Private Upon a Silent Edge

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Zack Fair

Final Fantasy
Posts
87
Age
23
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Species
Human
Height
6ft 1in (185cm)
Occupation
Hunter's Guild (S-Class)
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
Single
September 6th, Year 110 @Aranea Highwind

Zack took a deep breath.

While he had fought a lot of battles and done many things, the mission he was walking into was...Well, different. He fought some of the mightiest combatants that his world had to offer, and survived situations that few had ever been in. In spite of that Zack still somehow felt unprepared. Anxious even. Maybe it had something to do with how long he had been awake. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that for some reason he had a headache. Whatever it was, everything felt off somehow.

It had begun about two hours ago. Right after Zack had been finishing up dealing with another request to deal with some nocturnal monsters that had been attacking some mining outposts. The ex-SOLDIER was literally in the back of a transport truck on his way home when a distress signal was broadcast from a settlement. It was a text message only, and it was still sent at intervals of every fifteen minutes.

Under attack. Assailant Unknown. Send

The message had apparently not reached completion, the "send" presumably meaning something like "send help". The local authorities thought the same way, and rather than walk into something that they had no idea what they were dealing with Zack had been requested to help secure the area. As a member of the Pandoran Hunter's Guild, dealing with unknown threats sort of came with the territory and all that. If nothing else however Zack wouldn't be alone on this particular job. As it turned out there was one other hunter that had been roped into this particular task, if only by the virtue of having been with the ex-SOLDIER on that last job that he had just worked on.

Aranea Highwind. She too was in back of the transport truck that Zack was currently sitting in, and thus by extension was also getting roped into this particular job.

As the two traveled through the wastes in the back of the truck, eventually the ex-SOLDIER got a call from the client: a local sheriff's office in the wastes. When Zack answered, he put it on speaker so that Aranea could hear it.

"Are you both there? I've got a briefing ready for you." a familiar male voice spoke over the phone. Zack recognized it as the Sheriff he had spoken with about an hour ago.

"Yeah, we're here. Go ahead." Zack responded calmly.

"Alright. As you both are aware, approximately two hours ago an S.O.S message of sorts came from a small mining settlement by the name of Goldedge not far from your location. A short message that, well, didn't really tell us shit other than they're attacked by something unknown. We tried contacting the settlement in various ways to confirm but as you imagine, that also turned up nothing. As of this moment, we really have no idea what the hell is going on out there."


"Yeah, that's what you told us an hour ago. Guessing because not much has changed since then you'll still be having the two of us check it out, right?"

"Correct. Our Sheriff's department is contracting you to investigate, as your the closest people who can safely get in there and figure out what the hell is going on. Your authorized to use whatever force you feel is necessary...if it comes to that. Hopefully however this is just some kind of broken communications system. That way I can yell at whoever sent that distress signal for getting everybody worked up and wasting everyone's time. Don't worry: You'll still get paid no matter what happens."

"Alright. We'll check it out for ya. Over and out." Zack responded as he hung up the phone. He then turned his attention back to Aranea.

"Sorry, but it looks like you're stuck with me for a while longer." Zack joked, hoping to lighten the mood in the truck just a little bit for his comrade, who he seemed to be seeing more and more of lately even if whenever they met it seemed to just be to kill monsters.

Well, at least it beat getting dragged out of bed to go fishing.
 

Aranea Highwind

Final Fantasy
Posts
28
Alias
Lady A
Age
30
Pronouns
She/Her
Species
Human
Height
5'5"
Occupation
Hunter
Relationship Status
Single
cvkalW.gif
The clock was ticking.

Aranea hadn't been one to hide that she hated working longer hours than she had to, something which carried over into her current job in the hunter guild. Although, she was still on the clock so to be fair, Aranea was ready to tackle whatever it was that had been causing so much trouble. But for now, the news had been short. The SOS had been seemingly incomplete and the Sheriffs update was literally something the two had already heard earlier. It meant really that it came down to two simple things..

No one had a clue what was or had been happening, and it was up to her and Zack to change that.

Make no mistake about it, even with her somewhat lousy outlook on overtime, Aranea was more than determined to aid any who had needed their help. She wasn't about to carry it on her that lives could be at risk and that she was putting her own wants first. Oh no. She was there, and she had every intention to help Zack make things right.. as long as they weren't too late.

