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Howl at the Moon

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Chapter 6: Mission Start


The ground shook underneath their feet as the large creature charged towards them. Flaunting a lower body that consisted of two large, powerful hind limbs that bore two clawed digits each, sans the almost non-existent fore limbs and the thick dark fur covering its upper body, it resembled much of a smaller version of a very ancient and extinct race of dinosaurs, the Tyrannosaurus. Its distinguishing characteristics were its two razor-sharp upturned fangs, protruding from its lower shark-like jaw as if it were a pair of large horns.

Adon quickly recognized the Aragami, its giant tail sporting an ogre-like face from which it got its name. The Ogretail might have been an Aragami of the lower spectrum in size, but nevertheless, it boasted the largest population of all Aragami, rapidly increasing in number in various regions around the world. It was the Sewer Rat of the Aragami—a scavenger that devoured just about anything it set its eyes upon.

That was one way to look at it, he supposed.

Then again, unlike a Sewer Rat, it was immensely deadly and stood about twice the height of the average human; possessed no intelligence, only the instinctive need to hunt and kill and Devour.

The trio of God Eaters only had a split second to leap apart as it came at them. It went by so close, they practically felt the air whooshing before them.

"Split up! Go for the flanks!" Lindow shouted his orders while he swiped his God Arc at the Aragami's snout, jumping back right away as it tried to take a bite at him.

"Gotcha!"

Both rookies nodded in understanding and quickly separated. They'd taken the same training courses after all. The idea was to sneak around the Ogretail and attack from both sides while Lindow held its attention from the front. That gave them the important advantage of making sure the Aragami wasn't able to attack the three of them at the same time.

Adon ran to the Ogretail's left while Kota went to its right, the trio forming a triangle around the Aragami.

It stopped attacking Lindow and paused for a moment, shifting around to look at each of them. Completely confused, it growled at no one in particular, and that cued the God Eaters to start attacking. Lindow struck first, dashing forward and smashing his God Arc at the side of the distracted Ogretail's head. There was a resounding crack as the monster got thrown off-balance.

"Take this! For freedom!" Kota screamed all the while wasting away bullets on the Ogretail's side. It was futile, but at least he was hitting his mark.

The Ogretail roared defiantly as it bucked sideways from the force of the continuous barrage. The amount of damage Kota had dealt should have reduced just about anything to ashes by now. However, with its extremely thick hide, the Ogretail remained in one complete piece. The attack actually did nothing but annoy it just even more.

For freedom? Seriously, Kota? Adon thought as he rushed the enemy from its left. Under other circumstances, he would've bit back a remark at his fellow rookie, but at the moment he was concentrated on dealing some serious damage to the Ogretail. He felt both nervous and excited at the prospect of finally slaying his first Aragami, to finally be recognized as a full-blown God Eater.

He moved swiftly and silently toward the Ogretail, like a wolf about to prowl on its prey. But it saw him coming from the corner of its eye and swung its spiked tail at him like a club. He drifted to a stop and rolled aside just in time for the attack to swish right above him. Taking advantage of the Aragami's moment of confusion, he slashed a few swipes at its limbs, drawing blood and causing it to howl in pain.

His short victory came to a halting end, however, as the Aragami's tail came swinging back at him and launched his body way away from the battlefield. All of the breath in his lungs left him, completely forgetting to return. And it hurt like hell!

A normal human being would have suffered serious injuries from such a blow, possibly even fatal. But Adon was no longer like any other normal human. What he had realized after his countless training sessions and simulations was that, with the Bias Factor flowing in his veins, not only did his reflexes and strength improve, but even his body was completely enhanced and toughened. Jumping down a helicopter from a hundred feet in the air was nothing compared to the things he could now do. Or take.

He heard Kota scream his name as he was thrown into the air. The blow hit him square in the chest, and he expected a few broken ribs. However, despite that it felt like a wrecking ball just came at him at a hundred miles per hour, for all intents and purposes of turning his bones into goo, all it actually did was just throw him tens of feet away with nothing but a few scratches and a possible muscle ache later on.

Still, it was enough to take him out of the fight for a few seconds.

While Adon tried to regain his bearings, Kota and Lindow kept the Aragami at bay, shouting profanities at it as if it could understand a word they were saying.

With less enemies to worry about, the Ogretail focused on the more dangerous threat of the two: the other melee fighter. It roared and started tromping toward Lindow, eager for some vengeance.

He remained completely still, however, as the Ogretail came closing in, its smoldering eyes glowing with furious hate. He knew he could easily outrun the thing, even when not in Burst, but he stood his ground and waited patiently. At the very last moment, he slid his feet apart and jumped to the side.

