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Iceflame// Chapter 28: Clash of Battering Rams

by SalisRuinen


Nepalo was simultaneously aggravated and overjoyed by what had just happened. Just as he reached to blast Exo Drazz’ skull to pieces with his hand, he heard the sound of someone fighting beyond the remains of the big central field in ‘Nebula’. What he saw when he turned around to follow that sound with his eyes was Tokura Braveheart clashing with the still active Martians. He quickly used his Flexoid to spread the attacks they had all sent at him between them, teleporting away the moment they were hit by his counter-barrage.

Next up, he appeared in front of the Crimson God of War, pushing him back with his invisible shield and teleporting him amid the battlefield where the defeated members of the Hera Trio now lied. That was only going to delay Nepalo, of course, but the Earthlings’ ‘small’ battering ram certainly knew that. He probably wanted to ensure no one would interfere with him sending all his classmates away from the big central field.

Thus, the strongest Martian was denied the opportunity to finish the prey he had just crushed, but at the same time was offered the chance to fight against the member of Earthling Class #1 he wanted to face in battle the most. Given the two combatants’ power levels, it was actually better that the other weaklings were moved out of their way in Nepalo’s mind, so they could have a proper fight. Plus, he could always find and finish them off once he was done with Tokura. Overall, this was the better version of a compromise-type situation.

After making sure Mia, Kia and Lara were going to live at least until he was done with the business at hand , their classmate returned to where his prime target was with a couple of short-range teleportations. As expected, the field was emptied from all Earthlings upon his arrival.

It was just him and the azure warrior, standing at the opposite ends of their arena, the energy they exuded filling up the air with heat, the pressure from it cracking the already ruined ground. The final stage of the ground’s destruction came with the blast of crimson energy Nepalo used to cross the whole field with one jump, roaring with the mad joy of a battle-hungry maniac at his adversary.

(Nepalo) ‘-NICE JOB CLEARING THE FIELD, BRAVEHEART!!! WE’RE FREE TO START OUR SLAUGHTERFEST NOW!!!!’

The Martian’s own classmates could and were probably going to get caught up in this, but it didn’t matter at this point. Tokura had probably only wounded them a little during their short clash, so even if they suffered a bit more damage, they’d still be fine. Their suffering was a small price to pay for the red-skinned monster to finally have what he had always wanted – to go all-out against a truly worthy opponent.

Entire clouds of crimson energy were smashed in the pseudoknight from all sides, Nepalo landing right on top of him, having already prepared to crush at least a few bones with both his fists. Those fists stopped mid-air, however, something invisible keeping them from reaching their target as well as preventing the contact of any of the energy clouds with the boy. Tokura had activated his shield with a glare more deadly than probably anything his opponent had ever seen.

(Tokura) ‘-Don’t be so eager for slaughter, Nepalo. (he narrowed his eyes) First, I’m going to have you tell me why you broke the rules of the Class Battle to try and kill my classmates. You don’t have the right to lose consciousness until then.’

The shield repelled the Crimson God of War back with the same power he had put in the attack of his fists, the same thing happening with his energy clouds, the Earthling having already teleported behind the creator of those clouds. The shield was now removed so he could sent a wide Flexoid roar from his mouth, Nepalo needing to put up his close-fitting protective layer of energy fast to counter that.

Although the attack blasted him some distance away through the rubble and all the way to a couple of pine trees that were brought down by his crash, the Martian hadn’t suffered any damage. The really important part of what had just happened was that Tokura had aimed to strike at the moment after the big attack and before the reforming of the protective layer of energy around his adversary. That was the moment the villain was at his most vulnerable.

As he wondered if that was a coincidence, he noticed a small cut just above the wrist of his right arm. He hadn’t even realized he had a scratch on him up to this point, but after seeing it, Nepalo quickly understood the reason behind his enemy’s actions. The azure warrior wasn’t even aiming for the red-skinned monster’s arm just now and he had already raised the defensive layer around him, so he couldn’t have got that cut then. It was from before that. From the only moment during which he had removed the layer – when he used the ‘Crimson 100-Horned Stampede’.

