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Pahrak Model ZX

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  1. KARDAS DRAGON avoids a direct hit, but the fringes of the beam still damage it! 100 damage! The blasts envelop KARDAS DRAGON! 100 damage! As the smoke clears, a badly wounded KARDAS DRAGON with armor charred black looks around. Its marshmallow has been destroyed in the assault. Something changes in its eyes... Suddenly, a flaming aura of whitish-yellow energy springs forth from KARDAS DRAGON! It bares its teeth and raises its wings, exuding an incomprehensible force of destruction from every pore! KARDAS DRAGON's OBLIVION INCARNATE has been activated!
  2. KARDAS DRAGON happily hums to Move Along while roasting marshmallows!
  3. After taking a few months trying to focus on Red Joker, I’ve finally completed it! There’s one more step in the Shooting Star Sonia project, but I’m putting that on hold for the time being, due in no small part to the fact that I really, really want to get Right of Law moving. And on that note! Section XVI is live! It’s a little short, mainly because it picks up a couple of loose ends and puts us in position for the next major event, but I’ll do my best to keep the ball rolling and get XVII out soon! There are a couple projects I’ll be working on simultaneously, but Law is my top priority for the near future—the more I think about the things I want to do in this story, the more excited I get, and I want to put that energy to good use!
  4. SECTION XVI Angonce paced back and forth, fathoming just how furious he was with the situation. Yarion sat quietly at their desk, watching the Great Being with a cautious patience, while Kodan trembled nervously in a nearby chair. “I, just…why are we even having this conversation in the first place?!” Angonce finally said. “Both of you ought to know better, especially you, Yarion! For Heremus’s sake, are all my favorite Makuta going to turn on me?” “I have most certainly not turned against you, my lord,” Yarion said. “Oh, most certainly! It’s not like you had someone from Nynrah right here—“ He shook his hands at the floor. “—and just let her go! Wait a second! That’s exactly what you did!” “I questioned her, and verified that she had nothing to add to the Nynrah investigation. The Toa representing her made quite a compelling case that continuing to hold her at that point would breed distrust amongst the people.” “What Toa? Where are they now—I want them brought in immediately!” “I’m afraid he’s gone, sir. He was a recent transfer from Mahri-Nui, and departed with the accused once the matter was concluded.” “So you let two criminals escape, then.” “This Toa was trustworthy, my lord: when I contacted Mahri-Nui, the Makuta himself vouched for him.” “And what of it?! Clearly a Makuta’s word means nothing anymore!” Yarion sighed. “My lord—“ “And you!” Angonce said, whirling on Kodan. “You found Zaekura herself, chatted her up like you were old friends, and then published and circulated her manifesto! How is it possible that at no point in that process did you consider what you were doing treason?!” “I-I-I-I was only doing my j-j-job, Lord A-Angonce,” Kodan stammered. “The p-people need to know w-what’s going on, and w-without Zaekura’s point of view I f-feel our understanding of the issue would b-be left incomplete. W-We’re only trying to understand the t-t-truth.” “Truth?!” Angonce repeated, looming over the Toa. “The only information you need is what the Great Beings provide you! The only perspective you need is ours! ‘Truth’…it’s such a simple thing to grasp! The truth is what we say! Anything that goes against our truth is nothing short of blasphemy!” Kodan could only shiver silently. Angonce turned with a frustrated grunt, taking a few steps away. “Yarion. Find all copies of this interview and have them destroyed.” Slowly rising to their feet, Yarion asked, “M…my lord?” “I know you heard me. See to it that this heresy is eradicated, before it has a chance to spread.” Yarion glanced at Kodan as they thought. “…If I may, my lord—“ “You may not!” Angonce cut them off. Reluctantly, Yarion continued, “What will this accomplish? It is too late to prevent the word from getting out—it will spread. Worse, how will the people react to such an extreme action? Would it not only breed greater distrust, greater fear? Such a retaliation would surely only lead to more people believing the validity of Zaekura’s words!” Angonce glared over his shoulder. “Well. If they decide to act upon that misguided belief, then I suppose their Makuta will have to set them straight.” Yarion’s eyes wandered. They saw their reflection in the wall, realizing just how troubled their expression was. “Th-This…” Yarion and Angonce turned to Kodan as he spoke up. The Toa got to his feet, still shaking but not letting that stop him. “This isn’t right. Hiding the facts, scaring people into submission, attacking anyone who disagrees with you…those aren’t the values Spherus Magna was built on!” “Oh I can assure you,” Angonce said, “they most certainly are. I am the one who built it, after all.” “No. The world you’re talking about isn’t the world that I see, the world I’ve been trying to serve. I still feel that way: that my job is the truth, and not just what anyone says is true. I cannot…I will not give the people what I know are lies! To do so would be to betray who I am!” “Think very carefully about what you’re doing, Toa. Are you going to cooperate, or are you going to continue your treasonous ways?” Kodan swallowed his fear and stood tall, sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the right thing to do. “I will not cooperate.” Angonce looked past him, nodding once. And then Kodan cried out in pain, falling forward lifelessly. Yarion’s jaw dropped. “What…” they tried to ask, but the words wouldn’t come. A massive gash had appeared in Kodan’s back. Behind the Toa was a strange distortion, and soon Yarion realized it was something imperceptible coming into view: a strange-looking being, nearly as tall as them and clad in gold armor with white speckles spread haphazardly across the surface. Folded wings hung from the being’s arms, which they drew back as they retracted razor-sharp claws into their fingers—on their back were numerous dangerous-looking spines, and behind that, Yarion could see a long reptilian tail swaying back and forth. They wore a Mask of Adaptation, but Yarion could see there was no mouth behind it, and on the back of their head was a second set of eyes, blinking to reveal inner eyelids. I suspected Lord Angonce did not come alone, Yarion thought. But I never expected him to bring Vamprah… Angonce beckoned. Vamprah stepped over the corpse and went to the Great Being’s side, his rear eyes fixed directly upon Yarion as he did. “Makuta Yarion?” Angonce said. “You have your assignment. Get to it.” Yarion could only turn back to Kodan, watching the Toa of Stone’s blood slowly pool around his broken form. “Don’t worry, your staff will clean up the mess while you’re out. Time’s wasting.” Vamprah turned sharply. Angonce turned in response, seeing Yarion with a hand over their face, shaking their head. “This is…cruel,” Yarion said. “How could you? We were to protect the people—how can you ask that we now strike them down at the slightest provocation?! I…I cannot do this, Lord Angonce…I cannot be a part of something so vile!” Angonce rolled his eyes. “Goodness…I’m grown quite exhausted of this nonsense.” The Great Being turned around, and Vamprah took a step forward. Yarion backed up into their desk, realizing just how little room separated them. “You will follow my orders, Yarion,” Angonce said. “And if you will not do so willingly, then I’ll simply have you recalibrated, so that you can return to your job with the right set of priorities in mind.” Yarion’s eyes widened. “B…but…” “Decide quickly, Yarion. My patience is entirely used up.” A heavy silence filled the room. Eventually, Yarion went down on one knee, hanging their head and muttering something. “Speak up,” Angonce said. “I…will obey, Lord Angonce,” Yarion said. “I shall see to the destruction of Kodan’s treason.” Angonce smiled. “Finally, one sees reason. You made the right choice, Yarion. Go on.” Yarion stood, sluggishly walking towards the elevator. “But ah, just to be on the safe side…I think I’ll have Vamprah remain in Civitas Magna for the time being. Just, watch over you for a bit, on the off-chance you find yourself getting cold feet.” Yarion didn’t need eyes in the back of their head to know Vamprah was staring at them. “Best of luck, Makuta Yarion,” Angonce said as the elevator doors closed. “I look forward to some truly impressive results.” *** Rahkshi made their way through the outpost, each taking their own path but nearly all of them winding up just outside the gate. Antroz stood atop the wall, monitoring the congregation as it formed, trying to shake off the anxiety that was weighing down her heart. “Ready to go home?” Antroz sighed as Krika walked up beside her. “This is hardly a homecoming. I’m returning as a conqueror…never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed this to be my future.” “Sounds as though you’ve hosted boring dreams, then. I’ve seen myself win battles far more threatening.” Antroz didn’t answer. “I say that because it is a lower bar than you seem to realize. These are still your people, Antroz: surely they must have some lingering fondness for you that shall stay their hands, regardless of how devout you raised them to be. And that aside, I can attest that builders rarely make the best warriors, especially as they shall be without your guidance.” “They have Emsar’s guidance,” Antroz said. “That alone worries me.” “Emsar? I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the name.” “She’s a Vortixx warrior who operated as my right hand. Her skill in peerless, and her mind is every bit as sharp as her dagger—under her orders, Xia has weathered several attacks where I was unable to defend it myself. We must not underestimate her.” Krika shrugged. “Alright, duly noted. But you know this army well now, Antroz. Taking into account the abilities these Rahkshi possess, not to mention that there will be three Makuta assisting them, do our chances really seem so grim?” “You forget our handicap, Krika. Of course we could level the city if we wanted. But we must win without using lethal force. Emsar surely knows this, and will use it against us.” “My word, you are simply impossible to cheer up.” Antroz became aware of Bitil as he strolled along the inside of the wall. At his side was a handful of Rahkshi who had been chosen to stay behind to guard the outpost, and he babbled nervously as he went over their defenses for the dozenth time. “Well,” Antroz said, “Zaekura’s interview should be available to the public now. I am hopeful that will sway at least a portion of Xia, so long as Makuta Yarion hasn’t snuffed it out before the flame has a chance to spread.” “I’ve told you, they’re not a threat,” Krika said. “I was very clear with the ideas I implanted in their head when I defended Miss Carna, and the fact that she was released is proof enough that they will be sympathetic to our cause.” “…That’s been bothering me. You said you posed as a Toa to defend her, but given how meticulous Yarion’s records are, I don’t understand how you were able to fool them.” “The urgency of the matter played to my favor. I simply said I had recently been transferred to Civitas Magna, and that my bumbling superiors had neglected to send in the paperwork. Yarion didn’t have time to verify.” “Transferred from where? Once Yarion inevitably contacts that place—“ “Not to worry, Antroz. The Makuta himself has spoken on my behalf.” Antroz turned towards him slowly. “…How do you know that?” Producing a small scroll, Krika said, “I received a message from him while we were in Ga-Koro. He informed me that he would play along for now, but he wants to meet soon. But we should focus on Xia at the moment, don’t you think?” “Krika. Where did you say you were from?” He took a very long pause, rolling the scroll between his fingers as he scanned the horizon. “Mahri-Nui.” Antroz’s wings twitched. “Mahri-Nui?!” “I understand your concerns—“ “And now he thinks we owe him…Krika, what have you done?! We cannot work with someone like that!” Krika smirked. “On the contrary, dear Antroz: I believe he’ll make the perfect tool. We’ll have to tread carefully, no doubt, but he knows working with us will be the best way to achieve his ambitions…and, isn’t this better than having him as an enemy?” “I greatly doubt it will be!” “Fine, fine, but can we at least agree it’s best to cross that bridge when we get to it? Our forces have enough on their minds with this upcoming battle. Why burden them any further?” Antroz turned back to the Rahkshi with a grunt. “We must tell Bitil, and Zaekura as well. They need to know what’s coming.” “Oh, very well. Are we to do that now, or…?” Antroz was already moving. With a roll of his eyes, Krika fell into step behind her. They caught up to Bitil as he neared the watchtower, where Zaekura stood talking to Carna, and waited for an opportunity to speak. “Can’t you just command them from here, Zae?” Carna asked. “You don’t have to put yourself in danger!” Zaekura shook her head. “I told you, Mom: if they’re risking themselves for me, I want to risk myself for them. And we’ll be fine! We have insider information, a bucket of tactics to use, more troops than we’re ever likely to need—I’ll be back in no time!” Carna grumbled something as she hugged Zaekura. Regardless, she ultimately went inside, and Zaekura turned to the Makuta. “Are we ready?” “Nearly,” Bitil said. “Erad took their squad out for some last minute target practice, but they should be back momentarily.” “Also,” Antroz said, “there’s something we must discuss before we depart.” “Does it have to with Xia?” Zaekura asked. “Well, no—“ “Then it can wait.” “Zaekura, this is a very serious matter.” Walking past her, Zaekura said, “Then tell me on the way if it’s that urgent. But I gotta say something before we leave, and I don’t need anything psyching me out.” Bitil eyed Krika, but Krika drew his fingers across his lips and followed Zaekura. With a scoff, Bitil did the same, and eventually Antroz went as well. They exited the outpost and went around to the eastern side of the Rahkshi army, finding Charla waiting for them as she tried to keep her siblings organized. “Ah, there you are!” she greeted. “Erad and the others have been spotted—it shouldn’t take them more than a minute or so to join us. We can depart at any time.” “Great,” Zaekura said. She took a deep breath. “…Alright. Everyone, listen up!” The crowd gradually went silent. Zaekura swallowed hard, and then stiffened her spine as she prepared to speak. “It’s time for us to march on Xia! They’re our nearest hostile, and using the extensive intel we’ve got on them, we’re going to capture their city and the resources they’ve got access to, leaving the loyalists without their primary manufacturer of weaponry! Despite this edge, do not take this battle lightly! There are two things you need to remember above all else: don’t kill anyone, and don’t get yourself killed! You’re all gonna remember that, right?” A short but decisive cry of affirmation answered her. “Good! Do that, follow the orders of your squad leaders, and this time tomorrow we’ll be celebrating our victory! This is the first brick we pull from the wall of the Great Beings! Starting today, we give our all to tearing it down! Let’s go!” Cheers echoed as the army moved out. After a while, Zaekura finally released the tension in her body, and turned to Antroz. “Alright, Fangs,” she said, “is that thing important?” Antroz thought for a moment. “…You are certain you would rather wait? I do not wish to withhold information from you.” Zaekura smiled. “I appreciate that, but right now I really do just want to focus on one thing at a time. We’ve already got a lot riding on this.” “Then…it can wait. For now, we will give all our attention to Xia.” “Okay,” Zaekura said with a nod. “…You gonna be able to do that?” Antroz faced forward. “Most certainly. I haven’t been able to think of anything but.” *** Emsar paced back and forth through the bottom floor of Xia’s central tower. Lying on the table was an unrolled parchment, its title drawing her attention again and again no matter how hard she tried to look away: “EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ZAEKURA, SURVIVOR OF NYNRAH INCIDENT.” I truly hoped the rumors were nothing but lies. It would’ve been easier that way. Alarming as the contents of the interview were, talk of them had spread near-instantaneously. While physical copies of the publication had all disappeared before they could be distributed beyond Civitas Magna, a Vortixx living there had smuggled a single copy out just in time, telling Emsar it was something she needed to read. When it rains, it pours…so this is what they mean. Running Xia without Antroz has been difficult enough, especially now that Chirox has tasked us with training those things, but learning just how murky this situation is just as Zaekura advances towards us… Indecision was something Emsar had never experienced. Only now did she fully appreciate that fact. But as she continued to pace, the doors were pushed open, and in walked a very grim-looking Ehrye. “Um…they’ve arrived,” the Toa of Ice said. Emsar gritted her teeth. “Hmph. How close exactly? Have we engaged?” “No. They, uh, they’ve stopped quite a distance away from our gates, actually. Zaekura’s at the front…she…” Growing impatient, Emsar made her way outside and headed for the gate, leaping onto the sides of nearby buildings to gain height as she went, ultimately perching just above the gate itself. Sure enough, around two hundred Rahkshi were positioned across the sands, with Zaekura at the head waving a white flag emblazoned with a wavy vertical line separating two small circles. Emsar sighed. …Well…perhaps this will clear things up for me. She dropped down to the street, nodding to another Vortixx nearby. Hesitantly, they handed her an identical flag, and she held it high above her head as the gate opened to let her through. Seeing this, Zaekura, Antroz, and Bitil slowly walked forward, meeting Emsar halfway as both sides planted their flags in the sand. Emsar crossed her arms and stood there silently. “Emsar,” Antroz said. She didn’t answer, instead staring at Zaekura. “Um…hello,” Zaekura said. “You probably know who I am. And you probably know why we’re here. But, I’d like to settle things peacefully if possible—thank you for at least coming to speak with me.” “You must be confident, giving up the element of surprise in favor of negotiation,” Emsar said. “From what I hear, surprising you is impossible.” Emsar laughed. “And again: I’d rather do this peacefully. We’re here to assume control of Xia, and use it to bolster our forces as we fight to free Spherus Magna from the Great Beings’ control. Is there any way you could be persuaded to turn it over willingly?” Emsar cocked her head. “So you’re really serious about this. You really think you can oust the Great Beings. Even I can’t fathom the gall required for such a declaration, and gall is something I know quite well. Tell me, young Zaekura: why should I stick out my neck when yours will remain on the block regardless?” “Because it is the right thing to do,” Antroz said. “Emsar, please. I know this situation has turned the entire world on its head, but if you fight us here you will be fighting for a cause that is simply unjust. Does that not matter to you?” Emsar considered this a moment. “Hm. I wonder if it does?” Antroz scowled. Before she could say anything, Zaekura said, “Emsar, if you’d rather not join us, then you can still flee to Atero, or Civitas Magna. We will not pursue you. But if you stay and fight, you will lose…and at that point, we will be forced to hold you captive.” Emsar smirked. “Yes, a bottomless reservoir of pure gall. Should you really be so sure you can best me?” Bitil puffed out his chest. “My Rahkshi are more than up to the challenge! You don’t stand a chance!” “And I know Xia’s defenses inside and out,” Antroz said. “You have not had enough time to alter them so severely as to catch us completely off-guard.” “Oh, I don’t know about that,” Emsar said. “You may run into a few things that surprise you, Makuta.” The three of them had nothing more to add, and so simply waited for Emsar to give them an answer. She closed her eyes as she mulled it over one last time. “If I did escape, I’m sure I’d simply be executed,” she said. “And, right or not, joining you sounds just as suicidal. I’ll admit…I have my doubts. But I cannot risk my life upon such uncertain ground.” Antroz stepped forward, saying, “Emsar—“ “That is my answer. Xia will not surrender to you, Zaekura. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to surrender to us?” “Never,” Zaekura said, not missing a beat. “Then it’s to arms. Lovely chatting with you. I do hope we get another chance before you’re sent to the Maze.” Emsar uprooted her flag and returned to Xia. Zaekura and Bitil rejoined the Rahkshi at once, with Antroz lingering a bit before finally following them. As she walked back through the gates, Emsar handed off the flag, and then signaled to a nearby Glatorian. They ran off, and Emsar cast one last look over her shoulder. “To your stations, all of you,” she said. “Xia is under attack.” ADDENDUM: -Well. That took a while. But I’ve finished that other project, so now Right of Law is my top priority! There are a few other things I want to work on simultaneously, but I’m going to be sure to keep Law moving while I do! -At first Angonce was going to bring Gorast along as usual, but I realized I hadn’t introduced Melding Vamprah yet and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. Like Prime Vamprah, he prides himself on being a hunter, and remains silent at all times. His Mask of Adaptation constantly mutates him to give him an edge in various situations—I’m not entirely sure if the mask is supposed to make permanent changes, but I really liked the idea of Vamprah being a grotesque amalgamation of traits similar to Frankenstein’s monster and decided to roll with it. -The reason I’m being a bit secretive about the Makuta of Mahri-Nui is because they’re a canon character who, in the main timeline, was not a Makuta. I know that probably sounds like an odd change to make, and I was a bit hesitant myself, but this character has a lot to contribute thematically, and making them a Makuta was the only way to properly pull it off while staying within the established rules of this world. I understand if you feel this is too big an alteration, but please, give it a chance! I’ll go into more detail once it’s time to bring them into focus. -A white flag seemed the best way to convey what was going on to the readers, but coincidentally that color is also associated with Peace in this universe! What luck! -Our next major battle is finally underway! Hard to say how long this one will take, but I’ll do my best to get the next installment out in a timely fashion! -Reviews to be submitted here
