Welp, like I said, here's the first full chapter of Infinity Train: Boiling Point! This is gonna be an intense ride, so I hope you're ready for some... chaos.
Before we begin, I'd like to thank Green_Phantom_Queen for giving me some ideas on how to go on with this story. She's the author of Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, a Pokémon, Silent Hill, and Infinity Train crossover that's a pretty good read and the inspiration for this story.
Just get your stomach and mind ready, 'cause it doesn't pull any punches with the drama.
This chapter's mostly the day where Boscha gets into such a bad state that the Train picks her up.
So, without further ado, let's go!
~Normal Inner Boscha~
~Apex Inner Boscha~
Boscha still had trouble wrapping her head around what just happened.
She and her team just had a Grugdby match against a... peculiar team. More specifically, a team that included Amity Blight, a former teammate of hers, Willow Park, a prodigy regarding plant magic, and... Hexside's first Human student?
Luz Noceda was probably her name, but Boscha wouldn't know. She only ever called her "Human."
The game had gone exactly as she expected: with her team winning. Mostly thanks to her. After all, she was not only the captain, but the best player of the team.
And yet, what should've been a great victory.... didn't feel like it. Sure, she won, there was no way people could deny that. But seeing her teammates acting nice with the other group...
It felt like the game was pointless: why did she bother trying to win if she felt nothing but defeat?
"Hey there, Boscha."
The three-eyed Witch turned around, and to her relief, she saw the bard student known as Skara, one of her only friends... actually, scratch that, her only friend, period.
"Hi, Skara," Boscha sighed. "So, have you and the girls stopped pampering Amity's group?"
"I wouldn't say we were pampering them, just congratulating them for a good game," Skara replied as she sat next to Boscha. "Even so, yeah, it's over. I came here to check up on you. Are you okay?"
"Pfft, what kind of question is that!?" Boscha scoffing with a chuckle. "Of course I'm fine! Didn't even break a sweat the entire game!"
"I didn't mean physically..."
Boscha's arrogant poise slowly vanished, replaced by a begrudging sigh of acknowledgement.
"No... I don't think I'm fine... in fact, I think I'm terrible-"
"Okay, that's good enough!" Skara interjected with an uneasy giggle. "Hey, how about we hang out after school? Maybe some fresh air would help you clear your mind?"
Boscha rolled her eyes. All three of them. "Wouldn't you rather hang out with the ones who won the Grudgby match?"
"I mean, I would, but the rest of the team beat me to it."
Boscha quickly covered her mouth before her laughter could escape it. She didn't know why, but there was something about Skara that always managed to cheer her up no matter what.
Not that it mattered when not too long after, the team of Amity, Luz, and Willow appeared.
"Hi there, Boscha!" Luz chirped, waving her hand. "That was a pretty good game! The best Grudgby match I've ever played!"
"It's the only Grudgby match you've ever played," Boscha dryly pointed out.
"I know, but still, it was pretty enjoyable!" Luz turned to Amity. "Right, Amity?!"
The partial greenette flinched and avoided eye contact, blushing as she spoke, "Uh, y-y-yeah, i-it was... it was f-fun."
Someway, somehow, Amity had found a way to disappoint Boscha even more. It wasn't enough that she left the posse, and it wasn't enough that she chose to go Soft to hang out with the Weak. Now she was just acting like an utter doofus.
And this wasn't a sight Boscha was willing to stomach.
"Good game too. Now if you excuse me," Boscha stood up. "I have to do something-"
"Wait, before you go!" Luz called. "I wanted to thank you!"
Boscha raised an eyebrow. "For what, exactly?"
"Well, remember when you threw that fireball at me? I think I discovered a glyph that lets me use fire magic!" Luz reached for her back. "Here, let me show you-"
"I insist, keep it to yourself," Boscha interrupted. "Last thing I need right now is for you to mess up and burn this place to the ground. Let's go, Skara."
The dark-skinned bard nodded, and she waved goodbye and congratulated the group before joining Boscha.
The rest of the day was fairly average, at least, for a bard student. Skara learned a couple new melodies that attracted a certain type of magical creature, and she played those tunes in her flute, hoping to memorize them for the next day-
Skara stopped playing her flute and looked at Boscha wiping some fairies off her body, leaving behind glittery rainbow stains.
