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Dynamic Paradigm


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23 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Cederak

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Posted Oct 16 2011 - 02:24 PM

The first couple acts of this story were already posted to the old forums. I recommend checking the link here to read through them before continuing on in this topic. Thank you.

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Act III: Ardency

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17: Lost Kingdom

Landrak silently entered Amtra's Palace, hesitant to move forward. Great Being Amtra had told his creations long ago that Arc was dedicated to them, but the palace was his. Any who traveled to Vault would meet their death if he found their excuses to be insufficient. Even airship pilots were cautious of the island during the war, well aware of the tower's automated defenses. The cool blue of the walls was covered with faintly gleaming lines of teal, creating a design of skewed directions across the chamber. Landrak craned his neck up and examined several gaping holes in the distant ceiling."Something wrong?" Verton asked."This whole place used to be impenetrable. Energy cannons were mounted on the outer walls and lasers could bring down entire carriers if they strayed too close. Did all those defenses just vanish?" Landrak wondered.Selpiar tapped Landrak on the shoulder. "Look at some of the debris scattered into the corners of this chamber. Notice anything?"Landrak nodded, easily making a connection. "The blasters broke down.""Maybe," Selpiar muttered. "I'm putting my money on the idea that something broke these defenses down. It could have been Axiom warships, but it doesn't add up. Why waste munitions on an unnecessary target?""Unless you wanted to get inside," Endico suggested.Selpiar smirked. "I think we know what to expect down there.""Then let's pay the military a visit," Landrak finished, marching toward the far stairwell.Descending the stairs, Landrak crept up to a peculiar scene. Expecting Axiom soldiers to be crawling around the lower parts of the palace, the Vapseron were instead staring at machines. Built in the frame of biomechs, they appeared weak and frail, clearly designed to carry out simple tasks. Landrak walked down the remaining stairs, making his presence known to the machines. They stared at the Vapseron in unison, searching for a proper reaction. One of the machines stepped up to Landrak, extending a hand and giving a smile. Landrak shook and smiled politely in return."Can you help me find a way to the planetary core?"The machine tilted its head in confusion. "What is a planetary core?""It's the heart of Arc, the source of its power. We need to get there."The machine frowned. "I cannot assist you.""Is there someone here who can?" Landrak asked.The machine's smile returned and it nodded. "Please follow me.""Stay on guard, Seraphs," Landrak added, making no attempt to hide his command.The machine led the Vapseron down another flight of stairs, entering what appeared to be a living room of sorts. The furniture was metallic and cold, crafted into precise shapes and angles. A table sat in the middle of it all, situated in front of a larger machine. Off to the left, a smaller machine was playing soft music on a handheld instrument the biomechs had never seen. Landrak turned back to the large entity, sitting on what appeared to be Amtra's old throne. It had clearly been ripped from the floor it was originally placed on, but the machine looked comfortable enough. Caught up in a book, he snapped it shut in frustration upon realizing he had company."Drone... Who are they?" the large machine demanded, finally standing up. Clearly designed in the likeness of a biomech, his form was taller and bulkier than even Verton. The second machine playing music decided to drop her instrument and stand up as well. Her form was more fragile, but just as disturbing."Visitors from the surface, I believe. They seek a planetary core.""You may leave," the large machine replied, pointing to the stairs. The machine quickly scurried out and the Vapseron waited for the palace's new owner to continue. "I apologize for that inconvenience. My name is Domilius. I am a Kyllidahk. My musical companion is Calirry. You could call her my better half.""Kyllidahk, huh?" Endico replied. "We've met a couple of your brothers recently.""We don't all view the order of things as harmoniously as we ought to," Domilius smiled. "One Kyllidahk says one thing is positive, another argues for the opposition. Even as machines, our minds developed differing opinions. I'm sure at least one of them attempted to kill you on the spot. I can tell I'm rambling though. Please, have a seat."The Vapseron sat across the table from Domilius, watching Calirry lean casually against his throne. Selpiar and Aurozi opted to remain standing, rather put off by the idea of being amicable with any Kyllidahk."How's the weather up there?" Domilius wondered."Sunny...a few clouds here and there," Landrak replied awkwardly."Ah, good," Domilius grinned, picking his book back up. "Do you know what this is?""A book," Aurozi said in an annoyed tone.Domilius angrily hurled it at her, surprised at how effortlessly she caught it. "The Eternal Void. Did any of you ever read it?""It's been a while," Selpiar spoke up."I read most of it," Landrak added."I skimmed bits and parts. I think I was just borrowing it from Selpiar..." Talise replied."I despise the entire idea," Domilius admitted, "but it cannot be simply allegory. No...these stories are based on fact - events in the universe Kyllidahk have detected far away. Kyllidahk have the innate ability to locate distant technology and decipher it. We cannot interact though...we are simply ghosts wandering the databanks. I cannot ascertain the original writer, though it hardly matters. What do you biomechs consider to be the most important part of our universe?""Our free will," Landrak replied confidently. "Choice has shaped our world."Domilius frowned for a moment before bursting into laughter. He glanced at Aurozi and barked, "Open that book again...page 307.""Section 7?""That's it," Domilius nodded. "Start from the second paragraph, please.""The Great Beings employed the extent of their powers to give birth to immensely strong new lives. These special entities would be capable of doing what the Great Beings could not. They would become the Cosmic Collective - given purpose in their governance of the universe. Zyntomos of rhythm, Xaricog of cause and effect, Valirytic of movement, Tiberema of correspondence, Nervinde of emotion, Carzandus of polarity, and Nerozak of the void. When I first met the brain that moved the living void"-"Stop there," Domilius interrupted. "Nerozak...that alien embodiment of the void. He is most at freedom when traveling through the aether that blankets the stars, being a physical manifestation of the mental universe around us. You biomechs could care less though.""Nerozak has helped the Axiom Union for several years now, trying to improve our technology. Don't think we aren't grateful," Talise shot back."Oh, but you aren't," Domilius chuckled. "You worship his brothers in your race toward supremacy. Tiberema embodies correspondence, and you use this ability to build upon your inventions. You cannot create, you can only change. Valirytic embodies movement, and not one of you on Radiance is above satisfaction with the world Amtra gave you. And even Zyntomos, the embodiment of rhythm. Everything must be so particular or it is unworthy."The Vapseron remained silent."And look at this palace! It is crumbling out there in the sunlight, but in here, no one can tell. The weather will never trouble me in these halls, and we all know why. The most important part of the universe is analysis - to see the hopeless and the hapless and send them to exile or death.""For such a differing opinion, you sound ready to carry out the tasks your brothers attempted against us," Selpiar hissed."Can you deny the truth, biomech? Every mind, biomechanical or mechanical has the capacity to analyze life as imperfect - clearly brought on by Nervinde, manipulator of emotion. Without that empathy, we could all live for our aspirations and care less who it hurts. When we have achieved what we want and the smoke of change clears, those who remain are the deserving. I am fortunate Nervinde has no influence over machines.""All you Kyllidahk wish for a reunion with your maker, and if you were deserving, you would be in charge of Desire rather than Magnyrh," Landrak replied.Domilius smirked for a moment. "Desire's leader has lost sight of what is important. Kyllidahk and Great Beings share a creator, though we are polar opposites, and for this, we have Carzandus to thank. Not my brother behind smoke and mirrors, the true Carzandus, infinitely far from Arc."Domilius watched the confusion spill out over each expression and laughed mockingly at them. "It doesn't seem real, does it? Your Sovereign, or whatever he wanted to be called, is a facade."Landrak thought back to the freefall on Radiance as he headed for Vestige. "I saw him. He was thin, and terrible, and monstrous. His eyes could almost tear through me, and then he returned to the form of Carzandus in no time at all.""You glimpsed what he truly is. My brother, Omtazic, cowering behind an idea. Brilliant though, isn't he? I bet he still has Nerozak fooled too. He's just waiting in that shell...plotting and preparing. But Great Beings are the real monsters - they create and create and create, never weighing the consequence of this act. They left billions of biomechs as orphans across the stars, and you are no exception. Kyllidahk on the other hand are capable of moderation, to know when enough is enough. Great Beings will never govern the universe as Kyllidahk are able, but someone needs to be in charge. Without direction, we're all just floating along.""I completely agree," Landrak said sternly. "And if you believe your words, you will allow us access to the planetary core beneath this palace."Domilius glared into Landrak's eyes. "Your armor, your very body is almost translucent to me. Inside that body, I can see the remnants of my brother, Spirarahk. He was swayed by Omtazic as well, and wants you to reach the core. You will die before finding my maker, Landrak - not that we need him. Biomechs survived here without Amtra, so too have Kyllidahk without Exogen.""Arc will die if the core dies," Landrak made clear. "The eons of work Great Beings spent linking worlds will be undone, in your selfishness.Domilius laughed contently. "I told you. I am living for my aspirations...regardless of who is harmed."Calirry seemed shocked and horrified by this, but could not stand up to his power. Domilius glanced at her, daring her to speak against him."If you Vapseron intend to reach the planetary core, you must drain the power inside the gateway first. I forcibly bonded a separate Kyllidahk to the gateway and I know that brother of mine is very far from Vault. You have nothing in your arsenal that will interfere with my plans, and as such, you are free to explore the palace as you please."

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:24 PM.

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#2 Offline Cederak

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Posted Oct 18 2011 - 01:11 AM

18: Despair Has a Home

Landrak led the Seraphs down through the palace, noting the obvious decorating changes Calirry and Domilius had made. Chunks of carpeting had been shredded, entire portions of the wall had been blasted to dust, and chandeliers were in pieces on the floor. After descending a few levels, Selpiar pointed out a very disconcerting sight."Well that's...nice."The Vapseron followed Selpiar's line of sight down the hall and found a stasis tube sitting in the dark. The biomechs approached it, but when they drew closer to the next entryway, they could see several more down the staircase. Landrak followed the stairs, curiously finding biomechs sealed in transparent tubes all around. Below each, Domilius personally inscribed a crime he found them guilty of."What kind of place is this?" Talise asked worriedly."A place for mechanical amusement," Landrak sighed. "Domilius saw these biomechs as criminals and sealed them away to an eternal slumber. I mean, look at some of the placards! 'Failure to be brave,' 'Failure to escape,' 'Failure to win.' This is ridiculous."Selpiar gave one of the tubes a hard tap. "They'll break, but not without a fight. Domilius would notice before we were finished.""We'll free them eventually," Landrak promised, continuing on.As they descended, the stasis tubes grew fewer in number, though the tube designs began to change. Some of their contents were now slightly conscious, able to feel the random electrical shocks induced in the tube's liquid environment now and again. Others would play loops of mysterious voices whispering dark and terrible things, meant to leave the listener hopeless over time. Others painfully depleted the life from a biomech before giving it all back, only to repeat the process."This is awful," Aurozi muttered. "I knew Domilius felt strongly about his opinion on biomechs, but this seems excessive.""Don't forget what we're dealing with here," Landrak replied. "Domilius is a Kyllidahk that only has selfishness on his mind. He's a renegade machine.""Renegade machines get shut down, last time I checked," Selpiar smirked.At the very bottom level, three makeshift thrones sat in the center of the room, all positioned away from one another. Each had a final, golden placard below the throne. Verton paced the chairs, and read each message aloud. "'Failure to prevent global war,''Failure to embrace a gift,' and 'Failure to see the truth.'" The armrests all contained energy bonds and were clearly sitting in reserve for the entities Domilius found the greatest faults with. Beyond the chamber was the sealed gateway Domilius spoke of, and on the other side was the entryway to the planetary core. Talise pressed a hand to the door and could feel the raw energy inside it."What will you do now?"The Vapseron whirled in surprise to find Calirry had followed them the entire way. Her voice was demanding and suspicious. Landrak's voice, however, remained steady."I'll find the source of the entryway's power and deactivate it. Even if Arc weren't at risk, the Aether Network must be repaired. I need to cure my friends of this energy before it conquers us.""I see," Calirry nodded, approaching Landrak without a trace of fear. She offered Landrak her hand. Landrak glanced at his friends, then at the mechanical hand, then at Calirry."Okay," Landrak agreed, taking her hand. Uncertain of Calirry's intentions, no one - least of all Landrak - expected the automaton to draw him in and carefully kiss him. Holding Landrak's head in place, Calirry breathed in, drawing a silvery sphere of light from Landrak's mouth. She let it hover in her hand and stared curiously at Landrak."What did you do?" Landrak questioned."A small part of your power must be sacrificed if you wish to succeed," Calirry explained. "The union of Kyllidahk and Vapseron energies can yield astonishing results, on the occasions they are brought together."Calirry pushed the sphere into the doorway and it dissolved on contact, creating a portal of light in the process. She then turned back to the Vapseron. "The source of the gateway's power lies beyond, but the portal's creator cannot enter."Landrak took a moment to register the gravity of her words. "That's fine. My team has proven themselves competent without me already this week.""Why would Domilius seal off the planetary core in the first place?" Endico wondered."Because there is more on the other side of this barrier than a simple core," Calirry revealed. "On every world, Great Beings or their agents built durable structures that interacted with one another via faster than light signals. The structures act as gateways to one another, allowing portal transfers to a dark matter universe. In this dimension, matter can roam much more freely, and can interact with portals billions of light-years in distance from one another instantaneously. This allowed the Great Beings to immediately visit worlds at their discretion.""How do you know that?" Aurozi asked."She's paraphrasing from The Eternal Void," Selpiar explained."Very astute," Calirry smiled. "Back to the point, the network needs to be reactivated if you wish to save Arc. To warn of an imminent total power failure, the world where the network hub is located would produce seemingly natural effects through the planet. It was Amtra's role to reset the network in the event of a problem. Without him to use the core as a recharger, the Aether Network will inevitably and permanently shut down. This will allow my brethren and I to reconnect with our maker, but Arc will unquestionably die. There is a way to save this world while also opening the way to our maker, and you hold the answer now. But opening this gateway will require you to overcome my brother, Gelidonhr.""We'll defeat him," Talise replied confidently, "and then we'll return for Landrak as soon as possible.""In the ideal scenario, yes," Calirry smirked. "You better get going.""I'll be here when you're done," Landrak smiled, folding his arms.The biomechs accepted Landrak's optimism and entered the portal, journeying to a region unlike any they were accustomed to.

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:19 PM.

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#3 Offline Cederak

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Posted Oct 19 2011 - 02:20 AM

19: Unnatural Introspection

Talise reluctantly stepped through the shadowed portal, a wave of cold washing over her body. She was in another realm entirely - one of a darkness that spanned infinitely in all directions. Talise had the sensation of floating, but it was hard to tell if this was accurate. Looking from her feet to the rest of her form, Talise noticed a static-like, white glow that encompassed the outline of her body. Beyond that and her mind, nothing more of Talise existed there."Why?"A disembodied voice boomed through the shadows, clearly speaking to Talise. It was a male voice, and vaguely familiar. She strained to see the source, or anything for that matter. "Hello?""Why are you here?""I'm lost!" Talise cried. "I need to find my way to the other side of a portal!"Silence met her words, and for a minute, Talise wondered if the voice would return. At last, a response broke through."I can help you reach the other side, but you must follow my instructions. The place you have entered is unlike any you have ever known. I cannot be sure where you were headed, but with the right direction, you will arrive there eventually."The darkness rapidly dissolved, giving way to a bright sky. The light cascaded in, and Talise watched as her body fully returned. She was now standing on the sky deck of an airship - a replica of the one she flew on during the battle with Spirarahk. Talise opened the hatch to the ship and peered inside. A stone staircase led down to an eerie graveyard, blanketed in a mist. Talise carefully took her first steps and cautiously descended the stairs. As the mist distorted her vision, Talise looked up once more to see the airship bridge scene. It appeared just as sunny among the clouds."This world doesn't make sense," Talise muttered, curious if the voice could still hear her. No answer came, and she assumed he was too far away. Entering the graveyard, Talise was slightly put off by the mist immediately becoming level with her waist. As if wading through water, Talise trudged past the gravestones. She glanced at one and cringed at the name. She looked at another, then another. They all bore the same inscription."The final resting place of Misses Ceyvim, her life was all that could save him."Talise felt like crying, remembering how her mother had been taken from her too soon. This graveyard was a constant reminder of that event, unwilling to let her forget. Talise had no knowledge of the Axiom's plan to bomb Respite, but she had survivor's guilt. The Vapseron believed if she had been faster or smarter, she could have rescued her mother that day."This place is important," the voice returned loudly. "It is keeping you from moving forward. Your mind must overcome something.""How can I overcome this!?" Talise yelled. "She died because of me!""You must interact with your five senses.""Like sound and touch?""No," the voice said adamantly. "Those are external senses. You are facing mental barriers."A bolt of lightning sizzled through the hazy skies. "I am losing my connection with you. Move beyond this graveyard and I will relocate you soon."Talise could see the shadow of a figure walking through the distant mist, confident and precise. The Vapseron watched the entity stand beneath the light of three moons and brush her hand against one of the tombstones. The biomech had a pair of angelic wings on her back and a sullen expression that stared into Talise's spirit."What do you know, my daughter?""Merolsy..." Talise stammered. Her mother was as beautiful here as she had been in life. Merolsy's elegant diamond armor shown like a jewel in the moonlight. "I was told you could teach me."Merolsy laughed. It was the laugh of a maniac, and Talise was truly horrified."This is your mind, Talise. Where else could I exist now?""How do you know that?"Merolsy took her daughter by the hand and looked her in the eye. "You know that. Being in your mind, some subconscious part of yourself is aware of this place's intention and purpose. I know everything you know...nothing more, nothing less."Talise's mother leapt atop one of the gravestones and balanced herself on one leg. "The difference between you and I is that I do not suffer the inconvenience of needing memory to explain myself. You search your thoughts like thumbing through book after book in a library for a single sentence. In here, I am every word in every book.Talise could see Merolsy was enjoying herself, but Talise was out of patience for her mind's tricks. She pushed Merolsy off the grave and stormed away."Are you tired of me already?" Merolsy asked playfully. "I suppose I shouldn't expect great things from a daughter as pathetic as you. You're nothing but Vapseron slime now.""I have no reason to speak with you," Talise said coldly, keeping her pace."I am the way ahead!" Merolsy argued.Talise held her mother by the throat and glared at her. "You cannot show me anything I don't already know. You know everything I know, or so you say. If that's true, then I am the way ahead."Merolsy batted Talise's hand away and leapt backwards onto a gravestone. Clasping her hands together, she slowly lowered her head. "We must continue."Near the edge of the graveyard, the door to a grand mausoleum creaked open and let more light flood the bleak grounds."Walk into the light," the voice commanded.Talise did as instructed and pushed the door open all the way. She was standing in front of a lavish art gallery now. Walking through the entryway, she could hear one of her favorite songs playing through the area's speakers. Many patrons casually strolled about the tile floors, examining paintings and statues. Most were unknown faces, but one individual stood out to Talise. Captain Diltac advanced from the nearby wall and greeted Talise with a polite smile."Good day, Miss Talise," Diltac grinned, gently taking her hand and kissing it. "Shall we have a look around the gallery?"Talise rolled her eyes, uncertain of what awaited her. "Yeah, I suppose."