" Looks like it. " She quipped. The two had already fought a behemoth, but truth be told she had also felt the two had made a formidable team. If there was anything that the former mercenary could really admit to, it was that the best allies were those capable of fighting alongside her, and Zack had fit into that perfectly just like the now formerly not-so-Prince Charming and his bros.

" I don't like it. We've really got to keep our eyes open for this. " That gut feeling had been nagging her, that this was going to be more than just a walk in the park. She could be wrong, and really she hoped to be, but she'd never been steered wrongly before. She huddled herself into the corner of the back of the truck which they were being transported in as eyes had looked out on the small window that let her see into what they were passing.

So far, there was nothing but sights of no importance. She hadn't seen a soul and all had seemed calm. Yet, the likelihood of that remaining had been low.

@Zack Fair
 
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Zack Fair

Final Fantasy
Posts
87
Age
23
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Species
Human
Height
6ft 1in (185cm)
Occupation
Hunter's Guild (S-Class)
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
Single
When Aranea commented on not liking the situation, Zack couldn't help but chime in.

"Yeah. No arguments on that one." the ex-SOLDIER responded.

It thankfully wasn't long before the two arrived at the scene...Or as close to the scene as the truck would go. When the truck came to a sudden stop, Zack heard the driver call out through the small window separating the driving cabin from the back.

"Alright guys...We're as close as protocol allows us to take you. You'll have to walk the rest of the way. It isn't far though: just head north a little bit and you shouldn't miss it."

Zack let out a sigh. While he understood their logic for not wanting to drive directly into a combat zone, the idea of just walking across the wastes in the dead of night didn't sound like a very fun idea either. It was ripe for an ambush, and likely everyone knew it. Still, these were the risks you took in this kind of job.


"Alright, well no point in delaying. Lets get this over with." Zack responded as he exited the back of the truck. Looking around, he immediately spotted what he thought was the settlement in the distance, his accute vision enabling him to see it through the otherwise unnervingly deep darkness that surrounded the area.. Already he could see some things that he didn't like, and as the driver came out of the driving cabin.

"the fuck?" the driver spoke up. "We should be able to see it from here."

"I can see it from here. We've got no lights on in the settlement: place is pitch black which is why the two of you might not be able to see it. I'd need to get closer to tell if there's any movement... That being said its really quiet too. I'm pretty sure we could see or hear any gunfire go off at this distance." Zack informed his allies

"Are they...dead?"


"We don't know what their status is. All we know is that the lights are off and the two of us need to go look into it while you stay here. We need some light sources." the ex-SOLDIER inquired of the deputy.

"Well, I've got flashlights but..."

"But?"

The deputy reached into the truck and pulled out two things: one was a flashlight...And the other was a flashlight too, but it happened to be attached directly below the barrel of a pump-action shotgun.

"I can't take this one off the shotgun. Kind of a crap design for a flashlight, but its attached to a nice shotgun at least."

"Not a problem, I've got firearms training so I can take the shotgun. Meanwhile you go wait in the truck, deputy." Zack explained, offering his hand out to take the weapon. He realized that maybe he wouldn't have it for long though, as if Aranea wanted the shotgun the ex-SOLDIER wasn't going to be the one to tell her no.

As the deputy made his way back into the truck, Zack then turned his attention back to Aranea to get her opinion on the matter.

"Well looks like you called it. This looks like an ambush to me. If we walk out there with our flashlights on, we're asking for trouble. Anything or anyone for quite a distance could see us and get the drop on us. I don't know how good you can see in the dark but...If your willing to trust me, I can see well enough that I can take you right up to the settlement. We can then turn on the flashlights once we're there. That being said, I'll leave the decision to you." the ex-SOLDIER explained to Aranea and waited for her response.
 
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Aranea Highwind

Final Fantasy
Posts
28
Alias
Lady A
Age
30
Pronouns
She/Her
Species
Human
Height
5'5"
Occupation
Hunter
Relationship Status
Single
cvkalW.gif
There was little more to do than bid her time while she waited to arrive. And when she had, there was a general dislike in the idea that the two would have to walk the remainder of the way. While Aranea had no doubt that she and Zack were a worthy duo to combat, it was also something that in every way had seemed like they could walk right into the crossfire or even worse.. a trap. She had watched many do similar to what the two were expected and that was walk right into the battle unaware of how fast and from where their enemy could hit them before it was too late.

Yet, the safety of the driver had been something else that Aranea had understood. The outcome so far of the SOS had seemed dire, and if that were the case, it was only unfair to suggest that the driver join that possible growing list. Instead, the two could walk it. At least they knew how to defend themselves which alone had given them both an outstanding chance to carry on.

