Hellcat Squadran: Clan of Chaos focuses on Katalena Akulov and her partner Quinn Marshall as they investigate a new and terrifyingly powerful hybrid that appears to know everything about their lives, all the while as their allies come closer to discovering the power of the Vakning.
God Save UsEdit
She was sitting in her private-school's library, alone off in the corner. She was graduating next month, and she simply couldn't wait for it all to be over and done with. Most of the other students were all concerned about a party that everyone had been invited to that evening. It sounded like it was going to be a pretty serious event. She predicted no less than four pregnancies and at least six broken windows by the end of it. It was the first one she'd been invited to, and also the first that her father was allowing her to attend. She had always been a bit of a loner and didn't exactly have any friends, so she was quite nervous about what the evening would mean for her.
She glanced down at her watch and fixed her glasses, which had slipped down the bridge of her nose slightly. There was another interesting fact about her day. She had turned eighteen six and a half minutes ago. "Happy birthday, Katalena." she muttered to herself and leaned her head against the window, looking out at the parking lot. Her eyebrows rose as she looked down. To her amazement, her father had come himself to pick her up, rather than just sending one of his workers to do so. She rose and put her holo-tablet back in her bag as she headed for the doors. On her way out, a couple of students, all boys and all renowned for their immense athletic talent, winked at her as she passed. She stared at the ground to hide her furiously blushing face, as she recalled a rumor that one of them was interested in getting to know her better that night.
She went outside and saw her father now arguing with another man. This man was far taller than her father and they shared some resemblance. He was black clad from head to foot and looked like a soldier. As she slowly drew near, the man noticed her. She blinked and he was gone. "Who was that, father?" She asked as she reached him.
"And old friend, a former Jedi who has been looking to do business with me." Her father, Dmitri Akulov said.
"Was something wrong?"
"I was just annoyed he came to your school to find me. We've arranged to meet while you're away this evening. For now, come, we should find supper for you, I'll let you choose the restaurant this time." He said, causing her stomach to flip over. It must have been for her birthday, and he normally just had the maids or the butler take care of her during her previous birthdays.
"Kata, hey, you awake?"
Kat shook her head as her reverie was interrupted. She glanced over at her partner, Quinn, as they flew over Moscow. "Yeah, yeah, sorry. Memory lane." She said.
"You gonna tell me why we flew out here, then?" He asked. "And why we didn't just get Morri to portal us over?"
"Morri deserves a break, Quinn. One that is a couple years long. We can handle this ourselves. We're here because in my meditations I could sense Amelia causing chaos here. There is only one reason she'd cause chaos in Moscow."
"She wants your attention." Quinn said, nodding. "Well, sadly for her, it worked." Kata nodded as her gaze returned to the skyline of the city below.
"Now I know what she was targeting." Kata said. Quinn followed her gaze and she noticed his emotions change to concern for her. As the gunship drew closer, they saw a ruined building, utterly destroyed by something that resembled a mix of the force as well as powers over fire. "Put us down here." Kata ordered the pilot, and the ship descended. They landed in the street, which was devoid of transportation due to the devastation of the building. Kata stepped out and started to look around. Quinn followed her in as she wandered the ruined building. She seemed to know the layout despite its ruin. They entered what Quinn guessed was a ruined library. She stopped in the corner of it, one of the few parts of the building still standing. In the corner was a table with a single chair. Kata slowly walked over and sat down.
Quinn approached her and put a hand on her shoulder. "This was your school, wasn't it?" He asked. She nodded.
"The school's library was one of the few places I found peace back then." She sighed. "I just want to know why those are still here." She said and pointed to something on the table. Quinn looked and saw a single pair of glasses. "Mine." She said.
"How'd they get here?" He asked gently.
"The last day I was in here was the day my father moved us to his research facility. Me and few other school alumni were returning to speak to the students about career opportunities and such. I reunited with my first boyfriend here in the library. He took my glasses off and we left them here by mistake when we went to hookup in the bathroom. Upon leaving said bathroom my father's men grabbed and escorted me to the shuttle, and off we left." Kata said.
"How would Amelia have found them?"
"Good question." Kata said and rose. She turned to the door and halted. Quinn looked and saw a lone, older man standing in the door. He was clad in black armor and he radiated power.
"We're Coalition forces, investigating this building's destruction, sir, we have top level clearance to do so." Quinn said. "If this is an issue, we can arrange for you to discuss this with our superiors."
"Speak your native tongue, boy." The man said in Russian. Kata's eyebrows rose. "You too, girl, you're in your homeland, after all."
"And how would you presume to know my homeland?" Kata snapped, switching to Russian.
"And how did you know my native tongue was Russian?" Quinn asked, also swapping to Russian, earning a look from Kata.
"You lived here for most of your adolescent life, raised by a whore in the poor districts." The man replied. "And you were a student here, Katalena."
"How do you know my name?" She snarled.
"The same way I know Quinn Marshall is not his true name." The man said. "You will have to come and find me, children. I fear my time here is at an end." The man said and he vanished within the blink of an eye. There was no trace he'd ever been there.
"Damn." Kata said. "We figured there was an illusionist out there. Now we know who it is."
"One of us?"
"Hybrid, yes...one of us, no." Kata replied. "We will talk later, whatever your name is, Quickie. You have some explaining to do." Kata said and turned to face the table again. "But for now...I can only assume that he and Amelia are working together. Everyone about this place screams her destruction powers, but he seems to know me enough to hurt me by hitting this place and leaving my glasses here..." She started to trail off, muttering random details to herself as though she were piecing a puzzle together.
"Could you have met him before? I do not remember him." Quinn said.
"Your accent is coming back. You really are Russian." She smirked. Then, she froze. "I did see him once before. He was talking to my father on the front drive on my eighteenth birthday...he vanished then, too."
"No trace of him?"
"None. That means-"
"-that hybrids have been around a lot longer than we thought." Quinn finished. "I'll take some pictures of the scene, we'll have to show them to the others when we get back."
"Yeah. I'm going to call a conclave." Kata said, earning raised eyebrows from Quinn. "I know, it's not something we've done before, but all the hybrids who live in friendly space need to know this. Set up the meeting point."
"Alrighty, then." Quinn said and took his camera out of his bag to start snapping photos.
The shuttle landed on one of the Kaven landing pads, and Quinn nudged the sleeping Kata. "We're home." He said gently. "Go get some sleep, we'll call the conclave tomorrow, ok?" He said. She nodded and stood up. She stumbled, still half asleep, off the landing pad and in the direction of her house. Quinn sighed and ran, using his powers, to his own house. He headed into his basement and started to examine the photos he'd taken of the scene of destruction.
"The hell...?" A voice grumbled. He looked up at the stairs and saw his roommate, Mason, stumbling down in a bathroom. "It is three in the mornin' fer fuck's sake, Quinn...go to bed..." Mason managed to get out.
"I know. I will sleep when I'm done this." Quinn replied and continued working. "You should sleep, though. It is going to be a long couple of days for us."
"Kata is calling a conclave tomorrow." Quinn said. Mason's eyes widened and he looked like he'd seen a ghost.
"Well, I'll not be sleepin' now, will I?" Mason said. "If she's calling a conclave, you guys must have found some serious shit in Russia..."
"Yeah, we did. Aednat theorized that there was an illusionist Hybrid out there. We found him. He's not friendly." Mason nodded upon hearing this and stumbled back up the steps, mumbling incoherently about his dreams being haunted now.
Meanwhile, Kata was quietly slipping into her boyfriend Jace's house. She quietly removed her jacket and dropped it on the floor of the bedroom before changing and crawling in next to him. He was a heavier sleeper than her, so it was fairly easy to come in to bed late without waking him. She stroked his ear and small, red tendrils of energy gently phased into his head, letting her transfer all the information she had to teach him into his dreams. With that done, she leaned down and kissed him on the forehead before lying down next to him and falling asleep.
"I'm going to show you something." A voice said as Kata ducked to avoid a falling lamppost. "Something that will show you just why I'm doing what I'm doing." Kata was forced to a stop by an unknown force. She looked around, taking in her surroundings. It was a ruined city, torn to pieces by battle. All around her there were telltale signs of Hybrid involvement on a massive scale. There were bodies laying throughout the streets, humans and Hybrids alike.
"This is no simple dream." She said. "You're showing me this, Illusionist."
"Indeed, so you will know of what is to come." His voice said. She was forced to move through the streets until reaching what appeared to be a town square. A machine stood before her. At least ten feet tall and pulsing with power. It turned to her and held up Quinn's body.
Kata shook awake and looked around the bedroom frantically. She slowly returned her breathing to normal and shook her head. "Hey, you ok?" Jace's voice whispered.
"Yeah, I'm alright. Flashback to...the fortress..." She lied.
"Ah." He said. It wasn't something they discussed very often, considering how, at the time, Jace's father, Caden, and Kata had been mortal enemies. "So...a conclave, huh?"
"Yes...we're going to need to get this message across. Hybrids have been following our example for some time now, but if someone as powerful as the Illusionist and Amelia start to rise up, people might change allegiances." Kata said. She glanced at the clock and saw it was eight in the morning. "Well, I'm gonna go get ready to get the message out. It's gonna be in a week." She stood up and stretched. "If you and Rhett can't make it, I understand, and we can get the message to you pretty quickly."
"I'll see if I can get away, don't worry." Jace said.
"Thanks, hun. I'll be back for lunch and dinner tonight." She said and went to use the shower.
"Hearing your accent is unsettling as shit, man." Mason said, looking over his lunch at Quinn, who was sitting on the counter eating his own lunch. Their friend and Mason's partner Aednat was walking in circles around the room, looking at a holo-tablet reading her notes.
"Good." Quinn replied. "How has your secret project been going?"
"Very well." Aednat said. "Ever since Kata let us use her powers as a test subject, we've been making great progress."
"Yes, I think we're close to finding what gives us Hybrids our powers, aside from the obvious answers." Mason said. "Who knows what we'll find and what we can do with it?"
"Did not take you for the sciencey type, Mason." Quinn said, shaking his head.
"Someone had to get him off the streets. I'm fairly certain at least six whores have birthed his children." Aednat said.
"Hey, I do not want children. That's why I use a condom. And if she looks dirty I use two." Mason objected.
"Speaking of which, you solve the concept of Hybrid breeding yet, Aednat?" Quinn asked.
"Yes, about a week ago. Since I know you'll want to know, I'll explain." She sat down at the table across from him. "Traditional hybrids can't breed because there's nothing like them. We're not traditional. We're ultimately an evolution of natural humans and natural Skulblakans, taking the positives of both species. This basically makes us just another species. Now, if a Hybrid mates with another Hybrid, the child is guaranteed to be one of us. If a human and a hybrid breed, my hypothesis is that if the human is a natural human, the odds of the child becoming one of us increase by a huge margin. However, if the human parent has powers, the odds of the child being a hybrid are slim to none."
"And we all know that only a natural human can become a Hybrid." Mason added.
"Yes. That was another discovery I made. I've found that human families, pure human families, are gifted with a hybrid member, the odds of another member of that family also becoming a hybrid increase greatly. This was more dominant around the time of the planar merging. Since then those effects have not been as important-" She cut herself off as Quinn sprinted from the room before she could blink.
Quinn arrived in the summoning room, a chamber built for Kata to use her powers to interact with all Chaos in the plane, and found Kata sitting cross-legged outside the door. "Are you alright?" He asked, slowing down.
"Yes...you know that I need to warm up before using the room, no?"
"Yeah, what about it?" He asked as he approached her.
"Well, I located the Illusionist by mistake." She admitted. He stared at her, silent. "And he isn't just relying on Amelia. He has a team of his own."
"Like an anti-us." Quinn said. "I swear I read comic books about this as a boy."
"Very funny. Well, one of their minds was particularly chaotic, so I touched it briefly. It was the Hybrid who can sense all of our powers."
"Does that mean you now have an intimate knowledge of all Hybrids?" He asked. "That would be fairly useful, no?"
"Unfortunately no. I did however get a glimpse at some of his team." Kata said and stood up. "He has Amelia, the Sensor, someone with Disaster Inducement, someone who can grow invisible arms out of her back to kill people with, someone with, I swear, peace inducement, as well as the Leech, and someone with Repulsion."
"Ok, what? Leech is with them?" Quinn asked, remembering the female assassin who had worked for Dmitri Akulov. "And Repulsion? I thought you wiped that power from existence when you took it from the metal-armed one."
"You can't wipe a power from existence. As long as the hybrid power has existed, when it is removed from its user by death or by force it will find a new host." Kata sighed. "Also...there was a distinct feeling of nothing surrounding the group." She added. The hairs of the back of Quinn's neck immediately stood on end.
"Yes...I was wonder when we'd see him again." Kata groaned. "Go get the others ready, we need to meet at the conclave."
"Where will it be?"
"You'll know very soon." Kata said and flicked her wrist once, causing the door of the room to open. Quinn ran off and she walked inside. The door closed behind her and she sat down. It was an empty, obsidian room with no windows and no lights, leaving her in total shadow. She closed her eyes and started to reach out with her powers.
Quinn paced the ship's seating area, the only movement in the room. He had assembled all the friendly Hybrids he could together onto the ship as they awaited Kata's message. Morri and Axel were sitting on the couch, her head on his shoulder. Aednat was leaning back in a reclining chair, staring at the ceiling. Jace was seated leaning against the couch Morri and Axel were sitting on, sitting on the floor. Viv was sitting on a circular table, cross-legged and twiddling her thumbs. Ileana had taken the final chair for herself, sitting opposite Aednat across a coffee table.
Hybrids. Kata's voice said inside their heads. I am Katalena Akulov. If you are hearing my voice now, it means I have been able to connect our minds through the chaos that is existence. I am calling a conclave of all Hybrids I consider friendly. We must meet to discuss recent actions of certain members of our race. I firmly believe them to be working in such a way that will do nothing but harm the relationship we have been able to forge with the ruling populations of this plane. If you cannot make it, I understand, but I strongly recommend finding more hybrids and asking around if anyone else is going, that way you can still learn of our discussions. I would normally provide the information for you all through these means, but I fear this method of communication may become compromised. I am implanting galactic coordinates in all of your minds. If you can come, I implore you to do so, we have much to discuss.
"Did not think she would pick that location." Morri said.
"Why? What is it?" Ileana asked.
"Its the fortress she used as a base when she was anti-human." Aednat replied, closing her eyes.
"Well, it is the only place she knows there isn't any human activity." Jace said. "Besides, it has proven to be able to house over a hundred of us in the past, so it makes sense to use it again, temporarily."
"Its a bit easy to figure out, though." Axel said. "Word spreads through the Hybrid community about the conclave, it's bound to reach the ears of at least one of the enemy crew. We don't exactly have a censor as to what hybrid can come."
"On the bright side, we have the majority's sympathy. The enemy crew comes for us, we'll have the masses on our side." Quinn said. The door to the ship opened and Kata walked in.
"I have a feeling that if they find their way to the conclave, they won't be there for violence." She said and sat down next to Jace. "Who's driving?"
"I'll take it." Quinn volunteered and walked into the cockpit. The ship was a small freighter modeled after an old Squadran ship known as the Stardrift Esper. As it happened, it was every bit the junker that the Esper had been, too.
"I'll copilot." Viv volunteered and got up to join him. The two sat down in the pilot and copilot seats and fired the engines up. "Wonder if we'll find any new recruits for the plan." Viv mused as they took off into space.
"There's always a chance." Quinn said hopefully. "We could use more ladies in the ranks."
"What, am I not good enough for you?" Viv said, feigning offense.