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:39 PM.

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#4 Offline Cederak

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Posted Oct 21 2011 - 10:50 PM

20: Synchronized

"There are two exits from this locale, Talise," Diltac informed her, holding her hand as they walked along. "One leads to the oblivion of your mind, and one leads to a chaotic mess that cannot be returned from. Are you paying attention?""Yes," Talise nodded, humming to the music."It's a lovely track, isn't it?" Diltac grinned."It's one of my favorites," Talise smiled."I know," Diltac said matter-of-factly. "Would you care to sing a few lines?""I suppose," Talise replied, taking a deep breath. The patrons had turned their attention to Talise now, awaiting her performance. "They say all's fair in love and war, but I don't, want to fight anymore. As the planet falls from a false rebuff... Love, that'd be fair enough. And it tells us now, offer a vow, or meet our maker. There's nothing more perfect than our imperfection."Every biomech in the gallery applauded her efforts, and Diltac politely clapped his fingers to his other palm. "Bravo, Miss Talise. I must ask...what was so amazing about that song?""It's just catchy. I used to hum songs like this during the Arc War."Diltac tapped his chin in deep thought. "Perhaps that was a subconscious escape from the atrocities of war. Judging from this place though, I can tell you have a true passion for artistry. A piece of music is art, and so much more. Come with me."Diltac led Talise around a corridor and through a couple more hallways. The pure white of the walls lined with depictions of triumph and loss was disturbing for Talise, but the pair of doors in the distance felt more imposing. Diltac stopped in front of them and turned to the Vapseron. "You've heard enough here to move on."Talise studied the doors and remained puzzled. The first had a painting of a rare fruit that only grew in southern Wake. Long ago, Ceyvim would bring Talise one when she was sad. A number one was painted over the fruit. The second displayed an airship leaving Vestige at twilight, a place she had docked from before. A number two was depicted on the airship hull."Like yourself, they are both beautiful, but you must choose. I gave you your greatest clue already," Diltac smiled. "There can be no winners without losers, it seems."Talise listened to Diltac's clue echo in her mind a few times. She knew the nature of her mind would ask her to think critically about what she saw and heard. Without hesitation, Talise threw open the door with the airship and beheld a vast library."How were you so certain?" Diltac wondered."I saw through your words," Talise replied coolly. "You said that one led to the oblivion of the mind, and one led to a chaotic mess I could not return from. I didn't want to face those fates, so I chose two.""Very clever," Diltac commended. "I'm afraid this is goodbye for us now.""Goodbye, Diltac," Talise smirked, entering the library. The art gallery vanished from sight once it was behind her, but another biomech was already nearby to assist her."I have almost found you," the booming voice made clear. "I don't know if you can hear me, but you are still too distant - locked beneath the layers of your own mind."Veladri was shuffling through several books, finally taking notice of the Vapseron. "Do you need help finding something?""I need to find the way out," Talise replied. "Didn't you hear that loud voice?""The only voice I heard was yours," Veladri chuckled. "The way out should be obvious, Vapseron. If you need help finding a book, come talk with me."Talise walked up to the nearest shelf and pulled a book down. Thumbing through the pages, she quickly discovered it was entirely blank. Talise grabbed another book, only to discover the same thing. She looked through a few more, casually tossing them to the floor along the way. "Why are all the books in this library blank?"Veladri tilted his head in confusion. "Have you read every book in this library?""Not yet," Talise confessed. "But at least five of them are blank.""So you admit you're making a claim you cannot fully support?" Veladri questioned.Talise was at a loss for words and Veladri burst out laughing in return. "You are a victim of belief.""Where can I find the truth?" Talise asked, demanding an answer."Look around you," Veladri suggested, pointing across the many shelves. "The truth is in every book. So it is written, so shall it be."Talise walked over to the front desk and picked up a pen. She grabbed one of the books laying on the floor and scribbled in it. The pen worked, and Talise wrote across the page.Talise wrote in the empty book and the way ahead was revealed.She set the pen down and watched several massive shelves come crashing down. Beyond them was a grand hall with glowing tiles. Talise turned to look at Veladri, but he was still preoccupied with archiving books. The Vapseron stared into the hallway and felt herself drawn to it. As if pulled by some unseen force, Talise examined her legs moving her ahead. The floor tiles on the left glowed red, and the right tiles were a calm blue. The ceiling had a similar division of black and white. At the end of the hall, Sovereign Carzandus stood solemnly."What is right and wrong, Talise?""You're going to lecture me!?" Talise asked in disgust. "You have no right to ask me anything, not after what you did to me and my squad!""What I did..." Carzandus mused. "I acted with the best intentions. Thus, we return to the question. What is right and wrong?""Right is when you act in a good way. Wrong is when you act in a bad way," Talise replied, uttering the first answer that came to mind."Good and bad are merely views; they are our own creations," Carzandus said, as if reciting a prepared statement."Do you have a better answer?" Talise challenged."Having an answer is meaningless compared to what could be done with the answer," Carzandus laughed in a haughty tone.Talise hurled a blast of chain lightning at Carzandus, blowing a hole through the end of the hallway. Carzandus stared down at his chest, placing his fingers in the opening Talise made. he showed no sign of pain or defeat, but stood aside all the same. Talise marched past him without another word, leaving the hallway behind. The tiles were replaced by soft grass, and the hallway surrendered to a quiet field. Standing on a lone hill was an alien biomech, waiting for the Vapseron. Talise knew this alien and calmly drew near to him."Hello, Talise," he greeted softly. The contours of his glossy black armor were lined with a brilliant shade of green. Talise looked him straight in the eyes, having never had a chance to do so on Arc. They were a cool violet - eyes that had witnessed birth and death, creation and destruction, and the rise and fall of many."You're Nerozak, right?" Talise asked. "You're the voice I've been following.""Indeed," Nerozak smirked."Where will you lead me now?" Talise wondered."I don't know," Nerozak replied in a near whisper. "You are trapped in a place between dimensions - an expanse of dark aether. This is where my subconscious mind exists. What you have traveled through thus far is a road to enlightenment. When it ends, you will be in sync with the Vesteron that could destroy you." Nerozak gazed out at the field and smiled. "If you leave this place, even if you should fail on Arc, you will retain your free will against the Vesteron in you.""What does that mean?"Nerozak looked into her eyes. "Rather than lose yourself in the dark aether, your mind will call this place home. In theory at least.""That doesn't sound much better than losing my mind altogether," Talise frowned."Then you should push onward," Nerozak proposed.Talise started across the field, unsure of where she was going or where the end was. Nerozak followed her, curiously examining a flower now and again."Do you know anything about me, Nerozak?""We met a couple times...you didn't say much," Nerozak replied, brushing his foot over a dying weed. "I understand I am unsettling to some of your kind. Biomechs were once unsettling to me as well.""When did your opinion of us change?"Nerozak looked up, staring through the thin atmosphere and into the endless sea of stars that was visible despite the golden sun among them. "The Great Beings created archaic entities to hold dominion over fundamental powers of the universe. They sent us away to fulfill our purposes, but it seems they grew lonely. It's sad how their creations are too chaotic and unpredictable to live in the harmony the Great Beings desired for them. I have grown tired of this universe and those who inhabit it. They complicate everything and constantly fight efficiency, even when it is placed at their feet. My hope in biomechs has failed.""Is it true that you renounced your position?" Talise said curiously. "Are you no longer the Arbiter of the Cosmos?""I could not continue to serve the Great Beings, given all that has transpired. I feel only pity for you, Talise. The Axiom Union misunderstands my existence and nature and seems to cower at what I could do to Arc if provoked. These same individuals hope to pressure the Axiom's leaders into abdicating their hegemony, and this mastery of fear only serves to strengthen them. Even criminals have started an effort to reclaim power and support in challenging the Axiom's supremacy. A second global war seems imminent, and Arc may not survive this one.""Biomechs destroyed your spirit, didn't they?" Talise asked unhappily."Unfortunately," Nerozak sighed."I want to help you regain your hope in us," Talise said, smiling at Nerozak.Nerozak's head slightly turned up and he looked at her uncertainly."I need to know how I can leave this place," Talise reminded him."It's already done," Nerozak stated in a soothing voice. "You have left, you have yet to arrive, and you are trying to leave all at once.""You lost me," Talise chuckled.Nerozak smiled at her perplexity. "You had the power to leave all along. This place, this dark aether, is a realm of antimatter. I am an entity of matter, of the aether that is the void. That energy cannot be destroyed, only redistributed. The same principle remains true here; antimatter can be rearranged by those who are caught inside it. You have no concept of wielding matter on the scale of a star system, but if you focus, you can at least make a doorway out. Trust me when I say your adventure will not be left incomplete.""I'll give it a try," Talise replied, closing her eyes. She imagined the world around her and pictured a portal exploding into existence. She opened her eyes and the portal appeared nearby. Inside the swirling energy was a glimpse of the Iridescent continent on Arc. "Is what I'm seeing real?""What you see...exists," Nerozak replied hesitantly."Thank you for helping me, Nerozak," Talise smiled, offering the alien entity a hug. Nerozak accepted, feeling slightly awkward for a second. Talise left for the portal, stepping through to return home. Instead of the soft landing she wanted, Talise found herself harshly thrown forward into a snow bank. Her fellow Vapseron fell into the snow around her, immediately touched by the bitter cold of Iridescent.

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:42 PM.

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#5 Offline Cederak

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Posted Oct 27 2011 - 02:05 AM

21: Treading Icy Reminders

Talise got to her feet, shaking off much of the snow on her armor. Iridescent was entirely quiet and - beside the falling snowflakes - entirely still. The continent was more peaceful and untouched than even Wake had appeared a couple days before. The sun could hardly penetrate the heavy, gray barrier of clouds overhead, though enough light reflected off the snow to maintain a daylight glow.Aurozi was the only Seraph ever deployed to Iridescent, assigned to investigate rumors of an insurrectionist base. The official report found that the base existed, and was still under construction. Aurozi's team succeeded in placing explosives around the inside of the base and detonating them. On the way out, she was shot twenty nine times in her chest.Talise glanced at her friend. "Can you remember where that base was? Our Kyllidahk target may be located there.""I know exactly where it is," Aurozi nodded. "I'll take point from here.""Any idea where we are right now?" Endico wondered."The Icy Tundra," Selpiar piped up. "It's the largest landform on Iridescent, home to durable creatures that made a home in the crystal snowflake drifts.""Thank you, Selpiar," Aurozi replied, narrowing her eyes on the distant mountains. "If we keep heading north like this, we'll eventually reach Lake Zephyr - at the heart of the continent. The ice over it is easily thick enough to walk across."The Vapseron began trudging through the icy tundra, desperately holding on to their dwindling body heat. Selpiar kept a watchful eye on their surroundings, while Endico was busy scouting ahead with Verton. Talise and Aurozi walked side by side, finding a rare moment to speak with one another."How do you think we'll return to Vault?" Talise asked."I can't be sure," Aurozi admitted. "I know you want to rescue Landrak as much as the rest of us, but there isn't a lot of technology out here. Finding anything at the base would be a strike of pure luck at this point.""I wish you were more optimistic sometimes," Talise replied. "I think we'll find a way."The Vapseron fought off the bitter cold as they marched over snow banks, drawing ever closer to their destination. When they finally arrived at the edge of a cliff, every biomech stared down into the valley below. Lake Zephyr was a frozen circle at the heart of Iridescent that haphazardly spread out into veins, like a virus slowly spreading through a host. Talise looked back up, staring out at a mountain range of glossy rocks."Those are the Crystalline Peaks," Aurozi smiled. "I recall hearing that Radiance has records of biomechs visiting the area long ago, but their reason for leaving was left unknown.""They found something," Selpiar added. "The particulars have been stricken from all documentation, but I suspect the Kyllidahk left something behind. This was their first home, after all."Endico slid down the snow-covered hillside, springing to his feet at the bottom. Lunging from its cover beneath a heavy layer of frost, a Kyllidahk roared out before flash freezing Endico in place. The other Vapseron looked on in shock, aware they had found their target. The machine looked up at the guests to its domain and growled."To enter this dominion is to face the might of a colossal glacier. Even now, the ice runs thin beneath you." The Kyllidahk's voice was harsh and bitter."So this is Gelidonhr," Verton smirked.The automaton had the form of a blue-tusked behemoth, standing on all fours. A pair of silver horns adorned its head and the twin rows of sharp, grinning teeth complimented its gaping maw. Gelidonhr had been given a bestial design, easily three times the size of the biomechs. The mechanical monster smacked Endico with one of its mighty paws, shattering his prison and tossing him backward across the lake."Engage the enemy, Seraphs!" Aurozi shouted, bolting down the steep hill, never losing her balance.The other Vapseron followed, charging their elements as they dropped. The Kyllidahk snarled, as if daring them to attack. Aurozi was the first to reach Lake Zephyr, glaring into Gelidonhr's icy blue, dead eyes. Somehow achieving the proper footing, the Kyllidahk starting charging toward the Vapseron. Aurozi held sturdy, confident that her surroundings would yield an advantage.

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:44 PM.

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#6 Offline Cederak

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Posted Oct 29 2011 - 12:11 AM

22: Cold, Dead Machine

Aurozi forced a frozen chunk of Lake Zephyr to collapse beneath Gelidonhr's weight, immediately sinking the machine in the frigid waters. Talise saw a tactical opening and struck the gap in the ice with a powerful dose of electrical current. Beneath the mass of snow and ice, Gelidonhr flailed helplessly, attempting to return to the surface. Aurozi stayed on her guard, well aware the automaton currently held an advantage. Skating carefully over the lake, Aurozi waited for Gelidonhr to reveal itself.The machine smashed through to the surface, crushing a clawed hand into the ice. The razor-sharp claws scratched frozen dust around as Gelidonhr struggled to pull its rear half up. Aurozi summoned a barrier of ice as a defensive measure, but when the Kyllidahk freed itself from the water, the machine ran headlong against Aurozi's shield. Gelidonhr rammed through the thick layer of ice with ease, continuing on over the lake for a moment. The machine then spun back around on its claws, firing an icy burst at Aurozi. The high-speed projectile was easily strafed, and the Vapseron closed in on her enemy.Gelidonhr snorted angrily, scraping at the lake. The machine knew intelligent thought, but the isolation had done damage of its own. In order to survive, Gelidonhr had become the creatures it studied. The automaton had been reduced to a tyrannical beast that raged the lands - challenging any to intrude its territory. The Kyllidahk made a home in the drifts, having gained dominance there. What it failed to understand was that Aurozi's loss had been greater for her than a cold machine's achievement. Nothing would keep the Vapseron from overpowering Gelidonhr.Turning its own element against it, Aurozi fired a massive ice beam at Gelidonhr. The machine was unfazed at first, but the effects slowly wore in. The machine's gears were being overloaded with ice, unable to function properly. Aurozi took a difficult step forward, pushing more of her power into the beam. It was hard to believe that less than a week before, she had only been able to produce mere snowflakes. Aurozi proceeded to focus her attack on Gelidonhr's chest piece, ripping it wide open. The Vapseron then fired multiple icicles into the Kyllidahk's core, like a high velocity cannon. Gelidonhr's core shorted out after so much abuse, and the machine turned onto its stomach, the openings in its chest scraping along the ice.Gelidonhr stumbled for a moment, finally managing to stand up on its hind legs. The Kyllidahk trembled as it attempted to maintain its balance. Acknowledging any further engagement would result in termination, Gelidonhr attempted to flee, begrudgingly limping away."Not so fast," Aurozi growled, summoning a pillar of ice from the lake. The ice grew thicker and sharper, finally impaling the Kyllidahk through its energy core - instantly destroying it. The core's destruction sent a shockwave through Gelidonhr, causing its ice blue eyes to explode and several pieces of armor to shatter.Verton glanced at Selpiar and could see he was actually smiling at the sight, as if somehow proud of Aurozi's deliberate violence. Talise could tell Aurozi's ferocity was clearly linked to the incident that occurred in the drifts years before. Behind the rage, Aurozi was afraid to let others suffer her fate, and was prepared to do her worst to prevent that. Gelidonhr's remaining parts separated into billions of snowflakes, crumbling into the snowy earth and becoming one with the tundra.Aurozi turned to her teammates. "The base is an hour away, and we don't want to be out here when nightfall comes.""Well done, Aurozi," Talise smiled."Seeing what that thing did to Endico," Aurozi muttered, "I had to put it down.""You didn't pull any punches, that's for sure," Endico smirked.The Vapseron continued over Lake Zephyr, heading for the range of mountains opposite the drifts - the treacherous Crystalline Peaks. Aurozi kept point, determined to lead her allies to safety. Talise found it admirable, seeing Aurozi so committed to her duty. Even on their trip to confront Spirarahk, Aurozi risked death on a missile to see her mission through.Talise looked at Endico, still lightly covered in patches of ice. "How're you feeling after your flash frozen experience?""How I assume Selpiar's heartlight feels every day," Endico chuckled softly. "Cold."

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:38 PM.

