The Geist smiled at the troll chieftain as they circled each other, ready to fight.
The rest of the trolls made a loose ring around them, chanting out a series of grunts and growls to hype the match up. They jumped up and down, for trolls loved nothing more than to see a good brawl where tusks broke, bones splintered, and blood spilled.
"(You ready!?)" roared the troll chieftain. His muscles bulged in battle ready preparation under his scabby skin. He swung the huge man sized club of cursed black rock in the air with all the ease of a feather.
"Gehgeh! (Ready when you are, friend!)" said the Geist. He had shared many a good moment with the troll chieftain, and among the many monsters in the legion, he was probably his second best friend, right behind Stella who always knew so much and always had so much patience.
"(Good! I attack now!)" the troll chieftain unleashed a guttural roar as he sprinted forwards, his arms upraised to unleash a powerful download strike with his club.
The Geist let his friend get a hit in to see how much his friend had improved.
"Geh! (Good!)" said the Geist as he blocked the overhead blow by raising his arms above his head in a cross guard.
The cursed rock dug into the Geist's flesh, rending it apart, but it could not go through too deeply against his tough, armor like musculature. A faint black aura settled around where his flesh tore, preventing him from healing properly.
"(I strike again!)" said the troll chieftain as he whirled around and struck a horizontal blow against the Geist's open side.
The Geist recalled some of Stella's training, back when everyone was in the forest -
Stella stood a small distance the from the Geist, hands on her hips as she inspected the Geist for balance in his stance and wasteful movements. "When someone comes at you with a weapon, especially a big one, you don't gotta just take it. In fact, bigger the weapon is, the harder it is to block, even for a musclehead like you. You gotta dodge it, or, if you can, redirect it.
Big weapons mean big motions. That means big recovery. Parry a big hit, you got a big window to counter. Try and hit me with a punch."
The Geist threw out a punch against Stella's head. She unleashed a flexible high kick which, coupled with a concentrated explosion at her feet, blew the Geist's arm high up in the air, way over Stella's head.
Before the Geist could pull his arm back in, Stella had rushed in, placing both her hands right against the Geist's stomach. Orange glows crackled around her palms, showing that she was ready to blow a hole right through the Geist.
"See that?" Stella pulled her hands back. "I didn't just try and muscle it out with you. I've got a pretty trained body, but it ain't gonna hold a candle up to someone with an Augmenter power like yours. So, I gotta treat your punch like a bit hit.
I didn't try and resist it directly. I directed the hit away. Less effort for me, more effort for you. This way, I can take down big bastards way stronger than me.
Same goes for you.
"Gehgeh! (Wow! I get it now!)" said the Geist.
The Geist took up a proper martial arts stance. Legs shoulder width apart, arms raised to guard the head, head a little low to make it less of a target. Just the way Stella had taught him. Pa nda
Novel Before training, the Geist would have seen the club coming at his side and just tried to grab it to stop it. He definitely had the strength to do so. But this time, he wanted to show off what he had learned.
The Geist unleashed a quick downward elbow against the club, changing its trajectory downwards so that instead of gouging into his side, it slammed into the ground, embedding it into the soil.
The troll chieftain grunted in surprise. He hunched over to pull the club out of the ground.
In that moment, the Geist unleashed a proper punch. One with a grounded stance, engaged core muscles, and proper rotation at the hips. This, too, he learned from Stella.
The punch shot out fast, socking the troll chieftain right in the chest and shooting him back like a bomb.
The chieftain flew into one of the other trolls, tumbling them backwards like bowling pins.
"Gehgeh! (These punches are so strong!)" the Geist exclaimed in proud glee. Before training, the Geist's punches had just been wild swings and swipes, moving no differently than a wild animal.
But by making his hits much more compact and focused, the Geist could unleash maybe three times the power he used to be able to.
The troll chieftain groaned in pain as he weakly shoved the troll on top of him away. The chieftain's chest was caved in, indicating a lethal wound had he not been undead.
"Gehgeh! (Oh no! Are you okay!?)" the Geist hopped over to the chieftain's side.
"(I am a troll! I heal fast!)" the troll chieftain stood up with little issue after a few seconds of regenerating. The dent in his chest buffed out, his bones and muscles healing due to his racial ability of heightened regeneration. "(Just like you, friend, I get better quick. Are you sure you are not a troll like me?)"
The Geist cocked his head. "Gehgeh? Geheh! (I don't know what I am. But I am happy you are okay!)"
The troll chieftain grunted in agreement and then shouted to the other trolls. "(The fight over! My friend here strong. We follow him now!)"
The other trolls roared in excited agreement.
"(Strong! Strong! Strong!)" shouted the trolls.
"Geheheh…" The Geist put a shy hand on his head, not quite used to all this praise.
"(We have flowers for you later. Me and boys remember where most of them in forest are)" said the troll chieftain. (For my favor, give me and boys big feast later!)"
"Gehgeh! (I will do my best! Thanks!)" the Geist nodded and then moved on as the trolls scattered away, looking for Eyeflowers. He hopped back on Crow and then pointed upwards, to a large mountain face at the edge of the dimensional space. "Geh! (There! Commander says last flowers grow there. I pick those myself!)"
Crow nodded and flew up with one strong beat of his wings. He hovered in the air for a bit as he charged up energy and directed himself towards the mountain face.
"(That is quite far away. I will use my top speed)" said Crow.
Then, in an explosive burst, Crow shot forth like a living bullet, easily surpassing the sound barrier with the ensuing sonic boom drowning out the Geist's terrified screeches.
Nomad Compound, Z's base (Wanyudo)
"Coffee?" asked Z as she poured some out from a press into a metal cup.
Aldrich sat at the same table he had before with the chiefs, but this time, it was only him and Z. And her guards, too. Knife was there. As were two others.
"No. I don't drink it," said Aldrich. "I'm surprised you make your own coffee."
"It is a hobby of mine," said Z. She took her cup of steaming coffee and then sat across the table, facing Aldrich. Her purple, hawkish eyes gazed at him. "Now then, Mr. Vane, what do you want?"
"What do I want? Quite direct, aren't you?" said Aldrich.
"I am not like Casimir. I am bad at smooth talking. I like to get to the point fast," said Z.
Aldrich reached into his pocket, immediately noticing that all three of Z's guards tensed up. He withdrew two CIDs. His and Valera's. He slid the two rectangular, finger sized chips across the table.
Z picked them up, inspecting them.
"Those are two CIDs I've been using. Picked them up from a gang called the Odinsons," said Aldrich. "I want you to update them to bypass tier 1 cities."
"Odinsons? The name doesn't quite ring a bell," said Z.
"Compared to you guys, they were no names," said Aldrich. "Maybe twenty to thirty in number. Small time wasteland raiders with not much to their name. From what I could tell, they peddled drugs and tech like this."
"Still doesn't register. But then again, I am not Desmond. I don't go out of my way to know every little thing around me, so it stands to reason I would not know one out of thousands of tiny raiding gangs." Z's eyes glowed in the same way Svetlanna's did when she interacted with technology. "I only pay particular attention to my tech."
"That is interesting, though, that a relatively miniscule gang like them had access to your high end tech," said Aldrich.
"I try to keep some of my tech as accessible as possible," said Z. "You have some familiarity with the criminal underworld, but you have no idea about Nomads like us."