  5. KARDAS DRAGON uses its concussive breath to light the fire! It's staring at the marshmallows...
  6. KARDAS DRAGON flies skyward as the laser is fired, shooting a beam of concussive force from its mouth! The two beams meet, and after a brief struggle, KARDAS DRAGON's attack overpowers the laser and pierces the Death Star!
  7. KARDAS DRAGON eats level 5 disks for breakfast! However, it is not a balanced breakfast, and its poor lifestyle choices are beginning to catch up to it! Stats reduced! The lightning hits! 20 damage! KARDAS DRAGON stares on smugly…until Good Guy appears! It watches its opponents very carefully… KARDAS DRAGON says it’s been a pretty average day, not spectacular but at least it’s on the right side of the dirt. KARDAS DRAGON is annoyed! However, it does not want to be ungrateful for the work that you put into the piece, and manages a polite thank you. KARDAS DRAGON rants about how the fandom as a whole didn’t give G2 a chance! It then writes on its arm a reminder to email its reclusive brother, KARDAS DRAGON (G2).
  8. Chapter 39 Heartless set to work the instant she saw Meteor G burst, fingers blazing across the keys as she accessed the satellite network and began downloading the Noise. The base shook a bit as it was battered, but she wasn’t worried, knowing that the shields were more than capable of handling the disturbance. “S-Someone, come in! We have a problem!” The rocket, however, was not. “Magnes, what’s happening?” Boreal asked. “The Noise eddies are too strong!” the Wizard replied. “We’re being carried away—we’re out of control! I…I-I don’t know if the Noise Wave will reach us here!” Heartless froze for half a second. Then she typed twice as fast. “No!” Boreal said. “Magnes, you’ve got to try to get back on course!” “I’m doing everything I can, but it’s not responding!” “Darn…can Solo go through the wave to get them?” “The opening’s already gone, Chief!” “Oh no…what happened to them?!” The viewscreen flicked on, displaying the Wave Road inside the partially-formed Noise Network. Lying on the center platform, bruised and exhausted but still conscious, were Sonia and Geo. Heartless paused briefly, and then tapped the intercom before getting back to work. “I’ve got them,” Heartless said. “Sonia and Geo, at least. They’re safe in the satellites, so you just focus on evacuating that rocket—I’ll ask them about Kelvin myself.” Boreal stopped to catch his breath. “Alright…good. Thank you, Heartless. We’ll leave that to you.” As Boreal began to give instructions to Magnes, Heartless switched to a different channel, watching Sonia and Geo as they struggled to their feet. “And how are our little champions doing?” she asked. They looked up, Geo asking, “Is that…Heartless?” “Don’t fret, you’re perfectly safe. Since you’re both wearing so much Noise it was easy to include you in my download. Once I’ve finished setting up the network, I’ll be connecting it to AMAKEN, and you’ll be able to get back to Earth that way.” Sonia gave a relieved sigh. “Thanks…I was a little worried there.” “If you don’t mind me asking, where is Kelvin?” Sonia glanced at Geo. The boy swallowed hard, saying, “He…King kicked him out of the server…he’s somewhere in space right now.” Heartless frowned. “He said he’d make it back to Earth. I know he will, somehow.” “Oh, he most certainly will. After investing so many years in this search, I’m a bit tired of waiting. I’ll take the liberty of tracking him down myself.” “Huh? You will? How?” “The orbital base, of course. Once the network is set up I’ll pilot it out until I lock onto Kelvin’s signal. It shouldn’t take long at all.” Geo smiled at first. Then, he turned nervously to Sonia, who stared up with a blank expression. “…So,” Sonia said, “you won’t be back on Earth for a while either?” The clacking of keys answered her. “…Alright. This isn’t over until we get Geo’s dad back, and that’s something I know you can do. I’ll be waiting to hear from you when you get back, aunt…er, no…” Heartless’s fingers slowed just a bit. Leaning towards the microphone, she quietly said, “Ava.” A bright smile crossed Sonia’s face. “…Aunt Ava. Thank you.” “Don’t mention it. And I’m not being coy: I have very good reasons for operating under pseudonyms, as I’m sure you can guess, and if my true name got around it’d be rather catastrophic for my business.” “Oh, okay, I understand.” “Good. I’d best be getting back to work, then. I’ll inform you when the connection is secure.” “Oh, wait!” Geo said. “One last thing...were…were you able to download King as well?” Heartless scanned over the data streaming by in front of her. “Hm, I don’t see anything that resembles King’s data. I think it’s safe to say he didn’t make it out.” Geo nodded solemnly, Sonia looking equally grim. “Just sit tight, now. I’m nearly done.” Heartless cut the feed, smirking to herself as she mumbled, “Serves you right, you senile old . I only regret my own knife didn’t make it to your heart.” She hummed to herself as she continued to work. It was a simple task—mindless, really—and she found her thoughts drifting. “…I helped her out, Rosa. That’s a bonus. Normally I’d charge extra, but…let’s say it’s covered under your family discount.” The last file entered the network, and Heartless then initialized the connection, leaning back in her chair and closing her eyes as she waited for it to form. “She did everything you wanted and more, little sister. I hope you can rest easy now.” *** Clipping the last branch, Pat stepped back to examine his work, wiping his hands on his apron and absent-mindedly adjusting his purple bandana. “Good job, kid,” Wolfe said from nearby. “Why don’t you take care of that one next?” “Oh, yes sir!” Pat glanced across the school roof at Geo: his boyfriend was wearing a new short-sleeved jacket, his usual shade of red with a high collar and white star-shaped designs on the shoulders, with a dark blue shirt beneath, black pants, and red and black gloves over his hands. Geo just smiled at him, and Pat chuckled as he got back to work. “So,” Wolf said, “Corvus is finally dead. Never thought I’d get to say that.” “He was rotten to the end,” Mega said. “Nothing we coulda said to get through his thick skull.” Wolf grunted. “…Kind of a shame, I suppose. Least I can finally put it behind me.” “Right. Now you get to go back to your cushy retirement!” “Hey, I never said I was retired! Quit running your mouth!” Geo glanced to the side. Jack stood on one corner of the roof, happily talking to Tia on a holographic screen. He wore light gray pants and an orange shirt, as well as a black coat that was shorter than his old one, with green lines decorating the front, arms, and shoulder pads. “And before you ask, my history grade has gone way up!” Jack said. “I’m already half-done with the project due at the end of the month! It’s a piece of cake now!” Tia chuckled, smiling at her brother. “I’m glad to hear it, Jack. I’m so proud of you!” Jack grinned, then took on a more wistful expression. “It still feels a little weird without you here, Sis. Still no chance of parole?” “I already told you, I’m not eligible. But they’ve already reduced my sentence considerably, and will allow me to reapply for student teaching immediately—I’m not going to complain.” “Yeah, I guess…” “Once I’m out, we’ll take a vacation somewhere. Won’t that be nice?” “Heh, yeah! Can’t wait!” The elevator doors suddenly opened. First out was Amy, wearing her yellow sundress, followed by Bud, who wore a set of his usual style of coveralls that was a dark shade of orange. Last out was a less-than-thrilled Shepar. “Bud, you know better!” the teacher scolded. “S-Sorry Mr. Shepar, won’t happen again!” Bud said. “That’s exactly what you said last time!” Amy stepped forward, saying, “Um, it was actually my fault this time, Mr. Shepar. Please don’t take it out on Bud!” Libra materialized behind Shepar, saying, “Regardless of whose idea, you were both involved! It’s only fair you take equal share in the blame!” In a puff of flame, Taurus appeared. “Mrrrgh, come on, Libra! Cut us some slack! You sure adjusted to your new authority awful quick!” “Yeah,” Yeti said as he formed, “and Amy doesn’t even go here! There’s nothing you can do!” “Yeti,” Amy said, “don’t taunt him…” Geo chuckled to himself. Jack walked over to him, saying, “What, again? Sometimes he just doesn’t learn.” “Well, it’s kind of nice to know Bud will always be Bud,” Geo said. “Yeah, in a way.” Geo glanced skyward, his enthusiasm rapidly waning. Jack rubbed his neck as he debated asking. “…Uh,” he finally said, “you okay, Geo? I mean, you’re probably still worried, I get that, I just, uh…” Geo shook his head. “Not worried. I know it’ll work out. Just…wishing it would work faster, I guess.” “Oh…yeah.” “But,” Geo said with a shrug, “there’s nothing I can do about that. I should keep my eyes forward.” Pat knelt over a bed of flowers, gently watering them as he whistled to himself. Geo lit up again. “Gotta say,” Jack muttered, “if I were you, I woulda killed that FM-ian who double-crossed him.” “…Have to admit…there’s a part of me that wants to. But Gemini can’t hurt anyone, sealed up the way he is. It’s enough for Pat and Rey, so it’s enough for me.” Jack started to say speak, but he trailed off, staring up at something. Geo turned to see what it was, and jumped in surprise. A ball of blue light was shooting through the sky, plummeting past the clouds and appearing to arc directly towards Vista Point. “G…Geo…” Jack said. “Do you think…?” He turned to see Geo grinning. “Mega!” he shouted. “Come on!” The AM-ian now noticed the light as well, and eagerly returned to Geo’s Hunter. Pausing to Wave Change, they leapt onto the Wave Road and charged off at top speed, laughing every step of the way. *** “…so I don’t think it’s anything to be especially concerned about.” Copper nodded along. Two screens floated in front of him: one showing Alohaha, and the other displaying Whazzap. Strong occupied much of the former screen, though Claude and Kidd were constantly poking around behind him, while the latter showed the Shaman and Condor against the backdrop of a bustling crowd. If Copper squinted, he could see Solo standing off to the edge of that crowd, wearing a Whazzap poncho and, to his surprise, smiling a little. The detective couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight. “We’re doing quite well over here, too,” the Shaman said. “Words cannot express how grateful we are for the assistance WAZA has provided us! I see a new age of prosperity dawning for the people of Whazzap!” “Glad to hear it,” Copper said. “Well, if there’s nothing to report, I’ll be taking my leave. We’ll check in again soon.” The Shaman bowed, and his screen shut off. Claude shoved in front of Strong, saying, “Hey, hey, Mr. Copper! I wanted to ask about that Noise Network! Do you think we could—“ “No.” “Aw, you don’t even know what I was going to say!” “You were going to ask if you and Kidd could test the third-generation Noise Control Programs, right?” “Ack!” From off-screen, Kidd chuckled, saying, “I suspected that would be his answer…” Strong gently guided the young boy aside, and then faced Copper. “If you don’t mind me asking, Detective, how are repairs to WAZA HQ coming?” “We’ve demolished the old building,” Copper said. “Construction should start any day now, but at that altitude the construction crew needs to be very careful about the weather.” “Ah, I see. Well, we shall continue to safeguard your data until the new computer is installed. Take care.” His screen vanished as well, and Copper paused to stretch. Plesio nudged his leg, saying, “Detective…the doctors want you.” “Oh, thanks!” Copper said, patting Plesio’s head. “Let’s go see them, then!” It was a short walk to the lab, where they found Vega and Goodall hard at work on opposite consoles. Goodall noticed them first, saying, “Ah, Detective, there you are! We need some more parts for an experiment we want to run—be a dear and go get them for us!” “Parts? I’d hardly know what I was looking for. Why don’t you send Hyde?” Hyde poked his head out from behind a piece of machinery. “Regrettably, dear Detective, I am otherwise occupied at the moment. Try it now, Lady Vega!” The equipment hummed to life. Vega turned in her seat, saying, “Excellent work! Thank you, Hyde, this should speed up the process immensely!” Hyde chuckled. “Heh, well, I did have some help from my partner.” “Some?” Phantom said. “You’d be completely lost without me!” Hyde just rolled his eyes and got back to work. Copper said, “Alright, guess it’s up to me after all.” His Hunter chimed as it received a mail. Goodall said, “That list has everything we need. For now, at least. Hop to it!” Copper grumbled under his breath as he made his way out of the lab. On his way down to the lobby, he encountered Dubius and Cygnus in a seating area, and slowed down as he approached them. “Really, Tom, you must cease being so modest!” Cygnus said. “The work is brilliant! To not take it to the conference would be a disservice to your field!” “I-I don’t know,” Dubius said. “It definitely has potential, but I worry it’s not quite done yet.” “So what? You’ve begun it! Share what you’ve learned, and perhaps someone there will show you what direction to head next.” “Maybe…” Cygnus turned aside and squawked, then noticing Copper. “Oh, Detective. Can we help you with something?” “Just passing by,” Copper said. “Say, is the Chief still busy?” “I think so,” Dubius said. “Did you want to talk to him?” “It can wait. After all, he’s been waiting years to have this conversation.” The nearby elevator opened up, and out stepped Boreal with a big smile. Spotting his colleagues, he said, “Oh, hey there! How’s everyone doing?” “Aaron!” Dubius said. “Did he leave already?” “Yeah, he wanted to get back home. Can’t say that I blame him!” “Chief,” Copper said, “if you’re done, our newest intern wanted to chat with you about something.” “Oh? Where is he?” “This way.” Boreal nodded to Dubius as he followed Copper downstairs, the two of them eventually coming to another lab at the rear of the facility. Inside, Acid and Magnes floated around checking equipment, while Zack stood at the center in a lab coat, checking things off a holographic screen as they went. “How’s it going, Zack?” Boreal asked. Spinning, the boy said, “Oh, Mr. Boreal! I mean, uh, Chief! Everything’s running smoothly!” “Great to hear. Detective Copper said you wanted to see me?” “Oh, yes, um, well actually Magnes wanted to see you! Right, Magnes?” The Wizard came closer, saying, “Yup! Chief, I was organizing some files and came across plans for an elementary school lecture program. I was wondering…if it’s alright, could I help out with that? It’d be great to visit schools and get to work with kids again! I promise to do a good job!” Boreal nodded. “I can’t make anything official just yet, but I’ll see what I can do. I think you’re a perfect fit!” Magnes turned excitedly to Zack. Boreal then glanced over at Acid, who was still hard at work. “…Acid? How are you doing?” Acid faced him. “All systems normal.” “That’s not really what I mean.” “…I am…alright. I still miss Ace, but I will not allow it to compromise my work.” “Acid, you don’t have to stay so fixated on your work.” “I desire to. You see, I have a certain feeling that if Ace were here, he would wish to continue our work as well; he always stayed focused regardless of what was bothering him, and managed to excel despite the matters that weighed on him. I suppose…I wish to do the same, in memory of him.” “…I see,” Boreal said. “Well, so long as you don’t overdo it.” “You have my word.” Copper’s Hunter chimed. “Ah, I should probably get going. I have to run an errand for the doctors. See you later.” As he left, Zack turned back to Boreal and asked, “Hey, is Geo still here?” “You just missed him.” “Ah, okay. I’ll catch up with him later! He must be on his way back home, finally.” *** Hope turned at the sound of the door opening. Geo came running in, looking happier than she’d seen him in quite a while, saying, “Mom! We’re home!” Mega floated in behind him, looking just as ecstatic. Pausing to wipe her hands, Hope came towards the entryway, saying, “Geo, Mega! What’s got you two in such a good mood?” Hope looked up as someone else came through the doorway. She blinked, unwilling to believe her eyes at first, but he didn’t go anywhere. Kelvin stood before her, grinning broadly, and for a moment Hope thought her heart had stopped. “Kel...vin…?” He took a small step forward. “I’m home, Hope. Sorry it took so long…you wouldn’t believe the traffic!” Hope reached out tentatively, brushing Kelvin’s shoulder. He was real. Tears came to her eyes as she finally realized that, and she threw herself forward to wrap her arms around Kelvin. “Kelvin! Y-You’re really here! I…I…” He held her tightly, starting to cry a