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Iceflame// Chapter 22: Bolt All Over the Place

by SalisRuinen


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

As Hikaru combined his deva with those of Seiren and King to launch a three-element wave towards Martian Class #3’s main forces, he thought victory was definitely within his and his classmates’ grasp.

Only when a vibrating pulse was channeled through the ground beneath his feet which caused it to crumble to pieces to reveal the enemy’s trap did the young Summerbolt realize who he was dealing with.

Many crystals with a coral color shaped like giant blades, spikes and stakes were spread across the pit hidden under the area where the Earthlings had stood, Hikaru and the rest falling right to them.

The spiky-haired teenager had an extremely fast teleportation, even more so now that he could use a 100% deva output freely. That’s what saved his life along with that of two of his classmates from the healer-sensor five, who he managed to grab before teleporting away from the pit.

Before being able to spare a second to worry about his classmates, a typhoon fell on the mad bolt’s group along with a number of meteors the size of an exercise ball.

Caught in the typhoon, Hikaru could no longer hold on to the girls, both of them being ripped from his grasp as the genius was thrown around without being able to see a thing. His ears were full of nothing but the howling of the winds, his throat – with the dirt carried on those winds. All sense of orientation had left him, simultaneously feeling sick, but being unable to throw up because of the numbness that had taken hold of his body.

The typhoon disappeared soon enough and the boy’s nausea along with it, so he was overcome by relief, realizing only too late that without that typhoon there was nothing holding him above the crystal-layered bottom of the pit.

Young Mr. Summerbolt was able to teleport to another part of the pit that was crystal-free no more than a second before being pierced by the crystal spike he was falling toward, needing a few moments to calm himself after he had survived that ordeal.

The battle with Grak had been scary, of course, but it was nothing like this. So many abilities were used at the same time here and those abilities were far more destructive than the chainman’s.

Focusing on the realization of how unprepared he actually was for this Class Battle any longer was only going to put his classmates in more danger, though, so Hikaru committed every ounce of his being to the steeling of his mind.

He was the Earthling group’s genius. Now was the time to protect them all with that brain he took great pride in having.

The spiky-haired teenager got back on his feet, looking around the smoke that had risen from the crushing of some of the meteors inside the pit to look for his classmates. He found something else before that.

The members of the main Martian force jumped inside the pit from all sides, those among them with elemental devas preparing barrages of attacks before even landing. The attack aimed at the mad bolt in particular was the doing of the same villain responsible for that typhoon hitting the hot heads earlier – Jart.

He looked a bit like Vega, but his tummy was bigger, his hair longer and silver in color, his eyes – so dark gray they appeared almost black and his skin – closer in terms of complexion to that of the young Summerbolt himself.

Many mini-typhoons were sent at Hikaru by him, blocked by the hemisphere of electricity the mad genius formed around himself. The next moment Jart teleported right next to that hemisphere and crushed a single typhoon that was much bigger than those from his barrage in the Earthling’s shield.

(Jart) ‘-Having fun yet, Summerbolt?!’

(Hikaru) ‘-If I was facing someone stronger, maybe it would’ve been fun!’

Hikaru made the hemisphere burst in many lightning bolts to push back the typhoon, shaping each bolt like a spear and sending it against his enemy. Right after that he teleported to the side of the Martian who was dealing with the spears, sending him away with a lightning-enveloped fist in the jaw.

As Jart was pretty much buried vertically in the wall of the pit by that attack, his opponent now went around the bottom in a frantic search for the most valuable members of his class – the healers and the sensors.

The Martians’ devas were generally stronger and more combat-oriented and they would beat the Earthlings in a straight fight. Only by counting on the healers to patch up their wounds and on the sensors to predict the enemy’s movement did Hikaru’s class stand a chance. 

The enemy was aware of that and the whole reason for the two-stage attack they had used was precisely that – to separate Earthling Class #1’s members from each other and take out the five most important among them before anyone could come to their aid.

