Sonia paced the lobby of NAZA HQ. The metallic white walls were covered in screens that displayed a mix of mission records and data feeds and news events—she would stop and look one over every so often, but she inevitably lost focus and got moving again. Her gaze found its way to the yellow reception desk flanked by two staircases. Both were still empty.
“I told you we shouldn’t have come so early, dear.”
She put on her Visualizer and turned to Lyra. “I know, I couldn’t help it. I haven’t been without it this long in years—I’m not entirely sure what to do with myself.”
Lyra chuckled. “You know Mr. Boreal is working on it with the utmost care.”
“Of course! I trust him more than anyone else to take good care of it.”
“But then, taking extra care in a task does tend to increase how much time said task requires.”
Sonia thought a moment, then sighed. “Right. You’re right, I should take it easy.”
She started pacing again. Lyra said, “You don’t get many chances to relax these days, dear. You haven’t forgotten how, have you?”
“I wouldn’t say I’ve forgotten,” Sonia laughed. “But, maybe I should focus on something else…oh, what about the ambassador?”
Lyra rolled her eyes. “You’re still thinking about work.”
“I’m curious, though. Is there anything I should know about Goat before we receive him?”
“I only met him a few times, so I can’t really say. He was only a mid-ranked soldier when I was on Planet FM. Truthfully, I was a bit surprised to hear he’d been given the ambassador position.”
“Cepheus said in his message that Goat was curious about Earth. Maybe that was the motivation he needed?”
Lyra shrugged. She looked up at the sound of footsteps, and Sonia followed her gaze to see Boreal coming down one of the staircases carrying her guitar. Removing her Visualizer, she rushed over to meet him.
“Hope you weren’t waiting long,” Boreal said, holding the instrument out.
“Not at all!” She took the guitar and looked it over gleefully. “Thank you so much for doing this!”
“My pleasure! I’ve had so much paperwork lately; getting to actually work on something was a nice change of pace.”
Lyra appeared on the guitar’s screen. “My, it’s far more spacious in here than it was before! Quite the renovation!”
“The guitar now has all the functions of a Star Carrier,” Boreal said. “A couple components couldn’t be replaced—I didn’t want you to lose all your data—so the processing power isn’t quite up to the commercial model’s standards. The only probable effect is that a few operations might run a little more slowly, but if it gets serious or you notice any other problems, be sure to let me know.”
“I will, but I doubt I’ll need to,” Sonia said. “It’s amazing you were able to make a big new terminal when you’re busy running NAZA! Everybody’s so excited about the new features that you hardly ever see a Transer anymore.”
“Well, it wasn’t all me! We had a whole team working on it, and the most interesting feature is the Matter Waves that Dr. Vega invented.”
He frowned for a moment, and then said, “Also, there’s something else you should know about. We asked Tom to help us make the Star Carrier, and with the data he gathered from examining the Wave Balls two years ago, we came up with something that should be a big help for you.”
“The terminals are equipped with Z Wave Amplifiers. Now, when you’re Wave Changed, you can become tangible and visible at will!”
“Really? Wow, that’s incredible!”
“We’d better tell Bud before he switches it on accidentally,” Lyra said. “…Helpful as this may be, isn’t it somewhat dangerous?”
“There are a few concerns,” Boreal said, his eyes on the floor. “Still, with the FM-ians being our allies now, we don’t have any real reason to be suspicious of EM beings misusing it.”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Sonia said. “You worry too much, Lyra!”
“Perhaps I do,” Lyra said. “In this case, I do hope that’s all.”
Sonia turned, gesturing for Boreal to come with her. “Let’s go—they should be here soon!”
