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♦ Plague of the Desert - Part 8 ♦

by goodolnoah


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

♦ The Raging Desert ♦

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PT 391, The Desert of Sinkholes

The sky was always crystal clear. Like the sun and moons above the desert of sinkholes were only there because they “needed” to be. They were like a foil over the desert, hiding it’s true nature. Above Joji, thunderstorms would frequent in place of rainstorms. Lightning and thunder rained down around the same frequency that rain came. These were rare times, it caused everybody to hide away in their houses.

Kitty looked out the window of the king and queen’s manor. She clenched her hand close. Lightning smashed down into the ground followed by a gnarly crack of thunder. The pressure caused the bricks in the road to go flying up. Like a ripple of a stone thrown into water.

Boom!

“Kitty? Do you know what is happening? Thunderstorms have never been this bad!”

“I’m not sure. This isn’t normal?”

“No, not at all! Maybe one or two strikes of lightning, never this.” The Queen admitted.

“Xo-Shi!” The King called his assistant.

“Yes sir? What can I do for you?”

“Check the status of Joji’s geosphere.”

Xo-Shi understood the made-up words that came from the King’s mouth, he urgently turned on his foot and ran into a room far from where Kitty and the others were standing.

“Geosphere? Is that bad?”

The King wrapped his arms around the Queen.

“I knew this day would come eventually, I did not expect it to be so early.”

Kitty paced in circles. “What to be so early?” She exclaimed.

Xo-Shi returned. “Sir. The…geosphere is compromised. The sandstorm that once protected us has finally ceased.”

Boom!

Just as lightning struck, the manor faltered in it’s prideful structure. An entire side of it began to sink as if it was a ship at sea.

“I would rather die here than be taken by nature.” The King admitted.

The King and Queen each held pills up to their mouths.

“Joji is gone.” They admitted

They swallowed their pills and fell to the ground and into the jaws of a sinkhole that had formed below the structure of the manor. Kitty ducked to her room and dug around her belongings. She found a pin which she clipped to her shirt. Inside of her bag was one more pin. The guilt ate at her. If she knew this was going to happen, she would’ve gotten more pins. There was no time to think. 

She slung her bag over and ran back out into the middle of the manor, which was swallowed deeper and deeper. She grabbed the hand of Xo-Shi and made a beeline for the door. With one slash from her DRU-issued short-sword, it gave way to a picture of the rest of Joji being swallowed hole by the jaws of the desert.

Without support, buildings crumpled, leaving citizens to either fall into portals to unknown dimensions or to be crushed by structures broken down as if the desert was a beast roaming the town, crushing whatever it felt with no care. Kitty smelt fire, which burnt at the wood and stone the town was made of. The sand below her was uneven and rough, as if a portal would take her without second thought. Screams of confusion echoed in the distance. Without the King or Queen to protect them, what would citizens do?

“Here!” Kitty pushed the pin onto Xo-Shi’s chest. “This will save you from sinkholes!”

“No! Use it on my child, please. Their name is Fi-So. We live two blocks down!”

“What about you?”

“I will do my best to survive. Just take them far away from here.”

Kitty ran as fast as she could, portals opened up everywhere, causing debris to fall in every foreseeable path to her goal. She used her sword to slash through anything that came her way, vaulting over obstacles in her way, until she arrived at Fi’s house.

Fi was without their plague mask, wearing the poncho their mother had gifted them so long ago. They were on their knees, staring into a sinkhole.

“Mom…Mom?! I’m going to come and get you!” They cried.

Their hair turned a vibrant blonde as they prepared to jump in. Kitty slid behind them, grabbing their wrist before they got the chance to fall in. She slammed the pin into Fi’s chest.

“Hey! What the ১೨iℼt! Let go of me!”

“I can’t do that. Sorry. Your Mom is gone.”

Through Fi’s blind rage, they pushed Kitty off of them, sending her flying into a pile of debris. When they tried to step into the portal, it was like walking on air. Their rage was then turned to Kitty. Her back was snapped like a twig upon being thrown into the mess of wood and bricks. Through bones cracking and tendons reassembling themselves, she repaired herself and came to her feet. They picked Kitty up by the scruff of her shirt and slammed her against a rickety wall.