The first one of the five in question the boy found had knelt on the ground next to the screaming Exo. She was currently channeling her healing deva’s energy through his body to heal the number of cuts on the techno-genius’ face and torso, one of which had almost cost him his left eye.

Vega and one of the girls that was a part of the rear group of the class’s formation were fighting back to back next to those two, the young Summerbolt joining them. The drunkard was breaking apart the masses of darkness created by one opponent, his classmate providing cover for herself, Exo and his healer from the lava river created by another by using her hair that had come alive and had a volume and length many times above normal.

As both of the attackers of this quartet had focused their attention on them, Hikaru succeeded in smiting both villains with a couple of projectiles made from his lightning bolts. This wasn’t going to take them down, of course, but it distracted them long enough for a number of wide-diameter disks made of rocks to go through them, leaving as many cuts on them as those on the boy who was currently being healed. Yonira, the girl that had the second greatest hair volume among all the members of the class and was the second strongest girl among the Earthlings (third, if counting Yuki), landed next to the mad genius then.

Having taken out the immediate threat for them, Hikaru and Yonira regrouped with Vega and their classmate who returned her hair to its normal size and form, their attention quickly turning to Exo. He still screamed of pain even though some of his wounds had already closed completely, his skin being covered in sweat, his breath – faint. Healing such damage with high speed still put a lot of stress on the body, after all, and for someone who was not used it, the treatment could prove nearly as tormenting as the wound itself.

(Hikaru) ‘-I see you found Rika. We’ve got one of the central five covered, then. What about Exo?’

(Vega) ‘-Not everyone was so lucky when we were pushed in the pit. Especially those who tried to protect their comrades.’

(Hikaru) ‘-He protected you guys?’

(Yonira) ‘-How else do you think we came out unscathed?’

(Hikaru) ‘-He’s done his part. It’s time we …’

Jart came out of a typhoon behind him, having enveloped his right arm in a number of mini-typhoons to transform it into a typhoon-drill, getting ready to pierce Hikaru when Yonira stopped the attack with a multi-layered rock wall.

(Jart) ‘-How long did you think that was gonna delay me?’

(Hikaru) ‘-Enough for me to assess the situation. (he turned his attention away from his opponent and back to the group in front of him) You’ve formed a good group here, so make sure you stick together. And protect Rika and Exo at all costs. I’ll sweep around the pit to see how the others are doing.’

The Earthlings’ genius vanished with a crack of thunder, realizing while moving around the pit that the enemy far outnumbered his class’s forces.

Investigating this while looking for the other members of the healer-sensor group was not going to be an easy task, but the longer the mystery with the Martians’ numbers remained unsolved, the greater the danger for the Earthlings’ prized jewels would be.

The young Summerbolt teleported at the edge of the pit, looking at what lay on the ground level beyond it to find the cause for the disproportionate ratio between the two classes’ members. One of the Martians had fallen on his knees near the pit and had put his hands on the ground, dark purple blobs with small bits of yellow light inside coming out of his back and detaching themselves from it when they grew in size. Those blobs started changing their shape and appearance after being separated from their creator’s back, eventually becoming identical clones of him. From what the spiky-haired teenager had seen, he estimated that at least thirty clones had already been sent at the bottom of the pit.

There were also around twenty more with the original who were just standing in one place without doing anything. That too was not random – those clones had been gathered closely around something: two silhouettes in between their ranks who were not identical to the others.

Upon realizing what an opportunity had just revealed itself to him, Hikaru couldn’t help but grin.

(Hikaru) ‘-So that’s where you’re hiding them. (the clones turned their shocked faces to him as he came out of the pit and stepped closer to them) I don’t know the devas of all the members of your class, but I’m pretty sure you’ve got one with a healing deva and one with a sensor deva. That’s who you’re guarding there, right? (he used the highest teleportation speed he was able to achieve at this point to get to the original who was creating the clones, concentrating electricity in his chest to move up his throat and release in a roar-type attack) And if I take out the original, the clones protecting those two will …’

Before he could finish his sentence, the ground he was going to use to provide proper footing for a strong roar was shaken by a strong vibration. The loss of footing led to the roar being released prematurely and in an upward direction, the mad bolt’s eyes searching for the one who had crippled his attack.