little himself. “I’m really sorry, Hope. Thank you for believing in me.” Geo joined in the hug as well. Mega hovered there a moment, until Kelvin suddenly reached out and pulled him in by the neck. The four of them cried and laughed together, overwhelmed with joy that finally, after so long, the Stelar family was truly complete. *** Sonia took a moment to straighten her dress—it was primarily a light shade of blue with many white frills, paired with white boots and a wide, blue and white hat with a large bow on top. Luna walked along next to her, taking a call on her Hunter, dressed in a bluish-black suit with a skirt, black tights and shoes, a plain white dress shirt beneath the jacket, and a long red necktie. “Just get that done, and I’ll see where you’re at on Monday. Good-bye!” Luna sighed as she hung up, and then turned to Sonia. “Sorry.” Sonia shook her head. “I don’t mind! I’m glad to know the Prez is taking time out of her busy schedule to spend with me, hehe!” “Of course! As if I would pass up an opportunity to be with you over something so silly.” Sonia lightly bumped Luna with her shoulder. Luna bumped her back, making Sonia giggle. “So,” Luna said, “did you get to the studio? Give them your answer?” “I did,” Sonia said. “It…didn’t go over great. They’re happy I want to continue the drama, but when I asked for a hiatus they all went white. Luckily, Belle took the chance to propose another project she’s had in the works, and with Ice there for hype she was able to get them on-board easily enough. I’m going to have the time we need.” “Good. I’m already making arrangements to take off as well.” “Only if you—“ “I’m recovering fine! Sure, I’m not completely better yet, but we have some time to prepare still and I’m certain it will be more than enough.” “Rest assured,” Ophiuca said, “I won’t allow her to go unless I am completely sure of her rehabilitation!” “You do have faith in me, don’t you?” Luna asked as she glanced sideways at Sonia. Leaning in, Sonia kissed her. “Of course. It’ll be great to have you with me.” Luna averted her eyes, blushing slightly. “R-Right. Well, considering this last fiasco didn’t go nearly as bad, obviously sending people along with you works, so it’s only natural I see to it we continue the trend! And who better to accompany you than me?” She turned even redder as Sonia clung to her arm. “No one at all.” After a few more steps, Luna stopped. Sonia looked up then, realizing they had arrived. “…Do you mind if I go alone first?” Sonia asked. “No, go ahead.” With some reluctance, Sonia let go of Luna and walked forward, nodding to the Satella Officers on-site as she undid the gate. The graves were lined up in neat rows, and at the very center of the plot was a tall slab of stone with more than a hundred names carved into it; Sonia stopped before the plaque at its foot that read “KILLED IN ACTION”. She slowly scanned up until she found Ace’s name. “…Hey, Ace,” she began. “We took care of Dealer, and Meteor G. King’s gone, Earth is safe, and with the data from the Meteor Server we’re making some great leaps in dealing with Noise. I know you’re wondering, but don’t worry: Jack and Tia are safe. Since Jack’s still a minor he was able to get off with just community service, but…Tia’s going to need to spend a little time in prison. But you know those two. A setback like this will never be enough to stop them!” She managed a short chuckle, then fell silent for a while. “They rebuilt Acid. He misses you. We all miss you, you know. I keep thinking, wondering if there was some other way, but…I’m not sure if there was. And I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about that. Even at the end, you’re still showing me that reality’s more gray than I want it to be…but, I’m not going to hold that against you anymore. I’m sorry that I did. From now on, I’m going to face what’s in front of me without looking away, and try to be more decisive in situations where there aren’t any answers I really like. Thank you for showing me that was something I needed to do.” Sonia removed her hat, looking down to fidget with it for a few moments. “…The truth is, things aren’t entirely over. Corvus and Virgo made me realize something terrible is happening on Planet FM, and after what Blitzar said, I’m even more worried. We’ve tried contacting Cepheus, but we’re still having trouble getting through…so, we’re going to go to Planet FM and see for ourselves what’s happening. Me, Lyra, Geo, Mega, Solo, Laplace, Bud, Taurus, Luna, and Ophiuca. It’ll be awhile before we can leave, though: it’s so far away that a material craft isn’t a practical option, so everyone at AMAKEN is looking into possibly using Noise Waves to get us there. Aunt—er, Heartless’s data showed that they’re capable of bending space in unusual ways, so we can probably cross light years in a fraction of the time. But they’re still in the process of working that out, along with modifications to our Hunters so we don’t pollute Planet FM with Noise while we’re there. I know, if you were still here, you’d want to go with us. You’d jump at the opportunity to help out.” She breathed deeply. “And…Heartless still hasn’t come back. If I’m being honest, I was never really sure she would. But I couldn’t be selfish and ask her to stay, not when Geo’s dad was on the line, so I let her go. I wish I could learn more about my family…but, I already know a lot more than I did. If that’s all I get, then I’ll be content with that. Ah, sorry, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, huh? Haha…” Sonia felt a raindrop. Looking up, she quickly put her hat back in place. “Guess I should move along. Thanks for everything, Ace. I hope you’re at peace now.” She made her way back towards the gate, moving a little more quickly out of fear of the rain. “Lyra,” she said. “Do you know anything about this ‘Scorpio’ they mentioned?” “I do,” Lyra said. “If he’s leading some sort of counter-movement, then that’s very bad news.” “Hm. And then there’s Blitzar’s ‘colleague’…I have to wonder: do you think there’s any chance they’re connected?” “It’s impossible to say for sure, given how little we know about these XM-ians. I suppose we’ll just have to be prepared for anything.” “I hope Cepheus will be able to hold out until we can get there. With luck, we’ll be able to talk things down before things get too bad.” “I doubt Scorpio will listen…but, I’ve seen you pull off many small miracles since coming here. You have my full support, Sonia. And, thank you for helping my planet.” “Heh, of course! It’s about time I returned the favor!” The rain began to grow stronger just as Sonia made it through the gate, running over to Luna and jumping beneath the umbrella she had opened up. “So, um,” Sonia said, “this time I did forget my own umbrella on purpose. Are you mad?” Luna smiled, murmuring, “We’ll discuss it later…” “Hehehe! So, shall we?” “Um, Sonia...” Trailing off, Luna looked past Sonia, nodding slightly. Curious, Sonia turned around, and spotted someone else standing nearby, wrapped in a black coat and hiding under their own umbrella. Slowly, they lifted the umbrella to reveal their face. Sonia gasped. “…She came back…” she said. A smile crossed her face. “…Hey, Luna? Do you mind waiting a little longer? I want to introduce you to my Aunt Ava.” THE END (Review)
  9. KARDAS DRAGON seems confused, but gives you a thumbs-up in congratulations!
  10. Chapter 38 “Administrator…of the Noise Server?” Sonia repeated. “Former,” Blitzar corrected. “That title currently belongs to Kelvin Stelar.” Geo started. “W—my dad?! How did that happen?” “As I said, I have much to explain. However, due to the threat concerning the Darklight Harvester, I believe it best I conduct my business with Solo first so that he may exit the server.” Reluctantly, Geo nodded. Solo was still in a fighting stance, and said, “Out with it, then. What business do you have with me?” Blitzar held out one hand. His emblem glowed faintly, and then an object appeared in his palm: a large chunk of some sort of metal. Solo’s eyes instantly widened. “I have decided to return the xarium to you. Here.” He offered it to Solo, who carefully reached out and took it. After staring at it a moment more, he turned back to Blitzar, asking, “Why do you have this?” “When Meteor G began heading for Earth, I scouted ahead to examine the planet’s status. I detected the energy readings of the xarium and took it from its shrine, with the intention of studying it.” “You were going to study it?” “Of course. This is the metal your people used to create Le Mu. We were impressed with the machine, but were never able to acquire a sample to learn more about its properties. This seemed to be the final opportunity to do so.” Solo stared at Blitzar as he processed his words, his face shifting ever so slightly as he seemed to reach some sort of epiphany. He then brought the xarium to the Proof of Loneliness on his shoulder, and with a small burst of EM waves, the ingot was absorbed, and the piece of armor took on a brilliant silver sheen. Solo shuddered briefly, and then nodded. “…Thank you for returning it,” he said. “I believe our business is done.” “Indeed,” Blitzar said. He stepped aside and gestured towards the exit. Solo, Jack, and Tia all walked past him, and he then turned to Sonia and Geo. “Alright,” Geo said, “can you please tell me about my dad now? How did he end up here? How did he become Administrator?” “I will explain,” Blitzar said. “Kelvin Stelar, while wandering space as an EM being, encountered Meteor G and was pulled inside the server by accident. I was curious, so I bestowed Noise Immunity upon him. We conversed, and after learning all I needed, I offered to deposit him on the nearest planet. However, he declined: he said that he was not familiar with the area of space and thought it best to travel within Meteor G until he reached a system he recognized. He’s been quite the engaging specimen, always proposing games and wagers to pass the time. I informed him when we drew near Earth, expecting he would wish to leave then, but he reacted with concern upon learning the meteor was approaching the planet. He asked me to alter its course. I did not.” “Why not?” Sonia asked. “Don’t you care if Meteor G destroys the Earth?” “This meteor has destroyed many planets since its construction. Regrettably, I am bound by the parameters of my assignment to merely observe where it was pulled by other Noise in the galaxy. I must not interfere.” “You…you let entire planets die, just because…” She glanced to Geo, ultimately letting go of the rest of her sentence. “As for Kelvin,” Blitzar went on, “when I said I would not alter the course, he proposed a wager. We would play a game, and if he won, he would be named the Administrator of the Meteor Server, so that he could redirect it himself. He lost. He proposed the same wager many times, but I repeatedly beat him. Eventually I grew tired of this and stopped accepting these proposals. However, during the final stretch of the approach, he presented new conditions: if I would accept the game, and if I won, he would never ask for another chance.” He chuckled softly. “…He won. So, I transferred Administrator rights to him and then continued to observe.” “But, I don’t get it,” Geo said. “If Dad’s the Admin, then why is Meteor G still headed towards Earth?” “It was already too late. The excessive Noise on planet Earth has been pulling on the Noise that makes up the Meteor Server, and vice-versa; at such proximity, this attractive force was too great for the meteor to pull away from. Kelvin was able to slow its course, but that was all.” “Dad…” “Well I’ll be ,” Mega said. “Kelvin’s been toughing it out in this inhospitable dump, still finding a way to help save the Earth. That guy never ceases to amaze!” Geo smiled at this, but only for a moment. “Wait. I saw King with him, and that barrier…” “Yes,” Blitzar said, pointing. “King has issued Kelvin a challenge similar to the one Kelvin issued me. They are now in the midst of a game, and the winner will automatically be named Administrator of the Meteor Server. The barrier was erected to prevent outside assistance—it can only be disengaged by the Administrator, and so will stand until the title is bestowed.” His gaze falling, Geo murmured, “So all we can do for now is wait, and hope Dad wins.” “That is all the information I have regarding Kelvin Stelar,” Blitzar said. “If you have any other questions, I will answer, but if not—“ “Hold on, dear,” Lyra said as she materialized. “I still have questions about this Meteor Server: why it was constructed, why it possesses so much FM-ian data, things like that. Care to enlighten me?” Blitzar shifted slightly. “…Of course. The Meteor Server was constructed by Planet XM several years ago as a self-sustaining mobile research lab: I am stationed here to observe where it is drawn, gathering some information about worlds it passes or destroys, as well as run a wide variety of experiments involving Noise in order to perfect our data on the subject. As for the FM-ian data, that is something of a side project.” “Exactly what sort of ‘side project’ requires data on our species’ combat abilities? And perhaps more importantly, where did you obtain such data?” “Obtaining the data was easy. As the server passed worlds that had been attacked or destroyed by Planet FM, leftover EM waves were pulled into its databanks. It did not perfectly integrate into the system—I suspect this is why your Noise Control Programs were able to access the files so easily—but it still provided an excellent opportunity to carry out experiments utilizing the combat data of many FM-ian warriors.” A sickened look crossed Lyra’s face. “…So then…the data we’ve been accessing is the remnants of our past wars? That’s rather unsavory to hear…” “It is simply data,” Blitzar said. “…Hey,” Mega said. “Any chance…you got some data from Planet AM in here?” “No, we do not. The server did not pass through the area of space Planet AM formerly occupied.” “Huh, makes sense…” Blitzar looked at his wrist. “Does this information answer your remaining questions? If so, I must take my leave: I am expected back on Planet XM for a debriefing.” Sonia looked over Lyra and Mega. Facing Blitzar, she said, “I do have some questions, but we’re in a hurry too.” “I see. Perhaps some other time, then. I am certain we shall encounter each other again: a colleague of mine is closely observing Planet FM right now, and I would be surprised if his studies did not eventually lead him here to the species’ ‘second home’ as it were.” Glaring, Lyra asked, “Why are you people so fixated on us? It’s unnerving.” Blitzar gave it some thought, and then shook his head a little. “There is no precise reason, truthfully. I suppose we simply find you fascinating.” “Fascinating? Well, that doesn’t sound condescending in the least.” “It was meant as a compliment. Once we observed what you did with Andromeda, we were very impressed by your ingenuity; Planet FM has been on our radar ever since.” Lyra groaned. “Goodness, this entire conversation is nothing but bad memories, it seems.” “I apologize, but will that be all?” Blitzar said. “I really must be going.” “Alright, go ahead,” Sonia said. “But if we do bump into each other again, there’s a lot more I want to know.” Blitzar nodded. “I understand. Until then.” He vanished in a flash. Sonia turned to Geo, who was already staring up the incline. They started walking. “Everyone alright?” Sonia asked. “That was a lot to take in…” “I’ll be fine once I get Dad back,” Geo said. “Thanks, I’m okay.” “It’ll be nice to spend time with Kelvin again!” Mega said. “I’ve really missed the guy these past few years. Glad to know that hare-brained escape plan of his actually worked out for the best.” Lyra stayed quiet. Sonia was about to ask again, but she said, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit shaken. It’s distressing to know that the records of our sins were all saved in this place, that they can be called up on demand so easily. That it was all apparently brought about by Andromeda’s reign of terror only mortifies me further.” Sonia gazed out at the Noise flowing by. “It must be painful. I’m sorry. But, you know…remembering a mistake also means remembering how far you’ve come since then. And, because all of those memories are here, we’ve been able to use them as Noise Changes to do some real good. Maybe that doesn’t make up for making those mistakes in the first place, but…it’s already done. All we can do now is decide where we go from here.” There was a moment of silence, and then Lyra laughed. “Always able to find the bright side. Thank you, Sonia. It means a lot to hear that from you.” They reached the top of the incline to be met with a massive wall of Noise. Barely, they could see beyond it: a wide platform extended past the