"Oh you're great and all, once was enough, though." He replied, deadpan. She gave him a surprised look. "What, you didn't see that coming?" He smirked and punched the hyperdrive. They heard a complaint from Kata in the back and Quinn chuckled.
"What?" Viv asked.
"Katalena is not a fan, shall we say, of hyperspace." He said.
The first thing that struck Kata was the noise. At least three hundred voices talking to one another as they waited for her to begin the conclave. The sound was utterly chaotic. She had to smirk at it as she cleared her throat, using her powers to project her voice throughout the courtyard of the fortress. "Hello." She said. "I'll get right to the point. A group of hybrids is effectively building into terror attacks on human worlds and places of importance. Unlike previous terror attempts, this is an entire group at work, one that, I will honestly say, rivals us in power." Kata said. Immediately there was a level of chatter in the crowd.
"I've called you here today to present the current dilemma we face. This group is extremely powerful with things I do not know how to counter. As such, I'm not positive how we should defeat them. Therefore, the only form of resolving this I can think of is to bring them in peacefully. Something I believe to be impossible, considering two of their number are known as Amelia Ridley and Void." There was immediately silence. "So now I ask you, what should we do? At the current rate, it would only be a matter of time before the old feelings against us begin to resurface, and all the work we've done to maintain any form of relationship with the humans will have been destroyed completely.
Almost immediately, voices started yelling solutions. Everything from fleeing Coalition space to assisting the new Hybrid group in their terror attacks came up. Eventually, a single voice, amplified, overpowered the others. "Perhaps instead, you should just understand our cause." Within seconds, the crowd parted and they could see the Illusionist, flanked by Amelia and a Hybrid Kata did not recognize. "After all, we just want what is best for our kind."
"By trying to destroy our allies? Make us look like traitors?" Morri asked. The room was so silent nobody even required amplification.
"We are showing you all that we are capable of taking our rightful place as the gods of this plane. Why settle for being their slaves when you can be their saviors instead?" Amelia replied.
"How the hell is that saving them?" Axel protested.
"Simple." Amelia replied, grinning. "They are far too weak to protect this plane from what is coming. We're the next stage in the evolution of this plane. We should be the ones to rule and defend it."
"Besides." The Illusionist said. "Was it not my daughter who killed the Skulblaka for the first Erachi?" Silence reigned. Kata recognized that he was speaking in a Russian accent very similar to her own. Her blood ran cold as she felt a hundred sets of eyes staring at her. "For she is my daughter." He added.
"My father was a Hybrid scientist who could absorb and redirect attacks." Kata snapped. "He raised me in Moscow and took me to a foreign moon, where he later experimented on me when my powers appeared. Not you, I've never even seen you before."
"Ah, Katalena. That is where you're wrong." He smiled. "Allow me to give us more privacy. I daresay this illusion has lasted long enough." He said. He snapped his fingers and reality briefly dissolved around Kata. When it returned to normal, she was greeted with a terrifying sight. At least forty hybrids stood behind the illusionist as his bodyguards, all the rest lay dead around her. She looked around at her group and saw, to her relief, that they were doing the same as her. "Total illusion. That is my power, my daughter."
"You are not my father." Kata snarled, preparing a hex.
"Yes, I am. I am every bit your father as I am his." He said and pointed to Kata's left. She looked and saw Quinn, a shocked expression on his face, staring at their enemy. "Here, take my blood." He said and threw a vial of red liquid to Quinn, who caught it. "Do the tests. My brotherhood and I have a lot to do." The group of Hybrids turned to leave and started walking out.
"No, you don't." Kata said and held a hand up, causing the door to collapse and trap them in the courtyard briefly. Immediately, a few hybrids from the Illusionist's ranks charged them. One opened his mouth and a smoke ring appeared. It began to float towards them, and as it drew closer, it became evident that all the smoke was searing the air as it floated towards them.
"Here we go." Morri said and raised a hand. A portal appeared and the smoke ring passed through it, floating up into the sky. A hybrid charged from the enemy ranks, his dark cloak unfolding into massive black bat wings. He took to the air and began to dive bomb them. Jace was in the air with his jet pack in a second to engage him as Quinn sprinted off to throw lightning fast punches at the enemy. The male bodyguard raised a hand and an unknown force sent Quinn flying through the air. Repulsion. Kata thought as Mason waved his hands and separated the two groups back to their original sides.
"The boy is wise to cease our conflict now." The illusionist said. "Fighting amongst ourselves is pointless. Besides, when the one destined to lead our race into a new world arrives, we will be able to put aside our petty differences and unite. This is a simple waste of time, children."
"Do you mean Void?" Axel asked. "He's just another murderer who doesn't care for our race at all."
"False." Amelia replied, grinning. "There's another Hybrid coming. One who will make us all but children with schoolyard squabbles with his power."
"I think you underestimate us and just how powerful we are." Aednat said.
"Me, underestimate you?" Amelia laughed. "You are likely the weakest of all Hybrids, Callaghan, you have no place to say such words to me."
"Enough." The illusionist barked. "We need not discuss this further. We must go now." He said. Reality became a jumbled mess that was indiscernible for a long moment, and when it returned to normal, the enemy group was gone. Silence reigned and Kata felt her group's eyes upon her.
"Back to the ship." She said shortly. "I'll join you momentarily." She felt everyone other than Quinn leave the area, moving in total silence. "If what he says is true, Quickie, then god save us both."
Will We Burn?Edit
He threw himself to the floor as bullets filled the air above his head. "Stay down!" His father yelled to his mother. "Andrei, get into the bathroom!" he listened immediately and crawled across the floor into the apartment's bathroom, where he climbed into the bathtub. He listened to the chaos outside and swore repeatedly in his head. The bullets stopped and he heard the door get kicked down. He felt as though his heart was going to explode it was beating so fast. He heard men walk in and more gunfire, then a strange amount of silence. "Andrei, we're clear!" His father yelled. Andrei hopped up and joined his parents in the living room. Four soldiers lay dead on the ground, slashed by his father's machete. "Andrei, run to the shipyard and ask for Dmitri. He will help you."
"What about you?"
"Your mother and I will take the long way around, throw them off your scent."
"What if they catch you?"
"Please." His mother scoffed. "If they think they can capture us in our own city, on our own streets, they know not who they are dealing with."
"Go." His father ordered, and he ran. He'd always been fast. Prior to dropping out of school, he'd been considered for the school's running team. He sprinted down the stairs and out the door of the apartment complex. He ran straight for the market route and kept moving.
"There!" A voice cried behind him and he knew he'd been discovered. He kept moving, throwing people and local market stands into his path to avoid them catching up to him. His mad sprint didn't stop until long after their voices trailed off into the mindless buzz of the crowd, and he kept moving until he reached the shipyard. He ran in the front door and moved for the first empty reception desk.
"I'm here to see Dmitri." He panted. Immediately, he was escorted by armed security out into the parking lot and thrust into the back of a limousine. Inside was a lone man, a man he recognized as Dmitri Akulov, a famed military scientist.
"Hello Andrei. A pleasure to meet you. I am Dmitri Akulov."
"I know, sir." He replied. "My parents told me to find you."
"Yes, they called. You don't need to worry, son, we'll get you and your family to safety."
"Why are they trying to kill us?"
"You know of your family's less than savory occupation. Your parents were bound to make enemies." Dmitri replied. "No matter, here they come now." Andrei looked out the window and saw his parents running into the parking lot. He was about to make a signal to them when an armored truck pulled into the parking lot. A man stepped out, holding a rifle, and he aimed and fired. His father dropped like a stone while his mother spun like a bloody ballerina. His mouth opened to scream as the limo started to drive away, when a hand clasped his mouth and held it shut. He looked over and saw that a black cloaked man had appeared and was shaking his head. After fifteen minutes, the man released him. "Andrei, listen to me very carefully. I'm going to get you off world, but I will need to give you a new line of work and identity. Take this and memorize it." Dmitri said and handed him a passport. While he had no intention of reading it, he saw his picture next to the name Quinn Marshall.
"Quickie, you're up." Jace's voice interrupted Quinn's reverie. Quinn shook his head and looked out the window. "I don't think it's good for us to stay in one place til we're home, eh?" Jace asked.
"Yeah." Quinn nodded. They had stopped to refuel on Coruscant, and none of the team was in very good shape. He looked around and surveyed them. Kata was sitting alone in the corner, turning away any attempts to talk to her. Everyone else was in varying states of worry or fear, for reasons Quinn had been unable to figure out. Sure, it is a pretty shitty situation all around, but it's not like they just found out their parentage was a lie like me and Kata just did. He thought as he ran out into the refueling station, moving faster than the eye could see as he worked to start the refueling process. Once the fuel lines were connected to the ship, he ran back inside, preferring to avoid the public eye.
He returned to the same scene as before, with only Jace seeming at all normal. Quinn approached him and pulled him into the cockpit. "How is it everyone's like this but you?" Quinn asked.
"Are you seriously suggesting what I think you're suggesting?" Jace indignantly asked. Quinn sighed.
"No...I apologize, it's just that I've never seen Kata, Morri, Axel, any of them like this. Something to make them like this must have been powerful, because...I doubt it was just the news we learned today."
"You're right." Jace sighed. "The illusionist had direct access to everyone's heads, allowing him into their minds, everyone's but mine."
"And how did you prevent him from getting in your head?" Quinn asked.
"An experiment. Rhett found a Hybrid who had potentially the most frightening power I've seen. Negation. He negates all of our abilities with his essence. He volunteered to let us create armor with his blood forged into the metal. It worked. The illusionist was showing everyone their worst fears. You and Kata had your parentage revealed and saw a Hybrid Civil War break out. She showed me." Jace said.
"The others?" Quinn asked.
"I don't know. Each of them, in their own way, just saw something that could have broken them. That's why we need to lie low for a while." Jace said. "They, you, need to recuperate and pull yourselves together. We won't have a chance against them otherwise.""
"Ok. First, another question. How come you didn't tell any of us about Mr. Negation?" Quinn asked.
"He actually requested I keep his existence as secretive as possible. He was a civilian, and it wasn't like he'd done anything wrong, so I agreed." Jace replied. Quinn nodded, knowing that also meant Kata most likely knew.
"Ok, so, where are we going? If lying low is the plan, Kaven won't exactly work. Its a pretty well known place with a seriously shitty security plan." Quinn said, earning a slight smirk from Jace.
"I think Keryn and Kata may have scared most people away from the base. They're the new security." Jace shook his head, ridding his face of the smirk. "But anyway, we have a safe house we can go to."
"How safe can it be, if we're dealing with people like us?" Viv's voice said suddenly. They turned to her and saw everyone looking at them from the entrance of the cockpit.
"Wait," Axel said. "you don't mean...?"
"Yeah." Jace said. Kata, Quinn, Viv, Mason, and Aednat all looked around, befuddled. "We'll explain when we get there. For now, we should just try to rest. Don't worry, we'll be safe there, even from them. Trust me." One by one, they started to return to the seating area, save Kata, who stood in the doorway, arms crossed.
"You're screwed, man." Quinn muttered to Jace and slipped past Kata. Jace suspected that Quinn was cursing the fact that he couldn't use his power inside a ship, as it ran the risk of damaging the interior.
"So...why didn't you tell me about this safe house?" Kata asked. "I thought we'd agreed to be done with the classified shit."
"Well, hun, there are two variations of the phrase classified. The first is reserved for business and militaristic endeavors, while the second is meant for personal things, such as gifts or surprises."
"Were you gonna get me a house for Valentine's Day?" Kata asked, cocking her head to one side.
"It was more of a vacation spot." Jace replied.
"Damn you're good." Kata shook her head, smirking. "I can almost keep up with how fast that brain of yours can figure out how to talk your way out of things."
"I'm like a little person in a fantasy novel." Jace quipped. Kata gave him a look. "Seriously, you don't get that reference? You hung out in a library for your high school years." Jace said incredulously.
"You can read?" Kata asked.
Several hours later, Quinn sat down next to Jace in the cockpit once again. "Do you want me to take over?" Quinn asked. "I've napped and you look slightly dead."
"Nah, we're almost there. There'll be enough beds for everyone."
"How close are-?" Quinn was cut off by the sudden jolt of entering the atmosphere. Immediately, they heard pandemonium ensue in the back of the ship, where everyone else had been sleeping.
"I'm coming Elizabeth!" Mason's voice shouted out, sounding drowsy.
"Ow!" Kata and Morri cried out in unison.
"Lubricated horse cock, that hurt!" Aednat could be heard saying.
"Other hole!" Axel's voice said, causing Quinn and Jace to burst out laughing, as they assumed he'd been awoken during a dream.
"We're here." Jace chuckled. He piloted the ship downwards. "Go tell the others to get ready for landing, we don't exactly have a landing pad."
"What do we have?"
"A giant cement block." Jace replied. Quinn shook his head and went back to warn everyone. Once they had landed, Jace joined them and opened the exit ramp. They walked out and looked around, squinting and shielding their eyes from the sudden burst of sunlight. They were right next to a lake, which had a small beach near their landing site. Just off the beach was a large house, two floors high and looking somewhat more old fashioned than they had been used to living at Kaven.
"Looks more like a vacation home than a safehouse." Aednat said, surveying the area with her hands shaped like binoculars around her eyes.
"That was the original purpose. Can anyone tell me what the really special thing is?" Jace replied. Kata closed her eyes, then beamed.
"You built this on a planar nexus."
"A what?" Viv asked.
"A planar nexus. Its one of numerous points where the joining of the two planes were strongest. The site where the Skulblaka brought his people to the original Earth Plane is a planar Nexus, for example." Mason explained, getting a look of amazement from everyone. "What? I read."
"That helps us because the Skulblakans were weakened by the essence of their own plane. While this does weaken us a little bit, it also makes us impossible to detect while we're here." Kata finished.
"So, guess what kiddos? You all get jobs. Right now, that job is kick back for a while and report to the fire pit in front of the house at ten pm, got it?" Jace ordered. Mason looked around and suddenly bolted. Quinn saw what he was aiming for and sprinted, using his powers, and beat him to a hammock hanging between two trees. Viv vanished into the house while Morri and Axel walked, hand-in-hand, to the forestry. Aednat confused them by climbing to the roof of the house and sitting cross-legged, hunched over a tablet. Kata and Jace quickly walked over to the house and headed inside.
Jace pressed a button on the kitchen wall and an armor stand rose up. "Help me out of this?" He said tiredly. She nodded and started to help peel the armor plates off of him and place them on the armor stand. Once the plates were off, the armor stand slipped back into the floor, leaving Jace with just his under-armor on. "I'm gonna go change, I'll be on the porch, if you want to join me." He said and walked off. Kata walked over to the porch and sat on one of the chairs. She looked around and let out a long, tired sigh. She heard Quinn and Mason joking around, she could feel the light chaos of Morri and Axel in the woods, and Aednat's strange calm as she worked. This is what our life should be. She thought sadly.
The door opened and Jace exited the house and sat down next to her. "The talk around the campfire may get a bit heavy." He said.
"I know." Kata replied. "Don't expect them to reveal what they saw."
"I don't. We just need to make sure they're alright." Jace said. Kata nodded.
"For now, though, I don't want to do much." She said and stretched herself out.
"Agreed." Jace smiled. The door opened and Viv stepped out. Kata immediately rolled her eyes and Jace's eyes widened, as she was abruptly bikini clad.
"You stocked this place well, son." She said and walked towards the beach.
"Avert your eyes, mister." Kata said. "She's making the rest of us self-conscious as is."