The Aragami came barreling past, the smell of thousands of pounds of Oracle Cells stinging his senses. He scrunched his nose in disgust. He hated that scent—that scent of something rotten, like burnt flesh.

He watched the Ogretail slow down to a stop. As the monster regained its footing, it turned around and roared at him in frustration, then it recoiled as it received another set of blasts from Kota.

"Take this! And this!" shouted the trigger-happy God Eater. He was screaming and cackling wildly like a maniac as he drove the enemy back. "Die, die, die!"

Lindow rolled his eyes at the thrilled rookie. "Sheesh. Newbies," he muttered. "Hey, Kota! That's enough! You'll ru—"

He was cut off as a loud explosion suddenly erupted a couple of feet to his side followed by a thunderous roar.

"What the—?"

The wall and roof of the house next to him caved in and crumbled down, forming a large cloud of dust, and right out of the cloud came charging another Ogretail, its snapping jaws aimed directly at his head.

"Oh, you've gotta be kidding me!"

The new Aragami charged at him with all of its strength, seemingly invigorated at the thought of fresh prey, only to be met and stopped with a loud metallic clang!

Caught off-guard, Lindow only had enough time to shield himself with his God Arc, barely but nonetheless effectively stopping the Aragami in its tracks. The tremulous force of impact struck and shook his body. He grunted and steadied his feet on the ground as the Ogretail tried to push him backward with its large head.

He quickly thought on what to do next. If he maintained their arrangement, they would be stuck in a standstill and it would become a matter of which of them held out longer.

But, then again, if he were to just abruptly move away, he would risk getting trampled underneath its weight and getting squished like a bug.

While he debated his options, his right foot suddenly slipped from underneath him. It was either because he was simply out of practice or the Ogretail was in fact much stronger than he had initially expected. But since he was quite the seasoned, combat-ready veteran, it was highly unlikely that he had just suddenly gone rusty. The reason was obviously the latter.

This one is sure damn powerful—!

He gritted his teeth as he was pushed into kneeling on one foot. This was one hell of a predicament he was put in. He was very much aware of the fact that he would most likely not last long in this position, not to mention he had pretty much run out of options.

And judging from its newly gained fervor, the Ogretail seemed to have come to this same conclusion, somewhat having sensed its prey's enfeeblement.

In spite of all this, however, he was still quite sure of one thing.

I'm not going to die here. Not today!

After all, it was his first and foremost order to not die. He could not just go around disobeying his own order, now could he?

With all of his willpower, he planted his right foot firmly back on the ground and put all of his strength into pushing back. His enemy momentarily paused from this sudden force and took an involuntary step back. It was all the time he needed to move out of its way.

In quick successive movements, he rolled to the side and followed up with a slice of his God Arc at the Ogretail's body just as it went storming past and came crashing right into the nearest house. The earth shuddered beneath his feet while there erupted an ear-rending sound of wreckage—the sound of a structure being leveled. He knew then that the Ogretail had been dealt with. Not dead, but at least momentarily incapacitated.

He sighed and took a much needed deep breath. He had to admit, that was a close call. Pretty damn close, he thought to himself bitterly.

Thankful for this moment of respite, he took the opportunity to survey their situation.

Adon was back to holding himself against the other Ogretail, with Kota backing him up from a safe distance all the while shouting expletives. They both appeared unharmed, Adon seemingly sustaining only minor injuries from the previous blow he took.

The dilemma now was quickly dealing with both enemies before even more appeared. The reports did say of numerous Ogretail sightings.

On a side-note, he expressed his disdain on sending two rookies on such a mission. Alone, he would have had a field day dealing with multiple Aragami. But taking care of two other God Eaters, especially rookies, was a much more complicated task.

Why did the babysitting job always fall on him? Why didn't they give it to Soma instead?

Lindow paused.

He shook his head. Right, stupid question.

At that moment, large debris exploded from behind him as the Ogretail used its hard head to bust its way out of the large slabs of pavement.

"Ugh! Damn it!" he groaned. This was a very annoying one. It didn't even give him enough time to take a quick smoke.

He ran and charged at the Aragami with his God Arc, seemingly about to meet it head-on. But right before he would have clashed with the large beast, he halted to a sudden stop and spun on one heel, swinging his large blade in a circular arc. The perfectly calculated blow landed on the side of the Ogretail's face, causing it to stagger sideways.

With the enemy momentarily dazed, he violently sliced and diced the monster with dozens of hefty swipes, driving it back and building some distance. It recoiled and roared as he stabbed and slashed at it, then he would rear back each time it tried to bite his head off with a snap and he would strike right back with another attack of his own.