"Of all the melodies you could be taught today, it had to be one who attracted fairies?" the three-eyed Witch complained. "And do you really need to play it now!?"
"I'm sorry, Boscha, but I have to do this: how else am I supposed to memorize the melodies before this week's exam?" Skara shrugged and looked around. "Anyway, what are we looking for? I feel like we've been walking around in circles for a while now."
"Hmph, don't be impatient, Skara; we're getting close."
"Well, I'm not so much impatient as I'm worried: we should've gone back home as soon as we got out of Hexside and-"
"There it is!"
Skara flinched and turned to where Boscha was pointing at. Right where her finger was pointing, there was a large, oddly humanoid tree that was... walking around?
"Wait... is that-?"
"A Mandragora!" Boscha rubbed her palms and smirked. "Just perfect! Now if only we could only distract it somehow..."
Skara hummed. "I think I remember a song that entrances plant creatures. I should be able to entrance the Mandragora just the same."
"That's the Skara I know! Smart and reliable!" Boscha chirped with a sincere smile, causing Skara to blush. "Alright, I'll go hide somewhere nearby, you get that thing's attention!"
Skara nodded with a determined expression, and Boscha hid inside a bush. With that done, Skara whistled, and got the Mandragora's attention in an instant.
Skara took a deep breath, and closed her eyes as she played a soft, slow melody on her flute. The Mandragora's eyes began to glow, the beast taking a couple steps towards the bard student as the melody continued.
This kept going for a while... until Boscha jumped out of the bush and planted her hand inside the Mandragora's chest, the creature too entranced to notice.
Boscha clenched her fist as hard as she could, then pulled and pulled until she ripped something straight out: it resembled a massive seed, but the beating and veins covering it made it clear that it was the creature's heart.
Unfortunately, the visceral sounds that came from the removal prompted Skara to stop... at which point the Mandragora returned to reality.
"Boscha, what the-?!"
"You did your part well, Skara," Boscha stated as she clenched the heart tightly. "Now, it's my turn."
Boscha inserted her remaining hand on the hole in the Mandragora's chest, causing it to scream in pain.
The hole glowed a vibrant red, and the beast's mouth, eyes, and cracks around its body gained a red glow that intensified as it cried in pain until eventually, the Mandragora was incinerated from the inside, leaving behind nothing but dust that was promptly blown away by the wind.
"Hmph, piece of cake," Boscha smirked. "Come on, Skara, our job here is done."
The bard student stood stunned for a moment before she snapped back to reality and followed the three-eyed Witch.
"Hey, Boscha, if you don't mind me asking," Skara frowned. "What are you planning to do with that heart?"
"Elementary, my dear Skara," Boscha threw the heart in the air and grabbed it again. "I'm gonna do what I do best."
Once back at home, at the kitchen, Boscha took out the Mandragora heart and placed it next to a cup filled with water, and a grinder.
Or maybe it was a shredder. She didn't know, it was that thing Humans use to shred food to bits.
Boscha cleaned the heart until it was completely clean, then began grinding the viscera into the cup. The resulting bits somehow resembled flakes, to boot.
"The movie's ready!" Skara chirped, suddenly barging into the room. "Let me know when you're done to play it!"
"Got it, Skara!" Boscha replied, focusing solely on the grinding. "What movie did you pick for tonight?"
"Your favorite one!"
A brief, joyful smile formed around Boscha's lips, but it vanished slightly as she focused on the heart.
"Do we really have to do this?"
Boscha raised an eyebrow and threw a confused look at Skara, who leaned against the doorframe.
"This whole... prank?"
"You can call it a prank if you want," Boscha turned back to the seed-shaped heart she was grinding. "But I like to think of this as, an exercise."
Skara blinked twice. "An exercise?"
"Today's Grudgby game opened my eyes to a lot of things," Boscha lowered her eyelids. "How things have changed since Amity became friends with that... Human..."
"Luz Noceda's her name, I think," Skara hummed. "And I've also heard that she and Willow are trying to rekindle their friendship-"
"And that's the part that bothers me," Boscha interjected. "Or at least, what Amity's doing."
"And that means?"
Boscha sternly put the heart and grinder down. "She's being a bad influence!"
Skara took a step back and clutched her chest. "I-I don't think I understand..."