Night had fallen. The only lights were those of the three moons that circled the planet and the stars, as well as the bonfire the group sat around. A silence had fallen over them, all of them knowing that one of them was going to bring up what had happened to them, and not one of them was really looking forward to discussing it. Eventually, Kata stood up from her chair. "I have a feeling everyone knows what the reason we're around this fire is." She started. "We got our asses kicked by one man with mind games. Mind games so powerful he broke the chaos of my mind." She pushed her consciousness out so everyone could feel it and realize just how difficult that would be. "We all saw something that broke something inside us. I am not going to pry as to what each of you witnessed. That is not something I am interested in. What I am interested in is each of us coming to terms with what we saw and coming back to bring war upon those people who would call themselves hybrids." She sat down and Jace stood up.
"I don't want to leave this place until we're good to go. They're not dumb enough to tackle the coalition now, not with Keryn or my parents still in play. Still, it'd be better if we took it to them. So we're gonna stay here until we're ready for them. Everyone who was affected, whether you need to be alone to tackle that problem or if you need to come to terms with someone," He glanced at Kata and Quinn. "everyone needs to be sorted before we're ready for battle again."
Everyone nodded. Jace sat down and silence reigned once again. For a long moment, it remained that way. Then, Axel leaned forward in his chair and started to speak. "My father was a soldier before he trained local people in martial arts. He fought in the war before the Skublakans came. When I was a kid I asked him if he was ever afraid before fighting. He said that everyone is afraid before a fight, at least a little bit. And I know that he was right. Especially when confronted by something that seems to be so much bigger than them." He paused as everyone mutely agreed, realizing he was also talking about them. "But then he said that every day before he would get up to fight every day, he would tell himself that he was already dead. He'd say 'alright, rest in peace, now go fight a war' and he would do that every single day." Axel stopped for a moment before continuing. "That is how you need to face down the impossible odds. You convince yourself that you're already dead so that you can fight until the bitter end with no sign of fear. You, we, have to tell ourselves that we are the walking dead so you can get out alive."
"We ain't them." Morri said after a moment. Everyone looked at her.
"No, we're not." Axel said, reaching for her hand, but she stood up, out of his reach.
"We ain't them." She repeated and walked off into the woods. Axel moved to follow, but Mason put a hand on his arm, shaking his head. Axel slowly nodded and sat back down as Morri vanished into the darkness.
The next day, Morri hadn't returned. None of them were overtly concerned, as they knew she just needed to be alone. Everyone kept themselves occupied through various means. When the group had dispersed to various activities, Quinn slipped away to the ship, pretending to be doing maintenance, where he activated to comm and called Ileana Dalca. After a moment or two, the blue hologram of the young hybrid appeared. "Oh, Quinn. Hey." She said, sounding surprised.
"Are you alone?" He asked quickly.
"Not really." Ileana said and a second hologram appeared, a young man.
"Who's this?" The man asked curiously.
"Ileana, do you trust him?" Quinn asked.
"Immensely." She said, glancing at the young man.
"I'll make this quick. Kata and I are twin siblings, the result of a bio test we did after hearing it from our father, the Illusionist, a Hybrid terrorist working with Void. We got our asses kicked and are in hiding. If I sent you coordinates, could you come?" Quinn quickly said.
"We'll be there ASAP." Ileana nodded.
"Thank you. None of us are doing great right now. Especially Morri."
"What's wrong with her?" Ileana asked, her eyes widening.
"We were shown our worst fears by the Illusionist. She's just the first to stop pretending she's alright." Quinn said.
"Alright, we'll be there as soon as we can. Dustin-"
"Got it, I'll have the Foray and the Daikyu packed to leave within the hour." the man named Dustin said.
"I love you..." Ileana sighed.
"The fuck?" Quinn asked. Ileana jolted to look at Quinn, and even through the hologram, he could tell she was blushing.
"Uh...we'll...be right there, end transmission!" She said quickly. Quinn sighed and forwarded their coordinates to her. It took until evening for the two fighters to appear on the horizon. Quinn had to quickly stop Jace and Axel from trying to put the unexpected visitors in their crosshairs. Once the two fighters landed, Ileana and Dustin jumped out. Quinn looked behind him and saw Mason run over to join Axel and Jace, who jolted when they recognized Ileana. "Hey, is everyone doing better? We came as fast as possible."
"It's been one day, Ileana, not really." Quinn said. "Guys, I asked them to come." He turned to Ileana. "You might want to introduce him now, quickly."
"Ah, right. Guys, this is Dustin, Dustin Shakespeare." She replied. "He's a hybrid from the Republic of Salleron. And he's also..." She trailed off for moment, going slightly red. "He's also my boyfriend." There was a moment of stunned silence before Mason spoke up.
"So...sir, Kata's probably gonna kill you." He said.
"...So?" Dustin said, uncaring.
"Kid's got balls, I'll give him that." Mason said.
"Nice to meet you, Dustin." Axel said and reached out to shake his hand. When Dustin took it, Axel pulled him closer and whispered "If you hurt her, they will never find your body." Then he stepped back, all smiles. Dustin put on a fake grin before replying.
"Nice to meet you too." He said before mouthing "But you'd have to wait in line."
"Well, that's the easy part out of the way, let's go to the house." Quinn said and they walked towards the house and found Aednat and Viv on the porch. "Ileana, do your thing." Quinn said.
"Hey, you two." Ileana said. Viv excitedly hugged her, while Aednat greeted her cordially and shifted awkwardly in her seat. "You doing alright?"
"Forget that, who's this hunk?" Viv asked.
"This would be Dustin Shakespeare. Republic of Salleron hybrid and my boyfriend." She said, going red again. Viv began to utterly lose her mind while Aednat leaned forward in her chair, tablet in hand.
"Tell me, Ileana, by your standards, is he attractive physically?" She asked, sounding completely emotionless, like a scientist.
"Does that really matter?" Ileana asked, raising her eyebrow and crossing her arms.
"Not really. I have a theory about the effects of Kaven's exposure to former residents' psychological makeup. I was thinking some people might have wound up like me." Aednat said. Ileana just kept staring at her.
"What is she talking about?" Dustin asked.
"Seriously, this could be a thing. Everyone at Kaven can be categorized into three groups. You have people like Mason and Zyana, sluttiest assholes around. You have people like Jace and his father, who are capable of controlling themselves. Then there's people like me and, I theorize, Skylar and her entire family, the demisexuals." Aednat said.
"I think she just insulted me." Mason said, sounding confused. Ileana shrugged.
"Said like that, it's kinda true."
"I just got roped into some weird Kharak-damned-weird shit, didn't I? Whelp, too late now..." Dustin said.
"Now to convince them to move the base so the location will allow for more diversity, not just a few demis, bi girls, straight people, and Zyana the pan..." Aednat said, half to herself. The door to the house unexpectedly opened, and Kata stepped out. Her jacket was nowhere to be seen, so she was simply wearing a simple, sleeved black dress and her usual, long, shredded high socks under her hiking boots. She looked utterly terrifying as she stared down Dustin.
"And this is...?" Dustin began.
"Kata! Are you alright?" Ileana asked.
"I'm fine." She said. "So. You're him." Dustin crossed his arms and put most of his weight on one leg, looking like he was about to make a smart remark.
"Depends on your definition of him." He said. She reached forward and touched one of his cheeks. Her eyes went red and a solitary tendril of red energy went into his brain from her finger.
"What're you doing?" Ileana asked, a twinge worried.
"She's describing his fate if he wrongs you." Jace answered. Ileana gulped.
"Probably something about him being made into taxidermy for her office. That was her favorite threat for a long time." Aednat said.
"Nah. I'd say something along the lines of being imprisoned while someone harvests your bone marrow while you're still alive to sell on the black market." Mason disagreed. Ileana quivered.
"She had that one about turning people into hermaphrodites for a while." Axel added. When everyone looked at him, he shook his head. "Yeah, that's too easy, knowing her." Ileana noticed her legs start to shake when Kata pulled her hand away.
"Glad we're understood. Do you like casserole?" She asked Dustin.
"Depends on the kind." He replied. To the amazement of the group, he appeared relatively unfazed.
"Ooh, a fighter." She smirked. "Don't worry little one, one day you'll learn to fear this." She turned to Ileana and was suddenly all smiles. "How've you been?"
"Fine...just fine..." Ileana said nervously.
"C'mon in, I'm making dinner." Kata said and turned to enter the house again.
"Well, at least we know which it was." Quinn said. Ileana promptly fainted. Dustin caught her and glared around at them.
"What the hell did this?" He asked.
"God dammit, guys!" Kata yelled from the house. "I told you not to talk about that!" She shot a red ball of light into Ileana, which was absorbed by her skin and woke her up.
"What happened?" Ileana groaned.
"Hold on." Dustin said and used his finger to draw a circular rune in midair, then he applied it on her forehead. "Better?"
"Yeah." She said, sounding less groggy, and she kissed him on the cheek. Dustin put on a shit-eating grin.
"Can use them for more than just healing, you know." He said.
"Oh hell no." Quinn said and zoomed into the house, where Kata deliberately dropped something, causing a loud crash. Aednat mimed vomiting, Mason stared into the distance, looking conflicted, while Viv wolf-whistled. Jace, being years younger than Ileana, was unfazed.
"What?" Dustin asked and Ileana quickly whispered in his ear. "Jesus, you Coalition guys have some sick fucking minds."
"You will just have to get used to that, honey." Ileana said.
"What in the blue fuck would you expect to go through our heads?" Aednat asked. "Do they not have health class in your culture?"
"Yeah...but Kharak-damned Social differences!" Dustin said and stomped one foot, accidentally activating a rune and causing Mason to float into the air in stasis. Mason rolled his eyes and used his own powers to shake it off with relative ease.
"Normally takes a minute and a half for that to wear off..." Dustin said, raising an eyebrow. "And normally nobody can do anything while affected by it."
"Mason is one of the most powerful hybrids alive, with the power to manipulate reality." Aednat said. "Also, may I have a moment alone with Dustin, to speak with him?"
"Uhm...alright...I should go try to find Morri. See if anyone can help me..." She said, and Viv led her inside to explain why they were letting Morri be. Mason and Axel filtered inside, leaving Aednat and Dustin alone on the porch.
"So what'd you want to talk about?"
"Has the Republic done any research into Hybrid science?" She asked.
"A little. Chancellor Epide and Viceroy Gishki-Epide and very interested in the subject. Heh, some of the reason they insist those in the republic treat us kindly: those of us in the Republic help in any way we can, and they gave us a home. Those of us in the Eidolon Corps would do anything to defend that home. Some of us have also become scientists, and yes, some of us have researched our abilities and nature."
"Well, I'm the only scientist our people has in the Coalition. Would you be able to tell me of any advancements in the research? Like, Physiology, soul-science? I've completely calculated hybrid reproduction already, but my main project is of the soul."
"Not my area of expertise. I have a few colleagues I could put you in contact with, like Ren Kerrigan. We call her Banshee. She's kept up with advancements and has even made a few herself."
"Doesn't sound what I'm looking for, sadly." Aednat sighed.
"Don't worry, it's just that...I'd prefer if this thing were to be discovered by this group of our people."
"Ok...so, from what I was told, everyone here is a hybrid, right? I know Ileana's and mine, but what about yours?"
"Kata has Chaos Magic, Morri has portals, Axel can turn into a walking sun, Jace can shoot crystals from his palms, Viv can assimilate any substance into her skin. Quinn is really fast, Mason can manipulate reality, and I can mimic physical talents of people I look at. No powers though...I'm kind of the weak link." Dustin crossed his arms.
"I wouldn't think so. Being able to mimic talents and abilities...if even one member of my squad could do that, there would be a lot of shit we'd have gotten out of much more easily."
Aednat rose and smiled sadly. "You weren't fighting what we are now." She said and walked inside the house.
Inside the Fire of a Thousand SunsEdit
Katalena stepped off the ship and onto the docking bridge. Her father was a few steps ahead of her. She looked around and saw a large group of scientists working on a variety of projects all around her. "Show my daughter to her room, please." He said to a pair of security guards, and immediately, she was being whisked away further into the facility. She had turned twenty three weeks ago, and since then, her father had moved her and everything they owned to a moon research facility in the outer rim. She had no clue where in the galaxy she was.
She was sent into her room, a modest living area with a small fridge, bed, bedside table, window overseeing the work area, and holo-computer. That aside, there wasn't much to it. She sighed and placed her duffel bag on the floor next to the bed before she lay down. She stared up at the ceiling and adjusted her glasses, sighing again. "Well...what can I do while I'm here...?" She asked herself. "What is located here? Weapons...weapons...more weapons...I guess I'm learning weapons science." She said aloud and sat up. "How boring." She grumbled. "It's all just a bunch of blocky pieces of metal used for killing...no elegance...no style..." She paused, a realization coming to her. "I can make this an art form. More than just effectiveness, may as well make it impressive." She said and grabbed a notebook she'd brought with her. She quickly started to work on sketches of weapon ideas. "Maybe this won' be so bad." She told herself.
She was wrong.
Kata closed her eyes and waited. To pass the time, she'd elected to set up hybrid vs hybrid training sessions in order to prepare them for any future battles. She waited, letting her non-physical senses extend out around her, looking for chaos in the air and atmosphere, looking for Mason's upcoming attack. There was a long moment of complete stillness, then, fifty feet to her left, a tree was uprooted. She turned as it started to fly towards her and cast her right hand up. Without opening her eyes, she redirected it back the way it came. Her senses twinged again and she spun, holding her left hand up and creating a bubble around her. A hundred pebbles bounced off harmlessly in a variety of directions. She clapped her hands and the pebbles returned to her and formed an orb-shaped projectile. She pushed her hands out and it went in the direction she believed Mason to be in.
There was a satisfying yelp as the pebble orb struck home. She opened her eyes. "Mason, your locations are predictable. Start attacking from weirder locations. Use your imagination."
"Yeah, yeah." Mason's voice called as he rose from the ground twenty meters away. He wiped his hand down his face and his injuries vanished. "Same to you, though. I was cocky, a pebble orb won't stop the illusionist."
"Very true." She agreed. "Let's head back, I want to see how the others fared." She said and the two started walking back to the house. Viv and Jace standing on the porch, Viv looking quite smug. Aednat was sitting alone, gazing at her tablet and swiping her fingers across its screen rapidly. She was looking increasingly frustrated. She hadn't had a training partner, as Morri was still missing. Instead she had opted to work on her secret science project. "I take it she won?" She asked as they walked up the steps.
"Yep." Viv replied, smiling in earnest now. "Kid didn't think I could turn into what his crystals are made of. Let him shoot me and turned into whatever that substance is. Classic rope-a-dope."
"Quinn and Axel ain't back yet?" Mason asked. He was answered by the appearance of a tornado on the horizon. "Oh."
"What about Ileana and Dustin?" Kata asked.
"Probably playing hide the zucchini in the forest someplace." Aednat deadpanned, not looking up from her screen. Kata sighed and Aednat smirked slightly.
"I still don't see why I can't train with him." Kata complained. Everyone gave her a look. "Fine, fine..."
In the forest, Quinn's fist connected to Axel's jaw, and the taller, bigger hybrid dropped, spinning. "Didn't think that would work." Quinn said, helping Axel up. "Normally oxygen deprivation just stops fires, not chunks of the sun."
"When I'm in atmosphere it works differently." Axel groaned. "The tornado laps were kinda cliche, though, man."
"You don't get to complain. It worked." Quinn replied. "Race you back!" He said and darted away faster than the eye could see. Axel turned his hand to sunfire and gazed after Quinn.
"No one would know." He sighed, then put the fire away and started running after Quinn. "Last I saw Amelia was sitting on him, poor quick little fucker. He'll be missed, I miss him already."