She was silent for the most part, but that had come in part to the dragoon taking in the area around her, the sights to be seen, the sounds to be heard, and of course a good look at what lay out there before them.. or better.. what she could see despite the darkness. Her own sight had been a disadvantage that Zack hadn't had, while his sight was better, Aranea could rely on what he had to say in order to prepare herself better. " What is it? " She questioned, but no sooner he had detailed her and the driver of the situation at hand. Yet again, the circumstances had seemed more dire than before, and the darkness had been a sign that was never any good.

Still. She really couldn't let that show near the driver who had been defenseless in all of this so far.

" Come on. " At the drop of a hat, she was ready. If it were a trap, she at least fully intended on making sure that those responsible were made aware of the mistake they were making, if such were even possible or if there hadn't been a sort of accident that was the real culprit.

In the choice between a firearm or a solo flashlight, the flashlight had one for Aranea. While she had by order received some firearm training, she still preferred her lance over any type of firepower any day of the week. Instead, the flashlight was tucked just into her armor in a way that it could hold itself at her armored shoulder and give that source of light while her hands were mostly free.

The Deputy would have to stay back, but it was for the better. Her attention had instead gone to Zack to get the actual details to what they were going to be doing in order to approach the source of the SOS calls directly. " It's on you hot shot, tell me where to go. " The flashlight had been flicked off, but in all seriousness, Aranea had been preparing herself for what could be. She took a few steps a head of him, but slowed to wait for him to catch up. " I'll get your back if you get my back. " An ambush? Oh if she hadn't said it felt like that, she'd be lying through her teeth.

Something was up, and right now she was at the mercy of following Zack instead of being able to find out.

@Zack Fair
 
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Zack Fair

Final Fantasy
Posts
87
Age
23
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Species
Human
Height
6ft 1in (185cm)
Occupation
Hunter's Guild (S-Class)
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
Single
Zack should have already known that Aranea would be as prepared (if not moreso) than he was, but it was kind of ingrained in him to check.

"Don't worry: I've got you. Just stick close and this should be smooth as butter." The ex-SOLDIER responded with a friendly and confident tone as he quickly caught up to her, the shotgun in hand and readied. With that, he began guiding Aranea into the darkness.

The trip was tense. Zack was fully aware that even though he and Aranea were sneaking through the darkness, they were still vulnerable to being ambushed in some capacity. Even though they didn't have to worry as much about being sniper bait there still were other worries. Too many to list, in fact. Still from a tactical standpoint it was worth the risk.

Guiding Aranea though the darkness the trip was almost completely uneventful. However, as the two reached the small settlement, everything suddenly took a drastic change for the strange.

For as the duo reached about only fifty or so feet away from the settlement, every light outside the number of small western-style buildings suddenly flicked on, illuminating the area in surprisingly bright light. Zack blinked as his eyes quickly adjusted to the sudden change of light. More importantly, there seemed to be no indication as to what or how the lights were turned on.

"...Well that's not unusual at all." the joke came out before Zack could stop it. "At least the lighting problem is solved."

There was of course immediate questions that became apparent. In spite of the lights being on outside, none of the lights in any of the buildings were on from what was visible in the windows. Moreover there wasn't even the slightest hint of movement or any other kind of activity that should have been going on in a place like this.

There was nothing. Zack couldn't hear the hum of any kind of motor or generator that should have been going to keep said lights on. Hell there weren't even any sounds of insects or wildlife.

Just cold, dead silence.

Before setting another step closer to the town the mercenary turned his attention back to his comrade.

"We'll do a full clear of the buildings. You take those two, I'll take these two." the young man indicated to two of the ramshackle buildings for Aranea. "We'll then meet back out here. If you find something dangerous just...Smash something. If I hear any unusual sounds I'll come running. Agreed?"
 

Aranea Highwind

Final Fantasy
Posts
28
Alias
Lady A
Age
30
Pronouns
She/Her
Species
Human
Height
5'5"
Occupation
Hunter
Relationship Status
Single
cvkalW.gif
" Who said I'm worried? " She could tease too, although she was confident enough in her own skills, and to be fair, she was confident with what Zack brought to the table too. So now matter how shady or strange that this SOS had been turning out to be, she was content with the knowledge that she and Zack would probably kick plenty of ass and ask questions later.

