Image Source: cgfelker
Mandrake’s scribbling: What? What?! WHAT?! This mandrake is nearly over the wall! This mandrake hope for the best! Enjoy this chapter.
Miles off the coastal seas Vietnam, a stationary US Destroyer is preparing for battle. Its entire crew are on full alert as they scramble to prepare their most powerful weapon on the ship. The ballistic missile. The target is a forest in Vietnam too far inland for the nearby naval bombardments to reach.
Kept is metal canisters aboard the ship, these missiles are deadly and comes with a hefty price tag of millions of dollars in tax payers’ money. They have a simple shape. A round headed body of half a meter in diameter and 6 meters long; wings to allow maneuverability in the mid-section and at the end, its jet engine powerful enough to carry the missile and its half ton high explosive warhead 2500 kilometers to its target. The whole missile is painted grey and more peculiarly, scrubbed of any country affiliation.
These missiles are by far no ordinary missiles. Like the other three missiles in the stockpile, these missiles are marked by a strange magic from by an agent of the organization. The agent in question is currently in contact with the ship’s captain.
Johannes: “How are the preparations for the missile launch? I’m ready to receive and guide the missiles to the target.”
Captain: “We have encountered some technical difficulties stemming from one of the missiles.”
Johannes: “Oh? What happen to it?”
Upon asking that, Johannes’ voice turns sour.
Captain: “The missile’s GPS guidance system is unresponsive or uncooperative at best.”
Johannes: “Will it be able to reach here?”
Captain: “Yes, but the CEP of the missile will be too big to be considered useful. Forget hitting the target, it will miss by a few hundred yards.”
Johannes: “I see… What about the other missiles?”
Captain: “Only two of the missiles are confirmed operational. We are currently inspecting the other two.”
Johannes: “Alright, captain. Prepare the two missiles for launch immediately. I need the rest of the missiles ready for launch as soon as possible. Make sure the last missile is launch ready as well.”
Captain: “Excuse me? Sir, are you planning to use the malfunctioning missile to attack?”
Johannes: “Yes. I will be using the other two missiles for a follow up strike or a corrected one. The last missile will be set as a reserve and be made ready to launch on my command.”
Captain: “Will all due respect, Sir. I am not launching a defective missile into foreign soil.”
Johannes: “Captain, I order you to get that missile ready for launch. I don’t care if the missile cannot hit the target. As long as it gets in the battlefield, it is acceptable for me.”
Captain: “Sir, I cannot agree to wasting such an expensive-“
Johannes: “Whatever I or any agent of the organization use at our disposal is not a concern of yours. I need all my missiles ready for launch. Are my orders made clear?”
Captain: “…Yes, sir. I’ll have them ready as soon as possible.”
Johannes: “Thank you, captain. I appreciate your cooperation. Leave this channel open. I need updates on the missile launch and have them launch on my order.”
Johannes eases his tension after leaving the conversation. His face has a bitter expression and his mood is foul. He is frustrated at the recent malfunction of one of his assigned missiles. He has a lot of pride in his work, as he invested a large amount of energy and concentration to integrate his magic into the massive armaments. It took him roughly a week to integrate one of the five missiles.
Johannes: [If only I got this power when I was in my prime.]
The inefficiency of his magic is due to Johannes poor mana capacity and ability in magic. Unlike Alan’s magic that draws energy from other life forms upon contact, Johannes’ magic is purely from his own. Johannes laments at the fact that he obtained this power after a long service in the organization. If he had gotten the power much sooner, his body will have a mana capacity and mastery of his magic at a level he can be proud of.
Johannes shakes his mind off the defective missile and focuses his attention on another problem, the ship captain. The captain responded coldly to his order to prepare the defective missile for launch. Even if the captain was debriefed on the magical abilities of Agent Johannes Scarl, he did not comply to his orders. The captain believes it to be a tremendous waste to launch a defective missile. However, he is not going to oppose the chain of command. The captain has settled for dodging the consequences if the launch failed and having Johannes take responsibility for his actions. Johannes is aware of the captain’s stance but he is not going to waste time convincing a skeptic as long as his orders are followed to the letter. The success of the operation is on the line.
Johannes stands up and fixes his gear. After putting on his helmet and radio, he leaves the command center. A US soldier welcomes him and direct him towards a waiting helicopter.
– Bata Bata Bata-
Johannes climbs into the helicopter, followed by the US soldier. The engine roars and the blades slice the air as the helicopter rise up from the ground and flies towards the battlefield overshadowed by the massive black void.