‘-One of the Earthlings must have managed to cut me when I passed through them. And they’ve probably discovered my secret and have shared it with Braveheart while I made my way back to the big central field.’ – the King of the Martians thought.

Tokura of all people knowing about his weakness meant things could get very ugly if the monstermorph wasn’t careful. He had managed to block that last attack but with the right timing of his Flexoid, the boy could eventually find an opening to do serious damage.

Of course, Nepalo didn’t expect to come out of this whole event completely unscathed, because that would just be boring, but there was now an actual possibility of him losing. Having an exhilarating battle was one thing. Losing such a battle, however, was totally unacceptable.

With the knowledge Earthling Class #1’s ‘small’ battering ram had, he also wouldn’t attack unless the Crimson God of War attacked first since he was waiting to catch him off-guard. The strongest Martian couldn’t have that, so it was time to prompt the pseudoknight to action with some provocation.

(Nepalo) ‘-I didn’t try anything, Tokura. I’m only taking a break from killing your class while I deal with you. Once we’re done here, I’ll get right back to finishing them off.’

(Tokura) ‘-This is clearly not just because our class took the spotlight from yours at Sunbird. What is it you’re after with getting rid of us?’

Nepalo clicked his tongue a couple of times.

(Nepalo) ‘-No, no, no, Mr. Braveheart. It doesn’t work like that. You don’t get something for nothing. Show me all of your might and maybe I’ll share some details with you before you die.’

Tokura teleported right in front of him a second later, having activated his shield again and clashing it with the monstermorph’s thin defensive energy layer, causing the villain to burst out laughing.

(Tokura) ‘-Pretty confident you’re gonna win this, aren’t you?’

Nepalo now stopped laughing, but kept the gigantic grin on his face.

(Nepalo) ‘-Well, I can see Lara and the twins have tired you out quite a bit, so maybe that’s why. (he launched a wave of crimson energy from his whole body at the shield) That shield of yours is becoming more brittle every time you conjure it up!!’

The shield started cracking, the sphere around the teleporting hero becoming fully visible now and turning light blue in color the more it broke apart. The only reaction the teenager with raspberry-colored hair had to this was a confident smile.

(Tokura) ‘-You make a good point there …’

The shield disappeared completely, the Earthling himself being hit by the energy wave, suddenly one identical to him appearing behind Nepalo while the one in front crumbled into Flexoid particles.

(Tokura) ‘- … but maybe that’s because that shield wasn’t the real one!!!’

The original had switched with a clone. The Martian guessed that had happened while the opponents were talking before their second clash.

Tokura’s surprise attack was a bit slower than the first one, though. That had provided his enemy with the perfect opportunity to put up his close-fitting protective layer of energy again, but Nepalo didn’t do that. In fact, he wasn’t planning on putting it up again until the end of this battle.

What he did instead was attack.

(Nepalo) ‘-You’re still too slow!!!’

He quickly turned and swung with his arm, creating a curtain of crimson energy that was very thin but high in density at the same time, having enough power to cut through any defenseless target.

But Tokura Braveheart was far from defenseless, simply blocking that curtain with his shield. Tri-horns were formed from the crimson energy particles the curtain broke into after being deflected to its creator by his opponent’s protective sphere to launch the next attack without delay. Their stampede wasn’t blocked by the shield as expected. Instead all the animals were teleported aside amid a burst of Flexoid, the pseudoknight having removed the protective sphere now with considerable annoyance.

(Nepalo) ‘-What’s the matter, Tokura?! Don’t tell me you can’t put up that shield anymore!! Your Flexoid alone won’t provide me with that much entertainment!! (the energy animals that were teleported away came charging back through the forest and onto the remains of the big central field, Nepalo adding more creations of the same type to their numbers) You can only delay the inevitable with that energy compound!! Sending my attacks away won’t make them disappear and you know it!!!’

The tri-horns were in the process of surrounding Tokura on all sides now, at the same time the strongest Martian forming a ministorm of crimson energy in the sky above and switching himself with a clone while the original hid in one of the wider cracks on the field. From there he made his way underground to where the Earthling stood, waiting for the moment to strike.