“What did you do?! Let me see my mother!” They screamed.

“Listen to me!” Kitty shouted back. “Your father told me to protect you! Do you really want to go against his wishes?!”

They dropped Kitty and turned their back to her. Pouring out their fury in a muddle of swears and curses in their native language.

“We…Have to leave. Come with me, Fi-So.” Kitty pleaded.

“Not like I have a choice.” They mumbled.

Kitty and Fi ran through the town. Fi watched as everything they grew up with fell to pieces. The statue of the two plague masks in the middle of the town was sinking, like the captain who subsided to go down with his ship. Screams and yelling had subsided, replaced with prayers and pleading. They reached the exit, only to find stragglers standing guard.

“You two going somewhere?” Dzo snarled. “You two are going to pay for embarrassing us! You’ll be sinking with us!”

“Are you really that petty?” Fi taunted.

With one swift movement, two of Dzo’s men snuck up behind Kitty and got her into a chokehold. Another kicked Fi’s legs out from under them and slammed their face to the ground with a splat.

“Since you asked, I am that petty. These people are getting what they deserve. Don’t you see, Fi-So? This society is evil. They hate the things that confuse them. I was that boy once. I tried to escape this place. But the sinkholes just forced me to come back.”

“Wait…No way. Are you the boy who ran from Joji?”

“My parents tried to look for me, but were killed by beasts. When I returned, all that was left was everyone else. Nobody was my friend. My cap-out powers developed too late, and I was a disappointment to my parents. Don’t you see it? We’re the same. We each torment this society just by being unfit for it!”

That’s why? That’s why you bullied me for all those years? Because I had parents?”

“It doesn’t matter why I did it. All that matters is that you die here.”

“Fi…My sword. Use it to cut my arm off!” Kitty cried.

The men behind Kitty shouted obscenities at her while pushing her face to the ground to meet Fi’s. Through the yells of the men, Kitty cut through the air to reach Fi.

“Cut my arm off! I’ll be fine!”

Fi looked at Kitty with a puzzled face.

“How we gonna do it, boss? How do we wanna kill em?”

“We’ve got time. There’s one thing I wanna do before we kill em.” Dzo announced.

Kitty readjusted her tone to a lighter one. “I’ll be fine, Fi-So. Cut it off.”

Fi gripped Kitty’s sword while the men above them discussed their plans.

Slit!

Like a rocket, Kitty’s arm shot off into the air. Straight into Dzo’s chin, knocking him on his head. Her arm slammed into the men holding the two of them down, pushing each of them off with inhuman strength. Kitty jumped to her feet and took a knife from her side.

Get Fi out. I promised.” The words echoed in Kitty’s head.

The smell of cooking human flesh rose up in the air as Kitty stabbed her knife through the heart of one of Dzo’s men. She moved to the other, slashing her knife cleanly across the neck of the other bandit. Like a volcano eruption, boiling blood showered onto Kitty’s coat, burning holes in it.

“ϊͱϊωņ?! What is wrong with you, girl?!”

“It’s what happens when you էiℼk with someone from another world.” Fi hissed. “Let me take care of Dzo.” They brought Kitty’s sword to Dzo’s neck.

His eyes were filled with fire. No doubt that he would take the chance to kill. So Fi lowered the sword from his neck and handed it to Kitty.

“Let’s go.” Fi resolved.

“...Okay.”

“What? Are you just leaving me to die here? The fuck is wrong with you?!”

“Your ghost is not following me to my grave.” Fi responded.

Kitty pushed the door open. They were met by DRU officers waning through the sand left by the previous sandstorm.


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Thu Jun 27, 2024 3:26 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



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Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm Kate and I'm here to leave a quick review!!


First Impression

Well this was quite the big jump. It was building to something earlier but I then the ending was quite calming compared to this massive explosion that we've got going down in this one. I really though we'd get to see more of Fi's family given the screentime they got at the start, but oh well, at least we'll see more of Fi.

