Thieves in the DarkEdit
It was a mostly quiet night in Paris. The main noises came from transportation that worked around the clock. The previous day had been a day dedicated to memorials for those who had fallen in the Skulblakan Invasion. In fact, it had been the anniversary of the Invasion's beginning. That entire week, businesses closed and only the most important of services still worked. Unfortunately, this meant that there was a lot of thievery about that week.
And that is why she was there.
A lone assassin was crouched on a gargoyle statue. Her target was a now infamous thief that had gained attention when they had successfully stolen a nuclear warhead the week prior. Her intel had said that he was going to strike again tonight, aiming for a large shipment of drones. She glanced to her left and saw a flying car approaching rapidly. This is all about the bull's eyes. She thought to herself. As it moved quickly toward her, she jumped forward with one foot, which caught the top of the car and she kept moving forward, jumping and grabbing a balcony railing. She hauled herself up and skillfully clambered up the side of the building and reached the roof. Her partner was sitting cross-legged on a ventilation unit, looking down at the small army base that was inside the city. "Evening, Leah." Serra said as she approached her from behind.
Leah jumped off the vent and cracked a small smile under her good. "You're late." She joked. "Alright," She said, turning serious. "let's review the situation. He's arriving in an armored truck with seven guards, all of which are armed and armored heavily. Once he's inside, he needs to hack three computers to unlock the drone control. You just need to take him out before he finishes three of them."
"I know all this, Leah. I also know what weapons each of the guards carry." Serra replied.
"How do you know?" Leah asked.
"Took the liberty of taking to the streets to ask the local homeless. I have a few less distractions in my life, Leah. How're the twins, by the way?" Serra asked.
"They're doing alright. Vergil found out that they both inherited my mist powers. Though they also inherited my mother's lack of fine-tuned control over them." Leah replied.
"What do you mean?"
"You know what happened when my mother first gained mist powers?" Leah asked.
"Madness?" Serra guessed.
"Well, that wasn't directly a result of the powers. From what I've heard, she had no control over it, and her schoolwork would spontaneously combust." Leah explained.
"And that's why I'm single." Serra quipped.
"Nothing that serious. Just a spark for Drake and a cold spot around Regula." Leah told her.
"Still don't want the responsibility." Serra replied, shrugging. "Besides, someone has to run things while you're out killing people."
"Why do you think I've only been going along on missions close to home?" Leah asked.
"Why'd you tag along this mission anyway? You know I can handle this stuff on my own." Serra checked.
"Needed some time away. Good a place as any, really." Leah replied.
"Alright, whatever." Serra said. The armored truck pulled up. "Before he hacks the computers? I'll do it before he gets through the door." Serra said and jumped down from the roof. Leah watched as Serra snuck up behind the truck as the guards and the target started to walk towards the gate. Once they were all through the gate, save two guards, Serra sprung from her cover and two knives show from her hands. The guards dropped, one with a blade in the throat, the other directly to his eye. Serra slipped past them and climbed over the gate. She quietly ran up behind the remaining five guards and used her hidden blades to bring down two, stabbing each in the back of the head, up into their skull. She rolled and stabbed a third in the kidneys from behind. By then, the two guards and her target had noticed her. She drew her karambits and made short work on the guards before simply stabbing forward into the middle of her target's neck and then slashing out to the side.
"Well, that's a pass." Leah said to herself. Down in the carnage, Serra waved, a signal to meet her back at the bureau. Leah nodded and left. Serra focused her gaze on a shadow she could have sworn had moved. She saw it again, moving around the main building. She saw three people hopping the wall, one of which turned and met her gaze. A beautiful younger woman with the eyes of a warrior and the face of Aphrodite. She looked familiar as she jumped over the wall. Serra gave chase, but once she had hopped the wall herself, they had vanished.
"Shit." Serra grumbled. "Where do I know you, beautiful...?" She muttered. Her mind flashed back to when she watched the news story on the Skulblakan Humans. She had definitely been at the scene of destruction in Veldton.
"Damn that was close..." Aednat muttered as she slipped aboard their ship mid-takeoff. She closed the door and sat down at the navigation table. She punched in the coordinates to their homeworld and the pilot, receiving these instructions, punched the hyperdrive and they were off into space. She closed the navigation computer and opened up the communications array. She typed in the secret number that would allow her to contact their leader, Katalena Akulov. The small red hologram formed on the table of Katalena's head and shoulders. "Hey boss." Aednat said.
"Good to hear from you. Were you able to get out with anything?" Kata asked.
"Several crates of medicines and food, but no intel. Before we could keep the heist going an assassin showed up. Thought it would be best to avoid any confrontation with the humans." Aednat explained.
"You're right. You did the right thing. The medicine and food will certainly help, so I consider that a success. When you get back make sure you rest up and recover before we need anything else stolen. Good job, my friend." Kata said. Aednat nodded and closed the call. She passed the time by doing inventory on the haul. Their kind had needed to make heist trips to steal rations and medical supplies for the last several months due to their sudden influx of refugees. They numbered nearly four hundred now, and they simply didn't have the means to care for all of those people.
"We doing good?" Xylia's voice said. Aednat looked over at her partner and nodded.
"Yeah, nothing's missing, and none of the food has gone bad so far. Should last us another month or so."
"Good. Hopefully we won't have to leave the world again." Xylia mused.
"Yeah...some of the humans aren't bad but whenever one recognizes me I feel like they're thinking of all the best ways to kill me." Aednat admitted.
"I know what you mean." Xylia said, nodding. It only took about three hours to land on their homeworld, and the pilot took them in to the small castle that Katalena had built as the headquarters for their kind. The castle was now surrounded by smaller facilities. Weapons forges, tailors, kitchens, numerous small operations that all worked to help build their kind's strength. The busiest was the doctor's facility, who was swamped nearly every day with people nursing injuries or sicknesses. They landed in the hangar, where Katalena was waiting for them. They opened the doors and rolled the food and medicine crates off the ship one by one.
"Welcome back." Katalena said, hugging both Aednat and Xylia. "Aside from the assassin, did anybody see you at all?"
"No. I think the assassin might have recognized me, though." Aednat said.
"Alright. Then you know I can't let you off world for a while, then." Kata reminded her.
"Yeah." Aednat nodded.
"Rhett's off hunting, so you should go get some sleep while he's away. Xylia, walk with me?" Kata said. Aednat nodded and left while Xylia followed Kata. They want into Kata's private study in the castle. "While you were on Earth, did you hear anything form Morri at all?" Kata asked.
"No. I haven't heard from them since I joined you." Xylia replied.
"They haven't been attacked or anything?" Kata asked, concerned.
"No, they've been doing well on their own." Xylia said. She put her hand on Kata's shoulder. "Morri and Axel will be fine, don't worry. They've got about thirty people like us there. Plus they've got Viv and Dex helping them out." Xylia assured her.
"What about the two neutrals?" Kata asked.
"Quickie has been missing since the day the group split. Mason still hasn't pulled is one head out of his ass and other head out of his girlfriend's yet." Xylia replied.
"And Void?" Kata asked.
"Unknown. Signs of him show up every now and then, but he vanishes every time." Xylia said.
"Alright...I didn't want to do this, but we may need to alert the humans of his power and existence." Kata said, shaking her head. Xylia nodded. "Alright, let's set up the broadcast system and get this over with." Kata grumbled.
Morri sat down on the couch of the lounge, where she started to read the orders of supplies she had filled. They were living under the cover of her and Axel simply living in retirement in the mansion, and when anyone from down the mountains or Coalition officials came knocking, their people would hide in the tunnel system to avoid detection. The good thing about living on Earth was that she could use her mother's old bank accounts to buy basically all the supplies they needed. Since they didn't need to steal anything, they could focus all their energy on taking care of the young ones and trying to lure more of their kind their way rather than Kata's.
She glanced out the window and saw Ileana playing with the other nine children that they had taken in. She was happy to see them have the chance to be kids, rather than having to be on the run and try to survive an invasion or war. Her tablet blinked, and she glanced down and saw that an order of supplies for self made clothes had arrived. She pressed a view buttons and called Dex. "Hey Dex, a shipment just arrived at the gate, can you go meet them?" She asked.
"Alright, on my way now." Dex's voice replied. She hung up and rested her head back on the couch, sighing. She felt something sit down next to her and opened her eyes.
"Wakey-wakey, boobycakes." Viv said to her, grinning.
"Why do you keep calling me that?" Morri asked. "I mean, look, there aren't any there."
"Exactly. Besides, you have easy that way." Viv said and rested her feet on the coffee table. Morri would normally tell her off for it, but she had recently realized that attempting to order Viv to do anything was a waste of life.
"Well, what's up?" Morri asked.
"You missed a broadcast Kata made." Viv said. She held up her own tablet, which Morri took. Kata's face was on it. Morri pressed play.
"Hello again, people of the universe. Before you freak out and declare war, I have a warning for you. There is a member of my race that I consider an enemy of my kind. He is also an enemy of yours. His power is that nothing can harm him, and he can turn anything into nothing." Kata said. Void's face showed up on screen. "If you see this one, I'd advise running. I'm performing my own tests to try and bring him down, but you're welcome to try as well. Thank you for your time." She said and the message ended.
"At least she's trying to be friendly." Morri said. Her tablet blinked again and she saw a message from one of her human friends, Zyana Reed. She opened it.
Dean's missing, get down here now, at least to check on Sky. Zyana's message read.
I'm on my way. Morri quickly typed. "Viv, you and Axel are in charge while I'm away." Morri said and made her way down to the tunnels. Once she was there, she opened a portal to the basement of her house on Kaven Base and jumped through it. She practically sprinted to Skylar's house and rapped her knuckles on the door. In moments, Zyana answered it.
"Hey, thanks for coming." Zyana said.
"Any day, where is she?" Morri asked. Zyana gestured for Morri to follow her, and led her to the nursery. Inside, they found Skylar sitting and watching the baby as she slept. "Hey..." Morri said carefully.
"Hey..." Came Skylar's worried and depressed sounding response.
"How're you holding up?" Morri asked.
"Alright." Came Skylar's response, which both Zyana and Morri could tell was a lie.
"Don't lie, Skylar. Walt did that enough." Morri said, trying to joke.
"Just...what happened to him?" Skylar asked, though she knew neither of her friends was aware. There was a long moment of silence.
"Serra says she'll keep an eye out for him on her missions, Sky." Zyana eventually said quietly.
"Tell her I say thanks..." Skylar replied.
"If you want a safer place to stay, I can take you to my new home." Morri offered.
"I thought only-" Skylar quickly stopped herself, as if she was reconsidering her wording.
"My kind is welcome?" Morri finished for her. "Only the most trusted humans can come there." Morri explained.
"Well...I just...still, you sure your people would be alright with that? And what of SELAH? She still needs a place to stay, somewhere Serkan can keep an eye on her."
"Offer's out there, all I'm saying." Morri replied.
"Morri..." Zyana said, sounding oddly weak. "Can you wait outside a moment?" She asked, and Morri noticed she looked rather ill. Morri nodded slowly and left the room. "I...I think I know what happened, dear." Zyana said.
"What?" Skylar asked, sounding nervous.
"I...lied when I told you the demon in you would be wholly expunged. A part of it is still there." Zyana confessed.
"What?!" Skylar exclaimed, eyes widening. She looked at the kid, panic in her eyes.
"She's fine." Zyana quickly assured her. "I need you to tap into the demon part of you. Then you'll hear the whispers."
"Whispers?" Skylar asked, sounding confused and nervous.
"Just trust me." Zyana pleaded. Skylar shuddered slightly. "Just embrace that inner darkness, it'll come to you." Zyana instructed. Skylar closed her eyes and focused on all the dark impulses she had felt and resisted over the course of her life. Every time she had wanted to stab someone out of anger or sell herself out, she tapped into that, and soon, the whispers came.
Cerith...are you listening? a whispering voice said.
"Cerith is your demon name." Zyana informed her. "She is listening."
I am holding your husband in my own little section of hell. If you want him back, you may attempt to come to me in an effort to convince me to release him. You will have to prove yourself worthy of entering our realm, however. The voice said.
"Uh...how?" Skylar said.
Something worthy of hell. The voice said, and then it was gone.
"Why do I am a feeling it will make me hate myself?" Skylar asked her.
"Well, it will probably be against everything your parents taught you growing up." Zyana replied. "Any ideas?"
"No...aside from I'm going to hate myself." Skylar grumbled, eliciting a roll of the eyes from Zyana.
"Well, there's murder of an innocent, torture of an innocent, take horrible revenge on someone, or, most harmlessly, bang any other man. Or me, for that matter." There was a moment of quiet. "I'm going to explain things to Morri, might be best if she takes off." Zyana said and left the room. After several moments, Zyana returned. "So, do I get to fuck you now?" She asked. To her surprise, Skylar's reply came in the form of a right hook to the jaw. Zyana hit the floor out in the hall. "Ow." She said. Skylar simply stood over her, glaring. "Jesus, I like it rough, but what the hell was that?"
"My husband is missing and the only way to get him back is to do shit I would never do in a million years and all you fucking do is throw around idiotic quips like that!" Sky said angrily.
"I have an itch." Zyana said, pointing at the jaw that hadn't been punched. "Do you mind?" She asked tauntingly. "Besides, I can give you the whip next time, anyway." Her snark was rewarded with a kick in the ribs. "Wooow, now it's a party!" Zyana yelled. She tripped Skylar and took her back, restraining her arms. "Listen for the voice, darling, listen..." Zyana whispered in her ear. Skylar's expression changed to one of confusion with a lot of anger underneath.
Assaulting a friend for something so mild? My, my, my. I believe one of the seven is wrath. Which you have now fulfilled. Follow this one, she will be your guide to me. the whispering voice said.
"You calm yet?" Zyana asked after a moment. Skylar responded by slamming her heel into Zyana's shin.
"Ok, now I'm calm." Skylar replied, and Zyana let her up.
"Sorry about all that...first was a joke, second I was trying to get you to commit to it." Zyana explained. "My angel half hates me right now."
"Yeah, can't imagine why..." Skylar grumbled.
"Hey, there's no angel in you. Remember that." Zyana shot back. "Find someone to babysit her, I'll go get a car ready."
"Ok." Skylar said, sighed, and went to call her sister about watching over Adina.
Into the UnknownEdit
Clara sat down and started meditating. Earlier that day, she had learned of many more souls out in the plane system that were effectively weaker Erachi souls, souls that she could absorb into her being to give her more strength. Only the dead ones. She had declared when she decided to go. She had no intentions of ending someone's life just to give her strength. The harder part of leaving was convincing her husband, Caden, that she needed to go alone. He was not a fan of the idea whatsoever. It had taken the better part of an hour to convince him that she could take care of herself in the unknown planes.
She was currently sitting on Erachus. It was a world that was dedicated to her and her old enemy, Vythica, a woman more commonly known as the Skulblaka. They were the only two beings in all of existence that could enter Erachus of their own free will. Anyone else would have to be brought their by them. And with Vythica dead, Clara was left the only true inhabitant of Erachus. She was sitting on a large, circular stone pillar, cross legged and her hands resting on her knees. While she meditated, she could see nearly all planes there were. She could also see the souls she would need to interact with. A smile crossed her face. She could truly go anywhere in a split second, anywhere she wanted. All but one plane interested her. Even the minor connection to it made her want to run away screaming. She didn't know what it was called, so she deemed it best to avoid it entirely.
Grinning, she picked one of the smaller, less powerful planes and drew a line in the air with her finger. A black portal opened and she rose and stepped through, starting her new quest.
Kata sat in her room, reading the results of her fortieth attempt at harvesting the knowledge of her test subject. The results came back negative, and she punched the tube. "Dammit, Skulblaka. Please, I need you to share this with me." She pleaded. Inside the cryo-tube lay the unconscious body of the Skulblaka. "One of your powers was embodied by a man I know as Void. He is now the only person in all of existence that can truly kill you or Clara Renner so long as one of you lives. And he is an enemy of both my kind and the humans. He would be an enemy of you as well if you were awake. Please, cooperate and I can end this threat now. Show me how to defeat him." She begged the unconscious body before starting to run another test.
"Kata, you in there?" Xylia's voice said at the door. She pressed a button which sucked the cryo-tube into the floor before going to answer.
"Hey." She said, opening the door. "What's up?" She asked.
"Extremists." Xylia replied. "We caught word of a group human extremists closing in on Morri's headquarters."
"Where are they?" Kata asked, her tone changing to one of total seriousness.
