A sharp pain pierced Keira's arm as she tried to move it. She
lay down in the middle of the forest opening and stared blankly
into the sky. "Damn…I went overboard with those 2. It's bad
enough that my ability requires a timer, but it also gives me
limb aches for a few hours. I probably won't be able to move for
a few hours, which mean…" Instantly, she thought of a troubling
situation. She gritted her teeth back and forth.
"Shit!" she yelled out, savagely. "If my limbs don't cooperate in
the next few hours, I won't be able to make it to the ending
point. Man, I'm such an idiot!" She took a deep breath, then
mumbling, "Well, it's better than being around those 3 assholes."
"I'm not one of those assholes, am I?" Keira jumped, startled,
and quickly looked towards the voice. Only a few steps away from
her, Bain was slowly approaching, with a demented look on his
face. She started to tense up, and with each step he took, the
closer to death she felt.
No…no! thought Keira. This can't be happening, can it? How long
has this freak been watching me? Keira tried to move her arms,
but even with the slightest movement, she felt the pain hold her
Bain squatted down and poked her cheek, toying with her. "I saw
your fight, little girl. I was watching from some bushes a
little bit back, and I have to say, I was very impressed."
Keira was confused. She couldn't tell if Bain actually meant his
compliments, or if he was trying to play mind games with her.
Bain nodded. "You have a very incredible ability, even with
its…unique side effects. It's obvious that with a power like
that, you can breeze through the exam."
"Well…I guess so."
"You guess so? Only guess? Why not know so? Your aching arms
and legs may be a downside, but there's not one person here that
could stop you when your ability is at work. You know what, I'm
was so impressed, I'll be willing to carry you to the end point."
Keira's eyes widened. She was in disbelief that someone like him
would offer something like that. She almost immediately agreed,
but she hesitated before she could say anything. At the last
second, she remembered how dangerous his teammates were. "What
if it's a trap?" she asked. "How do I know that you're not going
to bring me to Silver and Saga."
Bain laughed sarcastically. "I'll tell you right now, I'm not
going to pull any tricks off. I mean, if I wanted to kill you, I
could just do it right here."
"Good point," she claimed. She was still nervous about the
offer. Something didn't add up to her.
"Of course, I do want something in return." Keira arched an
eyebrow curiously. "I want you to help me out with something
during the course of the exam. As a matter of fact, why don't
you just join our team to make things easier."
"Thing? What kind of thing?"
Bain smiled and put his finger to his lips. "I can't tell you
that right now, but I can tell you that the first step is to make
it to the end of this exam."
Keira looked back up at the clouds for a second. "I'm still not
convinced. You don't look like the most trustworthy person."
"Well, I'm not the most trustworthy person, but you see…" He bent
down and whispered into Keira's ear. "I think you and me are out
to kill the same person."
Keira's eyes widened. She angrily dug her fingers into the dirt
and closed her eyes tightly. "Are…are you serious. How do you
"You were happy at one time, kind of like me, but because a
certain group of a people did a certain action, we've become
unhappy. I mean, you just don't go around acting like a bitch
for nothing, right?"
A tear came slowly down her cheek, and with it, a relieved smile.
In an instant, her mind was completely changed. "I'm glad that
I'm not alone. I'll help you, Bain."
Bain cracked his fingers and stretched his arms. "Wonderful!" he
yelled out. "Let's get going then, shall we?" Bain bent down,
preparing to pick up Keira. Before he could scoop her up, his
eyes widened. A sharp pain burrowed into his ribs. He felt
himself struggling for air as he fell to the ground.
He quickly wiped off the little blood that stained his chin.
"What the hell…how did that..?" He turned around, and behind in,
standing in a fighting position, stood Knox.
Keira dropped her jaw, stunned. "Kid? What the hell are you
doing here? This a no retard zone, so get lost!"
Knox stayed silent, responding by picking Keira up and walking
Bain got up from the ground and cracked his jaw twice. "Where are
you off to, child?"
"We're leaving. We don't have time to focus on you right now, so
we're going back to our team."
Bain lowered his head and dragged his hand across his face. "You
realize…I will rip you to shreds unless you give me back the
woman. She and I have special plans."
Knox turned around and stared at Bain emotionlessly. "Is she your
"No, but I plan on taking her as my own."
Knox frowned. "Forget it. Listen, I don't necessarily agree with
her about everything. Frankly, I think she's a total bitch…"
"Keira dug her nails into her palm. "Shut up!"