Anyway let's get right to: Kate's Line by Line Reactions;

The sky was always crystal clear. Like the sun and moons above the desert of sinkholes were only there because they “needed” to be. They were like a foil over the desert, hiding it’s true nature. Above Joji, thunderstorms would frequent in place of rainstorms. Lightning and thunder rained down around the same frequency that rain came. These were rare times, it caused everybody to hide away in their houses.

Kitty looked out the window of the king and queen’s manor. She clenched her hand close. Lightning smashed down into the ground followed by a gnarly crack of thunder. The pressure caused the bricks in the road to go flying up. Like a ripple of a stone thrown into water.


Well looks like this is quite the calamitous little incident here. Everyone seems to be ever so slightly worried. Given how quiet its been for a coupe of chapters I'm expecting something has gone seriously wrong here.

Boom!

“Kitty? Do you know what is happening? Thunderstorms have never been this bad!”

“I’m not sure. This isn’t normal?”

“No, not at all! Maybe one or two strikes of lightning, never this.” The Queen admitted.

“Xo-Shi!” The King called his assistant.


Well yeah that confirms it. It is not natural after all. I really hope this isn't something world ending but given all the things that are going down at the moment it really is hard to see. They have been giving up many valuable resources.

“Yes sir? What can I do for you?”

“Check the status of Joji’s geosphere.”

Xo-Shi understood the made-up words that came from the King’s mouth, he urgently turned on his foot and ran into a room far from where Kitty and the others were standing.

“Geosphere? Is that bad?”


Well looks like Xo-Shi's also fluent in knowing when to sell lies on behalf of the king, that tells me a little bit about how he's managed to keep that position for quite so long.

The King wrapped his arms around the Queen.

“I knew this day would come eventually, I did not expect it to be so early.”

Kitty paced in circles. “What to be so early?” She exclaimed.

Xo-Shi returned. “Sir. The…geosphere is compromised. The sandstorm that once protected us has finally ceased.”

Boom!


That does not look good at all. I have no clue if this is on purpose and somehow rehearsed in some way but then the storm also just feels too real for this to be on purpose somehow.

Just as lightning struck, the manor faltered in it’s prideful structure. An entire side of it began to sink as if it was a ship at sea.

“I would rather die here than be taken by nature.” The King admitted.

The King and Queen each held pills up to their mouths.

“Joji is gone.” They admitted


Well that was dramatic okay. I mean I can imagine kings and queen making a decision like that, but wow that was quick. Now I'm wondering if the made up word comment didn't mean nearly what I thought it meant there because this is properly falling apart.

They swallowed their pills and fell to the ground and into the jaws of a sinkhole that had formed below the structure of the manor. Kitty ducked to her room and dug around her belongings. She found a pin which she clipped to her shirt. Inside of her bag was one more pin. The guilt ate at her. If she knew this was going to happen, she would’ve gotten more pins. There was no time to think.

She slung her bag over and ran back out into the middle of the manor, which was swallowed deeper and deeper. She grabbed the hand of Xo-Shi and made a beeline for the door. With one slash from her DRU-issued short-sword, it gave way to a picture of the rest of Joji being swallowed hole by the jaws of the desert.


Well so much for this place not being destroyed. Looks like its all collapsing fully into the sand there and Kitty it seems has some idea of what's causing it so well, this is definitely not going to end well, this is a full extinction at this point.

Without support, buildings crumpled, leaving citizens to either fall into portals to unknown dimensions or to be crushed by structures broken down as if the desert was a beast roaming the town, crushing whatever it felt with no care. Kitty smelt fire, which burnt at the wood and stone the town was made of. The sand below her was uneven and rough, as if a portal would take her without second thought. Screams of confusion echoed in the distance. Without the King or Queen to protect them, what would citizens do?

“Here!” Kitty pushed the pin onto Xo-Shi’s chest. “This will save you from sinkholes!”

