Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blue Nexus #21--Black Lagoon

            Kyle strummed his fingers on the metal table while Brenda sat motionless. She’d been like this for hours, but it felt like days. All the while, the only other noise permeated within the room were silently clicks and beeps that silently echoed around the hollow moon base of the Zanderia. Kyle bit his lip then latched off, then bit it again. Damn it.
            Lalay shuffled her feet around behind him, sounding very busy. Riko busily looked on all the screens. For a worldwide organization they sure were quiet. Unless Eclipse was helping them speak.
            Brenda suddenly, and very slightly, heaved her chest up to breathe, then let it back down. Kyle’s heart fluttered with suspense and his hands suddenly grew sweaty. The room temperature increased immensely around him, only to drop when he realized nothing was going to come of this. He strummed his fingers louder before standing up, jerking the metal chair backwards.
            Riko and Lalay looked rather bored back over to him. He clenched his fists.
            “I’m going back to Adelita, and I’m finding Gargador,” Kyle growled.     
            “No you’re not,” Lalay said, rather bluntly.
            “Why’s that?” Kyle asked. “You want me to stay here and watch Brenda just sleep, you want me to be useless?”
            “No, we don’t want you entirely wasting your time looking for someone you’re probably not going to find, especially not in a big fit of rage,” Riko said. “You’ve been here for a couple of hours, Gargador has more than likely gotten away by now. He was probably gone the moment you made it out of Earth’s immediate orbit.”
            Kyle sat back down, disappointed and pouty. Lalay rolled her eyes.
            “Look kid, Shindari’s condition hasn’t gotten any worse, but it hasn’t gotten any better while we just sit here. Her body’s recovering at a slow pace, even if she is capable of healing herself. Odds are you probably won’t be talking to her very much for a while, she’s going to be pretty out of it.” Lalay returned to her work.
            Kyle strummed his fingers. “Well, there has to be something for me to do. Maybe go look for a cure, maybe find another mage who can—”
            “Eclipse would have found them already,” Riko said. “But, since you’re eager to help, I’ve got something for you to do.”
            Riko turned and walked toward Kyle holding a tablet in his hand. He tossed it to Kyle, who caught it after feeling a rush of worry. Did Riko not care for a tablet? Jeez.
            Kyle flitted through the notes on the screen. There were several reports about a small town in the Midwest, Plymdale, being plagued by a monster in a nearby lake, and about several of its denizens going out later than normal at night and coming home either late in the morning or not at all, being found by the lake later the next day after they’d left. Some of them even turned hostile toward police and swam into the lake, which was often off-limits and one hardly anyone went in. Especially at night.        
            “Thinking that this whole monster thing is true?” asked Kyle.
            “I’m not entirely sure of it, it could just be some chump Photoshopping things together to get one of us to show up, but it’s worth checking out,” Riko said. “Look, if this is true, then you know what you have to do. If not, hang out around the town. Either way, try to take your mind off of this. Relax. She’s safe here, and she’s not going anywhere. If she gets better, you’ll be the first one to know, okay?”
            Kyle nodded. He stood back up, then handed the tablet over to Riko. The two walked over to the many screens before Riko, who focused them on a map of the United States. A small star appeared in the northeastern part of the country.
            “Plymdale is in central Vermont, by the lake of the same name,” Riko said. “It’s kind of like Adelita, except a lot of these people are fishermen. Tend to eat a lot of crab too, I suppose that’s really a thing up there.”
            “Yeah, guess so,” Kyle muttered.
            “Anyway, it shouldn’t be too difficult getting adjusted to the town. Perhaps the accents, but, if you’re proactive enough you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the little things like that. Try to stay closer to the lake, see if anyone’s heard of this article. If they have, then, the more unbelievable the things they say the better.”
            “I’ve found that to be disturbingly true as a super-hero,” Kyle said.
            “It’s certainly interesting,” Riko said. He patted Kyle on the back. “You got this?”
            “Hey, the worst that can happen is I get to vent by beating the hell out of a giant monster. Sounds pretty sweet.”