"One of the cities on Earth. Near her base." Xylia answered. "Should I send someone to handle them?"
"No. No, I'll take care of this one myself. You are in charge while I am away." Kata said. Xylia caught the memo and left, allowing Kata to prepare for the upcoming journey. Kata turned and pressed a few buttons on her bedside table, which locked the cryo-tube under the floor. She fully attired herself and left her room, locking it.
"What were those noises?" Aednat's voice asked. Kata turned and saw Aednat walking by.
"Secret project." Kata replied. "Something that'll help in the future."
"What is it?" Aednat asked.
"Well that would kill the secret part, wouldn't it?" Kata replied. "I'm heading out to take care of some extremists. Xylia's in charge." Kata said and left.
Serra lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling. She simply pondering what her next mission was going to be, and thinking on Skylar's missing husband. She glanced at the wall and saw her Katana still sitting on it's rack. She hadn't used it in a while. She was a force to be reckoned with when she had it in her hands, but when she adopted a new assassin home, she was told to learn to master new weapons as easily. She went with what she already had a somewhat decent understanding of, and took up knives and throwing knives. Various knives, if she was honest. Her new favorite was the karambit knife, of which she had two.
She flicked out one of her hidden blades and smiled fondly. The assassins' signature weapon had served her very well in the past, and she questioned why she hadn't thought of getting one herself years ago. Someone knocked on the door, and she rose up and answered it. To her slight surprise, it was Leah. "Good afternoon, master." She said, slightly sarcastic. "Where am I headed and who am I killing?"
"I need you to come with me. Not a mission per se, but it is important." Leah replied.
"Alright, should I bring any weapons?" Serra asked.
"Just the hidden blades." Leah replied. Serra nodded and followed her out. Leah took her to a vehicle and drove her for a few hours until they reached a cliff overlooking a lake. Serra's eyebrows went up when she saw all but two of the fully-fledged assassins from their base standing around a lit brazier. While still in the car, Serra looked at Leah, eyes wide. Leah smirked and got out, Serra following behind her. They took positions behind the brazier, the other assassins watching. "Our creed can be explained in these words: La shay' haqiqah, koulo shay' moumkin, We are assassins." Leah addressed the assembled group before turning and speaking directly to Serra. "Serra, we dedicate our lives to protecting the freedom of sentient life. I stood by a brazier not unlike this one, and become an assassin myself twenty years ago. Now, all these years later, I offer the choice to join us to you."
Serra nodded once.
Two assassins, each carrying a bucket, stepped forward. Inside the buckets were a strange black liquid. Serra look at it quizzically. She had been expecting the tongs to come out. "You see, the initiation, and the 'mark' of the Order is different in every branch. Here, we've taken to preferring marks that are more..." Leah trailed off and used the force to lift the liquids out of the buckets. They each formed into what looked like arm bands that would go from just above Serra's wrist to her elbow. Serra also noted that they had a metallic sheen to them. "...practical." Leah finished.
"Permanently on my arms, I'll assume." Serra said as the bands returned to the buckets.
"Pretty much." Leah replied. Serra walked over to the buckets, rolled her sleeves up to her shoulders, and dipped her fingers in the fluid. It trailed up her arms and formed the armbands. They were skin tight-no, it felt as though they had become her skin. When they were in place, she looked at the inside of each of her forearms. A skin design had been left, little bits of her skin uncovered to design the assassin symbol on her arms. She felt the formality in the area break a little bit. "Looks like you're one of us now." Leah said, sounding slightly proud.
"What'd you get?" Serra asked, gazing at her arms.
"Well, considering I got initiated through the Eastern branch..." Leah said and showed Serra her branding.
"Ah. I was expecting a tattoo, myself." Serra admitted.
"Well..." Leah said and gestured to the cliff edge. "One more thing to do before this is complete." As if on cue, the other assassins, one by one, leaped from the cliff and into the lake water below. Leah smiled at her cousin. "Don't worry. First one's a little nerve racking. After that, it becomes a bit of a rush." Leah said, turned and dove off the cliff. Serra shook her head. She had never performed a leap of faith before in her life.
"Take that, grandma. I told you being a meth cook's bastard wouldn't faze me." Serra grinned. Then, she thought about the assassins she had served before. She remembered their violent teachings and torturous punishments for the slightest error. She had to admit, training with the coalition assassins was a cakewalk compared to the training of her youth. She felt tears well up instinctively as she remembered her katana slashing through the murderers she had once called friends. She had learned of their treacheries and how they had slaughtered innocents. How they had made her slaughter innocents. She remembered a news reporter she had beheaded only to find his daughter in the next room, and she stared blankly into space. She could never get the look in the girl's eyes out of her mind.
She shook her head and wiped her eyes with her now midnight-black forearm. She gazed at the cliff edge, and smiled briefly. Then she took off sprinting and jumped into open air.
Kata gazed down her binoculars at the large transport as it headed down the mountain. She quickly floated down after it, floating over the thing and moving several hundred meters in front of it. She dropped down from the air and landed harmlessly on the road. She looked up at the transport and smirked as the driver brought it to a halt. The windshield obscured any details of the driver, so Kata flicked her hand and sent the driver's door flying off. She walked over to the driver and looked up at them. "Jesus christ, Kata, do you chaos sense thingy!" Viv said indignantly.
"Oh. Viv. Shit, sorry, I thought this was an extremist transport." Kata said.
"We caught them sneaking onto the property, it's funny how fast they run when Axel goes fire god." Viv replied. "Can you fix the door, I'm dropping the assholes off at the security station."
"Why not kill them?"
"Because unlike you, they can arrest us. Fix the door and get in, I'll take you to visit Morri and the others after lunch." Viv said. Kata quickly fixed the door before climbing in the passenger seat. "So why're you on Earth?" Viv asked. "Isn't that, you know, insanely dangerous?"
"Extremely, but I caught wind of you guys in danger and came as fast as I could. You'd be amazed what a hood will do to fool security cameras." Kata said.
"What, you think we can't handle ourselves?" Viv asked and resumed driving.
"I was going to offer a more permanent solution to your problem." Kata replied.
"Well, we try to avoid drawing any excess attention. Besides, I've got an arrangement with head of security. Anybody I bring him he knows to lock up for a while."
"When you say arrangement, do you mean...?" Kata said, trailing off.
"I have standards!" Viv exclaimed. "One, he's married, two, I tend to refrain from such casual occurrences unless I have gone without for months." Viv ranted.
"Ok, ok, calm down." Kata said, holding her hands up in surrender. "Just checking, never know with you."
"Anyway, how're things on Skully world?" Viv asked.
"Fine...somewhat. We've been reduced to sending Xylia and Aednat on thieving missions for meds and food." Kata answered. "There's a lot of game on the planet, but it's hard to hunt without crushing the creatures to death or leaving them as a puddle. And we haven't found any healers yet."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Morri uses her connections to get food shipments sent up, as well as meds. The rest of us just help teach the young'ins and keep people like these out." Viv said, rapping her knuckles on the back wall of the transport. They drove down the mountain and reached a small city. Viv stopped in the outskirts and handed Kata a slip of paper. "Meet me here, can't have you coming into the security station with me. Would cause of a bit of an upset, eh?"
"Yeah, I'll be there." Kata said and turned away, flipping her hood up and walking into the city as Viv drove past her.
Viv pulled in the driveway of the mansion a few hours later. She had been catching up with Kata at a local diner for an hour before they began their drive back. At that moment, she had been telling Kata about some of their new students. "This one girl, sixteen years old, she's a nookie powered amazon. Another one, a thirteen year old boy can make you lose control of some of your internal functions, and makes you either projectile vomit or, worse still, projectile shit."
"I'm kinda glad you have that one." Kata said. Viv parked in the garage and led Kata out to the backyard. There, they saw a few younger kids kicking a ball about, and over by the entrance, sitting on a bench, was Ileana, reading a book Viv remembered Morri giving her. Ileana looked up and saw them.
"Kata!" Ileana cried, grinning. Kata took off and a full sprint towards the girl and immediately hugged her tightly.
"You've grown." Kata said emotionally. "Please stop doing that."
"Yeah, no, I don't think I will." Ileana replied.
"Well, you haven't changed. How have you been?" Kata asked, releasing her and crouching down on one knee so they were eye-level.
"Good, very good." Ileana replied, smiling.
"What's that you were reading?"
"History book on the French Revolution." Ileana said.
"Really? Pretty far back. Morri have you studying?" Kata asked.
"Yeah...I wanted to read up on the war with the Locust and Lambent, but she told me to read this instead."
"Well, the French Revolution is far more interesting. Besides, we can relate somewhat." Kata said, smiling.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the government doesn't care about the people, people need to fight for freedom and their rights. Isn't that what we're doing?" Kata asked.
"Not all of them. Morri's visited Kaven a few times to negotiate with their leaders. I've even gone with her a few times to visit SELAH." Ileana replied.
"Just stay careful when you go there, alright?" Kata requested as the door to the mansion opened.
"Kata!" Morri's voice said. Kata turned to be met by a bear hug from Morri, which she returned. "Are you infecting her with lies again?" Morri joked.
"No, no, I learned my lesson last time. Ileana, Morri's been behaving herself, right?" Kata asked the girl.
"I don't know. Are you and Axel behaving Morri?" Ileana asked.
"No, they are not!" Viv's voice came from inside the door. "If dust falls on my noodles from the ceiling again I will kill you both!" Kata immediately smirked as Morri went red. Ileana snickered.
"Oh, quiet." Morri said, shaking her head.
"Any boyfriends yet, Ileana?" Kata asked.
"Good, I don't need to beat anyone up while I'm here." Kata said, relieved.
"Wait...not yet? Are you looking for one?" Morri asked, sounding panicked.
"No, not really." Ileana replied, shrugging.
"Thank god. Anyway, you're welcome to join us for dinner tonight, Kata." Morri offered her old friend.
"Thank you. I need to leave late tonight anyway." Kata said, nodding. Ileana looked down, a sad expression on her face. "I know, kiddo." Kata said and ruffled Ileana's hair. The door opened and Vivien walked out with Axel.
"Food. Now." Viv ordered them.
"Ax, apparently we give Viv dust." Morri quickly said. Axel tilted his head to one side, a look of absolute confusion on his face. After dinner that night, they went to the basement to watch the older students sparring with their powers. Kata sat and watched with Corina and Ileana. Corina was visibly nervous around Kata, which she ignored. Later that evening, Morri and Axel sparred in an exhibition match for the students. After a half hour, it was declared a draw, and Viv and Dex ran out to put out the fires while Morri came and sat next to Kata. "He burned my god damn hair. Now I have to cut it." She said indignantly.
"Glad it was you, not me." Corina said. Kata made a mental note that Corina's weakness was fire.
"Ileana, so you know, the key to love is being able to beat each other up like crazy and share a bed that night without trying again." Morri told the girl. Ileana gave a confused look to Corina who shrugged in response.
"Well...I'm afraid I should be going." Kata said sadly. Ileana quickly hugged Kata, a gesture returned by the older woman. "Don't worry, love. We'll see each other again soon." Kata told her.
"I hope so." Ileana replied.
"I'll walk you out, Kata." Morri offered. Kata nodded, kissed Ileana on the forehead, and the two started to walk out.
"Morri, before I go, you need to something. Void is still out there." Kata said.
"I know. He actually attempted to gain refuge here, but we turned him away for killing Nick." Morri said. "His power's stop anything from harming him, but a well placed portal beneath his feet puts him on another world far from here."
"Well done." Kata said, smiling. "Also, you need to be careful. My intelligence has it that the humans' Erachi has left the plane. This leaves everyone open to attack."
"Yes, it does. If things go badly here, I do plan on moving us to your planet. That includes Corina." Morri said.
"I...understand." Kata grumbled. "Before I go...do you know why Void has it out for me?"
"You mean why he has it out for us all. He embodies nothing. That's what he wants. He wants nothing left standing in this plane, then he'll move on to the next one. He's just waiting for the right time to strike. I guess Clara unwittingly created a new Skulblaka when she merged the planes."
"I guess so." Kata said, though she glanced slightly to her left as she said it. She reached up and touched Morri's singed hair. "You'll do well with it short, but grow it out again asap." Kata requested.
"Why, you more attracted to the long stuff?" Morri joked.
"Oh, shut up." Kata said and embraced her old friend. Once they broke apart, Kata's hands and eyes began to glow red and she floated up into the sky and out of sight.
"Jaysus..." Clara grumbled as she stepped through the portal. The first thing she noticed was the light. The sunlight was utterly blinding. She blinked once, entering her Erachi state. Her eyes went white and she was able to dim the sunlight down to a decent level for herself. The next thing she noticed was the heat. It was absolutely sweltering. Within a minute, her clothes were soaked through with sweat. She looked around, taking in her surroundings. It was a desert, with small wooden huts lining the sand in every direction for as far as her eye could see. She also saw a large group of black-cloaked humanoids charging her, holding spears.
Clara held her hands up, hoping that signified surrender to these people. They formed a circle around her, spears pointed straight for her. Clara looked around and spotted a graveyard about four dozen kilometers away. One particular grave was swirling with a red mist-like energy. "Don't have time for this." Clara grumbled. She jumped over them, glad to experience a resurgence in at least some of her Erachi abilities, and sprinted for the graveyard. It only took her seven seconds. She crouched down next to the mist and touched it with her finger. "Do you want to come with me?" She asked it in a voice no louder than a whisper. She felt a presence push against her mind, and, without words, Clara recognized the feelings of assent. She nodded and opened her palm. The mist was sucked into her skin and she felt the familiar sensation of all the memories of her fellow Erachi being absorbed into her own soul.
However, it lasted longer, and the memories changed. In fact, many of the memories seemed to be from different people. Wait...this Erachi had absorbed other Erachi as well! Clara realized. Why would she have been able to do that...? She asked herself. She tapped into the memories of the Erachi in question and started sifting around for the answer. She found it as she watched the final duel between her and Vythica from the eyes of someone else. You were there...why? Clara thought and scanned a little further forward. She watched as she stabbed Vythica and Vythica vanished in a cloud of grey smoke. The foreign Erachi went into her own Erachi state. Everything was Dark. Clara glowed red and everyone else glowed blue. The cloud of grey smoke also glowed red.
"Why is everything me related red?" Clara asked herself. "Wait...the smoke is red too..." She remembered the smoke dissipating, but also remembered the red energy flying off into space. "That must mean...you're alive, aren't you, Vythica?" Clara asked aloud. "Wait...why are you red too...?" She muttered as she duly noted a spear being flung at her head by some of the locals. She took a few steps forward and started pacing, ignoring the attacks from the local people. Then she remembered. Back when we fought, her style was identical to mine. I could only beat her by using the styles of everyone else. Why is she like me, and highlighted red in the Erachi-Vision?
Distractedly, Clara started using small movements to dodge the physical swings and slashes of the locals' weapons. Wait a minute, there are more Erachi out there that I'm hunting down...and this last one had been doing the same thing. That must mean... Her eyes widened and she froze, reaching out with one hand and catching the hilt of a warhammer mid-swing. Vythica is an Erachi. The Erachi of her people. Her fist clenched and the warhammer handle shattered. The wielder spun and drew a sword, slashing for her shoulder. Clara held her hand out and within a second, a red broadsword appeared in her hand, blocking the attack. The local looked shocked and froze as Clara held his attack back with ease. She didn't even use both hands. She gazed at her sword and raised an eyebrow.
Hmm, the cross-guard is much longer. The blade itself is wider and shorter. Almost a foot shorter. She sighed. No matter, I'll deal with it later. She decided and looked past her attacker. Fifty warriors were charging at her, various forms of weaponry in hand. Damn. By the time I open a portal to Erachus they'd be upon me and I'd have to fight them there. She thought sadly. She looked up at the one who had locked blades with her. "I'm sorry about this." She told him, just before she pressed back towards him slightly. His blade shattered and her own beheaded him. She stood and waited as the crowd of warriors descended on her. In a matter of seven seconds, all were on the ground, either dead or nursing injuries that crippled them.
Clara turned, opened a portal to Erachus, and jumped through. She had a message to give to the people back at her home.
Serra stepped out of the warehouse and yawned. She had received a call from Leah that she was needed, and was to meet Leah in her car outside. She groaned and scratched the back of her head, slightly too lazy to put her hood up. She spotted Leah's car and started walking towards it. She opened the door and sat down next to Leah. "This is abrupt, you know that?" Serra asked.
