30 Minutes Later
“Where is he?”
Davídrius slammed to a stop immediately after slashing two Bleeder gang members and looked around, scowling, before whipping around and dashing off again, ignoring the chaos and carnage trailing behind him.
“Where is he?!”
He dove underneath a fireball and then leaped up just in time to rebound off of a Bleeder artillery piece, knocking it over and flattening its two operators in the process. The Velocitechnic then leaped on top of the machine and launched his rapiers at two other Bleeders before glancing around irately.
“He’s not fucking here!!”
“What is it?!”
Kaoné stumbled backwards, bewildered by Davídrius’s furious outburst. Immediately Siyuakén jumped over and stepped in between the two of them. “Calm down!” she demanded as she stared up at the Velocitechnic. “Keep this up and you’ll go berserk!”
“Go berserk… tch,” he snarled. “If going berserk is what it takes to draw Strén out and murder his ass, then I’ll do it!”
Siyuakén narrowed her eyes, her fingers beginning to spark — but before she could offer a response to Davídrius’s claim, a quiet and horrified sob caught all of their attention. Snapping his eyes down to the source, the Velocitechnic slapped his Sword Boxes to reel in his rapiers, caught both by their hilts, and then jumped down to the injured Bleeder before holding one of the rapiers to his neck. “Where. Is. Strén?”
“He— he— he w-went b-b-back to the, to the base!” the Bleeder squeaked.
“Why the hell did he do that?”
“I— I don’t know! I-I-I’m just a soldier!”
“Soldier? Ha!” Davídrius drove one of his rapiers into the injured man’s thigh, ignoring his pained yelp. “You’re a gang member! You ain’t even close to the level of a soldier—!”
He glared back at Kaoné, who was looking on in distress. His focus then shifted over to Siyuakén, who had crossed her arms as she watched with disapproval. “Tch…!” He growled before yanking his rapier out and stepping back. Kaoné immediately rushed forward to tend to the injured man’s wounds; Davídrius watched her out the corner of his eye, scowling deeply, before suddenly slamming his rapiers back into his Sword Boxes and turning his back on the scene. “…We’re goin’ after him.”
“You want to attack their base?” Siyuakén asked incredulously.
“It’s one thing to attack a bunch of soldiers in open desert, but to go after them in their own base—!”
“Strén’s there,” Davídrius growled. “I already told you — I’ll do whatever it takes to kill that bastard.”
“I’ll give you ten minutes to bring around the vehicle y’all came with. If you’re not at the compound exit within ten minutes, then I’ll assume y’all don’t want to come and leave on my own.” He then dashed off without waiting for a response from either Kaoné or Siyuakén.
“…We shouldn’t go,” Kaoné whimpered, “he’s too dangerous…”
“…Which is exactly why we should go,” Siyuakén muttered, glancing around at the devastation the Velocitechnic had caused on the desert plain during his fury-fueled search for Strén. She then turned toward the compound and began jogging toward it, gesturing for Kaoné to follow. “Given all this, someone has to look out for him…”
30 Minutes Later
“This is their base?” Kevérin responded incredulously, glancing between the two short buildings poking out of the sand.
“Aye.” Davídrius nodded as he jumped out of the vehicle. “What you’re lookin’ at are entrances. The actual base is all underground.”
“Underground? In sand—?”
“Strén’s a Geotechnic, sand don’t mean shit to him.” The Velocitechnic glanced back as Kevérin and Siyuakén jumped out of the vehicle as well. He then looked up at Kaoné. “You comin’?”
“I’ll… I’ll just stay here and… keep a look out,” she answered meekly.
“…Sure thing.” Davídrius turned back to the buildings and approached one of them. Before moving to open the door, he turned back to address Kevérin and Siyuakén. “The base ain’t that advanced. There shouldn’t be any alarms, not any base-wide ones at least. Not the last time I checked.”
“Well now that you said it there’s definitely going to be base-wide alarms,” Kevérin deadpanned.
