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Bioni-Lords Book 3: Kako


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#41 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Jan 21 2013 - 12:17 PM

Chapter 40: Family Breakfast

 

 

Kytan glanced around the circular table.  To his right sat his mother, currently engaged in conversation with Genakex, who sat at her other side.  To his left was Tahra, who had been very polite and attentive but had a mischievous gleam in her eye that made Kytan nervous.  Completing the party was Phaenyx, who was focused more on his meal than anything else.

Zane and Xyla had been invited but both refused; the former because he had no intention of interacting with the group any more than he had to, and the latter because she and Cerah had never gotten along very well.  Cerah had seemed just a little pleased that Xyla could not make it.

Tahra nudged Kytan to snap him out of his observation.  “Relax,” she whispered.  “It’s not like she’s showing baby pictures or anything.”

Kytan replied in an equally hushed tone.  “This whole thing caught me off-guard.  Plus…”

Tahra half-nodded and half-shrugged—she understood.  Most of them were doing a good job of avoiding mention of the Shadow Consortium or the King Bohrok.  The only one who nearly let it slip was Phaenyx, and it was only Tahra kicking him in the shin that reminded him to stay quiet.

“Xyla hasn’t been giving you trouble, has she?” Cerah asked Genakex.

The boy thought for a moment, not sure how much he wanted to reveal.  “Ehm…we’ve had our ups and downs.”

“You don’t necessarily have to travel with her, you know.”

“It’s fine, really.  I think I’m growing on her.”

With a forced smile, Cerah changed the subject.  “Alright…tell me more about how your quest has been going.  Has anything exciting happened?”

“Definitely,” Phaenyx answered.  “The whole reason I joined the group was because—OW!”

Phaenyx shot a glare at Tahra, who just smiled at him.  “…Because…Tahra here knows all the best places to hunt for Spirits!  Yeah—she’s been to all the islands before, so she’s able to lead us into all sorts of dangerous situations.”

Tahra and Phaenyx appeared to swap expressions.

Concerned, Cerah repeated, “Dangerous…?”

“He exaggerates,” Tahra replied.  “Sure, we’ve hunted some dangerous Spirits, but we’re always in a group and take plenty of items.  Nobody’s been hurt.”

Determined to get his revenge, Phaenyx contradicted, “But wasn’t there that one time on Onu-Isle?  That swarm of Spirits popped up in the tunnel, and they threw Genakex into the wall and started a cave-in?”

Tahra’s eyes narrowed.  Cerah gave a frightened look to Genakex, who was unsure which side to take.

“Well, I was able to get him out of there,” Kytan intervened.  “We made it out unharmed, with a haul of Spirits we were able to get a great price for.”

Tahra smiled at Kytan, silently thanking him for the back-up.

“Well…as long as you’re all being careful,” Cerah said.

Phaenyx was already at work crafting a new lie, and Tahra waited eagerly to see what he would throw at her.  Not wanting the mini-feud to escalate, Genakex said, “Y-Yeah, Tahra’s hunting grounds have been a great help.  Without them I wouldn’t have been able to save up my Widgets for Gurren Lagann so quickly.  It’s been a huge help in my Orb Battles.”

Realizing that he was lying to his mother, Genakex felt guilt well up inside of him.

“Oh, so you were able to get one of those?” Cerah said.  “That’s great!  You always talked about how you wanted one.  Have you been able to make some fun Combinations?”

Pushing his guilt aside, Genakex went on, “Yep.  I used Exo-Skrall Master Warrior to help me against the Earth-Lord, and I had both Mu Warrior and Grimlock when I fought the Ice-Lord.  Grimlock’s effect kicked in right when I needed it, so it was definitely a good choice!”

Kytan raised an eyebrow.  Spirit effects generally did not activate until the Bioni-Lord had obtained the Ultima-Orbs corresponding to the Spirit’s Elements.  There were exceptions, of course—obvious ones like Parasite Spirits, and not-so-obvious ones like Articuno and Moltres—but Kytan was sure that Grimlock was not one of them.  Being a pure Steel Spirit, Grimlock’s effect should only work for a Bioni-Lord who had defeated the Steel-Lord.

How, then, had Genakex been able to use it?

Maybe because it was Combined with Gurren Lagann? Kytan thought.  Hm…I would think that the effects of Spirits it Combines with would only work if they could be used by the Spirit individually—that makes the most sense, at least.  But what other explanation is there that matches Genakex’s story?

“That’s great!” Cerah said.  “How about you, Kytan?”

Kytan abandoned his pondering.  “Hm?  Oh, uh, my Orb Battles have been going well.  I’ve been using a variety of Spirits—whatever seems suited to the specific battle.”

“You’ve always been analytic,” Cerah said proudly.  “He never understood why anyone would choose an Element to specialize in.  What was it you said?  ‘It’s a foolish mistake that lets a Bioni-Lord be wiped out by anyone with the Elemental advantage’?”

Tahra’s fork froze in mid-air.  Kytan gulped as he felt a small spike in the temperature.

“I…didn’t have all the facts,” Kytan weakly offered.

Cerah looked at him for a moment, then back to Kytan.  It didn’t take her long to figure out what was going on.

“Hm…I seem to recall telling you all about how well I did as a Psionics specialist,” she remembered.  “What changed your mind?”

“First-hand experience,” Kytan replied.  “I’m sorry for not taking your stories as seriously as I should have, Mom.”

Tahra slowly began to move again.  The temperature returned to normal.

“Oh, that’s alright,” Cerah said.  “So long as you’ve learned your lesson, hehe.”

Kytan breathed a badly-disguised sigh of relief.

“On a different subject…why have neither of you called me?” Cerah asked.

While Kytan worked on his answer, Genakex reluctantly said, “Well…I kinda ran away, and I wasn’t sure how to explain that…”

An awkward silence wrapped itself around the tale.  Genakex looked down and picked at his food.

Unable to bear it, Phaenyx stood up and said, “Uh…if you’ll excuse me for a minute.”

As he left, Cerah quietly said, “You never had to explain, Genakex.  I saw you leave.  I didn’t stop you because I understand what caused you to go.”

Genakex looked up in surprise.  “You…you saw me?”

Cerah nodded.  “I won’t pretend I wasn’t sad to see you go.  But, I know you feel like you didn’t have a choice because of the way your father is.  You deserve a chance to prove yourself, so I won’t take that away from you.”

She paused and gave a sad smile.  “I would feel better if I heard from you now and again, though.  You know how overprotective I am.”

Genakex was unable to reply.  Kytan was also surprised, but he recovered quickly enough to step in.

“We’ll call more often, Mom,” he said.  “I promise.”

Cerah turned to thank him, but her gaze lingered on Tahra.  “Are you alright, Tahra?”

Kytan turned around.  A sad look was in Tahra’s eyes, but she put a hand over her face to hide it.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said.  Her tone wavered slightly.  “I just, ah…I…ah…sorry, excuse me.”

She stood up and walked away from the table.  Kytan had no idea what was going on, and as he watched her go he wondered if he should follow her.

No, he told himself.  I should know by now that I can’t force things with Tahra.  If she wants my help, she’ll ask for it.

Still, he found himself filled with a worried feeling that he could not shake.  The exact name of the emotion escaped him, however, and he began trying to place it.

“You’ve been spacing out a lot,” Cerah noticed.

“Hm?  Have I?” Kytan responded.  “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude.”

“No, that’s not what I meant.  I’m just wondering what has you so preoccupied.”

It was then that Phaenyx came back to the table.  He sat down cautiously, asking, “So, uh…what are we talking about now?”

Cerah replied, “Well…it looks like we’re about done here.  Unless anyone wants dessert?”

Kytan and Genakex declined, though Phaenyx jumped at the chance.  It did not take long for the food to arrive, and Tahra arrived soon after.

“Sorry, I think the food and I had a disagreement,” Tahra muttered.  “I’ll skip dessert.”

She did her best to seem agreeable, though she ignored Kytan’s look of concern.

“So…Le-Isle already,” Cerah said.  “How many of you have fought the Air-Lord?”

“Zane fought him when we got here yesterday,” Kytan answered.  “Tahra and I fought a Tag Match just before you arrived.”

Cerah nodded and turned to Genakex and Phaenyx.  “Either of you working on strategies?”

“I’m just gonna wing it,” Phaenyx said.  “All I need is my trusty Dakrevusko!”

“I was considering using Grimlock again, but I want to try out a new Combination,” Genakex said.  “Usually I just go to the Orb Center and see what’s available.  Basically…I’m also winging it.”

Cerah laughed softly.  “Well, good luck!  Maybe I’ll be here long enough to see you fight.”

“How long will you be here?” Genakex asked.

“Hm…” Cerah mumbled.  “I’m not exactly looking forward to seeing you father again, because it’ll probably just be a non-stop argument.  Plus, things are pretty chaotic on the Mainland after what happened to the President and I’m not eager to jump into that.  Still…you boys need to continue your quest, and I know I have to let you fend for yourselves now.  I’ll always be able to find an excuse to not let you go, so I shouldn’t give myself too much time to think about it.  This was never planned to be a long visit anyway.  I think I’ll leave tomorrow, or maybe the day after.”

Genakex frowned, disappointed that he would not get more time with his mother.  It was for the best, though—the longer she stayed, the more likely she would discover their secrets.  If Cerah knew her sons were in harm’s way, she would immediately set herself before them like a shield, and Genakex did not want her to get hurt.

“I understand,” Genakex said.  “I’ll miss you.”

Cerah took Genakex’s hand.  “I’ll miss you too…but, I haven’t left yet!  Is there anything else you all would like to do?”

“I think I should go back to the Battlefield and lie down,” Tahra replied.

“I’m up for anything,” Genakex said.

“I think I’m going to wander off and train a bit,” was Phaenyx’s response.

Kytan had to think; part of him wanted to make sure Tahra was okay, but he also felt he should spend time with his mother while he had the chance.

“…I…think I’ll head back to the Battlefield too,” he finally decided.  “I got up pretty early, so I’m a little bit drowsy.”

“Alright, I’ll see you later then,” Cerah said.  She motioned for the waiter to bring her the check.

While Cerah was busy, Tahra leaned towards Kytan and said, “I know what you’re doing.  Don’t feel like you have to keep an eye on me.”

Kytan smiled.  “It’s just what I want to do is all.”

 

 

Review in: Genakex's Journal.


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#42 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Jan 30 2013 - 09:58 AM

Chapter 41: Clash of Winds

 

 

The elevator ride up to the roof seemed to last a lifetime.  Xyla’s eyes were fixated on the wall display, her anxiety growing with every floor.  Since Zane already had his Ultima-Orb and everyone else had gone out, it only made sense that she should challenge Nidovikk while she had the chance.

That was what she told herself, at least.  She was not convinced that it was a good idea.

The Orb she was fumbling around with nearly slipped out of her hand, giving her a fright.  Only now did she notice how badly she was trembling.  Taking a deep breath, Xyla forced herself to stop focusing on her worries.

What’s the worst that can happen? she asked herself.  I fail, I prove that I’m actually no good with Air, and it turns out that all of this—

She shook her head.

No!  No, realistically.  If I can’t defeat Nidovikk, then I try again.  I learn from my mistakes and do better next time.  I keep improving, I commit to being an Air master—I have to after all the trouble I’ve caused.

The elevator slowed and came to a stop.  When the doors opened, Xyla felt her confidence plummet again.  With great effort, she forced herself to step out onto the roof.

Nidovikk stood on the far side staring off into the distance, and it was Leanga who first noticed Xyla.  The Apprentice tugged on the Air-Lord’s robes, prompting him to turn around.

“Eh?  Oh, can I help you?” Nidovikk asked.

Xyla’s throat felt dry.  “Uh…I-I w-w-wanted to…to-to challenge you!”

Nidovikk was confused by how nervous she was.  “Em…okay?”

He stepped into the arena and fused with Jobmaster: Wind.  Xyla noticed that she was shaking again, so she took another deep breath.

“You okay?” Nidovikk asked.

Xyla nodded and steeled herself for battle.  “…Fusion, Soul of Wind; Soul Unison, Soul of Flight; Soul Unison, Breez 4.0!”

Breez’s armor swiftly materialized over Xyla’s body, now a light blue color rather than its familiar shade of lime.  Angled fins jutted out of her legs just above her rocket thrusters, and her should armor took the form of small wind turbines.  The armor on her forearms became tube-like, widening and then cutting off at her wrists.  A propeller sprouted from her back, and her Hero Core rotated about 45 degrees and changed color—the border became yellow, the ‘H’ became black, and the area between the two became red.

Oh, I get it! Nidovikk realized.  Challenging the master of the Element you specialize in.  Always been nerve-wracking—I remember when I fought Air-Lord Kongale back in the day.  Ah, memories…oh, wait, now’s not the time!

Nidovikk gave up Blue Magic to activate his effect, though it did not boost his evasion enough to allow him to dodge the Whirlwind Xyla summoned.  The Air-Lord dizzily tried to cast Black Magic, but Xyla used Tornado Arm to punch him with a tube of swirling air.  His next attempt was to throw two quick Power Punches, this time foiled by a Hex Shield.  A yellow octagonal weapon extended from Xyla’s arm, and when she swung the Wind Racket she unleashed a gust of air that sent Nidovikk tumbling away.

Reluctantly, Xyla asked, “Are you…going easy on me?”

“You really think I’m going easy?” Nidovikk called.

He raised both arms and cast Aeroga, but the wall of wind missed by an unusually wide margin.  The propellers in Xyla’s shoulders ejected and homed in on Nidovikk, exploding on impact.

“Well, yes,” Xyla replied.

Nidovikk sighed.  “Come on, you saw me fight yesterday—you know I’m kind of reckless.  Besides, you’ve been attacking nonstop!  I’ve hardly had a chance to ATTACK!”