"So...what went on in there?" Leah asked.
"Smuggler's den." Serra replied and took her cloak off. She held her arms up and revealed a trio of tattoo-like rings placed just above each of her arm-bands the assassins had given her. "Wanted some additions."
"Those tattoos?" Leah asked, sounding surprised.
"Nah. They had more of that stuff you guys put on me. A couple of solid black chunks just looked stupid." Serra answered. "So where are we headed...and why are my weapons in the back?"
"We're heading back to the cliffs. Clara Renner needs you. Don't ask why, I don't know either." Leah said and started driving.
"Ok then. Listen...there's something that you probably ought to think about." Serra carefully said.
"There may come a day when you are forced to choose between your job and your familial duties. Should that day arrive, I want you to choose your family over us." Serra said.
"No offense or anything, but sometimes the leadership roles are better suited for those of us without kids or husbands or wives." Serra went on.
I wonder if this has anything to do with IceBite breaking. Leah thought to herself.
"Besides, a leader like that doesn't have a family to be used against them." Serra continued.
"I understand." Leah said, nodding.
"So...just think about people you might find suitable replacements should that day arrive." Serra said and gazed out the window for the rest of the drive. When they arrived, they saw Clara sitting on a rock, arms crossed and legs crossed, staring at the water.
"By the way." Leah said as Serra was getting out. "Ole glowy-metal-head is back."
"Somehow that does not surprise me. Thanks for the ride, you should head home now." Serra replied.
"Alright, no problem." Leah replied and took off once Serra had obtained all of her weapons. Serra turned and walked up to Clara.
"So you didn't put her away last time. Why do you need me?" Serra asked.
"Listen, Serra, I know I failed to stop her last time, but now I know why and how to stop her for good. But...someone needs to do some stuff for me while I'm away, and nobody has the right capabilities like you do." Clara said.
"What do you mean? There are plenty of talented fighters and assassins out there. What have I got?" Serra asked. In response, Clara drew a line in the air with her hand, and a swirling black portal opened.
"Come with me and I'll show you." Clara said and held her hand out. Serra hesitated a moment.
Ah, fuck it. Another leap of faith I guess. She thought and allowed Clara to pull her through the portal. When they passed through, Serra looked around and saw they were in a strange desert with a black sky, two moons hanging in it. Several stone pillars stood erected as well. "This is my private stomping grounds, and it's where I'm going to train you for the next few days." Clara said.
"Yeah, you're good, make no mistake, but considering all the extraplanar stuff that is going down, you wouldn't stand much of a chance in a duel where you're at. Hopefully I can solve that issue, we have ten days." Clara replied and drew a red broadsword. "Come and get me, we start now." Clara told her. Serra sighed, drew her katana, and obeyed.
Ten days later, Clara and Serra stepped through the portal again and returned to Earth Plane. "You've done well, Serra." Clara complimented her. "Your learning curve is the second fastest I've ever seen."
"Really?" Serra panted and sat down on a rock. "And who was the fastest?" The exhausted assassin asked.
"Yours truly." Clara said with a smile. Serra looked as though she was about to respond, but halted and nodded past Clara. Clara turned and saw a lone man standing before them. An expressionless look on his face. Clara couldn't sense anything coming from him. Soul, Force Energy, nothing.
"It's the guy from the Akulov broadcasts." Serra said.
"I am." the man said and started walking towards them.
"What do you want, sir?" Clara asked.
"Nothing." He replied as he stopped. He crouched down and placed one palm on the ground. They watched as the ground began to disappear into nothingness. Soon, it reached them, and they fell into the newly formed crevice. Clara calmly entered her Erachi state, caught Serra, and floated up. "So you fly." The man said.
"Sir, respectfully, can we put this problem of yours on hold for a while? We have bigger problems." Clara asked, annoyed.
"No, you don't. But I will comply. I will see to other things be reduced to nothing while you deal with these problems of yours." He said, turned, and to their surprise, left.
"That was really weird." Serra said. Clara floated them over to the ground. "Who was that guy?"
"His name was Void." A voice said. They turned and saw, so both of their surprise, Katalena Akulov stepping out of the shrubbery. "If you could take me to this place called Kaven, I would appreciate it. Consider this an act of good faith." Katalena said. "Besides, no one knows him better than I do."
Blade in the CrowdEdit
Clara looked through the two way mirror at Katalena. The Skulblakan-Human was leaning back in her chair, feet up on the interrogation table. "You ready?" Clara asked Caden, looking up at him.
"Of course, as long as she doesn't disintegrate me." Caden replied.
"Don't know if she can, but good luck." Clara said and opened the door, which Caden walked through.
"The Erachi's husband, I see." Katalena said.
"Yeah, I am. But that isn't what either of us is here to talk about, is it?" Caden said.
"True. Well, you're the one asking questions." Katalena said, casting a hex that caused his chair to pull back enough for him to sit in it. "What do you want to know?"
"What can you tell me about the man Clara encountered right before you?" Caden asked, noticeably not taking the seat.
"His name is Void. He is one of my kind, arguably the most powerful one. His power is that nothing affects him, and, similarly, he can turn anything into nothing. As such, he wants to turn all of existence into, you guessed it, nothing."
"So how do we keep him from doing that?" Caden asked.
"Good question." Katalena sighed. "I've been looking into that myself."
"I fear not...testing the dead invaders didn't prove very successful." Katalena replied.
"Fine. Something else. We recently discovered that the Skulblaka survived. Do you know anything about this?" Caden asked, and Katalena noticeably stiffened.
"Survived?" She asked. "Interesting..."
"Do you know anything about the Skulblaka?" Caden asked, having caught her stiffening. "After all, she basically created your...people."
"Actually, that was your wife. You can blame her next time you see my face on TV." Katalena said, sounding offended. "And no, I don't. But if we were to capture her alive, she would be the likeliest one to know how to defeat Void."
"You will not talk bad about her, you hear?" Caden snapped defensively. "And secondly, I doubt you'd capture her, and even if you did, I doubt she'd be willing to help."
"Why wouldn't she be willing to help? He's the only one that can kill her...or Clara for that matter." Katalena shot back.
"The Skulblaka had no problems with destroying entire planes, then moving on to the next one. From what you told me, he can destroy, but not move on. If I was her, I'd leave and not help the people who beat and captured her." Caden replied.
"Maybe." Katalena said, shifting uncomfortably.
"Problem?" He asked, sensing a hint of weakness.
"You're Morri's nephew, no?" She asked.
"Yes, I am."
"Just wanted to know who to be gentle with when I leave." She said. "Just in case you try to stop me."
"Oh really? What if we aren't done?"
"Oh, you have more questions?" She asked and raised a hand, forcing him down into the chair. "Please, continue."
"That place you have for people like you." He said, an annoyed expression on his face. "Tell me about it."
"Hot, humid, mountainous, jungles, forests, a lot like this one, really."
"Oh, you want the details of my people and our defenses, I'd assume?" She asked, taking her feet off the table.
"People, populated areas, yes. I know you wouldn't tell about defenses, I'm not stupid." He said.
"Fine, I will tell you. We have one castle and a town surrounding it. We number four hundred, an eighth of which are blow the age of twelve." She replied. Caden looked at the two way mirror and shrugged.
"That's all I have." He said.
"Then I have questions for you now." Katalena said unexpectedly. A surprised expression went over Caden's face.
"Alright, I'll play along." He said.
"What do you have against my kind, Caden Ferran?" Katalena asked.
"Individually, nothing. As a whole, you're part Skulblakan. I spent so much time fighting them, and watched family die by them." Caden replied.
"May I ask who?" Katalena asked.
"Morri's mother Leandra. Morri's sister, Leliana...and my significant other at the time." Caden replied reluctantly.
"Kenway was not Skulblakan. Morri put down Leliana. And unless you were two-timing Clara, Ziva had renounced all affiliation with you save her friendship with your sister. That and she was a puddle before you even arrived." Kata said coldly. Caden shot out of the seat.
"You know how I said don't talk bad about Clara? That goes for Ziva now as well." He snarled, a snarl that turned into a sigh. "Kenway fought for them, though, that's good enough. And I meant watched figuratively, if you're really going there."
"One of our number can take the guise of dead souls once she has communicated with them. She can also allow the souls to commune with us. That's how I met Ziva." Katalena told him.
"What did you say to each other?" Caden asked.
"We discussed the benefits and negatives of breast implants. She said they were great, save the back problems." Katalena replied. Caden made a noise of consideration. Katalena took the opportunity to lean in closer. "She also said she was free of her mind-tampering in her dead-ness." Caden, hearing this, grabbed at his own pantleg and squeezed, breathing heavily. "She wanted me to tell you she's sorry for sleeping with your sister. Twice." Caden looked up at her, visually upset. "Before you got back from your Janziness they had a one night stand. You know about the other one. Clara helped you two get back together, didn't she?"
"Yes..." Caden replied.
"She changed into a rather revealing black vest before my eyes before she also told me to tell you that she still does love you, Caden. Despite all of Kenway's efforts, even in death, she still loves you." Katalena went on. Caden put his hands to his face, visibly shaken. Kata glanced past him at the wall she had been using her powers to obstruct the door with. "So now I'm going to make you an offer, Caden." She said, walking over to him. Gently, almost comfortingly, she pressed him against the wall. She stretched up and whispered in his ear, her voice suddenly identical to Ziva's, her voice almost seductive. "Would you like to see her again?"
"Yes..." Caden replied.
"What would you do for me to earn that, love?" She said, her voice still like Ziva's. She smiled inwardly, knowing that love was the pet name Ziva had for Caden.
"Many things." Came his response. She smirked and stepped away, sitting herself up on the table.
"Such as?" She asked.
"Mostly anything that did not put good people in harm's way." He replied, stoic. She spread her legs apart.
"What if I asked you for this?" She asked.
"I...I..." Caden said hesitantly. Katalena made sure the door was covered wholly and the mirror was unbreakable.
"One time offer." She said with a smile. Caden took a few slow steps forward. Nothing interrupted them. He took a few more steps until he was right in front of Katalena. He grabbd her.
"I will...see Ziva again?" He asked.
"Of course." She purred. Tears started flowing from Caden's eyes, and he nodded. "Kiss me." She ordered. "I want to see what it's like." He did so, kissing her like he would have kissed Ziva or Clara. After a moment, a loud smash sounded from the wall, causing Katalena to jump back. "I guess I should be going. You know where I live, darling." She told Caden and caused a hole in the ceiling to appear. Hands and eyes glowing, she floated into the sky. Caden realized what had happened and snapped out of the haze he was in.
"That lying..." He snarled. The smashing sound happened again, and a hole appeared in the wall. It was Loran who stepped through, not Clara. Head down, Caden looked over at his brother-in-law.
"She left." Loran said shortly.
"Who do you mean?" Caden asked.
"Clara. Opened a portal of her's. Said something about trying Gallifrey." Loran said.
"I am not a strong man, Loran." Caden said, sitting in a chair with his head in his hands.
"Ziva is dead, brother." Loran snapped. "What's more, Clara knew about you using her as a coping mechanism, and she still stuck with you."
"I know she is dead! She was stolen long before she should have been!" Caden snapped. "As for Clara...it was wrong for me to treat her that way, but it was very temporary. It became legitimate very soon."
"Caden, that woman never spoke with Ziva. I did. Her force ghost visited me after the invasion ended. She pleaded with me not to tell you. Why? Because she wanted what was best for you and your wife. By the time Clara comes back, make damn sure you realize what you have is important than what you've lost." Loran said and turned to leave. "Ziva would hate you for this." He added and stormed away. Caden watched him leave, then used the force to fling the table across the room.
Clara sat in the mountains, atop the charred remains of the place she had defeated Vythica. The same place she and Caden had married. She gazed off into the sky, a slightly dead look on her face. She rose to her feet and held a hand out. Her sword came to her, this time in it's most powerful form, the same form she had fought Vythica with. She held it in one hand down against the ground and hung her head. "Ulquiorra." She said aloud. "I must speak with you on a matter of the utmost importance." A black portal, not unlike her own portals, opened in the sky above her. The pale Espada stood in it, looking down upon her. He stepped out and floated in the air.
"What is it?" Ulquiorra said.
"Before we begin, I would like to make it clear that yes, I am your former target that escaped you, back at the Soulweaver temple. I would also request that you not waste my time by trying to kill me now." Clara said. Ulquiorra was silent. "Moving along, if at all possible, can you either bring me to Gallifrey or bring the one I know as Konstantin here?"
"What is your business with him?" Ulquiorra asked.
"He's the only one of your people I know well enough to ask a favor of." Clara replied.
"I will relay your request to him."
"Tell him it's me, and that I'm hunting something that would pose a threat to even your people." Clara told him.
"Definitely." She shot back. Ulquiorra stepped back into the portal and vanished. While she waited, Clara swung her sword in various patterns absently, trying to keep her mind occupied. The portal opened once again.
"What does the Erachi of the fifth generation want from me?" Konstantin's voice asked as he stepped through the portal.
"Fifth generation?" Clara asked, confused.
"Something for another day." He replied.
"Fair enough. I presume you know of the Skulblakan people and their leader, Vythica."
"You presume correctly."
"Vythica's alive, and I'm hunting her. She's the Erachi of her people, so you can't kill her." She informed him.
"We were aware of that." Konstantin replied.
"I'm gathering other Erachi souls in an effort to bring her down. There's one on Gallifrey."
"I am aware of that as well."
"I figured it would be better to ask nicely for passage." She added.
"I can't grant you that." He said.
"Whyever not?" She asked.
"Lord Aizen's law." He replied.
"Would you prefer me getting that soul, or Vythica. She would not be as nice about this as I am. She would simply walk in and take it, and you would not be able to stop her." She hesitated before adding. "No more than you would be able to stop me if I wished it."
"You have not one ounce of power on Gallifrey. Enter the plane and you would be utterly...human." He said.
"Power is not the issue. Every time you would try to strike us down, nothing would happen." She snapped. "It simply wouldn't work, not until we have taken each other out." She said. "Besides...I know this Samurai would prefer to merge with me rather than Vythica."
"The Samurai are to obey Lord Aizen. They have no say in the matter. And whether we can destroy you or not, there are fates worse than death."
"She's long dead, what does she care about this lord?" Clara asked.
"We serve always, even in death." Konstantin said. Clara sighed and drew a black portal of her own. "Leaving so soon?"
"No, you're coming with me."
"Says who?" Konstantin retorted.
"You'll want to see what I have to show you." Clara said.
"What might that be?"
"A world the like's of which your people have never seen. Or heard of, most likely." She replied.
"Are you inviting me to the legendary world of Erachus?" He asked. She gave a small smile. He must have been reading in that library they have.
"You'd be the first Gallifreyian to set foot there." She told him.
"Then lead the way." He agreed. She held her hand out to him, and he took it. She pulled him through the portal and into the familiar desert with the blackened sky with two moons hanging in it. "I take it you modeled this after the Mirror Plane, except you have two moons, and the sand isn't grey."
"I didn't design it. In fact, I don't know what the Mirror Plane looks like." She said and floated herself up to the top of one of the stone pillars.
"Of course you don't, it was destroyed long before Erachus ever existed." He said. She looked down at him from the pillar.
"Come up here, something you should see." She told him and opened a chest she had left there. Inside, there were a set of black and red robes she had modeled after what she had seen of the Gallifreyian people. She started changing as Konstantin jumped up.
"Well?" He asked.
"Look at the darker swirls in the sky closely." She told him. He looked up at a dark swirl in the sky, slowly moving about.
"See the dark orange at it's core?" She asked, joining him once she had changed.
"That's Gallifrey." She said.
"And the black one over there," She said and pointed. "Is the Mirror Plane. Or rather, it would have been. The blackness is the lacking thereof."
"The plane would have been black in both cases." He replied.
"From this pillar I can travel to any plane I so desire. So can Vythica, for the same reason."
"I am aware."
"I can actually see certain details about each plane. All Gallifrey is showing me is a pretty redhead." Clara said.
"There are many of them on the plane. A whole planet is populated by people who look like that."
"This one is powerful...a centurion, I think the word is."
"Still a few of them around."
"Amy...that's her name..." Clara whispered.
"Interesting how much you can see." Konstantin said.
"That's my limit. I can tell names, titles, and a rough estimate of your power."
"Why does it interest you?" Clara asked. "Have your people not found a way to do it?"
"No...that this ability has been retained to the fifth generation and not been lost." He replied.
"That saying again. What does it mean?"