shield, and at the center were King and Kelvin, staring intently at the cards in their hands. “I can’t tell if he’s winning,” Geo mumbled. “He will,” Sonia said. “When it counts, he doesn’t fail, right? That’s the impression I get whenever I hear about him.” Geo tried to smile, his worry unfortunately winning out. As Sonia turned back to the game, she noticed something at the far end of the platform, and squinted to try to make it out. Attached to the Wave Road through a series of cables and pipes was a large sphere that appeared to be made of yellow glass. Sonia stumbled back in disbelief. “W-What?!” Geo asked. “What is it?” “Another one…just like the others!” Sonia said. “Blitzar, he mentioned Andromeda, and Le Mu…and he’s got one powering Meteor G, so…” “Goodness,” Lyra said. “Then all these oddly similar power cores we’ve encountered—they were made by Planet XM?” Movement drew everyone’s attention. Kelvin laid out his cards, and then turned to King and waited. A tense moment passed as King examined his own hand…and then set the cards aside, hanging his head. “…He won?” Geo said. Kelvin got to his feet with a smile. He faced the barrier, beginning to raise an arm, but froze when he saw Geo. Staring at his son, Kelvin waved his hand slowly; the barrier disappeared, and Geo tentatively walked forward. “I…guess it’s been a while,” Geo said. “You might not recognize me, but—“ He was cut off as Kelvin hugged him. “Of course I recognize you, Geo. It’s so good to finally see you again.” Geo was stunned for a moment. Then, returning the embrace, he said, “Yeah…it’s great to see you too, Dad. I missed you so much…” “I’m sorry I was gone for so long. I’m sorry I missed so much of you growing up.” “It’s not your fault—you don’t need to apologize! I just…I just…” Geo started to sob. “Dad…” Sonia glanced over at King. He remained in place, still staring down at his desk. When Geo and Kelvin finally separated, Mega appeared beside them, saying, “So this is where you’ve been hiding out Kelvin! ‘Bout time you made it back!” “Mega!” Kelvin said. “Good to see you too! I really owe you one for helping me escape Planet FM.” “Nah, don’t worry about it. You ended up helping me do the same thing, so far as I’m concerned, we’re even.” “Heh, if you say so. I guess you’ve been living on Earth with Geo and Hope?” Kelvin paused. “…Hope’s alright, isn’t she?” “Mom’s fine!” Geo said. “I mean…she’s been missing you too, but she never stopped believing you’d make it home someday! She’s going to be so happy to see you again!” Kelvin grinned at this. It was now that he noticed Sonia, and asked, “Who’s your friend?” “Oh, right! Dad, this is one of my Brothers, Sonia Strumm!” “What? Rosa’s daughter?” Sonia nodded. “That’s right. Nice to meet you, Mr. Stelar!” “Wow. How’s Rosa doing? I bet she’s ready to give me an earful as soon as I get back, huh?” Sonia averted her eyes. “…Um…” A frown gradually took over Kelvin’s face. “…Oh. Did something happen?” “…Yeah. Mama’s in Heaven now.” Kelvin gave a solemn nod. “Wow. I’m really sorry to hear that. Your mother was an amazing woman, Sonia—it was a privilege to be able to work alongside her.” She smiled a bit. “Thank you. But, right now…” They all turned towards King. He finally looked up, shrugging a bit and saying, “I did the best that I could. You defeated me fair and square, Mr. Stelar.” “That’s right,” Kelvin said. “I’d never lose to someone with intentions like yours! Now, as Administrator of this server, I demand that you leave.” He snapped his fingers. Nothing happened. Kelvin furrowed his brow; a spark then came from the core, and King smirked at him. “But then,” King said, “I’ve rarely been one to play ‘fair and square’. Ho ho ho ho!” King floated over towards the core. Kelvin shouted, “What…what did you do?!” “You’re as simple-minded as they come, Mr. Stelar. So focused on the game in front of your eyes, meanwhile I directed my attention to an alternate strategy. Yes, you were so confident you could win that you agreed to temporarily suspend your Admin privileges…leaving the server completely unprotected.” The core continued to spark as King laughed. Geo and Sonia came forward, the former saying, “Get back, Dad!” “It was child’s play to hack into the server without an Admin to stop me!” King said. “Even if you’ve regained those access rights, you won’t be able to eliminate the backdoor that I’ve created! Full control over Meteor G is mine at last! Ho ho ho ho!” Noise began to build up around King as sparks consumed the core. Sonia shouted, “King! This is your final warning! Give up Meteor G, or—“ “Or what, Harp Note? What have I to fear from the likes of you? Such simple, naïve, well-meaning folks who have but scratched the surface of what Noise is capable of!” Electricity arced out from the core, binding it to King as the Noise continued to swell. “Only the corrupted can master this force of corruption! Now, lay eyes upon the inevitable! Bear witness as Noise brings all of Earth to its knees!” Sonia could just barely make out King being pulled into the core as the great mass of Noise around them began to take shape, sprouting what appeared to be two large wings and a long, serpent-like neck. The pipes that connected to the core had been upheaved, but still remained intact as they jutted out from the creature’s torso like splintered bones. With a bright yellow flash, a layer of Noise at the front of the body was blown away, revealing the core—the wings raised then, as black, scale-like plates of metal coalesced along their upper edges, down the creature’s back, and all around its neck. The erratic waves then formed a draconic head of red metal, with curved, segmented horns and geysers of ghastly blue Noise shooting from its cheeks. The creature roared. That alone had enough force to push its foes back slightly, as well as calling into being two great clawed gauntlets that connected themselves to its body through thick arms of Noise. A shell of reddish-purple light closed around the core, not completely hiding it from view; the monster then lowered its head to the Wave Road, eyeing those gathered to oppose it, and laughed. “Ho ho ho ho ho!” King said through the dragon’s mouth. “Such incredible power! It’s even greater than I dared to dream! This erases all doubt: this body, this Crimson Dragon I have birthed, is undefeatable!” “I’ve heard that before,” Sonia said. “Nothing’s undefeatable, King! And if we have to, we’ll prove it to you!” “Dad,” Geo said, “there’s a Noise Wave back there that leads to a rocket Cyber Core. If you—“ “I’m not going anywhere,” Kelvin said. “I’m still the Administrator! I should be able to reduce this thing’s power, even if only a little! It might just give you the edge you need!” The Dragon raised its head. “Oh no, I really must insist!” It roared again. A portal appeared behind Kelvin, and suddenly his body locked up, wracked with pain as he found himself pulled towards it. “I can’t have you interfering with my victory, Kelvin Stelar! You are no longer welcome within this server!” Geo managed to grab onto Kelvin’s hand, struggling to keep his father in place. Sonia moved to attack the Dragon, but one of its claws disappeared, instantly reappearing above her. She narrowly dodged as it swiped towards her. “Hang on, Dad!” Geo said. “I’ll save you, I promise!” “Rgh…Geo…forget about me!” Kelvin said. “You have to stop King! If he’s really using all the power in the server, you need to focus everything you have on him!” “What? But what about you?!” “I’ll be fine, Geo! Trust me!” Geo shook his head. He pulled harder, but even still, they both slipped closer and closer to the opening. “I…I can’t lose you again, Dad! I just got you back! I still need to bring you home!” Sonia tried to help them, but the Dragon forced her back with its claws. “Now now, Harp Note: your business is with me!” Grinning, Kelvin reached out and set a hand on Geo’s shoulder. “Geo…I’m going to be okay. Once this is over, I’ll find my way back to Earth, and we’ll go see your mother together. That’s well within my ability. But this fight is something only you and Sonia can handle! I know you can win, but not if you waste strength trying to save me! You have to let me go, son…otherwise there won’t be an Earth for us to go home to!” Geo shut his eyes tight, tears leaking out nonetheless. “…I love you, Dad.” “I love you too, son. I’ll see you soon!” It took all the willpower he possessed, but Geo let go of his father’s hand. Kelvin shot through the portal, out into a field of stars, and as it closed before him, he gave one final shout. “Show King your teamwork is stronger than his precious Noise!” Geo put a hand to his face, quietly sobbing into it a few times. Then, taking a deep breath, he turned back around: Sonia was managing to fend off the Dragon’s claw, but the monster seemed more amused at her resistance than anything else. “You gonna be okay, kid?” Mega asked. “…Yeah,” Geo said. “I’ll see him in a little bit.” He flew to Sonia’s side, knocking the claw away with a powerful kick. The Dragon tilted its head as he landed, saying, “Done saying your goodbyes? We don’t have long until Meteor G hits the Earth, you know. Time to go all-in! Ho ho ho ho ho!” “Geo,” Sonia said, “I—“ “We’re going to beat him,” Geo said. He armed his buster, and in his other hand, he created a sword of dark energy that he pointed at the Dragon. “We’re going to stop King, destroy the core, and save the Earth and everyone on it. Right?” Smiling, Sonia readied her guitar. “Right. Maybe it won’t be easy, but we’re not taking him on alone! All of our loved ones are sending their strength to us, cheering us on, because they know we can do this! With their help, we can’t possibly lose! Ready when you are, Geo!” “Let’s rock—“ “—and roll!” Sonia blasted the Dragon’s face with a beam of Noise. While she distracted it, Geo circled the area, peppering its entire body with shots to probe for weak points. Simply shrugging off their attacks, the Crimson Dragon swiped at Sonia, only narrowly missing her, while a small bunch of Noise started to form near its head. The waves shaped into a missile that shot out at Geo—he was a bit surprised, but the speed Black Ace afforded him was more than enough to dodge in time. Charging in, Geo stabbed at the Dragon’s head repeatedly, his attacks unable to pierce its scales, while Sonia loaded a Battle Card into her guitar. When she played, spinning blades came flying towards their enemy, changing direction in midair to avoid the Dragon’s claws, and found their way to the core in its chest. Unfortunately, they broke to bits against the Noise that shielded it. “There’s always a shield,” Sonia grumbled. “Geo, keep your eyes on the core! If I’m right, that’s the key to beating him, but we’re going to have to find a way to make it vulnerable first!” “Ho ho, think you can?” the Dragon said. “I’ll wipe you fools from existence long before you’ll have the chance to finish me!” A spread of missiles flew out from the creature. Geo dodged and fired wide blasts of water, while Sonia instead stood her ground, smacking an incoming missile with her guitar and sending it flying backwards to explode against the Dragon’s shoulder. She punched back a claw that attempted to crush her, and then aimed at the Dragon’s head; it raised both claws in response, and Sonia smirked. With a thud, her two tower speakers appeared on either side of the Dragon, each ejecting strings that wrapped around the nearest claw and held it firmly in place. Sonia then fired strings from her guitar, wrapping the Dragon’s jaw shut, and used the immense strength granted by Red Joker to pull the massive beast’s head down towards the Wave Road. The Dragon struggled to no avail. Geo appeared above it, and with three swift sword strikes, the head was severed, dissipating into Noise that swirled aimlessly around the server. “There!” Sonia shouted—the Noise shielding the core was breaking down as well. “Give it all you’ve got!” Geo assaulted the core with twin Vulcan guns, giving Sonia a chance to charge up power. When he moved out of the way, Sonia fired a particularly intense Noise beam, hitting the core dead-on. She prepared to charge another attack when the shell of waves spontaneously reformed. What? As the Dragon’s neck continued to flail, a geyser of Noise erupted next to its base, quickly solidifying into the form of a second neck. Noise concentrated at the ends of both, and a few seconds later, the Dragon had not only regenerated its head, but now had a second one. It laughed at them. “Did you really think it would be that simple?” it taunted, bashing the speakers over the edge of the road. “The power of this server is vast, more vast than you can ever know! Cut off one head if you like, but more will simply grow in its place!” Both maws opened to expel a raging torrent of Crimson, one sweeping over the platform to batter Sonia while the other filled the space above, tossing Geo about. When Sonia looked up, one head was snapping towards her—she jumped aside, pushed it with a short blast, and then backed away and placed a hand on the side of her helmet. “Geo,” she said into her helmet mic, “can you hear me?” “Loud and clear.” “I figured this would be a safer way for us to coordinate. The core should open up if we can break the heads again, but it looks like we’re only going to have a narrow window to work with.” Geo rolled to the side, narrowly making it past one of the Dragon’s claws. “I wonder…even if it has two heads, it’s still controlled by King, right? Do you think we’ll still be able to split his focus?” “Guess we should feel that out before making any major moves. Okay, I’ll put on a show center stage!” Sonia loaded a Battle Card and started playing. Bombs shot from her guitar, each erupting into an enormous explosion as soon as they made contact with something; the Dragon roared at this, swiping at Sonia fruitlessly. However, Sonia didn’t see the second claw until it was too late. She was knocked down, and the Dragon prepared another breath attack. Geo shot at it from behind, causing both heads to turn, and focused his fire on one as he strafed to the side. The other head returned to Sonia, but its attack was delayed enough that she was able to punch it in the nose and get back up. “It definitely expands his vision,” Geo said, “but I think that’s all. It’s hard to say right now, but if this continues, controlling multiple heads might put more of a strain on him.” Sonia loaded another card, transforming her guitar into a giant axe. “Let’s find out!” She jumped, landing on an incoming missile just long enough to boost herself closer to the Crimson Dragon. Swinging, she cut one head across the cheek, twisting as she fell in order to kick the other as it tried to catch her. When she landed, she immediately raised the weapon to block as they both lunged. Geo swooped in then, hurling two spinning scythes, and chopped off the heads, revealing the core once again. Sonia hopped forward to smash her axe into it, pausing between swings to give Geo openings to launch arrows. They pulled back as soon as the shell returned, watching as the Dragon formed four heads, and watched carefully as their foe roared at them. Something blindsided Geo. As he floundered, Sonia felt something stick her in the back, and turned to see spears made of Noise flying at her. She raised her arms to block, and then faced the Dragon to see more coming at her from that direction. Geo was facing his own swarm of them, two of the lances momentarily pinning his wings to the Wave Road, but once he teleported free he focused on evasion and managed to steer clear of any more. Sonia did her best to ignore the attacks and fired blast after blast, but she began to grow worried about how much damage she was taking. “Sonia,” Geo said as he zipped around the server, “I’m going to set you up! You should be able to wipe them all out temporarily!” Battle Cards orbited the head of Sonia’s guitar as she waited. On Geo’s next pass, he dropped a small round object that fell between the heads—once it hit the Wave Road, it erupted in a large cloud of green, consuming the heads and surrounding the nearby area in grass. The spears stopped, and Sonia swiped a card. A great flamethrower spewed from her instrument, washing over the four heads in an instant, using the grass as fuel to burn even brighter. Geo’s plan worked: the heads were eliminated, and the core unveiled. He reached out with both hands, calling dozens of small electrical orbs to rise up from the edges of the Wave Road, each slowly creeping towards the core as Sonia pulverized it with a continuous beam. The last orb struck just before the shell reformed, and now eight heads greeted them. “Foolish children!” the Dragon said, raining more spears down upon its foes. “Why do you continue to struggle? Noise cannot be