            “Then go get ‘em!” exclaimed Riko, pushing Kyle toward the exit.
            Kyle ran up the stairs, saying goodbye to Lalay on his way out. He blasted on his aura as he shot out of the base when the doors opened, soaring toward Northeastern United States.
            He always hated reentry to the planet. There was a great boom that everyone could hear around the world, as if they really needed to know he or anyone else was coming back. It was like accidentally slamming the door at home. It was just awkward.
            Faster and faster he fell, but maintained his speed well enough that he wouldn’t just fall straight down, and he had enough control to break down his speed if need be to dodge either an oncoming plane or satellite being launched.
            He finally stopped as he hovered over the Pacific Ocean. To the west was a large patch of green. If he fell properly, that would be Maine, and from there it would only be a matter of minutes before he reached Plymdale and the monster mystery.
            As he flew toward what he hoped was Maine, Kyle secretly wished that the world governments would just be able to put up signs pointing to their towns. It would make looking for the smaller ones a lot easier. And it wasn’t like there were any road signs out in the ocean pointing at where to go.
            Silently he swore to the stupid Orionians for breaking his old communicator. He liked his new one just fine, but it took several months for him to remember to get it and since then he hasn’t had much need for it to learn its little quirks. Like the GPS. Phoenix liked to screw with people like that.
            As the ocean gave way to the land, Kyle flew closer to the ground and slowed down. Small town after small town passed him by. Eventually he came upon a highway. He felt his face go a little red as he slowed down to read the signs. Plymdale was twenty miles due north. Kyle stole a look down to see if anyone were laughing at him, then shook his head and blasted off, going north.
            Plymdale emerged following a ton of forestry. It was indeed a small town much like Adelita but unlike Adelita it was all very concentrated around the lake. A few small boats with some people were out. None of the buildings were particularly tall and all of them were made of brick.
            The town was actually shaped like a target, with taller buildings closer to the lake in the inner ring and on the outer ring were more of the suburban areas. In the distance, Kyle noticed, were even more neighborhoods and even a school. The school was fairly large. The lacrosse field was humongous. Kyle was secretly jealous and an envy to steal a few minutes over there on his mission sprouted.
            He continued to fly until he was suspended over the lake. He took a minute to scan the lake for any outstanding energy, and when none made itself known, he pressed forward toward the town. The stench of fish hit him as he went over the close supermarket, but was gone when he flew a little to the left more toward the extremely small mall.
            Kyle landed behind the mall, and transformed while keeping his head bowed. Silently, he slipped in the back way of the mall, meandering through it before he reached the food court. It consisted of only six restaurants—each of them chains he wasn’t particularly fond of. On the opposite side of the mall was what appeared to be the directory, and he made his way over there. It was only September, but it was pretty cold while he was flying and he didn’t want this mission to result in a cold.
            He walked into a little store and bought the first jacket he found on the rack. It was a little more than he liked—he grimaced buying it—so all he could do was tell himself it was for the good of the town.
            Leaving the mall, he was pretty much right in the heart of town. A few cars drove up and down the streets. There were far more people walking around, and a ton of families with younger kids. He checked his communicator. It was mid-afternoon, did none of the teenagers want to come out and hang out around here? Or was it not cool enough for them since there were sailors?
            A breeze swept into the bay. It was fresh, cold, but felt good against his skin. He took it in completely, halting his walk as he did. The only time they got this in Adelita was a precursor for a major storm, so it kind of took away the majesty of the gust.
            Someone next to him did the same thing. It was an elderly gentleman. He had a fedora on his head and a thick coat around him. What stuck out most was his kind smile.
            “Nice breeze, itdn’t?” he asked, still beaming.
            “Oh, yeah, I was just thinking we don’t get this much back at my home town,” Kyle said, returning the kind smile.
            “Oh, where you from, young man?”
            “A—bit down south,” Kyle said, stopping himself. “Kind of closed off little town, don’t really get to go anywhere, you know?”
            “I know the feeling, it can sort of get that way around here,” the gentleman said. “Most people are leaving the area for those types of places, though.”