Sonia and Boreal strolled out of the lobby. NAZA HQ was within a mountain crater, its multi-tiered silver form built right into the wall, with the majority of the brown stone floor left open as a sort of courtyard. At the far side was a metal-lined tunnel guarded by a few Satella Officers, from which emerged two children: one of them wore a pale-yellow, sleeveless jumpsuit with blue lines coming up the side of the legs and then meeting in an angle on the chest, along with a red vest and a red beanie that didn’t do a very good job of covering his spiky brown hair. The other was a bit taller and had darker skin than his companion—he wore a light green gi with thick yellow stripes on the sleeves and legs, with a symbol on the left side of his chest and high white boots on his feet. A black belt was tied at his waist, its ends adorned with blue medallions, and the long tails of a purple headband fluttered behind him, their shared center showing a white symbol.
The shorter one waved. “Sonia, over here!”
Approaching, she greeted, “Hey Claud, I haven’t seen you in a while! How’ve you been?”
“I’m doing great! Oh, I should introduce you! Sonia, this is the friend I told you about: Kidd!”
The other child bowed. “It’s very nice to meet you, Miss Sonia, Mr. Boreal. Thank you for allowing me this privilege.”
“Nice to meet you too, Kidd,” Boreal said. “Claud told us you were fascinated when he told you about the FM-ians, but he didn’t say why you volunteered to partner with the ambassador. Is it just curiosity?”
“It’s partly that. But also…well, I’ve been considering going on a journey.”
“He’s gotten bored beating everyone at the local dojo,” Claud said.
“It’s not boredom! I’ve just begun to feel that I’ve learned all I can here, and that seeing more of the world might be good.”
Kidd grinned excitedly as he continued, “I want to see what other opportunities are out there, and how I might be able to keep growing if I take advantage of them! I know I have so much more potential, but I just don’t know how to tap into it…it’s frustrating, but I want to turn that into drive!”
“I see,” Boreal said. “I can appreciate your motives, but why do you need an FM-ian to do that?”
“I suppose I don’t, but…” Kidd shrunk back. “The main reason I haven’t left is because I worry it’d be very lonely to travel by myself.”
“Ah.” Sonia smiled. “You want to take a friend with you. Well, it’d probably be good for Goat to see as much of Earth as possible, so this could work out well for him too.”
Claud lightly jabbed Kidd with his elbow. “And with you off on your little quest, I’ll be top of the dojo in your place!”
“I’m not sure you’ll be able to secure it that easily,” Kidd said with a smirk.
“Just be a little cautious,” Boreal said. “The FM-ians only recently started learning to trust people—you shouldn’t be discouraged if you and Goat don’t hit it off right away.”
“Understood,” Kidd said. “I will keep that in mind.”
“Hey,” came a voice from Claud’s Star Carrier, “we’ve picked it up pretty quickly if I do say so myself!”
“That isn’t the point, Cancer,” Lyra replied. “And, as I recall, you weren’t too sure about this planet until several months into your immersion.”
“Ah! Well, uh…”
Boreal’s Star Carrier beeped. He looked at it quickly, and then turned towards the sky and put his Visualizer on. Sonia did the same. A streak of light had appeared, difficult to see but definitely growing closer, arcing straight towards the crater where they all waited.
“He’s right on time!” Boreal said. “Let’s try to clear some space!”
The group moved closer to the crater wall. The light continued to fall towards them, its speed increasing until it ultimately hit the ground with a soft thud, kicking up a small cloud of dust that lingered only a few moments before it began to disperse. Floating in its place now was a being made of blue energy, with a white, horned mask and hoof-shaped gauntlets at the ends of his arms. He spotted the humans and paused to straighten himself, and then he swiftly advanced.
“You must be Goat!” Sonia said, coming forward to meet him. “My name is Sonia. This is Mr. Boreal, Claud, and Kidd.”
Goat stood up even more stiffly. “It is a pleasure to meet you all! FM King Cepheus sends his warmest regards, and he hopes my visit will provide us with a way to further ties between our two planets—as do I.”
Lyra emerged from the guitar and nodded to the new arrival. “Welcome to Earth, Goat. May I ask how things are back home?”