He was going to attack Mr. Braveheart in such a quick succession that he wasn’t going to find any opening to counterattack. The more he blocked the enemy attacks, the more he would wear himself out and clearly he didn’t have much more left in the gas tank, so one could say the red-skinned monster’s victory was already assured.

The original villain could feel the ground above him shake more and more, which signaled the beginning of the tri-horns’ multi-sided charge against their target. The ministorm in the sky was sent down to match the timing of their attack, Nepalo also coming out from under Tokura then.

The pseudoknight disappeared with a flash of Flexoid, however, having enveloped his foe’s ministorm in his energy compound to change its nature, making sure it would slam right in the Crimson God of War and his tri-horns. Martian Class #3’s battering ram didn’t react fast enough this time.

The energy storm that had been turned against him crushed the creations in their creator, some of the Flexoid transferring to them. That way the animals’ horns could also damage their master, whose body had already been smashed hard in the ground. The areas of his skin that had spikes coming out of them suffered no damage, but the rest was cut and even pierced in several spots. The teenager with raspberry-colored hair gave no time for respite, landing atop him with his shield put up again right after all those attacks dissipated. The sphere’s weight hammered Nepalo even deeper in the ground, spilling plenty of blood from all the damage he had already suffered.

(Tokura) ‘-Every energy compound is only as strong as its user, Nepalo, so thinking you know what my Flexoid is capable of is your biggest mistake!!!’

Tokura teleported away soon enough, his opponent managing to get back on his feet and spitting more blood aside. He had definitely been hurt worse before, but Nepalo couldn’t completely put the pain spread over his whole body at the back of his mind. Even if a little, the wounds he had received were going to slow him down. But more than that, the blood flowing from those wounds exited him.

How long had it been? How long since someone had managed to go toe-to-toe with the strongest Martian? Certainly none of the participants in his previous Class Battles had even come close to what the pseudoknight was capable of. Perhaps Ulura’s mother alone had allowed him to go all-out without worrying about all the destruction he would cause.

She was an ally, though. To find that an enemy can make you feel that way was much more exhilarating.

Nepalo had been in his monster form for a while now without switching back, so he wasn’t going to last much longer, especially with his current injuries. Looking across the field, he saw Tokura was covered in sweat and breathed heavily, clearly having almost reached his limit as well. There was no return from the path of ruin now, however. The two combatants would have to walk together till they reached the end. And whatever that end was, it was going to be glorious.

The Crimson God of War sighed with a smile on his face as he slowly moved forward through the rubble, every blood-stained step sending a wave of pain through his body.

(Nepalo) ‘-It’s really sad, Tokura, you know? That you have to be working with the enemy. Imagine all the triumphs we would achieve if we fought side by side.’

Tokura returned his foe’s small smile as the two came closer to the other.

(Tokura) ‘-I’ve already found the people I want to achieve my triumphs side by side with. So I’ll have to turn down that offer.’

(Nepalo) ‘-I figured you’d say that. Still a pity, though.’

(Tokura) ‘-So how about you share some intel? I’ve shown you what I’ve got and I’m not sure what the condition of either of us is going to be by the time we end this. If there was ever a time to spill it, it’s now.’

(Nepalo) ‘-Might as well. I can’t tell you the whole story, though, because I don’t know it.’

(Tokura) ‘-Whatever you’ve got, I’m all ears.’

(Nepalo) ‘-We’re working with Ulura’s family to eliminate the Summerbolts and all their allies. Your class is included in that group, of course. This whole Class Battle was a set-up to get rid of you.’

Tokura didn’t seem all that surprised after Nepalo said that. Maybe he had already figured some of it out.

(Tokura) ‘-And you’re just going to walk away scot-free after committing all those murders?’

(Nepalo) ‘-Ulura assured us her parents have the necessary tools and influence to make everything that’s happened here will look like an accident. No suspicion will be laid on us whatsoever.’

(Tokura) ‘-That’s it? You’re willing to kill us all just because there’ll be no consequences to it? Doesn’t sound all that beneficial.’

(Nepalo) ‘-Killing you by itself isn’t beneficial, no. It’s what your deaths will help achieve.’

(Tokura) ‘-Which is?’