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#7 Offline Cederak

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Posted Oct 30 2011 - 12:47 PM

23: Crystal Clear

Verton rammed his shoulder into the base's front door, smacking off a layer of ice in the process. The Vapseron stepped inside, disturbed to find the heaters active and the lights on."Stay focused. Phantom Faction agents could be anywhere," Aurozi commanded, keeping a sphere of ice permanently charged in her palm.The Vapseron walked the corridors, wondering at every turn what surprises lurked around the corner. After nearly an hour of searching, it was clear that there was no danger. Not a single Phantom had been sighted, and an organization like theirs would at least have a few guards stationed throughout the base. Aurozi had no theories as she continued for the base's central chamber, a few floors down. Nothing in the facility appeared severely damaged, or significantly different from her last visit. It was as though the place had remained untouched since, but that seemed impossible. The Axiom allowed Aurozi's teammates to shut down the generators and kill the power. If they had any purpose for the distant facility, why take an interest now?Aurozi finally arrived at the central chamber, hub of all computing in the base. She pressed her hand to the activation panel and watched the doors slide open. A single figure stood on the other side of the room and Aurozi instinctively took aim. Talise rushed to put Aurozi's hand down, urging her to remain calm. Talise walked up to the figure and gave him a slight grin."You're Nerozak.""Yes," Nerozak whispered. "I was dreaming about you today...or someone like you. And then she disappeared.""I escaped a dimension of antimatter to come here," Talise replied. "I had to pass through a warp gate."Nerozak glanced at the other biomechs. "Antimatter is the home of my subconscious, a locale that allows Vapseron like yourself to join with their Vesteron piece.""That's right," Talise said, looking to her comrades. "All of you endured something similar, right?"The other Vapseron shook their heads in confusion, wondering what Talise was referring to."If it happened, I can't recall," Selpiar muttered."This warp gate..." Nerozak trailed off. "Who conjured it? How did it appear? Where was it summoned?""Kyllidahk Calirry extracted a sphere of light from another Vapseron and touched it, allowing it to become a portal to Iridescent.""Interesting," Nerozak replied casually. "The biomechs of Arc share a special relationship with the negative side of this world. It was intentionally part of Amtra's plan when he created each Arc biomech, given that they would live on the world where the Aether Network Hub was located. An additional gateway exists, separate from the network yet interactive with it, specifically crafted in a place of dark matter. It can open a portal to a beautiful location. The entity who made the Great Beings and Kyllidahk is said to reside there. I have never seen it, however, as it would require shutting down the network to do so. The Dark Aether Gateway, as it is so appropriately termed, can immediately reset the network and reestablish full connectivity. All the damage caused by unprecedented activity from the Great Beings or their creations will be repaired. But even returning to the station where the separate gateway lies would require accessing the planetary core within Arc.""Okay, I barely kept up with all that," Endico chuckled. "After you lost me though, I realized you'd probably get along with our friend Selpiar pretty well. He could use another database of knowledge to keep him company."Nerozak glanced at the only biomech who became notably irritated by Endico's words and offered him a polite smile. He then turned his attention back to Talise. "Returning to my point, if you could not travel at will through that negative zone, you are not an Arc-born biomech.""Then what am I?""I have no proper answer," Nerozak declared softly. "You appear biomechanical in design, but that is all. Do you have any memories of a life before your time on Arc?""None," Talise sighed. "I have no memory of being created or the identity of my creator. I remember opening my eyes on Wake and being taken in by Lieutenant Ceyvim. Ceyvim only stumbled across me, he had no answers to my origin either. That doesn't matter now though. We have opened a way to the planetary core and need a way to return there. We were hoping something in this base might be capable of flight. Even if we can only make it to Radiance, we can find a new ship there.""There is no method of transport left behind here," Nerozak made clear. "But I can assist you, by way of teleportation. Traveling with you is too much energy for me at the time, but I wish you the best of luck."Nerozak put his hand out, summoning a portal from the energies of the aether. "I will be returning to Radiance soon, but the planetary core should be the end of your journey. I am confident you will reactivate the network and purge yourselves of the Vapseron energy.""Thank you for your assistance, Nerozak," Aurozi smiled, passing through the portal first. Endico and Verton followed shortly after, leaving Selpiar to wait for Talise."Go on ahead, I just need a moment," Talise said, motioning Selpiar to enter the portal.Selpiar nodded, walking through and vanishing. Nerozak stared at Talise, uncertain of why she had remained behind."I needed to ask you a question," Talise began. "No one really knows what you are, or what to think of you. You're a mystery that chooses to help us for reasons of your own. Anyway, I was curious... What do you want for biomechs on Arc?"Nerozak paused to muse over her inquiry for a moment. At last, his mind conjured an acceptable response. "I wish to see biomechs evolve. To do that, you must comprehend harmony like a Kyllidahk - redefining your scientific ambitions. The Kyllidahk have never gone to war with one another due to the simple fact that they share a common ambition. Each Kyllidahk has gleaned separate information from their experiences, and can share this knowledge collectively to solidify their overall scientific awareness. The individual with the strongest weapon does not necessarily have the strongest grasp of science, nor do they necessarily recognize the objective. The goal of science is to understand natural phenomena. Furthermore, the goal of technology is to apply science for a specific purpose. I'm not waiting for your physical evolution, but rather, a mental one. If you enshrine science and its application, technology, you can sail across the stars in any vessel you desire. But before you can appreciate science for its absolute value, The Axiom must achieve a true union. Biomechs must embrace one another as common brethren, like the Kyllidahk have, or your kind is destined to fail. I wish you the best, Talise...wherever this life takes you.""Thank you, Nerozak," Talise smiled, walking toward the portal. "A bit of clarity in a puzzling world is nice to hear.""At least today," Nerozak reminded her. "The truth has a way of shaking you at times. Your journey has obviously taught you that already, but you still have much to learn. Farewell, my friend.""Goodbye," Talise replied, entering the portal. Once she disappeared, Nerozak deactivated it and prepared to leave the realm of snow and ice.

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:36 PM.

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#8 Offline Cederak

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Posted Oct 31 2011 - 03:13 PM

24: Core Assault

Talise stepped out of the portal, staring at the entryway to the planetary core. The previously sealed gateway was now unlocked, its source of power having been destroyed."Let's move," Talise ordered, taking the lead.The Seraphs started down the vast hallway, scanning ahead for any sign of their objective. There was no sign of anything that remotely resembled an energy core capable of fueling an entire world. The massive chamber ahead was a maze of portals, interconnected like walls - a hall of mirrors with a single exit."This network hub appears to be a network within itself," Selpiar noted."The Great Beings couldn't afford to let just anyone access it," Verton considered."This was all beneath Amtra's home," Aurozi reminded him. "No one expected Amtra to abdicate his role and vanish. I have a feeling Domilius is behind all of this, much like the Kyllidahk lock he installed on the main door.""It's probable," Selpiar nodded.Domilius phased through one of the warp mirrors, accompanied by Calirry and another machine. "Welcome back, Vapseron.""Where's Landrak?" Talise questioned.Domilius smirked. "Landrak, like yourselves, is an offender to this place. He was fit only to live out his days in a tube of my design.""Are we going to fight now or something?" Endico wondered."Soon perhaps," Domilius mused. "You'll need to navigate this labyrinthine design, and face my brother here.""That's a Kyllidahk?" Selpiar asked, pointing to the still machine at Calirry's side."Yes," Domilius grinned, patting the machine on the back. "One of the only Kyllidahk unaligned with a specific gender, it refuses to speak our language. The potential is there, but it has never spoken. Omtazic decided to name it Polynthox. We're not entirely sure of the extent of free will Polynthox has, but this Kyllidahk is loyal as a soldier's blade. I say that because a blade must swear to the allegiance of its wielder - not that it has a choice. Polynthox may have the choice, but without voicing or acting in defiance of me, I can never know. All I am certain of is that I am Polynthox's wielder now."Polynthox surveyed the Vapseron with slight amusement, inching its massive, clawed fingers back and forth in anticipation. Similar to Omtazic, Polynthox was the wiry frame of a biomechanical form, with a bright red eye on the left, and one that constantly altered its color on the right. The chrome parts that composed Polynthox appeared strong and durable, but also thin and a tad cheap. It was unknown what purpose such a design might serve."Kill these Vapseron," Domilius commanded, turning away to the portal. "Let's go, Calirry."Calirry and Domilius strolled through the mirror portal, disappearing from view. The Vapseron immediately charged their elements, preparing for anything. Polynthox summoned a barrier of energy around itself, remaining completely still."I've never heard of this Kyllidahk," Selpiar admitted."How many Kyllidahk do we know of?" Aurozi asked."The Axiom has officially documented twenty three different Kyllidahk over the years. In that archive, there is no mention of Omtazic, Domilius, Calirry, or Polynthox. It was the Axiom's belief that Magnyrh was their leader," Selpiar explained."I wonder how many undocumented Kyllidahk are really out there..." Talise said with a trace of fear in her voice."Omtazic banned travel from Radiance for over two decades. That's plenty of time for his brethren to take up residence all over the world. There could be Kyllidahk at the bottom of the Iron Sea, and maybe even a few that left us alone in our travels - unconcerned with our presence," Selpiar reasoned.The barrier around Polynthox suddenly fell and the machine took a step forward, only to stop short. The Kyllidahk then tried to step backwards, splitting apart from a duplicate of itself in the process. The cloned Polynthox stood in front of the original, just as empty and emotionless. The Kyllidahk and its copy proceeded to split once again, leaving the Vapseron awestruck to what they were seeing. Having created three new machines, the original Polynthox screeched at the Vapseron, suddenly forcing the copies to split once more.Verton hurled a disc of plasma energy at one of the clones, slicing it through the chest. The top half fell to floor before shattering into particles."They're weak," Selpiar smirked."Stay on your guard, Seraphs," Talise warned. "We don't know what else they're capable of."The clones and their creator dashed off into the maze, disappearing from sight. The unmistakable sound of Polynthox duplicating itself could be heard echoing across the mirrors, and the Vapseron knew they were in trouble. Entering the maze, Talise led her friends around reflective corners, intent on hunting down every last Kyllidahk. Talise was prepared to do whatever it took to reach Domilius and save Landrak. The Kyllidahk had forced her friends to endure a great deal, and the idea led her into a rage. Talise summoned a pair of lightning bolts into her hands, fashioning the energy into swords of electricity. The Vapseron then left the Seraphs behind, slashing through mirrored walls and any Polynthox clone unfortunate enough to cross her path."Let her get this out of her system," Selpiar recommended to the others, keeping a cautious distance from Talise.More mirrors fell to Talise's fury, and the Kyllidahk duplicates stood no chance. Near the end of the maze, Talise caught sight of the original Polynthox. It stood in a stance suggesting it was prepared to fight her alone. At this, Talise screamed out, running headlong for the Kyllidahk as fast as she could go. Polynthox then took a step back, parting with nearly half of its power to produce a much stronger clone. Before the copying process was complete, Talise met up with the machine, slicing through Polynthox with both electrical blades. She continued on for a few more steps, finally looking back at her work. Polynthox turned to face Talise, emotionless and calm. Static bursts of half-formed Polynthox clones burst out from the Kyllidahk, like the plasma waves of a star. Polynthox fell to the floor and shattered to pieces before exploding. The maze suffered the same fate a few seconds after."Feeling better?" Verton asked.Talise's breathing was heavy, but she was trying to calm herself back down. She kicked a piece of the glass maze across the room and nodded. "I'll be fine."

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:34 PM.

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#9 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 01 2011 - 06:59 PM

25: Form Fits Function

The Vapseron marched through the passage to the planetary core's chamber, victorious over the best efforts of a Kyllidahk. The core was nearly impossible to look at directly, but the Vapseron could make out metallic rings built around it - spinning a slow, constant orbit. The metal rings worked to feed power throughout the chamber through multiple conduits, into a single, empty gateway at the back of the room. Around the gateway was a large ring in the floor that contained at least 100 tiny lights. Many of the lights emitted a bright blue glow, but many others were red, and some failed to glow at all. The problem did not exist in the lights, but rather, the objects they represented. This was the hub of the Aether Network that required total reactivation."Stand aside!"Domilius dropped from the ceiling, slashing at Aurozi and throwing her against one of the core's orbiting rings. The Vapseron fell to the floor, unconscious. Calirry gracefully descended from the ceiling and approached Aurozi, lightly kicking at her side a few times."This one won't give you any more trouble," Calirry reported.Talise and Verton ran head on for Domilius, unleashing their elemental powers on him. Plasma and lightning met one another, striking the Kyllidahk with immense force. Selpiar bolted for Calirry, taking her captive by the neck. He dragged the machine across the room, holding her above a ledge that overlooked a drop into infinite darkness."Domilius!" Selpiar shouted.Domilius held back the elemental barrage with one open hand and glanced at Selpiar. Selpiar acknowledged he had the Kyllidahk's attention and smirked. "I'll drop her if you don't stand down!"Domilius glared at Selpiar, taking a look at Calirry before grinning. "Do what you must."Selpiar let her go and Calirry took the opportunity to blast him with electrical current, severely weakening him. There was no avoiding her descent into the shadows, and Selpiar imagined the Kyllidahk had presumably fallen to her death. As Verton and Talise kept up their attack, Endico remained fearful of employing his element. The chamber appeared ancient and unstable, and bringing down chunks of rock to bombard their enemy with could result in entombing everyone or critically damaging the core."Verton, stop attacking!" Talise yelled.Verton followed the order and watched Talise's lightning arc outwards and around Domilius, wrapping back in and creating an electrical field. Domilius attempted to escape while random bolts wore down his energy reserves. Talise had the upper hand, but she was desperately fueling her attack to keep Domilius imprisoned.Talise stared at Verton and sighed. "When I let down my attack, at the very last moment, I need you to hit Domilius with everything you've got!"Verton nodded, charging plasma between his hands. He focused on the electrical field, and waited patiently. Domilius was just as ready, planning to strafe whatever Verton had in store. At last, Talise disengaged the machine and Domilius attempted to escape. The instant the field dropped, however, Verton was already a couple bio from Domilius. The Vapseron punched the Kyllidahk in the chest with a plasma-charged fist that sent him rocketing into the pure core. Domilius fell on his face, a considerable portion of his life having been drained. His armor had been damaged in the process as well, but he couldn't help but laugh at the Vapseron."Turn around, you arrogant weaklings!" Domilius roared."I'll check," Endico volunteered. "Everyone else should keep their eyes on Domilius." Endico whirled around, surprised to find Calirry floating in the air, hovering toward Domilius."I will aid you in purging our home of these unwanted guests," Calirry hissed.The Vapseron were unprepared for what happened next. Domilius outstretched a hand to Calirry and she touched a finger to it. The pair of Kyllidahk exploded in a wave of blinding light, merging to become a single entity. The new machine was three times as tall, creating a mighty broadsword from ambient particles. It swung the weapon one time, bringing down the three remaining Vapseron."Kneel to my power!" the machine growled. The male voice suggested Domilius was in control of this new, more monstrous form.Talise, Endico, and Verton rose back up in defiance. "I'll die before you make us kneel, Domilius!" Talise shouted.The machine laughed in a vicious tone. "I am an existence beyond Domilius, requiring Calirry to join in a union of power. I am Gemidelus!"Gemidelus swung his sword again, only this time, the Vapseron successfully evaded. A concussive blast of sonic energies then struck Gemidelus - disintegrating a portion of his head. Gemidelus turned around in time to watch a second sonic burst punch a hole through his shoulder and energy core. The Kyllidahk fusion glared at his attacker, secretly amazed by his tactical skills. Somehow or another, Landrak had escaped."You thought a test tube would keep me confined?" Landrak smirked, unleashing another sonic barrage.Gemidelus strafed the attack, rushing headlong at the Vapseron. Landrak recharged his element and stood ready. Gemidelus raised up his broadsword and prepared to bring it crashing down on Landrak's head. Before he struck, Verton used the distraction as a chance to hit the Kyllidahk with a stream of plasma. Landrak gazed into the machine's stunned expression for no more than a second. After that, the Kyllidahk was already tumbling over the ledge, disappearing into the darkness below. The Vapseron loomed near the ledge, staring into the shadows. Their conflict was over."How did you escape?" Selpiar questioned."I think I overloaded the test tube," Landrak replied casually. "I kept letting loose waves of powerful sonic attacks, and I could see stress fractures on the glass. It could only take so much before shattering."Landrak approached his team, kneeling next to Aurozi first. She had been badly injured from making contact with the core, but she would recover."She'll be all right, yeah?" Talise asked."Aurozi just needs time to recuperate," Landrak nodded. "By the way, I'm sure you did a fine job leading everyone to safety.""Thank you," Talise replied, hugging Landrak. She pulled her head back just slightly, staring intently at her leader. "What's your next move?"Landrak leaned in to kiss Talise, but Talise inched away. "...I meant the core."Endico, Verton, and Selpiar stood awkwardly nearby, and Landrak quickly recomposed himself. He walked up to the network's control panel and typed in a command for resetting the program."Error," the internal computer informed him. "In order to perform a total reset, one of two conditions must be met. Either each individual portal must be activated from its starting point, or the network must be reset from Dark Aether Station.""Locate Dark Aether Station," Landrak replied into the vocal receiver.The computer processed his request and displayed a hologram of Planet Arc above the controls. "The station is at the blinking coordinates on the map."A bright red dot signified the station's location, but Landrak was confused. "The coordinates are right here.""I think I saw that station," Talise spoke up. "It was far below me, when I first entered the portal to Iridescent. It was in a place of antimatter, or at least, that's the closest definition of what I saw.""I wonder how we can reach it..." Selpiar pondered."How can we reach a place of antimatter?" Landrak asked the computer."The nearest detected antimatter signature is at the following coordinates."The red blinking dot moved across the globe and Verton immediately recognized the location. "Those coordinates are on the northern Iron Sea," Verton stated."Carzandus told us about the other key to reactivating the network. The signature isn't on the Iron Sea, it's above it, on Desire," Endico explained."Reaching Desire is impossible," Landrak replied. "The entrance is always sealed.""Carzandus has access," Talise reminded him.Landrak nodded. "Then we'll have to travel to Prime. We're going to force the leader of the Axiom Union and the Kyllidahk to meet our demands.""And like so much of our journey thus far," Selpiar chuckled, "that is easier said than done."

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:33 PM.