No sooner had the word left his lips did Nidovikk cast Black Magic to trap Xyla in an inferno.  He laughed until Xyla removed the propeller from her back and threw it at him.  Nidovikk dodged the Gyro Cutter and cast Cure, but the propeller sliced him from behind while a Fujita Blade struck him head-on.  Xyla caught her propeller and fired her Plasma Shooter, finishing off Jobmaster.

“…Well, that’s what I get for being sneaky,” Nidovikk mumbled.

That wasn’t very difficult at all, Xyla thought.  Strange…but it’s not over yet.  I have to stay focused!

While Nidovikk fused with Agility of Wind, Xyla drank a Megalixir to regain her Fusion Energy.  Nidovikk used Bind to disable her Hex Shield and then dodged a plasma blast counter.  A Tornado formed around Xyla, tossing her around and leaving her slightly disoriented.  When she righted herself the propeller on her back was spinning.

“What’s that?” Nidovikk noticed.

Xyla smiled and used Whirlwind, taking away a third of Agility’s energy.  The propeller ceased to spin, and Nidovikk said, “Oh, right…Soul of Flight’s Air attacks are stronger right after it’s hit with an Air attack…”

Nidovikk cast Venus Charge, but the effects were immediately negated when Xyla used NorthWind.  Somewhat frustrated, Nidovikk activated Mercury Charge instead.  Xyla readied to attack, but Nidovikk trapped her in a Prism of ice and then blasted her out with Plasma.  Once free, Xyla flew off to avoid being caught again.

That Charge regenerated a lot of the damage I caused, she thought.  I need to make sure he doesn’t use it again.

Xyla flew over Nidovikk and used Gyro Air Force to drop twin bombs on her foe.  Nidovikk coughed and waved away the smoke, casting Mars Charge while Xyla moved in for a landing.  Xyla shrugged off a Plasma Blast and knocked Nidovikk down with Tornado Arm.

“Still think I’m going easy on you?” Nidovikk asked.

“Not as much,” Xyla answered.

She drank a Hyperlixir, bringing her Fusion Energy back to full, and flew towards Nidovikk.  The Air-Lord struck with Staff Spin and successful burned his target.  Instants later, Breez’s double blade finished off Agility.

“Not as much?” Nidovikk repeated as Xyla healed her burn.  “Ugh, you just won’t be happy until I beat you, will you?”

“What?  No!” Xyla said.

“Are you sure?  Because I’ve been putting up a fight—just because you’re doing well doesn’t mean I’m holding back.  If you wanted a challenge, you shouldn’t have used such a well thought out Spirit combination!”

Xyla said nothing for a moment.  “…So…I’m just doing really well?”

“Yes!  Is that so hard to believe?”

There was no answer.  Nidovikk suddenly realized that it was hard for her to believe.

“Oh…” he muttered.  He began trying to think of something to say, but it was slow progress.

Xyla, meanwhile, was thinking back to what Genakex had said about surprising oneself.  Nidovikk seemed genuine, and she had no reason to think he was lying.  She had put an awful lot of thought and training (not to mention Widgets) into preparing for this fight, and it would only make sense that so much preparation would have an effect.

The more she thought about it, the clearer it became: Xyla was doing better than she had expected.  More than that, Genakex had been right—it was a wonderful feeling.

Xyla grinned.  “Sorry, Air-Lord; I’ve been a bit distracted.  It won’t happen again.”

Seeing that she had worked through whatever had been troubling her, Nidovikk nodded and fused with Wind Storm.  Xyla activated Gyro Chaos, making her armor turn purple and the red area of her Hero Core turn orange.

“Hm…good call,” Nidovikk admitted.  “So much for using Storm…”

Nidovikk rushed forward cloaked in ice.  Xyla leapt over the Blizzard Tackle and used Gyro Air Force as he passed by, nearly wiping out Wind Storm’s energy.  Nidovikk backed off as Xyla launched Propeller Bombs.  Launching himself out of the way, Nidovikk shot through the air and hit Xyla with Hero Claw, blinding her and knocking her from the sky.

A Glacier Cannon swept over Xyla, bringing her energy down very quickly.  Knowing that another hit from the attack would mean defeat, she flew away from where Nidovikk landed.  The Air-Lord stayed focused on his target.  Unfortunately, this prevented him from noticing the purple Dark Tornadoes closing in on him.

As she flew, the challenger fired a volley of plasma shots.  Nidovikk avoided each bullet, never losing sight of her.  Xyla eventually moved closer and hurled Propeller Bombs at Nidovikk, but he froze them solid with two short Freeze Cannon bursts.

“Nice try,” Nidovikk said as he took aim.

Xyla dropped to the roof and threw a Gyro Cutter, clipping the Air-Lord’s arm.  Nidovikk triggered his Glacier Cannon just as the propelled returned and hit his back, affecting his aim just enough that Xyla was able to duck beneath the ice blast.  The Wind Storm armor faded away, and Xyla stood up proudly.

“Well done,” Nidovikk complimented.  “Not a lot of people have beaten me with my own Element!  You’ve got skill—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Xyla smiled as she took her Air Ultima-Orb.  “I won’t.  Thank you very much, Air-Lord!”

Nidovikk chuckled.  “Xyla, right?  I’ll remember your name.  With the way you fight, I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear about you becoming Air-Lord someday!”

Xyla took a moment to think about Nidovikk’s statement.  It was a statement of expectation—that was obvious.  Yet, strangely, Xyla was not filled with anxiety upon hearing it.  For the first time, she did not feel an overwhelming fear of failure in response to someone telling her what they saw in her future.  If she lived up to the expectation, great—if not, oh well.  She had just proven herself, and for now she felt that was more than enough.

“Hm…we’ll see,” Xyla quietly offered in return.

She de-fused and made her way to the elevator.  Now that she was Level 5 she could do far more with Air than she could before, and she was more determined than ever to continue her push towards mastery.

 

 

Spirits Used:

#1216. Jobmaster: Wind

#1438. Agility of Wind

#1178. Wind Storm

#1547. Soul of Wind

#1561. Soul of Flight

#1383. Breez 4.0

 

Review in: Genakex's Journal.


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Latest Addition: Broken KanohiShort Stories.  A style experiment relating the loneliness of a now-useless mask.


#43 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Feb 12 2013 - 06:25 PM

Chapter 42: Tending the Fire

 

 

Tahra and Kytan walked down the street in silence.  Neither had said a word to the other since leaving the restaurant, and Tahra would not even look at Kytan.  Thus far Kytan had thought it best to remain quiet, but he could wait no longer.

“I get the feeling you’re angry with me,” he said at last.

“Sort of,” Tahra chuckled.

“…Are you going to tell me why?”

She hesitated.  “It’s silly.  You’re not the one I should be mad at, but somehow it just shifted your way.”

Tentatively, Kytan asked, “May I request more of an explanation…?”

“Well if you’ve gotta know—I’m way too comfortable around you.”  The anger was beginning to express itself in her tone.  “You’re different, so you managed to work past my guard and make me start opening up.  Now, instead of ignoring what I don’t want to deal with like I’ve been doing, I have to actually feel again.  I don’t like it.”

On one hand, Kytan was glad to hear that his efforts were having an impact.  On the other, he felt guilty for what Tahra claimed to be going through.  Still, it was too late to stop now.

“Does that have something to do with the way you’ve been acting today?” he guessed.

Tahra gave him a sarcastic glance.  “What was your first clue?  Look, I’ve just been facing some memories I prefer not to relive.  Give me time and I’ll push them back down again.”

“It may be better to work through the anger.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.”

Kytan paused, but decided to continue.  “You can talk to me, Tahra.  I want to help you.”

“You’re not gonna let this go, are you?”

“If you’re going to be angry with me, I can at least give you a reason.”

Tahra sighed.  “…Maybe I’m…jealous.”

“What?”

Under her breath, Tahra growled, “I never had a good relationship with my mother, okay?  Seeing a mother who actually cares about her children…it hurts.  What’s worse, I was pretty sure I’d managed to forget her up until now.  Thanks a lot.”

Kytan had no idea what to say to that.  Tahra stopped walking and shook her head.

“I’m sorry—I shouldn’t blame you.”

“You don’t have to apologize for the way you feel,” was the best he could muster.

Tahra averted her gaze.  It was clear that she was not used to telling other people about her problems, so Kytan resolved to try harder.

“Do you want to talk about the specifics of what happened with your mother?”

Tahra thought it over.  “To be honest, I’ve forcibly repressed a lot of it.  I’d like to avoid digging it all back up.”

“Alright…you know, I have some idea of what you’re going through.  You did get a glimpse of my relationship with my father.”

Tahra nodded.  “Do you ever wish your relationship had been different?”

“All the time.”

“…Do you ever feel kinda…guilty about that?”

“Guilty?”

Tahra started walking again.  “I dunno.  Sometimes I just feel like wanting more from my mom is like saying I didn’t get enough from my dad.  But hey, it’s already been established that I have a weird way of looking at things.”

It seemed she was prompting Kytan to let the subject go, but he was not ready to do that just yet.  Once again Tahra had proposed an idea that he had never considered.  On some level it made sense, but it was not something he could accept.

“It’s only natural to expect contributions from both parents,” Kytan said.  “That’s the standard model we’re taught, after all.  We’re raised with that image in mind whether it fits us or not.  If it doesn’t, we’re left wondering if we missed out on something because we’re not ‘normal’.”

Kytan put a hand on Tahra’s shoulder.  He turned her around so that he could look her in the eye.

“There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way.  It’s not an insult to your father.  I won’t pry, but it sounds like your mother just didn’t try hard enough.  That and everything that results from it is on her—not you, not your father, just her.”

Tahra stared into Kytan’s eyes as she absorbed what he said.  It all had crossed her mind before, but for some reason it seemed so much more believable now…why was that?  Maybe because he had similar experience, meaning the principle could be applied to multiple cases?  Was it simply because she was hearing somebody else say it?

As she looked closer, Tahra could see that Kytan had no doubt in what he was saying, but there was more than conviction in his eyes and tone.  There was concern.  Understanding.  A genuine desire to help her reach some form of peace.

Not many people looked at Tahra like that.  To most, she was the entitled tomboy princess who thought she could get whatever she wanted simply by disregarding or overthrowing anything that stood in her way.  Even her own mother had seen her as a lost cause.  Few looked at her with kindness.

Her travelling companions acted like friends, but she had never been completely convinced.  She did believe that Nidovikk and several other Element-Lords were friends, and her father had never given her reason to doubt that he cared.  And now…

Now Tahra saw that Kytan cared.  His actions up until now had not been an act—it truly mattered to him how she felt and what she thought.  Not so long ago they had been strangers, but still, he thought of her as a very close friend.

So surprised was she that words escaped her.  She stood there, eyes locked with Kytan’s until she suddenly became aware once more.  Tahra pulled away, turned, and cleared her throat.

“Uh…yeah,” she mumbled.  “You’re…you’re probably right.  Thank you.”

Her reaction puzzled Kytan.  “Are you okay?  You seem a bit flustered.”

“I’m just…snapping back to normal, that’s all,” Tahra said.  “That’s enough of that, right?  Back to default.”

Kytan quietly took off after Tahra as she resumed walking.  A few seconds later, she whispered, “Thanks again.”

She lightly punched him in the shoulder.  It was a rather awkward gesture, but Kytan appreciated it nonetheless.  If he was right, it meant that Tahra really was warming up to him after all.

When the pair made it back to the Battlefield, they found Nidovikk and Leanga filling out paperwork in the lobby.  Tahra sat down in a cushioned chair and asked, “Don’t you have an office for that?”

Nidovikk grinned with a hint of sadness.  “I get to see more people this way.  Besides, I already cleared out my desk.  If I go back now…”

The Air-Lord trailed off and looked down at a stack of papers.

“Anyway,” he said, “will you be coming to the ceremony tomorrow?”

Tahra frowned.  “Tomorrow?  Already?  I thought you said it would be a few days?”

“Well, ‘few’ turned out to be ‘two’,” Nidovikk chuckled.  “I’m not so good with dates anymore.  We’ll be making the switch right out front at 9 A.M.”

Kytan began to understand.  “The Air-Lord Transference Ceremony?”

“That’s the one!” Nidovikk replied.  His enthusiasm sounded more forced than usual.  “Starting tomorrow, Leanga will be an official Air-Lord!  We’re crossing our Is and dotting our Ts right now.”

The old Element-Lord paused.  “No, wait…that doesn’t sound right…”

“I gotta say, I never really thought you’d retire,” Tahra admitted.  “You’ve been Air-Lord for as long as I can remember.”

Nidovikk’s grin faded to a weary smile.

“I wish I didn’t have to retire.  But this job takes a toll on you, and I just don’t think these old bones can handle it anymore.  It’s time to get some new blood in the Air-Lord line.”

Leanga recalled, “I can still remember my first day as an Air-Apprentice.  You told us all we had better be in for the long haul, because they were going to have to carry you out on a stretcher and wrench the title from your cold, dead hands.  Half of us never came back.”

“I had to weed out the uncommitted, didn’t I?” Nidovikk laughed.  “Hahaha!  Oh, I wish I could relive those days, training you cold drafts into mighty hurricanes!”

He hung his head and quietly added, “At least I know I’ll be leaving something behind.  That makes it all worthwhile.”

Nidovikk put a hand over his face.  The others waited patiently for him to compose himself.  Soon, he looked up and took a deep breath.

“You didn’t answer my question!”  The excitement had come back to his voice in full.  “Are you coming or not?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Tahra answered.

Nidovikk nodded and turned to Kytan expectantly.  “Oh, yes!  It would be an honor to see an Element-Lord Transference first-hand!”

“Great!” Nidovikk said.  “Let the others know, will ya?  I forgot to tell Xyla earlier.”

Kytan perked up.  “Xyla challenged you?”