The walk through the dark had been something, even for a brave combatant like Aranea she found herself still taking glances over her shoulder despite her line of vision being lost to the darkness that surrounded them and the silence save for their footsteps had made her feel that no one at all may have been around. Or they were all dead, something Aranea had worried most about.

No sooner had she thought she pushed those concerns to the back of her head, she found herself suddenly bathed in bright light that shined from more than one direction and she had held her armored arm up over her eyes to try and spare some of that extra light while her eyes adjusted. " What the hell? " Remember when she hadn't liked the feeling about this? That just intensified by ten.

She took a few steps back and grasp along the shotgun in her hand had tightened. It lacked that security her spear had, but at least it may get the job done. " I think I preferred the darkness. " At least she could see now though, that was an added benefit.

She listened to his words and had then glanced towards two of the buildings that had been for her to go through. " Are you sure about this? " She couldn't go back without him, but if the two separated it really did increase the chances of something bad. She paused for a moment, but then opted to go for the buildings. A deep breath followed and shotgun held at her side as she moved across to the nearest building and carefully opened the unlocked door.

Inside... had been a mess. She couldn't even see the floor, not beneath the piles of paper that were fallen everywhere. She quietly moved through, only to hear a loud squeak and nearly fall backward at the giant sized rat that ran under her foot and then past her. Her long heel had gone to kick it, only for the rat to dodge and vanish beneath a large crack in the floor. " Hello? " She called out, even if her voice's echo traveled back with no success.

@Zack Fair
 
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Zack Fair

Final Fantasy
Posts
87
Age
23
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Species
Human
Height
6ft 1in (185cm)
Occupation
Hunter's Guild (S-Class)
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
Single
It was not difficult to agree to give Aranea the shotgun without saying anything. Considering the fact that Zack was a melee fighter and used a giant sword that could cleave through walls with fair ease, it actually made perfect sense. So much that the mercenary didn't even debate the subject as he handed it over before heading off to a nearby building.

From what Zack could guess, Aranea had likely headed off to some kind of administration building while he was heading for some kind of living quarters. Stepping through the doorway into the building Zack immediately confirmed something as he began exploring the building.

There was nobody here, much as he had initially suspected. There were indications that people had been here at least recently: Zack found a few things like half-full coffee mugs and various other things strewn about. That being said it wasn't what the mercenary was finding that unnerved him, but what he wasn't finding. Even though he initially didn't realize it until he had almost completed his sweep of the building and left.

As Zack exited the building, he saw something move at the corner of his peripheral vision. Something of a shadow moving at the edge of his eye. It wasn't small either as it vanished behind one of the corners of the building.

While the mercenary was feeling rather jumpy right now there was no way in hell that was just a fluke. There had definately been something that had been watching the door. Hand on the hilt of the buster sword Zack sprinted, taking a wide arc so he didn't leave himself vulnerable to ambush at the corner of the building.

But there wasn't anything there. The alley between Zack's first and second buildings was completely empty. Not even footprints.

Now in a much higher state of caution than before, the ex-SOLDIER proceeded into the second building. It was somewhat like the first one with a few even more unnerving exceptions. The second building appeared to have had its front door completely obliterated, with nothing more than splinters remaining. inside It appeared to have been some kind of medical clinic.

And unlike the first building there was a lot blood around. More than that, there were extremely large gashes in the walls. Some so large and deep that the light from the outside was coming into the building through said openings. There had definately been some combat in or around this building. Though that begged the question: what kind of person or thing could do this kind of damage? And why weren't there any bodies left that Zack could examine to find out more about what happened?

Left at somewhat of a loss, Zack went outside to wait for Aranea. Maybe she had some kind of evidence that would let the mercenaries know what happened here...
 

Aranea Highwind

Final Fantasy
Posts
28
Alias
Lady A
Age
30
Pronouns
She/Her
Species
Human
Height
5'5"
Occupation
Hunter
Relationship Status
Single
cvkalW.gif
After the rat had scattered and given Aranea a brief fright, she continued on walking through the administration building, but found herself more and more confused by what she was witnessing. The rooms were in shambles, from papers scattered about and chairs overturned. Yet, there were no visible signs of blood or any bodies that she could account for.

Even when she had called out, her calls had fallen flat with no one there to hear. She moved on to the second floor, where once more she only found a mess like someone had been looking for something, or someone had been in an awful rush to leave. In the cafeteria area, her slow steps continued on and her exploration had revealed that coffee had still been set on tables, some even having plates containing meals only left half eaten.

