.

“Great.  More sunlight,” the goth girl grumbled.

“It’s good that we still have it, otherwise we’d be in trouble,” Cole told her, confused by her disdain for the star.  He turned to Icarus with a raised eyebrow, pointing his thumb over at Xenon.

“She’s sensitive to the light,” Icarus briefly explained.  “We actually just talked that before we met you guys.”

Cole nodded slowly, understanding her reaction now.  Watching the maroon-furred girl go over to the kids to make sure they were alright, Cole wondered what the other three campers were like.  Would they be as kind as the older feline, or as strange as the girl with four names, or perhaps even as mystical as the young one wielding the paint brush-like a wand?  There was so much information to take in, it was no wonder Veit wanted to introduce them all at different points in time.

It was then that he remembered he’d wanted to talk with Veit about something in private.  Perhaps, if he got the other campers back to the cabin safely, they’d have time to discuss something important.

“Everyone’s ready to continue?” he asked the group, trying not to so sound urgent.

Exodus and Magic nodded together while Xenon crossed her arms over her chest.

“Lead the way, Cole,” Icarus urged, waving him to go on first.

The red-furred mammalian took only a single step before he heard rustling in the trees!  His pupils shrunk; what if those shadowy figures came back to attack them?!  He couldn’t reveal his abilities like this!  Having four people keep a promise was way harder to do than just one.  His eyes darted to the noise as he got into a battle-ready pose.  Everyone else caught the same sounds and huddled together with their arms up and knees bent.  The shuffling came closer, and feminine grunts were heard; a phrase was shouted by a familiar voice!

“Come back here!”

Cole jumped directly in front of where he heard the sounds and held out his arms, catching someone falling from the bushes!  Landing in his grasp was a teenage boy with blue-white fur and reddish-brown hair!  His big yellow eyes shimmered as they looked up at him.

“A-Are you alright?” Cole asked with a raised eyebrow and a tilted head.  This was the source of the feminine scream?  He thought for sure it was-

“Exodus!  Cole!  Heads up!” the disembodied voice of Iodes called out to the boys.

Right after her signal, two other beings leapt out of the shrubbery and landed face first into the dirt.  Sand, twigs and mud covered their outfits and fur.  Exodus gasped, but Icarus, Xenon and Magic hurried to the side of Serenity and Herb.  The Conger Feean then noticed Mystess and Iodes stepping into the light, running over to greet them.  They too, looked sweaty and filthy!

“Iodes, Princess Mystess!  You found the other campers!” Exodus gleefully exclaimed.  Both girls smiled in between pants, amused by the young boy’s enthusiasm.

Xenon chuckled as she helped up Serenity, “I’ll let you have the bathroom first.  You’re gonna need it.”

“Don’t patronize me, just get me up and get me out of here,” the reptilian snarled as she wobbled to her feet.

The maroon-furred girl started to pluck the dried leaves and twigs from Herb’s fur and braid, tried to be light about the situation. “Well, at least you have a more natural look about you!”

Herb inhaled and exhaled deeply, silently frustrated by the outcome.  The unhappy expression on his face was enough for Icarus to back off.

Magic, meanwhile, bounced over to her brother, who Cole helped stand upright.  “Big brother, so you are here after all!  Did you want to explore the camp grounds, too?  If you did, you should have just followed us!”

Peace shook his head and cried out, “Magic, I never even wanted you to leave the lounge!  Now Father knows we’re missing!  That’s why he sent all of these other campers after us!  If we don’t get back soon, we’re gonna be in big trouble!”

“But-“

“Not this time, Magic!”  Peace yelled at his sister, silencing everyone in the clearing.  "You have to say sorry to all of us now for getting us lost, getting us dirty, and for making everyone waste their time trying to find us!”

The little girl broke out into a shrill wail, her tears seemingly never ending.  The near-tangible awkwardness of witnessing these siblings fight increased with each passing minute, and no one knew how to break through it.  Sure, everyone was on their feet and could easily walk over and comfort the young girl, but did anyone want to?

Peace was 100% correct; she did cause all this.  However, was it really her fault, or was it her childish ambitions and curiosity?  All she wanted to do was explore on her own terms.  No one else had to come along, they just worried for her safety.

Exodus was the first of them to figure this out, and he lightly stepped over to Magic’s side.  He gently put a hand on her shoulder and she immediately stopped screaming.  Her tears continued to flow, as did her hiccups and sniffles, but she was significantly calmer than before.  All just from one touch.

“Hey, m-maybe you can t-tell me all about your journey later?  W-We’re apparently going to be r-r-roommates, so we have time to talk tonight!” Exodus softly spoke to her, offering a kind smile.

Having thought about it for a few seconds, Magic finally squeaked out a nearly inaudible “okay” and slowly quieted her sobs.  She wiped her tears away with her forearms, trying her best to smile.