The treant lets out a strangled growl as it struggles to escape the grip of its adversary, a treant double its size and colored blood red. The red vines have invaded the treant’s body, signaling the end of the treant as it tightens its grip on the treant’s head. Sensing the loss of resistance from the treant, the giant treant tosses it aside. It straightens its neck and surveys the area. Right in front of it, the void of Rosetta’s spell, ever so dark and imposing.
“Looks like the place is empty.”
Its voice, even though it is hollow menacing, has some semblance to a human voice. Hearing this voice, filled with bloodthirst and disappointment for the lack of prey, there is no doubt on the identity of this monster.
Alan: “Did the monsters stop coming because of the army’s retreat or is it because of me?”
Alan shifts his senses towards the treants under his control. He senses a few treants still alive and kicking but they have already engaged the controlled treants. These treants will share his blood soon enough. Alan hunches his massive body forward, gazing longingly at the void.
Alan: “I wish you keep sending them my way…”
In an instant, Alan lunges forward, gouging the ground under him.
Alan: “BECAUSE I HAVEN’T HAD ENOUGH, ROSETTA!!!”
Alan’s body flies into the void and crashes into what seems to be a wall of vegetation. Not hesitating one bit, Alan buries his body into the vegetation and activates his magic.
Unseen under the cover of darkness, Alan’s magic travel across the red vines and invaded the vegetation. It engulfs the mana in the vegetation and distorts it to Alan’s will. Like a malignant cancer, Alan devours the vegetation to add more mass to his body.
-Boom Krsssh Krakkoom
The whole forest quaked and Alan is wrapped in vegetation and flung out of the void. Alan crashes into the ground in a tangled heap. The vegetation that is thrown with him struggle to retrain him as it is slowly being devoured by Alan’s magic.
Alan: “ROSETTA!!! DON’T GO SOFT ON ME!!! ALL YOU ARE DOING IS JUST FEEDING ME!!!”
Alan stands straight up in an imposing pose in front of the void. The vegetation he absorbed rustles insides his body, making it grow bigger than it was before.
Alan: “YOU AND I NEED TO HAVE A PROPER FIGHT!”
Zombified Treant: “Krakha! Kha! Kha! Kha!”
He grabs one of his minions from around him. The minion start cackling menacingly.
Alan: “GET OUT HERE!!!”
Alan roars loudly as he throws the minion overhead in the direction of the void. Still cackling, the treant realigns his position to land and crashes deep inside the void. Alan goes to grab more of his minions. The blood red treants crowd around his arm, scrambling to get a good grip on it.
Alan swings his arm across. His minion flies off his arm into the void. Alan gets into a battle stance. He spreads his thoughts to his minions and they responded in uproar. With the roaring of his minions mixed with his own, Alan charges forward in full speed towards the void, leading his army of zombified treants behind him.
– Bata Bata Bata-
A helicopter flies at top speed circling the void. The compartment door is opened and a man peers at the scene unfolding on the ground below.
Johannes: [Alan is letting his magic go wild. Just look at how many of the monsters he has taken.]
Littered all over the ground are red colored treants, zombified treants created from Alan’s magic. Every one of them are restless to fight.
Johannes: [Impressive army. But he can’t reach Rosetta at this rate.]
He scans through the treants as the helicopter flies over them.
Johannes: [I need to find Alan. These are just his offshoots. Look for the big one from the reports.]
Johannes withdraws into the helicopter. In actuality, all of these zombified treants are all Alan. They all have his consciousness. In spite of this, they only respond to the signals given by Alan as the giant treant. Like hive mind, they are all Alan’s limbs. It is only when the giant treant is destroyed that a random treant becomes the core of the hive mind and take over. This is the nature of Alan’s magic. Parasitic and malignant like a cancerous infection.
Pilot: “Incoming transmission from the navy!”
Johannes: “The channel is clear!”
When Johannes receives his transmission, a loud sound reverberates as the whole area quakes. Startled by the loud noise, the pilot pulls the helicopter upwards in an effort to get to safety. The men are pulled back into their seats. Johannes grips tightly on his seat as he receives his transmission.
Large objects fly out from the darkness of the void at great heights before crashing into the ground. At a closer look, the red color of these objects shows that these are Alan’s treants and something tossed them into the air like it’s nothing.
Co-Pilot: “Holy shit, look!”
Everyone shifts their gaze towards the void. For a split second, a giant wall of vegetation is seen extending out from the void 50 meters in the air before retreating into the darkness. The troops can only look in disbelief. This kind of force is possible for him. A show of Rosetta’s awesome strength. Johannes opens the compartment door and gaze down on the carnage below. The treants that were thrown into the ground are starting to form themselves back together. At one spot where the ground is gouged a good length, a treant multitudes in size than the others is piecing its body together.
Johannes: [There he is.] “Pilot! Slow down and circle around that giant monster! I need to talk to him!”
