Episode 116

Standing with the cylindrical energy cell tucked between his arm, Lexattican watches the power leak from the device’s top port, and the white mist flows with his will. He grits his teeth, snarls his upper lip, and curls his fingers around a forming ball of magic. A gout of power surges out from the container and condenses into the growing sphere near his free palm. His yellow eyes flick towards the entry, and his muscles tense. He flings his arm forward and releases the sparking orb toward the heavy doorway. The fluctuating sphere zips overhead the gathered team. It jets past the archway, slows meters away, and flashes brightly. Reflex drives Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, Dretphi, and Sotalia away from the main corridor and into the massive chamber filled with machinery and robotics. Moments later, a brilliant light pulses out and a surge of energy launches debris into the large room. Fleeing from the repulsing shockwave of magic, the group scrambles for cover, dodging the aftermath of the explosion.

Lexattican draws out more elder energy from the vessel under his arm, growls out his ire loudly, and searches the room. As the flows of power stir his long, black hair, small orbs form in his palm. A sharp scowl deepens on his light-gray, green hinted face, and his eyes snap to an upturned work table near the exit. Narrowing a suspicious glare, he flings a bolt towards it. The small ball crashes onto the concrete floor and erupts into a burst of magical force. The energy tosses the heavy table into the air, and Dretphi skids on the hard floor upon her armoring plating. She rides out the momentum and recovers into a tumble. Launching into a sprint, she sprays a salvo with her sub machine gun and dives behind a heavy lift frame.

Sliding his gaze away from the bullets slowing to stop in a warping energy shield around him, Lexattican summons more small orbs. Following the whims of paranoia, he launches bolt after bolt at obscuring furniture and sheltering debris. A ball bursts close to a spilled tool chest, and Cideeda scrambles away from cover close by. She briefly places her hands on her laser pistols, flashes an emerald green eyed glance at the encased Lexattican, and grips onto another pair of weapons. Drawing the heavier guns, she flicks off the safeties, lines up her shots, and pulls the triggers. Appearing after each loud crack, trails of vapor trace the paths of electromagnetic rails into the distorting field around Lexattican. Cideeda catches the glare of Lexattican, sprints off, and slides behind the smoldering remains of a disabled battle robot.

Lexattican hesitates and holds his throwing arm at the ready. He grits his teeth in frustration with each moment he spends trying to find a clear shot. A barrage of plasma bolts, energy blasts, and precise beams pelt the elder shield around him. Growling loudly, Lexattican spins around in a rage. An awkward twitch twists his angered face when he faces the ethereal visage of a man. Sebastian’s ghostly form darts and glides to match each irritated attempt by Lexattican for an unobstructed view. Ire surges and Lexattican flings elder orbs wildly into a section of toppled furniture and overturned equipment lockers. During the fury, Aristespha, Bach, and Sotalia rush away to new hiding spots. With each rage fueled barrage, team members gravitate towards heavier equipment and the mechanical carcasses of disabled robots. Panting in the lull, Lexattican scan the area. His yellow eyes spot glimpses of the team behind cover, but he restrains impulses upon recognizing the machines they cower behind.

Sebastian hovers in front of Lexattican, holds his hands up, and calmly speaks. “Okay! Take it easy, now. We’ve had a bad start to all this. And, we maybe didn’t make the best impression. Let’s take a moment, and we talk about this.”

Lexattican drills his irate glare through Sebastian and hisses. “What is there to talk about?! You have attacked me with no provocation on my part. Let me guess... Probably some on some foolish notion of stopping me from my quest? Or, whatever some guild brief made up to justify it to you?”

Maintaining a neutral demeanor, Sebastian grants Lexattican a nod and sighs ethereally. “Well, yes. We are here to stop you. I don’t know if you meant it or not, but it seems that some of your experiments have been causing a lot of trouble for people. We just want to stop that-”

Narrowing his stare, a disdainful tint curls Lexattican’s frown and he snorts while briefly watching team members peak out from cover. “Experiments?! Don’t insult me, ghost man! I know exactly what I am doing... There’s a far greater goal than your short sighted perspectives will allow you to see.”

Cocking his head to the side, Sebastian crosses his arms, drifts his visage into Lexattican’s view, and stares. “Really? Because, it seems to me to be a whole lot of bumbling through ruins stirring up things you shouldn’t, and then leaving them for people to clean up.”

A tinge of spite twitches upon Lexattican’s weathered face, and he clenches his teeth. “As if someone like you could understand. There are things more important that whatever they’ve lied to you about.”

Sebastian leans his gaze forward, perks his brow, and plainly inquires. “Well, what is it? Why are you doing all of this? What’s the end goal? You’re obviously putting some serious effort into it.”