Peace puffed up his chest and turned away from his sibling and her little green hero.  Of course, he tried to stand up for himself, but now he’s the bad guy?  A guy like him never got a break from this kind of scenario!

The young Conger Feean, conquerer of the awkwardness, let go of Magic so she could calm herself down at her own pace.  He then looked over at his teammates and all three of them - Cole, Mystess and Iodes - smiled and nodded at him!  His heart quickly swelled with pride; he was able to do something that no one else could do!  What a great feeling to behold!

“Alright!”  Exodus eagerly announced, marching forward, ready to lead the group out of the clearing.  “Let’s hurry back, campers!  Come on!”

If only Wrath could see how far he’d come in just a short time...!



The flame-engulfed tornado cornered Garm - not wanting to play as Steamfox anymore - against a tall plastic tower.  The sizzling noises of melting plastic behind him had been drowned out by the roaring flames of the oncoming twister.  Sweat cascaded down his face as he tried not to look directly into the bright fires of destruction.  He wasn’t sure if he would even survive this attack!  What more could he do to stop this storm?!

As his last line of defense, the long-tailed one outstretched his arms, palms facing outward.  He shut his eyes tightly, firmly planted his feet in the ground and prayed for his own flames to come forth and protect him!

With very little effort, Garm’s hands had produced ashy, glowing embers.  Suddenly a stray flare shot out from Wildpyre’s tornado, just barely touching the Prince’s own flames, a massive explosion of thick smoke and hot ash eradicated the twister and blew back the campers!

Garm flung backward into the half-melted tower, having been forcefully knocked over by the blast.  He lay in a dusty, sweaty, mangled mess of cloth, fur and ash, unable to open his eyes in fear of having his sclera be fried.

Wrath, too, was propelled back by the burst.  His fur was horribly burned in various places, blackened and dry like charcoal.  His long, curled ears had straightened out and his soot-covered gloves were surprisingly in-tact.  His ankle and wrist blades had also revereted to their normal positions.  His eyes flickered from red to brown, before finally remaining an earthy shade.  He looked like he was wide awake, but he remained motionless on the grass, his chest barely rising and falling.

The clouds of smoke that rolled through the park had slowly begun to fade away, revealing the decimated landscape.  Towers and playground equipment were whipped around the grassy field due to high speeds of the fiery tornado, and the grass and dirt was horribly burned wherever the cyclone had traversed.  This place was an absolute wreck!

The tall, hooded figure of the Camp Leader came into view just as Garm was climbing out of the play set.  Garm squinted through the ash clouds, just barely making out where Veit was coming from.  He coughed violently as he stumbled out of the set, unable to speak in this hot, dry air.

With a flick of his wrist, Veit whipped up a rushing wind, clearing out all the smoke and blowing his hood off.  The grass crunched with every step he took, and he finally stopped a few feet from Garm’s position.  Holding out his pale, white hand to the Prince, the boy managed to crawl over to him and accepted it.  Veit helped Garm stand up straight by providing support, but once he was upright and able to breathe better, he spoke.

“My boy, are you alright?” Veit asked, a hint of worry in his voice accompanied a frown.  “You took quite a beating.”

Garm cleared his throat a bit before saying, “I’m-I’m so sorry, sir!  I tried to stop him, but... wait, how did you know we were fighting?!”

“Hush.  Take a moment to breathe,” Veit told the injured camper.  Giving him a brief moment to catch his breath, Veit continued.  “I understand your companion was the instigator in this situation?”

“Well, yeah!  He was told to find the others with me when he randomly suggested we play a game!  I guess he got a little too crazy,” the charred boy explained, taking deep breaths before and after he spoke.  His vision was still blurry and he cradled his stomach, feeling very nauseous.

Veit nodded, looking over at Wrath’s body.  He smiled.  “Interesting.  I suppose the son of Kaos would be the first to initiate a battle.”

“What?!”  Garm blinked in surprise.  Thoughts raced around his mind; some escaped his lips.  “The son of ‘chaos’?  What do you mean?  Did you know this was gonna happen?!”

Ignoring Garm outright, Veit swiftly glided over to Wrath’s body, which was finally beginning to move.  His eye color had returned to brown, but his fur had remained singed by the battle.  The cloaked man crouched down to the preteen, putting his hand to his forehead.

A cool, clean wind entered Wrath’s lungs, chilling his overheated body to a sustainable temperature.  In a few moments, he gasped back to life, blinking away any dust and ash that remained in his eyes.  His ears, blades and voice all shifted back to normal with a soft whir and few clicks.  Garm raised his eyebrows at the transformation.  Who - or what - was this kid?

Veit removed his hand and let Wrath sit up on his own.  “I’m both impressed and frustrated.  Forcing me to expend my valuable energy to repair your damages...”

