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Back to Part Two.

Part 3: Personal Battles

Secrets of the Building

The receptionist flinched when she saw the magatama embedded in the sphere. "Wh-whaaat!? Where did you get that thing from!? I thought Tama was the only one that... Ugh! Nevermind! Listen, I've never seen your stupid mug before, okay? The only reason why I came up here is because you guys looked suspicious!"

'Is that really the case, though?' Clock thought. If I can prove that she followed us up here for a different reason, then maybe I can break one of these locks!' He turned to Max, realizing that he couldn't see what he saw. Clock's eyes glowed silver for a moment, and Max would see the locks and chains materialize into view.

Max stopped himself from flinching. "Whoa there. What are these?" He felt stupid asking, but he thought it would be vital information worth learning. He inched closer to Clock and whispered, "Are we gonna strangle her or something?"

"Nah, nah." Clock whispered back to Max. "These things are called Psyche-Locks. They're subconscious barriers people put up when they tell a lie, and with this Magatama, I have the power to see them. However, they're mostly useless if I can't break them by exposing the flaws in the lie. If I can, however, I might be able to get her to tell me the truth. I need to prove that she didn't come up here to see us because she thought we were suspicious if I want to make any progress."

Max's eyes opened wide once again and he smirked, impressed by Clock-Watch. "Ooh... very nice, Clockwork." He gave Clock-Watch a genuine grin before whispering to him again. "Though I'm tempted to ask something stupid so I can test it out, I'll let you handle this one on your own, Private. But if you need a way to make sure she can trust you..." Max had pickpocketed his identification card from the private investigator long ago, and he had it dangle in his fingers. "I can make up a teenage story sound like a believable story real fast."

Clock chuckled. "It's good to know that I'm not the only good ad-libber here." He gave a sheepish grin. "You'd be surprised how useful bluffing can be in court."

Max gave Clock a chuckle back, shuffling to the clockwork hedgehog for the last time. I'll leave the rest to you, Clockwork. If you need some help with your accusation, I'll be right over there by the door. Max walked over the wall next to the door and leaned on it, relaxing.

On the other side of the room, Transford stood at the end of the table flipping through the contents of a blank white folder that he'd found under one of the chairs, Occasionally looking back in Clock's direction.

'Hm...' Clock thought. 'Her reason for following us seems fairly solid, but there's gotta be a hole in it. I haven't been here before, so it should make sense that I would seem suspiciou- Wait! Even if she wanted to follow us, how did she know what floor we went to?'

"Are you going to make me stand here all day?" The receptionist asked, disinterestedly looking at Clock. "I have a job to do, you know."

"Before you go, let me ask you one question." Clock said, smirking. He pointed the Magatama at her. "Even if you knew I was a suspicious figure you'd never seen before, how did you know what floor we went to? There aren't any stairs that lead here, and it doesn't display on the first floor elevator!"

Upon finishing his sentence, one of the metaphysical locks rattled, and then shattered into pieces. The receptionist was visibly startled, but she collected herself, and returned to her previous expression.

"There's a panel on my desk, that's all! It tells me the location of all the elevators, and whether they're moving up or down. Upon seeing your destination, I followed. Why wouldn't I? A bunch of people I've never seen going to this room is certainly a cause for suspicion." It was clear she was attempting to regain her composure.

Max heard all of this and walked up to Clock-Watch, extremely suspicious. "Y'know, lady, you seem awfully jitterish if you're really as honest as you're trying to look. We're not going to hurt you if you tell the truth, so c'mon and spill it. It's pretty obvious that you're lying to us, so don't waste our time."

"You can't prove it!" She snapped, folding her arms. "God, I hate losers who always try and find conspiracy when none exists. You just assume that there's some big secret, except I'm just a receptionist and there is nothing to find out."

"Wait, didn't you see Transford come here when he came here earlier?" Clock asked. "And Max actually works for GUN, so you should know him too."

"Grk-" The receptionist's words got caught in her mouth, as another of the locks shattered into pieces. The last one rattled, and began to shatter into-

Suddenly, the lock re-formed, this time tinted green. After a moment, another lock appeared. Then another, and another, until 20-some locks were visible before the group. Clock was visibly startled by this, jumping back a foot.

"Green locks!?" He gasped. "I've never seen anything like this before, I-"

"Silence." The receptionist growled. Her voiced sounded like it was coming from far away, all of a sudden, and her eyes had lost their irises and pupils, and were now simply pure white. "You want to know? I am Kota the Rabbit, third of the Hyper Division's Sensors. You have been all deemed threats to the current operation, and your elimination is necessary to ensure a positive result from the operation. You are all to be disposed of immediately." She got into a fighting stance.

Transford tucked the folder into his jacket and gave a small sigh before speaking, "Can't say that I haven't been waiting for this." In a blur of motion, he had two revolvers aimed on the rabbit.

Max smiled, happy to get some action in what seemed to be the least physical category he could've been put in to. "All right, receptionist lady, let's do some battle!" Not waiting for his teammates' input on the matter, Max dashed toward the receptionist and used Chaos Fist, charging his punch with Chaos Energy, making it glow green.

"Well, it's going to be one of those days, huh." Clock grumbled, forming his arm cannon. "Bring it, receptionist chick!"

Max's punch was stopped short by an invisible barrier of some sort, the receptionist smirking. "I'm afraid no amount of power can pierce my defenses. Prepare to see the might of the Hyper Division!" She returned the favor, throwing a punch right back at Max.

Max was hit square in the nose, and he staggered back a bit, smiling as he looked up at Kota. "KK, Kota, you might be able to defend against one of my more.... direct moves, but can you defend against my...." Max brushed his thumb against his nose and threw a yellow orb into the air. "DISCO DOME?!" The orb was unstable with Chaos Energy, and it shot red, blue, and silver beams at everything, even Max's teammates. Silver beams were more powerful, but slow, red beams were normal, and blue beams were fast but awfully ineffective.

Kota seemed to be able to dodge most of the beams, but a few of the blue ones seemed to break through whatever barrier was protecting her, starling her a little. Besides that, she still seemed fairly collected, her gaze remaining focused and cold.

The sudden attack had startled Clock, who quickly put away his arm cannon, and instead pulled out a large sword from the back of his coat, using it to block one of the silver beams. The impact made him step backwards, but the sword seemed alright. "A little warning would've been alright..." He grumbled. From there, he managed to redirect the beams heading in his direction back towards Kota, seemingly breaking through a little more of her barrier. "It looks like her barrier is weak to energy-based attacks of some sort! Hit her with everything you've got, Transford!"

"With pleasure." The black hedgehog said with a smirk. Electricity began surging through and around his fist as he threw it toward Kota at full force.

In response, Kota quickly placed her hands out, holding back the punch with a continuous stream of green electricity. However, she was visibly straining to hold the direct hit back.

Quickly, Clock re-summoned his arm cannon, and began to charge a blast from it. "We've got her on the ropes! Max, help me hit her as hard as you can! Let's end this fight right here, right now, no nonsense!"

Max put his palm out, straight up, and a red orb started to form in it. "Let's put this nuisance to rest!" He then fired a red energy beam from his arm straight at Kota, forgetting that Transford was right in front of her and he would hit the hedgehog in the process.

Transford, however, turned his head just in time to see the beam and in a sudden flash of light, he was now standing (or rather, he was leaning against a wall) behind the rabbit, leaving Max's attack to hit her.

"You know, you could've given him some warning..." Clock muttered, firing a silvery beam from his now-charged cannon. Combining with Max's, the two attacks hit Kota head-on.

She tried to block with a mint-green energy shield, but it suddenly shattered after briefly resisting the beam, causing her to take the full brunt of the attack. After the smoke cleared, she was lying, unconcious, on the ground. Interestingly enough, it seemed that the room was fairly unharmed from the scuffle.

Transford pressed his foot down on the rabbit's back to make sure that she was out. "So, what's the plan now, kid?" He asked Clock, not even glancing at Max, "Should we do something about her, or do we keep on looking around while our cover probably hasn't been blown yet."

Max glanced around, confused. "Umm.... I say we... um... we need to leave!" Max immediately turned around, beckoning for his teammates to follow him to the exit door. "We shouldn't make a scene, though," he said, taking out his phone and taking a blurry picture of Kota. "Let's ditch her! I have evidence!"

Clock walked over to the trashcan, picking it up. "It would probably be best if we wrap up here before anyone stumbles upon this scene. We might've been able to take this chick on alone, but I imagine we'd have a lot more trouble fending off an entire security team." Casually, he ate a handful of the paper shreddings in the bin, though it looked like he simply swallowed it whole, not bothering to chew. "I'd say we should head back towards the park, in case our allies there need assistance. I can look over these papers while we walk."

Transford simply stood there for a moment with a raised eyebrow. "Alright... let's get going then." he said, moving towards the exit.

As his allies went in front of him, Max snapped, and green orbs of Chaos Energy called Chaos Arrows appeared behind him. He smirked at Kota. "I call this one the Snap Vanish!" he teased before snapping again, causing them to explode. After the explosion, Max rushed out the exit.

The group now stood in the elevator, waiting for it to reach the first floor again.

"So," Clock began, still swallowing clump after clump of shredded paper. "Uh, how are you guys holding up right now?"

Max shrugged, playing along with Clock's awkward attempt to break the silence. "Oh, you know, the usual, not trying to get arrested by weird defensive rabbits." Max growled. "If I could do today all over again, I would've walked right up to 'Hikari's' face and... um..." Max scratched his chin before groaning and shrugging again. "Do something that wouldn't get me fired."

"From what I've heard, Hikari's probably the kind of guy who would fire you just for walking up to him." Clock mused. He unbuttoned his shirt, revealing that his fur only went down a little below his neck- everything below appeared to be a patchwork of copper and brass. From a thin slit on his chest, a piece of paper printed out. "Oh, would you mind taking these?" Clock asked, almost done with the paper in the basket.

Transford hesitated for a moment before grabbing the papers. "Huh, clearly no one told me that cryostasis works the other way too." He said jokingly as he slipped the papers into the folder and tucked it back into his jacket just as the elevator reached the lobby.

Max's eyes seemed to glitter in amazement when he saw Clock-Watch's transformation. "Wow, Clockwork, that's awesome! How does that even work? Are you a robot, or are you just an organic being engineered to have a prosphetic body? Anyway, that's amazing!" Max was getting hyped up - green Chaos Energy started to surround around his body.

"Oh, this?" Clock asked, setting down the basket, the last pieces of paper printing out. He knocked on his chest with his hand, causing a metallic clang. "I'm all mechanical. Nothing but gears, sprockets, and just a little touch of magic." He held his hand out towards Transford. "May I have the papers back, please? I'd like to look over them on our way."

Hardly looking, Transford reached into his jacket and pulled the papers out of the folder, along with a completely different one, and handed it to Clock. "Probably best if you held onto that one as well. It's the most important thing I could find in here and it'll be one less thing to worry about if we're about to walk right into a battle."

"Not a problem." Clock said, taking the papers. The lobby of the building was now completely quiet, seeing as the receptionist was unconscious on an entirely different floor. As the group walked outside, Clock began to read over the papers. "Alright, so what do we have here? The front page reads Hyper Division Daily Report, and the date appears to be only yesterday! This should prove interesting."

Max put his head slightly above Clock-Watch's, causing the robot's blue hair to nuzzle Max's chin. "Oooh, what does it say? I bet it's just putting the Hyper Division in a great and holy light." Max walked away to the corner of the elevator, trying to mimic Hikari (though he had no idea what he even looked like). "Oh, sit down and be my footrest, will you? We're evil folks who stop the good guys from getting cake and pizza. All eyes on me, I'm so fancy, no GUN agent can stand up to me!" I'm gonna give that guy a pounding when we reveal their true colors!

I might have a virtually infinite amount of energy, but this kid is something else. Clock thought, turning the page. "Yeah, yeah, I'm getting to it." He snarked. "It looks like some sort of list. Crystal Collection still going strong, only two crystals remaining. All have been confirmed to be within the containment dome, according to plan." That sentence already caught Clock off-guard. "Wait, so closing off the city wasn't for chasing after that crazy smoothie hair girl at all!? From this, it sounds like they were waiting for the crystals to get in one place, so they could scoop them all up without having to worry about any interruption! Just what are these guys planning on doing?"