(Nepalo) ‘-A world ruled by our kind once more. (there was shock on Tokura’s face now) Eliminating all deviants who support the ordinari’s rule is the first step toward achieving that goal. So I guess you can understand what we’re doing here. (the Earthling looked like he wanted to say something, but Nepalo lunged forward a second later) That intel enough for you?’

Hundreds of tri-horns were created around the red-skinned monster again, this time the creatures starting to attach themselves to different parts of their master’s body, their horns growing in size. Soon enough he started spinning, the combination of his own body’s spikes and the horns of his pets leading to the formation of the ultimate crimson energy mincer typhoon. Many energy projectiles were shot from that typhoon, increasing their size tenfold after crossing a certain distance, further decimating not just what remained of the big central field, but the whole pinewood area of Nebula, if not the whole park.

Nepalo aimed to ensure his victory with this tactic: even if Tokura could conjure his shield again, it was going be significantly weakened from its overuse, not being able to withstand the might of his enemy’s typhoon of spikes and horns. With the projectiles causing destruction all around, teleporting randomly was also not an option and the red-skinned monster wasn’t going to give the pseudoknight enough time to think. He would either have to be hit by one of the projectiles or by the mincing mass. Neither evading, nor stopping both was possible.

As the Earthling’s shield returned, it became clear he had chosen to clash with the typhoon. Clever choice, as taking out Nepalo would make his barrage of projectiles cease. But that would only happen if he was able to destroy the typhoon.

The invisible sphere and the crimson mincer clashed head-on, causing a blast that shot all the rubble and newly ripped pieces of the earth in the air for a second before launching them in different directions. The destruction was sufficient to level pretty much all the coniferous plants in the vicinity, accompanied by a thunderously loud bang.

Just as the shield was about to break, all the projectiles shot in different directions were wrapped up in the Flexoid and teleported next to each other in a cluster of azure and crimson aimed at the monstermorph. The villain’s attention shifted from his enemy to this new attack, trying to cut through the barrage that now looked like a singular giant wave. This attempt led to the obliteration of the typhoon.

Even though Nepalo had originally intended to not put up his thin layer of protective energy again until the end of the battle, the current situation had left him with no choice. And the moment that layer started forming, azure flashed behind him.

The pseudoknight had now charged his shield with as much Flexoid as possible, smashing it with sufficient force in the Crimson God of War to make it crack after just one hit. One hit that sent the creator of all the projectiles at them with no chance of evading, the monster’s shock causing his late response to the whole development.

(Tokura) ‘-FLEXOKNIGHT’S CRIMSON VENGEANCE!!!!!!!!!’

The projectiles hit Nepalo before he could finish wrapping his body in crimson energy and after whatever remained of that layer was shattered, each projectile went through a series of teleportations, hitting him again and again. Every single inch of his body fell victim to this relentless barrage. And that was it.

Someone had actually surpassed the destruction Ukris Nightsong had once brought upon him, ripping his nerves apart with endless waves of agony, his eyes only seeing a blur of azure with some streaks of crimson. The crimson probably came from his blood. Eventually the azure and the crimson mixed together and turned to black. That darkness consumed Nepalo, but as he surrendered to it, the thing he felt the most right after the immense pain was relief.

Although the Earthlings had not been killed, the condition of pretty much all the ones who had been on the big central field until recently was critical, so dispatching them would be easy for anyone. Tokura Braveheart had exhausted the last of powers to bring down his opponent, so he could no longer be of any use and could also easily be taken care of. The mission the leader of the Ares Trio was given had been completed successfully while his foe had only delayed the inevitable.

And more important than that, Nepalo had enjoyed the sweetest destruction in his life. He hadn’t lost anything, but had gained so much. So in the Martian’s mind the winner of this clash was him. The ultimate battering ram.


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Fri Sep 02, 2022 2:30 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi there Salis!

First Impressions

This chapter was really intense, but also analytic. It felt a bit less emotion-heavy than the previous one, so I was more focused on seeing how the two characters think, especially Nepalo. The part where Nepalo explicitly tells Tokura about the invasion plan caught my attention. It made me wonder what exactly Tokura is going to do, or what he can do after this fight, to stop the Nightsongs’ plans.