Upon reaching the back door, it was easy to spot that the door had been flung to the point that it's hinges had been damaged. The door itself no longer closed, but remained open and moved to the breeze. Whoever left, had flung that door opened and had clearly been in a rush. That was that. Aranea had pieced together that hopefully that SOS had been called, but then those involved had fled or at least had been hiding out a bunker or something elsewhere.

With nothing more to investigate, she moved back outside through that same door where she could meet with Zack once more to report her findings as well as hear what he may have discovered. " The building is a mess, stuff everywhere and their meals left behind are still there, they must have left in a hurry "

That was what she had, Aranea had shifted her hips to one side letting that shotgun she carried rest up against one when she awaited his news. She was hopeful that he may have had the same report, that those who had needed the aid had taken safety elsewhere. " What were you able to find out? "

Or she could be drastically wrong too.

@Zack Fair
 

Zack Fair

Final Fantasy
Posts
87
Age
23
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Species
Human
Height
6ft 1in (185cm)
Occupation
Hunter's Guild (S-Class)
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
Single
Eventually Aranea emerged from investigating her two buildings and reported what she found. That was when the strangeness of the situation was fully apparent to Zack.

"Similar, but...Somethings really off here in the barracks. We were called into a combat situation. The SOS clearly said that they were under attack but if thats the case then why the hell doesn't it look like a fight took place in there? No weapons, no damage like bullet holes, no bodies.... If they were under attack then why does it look like they didn't even fight back? The armory I found was empty, so they clearly grabbed their guns. we should be seeing them, but somehow they're nowhere to be found. " The ex-soldier explained worryingly.

"The medical building is a slightly different story. There were some blood stains there, the door was broken down and there were some big gashes in the walls. No bodies though, and again no weapons. Some encounter might have taken place there but... If people were fighting we should be seeing more damage. This doesn't make any sense."

Zack crossed his arms as he tried to think the situation through more. Unfortunately he didn't have a lot of time before something rather ominous presented itself.

"...Your overthinking it. Let me help you out: everybody's dead. It doesn't matter how, just know that their gone. You two are alone here. Well, aside from me."

Zack jumped slightly as the voice cut through the night air. A voice that was eerily familiar to him even if he couldn't put his finger on it initially. Turning away from Aranea, the ex-SOLDIER unsheathed his weapon. His eyes searched around the buildings to try and get a visual confirmation of where the voice had come from, with no success.

"Who are you?! Identify yourself!"

The mercenaries call through the air was initially met with silence before he heard the voice respond again.

"Now THAT'S a more interesting topic! Alright, lets cut straight to the chase. You see..."

Zack's vision quickly saw something moving out from behind the medical building he had emerged from. It initially was in the shadows for a moment or two, but then not long after it came into full view... The mercenary froze on the spot when he got a look at the source of the voice. Now he understood why it was so familiar...

"I'm you."

Zack was looking at what had to be a perfect copy of himself, albeit a few differences. First, this "other" him. The first thing he noticed were the bloodstains: there were a few on the other version's arms and face. Red blood. Human blood. Next were the marks: strange faint black markings that seemed to be on the copy's exposed arms and neck, looking almost like veins. Finally there was the other's weapon. The other Zack too used the buster sword, but along with what appeared to be some fresh blood there appeared to be some kind of black growth on the weapon as well.

It was like looking at a monstrous version of himself. Shocking enough that Zack seemed frozen to the spot for the moment.


"With that out of the way things will be much simpler, don't you think? No, I know it will be. I am you after all so I know you well enough to know that just showing you will make you understand better than any words could."

The other Zack looked over to Aranea.

"Well now, I didn't know you brought a friend! She's hot, too! Who might you be, fair lady? The least I can do is know your name before I have to bring you back to the boss. In one piece or many, that I'll leave up to you. Its the least I could do."
 
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Aranea Highwind

Final Fantasy
Posts
28
Alias
Lady A
Age
30
Pronouns
She/Her
Species
Human
Height
5'5"
Occupation
Hunter
Relationship Status
Single
cvkalW.gif
Everything he said had been more to lead to a dead end. Even if those under attack had tried to bring their attackers into the barracks, the lack of people of either side had made little sense. The fact that blood had only been evident there had also meant that either the injured and dead had been moved, or somehow everyone had simply vanished. The former made no sense, with no traces actually leaving or being visible in doorways. And the latter, had simply been impossible.