            “You must be new if you haven’t heard the major rumor around here. Something’s up with the lake.”
            “What, too much dumping?”
            “No, not that…yet, but, that’s not my call.”
            Kyle looked behind him awkwardly as the gentleman settled on that thought for a moment. He snapped, getting both he and Kyle back the conversation.
            “Apparently something is in the lake. Like, a monster, like Nessie in Scotland. If we’ve got one of those, well, I’d hate to imagine what it could do to us. We’re pretty far detached from any of the super heroes. Riko goes around New York sometimes but he and Phoenix are constantly all over the place.”
            Kyle nodded. “Well I’m sure if there were a monster attack they’d know about it quick and have someone over. I mean, they can fly faster than sound, right?”
            The gentleman shrugged. “I don’t know, I just know about the ones from the funny pages. Er, comics books. And there’s so many of them that one would be around.”
            “When did the monster apparently show up? How did the rumor even become a thing, has anyone really seen it or is it one of those ‘no one has seen it and lived’ sort of things?” Kyle raised an eyebrow, getting uncomfortable talking about superheroes. It was a quirk he hadn’t worked out despite nearly being one for a year now.
            “Nobody admits to seeing it,” the gentleman said. “Nobody really stays out late anymore. Of course you’ve got your teenagers that go out to the lake every now and then to sort of test the monster.”
            “Have they tested it enough?”
            “Do you see any teenagers around?”
            Kyle’s heart sank before the gentleman laughed heartily and slapped Kyle’s shoulder. Kyle laughed lightly as well, though was put off by the dark humor. The hell man, he thought.
            “I don’t believe in these spooky stories, but I do believe that they attract tourists like yourself,” the gentleman said. “Which is just where I think it came from.”
            “You’re stupider than the right side of yer arse if you think that’s true,” a disgruntled Irishman said. He sat on the dock next to a boat with “Bessie” labeled on the side of it.
            “Than what?” asked the gentleman.
            “I may not have seen the monster that’s in the lake, but I seen the man who brought it,” the Irishman said.
            “Who was it?” Kyle asked, nearly jumping toward the Irishman.
            “Few months ago some shady fellow came through here. Brought this…air of bad with him. Never showed is face, nothing but the smile on his face. He wore black, all black just like a vampire or something. He didn’t stay long, and he was always out on the lake. I tried talking to him. Never seemed to work. Few days after that a family went missing. Last spotted near the lake.”
            “Yes, I remember hearing about that,” the gentleman said. “Nobody ever found out what happened to them.”
            “Not much after that, but lately there’s been more and more people missing,” the Irishman continued. He spat into the lake. “Whatever it is likes the night, probably like that demon that came through here.” He nodded toward the town. “Even seen some strange folk walking through the town at night the last week or so. ‘fraid these monsters are gonna take us over, all cuz o’ that demon.”
            “I don’t seem to recall a demon coming through here but it is odd that everything should happen after that,” the gentleman said.
            “And he didn’t say anything, didn’t say who he was or where he was from?” asked Kyle.
            “He was just a shadow, lad, cast over the lake to wake up whatever monster might have been in there all this time,” the Irishman said. “I go out there every day trying to attract it, make it surface, so people know. No luck. Won’t go out at night, nobody’ll see it. Sneaky bastard, that monster.”
            “So you really do think it’s real?” asked the gentleman.
            “You’d be a damn fool not to.”

            Kyle tried to make himself vanish for the rest of the day as he wallowed in thought. The sun stayed up later than Kyle was used to, and given what he knew about the monster, he figured that there really wasn’t much more for him to learn about it since it only attacked at night. When the moon shown over the lake and the water stilled, and few voices were heard around the town, Kyle reemerged.
            He went straight for the docks. The boats were still in the water. A couple walked by behind Kyle, whispering to each other. A few high-pitched voices, kids no doubt, were sitting out by the dock.
            For a moment he tempted going over there and telling them to go back inside, that it wasn’t safe. But, was it really not safe? Was the monster really there? There were two conflicting stories. Nobody else seemed to be talking about it, and Kyle didn’t want to seem like he was suspiciously poking around the town looking for something.
