Janguru Forest at night wasn't the most comfortable of places to be - Vespoids attacking constantly, Great Thunderbugs had a tendency of "bumping into you", and there was the potential of being charged by a Bullfango at every twist and turn. Not pleasant at all. That, and the bloodcurdling howls of the ever-present monsters didn't exactly take the edge off of things. The group walked quietly thorugh the thick undergrowth, careful not to tread heavily when they heard monsters nearby.
"This place is startin' to piss me off reeeeal fast..." Gigas grumbled, kicking the ground with his boot.
Sensei Makoto felt a tad out of place around the others - everyone except Altair and Skylar, along with herself, was dressed in hunter armour - Gigas with his Lavasioth armour, Shinji's Agnaktor armour, Jinsoku's Narga armour, Gale's Kirin X armour and Mizu's Barioth armour. Even Altair and Skylar had their own kind of hunter armour. She had no idea how to fight like they did. If a time came where she was unable to use her Descendant abilities, she would be as good as dead. While brooding over this thought, Skylar patted her arm to get her attention.
"What's on your mind, Makoto?" Skylar yelped cheerfully.
"Oh, it's nothing. I was just thinking how useless I would be if we encountered a monster or something and had to go into proper combat. After all, I'm a teacher, not a hunter. I might be a Descendant, but I still don't have any physical combat experience."
"Well, I've got a lot of that, but no powers. I can back you up, Makoto! Don't you worry," Skylar beamed, ever-cheery. Makoto smiled, moving a lock of her purple hair out of her face.
Jinsoku, Gale and Mizu strode along in the middle of the group, Makoto and Skylar walking behind, and Altair, Gigas, and Shinji out in front, discussing one thing or another (it was too far away to make out any words). All they could tell it that it was business, not leisure. Mizu and Gale were looking at Jinsoku, who was walking in between them. He was looking at Shinji. He often stared at her, never in a creepy way, but in a friendly way. But this time, it was different. His eyes looked brighter. His black hair had always made them stand out, but this was a different glow, one that Gale and Mizu had never seen before - admiration. Mizu nudged him out of his concentration.
"Whatcha starin' at, Jin? Hmmm?" Mizu cooed, raising an eyebrow. Gale took a chance to speak also.
"Jinsoku... do you 'like' Shinji?" Gale asked, trying not to giggle. Jinsoku turned around to look at her. She almost stopped and took a step back, she was so surprised. Jinsoku was always the mischievous, childish one, but... she had never seen such a mature look in his eyes.
"Yeah," he said flatly.
"Let me rephrase that: Do you... love... her?" Gale muttered, still kind of surprised. Jinsoku turned around to look at Shinji again. She had taken her helmet off now, and he could see her face. He like everything about her: her tomboyish tendencies, her fearless personality, her emerald eyes, her long wavy blonde hair... everything about Shinji set Jinsoku's heart aflutter. He had felt a lot of feelings in all the nineteen years of his life, but never anything like this. He turned his head to the left to look at Mizu.
"Is... is this what it feels like... when you look at her?" he said, the tone in his voice almost awe-filled. Mizu nodded. He turned to look at Shinji again.
"Then... no. I won't say it to you. I'll wait till it's just the two of us... I want to say it to her in person." he decided, smiling to himself.
"Okay, seriously, when are we gonna get to end of this fu-" Shinji began to huff, before being silenced by a sinister howl that pierced the dusk. The entire group nucleated, drawing their myriad weapons as the infamous Black Beast, the Yamiokami, swooped down from the treetops and made a noisy and messy landing in front of them, frightening off nearby fauna and sending clouds of dust, pollen and small insects flying off in all directions. It looked different to the last time Gale, Shinji, Jinsoku, Mizu and Skylar had seen it last, three weeks ago. It's cat-like green eyes had turned pupilless neon-blue, and it's mane glowed a dim electric blue. Gale noticed it's broken left fang and gouged left eye- scars from when Altair and his raven had assaulted the creature.
"When I broke it's fang, it became like this. It's hasn't calmed down since," Altair yelled as the Elder Dragon began to attack the group, snarling, biting, leaping, and clawing at the eight annoyances before it.
"So, basically, you broke its fang and pissed it off for all eternity? Out-freakin'-standin'," Gigas complained, roaring in gruff definace as he strafed the Yamiokami's left flank with his Agnablaster, the Dragon S ammunition proving very effective against it's thick but very weak hide (and the fact that it was an Elder Dragon). The Yamiokami yelped shrilly as the bullets came fast and hard, piercing its skin and leaving a heavy sting behind. It snarled, canceling its swipe toward Skylar and turning to its left, fed up of Gigas and his Bowgun. It drew its arms back and across each other, the fur lining them (which was frayed, and had bald patches from the run-ins that Gigas, Skylar and Altair had had with it when they were still hunting it in Sukai) glowing the same dim electro-blue as its mane. It took a two steps back on its hind legs.
"X-SCISSOR! SHINJI, WATCH OUT!" Altair boomed hoarsely. But Shinji had no time to escape the radius of the Black Beast's bulky arms. He sent his raven speeding toward it, but the creature howled as the oh-so familiar, eye-gouging bird flew past, just the right pitch and decibel count to knock the feathered pest out of the midnight sky. As its howl (its 'war cry' in a way) faded, its leaned forward, its huge, muscular arms colliding with Shinji's delicate human form, sending her smashing into a nearby tree trunk with a cry of pain and shock.