“Yeah.  She was really nervous about it—I’m guessing since she specializes in Air too.  It’s a unique fear, testing yourself against an Element-Lord you share an affinity with…oh, she won, though.  The girl’s talented.”

Kytan smiled.  He knew that defeating the Air-Lord would mean a lot to Xyla, and hoped this would help her with her problems.

Leanga held out a form.  “Air-Lord, you forgot to sign this.”

Nidovikk grumbled and searched for his pen.

“We’ll leave you to your work,” Tahra said as she got up.  “Good luck with the adjustment.”

“Thanks; I think I’ll need it,” Nidovikk said grimly.

Kytan and Tahra crossed the lobby and boarded an elevator headed for the floor where their rooms were.  On the way, Tahra said, “Sounds like Xyla made some progress.”

“I’m glad,” Kytan replied.  “For a while I was worried she wouldn’t make it out of that slump.”

“I told you some things work themselves out.”

“Actually, I think Genakex may have had something to do with it.  He and Xyla have been getting along pretty well lately—or at least, that’s how it seems.”

“Guess being helpful runs in the family.”

Soon enough the elevator came to a halt.  As the passengers exited into the hall, Kytan offered, “Well, even if you’re not actually sick, let me know if you need anything.”

“How about you lie down for a while?” Tahra suggested.

Kytan remembered what Tahra had told him about spreading himself too thinly.  He found that when he thought about it, he did feel a bit mentally exhausted.  A rest sounded nice.

“Perhaps I will,” he answered.

 

 

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#44 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Mar 02 2013 - 04:28 PM

Chapter 43: Changing Winds

 

 

By the time Genakex and Cerah finally made it back to the Battlefield, Nidovikk and Leanga had finished their work and the lobby was mostly vacant.

Genakex fell onto a cough, sighing, “Whew…I think I need to sit down for a minute.”

“I’ll go check on your brother, then,” Cerah said.

She approached the nearest elevator and reached for the button to summon it, but the doors slid open on their own before she could press it.

Inside was Xyla.  Both were surprised to see the other, so it was some time before either of them made a move.  Hesitantly, Cerah stepped aside.

Xyla quickly passed by, saying, “Uh…thank you.”

Cerah said nothing as she slipped inside the elevator.  Once the doors were closed, Xyla afforded herself a small sigh.

When she spotted Genakex, she approached him and greeted, “Genakex!  I’m glad I ran into you.”

Genakex was sure he had never heard Xyla say that before, but he was not about to voice his surprise.  He stood up as she came closer, noticing the broad smile on her face.

“I beat the Air-Lord!” she proclaimed.  “I stuck with Air Spirits and I was still able to win!”

“That’s fantastic!” Genakex replied.  “What Spirits did you use?”

“I put some Parasites on Breez 4.0.  It worked like a charm!”

“Did you name the combination?”

Xyla paused.  “Um…no.”

“Hm…how about Fujin Breez?  That sounds cool.”

“…I’ll consider it.  Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your help.”

Genakex furrowed his brow.  “What did I do?”

“You encouraged me when I was feeling down, even after I…well, I know I’ve never been the easiest person to get along with.  You’re a good friend.”

This day’s full of surprises, Genakex thought.

“D…don’t mention it.  I’m glad you’re feeling better.”

“Thanks.  So…how was your day?”

“It was pretty nice,” Genakex answered.  “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my mom.  Though…I do feel bad that I can’t tell her about, you know, everything.”

Xyla was unsure what to say, but she was relieved of the need to respond when Zane and Phaenyx entered the Battlefield.

“I think it went well,” Phaenyx was saying, more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice.  “Might have gone better if we had an actual strategy.”

“I had a strategy,” Zane returned.  “You interfered.”

“Am I that difficult to calculate?  Sorry for being a statistical anemone.”

Anomaly.”

“Nah, I’m not hungry.”

Zane consciously suppressed his desire to bash Phaenyx’s head against a wall.

“Hey Phaenyx!” Genakex said.  “Where’ve you been?”

“I ran into Zane while I was out training,” Phaenyx replied.

“And he hasn’t shut up since,” Zane grumbled.

Ignoring him, Phaenyx continued, “Some other Bioni-Lords challenged us to a Tag Match, but we lost.  Of course, they actually worked together, so I’m sure that helped.”

Zane had had enough.  He whirled on Phaenyx and leaned in, speaking very slowly and clearly.

“Get this straight: I am only travelling with this little playgroup because it serves my purposes.  I have no intention of making friends with any of you, so stop trying.  When I agreed to that battle, I meant that I would fight them both myself, but then you stepped in and cost me what should have been an easy victory.  Do not get in my way again, for your own sake.”

Phaenyx never flinched or frowned—he hardly even blinked.  His smile was not condescending, but as if he thought it would shield him from Zane’s anger.

In reality, it only made things worse.  Fuming, Zane abandoned the small gathering, and Phaenyx shrugged and paid him no mind.

“So, what’d I miss?”

“I’m Level 5,” Xyla said, beaming with pride.  “Also, I ran into Kytan—he said that the Air-Lord Transference Ceremony is tomorrow at 9.”

“Congrats on the win,” Phaenyx said.  “I take it we’re invited to the ceremony?”

“What exactly is a Transference Ceremony?” Genakex asked.

“The retiring Element-Lord names his successor, and then…” Phaenyx trailed off.  “…I dunno, something happens.  It never made sense when it was explained to me.”

“I guess we’ll find out tomorrow,” Xyla said.  “It’s exciting, isn’t it?”

Genakex scratched his head.  “Um…I guess?  Watching ceremonies has never been all that exciting for me.”

“Same here,” Phaenyx agreed.  “Still, it’s a rare thing.  Bragging rights and all that.”

Xyla shook her head in disappointment.  “Hopefully the others appreciate it…”

Several floors above, a knock at the door made Kytan spring to his feet.

“Kytan?  It’s your mother.  Are you there?”

As he opened the door, Kytan responded, “Yeah—welcome back.  Sorry I couldn’t join you.”

“That’s okay,” Cerah said as she stepped in.  “I know you wanted to check on Tahra.  Is she alright?”

“Yes, she’s feeling much better.”

“What was actually wrong?”

When Kytan did not respond, Cerah added, “Working with Psionic Spirits makes one a bit sharper.”

“…It’s not my place to say,” Kytan answered.

Cerah nodded, not intending to press further.  “But you were able to help her?”

“I think so.”

A smile crossed Cerah’s face.  “You always were a good boy.  You and Tahra seem to be getting along quite well.”

The atmosphere constricted around Kytan.  “Well…like I said earlier, we aren’t—“

“I know, I believe you.  But you react awful strongly.  That leads me to believe that the answer may change.”

Looking away, Kytan said, “No—we’re just friends.  That’s all.”

Cerah tried to look Kytan in the eye but failed.  “So…you have no desire for that to change?”

Again, Kytan said nothing.

“I know you, Kytan.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen you quite like this before, but I know more than enough to make an educated guess.”

“It’s nothing,” Kytan insisted.  “Even if I did, it would clearly be one-sided.  If Tahra felt the same she would say something—she is by no means a passive individual.  So until I have reason to believe otherwise…nothing can come of it.”

Cerah moved closer, reminding, “There’s no harm in asking.”

“It’s not a good time.”

“Because of the danger you’re all in?”

Shocked, Kytan turned to face his mother.  Worry had clouded her features.  “I know when someone’s hiding something from me.”

The conversation Kytan had dreaded was here.  “…Mom…it’s under control, really.  We didn’t tell you because we didn’t want you to worry.”

Cerah managed a smile.  “It’s a bit late for that.”

“…I’m sorry.”

She took a deep breath.  “Okay.  Whatever you boys have gotten into, I trust your judgment.  If you think it’s best I don’t know, then I won’t ask.”

This was not the answer Kytan had been expecting—quite the opposite, in fact.  For a moment he considered the possibility that he may be trapped in a dream again, but when his surroundings remained constant he discarded all doubt that he was awake.

Cerah reached for Kytan’s hand.  “But…if things change and you do need my help, never hesitate to ask.  I can get to wherever you are as soon as you need me.  Nothing will stop me from helping my children.”

Kytan hugged his mother close.  “I promise, Mom.  And once things quiet down, I promise that we’ll tell you everything.”

Fighting back tears, it was Cerah’s turn to answer with silence.

 

The next morning a crowd gathered outside the Battlefield, leaving only a small open space in front of the door populated only by two microphones.  Excited murmurs gave way to respectful silence when both Nidovikk and Leanga emerged from the building, the former carrying an Air Ultima-Orb.  Both stopped before a microphone.

Nidovikk tapped the device to make sure it was working.  “Thank you all for coming!”

If being up so early for something he was not quite looking forward to affected his mood in any way, it did not show.

“Since it’s tradition, I thought I’d talk just a bit before we get to the Transference.  Don’t worry, I’ll be brief, so you don’t need to cancel your plans.  I have a retirement to get started on after all.”

He paused as his audience laughed.

“Folks…it’s no secret that I love my job.  I love being Air-Lord even when I’m faced with a tough decision, because at the end of the day I know that I did the best I could to keep all of you safe and prosperous.  Despite the pain, despite the worry, despite the stress, I wouldn’t change one second of the time I’ve spent serving you.”

A moment passed as Nidovikk steeled himself.

“Now that I can’t do this anymore, I just want to say thank you.  Thank you all for letting me be your Air-Lord, and I hope that you’ll give Leanga a break while he warms up to the position!  Hahaha…let’s get on with it, then, shall we?”

The crowd applauded.  Nidovikk and his Apprentice faced each other.

“Leanga Taifal, you have completed your training as an Air-Apprentice.  Now that you are of age and I have nothing left to teach you, you are worthy of becoming an Air-Lord.  The title is mine to give, and the time has come for me to relinquish it.”

Upon saying this, the reality of the situation struck Nidovikk.  A few seconds passed before he was able to speak again.

“As Air-Lord…you must serve the people of Le-Isle to the best of your ability, even putting their well-being above your own.  Are you prepared to do this?”

Leanga nodded.  “I am prepared.”

“This title carries with it a terrible burden, one not easily shed.  Will you persevere through the hardships that you will invariably find yourself facing?”

“I will persevere.”

“It will be your responsibility to test young Bioni-Lords to ensure that they deserve Ultima-Orbs granting them the full power of Air.  You will have to safeguard these treasures to be sure that they do not fall into the wrong hands.  Do you accept this responsibility?”

“I accept.”

“Very well,” Nidovikk said.  With a smile he added, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

A ripple of soft laughter moved through the crowd.

Nidovikk raised the Ultima-Orb in his hand, stared at it sadly for a moment, and then reluctantly closed his eyes.  For several seconds nothing happened.

Suddenly the Orb flared to life, radiating pure green energy that swirled around it like a slow-moving whirlpool.  The crowd gasped in awe as the same light enveloped the Battlefield, and a small tendril gently reached out and brushed against the Orb, instantly locking into place and connecting the two auras together.

It was now that Nidovikk opened his eyes.  He tried to contain his emotions, but those in the front row could see stray tears rushing down his face.  Ever so slowly, he extended his arm, offering the glowing Orb for Leanga to take.  While not a physically demanding task, the mental effort required left the old Air-Lord exhausted.

This time Leanga hesitated.  Even if he had not known Nidovikk his whole life, he would have to be blind not to realize what the position of Air-Lord meant to the old man.  Once Leanga took hold of the Orb, he knew there would be no going back.  Perhaps he should decline, put off his acceptance of the title so that his master could keep it a bit longer?

As he debated this, Nidovikk whispered, “Leanga?”

He immediately looked up.  The smile on Nidovikk’s face was genuine, with no signs of resignation or remorse.

“It’s okay.  Take it.”

That was enough to dispel Leanga’s misgivings.  Confidently, he took the Ultima-Orb from his mentor, and he felt a rush of energy that sent a chill down his spine.

The light around the Battlefield and the Orb now covered him as well.  A powerful wind blew through the city as the island accepted its new master.  Leanga felt lightheaded as images flashed through his mind—the history of Le-Isle, the memories of past Air-Lords, and secrets he could have only guessed at before.

The process lasted for approximately thirty seconds before the green light faded away and the winds ceased.  His heart still racing, Leanga faced the crowd with an accomplished grin.  Nidovikk laid a hand on his Apprentice’s shoulder as he too faced the masses.

“As Fourth Air-Lord, Nidovikk Aewa, it is my honor to present to you Leanga Taifal, the Fifth Air-Lord!”

The people roared with cheering and applause, nearly overwhelming the young Air-Lord with the powerful wall of sound.  Nidovikk pushed him forward as they quieted down, encouraging him to say a few words.  With a nervous gulp, he decided to comply.

“I thank you all for your approval.  It is a dream come true to be deemed a worthy successor to Air-Lord Nidovikk, and I promise that I shall not disappoint you.”

A solemn look crossed his face.

“Times have been a bit troubled lately.  Though it may not be easy, I will use every ounce of my power to keep Le-Isle safe from the darkness that comes to challenge it.  I look forward to serving you!”

The crowd cheered.  With a few final waves, the new Air-Lord and the former Air-Lord went back into the Battlefield, and those that had gathered to see them began to disperse.  Amidst them, the Ikhav family and their friends slowly advanced towards the Battlefield as best the jumble of people would allow.

“That was more intense than I was expecting,” Genakex commented.  “What was with all the lights?”

“Leanga was being connected to the Air energy that runs throughout Le-Isle,” Tahra explained.  “‘Element-Lord’ isn’t just a fancy title.  They draw strength from the link to their island, plus they stabilize the energy to keep it from going out of control or being tapped by just anyone.”

“You don’t say…” Phaenyx mumbled.  “Guess that explains why they’re so powerful.  Drawing on a whole island must make you near-invincible.”