Max listened to Clock-Watch and scratched his chin, confused. "Hmm... it really all depends on how the other guys are doing. We need to get this information to them or the public, whichever one you think is more important." Max shrugged. "Call me crazy, but I think we should go public first. The Hyper Division is distracted right now - we've scattered them."

"And once we've told everyone, then what?" Transford asked him. "We rally them all up and storm the building again? Or just sit around and wait for somebody on the outside to get these guys to back off? They may be distracted, but we still don't know how many of them there actually are and I'm certain that not all of them are going to go down as easily as the Front Desk Freakshow back there. As much as I like the idea of it, I think for now, it'll be easier and less risky for us and everyone else to keep this between us and the others."

"I agree." Clock said, nodding his head. "The public right now is scared and hiding; nobody's going to want to leave their homes if they don't need to. Let's save the publicity until after this incident's over. Right now, we should go back to the park as quick as we can, so if they're struggling over there, we can help out."

Max pumped his fist by his chest, grinning like a madman. "Oooh, yay! I get to help Cyborg, the Not-Granites and Smash pound some high-and-mighty Hyper Division dummies!" Max started to pace in place, trying to figure out something to do with all his energy. "I don't like Division anyway - I'm personally more of a multiplication lover." Max then clutched his stomach and laughed, thinking that his joke was hilarious.

Clock raised his hand to make a deadpan retort, but gave up midway through, sighing. "Whether they're exponential or radical, they definitely need to be stopped." He chuckled at his own bad math joke. "We should make haste. There's no time to lose."

Out of nowhere, a streak of green shot through the sky, heading straight towards the park. It was moving fast enough to cause winds on the ground below, even.

Clock immediately leaped back. "W-What the heck was that!? I don't like the feeling of this... We should make it back to the park as quickly as we can, got it?"

Max smiled, brushed his thumb by his nose, and quickly turned Super, his hair spiking up. He made a "Come here" gesture to Clock-Watch and Transford. "If I carry you two, we'll be there in a jiffy. I'll be able to cut it off, I think, and if I can't we can try to knock it out of the skies and study it. Whaddya say?" Max wanted them to reply quickly so that they could get a move on.

Another streak of light, this one being more red-orange, rocketed by a second later at speeds comparable to the previous one.

"Well, that's a bad sign if I ever saw one." Clock groaned. He held his hand out. "Carry me if you must. Don't worry, although I'm made of metal, I'm very lightweight when I want to be. Anything that gets us over there sooner is a good thing in my book. I have a really bad feeling about this..."

Max smiled at Clock-Watch before looking to Transford. "Okay, that's good! You coming, other guy?" A white and blue streak passed by the trio a few seconds after, slower than the previous two streaks but still fairly speedy. Max groaned. "Well, this looks like it's getting worse."

Transford extended one arm out and held up a gun with his other hand. "Let's get moving." Max took both of his teammates' arms, teleported into the air, and flew after the three streaks, hoping to get the gist of what was happening.

Into the Warehouse

"How would I have known it wasn't locked?" Xavis grumbled under his breath, following Mimic and Jewel inside.

The interior of the warehouse was dimly lit, and containers of unknown substances were stacked in rows that went all the way up to the ceiling, which seemed like it was taller than how it looked outside. Upon entering, Xavis would be alarmed to find that he would no longer be able to sense the direction that the Symphony Crystals were; the energy readings kept shifting location constantly. However, a banging sound was emanating from the back of the warehouse. There wasn't anything specific that someone could put their finger on, but something felt... Off. Anyone with psychic or telepathic powers wouldn't be able to sense if there were any living beings inside; almost as if something was muffling the power they had.

Xavis let out a brief, slightly pained groan as he clutched his forehead. It felt like he had a migraine. He staggered to the side a bit, his luminous eyes (which I don't think has been mentioned) flickering slightly. "Wh...what? No, t-that can't... nhhg..."

Jewel suddenly had a theory why there were no guards outside. There was probably no need. Whatever the warehouse was made of was most likely enough. It probably somehow caused their own powers to reflect back at them and cause them to experience excruciating pain. Which, if powerful enough, could knock them out.

And anyone without powers would remain unaffected. And then the trio would be captured.

Whether or not Jewel's theory was true was uncertain. But she did know she had a splitting headache.

"Anyone else have a sudden migraine?" Jewel asked.

"Me, but that's normal." Mimic responded, referring to his mental companions.

I think she means something else not caused by voices in your head. Tom said.

Mimic looked back to notice Jewel and Xavis' discomfort. "You two okay?" he asked.

Do they look okay? Jerry remarked.

"Sorry, stupid question." Mimic said. "What's wrong?"

"I... I... I-I can't... it just..." Xavis studdered, then taking a deep breath and recomposing himself. "I can't track the crystals. The signal keeps jumping all over the place. And I kinda feel... nauseous? I don't know how to describe it..."

"Other than the headache, I feel okay," Jewel said. "Xavis, maybe you should take a break from using your powers. I'm no doctor, but it might alleviate some of the pain..." Suddenly Jewel felt a little sick herself. "Then again, maybe not."

Hehehe... a voice sounded in Mimic's head. Tell your friends that I apologise for the headache. Maybe they should think twice about trespassing. I hope you all stay, though; I'd like to introduce you to some of my friends~

"What the. . ." Mimic muttered. "Who?" The mockingbird looked around, trying to scan his surroundings for anything out of place.

Hey, get lost! We're the only disembodied voices around here! Jerry yipped.

I don't think that voice is disembodied. Tom said. Telepathy? But, I thought we were-

"Someone's here." Mimic said. "They're screwing with you're sensory abilities. And apparently, they brought company."

Jewel let out an irritated sigh and shook her head as if to try to rid itself of the pain. "Well if they're gonna mess with our heads, when I get my hands on this guy I'm going to screw with their head!"

"Agreed," Xavis angrily muttered. Having stopped targeting the crystals certainly alleviated most of his migraine, but he still felt a not-quite-nauseous and was quickly getting agitated. "Come out here and face us, cowards!" he yelled, fire erupting up his arms before settling down by his hands.

Oooh, your friends are feisty, Mimic. The voice sounded in his head. It sounded feminine and childlike, but it was clearly malicious. You should tell them to be less volatile. They might regret it... I'd tell them, but I knew you would be the one with more experience hearing voices in your head, hehehe~ Growling could be heard in the distance. Whatever it was, it was most certainly not Mobian.

Jewel, being an empath (or partially telepathic), could somewhat sense those malicious emotions, but was unable to figure out where they were coming from. "This is why I loathe the dark..."

Xavis responded to the growl with a snarl of his own, the flames around his hands rising back up his arms and providing a decent amount of light for the trio. Something there was making him unusually aggressive...

"Uh... Xavis..." Jewel was more anxious now.

Mimic smirked. "Enough of the cliche mind games, kid." he said. "So how 'bout you show yourself before we have to call your parents . . . Tama?"

Jewel frowned. "Tama? Who's that?"

I am NOT a child! You... You..! Heavy footsteps could be heard, moving towards the group, and the growling intensified. Something was coming. Don't patronize me! Let's see what you think of THIS!

Xavis' own snarl intensified in response, the flames on his arms growing larger and brighter.

Jewel instinctively let electricity run from her hands, providing extra light.

Seems like we hit a nerve. Tom observed.

"We gonna get to the action, or is this just gonna be a growling contest?" Mimic asked, somewhat annoyed. "We don't have all night, folks." And I'm not just talking about these two. Mimic mentally adds to you, motioning to Xavis and the approaching threat.

Jewel, despite the pain in her head increasing as the electricity ran from her hands, aimed towards where the growling was coming from and released a ball of possibly deadly electricity.

An animalistic screech could be heard, and from around the corner came what appeared to be some kind of slightly melted beast. It was pure white and walked on four legs, and its head was really just a lump with a melted mouth on it. Sitting on the shoulder of this beast was a minty-green echidna. Upon closer examination, it seemed that the echidna lacked both irises and pupils, her eyes just being pure white. Grinning, she stood up.

"It's feeeeeding time~" She sang. Her voice sounded like it was coming from far away, even though she was standing right there. "Welcome to my playground~"

Jewel frowned and thought, "Playground? Oh... that kind of playground." She asked aloud, "Are you Tama?"

"Of course it is!" Xavis snapped toward Jewel before quickly composing himself. "You two try to find the crystals, I'll deal with this... thing." He ordered with a much calmer, yet still aggressive tone.

Jewel didn't flinch or anything. In fact, she remained expressionless. She simply shrugged and replied, "Whatever. C'mon, Mimic." She started running past Tama, electricity still glowing.

Suddenly, Tama closed her eyes, apparently focusing on something. Her body was glowing slightly green.

Xavis watched Tama carefully, his body stiffening with tension as he awaited her to make the first move.

"You go on ahead." Mimic said. "Xavis might need help with this one."

Well, that's rather noble of you. Tom said. Usually, you're not one to be brave.

Brave? Mimic thought. Who said anything about being brave? I just wanna pick on Tama some more! "Have you no shame?" he taunted in a patronizing tone, jumping on top of a nearby crate. "It's a school night, and you're out here past your curfew! It's a dangerous city, especially for a little girl like yourself! Your parents must be worried sick!"

Jewel, using her electrokinesis for light, started searching the warehouse. So far nothing... But down the pathway, some mist of some sort could be seen emanating from a container of some sort, like the kind usually carried on trucks. Although it was hard to see, it was made of a strange kind of metal that shimmered in the dark.

"Ooooh!! You- You!!" Tama pouted. "Get both of them!" She shouted at the beast she stood on. With a pained roar, the creature bore its... Claws? Paws? It was hard to tell. Anyways, its appendage glowed with green energy, and after a moment, it swiped at the two with it.

"Swing and a miss!" Mimic shouted, leaping to another container to avoid the swipe while gaining elevation. "What is that thing anyway? Some abstract art project gone wrong? You probably should've mastered finger-painting first."

Xavis rocketed out of the way of the beast's claws, landing atop the containers across from Mimic. "Right, this looks like some sloppy clay model made by a blind person!" he yelled in a harsh, aggressive tone. At this point a thin, red mist had begun to build up around the hedgehog, along with what looked like... television static? It was incredibly difficult to tell, however. He stepped forward to the edge of the container, spreading his arms flaming outward. "So why don't we put it in the kiln!?" He threw his arms forward, spewing a powerful jet of fire from them toward the monster, with enough heat to where the containers around the flames were beginning to melt.

The monster cried in agony from the flames, which seemed to violently react with the beast's amorphous body. "Hey, stop that! He doesn't like your filthy Chaos!" Tama scolded, pointing at Xavis. Suddenly, the flames around the beast had changed color, to a minty green. As Tama closed her hand into a fist, the green flames began pushing back against Xavis' jet. "Here, let me repay the favor~" Tama giggled, a cold smile on her face.

Xavis pushed against the green flames with his own, as hard as he could, his rage growing but his Chaos draining. He wouldn't be able to hold against it for long.

The walls of fire collided into each other with a loud FWOOSH and released an intense wave of heat that could be felt throughout the building.

"Yowza, things are heating up!" Mimic remarked.

If they keep throwing fire around, they're going to set the whole place ablaze and bring it crashing down on top of us! Tom warned.

"Hey, that gives me an idea." Mimic said.

Idea? What are you-?

"Didn't your parents warn you not to play with fire, kid?" Mimic shouted to Tama, throwing a smoke bomb at her. He wasn't really expecting it to do anything other than get her attention, maybe obscure her vision if it actually got close. "Let me guess, you were always that one awkward kid that the others made fun of? A total outcast that got picked on for being different?"

No, don't do it! Tom objected.

"And when along comes G.U.N knocking on your door, offering you a chance to show those other kids how wrong they were, you're pulled in hook, line, and sinker. Now here you are, fighting against yet another "ultimate lifeform" knock-off and a world-class thief just to guard a few shiny gems. Meanwhile, all the grown-ups are out handling real business. Seems like they view you the same way everyone else does: just as some weird. little. kid."

Yep, he's doing it. Jerry said.

Jewel snooped around behind some crates, and found a small glass vase. It was very dusty and had some cracks, but seemed intact. Looking inside, Jewel found a small cloth bag. She reached in and pulled it out. Opening it, she found the Symphony Crystal.

"Yes!" she said to herself. She looked over at the others and saw what was happening. "Oh no."

Tama indignantly stomped her feet, causing the beast to grumble a bit. "Shut up, shut up, shut up! Stop it!" She glared at Mimic. "I'm going to destroy you, and all of your friends! TAKE THIS!" She fired a jet of green flames directly at him with one hand, and pointed up to the sky with her other hand, sending three strange balls of energy upwards. All three simply phased through the ceiling.

