BECOME CABBAGE MAN
Their gazes locked as her hand clutched at his arm. It hurt. But Leigh was afraid, as though begging Ryan to not leave her alone.
Ryan knew how disgusting his smile was, yet it forced him to break forward, parading a desperate grin, bearing through heat and smoke until his hand was able to reach a man’s chest.
“Cringe, but no homo.”
Ryan’s heart grew ten times over. His vision blurred. He wobbled to the side but he said the magic word. He called Death through the hallowing, mighty, and awkward beep that summons cabbages as payment. Like a pigeon’s calling card after being a bitch.
Everything hurts. His limbs were as crunchy as crackers. His face felt like a giant meatball. Joshua was dumbfounded like the dumbass that he was. Leigh was still afraid.
Overall, his body was like kneaded dough. But it also meant that someone was going to rise, and it wouldn’t be the shield hero.
Then he got punched again.
The air in Ryan’s lungs abandoned his body. His knees relaxed again and shuddered from its sheer force of impact. It wasn’t someone. It was a spirit. Everything around him had been eaten by that flame, and the shadow from afar seemed to have taken a twisted pose with his palm spread over his face.
“I know that this is…” Ryan grinned and cupped that spirit’s head with his right hand. “I watched the anime, and out of all the abilities—”
Ryan used his skill, grinning, almost laughing as the spirit disappeared and the silhouette from afar broke into cabbages.
“You could’ve used the one that could stop time. You could’ve used someone that has a green undodgeable and unblockable splash. You could’ve even used a gun.” Ryan twisted his grin and let out a murderous laugh. “And yet you chose a beef stick that has to come close to your opponent. A beef stick that has an actual bearing on your body if you get hurt. God. What a dumbass.”
Ryan noticed the sudden shift of taste in the air. The hint of burnt cabbages was replaced by an overflowing smell of sizzling peanut butter.
It was a young man keeping his posture low, arching his body forward as he slid through a brown muck that should’ve spread over some nice toasted bread instead of the floor. He extended his arms and squirted some of that sweety nutty goodness towards him.
It was fast. But would it do damage? Probably not. But the fear of angering his Mom about a nasty stain was empowering. Ryan sidestepped, yanked the boy’s face, and relished as that victim’s reaction shifted from anger to despair.
“And this is the fucking hero who underestimated his own power.” Ryan scoffed. “I didn’t have the high ground, but you picked the wrong food in this war, son.”
Ryan fist pumped and faced the others. It would be nice if he could identify them, but it was too dark, and they were actually hidden beneath the shadows cast by this fake moon. These bastards thought they were cool.
“So… he’s the Cabbage Man,” a large man said.
“It’s shit. We can’t use that against that Montefalco bastard. I’m more interested in how they survived,” a girl followed and pointed to her ears. “I’m more interested in this… Chief of Rear Defense. The sound was a bit scuffed because of that rock rain, but I’m pretty sure that they survived because of him.”
A thin man straightened his back and looked at the others. “What would the Queen say about this, though?”
“Nothing. She’s too busy fucking through everything,” the large man answered.
“Well, either we lucked out… or even the last of the survivors we’ve dealt with would be a bust. But hey, at least you guys get to get revenge for your childhood friend, eh?” A bald shadow scratched at the top of his head, laughing. “I mean… you can still take revenge for the other two who failed to get theirs.”
Joshua and Leigh were as confused as Ryan was. But the Cabbage Man swallowed his fears, clenched his buttcheeks, and steeled himself forward with a sweaty, confident grin.
“Judging how you didn’t kill us yet…” Ryan forced a laugh and waved his hand like a wet noodle. “You’re looking for allies, right?”
“Yes,” the girl pointing to her ears replied. “But our concern is more of… quality than quantity. I don’t like your smug-ass tone, especially for someone so scared.”
“How…” Ryan covered his crotch and glanced at his friends. “Considering how I…” He chuckled and poised forward. “Man. I’m sorry for killing the Fire Guy and the Peanut Butter Boy. Man, you have to agree that his abilities were a waste. But then again, I can certainly take their place. I’ll just gloss over your lowkey sexual harassment and appoint myself as the leader of your attack squad or whatever. What do you say?”
“The fuck?” The girl slowed her high-pitched voice. “I was talking about your heart. That’s not how even it works, you piece of shit—”
She was about to abandon everything. Like a cowboy with a twitching trigger finger, Ryan stepped back with a confident smile, but the girl was stopped by the larger man.
“And to repay for my mistakes,” Ryan followed. “I’ll allow myself to let you join me in beating that Montefalco dude, given that you don’t beat my ass anymore, or my other two friends, who wished for dumb things and got even dumber powers on top of getting into this death game.”
Another shadow of a man appeared. He’s tall, a bit thin. And he’s actually revealing himself. Just like that, the air reeked of a severe case of an identity crisis.