A mischievous smile formed on Phaenyx’s face.  Kytan quickly cut in, “As she was saying, only the Element-Lord can tap that power.  Don’t get any ideas.”

The party eventually made it back into the lobby, which was also somewhat crowded with people who wanted to speak to the Air-Lords.  Deciding it wise to wait before attempting to reach the elevators, the group found a few unoccupied seats.  Cerah, however, remained standing.

“Well,” she said, “I should get going.  It’s a long trip back to the Mainland.”

“Oh…alright.” Genakex stood up and hugged his mother.  “Thanks for coming.  We’ll try to hurry so that we can come home sooner.”

“You’re sure you can’t stay longer?” Kytan asked.

Cerah shook her head.  “If I don’t go now, I might lose my nerve and never leave.  Just remember that you promised to stay in touch!”

“We will,” Kytan assured.  “We love you Mom.”

“I love you too.”

Cerah faced her sons’ friends.  “It was nice meeting you all!  Hope I get to see you again.”

They each offered a good-bye, though all but Phaenyx seemed a bit stiff.  With one last farewell, Cerah reluctantly headed outside, fighting with all her might against the urge to look back.

The Ikhav brothers sat back down with their friends.  Kytan cast a glance at Tahra, seeing that she was looking down at the floor.  He tried to come up with something helpful when he heard the door open, drawing his attention.

A boy about the same age as Phaenyx walked in.  He had black hair and brown eyes, and he wore black boots and gloves, jeans, a brown leather jacket, and a white shirt with the Three Virtues symbol in purple.  He darted through the crowd, apologizing to whoever he bumped into, and came right up to Leanga.

“Air-Lord, forgive me for intruding, but I must speak with you.”  His tone was mostly calm, but there was an underlying urgency.

Raising an eyebrow, Leanga replied, “Alright…what is it?”

“My name is Ren Vicadox,” the boy introduced.  Leaning in close, he whispered, “I think I may have stumbled upon a Shadow Consortium operation.”

 

 

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#45 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Mar 25 2013 - 04:35 PM

Chapter 44: Sky’s Enigma

 

 

Kytan looked over the Orbs he had prepared.  He, his brother and other travelling companions, Ren, Leanga, and Nidovikk stood a small distance away from the castle the children had passed on their way to the city, though even from here it seemed to loom over them ominously.

According to Ren, he had come to explore the castle in the hopes of discerning the truth behind the legends associated with it.  Being the sole Lekin castle that did not plummet to its doom, the fortress was a thing of mystery that had attracted numerous stories over the centuries.  Some say that a deity of wind had made its home in the castle and used its divine power to stop the cliff from crumbling.  Another legend has it that the souls of those who died in the other castles have woven themselves into a collective brace beneath it, hoping to prevent anyone else from meeting their terrible fate.  Still others claim that the castle is nothing more than in illusion with no weight to threaten the cliff.  The list is extensive.

One of the most popular stories, however, is that a vampire has chosen the castle to be his crypt.  The exact details vary, but each rendition of this tale says that the demon only comes out at night, feeding on whatever creatures are foolish enough to stray near its domain.  Those that attempt to tie this story to the cliff’s stability tend to cite something ridiculous, such as the vampire’s “dark powers,” or some method of uniting its victims’ corpses with the rock to strengthen it.

Due to the stigma some associate with legend-seekers, Ren made it quite clear that he did not believe any of it.  In fact, he hoped to find conclusive proof that there was absolutely nothing mystical about this castle, and progress had been made.  Pre-existing geological surveys had confirmed that this particular cliff was simply sturdier than the others.  As for the vampire story, its genesis could be traced back to a time when a large portion of Le-Isle’s population suffered unexplained deaths.  Later it was discovered that a new disease had made its way to the island.  However, while this did explain the deaths, it did not explain why several of those who succumbed to the illness turned up near the castle gates.

On top of that, there was one phenomenon that (though unconfirmed) had no explanation.  Some who have, for whatever reason, found themselves passing by the castle at night have reported that light can be seen from within the castle tower.  The few brave enough to draw closer claim to have heard a peculiar sound: the sound of a single violin.  Allegedly, the melody haunts those that hear it, for it is a tune so sad that it casts a pall of hopelessness over even the brightest soul, as if composed by Misery to weaken the hearts of men.

This gave new life to the vampire stories.  The eccentric believers, though insisting a vampire would need no light, attribute this event to a prisoner of the demon—someone locked in the tower and kept barely alive to serve only as a constant source of nourishment.  There are not many who believe such a terrible tale.

Ren had decided to enter the castle to see if it currently had any inhabitants.  He had just made it through the front gates when he noticed that a tripwire had been broken.  Once hidden from view, he remained silent as several men fused with Iron Condor Spirits came by to investigate.  From what Ren had overheard, it appeared that the Shadow Consortium had formed a nest within the fearsome castle.

When the coast was clear, the young Bioni-Lord had gone straight to the Battlefield.  Originally Leanga had wanted to take care of it himself.  However, Nidovikk had said that it was too dangerous to go alone and tagged along.  Ren had also insisted on helping, and Phaenyx and Zane jumped at the first mention of the Consortium.  Before long, the entire party had assembled and was on its way to the haunted castle.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had to deal with the Consortium,” Kytan pointed out.  “I was almost beginning to hope they had forgotten about us.”

“Wishful thinking accomplishes nothing,” Zane replied.

“…So, what’s our plan?” Ren asked.

“I say we split up,” Nidovikk proposed.  “Three of you come with me, the others go with Leanga.”

Tahra chuckled.  “Splitting up, a haunted castle, all we need is a talking dog and we’re good to go.”

Phaenyx burst out laughing, but Genakex muttered, “Uh…I don’t get it.”

The group came to a halt just outside the gates.  Leanga turned to face them and said, “We’ll have to be quick and quiet.  Don’t go off by yourself, and don’t try to engage anyone.  We have no idea what’s waiting for us.”

Tahra casually kicked the gates open and started up the path.  The others darted after her, ready for an ambush, but surprisingly they made it to the castle doors unscathed.  Tahra reached for the doors, but this time Leanga stopped her.  Waving everyone off to the side, he fused with Toa Nidhiki and pulled the door open.

The castle foyer was dim and covered in a layer of dust.  A glass chandelier was suspended from the ceiling, but its candles looked like they had not been lit in ages.  Tarps covered several unidentifiable pieces of furniture that lined the room, and opposite the door waited a grand, carpeted staircase leading to the upper floor.  All was quiet—the only sound was the old grandfather clock in the corner ticking away.

“It’s too easy,” Xyla whispered.  “There must be some sort of trap.”

Phaenyx grinned with excitement.  “Then we’ll just have to spring it.”

The group filed in and continued surveying the room.  Before long they decided that the only course of action was to move on and explore the castle.  Nidovikk, Tahra, Kytan, and Genakex headed up the stairs while Leanga, Xyla, Ren, Zane, and Phaenyx moved to one of the first floor hallways leading out of the foyer.

A sudden sound put everyone on alert.  With a shriek, a Lohrak flew out of a hole in the ceiling and into the shadows above the staircase.  Thinking nothing of it, the investigators returned to their work.

Unbeknownst to them, the Spirit wove its way through hallway after hallway, eventually finding its way to a large chamber full of movement.  It circled, searching for a place to land.  Below, dozens of Consortium agents moved about in a hurry, hauling crates to and away from huge pieces of machinery.

One of them looked up and extended his arm.  Taking note, the Lohrak dove and wrapped around the outstretched appendage.  Rather than constricting, the slimy creature began to hiss and snap its fangs.  To the untrained eye it would appear hostile.  Its “perch” knew better.

Cell listened attentively as the Lohrak told him of visitors.  Smiling, he responded, “Thank you, little friend.  Don’t you worry—we know how to deal with trespassers.”

Once the Lohrak had departed, Cell’s smile faded and he stalked towards the stone column at the center of the room.  Awaiting him there was a tall figure clad in unbearably heavy silver armor that intensified on the lower legs and upper arms.  Four rectangular objects were mounted on each forearm, and a hole had been cut into the chest—four prongs reached from its edges towards its center, hungry to fill the empty space.  Several hatches dotted the figure’s body: two at the shoulders, two on its back, several running down each leg and under each knee, and four around the chasm in its chest.  Circular nodes could be seen on its palms and soles.  Attached to its waist were two hilts, but no blades extended from the handles.  The back of its head was also covered in a shell of armor, sinking beneath the edge of its gleaming Mask of Fusion that shrouded the beings face save for his burning red eyes.

“Contrivance, they’re here,” Cell reported.  “Nine humans have entered out fortress.”

“I know.” Contrivance’s harsh, metallic voice was enough to send a shiver down even Cell’s spine.  “My eyes see everything.”

Contrivance’s pupils darted back and forth.  Security cameras throughout the castle shifted in compliance, locking onto the new arrivals and feeding the images directly to their master’s mind.

“Both Air-Lords.  The child who tripped the alarm earlier.  Those children guarding the King of Pahrak.  No data on the last individual.”

“Shall I slaughter them for you?” Cell offered.

“Negative,” Contrivance refused.  “This location has outlived its usefulness.  Once all essential inventory has been retrieved, we shall destroy any remaining trace.”

Cell looked up.  The roof of the chamber extended up and up until it was lost in the darkness.

“Won’t our landlord have a problem with that?”

Contrivance paused.  “Cease attempts to restore my humor function.  If he interferes, he will be deleted.”

“Of course, sir.  But if I may, clearing this place out may take a while longer.  Shall I delay them?”

“Not yet.  Should such measures prove necessary, I shall contact you and your partners.  Dismissed.”

Cell nodded and went back to work.  As he opened a crate, Frieza came walking up to him.

“Well?” Frieza asked.

“Well what?”

“Don’t play dumb.  I saw your little pet fly in.  We have interlopers, don’t we?”

Cell began gathering equipment and placing it in the storage unit.  “We do.”

“Of course.  We should have destroyed that boy when we had the chance!”

Across the room, Contrivance turned and narrowed his eyes.   Frieza’s body went stiff, and he suddenly found himself being pulled through the air towards the Head of the Science Division.  He came to a stop right in front of Contrivance, but was not spun around to face him.

“You question my methods,” Contrivance stated.  Not being able to see him made his voice all the more chilling.

“I…I was just –“

“We have nothing to fear from intruders.  Our work is too important for us to pause to step on every insect.  Operations had to be maintained to monitor the fluctuation of Le-Isle’s energy during the Transference Ceremony.”

Frieza almost reminded Contrivance that monitoring the energy had yielded no significant results, but he caught himself just in time.  Subordinates who clashed with Contrivance were never heard from again.  No one knew for sure what happened to them, but there were rumors—terrible, grotesque, nightmarish rumors.  With Contrivance’s reputation, chances were that they were all true.

“…I apologize,” Frieza mumbled.  “I will not question you again, Contrivance, sir.”

The invisible hold binding him was released.  “Good,” Contrivance said.  “Return to work, but remain on stand-by.”

Frieza wanted an explanation, but he did not have the courage to ask for one.  Instead he headed back for his station and continued typing away at one of the few computer consoles still active.

Why were we assigned here? he wondered.  This entire project is one big failure.  Contrivance probably won’t be alive much longer—shouldn’t he be replaced by now?  It’s degrading to be associated with the failures of a dying man.

Frieza picked up a digital tablet to verify the data upload.  Letting his gaze wander, he glanced at the seven pyramid-shaped contraptions around the edges of the room that were gradually being dismantled.  At one, a panel was removed improperly, and a stream of Water and Ice energy exploded out from the device.  Contrivance shouted at the workers who had made the mistake, ordering them to fix it before he took care of the problem himself.  Frieza chuckled at their misfortune.

For the past year or so, the Science Division had been using the castle to conduct research on the Elements in the hopes of creating a fifteenth Element superior to all others.  The location was chosen primarily for its fearsome reputation.  In addition, Contrivance had hoped that the silver spires could be used to focus Elemental power, though this method had proved less effective than desired.

In reality, very little (if any) progress had been made, and Virulence had petitioned Garland to shut the program down.  Garland wanted work to continue, but suggested that Contrivance bring his work back to the Consortium’s island so that additional resources to maintain a separate location would no longer go to waste.  Contrivance, in a bold move, had refused on the grounds that something could be learned by watching how Le-Isle’s Air energy changed when a new Air-Lord took over.  Unfortunately, nothing had been learned at all.

Contrivance had grudgingly ordered that the equipment be packed up, and as he supervised the efforts he readied himself for the ridicule he knew was waiting for him back at the base.  However, this was not all he thought about.  He found it illogical to direct all his cognitive energy towards such emotional concerns, so he also reviewed more worthwhile thoughts such as how to salvage this operation.  A King Bohrok had wandered into his realm, and it would be a shame if he missed an opportunity to capture it.  The Air-Lords, however, could be a problem.

The Division Head turned to Cell.  Data streamed across his field of vision, analyzing the operative’s current strength and measuring it against known readings taken from the rulers of Le-Isle.  Calculations were soon complete: Cell had a 50-70% chance of defeating Leanga and a 30-35% chance of defeating Nidovikk.

Contrivance grunted.  The increase in Leanga’s power gained from becoming Air-Lord was an unpredictable variable, but it was still a much better idea to send Cell after him.  Another operative would need to deal with the more experienced Element-Lord—a Science Division operative with state-of-the-art enhancements to their Spirit.  Fortunately, one such operative was on the premises.

Contrivance nearly smiled, but after all these years he found that he had forgotten how.

 

 

Review in: Genakex's Journal.


Edited by Pahrak #0579, Jun 24 2013 - 05:39 PM.

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#46 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Jun 24 2013 - 04:41 PM

Chapter 45: Restless Spirits

 

 

Leanga set his scythe against the wall and sighed.  He had expected to find something by now, but their investigation of the first floor had yet to yield any results.