Pilot: “Yes, sir. Lowering hovering position.”
The pilot has a skeptical look but brushes it off and descends the helicopter towards the giant treant.
Johannes: “Get me on the speakers!”
Pilot: “You’re patched to the speakers now.”
Johannes voice is amplified in the speakers and directed at the giant treant. Hearing Johannes’s voice, it pauses for a moment and looks upwards at the helicopter.
Johannes: “Alan! Listen to me! I am calling a missile strike to take out Rosetta’s spell! You have to stand down!”
Alan: “ALRIGHT! GET ON WITH IT!!”
Out of nowhere, an ear splitting roar explodes from the void, sending a shock to everyone.
Johannes: “Get us up high! NOW!!”
The helicopter jerks upwards. Alan stands up and braces his arms. A huge blast erupts from the void like a jet. High pressure air and mist strikes Alan at high velocity.
-Trak Krsh Psh Pak Grak Tssk-
Hidden by the mist, hundreds of large wooden stakes 1 to 2 meters long flies at high speed with the blast and hit everything in sight. Alan grimaces as he takes the splintered ends head on. His arms are impaled many times. Some strike through his arms and impale his body. Some are powerful enough to punch right through everything of him. High above Alan, the helicopter twist and turn in the air with its alarms blaring as it struggles from the updraft from the blast.
Pilot: “SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!”
Johannes: “BRING OUT THE CHAIN GUN!! SHOOT!! SHOOT!!”
Gunner: “I CAN’T SHOOT ANYTHING LIKE THIS!!”
Johannes: “I DON’T CARE!! YOU JUST HAVE TO SHOOT!!”
The devastating jet has not stopped. It moves upwards and catches the helicopter inside it. The helicopter is tossed around by the air velocity and the wooden stakes flies straight at the helpless aircraft.
-Dakkoom Dakkoom Dakkoom-
The gunner fires the chain gun turret. As the bullets leave the barrel, they dance in the air. They swerve around the helicopter which has turned sideways from the blast.
-Prak Chssk Grak Krsh Ftsh Ptak –
They struck the incoming wooden stakes head on. They struck from the side to change their trajectory. They struck the body to shatter it to pieces. They struck the pieces some more to pulverize them. The storm of a few hundred bullets crushes the onslaught of wooden stakes. What has reached the helicopter is a storm of wet splinters and sawdust. Bending any projectile to his will. Capable of manipulating bullets to shred wooden stakes at high speed. This… This is the magic bestowed upon Johannes Scarl.
The jet dissipates, leaving a large column of mist lingering where it once was. The aftermath, the land scarred by wooden stakes gouging the ground. Under the cover of the mist, it looks like an ancient burial site; the wooden stakes like markers for graves. In the middle of this grim scene, a silhouette of the giant treant standing upright with menacing stakes protruding from its arms and body. High overhead, a helicopter spins out of control. The occupants are bracing themselves while the pilots struggle to reign in control. One of the occupants decides to land a hand.
Johannes: “Gh… Ngh! GRAAAAH!!!”
Gripping the hand supports as hard as he can, Johannes forces his mana into the compartment. He activates his magic and strain as hard as he can. The whole vehicle jumps for a moment as if something struck hard on it. Slowly, little by little, the vehicle stops its uncontrollable spin and the pilot pulls the helicopter away from its crash course. Hovering 20 to 30 meters above the ground, everyone in the helicopter relaxes in relief. One of them is first to react.
Johannes: “FUCK! Get this helicopter high in the air right now! We are going back!”
Pilot: “Y-Yes, sir.”
The pilot, given little time for respite, responds weakly. He grasps the helicopter controls and pulls the aircraft up into the sky.
Johannes: “Maintain a high altitude and mobility from now on.”
Johannes turns to stare at the void. He clasps the microphone on his helmet.
Johannes: “Launch the missiles now.”
Back in the US destroyer, the captain receives the orders from Agent Johannes. He stands upright as the crew looks at him for his orders.
Captain: “Sound the alarm. Launch the missiles.”
The crew responds immediately, locking down the target coordinates and preparing the missile for launch. The target coordinates are relayed to the missiles inside the vertical launch system and armed.
Officer: “Missile launch in… 10… 9… 8…”
The ship captain watches the surveillance feed showing the missile launch system. The type of missile they are launching. The country they are launching it at. The kind of enemy that will face the missile head on. All of these circumstances bring the captain’s thoughts to its conclusion.
Captain: [God help us all.]
Officer: “4… 3… 2… 1… Launch.”