Puffing his chest out with a long breath, Lexattican tightens his grip on elder energy vessel, and glares into Sebastian’s translucent blue eyes. “To make THEM learn the only way they can.”

Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, Dretphi, and Sotalia exchange glances during brief peeks outside of cover. Cideeda motions to her radio. The rest relay a similar signal to others and disappear out of view into hiding. Drifting along with the swinging searches of the vicinity by Lexattican, Sebastian continues to obscure the view and presses. “Them? Who is them? Come on! Don’t give me that budget conspiracy crap. You’ve GOT to have something BETTER than that.”

Lexattican snarls his upper lip, winces with a painful memory, and snaps his glare at Sebastian. “Of course, I do! The GAA and Appaland. The two biggest organizations around, hell bent on covering up the mistakes of the past... Then, pretending that ignoring them will make them go away...”

Sebastian furrows his intrigued brow and narrows an inquisitive gaze upon Lexattican with a hint of sympathy. “So... What did they take from you?”

Suspicion guards Lexattican and he levels a distrustful glare upon Sebastian. Studying the expression, Sebastian motions to his ethereal form and grimaces. “You can see what got taken from me. This is what happens when they forget to disclose certain artifact functions to you.”

Pausing in a surge of the past, Lexattican searches his mind, draws in a long breath, and sighs. “Someone I loved. The most important thing in my life.”

Watching Lexattican carefully, Sebastian nods and pries. “How?”

Pulling his attention away from flits of paranoia tugging him towards the rest of the team, Lexattican frowns sharply. “We found a place that we thought could serve as a new home for our movement. Magical and hidden away. It’d be perfect. Our own chapter to live as we pleased.”

He grits his teeth and shakes his head. “Despite being careful... Nothing could have prepared us for what was down there. The terrible things no one could have expected.”

Sebastian frowns with respectful bow. “Yeah. It’s awful. There’s so many horrible things still leftover from the past. So much that we don’t know exists.”

A flash of hate flickers in Lexattican’s and flits of white tint the yellow glow in his eyes. “Yes... I thought that, too. I could understand such misfortune. I could come accept that it was awful fate... A punishment for our hubris... But...”

He lifts his stare up and focuses fully on Sebastian. “THEY. KNEW.”

Sebastian blinks his eyes and tilts his head curiously. “What?”

Drawing in a long breath, Lexattican rants heavy with ire and tenses his body. “They fucking knew! The GAA and Appaland both knew about the existence of that place! The terrors possible within! For decades, they could have dealt with it! With all the resources they horde and people they draft... But, they didn’t...”

He narrows his glare and watches his tightening grip squeeze an orb of elder energy in his palm. “They bickered for years about who was responsible for hiring adventurers to clear it out. Back and forth, until they stopped bringing it up. Then, they were perfectly happy to ignore it. They denied it when they were called out. They dismissed the one who suffered the most from their dereliction of duty. They condemned me because of my beliefs and used it to waive their responsibility.”

A dark grin curls out from the corner of Lexattican’s mouth and a cruel chuckle escapes his breath. “So, the only solution is to bring THEIR failings to light... In the ONLY way they can’t ignore.”

Sebastian’s eyes widen, his shoulders tighten, and his visage flames slightly. Lexattican blinks his white and yellow illuminated eyes and dons smug smile. “Despite unexpected outcomes, I say it has been working to plan. They’ve had to start paying attention and properly cleaning up their oversights. And, I’ve found a few capable of using what I’ve found to further the message.”

A twinge of spite twitches Sebastian’s cheek, and he grimaces as he puffs up his chest. “So, your fucking grand solution is to dig up old terrors and set them lose on the world?!”

Lexattican pivots to face Sebastian and sneers. “I guess that’s an explanation, in a way. It has actually proven successful over the years.”

Sebastian’s ethereal form flares out and he leans his glower close to Lexattican. “Care to go into a more in-depth explanation on how THAT is successful solution?! Last I checked, doing the thing you are trying to prevent sounds like the most counterproductive shit I’ve ever heard of!”

Contorting the indignant rage on his face, Sebastian points at Lexattican. “What juvenile, sophomoric excuse for fucking logic are you using to justify that?! I’d like to hear it! RIGHT NOW!”

With a dismissive roll of his eyes, Lexattican steps away from Sebastian and watches suspicious piles of heavy machine and downed robots. “As if you are remotely deserving an explanation. I can’t expect the leftover traces of a worthless human to understand me.”

Sebastian zips squarely into Lexattican’s view, brings his ethereal face close, and smirks derisively. “OH. So, you are unable to explain it, then. Gods, you are the most pitiful wannabe Dark Lord I’ve ever encountered. Nothing but a crackpot terrorist.”

Lexattican springs his white-yellow eyes open, glares through Sebastian, and growls out. “Excuse you?”