"It is by far too complicated to be explained in a short conversation." Konstantin said.
"Very well, I have an offer for you, as well." She said carefully.
"That would be?"
"Get me onto Gallifrey safely and get me that soul, and I will show you just what the Erachi legend means, something that began one year after your birth."
"Firstly, I cannot bring you onto Gallifrey without permission of lord Aizen...secondly, are you so sure you know the full story? Erachi of the fifth generation."
"Perhaps I should speak to this Aizen, then."
"He won't leave Gallifrey."
"I can always go to him." Clara replied.
"This might be the worst idea you have ever had."
"Undoubtedly. Doesn't mean I won't do it." Clara said.
"You might reconsider if you knew a bit more about history." Konstantin said.
"Of course, I could probably contact his daughter and enlist her aid as well."
"She is...not to be found at the moment." Konstantin hesitated before saying.
"Yes. That is what happens when you venture into the well of wisdom. You disappear for quite some time and no one can find you until you return." He explained.
"Damn. Is there no way for me to get onto Gallifrey peacefully?" She asked.
"No, but I might be able to obtain that soul for you." He offered.
"I need to be on the soul's home plane to properly absorb it." Clara replied, sounding defeated. "The only race that knew how to absorb a soul not on it's plane...well, their Erachi was not the dominant one, and I lack the knowledge of the techniques necessary."
"We have that knowledge. Trap them in amber and release the soul on a different plane." Konstantin said. "This is not the first time we have dealt with an Erachi soul."
"Trapping them is one thing. I need to be on, at the very least, a fragment of Gallifrey to properly absorb it. If I don't, I run the risk of killing myself." Clara said.
"Then I will take you to the old temple of Aenarion. It is a fragment of Gallifrey that is drifting through interplanar space." He said.
"That will work. I will need a few days to adjust to such a powerful soul, so I may need to stay there for a time." Clara warned him.
"You may stay there for that time."
"Thank you." She said, nodding, and she drew a portal that led back to Earth Plane. "You can't take me anywhere from here, so come with me back to my home."
"As you wish." He said and they stepped through. They returned to the mountain range Clara had called him to.
"Waiting on you to take me." Clara told him. Konstantin opened a portal similar to the one he had arrived in.
"Go through it." He ordered, and she did so. The portal closed behind her. "Time for me to go to Gallifrey." He said and returned to his own home.
Serra climbed out of the car she had "borrowed" from the squadran's hangars. She pulled into her Uncle Sen's driveway and parked. She removed her cloak, not deeming it necessary, and left herself with just a tank top for her torso. She stepped out of her car, walked up to the door, and knocked. It wasn't long before Sen answered. "Hey Uncle." She said.
"Hey." He said, looking tired. "What's with..." He pointed at her arms.
"Permanent armor ink." She replied. He looked closer and saw the assassin symbol markings.
"So, finally initiated, eh? Least you didn't need the branding like she did."
"I half expected her to whip out a tramp-stamp branding." Serra laughed. "Anyone else home?"
"Yeah, we're all here."
"Mind if I come in to say hi?" Serra asked.
"Sure, sure." He said and held the door open for her. She stepped inside, and was quickly greeted by a slightly mushy mango to the forehead.
"Bull's eye." Her little cousin said, quietly, but she could tell he was proud.
"Well, they're definitely Maya's kids." Serra said to her Uncle. Sen rolled his eyes as she walked over to Sam and scooped him up, lifting him to eye level. "That wasn't polite." She told her younger cousin. She wiped some of the Mango off of her and smeared it on his face. "See?" She asked as he tried to wipe it off. "How've you been, little guy?" She asked.
"Fine." Came his simple response.
"You're definitely your father's son. Where's your mother and sister?" She asked him. The boy shrugged, just as a large stick with a suction cup on one end hit Serra in the thigh. "There's your sister." They went into the living room where they found Maya watching the three-year-old Briella sitting by a makeshift crossbow. Jesus, did she build that? Serra thought.
"Sammy, did you try to attack your cousin?" Maya asked, looking up.
"Not trying." Sam said and pointed and some of the mango still on Serra's face.
"Sorry Serra, these two are devilish with their traps already, even at four and three. Bri tried to do the water bucket tied to the ceiling trick on Sen. She forgot the rope and concussed him when the full bucket hit him in the head." Maya said. Sen rubbed the back of his head.
"It work." Briella said unexpectedly. "Dad wet."
"That it did, sweetie." Maya laughed. "That it did."
"Hey, that hurt a lot." Sen protested.
"Hey, you survived." Serra pointed out, putting Sam down.
"So, Serra, you finally got inked?" Maya asked, pointing at Serra's arms.
"Sort of, I'm just surprised you haven't shoved a needle in Sen yet. Anyway, you two planning on marrying any time soon?" She asked.
"Nope." Maya said quickly.
"What marry mean?" Briella asked.
"A trap, honey. A trap." Serra replied. Sen, once again, rolled his eyes. Briella pressed a button on her strange crossbow device and a net ensnared Sen.
"What the-?" Sen asked as Sam used the opportunity to lob another mango at Briella. The toddler appeared to take offense, as she immediately tackled her older brother off the couch. Serra and Maya left Sen to handle the chaos. Once they were in the kitchen, Serra spoke again.
"Listen, you know the Skulblaka is back. I think the Skulblakan humans may have something to do with it. I'm going investigating, and if my suspicions are right, you need to take your family into hiding." Serra told Maya.
"Understood." Maya replied. "But...what about your friend Morri?"
"Morri's innocent. I don't care if I have to fight the entire Ferran Clan to prove it, she is innocent." Serra immediately said.
"Tell them it was nice seeing them." Serra said, hugged her aunt, and left, returning to her car. Unbeknownst to her, as she drove off base, the metal-armed assassin was watching her from the treeline.
Leaps of FaithEdit
Clara sat on a stone bench after clearing the shrubbery off of it. She arrived in a jungle-esque environment. She had looked around and saw a path to her right. At the path's beginning, she found a gold brick. Ignoring it, she followed the path. For most people, the path would have taken a good day to march the distance of. For her, half a day was all she needed. The path ended at a temple, half covered by overgrown plants, and also made of gold bricks. She sat on that bench for hours, until late in the night, Konstantin returned to her, holding a single, small shard of amber in his hand. "Here." He said. She took it.
"Thank you." She told him and looked down at the shard. "My...this one is strong..." She could sense the power of the Erachi soul in her hand practically pulsing through the shard.
"What did you expect?"
"It's just funny to me. Erachi dominance is decided not by any of our choice, but by who has the most powerful soul. Strange how a simple human soul overpowers a might samurai's."
"You forget one thing. Any Gallifreyian who dies is immediately robbed of their amber and their ability to control it. The Samurai in your hand is nothing but a broken shadow." He reminded her. Her eyes began to glow white as she gazed at the shard.
"It's chemical makeup is interesting." She mused.
"It is a weak form of amber, originally designed to capture beings from common planes." He said.
"It will do." She replied and the shard melted, it was immediately absorbed into her skin. The flood of memories began to fill her mind, as she saw and experienced everything the other Erachi had in her lifetime.
"How long will your recovery take?" Konstantin asked.
"Five days, roughly." Clara replied weakly.
"Why don't you spend them with your husband?" He asked. Clara was silent. "A touchy subject I assume.
"...Besides, it works faster if I'm where I absorbed the soul. Minor ones don't really matter, this one does."
"Very touchy." He added. Her fist clenched around the edge of the bench, and it crumbled beneath her. She rose but didn't move. "That bench was older than your plane." He said. She looked up at him coldly. "Only stating the truth." Clara walked out to the courtyard and held her hand out. In a flash of light, her sword appeared, in it's form that she was most used to, the form she had defeated Vythica with. "Something wrong?" He asked.
"Both in my lifetime and the one I just absorbed. She showed me what I need to do after I've handled Vythica."
"And that would be?"
"I'm going after our creators." Clara replied.
"Yes. I'm going after the Aryoril."
Serra's eyes blinked open. She sat up and looked around. She was sitting in a cell, arms bound behind her back. God dammit, what happened? She thought. Right...a crash, explosion...someone was standing there... She remembered. She leaned back against the wall and grumbled. She heard footsteps down the hall and perked her ears up to listen.
"You overstepped your bounds. You were supposed to be looking for Void, not attacking human officers." A female voice said. There was no response. "We're going to Earth now, hopefully to broker peace since you decided to shoot first, you idiot." The female said, and then the door opened. Katalena Akulov walked in. "I...apologize for what happened. One of my people completely overstepped his bounds and decided to capture you. Why, I'm uncertain. We're on a ship right now, and I'm taking you back to Earth to be dropped off."
"I'm surprised." Serra said.
"I'm mostly concerned for keeping my people safe. I will punish my subordinate, I promise you." Katalena said and left the cell. Four hours passed before Katalena returned. "Come with me." Katalena said. Serra followed her down to the loading ramp, where someone she recognized as the metal-armed man stood.
"He kidnapped me."
"I know." Katalena said and opened the loading ramp. Serra looked outside and saw Kaven base. "Walk out, slowly." Katalena said, putting a hand on her shoulder. Serra walked out with Katalena and the assassin behind her. Holly, who Serra guessed was in command, was standing there alongside several drones and the one called Dirge. At Holly's left and right were the ones called Perceptor and Eve. There were also numerous Phantom Legion soldiers with rifles aimed at them. There was a moment of silence, then Holly made a gesture and the legion troops lowered their weapons slightly, but Serra noted they were still ready to fire.
Katalena released Serra's shoulder. "Go." She whispered, and Serra walked over to Holly. "I want you to know, her capture was not under my order." Katalena called to Holly. "I would also like to apologize for the destruction of the Squadran's vehicle and any personal damages she received." She went on and tossed Serra's equipment back to her.
"The vehicle was a simple car, something easily replaced." Holly said, unconcerned. "I am more worried about my kin's capture. If it was not by your order, then who is responsible?" She asked, more inquisitive than angry. Katalena raised a hand, which started glowing. The Phantom Legion soldiers raised their weapons, but Kata instead floated the Metal armed assassin in front of her and forced him to his knees.
"This is the one responsible." Katalena said. Holly advanced a few steps before looking at Katalena, then back to the man.
"What do you plan to do with him?" Holly asked. Katalena put her right hand on the man's shoulder and his head involuntarily looked up to the sky. She raised her other hand to the heavens, and then put two fingers to his forehead. There was a flash of light, and she shoved the man away from her. Holly raised an eyebrow at Katalena.
"I've taken away his powers, he is a mere human now. Do as you will with him." Katalena said. Holly nodded to Perceptor, who grabbed the metal-armed one and dragged him away.
"I rather wish this wasn't necessary...but he did kidnap someone of Coalition employ, and he will have to answer for that." Holly said. Katalena ignored her and turned to the Phantom Legion soldiers.
"Undoubtedly your leader wants me dead or captured. I will remind you that I was not in any form of custody. I was there of my own free will." She said.
"Yes, many people are up in arms over this whole situation. This is what I'd hoped to avoid...stupid Dmitri."
"I will say it again, your kind shot first." Katalena snapped.
"Dmitri had sent them a message saying that he was going to destroy them all and there was nothing they could do about it. Would you have done differently if the positions were reversed?" Holly asked with a sigh. "If only there had been a way to break the news about your race to the public more gently...all of this would have been avoided."
"No it wouldn't. Caden Ferran himself said it best. He hates us because we are part Skulblakan. Why else do we hide away from the rest of your people?" Kata asked.
"Not everyone feels that way. I've met numerous people combating for coexistence with your people. Even on the Council. I'm sure the Commander would lobby for peace as well." Holly replied.
"I'm leaving." Katalena said impatiently. "Do not try to follow." She turned and entered her ship, which flew into the sky within moments.
"I hate discrimination." Holly grumbled.
"It is an unavoidable fact of the galaxy, Holly. I only hope the galaxy can overcome this bout of it. I have seen this situation before, it never ends well." Eve said.
"Memory from the past?" Holly asked.
"An ancient thing called YouTube." Eve replied. Holly snickered at that. "What?"
"Well...this all but confirms my suspicions." Serra said.
"What do you mean?" Holly asked her great-grandchild.
"Just before I was captured, I expressed a theory that they know where the Skulblaka is." Serra said.
"And what gave you said suspicion?" Eve asked.
"In Katalena's interrogation, she did her best to avoid talk about the Skulblaka." Serra replied.
"Really? Hmmm..." Eve said.
"I know what you're thinking, and no." Holly quickly said.
"If she knows where the Skulblaka is, a simple tracer can-"
"Lead to more trouble than we already have. As much as I want the Skulblaka gone for good, we cannot risk angering Katalena's people right now. We'd be rid of one problem and greeted with another. And in our state of disrepair, I doubt we'd prevail." Holly said.
"That assassin knows." Serra said. "Let me interrogate him.
"And then what? Even if they do know the Skulblaka's location what will we do?" Holly asked.
"We can decide from there." Serra said.
"Alright...see what he knows, but if he does know anything, don't tell anyone but me. We can't let anyone pushing for war catch a wiff of it if there is anything." Holly ordered.
"Understood." Serra said and retrieved her equipment before leaving. She ran after Perceptor to follow him to the prison cells, but when she found the Cybertronian stuck in a wall, the metal-armed one nowhere to be found. "Son of a bitch he got away!" Serra said angrily and kicked a rock.
A few weeks passed before any sightings of the metal armed one occurred. The moment a sighting of him was reported in the city of Veldton, Serra took a pair of Assassin recruits out with her to scout the location of the sighting. Serra led the two of them into a back alley where they climbed up a ladder to the roof. When there, they found a discarded tri-pod and a trio of bullet casings. Serra walked up to them and crouched down. "He was spotted here, right?" She asked one of the recruits.
"Yes, reports spoke of him standing her aiming at something." He replied.
"Well...we know shots were fired. Any reports of murders or assaults, wounds, anything?" Serra asked.
"Someone described as gothic was sited fleeing the area with bullet holes following her path." The other assassin chimed in. Serra nodded and picked up the bullet casing, which was massive.
"Big bullet...I'm not an expert, but I'd guess the bullet itself is about two inches long..." Serra mused. She started to rise, but before she could make it all the way up, a gunshot rang out and something struck her arm. She was knocked off her feet, but was otherwise fine. She rolled behind an air vent as a second gunshot rang out. One of the recruits was shot in the shoulder, and their arm went soaring off their body. The other recruit joined Serra. "Must be our guy." Serra said as the recruit who had been injured stumbled and fell off the building to their death. "Did you see where the bullets were coming from?" Serra asked.
"Yes, three buildings down and four floors up." The assassin recruit replied.
"Ok, move to the other vent." Serra said and pulled her longshot off her back. "I'll cover you." The recruit nodded and Serra poked her rifle out and fired a shot at the wall of the building, hoping it would at least distract their attacker. It didn't, and the recruit's head vanished in a spray of crimson. "Shit." She whispered. If she had to be so grim as to search for a silver lining in her mens' deaths, it was that she saw the muzzle flash that ended the second's life. She also saw through her scope that he needed time to reload after each shot. Serra rolled to the next vent and hid in cover, the target's bullet just missing her foot. She quickly fired back, and she saw the metal armed one duck down to avoid the shot. She sprinted to the edge of the building and jumped off, soaring forwards and smashing through a window one floor down.
She rolled as she landed and quickly navigated the building so that she could jump out the other side. She landed on an old fire escape and climbed up to the roof. A bullet hit her arm as her hand reached to pull herself up. For the second time that day, she thanked whatever deity was watching her for her armor bands. She rose her longshot again, but before she could fire, it fell from her grip in pieces. She kept sprinting as the metal-armed one jumped through his own window, crossed the gap between buildings, rolled and sprinted towards her.
As they neared one another, he drew a dagger as Serra grabbed the Karambit knives from her lower back. He slashed with the knife in his right, natural hand, which she rolled under and slashed at his shins. He jumped and spun in the air so they would face one another again. He jumped forward and tried to punch her with his metal arm, an attack she avoided by diving under his legs and slashing at his hamstrings. Instead of flesh, her knives were greeted by metal. He reached down with his metal arm, grabbed the back of her cloak, and threw her over to the edge of the building. She tumbled off, just barely catching the edge of the roof, both knives falling down to Earth.