The missile’s rocket booster ignites, unleashing a jet of fire and propelling the missile upwards. A wall of fire shoots up from the exhaust and the missile flies out of the silo up high into the air. The booster keeps going. The missile flies higher and faster. Once spent, the booster detaches itself and falls to the sea. The missile activates its jet engine and spread its wings from its body. Triangulating its position with GPS and radar, the missile speeds through the skies to its target.
Another missile has left for the skies shortly after its predecessor. Ditching its rocket booster, it starts its jet engine and flies in the same direction of the first missile. Both missiles streak across the sky. Over forests, grasslands, roads and cities. The humans below does not suspect a thing. Many of them ignore the missile as their daily activities takes priority.
Reaching the target’s vicinity does not take long. Within minutes after their launch, the missiles have reached the battlefield wasteland. Awaiting them is Agent Johannes Scarl in a helicopter flying at high altitude. He concentrates on his magic and activates his magic stored within the missiles. The magic takes control of the missiles. They synchronize with Johannes’s consciousness and become an extension of his own will.
Johannes: [Alright. I have control. Just…]
Johannes casts his gaze on the darkness below. The shrouded forest has become alive. Massive masses of vegetation can be seen moving in the darkness. Twisting around and failing, as if it is trying to intercept the missiles.
Without hesitation, he sends the missiles into the void. He senses the missile flying into the void and senses the forest trying to stop it. The missiles whip around the giant masses. They dance away from their swipes. Darting here and there, even doubling back, the missiles twist through the forest. Within those crucial seconds, one of the missiles flies near its target’s vicinity.
It happened in a split second. One missile strikes its target and explodes, unleashing the warhead’s fullest potential. The ground shakes and for a moment, the whole forest stops moving.
Johannes: [Weak! Get punished!]
Not missing an opportunity, Johannes sends the other missile speeding towards its target. It zooms past the masses and strikes the target before they can react.
Johannes: [Yes! Both missiles on target!]
The effects are quick. Sunlight slowly illuminates the forest. Johannes has struck Rosetta and broke his spell. With the spell broken, the energy gathering nature magic ceases allowing light to shine upon the forest once more. The darkness is disappearing.
Co-Pilot: “The darkness is fading away!”
Johannes stands triumphantly in the helicopter as the forest slowly fade into view.
Pilot: “Jesus Christ…”
Co-Pilot: “What the- What the hell?!”
Johannes can only remain silent. Stripped of the spell’s protection, the forest is now exposed in full view. Except, it does not look like a forest. More like, it has turned into a monster. 100… 200… 300 meters high. Huge pillars of vegetation more than 300m high reach for the sky from the ground. Their width is roughly 50 meters across. At their tip, a head that resembles a dragon with hollow eyes and a gaping maw. More that 30 of them move independently and every one of them are moving around angrily.
Gunner: “How the hell are we taking that down? Missiles are not going to take that down fast enough.”
Co-Pilot: “Damn. This is impossible. We should retre-“
Johannes: “Shut the fuck up! Our target isn’t that monster! It’s the monster hiding in it! Get above it!”
Johannes silences the men. He turns to focus on assessing the damage done by the missiles. Where is Rosetta? Did he get injured? These questions plague his mind. He uses his binoculars to survey the area damaged by the missiles. Right in one of the destroyed target zones, nature magic is concentrated on regenerating vegetation in order to cover up something. The sign flares his suspicions.
Johannes: [I see it!] “Maintain high altitude and reach the center!”
Not missing a chance, Johannes barks his orders at the pilot. He grabs the transmitter on his helmet and establishes contact with the US Destroyer.
Johannes: “This is Johannes Scarl! We have a strike! I repeat, we have a strike! Launch two more missiles!”
As the pilot reluctantly swerves the helicopter towards the forest, down below, Alan and his minions are roaring in excitement. Multiple pillars of vegetation resembling dragon heads, Alan gleefully calls it for its appearance.
Alan: “GRAAHAHAHAHA!! A HYDRA!! THIS IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT!!”
Alan and the treants charges at the forest. A hydra head bends forward and smashes its body on the ground.
It drags its body across the ground, sweeping the treants under its mass. Many treants jump on the side of the massive body and activate Alan’s magic. The head lifts its body once more and smashes into the ground again. More hydra heads do the same and send earthquakes throughout the region. Alan feels the ground shaking under his feet and his heart dances. Rosetta has finally revealed his true power and unleashed chaos. And he will confront it with his own.
Beings crafted from magic against hunters sent from an organization. The forest, now transformed into a fearsome Hydra. Alan Moralles, matching it with his own tenacity and his terrifying magic. Johannes Scarl, in his helicopter weaving through the fray on the hunt for the greatest bounty, the magician Rosetta. The actors on the stage of battle are ready. The final act has begun.
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