Loud voices echo through the large chamber. Sebastian and Lexattican feverishly exchange counters to arguments. From behind a toppled robot, Aristespha blinks her violet glowing eyes and releases her grip on the sword at her side. She adjusts a small headset upon her very long, pointed ear, and whispers. “I do not know how long Sebastian can keep this up. Do we have any ideas on how to proceed?”

On the opposite side of the large open room, Bach settles against a mechanical body in front of a heavy lift frame. He sneaks a peek low around the disabled machine, returns to his hiding spot, and sighs inside his helmet. “Well, if we are going to do much against him, we need to get that elder energy container from him. Otherwise, we just need to clear out of here.”

In the echoing cacophony of furious debate, Dretphi checks over her sub machine gun, listens to the latest argument, and shakes her helmeted head. “This will not last long. We acquire the power vessel. Go outside to fight in the forest. We are at a disadvantage here.”

Sotalia fidgets with her back against the thick metal framework of maintenance equipment, glances around the corner momentarily, and groans while holding the collar of her cloak. “He’s still paying too much attention to it. He’s got a tight grip on it and that damn shield. There’s no way I’ll snag that power cell from him right now.”

A pair of furry ears perk up from behind faintly smoking robot, and emerald green eyes peek over the metal chassis. Cideeda’s gaze drifts away from the blasted furniture and settles upon untouched equipment surrounding Lexattican and Sebastian. Darting her attention between the undisturbed charts, intact books, and other personal items, she halts her hunt upon a leather backpack resting in safety. She whispers to her aetherphone. “Hey, I see a backpack. It looks like it’s been placed off to the side on purpose. Might be important. Think there’s anything special about it?”

The team peak out individually and locate the pack. Focusing glowing stares from the distance, Bach and Aristespha study the old, well-made backpack. Both flit their eyes wide and return to hiding.

Bach’s voice crackles softly onto the channel. “That’s seriously magical.”

Familiarly colors Aristespha’s voice. “That’s a bag of holding. I know those all to well, unfortunately.”

An eager, toothy grin widens on Cideeda’s light brown face, and she curls her claw tips onto the metal surface nearby. “Oh, that’s got to be really important to him. That might get his FULL attention.”

From behind cover, a sly smile graces Sotalia’s face, and she direct her voice into her collar’s radio. “That just might be enough of a distraction. I still don’t know if I can get through that barrier.”

Bach peers out from his hiding spot, narrows his glowing blue eyes, and smirks. “I got idea that could help. Just pick up my flow cables with your telekinesis spell and I’ll try to pry open his shield for moment.”

An eager glint lights up Sotalia’s golden eyes, and she grins with a tinge of excitement. “That’s all I need.”

With a tense sigh, Aristespha nods and tightens her grip on the sword at her side. “That sounds good. I’ll let Sebastian know, and see if he can give us an opportunity.”

Lexattican glances around the vast space, shifts his glare frantically between suspicious spots, and allows paranoia to guide him. Opening his mouth to launch another retort, Sebastian pauses, listens, and refocuses upon Lexattican. He drifts away from the backpack’s position and spots layers of papers upon a work table. With an exaggerated point, Sebastian yells at Lexattican. “Oh, great plans you have! What kind of notes are these? Looks like the scratches of a some kind of nut job. No wonder we able to shut down that nuclear waste disposal site... so easily...”

Lexattican snaps an insulted glower at Sebastian, stomps forward, and growls out. “It was YOUR group?!”

Sebastian crosses his arms defiantly and cracks a snide grin. “Yeah, turns out you don’t need to kill innocent people to bring some hidden nuclear processing site to official attention. So, your whole idea about demonstrating the dangers seems pretty weak.”

The squabling flares back up. From the shadows, a sleek, short figure darts between shady corner to dark underside. Slinking close behind Lexattican, a pair of emerald green eyes glint light from the overhead lamps and narrow at the tucked away backpack. Darting between work tables, Cideeda silently steps close. A pair of clawed hands grip the leather pack tightly and pluck it from view. Swiftly moving, Cideeda deftly maneuvers quietly to cover behind a fallen combat droid. Sebastian’s translucent blue eyes dart around his mind briefly, and he slows his commentary against Lexattican. In the lull of conversation, Lexattican’s suspicions return and he scans his glowing, white-yellow glare across the area. “Gods, I grow tired of you, ghost. Now... Are you miserable cowards going to continue to hide, or am I going to have to flush you out again?”

He grits his teeth, summons up white flow into his palm, and yells. “I only have so much patience! And, I’m growing more convinced I don’t need to spare all the machinery you lurk behind! So, make your choice quick, so I can move on-”

A loud whistle echoes into the massive chamber. Glancing frantically around the room, Lexattican settles his full attention to a familiar backpack rocking just above the cover of a robotic chassis. His eyes widen in shock, and he gawks in disbelief at the empty spot near him. A string of evuukian curses spill forth from his mouth, and he hesitantly aims his palm towards the display. “Return THAT at once!”