“Planet FM is doing as well as can be expected, ma’am. King Cepheus has shown admirable zeal in his efforts to reform it, and a large portion of the populace has responded very favorably. There are several dissenting groups, of course, but they make up a relatively small piece of the planet’s population, and His Majesty expects they will come to see reason in time.”
Sonia frowned. If they were no problem at all, he probably wouldn’t be telling us. Maybe I should ask Cepheus about it the next time we send a transmission…
Cancer was out now. “Uh, hi, Goat! You probably don’t remember me—I’m Cancer. We served together in the Sigma Cluster a few years back.”
After a short delay, Goat inclined his head. “Ah, yes! Good to see you again.”
Boreal took a step forward and said, “We’re honored to have you here, Goat. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have!”
“If it’s no trouble, I believe I would like to meet my assigned partner first,” Goat said. He looked over the two boys. “Is it one of them?”
Boreal handed his Visualizer to Kidd. The boy put on the visor and, upon seeing Goat, nearly jumped. Bowing instead, he said, “H-Hello! My name is Kidd, and I have been offered the chance to be your partner, if you will have me. I hope that we will get along!”
Goat came closer and squinted. “Hm…so, I am assigned to him?”
“He was the first candidate we wanted to present, at least,” Boreal said.
Goat raised an eyebrow. “I assumed I was going to be ordered to a specific partner.”
“We don’t want to be that strict,” Sonia said. “The main point of you coming here is to get a closer look at how relationships are formed, right?”
“Well, you can’t force a relationship—you and Kidd are both going to need to decide if you’re willing to give each other a shot.”
Goat turned back to Kidd. “I see. Forgive me, but I don’t feel that I have much information to go on…”
“I’m afraid that’s just the way things are sometimes,” Kidd said. “For what it’s worth, I think we could become great friends, and I’m willing to try! And if things don’t work out, then we can decide where to go from there.”
Goat thought for a while longer. When he finally nodded, he said, “Very well. I would like to attempt being friends with you, Kidd. I hope that we will get along.”
The FM-ian bowed, and then disappeared into Kidd’s Star Carrier. Kidd returned Boreal’s Visualizer as Goat looked around the screen. The alien commented, “This storage unit is most intriguing.”
“I’m glad you like it!” Boreal said, grinning a bit wider than usual.
“Kidd, if it is acceptable, I believe I would like to attempt a Wave Change. It would be a good way to estimate our compatibility.”
“Of course!” Kidd said, practically shaking with eagerness. “What do I have to do?”
“Why don’t I show you?” Sonia volunteered, putting her Visualizer back on. She took a quick look and spotted a Wavehole near the front corner of NAZA HQ. “Come on, over here!”
As she and Kidd crossed the crater, she explained, “To Wave Change, you need to find what’s called a Wavehole. They’re sort of like whirlpools where the Real World and Wave World get mixed together. Mr. Boreal didn’t have time to make you a Visualizer, but Goat should be able to direct you to a Wavehole anytime you want to transform.”
She stopped and held her guitar in one hand. “Now, you’re going to want to stand right here and hold out your Star Carrier. And then…you ready Lyra?”
“EM Wave Change! Sonia Strumm, On The Air!”
Sonia shut her eyes to block out the flash of light that accompanied her transformation. When she stepped out of the Wavehole, she was surprised to find she was still on the ground. She could see a Wave Road above them and scanned it in confusion; it eventually led to a ramp that sloped down into the crater, and she made a low hum.
I guess the Wave and Real Worlds have gotten a little closer with all this new technology. Speaking of which…
She wasn’t entirely sure how to activate the Z Wave Amplifier, so she just focused on Kidd and hoped he would be able to see her. When he stepped back in shock, she assumed it had worked.
“Amazing!” he exclaimed. His fingers tightened around his terminal. “Okay, now it’s our turn!”
Stepping into the Wavehole, he raised his Star Carrier high and took a breath. “EM Wave Change! Kidd Gruff, On The Air!”