"…but in the end, she's still my teammate, and as far as I'm
concerned, I'm my team's leader. As long as I'm my team's
leader, it's my responsibility to ensure the safety of teammates
and to get us to the end of this exam."
Bain widened his eyes. He stood silent for a couple of seconds
before slowly clapping. "Kid, your selflessness is admirable, but
I really don't care. Just hand her over now and I'll let you
leave with 3 limbs still in tact."
"You're kidding, right?"
"Not at all."
Bain smiled deviously and started rotating his right arm. "I
guess this means that we have to get physical over who keeps her,
Knox sighed and carefully placed Keira on the ground. "We all
need to pass this exam for our own needs, right? I mean, I'm
here to retrieve my little sister from the MCG, and I'm sure that
you have your reasons to be here. I don't want to crush those
reasons, so just leave."
Bain raised both of his eyebrows and began to laugh hysterically.
"Are you shitting me? Leave because some cocky piece of trash
told me to? Kid, you don't understand how irritating you are. I
mean, the more you talk, the more I want to kill you! The one
who should be leaving is you."
Knox cracked his knuckles. "I'll give you another warning. Just
"Just cut it out, kid. Decide now, are we gonna fight or not?"
Knox took a step in and gave Bain a frightening stare. The look
in Knox's eyes even had Bain feeling threatened. "Fine, you're
out of warnings. I have no choice but to kill you now."
Keira raised her head, yelling out. "Are you nuts, Knox? Don't
be stupid! This guy has years of experience over you. Just run
now and retrieve me later."
Knox clenched his fist in annoyance. "I don't care. I'm the
leader of my team, and when situations like these come to be,
it's my responsibility to take care of him. As long as I'm still
breathing, this guy should be concerned about his life."
The light from the tree tops glistened around the two foes. They
both listened to the chirps of the tiny birds and ignored the
intense heat. The only thing that either of them could focus on
was taking Keira as their own.
Bain signaled Knox to attack first, and to his surprise, that's
what Knox did. Knox charged in full speed, throwing a quick
punch. Bain dodged, following up with a knee that connected with
Knox's spine. Knox gasped for air as he fell to the ground, but
he got right back up.
He rushed back in, throwing a barrage of punches, but none of
them could connect. Bain avoided them like it was nothing. Bain
quickly stopped the barrage by grabbing Knox's fist in mid punch.
From there, Bain squeezed his fist, crushing Knox's fragile
fingers. Knox moaned quietly in pain, trying to escape.
Knox slammed his fist in Bain's arm, releasing his hand. He
followed up with a slide kick. Bain jumped into the air, dodging
the kick, but the attacks weren't over. Knox threw an uppercut,
finally hitting Bain, but it wasn't strong enough to do any
severe damage. Knox jumped back a safe distance, being able to
get away from the overpowered man.
Bain rubbed his chin. "Eh, barely stings. I hope you're not
trying your best, kid. If this is all that you could back up
with that cocky shit you were talking about a minute ago, you
obviously were lying to yourself."
"Don't worry about that. I haven't shown you anything yet."
Crap! thought Knox. I know that I didn't use a full power
uppercut, but my attack didn't even do anything! The worst part
is that I can't display my powers to this guy since his team's
goal is most likely to expose our powers for the future phases.
He probably knows about my defense aura from phase 2, but he
hasn't seen my offense aura, so I can't use that. I was probably
using 80% percent of my physical strength in that last attack,
but still, it was only on his chin. I'll have to try a more
vital spot, like his stomach, face or neck.
Bain yawned tauntingly. "Are you done day dreaming, boy? We
only have so long until this phase is over."
Knox nodded and sprinted back in. Alright, let's see. I have to
delude him. That's when I'll be able to strike! Knox punched
towards his stomach. Bain dodged with ease, while simultaneously
being confused. He couldn't understand why Knox was trying the
Bain swiftly rolled around Knox and began to drop his elbow to
his neck. Now! thought Knox. Right before the elbow hit, a blue
aura quickly surrounded Knox, catching Bain off guard. The
strike still hurt Knox, but Bain suffered much more. He could
feel his elbow shaking from the newly reinforced skin.
Knox quickly countered. He turned around and slammed his fist
into Bain's stomach, causing him to choke up blood. Bain looked
up at Knox, who was once again at a safe distance. I understand,
the blue aura that I saw around him in the second phase… it
enhances his defense. That's good to know. What I'm scared
about is that a basic defense enhancing ability seems so basic,
especially for someone like him. There has to be something more
to his powers…
Bain recuperated quickly, and was ready to fight again much
faster than Knox expected. "Crap," he mumbled. "An attack to the
stomach should have winded him, but he barely felt anything.