“No! Use it on my child, please. Their name is Fi-So. We live two blocks down!”


Well Xo-Si proving once again that he's a great father, also I'm confused why Kitty isn't already trying to do this, wasn't Fi ordered to be brought in by the DRU, unless this is some sort of act of rebellion on her part, she did appear to not exactly be loving this plan.

“What about you?”

“I will do my best to survive. Just take them far away from here.”

Kitty ran as fast as she could, portals opened up everywhere, causing debris to fall in every foreseeable path to her goal. She used her sword to slash through anything that came her way, vaulting over obstacles in her way, until she arrived at Fi’s house.


Well a sword doesn't seem ideal for that plan but I suppose if you just want something to get you through large amounts of falling wreckage its not the worst thing that you could be using.

Fi was without their plague mask, wearing the poncho their mother had gifted them so long ago. They were on their knees, staring into a sinkhole.

“Mom…Mom?! I’m going to come and get you!” They cried.

Their hair turned a vibrant blonde as they prepared to jump in. Kitty slid behind them, grabbing their wrist before they got the chance to fall in. She slammed the pin into Fi’s chest.


Well looks like Fi is doing the natural thing and trying to look for their mother but I have a feeling we're not going to be able to save her at this point in time, given the scale of the destruction.

“Hey! What the ১೨iℼt! Let go of me!”

“I can’t do that. Sorry. Your Mom is gone.”

Through Fi’s blind rage, they pushed Kitty off of them, sending her flying into a pile of debris. When they tried to step into the portal, it was like walking on air. Their rage was then turned to Kitty. Her back was snapped like a twig upon being thrown into the mess of wood and bricks. Through bones cracking and tendons reassembling themselves, she repaired herself and came to her feet. They picked Kitty up by the scruff of her shirt and slammed her against a rickety wall.

“What did you do?! Let me see my mother!” They screamed.


Well that's very understandable rage there. She definitely needed at least one punch in the face although of course in the end she really wasn't responsible for most of the horror, well at least from what we know so far. She might have caused this one.

“Listen to me!” Kitty shouted back. “Your father told me to protect you! Do you really want to go against his wishes?!”

They dropped Kitty and turned their back to her. Pouring out their fury in a muddle of swears and curses in their native language.

“We…Have to leave. Come with me, Fi-So.” Kitty pleaded.

“Not like I have a choice.” They mumbled.


Well Fi is smart I will give them that. Knows when to punch, knows when there's no point arguing and the only reasonable choice to make is to temporarily trust the woman you hate.

Kitty and Fi ran through the town. Fi watched as everything they grew up with fell to pieces. The statue of the two plague masks in the middle of the town was sinking, like the captain who subsided to go down with his ship. Screams and yelling had subsided, replaced with prayers and pleading. They reached the exit, only to find stragglers standing guard.

“You two going somewhere?” Dzo snarled. “You two are going to pay for embarrassing us! You’ll be sinking with us!”

“Are you really that petty?” Fi taunted.


Well I wasn't expecting Dzo of all people to be jumping doing into this much pettiness amidst what is functionally a whole apocalypse, but given his character in general I am not surprised.

With one swift movement, two of Dzo’s men snuck up behind Kitty and got her into a chokehold. Another kicked Fi’s legs out from under them and slammed their face to the ground with a splat.

“Since you asked, I am that petty. These people are getting what they deserve. Don’t you see, Fi-So? This society is evil. They hate the things that confuse them. I was that boy once. I tried to escape this place. But the sinkholes just forced me to come back.”

“Wait…No way. Are you the boy who ran from Joji?”


Well okay, unexpected character development for Dzo. Really was not expecting him to end up being someone actually worth remembering but then I also thought the king and queen were worth remembering so what do I know.

“My parents tried to look for me, but were killed by beasts. When I returned, all that was left was everyone else. Nobody was my friend. My cap-out powers developed too late, and I was a disappointment to my parents. Don’t you see it? We’re the same. We each torment this society just by being unfit for it!”

“That’s why? That’s why you bullied me for all those years? Because I had parents?”