A Martian who stood on the other side of the pit was caught by his gaze, touching the earth with a triumphant smirk that had a tinge of mockery to it.

(Martian #1) ‘-If you realized our sensor is there, you should’ve figured she’s already sensed you. (the moment Hikaru got back on his feet meteors rained down on him, only now noticing another Martian that stood all the way by the trees beyond the remains of the big central field had directed both his hands toward the skies) Those clones aren’t the only ones protecting her if that’s what you hoped for.’

The young Summerbolt now sent lightning bolts from his whole body in sufficient numbers to deal with all the meteors falling from the skies, blowing them up in smoking pieces of rock enveloped in electric charges. His other adversaries in the vicinity wasted no time, ten of the clones who were guarding the Martians’ healer and sensor having split from the rest to attack him while he was distracted.

Since he was still thinking about the whole situation he had found himself in, Hikaru couldn’t take out the clones before they reached him, the first of them landing a hit on his face that pushed him back. Another clone had already moved behind him by then to grab the genius and allow the others to unleash the fury of their fists and kicks on him. The pain from that first smack had hardly subsided when his face was pummeled by a volley of punches, his torso following suit on the pain train.

A pulse of lightning electrocuted all ten clones and separated them from him, but not before he coughed a little blood, which meant some damage had been done to his organs for the short span of the beating he took.

As devastating as the clones’ attack was, it turned out to be just a diversion in order to distract the spiky-haired teenager from the meteors that were still falling around long enough for one of them to hit him. By the time he understood that, one of the enemy’s heavenly projectiles reached his back, another lightning-fast teleportation saving the hot head again. Or so he thought.

Seeing as how he couldn’t take on all the enemies on the surface alone, he teleported back to the bottom of the pit, a sense of cold spreading across his whole back then. That sense of cold lasted only a second.

What followed was more agonizing and prolonged. A feeling of searing pain expanded across the back of his body and the back of his neck and although he could not see the damage, Hikaru gathered what its nature was.

‘-That last meteor that managed to hit me must have made contact enough to burn me before the teleportation was complete.’ he thought as the pain in his back increased, the fact that what remained from the back of his T-shirt dug into the singed flesh making it all the more excruciating. At the same time the lower half of his face and his body still stung from the beating of the clones. The combination of both types of damage was enough to make him want to fall on the ground and curl up in a ball.

In order to give his nervous system some information to process aside from the feeling of pain, the wounded genius looked around, seeing how one of his classmates was running away from something out of the corner of his eye.

It was Keiry D, the tiny black-haired sensor deviant of the Earthlings, who came out amid a veil of dark blue smoke with sheer terror on her face. The most likely cause for her dread was the couple of brown-skinned tentacles with orange scales on them here and there that came out of the smoke.

Clearly now was not the right time to be curling up in a ball.

Saya Summerbolt’s son teleported between Keiry and the tentacles that had almost reached her within a second, burning them with his bolts and then grabbing his classmate by the waist before teleporting beyond the smoke.

He knew that dark blue smoke was created by one of the girls of his class, so there were bound to be allies beyond the veil. Fortunately his assumption was correct, finding the creator of the smoke was being patched up by another healing deviant from the Earthling group there.

Meanwhile three others held off a couple of copies of the clone creator on the surface, the Martian who had created the tentacles that had come through the smoke and another who was in the process of transforming into a giant spiny-tailed iguana.

Hikaru left Keiry D next to his classmate, whose broken arm and partially mangled face were being treated, looking at her while attempting to hide his shock and concern. She smiled a bit, so that probably meant he couldn’t hide his emotions well enough.

The genius had never seen any of his classmates in such a state. And every time he did, his resolve wavered and the anger in him swelled. At this point the swelling of his anger had become more palpable, however.