Morri sat leaning against a tree, head in her hands and her elbows resting on her knees. She'd been crying for nearly the entire two days she'd been away. She'd been unable to rid her mind of the vision the Illusionist had shown her, and nothing any of the others could do would help. Everything was all so vivid and terrifying, almost as though it had been real. She closed her eyes and it began to replay in her mind.
She was in a simple room. No windows, grey walls, no furniture anywhere, just a single light hanging from the ceiling. Surrounding her were the bodies of everyone she cared about in varying states of death or defeat.
Her eyes shot open again. She was growing afraid of closing them, even of blinking. She'd been avoiding sleep because the vision haunted her dreams. However, even now, she felt her will to remain awake failing, and her body was forcing her into the realm of sleep.
She walked through the room, eyes wide with pain and horror, looking around at the bodies of everyone she loved. Viv was slouched in a corner, a chunk of her torso torn from her abdomen. Her skin was metal, so Morri assumed it was a battle wound. Mason wasn't far from her, lying on his back, spread-eagle, his eyes staring at the ceiling. They'd completely whited over. Not far from them lay Aednat, who had a hole burned through her chest. Jace was next to appear before her. Upon further inspection, she realized he still lived. She rushed over and crouched down next to him. His eyes stared up at her, burning with an emotion she recognized as hurt. There was a shard of a glass-like substance buried in his left shoulder blade and protruding from the right side of his chest. As she cradled him, wordless, nothing she could think to say willing to leave her mouth, he passed. She looked up as things became more brutal.
Her friend Skylar lay on her front. Her body was largely untouched at first, but as Morri neared the other side of her, she saw that her face had been cleanly cut off. Morri looked around and saw Skylar's face nailed to the wall, the front half of her brain sitting on the floor beneath it. To the right, hanging from the ceiling like a demonic puppet was Ileana. Her own blood vessels had been used to string her up, her dead eyes staring at Morri, boring into the core of her soul. Then, in the opposite corner, was Kata, back facing Morri. Morri quickly realized that Kata was alive and was still moving. As she hurried over, she heard Kata sobbing. She looked over Kata's shoulder and saw that she was holding Quinn's decapitated head. Kata looked over her shoulder. "Why did you escape?" Kata asked her, and her skin rotted away in an instant.
Morri shot awake and started sobbing again. She looked up and saw she was not sitting in the forest. She was sitting in a dark basement, and the Illusionist was looking at her. "How did you get me here?" She snarled.
"I didn't." He said. "One of my friends is our equivalent to psionicists of the human race. He allowed your consciousness to interact with mine."
"Because I saw your fear. And Morrigan Gustaffson, it can easily be prevented. Join your name to the ranks of Vladimir Akulov, join me, and we can stop all of that."
"Are you trying to take over?" Morri asked. "Prove that the hybrids are destined to rule over the humans? If so, you'll be disappointed. Their armaments are not something you can overcome."
"You saw what I did to your group in half a minute. Imagine what I could do to their Erachi in half an hour." Akulov said. "My twin children, Andrei and Katalena, they would never join me unless you did first."
"Ah yes, he goes by Quinn now, I believe." Akulov said.
"You've done a good job destroying public views of us. Why would I join you? Vladimir Akulov, the mob is coming to kill you, and I will be at its head." Morri snarled.
"What's a mob to a king?" Akulov smiled.
"And what is a king to a god?" A third voice said. Void came into sight, expressionless, as he always had been. Morri assumed that meant he was in charge. Before she could respond, she felt a hand gently touch her shoulder.
"What's a god to a nonbeliever?" Katalena's voice said. Kata snapped her fingers and the vision of the basement ended. Morri looked around and she was in the forest again. She felt Kata's mind leave her's alone. She sighed and stood up.
"Ok...I'll come home now." She agreed and started walking.
Kata opened her eyes and breathed out a sigh of relief. She heard Morri's thoughts and knew that her friend was returning to the group. She heard a knock on her door and walked over to answer. "Quinn, hey." She said, a feeling in her gut knowing what was coming. "Come on in." She held the door open for him and he walked in, strangely slow for his usual impatient nature. She closed the door and turned to him. "So...we're twins." She said. "Were you lying about your birthday all these years?"
"Yes." He replied. "And my name, and my pre-assassin life." He said.
"So who are you then...brother?" She hesitated before saying the last word. Quinn froze for a moment, clearly perturbed by the concept of having a sibling.
"My name was Andrei Vavilov. I was raised by two drug runners for your father, Dmitri Akulov. We weren't exactly rich, but he kept us fed and housed. Eventually, my parents' enemies saw fit to have all three of us killed when I was a teenager. I escaped when your father saved me and had me work as a street watcher, making sure none of the local governments discovered his less than legal activities."
"How'd you end up being one of his assassins?" Kata asked.
"He took me with him to the moon-base. When my powers surfaced, he gave me a choice of work as an assassin for him or be thrown in with you. At the time, it was an easy choice." Quinn said.
"And why are you called Quinn Marshall now?"
"A new identity, given to me by your father. I preferred the new life and left my old one behind." Quinn said.
"Ok. Do you have an answer to how we were separated?" Kata said.
"No. I suppose we'll have to find the illusionist and ask him ourselves." Quinn said.
"Well, until that time, I suppose we ought to get to know each other as siblings, now." Kata said and sat down. Quinn nodded and sat down across from her, cross-legged.
Outside on the roof, Aednat lay on her back, staring at the overcast sky. She was waiting for her tablet to let her know the test result of a new thesis she had about Hybrid Evolution. Mason had volunteered to be the subject, and was currently asleep as he was tested. Her mind wandered, as it always did, this time to her vision that the illusionist had shown her.
Everything was burning. She jumped out of her window and landed in her backyard as the top floor of her house exploded. She rolled straight into the gut of one of the invaders, more of the scout creatures Clara Renner had fought years before. She was picked up and thrown aside, right through her fence and into her neighbor's backyard. She glanced over and saw Zyana Reed cutting and burning through a team of the monsters, loosing out horrible demonic cries. Just past Zyana, Aednat spotted Mason, surrounded by invaders. Instinct kicked in and she rolled to her feet and drew a knife from her boot. She knew the invader's skin was too strong to pierce, so she'd have to go for an ear or an eye. She ducked under a sword strike, spun and stabbed once, piercing her foe's nose and causing him to collapse in a twitching heap. Unable to wrench the blade out, she looked over in Mason and Zyana's direction.
An invader was bashing in Mason's head with his own disembodied arm. Zyana lay on the ground with a spear through her back, halfway between her human and demon forms. Aednat turned without another thought and jumped over the fence to the street of the base. She spotted a fallen saber-pike and picked it up. The sky was orange, black clouds of smoke everywhere. It had been a week and a half since the scourge had reached Earth, and they had only just reached Kaven. A car pulled up and the door opened. "Get in!" Axel yelled at her and she sprinted forward and threw herself into the vehicle.
"Where are the others?" She asked.
"Haven't seen Kata or Jace anywhere. Morri's with Viv helping evac civs. Don't know where-"
"Mason's gone." She interrupted. Before Axel could respond, something struck the front of their car and it was sent flying through the air. They landed upside down and slid into one of the walls of the base. Immediately, claws started to tear apart the car. She fumbled with the handle of the saber-pike and slashed upwards once. The claws stopped and she pulled herself out of the wreck. "Axel, let's-" She halted mid-sentence and saw that the claws from the large, spider-like scourge creature had stabbed him in the temple. She shook her head and looked up. A team of soldiers was forcing a battalion of Scourge beings back out the gates and over the walls. She ran over and joined them. She jumped up and over the shield of one of the enemy's number and stabbed down, hitting him in the throat.
"Aednat! Help us push them back!" the voice of Clara Renner shouted. She looked and saw the former Erachi, clad in her old Erachi armor and wielding her classic yellow saber. She stood at the forefront of the force of warriors, all of which clad with a motley variety of armors and armed with a massive variety of weapons. Clara's husband, Caden, pushed his way through the crowd and joined his wife at the head of the force, clad in all his armor and his red sabers burning bright. "Jace is working on getting the shields set up, Keryn's on her way back from the sky, help us get them outside the shield's range." Clara ordered. Aednat nodded and twirled the saber pike in her hands deftly, a talent she'd mimicked from Loran Bendak, Jace's uncle. Together they stormed the force of the scourge back out of the gate, sabers flashing wildly until the gate closed and the shield started to go up. Keryn appeared next to them, wielding no sword, but her eyes glowing nonetheless.
Before they could start to calm down, an explosion filled the air around her. She was tossed through the air and landed hard on the wreckage of an X-Wing. A monster the likes of which she'd never seen before had appeared. It's black cloak seemed to be made of the same substance its skin was. Red wisps of glowing smoke spilled from its eyes. From what she had heard, this creature looked like an Anti-Erachi. It raised a hand and brought the shield down. Immediately, hundreds of the horde's spawn spilled over the walls of the base. The creature slammed into Keryn and the two vanished from sight. She looked around and saw that Jace was flying overhead, his jetpack smoking dangerously. He fired down three of his exploding crystals, taking out four of the Scourge's legion, before one threw a fireball up at him and caused his jetpack to explode. He tumbled down to the ground and landed in a heap on the front walk of the burning Sigurdson house.
Aednat pulled herself off the X-Wing as the melee ensued. Caden and Clara were immediately at their son's side. Jace wasn't able to pull himself up, and the couple took to defending him ferociously. Aednat quickly jumped down and fought her own way through to the family, slipping past the parents to see what had happened to Jace. Jace's left leg was hamburger meat. "Fuck. Sorry about this, kiddo." Aednat groaned and used the pike to cut the majority of Jace's leg off, cauterizing the wound. She looked up and watched in awe as the two parents of her friend fought like they had never fought before. She always knew that Caden and Clara were two of the deadliest warriors of all of their plane's history, but it hadn't truly come into effect quite like this before. Clara was a graceful and deadly blur, constantly moving in a flowing pattern, her blade never ceasing in its massive cutting arc. With every move she made, another member of the Scourge dropped dead. Caden fought more brutally, not even killing half the time, but wounding his enemies so badly that they were rendered useless.
Aednat looked around and spotted a pelican gunship coming in. She waved her pike at it and it increased its velocity. It began to hover over them. Caden took a momentary pause in combat and force threw both Jace and Aednat into the pelican. Aednat carried the unconscious Jace to a seat and strapped him in. She looked back and saw that Caden's momentary pause in motion had cost him his life. A thunderbolt from one of the scourge's hands had struck the back of his head, stunning him and causing him to stumble right into the grip of one of the scourge leaders, who picked him up and impaled him on the end of a blade the size of Aednat herself.
The scream that came from Clara would haunt Aednat for the rest of her days. She began to slash and hack in the most violent rampage Aednat had ever seen from any warrior in her life. Keryn appeared next to her and Aednat quickly pushed the Erachi into a seat. "Heal Jace, now!" She ordered before yelling at the pilot to leave. Kata looked back at her from the cockpit and Aednat shook her head. Kata nodded, understanding, and flew away. The last thing Aednat saw before the door closed was Clara wading into a horde of enemies, cutting and slashing, the yellow blade going to its final war.
Aednat opened her eyes. "A future when even someone like me is needed." She sighed. "Useless most of the time...if they needed me in that future, it must have been the worst of times." She glanced at her tablet and groaned. It was only a little over half done. Then, she remembered something that made her quite angry. Everyone else had seen one fear. She had been cursed with two.
Alone. Cast away. She walked down the roads endlessly, crying the whole way. They had discovered her secret. The fact that at one time, unknowingly, she had tried to kill Ileana. Kata was not a forgiving person, and the group followed her lead. They had cast her out, this time with the promise that if they ever saw her again, she would be killed. And now she was alone once again. An outcast once again, and this time, there was no hope of return.
She shook her head to rid herself of the memory and passed the time by trying to beat Morri's push-up record. Morri held the ladies' title of everyone at Kaven with a hundred and seventeen. Aednat had never witnessed it, as she wanted to beat it fairly. If she'd seen Morri do it, she'd be able to equal it handily. Aednat also guessed that if Keryn, Aurora, or Clara were to attempt to beat it, they'd demolish it in a second. As she hit number thirty, her tablet buzzed and she quickly gave up. Mason's vitals were going ballistic and it looked like his entire physiology was undergoing some form of metamorphosis. She jumped from the roof and swung into one of the windows, sprinting past a startled and soaking wet Morrigan. Aednat barely even noticed her and kept moving to find Mason.
To her utter confusion, he seemed calm as ever, looking around his room, cross-legged on his bed and looking mightily bored.
They had betrayed her. She was sitting on the ground, leaned against a tree, a bullet wound in her side. Mason had led her out into the forest, scouting for something. She turned her back once and he had vanished. She had wandered endlessly, looking for him, worrying for him, when a bullet hit in the hip, following a nanosecond later by the sound of the gunshot. She hadn't had time to react, so the wound had hit her like any normal person. She crawled for what felt like hours until she slumped against the tree and stared up into the eyes of the one they had betrayed her to. An old enemy they hadn't seen the likes of since the Hybrid Riots. The metal armed assassin stared down at her, his angry eyes filled with a burning hatred she hadn't seen the likes of since she saw Katalena discuss her father. he pulled out his pistol, aimed down at her head, and everything was gone.
Viv was tapped on the shoulder and awakened from her reverie. Morri was standing before her, looking like she'd just gotten out of the shower and having cut her hair again. "Hey, when did you get back?" She asked.
"Forty-five minutes ago. Couldn't find Axel anywhere, so I showered. See him lately?"
"Yeah, he was out climbing trees or something." Viv said.
"Sounds like him." Morri said. "Hey, you ok? You're looking dreary."
"No. I am far from ok. Are any of us remotely near ok?" Viv snapped. "I keep seeing that asshole's vision in my head and unlike the rest of you, I can't seem to get it out."
"What was it?" Morri asked quietly. When Viv didn't respond, she reached out and touched Viv's shoulder. "You can trust me, you know."
"That's it." Viv said. "That's it. That's what it was. Trusting the people I am closest to and getting shivved in return." Morri was quiet for a long moment before she spoke again.
"Who betrayed you?" She finally said.
"There is no hiding from you people, is there?" Viv sighed. "His name was Marcus. A thief like me on Mandalore, an orphan like me. He was three years older, and he taught me everything I knew. I lived with him for years, and he meant the world to me. I worked with him on all of his jobs until one of the went awry and I got arrested. I spent fourteen months in a Mando prison, avoiding getting my hands chopped off and..." She paused, then bent down and shifted her hair so Morri could see to the roots and her scalp. A long scar ran across the top of her head, covered up by her long, dark hair. "The shank was covered in a toxin that debilitates your blood. It is slowly working and would have killed me had I not become a hybrid. Still, I suffered a lot, and when I got out, I wanted to know why. Marcus had betrayed me, let the security catch me to save his own skin, saying it was only a matter of time before I did the same to him. I am afraid of betrayal, Morrigan, that's what the illusionist made me see."
Morri stepped forward and hugged Viv tightly. "We would never betray you, Viv. I would rather die."
"Don't go doing that, either." Viv said and returned the embrace.
"Sounds like you guys have been getting your shit kicked in." Keryn said on the other end of the hologram.
"That's one way of putting it." Axel said. he and Jace had decided to contact Jace's family to warn them about the Illusionist and his forces.
"Do you guys need reinforcements? I can ditch the Shanara negotiations to come help..." Keryn suggested. Axel grimaced. Negotiations with the Shanara Order had been a difficult process that had lasted years on end, and they were only half done everything. Keryn and Jace's mother, Clara, had been dragged into the proceedings a year prior and were often heard complaining about it, quite loudly, in Keryn's case.
