1 – Stormy Plains (out!)

2 – Skull Creek (out!)

3 – Death Valley (out!)

4 – Feast or Famine (1.26)

Tara’s final card hit the boxes, but it still wasn’t enough for them to break. She sighed and picked all of her cards up. Spike was sitting on top of the wall surrounding Tara and the two boxes. He jumped down and threw his cacti at the boxes, finally breaking one of them. Tara threw her cards at the other box and broke it as well. There were now two bottles of a blue substance laying down in the sand, not counting the other 5 they had found when they broke the other boxes they had encountered before.

“So… what are these?” Spike asked.

“No clue,” admitted Tara. “Some sort of elixir, but not sure what it is for.”

“Should we take a sip?” Spike asked.

“What? No!” Tara said. “We take them with us, just in case. Perhaps Bo will know what it is?”

“Yeah,” Spike muttered, “it’s time we go meet the others. The sun’s setting.”

They were by the outside perimeter of the arena, in a small area surrounded by walls. The sun was setting, and darkness would soon rise. Which meant the gas and those poisoned would arrive and attack them. We must survive, Tara thought. Only one more night after this one, then we can reach home.

Tara, like Spike and Crow, had not been born nor raised in the town the others had. She had been born in some other town, and when she had finally mastered her magic, she had set on a journey to find a more magical place other than her old, regular town. She remembered the exact route too. She had passed through a small desert, then a jungle that took weeks to cross. After that, she had arrived at the Stormy Plains. Yes, I recognized the plains when we woke up, she thought. Except it wasn’t surrounded by rock walls… there was a way out when I had first crossed them! After crossing the plains she had reached the famous Skull Creek, and after that….

“Spike…” Tara started. “Do you recognize this place?”
The two had stepped outside the closed area, and Spike looked to his left and then to his right, studying the landscape carefully.

“Not sure…” Spike admitted.

“That’s all right,” Tara told him. “You probably arrived in the town from some other route. Anyways, when I first arrived in town, I crossed over all the places we had gone through in the past few days. This is what my townspeople called the Death Valley.”

Spike gulped.

“Oh, come on!” Tara told him. “That’s just the name they gave this valley. Don’t let it scare you.”

“It’s not that,” Spike whispered, pointing behind her. Tara turned around and from behind a wall, Tara could make out a figure with purple hair loading a shotgun. Shelly.

On the other side of the valley, in a similar closed area, Bo and Nita were destroying their own boxes. In front of them, Jessie and her turret were destroying three other boxes. Jessie’s energy orbs bounced from box to box, so the process was easier for her than for Bo and Nita.

Nita summoned her bear spirit, Big Baby Bear, and the three continued to hit the boxes as much as possible. Almost simultaneously, all five boxes were destroyed, and the same elixir bottles Tara and Spike had found were now laying on the ground.

“Don’t take a sip out of them,” Jessie warned. “We don’t know what it is.”

“Sure we do,” Bo said. “I myself use these when hunting. It boosts your speed and makes you overall stronger. It’s like a booster, really helpful.” Bo explained. “Especially in our situation.”

“Very well, then,” Jessie said. “How much of it can we drink?”

“You have to drink all of it for the elixir to be effective,” Bo answered.

“I don’t know…” Jessie muttered.

“What?” Bo said angrily. “You don’t trust me?”
“No, it’s not that!” Jessie said alarmed. “It’s just that…. Well, don’t you think it’s a bit suspicious that these boosters are packed into these boxes in the middle of the Death Valley?”
“Oh, for the love of Big Bear!” Nita cried. “Here, I’ll drink it.”

She picked a bottle from the ground, opened it, and drank all of it quickly.

“It tastes like blueberry juice,” Nita said, and both Jessie and the hunter laughed loudly.

“They’re perfectly fine, see?” Bo offered Jessie a bottle while drinking one himself. “Heck, they’re good for you! We now have higher chances of surviving!”
“I guess…” Jessie took the drink from Bo’s hand and drank all of it herself.

Mortis dashed through the boxes, hitting them with his shovel, just in time to avoid Dynamike’s bombs. The two were on the upper side of the valley, doing the same thing the others were doing: destroying the boxes to see what was inside. They had worked from the outside inwards, so they still had an additional 3 boxes to break beside the ones they were breaking. Mortis summoned his bats and they bit through the wood, breaking the boxes and revealing two drinks with the exact same substance the rest had already encountered.

Mortis dashed towards the other 3 boxes and started to wreck them with his shovel. Neither of the two cared to start a conversation. Mortis was still mourning over his friend Crow’s death, while Dynamike could not stop thinking about Piper. I left her to die. Oh, what a coward I am!

Finally, Mortis looked at the sky and broke the silence. “We need to hurry up and meet the rest. It’s getting dark.”
Dynamike nodded and threw one of his deadly barrels at the boxes. Mortis grabbed Mike and dashed just in time as there was an explosion which crumbled nearby walls and burned down nearby bushes. And broke the boxes. Mortis dashed back to the small crater that had formed and picked the elixir up. Then he dashed to the center and Mike followed.

Once at the center, Mortis couldn’t help but notice something. The hole was gone. It had… disappeared.

It was already night time when the rest arrived at the center. Neither of them had seen those poisoned, and neither of them knew what had happened to the tunnel.

“Are you sure you didn’t cover it?” Spike asked.
“Positive.” Mortis said.

“Did anyone else cover it?” Spike continued.

Everyone else shook their heads. Tara closed her eyes and sat down in the sand, focusing. She had a vision of…. Crow? Was he alive? He was running away from something… someone. From out of the darkness, she could sense a charging force… Bull? Was he alive!? They were heading down where Mortis stood… where the exit to the tunnel had been. They were about to come out!

