Infinity II: Control - Part Eleven
Flicker had been waiting, itching for it all day: the chance to fight Granite without any interruptions. Now that the opportunity was clear for him to see, Flicker didn't waste another second in taking it.
The glowing Buzz leapt at Granite, sending his hammer down at him. Granite was just as ready to fight as Flicker was, though, and blocked it with his tail. Despite the cracks that the hammer left on Granite's tail, the relic Meerca was barely harmed.
Granite pushed back at Flicker, putting just enough distance between them so that Flicker couldn't strike again. Granite took the extra bit of time allowed him to prepare his own counterattack. Just like before, Granite's tail changed shape until it looked like a huge stone club.
But Wingen was also right there that time too, ready to put up his shield before Granite's tail could hit either of them. "Flicker, you still have the blue gem that I gave you, right?" Wingen asked quickly. Flicker couldn't recall using it, so he nodded in response. "You ought to use it; it's too dangerous to get close to Granite undefended!"
Both Flicker and Wingen backed away from Granite before he could attack again. Wingen got onto Flicker's shoulders, prompting him to fly up into the air. Once they were high enough above Granite, Wingen continued, "Granite can't keep that defense up forever. But he can dish out hits just as well as he can take them, so we don't want to leave ourselves open. We'll need to be careful about our attacks. In other words, make every move count!"
It was entirely in Flicker's intention to follow that advice. He found the blue gem in his pocket and activated the shield. Flicker and Wingen were well out of Granite's range while hovering in the air, so Flicker expected that the shield wouldn't see much use at that time.
Or so he thought. Wingen had been paying much more attention to the situation than Flicker had been, so he was the first to react when a sharpened rock was cast their way. Wingen managed to block it, but Flicker was forced to hold his shield up as another one was sent straight at him. And then another, and another, and another.
The rocks barraged the two Neopets at such a speed that Flicker could hardly figure out what exactly was going on. There was a momentary pause in the assault, giving Flicker the chance to find the cause of it. Flicker assumed that Granite was behind it, but he didn't expect that the rocks were actually being formed out of Granite's tail. The brittle, pointed rocks broke off when Granite swung his tail at Flicker, hurling the makeshift ammo at the glowing Buzz.
Flicker and Wingen were able to protect themselves from most of the barrage. But since Flicker was taking the brunt of the attacks, his shield was the first to break. With a broken shield, Flicker realized that he couldn't stay hovering in one place any longer. He zipped around, attempting to dodge the rocks as best as he could and still stay in the air. But even with Wingen helping him out, Flicker still felt a rock strike him every now and then.
The volley of rocks saw another brief pause. This time, Flicker found himself witnessing a strange, bizarre thing: Flicker saw Granite quickly take a few rocks that had been sitting on the ground and shove them into his mouth. Flicker couldn't help but cringe at the sight; his jaw started to hurt just by watching Granite.
While Granite was preoccupied –even if just for a moment- Flicker made a request to Wingen, "Big Brother, give me a green gem!"
Wingen had been watching what Granite was doing so acutely that Flicker's question caught him a little off guard. "Are you sure?" he asked, since using more than one green gem in a short amount of time was a rapid drain on the body.
Flicker nodded, confident that he wouldn't need to use a second one. Flicker ate the green gem once Wingen handed it to him, giving him such a boost in speed that Granite couldn't defend against it.
Granite was barely able to stay standing at the impact of Flicker's hammer. Flicker struck again and again in a flurry of attacks that rapidly chipped away at Granite's ability to stand his ground.
When Granite realized that there was no way he could return to offense while Flicker's movements were so rapid, he turned to a different method. One of Flicker's strikes sent Granite backwards, giving the Meerca enough time to morph his tail again. What Granite managed to do took his defensive techniques to the next level, as he shaped his tail into a protective dome that completely surrounded his body.
Undaunted, Flicker continued his assault. However, it didn't take long for him to realize that his hammer was ineffective against Granite's shield. Neither Granite nor the dome that protected him budged, and any damage that Flicker managed to deal was swiftly repaired.
"He's trying to stall you until the green gem wears out!" Wingen noted. He instructed Flicker to move away from Granite. Even when they moved away from Granite, Wingen still kept his voice down and whispered to Flicker, "I have an idea. Here's what we'll do..."
* * *
Things became quiet, all of a sudden. Granite had no way of knowing why that was while he covered himself, but he wasn't going to automatically assume that the silence meant that Flicker had given up. As stubborn as Granite knew Flicker to be, he doubted that Flicker would call it quits so easily.
There wasn't much Flicker could do while Granite protected himself, but that applied to the Meerca as well. Granite was aware that he was going to have to remove his shield at some point. But he decided to wait a few more minutes so that Flicker wouldn't have the benefit of a speed increase once he switched back to offense.
Granite cautiously morphed his tail back into its original shape. He took a fast look at his surroundings, ready to move out of the way if need be.