"In spite of our current state, I think that the next encounter is going to go a lot differently." Axel said. "They made a pretty major mistake last time we saw them."
"Oh, and that would be?" Keryn asked, sounding somewhat disappointed.
"They pissed us off." Axel replied. Keryn sighed and nodded.
"We get our asses kicked next time and I promise we'll call you in." Jace said.
"I'm gonna hold you to that. If you need me, I'll be there in about four seconds." Keryn said. They nodded and the transmission ended.
"You sure?" Jace asked Axel.
"They pissed off Kata, at least. If that isn't enough, there's still us." He said.
"You know I don't approve of this, sir." The Vladimir said.
"Oh, I am aware. However, they appear to have found a nexus, where I can't find them, nor can our gifted friend. This is the only chance we have to strike at them now." Void replied. They looked across the room at the man waiting there. His face obscured by a mask and goggles, with shoulder length brown hair, and a metal arm glinting in the dim light. "After all, he really doesn't like them very much, does he?"
I am MachineEdit
Kata and Morri were sitting in the ship, listening to a news report from Earth. There had been another terrorist attack that was almost certainly hybrid oriented, a small city leveled by the Illusionists forces. "We can't stay here much longer, Kata." Morri said. "It's only a matter of time before they do something really big and the people force Keryn or someone else to handle things, and you know what happens then."
"The fact that we didn't stop them throws a bad light on us, yes, I know." Kata sighed. "But I don't want us to end up dying because we weren't ready. Only a few of us have faced the illusions again and have mastered them."
"You, me, Aednat, Quinn, Jace. If necessary, the five of us can go stop an attack while the others continue to prepare." Morri said. "We can walk to the edge of the nexus and use a portal to return to Kaven, get a ship, and get ready to counter the next attack."
"Ok." Kata said. "But we should leave Aednat, Ileana, and Dustin here."
"Because she can take care of them, they're all still unstable and she's the most suited to taking care of others, honestly." Kata said.
"Alright, I'll grab Jace and Quinn and we'll get ready to go." Morri said.
The portal opened and four of the targets walked through. Damn. I was hoping to get to you first, Katalena. He thought. He turned the scope of his rifle towards the house, flicking on the life scanning device given to him by the Illusionist's lieutenant. "Mimic, Sunfire, Warper, Borgess." He murmured. He scanned the surrounding area and spotted two more heat signatures. "Sage and...unknown." He grimaced. An unknown target had unknown abilities, and he cursed that fact. It made things much more difficult for taking down a group of hybrids. The others he knew the powers of and how to counteract them, but that one would be difficult.
Two upstairs, Warper and Mimic. Borgess and Sunfire are in separate rooms downstairs, with Sage and the unknown outside. He turned his focus to Sage and the unknown. I'll have to get closer and tranquilize the unknown first. If he's a psychic of any kind I'll be in trouble, but once he's out of the picture she'll be a cakewalk. He started a careful creep through the treeline, never taking his eyes off of Sage and her companion. Once he was approximately thirty meters from them, he crouched in a bush and took aim. He was behind them, and the fact they hadn't sensed him told him that the unknown had no psychic capabilities. He locked onto the unknown's neck and fired once, a tranquilizing dart flew threw the air and hit home on his neck, and he dropped like a stone. Sage was on her feet in a second, and he fired a second dart, hitting her in the thigh, causing her to drop as well.
This'll be easier than I thought.
Aednat closed her tablet. "So, you know what this means, right?" She asked Mason. "We've only just begun in our species' emergence. This is the next step in our evolution."
"Yeah, but what does it mean?"
"It means that this thing is very, very powerful, and if we achieve it, we will in effect be gods in comparison to the people of this and many other planes." Aednat said.
"How do we achieve this thing?" Mason asked. All Aednat could do in response was shrug. She glanced past Mason and out the window, overlooking the treeline. She saw the sun reflect off of something that she guessed was glass. That doesn't make sense, unless... She threw herself to the ground and the window shattered. A tranquilizing dart smashed through the glass and struck Mason in the back of the neck. He dropped like a stone, and Aednat crawled for the door.
"Guys! We're under attack!" She shouted. Silence was all that replied. "Guys!" She yelled and ran down the stairs. She was quickly greeted by the sight of an unconscious Axel lying at the foot of the stairs. Viv was in a seated position at the other end of the dining room, equally unconscious. Aednat looked out the window and saw their attacker walking across the field. "Oh god." She whispered as she recognized him. It was a person she thought was out of their lives forever. She was wrong.
The metal-armed assassin was approaching rapidly, and she was the only thing standing in his way. She sprinted for the second floor, looking for a hiding place. She quickly hid under an old desk and waited. This won't fool him, I need to keep moving. She thought to herself. Then, she heard his voice.
"It's down to you and me, Mimic." He said. "I'm supposed to take the lot of you in alive, but if I'm to be honest with you, you're the one I really wouldn't mind killing."
Ok, I'm no match in a full out fight, I'll have to use stealth to wound him over a period of time. She thought to herself. She waited for many minutes until he walked into the room she was in. Once he was within her reach, she sprung out, kicked him in the side of the knee, and blasted him with a short elbow immediately to the side of his head. She darted out of the room and further into the house, looking for a different hiding place.
"That will not work again, Mimic." The assassin said. She could hear him smash the desk to pieces. She had slipped down the stairs and was taking refuge in a closet. She fell into a crouch and waited, listening to his heavy footsteps move throughout the house. Eventually she heard him start to open doors. She closed her eyes and waited, listening, waiting for the metal hand to touch the handle of her closet door. The sound came, and her eyes sprang open. She launched herself up and grabbed to top of his head, avoiding his rifle, and slammed her knee into the eyes of his goggles. She heard and felt the satisfying crunch of the goggles breaking under the strike. She rolled over his back and ran off as he began to fill the air behind her with bullets.
"I learn from my mistakes, Mimic. Do you?" The assassin called after her. Yes, yes I do. She thought to herself as she clambered out one of the windows and hung above it. There she waited for what felt like eternity, listening and praying for him to open the window below her. To her luck, he did, and she threw herself down and planted both of her feet into his chest. This backfired, as he caught her leg and threw her across the room. She slammed into the drywall and she felt it break behind her. She was immediately stuck in the hole in the wall, and she looked up in time to see a metal fist coming down for her face.
Morri knew something was wrong the moment they arrived. They had received news of an attack by the Illusionist's men on the city of Veldton, but when they arrived, things were very normal. Kata couldn't sense any of his forces anywhere, and there was no sign of anything that could have insinuated at attack. They were investigating common scenes of interest for terror attacks when Jace spoke through his helmet speakers. "Guys, found something." His tone of voice said everything, and panic gripped them. Morri walked over to him and found him holding a small video tablet. He pressed play.
An image of the old, metal-armed assassin appeared, and he was holding the rest of their group captive. "Miss me?" He asked. "Didn't think so. You want your friends back, you'll come to these coordinates, alone. We see any of your non-hybrid friends, and we kill them all." The video stopped, and a set of coordinates came up on the screen.
"Let's go." Kata said immediately. "He's mine, leave him to me." She ordered.
"Kata, we are outnumbered and outgunned here. The only one who might be able to take down the illusionist is Jace because of his negation helmet. How are we gonna take the rest of his army down with him altering what we see and feel left right and center?" Morri asked.
"Do you have another plan?" Quinn asked. "He's outplayed us here, we have no other choice, or they'll die."
"We play into their hands for now." Kata said. "But there will be no stopping us once we're in their grasp, I promise you that."
"Kata, allow me to reiterate that we won't be able to fend off the illusions." Morri interjected.
"We won't need to." Kata said. "Facing my fears like I did increased my knowledge of myself, and it made me realize the possibilities I was ignoring with my powers. His illusions will not touch us once we reach his base. Tell me you didn't feel something similar as you allowed yourself to face the illusions." There was silence from Morri and Quinn. They couldn't explain it, but they too had felt a strange sensation of completely knowing who they were, and that sensation had expanded their knowledge of their powers. And that made them doubly dangerous. "So please, let's go bring down my father and put an end to this madness." Kata said.
Aednat looked at the unconscious and prone forms of Axel, Viv, Ileana, Dustin, and Mason. They had been captured and sent into a cell on the ship of the metal-armed one's. She had tried ever lockpicking technique she knew, but to no avail. She had long since given up and was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the cell. Slowly, one-by one, the others began to rise. "Don't bother trying to escape." The assassin's voice rang out from the shadows of the ship. "These cells are designed to hold you specifically. Your powers will mean nothing."
"Great." Axel muttered. "Now what?"
"Simple." Aednat said. "I want you all to close your eyes, and think long and hard about yourselves."
"Why?" Mason asked. "I do that enough."
"I mean think about your worst fears, your deepest secrets, your darkest desires, everything. Everything there is to know about yourselves. That is the goal here. I want you to think about that. Think on what the illusionist showed you if it helps." Aednat said. "This will help you to unlock the next step in our evolution as a species. The next level of supernatural power, something existence will have never seen before." Aednat ordered. "Do it."
One by one, the others listened.
The metal-armed one brought his prisoners to the Illusionist, on the moon base once inhabited by Dmitri Akulov and the birthplace of where the rise of the hybrids had truly begun. He flew his freighter into the underground hangar and into the airlock. He landed and was immediately surrounded by nearly two dozen hybrid followers of the Illusionist and his men. He sighed and exited his ship. The illusionist as well was the woman he worked with, Amelia Ridley, appeared at the other end of the hangar. "I've brought you your prize. When will Katalena be here?" He asked.
"Soon. And you will undoubtedly be the one to stop her." The Illusionist said. "Of course, for that to happen, you'll need a few upgrades, of course."
"What do you mean?" The assassin asked. Amelia snapped her fingers and his metal arm crumbled to dust. Immediately, four hybrids grabbed him and forced him to his knees. "What the fuck are you doing?" He snarled. "When I get out of this I will kill you all."
"No, no you won't." The Illusionist said. He snapped his fingers and from thin air stepped a young girl. She couldn't have been older than nine. She walked forward and pressed her fingers to his forehead. His vision formed a tunnel, and then there was darkness. Only darkness could be seen for what felt like an eternity. He tried to scream, but no sound escaped his mouth. With a jolt of fear, he realized he didn't have a mouth. He tried to force his way out of this darkness with force of will, but it was no use.
It felt like this for what he thought was forever, until, out of nowhere, his vision returned. He could feel his arms and legs again, his head, his mouth, everything. He gasped, and a sound came from his mouth that was not one of his old body. It was a mechanical sound, raspy and robotic. "Where am I?" He asked as he looked around, and he heard that his voice was mechanical as well. He looked around and saw a group of hybrids, including the young girl, standing around an operating table. At the other end of the room was a mirror. On that mirror he saw himself.
He was a robot, a robot modeled after humans. He had all the same parts as a human, but they were metal and synthetic. There was a light behind his eyes and mouth that looked supernatural. Fear gripped him, and he sprung out of his table to grab the nearest hybrid and kill them.
On the other end of the mirror, Void smiled.
Kata stood in the back of the ship, staring at the floor. Jace sent Morri to join Quinn in the cockpit and went over to her. He sat down on a stool in front of her. "Thinking hard?" He asked. "What's on your mind."
"...There may be some bad things coming our way soon." She said quietly.
"Well, of course. We're sineaters. We're vanguards and we are guardians. We're forced into the bad things. It's the life we were forced into."
"Never this bad, love. One of the new things I learned of my powers was to see into the chaos of time. I, specifically, may have to do some things that could ruin our lives." She said.
"It's definitely a possibility. Then again it's a possibility for all of us. You're not alone in this." He said.
"You don't have the problem of being a former insurgent leader." She reminded him.
"No, but then again I'm not one for public opinion." He pointed out. She moved forward to stand in front of him so she could look down at him.
"This isn't power based...but I think we're going to find something very dangerous down there. More so than any of us."
"Guess we'll have to hit it like everything else then, love." He said.
"I don't think it'll be that simple, Jace." She chided.
"It never is. It never is." He said and stood up and hugged her.
"When we're down there...the old me may have to appear." She whispered.
"Kata, I'm a soldier. This will be combat. I realize it's life or death down there. I don't hold it against anyone to do what they have to to survive."
"This isn't survival...this is...this is something much more personal. It's like I don't have the will to do what needs to be done, so the me that wants to take over the universe and lead the hybrids to godhood will have to."
"Look at me and listen." He ordered. "Do what you have to when we are down there. Our entire squad is hybrids, and any humans down there are not on our side. The other you should be able to surface safely...relatively safely. When it is all over, I'll do what I can to bring you back. I promise."
"Ok...just...she doesn't have as high of an opinion of you as I do, be warned." She said.
"I acknowledge that. Hopefully the real you can see through her and help me out a bit." He said.
"Ok." She said and moved over to the couch to sit down, looking mildly ill.
"We'll be fine, hun. We always are. You feeling alright?" He asked.
"You may...want to move over..." She said, beginning to shake. Jace took a step back, and her shakes began to resemble convulsions. She put her hands over her ears as she began to float in the air, all the while Jace stared at her, worriedly, not sure what was happening.
"Kata, are you ok? Kata?" He asked. Her eyes shot open and he saw her irises were glowing a bright red. "I hope we make it to the surface before she goes off." He muttered to himself as she floated to the floor and stood up. "Are you ok, Kata?"
"Oh she's fine." Kata said. "My god, Kata, you've been working out. This body feels amazing. A lot better than last time you let me drive."
"You gonna be able to work with the team on this mission?" He asked the other Kata.
"You know, I once had the voice of a bass." She said, completely ignoring him. "And when I say that I mean I had his vocal cords. In my hand. Cuz, you know, I killed him. It's funny."
"I asked you a question. Can you work with a team or will you be a liability?" he said. She walked over and put a hand on his chest. He immediately found his body had frozen up and he couldn't move.
"My my my, Katalena. What a specimen you have here." She said and forced him onto the couch. "Impressive."
"You're not big on interacting with others, are you?" He said, as his mouth still worked.
"On the contrary, I rather want to interact with you right now." She said. "I'm sure she won't mind, it's still her body."
"I...uh..." He said, shocked and completely lacking of any idea what to do.
"Oh, don't tell me you inherited the weak will from your father. He was ready to fuck me on the table while mommy watched." She said.
"Weak willed? I don't think so."
"Clearly not the most faithful, if anything." The other said. "It's more fun when you resist, you know." Jace closed his eyes for a long moment and then reopened them.
"You may be Katalena, but you're not my Katalena. We have an operation that needs doing, so get on it and get prepped for a combat drop."
"My, so commanding. Do you talk to her like that in the bedroom?"
"That's on a need to know basis." He snapped.
"Oh, I'll figure it out." She said and leaned it so their faces were only an inch apart. "Want to help me do so?" Jace was silent. Kata smiled a smile that more closely resembled a snarl. Then, abruptly, she pitched over to the side. Jace jolted up, suddenly free of her spell, and knelt down next to her.
"Kata, Kata?" He said. She knelt on both knees and he saw that one eye was red, the other brown.
"Tell...Quinn...hurry...please." She gasped, and he realized they were fighting for control. Jace nodded vigorously.
"Quinn! Quinn!" He yelled. "Punch this thing into overdrive, man, we need to touchdown ASAP!"
"Why?" Quinn called back, sounding worried.
"Just do it!" Jace yelled. Morri came rushing in and took one look at Kata. Then, she looked at Jace.
"Really?" She asked.
"Wasn't my call."
"Quinn! He's right, we have a code black back here!" Morri cried.