Boscha let out a small sigh. She couldn't blame Skara for not getting what she was saying; the number of people who could understand her thought process without an explanation would be her parents and... actually, just her parents.
And they could rot in the Underworld for all she cared.
"Fine, let me explain: in this world, there are two types of people: The "Strong" and the "Weak." The Strong rule the world and the Weak with an iron fist, while the Weak try to survive living under the heels of the Strong. But between these two types, and even above them, there are many different variations."
"Is Amity a variation?"
"She is... the worst variation... a Soft," Boscha gritted her teeth with disgust. "A Strong who has rejected some of their strength to put themselves at the level of the Weak. A Strong who would rather lower themselves for the Weak. A Strong who would rather sacrifice their own growth, so the Weak don't have to grow and better themselves!"
Boscha took several deep breaths to try calm herself down, her eyes sporting a dangerous red glow that slowly vanished alongside her rage.
"I once thought Amity was one of the Strong. That she was one of the Strongest, who would help and protect the Weak while guiding them. But I was wrong. Now, she's gone Soft."
Thanks to that damn Human...
"And so," Skara hummed. "You think she's being a bad influence... because-?"
"Instead of forcing Willow to grow and develop like she used to, she lowered herself to her level, stunting both their growth in the process!" Boscha took a deep breath. "But, the good news is, I'm not Amity. I'm not a Soft. I'm a Strong; one of the Strongest... an Apex."
Skara grimaced. "Apex?"
"Someone who not only protects the Strong and Weak alike, but forces them to grow and better themselves. That's what I am, Skara. I'm... an Apex."
Once the grinding was finished, Boscha crushed what remained of the heart and watched some liquid pour into the cup, giving the drink a green color.
"And tomorrow... I will give her no choice but to admit it."
Skara hummed for a moment, then walked off to get the movie ready. Boscha then moved the liquid around with a spoon, internally hoping that this would get the job done.
'Cause if it didn't...
The next day came, and while walking across the Hexside hallways with Skara by her side, Boscha looked at what she held in her hand: a potion with the green liquid stored inside.
"So, what exactly's the plan for that potion, Boscha?"
"You don't need to know everything about my plan, Skara," Boscha replied, ruffling Skara's hair. "You just need to play your part after I do mine, okay?"
"Uh, okay... what am I supposed to do again?"
"Just go get Willow when I tell you to."
Skara nodded with slight unease, and kept walking by Boscha's side. Until eventually, they reached what they were look.
Or in this case, who they were looking for: Amity Blight.
"Hmhmhm, there she is," Boscha smirked. "Now, Skara, stay here and watch."
Boscha held the potion close to her chest as she approached Amity, caught her breath... and said the one thing that always managed to get her attention...
Her childhood nickname.
"Boscha?!" Amity shouted, getting defensive as she snapped her locker shut. "W-What do you want?!"
"I just wanted to congratulate you for the Grudgby match yesterday! It was a great game!" Boscha sighed. "Sadly, I wasn't in the best state of mind back then, so I couldn't give you a proper trophy for it."
"Oh don't worry, we don't need a trophy," Amity folded her arms and smirked. "Beating you and proving you're not as hot as you think you are's a good reward on its own."
Don't incinerate her, don't incinerate her, don't incinerate her, she must be alive so Willow can prove her worth!
"Anyhow," Boscha revealed the potion. "I made a little something for you! It's a drink that'll help Willow expand her horizons and-"
Boscha snatched the potion back as soon as Amity tried to grab it.
"You didn't let me finish."
"I don't need to!" Amity growled. "Knowing you, that potion's got something on it! Poison, paralysis, just something that'll hurt Willow!"
Any worse than your own, condescending Softness has hurt her?
"Well, I was gonna give this to you, so you could give this to her," Boscha walked past Amity. "But clearly, that was a mistake, so I'll go do that myself-"
Amity grabbed the back of Boscha's uniform. "Don't you dare."
"Dare to do what?"
"You know what I mean!"
Boscha faced Amity with a smug smile, then offered the potion to her. Amity snatched, opened it... and then threw the potion to the ground, spilling its contents entirely.
But unlike what Amity expected, this didn't remove the smug smirk from Boscha's face.
"What's so funny?" Amity glared. "I just destroyed your potion! You can do nothing about it now!"