stopped! Noise will ravage the Earth, and every other world, until it corrupts this entire universe!” The spears ceased. Sonia cautiously kept her distance, only to see all eight heads reach up and blanket the sky with Crimson breath, leaving Geo nowhere to run. She quickly pivoted to attack—a flash from the core caught her attention, and suddenly a million tiny pinpoints of Noise shot out at her, stinging her entire body. Despite the pain, she still swung her glowing fist in a hook punch; every head recoiled as if struck, cutting off their aerial attack. “You will become one with the Noise soon!” the Dragon said, swiping at Sonia with its claws. “But unlike me, I don’t think you’ll find it a pleasant experience!” Geo shook his head as he found his balance again. Flying around behind the Dragon, his sword crackled with electricity, and with a single swing, he lopped off four of the heads. Bringing his blade back around, he cut off the other four, and then raised the weapon overhead before slashing down, calling a large thunderbolt to strike the core just as it was exposed. Sonia charged power as quickly as she could, flames springing up from her armor as she did. When she finally attacked, an immense, spiraling tongue of flame surged forth from her guitar head, charring the Wave Road and leaving a wreath of smoke that lingered around the now sixteen heads of the Crimson Dragon. “Noise is inescapable as death itself!” they all shouted in unison. “Come, mortals, to meet the reaper’s blade!” “That core is still running?!” Geo exclaimed. “Sonia, are these big enemies always like this?” “No,” Lyra said, “usually they’re mute, and it’s a quality I find myself missing tremendously at the moment.” Spears rained down, complimented by an onslaught of missiles. Geo flew back as far as he could, eventually finding himself out of range of the worst of it, and Mega said, “Even if King’s focus is split between all those heads, it doesn’t matter much with these wide-range attacks of his! If this keeps up, we’re gonna be in serious trouble!” Sonia evaded what she could, saying, “We just have to hang in there! Everyone’s counting on us, and we won’t let them down!” Noise burst from the Dragon’s torso again. Sonia was able to catch some of it on her guitar, but what got around it still stung terribly. The creature said, “Even now you talk of your childish ideals! Powerful as your naiveté may be, even it shall be slowly eroded into nothing by the Noise!” Sonia began to drop stone blocks on the heads, shrugging off the attacks that hit her. “I’m not being naïve! You think I don’t know how hard it is to believe in people? To pursue ideals in a world that seems like it doesn’t have room for them? I’m not naïve…but I’m going to keep believing! Maybe now I know how hard it is, but that just means I’m more prepared for the fight ahead! So I’ll keep fighting! For my sake! For my friends’ sake! For the sake of everyone who’s willing to open their hearts and let themselves grow!” She summoned two new speakers to her side. “You think corruption is inevitable? I know that isn’t true!” An ear-splitting sound pulse rammed straight into the Dragon. Its attacks all came to a halt as the heads wobbled about in a daze, giving Geo a chance to teleport next to Sonia. Both his buster and her guitar began to shine brightly. “Hopefully this’ll end it!” Geo said. “Hah!” They each fired a volley of white energy blasts, tearing apart the heads and then pounding away at the core. As the attack raged on, sparks began to burst from the core, and hope swelled in the two young heroes. Then, Noise exploded out at them, overwhelming them both with stinging pain as thirty two Crimson Dragon heads formed to loom over them. “Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho!” The laughs echoed all throughout the server. “Pretty words—that’s all idealism is in the end! Draw your last breath in defiance if that shall make your passing peaceful! One way or another, your broken waves shall be but another folder in this server as it brings ruin to your world!” The heads reared back in unison. Geo moved forward and threw up his shield just in time, protecting them both as waves and waves of Crimson spilled forth. “Did you see the core?” Geo said. “We’re close! If we can get one more round, I think it should be enough!” Sonia caught her breath. “Alright…one last push.” “Sonia? You alright?” Another deluge of Noise came at them. Geo’s shield held. “I dunno. None of these attacks have been too bad thanks to this armor, but I’ve taken so many of them. I think…I might be nearing my limit.” She readied her guitar, her speakers blaring to life in anticipation. “I can try to charge up all the power I have left. Hopefully I’ll hold out, but if not…” As she trailed off, Geo looked up at the Dragon, seeing it unleash even more Noise. “No, maybe that’s too risky,” Sonia said. “I need to keep moving. We’ll just keep at it, and—“ “It’s alright,” Geo interrupted. “You just charge your attack, Sonia. I’ll protect you until then.” Sonia blinked. “What? Geo, he’s just messing with us right now. Once he sees we’re up to something, he’s going to get serious—attack from all angles, with everything he’s got! You need to focus on keeping yourself safe!” Facing her, Geo said, “Even if we try to play it safe, we might not last through to another opening. We need to pin it all on this one, Sonia, and work together to be sure it’s successful!” “Geo, I don’t want you to get hurt!” “I don’t want you to get hurt either!” Still more Noise battered the shield. “Sonia, I know you’re used to ending things on your own—I know you’d rather do as much as you can by yourself while the rest of us just support you! But I’m your Brother, and I’m here for you! I’m depending on you to deliver that attack, so please, depend on me to keep you safe while you get ready!” Time seemed to slow down as Sonia hesitated. Eventually, she gave a single nod, and raised her guitar. “…Okay. I trust you, Geo! We’ll finish this leaning on each other!” Geo grinned. “You got it, Sonia! I promise: not a single attack will get through!” He rose into the air as Sonia started to play. The Dragon growled, muttering, “Oh, what do we have here? Are you spoiled children ready to meet your end?” “Mega,” Geo said, “we probably won’t have time to react. I know Black Ace’s analysis is complete, but I’ll need you to keep that data flowing.” “Way ahead of you, kid!” Mega said. “Don’t worry about a thing!” The Dragon roared. Missiles flew out, but Geo shot them all down in the blink of an eye. Spears fell towards him, but he teleported aside and up, slicing them apart, before immediately getting above Sonia to slice apart spears that had taken aim at her. His visor flashed—missiles were closing in from all around. He shot down most of them, teleported down to kick a few more out of the way, and simultaneously threw his sword to skewer the last one so that it clattered uselessly against the floor. A new sword was in his hand instantly. Sonia just kept playing, trying not to worry about Geo as he continued to deflect attacks. Her speakers glowed as they transmitted her music, though to her surprise, it seemed a good deal louder than she had expected. “Hope you don’t mind, dear,” Lyra said. “I’m doing a little mixing while you play, increasing the energy output so that we can reach our goal a bit more swiftly. Waiting around didn’t seem the most productive option given the circumstances.” Sonia chuckled. “Thanks, Lyra. With everyone helping out like this, I’m sure we’ll pull through!” She continued to play, and then, somewhat suddenly, recognized exactly what song she was playing. Something had clicked, she realized, and her focus grew sharper as a second wind empowered her. It had taken a long time, taken much struggle, but she finally knew the words to this song. “Here it is,” she said. “Debuting now…Shooting Star!” The Crimson Dragon roared. As Geo cut his way through a barrage of missiles, Sonia began to sing. “I don’t know whether it Might’ve been chance or fate That we met that day And our bond was born I never thought that I would be a part of this fight” Still more missiles came. Geo dashed through the air, firing a wide spray of pellets from his buster to shoot them down. The Dragon’s claws came after him, but he swung his sword expertly, parrying each swipe as he continued to deal with the missiles. A surprise jab forced him to ascend—the claws pressed their advantage, but Geo unleashed a powerful blast that stopped them both cold, before holding both palms out below him. Dozens, if not hundreds of tiny black holes opened, sucking up not only the claws but every last missile that was mid-flight. One additional rocket formed directly behind him. He sliced it apart with a flex of his wing, not even turning to look at it. “But now I look around And see I’m not alone All the ones I love They give me strength Our bonds form A brilliant constellation That lights the night” Next came the spears. The Dragon wasn’t even trying to hit Geo now, instead opting to attack Sonia from multiple angles and ranges in an attempt to outmaneuver Geo. He dashed forward, cutting through the nearest set of spears, and then teleported in front of Sonia just in time to obliterate a few more. Jumping behind her, he blocked a small cluster on his shield before unleashing a trio of fireballs at the projectiles, and then executed a far-reaching slash that felled at least a dozen incoming spears at once. Geo teleported rapidly, using the same type of swing again and again to carve up the advancing wall of attacks on every side. The Dragon increased the ferocity of its attack, so Geo teleported faster, barely visible as he moved from one spot to another to another. “We are the shooting stars Who light the way ahead We have all we need To defend our home From whatever comes” The core flashed as the hail of spears suddenly stopped. Immediately in front of it, Geo put up a barrier just as pinpoints of Noise gushed forth, the protective light lasting mere seconds before he had to replace it. He rapidly chained barrier cards, just barely having long enough each time to hold the barrage at bay. However, he then noticed the Dragon’s many heads rearing back. “Our trust, our love, They’re all the strength We need” Dropping a large chunk of stone in front of the core to be safe, Geo teleported to the middle of the platform as the Dragon’s Crimson breath washed over it. With little time to think, Geo stretched his arms out and began to spin, wind whipping around him to form into a great tornado colored green by the hundreds of leaves that filled it; the Crimson slammed into this cyclone, and slowly, it was all swept up by the powerful air currents, turning the funnel from green to red. “We’ll turn Each others’ pain Into hope” The tornado flew upward and dissipated. Geo was breathing heavily, and took a glance back at Sonia: she was still playing, massive clouds of Noise now enshrouding her speakers. The Crimson Dragon snorted furiously. Geo steeled himself as it snapped forward, but then his eyes shot wide as he saw the Dragon do something he had yet to see it do. The thirty two heads it had amassed were now being launched forward, one-by-one in rapid succession, all weaving in very different paths as they bore down on him and Sonia. Geo abandoned all attempts at thought and simply acted. “I'm not afraid of anything We'll keep lighting up the sky For all to see” A yellowish glow cloaked Geo. Oversized shots poured from his buster at breakneck speeds—he could track the heads well enough, but it took far too many shots to destroy each one. One hit him directly, going up in an explosion of Noise, but he simply ignored the pain and dove, skewering a head that had nearly slipped past him. Geo hurled bladed wheels at the heads, breaking some and only diverting others. He buried his sword in one, raising his hand to call down a brief shower of meteors, while firing a stream of rockets from his buster, leaving only a handful of heads remaining. Summoning another blade, he slashed through as many as he could, but one got around him; he threw himself backwards, taking the detonation himself, and landed on the platform with a crash. His body sprang back up, and before he even had time to process it, he was flying towards the space right above Sonia. He thrust as one final head came into view, catching it just before it made contact with Sonia and carrying it far enough away that its explosion didn’t reach her. “Because I’ll always know No matter what You’ll all be with me” As she played the penultimate note, each speaker fired a beam containing untold quantities of Noise, compressed into a precise attack that ripped away the shell protecting the core. Sonia then pointed her guitar forward, and with one final note, she fired an even deadlier beam, converging with the others as they all mercilessly attacked the core. The energy generated began to expand, but only for a moment: a distortion slowly enveloped the core, bending and twisting into something like a black hole as Geo descended into view. He and Sonia nodded to each other. Drawing his sword, Geo shot forward, cutting past his encapsulated target faster than Sonia could see. A gash appeared through the black hole. And then all the energy stored within the distortion erupted in one brilliant display, leaving behind a badly damaged core surrounded by disconnected clusters of Noise. “No…” came King’s voice, though from where no one was sure. “No…no! I cannot fail…Noise CANNOT be beaten!” Geo charged his buster. Sonia ran forward. “I’m…not…done! I wield the power…of Meteor G! I will kill EVERYONE!” Just as Sonia leapt at the core, Geo took aim. “This can’t be…!” A punch and an energy blast struck the core at the exact same time. Caught between such powerful forces, it finally gave out, crumbling into dust. A powerful shockwave rippled out from it as it went. And then, with its core gone, the Meteor Server collapsed. (Review)
  11. KARDAS DRAGON is appalled! 20 physical damage, 50 emotional damage! It retaliates with a powerful swing of its claw! KARDAS DRAGON waits for an opening, and then fires a pinpoint beam at your chest! It then charges into the nearest guard to rip it to shreds with its teeth!
  12. KARDAS DRAGON bellows defiantly! Attack up!
  13. KARDAS DRAGON is aware! The cliff falls away before it explodes, causing the rubble to be blasted directly towards you! KARDAS DRAGON understands. It sounds like that was a mistake on the part of whoever made the instructions, so it may pay them a visit later!
  14. An immense explosion engulfs KARDAS DRAGON! When the smoke clears, the dragon is nowhere to be seen. At the center of the impact crater rests some sort of dummy. KARDAS DRAGON laughs from a nearby cliff. Seems it switched locations with the dummy at the last possible second! KARDAS DRAGON fires a sweeping beam into the oncoming forces, lighting them up!
  15. KARDAS DRAGON meditates for a moment. It then shoots out at blinding speed, clearing the radius in a second, and poses as the snapped strings all explode behind it! KARDAS DRAGON is deeply offended! It calls its lawyer, who says they will see you in court!
  16. 20 damage! KARDAS DRAGON grabs the Thwomp and throws it back at you! KARDAS DRAGON cracks its knuckles! Attack power up! KARDAS DRAGON engages the approaching armies, slowly but surely laying waste to them—though not doing so unscathed. 200 damage! KARDAS DRAGON has no idea who any of these people are! It shrugs. KARDAS DRAGON grunts in frustration! It attacks you with a beam of concussive force! KARDAS DRAGON tries to hide its smile by eating the cake! You can still tell how happy it is. KARDAS DRAGON confides its deepest secrets and aspirations to you! Unfortunately, the two of you do not speak the same language. KARDAS DRAGON seems annoyed! It then remembers that Flash support is supposedly ending soon, grows sad, and decides to cherish what time it has left. (Sorry for the delay, life happened.)
  17. KARDAS DRAGON continues to dance! It whips its tail around, crushing a series of blocks in the process and freeing their contents: roughly a dozen 1-up Mushrooms that it snaps up without missing a beat.
  18. KARDAS DRAGON won’t lose! It begins its own dance, displaying a level of skill and poise seen rarely even in seasoned professionals! FENRAKK looks frustrated! It then weaves itself a small cocoon, displays a time card reading “Five turns later…”, and reemerges as KARDAS DRAGON once more! KARDAS DRAGON is thrilled to see a monster its size! With a bellow, it flies through the air straight at the Kraken! You roll a 3! You hurl an axe that is constantly streaming jets of flame from both ends at KARDAS DRAGON! KARDAS DRAGON is so in awe of this weapon that it forgets to dodge! 50 damage!