"Holy fuck, on it!" Quinn called and they felt the ship move faster. Jace looked down at Kata and saw her appearing to be having a whispered conversation to herself.
"Babe, stay with me, we're almost there." He said gently as she tried to bore her head into the metal floor.
"Just...get the ship...above their base..." She whispered.
"Of course." He said and relayed the instructions to Quinn. She rose and began stumbling for the airlock. Jace followed her, slowly, only a few steps behind. Then, once the ship had stopped moving, she opened the door. "Kata?"
"There's a small bunker about four miles to the west. Infiltrate there. Prison blocks are on the fifth sub basement." She said.
"Be safe down there. I'll come and get you when this is done."
"Oh you'll see me again." Kata said, her eyes red once again.
"That was for my Kata, not you."
"Package deal, kiddo."
"For now." He said, and she jumped off. Immediately, sounds of explosions could be heard below.
"Let's get moving, go!" Jace barked to the cockpit.
"This is why relationships suck!" Quinn could be heard complaining as he started to pilot the ship away. Jace went to the cockpit and found the other two ready for action. "Think she'll be ok?" Quinn asked.
"I hope so..."
"She will be." Morri said. "Jace, listen. The last time that side took over, your father tried to kill us all."
"I'll get her back Morri. The hybrid crisis is over, it's just us now. I'll get her back." He said.
"Ok." She said, nodding. "Just wanted you to know how serious this is."
"I understand, on many levels."
"Ok. Infiltration will be a bitch from the outside, so I'll sneak in first and weaken their defenses."
"And I'll pound them from the outside." Jace said.
"And you won't even see me." Quinn muttered.
"Ok with that." Jace said.
"Mildly insulted." Quinn shot back.
"Boys..." Morri muttered, open a portal and vanished.
"Women." Quinn said.
"Don't get me started." Jace said.
"That's my sister you're talking about."
"And I'm sleeping with her, we're even."
"There's an image I didn't need."
"Never said you had to see it."
"You know how you turtle up when your sister makes sex jokes?" Quinn asked. "That's how I feel."
"Get me over that bunker and I'll leave you be." Jace said. Quinn did so and Jace headed for the door.
"Careful man, you're going up against Hybrids this time." Quinn warned.
"They're up against a Ferran." Jace said.
"Well, you're not wrong."
"And he's pissed off." Jace said, put on his helmet, and started to fly down with his jetpack.
"Americans." Quinn muttered, not realizing there was an open comm.
"Mandalorian, I'm not American." Jace said. "Damn ruskie."
"You were born in America, it qualifies." Quinn shot back. "Also, the woman you sleep with is also what you so eloquently call a ruskie."
"Just land the ship."
"Checkmate." Quinn chuckled.
In the cell block, the prisoners could feel the quakes from the explosions. Aednat sprinted for the edge of her cell and pressed her face against the glass. Guards were coming for them. She looked around frantically at her friends, and got nods from all of them. They were ready to fight their way out, no matter the consequences. However, instead of the guards coming and grabbing all of them, they instead only opened Dustin's cell and dragged him out. "Take him to the site of the explosions, hopefully if we threaten him Akulov will stop her rampage." One of the guards said.
Rampage? Oh god, is the other in control right now? Aednat thought to herself. She noticed Ileana pounding on the glass of her cell. The guards ignored her and began to drag Dustin from the cell block, taking him for the elevator, one of them holding a finger that appeared to be made of acid to the side of his head. Then, a pale blue light began to fill the entire block. Aednat looked for the source and saw that it was coming from Ileana. Oh my god she's unleashing it already. She thought and stumbled back to the other side of the cell she was in.
Then, a pillar of light soared into the air from Ileana, and it disintegrated the ceiling and sent out a wave of energy and power that Aednat had never felt before. It smashed the glass of her cell and toppled half of the walls around her and sent her flying into the back wall. This is what we're destined for. Aednat thought. This is our true power. This is Vakning.
Quinn zoomed into the bunker and landed a huge right hook to the face of the last hybrid guard in the bunker. Morri and Jace stood before him, splattered with a variety of bloods and chunks of things. Before Quinn could say anything, a shockwave rolled through the area and knocked all of them off their feet. As they rose, they saw a hole in the ceiling and could see a pale blue pillar of light rising into the sky. The power from the shockwave was distinctly hybrid, but they weren't certain how.
"What the hell is that?" Jace asked.
"I'm...not sure." Morri said.
"But I suppose we have to check it out." Jace said. Quinn quickly picked up Morri, bridal style.
"Keep up kiddo." He said and zoomed away.
"I don't like him..." Jace grumbled and gave chase. When he caught up to them, he found them sifting through the wreckage of a destroyed cell block, helping a bloodied Aednat lift some of the rubble. "Aednat, you alright?" He asked.
"I'll be fine." She said, walking over to a different pile of rubble. "Help me get through this, they have that one. Mason's trapped in his cell."
"And the others?" Jace asked as he started digging.
"Axel is trying to burn his way out, he should tunnel out here in a few minutes. They have Viv. Dustin was taken away and Ileana was the source of the blast. Who knows where she rampaged off to."
"I don't know what's worse. Kata or Ileana rampaging." Jace said.
"Right now, Ileana." Aednat said. Jace sighed.
"I guess that's one more friendly we need to stop."
"When she finds her man she'll be fine." Aednat said as they tossed another large stone aside. "Mason, it's thin enough!" She yelled. "Step back, Jace." She said and began backing up. He followed her, and Mason made the remaining rubble melt and evaporate.
"Sorry...hit head...no control...didn't want to kill you." Mason slurred.
"Well, this is a nice shit show so far." Jace said. A loud clang surprised them from behind, causing them to jump. They turned and saw a metal fist had forced it's way out of the pile Quinn and Morri were working on. Viv burst out from the rubble, her skin a silver metallic substance.
"Ok, let's hunt." She said.
"We need to move fast." Jace said, nodding.
"Intel first, Jace." Aednat warned as Axel appeared, burning his way up through the floor and returning to his normal state. "Ok, listen. In addition to the Illusionist and Amelia, Void is here."
"So basically nothing about this is good." Jace muttered.
"Jace, go calm Kata down. She's the only one who can really take down the Illusionist. Morri, Axel, go for Ileana and Dustin. Viv, can you handle Amelia for a while?"
"Hells yes." Viv said, cracking her metal knuckles.
"Quinn, take Mason back to the ship, then go help her." Aednat ordered.
"I'll let you know how it goes." Jace said and began to leave. Before he could, he heard Aednat's final instruction.
"I'll handle Void." Jace stopped and turned to face her.
"What? You think you can actually do it?" He asked.
"Are you volunteering?" She asked.
"I would if anyone else could calm Kata."
"No? Stop complaining and move, soldier." She ordered.
"Good luck, kid." Jace said, shaking his head.
"I'm twenty years your elder, ass." She replied.
"Age isn't everything." Jace said.
"Clearly. Age differences run in your family." Quinn said, grabbed Mason, and zoomed out of view.
"Ass." Jace muttered and began to fly away. Aednat yelled at the others to get moving and she sprinted for the last known location of Void.
"What the hell was that blast?" Viv heard Amelia shout at her soldiers. "Someone talk to me, did they get themselves a new weapon?"
"We don't know, ma'am." Someone finally had the courage to say.
"Well find out, get moving!" Amelia barked, and her soldiers started scampering for the exits. Viv waited for them to have left the room before she slipped inside. She put her hand on a metal wall and her skin took it's form.
"Hey Witch." She said. Amelia looked up and smirked.
"Of all the ones they could have sent, they went with you. I'm insulted."
"I wanted to take the Illusionist, but they told me I had to settle for his bitch instead." Viv shot back. Immediately, Amelia snapped her fingers and pointed at Viv. Viv dove to the side and the wall behind her exploded. She sprinted in Amelia's direction and rolled when Amelia pointed at her again. The ground behind her exploded and she was sent careening through the air. She landed on her feet and jumped towards Amelia. Amelia side stepped and caused the ground Viv landed on to explode just a moment before Viv actually landed on it.
Viv fell to the next floor down and formed a crater in the floor. Amelia jumped down and stomped on Viv's face, only to recoil in pain. "Dumbass, I'm made of metal." Viv said and sent a metal foot up and into Amelia's back, kicking her down the hall they were in. Amelia landed and snapped her fingers, this time summoning four hybrids to her aid. One of them raised a hand an a pillar of fire soared from his palm towards Viv. It hit her square in the chest and she was sent flying down to the other end of the hall. She jumped to her feet and fell into a crouch, only to see him lining up another shot.
Then, inexplicably, his arm jerked to the side and he blasted his ally through a wall. Then, he dropped, spinning, as though a punch hit him thrown by the most powerful boxer in existence. One inexplicably did a front flip and landed on his face, breaking his nose and beginning to bleed all over the floor. Finally, the fourth guard's head was slammed into the wall and Amelia dropped as though having been hit by an uppercut.
"Dramatic pose, hun." Quinn's voice said from behind her. She looked up and saw him eating, to her confusion, popcorn.
"Shut up and take her back to the ship. Then me, we can't leave her alone with Mason." Viv said.
Jace opened the door the hangar and ran inside. It was a scene of the most pure violence and destruction and pain he'd ever seen. Vehicles, machinery, bodies, and blood were scattered all over the place. In the very center of the hangar stood Kata, surrounded by a ring of corpses and holding a lone man in the air with her powers. Her eyes were glowing blood red as she clenched a fist. His arms, legs, and head shot into his torso, leaving just his torso exposed with five holes spewing blood, and she tossed it aside. "Kata!" Jace shouted. "Kata stop!"
"Hey baby." She said, turning to face him. "Date night's great so far."
"The bunker is secured and the team has been rescued. We've split off for now, your job is done here."
"It isn't a job if you're having fun." She cackled and tore down a large portion of the ceiling.
"Well play time is over. Time for you to go back in your box and let the normal Kata have control now." Jace said.
"No. What on earth makes you think I have to listen to a word you say?" The other asked.
"Because this is what I promised her I would do. Kata please, come on out now." He said. The other laughed, a spine tingling laugh that send goosebumps up his skin. "Kata, please, I know you're in there. Don't do anything irrational." He said and put his hands on his double ended saber. She raised a finger and his weapons soared away from him and landed at the other end of the hangar.
"Don't rely on your human weapons." She snapped, angry now. "Don't be a human, boy. Embrace your true heritage."
"You're right, I could." He said and fired two crystals in the ground near her. "But we both know I could beat you." He added and started to slowly walk towards her. She sent both crystals from the floor back at him.
"My kind of foreplay." She giggled.
"Hmm...you may be a mind reader." He said, dodging the projectiles. I must say, your work is very efficient, you do your job well."
"...What?" The other asked after a moment of silence.
"You heard me. You said on the ship that I'm quite the specimen. That you wanted to interact with me." He said and removed his helmet.
"Are you...are you serious?" The other asked, looking genuinely confused.
"Why not? You seemed to want to before." He asked.
"Katalena, you've pulled a Clara." The other said.
"Like you said, it's her body, she wouldn't mind." Jace said. Wordless, she forced his helmet back on. "Excuse me?" He asked, and with one hand up and glowing, she forced him against the wall. He struggled slightly, but soon gave up. She raised her free hand and clenched a fist. His helmet began to slowly crunch and crumble in on itself. "Agh, what are you doing?" He asked. The helmet's programming began to go haywire and his head began to hurt. "Knock it off!" he yelled and struggled, trying to vainly fire more crystals.
Then, abruptly, he was let down from the wall and his helmet popped off. Kata was on her knees, grabbing the sides of her head and screaming at top volume. Jace pulled himself together and looked at her. "Kata? Kata I know you're in there, come on out!" Windows began to shatter all over the place and the wreckage of a fighter began to float behind her. "Kata, you're almost back! Just fight through this a little longer!" The screams went up an octave as gradually, everything in the hangar from wreckage to corpses began to float. "Kata, please, I'm right here, you can do this!" He said, covering his ears and beginning to take a few steps towards her as he began to float. He began to fly towards her with his jetpack. "C'mon, c'mon."
Then, out of nowhere, silence reigned. "Kata? Kata, are you there?" he asked. She sat up and looked around, confused. "Kata? Are you...are you here?" He asked. She looked down at her right hand as though it was her first time seeing it. She shifted her hand slightly to the right and the entire base quaked. "Dammit, Kata, knock it off!" She slowly set him down and shakily rose to her feet. He carefully started walking towards her again.
"I...what...who...what is this?" She asked.
"Kata, it's over. Just relax. We came to rescue our friends, right?" He said.
"Friends...right." She said and looked at him. "Jace...you...Jace..." She mumbled.
"Yes, Jace." He said. "I'm here, hun, I'm here." he said and put his hands on her shoulders. He looked into her eyes and saw they had returned to their normal brown, but they had an ever so slight reddish tint around the irises. "Are you ok? Is the other still there?"
"We...same..." She said, struggling to get the words out.
"Same? Like merged?"
"...Maybe?" She said, as though she didn't understand either.
"But the important thing is, you're in control now. Right?" He asked, and she held a hand up and closed her eyes. After a moment, she reopened them and looked up at him. Her eyes were pure brown again. "I'll take that as a yes."
"I hurt you." She whispered.
"It's ok, hun, trust me." He assured her.
"Ok...ok...your helmet won't work." She said.
"I know. I know. The thing is fried."
"Go back and help the others. If it goes down, send Quinn for me." She said.
"I've already left you alone once, it won't happen again."
"This one is something for the ruskies, love." She said. Jace smirked and gave a small chuckle.
"Touche...Fine, I'll clear an exit for you and watch your back as long as I can. Then I'll move on to the others."
"I won't need an exit cleared. Send my brother and I'll be fine." She said, curiously serene.
"Alright. Just come back in one, sane piece for me." He said.
"Sane...you ask too much." She smiled.
"Us sane, not normal sane."
"I'll see what I can do." She said and floated for the door rather than walk.
"Good luck, hun."
"I don't need luck, I have powers." She replied and the doors closed. Jace grabbed his weapons and opened the commlink.
"Guys, Kata is ok and calmed down. She's headed for her father. Quinn, your her evac."
"Son, we need have a talk about safety after this." Quinn sighed.
"Not much of a choice I had in this. Just do your job."
"Remind me to have her teach you meditation." Quinn said. "Cultivate serenity."
"Remind me to get you a muzzle."
"If she muzzled your sister, would you fine with that?"
"Kata would not be."
"Always got to take things so seriously, don't you?"
"Hey, I can have fun." Quinn said defensively. "Join us for drinks sometime."
"Done. First one passed out loses." Jace said.
"Bad idea Jace." Aednat's voice crackled over the comms. "His metabolism causes his body to absorb drinks fifty eight and a quarter times faster than yours."
"Fine, we'll talk about this later." Jace said.
"Aednat, sweetheart." Quinn said. "You are an asshole."
"Yes I am." She laughed.
"Let's just finish this already." Jace said, beginning to become annoyed with the casual conversation.
"Going off comms now." Aednat said.
"Confirmed. Quinn, let me know when you have Kata." Jace said.
"I'll tap you on the shoulder a second after I grab her." Quinn said.
"Copy." Jace said.
"Guys." Morri's voice kicked in. "Shut up." Jace shut his comm off.
"Ileana!" Morri shouted, running straight into the scene of the carnage. "Ileana, stop!" She sprinted straight into a swirling cloud of blueish energy and right for the source of it, leaving Axel outside to wonder why he'd been brought along at all. After a few moments, the cloud Vanished and Morri started helping Ileana heave a rather injured looking Dustin back in Axel's direction.