            He strode past an empty boathouse. One light was one, but a single peek informed Kyle that nobody was in there. He looked around cautiously before testing the lock. The wooden door creaked open. Kyle slipped inside.
            It was designed, and even furnished, much like his shed back home. Papers and posters covered much of the wall, with papers and charts on a table in the middle. It smelled rather funky, though, but that was probably due to how close it was to the water. Or the people that were often there.
            Nimbly, Kyle flipped through the papers. Just a bunch of fishing charts, boat schematics, boating charts. Nothing on a monster. For the tourist attraction that it was, there was a surprisingly low amount of official documentation on it.
            Beneath the boathouse, in the water, something groaned. Kyle froze. His hand hovered over the Nexus bracelet that was glowing in the dim light. It groaned again. Kyle looked down, then hit the deck to try and look through the floorboards. His heart was pounding so hard he worried it’s thumping would trigger whatever was beneath the floorboards—if there was anything—to attack.
            His whole body shuddered as something slithered just on the other side of the board. He pulled away.    
            Right through the floorboards a slimy tentacle shot up and into Kyle’s mouth. Kyle fell back, with the slimy arm following him. He bit down as hard as he could. Disgusting, yet surprisingly fresh, juices spewed from the tentacle. Kyle kicked at it and it backed off, only for the entire floorboard on that side to fall through as a dark green monster leapt out of the water.
            Kyle realized that it wasn’t a tentacle like he thought, but rather an arm…of seaweed. The seaweed monster opened its mouth and somehow a cry was bellowed. It swung its arm down at Kyle, who dodged it and nearly fell into the water. The monster cried out again. Two vines shot out of the ground and latched onto him.
            The seaweed monster approached Kyle, putting its slimy arm over his face. It split into two parts and they approached his ear. Kyle contorted his body, then swung out his legs, kicking the seaweed monster and snapping its concentration.
            He dropped to the floor, then pushed the monster away and barreled out the door.
            “You got the monster, kid, get out of the way!” shouted the Irishman.
            Kyle looked up, and saw the man holding a shotgun. Kyle threw himself to the ground as he fired. The monster was punctured with eight bullet-holes and dropped to the ground.
            “Ha! Damn beast, figured it’d come out of hiding sometime soon,” the Irishman said. He strode up to Kyle, and held out a hand. Kyle took it and was hefted up.
            “Thought it’d be a lot bigger than that?” Kyle thought out loud. “But I guess it is difficult to spot.”
            The Irishman nodded. “Just needed the right bait.”
            Kyle raised an eyebrow, stepping back from the Irishman. “You mean you knew I would snooping around?”
            “Most new folk do, and lots of them come back saying they didn’t find anything. Suppose you were just in the right place at the right time. As was I.”
            “Yeah, guess so,” Kyle muttered.
            The Irishman let the gun drop to his side. “Now I can finally go out and relax for once on the water instead of looking for that beast.”
            Kyle nodded, and began to follow after the Irishman as they made their way off the dock.
            A vine shot out of the water and straight through the back and chest of the Irishman. His body shook violently and the shotgun fell into the water. Kyle dropped back, stunned, as another monster just like the other began to pull itself up, using the Irishman as an anchor. When it reached the dock it cast away his body back into the lake, and looked over to Kyle with soul-less black eyes.
            Kyle rolled back, swiping his hand over his bracelet as he did so. When he was back up, he had his lance at the ready.
            “You’re done terrorizing this town. How many of you are there?”
            The creature took a step forward, then dashed at Kyle. He leaned back, avoiding the jab, then smashed the back end of his lance into the creature, sending it into the water. Kyle leapt forward, and sustained flight as he saw at least a dozen other creatures float up from the surface of the lake.
            “Oh, come on,” Kyle muttered.
            The one that just attacked him shot out of the water, provoking the other dozen. Kyle grunted as he fell back, and dodged the initial strike of the monster. He kicked it in the gut and crashed his lance into its head. A blue energy ball pushed it further into the water, generating a much larger splash.