Jewel approached the duo quickly, closing the small bag and stuffing it in her pocket. "I think we've overstayed our welcome. We need to get out of here now!"

With Tama distracted Xavis jumped up, breaking free from the firey deadlock and narrowly avoiding the green jet of flames as he landed in front of the shipping containers he had been standing on. He would need a moment to regain his strength after exerting himself like that, but he was forming a plan to crush her himself.

"Oh, why do I bother?" Jewel thought. "Guess we stay and fight." She charged up a ball of electricity, getting it ready to launch it at Tama.

Mimic dashed to the side, avoiding the jet of flames as it melted a steel beam to molten metal. The ceiling creaked at the loss of one of its support beams. In one swift motion, he lept towards another support beam, stretching his arm to grab onto the rafters and grapple himself up.

"I've been in your shoes before, kid!" he continued, his voice shifting into Tama's voice. "They're only interested in seeing what they can get out of you before they decide you're no longer worth their time and money."

Jewel frowned, sensing this change. She dodged the flames then launched the ball of electricity at Tama.

"Stop it!" Tama shouted. Noticing the electricity, she put up a mint-green barrier to block the attack. "You just want to take this away from me! That's not what they're like!" She fired yet another jet of flames at Mimic, this one slightly more powerful than the last. The beast, noticing that Xavis was slightly out of breath, fired a ball of whitish energy at him from its mouth.

Jewel shoved Xavis out of the way, and they hit the floor. She quickly scrambled up off the floor, dusting herself off. "You're welcome."

"Thanks," Xavis replied in a slightly pained expression. He jumped upright, but staggered as he landed, grasping his forehead. He looked to Jewel. "Nhg, I take it you found them?"

"Yeah," she said, checking her pocket. It was still there. "They're here."

Mimic dashed across the beams, narrowly avoiding the fiery blast. The support beam melted in a matter of a second from the intensity of the blast. "That's exactly what they're like." Mimic answered, now reaching another support beam. "If there's one thing you can trust G.U.N to do, it's ditch any asset they see as either too "dangerous" or that's outlived their usefulness." He throws another smoke bomb at his feet, creating a plume of smoke to make it harder for Tama to see him. "And let's face it, a kid with tantrums like yours is going to be considered "dangerous". Though they probably already thought of how they'll deal with you. Spoiler alert: It probably won't end well for you."

Before Tama could react, ice grew from the ground and crawled up the creature's feet, effectively freezing it to the ground.

"What the...?" Jewel said as she flung a beam of electricity at Tama.

The beast growled, firing balls of energy at everyone in sight, clearly distressed by the situation.

"You're wrong! You're all wrong! You just want to make me nothing again, all of you! I'll... I'll kill all of you RIGHT NOW!" Tama yelled, glowing even brighter than before. The electricity didn't even seem to faze her. "My family doesn't hate me! I'll show you!"

"Now, now, no need to get so upset, Tama." Out of nowhere, a grey wolf leaped onto the beast, putting his hand on Tama's shoulder. "I'll help you deal with these guys. Don't listen to them, we're going to stay a family. Got it?"

"O-Oishi?" Tama asked, turning towards the wolf. "Okay. Hear that! We're going to pound your ashes into the dirt!" Pointing her hand at Jewel, she fired a beam of minty-green electricity. It seemed as if she could manage to reflect every attack being thrown at her, or at least manifest powers that she had come in contact with.

Xavis quickly raised his arm, a shield of red Chaos Energy forming to protect him and Jewel from the beast's projectile. The shield shattered as it absorbed the opposing energy. "The hell are you and like hell you are!!" He yelled to both the newcomer and Tama, entering a combat stance. The air started getting hotter...

"Woah, language!" Mimic said. "Kids are very impressionable, you know." Despite his voice being heard, he was nowhere to be seen, having used the smokebomb to disappear.

So this plan of yours. . .  Tom began.

What's taking so long?! Jerry asked impatiently.

"Right." Mimic replied. "Hey Hot Head, take out the pillars. Once the ceiling gives, it'll bring down the house on that thing. Literally." 

Xavis let out a mix of a sigh and a growl. "Alright, fine." 

The ice began to melt from under the beast, and now free, it charged directly towards the source of the heat. In other words, it was barrelling at Xavis.

"Woah!" Oishi shouted, startled from the sudden movement. Swiftly, he grabbed Tama and lept to a nearby container. "They're strong and useful for research, but I really don't like working with these Symphony Beasts. Eugh."

Xavis quickly disappeared into a flash of red light as the beast came charging toward him.

"I-INCOMING!" A blue figure fell downwards from the top of the warehouse, stuck in the position that one is in after tripping. As she fell, her body was surrounded by a slightly white pool of water, and she fell on the beast's head, her stomach taking the full impact. She quickly rolled off, the watery circle forming into a large snowflake to cushion her as she groaned. "O-Ow..."

Jewel launched a beam of electricity at the creature. "Hey! Over here, ya bumbling beast!" Then she saw the figure. "Crap!" She ran towards the figure and pulled her away just as the electricity hit the beast. "That looked like it hurt."

The figure shuddered as the snowflake disappeared. "N-No problem... just trying to help..." Clutching her arm, she slowly got up. She took her good arm and placed it forward, about to try and try to freeze the beast again, but she needed time.

"It's fine," Jewel said. "Try to do what you can."

Oishi peered over the edge of the stack of containers to see the figure getting up from the ground. "Oh, great. I was hoping she would've stopped following me. Now I've got another person to deal with." He sighed.

"Yeah, but the two of us should be able to take out these guys, no problem!" Tama said, clearly excited at the prospect of being able to work with someone other than an unintelligent pile of energy for the first time in what was honestly way too long.

"I wouldn't bet on that, kid." Mimic said, his voice coming from right behind them.

"Shut up!" Tama shouted, firing a jet of green energy directly towards where Mimic's voice came from. "You guys don't stand a chance!"

The energy hit a few boxes, sending them flying across the warehouse, but there was no sign of the mockingbird. However, they would hear a faint thud emit from where they were standing.

At that moment, a smokebomb landed where Tama and Oishi were, obscuring their vision and maybe even making breathing somewhat difficult. Less than a second later, the containers the two were standing on would be knocked out from under them as Mimic stood below, slamming into the stack they stood on with his arms formed into a comically large sledgehammer.

"TIIIIMBEEEEEEER!" Mimic shouted, as though he were a lumberjack cutting down a giant tree.

Suddenly a loud crash could be heard echo through the warehouse, and soon after another elsewhere. The ceiling started to creak and crack. Alexia looked up, saw it, and tried to apply ice to it so that it would be a bit more stable, but it wasn't nearly enough as needed to actually fix it.

Tama was too focused on landing safely to hear the collapsing ceiling, using her telekinetic ability to hover down to the ground. "You think that's enough to startle me? Do your worst!"

Oishi noticed something was off as he acrobatically rolled safely onto the ground. "Hm. The air tastes like... Metal filings?" Quickly looking up, he noticed a patch of the ceiling was about to fall right on top of him and Tama. 'We should be fine. It's nothing much.' He thought to himself. 'Then again, maybe this is the perfect time to unleash that power of hers once more...'

Mimic narrowed his eyes, hearing that last bit. He could see where this was going.

"Look out, Tama!" Oishi shouted, running towards her. Before she could react, he shoved her, sending her flying back a few feet. Mimic had also dashed forward, as though to attack Tama. A moment later, bits and pieces of the ceiling crashed onto the floor, directly on top of Oishi and Mimic. Not only was the impact loud, a thin cloud of dust would settle over the warehouse from the force of the collision. However, Tama stood alone as neither her enemy nor her partner were anywhere to be seen, potentially under the pile of rubble.

Suddenly, coughing is heard. If Tama looked towards the rubble, she would see Oishi's silhouette getting up slowely, as though injured. "Tama, are you okay?!" he called, stumbling out and falling to one knee. "Who woulda thought that the supports here are so shoddy, geez..." He appeared a bit shaken, covered in dust, rubble and some other debris. 

Still in shock, Tama didn't bother to make sure it was the real Oishi, and walked towards the silhouette. "That was a close one!" Tama said, frowning. "Don't worry me like that next time, okay!? I'm tough, I would've been fine anyways."

Whitish liquid seemed to be seeping out from under the rubble, presumably all that was left of the now-crushed beast. It still crackled with energy, however; it must have been charged with some kind of power before it was used to form the monster.

Though Tama didn't notice it, the liquid was slowly making its way towards her, guided by some kind of unseen force.

Jewel crawled out of some rubble coughing. She stood up wobbly and started moving rubble around, looking for her allies. "Xavis? Mimic? Snow girl? Woohoo! You in there?"

Xavis suddenly appeared in a flash of red light, looking up to the ceiling then down to the liquid seeping from the rubble. "Alright, that worked!" he said, panting slightly. However, he noticed how unnaturally it seemed to gravitate towards Tama, and decided to throw his arms forward and torch it with jets of fire, much like earlier. "Aaand stay down!"

Jewel looked up and saw Xavis. "One down... two to go."

Alexia emerged from the rubble also, seeming tired yet more energized than before. Looking at Xavis' abilities in amazement, she watched behind him. "I-If you don't mind, I-I-I could freeze 'Tama' in a block of ice, just for good measure, sir," she said politely.

Tama quickly turned around, seeing the flames heading towards her. Not realizing what Xavis was aiming at, she quickly retaliated against the flames with her own green fire once more. "Don't you try and catch me by surprise!" She shouted, quickly doing whatever she was doing to make her voice sound how it did before. Although she wasn't aware, some of the energy from the fire appeared to be arcing to the liquid, as if they were beginning to merge in some way. It seemed that the arcing was intensifying with each passing moment.

Oishi simply stood behind her, watching the scene unfold.

"Woah!" Xavis exclaimed, quickly ceasing his torrent of fire, grabbing Alexia, and rocketing to safety. "Where'd you come from?" he asked as they landed, then pulling her behind a container for cover, "Anyway, you said something about freezing her? Well, if you can, go for it." He looked around the corner to the mint-green echidna, then down to his hands, which sparked with what looked like red electricity. "I think I might have a plan, though."

"Huh? What's h-happening!?" Tama stammered. Her arms were shaking, but still remained in the same position as before, even though she had ceased her torrent of fire at this point. "I can't move!"

In all of the confusion, Oishi disappeared.

Upon hearing this, Xavis jumped up onto the container he and Alexia were behind. "I think whatever's left of your monster has plans of its own!" he called, electricity-like Chaos coursing down his arms, "Fortunately this should be over pretty quick." He then dashed towards Tama, looking to hit her with a Chaos-charged punch, hoping to knock her out. Then he'd deal with the liquid.

Tama grimaced, her eyes glowing green. "I'm not letting you win, no matter what!" Struggling, she raised her left arm to block the attack. "I won't let the Division down! You guys are gonna get beaten by me, got it!?"

Despite his efforts, Xavis was flung back upon impact by Tama's energy, landing on his back in front of the container he had just leapt from. There was a familiar and unpleasant feeling within him -- one he hadn't felt for a while. The feeling of his Chaos being evaporated by the opposing energy.

Oishi had now positioned himself behind the group, managing to avoid detection.

'Oh... a fight is really breaking out! Should I help? I really don't want to hurt anyone...' Alexia bit on her nails until she finally made a decision. Aqua jumped into the air, over Tama, and came crashing down with a fist fueled with cryokinetic energy.

Caught off guard, Tama was hit by the attack, getting frozen in place. However, the ice surrounding her was glowing green, and already began to start cracking, albiet slowly. The group had at least a short amount of time before she broke free. The liquid energy was swirling around her feet, crackling with power. With each passing moment, the glow in her eyes intensified.

Alexia looked to Xavis worriedly, the glare that the frozen Tama was giving them starting to send shivers down her spine. She put her hand out to create a giant snowflake about one and a half times her height and three times her width. "Is i-i-it best if we escape, s-sir? I have a means of t-transportation, if s-s-so..." Alexia's nervousness was getting the best of her, and she knew she had two options. 'It's either listen to the man say yes and fly out of here, or hear him say no and whack the woman in the head. That doesn't seem the most kind, however... all of my acts are purely based on assumptions. Does that make me a bad person if I don't know if I'm helping the right side?'

