Conflict and Conflagration

It was a pathetically weak attack that Tom had sent against him. Lee had believed so anyway, as he simply blocked it with his new arm. Which absorbed the magical steam and fire. It was an amusingly childish attempt to harm him. Tom was clearly angry and stupid if he believed something like this would harm a high level planeswalker like himself. The attempt was so amusing he couldn’t help but laugh at the attempt.

“Did you know Tom, that shifters are wildmagic incarnate? They can’t exist without strong magic to feed off of.”

“Ooh… top of the pyramid, I guess ‘Things a moron would say?’,” Tom spat back venomously.

“I thought you would be interested is all. I just told you something that took me months to learn. Oh well you can’t blame me for attempting to enlighten you.” Lee gave a shrug not caring one way or the other. Every word he spoke seemed to twist the screws in him a little tighter, which was fine with him. He had hoped to have a rematch with Tom after their last disastrous fight.

“No, but I can blame you for killing a whole lot of people.” Tom retorted as he began his second attack at Lee. His stone fist impacted with the ground sending a small tidal wave of concrete hands trying to grab his opponent. Lee simply summoned his scythe and slashed them in half with the blade.

“These are pathetic tricks Tom. Frankly, I’m disappointed in you, but I have grown to new levels in power so maybe your attacks are just child’s play to me now.”

Tom yelled as his rage quickly grew to new heights. “I’m going to make you pay for what you’ve done!”

~#~#~#~

This place seemed like a maze to Zach as he bashed his way through god-knows-how-many of these beasts. Another one became paste against a wall with a side swing of his hammer while barely breaking stride. Following just behind him, Chasity scribbled relentlessly in her notebook. Her spells flew every which way. Some hit Zach keeping him focused and energized while others reeked havoc on the were-whatevers that were in their way. They had to get to the infirmary and Nick only sent the two of them to help move an unknown number of patients to the shelters.

“How much further?” Zach asked in his usual loud and agitated manner. Chasity projected a small green holographic map with a red line marking their path.

“Not much further, it should be just around the next corner.”

As they rounded the final corner they saw the unmistakable door to the infirmary. The dismembered remains of dozens of werewolves and wererats littered the entrance. If they hadn’t become accustomed to the sight long ago they might have gotten sick from the sight of carnage. With barely a second thought, Zach ran over the bodies and pounded on the door.

“Hey open up! We’re here to evacuate you!” A marble sized metal sphere rolled under the door in response to the ruckus he was making. Before long it floated in the air in front of each of them scanning with a blue light. After it was complete it gave a ding of approval, and the doorway opened to reveal Sandra carrying a backpack looped over her shoulder.

“Where are the patients?” Chasity asked he nervously.

“They didn’t make it.” She muttered quietly. They were dumbfounded; there were at least a dozen here this morning.

“What about Tom?” Zach asked panicky. There was a brief flash of what might of been anger in her eyes, but it was gone before ever really registering with the two people in front of her.

“He’s fine. He woke up earlier and rushed out to help with the defense.” Zach looked relieved at the news. At least something had finally gone right for a change.

“Well we still need to get you out of here.” The red mage said next to her.

“That’s fine, I’m done here.” Sandra replied before running away with them.

~#~#~#~

He was angry. Tom had never felt such rage in his life. All he wanted to do was see Lee die for what he did. Feels good, doesn’t it? Preening bastard needs to be punished. Tom’s own voice echoed in his head. He ignored it as his razored hand parried and slashed at his scythe wielding opponent. As each second passed, he felt his anger burn hotter.

Combine them. Destroy him with everything, he insulted your abilities and is standing there believing he could be your equal. Demolish everything. Rip it all apart!

“Shut up.” He mumbled to the voice in his head as he fired dozens of silver chains at Lee, each one barbed with impossibly sharp arrowheads. Lee deflected or danced away from them. His motions were unnaturally fluid.

“You know Tom, I’ve been thinking we’ve been friends a while now so I think I’ll share something with you. I’m glad we fought. I’m glad you took my arm off. Without the loss I wouldn’t have been motivated enough to seek higher power. I’m a new man tonight Tom, and a new man deserves a new name. I’ve thought about it and Lee just doesn’t fit a mage of my power. So tonight my name and title shall be forever known as Zazzipan, Master of the Shifters.” Tom stopped for a brief moment if his blind rage at that last stupid declaration.

“Razzlebery?”

“Zazzipan.”

“Frying pan?”

“Zazzipan.”

“Marzipan?”

“Zazzipan.”

“Candlestick?”

“God Dammit Tom! You know that’s not right, you’re just doing it to piss me off!” Tom dodged a head level scythe blow and his follow-up fireblast.

“Look Zazzles, you can call yourself whatever stage name you like, but you don’t rebrand while you’re busy playing Mass Murdering Asshole on all screens Volstwide.”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“You’re damn right I don’t understand!” Tom screamed as he loosed his razor chains but this time each blade also fired bubbles of liquid fire to engulf Lee. That’s my boy. String them together, the perfect weapon is alchemized from all forms of power and- “WEAVER, WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!!”

Tom screamed at the voice in his head. That last out burst just confused Lee.

“Weaver?”

~#~#~#~

In another place the battle had been heating up for hours. James had no idea how many people he had lost fighting these things, but he did know that they shouldn’t be able to keep attacking forever. James’ puppet allies clattered as they ganged up on some huge baloth had just run straight past them from another part of the battlefield. Each one stabbed, bit, or blasted merrily until the beast died.

“Where is everyone? I need back up over here!” He kept signalling but none of the response teams were answering. When finally he received a buzz in his head, an even smaller wooden ally popped its head out from the back of his shirt.

“You got a message.” It spoke in a strange gravely smoker’s voice.

“Read it to me.”

“Okay. Logos colon recall all perimeter and response teams. This is a full evacuation notice effective immediately. You have ten minutes to reach shelter 23 or we’re leaving you. That’s all of it.” James suddenly felt despair hit, sick and heavy in his chest, but he sent as many of his allies to spread the word and lead the way. James retreated back through the clearing the baloth had trampled open.

When he reached the end of the path, he found Adam’s unconscious form lying on the ground. He ran over to check for signs of life; after confirming them he grabbed his friend by the arm and, with help from his remaining puppets, carried him back to the campus.

“Adam, you are one lucky bastard.”

~#~#~#~

What’s wrong, Wisel, you running low on juice? You know what would help, don’t you? Big, tall glass of stolen life energy. Tom uppercut Lee into the air, and followed up with a barrage of flaming chainshot. Tom had little thought to spare arguing with the venom-spinning voice in his head, but found his limbs obeying smaller commands, reacting to blows before they landed.

Lee sprung back, scythe gripped too tightly in one fist. He glared, searching Tom’s defense for an opening. The pompous ‘walker was showing few signs of fatigue, and Tom could feel his limbs aching underneath the meager boost he’d been feeding them.

Wild energy, remember? This little bastard is chock full of a full-balanced breakfast in every mana food group. Tom felt his eyes unfocus, the wispy flow of mana revealed. Brilliant energy glowed everywhere, frozen in the brick, the trees… the dead bodies. Lee was a patchwork of sickly-looking colors, forced into his body somehow. It doesn’t belong to him.

Tom shook slightly, raising his left arm and sweeping it towards the building at his left. Slowly… he pointed it at Lee’s shocked face with a deep feeling of satisfaction. The phantasmal sillouette of a thick, hexagonal bracelet faded into vision on Tom’s left wrist.

“Data… DRAIN!”

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