            Two more were upon him. He dodged the first but a vine curled around his throat and lashed him into the streets. Someone nearby screamed. Kyle pushed himself up before the vine wrapped around his throat. His lance did the trick of slicing that away, as it did in pushing the two monsters back.
            A third and fourth took their place, though. They stood so close it almost appeared as if they’d become one giant swamp monster. Their attack was combined, though, as their fists crashed into his chest. Kyle was pushed back but only lost his breath for a moment.
            Kyle glared up. This has to be the work of the Benefactor, he thought, there’s no other explanation for why they’d be this strong. But, why all the way up here in Vermont? To distract Kyle and the Zanderia, or perhaps to try and kill him?
            No time for that, Kyle thought suddenly when a fifth creature attacked, this one using much sloppier moves and hanging back after every strike. The other four surrounded him and each shot vines at him.
            Kyle swept the lance around, causing a blue energy circle to knock away the vines momentarily and allow him to rocket into the sky, hopefully out of reach from the monsters. He overlooked the area. A few people were still out and about, but they were making their way home. Meanwhile seven more monsters were clambering out of the lake, slowly as their grass dragged along the road and sidewalks.
            “Damn it, where’d these things come from?” Kyle wondered.
            As if a switch was flipped, the monsters suddenly break away from waiting for Kyle and begin pillaging the surrounding buildings. Kyle spun his lance around, then threw it toward the nearest monster. It snagged the monster in the back long enough for Kyle to swoop down and punch it away. He took hold of his lance and swung it. A blue energy slice ripped through the air, knocking three more of the monsters back.
            Now their attention was back to him, which he preferred. He punched toward one and it was knocked back by a blue energy beam. His lance deflected the attack of another, and then his knee did the same. He pushed those away just in time to dodge a vine that would have wrapped around is throat. He took hold of it and cast it toward another monster. He punched. He kicked. He sliced.
            Kyle panted as all thirteen monsters surrounded him seemingly unaffected by his assaults. He prepped his lance for attack in one hand while clenching a fist in the other. He shouted, attempting a war cry, but the monsters simply swayed, waiting for him to do something. Their vines were slowly wriggling and their bodies made the slightest of slimy sounds as the grass rubbed against itself.
            “What the hell are you?” asked Kyle. “Who made you? Answer me!”
            The monsters had no response, instead continued to simply sway where they were as if they were being controlled by the gentle breeze coming from the lake. All of the windows in the buildings near them were on and there were various silhouettes looking down at the scene below. Kyle waited, just wanting for one monster to attack and set off a chain of events. He figured that they were somehow synchronized in waiting for him to attack.
            The wriggling increased. Kyle took a quick, swooping gaze around. He noticed that the six monsters in front of him were growing closer as were the seven behind him. He tightened the grip on his lance.
            Thirteen vines launched at him before Kyle could think about cutting them up. His arms, legs, and even head were completely immobilized. He was still holding his lance but could do nothing with it as the six in front and seven behind him morphed together, growing bulkier into a giant blob before suddenly shooting up into the sky.
            Kyle was released but it was already too late. Two giant, wet grass monsters towered over him into the night’s sky. People in the surrounding buildings screamed in terror that the monsters were real and they would destroy everything. Kyle gritted his teeth before performing a tall backflip and landing on a building behind him. He readied his lance, now holding it with both hands.
            Suddenly, the two monsters began to thin out, creating a line of weeds overhead, before landing back in the lake and reforming as the giant grass monsters.
            “Alright, this is officially the weirdest fight I’ve ever been in,” Kyle muttered. “The Benefactor must be one strange dude.”
            A much larger vine shot his way. Kyle jumped up and dodged it, then blasted toward the vine monster, pointing his lance in front of him. He ripped right through the monster, and was surprised to hear cries and monsters while in the thing’s head for a second, before he was back on the other side and saw it completely reform.
            Wanting to test the monster, Kyle yanked his lance up, ripping into the back of its head. Kyle prepared to launch himself into the monster’s head before he was punched back into the water, but did not land on the water.
            “Oh, what now?” muttered Kyle.