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#10 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 02 2011 - 09:55 PM

26: The Voices We Loved

The return to the surface was quiet and dismal for the Vapseron. Finding the control center of the Aether Network was a small victory, but they knew what waited over the horizon. Beneath the starlit skies, the six biomechs marched north through Echo Canyon - each wishing their transformation had granted them night vision. The contours of the canyon were clear and noticeable, but it felt odd travelling through the night without an artificial light source to assist them. The atmosphere was darker than the shadows in Aspire, with no civilization in sight. Vault was a lonely realm even when Amtra dwelled there, and now it was empty. The stars and the Vapseron were companions tonight - uncertain of their final destination."How long do you think they were planning this?" Endico asked, brushing against a stone wall."Specifics, please," Selpiar requested harshly."The Kyllidahk," Endico spat. "They had to have thought about this plan to reunite with their maker for some time before putting it into action.""Maybe," Verton considered. "But you have to remember, they're machines. Do they even need time to think? As fast as our computers and technology respond back home, Omtazic could have considered the idea of reunion and immediately conjured a plan to join the thought. If anything in the plan changed, his mind reconfigured a solution.""Are we walking through fog?" Endico wondered."It's mist," Aurozi replied. "This place used to be plateaus, but they were slowly ground apart by the constant crashing of the waves. Back to Verton's theory, though, he could be on to something.""Sounds logical," Landrak chuckled, "just like a machine would be.""They aren't ordinary machines...they learn differently," Selpiar muttered. "When the Kyllidahk first came to Arc, we rarely saw them. One or two might have flown overhead now and again, or attempted to interact with someone, but it wasn't often. They waited on Iridescent, clearly intent on studying us. Using the night sky as their cloak, they probably found a wireless method of scanning our databases and observing our behavior. I think Domilius mentioned them being capable of such an ability. They saw how dangerous we were, even before the war. They feared the day we might take our violent hands to Iridescent, potentially wrecking their last haven.""Which would explain why they secretly tunneled beneath Aspire and lifted a colossal chunk of Radiance into the atmosphere," Talise replied."Exactly. While we waged war against one another, the Kyllidahk were safe and sound behind the reinforced walls of Desire, knowing we would exhaust ourselves eventually. They were fueled by energy cores, absorbing ambient particles while they dreamed of a reunion," Selpiar continued, becoming more disturbed by how close to the truth he might be coming. "And then a day came when they could no longer wait for us to destroy one another. Omtazic spoke with his trusted brethren about a great plan, and took up the guise of Carzandus. He descended upon Radiance, deceiving us. And in return, we lifted him up and let his dream live. His years or seconds of constructing a convoluted scheme were coming to fruition while we killed each other, and none of us would stop him.""That's a scary thought," Endico muttered."Mostly because it sounds correct," Landrak added. "Omtazic has no concern for us...we're just pawns in a plan. If he has a code, I have yet to decipher it.""Kyllidahk seem to obey those laws inherent to the universe," Selpiar replied. "And in some twisted way, we have watched them give physical manifestation to those laws. They appear driven to do so.""At least they adhere to their laws," Verton growled. "The Arc War brought out the nature of biomechs. Killing seems programmed, and unstoppable, no matter how fiercely our society rejects it.""I feel the same way some days, Verton," Selpiar murmured. "I think biomechs in every universe will have altercations until the end of time. It's how they choose to settle these disputes that will define them. Our world exploded into war, but I imagine somewhere out there in the vastness of the void, at least one planet was smart. One planet saw the spiral ahead of themselves and saved millions of lives. That's why we need to go home.""Well said," Talise smiled. She looked up and readjusted her eyes. The sky was taking on a light tinge of blue, suggesting sunrise was coming in a few hours."I think I see something," Aurozi stated excitedly.The Vapseron scoured the canyon's vista until they spotted the same object."It's a personal airship," Landrak replied confidently."Ideality?" Endico asked in a worried tone."It's possible," Landrak nodded. "Stay on guard, Seraphs."The Vapseron followed the canyon's path down to the shore, hearing the rush of the Iron Sea's waves blast the rocks below. Upon closer inspection of the airship, it was clearly abandoned."This can't be Diltac's ship," Talise whispered."It isn't," Landrak sighed. "My assumption is that this was Veladri's method of transport to the continent. Fortunate for us, it appears to have six seats.""Do you think Veladri planned this?" Aurozi asked. "He didn't seem very convincing about giving us a victory back at the palace.""I think we got lucky," Landrak replied shortly. "And I think it's time to go home."

<<<>>>

Veladri gazed emptily out Ascension's bridge windshield, staring into the clouds. The entire Arc Sentinel fleet had been assembled over Dawn, awaiting his orders. Letting his head rest against the glass, Veladri closed his eyes and sighed. Ascension no longer felt like a home and neither did Radiance. After his battle with the Vapseron, Veladri remembered the light and shadow energies consuming him, shredding his form back to atoms. When he reformed, it was atop Starlight Tower, and his body had reverted. None of it made sense at first, but the entity standing a bio from Veladri gave him the answers."Open your eyes," Carzandus whispered. "This is a magnificent day.""This is wrong," Veladri muttered, whirling to face his only company."It is necessary," Carzandus argued with a grin. "You must understand by now that no one and nothing can possibly avert what I have set up. You fought your destiny once, and I sent my brother to alter your course. Landrak and his team were more innocent pawns, but they are playing their roles perfectly.""How did you get Diltac to agree to this?" Veladri wondered."We both know Diltac well enough to know his blind loyalty to the Axiom. He’s your soldier now."Veladri slowly marched up to the airship's computer and let his finger hover over the communications button. Shutting his eyes tight, Veladri gulped and blinked rapidly. He then held the button and prepared himself. "Link signal to all Axiom military connections within Dawn city limits."The computer processed his request in a fraction of a second. "Link established. You may begin transmitting when ready.""This is Sovereign Veladri," he began, his voice shaking. "A Kyllidahk war armada is en route from Desire as we speak. We also have reports of Phantom Faction agents causing chaos in our finest cities. Airships have been given a designated station over Radiance as per the training procedures for such an event. All pilots are ordered to reach their post as quickly and safely as possible. When our enemies are in range, you may fire at will."Veladri felt angry tears falling from his face. "The Union shall prevail." He released his finger from the button and glared at Carzandus. "Will that be all?"Carzandus lightly clapped for a moment. "Bravo. That will be all, my Lord-Sovereign.""Please don’t call me that," Veladri growled. "Stepping down may have let the chain of command give me dominance of the Axiom, but neither you nor I are fit to lead the Union's citizens."Carzandus smirked. "Let us return to Prime."Veladri shook his head. "I want to oversee my fleet to Sincerity first.""Very well," Carzandus nodded. "When the Kyllidahk flood the streets, try not to dwell on the deaths of the civilians and the soldiers. I have summoned the machines primarily to destroy the Phantoms."Carzandus teleported away, leaving Veladri alone on the bridge. He was reminded of how disgraceful it felt to be on Ascension, and fell in a slump next to the controls. The airship would be headed for Sincerity in a matter of moments, returning him to his first home in the Axiom. He wanted to see it one last time, if only briefly, to look upon the skyscrapers and breathe the scent of the waves. The memory of that wondrous place was one of Veladri’s few positive influences, but it was only so much. The new Sovereign could hardly bear to continue living the way he did, and he wanted more than anything to make the world go away. But it was not yet time, and Veladri knew this. When he had seen enough of Sincerity and returned to Starlight Tower, he would wash away all the sorrow and torment. And after that, Sovereign Veladri would never feel pain again.

A C T . III . C O N C L U D E D.

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:27 PM.

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#11 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 03 2011 - 11:10 PM

Act IV: Cyclical

.

27: A Shore That Needs Us

Sunrise was less than an hour away when Radiance came into sight for the Vapseron. From the controls, Landrak stared out at the continent, catching glimpses of metallic objects flying through the skies."Does anybody else see that?" Landrak asked."I see it, but I'm not sure what I'm seeing," Verton grumbled."We'll land in Sincerity and investigate," Landrak decided. The coastal metropolis was often flooded with air traffic, and served as a key base of operations for the Arc Sentinels - having been created there."I don't think we'll have much of a choice," Selpiar spoke up, pointing toward the Arc Sentinel fleet hovering over the city. "There's virtually no chance of us making it past all those airships.""But this ship was borrowed by Veladri," Endico replied. "Don't you think his own soldiers would have the common sense not to shoot down their Commander?""I'm not running the risk," Landrak said adamantly. He directed the ship closer to Sincerity and released a horrified gasp. From his new proximity to the city, Landrak could see Sincerity was in a panic of chaos. Buildings had caught fire, the streets were flooded with fleeing civilians, and the silver objects were near enough to be defined."They're Kyllidahk..." Aurozi whispered."That's impossible," Selpiar growled. "The flying ones all have the form of Spirarahk. The ones in the street appear to be either Gelidonhr or Ultruka. More curious, why have they all been flushed of their true colors?""Mass production," Aurozi suggested. "Like our military, if you have a weapon that works, make dozens more.""Yeah, but our military has limitations," Talise reminded her. "In order to quickly duplicate a weapon at a minimal cost, you run the risk of losing potency.""The Kyllidahk may have encountered a similar problem," Landrak replied. "I'd be willing to bet these grayish Kyllidahk are weaker than the originals.""Landrak, look left!" Selpiar hollered.Landrak turned in time to watch a stream of energy cannon fire blast their airship. The attack had come from an Axiom Guard airship and it succeeded with a direct hit. The Vapseron glanced down at the city, watching several Axiom Guards open fire on a Gelidonhr. A few streets over, a dozen more Guards were fending off an assault from a team of peculiar biomechs. The armor scheme looked familiar, but it took seeing Amtra whiz through the sky to realize what was going on."Sincerity isn't just under attack from the Kyllidahk," Landrak muttered. "The Phantom Faction seized an opportunity as well."Another Axiom Guard struck the hull with multiple laser blasts, and Landrak knew the ship was done for. "Get ready to jump!"Landrak opened the airship's hatch and kicked the windshield forward. He then stared down into the city before dropping through the air. The other Vapseron followed close behind, all watching the Axiom Guards fight off resistance from the Phantom Faction. The Arc Sentinels were actively contending with the Kyllidahk copies. Selpiar magnetically pulled his allies from their free fall and they landed gently atop a skyscraper.Landrak charged his sonic element in his palm and frantically scanned the skies. An attack could be coming from any direction, but he stopped short when Ascension was in view. The grand airship was still, quietly suspended just over Sincerity. Commander Veladri watched the city fall into devastation from the edge of the hull. For a moment, his eyes and Landrak's met in a wonderful instant of coincidence. Landrak couldn't wrap his head around how Veladri might have survived the battle on Vault, but there was no mistaking the Commander of the Arc Sentinels. Having mysteriously returned to his normal, biomech form, Veladri dramatically turned away - his cape fluttering in the wind as he retreated from the sky deck. The other Vapseron had taken notice of Veladri as well, but no one had a theory on how he was still alive.Talise glanced at her leader and raised an eyebrow. "What's our directive?""Take Endico and Selpiar with you and make your way to Dawn," Landrak ordered. "Find the strongest airship available and make sure it has enough firepower and defenses to penetrate Desire's protective array.""What about you?" Talise wondered.Landrak visually trailed Ascension across the sky as it departed Sincerity's airspace, heading northeast toward the capitol. "I'm going after Veladri in Prime. Bring your airship to a halt over the Starlight Complex and we'll board there.""Understood," Talise nodded. "Selpiar, get us out of here."Selpiar elementally directed Talise, Endico, and himself off the skyscraper and they descended into the city's pandemonium flooded streets. Sincerity was facing the wrath of dull, lifeless copies of Gelidonhr, Ultruka, and Spirarahk. Even at a fraction of the power, these machines were still a danger to Axiom Guards and especially civilians."I can only imagine how Prime looks right now," Landrak sighed to Aurozi. "What's our fastest route to the capitol?""I'd say hopping aboard one of those airships following the Ascension to Prime could be an easy trip," Verton grinned. "Aurozi and I can propel ourselves onboard with our elements, and I suppose you'll be holding on to one of us for the ride.""Well, Verton, I suppose now is as good a time as any to test out the flight capability of sonic energy," Landrak smirked. "Skyward, Seraphs."Aurozi, Landrak, and Verton engaged their elements, soaring across the city and landing safely atop a massive, Sentinel airship. It would be an uneventful ride into the capitol city, but unbeknownst to the Vapseron, they had inadvertently captured the attention of the Axiom Guard's Captain. He easily spotted their elemental blast trails through the sky from Ideality - resolved to pursue them to their graves.

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:28 PM.

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#12 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 05 2011 - 01:50 AM

28: Starlight, Star Bright

Landrak, Aurozi, and Verton disembarked atop Starlight Tower, running headlong for the elevator. Aurozi looked back in time to watch a missile slam into the building's side, blowing a chunk of the roof away. Landrak watched an object pass through his peripheral vision and instinctively followed it across the sky. The personal airship came to a sudden halt and Landrak focused in on the pilot."Ideality..." Verton whispered.Diltac ejected himself from his seat, front flipping through the air and landing on the tower. He unlimbered his rapier and pointed it at the Vapseron. "You brought a nightmare to our shores and now our cities are falling to your wrath. Are you satisfied!?""This isn't our fault," Landrak spat. "Radiance is under siege from the Kyllidahk...from Omtazic and the Phantom Faction! We came here to bring this conflict to an end and save Arc.""I saw you in Sincerity, Landrak. You're all still Vapseron, and couldn't even save yourselves. The Axiom Union will prevail without your assistance, given that I am here to lead them. The end of the Arc War should be evidence enough of my competence.""You're going to be starting a second Arc War if you don't let me do my job," Landrak warned. "We're both working toward a victory for the lives we claim to protect. But if we carry on this way...in opposition, they won't live to see our promise fulfilled. You and I killed a lot of biomechs back in the war...I don't want to look back on that as pointless murdering. We fought for a cause and we still can!""I fight for the Axiom Union and the Lord-Sovereign," Diltac replied, stepping forward. "I am their protector from monsters like you!"Diltac tapped a command into his left gauntlet and rushed the Vapseron. He swung his rapier a few times, and Aurozi narrowly avoided losing her arm. Verton and Landrak managed to keep a safe distance, but Verton was eyeing Ideality. The warship was aiming its weapons.Diltac smirked at him. "I had time to make a few modifications since our meeting in Melody. I hope you like it."Ideality opened fire on Verton, following him as the Seraph evaded the energy bullets. Plasma bolt attacks were effective against the bullets, but he needed to get closer to start damaging the ship. Aurozi and Landrak were still contending with Diltac, unable to land a blow without leaving themselves open to be stabbed. Aurozi unleashed a wave of ice, but Diltac was ready for her. A mysterious energy aura became visible around the Axiom Guard leader and he kicked Aurozi to the floor."Another side-project of mine," Diltac boasted. "Reverse-engineering the elemental energy wavelength that Kyllidahk produce makes my armor invulnerable to your abominable powers."Landrak punched him across the face, wincing as he felt a rapier slash him in the chest. Diltac fell backwards, dazed by the hardest punch he'd ever felt. He gazed up at Landrak in shock."You might want them to make a few additions to that armor," Landrak muttered. He kicked Diltac backwards and watched the captain go tumbling toward the ledge.Diltac caught himself and sprung to his feet. He activated the second energy turret on Ideality and ran at Landrak again, holding out his rapier. The second turret locked on to Aurozi and kept a beat on her as she darted around the roof. Diltac sliced through the air, cutting into Landrak's side before kicking him back. Once Landrak was on the floor, Diltac plunged his blade into Landrak's chest and heard the distinct sound of it scraping against the tile. At this time, Verton jumped onto Ideality and ripped the turrets apart, giving Aurozi the opportunity to blast it with a raw beam of ice. Diltac pressed a new command into his gauntlet and pulled out his rapier."I'm so sorry, Landrak," Diltac whispered, waiting for the airship to respond. Ideality dove for the rooftop and Diltac jumped onto the windshield, cutting Verton in the leg and forcing him to leap from the side. Ideality was out of range again and Diltac climbed inside, activating the loudspeaker. "The Axiom will prevail!"Aurozi kept her eye on Ideality, watching Diltac's intended path through the sky. "He's heading for Dawn.""Maybe Talise and the others will have an easier time with him. At least I snapped those guns off," Verton chuckled."You okay, Landrak?" Aurozi asked."I will be," Landrak replied halfheartedly. He looked down at his injury and sighed. Diltac's rapier was a thin blade, relying on the chance of piercing something important over tearing large wounds into an enemy.Verton called up the elevator and the doors swiftly opened. "The fighting continues."The Vapseron stepped inside and waited with anxious heartlights as the chamber descended through Starlight Tower. The doors reopened outside the Sovereign's grand chamber and Landrak strode up to the entrance. "If any of you have any reservations about what we came here to do...""I'm no quitter," Verton grinned."I'm with Verton. We didn't come this far to give up," Aurozi replied.Landrak nodded, pushing the doors open. He marched across the massive chamber and glared into the eyes of a sinister character. Carzandus stood bold and defiant, blurring the throne in darkness. "I'm impressed, Seraphs. You managed to return, against all odds. I could feel your energy signatures from the top of this tower, though, and it's a pity you failed to rescue yourselves.""We aren't dead yet," Landrak replied coolly."You will become Vesteron soon enough," Carzandus said assuredly. "By the way, would you care to meet my successor?"Carzandus dissolved the darkness surrounding the throne and stood aside to reveal a familiar figure. Carzandus looked down at him and grinned. "You have guests, Sovereign Veladri."Landrak stared at Veladri and felt a sense of horror travel down his spine. The leader of the Arc Sentinels was lying dead in the throne, his body slumped to the side. His heartlight and some of its circuitry rested in his right hand, leaving a gaping hole in his chest. Judging from the wires hanging out of his body, it was clear Veladri used serious force in ripping his heartlight out."A great biomech, killed by a guilty conscience," Carzandus stated in mock sadness. "He was so resilient, but I never regretted having Vibrariox change him.""This has to end," Landrak said bitterly, clenching his fists."You cannot ignore your loyalties, soldier," Carzandus laughed. "At your heartlight, you still support the Axiom.""I know what you are...Omtazic."Carzandus walked up to Landrak, a smile plastered across his untrue face. "I am departing to open the gates to Desire." Carzandus stormed away, passing right by the Vapseron. Before leaving through the door, he turned back and cryptically added, "We will all be reunited soon."Verton stared out the window and waited for Carzandus to leave before glancing back at Landrak. "I was expecting a grueling battle.""A moment of courtesy is rare these days, but I think we just found one," Landrak smirked. "We need to return to the tower's rooftop. The Seraphs should be coming shortly."

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 05 2011 - 01:52 AM.