  19. Chapter 37 Geo and Sonia Noise Changed, triggering short bursts of light in the distance of the server. Geo engaged Cancer Crown Noise, while Sonia activated Libra Crown, her dress turning into thick green armor with gold streaks on the sides. Her greaves became massive gold boots shaped like the body of Libra Scales, her shoulders were encased in bulbous green ornaments, her scarf turned green, and the nodes on her orange helmet sharpened into golden spikes. Her arms remained unarmored, changing to green and gold; her guitar was a ghastly shade of white, with the body shaped to resemble a cartoonish skull. As Jack hovered right above Tia, Sonia readied her guitar. “Please, listen!” Sonia said. Flames engulfed Jack’s hands. “Sis said shut up!” A flurry of fire bolts shot out at random, blanketing the platform to make approaching the pair as difficult as possible. Laplace dematerialized to insure Solo’s barrier protected him, while Geo stepped in front of Sonia with his shield, both looking at her as they held the line. “Alright…I think our best bet is to surround them,” Sonia said, playing a few notes. “I’ll draw their attention as best I can!” Three orb-shaped spirits appeared at her side: one made of fire, one made of water, and one made of electricity, each wielding a different weapon. Geo and Solo broke formation, the latter calmly closing in on the siblings as he circled to one side. Jack continued to firebomb the area, while Tia tilted her staff forward—a burst of rain fell down on Solo, but it too was repelled, and he calmly walked closer. As Sonia dodged fire, she played to issue commands to her minions, the flame spirit launching arrows from its crossbow as they advanced. The shots all disappeared into Tia’s shield, each prompting a small burst of water to shoot out on contact; however, the numerous jets managed to obscure Tia’s view of the battlefield, and she lost track of Solo. “Sis, on your left!” Jack said. Tia turned to see Solo leaping up over her barrier, brushing off fire bolts to kick Jack in the face. She raised her staff, but before she could attack, Geo appeared behind her with a Break Sabre, slashing right through her shield and using Crown Noise’s ability to render her blind. Jack swung at Solo, but he dropped down inside Tia’s shield. Geo leapt up at Jack, connecting with a Freeze Knuckle, and then smacked him down with a Great Axe while Solo hit Tia with a string of blows. Sonia’s spirits had reached their foes: the one made of water swung its hammer down, the shockwaves from the impact dispelling Tia’s water veil so that Sonia could blast her with notes. “Take that!” Lyra said. “I’ll put you in your place yet, Virgo!” Sonia felt like she should say something, but the thought was gone in an instant. She realized she was feeling frustrated for some reason. “Hey, this isn’t the way this is supposed to go!” Virgo said. “Get your butt in gear, Tia! We can’t let them win again!” Tia managed to block one of Solo’s punches with her staff. Pushing back, she called up another swirl of water to sweep him and the spirits back, finishing by sending a water dragon after Sonia. She did her best to look calm as she scanned her surroundings, but they could all see the glint of anger lighting her eyes. Nearby, Jack go to this feet, calling, “Hold on Sis!” He lunged at Geo with his talons—the boy raised his shield, but right before he hit it, Jack pulled his arms back and turned one wing into a sharp blade, curving it around the shield to stab Geo in the shoulder. Geo flinched as he dropped his guard, and Jack pushed him back with a short barrage of fire bolts. He hung back as Geo recovered, watching carefully to see what he would do, but to his surprise, Geo turned around and loaded a Battle Card; a few dozen coins appeared above Tia and fell down on her head. Jack charged, but he was so focused on Geo he didn’t see Solo until the Murian warrior was already in front of him. Solo sent him reeling, the flames of his fist flaring up as he made contact, and then stopped and grabbed his wrist for a moment before pressing his advantage. Tia busied herself repelling attacks from Geo and Sonia, attempting counterattacks whenever she thought she could. The stalemate dragged on, and with a harsh sigh, Sonia said, “Tia, you’ve got to see reason! You can’t seriously believe this is going to work!” Tia simply attacked her. Sonia grunted as she dodged, but as she angrily raised her guitar, she paused. Wait…why am I so on edge? Geo avoided another attack and jumped in front of Tia, driving a Drill Arm through her barrier. He exchanged glances with Sonia, and she realized he too looked unusually angry. Before she had time to piece things together, Tia spun her staff over her head before slamming it back down, conjuring three water dragons beneath her: one chased after Sonia, the other pursued Geo, and the third spiraled upward with Tia on its head, silently observing her foes. Suddenly, a barrage of fist-shaped projectiles came her way—she directed the dragon through the onslaught, glaring down at Solo. A shout caught Geo’s attention as he narrowly dodged the dragon. Turning, he was greeted by Jack colliding with him head-on, feeling the boy cut into his arm before giving him a chance to roll to his feet. A shadow appeared over Jack, so he dodged back. A large speaker resembling one of Libra’s weights dropped onto the road and caught him in a sound pulse; seizing the opportunity, Geo vaulted over the device and brought a massive hammer down on Jack. He then lifted the weapon and brought it down again, then a third time, and then finally formed a cannon he aimed at his stunned opponent. “Dang, kid,” Mega said. “You’re really going to town on him.” Geo stopped. Looking at Jack, he muttered, “I…uh…” He backed up, letting Jack stand. Sonia had the head of her guitar pointed in their direction. “Get him!” Lyra said. “If we can take him out, we’ll have an easier time dismantling Virgo!” Sonia slid her foot forward, then stopped. “…Lyra…do you feel that?” “Feel what?” “It’s the same as before. When Joker was overloading us with Noise…and when the OOParts tried to take control of us…” Lyra huffed. “…Drat. I believe you’re right. We were told that being inside a super-dense Noise environment would pose a serious risk of corruption.” Geo stared at Jack for a moment. Then, Jack said, “You’re gonna regret that!” He punched Geo in the face, flames wreathing the blow. As Geo was knocked back, Solo charged Jack from behind, but Jack spun in mid-air to avoid him and retaliate. Solo quickly drew a glyph as Jack’s wing connected, disappearing in a puff of smoke only to reappear higher up and hurl shuriken down at him. Jack shot the projectiles down with fire bolts before taking aim at Solo. Behind him, Tia dropped down, her armor glowing, and called down pillars of light to batter Geo as he tried to get up. When she landed, Geo threw a vicious uppercut that pierced her barrier and stunned her briefly. He drew back his fist, let out a long breath, and backed up. “You hear what Sonia said, kid?” Mega asked. “Yeah,” Geo said. “Guess we need to be careful not to let the Noise overwhelm us as we fight…but as we fight, we generate more and more. This could be rough.” Jack slashed Solo’s back and took off, peppering Geo and Sonia with flames as he did. Sonia rolled aside and blasted notes at him. Geo dodged an attack from Tia, and then fired an arrow up at Jack, clipping his wing and making him rapidly lose altitude. He had to act fast to evade Tia again, and noticed Solo drawing a glyph—he then ran his hand through it, generating four duplicates, and then waved outward, sending them flying out to surround Tia. With a crackle, each glyph hurled a powerful bolt of purple lightning at Tia’s barrier, causing it erupt from five sides at once and leaving very little water left to shield her. Seeing this, Geo rushed forward with a sword, just as Solo swung Laplace from the other side. They successfully broke through. Tia was swift to strike back, but still missed as they retreated. Sonia tried to keep her mind clear as she played for her spirits, directing their attacks in an attempt to box Jack in. Even on the ground, he was still extremely agile, and managed to surprise her with a fire bolt that hit her leg. Sonia knelt, feeling a swell of fury, but pushed it away. It bounced right back when Jack came forward to kick her in the face. “You mighta got lucky last time,” Corvus said, “but Virgo and I are unstoppable together! You’re done for this time, Harp Note!” “Give up already,” Jack said. “With your wave body, you could just leave, find some other planet to hide out on. If you keep fighting, you’re just going to die!” Sonia clenched her teeth as she worked to get a handle on her emotions. Looking up at Jack, she said, “And leave Earth? Let all those other people die? Never!” “Why do they matter to you?! What have they done that makes you think they deserve to live?” Jack swiped. Sonia jumped away, fought off the urge to strike back, and said, “Nothing! It’s not something anyone needs to earn, Jack! Everyone’s life has value—everyone will be missed by someone when they’re gone!” “Even all the rotten ones?” “Everyone can change! It’s something we all have the capacity to do, and something I refuse to deny anyone!” Jack continued swiping, Sonia dancing away from each one. “You think King will change? Did Joker change?! Your crumby ideals have their limits, Sonia!” A surprise wing attack knocked Sonia to the ground. She came right back up, barely getting around Jack, and managed to snare him in strings. “I know!” she said. “…I know. Even if everyone can change, not everyone does. I understand that better than ever now.” “Then why bother?” Jack asked, twisting around. “You can’t change everyone, so why keep trying?” A red aura formed around Sonia. “Because some people will change! Maybe not everyone, maybe not even that many, but as long as I can convince even one person to change their ways, I’m going to keep doing everything I can to see that they do!” Jack struggled free and attacked Sonia. However, Noise was now wrapping around her, shielding her from the blow. Far above, in the shell of Crimson that surrounded the entire area, intricate pathways lit up and shifted, as data streamed between them rapidly. “So what if my ideals have limits? That doesn’t make them worthless! I’ll still hold onto them, still do as much good as I possibly can with them! Maybe I can’t change the whole world…but I won’t know for sure unless I try! And that’s absolutely worth the risk!” The pathways converged above Sonia, firing a beam of light directly down upon her. Her aura grew denser, folding into a spherical shape, and when it all fell away, Sonia was in her Red Joker form once again, staring at Jack with a focus that stunned him momentarily. “...H-Hey,” Corvus said, “so what? The fight’s not over! Keep up the pressure, Jack!” Hesitantly, Jack rushed forward and slashed with his wing. Sonia raised one arm, catching the blow on her armor, and then turned her head. “Geo!” she shouted. “Try Finalizing! With that level of control over Noise, it’s not able to corrupt you at all!” She swung her arm, repelling Jack. Expecting a follow-up, he braced himself, but Sonia just stood there. Jack launched fire bolts as he flew over Sonia, but she blocked them with her guitar. Growling in frustration, Jack lit his claws and continued his attack, growing more and more relentless with every swing. Geo and Solo backed away as Tia called down more light pillars. Glancing at his Hunter arm, Geo said, “Finalize…are we ready for that?” “We’re gonna have to give it our best shot!” Mega said. “I might be able to handle the extra aggression this Noise is causing, but seeing you going wild is actually freaking me out.” Tia sent a water dragon after Geo, but Solo launched a glyph at it: the dragon was teleported to the side, instead hitting Jack as he kept futilely trying to hurt Sonia. A look of terror filled Tia’s eyes as she watched to see if he was alright. “Do it now, kid!” Mega said. Nodding, Geo breathed deeply, focusing on the Ace Program and the Noise that was flooding into it. A red aura formed, and Solo rushed at Tia to keep her distracted. He launched a kick straight through her barrier, sending her reeling, and then slammed Laplace down to engulf her in a bright blaze of purple. As he waited for the smoke to clear, he was already forming more glyphs. Tia looked back at Jack—he was up—and then whirled on Solo. “What stake do you even have in this?! You’ve no reason to care for this world! Why should it grieve you to see it end?” “I never said it would,” Solo said. “I’m just here to push the limits of Murian power.” A water dragon coiled around Tia, who shouted, “And for what?! Do you hope to avenge your fallen culture? Do you think battling in darkness will show anyone the supposed splendor of your people? What reason do you have to continue to fight, Rogue?!” The flames on Solo’s hand flared suddenly, reaching all the way up his arm. He winced, but finished the last glyph he was making—and then a brilliant light covered his blade. Hefting Laplace, he paused, and then gave a smirk. “I suppose I just enjoy it,” he answered. He swung. At first, the attack seemed ineffective. But then, Tia’s barrier burst into droplets, and a massive cut appeared on her armor, purple smoke seeping out of it. Her knees buckled, dropping her to the road. The dragon, however, rose higher. “You…reckless…child…!” Tia groaned. She raised her staff. A single light pillar shot down, hitting the head of the dragon; the light was refracted through the water, splitting the attack into dozens of beams that sliced out in random directions. Solo dodged what he could, Laplace blocking all but one of the rest. Jack had seen the attack coming, and so had gotten out of the way in time, and Sonia seemed unfazed. Geo, however, took several of the beams directly. Everyone looked to him as he wobbled back and forth, barely staying upright. He locked eyes on Tia. “…You look worried,” he murmured. Tia slowly pushed herself up. “…Nonsense.” “Ms. Tia—“ “Don’t call me that!” she snapped. “I’m no teacher! That pitiful life was a ruse, all for this! It was all for the sake of this wish! Don’t you understand? We must finish this! Are you really so cruel as to deny us the one solace we’ve chased all these years?!” Geo stood tall. “…Yes…and no.” His aura grew deeper. “I won’t let Meteor G collide with Earth. I won’t let you ‘eradicate technology’, and kill innocent people. But now, I think I know the reason why you’re doing this…the real wish you think this plan will fulfill. And you’re right: to deny you that true wish—for you and Jack to finally be safe and happy—would be cruel. So I’ll have to prove to you that those two things are separate.” A spark caught Tia’s eye. Down below, on the opposite side of the Noise shell, pathways were lighting up once again. “You see,” Geo said, “I have a wish of my own, one that I’ve been holding onto for a few years now. That wish…is to have my father back home. And for the first time, that’s in my grasp. So while there’s a contradiction in your motivation…mine…is perfectly clear!” A beam of light rose from the Noise, connecting it to Geo as Crimson consumed him. Soon, the distortion passed, and Geo’s transformation was revealed: sleek black and grey armor covered him, looking almost like a second skin save for where it rounded over his chest and shoulders, with bright green lines bordering each individual segment of the design. His helmet was similarly aerodynamic, with lengthy fins on either side of his face and a single flat horn that sprouted up from the center of his forehead before arcing gracefully back. Floating behind him were long, narrow strips of black metal, arranged into the shape of two wings and held together by a thin, constantly shifting film of reddish-pink Noise. Geo lifted off the Wave Road, clenching and unclenching his fists as he took stock of the power he now possessed. “…Black Ace Mega Man.” He lifted his buster. Tia immediately raised her shield, but in the fraction of a second it took to form, half a dozen blasts connected with her. She looked down at herself in shock, and then back up to see Geo right in front of her with a sword. The blade sliced through her shield in an instant, lopping the end off of her staff; Tia willed a shockwave to emerge from it, but Geo was behind her before the attack commenced. “Father…” Jack said. “Wait. That guy with King is your father?” Geo turned sharply. “W…What? You saw my dad? King’s with him?!” Jack looked up the slope, Geo following his gaze. He paused a moment, but then shook his head, turning back to the fight. “Geo,” Sonia said. When he looked up, she smiled, continuing, “Go. We can handle this.” Geo gave a nod, and then in the blink of an eye, he was gone, leaving only a wake of Noise trailing uphill. Jack turned to see Sonia smiling at him now, and he gritted his teeth in response. “Wipe that stupid grin off your face!” Jack said. “What do I care if it’s his dad? I just wanted him out of the way so we can pick you two off even more easily!” Jack and Tia regrouped, so Sonia and Solo did the same. Sonia said, “Sorry, hope you don’t mind.” “Why would I?” Solo said. “Hehe, thanks.” Her eyes were drawn to his still-burning arm. “…I haven’t seen it do that before.” Solo turned towards her slightly, but then faced their foes again. “It’s nothing. Don’t let it distract you.” “You okay Sis?” Jack asked, hovering above the opening in Tia’s barrier. “…Fine,” she said, dropping her broken staff. “Jack. We need to make the most of this opportunity.” “O-Of course! Let’s get this over with, then!” The flame atop Jack’s helmet began to burn brighter, reaching up as he spread his arms wide. As he did, Tia brought her hands together, and the waters guarding her began to churn wildly, sprouting water dragons in rapid succession. Seven serpent heads encircled Tia, while dozens of purple flames hovered in the air around Jack. Solo adjusted his