But to his confusion, there was no one in front him, especially not Flicker. Considering his color, it wasn't like Flicker could hide from Granite. Unless...
Granite snapped his head around when he heard someone take a step nearby. It was Wingen and he was all by himself. Granite remembered the deal he made with Wingen all those years ago. If Wingen would use his skill in magic to help Granite stamp out his competition, Granite would in turn provide food and shelter for the Wocky. Granite knew all about his magic gems. And he knew that if Flicker was nowhere to be found, then it was Wingen's yellow invisibility gem that was making it possible.
However, instead of trying to determine where Flicker was hiding, Granite began to approach Wingen instead. Without Wingen's assistance, Flicker was nothing more than a mass of muscle without any direction. And without Flicker, Wingen was just a weakling with a bunch of annoying tricks.
Wingen shivered as Granite stepped closer. The lack of confidence in the Wocky's fearful eyes was more than enough evidence for Granite that Flicker wasn't right there to protect him. All Granite needed to do was remove Wingen from the fight swiftly, which would both draw Flicker out from hiding and eliminate his chances of getting the upper hand.
Granite took one step too close to Wingen before his fear got the best of him. Wingen stumbled backwards and instinctively threw the hammer in his hand at Granite. It was a fruitless attempt to drive Granite off, as it bounced off of him and caused nothing more than mild annoyance. "Brat..." hissed Granite.
Then Granite started to wonder. What was Wingen doing with a hammer?
Granite got his answer when he heard something behind him catch the hammer in the air and then when he felt Flicker use it to strike his back.
Granite tumbled across the ground at the impact. He growled as he lifted himself up and stared at the hammer that appeared to be floating above the ground. That attack smarted, but his new relic color had yet to truly disappoint him. And it was not in Granite's plan for Flicker to get the satisfaction of overcoming Granite's advantage.
Even though he could use the hammer's position in the air to judge where Flicker was, Granite preferred to have a clearer target. I have to stall him again until his invisibility wears off. Then I'll have my chance!
But Flicker was rapidly approaching Granite. He no longer possessed the extra speed from the green gem, but he was too close for Granite to react. Before his shield could be put up, Flicker hastily tossed Granite at Mine Headquarters, sending him through a third-story window.
Granite got onto his feet soon after he landed. Despite the room's furniture knocked out of their normal position and the broken glass strewn all over the floor, Granite recognized it as his own office.
Granite remained conscious without much effort. It wasn't like when Flicker easily knocked him out. It didn't matter that he was caught off guard; he still had plenty of fight left in him.
It wasn't like that time before.
Granite began to grit his teeth. He ground them harder and harder as he felt himself burning up in anger.
It was like that time before.
And it was humiliating.
* * *
"I thought I had heard about the abilities of relic Neopets before. After watching Granite, I remembered. Relic Neopets can eat rocks, and they're able to use the minerals they gain from them to heal and reshape themselves. As long as he has rocks to refuel himself, he'll just keep shielding like that and recovering any damage you do manage to do to him. So what we need to do is put him in a place where he can't get at those rocks. Like a metal building! We need to get him inside Mine Headquarters!"
Wingen's explanation made sense to Flicker. As Flicker crunched on a purple healing gem to keep himself going, he hoped what Wingen knew about relic Neopets was entirely correct. Flicker wasn't going to let himself stop until the fight was completely over and in his favor, but Granite was starting to wear down on his energy.
Wingen ran over to Flicker once the Buzz became visible again. With the two of them ready to finish the fight, Flicker carried Wingen up to the third floor of Mine Headquarters and stepped inside Granite's office. Flicker had grown tired of being in that room, as he'd always enter it to receive orders from Granite. And as such, Flicker planned on that moment being the last time he'd ever set foot in there.
The room was in shambles due to Granite crashing through it, but Granite himself was nowhere to be found. Flicker noticed that the office door was not only wide open, but nearly torn clean off. He didn't think that his throw was powerful enough to send Granite that far away. But he resisted the urge to be impressed with himself and instead he stepped through the threshold, keeping a sharp eye out for Granite in the hallway.
Flicker couldn't see Granite anywhere outside of the room. Still, he had an awfully foreboding feeling. Something just wasn't right.
Flicker caught a glimpse of Wingen desperately trying to run to him, blue shield in hand. But Wingen was too late, as Granite launched his attack before it could be blocked.
To Flicker, the hit felt like a wrecking ball smashing right into him. He skidded far across the hall outside. When he looked behind him, he found that it essentially was a wrecking ball that hit him. Granite had been clinging to one of the pipes on the ceiling in his office and swung himself at Flicker when he stepped right into position.
Granite released himself from the pipe he was hanging onto, immediately rushing towards Flicker. He completely ignored Wingen, whom was left by himself after Flicker was sent several feet away. His one and only concern at that time was Flicker, and by the manic look in his eyes, it was like he no longer cared about capturing him for The Engineer.