There's still 2 more vital points I have to hit."
Knox was ready to charge once again, but Bain held his hand out.
"Not yet, kid. I want to demonstrate what I can do, as well.
Watch carefully." Knox did as he told, focusing on Bain as he
pulled a shiny nickel out of his pocket.
"Heads or tails, pal?"
"Tails," said Knox, without hesitation.
"What the hell?" said Keira, who was still unable to move.
"Aren't you even going to question the coin flip?"
Bain flipped the coin high into the air, catching it on the back
of his hand. It landed on tails, causing him to be disappointed.
"Damn, what a shame. Guess I don't get to pick this time."
Pick? thought Knox. What's this guy talking about?
To Knox's surprise, he noticed something out of the corner of his
eye. The tattoo on Bain's eye, the orange snake, slowly started
to retract up his arm. Knox watched the entire scene in
disbelief until the tattoo coiled around Bain's neck.
From there, Bain's arm started to bubble. The skin slowly melted
off, dripping onto the ground piece by piece. Eventually, all of
the skin bubbled away, revealing the muscle underneath.
Keira felt like she was going to puke. "What's your power even
do? Just melt your skin off?"
Instantly, his fingers glued together, forming into a long, black
tube that had rigid purple lines on the side. From his hands up,
the black metal grew over his hand, ultimately forming an assault
Bain rubbed the rifle as if it was precious to him. "Unique, no?
Being able to transform your arm into a weapon is good enough for
me. Of course, the disadvantage is I can only summon one weapon
at a time, and that coin toss, too. If I lose to coin toss, I
don't get to choose the weapon that I want. I'm lucky though.
This is just the one that I wanted."
Bain slowly raised the rifle, aiming it directly at Knox's
forehead. In a second, bullets started to fly out at rapid
speeds. Knox just barely dodged, and quickly dashed to his left
as he started running a circle around Bain. As he ran, Know
could feel the bullets just barely skim past him back. If even
one hit him, he was dead.
Rapidly, Knox hit the floor, just barely avoiding the incoming
bullets, and dashed towards Bain. From there, Knox Grabbed the
rifle and aimed it up, disabling the gun.
Bain snickered. "It's not gonna work, kid." He rammed his knee
into Knox's stomach. Knox coughed up an incredible amount of
blood, falling to the ground, gasping for air. Bain aimed the
rifle at Knox, preparing to shoot.
Right before he shot, Knox rolled out of the way, catching Bain
by surprise. He swiftly scooped some dirt into his hand and
threw it into Bain's eyes, temporarily blinding him.
"Shit!" yelled out Bain. He began to shoot aimlessly, hoping to
hit Knox. Knox traversed to Bain's side, kicking him in the
ribs. He followed with a kick to his leg. Bain fell to the
ground, still aimlessly shooting. Knox rolled out of the
bullet's path and got behind Bain. At full strength, Knox
dropped his elbow into the back of Bain's neck. Yes! screamed
out Knox in his head. There's no way he could take a hit like
Bain's arms were shaking as he struggled to keep himself up. He
was just barely able to wipe the dirt out of his eyes. After a
few seconds, he could see clearly again. "Smart kid, using a
double delusion. When I kneed you, you pretended to be out of
breath, giving me a chance to shoot you, but of course, your damn
power protected you. From there, you blinded me and went for the
strike. Too bad for you…I'm also made out of iron…"
Knox stood frozen in place. He couldn't believe that Bain took
no damage. Damn it, this is really bad. If he could take a hit
to the stomach and the neck without being damaged, there's no way
that I can beat him without punching him in the same area at
least 10 times. I can't decide if it's worth switching to my
offense aura. If I fail to kill him then, he can escape and warn
Silver and Saga about my powers.
"That idiot…" whispered Keira. "After that strike it's clear that
he isn't capable of beating this guy. If he does a feint, he may
be able to run off without being caught, but who knows how fast
Bain lifted his arm, disbanding the metal, revealing newly grown
skin underneath. "I'm taking things into hands now. Prepare to
Bain went on the offense now. He sprinted up to Knox, punching
him lightning fast. Before Knox knew it, Bain rushed behind him,
roundhouse kicking him in his temple. Knox flew several feet
before skidding against the ground.
Knox got back to his feet immediately, but it was no use. Bain
had already reached him, grabbing him by his face and slamming
his skull to the ground. Knox could hear his brain beating along
with his heart as Bain squeezed his hand. Knox rapidly gripped
Bain's hand, digging his nails deep into Bain's skin. Knox
ripped away at his skin, causing blood to gush out of it rapidly.