She pulled herself partway up and saw him walking towards her, knife in flesh-hand. She looked down and spotted a flying transport truck moving down the back lane she was dangling over. Reacting on instinct, she pulled herself up to the rooftop, just so she could push herself back and flip down onto the moving vehicle. She looked up and saw the metal-armed one started to follow her from the rooftops. Once they hit an actual line of traffic, he jumped down and landed on a floating car as well. Serra drew her revolvers and opened fire at her target. He moved to quickly for her to get a decent shot in, and soon was upon her. "Of all days to leave the fuckin sword at home." She grumbled.
She jumped off the transport and landed on the streets below. He followed her. She sprinted away, trying to find a more defensible location, but soon wound up in the dead end of a back alley. She turned and saw him coming for her, so she resorted to her throwing knives. They seemed to have little to no effect on him, even the ones that connected against his torso. Once she was out of knives, she unleashed her hidden blades just as he attacked her. She stabbed him once in his natural arm before stabbing at his stomach with the other. Using his metal arm, he caught her wrist as the blade came within an inch of his stomach. The two were suddenly locked in a struggle to overpower the other's arms, one Serra found herself outmatched in.
Serra felt a sudden light in her eyes and winced. It started getting considerably brighter as time went on. The light was soon accompanied by the sound of an engine. Serra glanced over her enemy's shoulder and saw a transport van approaching quickly. A woman Serra recognized as her friend Morrigan poked her torso out the passenger seat and pointed up. Understanding, Serra allowed him to overpower her and she quickly moved to the side. She ran up the wall few steps and back-flipped off. When she landed, she was atop the van, which had just run into the metal-armed one. "Wow, I really thought the airbags would go off." The driver, a young gothic woman said.
"Great driving, Viv." Morri said to the driver before turning to Serra. "How's your day going?"
"I'll tell you when it's over." Serra replied. They heard a metal creak and looked over. The assassin, who had been knocked forward several feet into the wall of a building, was standing up.
"What do you think, hit him again?" Viv asked.
"Let's get out of here, no time for fighting." Morri ordered. "Get in." She told Serra, who climbed in the back door of the van as Viv began to drive out. Rather than give chase, the Assassin started climbing the building to return to the rooftops.
Skylar's eyes opened and she was sitting in a strange, dark, demonic study. She looked around and saw Zyana sitting in a chair by a black fire, reading. "Morning. Welcome to hell." Zyana said absently, not looking up.
"I hate this place..." Skylar said and rubbed her head as though she had a headache.
"The demon inside you must be smaller than I'd thought. Normally you'd feel right at home here." Zyana said, earning a glare from Skylar. "Shut up, it's scientifically proven." to which Skylar rolled her eyes. "Anyway, our appointment is in an hour, so find some way to occupy yourself."
"Wonderful." Skylar groaned.
"Just think of the hot poontang you will be to Dean once we get back." Skylar rolled her eyes and passed the time primarily by pacing back and forth. When the time back, out of the fireplace stepped a man in a business suit.
"She's the one who wants her hubby back." Zyana said, pointing to Skylar.
"Well, what is your offer?" the man asked her.
"Uhm...what?" Skylar asked, confused.
"Well, to get a soul, you must provide one of equal importance to you to trade." The man replied.
"What? You steal my husband, drag him down here, and then you start bargaining with me over someone you shouldn't even have!?" Skylar yelled, enraged.
"That's how the demon world works. Of course, the only soul that is truly equal to you is that of your daughter." The demon said.
"What?! There's no fucking way you're taking my daughter from me!" Skylar roared.
"The choice is yours, of course, we're all about free will down here." The demon said and waved his hand. Dean appeared in a flash of fire, covered in chains. "We'll give you some time to decide." The demon said and he and Zyana vanished in flashes of fire. Skylar rushed forward and dropped to her knees to hug Dean.
"My god, are you ok?" She asked.
"I'm fine. Skylar, do not listen to him." Dean immediately said.
"I won't, I refuse to hand our daughter over...but what will happen to you?"
"That doesn't matter. She's the only thing that matters now." Dean said.
"But...but..." Skylar said, sounding torn apart.
"I know it means I'd be stuck down here, but I'd rather that than have her down here." He said.
"Alright..." Skylar said, tearing up.
"Please...don't pull an Elle up there. Just, be happy once you've accepted it. Move on, make more kids, don't kill yourself over me." Dean begged her. Skylar burst into tears. "Raise her right, I have a feeling Zyana will help out."
"Alright..." Skylar eventually got out, trying to wipe the tears away, only to be greeted by a fresh wave.
"I love you, dear..." He said.
"I love you too..." She replied and immediately kissed him just as Zyana and the demon returned.
"Have you made your choice?" The demon asked, all business.
"You..." Skylar wiped her eyes. "You're not taking our daughter."
"Very well." the demon said, utterly uncaring, and both he and dean vanished in a flash of fire. Skylar fell to her knees again, crying. Once the tears had subsided enough for words to form, she choked them out.
"One day...I will wipe them out...all of them." She sobbed.
"Sky...we need to go." Zyana said, putting a hand on Skylar's shoulders. "Come home to Adina." She said and the study vanished in a flash of flame, only to be replaced by the scene of Skylar's living room. "Listen, I'm single again, Mason went to join Morri, and I'll be able to help you out full time." Zyana said.
"Alright..." Skylar said, still crying. Zyana went to the nursery and returned with the sleeping Adina. She held the baby out to Skylar. Skylar took her child and looked down at the crying girl.
"I'll be outside on the front step, if you need me." Zyana said quietly. Skylar nodded, and Zyana went and sat on the front step. She took out her mechanical cigarette and put it in her mouth.
"Something go down?" A voice said. Zyana looked up and saw Sajin Kenway approaching.
"Oh, hey, didn't expect to see you any time soon." Zyana said. "Dean's gone. I'm taking up the role of raising the kid with Skylar until she gets a boyfriend." Zyana said.
"Which won't be anytime soon." Sajin said, sitting down next to her.
"No. What about you, why're you here?"
"Convinced Sola to come visit Vitor. Vitor's gone all workaholic and she's struggling with alcoholism so I figured they'd be good for each other for a few hours." Sajin said. "Also...if push comes to shove, I will be helping the Skulblakan Humans."
"Glad to see we're on the same page." Zyana said. "I know all to well what's it like to be hated for what you are."
"Hopefully my helping them will beat some sense into idiots like Caden." Sajin said. Zyana smirked. "We'll be staying on base for a while, hopefully I can convince Sola to return to active duty."
"Good luck." Zyana replied.
"Vitor said something about planning a crusade into dark space when this is all over." Sajin went on. "When things are calm again, he wants to go looking. Amusing how your plane still doesn't really know what's out in dark space."
"What was in yours?" Zyana asked.
"More of us. More of my kind. Somehow, I doubt that will be the case with this one." Sajin said. "If they do go crusading, I think I'll join him. Be nice to go explore."
"Well, good luck when you do that, for I doubt I'll be able to join you." Zyana said.
"Don't worry, you'll get your share of the adventure again." Sajin said, rose, and left.
Clara jumped out of the portal and landed with a thud. "Aryora." She said. "I wondered if I'd ever get a chance to visit here." She had spent the last week on Erachus, searching her information library for the precise location of Aryora. She looked around, taking in her location. It was a world in another galaxy, much like Earth. She stood in a field of intensely green grass, plains and hills spanning as far as the eye could see. Even when she entered her Erachi state, she couldn't see the end of the pastures. A horn blew in the distance, and Clara turned in the direction it was coming from. "May as well." She muttered and started walking in that direction.
After what felt like an hour of walking, she collapsed, a searing pain in her left shoulder. She lifted herself up to her knees and looked at what had hit her. It was an arrow, long with a black shaft and bright purple feathers. She reached back and tore it out, allowing her body to heal quickly. She looked back and saw a man with a bow marching towards her, bow in hand, but no arrows in sight. She held a hand out and summoned her sword to her. It came to her in it's third form. "Erachi!" The man shouted. Suddenly, a dozen or so men carrying swords and spears jumped out from behind rocks or bushes, all their weapons were colored brightly, no silver weapons in sight. She held her sword out and turned to face them, only to receive another arrow in the back, then another in her left leg. She hit the ground, and a third shot into her arm, causing her to lose grip of her weapon, which faded into nothingness.
"How is there an Erachi here? Weren't they banished millennia ago?" One of the men asked.
"Aye, that they were. This one must be more complete than the rest of them."
"We should take her to the lord, he'll know what to do."
"Aye, we should. Restrain her." Clara did not react well to the last bit. She fired a blast of the white Erachi energy through her left hand, sending two soldiers flying into the air.
"She has the powers, we must act quickly!" One cried. Clara learned what act quickly meant as the handle of a spear collided with the back of her head, knocking her unconscious.
When Clara awoke, she was lying in chains on a cold, stone floor. She pressed her hands against the floor and pushed herself up, noting that the floor felt like obsidian. She looked around and saw many people, all wearing robes of various design, watching her curiously. Numerous warriors clad in strange armors, all wielding brightly colored weapons, formed a circle around her as she started moving. A man in a long, red robe stepped through the circle of guards and approached her. "Hello, Erachi. Forgive our violent methods, but we had to be certain you would not resist." He said politely. "Please, answer my question, do you your people still wish for vengeance against ours?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Clara asked.
"The merging, all of the Erachi coming together into one warrior. We attempted get the Erachi to do so. They refused and waged a war against us for a long time."
"I've...been merging souls into myself for the last few years." Clara said, utterly befuddled. The man rose.
"My friends, the prime Erachi has come forth. We must take her to the tower." He said. Immediately, all the guards walked over to Clara and lifted her up. She struggled vainly, not sure why her Erachi abilities were not helping her against these people. In the end, she was forcibly carried up an incredibly tall tower where she was chained to a cross.
"Why does this always happen to me?" She muttered.
"Clear the room!" The one in the red robe roared. All but he, Clara, and a lone woman clad in blue with the first silver sword Clara had seen left the room, and he walked in front of her. He crouched down and pressed a stone in the floor, and a black portal opened in front of them. "You must be surprised we can open portals to your world as well." The robed one said. He raised his hands and Clara watched as various, small blue orbs began to float out of the portal. Dozens of them at first, then hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands. They filled the room, floating about like fireflies. When the portal finally closed, the robed one turned to the other woman.
"I could only summon half of them. It seems as though there are two primes out there." He said calmly. "Luciana, see to it that the other is brought here." The woman nodded and left the room. "Begin." The man called, and the army of orbs started slamming into Clara one by one at lightning speed. She could feel thousands of souls merging with her own, all the memories and experiences assaulting her mind. It lasted five long, agonizing minutes before the last orb merged with her. The man walked over and pulled her down from the cross. Still chained, she was dragged to a bed and thrown into it. Her chains then moved on their own, binding her down. Not that she would have struggled, she was too busy trying to organize her mind to offer any form of resistance.
Once her mind was no longer in shambles, she noticed the man was setting up four small pillars with glowing stones at the top. One to her right and left, one above her head, and one at her feet. "This is going to be extremely painful." The man told her. Then, four blasts that looked like electricity slammed into her from all of the stones. She couldn't even scream. It felt as though her bones were on fire, her muscles like daggers scraping against her insides, and her skin felt as though it was melting. She started shaking and convulsing violently, so violently that the chains started to cut into her skin. The agony became so great, that eventually, she blacked out completely.
When her eyes fluttered open, her bindings had been removed. She sat up and saw the robed one standing over a worktable, examining something. She looked around and spotted a dagger that looked very ceremonial sitting on a table nearby. She quietly got off the bed and crept towards it. She slipped her hand around the dagger and started creeping up behind the red-robed man. Soon, she was close enough to plunge the weapon into his neck or back, and she raised it high enough to do so. She chanced a glance at what he was examining, and she froze.
On the table was a baby in a small fabric pouch. It was peacefully sleeping, utterly undisturbed. More than that, the moment Clara set eyes on the child, she felt a strange connection to it. Everything in her screamed to protect the child, it was almost motherly. The turned, saw her, and his hand went to a sword at his hip. Before Clara could do anything, a sword blade protruded from the man's chest, and he collapsed a dead pile on the floor. Clara looked at his assassin and saw the woman known as Luciana from before. "Take the child, Erachi. The easiest way of explaining it is that she is your daughter."
"What?" Clara asked, picking up the child anyway.
"I'll explain later, come." The woman said and led Clara out. Once they had made their way down the stairs, the two were confronted by a large patrol of soldiers, all carrying swords. The woman raised her own blade and charged into the squad. Clara summoned her own to her, just in case. One soldier got past her and charged her.
"Sorry, honey." She told the child and spun, slashing with one end and cutting the man in two. She looked past to the rest of the squad, and saw the woman had handled them. They sprinted out of the tower and the woman began to lead her through a never ending blend of corridors. When they finally reached the outside, the woman drew a black portal and pulled Clara through it. They wound up on Erachus, and she turned to Clara.
"I must explain quickly. That girl is the result of a purification of your soul. Your soul is tainted by the experiences of a thousand lifetimes. She will be pure Erachi. She is what you would be if you were purified properly. The scientist that worked on you failed the purification process but wound up having to create another version of you to make a new, pure Erachi. Take this girl with you, when she is grown, I will be waiting for you on Aryora. Raise her as your own." The woman said and left through a portal.
"Well...I guess we're going home." Clara told the baby.
Katalena returned to her room the moment she had returned to the castle. She immediately checked to see that the Skulblaka was in her cryo-tube, which she was. Kata breathed a sigh of relief before checking her personal computer, which she primarily used to monitor the news of the galaxy. As she turned it on, she noticed that the messaging function had been left open. She clicked on it and scanned the folder of sent messages. I didn't send that. She said and looked at the most recent one. It was a video file showing the the Skulblaka was alive, and Aednat was seen on camera, explaining how Katalena must have been keeping her preserved.
"You idiot..." Katalena whispered. "You've killed us."
Wrath of the VoidEdit
Caden sat down on the bar stool and ordered his usual. He had just finished wandering the base and working on whatever he was needed on, and went to the on-base bar to wind down. A hand tapped him on the shoulder and Rorii sat down beside him. "Rorii..." Caden said.
"Hey Caden...holding up alright?" Rorii asked.
"What do you think?" He shot back.
"I'm such an idiot, Rorii..." Caden said.
"In a way, yes." She replied.
"It was extremely...dumb, in a way. No, not in a way, it was extremely dumb." Rorii said. "But I understand."
"Oh yeah?" Caden asked, eliciting a sigh from his twin.
"Yeah. I've always been good at playing devil's advocate. You wanted to see her again, Katalena messed with your mind." Rorii said.
"It's not an excuse." Caden said.
"No, but one can see where you were coming from. Listen, you can make up for it. If it was me, I'd forgive you, but only after a serious bitch slap and some major ass kissing on your part." Rorii replied.
"If only I was so lucky."
"You may be. She married you for a reason, Caden. That reason is still there, you just have to find it and dig it up again." Rorii said. At that moment, Loran entered the bar and came up behind them.
"Uh, guys...Clara's at our place." He said, sounding bewildered. Caden immediately jumped out of his chair.
"Really?" He asked hurriedly.
"Please sit." Loran said. "What comes next will put you back in the stool anyway."
"What do you mean?" Rorii asked.
"Well..." Loran hesitated. "She's got a baby with her."
"What??" Caden asked.
"Jeez, Caden screwed up, but not that much." Rorii muttered.
"And it isn't any man's. I dunno, it's like the force knocked her up or something." Loran explained.
"I need to go see this." Caden declared.
"I guess you'll want some privacy, so we'll stay here." Loran offered.
"Thank you." Caden said and practically sprinted out. Loran sat down beside Aurora.
"And cue the childbirth era." He quipped.
"Just saying, the seeds have been planted. Pun very much intended." Loran said, raising his hands in surrender.
"You're a card, you know that?" She said, playfully punching his shoulder.
"And proud of it." Loran replied, a grin on his face as he ordered a drink of his own.
Caden threw the door open to Loran and Rorii's house and entered. He found Clara sitting on the couch in the living room, holding the baby in her arms. "Clara...what?"
"I assure you, I didn't revenge-fuck another guy in my travels." She replied.
"Loran said it was something weird."
"She is an extract of my soul, merged with half the Erachi in existence into one, perfect Erachi. And now, she is also my daughter." Clara explained.
"She couldn't have a better parent." Caden said and put a hand on Clara's shoulder.
"I'm not willing to raise her alone." She said, and Caden detected a hint of rage in her voice.
"You sure, I understand if..." Caden trailed off.
"What I'm asking is, do you want to help raise my child?" She asked, the anger growing in her voice.