“Isn’t there anyone here to fight?” Phaenyx asked.  “I’m bored.  Do you think the others have found anything?”

Zane eyed Ren suspiciously.  “I’m beginning to think we were brought here for a slightly different reason.”

“Imply what you will, but I’m on your side,” Ren replied.

“Sure you are,” Zane said.  He took several steps ahead of the rest of the group, adding, “This is a waste of time.  We should just destroy the—“

His sentence was cut off as the floor gave way beneath him.  Leanga grabbed his scythe and rushed for the trapdoor, but the walls began to move, boxing him in and separating him from the door and the rest of the children.  The Air-Lord unleashed a blast of wind to try and break one of the walls, but it refused to budge.

Leanga took a deep breath and tried to remain calm.  Examining the room, he found that it was a very long rectangle with no visible exits, though several lightstone lanterns were attached to the walls and provided dim illumination.  He began to consider using his scythe as a pickaxe when he heard a noise behind him.  Spinning around, he spotted Cell standing at the other end of the room.

“Boo.”

Taking a battle stance, Leanga said, “Let me guess: you’re here to stop me.”

“Good, we can skip the formalities,” Cell said.  “Normally I’d be thrilled at the chance to fight an Element-Lord, but with your handicap it just feels meaningless.”

“Handicap?” Leanga repeated.

Cell nodded and gestured to the walls.  “This room is airtight.  With a battle raging on, it won’t take long for you to run out of air—something I don’t need to worry about.”

Leanga stared blankly.  “…I’m the Air-Lord.  I can just make more air.”

“While you’re busy fending off my attacks?”

Realizing he hadn’t taken that into account, Leanga re-evaluated his statement.  Cell shrugged.

“Well,” Cell said, “I suppose I’ll just have to make the most of it while I can.”

Cell summoned his eerie Chikara, prompting Leanga to activate Perfect Fusion.  Before he could make a move, Cell had him in a telekinetic grip and flung him against the wall.  Bouncing back, Leanga launched into a spin, wrapping himself in a mini-tornado which he then shot out at Cell.  The Spirit created a barrier out of energy to block it, and then prepared to attack when he realized Leanga was gone.

“Ah, excellent!  There’s hardly any light in this room—your Volitak will thrive in these conditions!”

A sudden blow nearly knocked Cell over.  An afterimage of Leanga began to circle him, a sure sign that it was Cycletack that had been used against him.  Cell merely regenerated and used Instant Transmission to move across the room.

Leanga, scythe drawn, returned to view, so Cell blasted him with a Kamehameha.  Quickly, Cell teleported closer and extended his tail, sticking Leanga with the stinger and using Absorb.  Leanga knocked Cell back and examined his wound.  When he looked back up, he saw that lime armor resembling the Volitak had grown over Cell’s face.

“…You copied the technique, didn’t you?” Leanga grumbled.

Cell replied, “You know how it is—something catches your eye, you get impressed, and you’ve just gotta have it.  Consider it a compliment.”

“No, I don’t think I will.”

Leanga narrowed his eyes.  Air constricted around Cell, holding him in place while a glass-like sphere formed around him.  The grip loosened once the prison was complete, soon to be replaced by a violent swirl of razor-sharp air currents.  Before long, the attack ceased and the glass vanished, but Leanga wasn’t done—an incredibly intense hurricane had brewed overhead, and it now reached down to envelop Cell in its maw.

As this was occurring, Leanga tapped into his Spirit’s abilities to fill the room with fresh air.  He knew that Cell would not be defeated by that move, but he figured he had at least bought himself some time.  When the hurricane cleared, Cell had disappeared.  Panicking, Leanga prepared to activate his Volitak, but before he could, a Death Beam struck him in the eye.  The sharp pain was more than enough to make him flinch.

Very nice!” echoed Cell’s voice.  “Chaining a simple attack to two Forbidden Techniques.  With talent like that, it’s no wonder you were chosen as an Element-Lord.”

Waiting for his sight to return, Leanga asked, “Do you always compliment your opponents like this?”

An invisible kick sent him sprawling.  Cell answered, “I merely give credit where credit is due.  Even to humans.  I suppose you could say it’s my way of channeling my shock that some humans aren’t completely inferior.”

The pain had subsided, so Leanga looked around for Cell.  Suddenly the chamber was filled with bright light, destroying his vision once again.  The pain came back in force as Cell unloaded a barrage of energy blasts, pinning Leanga to the wall.  When it was finally over, he was afraid to believe it.

He opened his eyes.  Cell was visible again, grinning smugly at his opponent.

“Oh come now, this can’t really be the extent of your power, can it?” Cell asked.  “Maybe this will goad you out into the open…Fourth of the Forbidden Flames: Dragon Tongue!”

Leanga braced himself as Cell exhaled a beam of white-hot flame.  The attack seemed to rage on forever, but when it was over, Leanga used his scythe to prop himself back up.

Surprisingly, he was not in as bad a shape as he had thought.  In fact, he could feel his strength slowly returning to him.

So this is what it feels like to be connected to the heart of Le-Isle.

Leanga lashed out with his scythe.  He moved much faster than Cell had expected, catching the fiend off-guard and lopping off one of his horns.  Leanga wasted no time—he channeled the island’s energy though a Forbidden Technique, creating a second scythe in his free hand.  Cell was still reeling, so he spun around and delivered a series of deadly strikes with both weapons, all the while whipping the air around him into a sharp current that only amplified his assault.

Somehow, Cell managed to slip free.  Leanga stopped rotating to search for him, but suddenly he became very dizzy.

The air is starting to get thin, he realized.  I need to make more oxygen while—

Cell dashed forward and jammed his elbow into Leanga’s chest.  Once the Air-Lord was stunned, Cell created a sphere of red energy and smashed it into his face.  The resulting explosion hurled Leanga down the chamber like a pebble.

“I’ll admit it: you surprised me,” Cell conceded as he regenerated his horn.  “I guess now I know why Contrivance can be a bit reluctant to send us after Element-Lords.  Still, it’s well within my power to defeat you.”

Leanga began to create more air, but before long Cell grabbed him and slammed him into the wall.  The tremor could be felt on the other side, where Ren, Xyla, and Phaenyx waited nervously.

“That’s definitely the sound of a fight,” Phaenyx said.

“Should we try to help him?” Xyla asked.

“I don’t think we can,” Ren answered.  “If those walls haven’t been knocked out by now, I doubt we’ll be able to break through them easily.”

“How very astute.”

The trio turned to see Frieza stepping out of the shadows.  Phaenyx immediately fused with Dakrevusko, and Xyla used the same combination she had used against Nidovikk.  Ren’s Spirit turned out to be Trynahk, granting him elegant avian armor and a very ornate version of the Kanohi Tryna.

Before Frieza even made a move, Phaenyx fired a Shadow Bazooka, but Frieza protected himself with a barrier and then used Nova Strike, launching himself at an unaware Xyla.  Ren jumped between them, letting Frieza collide with him.

“Shame the King of Pahrak isn’t here with you,” Frieza lamented.  “Oh well.  Killing you will have to suffice.”

Xyla attempted to ensnare Frieza with Hero Cuffs, but he fired a Death Beam that pierced them (rendering them useless) and struck Xyla as well.  The villain floated back as he waited for Ren to make a move, but it was Phaenyx who came charging in with his shadow blades, forcing Frieza to evade.

Phaenyx used Shadow Shift to teleport behind his foe, but Frieza stunned him with his tail and then used a Death Ball to repel him.  Ren flapped his wings, sending a Feather Storm out, but Frieza avoided the projectile feathers with ease.  Still, Ren advanced.

“What are you doing?” Xyla asked.

Frieza used Telekinesis to throw Ren into a wall.  Trynahk’s armor shimmered as its Reanimate effect activated, saving Ren from defeat.

“Did you really think a weak Spirit like that could stand a chance against me?” Frieza asked.

Thinking him distracted, Xyla raised her Plasma Shooter and fired.  Frieza dodged and moved in to punch, but twin beams of energy came out of nowhere and struck him down.  Ren, eyes still glowing from the Life Vision attack, took a step forward and smiled.

Shocked, Frieza was unprepared for Phaenyx to pop up and deliver a quick slash.  Further taking advantage of the chaos, Xyla somersaulted over Frieza and used Gyro Air Force, dropping a bomb that flattened him against the floor.

“I needed Trynahk to reanimate before I could use Life Vision,” Ren explained.  “Since it targets his Elemental weakness, I figured it would be enough to surprise him.”

As the smoke cleared, Frieza stood up and scowled.  “Impossible…even outnumbered, it shouldn’t be possible for weaklings like you to do any real damage to me!”

“I guess we’re stronger than you think,” Xyla replied.

“Or you’re just not as strong as you think,” Phaenyx offered.  “Maybe both.”

“Silence!!” Frieza shouted.

Xyla suppressed a chuckle.  For some reason, seeing her enemy realize he wasn’t going to win was amusing to her.  However, when she realized how sadistic that thought was, she very quickly pushed it aside.

“I will not let you win!” Frieza stated.

Activating 100% Power, his armor became bulkier and a strange aura began to radiate from him.  Unfortunately, it left him wide open, so Ren hit him with another Life Vision.  Struggling to control his fury, Frieza began to charge a massive energy ball above his head.  Seeing what little Fusion Energy he had left, Xyla used a simple Wind Burst in an attempt to finish him off.

To her surprise, Frieza survived.  Lowering his arms, he announced, “Death Cannon!”

The energy ball flew down the hall, blowing away all three children and doing a massive amount of damage.  Crawling back to her feet, Xyla asked, “What happened…?”

“It’s his effect,” Ren responded.  “When an attack capable of ending the fight hits, he takes half of the normal amount of damage it would cause.”

“Oh…”  Xyla looked down, silently chiding herself for making such a stupid mistake.

Frieza laughed and prepared to attack again, but Phaenyx suddenly appeared in front of him and delivered another cut.  In a flash of energy, Frieza was gone.

“Nice!” Phaenyx said.  “I’d say we went up a few levels during that blizzard.  How about we get to work on this wall and beat up whoever Leanga’s fighting for the heck of it?”

Not waiting for an answer, Phaenyx began slashing the wall repeatedly.  Ren sighed and turned to Xyla.

“…You seem upset,” he said.  “There’s no need to fret.  We were still able to win.”

“I made a mistake,” Xyla muttered.  “I got careless, and I made a mistake.  If we were fighting a more serious threat, we could be dead because of me.”

Ren paused.  Xyla couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but she prepared for the worst.

“If that’s how you feel, then I recommend channeling that energy,” Ren said at last.  “A mistake is just something to learn from.  They can be great motivation for more training, I find.”

As Xyla considered this, Phaenyx called, “Hey, guys, a little help?”

“He’s not giving up…” Ren mumbled.  “I suppose we should help him, then.”

 

 

Spirits Used:

#1292. Cell

#268. Toa Nidhiki

#1291. Frieza

#726. Trynahk

#1369. Dakrevuska

#1383. Breez 4.0

#1561. Soul of Flight

#1547. Soul of Wind

 

Review in Genakex's Journal.


Edited by Pahrak #0579, Jun 24 2013 - 05:23 PM.

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#47 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Jul 05 2013 - 06:02 PM

Chapter 46: Snares in Shadows

 

 

Zane was very surprised to discover that he was still alive.

The trapdoor had given way to a very long fall, finally ending with a net that seemed just barely strong enough to hold him.  A quick pull was enough to snap the rope, spilling him out onto the stone floor.

Zane stood up and looked around.  More openings like the one he had fallen from could be seen in the ceiling, surrounded by lightstones, but none of them had nets suspended beneath them.  Instead, piles of shattered Orbs were heaped under the openings—a graveyard of Spirits, likely the byproduct of some Consortium experiment.

Those people don’t care who or what they destroy, Zane mused.

As he walked past the mountains of glass, something shifted.  One Orb, miraculously intact, rolled off a pile and across the ground, coming to a rest at his feet.  Zane stooped and picked up the survivor.

“What are you?” he mumbled.

“Funny, I was going to ask the same thing.”

Looking up, Zane spotted a figure standing behind a mound of Orbs.  He stood to face the newcomer when suddenly the Orb in his hand lit up in a blinding flash.  Plates of silver-white armor slid over Zane’s body, and the Orb, its Spirit released, now shifted to the form of a long, simple sword.

What? Zane thought.  I didn’t activate Fusion!

“Ah, seems it finally found a partner,” said the stranger.  “He showed up here so long ago, convinced a trusted ally would show up sooner or later.  Here I thought he was mad.”

He stepped out into the open.  The stranger’s legs and arms were covered in black armor, while blood-red plates covered his chest.  His gloves and belt were the latter color.  Silver armor covered his shoulders and the area beneath his arms, rising to form a jacket-like collar around the beck of his neck, and silver ornaments dotted his ankles, wrists, and knees.  An odd helmet covered his head: on top it was black, with a silver plate over the nose and mouth, and two massive yellow plates of glass that served as eyes, with red lining running along their top edge and forming a crest resembling a beetle’s horns on his forehead.  In one hand he held a blade that was serrated on one side.  In the other, he bore a massive shield with strings running down its face.

“Is this some Consortium trap?” Zane yelled.  “Unwise to put a sword in my hand!”

The stranger scoffed.  “You think I’m with them?  How bold to insult me in my own home.  Those simpletons are merely kept here to amuse me.”

“I’m not buying it, Strings!  Tell me what’s going on before I beat it out of you!”

“Strings?  Well, I suppose I’ve been called worse.  But that is no way to speak to your host.”

With a grunt, Zane gripped his new blade with both hands and ran at Strings.  He swung with all his might, but the stranger merely raised his shield nonchalantly.