stance, but to his surprise, Sonia stepped in front of him. “My armor can take anything they can throw,” Sonia said. “Let me hold their attack off, while you come up with some way to defeat them.” Solo scowled. “What, are you worried about me? I told you—“ “That’s not it. I’m just doing what I think will end this the quickest.” Reluctantly, Solo took a few short steps back. Sonia summoned her two towering speakers as she braced herself. “Jack! Tia! This is the final track! So open your hearts…and listen!” She began to play as the siblings executed their assault. Powerful Noise exploded out of the speakers, forming a barrier around Sonia that easily held off the fire bolts that tried to arc around her to hit Solo. Most of the rest were blasted apart by the sound waves that intercepted them, and the few that did make it through bounced harmlessly off of Sonia’s armor. Amidst this downpour of flames, the water dragons took turns lunging forward to crash against Sonia; the first few shook her up a little, but she adjusted quickly, standing her ground as they continued. There was a small pause in Jack’s barrage: the seven dragons all shot out at once, each coming at Sonia from a different angle. Sonia jumped back, angled her guitar, and just as they were all upon her, she fired a wide beam of Noise, shredding all the constructs apart at once. As they burst, however, she became aware of two enormous claws made of purple flame that hung in the air above her. Faster than she could react, they plummeted, catching her shoulders just right that they caught her arms and forced her down on one knee. “Got you now!” Jack said. “Let’s see if you’re as durable as you think!” Tia’s armor shone brilliantly, and she held one open palm forward. Sonia mentally prepared as focused light lanced out in her direction. However, the beam never hit her. Solo, surrounded by at least twenty floating glyphs, appeared in front of her, using Laplace’s barrier to hold back the oncoming torrent of light. “Hmph,” he grunted. “What made you think I would let you win?” He ran forward, keeping one hand against the barrier as the beam was split apart by his advance. Jack shouted, but there was nothing he could do—Solo’s fist connected with Tia, purple light shooting out from the point of impact, and she was hurled to the very edge of the platform. As Jack began to move, Solo threw aside his other hand: Laplace emerged from his shoulder, passing through one of the glyphs as they did, and split into two identical Wizards who flanked Jack and transformed into swords. The twin blades arced up, crossing as they cut Jack, and then returned to their Wizard forms just above him to smack him down into Solo’s grasp. He threw Jack to his sister’s side, and the claws holding Sonia down dissipated. “Awesome!” Sonia said as she came forward. The two Laplaces merged back into one as the glyphs faded, and she watched Jack and Tia struggle to their feet. “I told you, this fight is over. No encores.” “No…” Tia croaked. “We…will not…be stopped! I’ve given up too much for this! I have…to make sure…Jack is safe…!” Beside her, Jack said, “Sis…what should we do?” Tia glared at Sonia. Before she could act, however, a sudden pressure was exerted on her, and both she and Jack were dragged back down to the platform. Able to raise her head for just a moment, she spotted Geo floating back down the ramp, holding an orb of black energy in his outstretched hand. “Seems you guys did just fine,” Geo said. “I know it’s kind of late now, but I hope you’ll let me pitch in a little more.” “What are you doing back here?” Sonia asked. “What about your dad?” Geo shook his head. “I can’t get to him. He and King are behind a Crimson barrier, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t break through. I shouted, but they couldn’t even hear me…we’re going to need to figure out some way to disable it before we can go forward.” “Don’t…talk like you’ve won!” Tia said. “We’re not through yet!” Jack looked to her, then to Geo, then at the road. Ultimately, he let out a heavy sigh, and he said, “No, Sis…I think we are.” Giving him a horrified look, she said, “What? No, Jack! You can’t lose hope!” “It’s okay, Sis. We lost…and, maybe…it’s for the best.” He reached out, just barely able to take hold of Tia’s hand. “I’ve been thinking…maybe they’re right. Maybe we really would just be repeating the same mistakes that ruined our lives. I…I don’t want to put more kids through the we went through. And I know you don’t really want to either.” Tia bit her lip as tears started to well in her eyes. “I know this was what kept us going. But…maybe it’s enough just that it got us this far. We’re finally free from King’s control. We have what we needed…so maybe it’s okay to find a different wish now.” After a pause, he added, “Can we?” Silence stretched on. Then, with a gentle sob, Tia squeezed her brother’s hand, nodded, and said, “Okay, Jack…I…I just want you to be happy. I-I thought this was the only thing that could do that, but…if you really think this is the way…then okay.” Jack smiled at her. “Thanks, Sis. I’m positive: we’re both gonna be a lot happier this way.” Suddenly, the pressure was gone. Jack and Tia looked to Geo, who said, “I’m glad. Like we said, we’ll do whatever we can to help you. We’ve still got a job to do here, but for now, why don’t you two get some rest?” “Right,” Jack said. “…H-Hey, Geo.” “Huh?” “I’ll get it if you say no, but…do you think, eventually…we could all become friends again? I…I’d really like that…” Geo chuckled. “Of course! I’m happy to hear you want to stay friends, Jack!” Jack nodded, and then turned back to Tia. Quietly, Mega said, “Seems like a happy ending…but, there’s still one thing I’m worried about.” “Hey, hey, hey!” Corvus shouted as he materialized next to Jack. “What is this trash?! You’re seriously just gonna give up?” Virgo materialized as well, saying, “No no no no! You can’t quit now! I still have to kill these guys! We were gonna kill so many people—how can you pass up a chance like that?!” “Come on,” Jack said, “let it go already. We’ve already decided.” Tia closed her eyes, saying, “I’m tired of fighting…I’m ready to stop.” Virgo waved her fists around as she whined, while Corvus floated there grinding his teeth together. Sonia said, “You two should stand down. We don’t want to hurt you. Earth and Planet FM are allies now, so we can—“ “Shut up!” Corvus said. “I’m sick of hearing that! The FM King goes to destroy Earth, and then suddenly he wants to change our whole planet to be all goody-goody? Where do you get off telling us the way we operate is wrong?!” “Yeah, yeah!” Virgo chimed in. “We hate your preachy shtick! That’s the whole reason we joined Scorpio’s movement—the whole reason we came to Earth to try to kill you!” Sonia prepared to ask, but Mega cut her off: “We gotta bag ‘em. They ain’t gonna listen to reason, and they’re too dangerous to set loose. ‘Sides, if Wolf found out Corvus got away, he’d be in the worst mood of his life.” “I’m in agreement with Mega,” Lyra said. “Virgo has never understood the consequences of her actions—you can’t expect her to start thinking things through now.” “What are you talking about?” Virgo asked. “Do you seriously know me somehow? What’s your beef with me?” Lyra materialized, glaring daggers at the other FM-ian. “My ‘beef’? I just explained: you never understood the consequences of what you did! We never met, but I knew you, Virgo…I looked up to you. Planet FM is a world dominated by males, but you overcame that! You, a female FM-ian, were one of the king’s elite warriors! You inspired so many of us—finally, proof that we could still achieve the things we’d dreamed of but never felt able to do! You made us think things were going to change…and because of you, they did. They became even worse.” Virgo scratched her head. “Huh? How?” “When in your boredom you defected to a life of murder, your example became a weapon to be used against us! Now even those who might’ve considered giving female FM-ians a chance would not, justifying it by saying they didn’t want to risk another Virgo! I didn’t let it stop me…but because of you, climbing the ladder was more hellish than I ever dreamed! It ate away at my soul to such a degree, I shudder to think of what I’d have become without Sonia’s influence!” Lyra stopped to breathe. “You’re hardly the only person to blame for the hardships faced by me, by Ophiuca, by every other female…but you had a choice in the matter, and chose to contribute rather than to repair. And even now that I’ve laid it all out for you, you still don’t understand, do you, Virgo?” Rolling her eyes, Virgo said, “Look, I don’t really get what you’re so upset. You want power or something? You’ve got plenty of it! Now shut up and wait patiently until I come over there to murder you!” Lyra shook her head. Turning back around, she moved to dematerialize, but Sonia set a hand on her shoulder to stop her. The girl smiled at her. It was a moment before she felt up to it, but Lyra was able to genuinely return the gesture. “So…what are we going to do with them?” Geo asked. “We’d better hurry up: we’re running out of time.” Corvus looked to Virgo. They both nodded. In a flash, Jack and Tia’s Wave Changes were undone, and before they realized what had happened, the two FM-ians swung at their former partners. A blur streaked past them, and they swung through empty space. Jack, Tia, and Geo now stood on the other side of the platform, with Sonia generating a barrier in front of them. The criminals turned to renew their attack, but that was when Solo punched the ground, causing geysers of purple to spew up from beneath them. Solo winced as he executed the attack. When it had settled, Virgo and Corvus remained covered in flames, shouting as the corruptive energy slowly broke down their bodies. Sonia barely had time to process what was happening, and then it was over. She stared at Solo’s back as he stood. “…That was unintentional,” Solo said. “I only wanted to subdue them.” Sonia let out a long breath. Lowering the barrier, she turned and said, “Is everyone okay?” “I think so,” Jack said. “But, uh…” “Our Noise Blockers were installed in them,” Tia said. “We need to get out of here, fast.” “Oh, right!” Sonia said. “Do you think they’ll be safe back in the rocket?” “I hope so,” Geo said. “We’ll need to help them back through the Noise Wave to make sure no viruses get them, but we also need to find a way to disable that barrier up ahead.” “We should probably split up,” Sonia said. “Let’s see…” “I’ll take them,” Solo said. The others turned toward him. “My Darklight Harvester…is at its limit,” he went on, raising the bracelet. “The Noise here is so dense that it’s simply too much for the device, and so its energy is beginning to run wild.” Nodding slowly, Sonia said, “Oh, that’s why you couldn’t hold back your attack…” “I can’t do any more good here. Harp Note, Mega Man, you’ll have to handle King and the core without me. I’ll take these two back to the rocket and wait for you to wrap up.” “Thank you, Solo. We’ll try not to be too long.” Solo walked over to Jack and Tia. He paused as if to say something, but then resumed walking, so the siblings moved quickly to avoid being left behind. Geo and Sonia prepared to move forward, when suddenly, data pathways all around the space began lighting up. “What now?” Geo asked. Light flashed on the Wave Road, directly in Solo’s path. He jumped back, immediately entering a battle stance, and sized up the new arrival: he was an EM being, one that looked remarkably human-like, exuding some eerie presence as he scanned the group. He wore an oddly-fashioned black coat with a ring-shaped emblem on the chest and a red stripe down the front, and his legs were covered in the same material. His face was thin, with very simple features that made it seem to disappear into his red skin, and from beneath his silver and red cap fell a sheet of straight black hair that reached his shoulders. “W…who are you?” Sonia said. The newcomer looked to Jack and Tia. As he raised his hand, Solo moved in front of them; a second later, the siblings were each surrounded by a small orb of translucent blue light. The stranger nodded. “Those Noise Barriers will preserve you,” he said, his voice soft but clear. “Forgive the intrusion. I thought it best to speak with you in person, Solo.” Solo took a step to the side. “…And why is that?” “I have much to explain,” he said, looking back over everyone. “I should start by introducing myself. I am Blitzar of Planet XM, former Administrator of the Meteor Server.” (Review)
  20. Chapter 36 “Magnes!” The Wizard looked up as Zack came running into the room. “Oh, hey Zack. Good to see you.” “There you are,” the boy said as he caught his breath. “I’ve been looking all over for you. There’s a massive opportunity I need to talk with you about!” Magnes turned away, grunting quietly. “I’m…not really interested.” “What? You haven’t even heard what it is yet!” The Wizard didn’t give much of a response. Zack sighed, walking around so he could look him in the eye. “Magnes…you need to quit moping around like this! When I heard how you helped Detective Copper deal with the spy, I thought maybe you were finally ready to make a change.” “I was scared, and I was trying to survive. I didn’t want to let him down—“ “And didn’t it feel good to help out?” “…Yup, I guess. But, I really didn’t do much.” Zack shook his head. “Magnes, why are you so resistant to trying something new? I know you loved working with the Science Club, but dwelling on what you’ve lost isn’t going to help anyone, least of all you!” Magnes hung his head, saying, “Zack, I just…I feel so useless. I thought I had a purpose, but I failed to carry it out, and now the only things I can do feel like something anyone could do. I’m unnecessary, and that…” “…It hurts more than you can say, right?” Zack reached out and set a hand on Magnes’s arm. “Magnes, I felt the same way. After the FM-ians came and all my friends became heroes, I felt like I had lost everything, like I had failed to be useful to them and would never find another place I really belonged. But if I had given into that feeling, I never would have realized how much I love rocket science!” “You really felt like that?” “Yes, so I know this is hard on you. I’ve been trying to give you the time you need, but we’re all running out of time, and I need your help!” Magnes spent a long few seconds considering this. “…If you need my help…then I’ll do what I can.” Zack smiled. “Thank you.” Magnes rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m sorry, Zack. It’s not that I want to give up, it’s just hard to move on without any sense of closure.” His smile widening, Zack said, “I think this’ll give us both the closure we need.” *** From the roof of AMAKEN, Sonia could see Meteor G shining brightly in the night sky, her eyes so fixed on the deadly beacon that she didn’t hear Boreal approach. When she finally noticed him, she spared him a glance before looking down at the facility’s grounds. “You ever miss this place?” she asked. “I miss it,” Boreal said, “but that doesn’t mean I regret returning to WAZA. Despite the circumstances, there’s something nice about being able to work for both over the past few days.” Sonia slid on her Visualizer. The Wave Roads glowed softly, providing some distraction from the red light up above. “This is where we were given the Star Force. Man, that seems like such a long time ago now…so many things have happened, things I still can hardly believe.” Boreal leaned against the railing. “…So, you knew she was looking for Geo’s dad this whole time?” “Yeah. Listen, Sonia…I wanted to tell you about your aunt. You deserve to know. But, it just wasn’t my place to say it, and…” “It’s okay, I understand.” She removed the Visualizer. “To be honest, she isn’t really what I expected. Not that I’ve ever given much thought to what a hypothetical long-lost aunt might be like, but…I guess it surprises me just how different she is from Mama. It’s hard to really put into words, but I feel like I’m judging her a bit too quickly.” “Well, she does certainly leave a clear impression. Always has.” Sonia’s gaze turned back to Meteor G. “Whatever the case, I’m glad I got to meet her. I have a lot of questions for her once we get back…” The sky continued to darken. “…We really failed Jack and Tia,” Sonia murmured. “We did what we had to do. I still stand by that.” “I know, but I disagree.” Boreal nodded. “I made the same decision, though. And I didn’t make any effort to help Tia when I had the chance. What I mean is, I’ll take my fair share of the blame, and I won’t hold a grudge or anything. But this time, when I meet them up there, I’m going to do this right. I want to understand what they’re doing…or at least try to. At the very least. I owe it to them.” Boreal looked up as well, adjusting his hat. “I hope you’re able to help them. Kelvin, too.” “Oh, that’ll be the easy part,” Sonia said. “We’ll have him back on Earth in no time, and you can show off all the hard work you’ve done and status you’ve earned while he’s been off relaxing in space.” “Haha, yeah? Maybe he’ll also let me pick his brain about what he saw out there. He might have the key to our next technological leap for all we know!” Sonia started to laugh, but it quickly turned into a yawn. “You should get some rest.” “I want to be ready as soon as the rocket’s done.” “Estimates say it won’t be done until the morning anyway, and more importantly, you’re going to need to be at your best to deal with what’s waiting for you up there.” “Maybe, but…” “I’ll call Luna if I have to.” Sonia slumped. “Ugh…alright, I’ll go. Some sleep does sound nice.” She turned and headed for the door, stopping just as she grabbed the handle. “…Mr. Boreal?” “Hm?” “Thank you.” “Hey now, we’re the ones who should be thanking you.” “No, I mean it. Thanks.” Sonia headed inside, leaving Boreal to stare up at Meteor G on his own. After some length of time, he too tore himself away from the ominous light, muttering, “You made the right call, Rosa. I just wish