Oishi was getting closer, he looks over at Tama and puts his finger to his mouth, indicating for her to not give away his position. Using the various crates and debri in the warehouse as cover, he hoped to get close enough to take action while they were focused on Tama. However, his window of opportunity was closing fast as the newcomer offered an exit.

Xavis' eyes flickered as he stood up, his body having already replaced most of the Chaos he lost. "Yes... You get the others out of here, we have what we need. I'll stay and deal with her," he said, then thinking to himself, 'This could've been done with by now if I had Destiny with me... Though, maybe...' He began forming an idea.

Alexia nodded as she looked to Jewel. "Excuse me, ma'am, but who else were you calling besides this sir and myself? I personally a-a-apologize if I'm being a bother. S-Sorry in advance..." Aqua rubbed her foot on the ground, feeling especially nervously awkward.

"Mimic, I'm looking for Mimic," Jewel replied, shoving aside some debris. "And no, you're not being a bother. Help me move this rubble. We have to find him before he suffocates."

Alexia nodded again and closed her eyes, trying to focus. She threw the large snowflake in her hand as if it were a shuriken, taking some of rubble off. With the swipe of her hand, the snowflake came back, taking off some more rubble. All with her eyes closed, Aqua did this repeatedly, hoping they'd find this Mimic character.

Jewel watched in admiration. "I never saw a cryokinetic do that before." Then she went back to searching the debris.

Oishi made his move and quickly moved in behind Jewel before ducking back out. He had quickly taken the crystals and replaced them with smaller pieces of rock and metal.

"You two are wasting time!" Xavis yelled his focus on Tama, "Don't worry about him! You have the crystals, just get out of here!"

As if to emphasize his point, the ice around Tama shattered. "Oooh, that was a little chilly~" Tama giggled.

"Fine," Jewel muttered grudgingly. She turned to Alexia and said, "Change of plans. Let's go."

Alexia nodded for the third time at Jewel and threw her snowflake into the air. It levitated before it could hit the ground, and though Alexia hated using it as transportation due to her intense motion sickness, she knew that it was the right thing to do. Aqua hopped up on the vehicle and yelled, "G-G-Get on!"

Jewel hopped in. "Here we go." The snowflake then burst forward when Alexia instructed it to, blasting a hole out of the warehouse (because Alexia didn't know where the exit was).

Xavis watched as the two fled, then turned his attention back to the mint-green echidna. He punched his hand through the container behind him and grabbed onto the hole, grunting as he tore a chunk of the metal out. The material screeched as he quickly bent it into a crude pole-like shape, and then spun it around, wielding it like a weapon.

Tama grinned, but it quickly formed into a grimace. Her aura of power surged, the liquid now covering her legs, with some of it getting on her arms as well. "Can't c-control the power..."

In the corner of Tama's vision, she would see Oishi leave, seeming to leave her to deal with Xavis alone.


Oishi stepped outside and turned the corner. He took a look at the crystals he swipped before. . . shifting? Where Oishi once stood now stood Mimic. He had been disguised as Oishi ever since the roof caved in.

"Well, I got the crystals." He said, matter-of-factly. "Time to leg it out of here while Xavis is dealing with Tammy."

Wait, so you just stole the crystals from your team and left Xavis to deal with a psychic kid on the brink of a full blown tantrum?? Tom asked.

Mimic thought for a moment. "Yeah, pretty much." he replied, running away from the warehouse.

Well, so much for being one of the good guys. Jerry said.

"Hey, I'm doing them a favor by making sure Hyper Division doesn't have the crystals." Mimic said. "I'm sure he'll be fine. Besides, Tama won't trust Oishi after seeing him 'leave'. Having them quarrel with each other could work to our advantage later."

Maybe, but that was still a cheap and cowardly thing to do. Tom scolded.

"I thought you said you weren't my conscience." Mimic retorted. "Besides, fighting head-on isn't really my thing."

But stealing from your friends and leaving them behind is? Jerry asked.

Mimic stopped, not saying anything for a few moments. He took out the crystals and took a close look at them. "Except for Sparky, they're not my 'friends'." Mimic said. "And I'm not 'stealing', I'm. . . keeping these crystals safe. I'll regroup with them later. I'm sure Xavis has it all under control."

Uh-huh. Sure. Tom said.

"No really." Mimic insisted.

Are you really trying to lie to us? Jerry asked. Or just to yourself?

Is there a difference? Tom asked.

Touché. Jerry replied.

"Okay, okay! I'll go back and jump in if things look bad. Happy now?" he asked.

Yep.

Yup.

"Good." Mimic said, turning about-face and returning towards the warehouse. He decided to get on the roof for a better vantage point. He turned his legs into springs and bounced between containers and walls to ascend to the roof, changing his legs back to normal just as he landed.


Meanwhile, back in the warehouse

Xavis grimaced as well. "Let's try to make this quick, then," he said, then erupting fire from his soles and rocketing towards the girl at high speed, attempting to whack her in the head using his makeshift pole, with great strength behind his swing.

Tama raised her hand, and the whitish liquid energy rose to block the pole strike. Upon impact, she shifted backwards, though she still managed to use the energy to keep the pole back. It was clear that she had little control over it, however; energy was sparking from the liquid, arcing to the pole and back again. Xavis landed on his feet and pushed against the it with the pole, trying to overpower the girl's defense.

A voice of some sort seemed to come from nowhere. "Ignore him, Tama. You need to go to the park, and kill Platinum!"

"The... Park. Platinum..." Tama muttered, shaking in her place. "Kill..."

"Yes. Kill Platinum! Kill her now! Go! Do it!" It was distinct from Tama's voice; deeper and much less childlike.

"No!!" Xavis exclaimed, continuing to push against the girl even harder, with the folded metal of the pole beginning to bend out of shape...

Tama grinned. "Yes..." As she continued to push back, she began to rise off the ground. With the ceiling collapsed, there was nothing stopping her from floating right out of the top of the warehouse itself.

'Dammitdammitdammitdammit...' Xavis thought to himself as the girl ascended, clearly unimpeded by his efforts. He started thinking of what he could do that didn't involve direct contact, and an idea came to him. Glaring, he disappeared in a red flash, leaving the pole behind to clatter onto the floor.

"Where did he... Nevermind, the park..." Tama muttered, continuing to slowly float upwards. The voice speaking to her seemed to completely change her disposition. Once she was about halfway up, however, Xavis flew high above her with one of the large, metal containers above his head. He then dropped, bringing the massive, 25 ton box crashing down towards her.

For a moment, there was silence when the box and Tama hit the ground. Caught unaware, it seemed that Tama had gotten crushed without a chance to counter.

Xavis hovered in the air, and for a few seconds, nothing happened.

Suddenly, the container began to glow. Only a moment later, it exploded, revealing what seemed to be a very angry Tama, surrounded by an intense mint green aura. She looked towards Xavis.

"Get out of my way." She growled.

"No." Xavis snarled in return, still hovering above her. Though he put up a ferocious exterior, in his mind, he was panicking. He didn't know what to do against this girl, and he was running out of options. He looked to the one of the golden rings around his wrists. 'No, too much risk, especially if this is anything like--' he thought, but quickly dismissed, rea§ity f7uc$₣ating around him for a second. 'No...'

However, he did notice the energy within her was rising to dangerously high levels, and hoped if he could stall her for long enough, it'd get to a point where her body simply couldn't handle it--but that'd be difficult without getting himself killed. Regardless, he began charging his arms with Chaos.

Out of seemingly nowhere, Oishi silently leaped towards Xavis from behind, in an attempt to tackle him to the ground. He looked slightly bluer than previously, and his wrists were glowing. If Xavis didn't notice, it would feel like a freezing mass slammed into his back.

Xavis screamed in pain and dropped to the floor and onto his knees as Oishi suddenly rammed into him. Anything cold was one of his greatest weaknesses, after all...

"Quick, Tama! Go finish this while I've got him!" Oishi shouted.

With nothing but a quick nod, Tama floated out the top of the building once more, and spent a moment looking around before leaving in a flash.

Meanwhile, Oishi leaped back off of Xavis, and assumed a more casual stance. "Sorry, kid. But this stuff isn't the kind of stuff you should get involved in. I'll let you and your buddies off this time, and so will the rest of us, but don't come getting in our way again, or you're going to regret it. You're in way over your head."

"Says you!!!" Xavis retorted quite angrily, igniting his soles and rocketing away. Several loud crashes could be heard as he slammed through everything in his path, including the outer wall of the building.

"Well, I did warn him." Oishi sighed. "Whatever happens next is on them. I should get back to HQ and report, though; always good to be ready in case Tama somehow fails."

"Which she will, Oyster." Mimic said, suddenly appearing while hanging upside down in front of Oishi.

Oishi was seemingly unfazed by Mimic's sudden appearance, and smirked at him. "I was wondering if you would come back. Make it quick, though; I've got a job to do."

"And what job would that be?" Mimic asked, dropping from where he was hanging and landing right-side-up. "What wonderful half-baked plan is yet another rogue division of G.U.N cooking up this time? And please don't say "world domination" or "creating a utopia". Very cliché."

"You've got a few things wrong, actually." Oishi replied.

"Oh? Do tell." Mimic said.

"First off, we aren't a rogue division. We are our own entity, and abide by the rules that are given to us. And secondly, do you know why world dominion is cliché? Because nobody ever thinks beyond the takeover. Our plans do not entail simply controlling the resources of the world; we work on a slightly... larger scale. That's not what today is about, though." His eyes narrowed. "Right now, we're simply taking out the trash."

"And by trash, you're talking about Platinum?" Mimic asked.

"Among other things, yes." Oishi sighed. "The second she got her hands on those tomes is when we should have terminated her, but getting rid of her now will minimize our losses."

"Harsh. The girl already has amnesia." Mimic said. "But, that doesn't really concern you and your compadres, does it? After all, you'll blow up a mayor and a train-station to get what you want."

"Do you think amnesia will stop her?" Oishi asked. "Heh. You don't realize the favor we're doing you. Take your crystals and go while you have the chance; no good will come of trying to protect that... That monster. As I told your friend, I can get you let off easily if you leave while you still have the chance."

Mimic blinked, remaining silent for several seconds as though he were seriously contemplating this. Then his face shifted into a smirk before he broke out laughing, as though he just heard a really funny joke. Which, to him, what Oishi said probably was just that. He was laughing so hard that he had to lean against a nearby crate for support.

I think he's lost his marbles. Tom said.

I thought he lost them ages ago. Jerry replied.

Oishi raised his eyebrows at Mimic's sudden laughing fit, Tilting his head to the side in confusion.

It took Mimic a few seconds to be able to catch his breath so that he could speak without being interrupted by his own laughter. "What's funny is that you might be a part of Hyper Division, but clearly you're kept on a need-to-know basis. You say HD's plans are on a much "larger scale", but the truth is, you don't really know what HD's end game is, do you?"

Knowing that Mimic spoke the truth, all Oishi could do was scowl in response.

"What's even funnier is everything you just said. I know G.U.N never just let's people 'walk away', especially if they're a potential loose end. Even if you let us leave, the rest of the division won't. They'll come after us, sooner or later. 'Minimizing your losses', as you said." By this time, he was done laughing and able to regain a more serious composure.

"But here's the funniest part," he continued. "Platinum, or Granite, whatever you want to call her, isn't the only "monster" here. I may not know everything she's done, or what the tomes you mentioned are about, but what I do know is what Hyper Division's done. Especially your pal Hikari. He's the kind of person who doesn't care if he destroys someone else's life. He'll do it, not because it's 'necessary', but because he knows he can get away with it and justify himself by pretending it was necessary. You're afraid of what she could do; I'm more worried about what Hikari will do.

"I know the Division is at least involved with, if not behind, the bombings that have happened before Chapter One, especially the Mayor's residence."

Oishi turned away from Mimic. "There's no convincing you, then. Well, I always make a habit to try." He grumbled. "I will neither confirm nor deny what you speak. All I can say is that you and your friends are fighting a foolishly hopeless battle. I know you have the crystals on you, but I won't bother fighting you. Go, join your friends at the park. Do what you must." His fists were clenched, but it was unclear why.

"Well, I wouldn't call them 'friends'." Mimic said. "More like 'aquaintances'; but don't underestimate them. Just because you're a top secret agency doesn't mean you have it in the bag." His tone suggested that he knew something Oishi didn't.