Cideeda supports the leather bag over her head with both arms and cracks a toothy grin. “That all depends on you.”

Watching Lexattican focus completely upon Cideeda, Bach and Sotalia lean out from cover and prepare. Lexattican clenches his jaw and hisses out his frustration loudly. “Explain, BEAST.”

Dramatically lowering her furry ears, Cideeda furrows her brow unamused and shakes her head. “Now, now... No need to make it personal. I just want to barter here.”

Narrowing his glare, Lexattican twists an annoyed grimace on his light gray, green hinted face, and sighs. “Speak, NOW.”

Rapping her claw tips on the fine leather of the backpack above her, Cideeda smirks with a perk of an eyebrow. “It’s very simple. I give this back to you, and you just let us all leave. I’m sure you see we’re getting nowhere in this stalemate. Let’s just part paths and call it a day.”

Lexattican draws in a deep calming breath and studies Cideeda carefully from the distance. He wrestles the deal in his mind. “That... I would not be against. This is whole ordeal has been a waste of time and resources.”

Gradually nodding his head, he glances out the corner of his eyes. “If you return it to me... And, immediately leave... I will not chase after all of you. I’ll leave soon after and hope we never met again.”

Cideeda lowers her arms with the backpack between her hands. Swaying her weight between her feet, she grins toothily. “I think that’s as good of deal we are going to get. As a token of good faith, let me return this to you.”

She pulls the top draw string tight, wraps her fingers tightly around the straps, and swings the weight idly at her side. Her emerald green eyes plot a trajectory. Her arms swing the backpack around to speed and releases it into an arc. As the bag sails up above, she darts low and scrambles away in a new hiding spot. His glowing white-yellow eyes tracking his property, Lexattican follows the path of the backpack, steps forward, and reaches his free arm out.

From behind, a translucent mass of flow billows out from Sotalia and erupts towards the elder energy barrier surrounding Lexattican. Within the plume of power, threads of prismatic energy grow within the surf toward the surface of the glittering shield. The cloud of energy splashes upon the elder barrier, and the flow lines dart into the surface of the shield. A brilliant flash of blue glows out from Bach’s eyes, and power pulses down the magical cables within his hands. The burst jets down the conduits to the tangle of threads. Arcs of energy crackle, bubbles of disrupted elder energy pop away, and a golden matrix forces away a small divide in the elder barrier.

During a surge of prismatic flow down the lines, Bach winces under the strain and blurts out. “NOW!”

Golden light flickers brightly in Sotalia’s eyes, and she thrusts her arms forward. The telekinetic energy swirls towards the divide and powers the passage into the shield wide open. The translucent plume jets through, envelopes the elder energy container, and condenses firmly around it. Bracing her foot against a heavy metal frame, flow wraps around other large objects, and Sotalia balls up her fits. She yanks herself back, arches her back, and yells out. “MINE!”

The power vessel breaks free from underneath Lexattican’s arm. The telekinetic mass pulls it towards the gap and rips the cylindrical cell through the collapsing divide, as the golden matrix destabilizes. The power container darts across the room through the plume of power and flies straight to Sotalia. It lands firmly onto her chest with faint bounce. Sotalia tips backwards, and lands on her butt with a grunt. As the spell energies dissipate in the area, she blinks back to awareness and places the elder power cell before Aristespha.

Lexattican seizes the backpack from its flight and spins around as the elder barrier seals. Just as Lexattican finds his new target, Sebastian darts into the way of the freshly enraged glare and calls out. “OPEN FIRE!”

Dretphi braces her her sub machine gun upon the top her impromptu bunker, levels her aim, and pulls the trigger. During the bursts of gunfire, trails of vapor lead ahead of sharp cracks, and electromagnetic bolts from Cideeda’s new pistols stick into the magical field protecting Lexattican. Stumbling against the onslaught, Lexattican holds his hands out and releases defensive surges of flow to the warping barrier. Behind cover, Aristespha scrambles over to the elder vessel and inspects it quickly. Spotting the leaking energy from a partially open valve, she draws the Sword of the Spirit Realm from the scabbard and blinks her violet eyes. Sotalia and Aristespha exchange wary glances. Sotalia twists her mouth uneasily and shrugs her shoulders. “So, uh, how do we drain it?”

Aristespha wraps her hands around the handle of the blade, stares at Sotalia, and awkwardly grins. “You’re going to open it up the valve all the way... And, I’m going to jam the sword in there.”

Sotalia’s expression blanks. She glances down at the energy vessel, meets Aristespha expectant gaze, and chuckles nervously. “Fuck it, girl! Here we go!”