"You two." Dustin said to the two women. "Get me back to the ship, I'm no use like this." He grumbled. "Axel, sixth sub-basement, something bad, you should go try to stop whatever it is."
"There isn't a sixth sub basement." Morri said.
"There is now." Dustin grumbled.
"Go, I got this." Axel said. Morri nodded after a moment and activated a portal to walk through. Axel ran for the nearest elevator and took it down to the fifth sub-basement. Once he arrived, he burned through the floor and kept going down until he reached a sixth level down. He put his fires out and looked around. It was some kind of science lab, with machines appearing to assemble humanoid robots all around him.
"Interesting, isn't it?" A mechanical voice said behind him. He whirled around, but no source of the voice could be seen. He ignited the sunfire on his arms and began to stalk the room, looking for who had spoken. "At first, this scared me." The voice said. "So I killed a lot of those scientists for doing it to me." Axel turned a corner and saw pile of dead men and women in lab coats. "Then I realized. This is evolution. The natural evolution of humanity. When the frail organic bodies die-" A hand burst from the shadows and wrapped itself around Axel's throat. "-the only thing left living will be metal."
Axel looked down and saw a black and red robotic face with glowing red set of eyes and a mouth. The machine was wearing a black combat suit with one missing sleeve. The metal arm that held Axel up was a strange substance unlike anything Axel had ever felt before. He gripped the machine's arm and tried to burn through it, but found no success. Skulblakan Metal he realized. It was the only substance capable of withstanding any hyrbid's powers, save for maybe a few of the most powerful ones.
"Recognize me, Sunfire?" The machine said. "I'm not surprised if you don't." he said and threw Axel across the room with astounding strength. "Listen to my voice, you'll remember."
"You're...the metal-armed assassin." Axel said. "What did they do to you?"
"Gave me the power Katalena stole." He said and charged.
Kata raised a hand and the door exploded inward. She strode into the large, emptied room, and saw her father standing alone at the other side. "No place to hide, father." She said.
"Indeed. It has come down to you and it has come down to me." Vladimir said and raised a hand. A table and two chairs rose from the floor. He sat in one of them and looked at her expectantly. "Sit."
"Tell me, why is it exactly that you gave each of us to different parents?" Kata asked as she began to walk down the length of the room. "You could have raised us as your own and when this time came, you'd have had two very willing lieutenants to aid in your supposed ascent to godhood."
"Because, Katalena, of the circumstances of your births." He said. "Prior to meeting your mother, I was part of a team that was studying interplanar portals, long before the creation of the Erachi we know of today. We were able to generate a portal to another plane, twenty-one years before the Skulblakan Invasion. I was sucked in and it was on the other side that I met your mother." He said. Kata froze for a moment, then kept walking towards him.
"Go on." She ordered.
"She was a scientist of her own race, with abilities unlike any I'd seen before. If records hold true, your friend Morrigan was assisted by her when she was brought to Skulblakan plane herself. She's long dead, in that case."
"Are you saying...?"
"Yes." He said. "The word hybrid is cleverly applied to our people, but only two of our kind are actual hybrids of human and Skulblaka, born from their magic rather than childbirth, and powerful beyond measure. Yourself, and your brother."
"How did you convince a Skulblakan to make a child with you?" She spat, feeling ill with every step she took.
"We were scientists. We were curious as to what would happen. Her life magic simply required some of my essence. The end result, I too became what we now refer to as Hybrids." He said "I just didn't get my powers until the planar merging. Much like you and your brother."
"So I'm an experiment, then?"
"A success." He said as she reached the table. Instead of sitting, she kept walking around the table.
"And why are you telling me this?"
"Because you asked."
"Clever." She said. "But at the end of the day, I just don't care. I won't kill another of my fathers, but you're still coming with me."
"Oh, you just think I am." He said and snapped his fingers. The room dissolved and he was standing outside of it, where he began to walk away, knowing he had limited time to escape. He rounded the corner and saw, to his shock, Katalena. "How...?"
"When I achieved the next stage, even pre-release, it expanded on my powers. It strengthened the other to a terrifying degree, but it also allowed me to mix the two of us into one. This heightened my power even more. One of the things I realized I could do..." She snapped her fingers and the world dissolved. When it reformed, they were standing in the room with her holding a glowing hand two inches from his temple. "...The ability to see inside your mind and make you see things that are not real, make you hear, feel, smell, and taste what is not there. To make my own illusions." She said.
"Incredible." He whispered. "You are more powerful than I thought."
"Now, you're either coming with me, or I drag you."
"Neither." He said and pressed a button on the floor. Immediately, explosions began to rock the base. "You have two choices. Save your friend Axel, locked in combat with a machine meant for killing Hybrids, or take me with you." The choice was easy for her. Quinn! She screamed with her mind. Come get me then go get Axel!
I won't have time to get our-
I know, do it! She ordered. In four seconds, he was at her side, had scooped her into his arms, and they returned to the ship. He vanished, and twenty seconds later, he returned with a battered and bloodied Axel.
"Where the hell is Aednat?" Kata asked, looking around the group.
Embrace of the VoidEdit
Aednat kicked the door in and looked down the long hall that lay before. She could see Void at the other end quite clear and plainly. "I'm stunned you're the one coming for me." Void said.
"I'm the only one who can." She said.
"None of you can, though I admire your courage." He replied.
"It's only courage if you're afraid." She shot back.
"Tell me." He said. "You know my powers, why, how, do you think you have a hope in the world of even attempting to defeat me?"
"I have something more powerful." She said, and began to reach into the depths of her soul, grabbing the source of her true power and preparing to unveil it."
"And what would that be?" He asked as she closed her eyes and found it. A pale green light surrounded her. She opened her eyes and found that they were glowing as well.
"Vakning." She said, and the room exploded.
"What the hell was that?!" Quinn shouted as the entire ground began to quake and explode. The force of the blasts sent the ship careening through the air until Kata was able to stabilize it. "And why did we choose explosions as the currency of the day?"
"Shut up, Quinn." Morri said. "That felt a lot like Ileana's Vakning when it was unleashed."
"Yeah, except fifty times more powerful." Jace agreed.
"Do you think she survived that?" Viv asked. Silence was the only answer.
Aednat started walking towards Void, eyes glowing green, but that aside, there was no other change. "If a simple explosion is all you have to unleash upon me, girl, than this will end a lot faster than I had expected." She continued her walk, fearless and unafraid of what was coming next. She kept moving until she was only three feet from him. "Fool." He said quietly and reached out to touch her forehead.
Blackness was all she saw for several minutes. So...this is the void. She thought to herself. The place where existence itself is nullified. Where he sends his victims. Beyond any power known to us or any other form of life. She started walking, and though she walked on what felt like nothing, there was a level of physicality to her and her surroundings. Were it not for the fact that this is the most dangerous place ever, I might want to study it.
She raised a hand and the blackness began to melt away, being replaced by the room Void and her had faced off in. "What?" he sputtered, obviously confused and for the first time, she saw fear in his eyes. "How?"
"The only thing that can counteract being sent to the void is control of the void itself, no?" She said. "My Vakning allows me to use all powers that Hybrids have, and should they have unlocked it, it will allow me to utilize their Vaknings." She said. "Scary, isn't it? Knowing you face down yourself, Katalena Akulov, Mason Young, Rhett Progmer, and every other hybrid alive, all in one being? People often debate yourself, Kata, and Rhett as to who is the most powerful Hybrid alive." She raised a hand and tapped him once on the forehead. "I have my own theory."
Void began to vanish, and within seconds, she had sent him into the void. She closed her eyes and felt her Vakning return to its leashed state. She turned and started running making for the moon's surface. She found a landing pad and ran out onto it. "Guys." She said, turning on her commlink.
"Jaysus, Aednat, where the hell have you been?"
"Jaysus? Really? Are you welsh, Jace?" She asked. "I'm at the...southern landing pad, come and get me, I want to go home." Within a minute, the ship appeared and landed before her. She jumped aboard and strapped herself into a seat.
"Void?" Kata asked.
"He'll be back, just not for a while." She said.
"How did you...?" Viv began to ask, but Aednat shook her head. And she didn't say another word for several hours. Eventually, most of the ship's inhabitants had fallen asleep, save for Quinn, who was piloting, Jace, and the imprisoned Amelia. Eventually, to Jace's mild amusement, Quinn started punching the air in frustration.
"Problem?" Jace asked. Quinn waved for him to come up to the cockpit.
"Hyperdrive is screwed. We'll have to stop someplace to get it repaired." He said. "And I don't know many places that want to have Amelia around."
"...That's a problem. Let me see a map real quick." Quinn brought up a holomap for Jace. "Ok, I have a place."
"Yes. I don't want her there, but we don't have a choice."
"Where to, boss?" Quinn asked.
"We're going to Khan. Zeta has an...outpost there. We'll have a backup too, just in case."
"Khan? Never heard of it." Quinn said.
"Good. You're not supposed to."
"Well, should be an hour or two. How're things back there?"
"Quiet. Sooner she's off this thing the better." Jace said.
"How do you think Aednat beat out Void?"
"Whatever it was, I need to learn it." Jace chuckled.
"Still, you did good down there."
"You too, Ruskie." Jace replied.
"So, who will be at this outpost? Anyone I know?" Quinn asked.
"Rhett runs operations on the planet since I like staying on Earth."
"Ah. Met him once." Quinn said, in such a way that caused Jace to sense a story.
"That doesn't necessarily sound good. What happened?"
"He mixed me with a cement block for an hour."
"You probably deserved it."
"Yes I did." Quinn replied.
"Don't worry, I'll make sure nothing happens to you this time."
"Be warned, this could get awkward." Quinn said.
"Okay, okay, give me the backstory."
"Well, firstly there's Aednat in the back." Quinn sighed.
"They were a thing once, right?"
"Yeah. They turned Katalena, who happens to be back there, in to your father, causing Morri to get a phobia of electrical shocks and the second unleashing of the Skulblaka. Which in turn caused Keryn to run away from you and your dad and the deaths of Sola Kerana and Vitor Rogan, to name a few."
"At the time, I don't blame what they did."
"I'm not worried about Kata, I'm worried about Aednat." Quinn said.
"She worries you that much?"
"She just beat out Void. If she doesn't scare you you're nuts."
"More perplexed than anything." Jace said.
"Think we should contact home since we'll be late?"
"Up to you. I've gone off the grid before." Jace shrugged.
"To be fair, you didn't take nine others with you." Quinn said.
"This will be much shorter."
"True, true." Quinn said. "You can nap if you want, I'll wake you when we arrive."
"Alright. Let me know if you need anything." Jace said and patted his shoulder before turning to leave.
"If you have caffeine I have dibs."
"Want a stim? Closest I've got."
"Nah, I go through them too quickly. Takes like nine to have any effect on me." Quinn said. "I'll be fine for now, thanks though."
"No problem." Jace said and headed back to sleep.
Several hours later, the ship arrived and began to fly down to the planet Khan. They headed down to the planet's surface and passed over a small city, overlooked by a landing pad in the mountains that surrounded the city. They landed on the pad and Quinn glanced outside to window and saw Rhett awaiting them. "Here we go." He muttered. He and Jace were the first off the ship, with Kata trailing behind them and various members of the team either staying aboard or getting off.
"Good to see you in one piece, sir." Rhett said to Jace, giving a half salute.
"You too." Jace said, returning the gesture. "Play nice." He muttered. Kata pushed by him and to the general shock of everyone present, gave Rhett a hug. A look of mass confusion and shock crossed his face. She stepped back.
"Nice to see you. How have you been?" She asked, earning a look of utter shock from Quinn.
"Not too bad." He said. "It's quiet here."
"Any new girlfriends (or boyfriends, whatever you're into) I should know about?" Kata asked.
"No, ma'am." he replied as Aednat stepped off the ship. A look of mild panic crossed her face as she turned around and went back inside the ship.
"Tell her if she wants to stay on the ship, fine. Otherwise, I can relocate." Rhett said.
"It's for the best she stays and watches Amelia." Kata said. "If she can handle Void, she can handle her."
"What?" Rhett asked, confused.
"Oh, Aednat beat Void in a fight and Kata and I are twin siblings." Quinn said.
"How...? No. No, I don't want to know." Rhett said. "Permission to be dismissed, sir? This is all too much excitement for me." As he said it, Mason stumbled out with Viv holding his arm to keep him from running off.
"Where are we?" Viv asked, as though she was talking to a child.
"KHAAAAAAAAAANNNN!" Mason shouted.
"Permission granted for dismissal, but not to go soft on me." Jace said, ignoring Quinn hiding his smirk and need to make a joke. Kata also noticed this and smacked him upside the back of the head. Rhett bid them farewell and turned to leave.
"Well, I need sugar, be back in a bit." Quinn said and vanished.
"I'm gonna go chat with the little boy who can talk to bushes." Kata said and left. Jace ordered for a new hyperdrive core to be brought to the ship and headed back inside, where he found Aednat sitting across from the prone form of Amelia, who was in a forced stasis.
"So...I know you've been asked this, but how did you do it?" Jace asked.
"Peanut butter." She said without missing a beat.
"A simple no would have sufficed."
"I also used an infusion of krogan and turian semen." She said, hardly slowing down. "Then I went forward in time and sacrificed your son by Viv to the goat overlord to gain the powers of the night to defeat him."
"I get it, I get it." Jace sighed and turned to wait outside. "Can I get you anything in the meantime?"
"Condoms please." She said.
"Seriously, I need them for an experiment on Rachni digestion." She said.
"Ask Mason, surely he has some."
"...He doesn't use them, Jace."
"Oh god..." Jace sighed.
"Ok, first it wasn't me, just clearing that up. Two, you don't want to know who told me that." She said.
"Should I leave now?"
"Probably best. If I tell you you'll throw up." She said. "And kill him, most likely."
"Point taken." He said and went to wait outside.
Sins of the FatherEdit
It had been two days since the group had returned to earth. Amelia had been handed over to a more high security prison designed for hybrids, and the group was taking a well deserved break. The general consensus was to sit around and do absolutely nothing, save for Mason and Aednat, who went straight for the beer. Midway through the third day, a knock sounded at Jace and Kata's door. He went to answer it upon her declaration that she was feeling far too lazy to do so herself. He went to the door and opened it to discover his sister Keryn. "Ker? Not someone I was expecting."
"Hey. Sorry I took so long to talk to you after you got back. I may or may not have spent the night in a cell after getting myself banned from negotiations for life because I threw a chair at them." Keryn said. He raised his eyebrows and she shrugged. "Mom gets the job now, so I don't really care."
"That poor woman. That's why I'm just a simple soldier."
"Reminds me, congratulations on the last mission. You did good, little one." She said and reached up to rustle his hair. "Seriously, I'm proud of you."
"That was kinda out of nowhere." He said.
"You've been doing actual shit while I was getting arrested for throwing a chair at foreigners." She reminded him.
"Being a god has its downsides."
"Like never getting to spend time with your family."
"Look, I feel like I've been a shitty sibling. A seriously shitty sibling." She said.
"You had things going on, it's nothing personal." He said, though she could tell he was growing distant.
"You always say that but it never makes me feel any better about it." She said. He was silent. "Listen, all I'm saying is that I want to be here and I want to have a brother again, so if you ever want to meet up or something I'll be hanging around peoples' rooftops since I still haven't been given a house yet." She said. "Sorry for bothering you."
"Keryn..." He sighed. "I do appreciate what you're trying to do here, but you, and mom to a good extent, haven't been around most of my life. This isn't something we can pick up where we left off and run with it. Mostly because there's nothing to pick up."
"Is that a reason to not try?" She asked.