"I'm just along for the ride, to see where this story goes. But I've got a feeling that tells me you have a major part to play in it later on. Oh, and you can have these back." He then takes out the crystals, tossing them towards Oishi. "Won't be needing these. Shoddy craftsmanship never really appealed to me."

Oishi caught them with one hand. "Either you're a good bluffer, or you're crazy. Something tells me this won't be the last time we meet. I can only hope one day it might be on friendlier terms. Now, I must go." A puddle of water formed beneath him, and in a flash, he disappeared into it, the puddle vanishing as well, after a moment.

With Mimic now all alone, or as alone as he'd ever get, Mimic turned around and began walking out of the warehouse.

Wait, "shoddy craftsmanship"? You mean the crystals were fake?? Tom asked.

"Yep," Mimic answered. "This whole thing was a set up."

Did you know that the whole time, or just now put it together? Jerry asked.

"I had my suspicions." Mimic said. "No guards, easy to bypass security measures. The doors weren't locked. In hindsight, it was kind of obvious."

But how did you know the crystals were fake? Tom asked.

"Wait, why are you asking me? You're literally in my head!" Mimic said. "Shouldn't you know what I know?"

Let's chalk it up to someone not having everything thought out. Jerry said.

Mimic shrugged. "Well, call it a hunch. Besides, if Clock-watch can create a fake crystal, who's to say Hyper Division can't as well? Anyway, let's head back to the house."

Shouldn't we help at the park? Tom asked.

"Nah, they've got it." Mimic said. "Besides, I want some of that pizza before it gets cold."

I hope they ordered pineapple! Jerry said.

"We'll snag one on the way there." Mimic reassured the voice in his head.


Alexia sighed and looked at the character behind her.

"O-Okay, miss, could you please explain to me what's going on? All I did was observe that w-woman and her horrible creature... what's the st-story behind all of this? Am I with the heroes? What does the law think about it? S-Sorry for all the questions.... I'll just sh-shut up now..."

"The law isn't exactly on our side, right now. With the exception of Clockwork, anyway," Jewel replied. "And it's fine really. I'd probably ask a lot had I been in your situation. Basically we're trying to stop the Hyper Division from getting their hands on the Symphony Crystals. I have one with me right now."

Alexia closed her eyes for a moment, causing the duo to nearly run into a tree. When Alexia opened her eyes, she was frazzled, and she abruptly turned right in order to dodge it. "Sorry! What are the S-Symphony Crystals, and w-where are we going?" 

"I don't know where we're going," Jewel replied, nearly having a heart attack when they almost crashed. "Is there a map in the glove box? Anyway, the Symphony Crystals are basically some kind of powerful gem. In the wrong hands, they can be dangerous. Which is why Hyper Division can't have them."

Alexia looked back at Jewel with her peripheral vision, and with Jewel's description of the items, one specific set of objects came to mind. "So.... they're s-similar to Chaos Emeralds? I-It would be terrible if an evildoer g-got their hands on those..." Alexia's voice turned into a fusion of bittersweet and deadpan. "But seriously, where are we going?" At this point, the duo was just riding forward.

Overhead, a green streak shot past, heading towards the park. The two would be able to recognize it as the same color of green that Tama's energy was. Alexia didn't bother checking with Jewel for confirmation - she second she saw the streak, she burst forward, now looking like a blue streak across the sky. She was only about a kilometer or two away from it, so she tried to stay on its toes. Alexia sped up, trying to get a better look at it.

The two were almost immediately passed by a flame-like streak of light moving several times their speed.

Jewel saw it. "Is that Xavis...? Or someone else?" She stood up on her seat and called to the streak, "Hey! Hey!" It probably didn't hear her, though, due to its speed. Alexia held in a bit of puke before speeding up, freezing the vomit inside of her mouth and throwing it up in the air, hoping it wouldn't hit anyone.

"L-Let's go faster!" Alexia said, speeding up even more. "I-Is that okay with you?"

Jewel nodded, watching as puke flew past her. "Go as fast as you can." Alexia nodded and burst in an explosion of speed, making them look like a white and blue blur.

Jewel noticed just now how light her pocket felt. As she sat back down, she felt around in her pocket to be sure. "Damnation! Someone pickpocketed the Symphony Crystal from me!"

The Battle at the Park

A lot of things happened all at once. As Reens and Splice rushed towards Hikari, he stepped back for a moment, before returning to his signature smug smirk. "You think that you can get the drop on me that easily?" He asked, tilting his head to the side. As they moved close enough to strike, he seemingly vanished into thin air, reappearing alongside Fuwa. Kiko had also managed to make his way over there, without making a single sound.

"The real fight begins now!" Fuwa roared, powering up his aura. Him, as well as the two agents, all entered fighting stances. The area around them mysteriously got about ten degrees colder all of a sudden, with the creeping feeling of a hidden presence.

As Splice reached the apex of his jump, he swung his arm and fired a stream of sharp icicles down on the battlefield. They continued to rain down on his foes until he was close to the ground. Once he landed, his left hand burst into flames; he held it behind him as he prepared for his next move.

Reens readied her plasma cannon and fired a series of short bursts of energy, followed by a single large burst of energy. She also allowed the vortex to turn onto its side, sort of like a hurricane. She pushed both hands out in front of her, making sure she pressed as hard as she could. Jumping back, she fidgeted on her feet.

Melissa had summoned shadowy tendrils from the darkness enveloping the group, and attempted to slash and/or impale her opponents with them. They'd be difficult to see, as the area continued getting darker, and could come from almost any direction. The bird herself was completely monochrome, with everything in the area not too far behind.

The three agents each made their way through the barrage in different ways. Fuwa opted to simply expel his own energy to make a barrier whenever an attack got close, Kiko practically danced around the various icicles and energy blasts, and Hikari dashed forwards, seemingly vanishing and reappearing somewhere else whenever an attack got close to him. As they made their way towards the group, each moved to attack a different person: Fuwa dashing towards Smash, readying an energy blast, Hikari running towards Reens with a punch ready, and Kiko attempting to jump kick Static.

"Get ready, you guys! They're gonna hit us head on!" Reens grunted as she tried blocking the punch with one of her own, using her robotic arm as leverage. She then ducked another punch and lifted her right leg, attempting to kick Hikari in the head. "Is that all you have? Punches and kicks? 'Cause if it is you're not making this very fun for me."

Just as Kiko began to breeze by him, Splice turned and thrust his palm forward, unleashing a burst of flames that would blast him off course. His other hand began to catch fire as well.

Meanwhile, Smash beckoned his opponent, gesturing him to "bring it". He could see the energy Fuwa was building up and braced himself for whatever kind of blast he was going up against. He slid his left leg back slightly, getting in position. He was waiting for the right moment to make his move.

Taking advantage of Splice knocking Kiko off course, Static quickly cracks his whip at the fox, wrapping the end around one of his ankles. Static would then send a pulsing electric current through it to shock Kiko while slamming him into the ground. He would then fire a bolt of lightning at Fuwa, hopefully stunning him and create an opening for Smash.

As Reens began to kick Hikari, he grinned. Her foot would end up meeting nothing but air, and Hikari seemingly disappeared upon contact.

"Behind you." Hikari aimed a kick at the center of Reens's back, but before he could hit her, Platinum leaped towards him with a punch, Hikari quickly moving backwards to avoid it.

"Not on my watch, buster!" Still blue-quilled, Platinum followed up by shooting a whiteish energy ball at him, similar to the energy of the crystal. "I think I remember now. About his powers. He can manipulate light, so he can make illusions, as well as turn invisible. But if we stay back to back, he can't get the drop on us!"

Although Kiko was knocked off course by the fire, he seemed to not have been greatly harmed by it. Upon being hit with the electricity he winced in pain, freezing in place for a moment. However, he managed to break out. It was almost like the whip moved by itself. Deciding not to strike yet, Kiko returned to a fighting stance.

Fuwa grinned when Smash beckoned him, placing his palm out. Before he could fire, Static's attack hit him, which did knock him to the side, but seemingly unaffected and annoyed.

"You can all try to hurt me, but you cannot win. Give up before it's too late!" He roared, as a beam of energy shot towards Smash, though it was moreso an unstable mass of color than a straight beam.

"Right," Reens agreed with Platinum. "Thanks for the save!" She readied another series of short energy blasts, followed by a larger blast of energy. "Smash, look out!" She had just noticed the large, unstable mass of color. "Damn, my scanner's going nuts! Do you think they could be using some of the crystals they already have?"

Hikari took advantage of Reens' temporary distraction, dashing towards Melissa. His expression was somewhat strained, as although he disappeared and reappeared when stray attacks flew by, it was moreso a flicker than him actually disappearing.

Well, it would have been an unstable mass of color, if only there was any color left. It was more a mass of white and light-gray light at this point, but it would likely function the same as normal.

While Smash was confident that he could dodge with a mere step to the side, a wall of darkness rose up between him and Fuwa's attack, shielding the echidna from harm. That same wall then began moving towards the abomination of a hedgehog at great speed, and would hit with the force of a truck if it collided. Smash considered chasing after the wall for a follow-up strike, but he held his ground; he intended to observe and learn what his enemy was capable of.

The impact of the wall seemingly destroyed Fuwa, liquefying his entire body. However, the flecks of liquid slowly clumped back together, before fully re-forming into a solid being. He seemed a little bit injured, and a lotta bit angry. Silently, he gathered energy in both of his hands.

"Smash can handle himself for now; focus on the enemy in front!" Splice reminded Reens, placing both of his palms in front of him. Switching back to the icy aura, he suddenly began rapid-firing sharp icicles at Kiko like a minigun.

Reens nodded again. "Right!" She pulled out her sword from the sheath at her side and crossed her arms, slashing an X-shape into the air. She followed that with forming multiple orbs of water and blasting them in the enemies' direction. I just hope the guys at the warehouse and the other building are having good luck with their missions...

Kiko smirked, and seemed to barely move, yet dodge the onslaught of icicles, opting to walk and bend over to get out of the way of the projectiles shooting towards him. On close examination, it seemed that anything that got close to grazing him simply was diverted around him. As he continued to dodge, he grabbed two of the icicles straight out of the air, using them to block the spheres of water, before throwing one at Reens and one at Splice himself, both moving at significantly fast speeds.

Meanwhile, Hikari had gotten close to Melissa, and once he could see her directly, he created a large beam of light and pointed it at her, in an attempt to blind her.

Melissa screamed as she was hit with the blinding light, and the darkness surrounding the area and draining it's color almost instantly disappeared as the avian princess fell to her knees, clutching at her eyes.

Static turned upon hearing Melissa scream to see the princess drop, with Hikari ready to follow up with an attack. Without thinking, Static dashed forward towards Melissa's assailant, slamming into Hikari before he knew what hit him. Despite the distance, Static covered ground almost instantly, like a bolt of lightning, sending both Hikari and himself tumbling several meters from the momentum.

Smash had barely managed to catch wind of what just happened. But Melissa was on her knees, and Static had his hands full. He took a step in her direction, but quickly stopped himself as he noticed the energy building up in Fuwa's hands. "...Platinum, take care of Melissa!" He said hurriedly, keeping his eyes on the angry mess of a man.

"Gotcha!" The now red-quilled echidna said, dashing towards Melissa. "Geez, that was pretty intense. Don't worry, though; I'll keep ya safe until you're back up and at 'em."

"I... I can't..." the avian huffed as she grabbed hold of Platinum. "I can't see..."

Meanwhile, Hikari had just vanished from underneath Static only about a foot away. He was just getting up off the ground, however, and certainly looked quite angry about being hit by Static's attack. Brushing some grass and dirt off his suit and gloves, he returned to a fighting stance.

As soon as Splice saw him catch his icicles, he stopped firing and gave a startled grunt. Now concentrating on the ice in Kiko's hands, Splice kept his hands raised until the two projectiles came back towards them. The ice suddenly exploded into twinkling little particles, evaporating before they came in contact with anything.

"Damn, can't even hit him," Reens mumbled to herself. Then, she created a bubble around herself, shielding her from other attacks for a short while.

"This guy's starting to tick me off!" Splice growled. He then placed his fingers together in front of him as a swirling red aura formed between his hands. "This oughta show em..." After a couple seconds, a large icicle formed in his hands, concealing the red aura inside. "You like playin' catch? Go long!" Splice then hurled the icicle at Kiko like a football.

Fuwa madly grinned at Smash. "It looks like you've run out of other people to defend you... Let's see how you can handle this!" He dashed straight towards him, firing balls of colorful energy from his hands.

