It grew unnaturally quiet between Team Zephyr. The dread was sinking into the group yet Lee Seng simply looked at his friends with worry. He questioned if he had made the right choice in asking them to aid him in this.
'Is this the right thing to do?' Lee Seng wondered. He steeled his resolve and broke the silence.
"Even more reason to figure out what the hell's happening." Lee Seng stood up. Liz and Evan looked at him out of the corner of their eyes. Ritsuka slowly turned his head towards Lee Seng, noticing how resolved Lee Seng was. "You're not the same people you were two years ago when the village was attacked. The only thing that's stayed constant through all of this is the fact you're all my friends. You stuck by me, you protected me, you gave… my life meaning when the world told me I was just a problem. You saw me for who I really am. That trust you have for me? Hold onto it. Hold onto the trust we have for each other. We've traveled Realms, met different people, fought many monsters, and now we need to save our home before it becomes destroyed forever by the very people that swore to protect it."
Manny balled his fists together. His adams apple bobbed as he wondered if going through this was a suicide mission or not. Ritsuka was the first - Ritsuka was always the first - to agree with Lee Seng. He pushed all of his fear away and nodded.
"Let's save as many people as we can." Ritsuka nodded. "I know my family will probably be fine, but it'd be nice to know they're safe."
"As much as I want to flee…" Evan's voice shook. He steeled himself and stood up. "It's not like we knew this day would come. The day we would go back to where it all began."
"Protect the people I couldn't protect then." Olivia cleared her throat. She looked up at the others. "Grandma would be upset if I turned a blind eye to this… Our family has always been healers… We were always people who were on the front lines. I may not be a healer, but at least I can protect others." Liz fiddled with her hands, taking a deep breath.
"A monster would leave them to die." Liz whispered. "I'm no monster." She looked up and nodded in agreement with Lee Seng. They all looked over to Manny who stared at his hands. He was the most distraught about this whole thing. Lee Seng and Liz could see it. Underneath that bravado, was a man who was struggling to not break out into a panic attack. Liz reached for him when Lee Seng spoke.
"Your father, your sister would never turn a blind eye to this. They won't succumb to the evil that the Deimons are creating. They would protect it with all of their might." Lee Seng told Manny. He watched his childhood best friend stop fidgeting. Manny was listening. "Dr. Valentin always told us the same thing over the years, Man. 'Fight for what is right, even if the world's against you. Good will eventually win and evil will have no choice but to–'"
"Perish." Manny finished the saying. He nodded as he slowly lifted his head up to look at Lee Seng. He could see the fear coursing through his teammates, but there was no fear when it came from Lee Seng. Lee Seng stepped forward and put his hand out above the coffee table.
"So," Lee Seng kept his eye contact with Manny, but spoke to everyone in the room. "Let's fight for what's right." Ritsuka turned and extended his hand out. Liz, Evan, Olivia and Keng stood up and extended their hands out. They all looked at Manny who struggled to steel himself.
"Let's see the world together, hm?" Liz asked Manny. She smiled at him, easing the fear in him. "We'll start with Capitol City and then we'll go to New York like promised, hm? You remember the promise you made me, right?" Manny slowly nodded. He stood up and raised his head high.
"After we get to New York, let's try their pizza." Manny smiled. Liz nodded as Manny extended his hand out.
"Let's do this Team Zephyr!" Keng shouted.
"Go!" The rest of the group but Lee seng yelled.
"Let's do this Team Zephyr!" Keng shouted, again.
"Let's go!" The whole group shouted.
The smell of dust filled the air of the dimly lit building as Team Zephyr stepped through the portal. Lee Seng was the last to step out of the portal, closing it behind him. They had portaled to the base of operations where the Fox Spirits were supposed to be, but there were no signs of any of them.
'I don't feel anyone's presence.' Keng telepathically told the group. He slowly moved forward with Evan in tow while the others scanned the room they were in.
'It looks abandoned.' Evan commented. They moved to the door and slowly opened it. The emergency lights were on, but not a soul was down here with them.
'There's nobody here. It's empty.' Keng told the group. They made their way out of the room, ready for anything.
'She was right when she said to not go here… but why?' Lee Seng wondered. They rounded each corner, hoping something would just jump out and answer their worst-case scenario.
The group slowly climbed to the first floor from the basement and noticed doors were opened.
'Stay within sight.' Manny told the group. 'Check the rooms.' Lee Seng glanced at the first room to the left and noticed it looked half-ransacked.
'Why wasn't the basement ransacked?' Lee Seng questioned.
'It looks like the place was quickly swept over.' Keng told the others. 'Why wasn't the basement done in the same way?'
'There probably wasn't much down there?' Evan guessed.