Wrath continued to gasp for air and inspect his condition instead of respond to the Camp Leader.  Garm despite his own pains, leapt into view, ready to scold Wrath for his actions.  Veit, however, held his arm out and prevented the teen from continuing their conflict.

“Hold your tongue, child.” Veit warned the redhead.  “There’s nothing you could say to him that would improve the situation.

“I’m sorry!”
Both Garment and Veit focused on the dark blue boy as he repeated himself: “I’m sorry...”
They withheld their responses, the Prince remaining more tight-lipped than their leader.
“I lost control of myself.  There’s no excuse for allowing...” he paused to look around at the destroyed park.  With a solemn face, he returned his gaze to the two beings.  “...this to happen.”
Veit lowered his left arm away from Garm and outstretched the other towards the kid.  Wrath limply grabbed onto it and was pulled up onto his feet with great force.  Before letting go, Veit had to ask, “You should not blame yourself too much.  Part of this is a fault of mine.”
“What do you mean?” Garm cocked his head.
“In order to find my other campers, I increased a special value within Camp Mosaic’s bounds that would not only allow me to detect active powers - not unlike ‘heat vision’ - but the ones using their abilities would see a dramatic boost in their powers. That is what made this fight worth investigating.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop it from reaching explosive results.”
Wrath and Garm looked at each other, eyebrows furrowed and minds buzzing with ideas.  It sounded like Veit could control a lot more than a camper’s power level from what little he’d described.
“So, you targetted the largest of the readings that you recieved and that’s how you found us?” Wrath asked the Leader, adjusting his gloves and pulling up his cuffs.

“When one detects two large, similarly-colored Emissions of power in the same vacinity, the conclusion doesn’t sound as surprising as it might appear to be.” Veit explained, finally turning his back to the boys as if he were finished answering their questions.  He began walking through the burnt pathways of grass, holding his arms out with his palms facing forward.  He continued to walk further into the park, ignoring the campers.

Garm and Wrath turned to one another.  A guilty and sorrowful expression on Wrath’s face made Garm feel bad for accusing Wrath of just being cruel.

“Look, bro, I... I meant what I said,” the dark blue one stammered out.  He held his shoulder tightly, looking away from the Prince.  “I did want to play, but when we actually got fighting, I felt this rush of energy surge through me.  It felt great to get it out, since this whole trip has been pretty stressful, but it felt not so great to take it out on someone who did nothing wrong.  Again, I’m sorry you had to see me in such an emotional state.”

Garm held his breath for a moment, pondering how to respond to this.  When he finally opened his mouth, he replied, “W-Well, if you just expressed yourself like a normal kid does, maybe you could’ve resolved this a different way.  Scream or something!  Stop acting so fake and let someone know you’re stressed so they can do something about it.”

When Wrath smirked at his last statement, Garm leaned over to him and gently nudged the boy in the arm.  Wrath finally looked up at him and allowed his smile to grow, letting go of his nervous grip on his shoulder.  “Haven’t we beat each other enough, today?” he chuckled.

“Well, I had to get the last punch in,” Garm grinned, shaking out his fist.  It still hurt pretty badly.

Wrath caught hold of his jest and sighed in relief.  Maybe Garm wasn’t such a pompus priss of a Prince after all?

A loud slam suddenly came from behind them, and they turned around to Veit admiring a brand new plastic play tower where a crispy one once stood.  Bewildered, the boys looked around.  Fragment Park looked untouched, as if nothing was burned here at all!  He must have fixed everything when they weren’t looking!  That sure was fast...

“Have no fear.  The repairs were much less strenuous that I imagined,” Veit told them from over his shoulder, winking.

“That’s good...” Wrath murmured, brushing out the dirt and ash from his chest fur.

Garm was more unnerved by the wink than he was with the Camp Leader’s ‘clean up process’.  There sure were a lot of mysterious things about Veit that he didn’t know... but did he want to know them?



It hadn’t been easy to find their way out of the forest, but once the group of 10 did, it wasn’t far until they reached the Camp’s Lounge.  Exodus beamed as he saw Wrath, Garm and Veit standing outside, waiting for them.  How should he go about exclaiming his experiences?!  What should he tell them, first?!

“Wrath!” he called out and waved to his roomate.  The long eared boy heard his call and waved back, but at a much slower pace than before.  Did something happen?

Exodus’ hand dropped hard against his side.  He could tell something was off, but what was it?  Then, his eyes went to Garm; he watched the Prince hold his stomach in discomfort, leaning on Wrath’s shoulder for support.

Mystess called out from behind him, pushing forward along with Iodes to see her brother.  “Garm!!  Garment!!” she cried out, worriedly.

The green one then saw Wrath drop to his knees, immediately followed by Garm.

Exodus rushed to their side, fear consuming his expression.  Something DID happen.

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