"You sure about that?" She asked, setting the baby down on the couch. "All it took last time was a voice."
"Too much came rushing back at once when that happened. I'll never forgive myself for it. But I made those vows on that mountain for a reason. I'm not throwing them away." He implored her. She closed her eyes for a long moment.
"Ok." She finally said.
"Trust me?" He asked.
"I'll put it like this." She said and raised her hand, lightsaber gripped firmly, and pointed the hilt at his crotch. "Betray me again, and I'll cut your pretty little cock off and wear it around my neck." Caden's shoulders slouched and a sad expression crossed his face.
"Also..." She said and handed him the baby. "You're on diapers."
"I won't force you to the couch." Clara added after a moment.
"Oh." He said, and sat down a little farther than he normally would. She moved closer to him.
"What do you want to name her?"
"Keryn?" He suggested.
"I like it." She said. "You pick one middle name, I pick one."
"Leliana." Caden said. Clara's expression shifted to one of surprise.
"Dinaya." She said after a moment.
"Left that one for you." He told her.
"I guess you do know me pretty well." She said, smiling slightly.
"What type of man doesn't know the woman he loves?" Caden pointed out, getting a quiet laugh from her.
"I'm going home to sleep now. I'll have stories in the morning." Clara said.
"Alright, babe. Sleep tight. I'll be home in a bit." Caden said, and Clara left him with the child. Caden looked down at the girl and saw she was giving him a quizzical look. "Hey kid...looks like we'll be seeing a lot of each other from now on." He whispered. Keryn made a slight punching motion. "Easy, kiddo. There will be plenty of time to fight when you're older." To his surprise, Keryn smiled. "Haha, there we go. Think we're gonna get along?"
"Goo." The baby uttered.
"Heh, I'll take that as a yes just so I feel good." He said. With that, the baby stretched and fell asleep in his arms. He smiled down at her. "I could get used to this."
Morri stirred awake and sat up. She glanced at her clock and noticed she had overslept. It was twenty-seven after one, and she had meant to get up at eight that morning. She rolled out of her bed and got dressed. She glanced out her window and did a double take. At least two-hundred soldiers, all clad in armor she didn't recognize, surrounding the rest of her people. She glanced down and saw that Viv and Mason were both missing. Please don't be dead. She thought to herself. She looked down and knew that if they were exposed and that if military action was underway, there kind was now being hunted. If I get them to Kata, hopefully she can keep them safe a while longer. She thought. She grabbed a knife, knowing there wasn't any other way anymore, and opened a portal.
She jumped through it and landed on the back of a soldier, stabbing him and opening a portal beneath some of her captive friends. The tumbled through it and landed on Kata's world. Morri quickly closed it and used the soldier as a shield to block several assault-rifles worth of plasma blasts. Taking her lead, Axel jumped up from his position and unleashed a large blast of sunfire from his hands, melting ten soldiers and causing many to turn and run. Out of the forest jumped Viv, her skin appearing to be made of metal, and she started punching away at the soldiers, their weapons bouncing off of her. The others rose and did the same, fighting back. Soon, the soldiers were fleeing.
"Morri!" Axel said, ran over and embraced her. "I thought they'd killed you."
"It'll take a lot more than them to finish me off." Morri said, hugging him back. "Is anyone hurt?"
"A few minor scrapes and bruises, nothing too awful." Axel replied.
"Ok, I need you to lead everyone to Kata's castle, explain everything to her."
"What about you?" He asked.
"You know what I need to do." Morri said and opened a portal. "Everyone, get through!" She called, and people started pouring through it. "Where's Ileana?" Morri asked one them, grabbing him before he could jump through.
"Corina and Ileana escaped during the attack, ma'am." The boy said and kept moving through. Morri nodded and held the portal open until only Axel and Viv were left.
"Guys, get moving I need you to take care of them." Morri pleaded. Both of them shook their heads. "Dammit, fine." Morri said and closed the portal. "Take positions on the-" She interrupted herself by opening portals underneath each of them, causing them to fall through to Kata's world below. "Ok...and now I wait." She muttered. It only took about twenty minutes for a patrol to arrive and surround her. She was about to raise her hands to surrender, when suddenly, everything around her changed, and the patrol was suddenly unconscious on the ground. She blinked and she was surrounded by unconscious people, and only one of their kind was capable of that.
"Mason, come out." She called, and her friend stepped out of the shrubs.
"That was pretty good, eh?" He said, grinning and looking around at the unconscious patrol. Morri opened a portal to Katalena's world.
"And leave you here alone? Fine. Just tell me why." Mason said, uncharacteristically serious.
"Because hopefully I can buy some time for you guys to build a defense of some kind." Morri said.
"Self sacrifice isn't like you, Morri." He said.
"I don't need to die to bide time, get going." She ordered, and he jumped through the portal. She closed it and turned around, whistling a four note tune. Immediately, an armored and helmeted assassin appeared in front of her. "How have you been, Quickie?" She asked.
"I found what you needed to know about Katalena." He said.
"Why did she keep the Skulblaka alive?" Morri asked.
"She's been trying to find the way to defeat Void, thinking he is more deadly than the Skulblaka or even that Clara woman." Quickie replied.
"Ok. Thank you. Get out of here, I'll contact you when I can." She said. He nodded and left, moving faster than anything she'd seen before. "I knew you wouldn't just keep her for no reason, my friend." Morri said as two gunships and an army truck arrived. She raised her hands in surrender. "Now, to Kaven."
Rorii entered the interrogation chamber and found Morri sitting quietly in the on the opposite side of the table. Loran was watching from the other side of the two-way-mirror. "Hello, Morri. Long time no see."
"Indeed. Caden and Clara have enough of interrogations?" Morri asked.
"They have a much...smaller thing to concern themselves with, now." Rorii replied.
"Oh great, baby season is upon us now." Morri said.
"Only them, only them." Rorii said.
"Well, I imagine everyone is rather angry with my friend Katalena right now."
"Angry? If they were only angry, I'd be ecstatic." Rorii replied.
"You have any idea why she did it?" Morri asked.
"Threat, maybe. Keep away or I'll unleash the Skulblaka." Rorii theorized.
"Wrong." Came Morri's simple answer.
"Enlighten me, then."
"When it comes to my people, there is only one you should fear."
"I assume that you are talking about Void."
"Yeah. Katalena's looking for a way to kill him." Morri said.
"And she needs the Skulblaka for...?"
"Hidden in her DNA is a blueprint of all powers the Skulblakan race once had. Somewhere in there is the key to defeating Void. Kata was hiding the Skulblaka away because she knew the people here would try to kill her and ultimately let Void roam free." Morri explained.
"Now," Morri said, leaning in closer. "why was my house attacked?"
"I had nothing to do with that. That would have come from above me." Rorii said.
"Well, I have a feeling it was unsanctioned and racially charged, considering all the talk of 'raping the scum' I heard on the way back."
"I'll make sure they are dealt with." Rorii assured her.
"Now, the million credit question is what will happen to Kata now?" Morri asked.
"You know the answer to that, Morri." Rorii told her.
"Arrest or assassination?" Morri asked, a hint of sadness in her voice.
"I have a feeling it's neither. I see a full scale attack soon. Arrest as many as possible, kill the fighters."
"In other words, genocide." Morri said, now sadly in full.
"I don't like it either." Rorii admitted.
"You know what I heard about on the radio on the chopper coming in? A former ally of Kata's, the metal-armed assassin, leaked the news of the Skulblaka to the press." Morri said.
"Shit, there's gonna be chaos."
"Also in the story were seven-hundred and thirty-two counts of murder by way of public beatings, shootings, and stabbings, all victims of which were my people." Morri went on.
"I feel for you and your people, Morri, but there's not much I can do about it at the moment." Rorii said sadly.
"How long do you think I'd last out there?" Morri asked abruptly.
"Decent while, but that's because you're you."
"Even so, I'd go through life looking over my shoulder forever. I don't want that."
"What do you want me to do?" Rorii asked, sounding defeated.
"Try to stay away from me on that battlefield." Morri replied.
"Who say I'm going to fight?" Rorii pointed out.
"Just a precaution. If my race is going extinct, I don't plan to be the last one left. Besides, it's fitting that the last Sigurdson should go out fighting." Morri said.
"Of course...I might bet on us, actually." Morri said and opened a portal. On the other end, they could see a mountain range.
"I should try to stop you." Rorii said.
"Do you really think you could?" Morri asked.
"Maybe. But if anyone asks, you were too quick for me today." Rorii said. "Good luck." Morri smirked and wordlessly hopped through the portal before turning around.
"One of us needs a new nickname. Rorii, Morri, it gets confusing." Morri said to her niece.
"We'll talk about it next family reunion." Rorii agreed.
"Hopefully someplace that isn't hell. Bye." Morri said and closed the portal.
"Hopefully there's a good bar in hell." Rorii said and left the interrogation room. In the observation room, she found Loran.
"I'm not going." He said quietly.
"Where? To Kata's?"
"Neither am I. I'm headed into the cities to stop the riots and killings." Rorii said.
"Thank god for you." Loran said suddenly.
"I suppose so..."
"You alright?" He asked.
"This entire situation is just crap." Rorii sighed.
"Yeah. Listen, I can't go with you. I was asked to help oversee the base with everything being spread so thin." Loran said.
"I understand. Don't work too hard here, boy."
"With Holly being the main commander I haven't got much choice there." Loran replied.
"Don't worry, I'll try to be back soon."
"Stay safe out there, love." He ordered. "When are you leaving?"
"As soon as I can." She replied.
"Put it off for a few hours?" He requested.
"Never thought I'd say this, but, I can't." She said, thought for a moment, then said "I can spare half an hour."
"Works for me." He replied.
Clara stood with Caden on the landing pad. A lone cruiser of a hundred and fifty men was going out to meet a small fleet that was going to attack Katalena Akulov's planet. "You know I'm not going." Clara said.
"I know you aren't. Hopefully it won't matter." Caden said.
"Just come back." Clara told him.
"Haven't I always?" He asked with a smirk.
"If you don't, I'll bring you back to life for the sole purpose of killing you myself." Clara informed him.
"Love you too." He said.
"I love you. I'm still mighty pissed, but I love you." Clara said.
"That's good enough for me. Keep our kid safe."
"You don't need to tell me to." Clara reminded him.
"I know, just watching out for the girl."
"Good." She said, stepped forward, and gave him a rather awkward hug.
"Something wrong?" He asked.
"Still mad, remember."
"Yeah, yeah." He said and, quite on purpose, gave her an awkward hug back.
"Come back soon, please." She said quietly.
"I will, I promise." He replied.
"Good." She said, released him, and backed up a few steps. "Good luck."
"Thanks." He said and left.
"You'll need it." She added before leaving as well. As the ship took off and broke the atmosphere, the crew took their places and waited for the call to action. Also waiting on the ship was Loran, hiding in a supply closet, lightsaber pike in hand, it's white crystal changed to red to protect his identity, a stolen set of armor on his body.
"Rorii's gonna kill me." He muttered to himself.
Serra flung herself into open air and landed atop a flying car. She was being chased by the metal-armed one once again, and she was hoping that she could lead him to a more defensible area. She held on for dear life as they entered high-speed traffic. Serra waited until they reached a bridge, and she flung herself off the car and into a leap of faith, flying from the edge of the bridge and sailing into the water a couple hundred feet below. As she soared downwards, a lone bullet struck her in the side, causing her to pass out once she was underwater.
When Serra awoke, she was lying next to a campfire. She looked around and saw that she was in the slums of Veldton, where many refugees lived. "Lie still, Serra Urec." A voice said. She looked up and saw the one called Void kneeling down next to her. She froze up in horror as he checked her wound. "You'll need to change the bandages soon." He said. "Also, I give you a warning now. Katalena's people will come under attack soon. When that happens, she will try to harness the abilities of the Skulblaka to defend her people. I do not blame her for this, but in doing so, it will all but seal our kind's fate."
"Why are telling me this?" She asked.
"I serve a higher purpose than many think, and I do not wish for existence itself to fall. For my goals to be achieved, my people must live on. You need to stop the battle, for Akulov's survival is quite imperative on it's own. The more of my kind, the better." He said. He held a small orb out, and it began to glow. When the light faded, they were in a mountain range. He gave her a small vial of green fluid. "Drink this, it will heal the wound." He ordered. "The castle is that way, I'd advise moving towards it." He said and left into the forest.
"Well...shit." Serra grumbled, drank the vial, watched as her wound healed, and started running. As she moved through the forest, she noticed Void was watching from a different tree every time she looked up. "Why do you care about this again?" She asked, still running and climbing trees herself.
"I am an ally of a woman on a far away world named Luciana. Luciana will be needing the help of a few key individuals in the future. Clara Renner, Keryn Renner, Vitor Rogan, Katalena Akulov, and Loran Bendak. She will need them specifically in order to succeed. Tell me, you see how powerful the Erachi is, how would we fare against an army of those who created the Erachi?" He asked.
"Probably not well." Serra said.
"Other beings that would prove useful are the entirety of the hybrid species. You do not hate them, do you?"
"No, I don't." Serra said. "Anyone who does hate them is just scared of getting their asses kicked again. All they did was defend themselves."
"Good. When this is over, find the Erachi and tell her that she must prepare for the return to Aryora."
"Alright." Serra agreed. With that, Void vanished once again. As she kept moving, her hidden blade gauntlet buzzed, signaling she had received a new contract. She glanced at it briefly and kept moving. Then, she looked again, and ground to a halt. She stared at it for a long time. Two contracts had been added to her list, both from unknown senders. The first was for Katalena Akulov. The second was for Morrigan Sigurdson. She was dumbstruck, horrified that one of her friends was suddenly in her target list.
But...why? She asked herself, stunned. The tenants of the Creed went through her mind. Would disobedience compromise the brotherhood?
After a long moment, she deactivated the small screen and kept running.
Holocaust of the ShunnedEdit
"Damn it." Kata said, counting the ships in the sky. "Four cruisers. They spared no expense for us, considering."
"Yeah. Probably small numbers of forces, mostly relying on vehicles and superpowered beings of their own." Morri replied.
"Will you have trouble out there?" Kata asked.
"No. I don't care who they put in front of me now. If our species is going to burn, then, I'm going to burn as brightly as possible in the last moments." Morri said.
"I'm glad that if it comes to that, we go out together, my friend." Kata said and hugged Morri.
"Go get ready, just in case. Thank you, Kata." Morri said. Kata nodded and ran inside. Morri picked up the communication console and hailed the ship she recognized from Kaven.
Caden stood on the bridge of his cruiser, overseeing the preparations. "Sir, someone is hailing us for communications!" A crew member told him.
"Patch it through." He ordered, and soon, the signal was patched.
"Do you read?" Morri's voice asked.
"We read, you're coming through."
"I'm calling to request your surrender." Morri said.
"Excuse me?" Caden asked, dumbfounded.
"Get those ships out of the sky and off this world, or surrender to us. That is my request."
"Not with the Skulblaka alive and on world." Caden said.
"The Skulblaka is comatose and in a cryotube. Not only is she not a danger but we are using her blood to defeat something worse." Morri said.
"I doubt a cryotube will hold a plane destroying being for long."
"It has worked thus far."
"Being knocked out helps."
"We're using her to kill one of our own kind, you know." Morri sighed.
"Yeah? Thought that was one of your rules, that you don't do that." Caden reminded her.
"He killed one of us already, he needs to pay the price." Morri said.
"You know what'll happen if you mess up? If something goes wrong and she wakes up?"
"She'll try vainly to destroy this plane but can't because this is her plane, the one she was trying to escape in the first place?" Morri pointed out.
"You think most of the plane really matters? We don't care about anything beyond this galaxy. She's here, and she'd start with us. It may be in vain, but she'd still start here and bring a lot of people down with her. That isn't something I want to risk. Forgive me, but I'm doing what I think is best for the rest of the galaxy, not your small group."
"Very well." Morri eventually said. "But I want you to think about something as you commit genocide, you racist fuck."
"I'm personally here for the Skulblaka. I don't care if you want to live out here in the woods or not."