She firmly grasps a small control handle, confirms with Aristespha, and tenses her body. With a struggling twist, she opens the valve fully on the container. A jet of white flow billows out between Aristespha and Sotalia. As the Aristespha drives the tip of the blade into the outlet, the elder power vortexes around the sword and sinks into the glowing blade surface. Streams of flow swirl violently into weapon through chaotic arcs. Aristespha and Sotalia struggle to keep both vessel and sword secure during the torrential draining.

Sebastian’s visage distorts and warps slowly. His ethereal form brightens with a brilliant white glow. The droning rush of energy into the blade resonates loudly and floods the massive chamber in drowning noise. Cideeda and Dretphi halt their assaults upon Lexattican, and Bach squirms uncomfortably in cover. Collecting himself and reforming his thinning barrier, Lexattican searches the room bewildered and spots the brilliant white glow behind fallen machinery. “NO.”

The streams of energy from the elder vessel wane to sputtering plumes. The cell goes dark. Remaining drifts of white miasma sink into the sword. Quiet presses down upon room. Sebastian’s ghostly visage calms down. He shudders and blinks bewildered. “WOW... That was A LOT.”

Aristespha exhales, removes the tip of the blade away from the empty energy container. Sotalia lets the vessel roll away and rests against cover. “Okay, so we get the fuck out of here, right?”

Aristespha nods and peeks briefly above the top of the robotic carapace. “That’s the-”

She ducks an energy beam. “SHIT!”

Lexattican storms towards Aristespha and Sotalia, and concentrates an infuriated glower at them. He peppers the area with small bolts of energy and suppresses escape attempts, stepping closer by the second. Bach peeks over the top of his hiding spot and watches Lexattican move in on Aristespha’s and Sotalia’s positions across from him. Bach searches nearby, makes eye contact with Cideeda and Dretphi on either side, and draws his plasma pistol. Dretphi locks a new magazine into her sub machine gun, and Cideeda turns up the power on her Gauss pistols.

Closing in on Aristespha and Sotalia, Lexattican pelts suppressing volleys of bolts around the area. He stumbles forward when a huge ball of plasma bursts across the elder barrier from behind. Planting his feet, he steadies himself and spins around to another blast of blue-white plasma washing over his energy shield. As Bach aims his magically enhanced pistol, Cideeda levels her pistols and Dretphi lines up her sights. Fine trails of vapor trace lines across the space, cracks sound out, and Cideeda shakes from the recoil. She alternates her shots between the two weapons and keeps her balance against the kickback. Dretphi flicks the mode switch, squeezes the trigger, and sprays a continuous stream of bullets into Lexattican’s barrier.

Bracing against the assault, Lexattican wills more energy into the protective field and tenses his body. The elder shield thins with each huge plasma bolt wearing off the top layers, bullet spray shredding sections down, and electromagnetic projectile stretching the magical flow. He grits his teeth against the onslaught, and tries to spare enough attention to check around him.

Sebastian gathers his senses and glances around. He spots Aristespha and Sotalia cautiously peering out. Watching Lexattican, he drifts away, positions between Lexattican and the exit. In another surge of weapon fire, Sebastian motions Aristespha and Sotalia towards the exit. Sotalia peeks out, signals Aristespha to follow, and crawls closer towards the door. Slinking behind, Aristespha navigates the path laid by Sotalia.

Dretphi’s sub machine gun clicks empty, and she drops back down into cover. A stream of grath swears spill into the air, and she changes out to another magazine. Alert chimes beep loudly from the pistols in Cideeda’s hands. Waves of heat distort the air above the barrels. Cideeda’s spouts out a fvalian curse, drops the overheating weapons to the ground, and reaches for her laser pistols. Blue-white wisps of gas vent out the end of the plasma gun, and Bach charges up another shot while patting himself for another power cell between many open and empty pockets. In the lull, Lexattican collects himself and searches behind him. Staring through the distracting ethereal visage, he catches a glimpse of movement between obstacles and watches Aristespha and Sotalia progress to the exit.

A flash of ire swells within him and he grits his teeth. Drawing his arms close, he pulls the elder barrier tightly around him. A brilliant white-yellow bursts out from his eyes, and he flings his arms out wide. The barrier surrounding him explodes outwards. A shockwave of elder energy radiates out and lifts up heavy work tables and other large debris. The powerful pulse crashes into makeshift bunkers, slides robotic bodies, and pushes heavy machinery across the concrete. Cideeda reflexively rolls behind cover and skids with the shifting combat droid chassis. Dretphi braces herself and tumbles hard into the wall. The wave lifts up Bach into the air and propels him into an equipment locker, slamming a shallow dent into the doors. Sotalia flops onto the ground and ducks low. Force tosses Aristespha upwards and she crashes onto the hard concrete floor. The impact stuns her and the Sword of the Spirit Realm clanks loudly out her grasp.