For the first time in the fight, Bain actually felt damaged.
Knox had no plans of stopping there. He went for a straight
punch to Bain's face, but stopped right before he connected.
Knox jumped back several times, disappearing behind a bush on the
edge of the circle.
"Do you think you're clever child, hiding in the bushes? I hope
you ran away while you could." No response. Bain stood
patiently in the middle of the circle, brainstorming. He's still
out there, I know it. He's probably progressing around the
circle quietly and planning to attack me from behind. The second
I hear a noise, it's almost guarenteed to be him. I can strike
Bain locked his arms together and kept his eyes closed loosely.
He wiped the sweat off of his forehead occasionally. A few
minutes of complete silence, despite some on and off bird calls,
but nothing. Bain was losing his patience with each passing
second. How much longer can this kid keep this up?
Bain widened his left eye as he heard a small rustle near a bush.
He turned towards the sound and rushed in, going full speed
towards the bush. The second he arrived, he slammed his fist
into the bush, connecting with nothing but the ground.
From behind Bain, Knox popped out of the same location of where
he entered. This time, however, he was surrounded by the
glistening red aura. At full speed and strength, he rammed his
fist into the back of Bain's head, causing him to fly several
fight into a tree, creating a humongous dust cloud over him. He
quickly jumped back and dismissed his aura.
Keira was pale from the sight. She rubbed her eyes to make sure
she was seeing right. That freaking kid…I can't tell if he
relied on luck or if he's a genius. When he jumped into the
bush, he figured that Bain would attack the first sound that he
heard, which he did. Instead of Knox creating a decoy sound, he
just waited in the same location until a random sound was made,
and that was when he attacked. As for the red aura, Knox knew
that he couldn't break Bain's defenses, so he waited for Bain to
look away to use his red aura. It's a win-win situation because
he damaged Bain and was able to hide the second part of his power
Soon enough, the dust cloud faded, revealing Bain, who was
implanted deep into the tree's wood. He pulled himself out,
showing off the front side of his now brutally damaged body.
Pieces of razor sharp bark were sticking deep into his skin, and
his head was busted open in several different locations.
Knox smiled with relief. "It's over, you're in no condition to
fight. I'll be honest with you, I don't really want to kill you,
but I recommend you forfeit the exam before I actually have to
Bain pulled out a piece of bark, causing his skin to spurt out a
small stream of blood. "That was one hell of a punch, but don't
let these injuries fool you. You did a good job for a piece of
trash, but I could take another 3 punches just like that before
you win." Knox slowly turned pale and clenched his stomach. He
couldn't believe that even his enhanced punch was no match
"By the way, kid, you're kind of unlucky that you didn't knock me
out. I know that you have a power enhancement ability."
Knox tensed up and groaned. "H-how did you know?"
"You tried to conceal it by attacking me with it from behind,
right? To bad for you I could tell that you attacked me at full
power back when you punched me in my stomach. Besides, I've
fought kids your age before, and not one can deliver a punch like
that without an enhancement."
Bain yawned as he stretched his slightly sore muscles. "In the
end, though, I lose." Knox widened his eyes in confusion. "I'm
not gonna continue fighting with you. I'm impressed by your
ability to fight without relying 100% on your powers. In the
end, it's a win for both of us. I got intel on both of your
powers and you get to keep the girl. Of course, I can't
guarantee that I won't be coming after her in the future…"
Keira was actually disappointed. Inside her, she was happy that
Knox helped her, but Bain's deal sounded irresistible. She was
stuck on which side she should follow.
Knox nodded. He walked back to Keira and picked her up. "We're
off. I appreciate your comments, but I still recommend that you
"Why should I?"
"Well, if you don't, one of my teammates may end up killing you."
Bain snarled on the outside, but he took every word to heart. He
now saw Knox's team as a much bigger threat. "Keep talking big,
trash, if it makes you feel better." Bain watched silently as
Knox carried Keira off deep into the woods, up until they
couldn't be seen.
"Well, that was a fun little walk. Guess I sh-" Instantly, Bain
fell on to one knee. He gripped his head, trying to focus on the
ground. His vision was spinning, his ears screeching, and his
brain beating rapidly. A small amount of blood drained out of
his mouth, dripping like a small waterfall to the ground.
"What's…going on?" Bain's vision started to refocus after a
moment, but his headache remained. "Damn…did that kid's punch do
this to me?" He glared back over to where Knox walked off to.
"Maybe…no…I definitely underestimated him."