"We're trying to stop this galaxy from dying, idiot. And no, you're not. At least not wholly. Katalena told me about how you hate my kind. Not to mention how you're angry with her for exploiting a weakness in someone who is a threat to her, you unfaithful prick. How do you think I felt when I found out my nature? It was my sister who was driven to insanity by the Skulblakans, my mother who was beheaded before our eyes by their servant. Then it was me who became a Skulblakan. I have every right to hate my people, more right than you do. However, I chose to make something out of it, I sheltered people your kind shunned, raised a little girl when her sister was missing, hell, I'm sleeping with one of them. There is a part of me that hates everything about us, but I know that it wasn't our fault so I don't desire our death. Now, I'm looking at the bigger picture, trying to save everyone from a man who is even more dangerous. Not to mention, how will you feel when Clara merges her soul with the Skulblaka's? When your wife is the Skulblaka itself as well as Clara. That's beside the point, I'm here now to protect innocent people who were shunned from society for something that was certainly not their fault. Katalena is willing to surrender as long as you stand down. If you cannot accept this, then we will fight to defend her so she can continue her research. We will do what my mother and sister would have done. We will do what Loran would be doing if he were here. We are doing what Clara would be doing if she were here. We are doing what Ziva would do if she were here. If you feel comfortable going against all that, we're waiting now, and you should have brought a bigger fleet."
The communication was cut.
"Well, I have two reasons to be here now." Caden said, sounding outraged. "If anyone finds Morrigan, tell me." He activated the intercom to the troops. "You know the drill, capture if possible, we are not here to slaughter."
"Sir! The two of their kind that wish to help request you meet them at these coordinates, sir!" A soldier said and sent him a set of coordinates.
"I'll go personally, no need to sacrifice any more than needed." He said. the soldier nodded and ran to join the troops.
"For the love of god, try to not kill anyone first." Morri ordered the adult populace of the compound. "Only kill if they kill one of us first. Kill only to defend yourself, try to cripple at the worst. We will win this, but we want to find a way to not have more of them show up." Morri instructed getting nods. "Just don't go overkill, alright?" They nodded again. "Ok, people who specialize in environmental manipulations, fires, quakes, anything like that, take cover in the forestry. Axel, myself, and Mason will be keeping their ships out of the sky, forcing them to land at the clearing." Morri said. She was referring to a small flat clearing partway up the mountain that also contained the path to their compound.
"Take cover along the path, avoid clumping together. Anyone who is stealthy enough should take cover in the trees. Once their ships have landed, Axel is going to use his powers to mess with any thermal readings they'll be using. That should keep you hidden from thermals, but if they have psychics or force users with them, the latter of which they will, they will be able to sense you. Because of this, Viv, Xylia, and Dex will be leading a rather obvious main attack with anyone who has powers on the physical side of things. Environmental people, your job is to support the fighters, make sure you are as undetected as possible. If you can, stay in groups of three to take turns helping, keep them guessing as much as you can. If your trio is discovered, run up the mountain and rally in the fortress. Viv, Xylia, Dex, don't take any stupid chances, the second you think you're losing, start running as well."
"When you retreat back to the fortress, half of you will start fortifying shields and the walls, the other half will actively defend." Morri went on. "If...if the worst should happen and we seem to be losing, Katalena will enter the battlefield." Morri said. There was a murmur throughout their people. Katalena would be strongest on a battlefield, the amount of chaos in the atmosphere would strengthen her immensely. If Katalena were to enter the field of battle, there would be nothing that could truly stop her. When last Morri had fought alongside Katalena, Kata had all but thrown a small cruiser from the sky, and she was only getting stronger.
"Alright everyone, good luck, take positions, we'll keep their air support on the ground." Axel said, and people started moving out, Viv starting a rather comedic war chant about human soup. Morri simply prayed that Viv wasn't actually planning to make human soup. "You ok?" Axel asked her, putting a hand on her shoulder from behind her.
"No. Not really." Morri replied. There was a pit in her stomach that she hadn't felt before a battle at any time before this. Her other battles had all been against enemies that she would have no guilt in killing. Neil Kenway's mercenaries, Skulblakan invaders, thugs from the streets of Mandalore, everything. However, this was something different. There was a good chance people she cared about could be marching for her.
"You know he'll be looking for you." Axel warned her.
"Caden? Yeah, I know. I was...a little harsh with him, but I had to speak the truth." She sighed.
"I know. I won't let him come for you." He assured her.
"Don't get yourself killed. That man is probably the best swordsman native to this plane." Morri said. "Not to mention a damn powerful Jedi."
"I know. Don't worry, when the sun rises tomorrow, we'll both be alive, and so will he. I don't plan on killing him, I want to prove we're the better people."
"Atta boy. Just, make it quick when you defeat him. I know you love fighting, but don't draw it out against someone so dangerous as him." She pleaded.
"I know, there will be plenty of people for me to beat up." He said with a smirk. "Now, let's make sure no pesky bombers come for us."
Sure enough, it did not take long for the gunships and fighters to start appearing in the sky. "Give them a warning." Morri said. Axel took a few steps away from her and Mason and his whole body took on it's sun-like appearance. He raised his hands and solar flares blasted out towards the fighters. The fighters and gunships swerved to avoid the sudden attack, and soon were met with more flares and suddenly swerving and flying around in desperate attempts to avoid being burned alive. Morri started to open large portals for the fighters to fly through, sending them in the opposite direction, and Mason used his reality powers to switch the direction the fighters were flying without their knowledge, aiming them for the clearing. Axel continued to send flares out, driving them down into the clearing. "Keep the skies on fire." Morri ordered before turning to the few that remained with them in the fortress. "Start fortifying the energy shields and walls. Barricade the southern gates with everything you can think of!" She turned and looked to see the gunships aiming for the clearing.
Loran marched alongside the soldiers, using the force to keep his thoughts and identity secret. His saber pike was set to stun, and he was simply waiting for a good chance to intervene with any battles. As they marched up the path, they spotted a woman leading a group of the Skulblakan-Humans towards them. Once they halted to take up positions, the woman shouted down at them. "Last chance to surrender!" In response, several stun blasts were sent out at the Hybrids. Almost as though they were expecting such an attack, a wall of stone rose to protect the Hybrids. The leading woman smashed through the wall, her skin taking on a metallic appearance. To the average soldier, he skin would simply look like a dark steel. To Loran, it was a cortosis skin. Before she could slam into the troops, followed by her people, Loran activated his saber-pike and started swinging.
He stunned several of the invading troops, sending them to the ground with numb limbs and torsos. He also would throw a kick out every now and then, catching them on the head and sending them to the ground in an unconscious or immobile heap. He looked up at the advancing hybrids, who halted as they saw what he had done. He put one finger to the mouth piece of his helmet and dove into the shrubbery, knowing there would be troopers trying to sneak in through the forestry. He successfully incapacitated at least seven of the sneaky troops when he noticed a person sprinting across tree branches above him. Serra? He thought before continuing his work. He could sense no ill will from her directed at the Hybrids, only a grim determination to stop the violence. Because of that, he let her go.
He looked back towards the path and saw that the Hybrids were fleeing up the mountain, and he started running up after them. He soon reached the fortress, which was being guarded by several hybrids along the wall. He could hear cries of pain and sorrow, and sighed sadly. He sensed a large number of troops coming up the path, a new, fresh wave. He waited until they were nearby and jumped out to attack them. Upon seeing him, they merely fled back many hundred meters. He fell into a defensive stance, ready to defend against oncoming blasterfire. He was surprised when they fired a rocket launcher at him. The explosion sent him flying through the air and off the path. Before he passed out of consciousness, he saw a rocket hit the main gate, which fell into splinters upon another four rocket blasts.
Serra was sent flying forward by an explosion. She tumbled through the air for a moment before landing and rolling to her feet. Fires were everywhere now. Soldiers were marching in as the hybrids fought back, surprisingly non-lethal. Only a few deaths were caused by the hybrids, while the humans seemed to be less squeamish about it. Serra saw at least four hybrids die at the hands of a minigun-wielding soldier. She grabbed one of her sleeping-poison-knives and threw it with expert precision into his armpit, and he hit the ground, asleep. She closed her eyes for a moment, and when she opened them, she was using eagle vision. She spotted Caden Ferran and sneaking in the back with a man and a woman. The woman, seeding the attack, stepped away from them and ran down into the battle while they weren't looking. She sprinted for the fortress, scaled a wall, and climbed in. They could only be going for Katalena.
Serra quietly sprinted through the halls, calculating the point where they would meet. She smiled as she realized it was by a window two floors up. A very survivable fall. They reached the intersection of the two hallways before she did, only by about a second. Serra jumped through the air, bringing one of her knees up. Her knee collided with the other man's jaw and she grabbed Caden's shoulders at the same time. The three tumbled out the window and landed on the courtyard below, just on the outside of the fighting. Caden rolled away and to his feet, turning to face her. She pushed herself off the ground and to her feet, unsheathing her katana on the way up.
"Serra?" He asked, surprised. "Why are you helping them?"
"I'm not. I'm helping everyone." She said and fell into her counter-stance. He drew his lightsabers, knowing she would not allow him to continue. A slightly sad look on his face, with a hint of anger, he charged her. She sidestepped and backed away from his attacks, knowing that her sword wasn't made of phrik or cortosis, so it would be burned through if it made contact with one of his sabers. He appeared to figure this out, as he continued his assault relentlessly, trying to push her away from the window they had tumbled out of. Neither really wanted to kill the other, but Serra guessed that both would do so if they had to.
She waited patiently for her opening, and when it came, she stabbed forward, aiming for a joint in Caden's armor, his right elbow. The katana reached it's mark, piercing the armor and stabbing into flesh, drawing blood. Caden, trying as hard as possible to not show said pain, slashed with his other weapon, burning through her sword. Slower than most lightsabers she was aware of, but it still cut the blade in half. He lashed out with a blast of force lightning, sending Serra flying back several dozen feet. She jumped back up after a moment and charged after him, taking her karambits out of their sheaths on the small of her back.
Caden took the tip of her katana out of his arm and tossed it aside. He swung his weapons out and missed her neck by millimeters, burning a small hole in her hood, which fell back as she rolled to the side. She dove forward, rolling along the ground and slashing out in an X formation with her karambits. He jumped over this and started slashing down towards her back. They didn't reach their mark, as his weapons passed through a suddenly opened portal and the tips grazed the armor on his back. Serra lashed out and cut him across the back of his left calf. She realized the two daggers were now stuck in his armor and skin, and rolled away, leaving him there. He followed her movement and blasted her with a powerful force push, sending her flying into a stone wall.
She tumbled to the floor, immobile and her head spinning. Through the haziness of her vision, she saw Morri was standing in the gate, to the courtyard open behind her. Serra could vaguely see the battle going poorly for the hybrids, who either fell or were surrendering. She guessed they were holding back for fear of further prosecution if they killed any of the invaders. Serra watched as Caden raised and hand, sending Morri flying back into the scene of the battle. Serra clumsily rose to her feet and moved towards the gate, stumbling and dizzy. When she reached the gate, she saw Morri get blasted with stun guns many times as she lay on the ground, immobile.
Suddenly, a man, clad in the armor of the invaders, landed next to her, a red lightsaber pike in one hand, a white lightsaber in the other. He pointed at her, then to Morri, then, with an air of near reluctance, went after Caden. He deactivated the sword and strapped to his belt as he ran, equipping just his pike. Serra nodded, shook off the rest of her dizziness and went to stop the soldiers from killing her friend.
Caden turned in time to see one of his soldiers, a red saber pike in hand, charging forward. The soldier swung in a wide arc for Caden's left shoulder, and Caden easily had his blades over to parry the attack. At the last second, the soldier stopped the attack mid swing, and impressive feat, given the length of the weapon being used to swing and the power behind it, and he spun around, letting go of his weapon with one hand and slamming the back of his knuckles into Caden's jaw. Caden stumbled, stunned. The man put himself between Caden and the window that would lead to Katalena and the Skulblaka.
"You shouldn't fight me, whoever you are." Caden warned. "Why do you fight to protect them?" He asked. Wordlessly, the man pointed past Caden at a dead Hybrid, disfigured completely by a savage and excessive amount of blasterfire. He then pointed at the building behind them. "I would only kill her if she tried to kill me first." Caden said. Suddenly, an image flashed through his mind of Ziva standing before him, smiling, but her image began to flicker, replaced by one of Katalena Akulov. The vision was gone as soon as it had arrived. About a tenth of Caden was impressed that the soldier had put the image in his mind through the force without giving away his own identity.
The other nine tenths were a sudden combination of confusion and unbridled outrage at the soldier's audacity. He forgot all about Katalena and the Skulblaka and charged after him, limping slightly because of the wound in his leg. Despite his fury, he could tell a lot about his new opponent as he charged forward. The pike's handle was made of phrik, which his blades would burn through more easily then most sabers, and he probably wouldn't be as effective once Caden got inside the reach of the pike. Now he was faced with the issue of getting inside the reach at all.
Every time he tried to step forward and parry the attack, his opponent would slip away and use light jabs to keep Caden at a distance. Caden noticed that the man seemed hesitant to launch any significant assault, and guessed he was waiting for the opportunity to use a devastating counter attack. Caden started timing the jabs the soldier was using, and once he was confident he got the timing down, stabbed downward, crossing his blades over the blade of the pike, keeping it down. He flipped over, keeping his blades locked with the pike. Once he had landed, well inside the pike's reach, he swung both blades back around at his foe's neck. They were met with the sudden appearance of a white lightsaber blade. Caden jolted in surprise, and the man took the opening and slammed the hilt of his new weapon into Caden's forehead, knocking him back. The man deactivated the pike and strapped it across his back. He put the single bladed weapon to his belt and drew two red swords. The two moved towards each other quickly and resumed their duel.
Serra dove into the soldiers, throwing knives flowing from her hands like water from a tap. Several soldiers dropped and she jumped through the air, aiming for the last two who were excessively stunning Morri. One of them landed a kick to Morri's ribs a split second before Serra's hidden blades entered their necks from behind them. Serra, taking advantage of the Hybrids rising up again from her assistance, knelt next to her barely conscious, shaking friend. "Morri, please, stay awake, I'm begging you." Serra said. "Don't go to sleep, I need you to stay with me." Serra said.
"You're...here?" Morri asked weakly. Serra barely noticed a man and a woman kneeling on Morri's other side as Serra started to cradle her.
"Yeah, I'm here. I'll always be here to help you, old friend." Serra said, smiling at Morri.
"Good...stop...this..." Morri said, feebly gesturing at the fighting. Serra looked up and saw the man had vanished and was charging up to the site of the lightsaber duel, arms suddenly ablaze.
"I will. I will, don't worry." Serra said and looked at the other woman.
"Serra, I'm Viv, I'll take Morri to safe-" the woman was cut off as Morri started shaking violently. "Someone bring a healer over here, now!" Viv screamed. It was all Serra could do to watch as a trio of hybrids came over and took Morri, who appeared to be having some sort of seizure, into a nearby building. Serra was frozen for a moment, then she turned and charged back towards Caden, true murder now in her heart. She sprinted through the gate in time to see Caden pinning one of the saber-wielding warrior's arms behind his back. Caden activated the man's pike, which was strapped to his back, and slashed one of his sabers down at the spot just below the blade. The blade started retracting and Caden shoved the man forward. When the blade reached it's hilt, the tip of the staff exploded and sent the warrior tumbling forward, unconscious. Serra also saw the man who had charged after Caden lying immobile several dozen meters away.
Serra unleashed her hidden blades as she closed the distance. He saw her coming and swung at her. Instead of ducking, she instinctively raised a forearm, and the blade bounced off her armor-tattoo. Without even stopping to question it, or even take note of it happening at all, Serra stabbed forward with one of her hidden blades, jamming the weapon in Caden's leg joint on his healthy leg. She wrenched it out, slipped between his legs, rose to her feet, and avoided a slightly clumsy turning downward attack from Caden. She spun and launched a wheel kick straight into Caden's newly wounded leg. It gave out and he went down to one knee. She jumped back in waste to avoid a wild spinning attack that turned him toward her, and she stepped forward and kicked Caden under the chin, knocking him on his back.
She jumped on top of him and ripped off his helmet. She aimed the blade down at his neck, staring down at him, fury in her eyes. She held this position for a few moments before retracting the blade and standing up. "Don't get up." She ordered him. "Don't speak." She also said, throwing a knife that embedded itself a millimeter from his ear. Before she could do anything else, an explosion sounded behind her. She whipped around and saw that a massive hole had been blasted in the fortress walls. Serra looked up and saw that one of the cruisers had sent a missile down. "Jesus, christ on a crutch." Serra cursed.