During the brief respite from the chaos, silence floods the room. Lexattican staggers and steadies himself. Panting and free of his protective bubble, he searches around the disarray and mess. His yellow eyes dart around, skip past Sebastian’s frightened visage, and wander between different team members. After a few seconds, his gaze locks onto the sword. He launches into a sprint, slides to halt, and reaches for the blade. Sebastian spots Lexattican, flits his eyes wide in horror, and yells out. “HE’S GOING FOR THE SWORD.”

Lexattican grips the handle and lifts the blade up. He looks it over and furrows his brow with twitches of recognition. Aristespha flutters her violet eyes open and puzzles. Fright drives her fully awake, and she glances around frantically. A surge of terror rushes through her when she notices Lexattican with the blade, and her eyes blaze violet. She hastily gestures out an incantation, shakily aims her hand, and releases a fine beam. The energy almost impacts Lexattican and he dodges out of the way. Sotalia picks herself up, blinks her golden, dark sclera eyes, and flows magic into her hands.

Lexattican dashes away from the defended exit and ducks low, avoiding bolts of energy from Sotalia. Cideeda struggles to slip free from debris. Dretphi staggers up from the ground and grips the flow blade on her back. She swings the large sword down at the retreating Lexattican. The tip slices into the thick leather armor protecting Lexattican and carves a deep gouge in the surface. A shower of magical sparks sputter forth from the enchanted gear, and Lexattican stumbles. Dropping to a knee, Lexattican searches the area quickly and set his sights upon distant corner of the massive room. Searching around the armored isolation chamber, he spots the intact control equipment, pylons glowing with energy, and embedded ground devices forming a perimeter. He darts ahead, sprints away from the recovering team, and slides to a halt pass the defensive layer. Reaching a control console, he presses a series of buttons and yanks down a lever.

Machinery flickers to life and power charges up systems. Force fields pulse into existence and fill in the divides between pylons with a tall, transparent barriers. The energy swells up, conducts up to form a thick ceiling, and seals off a perimeter around the isolation chamber. Lexattican breathes out a sigh of relief and turns his attention to the sword in his hand.

Sebastian’s ethereal form materializes in front of Lexattican, and he glares at him. “The fuck you think you’re going to do with that? Let me tell you, that power is gone now. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you realize it’s just going to be easier to surrender to us.”

Lexattican parts a dark grin on his face and hoists an intrigued brow. “Oh. Right. Believe what you may, but... I don’t think you fully realize what you have here.”

Squirming with growing discomfort, Sebastian puzzles and inquires warily. “What do you mean by that?”

A sly smile widens on Lexattican, and he holds a hand close to the blade of the sword. “I’ve learned a few things about these kind of blades in my travels. And, I know for a fact, that the power they absorb doesn’t go away easily... It’s actually quite... Reachable.”

He dons a smug grin, wills magic onto the blade, and gazes upon the sword with glowing yellow eyes. Moments later, wisps of white energy seep out and swirl up to Lexattican’s hand. Sebastian winces in pain and gawks utter horror. His visage briefly distorts. The stream of elder power increases and a white glow tints Lexattican’s eyes. Sebastian cringes visibly and his ethereal form flickers. A torrent of elder flow spills forth from the blade and coats Lexattican in a thickening protective barrier.

Sebastian coughs and writhes in pain. His visage flickers, and he tenses in agony. During a surge of energy out of the blade, he gasps loudly and screams uncontrollably. Across the chamber, Aristespha staggers up to her feet, gawks in utter horror, and yells out. “STOP! PLEASE! OH GODS, STOP!”

Sotalia flutters her gold on gray eyes, gestures out an incantation, and slings an arc of lightning into the force fields surrounding the isolation chamber. The electricity spreads out into the barrier and dissipates without effect in a wave of sparks. Snapping back to full focus during Sebastian’s resonating screams of pain, Dretphi finds her sub machine gun and sweeps it up into her arms. She unleashes a wave of bullets upon the force fields, and the rounds bounce weakly off onto the concrete floor.

Stirring back to awareness, Bach opens his blue eyes. An ethereal wail seizes his attention and guides his helmeted head over to the source. Horror overwhelms him. Elder energy billows out from the sword into the growing barrier enveloping Lexattican. Sebastian strains in twisting agony, clutches his chest, and gasps vainly for relief. The force field pulsates strong against attacks. Lexattican maintains a smug, sinister grin as he watches the power soak into him, while Sebastian suffers.