“Watch out!” Tara screamed.

“Huh?” Mortis said, confused. It was too late, anyway. From out of the ground, where Mortis stood, Crow came out flying along with a charging Bull, sending the undertaker flying away.

As if on cue, one of Barley’s poison drinks fell from behind a wall and hit most of them. Shelly shot one of her supershells, obliterating most of the walls that had been standing. On the other side, Darryl dashed towards his enemies, bumping into all of them. They seemed stronger… had they drank from the elixir as well?

“Everyone, drink the elixir!” screamed Tara as she summoned a black hole from where Shelly stood. From the center of the black hole, a smaller, shadowy version of Tara popped up and began to attack the bandit. Everyone else who hadn’t already drank took a full drink from the elixir, loaded their weapons, and began to attack.

Crow had landed where Mortis was, naturally. Mortis could sense the poison in his friend, but did not want to admit that Crow was gone.

“Crow,” Mortis said. “I know you’re still there!”
“Shut up,” Crow muttered and jumped towards Mortis, stabbing him with one of his daggers. He then retreated back and kept on throwing daggers at the undertaker, who was dashing away, trying to heal from the poison. As he dashed away, he felt another dagger stab his back… and another. He was slowly losing health, regardless the fact he had drank two bottles of elixir. He knew he would soon be defeated, but he kept dashing nonetheless. I’m my friends’ only way out of here, he thought. I can’t die yet!

He dashed and dashed, trying to avoid both Crow and the middle of the arena, where everyone was fighting. I need to heal… have to rest! He continued to dash, and he could still feel his health being drained by the poison. His legs were weakening, his vision was getting blurrier. He stumbled upon Dynamike, and the two fell hard to the ground. Meanwhile, Crow was taking his time, making his way to the undertaker. One more dagger and he would be taken down.

“Mikey, help me!”

“Mortis…” Dynamike said quietly. He thought of Piper and decided to help Mortis out. For Piper, he thought. However, he saw as Crow approached from a corner, and quickly retreated. I’m sorry, Mortis. I don’t’ want to die!

Mortis saw this, and thought, This coward won’t help me! He won’t help anyone! Feeling betrayed and filled with anger, Mortis made one last attempt to summon his bats and succeeded. The bats flew towards Dynamike and threw him down to the floor, and began biting him, sucking his blood, draining his life force and sending it to Mortis. The Undertaker stood up and dashed away as Crow approached. By the time Crow arrived where Dynamike was and saw that Mike was almost dead.

“Please don’t hurt me, Crow.” pleaded Dynamike.

“Shut up,” Crow said and stabbed Mike in the back.

Crow left Mike’s corpse behind and made his way to find the undertaker.

Barley wasn’t sure who he was hitting, but he knew he was hitting someone with his drinks because he could hear the Brawler scream. It was a male, for sure, but besides that, the bartender had no idea who his unfortunate customer was. He kept on throwing drinks, and he kept hearing screams until suddenly, there were no more screams. Barley walked around the wall and noticed a body laying on the floor. It was Bo, the Eagle Hunter. Barley walked closer to the hunter. Is he dead? Did I kill him? He walked right in front of Bo and heard a beeping sound. Barley had stepped on the mines.

One by one, the mines exploded, sending Barley flying towards a wall. Darryl, who was defending from Big Baby Bear dashed towards his ally and caught him before he crashed into the wall.

“Don’t worry, Barley,” Darryl said. “I’ve got you.”

Barley looked up at his friend, and noticed that Darryl’s single eye had changed back to yellow… for a second. Then his friend’s eye turned red again. As did his, he just didn’t know it.

Darryl ricocheted off a nearby wall, sending him crashing towards Big Baby Bear, and into Nita. The young girl sent a shockwave, rupturing the ground and damaging the robots with the tremor. Darryl let go of Barley and took out his double barrel shotguns and started shooting. Barley, weakened by the mines, stood up weakly, and began to throw as many drinks as he could, but kept on missing Nita or Big Baby Bear. Darryl dashed once again towards Nita, but instead ricocheted off the wall and charged straight to Barley. Nita Littlefoot and Big Baby Bear retreated to find the others.

Jessie saw Shelly load her shotgun. They were staring at each other, silently and thoughtfully.

“Shelly, you don’t have to do this.”

“I know.” Shelly replied, “But I still want to.”

Jessie looked behind her and saw the gas getting closer to her. She has one of her supershells, she thought. If she uses it on me, she’ll send me flying to the gas. But I can’t get too close or she’ll obliterate me!

It seemed like this was going to be the end of Jessie, and it could have been, had it been for a swarm of bats that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and pushed Shelly towards the gas.

“Mortis!” Jessie cried happily.

“Let’s get out of here.” Mortis said and dashed away. Jessie followed.

They ran towards the center of the map and stumbled upon Bull. He seemed bulkier and bigger than before, and Jessie suspected he had drank some of the elixir as well.

The sun was already rising, regardless of there being a sunset not two hours ago.

Nita, Big Bear, Spike, and Tara arrived a few moments later, all staring at the monstrosity in front of them.

Crow jumped from behind a wall and landed behind Bull. The robots also made their way to where their leader was, and Jessie could make out a figure coming from the gas: Shelly. They were all there. The gas was going to trap everyone in a matter of two minutes or so, Jessie calculated.

As if on cue, the gas slowly retreated a few tiles back.

Tara looked at the gas thoughtfully. Somebody is controlling this. Somebody brought us here and wants us to fight. We must not comply!

“This is it…” Jessie whispered.

As the sun rose, all ten Brawlers remaining charged towards each other.

To be continued…

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