Nepalo

After making sure Mia, Kia and Lara were going to live at least until he was done with the business at hand , their classmate returned to where his prime target was with a couple of short-range teleportations.

I hadn’t expected him to check on them, even if it seems to be more for practical purposes than for friendship purposes. It’s interesting to see the interplay between Nepalo’s rational side and his irrational, battle-hungry side here.
I think it’s a good thing that Nepalo’s motivations in these chapters are quite unambiguous. He wants to fight strong opponents, wreak havoc and he wants the deviants to rule the world (because he believes strength gives legitimacy). With the logistics of the Class Battle already being complex, with some parties having limited knowledge of what’s going on and a few different POVs happening at once, Nepalo’s comparatively simple character motivation makes him easier to understand and keep track of.
Still, his inner thoughts are quite interesting to read and compare with that of Tokura.
In fact, he wasn’t planning on putting it up again until the end of this battle.
What he did instead was attack.

The fact that he’s able to realise his own weakness and predict that his opponent will exploit it is really neat. It makes it very believable that he’s a strategic and powerful fighter, making him an intimidating antagonist.
So in the Martian’s mind the winner of this clash was him. The ultimate battering ram.

I think this was a memorable line from the chapter! It definitely helps solidify Nepalo’s character. Before, I felt like I wasn’t really sure what was going on in his mind and was mainly noticing his powers and that he was a destructive force, but this chapter and this line in particular makes his a more interesting arc to follow, for sure.

Tokura

I liked Tokura’s entrance into the scene:
First, I’m going to have you tell me why you broke the rules of the Class Battle to try and kill my classmates. You don’t have the right to lose consciousness until then.’

I thought it was intense, and this line also reminds us of his new resolve and motivation from the ‘Blue’ chapter. I’m also just realising on the second read that this is what he means by “intel” later, which is also cool for the cohesion! (Guess I got too wrapped up in the action the first time xD)

(Tokura) ‘- … but maybe that’s because that shield wasn’t the real one!!!’
The original had switched with a clone.

I’m not sure if it was the intention here, but as with the first quote, I like the callbacks to the Blue chapter, where Tokura was both fighting and using clones. There have been quite a few big events since then, so it’s good to have these little reminders of where the characters are coming from. It also makes me think that Tokura is learning from each fight.

Plot

Nepalo’s statement makes me curious about the current relationship between the deviants and ordinari. I haven’t read a chapter yet where the two interact much, so that might be another reason for me to go back and get caught up :D In any case, I find it interesting that this surprised Tokura. I wonder how that might reflect on the other characters, that is, if finding out about these attitudes towards their current society might affect their views and how they feel about the role they play.

I’m also guessing that if Tokura is really down for the count, Hikaru, Seiren and Yuki will probably be the ones who have to get their class out of this huge mess, which is scary because – yikes we went from a whole class to just three people and maybe a few more counting the other Summerbolts.

Overall

Now that there’s more info about the Martians’ objective and also what their ‘King’ is like, I’m getting more curious about them as characters. I’m also interested to see how the main characters are going to handle this desperate situation.

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




SalisRuinen says...


Many thanks for the review!!
About Nepalo checking on the Hera Trio, at first I had written that with the intention to show how little he cares for his allies and that he does it for rational reasons only, but now that I think about it, he may have been generally concerned about their safety. The urge to battle Tokura sooner simply got in the way of that and he couldn't fully experience a state of worry. If viewed like that, Nepalo can be considered a bit (only a tiny bit) more humane so there can be more contrast between him and the truly evil antagonists to come into play in the future.
I'm also really glad you picked up on all the other stuff about Nepalo throughout the chapter! The message I was hoping to relay through his character seems to have translated successfully.
You noticing how Tokura's learning and evolving in each fight is also something I'm very happy about! This serves to show that he is not only the strongest member of his class in the present, but also among the smarter ones, making him a force to be reckoned with, even more so now that he has defeated Nepalo.
Another turning point this chapter represents is character focus, as you've mentioned. With so many fighters on both sides having already fallen, the focus will become more and more specific and (hopefully) provide more insight on the experiences and personalities of the characters involved.




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