“It doesn’t matter why I did it. All that matters is that you die here.”


Well you can shout horrible backstory all you want but looks like he's still twisted and only outputting hate so that's not going to end will for him I'm sure. Kitty doesn't seem the type to get defeated by a random moron like this.

“Fi…My sword. Use it to cut my arm off!” Kitty cried.

The men behind Kitty shouted obscenities at her while pushing her face to the ground to meet Fi’s. Through the yells of the men, Kitty cut through the air to reach Fi.

“Cut my arm off! I’ll be fine!”

Fi looked at Kitty with a puzzled face.


Well looks like Kitty is quite smart there. I was hoping she would come to a conclusion like that since given her regeneration earlier, it seems she would grow that back quite fast.

“How we gonna do it, boss? How do we wanna kill em?”

“We’ve got time. There’s one thing I wanna do before we kill em.” Dzo announced.

Kitty readjusted her tone to a lighter one. “I’ll be fine, Fi-So. Cut it off.”

Fi gripped Kitty’s sword while the men above them discussed their plans.

Slit!


Well looks like Fi was smart enough once again to realize the crazy lady from who knows where with future technology is probably not cuckoo and is just trying to save them both.

Like a rocket, Kitty’s arm shot off into the air. Straight into Dzo’s chin, knocking him on his head. Her arm slammed into the men holding the two of them down, pushing each of them off with inhuman strength. Kitty jumped to her feet and took a knife from her side.

“Get Fi out. I promised.” The words echoed in Kitty’s head.

The smell of cooking human flesh rose up in the air as Kitty stabbed her knife through the heart of one of Dzo’s men. She moved to the other, slashing her knife cleanly across the neck of the other bandit. Like a volcano eruption, boiling blood showered onto Kitty’s coat, burning holes in it.


Hmm I am not going to question the science there because generally cutting with something really hot tends to lead to absolutely no bleeding because it cauterizes the wound (like lightsabers) but then the visual is quite fun so I'll let it slide for the moment, plus it is a wound and a small knife.

“ϊͱϊωņ?! What is wrong with you, girl?!”

“It’s what happens when you էiℼk with someone from another world.” Fi hissed. “Let me take care of Dzo.” They brought Kitty’s sword to Dzo’s neck.

His eyes were filled with fire. No doubt that he would take the chance to kill. So Fi lowered the sword from his neck and handed it to Kitty.

“Let’s go.” Fi resolved.


Well looks like Fi has a bit of a special move in plan for Dzo here for some reason. That's an interesting. I don't see them being a pacifist so there's got to be something about this here.

“...Okay.”

“What? Are you just leaving me to die here? The fuck is wrong with you?!”

“Your ghost is not following me to my grave.” Fi responded.

Kitty pushed the door open. They were met by DRU officers waning through the sand left by the previous sandstorm.


You know given how much the world is collapsing its not the world's worst decision there, but I do have a feeling leaving someone there to die is just the textbook oh boy he coming back as a villain moment so I'm gonna casually note that down for later.

Aaand that's it for this oneee!!!

Overall

Overall a solid chapter I think. Things are really going a few places now although I will admit even chapters in I still have no clue what the actual plot is here. We have like three things going on but not necessarily a unified goal the characters are trying to get to, at least not one I can see, so just to note that.

As always remember to: Take what you think was helpful and forget the rest!

Stay Safe and Have a Nice Day!
Kate


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Tue Jun 25, 2024 8:21 pm
RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello Again, My Friend!

It's me, Raven, and I'd like to review the next chapter in this great story using my Familiar method! Let's dive in, shall we? Heh heh heh...

What The Black Eyes See...

NOOO! All of Joji goes doen, bringing at least the King and Queen and Kai-So with it! Watching Kitty save Fi at the request of Xo was thrilling and anxiety-inducing, and Fi's struggle to understand what's happening and the grief they're feeling is just so sad to watch. Let's get into the details though.

Where The Dagger Points...

Not much to put here! Just one extremely minor thing...