" A trap? " Her next guess, even if that had been something that hesitated when it rolled off of her tongue. Why let them search only to end up with no leads whatsoever when they could have been dealt with one by one when they had previously split up? Someone was playing a game with them, and Aranea hated it with a passion.

" We should go then, report back and tell them that there's no one here. " And by no one, she had even thought those responsible. But she was wrong, when the voice that hadn't belonged to her or Zack had talked to them, she had gripped the handle of the shotgun and attempted to shine the flashlight in the direction of the voice, but even that had come up short with the quickly dimming flashlight that had once shined so brightly.

There was no reason to repeat Zack, so when the demand to reveal their identity had come up, Aranea only motioned the barrel of her gun at the suspected person or at least the area that she was sure he had been in as motivation.

When he revealed himself, Aranea had taken a step back. How was it possible? It was Zack. And yet, the differences were enough to tell the two apart. " Do you know this asshole? " Aranea piped up, her usage of a cussing word something she was no stranger to.

Yet, Emerald eyes remained locked on the foe. He had killed all those people? And even if he hadn't, his blade of his buster sword had told a different story with the way the blood had settled on it and on him for that matter.

Her eyes narrowed when his attention had been directed at her. She'd heard all that talk before, all that ' so hot ' and those empty threats. She may have been a bit too cocky for her own good, but stories also had been true in just what Aranea had succeeded in doing time and time again. " Who's your boss? More and more, Aranea was feeling a need for that lance on her back rather than the heavy shotgun in her hands.

" I wouldn't worry too much about my name, you won't be saying it any time soon. "

@Zack Fair
 

Zack Fair

Final Fantasy
Posts
87
Age
23
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Species
Human
Height
6ft 1in (185cm)
Occupation
Hunter's Guild (S-Class)
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
Single
When Aranea asked Zack if he knew this "asshole", Zack wasn't entirely sure how to respond to the statement for a number of reasons.

"I don't know him...But he seems to know me." was the ex-SOLDER's response. The other Zack simply crossed his arms and waited for Aranea to finish.

"Hah! Thats good! Lady, you've got spunk. I like it. Anyway you don't have to say a word. If you don't tell me then I'm sure the boss will once she's done with you."

"Not if I put you in a bodybag first." Came the ex-SOLDIER's threat in a cold tone. Yet part of Zack was a bit shaken by the statement, despite the fact that his demeanor remained calm and focused.

"Wow, talking tough huh? You aren't fooling anyone. Not your lady friend and not me. I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm not like you. Your limitations, your weaknesses...I've left them behind." The shadowy Zack exclaimed with a sinister air to his voice. As he did the ex-SOLDIER noticed the lights throughout the small dim and flicker momentarily. His sharp eyesight also caught something strange happening to the copycat's body: the black lines that seemed to be running along his arms and neck grew. the mercenary almost instinctively knew that an attack was coming.

Zack charged forward at full speed, attempting to get ahead of whatever this guy was planning and get the drop on him.

"I am awakened!"

As Zack drew close to his doppleganger he swung the buster sword in a downward vertical arc...Yet in a flash his attack was intercepted. The doppleganger had blocked the attack perfectly with his own buster sword, simply holding it in the path of the attack with one hand on the hilt. A massive clang echoed throughout the night air as the two weapons made contact.

As the ex-SOLDIER naturally moved into his next attack, part of him contemplated what he had just witnessed. How strong was this guy?! When Zack was using the buster sword his attack strength was astronomical. Using it he was able to cleave through things like the steel of machines and hardened monster carapace with ease. If an opponent blocked it, as long as they weren't giant they usually were sent sliding backward or had their balance compromised somehow. This doppelganger though...he had just blocked the attack just by holding up his weapon, without even swinging it! and he hadn't even moved an inch!

Zack transitioned into a fast horizontal swing. The doppleganger just held his weapon up to stop the attack again. Another loud clang echoed through the air as Zack's own attack seemingly was ineffective against the impressive guard. Zack pushed his superhuman strength into the buster sword, seeing if he could simply use brute force to break through the guard.

Even pushing his hardest however, the Doppelganger didn't even move.


"...This won't do. I know you can do better."

The doppelganger pushed back against Zack, sending him sliding backwards. The ex-SOLDIER was in disbelief. This guy was no joke. That strength...That was almost like back when Zack had fought Sephiroth several years ago. It was crazy!

Yet during this exchange, both Zack and doppleganger Zack hadn't been paying attention to the other person that had been here, who would have an opportunity to strike and take the initiative...
 
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