"No, no it isn't." He admitted.
"I just don't want one of us to go out having hardly known the other. Like I said," She reached out and grabbed his shoulder. "I want to have a brother again."
"Alright." He said. "This is definitely going to be built from scratch, but I'm willing to try." he said.
"Ok, so, where do you want to go?" She asked.
"Somewhere quiet that won't be filled with drama and interruptions for a change." He requested.
"I have a cabin on Ehrnaizjyzck." She suggested.
"I don't know where that is, but I can explore." He said.
"Alright." She replied, smiling and drew a portal with one finger in the air. An image of a mountain range with yellow snow appeared.
"That looks...nice, actually." Jace said, sounding surprised.
"You should go grab something warmer to wear." She suggested as she stepped through the portal. He vanished into his house and returned in a few minutes with his armor on.
"Warmer than it looks." He explained. "Force of habit, too."
"You wear that around the house at all?" She asked.
"No. The bodysuit, sometimes, the armor, no."
"Yeah, that'd be awkward."
"I'm not that scared of her." He said, and there was a moment of silence. "that was a joke."
"So was mine." She cringed.
"Guess we'll have to learn each others humor as well." he said.
"Guess so." Keryn agreed as he stepped through the portal himself. "This should be fun." She said with a smile and closed the portal.
Inside Jace's house, Kata closed the curtains and smiled. She'd watched the whole scene unfold and listened as well. She grabbed her comm and called Quinn. "Hey brother. Want to come over for a while? I have the house to myself."
"Give me twenty seconds." he replied. She grinned as there was a knock on the door twenty seconds later.
On the moon base, a single ship rose from the hangar and began to fly away. The Hunter-Killer drone that had once been the metal-armed assassin was at the wheel, taking a single prisoner with him. He pulled his black hood up and a scarf over his face. If a robot like him was walking around most planets, people would assume he was a malfunctioning automaton and try to scrap him. He set the hyperdrive to his location and headed back to talk to his prisoner.
"Hey little girl." he said to the young girl who had turned him into a machine. "Here's your situation. You did me a favor with this, so you're automatically in my good graces. However, you aren't done helping me. Once I develop the technology to do this on my own, I won't need your help anymore."
"Understood." She said.
"You're gonna help me make more of whatever this is that I've become." He said. "A feeling, thinking, tasting, smelling drone. The first true artificial intelligence, not just a talking computer." He said. "But I suppose this is real intelligence. How did you do it?"
"I put your soul in a container." She replied.
"Then we're gonna need a lot more containers." He said. "And I know just where we can find some." He smiled. He'd need someone to work the mines of course, but that was irrelevant. There was no problem in existence he couldn't solve without the proper application of bullets.
Three days after returning from his trip with Keryn, Jace was sitting in his living room when his comm rang. He answered it and immediately a loud voice filled his ears. "Yo, former roommate."
"Hey Viv, what's happening?"
"Bevs at my place on the house tonight, our crew only. Be there or be referred to as a pussy for eternity."
"Guess I don't have a choice now." Jace said. "We'll be there soon."
"The Irish have drained me of beer already, so hurry."
"Copy that." Jace said and she hung up. Kata walked in from the basement at that moment.
"Who was that?" She asked.
"Viv. I'm forcing you to go out right now." He said.
"Crap, now I have to look decent." She grumbled.
"You always do, hun." He said. "But we gotta hurry." She sighed and went into their bedroom. Twenty-eight seconds later she returned, dressed in her usual attire though without the red jacket this time, and her hair miraculously fixed. "That was quick." he said.
"Magic." She replied.
"You are magic." He joked with a smirk. "C'mon, time for drinks."
"If I have to look pretty you do too." She said sternly.
"Fine, fine." He said and went to change into jeans, a black t-shirt and a jacket. "Better?"
"Go with the sportscoat. Trust me." She said and pointed at their bedroom door. He shook his head.
"Alright, alright." He said and muttered "Fancy bullcrap..."
"I'm letting you off easy compared to what Morri does." She said.
"That's because I have the better girl."
"Nice try." She smirked. "Now, git." He took the jacket off and headed back into their room, returning with a sportscoat instead. "Better. Now we can leave." She said.
"After you." He said and opened the door for her. They headed over to Viv's bar and Jace opened the door for her again. Inside, they were greeted by the sight of Aednat lying on the bar staring up at the ceiling and Mason looking at the floor, appearing to be counting the scratches and scuff marks. "Someone seems toasty already."
"This is them tipsy." Viv said, poking her head out from behind the bar.
"This should get interesting, then." Jace said as Kata smirked. The next group to arrive was Ileana and Dustin, both of which looked what Kata would describe as nice, causing her to shoot a look of 'told you so' to Jace. Quinn was next to arrive, and he was clad in a simple hoodie. He looked around at them, looking unamused.
"This is a bar, guys. Not a ball." He said.
"That's her fault." Jace said, pointing at Kata.
"My point will walk in the door any minute now..." She grumbled.
"Well, sorry if we want to look nice." Ileana said while Dustin simply shrugged. As though to reinforce Kata and Ileana's points, Morri and Axel walked in. He was clad in a full suit while she was wearing a dress one might wear to a wedding.
"God dammit." Quinn muttered. Ileana entered a fit of giggles while Dustin smirked at Quinn. Viv poked her head up from behind the bar again and her eyebrows shot up.
"When the hell did...nevermind." She said. "Guys, thanks to the fighting Irish here, there is no longer any beer in Kaven Base. It's gone."
"Good thing I like liquor better." Jace said.
"Don't mind...have any of that Cardassian stuff Skylar's always drinking?" Ileana asked.
"Careful, Morri knows how to spike that stuff." Axel warned Ileana, earning a smack in the chest from Morri.
"Well, she wouldn't do that to me, would she?"
"I'd kill her for getting my daughter drunk." Kata said and affectionately messed with Ileana's hair. Ileana groaned.
"At least someone's on my side..." She grumbled.
"Mind if I help?" Dustin asked.
"Mess with her hair or kill me?" Morri asked. "I don't think I like where this has gone." She said, earning chuckles from Quinn and Jace. At that moment, Mason sat up, looking shocked as though he had made a terrible revelation. Everyone ignored him.
"Hey, just because I want to...wait, hold that thought." He said and made a rune appear. He pressed a few things on it and banished it. "Ahem, as I was saying...where was I?" Ileana laughed, though the rest of the group was just confused.
"I...I figured it out!" Mason said loudly. "Everyone, I have made a discovery." He announced.
"Do I want to know?" Dustin asked, getting a shaken head from Viv.
"And what has our glorious leader discovered?" Jace asked.
"That it is actually unethical to get a lap dance from a stripper if your friend is dating said stripper." Mason announced. "It all makes sense now!" Dustin was so stunned he actually collapsed for a moment.
"Straight out of an anime..." Ileana muttered, looking down at Dustin.
"I thought many people already knew that." Jace said.
"It's unethical? Really?" Kata asked, with no hint of sarcasm. "Now I feel bad."
"We may have to break you into this group, kid." Morri said, picking up Dustin.
"I'll say." he muttered.
"I haven't heard this story before." Jace said, looking at Kata.
"Bad things happen when me and Vodka mix, honey." She said.
"She got a lap dance from my stripper boyfriend." Viv complained. Dustin fell over again and picked himself up.
"Ok, I'll take some ryncol now." He said to Viv.
"I'm right with you, buddy." Jace said and went to the bar as well.
"Crap, now I owe him later tonight." Kata said.
"You say that like it's a bad thing." Jace replied.
"You drink ryncol?" Ileana asked Dustin, joining him.
"Have a krogan teammate who fell into energized protodermis. End result was something that looks like it crawled out of Palpatine's ass." He said.
"You currently work with something who appears as though they crawled out of a psycho evil sith overlord's anus?" Axel asked.
"Yuh-uh-hp." Dustin said, drawing out the p.
"Oh, I've met Chuyrloc Srirg." Ileana said and made a face. "He really does fit that description." Suddenly, Aednat sat up on the bar.
"I want to meet him." She said.
"Why...?" Dustin asked.
"Please say science." Jace prayed.
"I want to get his permission to dissect him following his eventual death." Aednat said. Dustin and Ileana looked at her with confused expressions, and in Dustin's case, fear.
"Thank god." Jace muttered.
"Also, you." Kata said, pointing at Dustin.
"Huh?" He responded.
"I've decided she's allowed to keep you." Kata declared. "But, if you hurt her, I will skewer you, mouth to anus, with a golf club and have Morri parade you around while singing a tribal war chant."
"Word." Morri said. This time, it was Ileana to collapse. Jace downed a shot before adding his own thoughts to the conversation.
"Don't tempt her on that."
"Kata, need I remind you that she's actually older than Jace is?" Viv asked.
"Shut up." Kata said simply.
"The age difference rears its ugly head again." Jace said.
"Least it wasn't me this time." Quinn pointed out.
"True. My thanks." Jace said.
The group hung out together for several hours, and it wasn't until around one-thirty in the morning that people started to either doze off or get ready to leave. Mason had passed out at around fifty-eight beers and nine whiskeys in and was being watched at a toilet by Aednat, who was still only marginally drunk after drinking even more than him. Ileana had passed out long before Mason did after Viv had slipped absinthe into her kanar. Dustin was loopy, as he'd been drinking ryncol all night. Jace was slightly drunk himself, but not at all difficult to deal with. Kata was only mildly tipsy, having only had wine that night. Morri, Axel, and Viv were all sober and stuck being the responsible ones. Quinn was sitting at the bar watching, since his sped up metabolism prevented him from actually getting drunk.
It was at one forty five that a news report came on the tv that interested the sober ones. A reporter was talking about how several ore mines had been discovered for Skulblakan metal. The metal ore was being harvested at whatever locations had been discovered. "Never actually got a hold on skully metal before. Kinda want some now." Jace said. Dustin simply babbled something extremely incoherent.
"Ok, they're done." Morri said. "We'll take them back to our place." She said as she helped Dustin to the door. Axel picked up Ileana and began to carry her.
"How kind, how kind." Jace said. Dustin could be heard babbling all the way out the door.
"So...I'm not the only one worried, right?" Quinn asked.
"Alright, I'll bite. Why are you worried?" Jace asked.
"He's worried because Skully metal can be used as a weapon against us." Viv answered for Quinn.
"So can bullets. I know what you're getting at, but still." Jace said.
"Eh, whatever, it's a problem for a different day." Viv said.
"Ok, Vivvy." Kata said, sitting down next to Jace. "It is time for Vodka."
"Don't bad things happen when you meet vodka?"
"You want bad things tonight, now shush." She ordered. Jace mimed zipping his mouth shut as Aednat came out of the bathroom and hopped up on the bar.
"Ok, whiskey number eleven please." She said. Quinn zoomed into the bathroom, grabbed Quinn and zoomed out the door. He was back in exactly one minute.
"Slowing down a bit there, Ruskie? That took a whole minute."
"I will take you to his vomit puddle and rub your nose in it." Quinn said, getting a laugh from Viv.
"Kidding, kidding." Jace said.
"You're just depressed you don't get to go home and shag someone tonight." Aednat said out of nowhere to Quinn, getting a loud laugh from Jace.
"Who says he has to go home for that?" Viv asked.
"Wait what?" Kata asked as Jace started looking between Quinn and Viv, confused.
"I thought we said that was a one time thing?" Quinn asked.
"Not after the last mission it ain't." She said.
"Can we get an explanation here?" Jace asked.
"They fucked once and she wants more." Aednat said bluntly. Jace shook his head and took another shot.
"Also, your vodka, madam." Viv said and gave a glass to Kata, who started downing it at an alarming rate.
"Wow." Jace said.
"You'll appreciate this in about thirty minutes." Aednat said.
"She already owed me anyway."
"Shhhhh..." Kata said. "Don't tell Jace, but I get dancy teasey when I drink this stuff."
"Don't worry." Jace chuckled. "I won't tell Jace."
"Good." She said and looked away for a long moment, then she looked back. "Jace let's go home now."
"As you wish." he said and offered her his arm. She took it and they started walking for the door.
"I don't want to be an uncle yet." Quinn said as though he was talking to himself.
"I can barely handle her, let alone a kid." Jace said. "Though, granted, a kid might be easier." She stood up on the tips of her toes and started nibbling at his ear.
"Okay, okay. Contain yourself for five minutes, hun." He said.
"But public sounds fun..." She whined as they left the bar.
"One day, just for you." He said. She gave up on holding his arm and just began to drape herself on him. "C'mon, this'll be easier." He said and picked her up.
"Yeehaw." She said and he carried her home. The moment they were in the door she jumped down and started to push him for the bedroom with an almost sadistic fervor.
"This will be a long night, won't it?" He asked. She responded by using her powers to push him onto the bed and up against the back of it, where she held him. She used her other hand and began using her powers to do something out of sight. "Guess so." By the time she was finished, he was handcuffed to the bed. His eyes widened more than she'd ever seen them.
"When we actually fuck in two hours you will be very grateful." She said.
"I'm paying you back for that lap dance." She said.
"This'll work." Jace said. She gave a rather eerie smile as she snapped her fingers, casting a spell.
"You ok?" Viv asked Quinn. Aednat was lying on the bar again, this time asleep. "Something's up, I can tell."
"One of those reports was talking about the last mission." Quinn said. "Somehow, the relationship between myself, Kata, and the Illusionist got leaked. The public knows that an at-large terrorist hybrid is our father. Neither of us are well liked, but we're at the head of our people. This won't help us at all."
"I think you underestimate some people. We just went to war with him, I think they'll understand."
"If there's something life has taught me it's that the people of this plane have long memories and hold grudges." Quinn said. "We both worked for Dmitri Akulov for a period of time, and she was his daughter. If we're both children of Vladimir Akulov, it won't look good at all."
"Listen, quickie." Viv said. "You're being the worrier. Stop that. Leave that to Morri and Kata and we'll just be the comedy relief and their personal bouncers." She said. "I'm content to just follow them if it means I'm happier. What about you?"
"I guess." He said.
"C'mon." She said and planted herself in his lap, wrapping an arm around him. "You know you're missing it."
"In front of her?" Quinn whispered, gesturing towards the sleeping Aednat.
"We'll be quiet." Viv said. "I don't want to go in the bathroom and the back rooms are too messy."
"Fine...this will be quick."
"Your name is Quickie, I expected that." She replied and leaned down to kiss him.
Three gunshots rang out and the miners hit the floor, dead. "Listen up." The HK said as he looked around at the cowering miners. "Anyone who is not fit to work will go talk to my friend, the young blonde girl, at the entrance to the mine. Everyone else, start digging." he ordered. The miners all began to dig profusely. He walked to the cave exit and set up a drone to watch them.
The HK went into the nearest city and made his way into the poorer part of the town. He walked through the streets, listening for any word against the hybrids or the clan Akulov. His receptors picked up a conversation about how the hybrids should be annihilated, and he homed in on them. He found two elderly men sitting in a bar. "Hello gentlemen." he said. "I hear you're against the hybrids."
"Damn straight. Especially those Akulovs." One said. "They're terrorist scum who need to go back to their own plane."
"What if I told you I'm looking for people willing to help, and I have a way to make you unbeatable by most hybrids?" He asked.
"I'd sign right up."
"Where's the dotted line?"
"Good." He said. "Follow me. We have an army to build."
Ten minutes later, they girl had placed the men's souls into the bodies of two new HK drones. "Welcome to the next stage of human evolution, my friends." he said. "Do you know what the theory of evolution says? When a new species is formed, the immediate extinction of the less evolved race follows. The hybrids are the less evolved, so let's encourage nature to do its work."