"H-help!" A C-rank villain used his arms to crawl his way across burnt stone, his fingertips melting and sizzling on charred black stone as he tried to drag his legless body towards Seth Solar. A trail of blood and entrails painted the dull grey stone beneath in bright red.
Behind him lay the torn apart corpses of the low-ranking villains invited to the Red Cricle. He was the last among them, the highest ranked at C, but even that was not enough to survive.
All around him were scattered countless bones accompanied by racks of fallen over armor and medieval weaponry. These bones would shiver and rattle before floating and attaching together into the form of a large, imposing skeletal figure. Armor and weapons would gravitate towards the skeletons, arming them.
One of these knights tread over to the villain, raising a longsword in the air and staring down at him with a cold, unfeeling green glint in its empty eye sockets.
The longsword sank into the villain's chest, and the skeletal knight twisted the blade, ending the villain in one clean execution.
"Tsk. Fucking weaklings, all of them," said Simon Wells as he looked briefly back, his red visor magnifying the scene of the villain's death. "Sh*t!"
Simon jerked around in pure fear as he heard whistling near his head.
A large arrow, big enough to skewer through a cow clean through, stopped mere inches away from his head. Seth Solar grabbed the arrow in mid-air.
"Stop fucking around!" Seth growled as he tossed the arrow back to a Skeletal Archer Knight, making sure to throw it so that the wider surface area of the shaft smashed into the bone creature with immense impact, blowing the skeleton apart.
Archers sitting on ramparts circling pillars rained down giant arrows.
"Alexis, shield and support!" roared Seth, his voice booming and commanding.
Alexis, rank 8 in Blackwater's A class nodded. She gulped in a breath, and as she held her breath, her pale blue eyes turned completely white. Winds started to howl and whirl around her, picking up bones and debris, and in an instant, wind currents formed into a rapidly circulating barrier all around Blackwater's A-class.
Any arrows that touched this barrier blew backwards. Bolts of lightning also crackled from the barrier, hitting skeletal knights and blasting them back.
"Zayn!" Seth Solar hovered in the air, drawing arrow fire. Arrows bounced off of his skin, dealing no damage.
Zayn flew up by Seth's side, his black feathered arms now morphed into full wings. His head had shifted into an aquiline, beaked form, turning him into a humanoid eagle mutant. He sped through the ramparts with acrobatic agility, throwing out volleys of large, blade like feathers.
The feathers were aimed specifically to sever the skeleton's arms, making them drop their bows.
This left Seth Solar for cleanup. He hovered from rampart to rampart, unleashing his solar beam in flashes of brilliant gold. The beams turned the skeletons into dust, preventing them from ever piecing back together.
"Quite excellent," said Valus as he hovered behind them, observing. "You Blackwater students will indeed make fine additions to the Dark Six. I will ensure that once we are out of this mess, the Trident will hear all about your fine talents.
But still, to think we are nine floors through this strange place without a single exit in sight."
"Smash, take bones!" The Butcher bellowed from below. He was no in the protection of Alexis's barrier, but he was invulnerable to conventional damage like this anyway. A dozen arrows stuck out of his body as did swords and bones from destroyed skeletons, but instead of drawing blood, they just jutted into his body like he was made of flesh colored dough.
The Butcher slammed grabbed a skeletal knight and smashed it against the floor, blowing it apart into pieces. Any leftover pieces assimilated into the Butcher's flesh, turning into raw biomass for him to continually regenerate.
With the Butcher on the ground, any skeleton knights that threatened the A class were of no threat. The Butcher was practically made to fight large groups of weaker enemies with his power that let him absorb organic and some inorganic matter and pad it to his own body mass. It also allowed him to link with the nervous system of those he swallowed, letting him control and amplify their pain.
Alexis exhaled as she took down her barrier of wind.
"We've been trapped in a pocket dimension," said Evan. He was useless here without his drones, and ordinarily, he would have been left behind to die. But as a member of Seth's gang, he was spared the fate of the rest of the technos who had no technology to work with. "No net signal anywhere, no GPS - this is the only explanation."
"Then we just have to wait this out, right?" said Simon. "A power like this that can keep fifty Alters trapped is no joke. It must have an insane energy upkeep. What was that law again?"
"The Tartarus Effect," said Evan. "Powers that can move objects into another dimension or pocket of space tend to be unable to trap Alters, and when they do, they cost massive amounts of energy. The more Alters or Variants it traps, the higher the cost gets."
"We've been here for over half an hour!" shouted Seth Solar. "I can't smash through the walls and we don't have anyone to scan for exits! All we can do is just take stair after stair after fucking stair!"
"Stay calm, boy," said Valus as he came to Seth's side.
Seth whirled around aggressively with his fist cocked back.
"You throw that punch at me, and your arm turns into dust," said Valus.
"Not before I cave your skull in," said Seth with venom oozing in his voice.
"You heard what your techno said. There is a limit to his trick," said Valus. "The known record for dimensional entrapment barely exceeds a single hour. And even that was achieved only through the S class hero Superspace sacrificing his life in the Sinking of Neo-Moscow.
Say that Bruce Vane, who wants us dead for some quaint reason, hired some unknown, one in a million talent who could trap us here.
Do you truly think he could keep us here for over an hour? Over what a S class hero could do?"
"So then what? We just sit on our asses and wait here?" said Seth Solar.
"Yes, that is exactly what I am proposing," said Valus. "The higher we go in this dimension, the more troublesome these enemies become. Why bother? Simply stay here until it is done."
The Blackwater students nodded and agreed among themselves. Their expressions started to brighten, and a few of them started to sigh in relief. They had gotten so tense and worked up from being ported to this strange space that they had not considered that they could just wait it all out.
But now, the answer just seemed so easy: all they had to do was wait.
"So then what? We just sit on our asses and wait here?" said Seth Solar.
"Yes. That's exactly what I'm proposing," said Valus.
"…Fine. We'll do it your way," said Seth Solar.
Thirty more minutes passed.
Thirty minutes turned into an hour.
An hour bled into an hour and a half.
And that finally reached two hours.
Seth finished lasering a new batch of infinitely respawning skeleton knights. Thankfully, they only reanimated in intervals of ten minutes, making them easy to deal with in waves. But that wasn't the issue here.
The issue was that everyone had wasted time and precious energy sitting in one spot accomplishing exactly nothing.
"You fucker! Keeping us here - you're working for him, aren't you? That cocksucker Bruce Vane? Making us waste our energy, huh!?" Seth Solar aimed his glowing golden eyes at Valus.
"N-no, that is not true!" Valus's calm and composed exterior now began to break apart as his confidence in believing he would survive, that he would get out of this just by waiting, began to fade. "I-I don't know. This…this is entirely unprecedented."
"Me getting tired of breaking bones!" complained the Butcher as he finished tearing apart a few more skeleton knights.