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#13 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 06 2011 - 03:02 PM

29: Rejected Accord

Talise leapt from a fighter ship, free falling through the atmosphere. She forced her body to spin around and watched the transport explode on impact with a Spirarahk copy. The force was enough to finish the monstrous machine off, and Talise could see Selpiar and Endico clinging to its dead wings. Talise returned her attention to the city of Dawn below, strafing along as she studied the streets. The Axiom Guard had their hands full with the mimetic Kyllidahk, even if the automatons were weaker than the originals they were based upon.Coming within distance of an airship hangar tower, Talise was headed face first for the building when she unleashed a powerful bolt of lightning from her hands. The electricity rocketed up through the clouds and Selpiar got her signal. He slowly started tugging at all of their armored bodies, well aware they would still be in for a rough landing. Taking a deep breath, Selpiar felt himself achieve total control over their metallic parts, leaving the three Vapseron suspended in midair. Amazed by his own ability, Selpiar gently set his teammates down atop the hangar's roof. Endico grinned at him, running for the edge of the rooftop. Talise followed her ally, hoping to get a better glimpse of Dawn. A Gelidonhr clone smashed through several Axiom Guards without a bit of trouble, smacking one into the asphalt with ease. The creature turned its head up, roaring out an icy haze."That should suit Landrak's expectations," Selpiar muttered.Endico and Talise turned, glancing at a massive deck a few levels down. A magnificent airship, recently outfitted with high-grade weaponry was just sitting there, completely untouched."Now that's just unbelievably lucky," Endico replied, scratching his head for a moment."We landed on the largest airship dock in the city," Selpiar reminded him. "Finding a suitable airship here doesn't seem wildly unlikely.""Radiance is under attack," Talise mused. "Any airships capable of flight should be in use right now. Engineers completed work on that particular craft a few weeks ago."Selpiar examined the airship carefully. "You're right. Do you think it has an internal problem?" Selpiar wondered."We'll investigate," Talise declared with a smile.A machine gracelessly crashed through a nearby radio tower and struck the hangar rooftop with a mighty sound. Followed closely by a more elegant machine who succeeded in cautiously stepping onto the building, Talise involuntarily gasped at the sight. Domilius and Calirry had somehow survived the battle in the core, with Domilius appearing the most damaged and bitter.The Kyllidahk glared at the biomechs, growling out, "Undeserving little monsters. Did you return to be glorified as heroes?""Even if we died here, I think being deemed a hero is the least we deserve," Talise replied lightheartedly.Domilius laughed spitefully, quoting The Eternal Void. "The inept look at the intelligent with wonder, never aware their idols are mostly sophomoric fools."Endico was standing side by side with Selpiar and whispered, "Domilius isn't a silvery, gray machine.""Then he must be the real one," Selpiar replied flatly."Your society is crumbling," Domilius stated coolly. "Arc War II doesn't seem so far away now, does it?""There won't be one!" Talise shouted defiantly."Think what you like," Domilius smirked. "Besides, war is a wonderful opportunity to glimpse the soul of a biomech the way no psychologist ever could. The gleam in a soldier's eyes as he fires...that is a beast confined by a world of rules that never apply in battle. Arc will go to war once again.""Even if that happens, I won't let you live to laugh on that day," Talise vowed.The enraged Kyllidahk marched up to the Vapseron, opening his clawed hands. Talise waited until he was near to strike with her chain lightning, launching a steady stream of power at the machine. Domilius fought through the attack, angrily pushing forward. He glanced at Calirry, outstretching his hand to her. She nodded and dashed across the rooftop for her companion, evading Endico and merging with Domilius. Joining their energies, Gemidelus returned, absorbing Talise's attack and narrowing his gaze on her and the other Vapseron. "I'm going to tear your heartlights from your bodies and force them down your mouths!"Gemidelus kicked Endico to the end of the rooftop and emitted a menacing chuckle. "You'll need another planetary core or a miracle if you hope to defeat me!""A miracle will have to suffice!"Everyone craned their necks up and caught sight of a figure flying over the city. It was Amtra, firing a thin laser beam from a gauntlet on his arm. He hit Gemidelus in the back of the head and punched the Kyllidahk fusion before landing at Talise's side. Selpiar took advantage of the distraction and slammed a portion of the destroyed radio tower into Gemidelus. Endico pelted him with a storm of boulders and Talise reengaged her electrical assault. Amtra activated his laser gauntlets, and the biomechs tore away at the machine's energy reserves. Gemidelus fell to his knees, collapsing back into the forms of Domilius and Calirry. Amtra wasted no time readjusting his lasers, combining their force and slicing Calirry down the middle. Domilius dashed out of harm's way, rushing his attacker in a desperate act. Amtra turned the lasers on him, but Domilius placed a barrier around himself. At the last second, Domilius deactivated the barrier and grabbed Amtra by the throat, carrying them into the air."Stay out of current affairs, wretched failure," Domilius snarled, crushing the helmet down around its wearer's head. He snapped one of the lasers apart and tore a chunk of the breastplate armor to shreds."Let me go!" Amtra hollered, turning on his functional laser and pointing it at Domilius. He sliced through the upper left half of the Kyllidahk's head, immediately being set free in the process. Both the automaton and the biomech fell back to the rooftop, quickly regaining their bearings. A shocked Domilius gently touched a hand to the open portion of his head and glared at Amtra with his remaining eye. Domilius whirled around, activating the thrusters in his feet and fleeing to the skies - out of sight within seconds.Clad in a super powerful suit of silver and black, the Vapseron believed Amtra could withstand anything. The bright blue eyes on his helmet slowly dimmed, and the biomech wearer reluctantly tore it from his head. The three Vapseron stared blankly at Diltac's ex-lieutenant, the tired and troubled Ceyvim.

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 06 2011 - 03:02 PM.

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#14 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 09 2011 - 02:47 PM

30: A (Great) Being's Atonement

"Ceyvim...I..." Talise trailed off. "Are you real?"Ceyvim nodded sadly. Talise touched a hand to his armor and felt suddenly faint. The armor had once belonged to a Great Being, and it seemed as though it was wearing her father's head. Ceyvim being alive and well, let alone leading the renegade Phantom Faction, was by a wide margin, very unlikely.Ceyvim coughed in pain, slowly getting to his feet. "I must know something. Is your name Talise?""Yes, it is," Talise whispered. "How did you forget what I look like?"Ceyvim scooped up his damaged helmet and awkwardly frowned at Talise. "A lot happened when I left the Axiom. It was a long road that led me to this armor...and a longer road that took me away from its home. I fought with Kyllidahk, and met Domilius.""You survived an encounter with Domilius without that armor?" Selpiar questioned."There was no animosity between us," Ceyvim explained. "He gave me the idea to rebel against the entities who took everything from me. The military said Talise died, and when I left...there was no suspecting they were wrong. I have to know, is Merolsy alive as well?""Merolsy is gone. They found a corpse," Selpiar replied. "I'm sorry."Talise hung her head and Ceyvim released a heavy sigh. He held his daughter for the first time in years, both biomechs nearly overwhelmed by the chance to see one another again. Talise began to cry, holding Ceyvim as tight as she could."I always knew you were still out there."Ceyvim gently rubbed a hand up and down her back, calming her down. "It's okay, Talise. Everything's going to be okay.""Where did you go?" Talise sobbed.Ceyvim paused, unsure of where to begin. "I was...hopeless. I left the Axiom to find answers, even though I had no questions. When I came to Vault, I found Amtra's ruined palace and was invited in by Domilius and Calirry. Domilius hated the Axiom Union as strongly as I did, and we discussed potential ways to systematically destroy its order. Domilius was adamant in remaining on Vault, but believed that if I was determined, I could topple the regime Carzandus had started. We both knew Amtra's palace was an extensive maze, and had sectors both Domilius and Calirry had never visited. He implored me to search the palace for a means to become powerful enough to overthrown the Axiom's might. After a few years of passing through dimensions and doorways, I found a chamber where a project had been left to die. The memories of biomechs I fought alongside, the faces of my loved ones, and even their voices was lost to me. Only the pain held on, forcing me to continue. I found a lone suit, capable of performing abilities granted to Great Beings that was untouched in the corner of the room. From Amtra's notes, it was intended to be a prototype armor for biomech soldiers.""It held up pretty good," Selpiar commented."Yeah..." Ceyvim replied awkwardly, still comforting his daughter. "And so I returned to the Axiom guised as Amtra's spirit - like a wraith in the night. I promised salvation to those who rejected the Axiom Union and supported the will of the Great Beings. Though a Kyllidahk helped me learn the method to carefully undermine all that Carzandus had achieved, I sought to use Desire as a rock to bury the Axiom beneath - having taken what I love most. And so my indoctrinated followers took their orders in the midnight hours, and I was their leading eidolon. We called ourselves the Phantom Faction, and I submitted to my anger. Perhaps if I had maintained control of my emotions, this turn of events may have been avoided.""It doesn't matter now," Talise sniffled. "We still have a mission to finish.""Yes, of course," Ceyvim agreed. "There will be time enough to reminisce when we are done."Selpiar focused on the airship sitting just below until he could read its name along the side of the hull. When he found it to be named Promise, Selpiar emitted a hopeless sigh. "This airship remains unused because it requires a necessary amount of energy charged through it to fly. It was part of a program to remove our dependency on airship reactors.""Could elemental power fuel it fast enough?" Endico wondered."It's worth a shot," Talise replied. "Let's move, Seraphs."Selpiar and Endico followed close behind Talise, and Ceyvim started for Promise as well. Looking back down at the chaos in the streets, Ceyvim had seen enough. Finding Talise alive was enough to stir an emotional response. He pressed a button in his helmet that would broadcast to all Phantom Faction operatives. Ceyvim took a deep breath, uncertain of how they would react to his change of heart. At last, he exhaled and stated clearly, "This is Amtra. Any remaining Phantom Faction agents are to protect Axiom civilians at all costs. This is your final order. Good luck."

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 09 2011 - 02:47 PM.

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#15 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 11 2011 - 12:10 AM

31: Miserable Paradise

Endico safely steered Promise through the hectic skies over Prime and let the airship hover above Starlight Tower."Here's our ride," Verton chuckled, leaping to the ship's bay and landing with a heavy sound against the metal floor. Landrak and Aurozi quickly followed, sealing the doors shut. Aurozi was the first to look past Talise and Selpiar to notice a familiar biomech sitting nearby."Is that"-"Yes," Selpiar interrupted. "Lieutenant Ceyvim.""Oh my..." Aurozi replied, taking a step back."Are Great Beings just handing out their armor these days?" Verton asked, grinning.Ceyvim glanced up at him with a disturbed look. He was tempted to throw a punch, but Verton was a bit taller. Factor in his Vapseron status, and even wearing a Great Being's armor wasn't enough to get Ceyvim on his feet.Landrak walked by his teammates and stood over Ceyvim. "Where is your allegiance?""I have given all my soldiers an order to defend the civilians. My allegiance is with the bystanders who have been unfairly thrown into a warzone," Ceyvim replied.Landrak nodded. "Then it's good to see a superior officer return to the field." He offered Ceyvim a hand and Ceyvim politely shook it, returning Landrak's smile."You have nothing to worry about, from me at least," Ceyvim continued. "I have abandoned my pointless rage and am determined to save Arc, in memory of my wife.""Admirable," Landrak commended. "I'm glad to have a legendary war hero aboard our ship."Aurozi joined Endico on the bridge, closing the door and taking a seat next to him. "You think we'll make it to Desire?""Sure we'll make it," Endico smirked. "Just don't expect us to waltz right in."Promise cruised beyond the edges of Radiance, now soaring high above the Iron Sea. Desire was a few minutes away, but Aurozi and Endico could already spot activity. The floating isle was alive with an angry swarm of duplicated Spirarahk and transformed Ultruka."We've got heavy resistance," Aurozi reported over the intercom. "Brace yourselves for turbulence."Selpiar glanced at Landrak. "She's still thinking like a simple biomech..."Landrak raised an eyebrow, taking a moment to process what Selpiar meant. He finally looked at his teammates and smiled. "Report for duty on the sky deck. We're going to blast those hunks of scrap out of the clouds.""I'll keep an eye on the battery core," Ceyvim assured. "When we land, I can stay behind to contend with any Kyllidahk that might attempt to follow us inside. Meeting them at the edge of the exit with everything I've got should keep your team safe.""Thank you for volunteering yourself like this," Landrak smiled. "Seraphs, let's go topside."Endico triggered the airship's weapon systems, setting the blasters at half power. All missiles were on standby to fire, and Endico was ready for a total assault."Any reason we're firing half of what we've got?" Aurozi wondered."Promise is running on borrowed power from Selpiar. We can refuel after we land, but I don't want to risk draining our battery before reaching Desire.""We may not reach Desire if we lack the firepower," Aurozi argued."It's possible," Endico replied, commanding the targeting system to begin aiming on Kyllidahk clones. "I guess you'll have to trust my judgment."Aurozi rolled her eyes, smiling. "We're already dead then."Endico chuckled, yanking the thrusters forward. Promise was fast approaching the Kyllidahk fortress and the automatons had taken notice. To Endico's surprise, however, the gray machines were under attack before the ship started firing. Bursts of elemental strikes were coming from above Promise, and Aurozi nodded slowly."I guess they didn't want to feel useless," Aurozi muttered."I have a feeling Selpiar had something to do with this," Endico replied, firing all of the ship's missiles. "He told me on Wake how he valued being proactive over reactive."Endico tilted the ship downward, gently circling right. The entrance to Desire was open, but reaching it would be a chore. Kyllidahk were heavily guarding the entry zone while several more were busy mounting an offensive strike on Promise. The Vapseron on the sky deck could only do so much, and the ship's weapons had the limitation of immobility. None of this deviated from Endico's plan though, because from the moment he saw Desire, he knew he would be sending Promise barreling through the entrance. Endico pushed the ship through the line of Kyllidahk defenses, smashing the machines out of the way."I hope they're holding on now!" Endico cringed, using all of his might to stop the ship. Aurozi stared into the darkness within Desire's entrance, catching the glare off the floor's glossy tiles. A mere two percent of the battery power remained.Promise crashed into the open entryway, scratching the bottom of the hull along the floor and producing a loud screech. The airship skidded forward for only a few seconds until coming to a halt. Landrak was the first to leap down, studying the unnatural design of Desire's insides. The hangar was far more massive than any on Radiance, and emptier too. As he scanned the room, Landrak froze for a second when his eyes spotted another biomech.Standing at the opposite end of the grand atrium was Captain Diltac, as bold as ever. His airship had undergone repairs at some point in the last couple hours, and looked positively dangerous. Diltac remained composed and majestic, holding his rapier at the ready. He glanced at Ideality and then to the Vapseron. "It was no simple task breaking in here, Landrak. Now I'll ask you one last time. Please, surrender.""There's too much at stake, Diltac. I'll see you killed before I let you stand in my way," Landrak replied adamantly. It felt improper to speak out against a superior officer the way he had, but this was a drastic situation."Your doubt is purged," Diltac smirked. "When I destroy you, I will be satisfied knowing you gave me everything you had."Diltac leapt into Ideality and the engine roared to life. Neither Landrak nor Diltac could turn back now."Don't do this!" Landrak shouted.Ideality became airborne and the weapons systems took aim. Diltac activated the intercom and shouted back, "For the Axiom!"

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#16 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 15 2011 - 04:43 PM

32: Consumed by Passion

Diltac leapt from Ideality, performing a swift front flip to the floor before turning back to admire his prized possession. "Protect our homeland..."Ideality had taken aim on all six targets, and the hum of charging laser cannons was growing louder by the second. The Vapseron knew Ideality would react to any offensive shift in the battle, but a defensive option was still open. Landrak summoned a barrier of elemental power around himself, and the other Seraphs followed his example. Ideality unleashed an array of laser beams and blaster fire, battering their defenses to dust in a matter of moments."Take out those laser cannons!" Landrak ordered, firing a sonic pulse at Diltac.Diltac casually strafed the attack, waiting for his opponents to make their next move. Aurozi, Verton, Talise, Endico, and Selpiar launched a full assault against Ideality - bombarding the airship with everything they had. To their surprise, the energy streams were stopped in their tracks by a shield. A dome of transparent power encased Ideality - rendering the Vapseron attack a failure."Ideality has been fitted with elemental shielding, using the technology present in my own armor. I spared no expense in ensuring my victory this time," Diltac noted.The cannons refocused their aim and fired another laser onslaught. Landrak reengaged his energy shield, but a few of his allies felt bolder. Talise, Endico, and Verton had decided to rush Ideality and smash it with physical attacks, but the ship wouldn't just wait for them to arrive. Endico and Verton were picked off by separate lasers from a distance, and Talise was closing in on her target."Put your shield up!" Landrak hollered.Talise pulled back her fist, glaring into Diltac's confident eyes. Selpiar had his attention on the laser cannons, realizing they were charging a single beam to hit Talise with. Selpiar bolted for her location, knowing he would never make it to her in time. The lasers would follow their target for a moment, but Selpiar had a plan. The lasers fired and Talise swung her fist out at Diltac. To her shock, she met thin air and felt herself being pulled backwards. Selpiar magnetically swung her behind himself and activated a partial element shield. Having placed a portion of his power into moving Talise by her armor, the barrier couldn't stand up to the full intensity of the lasers. The shield shattered and Selpiar felt the sting of several laser beams burn into his heartlight.Talise held Selpiar by his limp shoulders, trying to keep him on his feet. "We can't give up!""Sorry, Talise," Selpiar cringed. "That really hurt." Selpiar passed out, and Talise dragged him back to her comrades. Ideality was now recharging itself and Diltac watched with some amusement as the Vapseron studied their fallen friend."Ignore the airship," Landrak decided. "We'll deal with the Captain first.""Yes, of course you will," Diltac smirked. He unlimbered his rapier and pointed it out at the Vapseron. Unlike the last encounter, the weapon launched a blast of energy from the hilt and out the end. Landrak dove left, evading the beam. He took a few deep breaths as he analyzed the rapier from a distance."Our Lord-Sovereign informed me of how the Kyllidahk are not immune to the powers of their brethren. Assuming the same holds true for Vapseron, I reverse engineered Kyllidahk energy burst technology. It's not nearly as potent, but it packs a punch," Diltac grinned.The Axiom Guard Captain ran across the tile floor, firing a few more blasts along the way until closing in on a target. That target was Endico, and he desperately moved backward to avoid being sliced open. To his surprise, Diltac was incredibly quick, making precise swings of his weapon over and over. At last, Endico grabbed the weapon in his fist and attempted to hold it steady. Diltac responded by firing another blast, launching Endico across the room and slamming him into a wall."A lapse in judgment," Diltac sighed. He glanced at Landrak. "Did you teach these soldiers anything, or are they completely inept?"Ideality was recharged and it fired a brilliant laser at Talise, striking her within a second. The airship began moving lazily to the right, taking aim at its targets once more. Diltac kept an eye on his adversaries, swiftly running backward until he was behind Ideality. Landrak knew Diltac wouldn't retreat under these conditions without a valid cause, and he had every reason to believe the airship was preparing something forceful."Activate whirlwind!" Diltac shouted, keeping his rapier at the ready. Ideality turned away from the Vapseron, revealing a heavy turbine below the engines. A mighty cyclone engulfed their battlefield, and the Vapseron fought to keep their eyes open against the raging wind.Diltac narrowed his eyes on the biomechs, lining up his sight with the end of his sword. Using the cyclone as a clever distraction, Diltac let the rapier reload its power, and paused. "Devotion shall steady my aim." Diltac shot a single, charged laser burst at Verton - effectively removing him from the fight.The Captain directed his ship down by the panel in his gauntlet, hopping inside while the cyclone continued. Diltac situated himself before the controls and deactivated the turbine, turning the front of the airship back toward the Vapseron. Ideality had done a perfect job in picking off the Seraphs, but Diltac had become confident from his success. Switching the targeting to manual, Diltac personally directed the laser blasters at Landrak and Aurozi. when he triggered them, a steady stream of energy followed the pair of Vapseron across the room. Resorting to new measures, Diltac turned both of the lasers on Aurozi and caught her between the beams. Aurozi was flung several bio backwards, her armor singed by the intense heat of the lasers.Ceyvim watched the Vapseron in their losing battle from Promise's bridge. He had been actively repelling the duplicate Kyllidahk for much of the encounter, but now that he was at the airship's controls, Ceyvim found himself prepared to defeat his enemy. Unlike his time as Amtra, when fantasies of bitter and angry rage let him muse about how Diltac might be destroyed the most painfully, there was a new feeling. Revenge had been consumed by insight. Landrak was going to die if Ceyvim didn't assist him. Without another moment's thought, Ceyvim drained Promise of its remaining power and fired the laser cannon on Ideality. The devastating beam launched across the massive chamber, having been converted from Vapseron energy back to raw power in a fraction of a second. Ideality was struck head on, crash landing hard on the tile floor. The windshield shattered into billions of shards, and Diltac was thrown from his seat.Diltac felt the bits of glass stuck in his muscle tissue and winced at the pain. Forcing himself to his feet, the Axiom Guard Captain drew his rapier at Landrak. Lunging forward, he swung the blade a single time. Landrak dodged and punched Diltac in the jaw. The captain of the Guard dropped to the floor, clearly beaten. Diltac tightened his grip on the rapier, releasing a hopeless sigh when Landrak tugged it from his grasp. Landrak then delivered a strong kick to Diltac's chest before scooping him up by the throat and holding him in the air."I've had enough," Landrak fumed, pulling the rapier back and preparing to strike. He glanced at his fallen allies for a moment, then turned back to Diltac. Dropping the weapon, Landrak looked Diltac square in the eyes and added, "You're no threat to us now."Diltac was bruised, scarred, and in pain. Releasing a weak cough, Diltac looked into his adversary's eyes. "I have failed the Axiom Union, but I surrender in my efforts to defeat you Vapseron. You have chosen to stay your hand and spare my life. I will offer you a reprieve in return." After that, Diltac passed out.Landrak gently set his superior down and heard the faint sound of footsteps approaching from behind. Landrak glanced over his shoulder and nodded at Ceyvim. "Thank you, for that.""I had to do something," Ceyvim whispered, walking up to Landrak's side."I'm going to check on the others, revive them if I can," Landrak replied, dashing away.Ceyvim stared down at Diltac, his mouth hanging slightly open. He wanted to say something, but no words came to mind. At last, Ceyvim left Diltac to rest - heading for the inner sanctum's doorway. He waited for the Vapseron to recover and stand, shaking off their wounds as only Vapseron could. There was something regenerative in the air here - a driving force of energy that gave the Vapseron the will to rise. It was strong, yet insignificant enough to be ignored or mistaken for pure resolve. Whatever it was, it had allowed the Vapseron to cross the tile floor and stand with Ceyvim at the doorway."Open it," Landrak instructed.Ceyvim touched a hand to the door and waited as the mechanism responded. Back on the floor, Diltac had regained consciousness. He listened to the gears turn inside the wall as the inner sanctum opened. Seven biomechs passed over the threshold, leaving the Captain in solitude. Alone with his thoughts, Diltac stared blankly at the ceiling, wondering if there really was a way to help Arc in its time of need.