            He pushed himself up, and realized he was kneeling on something beige. He jumped up as the monster continued to rise until it was at just about the hips of the two taller grass monsters. Kyle fell back toward the boathouse to get a good look at what he was seeing.
            “Vermont, you are one strange place,” he said.
            Before him, between the two taller monsters, was half of a squid-like creature. It was indeed beige and had two large black eyes. Its head was pointed and had two curves at its other points. Its mouth was also humongous, which it opened up in order to speak, and revealed teeth the length of Kyle’s lance and the width of Kyle himself.
            “This is a fight you cannot win,” the Squid said.
            Kyle found himself too dumbfounded at what was happening to think of a response.
            “My force is greater than yours, if you continue this fight you shall undoubtedly die,” the Squid continued.            
            “Are you the one who created these two…things?” Kyle asked, shouting.
            “No,” the Squid replied. “I come from another world, having taken residence here. I was granted new power by a powerful person, not calling themselves human, and was gifted with an ability to morph any human I can with the powers you see now.”
            “So, you’re just kind of evil like that?” asked Kyle.
            “I am, they are not so,” the Squid said. “Where I come from, I was a powerful, militant leader. My world was destroyed and I came to Earth with the help of some allies, and now I seek to reclaim my power on this planet and with my abilities I find that rather easy.”
            “I find it hard to believe that you would just start conquering like that without even understanding how humanity works,” Kyle said. “And besides, you aren’t even the one who gained this ability in the first place.”
            “Even so, my ability to create life from death is one unparalleled on this planet and I have exploited it to the best of my needs. One such as yourself, with your powers, shall indeed make a fine addition to my growing army.”
            “And if I defeat you what happens to them?”
            “They will die.”
            Kyle flipped his lance around. “Alright then, looks like I’ll just have to make you submit until you change these people back.”
            “That is impossible.”
            “Well why the hell is that?”
            “You don’t understand my powers, and I won’t bother explaining them to you. Nobody can return from life the same. If you were to somehow defeat me and force me to revert these people back to human form, you would find yourself fighting them again, only without my enhanced strength. We’ll say I’m doing them a favor by stripping away their humane limits and opening them up to the abilities I have granted them.”
            “Where’s the fairness in that?”
            “Nowhere. You can’t be reasoned with, child, therefore you must die. Should you defeat me, these two will die. And you already know you cannot defeat them.”
            “I can damn well try!”
            Kyle rocketed toward one of the giant monsters, and propelled his fist toward it, roaring as he did so. A humongous energy beam rammed through the grass monster, opening up a gaping hole in it. Kyle pulled his energy from the Nexus as much as possible, creating a great blue explosion as the monster ripped apart.
            Suspended in the air, Kyle shook away the blue energy residue that was still there. Without noticing it at all, the giant Squid smashed Kyle down into the water. He crashed into the lake’s floor, then saw the seaweed begin to reform itself, knotting back up into a pair of legs.
            Something stuck to his body and he was flung back out of water, and was then kicked across his body by the other giant monster to the opposite end of the lake. He bounced along the water’s surface twice before catching himself. He realized he no longer had his lance, and was given a friendly reminder of that as it spiraled toward him. Kyle managed to just barely catch it.
            The Squid dove underwater, then reappeared in the middle of the lake. The two grass monsters did the same, standing facing Kyle and waiting for him to make a move.
            “You have no hope of defeating us, blue boy, you may as well submit to me and gain power like none you have ever seen before,” the Squid offered.
            “Again, I’m going to have to defer.” 
            “Then you will die!”
            The Squid thrust three tentacles at Kyle, each of which he dodged. Four thick vines wrapped around his body and he flew toward the town. A rainbow of more vines appeared over him before a fist punched him toward the water. The Squid reappeared, opening its gaping mouth. Kyle spun around, lance out, and cut the gum of the Squid. It roared in anger, slapping Kyle away before he was further kicked.
            A rut formed in the concrete of the town as Kyle reentered it. He groaned, pushing himself up. Someone’s foot landed just before his face.        