'Worst-case scenario is they were found out and had to flee. Whoever came to look for them, would've looked everywhere, right?' Liz brought up a good point. 'If we're running with that scenario, this doesn't make any sense whatsoever.' A red light appeared behind Liz, looking down upon her. A metallic claw slowly moved towards Liz's neck. She felt something standing behind her and turned, only to see nothing.
"What was that?" Liz whispered underneath her breath.
'What?' Lee Seng stepped out of the room. Liz scanned the dimly lit place around her.
'I felt something standing behind me…' Liz replied. 'None of you were behind me, right?'
'No.' Manny answered.
'I was over here.' Olivia waved her hand.
'I was next to Olivia.' Ritsuka stepped out.
'Then what was that…?' Liz whipped her head in the direction of where she felt something sinister. A red light glowed in the distance. It looked like a headlight of sorts that bathed the hallway in red light. 'What's that…?' Lee Seng began to turn and that's when they heard it.
A groaning noise of metal clicking together. A loud scrape across the wall as sparks flew, illuminating the thin body of the red light. It was some sort of contraption that looked like a stick person made out of metal with three sharp fingers on each long-limbed arm.
It rushed at Liz and the group, screaming as if it was deliberately alerting its allies.
"What the fuck is that?!?" Evan shouted. They began to run down the hall with Lee seng flagging Liz's rear. He turned and blasted the headlight monster, watching it dodge his blast with ease.
'It's nimble!' Lee Seng thought. He blasted a couple more shots, watching it easily dodge it. He cursed as the headlight monster jumped onto the ceiling and launched itself straight for Lee Seng. More shrieks were heard as red headlight monsters came into view.
'That's why it was half-ransacked! They weren't looking for materials! They were looking for the people!' Ritsuka telepathically told the others. Evan rushed forward, throwing a large barrier upwards and blocking the metallic monsters as they slammed against the wall. Lee Seng threw a barrier up, watching the monster's claw spark against his barrier.
Lee Seng watched as more headlight monsters poured into the hallway behind the one attacking him. He pushed the monster away, embedding it in the roof as its clawed feet and hands dangled.
"Portal!" Lee Seng shouted.
"Where?!?" Keng shouted back.
"Anywhere but here!" Lee Seng's body wrapped in golden energy producing the Dark Matter Suit. He filled the hall with tendrils, stuffing the hallway and breaking the headlight monsters into pieces. Keng put his hands together and produced a ball of energy. He quickly pulled it apart, opening the portal to a beach.
"A beach? Isn't that a bit too far away from the center of the city?" Manny asked.
"It's still in Capitol City, right?" Keng asked.
"I mean yeah, but–"
Boom! Boom! The kinetic wall screeched as cracks began to form. Evan turned and noticed the beach. He moved over to his friends as Lee Seng pulled away from his end. The ceiling began to crumble as headlight monsters flew downwards.
"Void slash!" Ritsuka swung Obsidian Glass, hitting the headlight monsters back upwards.
"Just go!" Lee seng shouted. The group began to run through the portal as a wall exploded. A metallic rope flew out, wrapping around Liz's ankle and pulling her away from the portal. Liz screamed as Lee Seng slashed the metallic rope.
"C'mon!" Lee seng rushed over and lifted her up. Four headlight monsters blocked the way and Liz screeched, emitting a psionic blast all around them. The headlight monsters sparked, their lights reacting to the lightning with odd flashes as Lee Seng pushed them into the wall with a push of his power. A couple headlight monsters ran through the portal, attacking his friends as Lee seng flew through the portal, closing it.
"Ah, shit!" Ritsuka slashed the monster in half. It creaked as it split, breaking its headlight. Sand flew upwards and pierced the headlight part of the rest of the monsters, instantly killing them.
[Monster Update! Headlight Henchmen are added to the Database!]
"What the fuck?!?" Manny shouted. They had narrowly escaped the darkness of hte building and into the daylight where no one was. Smoke rose in the distance as the group gathered their wits.
"You okay?" Lee seng asked Liz.
"Y-yeah." Liz answered as Lee Seng put her down.
"What the fuck are those?" Olivia asked.
"Headlight Henchmen." Keng answered. "They're seekers. I think I understand why the Foxes said not to go there. What do we do now?" He looked to the others for an answer.
"We're farther from where we wanted to be…" Manny sighed. "Why did we go there? We could've teleported to the lab directly. You've been there plenty of times, Lee. Why didn't we go there?"
"Suicide." Lee SEng told him. "It was safer to appear there than there."
"But it wasn't." Ritsuka huffed. "Now what?" A shriek echoed through the air, drawing Team Zephyr's attention towards the large houses in the distance.