(The Smoke-making Earthling) ‘-I know. I’ve looked a lot better than this.’

(Hikaru) ‘-Are you going to be OK?

(The Smoke-making Earthling) ‘-This baby here’s patching me up, so I should be just fine.’

(The Earthling Healer) ‘-Have you found a way out of this mess for us yet?’

(Hikaru) ‘-Not quite, but I’m working on it. Have any of you seen Annabel and Vale?’

(Keiry D) ‘-Annabel’s with Seiren and King. Vale’s with the other flank quartet.’

(Hikaru) ‘-What about Hock or Gorudora? Have those two made an appearance around here?’

(Keiry D) ‘-I haven’t sensed them anywhere near us, nor has anyone said they’ve seen them.’

Another realization dawned on the genius’ mind when he heard that. Maybe there was still a chance. A chance to turn this whole situation in his class’ favor.

(Hikaru) ‘-Right. The original creating those clones over there is on the surface, guarding the Martians’ healer and sensor along with the vibration and meteor deviant of the enemy forces. I’m not sure taking him out will make the clones disappear, but it’s worth a shot. You girls find a way to get to him and neutralize him along with the healer and the sensor. That may turn the tables against the group of attackers you’re facing here and help out anybody else from the class who’s fighting the clones.’

(Keiry D) ‘-What about you?’

(Hikaru) ‘-I’m going to end this Battle before anyone else gets hurt.’


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Wed Jun 29, 2022 3:16 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi again Salis! Lim here with a short review!

First Impressions

I liked the second half of the fight in this chapter a lot! It gives a sense of real danger, which makes the heroic actions of the characters seem more prominent. It feels like there is a lot happening from sentence to sentence. At times, that made the story a bit hard to follow, but I won’t harp too much on that since I’ve already mentioned it before. I like that some of the deviants like Exo and Yonira got to play a part in this scene, since I haven’t actually seen much of them myself.

Characters

Hikaru seems to see himself as a kind of leader/ ace of his class, and I can see this plays into how he tries to take care of the others and win the fights for them.

The spiky-haired teenager got back on his feet, looking around the smoke that had risen from the crushing of some of the meteors inside the pit to look for his classmates.

I like how you show this via his intentions. He is constantly trying to find his classmates in the chaos. It’s a nice consistent thing he does in the chapter.

I was impressed by his thoughts about who the clones were hiding. That was a nice way to show his intelligence for sure.

Dialogue and Monologue

Some of the dialogue in this scene feels like it would be a mouthful to say, so it was hard for me to imagine the characters saying it.
(Hikaru) ‘-If I was facing someone stronger, maybe it would’ve been fun!’

Somehow this very quick battle quip doesn’t feel like the appropriate place for long grammatical constructions (maybe-it-could-have-been)?

I also tend to expect dialogue to sound different from the surrounding narration. So I was a little confused reading lines like:
(Vega) ‘-Not everyone was so lucky when we were pushed in the pit. Especially those who tried to protect their comrades.’
[/quote]
To me this almost sounds like Vega is recalling something that happened in the past and narrating it to someone else. Hikaru’s question was just “What about Exo?”, so unless Vega habitually ‘has’ to talk in a roundabout way or something, I’d expect they’d rather say something like “He’s over there!” or even just “There.” And using a gesture.

Plot

So far I’ve really liked how you ‘choreograph’ the battles. There’s a lot of cleverness being shown on both sides, even if we know the protagonists a little better than we do the antagonists. I like the back-and-forth between Hikaru and ‘Martian #1 ’ about the sensor because it shows how Hikaru’s focus on offense kind of took his attention away from the fact that the sensor can give her team an advantage over him. Speaking of that scene, I wonder if Yuki might end up fighting the clone deviant sometime, since it was mentioned that she’s learning to create ice clones.

Overall

This chapter is a good way to develop the battle and show the dangers the main characters are facing. That last line is a dramatic finish to it as well. Like I said, one place for improvement could be making the dialogue in action-heavy battle scenes feel more ‘speakable’ as that can help maintain the pace and also make the characters’ speech seem more natural. I’m interested in seeing how Hikaru plans to make his move in the next chapter, and if there will be any unexpected obstacles hurled in his way.