“My, you really hate them, don’t you?” Strings asked.  His tone was less than sympathetic.  “You’re here for revenge, aren’t you?  Yet here you are, at the bottom of a trap, hmhmhm…”

Furious, Zane leapt to the side and stabbed at his foe’s flank, but Strings pivoted and countered with his own blade.  Zane was sent reeling, so he could do nothing as his opponent drew his sword along the strings on his shield, producing a sound oddly similar to that of a violin.  As the tune played, Zane suddenly felt a sharp pain in his chest, followed by a burning sensation up his arm.

“What do you think?” Strings taunted.  “It’s been so long since I’ve had an audience.  Feedback is an essential part of any endeavor, you know.”

Zane quickly looked over the attacks his current Spirit possessed.  Reaching out with his arm, he willed a jumble of cables to rise from the ground in an attempt to trap Strings.  The strange man was too quick, however—he leapt out of the way, over Zane’s head, and delivered a blow with the serrated side of his blade.  The edge caused immense pain, but Zane didn’t let it stop him.  Spinning around, he almost landed a slash, and when he missed, Strings merely took a few steps back.  Zane’s earlier burn, combined with the degenerative effect of Strings’s last attack, sapped away the last of his Fusion Energy.

“There, all done,” Strings said.  “Can we have a civilized discussion now?”

Unsure of what to do, Zane looked down at the mysterious Orb.

“I’d hang onto that if I were you.  Do you want to know its name?”

“Why bother?” Zane asked.  “A lot of good it did.”

“That’s more your fault than his,” Strings argued.  “No, that Spirit is much more powerful than you realize.  Does the name ‘Obscura’ sound familiar?”

Zane paused.  “You’re lying.”

“Not this time.  That is a genuine member of Les Quatre Frères de Lame, and he’s chosen you as a partner.”

Zane was not quick to believe this.  Les Quatre Frères de Lame were four incredibly rare, incredibly powerful sword-wielding Bioni-Spirits said to actively seek out humans capable of fighting alongside them.  Surely, he thought, they would be more than powerful enough to fend off this strange person.

Some legends also said that when all four gathered, it foreshadowed a great disaster that only they had a chance of preventing.  Unfortunately, most of those legends ended with them failing anyway.

…I guess they never have had the best track record, Zane thought.  Maybe this really is one of them.

“So,” Strings said, “how about that civilized discussion?”

 

Nidovikk cautiously stepped out onto the balcony and looked out over the central chamber.  Most of the Consortium agents were gone, but a few stragglers were still dragging their crates towards the small portal currently floating in front of the pillar.  Next to the portal stood Contrivance.  The mere sight of him was enough to unsettle the Air-Lord, and it was only made worse when he looked up suddenly.

“So a sneak attack is out of the question,” Nidovikk said.

“Fine,” said Titan.  “I prefer a direct assault anyway.”

Contrivance waved his hand.  A sheet of metal extended out from the pillar, forming a floor just beneath the balcony that cut the party off from the Consortium.

“…Right,” Nidovikk said.  “And, let me guess…”

Armored footsteps could be heard falling against the metal floor.  Out from behind the pillar stepped a man clad in insectoid purple armor, his forearms encased it blade-like claws.  Attached to his shoulder was a cylindrical cannon, with the end opposite the barrel lined with fourteen rectangular tabs.

“Air-Lord Nidovikk?” he asked.

“Thought so,” Nidovikk said.  “Yes, that’s me.  Who’re you?”

“I am Science Division operative ‘Genesect’.  You have been singled out for termination.”

Nidovikk smiled.  “Oh, am I?  What an honor.  Shall we begin?”

Genesect sharpened his claws.  “That would ideal.  I hope to complete this task before Buu arrives.”

Nidovikk suddenly became very serious.  “Buu?”

“Wait, isn’t that the guy who attacked Onu-Isle?” Genakex asked.

“That’s bad news,” Kytan said.  “They must want to destroy the castle.  We need to stop him!”

“Let’s get outside,” Tahra said.  “I’ve got a hunch he’s gonna pop up out there.”

The three of them raced back the way they had come while Nidovikk jumped off the balcony.  Activating Perfect Fusion with Agility of Wind, he asked, “So, are you the boss’s right hand man or something?”

“I am second in command of Elemental Research, yes,” Genesect replied.  “Division Head Contrivance has total control of all research projects.  I defer to his orders.”

“Bah, what kind of authority is that?” Nidovikk laughed.  “Do you even get to do anything?”

Genesect’s cannon aimed itself at Nidovikk, and the back rotated until the red-colored tab was on top.  It half-receded into the weapon, and then, with a bright flash, a ball of concentrated flame shot out of the barrel.  Completely calm, Nidovikk stepped out of the way and hurled a Plasma Blast directly at Genesect’s face.

“Fancy cannon you got there,” Nidovikk said.  “Are you gonna explain it like a good little villain, or do I gotta read up on it?”

Still recovering, Genesect decided to play along.  “The Techno Buster can utilize the power of any Element when firing.  It is the ultimate in variable weaponry.”

Nidovikk yawned.  “You know, one versatile attack does not a powerful Spirit make.”

“Affirmative,” Genesect said with a grin.  “Being in charge of Elemental Research, it was easy to improve upon this ability.”

The Buster angled upwards and unleashed a spray of small metal orbs.  They hovered for a moment, turned red, and then converged on Nidovikk to unleash a mini-explosion.  Nidovikk stumbled out of the smoke, doing his best to comprehend what had just happened.

“Shall I continue elaborating?” Genesect asked.  “I have enhanced the Techno Buster so that its Element-altering ability is compatible with all of this Spirit’s attacks. Combined with Magnet Bomb, I now have an unavoidable attack that can be tuned to any Spirit’s weakness.”

Nidovikk thought for a moment before saying, “…Better.  But I can still just block the attack with my Ward spell.”

Genesect fired off an Ice Element Magnet Bomb, and Nidovikk created a protective wall of energy.  Before he could make another move, Genesect hit him with a Buster shot, knocking him off his feet.

Puzzled, Nidovikk reviewed the situation: Ward should have raised his defense for this turn, but the shot had done just as much damage as if the buff had not been applied.

Seeing him struggle, Genesect said, “My Download ability increases the output of my attacks when the foe increases their defenses.”

“…Oh.  Does it wear off when my defensive buff does?”

“Negative.”

“Darn loopholes.”

Nidovikk crossed his arms.  Assuming he understood correctly, he was fighting an enemy who could target his every weakness with an attack he could not dodge, and his only way of blocking it would have the side effect of making his enemy even stronger.

Despite himself, Nidovikk smiled.  “Now THIS is what I call a challenge!  For my last battle defending this island, it’s only right to go out with a bang!”

Genesect cocked his head.  “Optimism…I’ve yet to develop an understanding of its properties.”

Nidovikk raised his staff and created a Tornado, watching as Genesect was dragged into the funnel.  He prepared a Plasma shot for when his foe emerged, but he was surprised when Genesect flew out of the tornado and straight at him.  With one mighty swing of his forearm, he pinned Nidovikk to the floor, and then adjusted the Techno Buster so he could fire a point-blank attack.

Now would probably be a good time for Bind, Nidovikk thought.

Acting quickly, Nidovikk did not have time to focus the spell—he willed it to eliminate whatever attack Genesect was about to use.  The Buster jammed when it tried to fire, giving Nidovikk the chance to punch his foe and use a focused wind blast to repel him. 

Genesect got back on his feet and laughed.  “Predictable.  You rushed the spell, and have wasted it.”

“Eh?  Whatcha mean?”

“The attack you bound was Signal Beam, easily my most useless attack.  Now I need not worry about you disabling any vital functions.”

Realizing his mistake, Nidovikk hung his head in exasperation.  Clearly, Genesect knew what he was doing, which meant the Air-Lord needed to do a better job of acting like he did too.

“ALRIGHT!  No more fooling around!” Nidovikk proclaimed.  “I’m gonna squash you, you oversized bug!”

Genesect smirked as the Elemental clip on his Buster began to spin.  “Your chances of victory are far lower than you assume.”

 

Spirits Used:

#120. Obscura

#1653. Requiem

#1525. Genesect

#1438. Agility of Wind

 

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#48 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Jul 28 2013 - 01:08 PM

Chapter 47: Siege of Madness

 

 

“Wait!”

Tahra grabbed Genakex by the collar, nearly hanging him with it.  “Shh!  Somebody’s out there!”

The three of them had returned to the castle foyer.  A strange thumping sound could be heard from the top of the stairs, though its source was not yet clear.  Fusing with Stringer 4.0, Kytan took the steps one at a time, coming to a stop at the edge of a large rug.  The sound, it seemed, was produced by something trying to come up from beneath the center.

“Whatcha think it is?”

Kytan jumped in surprise.  Tahra was now right beside him, in Fusion with Tahu Nuva.

“Ah…I don’t know,” Kytan said.  “But we should be prepared for anything.  If I keep my cannon on it, can you pull the rug?”

Tahra nodded and gripped the rug’s edge.  Lifting his weapon with both hands, Kytan took careful aim, stepped back, and said, “Now!”

Tahra flung the rug across the chamber, revealing a trap door.  Before long it was thrown open from beneath, revealing…

“Zane?” Genakex asked.  “Wait, there’s a basement?”

Zane, a look of total frustration on his face, crawled out of the trapdoor.  “Yes.  There’s a basement.  Glad we were able to establish that.”

Strings came up next, causing everyone to raise their weapons again.  “I know I set a low bar on welcomes, but you’re not going in the right direction,” he said.

“Don’t bother,” Zane grumbled.  “He’s the owner of the castle—he wants the Consortium out just as much as we do.”

Strings made a slight bow.  “Riken Dygul, at your service.”

“Time out,” Tahra said.  “Owner?  I wasn’t aware anyone owned this castle.”

“And that’s the way I like it,” Riken said.

“So…all those weird things reported about this place are just you messing with folks?”

Riken chuckled.  “More or less.”

“Huh.  Not a bad scheme!”

“Wait,” Kytan said.  “Does that mean you let the Consortium in here?”

Riken sighed.  “I thought they’d amuse me.  Regrettably, they’re more troublesome than anything else, and I want them out.  I could surely handle it myself, but…”

Tahra smirked.  “Not strong enough, mighty landlord?”

“Hmhm…ask your friend about my strength,” Riken said.  Zane grunted as he continued, “There remains an uncalculated risk: the leader of this operation, Contrivance.  Normally, I can easily determine a being’s strength, but Contrivance is…different somehow.  His natural energy has been so heavily altered.”

Genakex asked, “Contrivance…do you think that’s the guy we saw earlier?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Kytan said.  “We need to stop Buu from leveling the castle!”

Riken grew very serious.  “…I see.  I suppose I shall leave that to you, then.  In exchange, I shall lend aid to your friends still trapped in the corridors.”

With that, Riken headed off.  Staring after him, Genakex asked, “Wait, our friends are trapped in the corridors?!”

“No time,” Tahra said.  “Oi, Zane!  Feel like helping out?”

Zane nodded and headed for the door.  Tahra and Kytan quickly followed, though Genakex lingered a bit longer, worrying about what could be happening to his friends.

“…But…”

“Move!” Titan ordered.  “That strange man said he would take care of the others.  Let us go, so that I may take my revenge on Buu!”

“It’s the ‘strange’ part that worries me…” Genakex said.

A tremor rocked the foyer, giving Genakex one final push to fuse with Titan and run outside.  Buu could be seen floating not far away, pointing and laughing at a scorched hole in the castle wall.

“Hey freak!” Tahra shouted.  “I owe you a broken nose!”

Stopping to take notice, Buu crossed his eyes, calling attention the fact that his facial armor did not have a very well-defined nose.  He began laughing again, but stopped to dodge a fireball.  Still wreathed in smoke, Tahra raised her magma blades, crouched down, and shot through the air directly at Buu.  He easily teleported aside and continued laughing, but a surprise shot from Kytan’s sound cannon caught him off-guard.  The odd being gave a blank look as Genakex and Zane started to close in.

Tahra used her Hau to create an energy wall, which she bounced off of to take another lunge at her foe.  Faster than anyone could react, Buu contorted and extended all of his limbs, knocking back all four children with either a kick or a punch.  Once he retracted his arms and legs, Buu charged directly at Kytan.

Though one Ikhav was still reeling, the other was prepared—Genakex called down a Rockslide, successfully burying Buu before he reached his target.

“Thanks for the save,” Kytan called.

Genakex smiled at the praise, but reminded himself that the fight was not over.

Buu sent the boulders flying with a burst of power, forcing everyone to take cover, and used the opportunity to smash a giant sphere of energy into Kytan.  Pain suddenly twisted his features.  Zane, sword dripping with venom, took a step back to give Tahra a clear path.

Once close enough, she grabbed Buu and focused a huge amount of fire into her palm.  Buu screeched in pain, but his cries were silenced when a Headbutt from Genakex bashed his elastic face in.  The villain quickly warped away to regenerate, giving the children a very brief moment to regroup.

“We should limit his range of movement,” Kytan suggested.  “Direct him right towards Zane, so he can use his sword to counter the attack.”

Buu charged once again.  Tahra used a wide blanket of fire to force him to fly low, where a flurry of sound and plasma blasts restricted him to a narrow path.  Buu shot an energy beam at Zane, who flipped over it and delivered a slash as he landed.

I suppose that would’ve normally been difficult, Zane thought.  I’m starting to believe this Obscura may be useful.

Buu scowled.  A Rockslide suddenly fell on Zane, prompting Tahra to glare at Genakex.

“Ignorant girl,” Titan scoffed.  “The monster mimicked my attack!”

“Who’s the monster?” Tahra asked.

“Guys!”

Genakex created a Silver Shield as he shouted, barely blocking Buu’s Kamehameha beam.

“We can argue later, okay?”