Bach rises to his feet and stares distantly at the scene. He desperately searches the surrounding force fields and finds no gaps. He scans over the pylons surrounding the area and spots no means to shut them down. He watches the thickening barrier around Lexattican solidifying to a whole new elder energy shield. Bach gawks at Lexattican. Briefly, the two exchange glances. A pleading gaze from Bach meets a cold, uncaring glare from Lexattican. Aristespha screams desperately, and Lexattican flashes a disdainful, disgusted grimace at her.

Hope drains from Bach. He pales at his brother’s fading, fragmented visage. The desperation empties him. A cold determination fills the void. From the furthest depths of his mind, a grim acceptance surges forth in the moment. Bach closes his blue eyes. Drawing in a deep breath in, his eyes reopen to a pure white. He lifts up his hand.


Lexattican blinks. He furrows his brow curiously at the blade and holds it away from him. He studies the sword, quirks his brow, and cocks his head of long, black hair to the side. He puzzles at the artifact and mumbles in confused evuukian.

A blinding white flash floods the massive chamber.

As the light fades and a trailing whine of power silences, Lexattican freezes in place. His darkening gaze watches the remnants of a white energy lance dissipate into a hazy cloud. The force field crackles away into nothing and emitters on the pillars pop with smoke. Lexattican’s grip on the sword fails, and it clangs upon the concrete. The protective field sloughs off Lexattican and drifts into the blade on the floor. Dimming yellow eyes follow the last traces of the white miasma. Lexattican meets Bach’s cold, distant stare across the space. He opens his mouth to speak, but only wisps of smoke escape his slacking jaw. Dropping to his knees, the last semblances of life leave him as he flops backwards onto the cold ground. Cooling crackles of metal upon the wall and faint sizzles from the hole seared through Lexattican’s chest creep above the eerie silence.

Sebastian’s ethereal form stabilizes. He remains frozen. His hand covering a similar spot on his own chest. He gawks in absolute horror. Harsh recognition and awful familiarity rip up past trauma into his terrified mind. Sebastian pants, trembles in fight, and recoils from the scene. Quiet stills the room.

Stepping forward, Bach maintains a distant stare ahead, blinking blankly. As the white illumination fades from his blue eyes, he watches the last traces of elder energy vent from his hand. He walks forward towards the perimeter surrounding the isolation chamber. As the rest of the team collect themselves and realize the situation, Bach approaches the scene. He stops at the edge of the previous force field, and turns his empty stare down to Lexattican. He blinks his eyes, and looks over the... corpse before him.

His blue eyes open wide and he gasps. Slowly, he turns his gaze towards his brother. Sebastian snaps a fearful glance over and his visage reflexively trembles. Bach pales and he averts his eyes away from his brother to stare at the dead man at his feet.

Cideeda slips out between the debris lifted by Dretphi and brushes herself off. Aristespha and Sotalia approach the dark corner of the massive room, cautiously checking the area. Cideeda steps up next to Bach, notices the body of Lexattican on the ground. She starts to open of her mouth but halts. Her furry ears flick over to Bach. Fast, strained breaths catch her attention. She glances over and notices Bach shaking.

Bach steps away slowly, pivots, and walk away quickly. Cideeda spins around, motions the rest of the team to Bach, and calls out. “Hey, Bach? Are you okay?”

Panic overloads Bach and he speeds up his escape. Struggling to breathe and frantic, he scrambles into a sprint and rushes to the exit. He runs through piles of light debris, stumbles over to obstacles, and bounces off toppled machines. Fighting through the short pants of air allowed into his lungs, he trips over the cylindrical elder energy container and stumbles to his knees. With a hand pressed onto his pounding chest, his eyes dart around aimlessly, and he winces in a daze. Heavy boot steps sounds out from behind. Dretphi kneels down by Bach, and rests her gauntlet covered hands on his shoulders. “Bach-?”

Bach lurches forward and attempts to pull away from Dretphi in a panic. Keeping her tight grip on him, Dretphi cranes her head around and seeks Bach’s attention. “Bach?! What do you need?”

Wincing his eyes closed, Bach forces down a long breath, concentrates on words, and pleads with welling tears. “Outside! Please... I got to outside! I- I- I just- Just can’t be in here... Please... I don’t want to be in here anymore... I can’t be... Oh gods...”

Dretphi nods as concern overtakes her tan face. Her steely gray eyes stare determined down the hall, and she slips her hands underneath Bach’s shoulders. With a supporting hoist upwards, she keeps a tight hold and guides Bach down the main hall. “Outside we go.”

She quickly directs Bach down the long stretch, and aids him when he falters. Between staggered sprints down the hall, Bach briefly slumps against section of wall and recollects himself from fear driven pleas. Dretphi reassures with a soft tone, lifts him up, and directs him forward. She glances back and watches Cideeda and Sotalia catching up. Returning her focus ahead, she stiffens her upper lip as worry escapes onto her face behind her helmet visor.