Ryan went to a 7/11, not knowing this was a death game. This guy probably knew what was happening and looted a parlor to bleach his hair white instead. He also probably stole that pair of gray suits and slacks from the mall. If Ryan could squint even more, maybe he could recognize the tab and know how much it would usually cost.
“Yeah.” His eyes sored away from that man and found solace in harassing the high-pitched girl from afar. “One of them actually spent her years, we call it life points, learning how to do a proper backflip!” Ryan scratched his head. “The other has some fucked up issues with his self-esteem that all he just has is a big dick. Twelve inches. Like a footlong hotdog. I’ve been carrying this team ever since this game started.”
“I’m basically a bargain.” Ryan spread his arms and grimaced at the pain at his side. “And if you want me, we can do business. We’ll start renaming our team, re-align our horrendous blocking, maybe even think up a pose. And just so you know, I ain’t settling for a team name that’s ‘Avengers’ tier.”
“You’ll be useless against projectile attacks.”
Ryan froze and swallowed to keep his tight, confident smile. “That’s why I have a barrier.”
“You’re scared aren’t you?” The man chuckled with a well-modulated voice like Wattpad-brand mafia boss. “You’re looking pretty pale, considering that what you just killed could turn everything to ash in just a matter of seconds.”
“But he’s dead now, which makes him a dumbass.” Ryan widened his grin. “My right arm is an absolute beast of a weapon that could kill anything as long as I touch them with my pointing finger, and my left is a bitch that could summon an invincible barrier. The point is—”
Light flashed. Something carved through the burned concrete floor. Ryan lost his balance and shriveled to his knees. He didn’t blink, but his gaze darkened and glared bright as his breath seeped through his lips.
He chuckled helplessly. He lost his energy to turn and see Leigh and Joshua’s reaction. The freezing pain leaking from his left side dragged his attention towards his bleeding left arm on the floor, far from him.
Ryan gritted his teeth as tears welled up in his eyes. “Now that’s more… like it. A proper sneak attack. Looks like you’re learning a lot from me. So… why don’t we go ahead… gang… and get this show on the road to show that Montefalco bitch who’s boss?”
“Okay, Papa Bear,” the girl scoffed.
“The point is, you don’t get to interrupt me. It could be healed by someone back in our base, at the police station. But I do need you to be cooperative.” The white-haired man snapped his fingers to summon a floating white greatsword at his back and pointed them at Joshua and Leigh. “Someone else would be so happy to keep you alive and kill you slowly, but I don’t have that luxury. Have you seen that weirdo wrote after flattening that building? The Queen doesn’t have that luxury. You’re going to tell me who summoned that barrier, now.”
“You’re… liking… every… bit of this… don’t you?”
The man grinned. “Like a fucking dream come true.”
“Who… the fuck… do… you think you are?”
“Leo Blade Sagittarius”
“Oh fuck,” Ryan tilted his head and breathed in defeat. “you gotta be kidding me—”
“The Original Simp. The White Blade.” He cut him off, his head held high against the moonlight. “The Greatest Knight to the Greatest Queen.”
Ryan stared into his eyes, dead. “I’m gonna get killed by a fucking Roleplayer.”
“Would you rather bleed to death then?”
Leo’s blade inched forward. Ryan didn’t have the energy to panic. He wondered how those two looked. Were they confused, afraid? His chest tightened.
“Fine,” he smiled at the ground. “I’m s-sorry about lying. I’m scared… that’s all. Ka-chin is hiding. He’s the one that allowed us to survive. Please… don’t hurt him. He’s just a young boy, and we’re all protecting him.”
Leo’s eyes narrowed. The girl from afar gave him a thumbs-up, and he turned back to Ryan, trembling in his pool of sweat and blood. “Who… is this… Ka-chin?”
“Imma be ka-chin deez nuts—”
The white blade flashed through his peripheral vision. The air whizzed. Ryan froze. He was expecting to hear the ripping of flesh. But the blades bounced back and howled upon hitting what sounded like a frying pan. Leo’s eyes narrowed yet again, like a budget mafia boss. He stepped back and shoved his hands into his pocket.
“Looks like our job here is done.” Leo smiled. “We found him.”
“No, you’re fucking didn’t...” Ryan whispered.
“I’m the one that they want, Ryan. Stop cucking me, man…” Joshua passed him and shrugged to stand against Leo. “You’re leaving them alone.”
“You don’t get to make demands.”
“Your choice, Original Simp. Otherwise, it’s a fight.” Joshua’s brave voice trembled, but he kept his determination in place. “You can take me and leave my friends alone, or a fight is going to break out. You would do it to kill me, and I assure you... you would lose two or more people for a fucking shield.”
“Joshua… what the fuck are you talking about?” Ryan heaved through his gritting teeth.
Leo summoned three more blades and put them to work, but they did nothing against Joshua’s barrier. That man looked rather pleased. And Joshua’s smile looked ever so disgusting as he looked at him.
“I’m saving both your asses. Again.” Joshua relished on his pained smile. “I’m the one that they want.”