"Shinji!" Jinsoku gasped, running to her aid. The Yamiokami swiped at the scurrying pest, but in vain. Mizu swung his Wailing Cleaver Shin into its claw, shattering a couple of the nails and sending it reeling, but not before the force of the brutal biff scooped the boy into the air. Gale took this chance to use her powers as a Descendant. As he prepared to create a funnel of wind to break his fall, the wolven burden scraped her directly with its other (uninjured) claw with a guttural growl.
Makoto and Altair sprang to the aid of the star-crossed lovers, Altair creating a gentle wall of wind against the tree that Gale was about to have a rendezvous with, breaking her fall and allowing her to gently drop to her feet. Makoto thrust her hands upon the ground, sending a wave of earth forth from her position, spiking cruelly to attack the Elder Dragon from beneath, drawing flecks of blood and culminating in a crude podium of solid earth, upon which Mizu landed on his feet, although he winced at the recoil.
The Yamiokami didn't even get a chance to interrupt the four Descendants. Still hurt from the earthy shrapnel embedded in its stomach, it's reflexes and reactions slowed, if only a smidgeon. Skylar sheathed her Hidden ones and drew a huge, pitch-black shuriken from her back, just over half the size of the fourteen-year-old (her birthday had come around two weeks prior), crying with the minor strain as she flung the weapon as hard as she could. It made a decent and very direct hit, piercing its shoulder and staying there, drawing a great deal of blood. Now it was truly enraged. It leapt back from the hunters, then stooped on all fours, arms and legs wide, and howled, not at the moon, but at its attackers, beyond berserk, the stench of body juices, drool and a thousand rotting hunter corpses emanating from its gaping, fanged maw of a mouth. With each of the hunters caught in the wave, they each obtained the Pestilence status ailment - Stink, Poison and Fatigue all in one. The hunters had Antidotes and Gourmet Steaks, which they quickly consumed (Gale shared her spares with Makoto, who carried nothing), but none of them had though to pack any Deodorants, as odour-causing monsters like the Congalala lived nowhere near Sukai.
"Goddamit!" Gigas bellowed. As the Yamiokami began it's run-up, that would culminate in a tail swipe large enough in radius to his all eight of them, he fired as many bullets from his Agnablaster as he could. This time, the beast seemed to either be unaffected by the Dragon S (which was unlikely) or too enraged too acknowledge the pain, still charging frantically toward them. It was too late for them to dodge, and they'd never escape all three of its tails. As it closed in, Gigas sighed, and took a risk. He used all his muscle to hoist his bowgun under his right arm, holding the cumbersome weapon with only a single had, to the awe of the others. With his other hand, he gripped the handle of his sheathed Agnaktor Long Sword, the Dancing Hellfire, so tight that his knuckles turned white. His other seven comrades ran a dives as the huge tails cast their condemning shadow over them. Not ceasing fire for even a second, Gigas swung his Long Sword with all his might, ripping it free of its sheath and sending it slamming down onto the monster's tails, the blade igniting with crimson flames as it made contact with the Yamiokami's flesh. Slicing the tips of all three of its tails in a burning flare of heat and power, the combined angony of three severed body parts sent the Yamiokami reeling, slumping into a defeated heap upon the forest floor. However, the flames that had emanted from Gigas' Long Sword moments ago had stayed alight, slowly creeping up the Elder Dragon's fur, setting it ablaze. It screeched and howled in pain and anger, its entire body consumed.
The rest of the hunters, who had closed their eyes waiting for the death-dealing blow that hadn't come, looked up at the spectacle before them. Mizu analysed the flames, and was the first to see it beginning to spread from the now limp corpse of the Yamiokami and to the rest of the forest. He put thrust his hand forward, palm flat. Water rushed forward, washing over the floor and extinguishing the flames.
The fight was over. The Yamiokami, otherwise known as the Black Beast, was dead.
As the group prepared to walk on, slienced by exhaustion, Jinsoku saw something red glint in the corner of his eye. He picked up a huge, blood-red jewel from the monsters stomach, opened up due to its abdominal flesh being totally burnt away. He decided to keep this in his backpack - he had his own ideas for this gem.
"Ah, well. That's a shitload o' burden off my shoulders," Gigas grumbled absentmidedly, stretching like he was tired. "How far away is Chikyuu?"
"Quite far. But have no fear, we will be travelling by air. A old friend of mine has come to our aid."
As the group of eight emerged from the trees to meet the impending dawn, the precipice of a cliff greeted them. Suddenly a huge gust of wind blew in their faces as a large, boxlike metal craft hovered against the cliff edge, suspended in midair. One of the very first airships in existence. A long ramp extended to close the distance between the cliff and the ship. From the open pilot's booth came the middle-aged familiar face of Gale's father.
"Dad!" Gale exclaimed, happy to see him.
"C'mon you lot, climb aboard! I ain't got all day!" he yelled over the noise of the engines. The eight comrades stepped abaord, and the metal aircraft flew off into the distance, headed for Chikyuu.
To Be Continued in: Legacy of the Descendants VII: Airship in Peril