With one slash from her DRU-issued short-sword, it gave way to a picture of the rest of Joji being swallowed hole by the jaws of the desert.


Okay this is an extremely nitpicky thing that I second-guess even putting here, but here goes nothing...I feel like there may have been a better way to phrase this, since Joji being swallowed whole would imply it all disappears at once. Perhaps, 'the rest of Joji being slowly swallowed by the jaws of the desert.' I feel like that may help paint that eerie and urgent image of buildings sinking one by one, people slowly going down with them, and nothing to be done.

Of course that's just my weird opinion, so please take it with a grain of salt haha. Great writing job!

Why The Grin Widened...

Back to Kitty's perspective, we started with an interesting new development for the entire town of Joji;

“Kitty? Do you know what is happening? Thunderstorms have never been this bad!”


Definitely makes sense for people to be suspicious of odd weather patterns right after a newcomer appears. If DRU has something to do with this specifically, I'm not sure, but I would love to know how and why...

Xo-Shi returned. “Sir. The…geosphere is compromised. The sandstorm that once protected us has finally ceased.”


OH. Worse than I thought O.O

The King and Queen each held pills up to their mouths.

“Joji is gone.” They admitted


OH. GETTING WORSE.

They swallowed their pills and fell to the ground and into the jaws of a sinkhole that had formed below the structure of the manor.


THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US!!!

*ahem, anyway...A sinkhole has formed, the King and Queen are gone, and Kitty only having one spare pin immediately paints a gruesome image in my mind that had me at the edge of my seat.

“No! Use it on my child, please. Their name is Fi-So. We live two blocks down!”


AW! Xo insisting the pin be used to save Fi. Heartbreaking but very sweet. T-T

On a side note, I love how you described the chase, with Kitty rushing toward Fi and slashing through obstacles on the way. It really amped up the tension and feeling of urgency in the situation.

“Mom…Mom?! I’m going to come and get you!” They cried.


Another very sad moment for Fi, losing their mother. As Kitty intervenes, I'm happy they're effectively safe for now, but I can't help wondering how Fi will take to Kitty when they get out of this. They're already going to be on-edge because of such a huge loss, and Kitty being associated with DRU, and even being a direct target for Fi to blame Joji's downward spiral on...Yeah, I fear.

Dzo's interference was really annoying at first, like really? It's an apocalypse and you want your last act to be bullying your childhood rival? But as you tell his story and link it to the one in the tavern, I loved the sort of almost mad depths you reflected in his character.

Nobody was my friend. My cap-out powers developed too late, and I was a disappointment to my parents. Don’t you see it? We’re the same. We each torment this society just by being unfit for it!


Okay...I can see the commonality here, only Fi didn't take out on random kids, still looked to the bright side of things, and sought to strive even though they faced animosity! At least Fi had good parents, that much I can empathize with Dzo for and see where the disconnect may have been. I also liked that you revealed the reason for all the bullying here, so even through indirect means, it's like a final confession for him.

Kitty's method of fighting back was awesome, and Fi leaving Dzo to die instead of doing it themself showed a sense of both honor and coldness. Very cool traits of theirs.

Our Mad Thoughts...

Overall, that was a tragic yet awesome chapter to bring an end to Joji. I'm left wondering if Xo was able to keep his word and live, and the gritty escape is exciting in the sense that they survived, but also somber in the sense that Joji is destroyed with so many dead or dying, and concerning with the presence of DRU members. Nicely done! :D

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goodolnoah says...


I will say that this is more or less the end of the "2nd act" of the story. Henceforth, everyone in Joji has passed, as well as Xo-Shi.,.
I realized this was pretty much the first climax of this story lol, I love seeing your wild reactions!

oooh, and I think I will change that line you pointed out to "the rest of Joji sinking into jaws of the desert" maybe? I imagine it similar to the titanic sinking or something, lol



RavenAkuma says...


As I thought, my optimism does not serve well for stories like this XD But it was a great ending for this act! :D




worlds buzz over us like bees, / we be splendid in new bones.
— Lucille Clifton