"I still got one person left." The echidna quipped as he got back into position. Swaying back and forth, Smash dodged each energy ball with relative ease until he made it to melee range. Just as Fuwa closed in on him, Smash rose his leg and let loose with several kicks in rapid succession to keep him at bay.

Seeing the enormous icicle heading towards him, Kiko quickly placed his hands on the ground before leaping straight towards the icicle. However, he was going slightly above, seemingly sliding across the top of it. "Just give up, and let us take the girl. There is no possibility of--" Suddenly, the icicle burst into steam and flames under him, launching him upward.

"No possibility of what, now?" Splice asked with a cocky grin, twirling a fireball on his fingertip as Kiko hit the ground. "You still think you've already won, don'tcha?"

Reens smirked. "Oh, you'd think so wouldn't you? Well let me remind you that the world is full of endless possibilities!" Crouching down, she coated herself in water and shot herself forward at Kiko, the bubble dissipating. "Take this!"

The assault from Smash pushed Fuwa back, though he seemed mostly unharmed. Growling, he rushed with incredible speed back at Smash, attempting to punch him. It would be clear that although Fuwa posessed an enormous amount of power, his fighting skill was unpolished and sloppy.

The punch was almost too fast for Smash to dodge; he could feel the sting of Fuwa's fist grazing past his cheek as he swiftly ducked to the side. He quickly noted how the mad scientist threw his whole weight into the punch, throwing off his own balance in the process; he was wide open. Smash stood back up to grab his extended arm, and proceeded to hurl Fuwa over his shoulder and slam him against the ground.

A mildly frustrated expression on his face, Kiko pulled himself back up. As he rolled down his suit's sleeves, Splice would notice a familiar design around both of his wrists. The dirt and grime on his suit seemed to fall off of it by itself, and Kiko regained his composure.

"What the--He's got Elemental Rings..!?" Splice lurched back in shock, though speaking more to himself than anyone. "And going by the color, those must be--"

"I don't think you understand." He said. "There really is no possibility of your victory. Give up!" With his shout, he extended his arm towards him, and powerful winds began to blow towards Splice and Reens. "Our powers and skills are unrivaled! The only possible outcome of this fight is our inevitable victory."

"Reens, get behind me and hold on tight!" Splice ordered as he crouched down low. Ice began to spread over his feet and the ground around him as he tried to keep himself grounded by freezing himself to it. It only took a second for the cold winds to reach them. He shielded his eyes with one hand and drove an ice spike into the ground next to him for further support.

"Gyaah!" Reens unrolled, ran to Splice, and jumped onto him, hanging on as tightly as she could to Splice's back without hurting him. "Splice, what the heck is going on?!?" Her answer came as the freezing winds blew over them both. "I s-should have w-worn a j-jacket..."

Static quickly glanced over to see Reens and Splice pinned down by Kiko. 

They need help! He thought urgently But what's-his-name's just gonna teleport again and cut me off! Then he gets an idea. Unless. . .

Static extended an arm at each opponent and let forth a bolt of lightning at Hikari and Kiko. The lightning bolt, as expected, would reach it's target almost immediately and inflict a massive shock and knock the target off their feet if it connected. Hikari might evade it preemptively, but Kiko would likely not since he was focused on the two hedgehogs.

As predicted, Hikari flash-stepped away from the bolt, launching himself at Static the moment after. His fist was curled, and he threw a punch directly at Static's chest.

Meanwhile, Kiko didn't have a moment to react to the lightning, the attack startling him out of stopping the winds. "Urgh... That kid packs a punch." He regained his composure, albiet looking slightly scorched. "But it's nothing I can't handle." He decided to wait for the next move of his opponents, needing a moment to catch his breath.

Platinum gave Melissa a pat on the back. "Just take it easy for now. The battle isn't focused over here, so you can rest up for the time being."

"A-alright," Melissa replied, her breathing still a little hard. "Thank you..."

The slam made Fuwa grimace in pain. He was about to fire a ball of energy at Smash in retaliation, but noticed the fight happening by Kiko, and had an idea. "DODGE THIS!" He roared, firing an energy ball directly at Splice and Reens, hoping that they wouldn't have the chance to dodge.

The moment Smash realized he wasn't aiming for him startled him more than how fast he managed to get that attack out. But his loud shouting was enough to catch the attention of the two he was aiming at. As such, Smash quickly returned his own attention back to Fuwa and cocked his fist back, "Eyes up here, slimeball!" He said as he aimed a crushing blow towards his chest.

Lifting her head, Reens saw the energy ball heading at her and Splice. Thinking fast, she got off of Splice's back and formed a barrier again, this time with two orbs instead of the one. I don't know how long I can hold this, she thought, but maybe I can keep it back just long enough for Splice to come up with something.

The energy blast didn't last long against Reens' barrier; it kind of splattered rather than dissipating. "Ol' clayface tried to get the jump on us, huh?" Splice muttered loud enough for her to hear. "If they keep dropping their guards to change targets, we can take advantage of them. But keep your guard up for surprise attacks!" With that, Splice swiftly made his way over to Kiko with ice power building up in his hands. 'I gotta get in close if wanna have any chance of taking this guy out!'

After a moment, Kiko had recovered from the shock, and noticed Splice rushing at him. He decided to run towards him as well, but when he started to get close, he dropped his run into a slide, using wind to propel himself forwards in an attempt to slide kick Splice.

As Kiko slid towards him, Splice leapt over him. He aimed a blast of frosty mist downward; there was no time to form any physical ice to attack with, but the wave of subzero fog would have frozen him solid if Kiko had been any slower. He would still be unbearably cold after passing through it.

Static's pupils shrunk upon seeing Hikari quickly teleport and charge at him. "Yikes!" he yelped, quickly flipping over Hikari with a vault, narrowly avoiding the punch. He would then quickly orient himself so he could use the back of Hikari's head as a springboard, launching himself further away from Hikari while hopefully knocking Hikari face-first into the dirt. He would then quickly re-orient himself so he could land in a crouched position, with both feet and one hand on the ground, ready to jump into action or out of the way of an attack.

"Some elite division you are!" he spat. "You're supposed to protect people, and yet you're blowing up buildings for some stupid crystals?! You're hurting the very people you swore to protect!"

Reens nodded and kept the barrier up, thankful that it held. She looked around at the other combatants on the battlefield and walked slowly, making sure to keep alert. Her ears twitched back and forth, noting Static's comment. "Yeah, why do they want those crystals so badly?" she asked herself. "I hope Xavis and the others are hurrying, 'cause we may be in for something huge..."

Hikari seemed to not budge from being kicked in the back of the head whatsoever, turning around towards Static. "Hmph. You're the ones making this so difficult. Hand over the girl and the crystal, and we'll leave you be. We'll even let your friends off the hook for breaking into government property." His gaze turned towards Platinum, who was still kneeling next to Melissa.

Meanwhile, Fuwa was recovering from Smash's punch. It seemed as if the guy just didn't stop getting back up, no matter what. However, it seemed like each blow was slowly chipping away at his stability, seeing as his face got more and more deranged with each re-form. "Just give the girl to me." He calmly said, despite his maniacal appearance.. "And I won't destroy you all."

"No." Smash responded flatly as he aimed yet another crushing blow towards him. He could tell he was doing damage but he was weary of the scientist's sanity. He couldn't let up on someone like this: If given the opportunity, Fuwa could prove to be the most dangerous person on the field. And he was clearly starting to lose it. That's why he had to take him down, right now.

"Why do you want her so badly?" Reens asked out loud, letting down her guard for a minute. "This whole time we've been fighting all you've thought about are the crystals and Platinum. You're supposed to protect everyone but you're focusing efforts on one person! If she's so bad, why is she fighting to do the same thing you're supposed to do?"

"You seriously think we can talk to these guys; tight-lipped rogue military units and a melting mad scientist!?" Smash exclaimed impatiently, "Let's just take them out already! We can ask questions later!"

Reens smirked. "That's what we're counting on, right? Talk them down enough to distract them, then take them out!" She put her guard back up, perking her ears for any attacks.

"I'm at least willing to try!" Static said to Smash before turning to Kiko and Hikari. "What you're doing isn't just terrorism, it's betrayal! You guys took an oath to protect people, and here you are blowing up the city and hurting them for these crystals?! You might just be "following orders", but it's the people you swore to protect that you ultimately answer to!"

Hearing this, Melissa's anger began to grow. She could feel her powers returning to her, slowly.

"You can't possibly comprehend our motives, idiot." Hikari grumbled, folding his arms.

"You already told us your motive; you want control!" Static countered. "You want to control others and make things run your way. And given the fact your'e willing to sacrifice innocent lives to gain control, you're no better than people like Dr. Eggman!"

"Enough! If you really refuse to submit, then you leave us no choice. Prepare to die, fools!" Upon finishing this statement, he began to power himself up, being surrounded in a flamelike aura.

As he was powering up, however, Kiko rushed towards him from the back, aiming a jump kick directly at the back of Hikari's head. He couldn't even notice Kiko coming due to his aura blazing around him.

Static had braced himself for Hikari's attack, but then saw Kiko attempting to attack Hikari. Looks like trying to reason with them did pay off!

The blow hit home- that is, the one Smash launched at Fuwa. He had reformed just in time to see Kiko's sneak attack, and was currently too weak to do anything about it. "Hmph. So we have a little traitor on our hands, hm?" He grumbled, simultaneously preparing an energy blast to fire at Smash, which took only a few seconds to charge and fire.

Time seemed to slow as Kiko was about to collide with Hikari. Before he could make contact, though, two mint-green orbs descended from the sky, one hitting Kiko, the other Hikari. Kiko froze in place, falling on the ground. After a moment, he got up. The two stood facing the group, their eyes now lacking irises and pupils, and they both now had mint-green auras around them. "Destroy Platinum. Get the crystal." Their voices simultaneously sounded, now more akin to an echo than an actual voice.

"What the--...!?" Splice stared in disbelief.

The orange cat's relief quickly turned to disbelief upon seeing Hikari and Kiko affected by the green orbs, transforming them into what essentially looked like mind-controlled puppets.

"Wha- Aw, come on!! Seriously?!" Static shouted in a mix of frustration and surprise.

"Uh, okay, didn't see that coming," Reens replied. "Can we take them out now?" She powered up her cannon and aimed it at the two of them.

"Yes. Very Yes!" Splice cried out, aiming his palm at Hikari to fire more icicles at him.

Meanwhile, Smash had just barely dodged the blast after almost being distracted by Fuwa's words. The blast just grazed his cheek, leaving a burn mark in its wake. It was only after dodging it that he noticed the two green orbs, and immediately turned his back on Fuwa. The next few moments nearly floored Smash. "What just--" Before he finished, he remembered what he was doing and turned back to face Fuwa again.

Fuwa immediately took advantage of the distraction, rushing towards Smash in an attempt to punch him directly in the gut. If it landed, he would follow it up with a small blast of energy from his other hand to knock Smash away, and deal some extra damage.

Smash barely had time to react, but was fortunately able to block the initial blow with his arms--which left him helpless against the energy blast that came next. Smash was sent hurtling a few feet away, but quickly regained his footing. Wiping his mouth with his sleeve, he felt his chest with his other hand to assess the damage. It stung badly, but not as badly as he had feared. Now that he had some distance he could afford a chance to catch a quick glimpse at their situation. It was...not looking good, to say the least. "I've got a bad feeling about this."

Reens breathed in and out slowly before releasing the pent-up energy blast she had been holding in her cannon. She followed it up with as much water as she could throw at them, using some of Splice's melted icicles as ammo. "You keep dealing with Mr. Inky! We've got these two!" She yelled behind her to Smash, coating both her longsword and herself in water and crouching into a spin-dash, ready to launch herself towards them.

Hikari simply grinned at the icicles being shot at him. Getting into a fighting stance, an aura of green fire surrounded him, melting the icicles away into harmless water, which seemed to quickly evaporate from the intense heat of the fire. "Get out of our way." Hikari growled, firing a jet of green flame at Splice in response.

The color was what startled him more. Despite being a fire user himself, Splice opted to dodge the flames than take it head on. As he did, he began to move closer and counter with his own jet of more natural fire. "Be careful, guys! I don't like the looks of these changes!"

Meanwhile, Kiko dealt with the energy blast from Reens, matching it with a beam of mint-green energy. Although it held it off, it seemed like he was slowly but surely losing ground on her blast, it being stronger by enough to make a difference.