            “Okay, seriously…what’s going on tonight?” he asked.
            Before him stood a man. However, he had grassy hands instead of regular hands and vines were coming down from his head. He was dripping water, too, as if he were a sweat machine. He even smelled bad like a lake.
            “He’s right, you know, you can’t defeat them,” the man said.
            “Yes, yes I can,” Kyle said. “I just to take out the two grass giants, and those people will go back to normal.”
            “You don’t understand, the people have been morphed into the grass giants now. It’s like their final stage of evolution. Those humanoid things? Those were just the cogs of a bigger machine.”
            “And who are you, exactly?”
            “Someone who escaped just in time to tell you what you have to do,” the man said. “You have to kill the Squid. You have to let these people die.”
            “No, I can’t do that,” Kyle said.
            The man sighed. “Then I should rephrase what I stated. You have to allow these people to stay dead.”
            “What does that even mean?”
             A vine shot from all the way across the lake and punched Kyle in the gut. The man jumped back as the Squid smashed Kyle into the ground, but his suction cup tentacles pulled him up, and flung Kyle into the air, exposed. Kyle spun around, creating a blue ball of energy around him to protect him from the next attack.
            Coming out of the spin, Kyle launched two energy beams at the two monsters, and evaded the Squid’s attack. He flipped and remained in the air.
            One of the monsters reformed right behind him. He blasted that one, then the one in front of him and dropped down toward the Squid. It tried to take a bite out of Kyle, who vanished then reappeared to kick it straight in the back of the head. However, he did not take into account that the monsters were controlled by more heads than one, and was promptly kicked back up in the air before being sent back into the docks, bouncing until he broke a few bricks on a building.
            “Each of us who was captured and killed by the Squid have become this…thing…and we can’t reclaim our humanity,” the man said, reappearing by Kyle’s side. “Right now, I’m the only one still technically here before I go…there.”
            Kyle pushed himself to his knees. He was under the cover of the dust from the bricks and the ground for now. He rubbed some blood away from his face.
            “Something of a nether realm. Each of these people, well, they were given a false promise. Leave that place and return to Earth. They did. And this is what they have become. In a few minutes, I will be what you fought before. And there’s no turning back.”
            “There has to be a way.”
            “Eternity is. Kill me, kill all of us. We aren’t the people that this town once knew anymore, we aren’t alive.”
            “Yes you are, I’m speaking with you right now!”
            The man suddenly began to gurgle, stepping away from Kyle water began to spew from his mouth and the vines started to wrap around his body.
            “Do it, kill the Squid, do it! Spare us the nether realm!”
            “No, I won’t—!”
            The man suddenly screamed and vines lashed out a Kyle, who was struck in the face and fell back. When the man stopped screaming, all that remained was his grass body that stood menacingly in the moonlight. Without warning, it struck out at Kyle again, who stuck out his arm in defense. The vines coiled around it. Kyle yanked it toward him, getting a good look at the monster.
            There was no semblance of humanity left within it.
            Kyle flipped over and slammed his elbow into the monster’s throat, water spouting from its mouth hole. Kyle jumped up, sustaining flight, glowering down at the Squid. He sighed, feeling something rise in his throat, then blasted toward it.
            He flew under the water, getting beneath the underbelly of the beast. Using his remaining strength, Kyle pushed it high into the sky, his hands digging into the monster he was pushing so hard, blotting out the moon for the rest of the town.
            Kyle flew to the other side of the Squid, getting a good, solid look into its eyes before punching it down toward the water, then charged an energy ball in his hands.
            “Damn you,” he muttered.
            The energy ball ripped straight through the Squid as it hit the water. Kyle remained frozen as the vines and grassed crashed back down into the water.
            Waves crashed up and down the lake, even some splashing into the broken bits of town, as some people came out to see their lake monster beaten in battle. Their hero, however, stood in the moonlight while rain poured down upon him and blood all over his hands.

Next time: A fierce battle has forced Kyle to question his stance as a hero while an unlikely source may have found a way to heal Brenda in "Blue Nexus #22--Magus Forest"


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