Zoey knew one thing about their current situation, and that was that it was not normal. Even for the seemingly random dungeons this was an abnormality that should not have happened. The Alpha Gnoll was a part of the dungeon sure, but it resurrecting after the damage it had taken was surely not supposed to happen. On top of that, Zoey's survival instincts were screaming at her that this creature was dangerous! This was probably the most dangerous thing she had encountered since coming to Darren.
Athena seemed to be similarly aware of the strange circumstances that they faced. She was clearly preparing to use her full strength as the strange energy warped the air and pulled the Alpha Gnoll to its feet, almost like it was a puppet being controlled by some unseen force. Zoey could physically feel the power coursing through the beast as this happened. The energy that was somehow controlling the corpse of the Alpha Gnoll was clearly something sinister. She could see it burrowing under the Gnoll's skin as it took control of the body like a parasite taking control of a host.
Zoey was a bit out of her element, so she backed away to provide support as Athena readied to fight. Athena seemed to have activated some kind of ability of her own as well. The bladed tip of her spear was glowing white-hot, seemingly boiling the very air around it, and Athena's topaz eyes were glowing with an unearthly light as she took her stance.
As the tension reached its highest point, Zoey readied her 9mm Custom and charged it to max power. She would have to pick her shots carefully.
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The battle started with a eerily quiet charge from the Alpha Gnoll at Athena. There was no howl or growl, only the sound of its paws thudding on the ground as it charged. The foreign energy that had invaded its body had taken complete control and the creature's remaining eye had transformed into a hollow void that seemed to lead into a black hole of nothingness. Zoey could not help but shiver from the repugnant feeling she was getting from the transformed beast.
Athena and the Alpha Gnoll struck at each other simultaneously as the Gnoll reached her. Despite the momentum that the Alpha Gnoll had, Athena stood her ground with a mighty swing of her spear that left behind a trail of blue energy in the air. The white-hot spear met the Alpha Gnoll's charge with a an explosion of force that shook the ground underneath them. The corrupted aura of energy coiled around the Alph Gnoll reacted violently to the searing energy of Athena's spear as they made contact, repelling the strike and causing a detonation to occur that sent both combatants back away from each other.
In a flash they had already recovered and lunged at one another again, both leveraging all their strength into their strikes. Once again there was an explosion as Athena's spear met the Alpha Gnoll's claws. This time they both stood their ground and began to trade blows with each other, the shockwaves slamming out around them from the impacts.
Athena met the Gnoll's eerily quiet ferociousness with absolute control and accuracy. Every strike the Gnoll made was turned aside and followed with a counter attack that cracked against the warped energy surrounding the Gnolls body. Whatever was controlling the Gnoll was clearly protecting its host from damage by absorbing the hits from Athena's spear, but Athena kept up the pressure, looking for an opening or some kind of weakness she could exploit.
From her angle, Zoey could see the entire exchange taking place. With the advantage of her Dark Star Vision she could clearly see every strike as Athena fought the Alpha Gnoll. However, Zoey knew that despite her being able to see the strikes of Athena and the Gnoll, she would not be able to avoid them or stop them it they had been directed at her. The amount of force at play in this fight was simply beyond what she was physically capable of dealing with. But that was why she had her gear.
She had learned long ago back on Gaia that the key to winning a battle was to take every opportunity one could find to defeat the opponent. If the opponent did not give you an opportunity, you simply had to create one. So all she had to do was wait and watch with her sights set on the Alpha Gnoll. There would be an opportunity at some point, or she would make one. Through her mask, Zoey's eyes glowed with the color of hot magma, and the charged gun in her steady hands was lit up with magical arrays that leaked magic vapor. She was ready.
Athena on the other hand was building up momentum. Every strike she sent at the Alpha Gnoll came faster and heavier than the last. The impacts of the battle were so powerful that if you heard it, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a distant artillery battle taking place. The very air was being shaken from the shockwaves, but Athena was just getting started.
With a powerful yell she hit the Gnoll with a strike so strong it actually threw it off balance and back on its heels. Seizing the chance, Athena stepped forward into a low stance and put every ounce of strength into a straight stab at the Alpha Gnoll's exposed chest. The spear seemed for a moment to transform into a streak of white-hot light as Athena stabbed towards her target. On impact, the roiling energy protecting the Gnoll cracked open with an explosive shriek. Athena's spear had finally found its mark!
However, all the energy Athena hat put into the strike was now spent. The explosion from the impact had actually moved her back from her position, making it impossible for her to follow through with her strike right away. Athena could see that the hole she had punched into the magic shielding the beast was already knitting itself back together too fast for her to do any damage. She would need another opportunity.
In that moment as Athena readied herself to continue the fight, a dull boom sounded from behind her. There was a vicious sounding crack, and Athena's eyes widened as she saw a projectile impact the same spot on the Gnoll's chest that she had and detonate, ripping the hole in the Alpha Gnoll's shield wide open.
Instantly realizing that Zoey had given her this opportunity, Athena lunged forward and pushed herself to the limit, sending her glowing spear directly into the beast's chest in a perfect strike. Then, as the spear cut its way home, Athena grinned and turned up the heat.
There was a shrieking sound that sounded like tortured souls being freed from the underworld, and then the Alpha Gnoll's corpse detonated with a bang.