Hope some of this helps and feel free to ask for more feedback!

-Lim




SalisRuinen says...


I appreciate the review very much!
This chapter was always meant to be overwhelming in order to show just hos stressful and chaotic a Class Battle can be, especially through the eyes of someone like Hikaru, who's never experienced something like this before.
As for seeing himself as the leader, I'd say he sees himself more as the strategist for his classmates, only there not being anyone else available to inspire them to follow his strategy right now and lead them properly, which forces him to step into the spotlight.
I know the dialogue is quite strange at times and doesn't quite fit a battle environment, but dialogues during battle are never as natural as they ought to be in manga/anime (the medium I want my work to spread to one day), which is why I've written it like this here. I might change it a bit, but it's overall structure will have to remain the same to match the standards of the genre I'm going for. Hopefully reading dialogue like this won't be a problem in the future.
As for Vega's answer to Hikaru's question, there's a good explanation for that. While usually being a hopeless drunkard, you will see in future chapters Vega can be more rational than other characters, in this case the first sentence of his answer being an analysis of the situation. A situation that has become much more dire for the Earthlings than expected - something he felt he needed to stress to Hikaru, which is why he tells him that more than one Earthling was hurt by the fall in the pit. The second sentence of his answer is related to the fact Exo, a member of the class he views as someone weaker and who would need protecting, protected Vega and was hurt because of it. This is Vega reflecting on his failure to protect his classmates and the guilt of having to watch as they suffer the consequences of protecting him.



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Thu Jun 02, 2022 2:12 pm
IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hey Salis, thanks for tagging me in this one and sorry it's taken me a couple of days to get to it. Hopefully I still remember what's just happened and we can pick up from where I left off. More fighting!

It's good to be back in Hikaru's pov as he is in the midst of the action and I think that goes a really long way to increasing the tension for the reader. It's one thing reading someone watching the fight but something else entirely when we're thrust into the fight ourselves. I think this was a good choice.

This is one of the first times I've really felt they were in danger (although they're at school, so I'm still not sure how far this can be taken, even though the bad guys are definitely planning something). I like this added element, usually the danger passes so quickly that I'm not ever super worried for them.

I think I'd like to see some more of Hikaru's emotions in the start of this chapter. He comes into a lot of sticky situations and seems to escape only narrowly so I'd like to know what he's feeling.

I'm glad you interspersed the action here with some conversation between the different characters. The battle is definitely interesting but when it continues for lots of paragraphs it can become hard to read and the conversation helps to break that up a bit and bring back the interest of the reader. It was trickier having some new characters here though as I was looking more for the ones I know. I liked the sense of desperation introduced by Hikaru not being with any of his friends but I would have liked another familiar face.

I have no idea what Hikaru's planning (maybe to get IceFlame involved?) but I'm looking forward to finding out!

A good chapter, and I can definitely feel it building towards something!

Happy June!
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Icy




SalisRuinen says...


Thank you for the review and Happy June to you as well! As for the delay of the review, don't worry one bit %u2013 you can review the chapters in your own time. There're no deadlines here.
The point of this whole chapter was indeed to show just how dangerous this situation is even though this is supposed to be only a training event, so I'm glad it achieved the effect I was aiming for.
About the familiar faces, don't worry as the next chapter will bring some of the guys you know back in the spotlight. New characters will be introduced as well, though. While I won't introduce every single student from both classes during the battle as that would be overkill, I'll introduce a few in the earlier stages because I believe a competition between known individuals is better than simply faceseless groups of people fighting.
And also many characters from both sides will get their chance to shine during the Class Battle beyond Yuki, Hikaru and Seiren. That was the whole point of having such an event %u2013 to show other characters' fighting styles and ways of thinking and let the reader see the similarities/differences with the ones they've already seen in action.




You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...
— Dr. Seuss