Boscha snickered. "Oh, really?"
Without warning, a pair of arm-like vines sprouted and grabbed Amity's body as the ground shook... and a familiar creature emerged.
"A Mandragora?!" Amity exclaimed.
"Ding ding ding, we got a winner!" Boscha clasped her hands. "The potion was created using the grinded heart of a Mandragora, with a little blood from it for good measure."
Skara's eyes widened. "That's why we went Mandragora hunting, didn't we? To create an artificial Mandragora?!"
"Is there a problem with it?"
"You could've made a dozen different potions with a Mandragora heart, and you chose to make the most dangerous one!" Skara pulled her hair. "You've gotten away with a lot of things, Boscha, but this is something even Principal Bump cannot turn a blind eye at!"
"Whether he turns a blind eye doesn't matter," Boscha looked at Skara. "What matters is that a certain someone comes to Amity Calamity's rescue."
Skara stood stunned for a moment, shocked at the fact Boscha would go so far for a simple lesson. But she soon realized standing still wouldn't help anybody, so she bolted in search for Willow, leaving Boscha and Amity behind to throw daggers at each other.
Luz wasn't quite sure what she expected when she opened her locker, but a letter written by Boscha was definitely out of the question.
However, what truly caught her attention was what was written on it:
Human, this is Boscha. If you haven't crumpled this letter and thrown it away after saying that, then let me be blunt with you.
It's become painfully clear to me that Amity has a thing for you, just as how it's clear that you can't see the obvious hints.
Amity likes you. Not as a classmate, not as Grudgby player, not as just a friend, or any other dumb stuff you might be thinking of. She likes you as a love interest.
She loves you romantically.
Unfortunately, I know Amity well enough to know that she won't take the first step even if her life depended on it. She's extremely stubborn, you see.
If this relationship is to bloom, and Amity is to stop making a fool of herself, the responsibility falls onto your shoulders, Human.
So, I'm asking you... begging you... take the first step, and go out with Amity. I fear that's the only way she'll stop humilliating herself.
With high expectations, Boscha.
P.S.: If you tell anybody I said anything on this letter, I'll burn you alive.
Luz closed the letter and put it on her pocket, taking out some of her books before she closed her locker.
Amity was in love with her? Sure, she had been acting a little weird since they became friends, but Luz just assumed Amity had no idea how to be friends with a human.
But if Amity was in love with her-
Luz jumped and turned around, barely getting a chance to catch her breath before Skara ran up to her, visibly panicking.
"Where's Willow?! It's urgent!"
"Skara, calm down," Luz asked. "Take a deep breath and tell me, what do you need Willow for?"
"It's Amity! B-B-Boscha, p-potions, m-m-m-mandragora! Danger! Need Willow now!"
Luz nodded and grabbed Skara's hand. While she was lost as to the full message, she did understand that Amity was in danger and that Willow could somehow help her.
Boscha only expected Amity to annoy her today. But right now, she had trouble believing what she was seeing.
A couple students stood around as Amity formed circle after circle, trying to do some kind of damage to the artificial Mandragora, but to no avail.
Amity trying to ruin Willow's time to shine was already bad enough, but the students standing around doing nothing were even worse. One of their classmates was in danger, the most popular student at that, and the best they could come up with was stand at the sidelines and look worried?
Cast a spell! Get a teacher! Do something to actually show you care that Amity's life is in danger!
Granted, Boscha probably would stop them if they tried that, but trying and failing was better than not trying at all!
Finally, Skara came back with Willow and Human!
"What happened here?!" Willow asked, before gasping at the Mandragora. "Where did that thing come from?!"
"It's all Boscha's fault!" Amity snapped, drawing a circle to summon some Abominations... which were soundly beaten by the Mandragora. "She brought a potion that could revive a Mandragora into the school!"
Boscha just shrugged with a cocky smile.
"We gotta do something about this!" Luz ran through her bag. "I might have some glyphs that-"
"Will magically fix everything?"
Luz froze, and when she looked up, she saw Boscha glaring at her, smiling smugly as she said:
"Do you really think it's gonna be that easy? I'll admit that you've been making quite a lot of progress, Human, but just because you make progress doesn't mean you can fix everything. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of creatures and ailments that you don't know about! And this just so happens to be one of them! I mean, what were you planning to do, use a fire glyph to burn it away? I hate to tell this to you, Human, but if there's anybody here that can do something about it..."