Blue light wrapped around Kidd for a moment before spitting him out in a new form. He wore a blue bodysuit with green swirls on the sleeves and legs, and tan lining on the edges and around his shoulders and waist. Across his chest was a black X shape. There was a silver cowbell hanging from his hip, and his feet and hands had been changed to hooves—his head, also, had become that of a goat, covered in white fur and with two long yellow horns.
Kidd’s jaw dropped as he looked down at himself. “Wow…this feeling is incredible! Can you still hear me, Goat?”
“I can,” Goat replied. “We appear to have merged without any difficulty. It seems we may indeed make an effective pair.”
“Come on, Kidd, let us see what you look like!” Claud called.
“Huh?” He turned to Sonia.
“You can only be seen in this form when you want to be,” Sonia said, trying to sound like it had always worked this way. “Just focus, and it should happen on its own.”
Kidd turned to Claud and was still for a moment. Claud soon shouted, “Oh, wow! You look so cool! See, I told you you’d be perfect for this!”
Taking a few steps, Kidd said, “I feel much stronger than usual!”
“We should test that,” Goat said. “Sonia and Lyra. If we may, I would like to request a sparring match. It would be an excellent chance for us to learn to work together, and I would also like to see your power for myself.”
Sonia giggled. “It’s been a while since we last sparred with someone, so maybe you shouldn’t expect too much. But I’d be happy to give it a shot!”
Kidd bowed and took up a fighting stance. Sonia bowed back, and then readied her guitar.
“So, what sort of abilities do you have, Goat?” Kidd asked.
“Truthfully, I’m little more than a melee fighter,” Goat said. “I am built for quick and precise physical strikes.”
“Really? That’s perfect!”
Suddenly he was in front of Sonia. She threw herself back as soon as she realized he was there—a hoof was thrust over her shoulder, missing her by an incredibly slim margin.
Yikes! He’s way faster than Bud!
Sonia flipped backwards and kicked off of NAZA HQ, strumming her guitar a few times as she floated over Kidd. Musical note-shaped energy blasts flew towards her opponent, but he nimbly dodged each one, waited until she landed, and ran at her again. Sonia summoned two speakers, each to the side and a bit ahead of her, facing each other; when Kidd was in front of her again, she played, and he was caught between the notes launched from the extra equipment. Kidd was stunned, so Sonia used a sound pulse to send him soaring across the crater.
She winced as he landed. “Ah, sorry, maybe that was a bit much!”
Kidd picked himself up, shaking his head as if he were dizzy. “No, that’s quite alright…if this is what these battles are like, then I must get used to it!”
“I wanted to take it easy on you at first, but you’re a natural! I’m already having trouble keeping up!”
Smiling, Kidd ran forward. Sonia readied herself, but her foe suddenly launched into a flying kick, catching her by surprise and knocking her back. She recovered in time to dance around a few punches. Finding an opening, she played one note, and then put some distance between them before playing more. Kidd was able to dodge them at first, but she soon summoned a new pair of speakers, and he found himself gradually overwhelmed by the storm of sound.
When she stopped playing, he said, “Why did you stop? I would have found a way out!”
“Sorry, it just seemed like I had you trapped—it didn’t seem fair.”
Kidd renewed his stance. Goat advised, “I do possess a special ability that we can use, but since this is our first battle, you may find it a bit taxing.”
“Even so, let’s give it a try!” Kidd said.
Sonia watched closely. Kidd moved in again, and she sidestepped his next punch. Something materialized beside him, however: a shadowy replica of Kidd that appeared to flicker in and out of existence, and it mimicked his action, landing its own punch on Sonia. She jumped back, noticing Kidd was breathing somewhat heavily. The image soon vanished.
“You can make duplicates of yourself?” she asked. “That’s going to be really unfair once you master it! I’m a little jealous!”