"Will you be alright alone for now?" Platinum asked Melissa. "From the way things look, our pals are probably going to need some help dealing with these guys. I don't know what happened, but I can just feel that they're way stronger than they were when we first started fighting them!"

"You may be right, but you're the one they want! You can't just give yourself to them!" the avian retorted, standing herself up shakily. "Let me help them. You get out of here." She was clearly in no condition to fight.

Smash stamped his foot down in front of him, confronting Fuwa once more. "What the crap happened to them!?" He demanded to know, "What was that green light!?"

Fuwa folded his arms and smirked at Smash. "They're being controlled by someone with impressive power over soul energy, there's no mistaking it. You've already lost!" He shouted, pointing at Smash and sending a flurry of small energy balls at him. "You can't keep up with our endless stamina!"

Squeezing her eyes shut, Reens revved up and launched herself towards Hikari and Kiko, her longsword pointed in front of her. When she hit them, she would unroll and slash at the two of them with it. By doing so, she hoped to buy some more time.

Hikari was taken by surprise, barely jumping out of the way in time, but still ended up getting a small tear in his suit. Frustrated, he silently began forming a ball of green fire in his hands.

Kiko, on the other hand, materialized a blade out of the minty energy, clashing against Reens's sword. "Against our absolute power, your attacks are nothing. Give up!"

Platinum looked at the scene unfolding, then back to Melissa. "You should stay out of the fray; if you overexert yourself you could seriously get hurt!" Her quills shifted to blue. "Just leave it to me, 'kay?" And with that, she dashed towards Fuwa.

"Alright," Melissa said, sitting down to regain her strength.

With Hikari's guard seemingly unfocused on him, Splice made a swift attempt to flank him. Finally drawing his twin daggers from his belt, he aimed to slash him in the back.

The daggers cut through the fabric, but would hit what appeared to be a strip of mirror running down the center of the suit's back. Seemingly unfazed, Hikari turned his head to look at Splice over his shoulder. Grinning, the strip began to glow mint-green, and after a moment, would release a blast of energy.

Splice's body reacted before he even had time to think; his legs hurled him backwards, but not quite fast enough to avoid the blast. By the time his mind caught up to what just happened, he was lying face first on the ground. "Ugh...What in the...!?" He shook his head, gathering his bearings. "What was that?"

Smash ducked low, quickly weaving and dodging around the energy balls as he made his way back towards Fuwa. Since there were so many, he couldn't avoid all of them and took a few blows, but his vital points were mostly guarded by his arms as he brushed off the pain.

"This is an excercise in futility." Fuwa growled. Stomping the ground, he caused several pillars of multicolor energy to erupt from the ground all around him. "You can't evade my attacks forever! All it will take is one good hit, and you'll be done for!"

"Oh, geez!" Platinum gasped, barely stopping herself from running into one of the pillars. Spotting Smash in front of Fuwa, and a pillar between them both, she tried to signal to him. It was a look that more or less said, you keep him occupied, and I'll hit him from behind. Smash nodded back to her, getting the basic gist of the message.

Reens smirked, bearing down on Kiko with her own blade. "You think your power is absolute? You could barely touch most of us without that little boost you're getting. I think maybe your leader should have a little chat with you about 'ultimate power'. Believe me, I've seen better!"

Static finally got over the initial shock and took action. If they were being controlled, as Fuwa put it, then maybe they could break that control? At least, maybe Kiko could, as it was clear Hikari wouldn't listen. But Smash seemed like he could use the help.

Deciding it might be worth it to try to do both at the same time, Static manages to flank Kiko from the side, since his focus was entirely on Reens. With a flick of his whip, he grabs hold of the fox's ankle and pulses out a strong electric shock to stun the fox before quickly dashing towards Fuwa, pulling the stunned Kiko off his feet and dragging him along the ground at high-speed. Static then does a backflip just before reaching Fuwa, allowing Kiko to tumble towards the doctor like a furry bowling ball. Given Fuwa's focus on Smash, he might not see it coming until it was too late.

Kiko careened towards Fuwa, but stopped himself from colliding with the scientist with a gust of wind, leaving him a few feet away. He stood still, wary of Static's movements.

Landing back on his feet, Static cautiously approaches Kiko. "Kiko, if you can hear me, you have to fight whatever it is that's controlling you!" he said, trying to catch his breath.

"Resistance is useless." Kiko growled. He stepped forward a moment, but seemed to hesitate before launching a powerful gust of wind directly at Static.

Splice rushed back toward Hikari again, now expecting him to be more alert. 'That was some tough glass under his clothes...some kind of armor?' He wondered. 'It was like a mirror or something...and it shot a beam? He's got some kind of secret weapon under there; I gotta figure out how it works!' Once he reached Hikari, Splice lashed out with many quick, yet precise slashes and swipes with his knives.

Hikari managed to dodge most of the slashes, though the front of his suit was quite cut up from the slices made towards him. It seemed like he was disappearing and reappearing whenever Splice's blades looked like they were about to make contact. Suddenly, he disappeared from Splice's view entirely, having moved behind him somehow. Only a few seconds later, he fired a bolt of green fire at Splice.

Splice, having expected something like this given his movements (as well as being reminded of his battle with Max some hours earlier,) sprung upward and above the flames, twirling gracefully before coming down with a powerful vertical slash, putting the whole weight of his body into the attack.

Smash continued his pursuit, swiftly maneuvering past the pillars of energy to make his way towards Fuwa. "You can slow me down, but you won't stop me!" Smash called out, clearing the last pillar separating him from his adversary. "Gimmie your best shot; you won't beat me with anything less!" He goaded, preparing himself for Fuwa's next move.

"You think you're strong, huh?" Fuwa asked. "It's over! I'll erase you!" In his hands was a large ball of multicolor energy. He was about to shoot it, but Platinum had stealthily gotten behind him, and struck him in the back with an energy-charged palm strike. "Wha-" Fuwa choked, unable to finish speaking before the force of the blow sent him flying towards Smash.

"Not today, doc!" Platinum quipped. Concentrating, she began to surround herself in a purple glow. "Alright! Let's finish this now, Smash!"

Smash reeled his fist back, seemingly moving in slow motion as he prepared to punch him. His body began to emit a faint, sky-blue glow as his hair flowed against the wind. "You're finished. Spirit..." Once Fuwa was in range, suddenly Smash broke out a lightning fast punch exploding with energy. An intense aura surrounded his body as he jumped into his High Tension state. "Blast!" He shouted. His fist would release a powerful energy burst on contact; one that even Fuwa would struggle to reform from.

Static tries to brace himself for the incoming attack. Moving around quickly was starting to wear him out. Unlike the others, he didn't have very good endurance.

"Hey, furball!" Reens jumped in front of Static and formed a bubble shield around the two of them, blocking Kiko's winds. "We weren't done chatting yet, were we?" She turned her head to Static and gave him a grateful look. "Thanks for keeping him busy."

"Doing my best to help." Static replied, responding with his own look of gratitude. He took this time to try to catch his breath. "Before he went...whatever he is now, he was about to attack What's-his-name. I know I can get through to him, but not while he's like this." he glanced between Kiko, Hikari, and Fuwa. "I don't know how much longer I can keep going," he added.

Glaring at the barrier, Kiko used his other hand to fire balls of minty energy at Reens' shield. His hesitations from before seemed to be weaker, and he was attacking with less remorse.

Reens grit her teeth and strained, trying to keep the barrier up. "You just sit tight and rest for a minute, okay? I'll keep up this shield until he tires out or until it breaks." She turned her head just in time to see Smash kicking the crud out of Fuwa, and smiled. "Smash's already taking care of one of those goons."

The force of the blast sent Fuwa flying back towards Platinum, completely helpless. In her right hand, she gathered what appeared to be orange energy. "This is it- the finishing blow!" When Fuwa was about to collide with her, she hit him with a powerful uppercut, her whole arm cloaked in an orange aura. "Rocket Uppercut!" Fuwa was sent flying into the air, seemingly de-forming and disappearing. Platinum sighed in relief, her purple glow now gone. "Now we just have these two jokers to deal with."

Just as suddenly as it appeared, the aura around Smash vanished and his hair and fur returned to its normal deep blue hue. "Let's hurry up and finish this before we have the chance to learn whether or not he can pull himself back together."

"Got it," Platinum replied. Her quills shifted back to their half-and-half style, but she still held a fighting stance. "Let's each go after one of these two. You go for Kiko, and I'll get Hikari. That sound good?"

Meanwhile, Hikari had seen Splice's leap, and raised his right arm in defense. Again, his strike was blocked by a strip of mirror running along the crease of the suit's arm. "You're finished. The battle is already lost." With the same green glow as before, the strip emitted a blast of green energy only moments later.

Those moments were all Splice needed to counter with his own blast of bright red flames from his arms. The two attacks clashed instantly, resulting in a small explosion between them. Splice was hurled backward through the air, but managed to land back on his feet. "Not yet!" He exclaimed, returning to his battle stance, "It's still on!"

Hikari rushed towards Splice as he was hurled backwards, so that he was already up close as he landed. Growling, Hikari threw a right hook cloaked in energy. His punch was met with the broad sides of Splice daggers, crossed in front of him for defense. The burst of green energy pushed Splice back slightly, but he held his ground.  "Give up already. Resistance is futi—"

"Shut up!" Splice yelled back, aiming a kick directly for Hikari's unguarded gut. Even if he managed to block it, Splice would shove him backward with all the strength in his leg to separate the two.

After a few moments, Static was back on his feet. "Alright, I think I got my second wind." Static said. "Should be enough to finish this fight." He thinks for a moment, trying to develop a somewhat decent plan. "Let me know when you're about to lower the bubble," he adds to Reens.

Reens nodded and smirked. "Okay, I'm lowering the bubble now!" she shouted, lowering it and readying another plasma blast, which she aimed squarely at Kiko. "Have another taste of plasma, why don't ya?!"

Swiftly dodging to the side, Kiko fired another beam of energy. "If this keeps up, the sixth must be called. Give up while survival is still a possibility."

As soon as the bubble was lowered, Static made a beeline towards the side, aiming to get to a park lamppost. Upon reaching it, he placed his hand on it. Electricity started surging out of the lamppost and into the orange cat. The lights in the park would start to dim and flicker as Static drained the local power grid. "Just a little pick-me-up." Static said.

Suddenly the area started getting even darker, beyond what Static was doing. The air around Hikari and Kiko seemed to start getting denser and tighter. "Survival!? From what I understand you're just going to kill us all no matter what! We're fighting for our survival! For everyone's survival!" Melissa yelled, standing on her feet and glaring with completely black eyes.

Reens dodged the energy Kiko threw at her, then frowned as the darkness slowly kicked in. "Uh, Melissa? Not to sound like a moron, but how are we supposed to see what we're gonna be doing?" She looked over at Static. "Unless you have the same capability as a light-bulb."

Smash on the other hand, took this opportunity to make his way behind Kiko. He knew exactly where he was before she 'turned the lights out' on them all, and as luck would have it the green energy Kiko was manipulating was still fainltly visible through the darkness. All he needed was a clear shot at the back of his head, and he could potentially finish him right then and there...

It seemed that he was open. Despite the darkness, Kiko was unfazed, only turning towards Melissa to look at her warily. The avian couldn't see him, but she knew he was looking at her. Her glare deepened.

Hikari, on the other hand, was startled by the sudden loss of light. Briefly distracted, he was unable to block Splice's kick, and got knocked back a few feet. After shortly groaning, he fired a beam of green energy towards Splice.

Before it was even halfway there, however, Platinum rushed past, knocking it aside with a fist cloaked in energy. "It's two-on-one now! Let's show this guy what the real hopeless battle is, eh?" She said, turning to give Splice a thumbs-up.

"You got it!" Splice called back, already breaking out into a sprint. With his hands and blades ablaze, he leaped over her head performing several somersaults until he himself was engulfed by the fire. "Here we go!" He exclaimed, just before landing almost right in front of Hikari. As his feet touched the ground, he stabbed his daggers into the dirt before the enemy. The fire seemed to dissipate almost immediately as he yelled, "Finishing Flames!" Suddenly, the ground beneath Hikari's feet would erupt into a flaming pillar with explosive force. The fire burned tall and bright enough to illuminate most of the battlefield around them.