Stepping through the heavy entry archway to hillside base, Bach’s boots walk through the freshly excavated dirt and into the tall grasses. He pushes forward a few more meters, and then his legs give out. Dretphi eases him down to his knees and kneels next to him. She flips her full face visor up, while Bach scrambles to pull off his helmet. Tossing the helm to the side, Bach pants loudly and combs his fingers through his longer, brown hair. While Bach shudders and trembles, Dretphi wraps an arm securely around him and softly comforts. “We are outside.”

Bach nods with a hard swallow. “Good. I-I-I just c-couldn’t be in... there...”

Cideeda and Sotalia rush out from the archway and spot Dretphi and Bach. Sotalia steps ahead, moves close to Bach, and cranes her head around to see his face. She recognizes the symptoms and kneels slowly in front of Bach. Blinking her gold on gray eyes, she angles a warm gaze to meet Bach’s and softly speaks. “Hey, Bach...”

Bach closes his eyes a moment, draws a long breath, and concentrates on Sotalia. “Yes?”

Sotalia presents a calm smile and whispers. “Would you like us to stay with you for a while?”

Swallowing hard, Bach sniffs up some tears, winces, and nods while hanging his head. “I-If, you would...”

Cideeda steps over with a confirming nod from Sotalia, and sits opposite to Dretphi next to Bach. She rests a gentle on hand his shoulder and quietly comforts. Her furry ears perk towards Bach’s chest, and she fights an uneasy frown. Sotalia holds her hands out near Bach’s trembling hands. With a moment of hesitation, Bach rests his hands within Sotalia’s and weakly grips. He sniffs, sighs shakily, and sputters. “S-so sorry... I-I-I, uh, I... can’t go back in there...”

Sotalia soothes with a calm, reassuring voice. “It’s okay. Just think of right here. Right now. We’re outside with each other. It’s nice day to be outside. Focus on that.”

Bach quickly nods, closes his eyes, and concentrates on his own thoughts.

Past the archway, through the long main hall, and into the massive chamber, Aristespha kneels down and picks up the sword. She carefully sheaths the blade in the scabbard and stands back up. Her violet gaze settles up Sebastian’s stunned visage, and she approaches him. “Sebastian?”

She watches his silent, horrified stare at the faint wisps of smoke from the charred edges of the hole seared through Lexattican’s thick leather armor. Stepping directly into his view, she leans her ivory face close and projects a soft tone. “Sebastian. Pay attention to me.”

Sebastian blinks back to awareness, gradually turns his face towards Aristespha, and gathers his thoughts. “I-I’m sorry, dear. Just... Yeah... That... was the same attack that...”

Tempering a frown with a loving gaze into Sebastian’s eyes, Aristespha sighs and nods understandingly. “I know, Sebastian. But, it was not the same.”

Searching his mind, Sebastian’s ethereal form relaxes his clutched hand from the middle of his chest, and he refocuses his thoughts. “I didn’t know he could do... that...”

Aristespha closes her eyes. She reopens them to an illuminated violet and flows magical energy to her hand. She places her hand upon Sebastian’s projected face. Meeting his bewildered stare, her tone grows stern and focused. “Sebastian. I know this is difficult. But, your brother NEEDS you. He needs your help.”

Sebastian averts his gaze shamefully and frowns reluctantly. “I don’t know if I can...”

With a gentle hint, Aristespha calmly commands. “Take a few minutes in the sword. Collect yourself. Then, be there for your brother.”

Sebastian grants a silent nod to Aristespha and mouths out, with a trace of a meek cry. “I’m sorry.”

Aristespha smiles comfortingly as Sebastian’s visage dissipates into the sword.

She releases a long sigh, swallows hard, and slowly pivots around. Her stare settles upon the still body of Lexattican. Scanning the corpse before her with her glowing violet eyes, she frowns with a shake of her head of long, silvery blue hair. She steps next to the body, kneels down, and sighs somberly. Flowing energy to her finger tips, she closes Lexattican’s yellow eyes and clears the stray long, black hairs out of his light gray face. She lifts his arms and crosses them upon his chest. Drawing in a long breath, she recites an eloquent, elaborate Evuukian prayer in a respectful tone. With a final bow of her head, she stands up.

While stepping away from the area around the isolation chamber, she surveys the aftermath of the fight. She walks between toppled workbenches, piles of scattered notes, and heaps of heavy machinery. She gazes up towards the ceiling, glances at the overhead lift rails, and settles her distant stare to the exit archway. Stopping at the precipice to the main hall, she buries her ivory face into her hands and exhales. With a sniff, she collects herself and rolls the tension out of her shoulders. Walking down the long main hall, she breathes deeply with purposeful timing and straightens her posture. Summoning strength from within, she dons a calm facade and readies herself as she steps outside.