Kidd prepared to strike, but had to dig in to avoid being flung away by the sound pulse that battered him. Managing to hold his ground, he lashed out with a punch. Sonia stumbled back. A duplicate of Kidd appeared in front of him to knock her further back, and then a second duplicate appeared, sending her back another step. Kidd steadied himself as they were dismissed, and then threw himself into another kick. Sonia ducked and he flew over her. Aiming her guitar, the strings shot out from it and wrapped around Kidd; as his momentum faded, Sonia pulled on the line and spun around, swinging Kidd through the air and ultimately smashing him into the stone wall. He fell to the ground and laid there, sprawled out in a dazed state.
Sonia rushed over. “Sorry, sorry! I definitely got carried away that time!”
“That’s alright,” Kidd grunted. “You’re just as strong as Claud said…we’ll need to train quite a bit if we’re going to be a match for you!”
As Sonia helped him up, Goat said, “Thank you, Sonia and Lyra. It was an honor to see you in action.”
“What do you think of your new partner, dear?” Lyra asked.
“I am impressed. He is already an accomplished fighter, and he was using my powers more effectively than I thought he would. This is most promising indeed.”
“Thank you!” Kidd said. “It was a thrill being able to use your power! I hope I will continue to exceed your expectations.”
“Are you two always going to be this formal with each other?” Sonia laughed. “Anyway, I think you should get some rest, Kidd—Wave Changing can take a lot out of you before your body gets used to it. Mr. Boreal will answer any more questions, and tell you how to keep in contact with NAZA during your journey.”
“Journey?” Goat repeated.
Kidd stepped back into the Wavehole, reverting to normal. “Well, I was hoping to leave home and explore the world a bit. As long as you’re okay with it, that is.”
“Where will we be going?”
“Nowhere in particular. I just want to see what’s out there!”
Goat paused. Kidd looked at his Star Carrier, finding the alien staring at the side of the screen.
“…If that’s not acceptable, then—“
“No, it’s not quite that,” Goat interrupted. “I’m simply…nervous to embark on a directionless quest. It sounds like the goals are less defined.”
Sonia stepped out of the Wavehole next, looking past Kidd so as not to rush him.
“So that’s your concern,” Kidd said. “I don’t want to push you into anything you don’t want to do…maybe if we picked a few specific places? Would you be more comfortable then?”
“I…suppose…” Goat said. He nodded, and then continued, “Actually, my assignment does require me to step outside of what I am comfortable with. Please carry on as you intended.”
“No, I can be more exact without it causing any problems! We’re going to work together, so I’m ready to make compromises.”
“…Of course. Thank you, Kidd.”
Claud ran over, shouting, “That was awesome! You and Goat go together perfectly—you’re gonna be one of the toughest out of all of us, I can tell!”
As they talked, Sonia nodded to Boreal. He nodded back.
“Well,” she said, “if you’ll excuse me, I need to get going.”
“Already?” Claud said.
“Sorry, but I’m trying to plan my next concert right now, and we’ve still got a lot to do. I’ll mail you later, though!”
“Alright. Good luck with the plans!”
“Thanks. It was great to see you! And nice to meet you, Kidd, Goat.”
They shared their good-byes, and then Sonia made her way towards Boreal. “Hope you don’t mind me dropping the rest of the work on you.”
“Not at all,” Boreal laughed. “You go on, I can—“
He stopped as his Star Carrier beeped again. Taking a look at the screen, he frowned, and then surveyed the crater.
“…Something wrong?” Sonia asked.
“Not sure,” Boreal murmured. “We’re starting to think it might be an error in the Z wave detector program we’re using. It keeps going off, but we haven’t seen any unfamiliar EM beings no matter how hard we search.”
“Huh. Do you want us to look around?”
Boreal shook his head as he pocketed his terminal. “No, that’s alright, we don’t need to hold you up when we don’t have any real proof. But you might want to keep an eye out.”
“We’ll do just that,” Lyra said. “Here’s hoping you’re able to find the problem.”
“Right,” Sonia said. “In that case I really will get going. See you later—I’m sure I’ll find some reason to be back here soon enough!”
Edited by Ursus Wielder Pahrak, Jul 04 2016 - 11:26 PM.