Boscha faced Willow and pointed at her.
"M-Me?!" Willow exclaimed.
"You're a prodigy with plant magic, and Mandragoras are nothing more than walking, sentient trees," Boscha folded her arms. "If you can use your magic to control the Mandragora, you can make it release Amity! And before you start asking for alternatives, there are none."
Boscha faced Skara. "Isn't that right, Skara?"
Everybody faced the bard, who lowered her head as she explained:
"When a Mandragora is revived, it takes the strengths and weaknesses of the ground from which it sprouted from. If this Mandragora had been revived on a forest or the like, it'd be exactly the same before death. But since this one sprouted from Hexside, it has as much endurance as the building, and a resistance to all kinds of magic except plant magic."
"And there you go: there's only one thing that can be done, and that's for someone with proficiency at plant magic to take control of the beast," Boscha narrowed her eyes. "So what are you waiting for? Take control of the Mandragora, or else Amity might not be long for this world-"
But then, the Mandragora cried in pain. And a single look revealed why: Principal Bump had ripped out the creature's heart, crushing it so it would crumble to dust.
He then caught Amity as she fell, and put her on the ground as he turned to Boscha and stated:
"Boscha, I'd like to see you in my office."
Boscha had no idea why she was here. Okay, that was a lie, she knew why she was at the principal's office, what she didn't understand was why the principal was looking at her with disapproval.
She had just finished explaining why she revived the Mandragora, and how it was for the better so Amity could stop babying Willow. But given his expression, her words fell on deaf ears.
"So, to try convince Amity that Willow wasn't as weak as she thought, you revived a Mandragora, which could potentially hurt other students if it wasn't stopped?"
"Willow could've stopped it! Scratch that, she would've stopped it!" Boscha snapped. "She's more than capable!"
"Strong enough to do it, perhaps, but she's not capable. No matter what you've been lead to believe, Boscha, strength and capability aren't one and the same. For example, look at the new student, Luz Noceda."
Ugh, that damn Human again?
"She's capable of casting magic unlike anything we've seen before, but she's not that strong: she's actually physically weaker than most students here."
She's stronger than Amity. That's all that matters.
"Save the condescending ignorance for another day, Bump," Boscha growled. "What do I have to give you so we can leave this thing in the past?"
The principal took a deep breath and clasped his hands.
That wasn't a good sign.
"Boscha, we've been through this before. Many times, I've let you slide from the consequences of your actions. I even humored the idea of letting you get away with murder. But with this stunt, you could've endangered the entire school. And that's not something I can let you get away with."
Goddammit, Skara, of all the times you could be right, why today!?
"Therefore, while your family's power is far too great for me to expel you, I'm giving you a full week suspension."
"That'll give you more than enough time to think about what you did."
This was an outrage! An insult! An... outsult!
Why was she being punished like this!? All she did was try to teach Amity that Willow didn't need a babysitter, and she was rewarded with suspension?! What kind of sick joke was this!?
"Boscha, we're done with this discussion," Bump stated sternly. "Now please, go to your classroom. Your class is about to start."
Ever since the Mandragora event, Boscha was... well, there was no easy way to say this nicely: she was far more terrifying than usual.
No energy, no arrogance, no cocky smiles, nothing. Just her head hanging low while she walked, refusing to see the world around her.
Skara knew that when Boscha was either quiet or refusing to see the world, things were bad, but both at the same time?
She was a time bomb waiting to explode.
"So, uh, Boscha," the bard student blurted. "W-Would you like to come to my house?"
Boscha said nothing.
"W-We could practice spells, or dance while I play a little tune, or... or... j-just... hang out?"
"Boscha, I know today was a bad day, but you can't let it get you down. S-Sure, your plan didn't go as you wanted, but it's not the end of the world. I'm sure after this week-"
But then, Skara noticed something: Boscha was walking away from Hexside... and straight into the forest.
Skara followed her cautiously, hoping that Boscha's lit was still a few minutes away from making her explode.
But before long, and to her shock, Skara found herself and Boscha in the middle of the same spot where the Mandragora was originally killed...
And then, Boscha stopped.