Granite punched at Flicker, whom managed to pick himself up in time to counter with his hammer. It went on like that for a while. Every now and then either Flicker or Granite would manage to strike the other, but the combatants were overall locked into an even match.
Wingen sought to change that. Still wielding his shield, he ran over and blocked whatever attacks he could. He wasn't able to stop Granite's attacks from hitting Flicker with perfect accuracy, but succeeded just enough to gain the upper hand.
Just the mere possibility of Granite losing caused his already unstable demeanor to be thrown into a complete frenzy. His swings were wilder than ever before. Before long, it wasn't just Flicker and Wingen's shield that he railed against. The walls became dented, the tiled floor began to crack, and any object that happened to be in Granite's range was destroyed. The inside of Granite's headquarters soon looked completely devastated, and it was all by his own hand.
It was hard to see in Granite's fury, but Flicker began to notice just how many cracks his body now had. They weren't just from Flicker's attacks, but from the force of Granite's own assaults. The lack of rocks to help replenish Granite's energy was truly doing a number on him. I just need to keep going for a little longer!
Granite's next attack caused Wingen's shield to shatter. Granite smirked as he saw his opening. Shoving Wingen aside, Granite dealt Flicker a direct hit.
Flicker felt himself slam into a nearby wall. He slid downwards and his grip on his hammer loosened. His sight started to spin as his mind started to detach itself from reality.
Wingen screamed Flicker's name, bringing the glowing Buzz back to a slightly clearer state of mind. Wingen rushed over to him, desperately trying to get him to stand back up. But his legs felt so weak and Wingen's attempts to help weren't doing any good.
Flicker saw Wingen quickly reach into his bag of gems, only for a horrorstruck expression to come across his face. "I'm all out..." Wingen said with a shudder.
They both heard Granite moving towards them. His already wide and crazed grin grew even bigger as he saw the end of the battle in sight. Granite confidently began to walk over to Flicker and see to it that he ended up the victor.
Wingen stood firmly in place, right between Flicker and Granite. Flicker had never seen Wingen quake so feverishly in fear up until that moment when Granite stepped closer and closer to him. But even without a shield and no matter how terrified he became, Wingen refused to budge.
The sight of Wingen scared was what caused Flicker to force himself to stand. He hardly had any energy left. He felt like he was about to collapse at any moment, but he didn't care. That wouldn't be even the slightest concern to him until he made sure that Wingen was completely safe.
Granite stared at Flicker in complete disbelief. The confidence he had fell apart just as quickly as his smile. "You just don't get it, do you?!" he snarled.
Flicker picked up his hammer and made himself sprint at Granite once more. He knocked Granite into a room and near its window. Flicker lunged at Granite with such speed and force that the two of them burst out of the building and into the open air.
Flicker had a tight grip on Granite as the two of them began to fall, but that didn't stop the Meerca from yelling, "What do you even think you're going to accomplish?! You know nothing! You have no experience with the world! What can you possibly do with your life?!"
Flicker's wings started beating, stopping his and Granite's fall. "I don't know," he admitted, thinking back to how he still had absolutely no idea how to spend what time he had available to him. But then he grit his teeth and declared, "Whatever it is, though, it's for me to decide!"
Flicker tossed Granite upwards and readied his hammer. "And you don't get to have any say in that!"
The sound of the metal hammer colliding with rock rang throughout Obsidian Quarry as Granite was hit far across the city.
Flicker saw what appeared to be a cloud of dust form on the other side of the cave. He could actually feel the strife being lifted away, and gave a deep breath to reflect that. "That should do it."
* * *
Wingen watched the last moments of the fight from the window that Flicker and Granite broke through This time the relieved feeling was much stronger than it was a few days ago.
But when he saw Flicker lower to the ground and fall to his knees after that last attack, Wingen was immediately prevented from being calmed at the result of the battle. He ran down the staircases as fast as he could and dashed out of Mine Headquarters.
To say that he looked absolutely exhausted was just skimming the surface over what Flicker's state was. He was so drained from the fight that it took him a while to notice that Wingen was even next to him. "Big Brother?" he muttered in a heavy, tired voice. "Are you alright?"
Wingen felt himself start to tear up. Even with everything that Flicker went through that day, he was still more concerned about Wingen than himself. Wingen nodded weakly, wishing that he was strong enough so that Flicker didn't have to direct his worries towards him.
That seemed to put Flicker a little more at ease. But there was still one more answer that Flicker needed before being truly comforted. "We can get on with our lives now, right?"
Wingen nodded again, this time with a swifter and more positive motion of his head.
The smile that came across Flicker's face was familiar to Wingen. It resembled the one he made after he and Wingen made their escape from Obsidian Quarry the first time. And the grin that Flicker had at that moment was just as satisfied and happy as before. "Okay, good."
To be continued...