"I suppose I will have to intervene." A voice said. Serra looked and saw Katalena Akulov floating out of the building. "Unless the human that you are could negotiate them to stop, perhaps through my surrender?" She suggested to Serra. Serra nodded and pressed a button on her right hidden blade gauntlet. She located the frequency of the ship that had fired and entered it.
"Cruiser, this is Assassin Serra Urec, hold your damn fire, I have Katalena Akulov in my custody." She said quickly.
"How did you pull that off, assassin?" A male voice asked.
"She surrendered to me. Call off your troops, she can get the hybrids to stop fighting." Serra said. There was nothing but static. "Cruiser, any further assault will simply be genocidal rampaging." Serra said.
"How do I know you're not lying?" The man replied.
"Soldier, to stop this violence I fought both hybrids and your men to stop a war from breaking out. That includes incapacitating your commander. I want this to end. Her surrender will call off any violence initiated by the hybrids. I watched one of my best friends, a hybrid by the name of Morrigan Sigurdson, get stunned into seizures by your brutish men. If you think I'm lying, I invite you to open fire." Serra said. "But if you do, I will release Akulov from my custody. You've seen the vids, you saw what she did to that cruiser last year. If you fire another missile, I will stand by and watch while Katalena rips your fleet from the sky and turns your forces to dust."
There was a painfully long moment of static.
"Have her announce the surrender, we will send gunships down to pick up prisoners and begin negotiations." the man said. Serra nodded at Katalena.
"Everyone." Katalena said, her voice suddenly magnified. "Stand down. We surrender for today. Do not worry, no harm will befall any of you. This is my responsibility, my mistakes, and you simply followed my orders." Katalena said.
"All forces, detain only, do not kill another hybrid, they are surrendering." The man's voice said and the signal cut. Serra remained there and waited for a gunship to arrive at their location. Several troops exited and some carried Caden on board while the others approached Serra and Katalena.
"Lead us to the Skulblaka, please." Serra said tiredly. Katalena nodded and led them inside. They walked through numerous hallways, and came up to the room Serra guessed was Katalena's. Katalena unlocked the door, entered, and screamed. The sound was a blend of fury, pain, and despair. Serra pushed past her and her shoulders slumped. A large portion of the wall had been blown away by the missile, and the broken, opened shell of a cryotube was devoid of the prone form the Skulblaka they had been expecting. Katalena held her hands up.
"Cuff me." She asked, her voice defeated. They took her outside into the courtyard. As they waited for a gunship to arrive to carry them to safety, Katalena appeared to recognize someone in the crowd of hybrids being escorted onto various transports. "Mimic!" She roared abruptly. "You blind, bloody fool! And you stupid humans! You freed her! You freed her!" Katalena repeated the phrase until a gunship arrived to carry her away.
Clara set Keryn down in her crib and went back out to the living room. She sat down on the couch, Vitor sitting across from her on the other couch. "It's a cute girl, Clara." He said, giving her a small smile.
"Thanks." Clara said, returning the expression. "Have you figured out why I asked you to come here?"
"I assume it has something to do with how I will be disbanding the Ghost Jedi soon to form the Dawn Crusaders." He said.
"Yes. Where do you plan to go?" She asked.
"The nearest galaxy that isn't the Intergalactic Republic." He replied.
"Well, I have a suggestion for you." She said. "I was kidnapped by a neighboring galaxy's inhabitants, the ones who created the Erachi souls, as well as Erachus, most likely. I was tortured by them, though they did give me a daughter. I was broken out by one of their number who said that when Keryn was grown, I should bring her there, likely so we could work against the ones who kidnapped and hurt me."
"You want to go after them on a likelihood?" Vitor asked, leaning back on the couch.
"No. I've recently been getting visions of the people I speak of. They are called the Aryoril, and the Erachi Souls were a weapon they built using soul magic, something I theorize they learned from an escaped Marethari Soulweaver. How they built Erachus is out of my knowledge. They planned on using one being comprised of uncountable souls as a superweapon to conquer the rest of the plane, before eventually moving on. However, the being that was Erachi then rebelled and split her soul into all of it's separate pieces. They subjected me to absorbing half the Erachi souls in existence. The other half lie in Vythica. If we don't take the fight to them, they will to us."
"Very well." Vitor said, nodding. "That gives us twenty-odd years to prepare. How do you feel about a command role amongst the Crusaders?"
"No. I'll teach some swordplay classes, but I'm no true leader. I'll take a field role, but nothing political."
"I can respect that. I will set to work looking for others to join our new mission." Vitor said, rising, bowing to her, and leaving.
Vitor spent much of the day looking for individuals who he thought he had a chance at recruiting. He successfully hired Jax and Sajin, who were dying for something to do rather than rebuild. As well as several soldiers who were interested. He got the idea to contact Winona Fay to request her aid as well. After a moment, she answered and appeared as a hologram, life sized, before him. "Oh, hey Vitor. How have things been with you?" Winona asked. She maintained her usual, vulcan-like appearance, but Vitor knew there was a level of friendliness in her greeting.
"I've been well, yourself?"
"I've also been well. The Lin-Kuei were particularly successful in rebuilding: Earthrealm as a whole only suffered minimal damage. The Jedi Order...however...were not so fortunate. Member-wise, we're fine, but much of the infrastructure has been damaged." Winona said.
"I've disbanded the Ghost Jedi as a whole." Vitor said. Winona's eyebrows rose in a momentary break of her glacial calm.
"That's going to shake up the command structure for a good while." She said.
"Not really. A joint effort between myself and Clara Renner began today to form it's replacement." Vitor said.
"And we have our primary purpose. We're going after the next big threat to the galaxy." Vitor said.
"Beings from a neighboring galaxy known as the Aryoril. The ones who created the Erachi." Vitor said. "In short, they want to use the Erachi as some form of superweapon. We have until Clara's Erachi daughter matures to prepare."
"A superweapon?" She asked. "For what?"
"I'll give you one guess." She was silent for a moment, before a subtle hint at anger appeared on her face. So subtle very few beings would have picked it up. "So, we're looking for members, troops, donations of vehicles, funds, and ammo for the next twenty-odd years."
"My request is that you inform the council of this, and see if they can spare anyone for the cause." He waited a moment, before adding "I would also like to extend that invitation to you as well."
"I see. I will inform the council, though I am unsure of how I will be able to participate myself. I still have my duties, to the order as well as the Lin-Kuei."
"I understand. Should there be any developments, please contact me."
"Alright." She said, nodding.
"I should go. There is much work to be done." Vitor said.
"Alright, I should contact Vetoron, anyways."
"Farewell." He told her.
"Goodbye." She said, nodding and the transmission ended.
Clara answered the door and found Sola waiting. "Hey, what's up?" Clara asked, surprised.
"Hey there." Sola replied. Clara was struck at how quiet she was. She looked much thinner than she had the last time they had spoken. There were dark circles under her eyes, and she was paler. She had also lost much of the muscle mass she had had on her before. "I heard Vitor talking to Sajin. I want in." Sola said.
"Maybe you should come in." Clara said, stepping back so Sola could enter. She took Sola to the living room and they sat down, in the same positions Clara and Vitor had been. "Why do you want to join?"
"Mostly because unless I get back into doing something, I'll be stuck alone with just my thoughts, which will result in me losing my sanity or life." Sola replied. "And...I looked into a mirror today, and simply thought 'what the hell am I doing?' And I decided that my time would be better spent working towards something, and your goal seems good for me."
"Listen...don't take offense to this, but I need to know." Clara said, leaning in closer. "Will you be able to function properly, the way we need you to?"
"Yes." Sola replied immediately.
"Have your skills rusted at all?"
"No. Just my physique, which I can fix in the timetable you guys have quite easily." Sola said. Clara was silent for a long moment.
"Forgive me, but I'm not totally confident in your claims about rust. I'll let Vitor know you're in, but I want you to meet me here every day to work on getting your swordsmanship back up to par. Hell, maybe I'll even improve you." Clara said. Sola nodded.
"Thank you. When do we start?"
"Tomorrow. Bring your saber and be ready for a long day." Clara said. Sola nodded. The two went on to debate the advantages between various fighting styles before Sola left. Clara went and sat down next to Keryn's crib, simply watching the girl sleep. After a while, she heard the comm start beeping in the kitchen, and went to answer it. "Clara here."
"Clara, hey, this is Serra."
"Where are you?" Clara asked, holding the comm a few inches from her ear. "Sounds like your amidst a prison riot."
"The hybrids want to know what will happen to them." Serra said loudly. "Gimme a sec, I'll get someplace quieter." Serra said and there was nothing but sounds of yelling and anger on the other end. It was abruptly cut off, so Clara assumed Serra had passed through a door. "Ok, it's a long story..." Serra said. She went on to recount all of what had happened.
"You'll be asked to report someplace for punishment, all of you, you know that, right?" Clara asked, sounding defeated.
"Give me a while, I'll sort this out. You owe me." Clara said, ending the call. She called Sola and had her come over to watch Keryn while she left to get her husband out of a court martial.
"I hate dealing with politicians." Clara grumbled to Vitor as they walked into the atrium. It was a massive room, divided down the middle to keep the soldiers and hybrids from killing one another. They could both see the stage, however, where she and Vitor stood.
"It's all part of the business, I fear." He replied, though she could tell he agreed. Any chattering in the atrium died the moment they became visible. A lone microphone stand stood in the middle of the stage, and Clara walked up to it. She flicked it once, sending a boom throughout the atrium. Anyone who had not noticed her before certainly had their eyes glued to her now.
"I won't lie," She said. "When I was putting my daughter to bed, this was the last thing I expected I'd be doing that night." Clara said. "Considering the rather catastrophic results of this stupid conflict produced, I convinced the Coalition Council to allow me, Vythica's archenemy, to handle your punishment." A stir went through the two crowds very briefly. Clara made a point of staring straight ahead so she wouldn't see anybody in particular that she knew. If she saw Caden, she'd have to get Vitor to take over for fear of breaking down.
"For the Hybrids, your commanders will be facing prison time, for a fact. However, considering how the majority of you were acting under orders, something I understand. Your reasons for keeping Vythica alive were noble, I will not deny that at all. The Coalition Council did recognize this. For that reason, I can now make you an offer. Your commanders will work for myself and Vitor here. Any of you that wish to join can as well. You will work under our cause of tackling the next large threat. Those of you who were following orders and do not wish to join, my advice is to make for the border worlds, for civilian hostilities are still rampant here." She noticed the disgruntlement of the Coalition forces, but ignored it for now. "For the commanders, your choice is work for me or be imprisoned."
She turned to the soldiers to address them. "You don't get to be disgruntled about the offer I just made them, you fools." She said, not making an effort to hide her annoyance. "You people were a lot harder to get an offer for, I'll make that clear right now. In short, you have a bit of an ultimatum. Serve under us or face court martial and whatever punishment the courts decide for you. If you accept, report to the HCS Spartacus tomorrow. If you refuse, there are officers outside to handle you." There was silence. "Ground rules for our little club. If you hurt another member, no matter their species, you answer to me or Vitor. Whichever is feeling less merciful that day." Clara said. "So be prepared to get along, because when you're under the same flag, you haven't got a choice." Clara said.
"Leave through the respective doors on either side, tell the officers waiting what your choice is, and you will be transported appropriately." Clara said. She waited as the two crowds filed out. Once it was down to herself and Vitor, she looked up at the wall used to separate the two crowds. "You can come down, Serra."
The assassin jumped down. "What is to be done with me?" Serra asked.
"I spoke with Leah and Ezio. They were rather understanding of your actions, believe it or not. However, something had to be done, so you are now the liaison between the Assassin Order and the Dawn Crusaders." Clara said.
"Thank you ma'am, sir." Serra said. She too, left, leaving the Erachi and the Jedi to accept that their small organization had taken a strange turn.
Loran quickly force-healed all of his injuries and swapped the lightsaber crystals in his weapons back to their normal colors. He had slipped away from security and had made his way home before Clara's address could begin. He went into the garage and opened up the repair kit. He set to work fixing his saber pike. If Rorii gets home sometime soon, sparring match with Vitor gone wrong. He thought to himself. Luckily, he didn't need to resort to lying about that, and he was able to complete repairs in under an hour before putting his weapons on the weapons rack in the bedroom and showering before going and lying down on the bed. It didn't take long for him to drift off to sleep.
He stirred awake in the middle of the night and found Rorii climbing in next to him. "Hey." He whispered.
"Hey, sorry, did I wake you?" She asked.
"Yeah, don't worry. How were things in the cities?" He asked.
"Grim." She replied. "We were able to stop a lot of the random killings, though. People do get put off by public arrests." She said. "Things busy here?"
"Vitor disbanded the Ghosts, he and Clara formed a new crew called the Dawn Crusaders. Not sure what for, but they got a big load of recruits, apparently."
"Not sure. Haven't been able to ask yet. Guess I'll have to check on them tomorrow."
"Good idea. Sleep now, though. I don't think I've had a more whacked sleep schedule since puberty." She grumbled.
"That is agreeable." Loran said, and both drifted off after a moment.
Sola lay on Clara and Caden's couch, reading a book she had brought in case Keryn was asleep for an extended period of time. In this case, she certainly was. She had been asleep for about three hours. She was listening carefully for any noises that could have come from the room, but none came, so she continued reading.
However, in the room, no noise was needed for the intruder. Vythica looked down at the baby, a curious look on her face. So, you are a pure Erachi? She sent the thoughts to the baby. All she got in return were a mess of emotions. You needn't worry about me. She told the baby. I do not plan to hurt you. She held out a small pendant, a token that had come from before her people had annihilated one another. One day, you will see this pendant again, my darling. When you do... She glanced at the door, listening carefully for anything approaching. When nothing came, she returned her gaze to the baby, and started to float down through the floor, silently, so she could escape.
Come to me.
Katalena sat next to Morri on Morri's recovery bed. She had been told, repeatedly, by the escort officers to find a bed herself, but she, repeatedly, refused to leave her friend's side. Morri was sleeping, and Katalena didn't trust to leave her unguarded, considering how savage her beating had been beforehand. Morri stirred awake. "Hey...why aren't you sleeping?"
"I am, you just woke me up." Kata joked, getting a smile from her friend.
"Listen...I was thinking, before they put me under...we need to contact Ileana. Tell her we're ok. And...and that we can't be around her for a long time." Morri said, her voice sounding dry and raspy. Kata quickly got her a water glass and helped the wounded woman drink it. "Thanks...we attract too much danger, and if we're serving, then she can't be around us."
"Ok. Yeah, you're right." Kata agreed. "We shouldn't contact her directly, send her a video message of us so no one can listen in."
"Yes." Morri said. "Can you find a camera?" Kata nodded, left briefly to find a small, portable recording device, brought it back, and sat down next to Morri, holding the camera up so it was pointed at them.
"I feel like a twenty-first century civilian." Kata grumbled before pressing record. "Hi, Ileana." She said.
"Hey sweetheart." Morri smiled up at the camera. "We just wanted to tell you that despite what you may have heard, we're fine. We're doing ok, and we're gonna do some work for the one called Clara Renner."
"This means, Ileana, that we won't be able to see you for a long time. A very long time, at that. With all the hostilities surrounding us in particular, and with us serving, it isn't safe." Kata said, sadness entering her voice.
"We will be fine, don't you worry. I'm a little banged up, but I have Kata here helping me, as well as Axel, Mason, and Viv." Morri said. "Keep your senses sharp, a little paranoia is good for the health. Tell your sister we said to keep a close eye on you, and to be suspicious of large civvie groups in the area." Morri said.
"We need to get going, sweetie." Kata said. "Don't worry about us, we'll be fine. And you'll be fine, too. You're strong enough to take on anything they throw your way."
"That doesn't mean try. Be smart about things." Morri said. "Goodbye, Ileana. We love you."
"We love you." Katalena echoed and cut the recording.
When Clara got home, Caden was already there. Before he could say anything, she held a finger up. "I'm not going to say anything on the matter after this. I heard the transmission between you and Morri. She wasn't wrong. I would have fought to keep those people from dying. Loran would have, and Ziva would have. Don't hate her for saying that."
"Uh...I'll go now." Sola said awkwardly from the couch and left the house, turning away a credit chit Clara held out for her as she passed.
"I'm putting you as my personal assistant for the Crusaders. You're welcome. Remember that Vitor is in charge." Clara said. "I'm going to bed now, you are in the doghouse for at least a month either way." Clara said and went to check up on Keryn before going to bed. "It's an annoying world we live in, Keryn." She whispered to the now awake baby, who was eying her.
Clara could have sworn the baby nodded.