Caught off guard, Hikari could only take a single step back before the pillar erupted in front of him. The force of it knocked him back, leaving him briefly on his back, albiet behind the pillar. However, the fire itself seemed to only deal a little bit of damage to him. Taking a moment to catch his breath, Hikari got back up and lunged towards Splice, fist at the ready, opting to leap through the pillar of flames in an attempt to catch him off guard.

Her eyes adjusting to the illuminated battlefield, Reens looked over to Kiko, who was being set upon by Smash, and Hikari, who was being pummeled by Splice and Platinum. 'So... what the heck do I do now?' she asked herself, raising up a small wall of water for protection. Then she got an idea. With a smirk, Reens threw the wall of water at Kiko, distracting him long enough to slam him back in Smash's direction.

Kiko's ears twitched as the wall was sent towards him, and he quickly turned to face it. Placing both his hands out in front of him, he held back the attack with a wind barrier of some sort. However, his back was now to Smash, and it seemed that holding the wave back was taking most of his effort.

Static finished absorbing electricity from the local powergrid and turned back to face the fight. Electricity crackled and surged along his body, casting him and his surrounding area in an electric blue glow. He could just see Smash attempt to sneak up on Kiko in the darkness, and decided to wait before making a move.

The knuckles in his right hand cracked as he clenched his fist, still creeping up behind his foe. Smash now stood at least a foot behind him, and began to reel back as he gathered all his strength. He couldn't ask for an opportunity greater than this. He glanced over at Static, giving him a silent thumbs up with his free hand, before focusing back on Kiko. 'If this doesn't do the trick, whatever comes next definitely will!' In the next moment Smash hurled his whole body forward, sending his fist crashing into the back of Kiko's skull. On impact, Smash would activate his High Tension state with explosive force, giving extra power to his attack.

Again, Kiko's ears appeared to twitch as Smash threw his punch towards him, and whirled around to try and block the punch with his right hand, his left still holding back the water. His suit hissed, and Kiko began to glow a darker mint-green, and the combination of the pressurized air and green energy allowed him to just barely stop the punch. It was still a close call, though; Smash's fist was only millimeters from his face, and at this point he was practically stuck in place.

Meanwhile, Splice took the punch head on and was hurled onto his back; his daggers left half buried in the dirt. The fire died down, and so did the light in the area. Reacting quickly, Splice coiled up his legs and tried to kick Hikari off of him.

Splice's kick knocked Hikari back, though he managed to regain his balance. But just as he got up, Platinum was already rushing towards him, ready to strike. Her fist was about to make contact with his face, but Hikari disappeared, reappearing behind her to throw a chop to the back of her neck. Instinctively, Platinum dodged, and got back into a fighting stance, as did Hikari.

Reens stood still, her quills flared and fists coated in water. She was grateful for Static's luminescence, but was still slightly confused as to what she could do, as Hikari and Kiko were being taken care of by her allies. Gosh, I really hope everyone else is doing okay, she thought. Xavis and Max and Transford and Jewel and Clock-Watch and Mimic... She took a moment to throw up a silent prayer.

Seeing Kiko struggling to block both Smash and Reens' attacks, Static decided to make his move. He began to run forward, aiming to hit him with a head-on electrical attack. Time seemed to slow down for the orange cat as he dashed forward at high speed. But about halfway there, a thought occurred to him.

Wait, if I hit him head-on,that wall of water will break through. And I'll be caught in the middle with him! he realized. Or I'll knock both of us out of the way and it'll hit the other guy! He was about to stop running when he realized something else: I can't slow down either; I'm moving too quickly!

Somewhat panicking, Static tried to think of something else. I can't change my direction, I'm too close! Unless. . . he had an idea. Just before reaching Kiko, Static leapt into the air, using his electricity to ignite the ground under his feet for extra launching power. Once above Kiko, he quickly angled himself and fired a single bolt of lightning straight at the fox from directly above him, shooting past like a glowing, electrified orange rocket.

Over time, Hikari and Kiko may have noticed the air stiffen and tighten around them, their movements becoming slower and requiring more effort as the darkness grew...

With all these factors combined, there was nothing Kiko could do. Holding back a punch with one hand and a wall of water with the other already left him trapped in place; but moving even slightly was practically impossible at this rate. The bolt hit him dead on, the explosive force of the impact likely knocking both Smash and the water backwards. After the smoke cleared from the bolt, Kiko could be seen lying on the ground, completely out for the count.

Smash tumbled backwards, his energy reverting in an instant after the bolt touched down. He wound up face first on the ground; some small traces of electricity crackled across his body before he pushed himself back up to one knee. "Dang...Guess I overdid it." He muttered to himself. But after seeing the result of their combined efforts, his pained grimace curved up into a smile. "Heh...That just leaves the leader, then."

With Platinum between him and Hikari now, Splice dove towards his daggers and retrieved them from the ground before joining her side. "Watch out, he's got some kinda weird laser mirrors under his clothes." He said to her, "Not quite sure how they work but I kept getting shot at whenever I hit one. But ever since it started getting darker he's been struggling more..."

Platinum nodded in response. "Gotcha. So, we just need to make sure we avoid those mirrors." She shifted her quill color from pure blue to pure red, briefly wincing. "A few precise hits and this guy should be down in no time!" Cocking her head to the side, Platinum pointed at Hikari. "You hear that? This is the endgame!"

Hikari once more entered a fighting stance, eyeing the opponents surrounding him. It was clear that he wouldn't go down without a fight.

"Yeah!" Reens cheered as Smash took Kiko out, along with her wall of water and Static's electric attack. She ran over to Smash to help him up. "That was great! You need some healing?" She looked over at Hikari, then grinned. "Two down and one to go. Once we take him out, we can finally get some clear answers!"

"Don't worry about me, I just need a breather." He said between deep breaths. "Go join the others. With any luck you can overwhelm him like we did with this guy. I'll catch up as soon as I catch my breath!"

Reens' ears drooped slightly, but she nodded and gave him a thumbs-up as she ran off to join Platinum and Splice. Her energy signatures were slightly raised when she neared Hikari, and she skid to a stop. "Mind if I join in this little soiree?" She readied two orbs of water and defaulted into a fighting stance.

Melissa decided to join the three as well, walking up with a dark aura flourishing around her. "Count me in too," she said sternly, ready to fight despite still being blinded.

Two down, one to go! Static thought. Then he realized he was still flying through the air at high speed, and his momentum was hurdling him straight towards Hikari. D'oh! I really didn't think th-

CRASH!

Static's thought was cut short by the impact, and he and Hikari were both sent tumbling across the ground, heading straight towards the 4 person group like a clumsy bowling ball. "What the-" Taken off guard, Hikari didn't even have time to react.

"Ooohh..." Splice winced at the collision. "That's gotta hur--whoa geez!" His expression quickly changed as he realized that they were about to crash into them.

"Gyah!" Reens leapt out of the way, forming an aqua bomb and throwing it in Hikari's direction. Before he crashed into the group, he dug his right hand into the ground to stop himself, leaving Static to tumble forward on his own and the bomb to miss and collide with the ground between them.

Melissa manipulated the shadows to slow down and eventually stop Static right in front of her. "You okay?" she asked, kneeling down to him.

"I didn't think that one through." Static groaned, finishing his thought from earlier as he lay face down in the dirt. That attack pulled almost everything he had out of him. He wasn't even sure if he could get up on his own.

Melissa frowned and placed a hand on his shoulder. "It's okay. You did your best, and we can take it from here." She then released her hand, stood up, and used her powers to carefully move the feline over towards Smash.

"Welcome to the team bench." Smash said, jokingly. "That was some move you pulled back there. You alright, man?"

Quickly standing back up, Hikari reached into his pockets with both hands, pulling out two rings. Splice and Smash would be able to recognize them as a Shining Ring and a Blaze Ring, but the two appeared to be modified, sporting a magatama insignia on both of them. Attaching both of them to his wrists, Hikari was surrounded by an aura of gleaming emerald flames. "Her arrival is imminent. I only need to keep you at bay until then."

Landing a bit awkwardly, Reens scratched her head. "Uh, so who's 'her'? I bet she's just another one of these Hyper Division goons we have to deal with. Well, she won't be a problem, will she guys?"

"His flames are still green, even with those rings..." Splice said, more to himself than the others. 'They look different from usual. Where did they get them? Are they custom made or something? Could be why it's affecting the color. There's probably more to it than that though, but what? Argh, not now, Splice! We don't have time for this!' Gripping his knives tightly, Splice stepped in front of the others, "Let's take this guy out before those reinforcements come. Who knows how much more of the Hyper Division is really left? I'll take the lead to counter his fire. You guys back me up!" Although he was definitely worried about the green fire, he bravely charged ahead to take Hikari on face to face.

"You got it, Splice!" Reens followed him, her water attacks and sword at the ready. "Once we take him out, maybe we'll finally get some clear answers!" She worried inside her head about her colleagues in the building and the warehouse, but shook herself to focus.

Before Splice reached him, his daggers were suddenly coated with fire on one blade and ice across the other; the elements extended up his arms and to his elbows by the time he reached melee range. Despite his uncertainty towards Hikari's new weapons, he was ready to go all in for a head on assault. "Antipode Slash!" With a slash from his left ice would form behind the dagger, threatening to freeze the slash wound he was aiming for. A quick follow up from his right would burn him and the ice right off with another gash, and the finishing move was a simultaneous slash with both daggers, with an explosive blast of fire and ice--one that could very well force him back or at most, break his defenses--following after.

Seeing him move forewards, Hikari readied himself, and managed to dodge the first strike. However, the second sliced through the front of his suit and smacked into the mirror running down the middle of hit. This time, it actually hit strong enough to crack the material slightly. Quickly, he put his hands up to block the final slash, and as it was about to make contact, he expelled a burst of green fire to counter Splice's blast of fire and ice, the two attacks colliding in an explosion of energy. The force was enough to knock him back, but he managed to land on his feet and return to a fighting stance. It was clear that he still had a lot of fight in him, but he was severely weakened.

"Yeah! You show him who's boss!" Platinum cheered. "Haha, take that-"

All of a sudden, a mint-green something slammed into Platinum from behind, and the two of them tumbled straight past Hikari. He turned to watch them fly past, but quickly returned his focus to the remaining fighters before him, to make sure nobody could get the jump on him. Meanwhile, the mass that flew past came to a stop, and Platinum looked up at the attacker on top of her to see Tama, grinning maliciously.

"Kill... Platinum..." She growled, with a dissonant glee in her voice.

"W-What!?" Platinum cried, too shocked to even move.

"Oh, crap!" Smash lept to his feet, "Platinum! Hang on!" He made a mad dash back into the battlefield, nearly staggering from pushing himself too hard. Light sparks of energy fizzled and crackled around him, but his mind wasn't focused enough to activate his High Tension state. 'Dangit, I'm not gonna make it!'

Suddenly, the ground began to shake--lightly at first, but growing more intense as an immense amount of heat and energy was approaching. Fast.

In an instant Xavis appeared and--despite the conflict in their energies--punched Tama straight across the face with more than enough force to send her flying.

Platinum was still a little too stunned to move as she saw Tama go flying across the park, landing with a thud at the other side. "Oh. Hey, Xavis." She quietly said. "Uh. How's it going?"

Smash stopped in his tracks, letting how a huge sigh of relief before continuing at a normal pace. "You got some timing there, Xavis." He said. As he caught up to them, he extended a hand to Platinum to help her back on his feet. "I'm guessing crap went down further in the city. You look like hell, man."

"Knockout!" Reens yelled, pumping up a fist. She then refocused on Hikari. "Guess what, Hikari. Your little organization is gonna be done for soon enough! When the rest of the crew gets here you won't be able to stand a chance! For the time being though..." she paused, getting into a fighting stance. "... We just have to keep stalling!"

"Stalling makes it sound like we're struggling out here, though!" Splice said. With a long exhale, the fire on his one arm blew out as the ice on his other melted away. "We've got thi--"

"You really have a problem with early celebrations, huh?" Hikari quipped, smirking. Almost as if in response, Tama could be seen getting back on her feet in the distance. After only a moment of being back up, she yelled, a massive green-white aura surrounding her. Startled, Splice glanced back at the distant action about to go down, before his attention snapped back to the matter at hand. "Don't think that taking out Kiko means that you have half a chance against either me or Tama. Instead of thinking positive, how about you try..." Without warning, Hikari disappeared, and reappeared to the left of the group. "Thinking fast!" Immediately upon his reappearance, he fired a blast of green fire directly at Reens to punctuate his shout.


On to Part 4

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