The three-eyed Witch clenched her fist, and gritted her teeth, snarling like a rabid dog as her eyes began glowing red...
The ground beneath Boscha scorched up as she began jumping up and down, summoning and throwing fireballs at the surrounding trees while yelling at the top of her lungs:
"Damn you, Amity! This is all your fault! All you had to do was convince Willow to help and you would've learned your lesson! That Willow didn't need you to hold her hand! And yet you screwed it all up!"
"B-But," Skara stammered, keeping a fair distance away from the volatile Witch. "Principal Bump was the one who suspended you-"
This time, Boscha's screams echoed across the forest... and straight to Hexside.
A fact Skara quickly realized.
"B-B-Boscha, they're gonna come here! After that massive shout, there's no way they won't come investigate!" Skara exclaimed, slowly approaching the Witch. "I know you're angry, but you gotta calm down!"
"AND YOU GOTTA LEARN YOUR PLACE!"
Boscha aimed her palm at Skara and released a fireball, striking her shoulder hard enough to make her slide back...
And with this action, Boscha paused and regained her composure...
"Oh no... nonononono, Skara!"
Boscha ran to the bard's side and helped her stand up: Skara gritted her teeth and groaned as steam came from her shoulder, the piece of the uniform covering it not only incinerated, but revealing notable burns.
"Oh no, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to-"
"Boscha!" Skara snapped, shutting up her friend. "Listen to me... you gotta run!"
"The Mandragora incident already put you in a bad spot, but injuring another student? If Principal Bump... no, if my parents find out about this, they're gonna want your head in a pike!"
"They'd go that far?!"
Skara put a hand on Boscha's cheek.
"Boscha, listen to me. Your last scream was so potent it was probably heard all the way over to Hexside. Somebody's going to come here, and if they see us both together... well, you already know. So please, run away!"
"But what about you?!"
"I'll be fine... with an injury this bad, I might be transferred to the Healing track, like I wanted to."
Boscha began to tear up. "Skara..."
And so did Skara. "Go, now!"
The three-eyed potion student took a couple steps back, then began to ran deeper into the forest. But not before she faced Skara one more and mouthed:
Skara smiled and mouthed back:
And so, Boscha ran as Skara fell to her knees, groaning in pain as a group of Hexside students reached her... and among those students were Amity and Luz.
This day was officially Boscha's worst day ever.
First her Mandragora plan wound up a complete failure.
Then she got suspended over it.
And now she was on the run after accidentally hurting her only friend in a fit of rage.
And even if she was found, what would come next? An expulsion and death sentence, perhaps, especially if Skara's parents had as much political power as her parents had lead her to believe.
It was too much. Way too much.
"Can this damn day get any worse!?"
A sudden, vibrant green light startled Boscha and stopped her on her tracks. The Witch opened her eyes, and in front of her was... what were those Human vehicles called again? It was long and consisted of a bunch of cars connected to one another.
Was it a rollercoaster? Boscha decided to go with that for now.
Once it stopped, the rollercoaster opened one of its doors, revealing a green portal that didn't show what was on other side.
The offer was obvious, comically so, but Boscha couldn't really refuse it. Not when she couldn't back down at this point.
So, against what her mind told her, Boscha walked through the portal... and in the blink of an eye, landed somewhere nice.
Well, as nice as an academy in ruins could be.
"Out of the way!"
Boscha stepped to the side, and a... peculiar entity ran... well, floated, past her: a crystal ball with the most simplistic face she had ever seen.
"Oh, wait a minute!" the ball exclaimed. "Are you a passenger?"
"Sorry, force of habit. Can you do magic, is what I meant?"
Boscha opened her palm and summoned a fireball before dissipating it with a clench of her fist.
"Oh, that's perfect!" the crystal ball chirped. "I'm so sorry to ask this of you, but could you help me drive away the intruders?!"
Boscha faced the academy. "The ones inside that place?"
"I mean, it's the only building on this car..."
Boscha hummed about it for a moment. She did need some stress relief after what just happened, and since Skara wasn't around, she wouldn't need to worry about hurting her again...
"Hey, crystal ball, what's your name?"
"My name?" the crystal ball asked. "It's Chris, why?"
"Well then, Chris," Boscha flashed a confident smirk. "Take me to those intruders."