Reluctantly, Tahra nodded and pointed her swords at Buu’s feet.  The Ground Burner was too slow to hit, but it (combined with a failed Kaminari Slash) was enough to distract Buu as Kytan used Chorus Cannon, unloading a long string of sound bursts that Buu was unable to escape from.

“Victory is within our grasp!” Titan declared.  “Genakex, finish him off!”

Genakex eagerly swung his arm through the air, sending a Plasma Wave at his foe.  Eyes burning with rage, Buu avoided the attack, herded everyone together with a Vanishing Beam, and then used his own Plasma Wave to strike them all at once.

“Nice job,” Zane groaned as the party began to pick themselves up.

Genakex glared at Zane, and then looked to Buu.  The monster created a massive ball of pink energy and hurled it with all his strength.  With a powerful leap, Genakex flew at the sphere and swung the Vacuum Metal Saber, batting the attack back and overwhelming the off-balance Buu.

As he landed, Genakex turned to Zane and smirked.  “You were saying?”

“I’m…impressed,” Titan admitted.  “Despite the initial blunder, you managed to harness my power in a way you were previously unable to do.”

Buu fell to the ground with a loud thud.  The kids began to relax, but then something surprising happened: Buu got back up.

“Again,” Zane said, “nice job.”

Genakex was dumbstruck.  “But…his Fusion Energy hit 0…”

“It’s his effect,” Tahra said.  “He can revive with a little extra energy.  Still, since he can regenerate, we shouldn’t start taking it easy on him.”

Buu swayed as if he were seasick.  Blinking erratically, he took a few uneasy steps before shakily raising his arm.  He managed to shoot a few Sound Blasts, but none of them even came close to hitting their mark.  Something was definitely wrong.

This is similar to what happened on Onu-Isle, Kytan thought.  It’s like he’s just…shutting down.

Tahra began to walk towards their foe.  “Then again, maybe we can take it easy on him now.”

Buu continued his assault.  Still, Tahra managed to reach him unscathed.  Covering her fist in flames, she delivered a devastating punch to Buu’s face, an attack she followed by cleaving him in two with her Magma Swords.

“I guess I’ll consider us even.”

Dark energy emanated from Buu as he was teleported off the island.  Stretching nonchalantly, Tahra headed back towards the castle.

“Alright…what now?” Kytan asked.

“I say we find Zane’s new friend and see what he’s up to,” Tahra said.  “Old man Nidovikk should have things covered on his end, after all.”

Kytan noticed Genakex, who was staring off into nowhere.

“Don’t worry, Genakex.”

Genakex seemed to just now remember that his brother was there.  “Hm?  Oh, yeah, no big deal.  Just something I need to keep in mind in the future.”

Though glad to see Genakex’s enthusiasm, Kytan was a bit surprised—his younger brother was usually discouraged by things like this.  As he watched Genakex on his to join the others, Kytan realized that he had begun to grow into a new person.

Apparently, Kytan had missed it.

 

 

Spirits Used:

#2. Tahu Nuva

#1462. Stringer 4.0

#120. Obscura

#920. Exo-Pahrak Kal Titan

#1293. Buu

 

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#49 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Jul 30 2013 - 02:33 PM

Chapter 48: An Air-Lord’s Fate

 

 

Phaenyx fell over and sighed, utterly exhausted.

“Let’s face it,” Xyla said, “we’re not going to be able to break this wall.”

Ren nodded.  “Still, we shouldn’t just abandon Air-Lord Leanga.  I’ll go see if I can find help.”

He turned to leave when the sound of footsteps reached his ears.  Phaenyx sprang to his feet, exclaiming, “Another one?!  Well, maybe we can beat a key out of him or something.”

“You really think he’s going to drop a key when we beat him?” Xyla asked.

“That’s how it works in games.”

“This isn’t a game!”

Riken rounded the corner, hands raised.  “Fear not, young ones, I come in peace.”

“Yeah, that’s what they all say,” Phaenyx said.  “You just want us to let our guard down so you can take us out when we’re not looking!”

“Delightful as that sounds, I have no intention of doing so,” Riken said.  “I am here to free the Air-Lord.  After all, I am the only one who can.”

Ren carefully examined Riken.  Not much about his intentions could be guessed at, but he did seem like one who didn’t need to rely on underhanded tactics—if he wanted to defeat them, he could do it by attacking head-on.  Further, what about his claim that he came to rescue Leanga?  There was no reason to believe him, but if he was right, they needed to take the chance.  Leanga could very well be dead already.  If he wasn’t, the probability increased with every passing second.

“Very well,” Ren said.  “Please, free the Air-Lord.”

Slowly, Riken drew his weapons and ran his blade along his shield’s strings, producing several short musical notes.  When it was over, the walls shifted around to reveal Leanga, who was desperately gasping for air.

Standing over him was a surprised Cell.  Locking his gaze on Riken, he said, “So…I take it this is our eviction notice?”

Using his Shadow Shift, Phaenyx grabbed Leanga and teleported them both to the rear of the chamber.

“I would recommend you take the Air-Lord elsewhere,” Riken said.  “I will join you shortly.”

As the children retreated with the Air-Lord in tow, Ren stopped and said, “Thank you.”

When he was gone, Riken turned to Cell.  “Surely you know how strong I am.”

“I’m not one to back down from a challenge,” Cell replied.

Acting quickly, he blinded Riken with Solar Flare and then started to charge a Kamehameha.  Riken lifted his shield, but Cell teleported behind him before firing the beam, landing a hit on his exposed back.  The Spirit laughed defiantly…but that was when he heard music.

Suddenly, Cell was unable to move.  When the smoke from his attack cleared, he saw Riken ‘playing’ his shield, and he began to realize he had made a huge mistake.

“Go ahead,” Riken said, “attack me all you like.  Your attacks will make mine stronger, and as I attack, the damage you caused will be slowly undone.  Of course, you could try to dodge…but you won’t escape the range of my Pain Symphony.”

As the song continued, Cell felt his energy drop steadily.  First he was paralyzed, then asleep, then silenced, then frozen; it was only when the Symphony poisoned him that he was able to lash out with a punch.  Riken easily blocked.  The man stared into the Spirit’s eyes, and soon Cell found himself filled with unimaginable, paralyzing terror.

How…? Cell wondered.  How can a human have this much power?

Riken smiled as darkness enveloped his leg.  Taking a stance, he said, “Yes—this is your eviction notice.  Requiem Kick!”

He drove his foot into Cell’s torso, making a massive wound as Shadow energy exploded out of the target’s back.  Cell collapsed.

Riken stepped over him and calmly walked down the corridor.

 

Nidovikk shielded himself with Ward and then fired a Plasma blast.  Genesect strafed and fired a Light Magnet Bomb spray.  Defending again, Nidovikk sighed.

The battle had gone on like this for quite some time now—Genesect would use Magnet Bomb, he would block, he would retaliate, Genesect’s attack power would go up as he used more Magnet Bombs, etc., etc.  Genesect’s Download effect had activated so many times now that even the slightest mistake on Nidovikk’s part could prove fatal.

Sucking Genesect into a Tornado, the Air-Lord shouted, “Hey, howsabout you use something other than a Magnet Bomb with an Element I’m weak against, you cheap spammer?!”

In response, a swarm of shadow Magnet Bombs came out of the funnel cloud and homed in on him.  He shielded himself as Genesect tried to regain his balance, and was able to zap him with Ray before the next Magnet Bomb was fired.

“But seriously, this is so boring!” Nidovikk complained.  “Mix it up a bit!”

The Air-Lord lunged forward, coating his staff in Plasma and swinging it.  Genesect blocked with his claws and used a close-range Magnet Bomb, but Nidovikk was able to use Ward to both protect himself and repel his foe.  It wasn’t long before Genesect tried to fire again, but with a well-placed Plasma shot, Nidovikk was able to block up the barrel and force Genesect to abort the attack.

“HA!” Nidovikk said.  “What’s the plan now, mechabug?”

Flipping the cannon onto his back, Genesect said, “Draining barrel of Plasma.  Estimated time of completion: 2 minutes.”

“More than enough time!” Nidovikk said.

A Ray struck Genesect head-on, leaving him defenseless as the Air-Lord swung his staff again.  Right before the weapon made contact, a scythe blade sprouted from the end, slicing a gash in Genesect’s armor and unleashing a gust of wind that sent him toppling.

“Here’s a lesson in originality,” Nidovikk said, sounding quite pleased with himself.  “Why make a whole Wind Scythe when you can just use your own staff as the base?”

Genesect climbed to his feet and stepped forward.  A Plasma blast to the chest knocked the wind out of him, giving Nidovikk the chance to get close.  Genesect swung his claw, but Nidovikk blocked, hit Genesect with his scythe blade, and then used a Tornado to fling him across the chamber.  The bug-like villain hit the wall with a loud smack, much to Nidovikk’s amusement.

“You bugs really need to learn to watch where you’re flying!”

When Genesect finally fell, Nidovikk created a glass sphere to catch him.  Intense winds whipped around inside the glass, whittling away Genesect’s energy until it finally shattered and dumped him on the ground.

“Danger…” Genesect croaked.  “Damage sustained…nearing…critical levels…”

Crouching down, Nidovikk banged his staff on Genesect’s head.  “You done, or do I have to get the flyswatter in here?”

Genesect tried and failed to get up.  “Defeat…is unacceptable.  Contrivance will punish…me…”

“Sorry, but it’s my job to beat the bad guys.  Let’s get this over with, eh?”

Nidovikk turned and took a few steps away.  He was just about ready to attack when he heard a noise—a low whine that was slowly rising in volume.  Turning back to Genesect, he saw the Techno Buster rattling with energy and aimed directly at him.

“…Has it been two minutes already?”

The back of the cannon rotated to its Ice setting as Nidovikk made a gust-powered leap.  Releasing all his built up power, Genesect used the Ice Solarbeam to shoot a massive torrent of cold out of his cannon, freezing almost the entire chamber.

With a satisfied smile, Genesect said, “Enemy neutralized.”

Genesect somehow managed to get up.  He looked around for Nidovikk, eventually spotting the Air-Lord near the ceiling.  His entire body was covered in frost, with his legs encased in a thick shell of ice.  On the brink of defeat, he glared down at Genesect and drew upon every last ounce of resolve he had.

“…Y…You th-th-think this is enough…to n-neutralize me?” Nidovikk whispered.  “I’m the F-F-F-Fourth Air-Lord…Nidovikk Aewa!  Th-There’s no way I’m going out on a loss!”

Using all the power he could muster, Nidovikk created a massive cushion of air between himself and the wall, increasing the pressure until it was enough to crack the ice restraining him.  With a command from Nidovikk, the cushion burst, shattering his bindings and catapulting him directly at Genesect.  The impact knocked Genesect against the wall, leaving him dazed.

Barely standing, Nidovikk raised his staff.  An icy pain worse than any he had ever felt was seeping into his bones.  It was almost too much to bear, but the thought of losing here was something he could not accept—his pride in the title of Air-Lord kept him standing.

“First…of the Four Forbidden Winds!  Omega Hurricane!”

The terrible storm was focused into a compressed blast, surging forward and hitting Genesect full force with the last of Nidovikk’s power.  Cracks spread up the wall, and when the storm ended, Genesect was non-responsive.  He fell to his knees.  The shadows in the room seemed to swarm him, pulling him in and whisking him away from the castle.

“Heh…” Nidovikk chuckled.  “I…won…”

The Air-Lord’s knees buckled.  Everything went numb, robbing him of sensation before he hit the ground.

“Shoot…maybe I overdid it…”

Nidovikk reached for a handhold—something he could use to pull himself out and find help.  There was nothing for him to grab hold of.

Well this is embarrassing.  They’re gonna find me facedown in an iced-out room deep in some haunted castle—it looks like I lost!  Dang, that’ll mess the whole thing up.  I gotta get out…but…maybe just a quick rest first…

His eyelids grew heavy.  Unable to resist any longer, Nidovikk closed his eyes…

 

Genesect opened his eyes.  As expected, he was back at the base.  Futuristic machines covered every inch of wall, cluttered the floor, and even dangled from the ceiling.  Looking through the tangled cords and past the tanks of bizarre and hazardous materials, Genesect laid eyes on the sleek form of Contrivance.

“C-C-Contrivance, sir!”

Genesect tried to stand, but the pain was too intense.

“You desire an assessment of your performance?” Contrivance guessed.  “It seems that you managed to stall while we removed the remaining equipment.  The exact results of your fight have yet to be recorded, but there is a high probability that Nidovikk is horribly injured if not dead.”

For a moment, Genesect dared to hope.

“However: your performance during the battle was unsatisfactory, leading to your loss.  I may have considered probation, but due to your current injuries, your performance on a probationary mission would be unsatisfactory as well.  As such, we will bypass that delay and move directly to termination.”

Genesect’s body went stiff—not only from fear, but also from whatever Contrivance had incorporated into his armor to allow direct control over the operative.  In a panic, Genesect tried to fight.  The hold was too strong, and he found himself floating slowly towards a transparent stasis tube embedded in the wall.

“NO!!  Sir, I beg you, please give me another chance!  I can improve!  I merely need to integrate further enhancements!”

Contrivance said nothing.  The tube slid open with a hiss, allowing Genesect to be gently placed inside the small compartment.  He continued to plead as the door slid shut, but he could only watch as his superior stepped up to the tube and regarded him as if he were nothing more than a broken lab instrument.  Contrivance extended one arm, finger hovering over a button.

Genesect screamed.

 

 

Spirits Used:

#1653. Requiem

#1291. Cell

#1525. Genesect

#1438. Agility of Wind

 

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Edited by Pahrak #0579, Jul 30 2013 - 02:34 PM.