As the battle prolonged, however, the Ogretail seemed to adapt to his movements. It started to move more swiftly and smartly, perfectly timing its attacks and even jumping back at the right moments to dodge his oncoming large blade.

To say that Lindow was surprised was a complete understatement. He was absolutely flabbergasted. This was the first time he was having such a hard time dealing with an Ogretail. Usually, all it took were a few swings and stabs to its sides and legs. One clean blow—one fell swoop—and it should have been done for.

Well, he was in for a shock. Literally.

The one thing that he truly didn't expect was for the thing—whatever it actually was—to shoot electric needles right at him. It was literallya bolt out of the blue. He only had enough time to lean sideways to avoid getting hit by the lightning-induced projectiles.

Completely enthralled by the sparking needles that whooshed just right past his head, he was caught off-guard once again as the Ogretail swung its tail at his feet. He fell on his back to the ground, eyes wide in bewilderment. But, quickly composing himself, he rolled away just in time to avoid getting squished under the weight of the lunging Aragami.

As he righted himself up, the thing remained still and studied his movements with watchful, learning eyes. He narrowed his eyes.

Testing the waters, he slowly walked sideways with short steps, and the Aragami mimicked him, taking a few steps to the side as well. Then they began to encircle each other, both waiting for the other to make the first move.

Obviously, something was very different with this Ogretail. It was completely unlike the normal one, what with its enhanced fighting skills and ability to generate lightning. And now that he paid closer attention, he finally noticed the peculiar physical details. There was a distinguishable difference. This one appeared to be more gaunt and skeletal than the usual thick-skinned and scaly Ogretail, its bones seeming to frame its bulging tissues, but nonetheless muscular and powerfully built.

And as it stared right back at him, its eyes appeared electric, as if it was actually thinking and assessing the situation.

Lindow reprimanded himself for overlooking that important step, and he couldn't believe his enemy—an Aragami at that—was actually doing a much better job at it. Again, it was a freaking Aragami!

His failure to observe his foe much earlier might have led to his undoing if he weren't so lucky.

There was no excuse for such a mistake, even if everything about this situation—from the sudden appearance of these Aragami that were most probably evolved Ogretails, and quite the intelligent ones, to the rookies lack of training, not to mention one being a New-type—was undoubtedly unprecedented.

However—sure, the enemy might have been new—the situation was still not anything unfamiliar. After all, he had single-handedly taken down Aragami of more epic proportions than this one before. This was a piece of cake compared to the large high-storied ones he usually had to deal with.

Finally taking the fight a little more seriously, he straightened his stance and gripped his God Arc tighter with both hands.

"You hungry, Sparky? Come here and try me."

Meanwhile, Adon and Kota made sure their Ogretail was focused on them. After a few unsuccessful attempts to Devour the Aragami, Adon drew back and opted to use his God Arc in gun form. Both rookies peppered the helpless Ogretail with dozens of bullets, driving it back and securing their distance from the monster, although they were dealing very minimal damage.

Adon knew they were in trouble. As far as he knew, the enemy shouldn't be this complicated to deal with, and from his experiences during his training, a normal Ogretail shouldn't be this sturdy. There was something different about this one.

Then the hair on the back of his neck suddenly rose.

As if to prove his speculation right, the Ogretail summoned a ball of electricity with its tail and shot it at him. His eyes widened as the projectile hurtled toward him. He jumped back just in time as it exploded right before him, leaving a large scorch mark on the ground where he just had been.

That, particularly, had never been a part of any simulation he'd undergone.

"Holy shit!" Kota exclaimed, horrified. "What's with this thing!"

"It's not a normal Ogretail," explained an exasperated Adon. Obviously. This wasn't what he signed up for—to die on his first day on the job. They had to do something, fast. Anything, really, before—

"Oh, crap! I'm about to run out of bullets!" Kota screamed.

Right, before that.

It didn't seem to affect Kota, however, as he just kept on firing at the Aragami.

Idiot, Adon cursed. Thinking quickly, he knelt on the ground and unslung his backpack, hurriedly unzipping it open. He fiddled around with its contents, and when he finally felt the metallic canister at the tip of his fingertips, he coiled his hand around it and took it out.

"Fall back!" he shouted at Kota, then he pulled the safety pin off of the Stun Grenade and threw the explosive at the direction of the Ogretail.

There was a loud, deafening blast.

Then blinding light.

Then silence.


A/N: That's the first part. The action is far from over!

Anyway, if you noticed, I changed a few things. A notable one is in the game, Licca's dad is supposed to be dead. Well, I have a few plans for him, so I made him MIA in this story instead.

Review, plox!