you were here to see it.” *** The rocket had been set up in the parking lot just outside AMAKEN, surrounded by a small crowd of people. An exhausted trio made up of Zack, Vega, and Goodall hurriedly ran last-minute checks as Sonia made her way towards the craft. “We’re just about set,” Goodall said. “Give us one more minute to be sure everything’s optimized.” Sonia looked over the rocket, then up into the sky where Meteor G still hung poised to strike. I never quite feel ready for this kind of battle. She turned around, spotting Geo in the crowd. He was holding Pat tight, the other boy saying, “Please, please be careful. If anything happened to you…” “I’ll be fine, I promise,” Geo said. “We’ll take care of everything and be back before you know it!” They parted, but Pat still hung onto Geo’s hands. Luna came up beside him and said, “No need to fret, Pat: I’ve been through this same thing before, so you’ll have my expertise to lean on.” Geo chuckled. “Thanks, Prez. Please take good care of him while I’m gone!” Pat managed a small grin. “Okay…I love you.” “And I love you,” Geo said, giving Pat a kiss. With a final nod, he turned and headed for the rocket. “Geo!” Spinning around, he saw Rey looking at him. “…You’d better keep your promise, alright?” Giving a smile, he said, “Alright. You can count on me, Rey.” Rey grunted, saying nothing more. As Geo continued to approach, Sonia giggled, thinking, But…it really is nice to know that this time it isn’t just me and Lyra. “How’d you sleep?” Geo asked. “I couldn’t stop thinking about today.” “It was a longer night than I would’ve liked,” Sonia said. “But, any rest is something. We’ll power through it.” “Definitely.” Sonia scanned the crowd until she spotted Solo. “How about you, Solo? You ready for this?” “Hmph,” he scoffed. “Of course I am.” She waved for him to join them. Hesitantly, Solo walked over. “Solo, Geo, Mega, Laplace, Lyra,” Sonia said. “I just want to thank all of you. I don’t know if I’d be able to do this without your help. But with all of us working together, I’m positive we’ll come out on top!” Geo nodded, while Solo just silently stared off at nothing. Bud, Claude, and Luna approached; Claude said, “I really wish I could go with you, Sonia. It’d be so cool to fight alongside you in the final battle!” “Well, it’s out of the question,” Cancer said, “so I guess we’ll just have to stay down here where it’s safe!” “I know you’ll be with me in spirit, Claude,” Sonia said. “Brothers can count on each other no matter the distance!” “Yeah!” Claude said. “We’ll keep cheering you on until we see Meteor G go out!” Bud stepped forward next. “I’m gonna be cheering for you too! Next time, though, I’m gonna be strong enough to come with you guys!” “Let’s hope there isn’t a next time,” Sonia said, “but I’ll remember that if there is.” Bud wrapped one arm around Sonia and the other around Geo, giving them both a tight hug. After releasing them, he turned to Solo, offering his hand and saying, “I’m trusting you to watch their backs, Solo. I know you’re up to the task!” Solo stared at his hand at first, before slowly reaching out to shake it. It was now that Luna stepped up to Sonia—she was smiling, but it wasn’t enough to entirely hide her anxiety. “Remember,” she said, “you’ve got promises to keep. You know better than to break a promise to a Br…no, to your girlfriend, don’t you?” “I absolutely do,” Sonia said. She pulled Luna in for a long kiss, ending only to say, “I won’t be long. Love you.” “Love you too,” Luna said, already blushing. “Lyra,” Ophiuca said. “…See to it that Virgo pays.” Lyra chuckled. “You can count on me, dear.” Goodall waved her Hunter then, shouting, “Alright, ready to go!” As their friends backed away, Sonia, Geo, and Solo turned to face the rocket. Vega told them, “One final review. The three of you will pulse into the rocket, and it will fly as close to Meteor G as it possibly can—with the Noise resistance it possesses, we have calculated that it will put you well within range of the artificial Noise Wave. You will need to access it with your Noise Control Programs, and then make your way into the Meteor Server. We know that Jack, Queen Tia, and King are waiting there to impede you, so be on your guard. Locate and extract Kelvin Stelar, and then destroy the Meteor’s core. Heartless is ready on the orbital base to shield the Earth and download the server into the satellite network. She has assured us the Noise Wave will hold together long enough for you to escape back to the rocket, which will then return you to Earth. Any questions?” There were none. Zack approached next, saying, “We’ve pushed this rocket to its absolute limit. Unfortunately, that’s about all we can do to help you.” “It’ll be enough,” Sonia said. “Thank you, Zack.” Zack nodded. He hesitated a moment, and then said, “W-Well…there is one more way I might be able to help. I mean, you can say no, but…if you want…I can lend you whatever power I have, too.” Sonia smiled. Calling up a screen, she said, “Zack, I’d be thrilled to form a Brother Band with you.” Zack let out a big sigh. “Oh, good. Great! Um, just let me…” They quickly input the data into their terminals, and then Zack scurried off to where his other friends waited. Sonia, Geo, and Solo Wave Changed, and one by one they entered the rocket—Solo going first without a word. Geo waved as he departed, and Sonia did the same, then turned to Boreal. He gave her a thumbs-up. She nodded, and then pulsed in. The rocket’s Cyber Core looked just the same as she remembered it, and at the console up ahead floated Magnes. “Nice to see you again, Magnes,” Sonia said. “Glad Zack was able to convince you to help us out.” Magnes nodded once. “Yup! No one knows this rocket like I do: if this is how we’re going to save the Earth, then I’m willing to do my part!” “Great!” More quietly, he added, “And…once I get a short look at space, then I think I can move forward with no regrets!” Boreal’s voice came from the console, saying, “Magnes, do you copy?” “Yup! Loud and clear, Chief!” “Good. We should be able to maintain communications, but nothing’s guaranteed once you get in range of Meteor G. You’re clear for liftoff as soon as you’re ready!” Magnes glanced back at his passengers, who had no protests. He then placed both hands on the console and said, “Alright! Commencing liftoff!” Magnes’s hands lit up. The Cyber Core shuddered, and a loud roar filled the air. A screen appeared before the Wizard, showing AMAKEN slowly falling away as the rocket began to rise. “Yup!” The rocket gradually accelerated. Clouds rushed past the screen, yet the Cyber Core grew more stable, until Sonia could barely tell they were moving. Soon the sky gave way to stars: the rocket broke through the atmosphere and into space, shooting straight past the roads of the Astro Wave. Magnes grinned as he stared at the display in awe. “I made it,” he muttered. “I really made it…” Meteor G could be seen up ahead. As it rapidly grew larger, Sonia turned to Geo and Solo, and said, “Hey. When we find them, I want to try talking with Jack and Tia first. I know they probably won’t listen, so we’ll need to stay on our guard, but I’m still going to do everything I can to help them.” “Of course,” Geo said. “I want to save them too. I’m sure we can find a way to bring them back with us.” “Fine,” Solo said. “However…what about King?” Sonia took a moment to think before answering. “I’m not as optimistic about him. I’ll do everything I can, but…” Solo nodded. “Understood.” Another tremor rocked the core. Magnes said, “We’re gonna start experiencing bursts of Noise! It’ll be bumpy, but the rocket is holding together just fine!” In the corner of the screen, Sonia caught a brief glimpse of the orbital base. Her eyes lingered on that point long after it disappeared, but eventually, she set her sights on Meteor G once more. The tremors steadily grew more frequent. “Noise readings approaching established threshold,” Magnes said. “I’m slowing down!” “Sonia, Geo, you should be in range,” Boreal said, his voice muffled by static. “See if you can open the Noise Wave from there!” Sonia closed her eyes. Focusing on the Joker Program, she was able to sense all the Noise around them, feeling it fall away as the rocket cut through it—the presence of Meteor G instantly drew her attention. But there was something else closer to it, a quieter Noise that held together in a way unlike the surrounding clusters. Sonia honed in on that signal, and seconds later, a large gash of Noise tore through the empty space next to her. “Got it!” Sonia said. “Magnes, try to maintain this distance as best you can!” “Yup!” Magnes said. “Leave this place to me—you go take care of that meteor!” Sonia, Geo, and Solo jumped through the portal, finding themselves in a corridor-like Noise Wave that reached into the distance. “I’ve never seen one so…intact,” Geo said as he observed the Wave Road. “I guess this is what happens when someone artificially constructs a Noise Wave.” They hurried down the length of the platform, stopping only when they reached the far end to discover no visible exit. Sonia worked to find one, but before she could, Solo stepped forward, Laplace in hand, and slashed through empty space, cutting a portal into existence before them. He stepped through it on his own. “Well, guess that works,” Mega said. Sonia and Geo followed, emerging at last inside the Meteor Server. The lighting held a subtle red tint from the dense shell of Noise that formed the boundaries of the area, and the purplish Wave Road was surprisingly spacious, if a bit erratic in the way it stretched out in many directions. Up ahead, the road slanted sharply upward; with no other clues to go on, the trio advanced towards the incline. Sonia could feel a strange sense of unease building with every step, but she paid it no mind. “So this is where we’ve been downloading Noise Changes from,” Lyra mused. “Shame we don’t have the time to look around—perusing the files like this is so much simpler.” “We’ll take a more thorough look once the data gets transferred to the satellites,” Sonia said. “Right now all we need to focus on is—“ She jumped back as a bolt of purple flame landed on the road in front of her. Looking up, she saw Jack swooping down towards her, talons still alight with fire. Sonia quickly raised her guitar to block the hit, and Geo stunned Jack with a Plasma Gun before he could continue his attack; Solo drew a glyph he then pressed his palm against, and a powerful repulsive force hurled Jack across the platform. The three of them took up defensive stances as he recovered. “Jack!” Sonia said. “We don’t have to—“ “Yes we do!” Jack said, beating his wings. “It’s too late now, so just shut up and fight!” Tia descended the slope, coming to Jack’s side. “Meteor G cannot be stopped. Your journey here is foolish…if entirely anticipated.” “Kyahahahaha, you really showed up!” Virgo laughed. “Goody, now I get to kill you myself! Let’s start already!” “Wait, please!” Sonia said. “Look…Jack, Tia. I want to apologize to the two of you.” Tia turned towards her. “…What?” “I had the chance to help you, and I didn’t. I’m sorry for that. But if you’ll let me, I want to help you now!” “How are you supposed to help us?” Jack asked. “Earth is doomed! It’s too late to turn back.” “No, it’s not!” Sonia said. “We’re here because we have a way to stop Meteor G. You can come back with us, and I promise, we’ll give you some proper help in whatever you want to do next.” Jack went oddly silent, but Tia said, “This is what we want. We want Meteor G to wipe out all technology on the planet, and we will see that wish carried out.” “Even if it costs the lives of billions of people?” Tia’s grip on her staff tightened. “Our resolve will not be shaken, no matter the cost. Technology has corrupted the world, just as the Noise it pollutes the planet with corrupts it. People fight over it, murder for it, use it to rain devastation wherever they please…Earth was beyond saving even before Meteor G made itself known. The only way to restore it to any semblance of functionality is to initiate a hard reset.” Sonia stared at them. “…Why do you think that? What happened that made you hate technology so much?” “We lost everything because of technology,” Jack said. “Jack,” Tia said, “you don’t have to tell them anything.” “Please, help me understand!” Sonia said. “You cannot understand. Leave now or be deleted!” Sonia focused squarely on Jack. The boy soon averted his gaze, slowly descending until he stood on the Wave Road. He murmured, “They destroyed everything we ever knew…all because of our technology.” Tia turned, about to say something. Upon seeing the look on Jack’s face, she held her tongue. “I was really young…I don’t remember all the details. But we lived in a small country that was making big leaps in EM technology, with our parents leading the way. They made all kinds of stuff, like our pendants, and word started to spread that our research was going to be revolutionary. Someone who heard that didn’t like it. So they invaded.” He clenched his fists; his talons dug into his palms, but that didn’t stop him. “Everything was destroyed…they killed everyone they could. Sis managed to get us out, but with nowhere to turn, we just wandered around, doing our best to survive. And then King found us. I remember more about those days: having to do all the stupid things he asked, watching all the other kids he recruited die left and right, all to steal whatever tech the monster needed. Sis realized that if we could take control of Meteor G, we could use it to take revenge on the world and the technology that ruined our lives. That’s the wish we’ve been working towards all this time.” Sonia’s eyes were wide, a hand clamped over her mouth. Eventually, she quietly offered, “I can’t imagine how hard that must have been…I’m so sorry.” Jack stretched out his wings, preparing to take flight again. “Well, whatever. It’s finally all about to come to an end. Just a little longer, and Earth will be rid of all that stupid technology!” Solo shook his head. “Fools.” “What was that?!” “It wasn’t technology that ruined your life. It was humans. Ridding the world of technology won’t fix what’s wrong with humans.” “Oh, what do you know?” Solo didn’t answer. Geo stepped forward and said, “Jack, Ms. Tia, even if you destroy all of our current technology, the survivors would still find a way to invent new technology for the new world. What you’re talking about is impossible: people will always have the urge to create, the desire to understand that fuels scientific advancement! Even if you set the planet back, that climb for greater knowledge will always continue!” Tia narrowed her eyes at him. “Not if we have anything to say about it.” Geo blinked. “…What? Are you saying you’ll police the world that remains, stop anyone from inventing anything at all?” “Precisely. Technology must stop.” “That’s absurd! How are you going to realistically achieve that? And even if you could, you won’t live forever—what happens after you’re gone, and no one else is around to suppress science?” “We’ll come up with something! But one way or another, technology dies today!” Pointing, Geo said, “Even your pendants?” Tia stayed silent. “They’re EM technology. But they mean an awful lot to you, don’t they?” Before either Jack or Tia could say anything, Sonia came forward. “You made this plan a long time ago, didn’t you? When you were still kids, scared and hurt and just trying to find something to hope for. And you’ve clung to this idea so tightly that you haven’t tried to reexamine it at all, because even the slightest upset could mean losing that single lifeline.” She paused. “Please, take another look at what you’re doing. This isn’t going to fix things the way you say it will! You’re just going to repeat the same mistakes that put you in this position, hurting and killing people because of their technology—that won’t heal you, not even a little!” It was subtle, almost unnoticeable, but Jack’s face began to turn white. “…Repeating…the same mistake?” “Silence, Harp Note!” Tia said. “More children will lose their families, their entire world! They’ll be hurt and alone, and people might even take advantage of them! Do you really want to put other kids through the same pain those experiences caused you?” Jack took a step back. Tia slammed her staff against the Wave Road, shouting, “Enough!” Water rose in high walls around her, a portion of it breaking off and twisting into the shape of a dragon. Her targets dodged; Solo prepared to draw a glyph, but seeing that Geo and Sonia still wouldn’t take an aggressive posture, he lowered his hand. “No more discussion!” Tia said. “Jack, it’s time to defend our wish. Help me take our revenge!” Jack hesitated. Corvus said, “Get on with it, kid! It’s because of these twerps you and your sister got thrown in jail, right? You still need to make ‘em pay for that!” Jack looked at Sonia. She said, “Please, Jack. Think about what you’re doing.” After a moment, he gritted his teeth. Lifting into the air, he said, “Hmph…it doesn’t matter anyway.” (Review)
  21. It's a one-hit KO! KARDAS DRAGON loses one of its lives! Getting back up, it meows to communicate that it has eight more remaining.
  22. 400 damage! KARDAS DRAGON stumbles back in shock. It had expected this suppressed state to be more than enough to deal with you lot. With a mighty roar, KARDAS DRAGON unleashed its TRUE power!! Heal 999! Stats up!
  23. KARDAS DRAGON laughs, waiting for you to realize that the url you entered is just as invalid as your taste in shounen!
  24. KARDAS DRAGON unfurls its wings, flying high into the sky and obscuring the sun as the last bits of fire rain down from it! 30 damage! KARDAS DRAGON shoots you a condescending glare that gives a very clear "watch better anime" vibe!
  25. KARDAS DRAGON catches on fire! 10 damage per second! Remembering its fire safety courses, KARDAS DRAGON stops, drops, and rolls right over the entire Byzantine army until the flames are extinguished.
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