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#17 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 16 2011 - 10:02 PM

33: Selfish Desire

Landrak took his first steps into the facility. Carzandus referred to inner Desire as the Automaton Palace - a place where only select Axiom scientists were permitted to work from the lofty Cosmic Deck high above. Their research was shrouded in secrecy (much like Nerozak's), but many suggested Carzandus was using this as a visage to develop mechanical armies. The Sovereign claimed evolution demands everyone move forward together. The Vapseron stayed near the center of the lengthy hallway, disturbed by their surroundings. Automaton Palace appeared to be located in a dimension all its own, built inside a great machine. Glowing, semi-transparent tiles of obsidian had neon circuitry flowing through the cracks like a system of veins. Gazing up, Landrak could see the palace expanded into five more floors of a similar design. There were few walls, but much of the upper tile floors blocked his view. Looking down, infinite pitch black met Landrak's eyes. The floors appeared to hold themselves up, but Landrak knew better. This world was maintained by an engine core somewhere in the palace - a parasitic reactor that required Magnyrh to survive."This place is incredible," Talise whispered.Endico's mouth hung open, clearly awestruck. He listened to the rhythmic hum of machines hard at work. The distant darkness seemed to hide or seal off what sounded like the soft resonance of massive gears, clicking and rotating without fail. Looking closer at the neon circuits, he noticed they turned from the bright cerulean on their floor to a dark violet as they ascended. The upper floors slowly turned, becoming more intricately designed along the way. The palace moved like clockwork, but that was hardly the most disconcerting feature. "It's an assembly line..."Seraph Squadron turned their heads up to see what Endico had found. On the fourth level, a weird system of machines were continuously building new robots. A single Kyllidahk was bound by its arms and legs, constantly being tortured."Ever heard of this one, Selpiar?" Endico muttered, watching the machine screech out as data and energy was forcibly drawn from it.Selpiar narrowed his eyes on the machine and studied its colossal form. It had a massive shell lined in spikes, not unlike a turtle. Its head, however, was insectoid - with a large round set of emerald eyes and snapping pincers. The sides of the shell had six openings for the machine's legs, each as sharp as Ultruka's. Unlike the guardian of Wake, the ends of these legs would separate into what could be considered fingers - writhing desperately each time a data transfer occurred. "That is Vincyros, and I have to admit, its larger than I expected. I bet you all glimpsed it at least once during the war. Seeing as it never strayed too far from the waters below Desire, it wouldn't be hard to observe from an airship.""I couldn't tell in this light at first, but the shell looks familiar," Verton replied. "The Kyllidahk must be hurting if they had to fish their guardian out of the water and hook it up to that contraption.""Every Kyllidahk is capable of regenerating drained life force. I suppose it had to be one of them, and I doubt Omtazic would sign himself up for this," Landrak mused.The machine was extracting a constant stream of data from the Kyllidahk, attempting to replicate the design. All around, colossal computers toiled to fill in the blanks with previously archived data. Desire could manufacture deceased Kyllidahk, but the process was imperfect. As such, the mechanisms sent to assault Radiance were weaker than the originals and lacked the proper color schemes. The intruders to the palace continued up an eerie staircase of hovering platforms, looking for any sign of Magnyrh."Hey, Landrak, you're a smart biomech, right?" Ceyvim smirked."How do you want me to answer that?" Landrak asked, raising an eyebrow."Don't bother, I have a better question for you," Ceyvim replied. "Why do you think they're only cloning the Kyllidahk that your team killed?"For a moment, each of the Vapseron considered Ceyvim's inquiry, wondering for themselves what brought about their enemy's lack of variety. Other Kyllidahk had certainly died over the ages, and yet only Spirarahk, Gelidonhr, and Ultruka were chosen for mass production."For all we know, the Kyllidahk could have sent copies of Conthnius to attack the beaches around Radiance," Landrak realized. "And from what Domilius said, it didn't seem the Kyllidahk knew a lot about Polynthox, so replicating that machine could have been a more challenging task. The Kyllidahk can clearly interact with one another's energy signatures, and Gelidonhr showed that a dead Kyllidahk form will revert back to separate particles. The chosen Kyllidahk were killed recently, and it would stand to reason that more of their essence remains collected together than a Kyllidahk like Vibrariox that died long ago. Drawing in the particles of a Kyllidahk that remain more coalesced seems easier than trying to work with miniscule remnants.""This all certainly feels like a last minute plan," Selpiar commented. "Knowing the Kyllidahk the way Verton suggested on Vault, though, it was likely put into action mere seconds after one of them thought it up."Aurozi glanced down at the floor, following several streams of neon across the tiles. "I've heard of this part of the palace. They call it Eidolon Hall." She studied the metallic statues lining the edges of the platform, fascinated by the design. Each statue was the height and form of a biomech, but was constructed as a pure machine. Aurozi was expecting them to spring to life and attack, standing between them and the core."It looks like they were functional at one time," Selpiar mused. "Maybe they were the Kyllidahk answer to an army before they decided to rebuild themselves. I can't say for certain, but these machines must have been offline for well over a century.""We have no idea how long these things have been here. After the Kyllidahk tore this place from Aspire, they could have been at work plotting our deaths," Verton growled."None of the Kyllidahk wanted to bring harm to biomechs," Landrak reminded him. "I think they've been preoccupied with returning to their maker since the beginning. Even Omtazic has voiced his wish of being reunited. The only Kyllidahk that truly hated us...wanted to see us suffer and die...was Domilius."The Vapseron continued through the sanctum, carefully walking up a flight of detached stairs. The circuits became violet here and a large figure could be seen waiting in the distance. Landrak signaled for his teammates to pause while he examined the potential enemy."It's just standing there," Ceyvim muttered."Magnyrh," Selpiar breathed, hinting a trace of fear while he stared mesmerized into her haunting, aquamarine eyes. One of the few female aligned Kyllidahk, all of the Axiom regarded her as the keeper of Desire. Omtazic managed to accelerate the mechanical dream of locating their maker, but the island was ultimately preserved by this fearless warrior. Magnyrh's shapely form was armored in sleek crimson, mixed with hints of chrome and onyx beneath. Despite her purely mechanical design, the biomechs could not deny the elegance of her figure.The Seraphs journeyed across the tiles, waiting for the master of Desire to respond. When the Vapseron reached the center of the construct, Magnyrh extended a shining pair of broadsword arm blades. The weapons crackled with vibrant, amber energy, while their owner stood still as the statues below. She towered at twice the height of the biomechs, staring blankly ahead.Well aware this Kyllidahk could cleave protosteel with little trouble, Landrak approached the matter at hand with caution. "We have come here to save Arc. Where is Omtazic?""Omtazic has gone," Magnyrh replied, her voice dignified and powerful. "He sent the biomechs working here to oblivion and departed to an unknown destination. He informed me that Vapseron would come to destroy this island.""We only want Omtazic," Landrak said coolly. "Desire is of no concern to us.""If you were to stop Omtazic, our hope would be lost," Magnyrh explained. "A machine cannot know emotion, but we have felt something. The closest translation to a feeling...a desire." The sheer iciness with which she spoke the island's name caused the biomechs to shudder. "We wish to be with our maker, biomechs.""I can't let your wish force mine to die," Landrak said adamantly.Magnyrh waved her hand through the air, causing ambient energy throughout the palace to join her power. She pointed her open palm up and summoned the power of the reactor - drawing from the strength of the island and the lifeless Kyllidahk copies above. "In your land, greatness is earned through respect. In this land, respect must be earned from greatness incarnate."The Kyllidahk particle energy roared to life in Magnyrh's hand and she hurled it at the Vapseron. Blinding them in flash of luminance, the Seraphs had no time to react. Magnyrh rushed forward on the wind, taking her broadswords and causing them to radiate pure Kyllidahk power. With unprecedented celerity, Magnyrh slashed through each Vapseron, though her weapons passed through them as if they were intangible. This was Magnyrh's intention, causing the Vapseron to be overwhelmed by a stream of her energies before they were brought to the floor. She glanced at Ceyvim and grinned maliciously. "So you are the Amtra impostor?"Ceyvim stood his ground, glaring boldly into Magnyrh's eyes. The Kyllidahk withdrew her weapons. "Amtra radiated a power signature far greater than your little suit could ever produce."Magnyrh launched herself into the air and descended gracefully to her initial position. The biomechs had gotten to their feet, and Magnyrh had succeeded in forcing them to lose themselves. Desire's core was nearly depleted, but Magnyrh now stood before harmless Vesteron. Phantasmal and emotionless, the Vesteron stood still, flickering in and out of tangibility. Their vacant stares translated to Magnyrh's victory - no dreams or ambition left in her enemies. They were empty and wanted nothing.Talise was the sole survivor of the attack, and Magnyrh was left seemingly confused. The Kyllidahk waited patiently at other end of the platform, waiting for her power to fully recharge.Ceyvim looked over at Talise in surprise. "I always knew there was something special about you..."The sound of an airship echoed through the palace, and the two biomechs turned around. Captain Diltac hopped out of his airship, still injured from his hopeless battle. He looked at Ceyvim first, smiling into his eyes. "Hello again, Lieutenant.""Diltac..." Ceyvim muttered awkwardly."It's so late...too late," Diltac continued uncomfortably. "The war was so long ago, but I need you to hear me out. My reputation would have died with Wake if I had said what I want to say right now. It was my point of weakness and my one true regret.""Go ahead," Ceyvim encouraged."I never blamed you for the accident in Respite. Something went wrong during the bombing that I can't entirely explain, but it wasn't your fault. Merolsy's death was my doing - in my haste to eradicate our enemy. I took from you...your wife...your daughter...your honor. I can't change that, and I'm so sorry."Ceyvim nodded, moved by his ex-Captain's words. "Thank you, Diltac. I, I forgive you."Diltac held on to his smile, looking to Talise now. "My advice to you is to endure. I sensed your strength in Melody, Talise. It wasn't the strength of a Vapseron, no. It was the strength we all harbor. I have always believed in the power of a biomech spirit and the importance of life continuing to exist throughout the universe. You must soldier on."Diltac walked back to his ship, turning on the engine and floating a few feet above the tiles. He stared at Talise with a forced smile. "If they want something to remember me by, tell them I always found personal sacrifice to be heroic." Diltac closed the secondary windshield and pulled back on the thruster clutch. The airships screamed forward, crossing the tiles at a dangerous speed. Letting his finger hover over the self-destruct button for a second, Diltac's last sight was Kyllidahk Magnyrh's bitter expression. As she prepared to slash Ideality apart with her broadswords, the airship detonated, causing a massive explosion that resonated throughout the palace.Ceyvim turned away, covering Talise from any debris that might escape. "Diltac..." Ceyvim whispered, unsure of what more to say.When the smoke cleared, nothing of Diltac or Ideality remained. It was fitting that Diltac would die with his ship in a way. No one else in the world was fit to carry on the legacy Diltac left behind. Magnyrh on the other hand, stood defiant - the picture of mechanical nobility. She was damaged, but not defeated. Soaring inside on the rockets beneath his feet, Domilius landed next to his sister - retaining his previous damages."My least favorite brother returns at last," Magnyrh said coldly.Domilius would have shot back a comment of his own, but he stopped short when he zoomed in on the Vesteron. "They failed," Domilius smirked, more than satisfied. "So close and you finally stopped them. Well done, Magnyrh. Now, what should we do about the last two?""You don't want to lose your other eye, do you?" Talise threatened.Domilius glared at her, his rage building. "Magnyrh may control Desire, but Arc is going to be mine once I silence you. The dream of reunion is enough for my brethren, but I'll see to it that your kind is enslaved to my will first. Mine will be the ultimate authority of the planet!"Magnyrh had no intention of letting Domilius live out the scenario he was painting, but she admired his zeal. He was an odd soul among the Kyllidahk, but Magnyrh was willing to let him carry on for the moment."This world is worthless if you surrender your honor to attain it," Talise spat."Maybe to you," Domilius scoffed. "I think you should look at your friends. They kept their honor, and we can see where that got them."Talise observed the Vesteron, feeling a sense of emotional pain overtake her. It was hard to see her teammates stand lifeless on the tiles without a spirit to guide them. Talise took a deep breath and sent a spark of electricity along the floor. The Vesteron reacted to this, turning toward her."I need my allies more than ever right now," Talise cried. "I need the love of my friends! Landrak, Selpiar, Verton, Aurozi, Endico, please hear me!"Domilius smirked, nudging Magnyrh in the shoulder. "Is this pathetic or what?""Be silent, brother," Magnyrh snapped. "I am watching."Focus, Talise. The voice echoed in her mind. It was Nerozak, subconsciously calling out from the antimatter. This is the moment.Save them, Nerozak! Talise mentally cried out. If I could take on their burden myself, I would. I love them too much to make them suffer like this! Let me become a Vesteron to spare them!The others have your love, and so they have the best part of you. You are already a spirit of the antimatter, Talise. Focus on drawing that from their bodies, and the energies will envelop you instead.Talise gulped. If she absorbed the antimatter and became a Vesteron, these were her last moments on Arc. She looked at Ceyvim and forced a smile. "I love you."Tightly shutting her eyes, Talise began to focus. She forced the antimatter to merge with her body, making it part of her power. Controlling antimatter was far different than wielding electricity. It seemed to have a mind of its own, and a sentient one at that. She could feel her spirit being touched by the hopes and dreams of many who perished long ago. As more and more of the antimatter became one with her system, Talise was having a harder time maintaining it.Now! Nerozak yelled. Pull in the rest of the power!Talise obeyed, tearing the last remnants of antimatter from her friends. Assuming this was the end for her, she opened her eyes to observe the Seraphs one last time. Miraculously, Talise had time to witness the Vesteron energies break away from her friends. The particles detached from their forms and the process was reversed."It's like being reborn," Selpiar muttered."How am I still alive?" Talise whispered in confusion, surrounded up to her waist by antimatter.The energy is yours, Talise. Nerozak explained. It cannot harm you."I don't know what you did, but it was incredible," Landrak smiled.Landrak and the others stood alongside Talise and Ceyvim, prepared to take on any threat."You two Kyllidahk will meet your maker, one way or another."The antimatter that fueled the Vesteron merged into a single sphere of power, becoming a mass of gray and black that stood between the Kyllidahk and Vapseron. The energies crawled around one another, ultimately converging on Talise. She then felt the antimatter rush into her body, uncertain of what would happen next.