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#50 Offline Mahou Shoujo Mega Man

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Posted Dec 22 2013 - 10:08 PM

Chapter 49: Rising Haze

 

 

The door of the castle slowly creaked open.  Ren cautiously stepped inside, proceeding until he was at the center of the foyer.  A sharp note echoed and the door slammed shut behind him.  Though a bit unsettled, he had been expecting something like this, given Riken’s nature.

The owner of the castle, still in Fusion, soon descended the stairs to greet him.  “Hello, my dear guest.  I trust everyone is recovering?”

“Yes, we are,” Ren answered.  “We were all very relieved to see you carrying Air-Lord Nidovikk out of the halls.  You’d have quite the award waiting for you back in town after saving two Element-Lords.”

Riken gave a bored shrug.  “They were in bad shape.  How are they now?”

“Leanga is fine—he just needed some oxygen.  Nidovikk, on the other hand…they were able to revive him, but the effects of the cold were so strong that his legs were badly frostbitten.  They’ve been amputated.”

Riken stood perfectly still for a moment.  “…I see.  How unfortunate.  Well, I suppose he accepted the risks when the title was given to him.  Now then, the reason you are here: you wished to ask some questions?”

Unfazed by the quick change in topic, Ren said, “Yes, and I thank you for having me.  If I may, though, would it be possible to do this face to face?”

Riken bowed and de-fused.  His eyes were red, and his dark hair had clearly not been cut in some time, though it was organized rather well.  The black suit he wore made him blend in a bit with the shadows, and the cloak trailing behind him, which he drew back as he stood up, had a blood red inner lining.  The man appeared to be in his thirties, but there was a look in his eye that hinted he had far more experience than his looks let on.

He walked over to a piece of furniture and pulled off the tarp covering it, unveiling a large armchair with dull-looking fabric.  Taking a seat, he leaned on one elbow and asked, “Any further objections?”

Ren produced a handheld tape recorder before he began.

“Now…your name is Riken Dygul, correct?”

“Correct.”

“And this castle is under your ownership, correct?”

“It is, yes.  My, this is already repetitive.  Why don’t I just give you the answers to the questions I know you’re going to ask?”

He paused to yawn before continuing, “Let’s see…they make up stories about the cliff, correct?  Though fairly precarious, this location is actually quite sound.  Those who built the castle were sure to verify that the cliff could actually support its weight for generations to come.  The ‘eerie phenomena’ reported are just me going about my day—I simply must keep practicing my violin, else I’ll grow rusty…although scaring people away is certainly an added bonus.  I do not desire unwelcome guests.  Solitude is my preference, hence my continued residence here.  Oh yes, I need to gather supplies here and there, slipping out to collect a few Spirits I can sell to purchase what I need, but no one ever pays me any mind.  Blending among the commoners is all too easy.  Anything else?”

“One of the big stories is that you are a vampire,” Ren said.

“Preposterous,” Riken scoffed.  “Why would anything from the World of the Dead take up residence here?”

Ren was not entirely sure what to make of this statement, but he decided to move on.

“In 1000 ABL, there was a plague on Le-Isle, and many casualties were found at the gate of this castle.  I don’t suppose you know anything about that?”

Riken looked up, as if he were struggling with a memory.  “Ah, yes, the plague.  It claimed many victims, and some succumbed out in the wilderness where no one would ever find them.  I periodically went to search for those poor souls.  At least if I brought them here, their loved ones would be able to find them more easily.”

This confused Ren even more.

“…I beg your pardon?  You gathered them?  This was well over 200 years ago.”

“I am aware of the math, young one.”

Ren sighed.  The most likely explanation, he reasoned, was that Riken was lying.  However, eternal youth was not unheard of—the Original Element-Lords had proven that many years ago.  If nothing else, perhaps it was best to just play along.

“My next question, then, would be how you’ve been able to live in excess of two centuries?”

Riken chuckled.  “Come now, you don’t really expect me to divulge all my secrets, do you?”

“…That was my intention, yes.”

“Where’s the fun in life if there’s no mystery?  I’m happy to debunk a few rumors, but I must leave the people with something to wonder about.”

Ren looked down at the tape recorder, wondering how to proceed.

“Really,” Riken said, “why are you so keen on ruining the fun of myths?”

“It’s not that I wish to ruin anyone’s fun,” Ren corrected.  “I merely think that people can benefit from having truth rather than superstition.  In fact, many cultures have made great leaps and bounds once giving up mythology in favor of modernization.”

“But!” Riken pointed.  “Does loss of faith bring about advancement, or is it that advancement brings about lack of faith?”

Ren found that he did not have an answer for that.

“I suppose your work is necessary nonetheless,” Riken said.  “Though I now find myself wondering what it is that has caused you to believe in nothing.”

After thinking for a moment, Ren replied, “Saying I ‘believe in nothing’ is too absolute.  I am sure there will always be things we cannot explain, and I am not opposed to the possibility of myths and higher powers and whatnot.  However, it is fact that many legends have been disproven by science.  I don’t see why I should let people run their lives around a lie when I can easily make them more informed.”

Riken scratched his chin.  “Interesting…is it truly a ‘lie’ when he who created it was merely ill-informed?”

“…If that is the case, then I suppose you are right.  But there are cases where it is a lie and nothing more.”

“It seems you have a vendetta against such people.”

“‘Vendetta’ is a bit strong.  I disapprove of them, yes, but shattering their illusions is not the sole cause for my work.”

“If you say so,” Riken said.  “Hmhm…I imagine you don’t have many civilized conversations on this topic?”

“Hahaha…such discussions do tend to spiral out of control, yes.  Thank you for your patience.”

“Think nothing of it.  I agreed to this to thank you for helping me with my pest problem—of course I shall be patient.  Is there anything else?”

Ren shut off the recorder.  “If you won’t answer my questions about your claim of longevity, then I suppose that will be all.  Thank you again for your time, Mr. Dygul.”

“Feel free to visit again if you’d like,” Riken invited.  “Who knows, I may even reveal another secret or two, hmhm…”

Somehow I doubt that, Ren thought.

 

Leanga stood on the edge of the Battlefield roof, staring out over the city as Nidovikk had often done.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  The feeling of the wind on his body suddenly grew stronger, and the energy within him—the energy of Le-Isle—began to swell, filling him with a calm, refreshing sensation.

No wonder he did this all the time.

“Leanga?  Hey, Leanga!”

Snapping out of his trance, the Air-Lord looked over his shoulder to find Phaenyx standing there.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Leanga said.

“Nah, it’s cool.  Just wanted to see what you were up to.”

“Thank you…but you’re also here for a battle, right?”

Phaenyx shrugged.  “Only if you’re okay with it.  I understand if you don’t want to, though.  No pressure.”

Leanga thought for a moment.  “…I suppose it would help me take my mind off things.  A battle it is.”

The Air-Lord drew his first Orb, announcing, “Fusion, Toa Matau.”

Green armor appeared over his body and a Mahiki slowly materialized on his face.  He drew his arms apart as two Aero Slicers came to his hands, and a harmless ripple of wind radiated out from him.

“That’s what I was hoping for,” Phaenyx said as he fused with Dakrevusko.

Forming twin blades of shadow, the challenger rushed forward and swung, forcing Leanga to raise his own weapons to guard.  The two clashed and tried to overpower each other briefly before leaping away and raising their arms.  A Tornado collided with a Shadow Ball, the two attacks canceling each other out and temporarily obscuring the fighters’ views.  Seeing an opportunity, Phaenyx used Shadow Shift to teleport behind Leanga and slash his back, and then shifted back to his original location to avoid a counterattack.

Leanga turned to face Phaenyx, who charged once again with one sword elevated.  Waiting for the precise moment, Leanga swung one of his slicers, deflecting the slash, and then swung his other blade to deal an attack.  Phaenyx parried and swirled around, attempting a thrust with his first weapon, but Leanga jumped back and put both hands forward.  A Windstorm kicked up, the furious gale sending Phaenyx flying towards the edge of the roof.

“Crud!”

Phaenyx dug his sword into the roof to bring himself to a stop.  Hoping to take advantage of his recovery, Leanga attached his slicers to his shoulders and launched himself off the ground.  He glided towards Phaenyx as fast as he could, but Phaenyx disappeared suddenly, reappearing right above the Air-Lord and using Shadow Crasher to punch and blast him into the roof.

“Gliding is too slow, don’t you think?” Phaenyx said.  “Leaves you pretty open when your foe can teleport!”

Phaenyx took a few steps back as Leanga got up.  The Air-Lord used another Windstorm, but this time Phaenyx was ready—he fired a Shadow Bazooka, the compressed beam of energy lancing right through the winds and hitting Leanga square in the chest.  Leanga stumbled a bit, so Phaenyx dashed in and swung.  To his surprise, Leanga regained his footing and locked blades with him once more.

“Maybe you’re right,” the Air-Lord said, his mask shimmering.  “But I have at least one more trick.”

Leanga faded from view.  The world began to waver around Phaenyx, creating a disorienting sensation that made him teeter back and forth.

Shaking his head, Phaenyx said, “Yeah…no.”

His mind was still clear enough that he was able to Shadow Shift high into the air, and he followed by creating a Shadow Ball and trying to balance on it.  Such a task proved impossible while confused, so instead he spun around on top of the sphere, tossing out Shadow Bolts and letting them rain down.  Eventually, Phaenyx fell off, and used Shadow Shift to shorten the distance so it wouldn’t hurt as much.

“Ah…” he muttered as he sat up.  “Did it work?”

He spotted Leanga, out of Fusion and readying his next Orb.

“...Um…just as planned!”

Leanga fused with Toa Nidhiki and readied his scythe.  Leaping up, Phaenyx lunged forward, but Leanga blocked, turned, and knocked Phaenyx away with the blade of his weapon.  Phaenyx rolled back onto his feet in time to see Leanga activate his Volitak.  Standing very still, the challenger made himself alert for even the slightest hint to his foe’s location.  It was a while before Leanga made his move, but when he did, Phaenyx felt a slight disturbance as the scythe was swung, allowing him to block just in time.

“There you are!”

Leanga faded back into view just as Phaenyx used another Shadow Crasher, and was sent sprawling.  Phaenyx pressed his advantage, dealing a slash before Leanga knocked him back.  The air constricted around Phaenyx, sapping a bit of his strength, but he still managed to tumble out of the way when Leanga spun towards him in an attempt to use Cycletack.  A Shadow Bazooka was enough to knock the Air-Lord out of his technique and bring him to the brink of defeat, but he was not ready to quit just yet.  Activating his mask again, he advanced on his opponent, but Phaenyx rapidly teleported around the arena to avoid being struck.  When the Kanohi’s effects wore off, a Shadow Bolt was there to finish off Nidhiki.

“I’m guessing you’ve got one more Spirit, right?” Phaenyx asked.  “Is it another Toa?  Cause I think I’m getting pretty good at beating those.  It’s not another Toa, is it?”

Leanga smiled.  “No, it’s not.”

He tossed his last Orb straight up, announcing, “Fusion, Dragonite!”

When the Orb came back down, it burst into a shower of metal, landing on Leanga and expanding to create yellow, scaly armor.  Spreading his wings, Leanga jumped off the ground and bolted directly towards Phaenyx.

Realizing he was in trouble, Phaenyx fumbled with a Megalixir, using it just in time to restore some of his Fusion Energy before Leanga hit him with Thunder Punch.  With Dakrevusko’s Elemental resistance, the attack did negligible damage, but it did leave Phaenyx paralyzed for what came next.  Clenching his fists, Leanga reared back, inhaled, and then threw himself forward, shooting a Hyper Beam from his mouth that ripped Phaenyx’s energy to shreds.

Touching down, Leanga said, “Fortunate for you that you had that item on hand.  I was hoping to finish you off with that attack.”

Ignoring the ache in his bones, Phaenyx got back up.  “Yeah…good for me.”

He then shifted right in front of Leanga and used Shadow Roukuougan, driving both fists into the target’s torso and unleashing a devastating burst of energy.  Using another Megalixir, he said, “Good call leading with that.  Now that I’m prepared, there’s no way I’m going to let you hit me with that move again.”

Leanga extended his arm and used Dragon Rage, causing purple flames to spout from his palm in Phaenyx’s direction.  Quickly creating a trio of Shadow Balls in the air, Phaenyx leapt up to avoid damage and then kicked the spheres towards the Air-Lord one by one, successfully striking him with the last of the three.  Leanga flew towards Phaenyx, wings glowing and ready to smack him, but Phaenyx shifted just a few feet and cut Leanga as he went by before falling to the roof.

Watching from above, Leanga said, “Impressive…it seems you’ve been holding back.”

“Now when you say it like that, it sounds like I don’t respect you,” Phaenyx said.  “It’s more like I was being cautious and gathering information and…stuff like that.  Come on, who really takes a battle completely serious from the get-go?”

Leanga chuckled.  “Maybe I should try a little harder too, then.”

Pulling into a dive, Leanga used Dragon Rage from both his hands, blanketing as much of the field as possible in flames and keeping a close eye on Phaenyx.  The challenger shifted, as expected, so Leanga turned around and fired a Hyper Beam into the sky.  To his surprise, however, Phaenyx was not in the blast zone, and had instead teleported to one of the few areas of the roof that was safe from Dragon Rage and had previously been in Leanga’s blind spot.

…I should have been more thorough…

Phaenyx blasted Leanga with one last Shadow Bazooka, pushing him out of Fusion.  His armor stayed long enough to ease the impact of landing, but the pain was enough to keep him lying there for a while.  Phaenyx de-fused, walked closer, and offered his hand.

“…I’m not sure if you’re brilliant or just lucky,” Leanga said.

Helping the Air-Lord up, Phaenyx laughed.  “Truth is, the best fighters are always a little of both, aren’t they?”

 

 

Spirits Used:

#1369. Dakrevusko

#32. Toa Matau

#268. Toa Nidhiki

#1454. Dragonite

 

Review in Genakex's Journal


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