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#18 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 17 2011 - 08:54 PM

34: Falling Wishes

Completely overwhelmed, Talise felt a spasm of power release itself from every molecule. The antimatter shook her backward, rocketing out in a single pulse of energized protodermis. The burst expanded, engulfing Magnyrh and Domilius, burning them into oblivion. The antimatter then divided into trillions of particles that quickly darted in all directions and faded from view."Astounding," Talise whispered, regaining control of her body.The clockwork mechanisms running Desire jammed momentarily, producing an eerie screech. The vast chamber grew brighter, flickering warning lights in all directions. The Vapseron felt themselves slowly tilting forward until the island came to a halt."Recalibrating..." a mechanical voice stated."The island's network is trying to stabilize itself," Selpiar muttered.Landrak nodded shortly. "It's like Omtazic said aboard Ascension. Desire cannot remain floating without Magnyrh to support it. Even if the network is still online, we might have moments to spare.""Back to the entrance hall," Endico replied, sprinting for the exit. "I'll get Promise active!"The remaining Vapseron and Ceyvim bolted after him, well aware they were working on borrowed time. Entire plates of hovering glass came shattering down and more of the gears were having trouble turning. Electrical sparks exploded from the ceiling and the network was creeping toward the end of its energy. When Endico reached Promise's entry bay, Desire rocked once more, this time shaking violently."Reactor complex has been exhausted," the network notified.Ceyvim paused, looking around. "We should be hurtling for the Iron Sea by now.""Reserve power protocol is in effect. Total shutdown is imminent."Ceyvim smirked. "A perfect time to answer."The biomechs hurried inside Promise, frantically waiting for Endico to get them airborne. The airship lifted off the hangar and Endico dipped it downward, lining up with the imbalance to Desire's exit. The island was slowly descending through the sky, with the reserve power acting as a final line of defense between Desire's gentle drop and an irrepressible free fall. Endico kept his focus ahead, and he was the only one to miss a gratifying sight as he drove Promise a safe distance from the floating isle. From the open bay doors, Endico's fellow biomechs watched Desire deplete its final drops of energy, plunging immediately down through the clouds and crashing into the Iron Sea. Colossal waves moved out across the cool blue waters as Desire tipped over into the sea."It's surprisingly buoyant for all the heavy metal inside," Verton spoke up."It'll sink...just not right away," Aurozi replied.A beam of antimatter shot out from the island's broken inner sanctum and propelled itself into the skies. The energies formed whole fields of antimatter throughout the upper atmosphere, and the seas suddenly became fierce. The antimatter beam finally redirected itself south, toward the only landmark in the region. Landrak stepped up to the intercom and pressed the activation button."Plot a course for Vault, Endico. ...We're heading back to Amtra's Palace."Endico turned his attention to the southern continent and sighed. A maelstrom of dark clouds had formed over the entire landmass within seconds. Pushing the thrusters to full power, Endico studied Vault as he drew closer and thought back to the early days of his existence. Amtra seemed hopeful and happy then. It was almost unfair to see a once glorious home reduced to what it was. He remembered Veladri's angry words from the other day, claiming Vault was once a heaven, and was now truly a hellish domain. The sound of a tremor rang out through Arc's atmosphere and Endico watched flames consume the wasteland. Another chunk of Amtra's Palace collapsed into the dust, and the biomech knew there was little time to spare. Endico steered Promise toward the sight of his battle with Veladri and he could almost feel the emotions left behind. It was passion that drove Veladri and Diltac to suicide - coming to terms with a broader picture. There was more to life than dreams of ascension or hopes of ideality, and they found the answer at the end.Endico landed Promise for the last time, wondering what answers waited for him and his friends below and beyond Vault.

A C T . IV . C O N C L U D E D.

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#19 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 18 2011 - 08:20 PM

Act V: Paradigm Shift

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35: Causality and Certainty

Traversing the ruined palace had been simple, as each Vapseron had a clear memory of their path to the core from the previous day. The sound of thunder roared out far above, and the earth shook. Landrak was almost flying toward the planetary core - desperate to save his friends from a dire situation. When the core chamber was in sight, Verton pointed beneath the mighty sphere at a mysterious portal. It was clearly ready for transport, but no one was present to activate it in the first place."We're going through!" Landrak declared, frustrated that he already attained top speed.The biomechs passed through the swirling vortex of energies and felt their world go dark. Ceyvim and the Vapseron were floating outside a large space station in an infinitely black, empty realm. The station was the only source of light and the biomechs drifted toward it as quickly as they could. Talise looked at her comrades and could see they had been reduced to white, glowing outlines. It was disturbing to think she had returned to the maze she endured once before, but it felt more real this time. When each biomech set foot on the entry platform, their body returned to normal. Endico walked up to the colossal doorway and read the sign above it."Dark Aether Station..." he whispered."Judging from the look of our surroundings, this abnormal darkness is dark aether, or antimatter," Selpiar replied. "It's odd that I've never heard of this location before our journey.""You always seem to shock me with how much seemingly useless data fills your head, Selpiar, but finding you lost is surprisingly less satisfying than I'd expected," Endico smirked. He pressed his hand against the door and it immediately rushed open."Welcome," the network computer greeted.The biomechs stepped inside, the doors suddenly slamming shut as the last Vapseron walked through. Landrak studied the transparent halls leading across the station and fixed his eyes on a dome in the very center."We're taking the obvious route into the heart of this place. If our destination is elsewhere...well, I wouldn't be terribly surprised.""Life has a way of poking fun when you least expect it," Aurozi grinned, taking the lead alongside Landrak."Hey, I have a question," Selpiar piped up."You're typically the answer generator," Endico grinned."Typically, yes," Selpiar agreed. "But this has been on my mind for a while. Did anyone notice that Diltac's ship had left the hangar bay in Desire when we left?""I was a little preoccupied with trying to get out alive," Aurozi replied. "I don't recall seeing it there though. He probably left to join his soldiers in Dawn.""Diltac died," Talise blurted out.The Vapseron turned and stared at her for a moment, an unsettling sight considering it was close to their Vesteron stare.Ceyvim nodded and released an unhappy sigh. "He piloted the airship up around the floating stairs when you all became Vesteron. He said goodbye, drove the ship into Magnyrh, and caused it to self-destruct. As you could see when the Vesteron process was reversed, the attack only injured her. He gave his life hoping to save Talise and I.""Diltac abandoned his absolute faith in the Axiom at the end," Landrak replied in admiration. "He opened his eyes and fought for a cause greater than his nation or his leader.""It was a noble and tragic departure," Ceyvim admitted. "Arc lost a fine soldier in Diltac. She lost a valiant son too.""Then we keep going," Landrak said confidently. "His sacrifice is a part of our motivation now."The lonely echo of their footsteps rang out through the clear walkway, and the Vapseron were becoming anxious. Ascending a flight of clear stairs, Landrak put his hand out to the doorway and stopped short. Shutting his eyes tight and releasing a heavy sigh, he turned to his company. "It's been an honor. Let's see this through."Landrak touched his palm to the cold door and watched it fly open. The Vapseron boldly crossed the threshold to the dome and froze at a disturbing sight. At the far end of the central dome was Sovereign Carzandus, studying an empty gateway. He pressed a button and a bright gray portal burst to life. Carefully placing his hand inside, Carzandus watched it pass through to the other side of the energy. The portal required activation, but that was no difficult task. Landrak decided against wasting words and immediately fired a sonic blast at Carzandus. The Sovereign whirled around, the guise of Carzandus falling away into particles as he effortlessly repelled the attack. The true form of Omtazic was now staring down the Vapseron, bitter and insane. It was the sleek obsidian form of a biomech, veiled in a thin layer of darkness."Dare your mortal eyes to gaze upon the master of infinity at your discretion. The unending machine of despair greets only the doomed." His voice was calm, yet disturbingly so.Selpiar and Verton rushed forward to continue Landrak's work, but Omtazic released a pair of lasers from his palms that easily dispatched them. Seeing the anger in Endico's face, Omtazic's smirk urged him to strike."You Vapseron have meddled in my affairs long enough," Omtazic growled. "Your destiny is to die and you are so close to fulfilling it."A sphere of black suddenly erupted to life in the middle of the dome, discharging emerald bolts as it grew in size. The darkness exploded into blinding white and Nerozak stood calmly before everyone. He took a few steps toward Omtazic and examined his metallic body. "The game is over, Omtazic. I know everything you've done.""But not everything I will do," Omtazic added, launching a pair of antimatter beams from his gauntlets at Nerozak. Omtazic hit his target and kept a mesmerized Nerozak trapped in a field of polarized antimatter energy. The Kyllidahk proceeded to flood the antimatter field with an intensity of aether. Nerozak looked down at his form and could feel his body overflowing with aether energy. Eventually overcharged, Nerozak gave Omtazic a final smirk before exploding into black, glimmering particles.The Vapseron stared in terror at what Omtazic had done, astounded and disgusted by his sheer power. Ceyvim marched across the room to Omtazic then, taking a knee before him and lowering his head."I offer myself as a loyal servant to you, Sovereign. I understand my previous error and wish to redeem myself," Ceyvim said earnestly.Omtazic looked on Ceyvim with a twisted grin. "Masters can learn to forgive their servants, especially those who served so admirably during the war. I need a motivation first, Ceyvim. Offer me something I don't have.""I have studied the Dark Aether Gateway's ability to open rifts through both time and space. It requires massive amounts of energy to achieve, but we could rewrite history with that power at our disposal."Omtazic glanced back at the portal. "So it's a time machine as well...? Very interesting. All that time spent scavenging Amtra's old home let you learn something worthwhile.""I wish to return to the past and undo some of the damage done there," Ceyvim continued."The network must be shut down if you hope to enter a portal to the past. The amount of energy required would be massive," Omtazic explained. "I'll let you do the honors.""I understand, Lord-Sovereign," Ceyvim muttered faintly.The Vapseron were speechless at what they were hearing. Ceyvim seemed adamant in bringing down the Kyllidahk back on Radiance, but here he was, surrendering himself to the power he fought against for years."Don't interfere, weaklings," Omtazic warned the Vapseron, directing Ceyvim to the control panel.Ceyvim pressed his hand to the control panel and felt the surface warm up. This machine was probing his mind, hunting for what drove him. It wanted the reason for why he was here, and what he wanted the portal to do. It located his desires and displayed them in the portal. Ceyvim stared into the rippling energies and looked down on the town of Respite. A battle was raging there, and Ceyvim was unable to forget the events of that day.The control panel registered the amount of power necessary to send Ceyvim through the portal. "In order to use the portal in the manner requested, the network must be shut down. Please press your hand to the panel again to continue or hit the gateway's deactivation switch to quit."Ceyvim looked at the Vapseron, unable to meet their disapproving gaze directly. Each Seraph knew the choice was Ceyvim's alone, but Talise refused to stay silent."Think about what you're doing, Ceyvim!" Talise pleaded.Ceyvim had never been so anxious in his life. "If I go back...if I save Merolsy and you...this reality can be averted. I can prevent this awful result and we can be a family again!"Talise was on the verge of tears. "A paradox will ensue! You can't change what's happened because your past self will have no reason to leave the Axiom Union and become Amtra! You would have never come here to complete the cycle again. And besides, would Merolsy want to see her husband act so selfishly when so much is at stake?""Ignore her, Ceyvim. Do what you have waited so long to do," Omtazic encouraged. "She's just a lost Vapseron."Ceyvim turned and looked into Talise's eyes. A part of him could see Merolsy standing with her, disapproving of his selfish ambition. Ceyvim glared at Omtazic. "She isn't a lost Vapseron, she's my daughter. ...And she's right." Ceyvim stepped away from the control panel and stood in front of the portal, shutting it down. "Worthless machine." Ceyvim aimed his laser gauntlet at Omtazic and fired. Omtazic blocked with his own gauntlets and watched the beam split, flying across the floor in opposite directions. He then countered Ceyvim by hurling a fiery cobalt and white beam at him. Ceyvim ducked, but watched the energy shred through the portal, sending violent sparks down into the reactors. The Aether Network required auxiliary power to transfer Ceyvim, but raw energy could travel freely. Before the past Respite faded from view, Ceyvim watched the blast swell and strike the city. He felt a sickening feeling overpower him as a memory shook his thoughts. The same blast had been responsible for the town's destruction all those years ago. He believed new technology from the Axiom was responsible, but now it was clear."I'll kill you!" Ceyvim screamed in a rage, rushing at Omtazic. He punched the machine across the face multiple times, but failed to knock him to the floor."Are you done?" Omtazic asked, smirking at the hopelessness in Ceyvim's face."A pathetic decision, Omtazic."The words rang out through the chamber and in everyone's mind, and Omtazic looked up through the top of the dome. On the other side of the transparent casing was Nerozak, perfectly reformed. He slowly descended through the glass, gracefully landing on the floor. He stared with a melancholy look at Omtazic, pleased to see the Kyllidahk was truly in shock.

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Edited by Cederak, Nov 18 2011 - 08:22 PM.

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#20 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 22 2011 - 01:21 AM

36: The Starry Prince

Omtazic dove for one of his gauntlets and took aim at Nerozak's face. His hand was shaking as his mind frantically tried to make sense of the situation."Your toys don't scare me," Nerozak said flatly.Omtazic looked up at him in terror. "...But I killed you."Nerozak remained still. "Disabling me in a field using the opposite energies that fuel my life was clever, but you should have known better than to use my own power against me. You see, your memory retained a perfect recollection of each story I divulged to you, Omtazic. But I never told you I tried to destroy myself once...with the void as my weapon. You are in the heart of the dark aether, where my subconscious mind calls home. What you can see, and hear, and touch...that is only an iota of what I am."Omtazic defiantly stood up. "Maybe I am unsure of how to annihilate an entity of the void, but my dream has been fulfilled. Killing you would have been satisfying, but hardly necessary now. Distracting you with fears of death required serious work on my part to ensure antimatter particles would form and multiply in the atmosphere. Murdering biomechs and littering their homes with the particles was a simpler task though.""Asking me to leave was too easy?" Nerozak asked angrily."And let your talents go to waste while you mope about the cosmos?" Omtazic chuckled. "You have assisted in many technological advancements in the past couple decades, and I have found good use for most of them. I didn't want you to leave, merely to stay out of the way. Preoccupying you was the only way I could create my perfect world. I have prevented a second Arc War!""If you had tried to console Nerozak, rather than alienating him, you could have prevented war with a brilliant mind to aid you. Protecting your image in the eyes of the Axiom was more important," Landrak criticized."It's true," Talise agreed. "You drove one of the greatest gifts the Great Beings bestowed upon our universe to despair, killing thousands of biomechs in the process.""And now the destructive antimatter across Arc will appear to be Nerozak's doing. Nerozak cannot return to Arc now that it appears he is responsible for so much ruin," Omtazic replied."No one outside this chamber knows about the antimatter's source, despite my connection to dark aether. It's time for you to take some responsibility, Omtazic," Nerozak declared. "Tell Arc that the Kyllidahk were to blame. In the guise of Carzandus, you will find yourself blameless...but I will not be your scapegoat. In time, perhaps you will gain Arc's undivided trust somehow. As for me...I understand now that I am not meant to live among biomechs. They are capable of love, but too easily led to conflict. Perhaps I am capable of creating new life forms, derived from the aether itself. I can pass my knowledge on to pure spirits.""Sounds fair enough. A Kyllidahk conjured this plan, and now his kind will be held accountable," Ceyvim spoke up. "It's a shame Omtazic would lie to the world in an effort to protect himself though...""It's not a lie," Omtazic whispered. "It's Arc's only chance at true harmony."The Aether Network portal sparked back to life, reactivating as a thin white veil. "Aether reactor complex is unstable. Time rift disruption sustained. Warning! Station in danger!""The reactor core needs to be removed from the station or the entire construct risks annihilation," Nerozak realized. A moment later, a wave of golden light burst forth from the portal and pulled Nerozak through."We're going after him," Landrak said, running toward the portal."What about the station? We won't have a return destination if this place explodes!" Endico replied."I'll take care of it," Ceyvim volunteered. "The rest of you should go ahead."Everyone - including Omtazic - was hesitant to let Ceyvim stay behind and handle things, but the war hero believed in himself for the first time in a long time. He walked up to Talise, hugging her tight, assuming it would be for the last time.Omtazic addressed the remaining biomechs. "It is time. Let us travel to paradise as one.""I'm very proud of you, Talise, and Merolsy would be too. Whatever lies ahead, be careful." Ceyvim held Talise and listened to the gentle sobs escaping her. He glanced up at Landrak and nodded. "Get moving, soldier."Landrak nodded back, forcing a smile. He led his crew through the portal and Omtazic followed them. Talise let Ceyvim go and wiped the tears from her eyes."I don't want you to be sad, Talise," Ceyvim smiled. "When you think of me or Merolsy, remember that we shared a time of happiness with one another. We all have to complete the cycle eventually, and I'm ready.""I'm not ready to lose my father again," Talise admitted. "Not after finding you so soon.""We're seldom prepared to let someone close to us die," Ceyvim explained. "But everyone else has already gone ahead. Someone has to save this station, and we both know I won't let you make the sacrifice.""Do you think like Diltac? Is there heroism in sacrifice?" Talise wondered."I don't think it matters," Ceyvim grinned. "But I know that portal won't stay open forever."Talise hugged Ceyvim once more and exhaled heavily. "I love you.""I love you too," Ceyvim replied, nudging her off toward the portal. "Now please, you have to go."Talise ran up to the portal and took a final look at Ceyvim. He appeared gallant in Amtra's armor, ready to die for a valiant cause. She turned away and passed through the portal, disappearing from view. Ceyvim smiled a few seconds longer until the gravity of things set in. He had stayed behind to die, and now he had to face that decision. He rushed down through the station to the reactor core chamber and watched as the reactor shook violently. Sparks of energy launched through the air and Ceyvim hurried to the controls. Activating the voice recognizer, Ceyvim placed his head near the speaker and hesitated for a moment."I have to do this. I need to do this..."Ceyvim could see Merolsy in his mind, and then he heard her speak. Save our daughter, Ceyvim. Be the hero you joined the Axiom Guard to become. Ceyvim clutched his hands around the controls and roared. "Detach reactor chamber from station!""Command received," the computer replied.The doors sealed shut and Ceyvim could feel himself slowly moving. His speed was picking up, or it felt that way at least. Plasma bolts were now flying around the room, and Amtra's armor was more than strong enough to shield Ceyvim. The external shield on the chamber engaged then, and Ceyvim examined the room as it fell apart. The ensuing blast would undoubtedly be contained, but the chamber would be his tomb.

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#21 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 22 2011 - 10:25 PM

37: No More Shadows

Omtazic was the first to arrive, nearly being overloaded with information for a few seconds. The Vapseron had entered close behind, all standing on a landmass that hovered over an infinite drop. The realm was bathed in a golden light, but disturbingly lacked a sun. Where the energy was coming from - let alone the comfortable warmth it produced - was anyone's guess. Several more hovering isles could be seen in the distance, but only the locale Omtazic stood on boasted a grand, immense castle. An entity phased into view before Omtazic and the biomechs, casually smiling at them. He was twice their height, wearing a thick armor of platinum and silver. Sparkles danced across it as he moved, and the intense cerulean of his eyes was mesmerizing. Omtazic instinctively took a knee and lowered his head out of respect. The biomechs glanced at him with a hint of confusion before looking back at the armored figure. Nerozak finally exited the portal and stood quietly next to Talise."Rise," the entity told Omtazic, offering him a hand. Omtazic reluctantly accepted and got to his feet, smiling at the entity."Can you tell us where we are?" Landrak wondered.The entity released a gentle laugh. "This is my realm, my home. I call it the Guiding Light." Omtazic slightly moved his head as the entity spoke. The sound of his voice appeared to be like wondrous music to the Kyllidahk. Even the biomechs detected something in his voice that was inviting and charismatic."And who are you exactly?" Endico asked."A maker of things," he smirked. "Guests are few and infrequent, and those life forms who reside here have little communication with me. They are content to call me their creator, and I am honored to accept. I am the designer and constructor of Kyllidahk and Great Beings alike. My name is Exogen.""Exogen?" Nerozak repeated. "The Great Beings spoke of you once, a very long time ago. From their description, you were a mysterious, almost god-like entity in their expansive lore. I doubt these biomechs had any idea you existed.""All who believe, know I exist, Nerozak. It does not take the knowledge of a name or a history to sense when your spirit is calling out to you with the truth. I want the eight of you to follow me, and see something magnificent. Stay close, and know that nothing can harm you in this place."Exogen started for the edge of the landmass, walking off the ledge and remaining aloft. If there was something, anything beneath his feet, it was impossible to see. Omtazic and Nerozak continued without fear, though the biomechs were apprehensive to take the first steps. Once they were certain of their safety, the Vapseron caught up to Exogen and started to take in the sights. Spirarahk was flying high above, soaring and gliding without care. The wyvern-like Kyllidahk seemed harmless now. On an island below them, Gelidonhr could be seen galloping across a bright field. Nearby the majestic machine, Gemidelus gave a short wave and a smile. A couple more islands away, Ultruka ambled about on four legs once more. On a higher landmass, more unfamiliar Kyllidahk could be seen following Magnyrh."The nature of my work is to create life forms that can build upon the universe you know. Some are brighter than others, excelling in particular fields. Some attain such intelligence, that they gain the means to destroy or even rewrite your universe. I do not step in to make repairs, rather, I have left the task to the Great Beings. They and their creations are entirely capable of undoing their mistakes. As for myself, I have no creator to identify. If something made me, I lack the memory of who, when, or even why.""Just like me," Talise added.Exogen glanced over his shoulder, studying Talise for a moment. He finally whirled around and examined her more carefully. At last, he smiled and looked into Talise's eyes. "I made you.""Why did you abandon me on Arc?" Talise asked."Arc is the site of the Aether Network and the Kyllidahk. It is the most important place in your universe to me. Those entities the Great Beings designed to run the universe...they were my proposal. The Cosmic Collective became their title, and they were tasked with watching over the fundamental workings of the universe. Sometime after their creation, I traveled to your universe and spoke with Carzandus about maintaining a balance. I wanted to let the Kyllidahk exist in your universe, but we agreed they would require a parallel of sorts. They lacked simple love, and as such, I created something very capable of that act. You were based upon the biomech design to return balance to the universe.""Wow..." Talise muttered. "I always knew there was something different about me, but I never imagined anything like this.""It's understandable," Exogen replied, turning back to continue his journey. "Is there something more I can do for each of you?""I wish to remain here," Omtazic blurted out.Everyone stopped at this point, waiting for Exogen to respond. He stared up for a moment, until his expression turned to sadness. And then the one entity Omtazic revered above all others sighed, "No.""No?" Omtazic asked sheepishly."Correct," Exogen affirmed. "I have already returned the other Kyllidahk, but you cannot stay here...not yet. Unlike your brother Domilius who hated Arc and the biomechs enough to wish them dead, you sought to manipulate them for your own intentions. Domilius lived for himself, and his pleasure. What you did, Omtazic, was far worse. It was a bold scheme to be reunited with me and your brethren here, but highly unnecessary. And so, your selfish actions have cost you salvation...for now. Onto the next matter."Exogen moved on, finally stepping onto another isle and through a large garden. "What did you biomechs come here for?""We need the Aether Network reactivated," Landrak explained. He looked back for a moment, seeing Omtazic as still as a statue. It was hard to tell what he was thinking, but Landrak could only imagine it equated to misery."One of the more ingenious inventions of the Great Beings, but not beyond malfunction," Exogen mused. "Let's give it a permanent solution."Exogen pointed a hand at the portal his guests entered through and fired a yellow laser beam into it. "The network hub will now draw power directly from my realm, with the antimatter station's reactor no longer required."Nerozak rushed up past the garden and stood in shock. Six pedestals of ancient stone sat in a circle, with four currently supporting an entity. These were Nerozak's deceased brethren, nonresponsive and totally unharmed. Their eyes were closed, and Nerozak was more comfortable that they were. He glanced at Exogen. "I don't understand.""Each platform is reserved for one of the Cosmic Collective," Exogen replied. "This is where your kind are destined to go when they have passed. The pedestals rewind the clocks of their life and undo any of their wounds. When all six cease to be, I will restore them, and in turn, restore a rightful balance to your universe. There is no pedestal reserved for you, however, Nerozak. You are a constant force, and...you know where I'm going with this.""Carzandus and Tiberema are the only others still alive..." Nerozak whispered. He turned to stare at Nervinde, the only life form he ever loved. He placed his head against hers, hopeful he would see her again."Yes, I actually traced the memories of these Collective individuals when they arrived," Exogen replied, watching Nerozak stare at his brethren. "Xaricog was killed by biomechs who revolted against his rule; Zyntomos was swallowed in a black hole attempting to save a young planet full of life; Valirytic had his particles blasted across the universe in a...scientific accident, and you know about Nervinde, of course. You destroyed an entire star system after she was murdered.""Do you blame me?" Nerozak wondered, giving Exogen a helpless glance as he held Nervinde's hand."I do...and I don't," Exogen said softly. "Having a mind that can process and express emotion means being vulnerable to pain when happiness has left you. This seems better, though, than living incapable of feeling. You were not born a biomech to mature into a Kyllidahk. But, why don't you ask Nervinde what she thinks?"Nerozak held Nervinde's hand tighter, trying to focus. Without notice, he began to hear something. It was as if her spirit were calling out to him. Remember your purpose. Nervinde's voice echoed through Nerozak's mind. Reclaim the role you were given in the universe. If not for yourself, then for me. Nerozak felt the onset of tears rushing to his eyes, and he fought to maintain his composure. He opened his eyes and stared at Nervinde's unconscious face. "I will. I promise.""Return home, biomechs," Exogen suggested. "Live once more. This is your time, for one short time. You should make the best of it. I wish you safe passage.""Thank you," Landrak smiled, motioning for his friends to follow him home.Omtazic stared at Exogen for a moment, unsure of what to say. His maker broke the silence and grinned, "One day, this will be your home. Until then, I bid you farewell.""Goodbye," Omtazic muttered. The machine marched back to the portal, summoning the guise of Carzandus for a moment. His cape swayed back and forth as he retreated from the realm of the Guiding Light. Nerozak traveled through the portal while Omtazic stalled, taking one last look above. Exogen stared down at the Kyllidahk, his stunning blue eyes and gleaming armor matching his smile so well. He was benevolence personified, but had the capacity to deny his creations their desires. Exogen watched Omtazic leave in dejection, well aware the wounds would heal in time.

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#22 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 23 2011 - 10:12 PM

38: The Dynamic Paradigm

Nerozak glanced out the station's window, closely examining the jettisoned reactor chamber. Floating among the debris was the lifeless body of Ceyvim - wearing the few remaining parts of Amtra's armor."What will happen to his body?" Talise asked."It will become one with the antimatter. As for his spirit...maybe it was with us just moments ago, and we couldn't sense it," Nerozak replied, smiling down at Talise. Talise smiled back, still teary eyed."I can feel my strength returning," Nerozak muttered to no one in particular. "We should go."In the blink of an eye, Nerozak, Omtazic, and Seraph Squadron were standing on the empty sky deck of Ascension - hovering high above Dawn. Sunrise was upon Radiance, and the continent felt the warmth of a familiar star."The sun is coming up?" Selpiar muttered. "We left for Vault in the late afternoon, so how did we miss an entire night on Arc?""The realm of antimatter handles the concept of time passage much differently than this dimension," Nerozak divulged."Whoa..." Endico whispered, staring over the side of the airship. Everyone came to join him, observing their devastated home.The Axiom Union was a mess, that much was certain. The silvery Kyllidahk copies had shut down, becoming metallic heaps that littered the cities, each reduced to a dull gray pile of scrap metal. In the streets, earthquakes had ravaged vehicles and roadways indiscriminately. Buildings collapsed to nature's will and biomech corpses had been strewn about. Omtazic gasped when he finally zoomed in his vision on downtown Prime, horrified at the sight. Starlight Tower's top quarter was missing, clearly smashed away by some greater force. Perhaps a mimetic Kyllidahk impacted the tower without concern for the structure's well-being. More likely, an airship had been severely damaged and met its end there. It was hard to tell what happened, but the final result remained heavy for Omtazic.The Kyllidahk's form flickered randomly between the Omtazic machine and the Carzandus facade a few times, unable to sustain itself for a moment. The Kyllidahk fell to its knees and stared at Starlight Tower with a most forlorn expression of absolute anguish. He glanced over his shoulder at the Iron Sea, cringing at the sight of Desire. The island, half sunken, had imploded across several areas. He could still see sparks crawling over the outer frame and the embers of terrible explosions fading into oblivion. Like that island, Omtazic felt his own desires sink into the sea of his mind. He was alone among the biomechs, cursed to endure their company for as long as Exogen saw fit. Omtazic knew his maker to be infinitely good in some sense of the word, but forgiveness was not always immediate. One day, Exogen would call Omtazic to return home and live among his brothers and sisters. Once more, he would bask in the warmth of feeling as though a billion stars shone down on him - radiating him with power and allowing his mind to feel what biomechs called happiness.Seraph Squadron had no interest in Desire now, not with the beauty they found on Radiance. Landrak and his friends saw past the nightmare Omtazic had viewed and found a miracle had risen from the darkness. Phantom Faction agents, Axiom Guards, and Arc Sentinels were working together to ensure the safety of the civilians. Not only that, they had worked together to protect one another. Phantoms, Guards, and Sentinels exchanged smiles and handshakes of approval. For the first time in a long time, they were just biomechs, completely ignorant of the titles they had been issued. There was nothing to separate them in this new world."Working against one another brought them more suffering," Nerozak recognized. "They gave the Axiom Union the supremacy Omtazic wanted.""The Axiom Union is a strong power," Omtazic reminded him, still locked in something of a stupor."And there is greater strength in harmony," Nerozak expressed. "The actions of biomechs across Radiance have finally progressed - thus inciting an evolution. ...A paradigm shift occurred today."Landrak attempted to fire a pulse of sonic energy from his hand, only to find his element nonresponsive. He closed his eyes gently, meditating in silence for a moment. The Vapseron power was gone, and his enhanced strength with it. Unbeknownst to him, his fellow Seraphs had been purged of the energy they received as well. Landrak now felt as close to normal as he had ever known, being just another biomech soldier among the masses. It felt good somehow. Landrak never saw himself as heroic - merely biomechanical. He accepted his missions and carried them out as diligently and efficiently as possible. His entire squadron saved Arc, but each ally knew modesty. Arc was their home and protecting her was their duty from birth.Omtazic stood up, grinning at Seraph Squadron. He returned to the guise of Carzandus and walked toward them. "My dreams averted war, in the end. It's a shame this world will never know the extent of my heroism."Nerozak had heard enough. He stormed up to Omtazic, charging a beam of wicked energies in his hands. It was more than capable of turning the Kyllidahk into a pile of metal dust, but Nerozak paused as he focused on his target. There he was, grinning happily to himself. Omtazic truly believed he was a hero. Nerozak probed what Omtazic called a mind and knew the machine was not deluding itself. At this, Nerozak decided against his destructive option and let the power die away."It's too much to assume you had a change of heart, isn't it?" Omtazic wondered. "I could feel your presence in my head - an action you never dared in the past.""I trusted you in the past," Nerozak looked away from Omtazic bitterly. "If you cannot see the villainy in what you've done, then you never will. They say machines can learn, but the capacity is filled with visuals and words. The meaning behind what you see and hear will never equate to the pure sight and sound. So go ahead...take pride in your actions, because no one on this airship is able to change your opinion of yourself.""I have nothing left but my opinions," Omtazic sighed."You have your free will," Landrak replied. "It meant little to Domilius, but it is a gift nonetheless.""And what is so important about that?" Omtazic asked angrily. "The Axiom already bends to my will.""It means all the importance in the world," Landrak said firmly. "The greatest axiom in life is that we always have a choice, and that our choice views of the world cannot divide everything into simple black and white. Biomechs are complex and complicated, not always after a collective goal like Kyllidahk. Nerozak was right to say our society evolved today, because we have learned to act in harmony. We are united by a dream, like your brethren. Now it's your turn to evolve - from stagnant machine to something more. Look upon the faces of your subjects and see the spirit inside, not just the body they inhabit."Omtazic considered what Landrak was saying and studied a few of the biomechs far below. "They inherited Arc...not me and my kind. This is their home." He spoke as if being controlled by another force entirely.

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#23 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 29 2011 - 10:45 AM

39: This Life

Nerozak walked through the outskirts of what would eventually become Reprieve, built over the ruins of Respite. Two months had passed since the Aether Network was reset and Nerozak was encouraged by the biomechs' spirit to rebuild their broken world. Reaching his destination, Nerozak uncomfortably gave Landrak and Talise a sad smile. They were located in a nearly completed cemetery, standing before a memorial dedicated to Ceyvim and Merolsy."Hello, Nerozak," Landrak greeted, trying to be friendly."Good afternoon," Nerozak replied, staring down at the grave."It's okay," Talise told him, giving Nerozak a smile. "My parents are together again.""Of course," Nerozak nodded. "Ceyvim was a soldier at heart, and I believe he loved Arc. It was clear he loved you, Talise. Maybe he was the lucky one.""What do you mean?" Landrak wondered."I mean that you two will be old and tired some day, but Ceyvim died as a hero...a soldier redeemed, practically passing in the line of active duty.""We can accept aging," Landrak replied. "My friends and I have had enough of the Axiom military.""What are they doing now?" Nerozak asked, motioning for Landrak and Talise to follow him."I know Selpiar returned to Radiance to become a surgeon, returning to a medic's work in a sense. Aurozi is on Radiance as well, working with reactor core maintenance in the cities," Landrak explained."Verton's last letter mentioned his work on Vault to accommodate a new biomech colony outside the ruins of Amtra's palace," Talise recalled. "And Endico returned home to Sincerity, living peacefully and happily near the Iron Sea.""And what about the two of you?" Nerozak asked. "Where are you going?""We're staying here, in Reprieve. Talise likes the scenery of Wake, and after you convinced Omtazic to open all of Arc to biomechanical travel, I couldn't wait to leave Radiance.""It was the least I could do," Nerozak grinned. "Your contribution was far greater than mine though. Not necessarily enduring your Vapseron path, but retaining your belief in others.""I could never lose hope in biomechs," Landrak smiled. "Even after years at war...I knew we would recover. Arc is going to be okay.""Thanks to you," Nerozak smiled. "It takes someone exceptionally smart and tactical to lead their friends through the trials set before your squadron. An existence like yours is more rare in this universe than you might think, Landrak. Take that for what it's worth.""Thank you, Nerozak," Landrak replied, shaking his hand."Not to ruin a moment of optimism, but you should hold on to your sense of realism in this new Arc," Nerozak added. "This planet is not a utopia, and Omtazic is not perfect.""We know," Talise reassured him. "Agents of the Phantom Faction are still out there - plotting to overthrow Carzandus in some way. With the Guards and Sentinels more united now, though, they stand a better chance at handling the leaderless renegades.""Very true," Nerozak agreed. "I suppose my point was that expecting a world full of biomechs to entirely agree on one idea of harmony is foolishness. The objective is to see that society receives more benefits than detriments from everyone's actions."Nerozak mused on his words for a moment, finally smiling. "My brother would be proud. There is no light without darkness. And there is no single pattern to succeeding in this life."

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#24 Offline Cederak

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Posted Nov 30 2011 - 10:02 PM

40: Symmetric

It was a sunny afternoon in Prime, as busy as any other day. Landrak was on his way to the transcontinental station after a pleasant visit with Aurozi. Having already taken trips to meet with Selpiar and Endico, Landrak was confident that his friends would live out happy lives under the watch of the Axiom Union. As he continued down the sidewalk, Landrak carelessly glanced off to his left. A large white sign with multicolor lettering read "Coming Soon: Nova Spire." Beneath the words was the distinct Axiom Union symbol Landrak would remember for the rest of his life. He looked further left and widened his eyes for a second. Landrak had somehow failed to notice a reporter interviewing Sovereign Carzandus near the metal entryway to a building that had yet to exist. Carzandus was standing beneath the empty arch, arms folded as he waited for another topic."What is the scope of involvement you will have with the reconstruction of Arc's cities?"Carzandus grinned. "Given the losses we have sustained, the Axiom military has taken a very personal interest in seeing each city center rebuilt to a new height of glory. Just as my top advisors took pride in the beauty of Starlight Tower, it is my hope that each area we plan to rebuild will leave biomechs awestruck. We want to give them the sensation of pride and astonishment when they visit a city center - truly breathing new life into these zones.""Has your company reached an estimated deadline as to when this project will be complete?"Carzandus retained his smile while releasing a faint sigh. Glancing off to the left, the deceptive Kyllidahk stopped his eyes on Landrak for a moment. They both knew they had the undivided attention of the other, but there was nothing to be said now. Landrak's expression of shock slowly turned to disgust - glaring into Omtazic's visual receptors before continuing on his way down the street. Carzandus' smile quickly faded, replaced by dejection.The reporter took notice of Carzandus' sudden unhappiness and gave him a curious look. "Are you all right?"Omtazic held his focus on where Landrak had glared at him, finally muttering an emotionless response. "The architects are still at an outline stage regarding much of the damaged centers in Prime, Dawn, Interval, Verve, and Sincerity. Beyond reestablishing foundations and improving the design of Starlight Tower, it's far too early to speculate a completion date."The reporter casually took down a few notes. "I see..."Carzandus quietly took a few steps past the archway and toward the area where Nova Spire would one day stand. The reporter at his side looked on as well, perplexed to see what he hoped to learn from studying empty air. Omtazic was incapable of viewing the emptiness - his mind was captivated by the dream Exogen denied him of, now reduced to a memory. Carzandus' hollow smile slowly returned and he considered the extent of his recent losses for a moment. He was alone on Arc now, sharing loneliness with a world of biomechs who felt only revulsion toward his true form. Worse than the feared and misunderstood Nerozak, Omtazic was the last of a hated design forced to suffer the needs of his antagonists. In the back of his mind, he could only hope Exogen would reconsider allowing the last Kyllidahk to return home.Landrak kept a steady pace as he distanced himself from Omtazic and Starlight Tower. In the coming months, he would make fewer visits to Prime, and eventually detach himself from Radiance altogether. The Axiom Union was a flicker of the past that meant nothing to Landrak now. The whole of Arc was at his fingertips. He smiled along every step that day, taking in the world he had grown so accustomed to. Just above his sight, a pitch black trail of aether spiraled up through the atmosphere and twinkled in the sunlight before vanishing entirely. The Arbiter of the Cosmos had a promise to keep to his love.

A C T . V . C O N C L U D E D.

The Great Beings did not leave us orphans on the universe's doorstep. We are all intelligent races that must act on our own - pay the consequences of our self-destructive actions. Each day we rise, we have an opening to redeem ourselves. We never asked to be created, but regardless, we have a duty to one another to live in accord. If we don't owe this to our creators, we owe it to ourselves at least.-Cederak (Excerpt from The Eternal Void, Section 1: Absolution Created)

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