“Doesn’t change what we came here to do,” Davídrius replied, “we go in, find Strén, and kill the bastard. Even if there’s alarms we shouldn’t have trouble, since we’re Chaotics. I made sure to destroy any Negation Tech they had the last time I was here, too.”
“You’ve attacked the base before? Solo?!”
“I was bein’ stealthy then,” he stated, and then immediately slashed through the door with his sabers, shattering one of the blades in the process. He kicked the door down and discarded the broken saber before finishing, “this time, we’re takin’ ‘em head-on. No quarter… no mercy.” He then dashed through the door, leaving the Pyro and Electrotechnic to follow in his wake. They glanced at each other warily before entering themselves and jumping down the stairwell Davídrius had broken through — only to find themselves trapped between six autoturrets.
“What the—!?” Siyuakén scowled as she quickly dispatched the turrets with a blast of lightning. “He said the base wasn’t advanced!”
“Where’d he even go?” Kevérin glanced around.
“Probably just ran past…” Siyuakén commented, “you saw his saber break against the door. He’s not equipped to fight synthetic targets.”
“But we are,” Kevérin added. “…At least it’ll be easier fighting robots instead of people.”
“Yeah…” Siyuakén sighed uneasily. “Let’s just… let’s get going.”
Davídrius rammed into a gang-member head-long, bowling her over and toppling the other two Bleeders standing in the hallway. The Velocitechnic then stabbed each of them in the legs before jumping into cover to evade machine-gun fire from further down the hall. After taking a quick breath he drew his remaining saber and charged out into the line of fire, easily deflecting each and every bullet with the sword. Before he could even progress ten meters, however, the blade broke; he immediately threw himself to the side and then dashed forward, generating a sonic boom that reached the machine gunners shortly after he had smashed through their barricade and brought the gun toppling down on top of them. He paused for a moment, stunned from the impact, but recovered quickly and began storming down the now resistance-less hallway as he hastily checked each adjacent room.
“Tch,” he grunted as he grasped his aching right shoulder. “Where is that bastard…” he muttered through gritted teeth as he burst into another room. Seeing that it was empty, he turned around, scowling.
Davídrius thrust himself to the side, just in time to avoid a Chaos Energy projectile as it slammed into the doorway and obliterated the entire wall. Drawing his rapiers, the Velocitechnic leaped through the resultant debris cloud and dashed toward the source of the attack call, blindly thrusting his blades forward — only for them to be deflected. As soon as he felt the contact he threw himself to the ground, waiting a moment for the debris to clear before leaping back up into a defensive stance.
“Woooow, you’re pretty good~!”
Davídrius narrowed his eyes as a short woman stepped out of the debris cloud. Between her short brown hair and simple off-white dress, nothing about her stood out — aside from the fact that she had just used a Chaos attack. “…Who are you?” the Velocitechnic questioned warily.
“Aw, you should know that,” the woman responded, her tone filled with disappointment. “I’m a Chaostechnic!”
“I meant your name.”
“Ooooh~? You’ve never heard of me before?”
“I’ve never met a Chaostechnic before. If you don’t tell me who you are, I’ll just have to knock you out.”
“How cute, thinking you can take me on!”
“I may’ve never fought a Chaostechnic before, but I know how your attacks work. I only have to hit you before you can finish callin’ ‘em.”
“Can you really do that though~?”
“Tch…” Davídrius scowled, irritated by the woman’s light-hearted manner of speaking. “I’m a Velocitechnic. The type of Chaotic best suited for taking on your kind.”
“That’s what you think~.”
The Velocitechnic responded with silence as he quickly considered his options. He wasn’t fooled by her playful demeanor; she was a member of the Bleeders, after all. And on top of that, she was a Chaostechnic — one of the most powerful types of Chaotics. All Chaotics use Chaos Energy as a medium to facilitate their supernatural abilities, but only Chaostechnics interact with Chaos Energy directly, freely using and shaping it to their will. Doing so requires the use of verbal keywords, unlike other Chaotic types, so Chaostechnics are generally slow to attack and highly predictable. But when they do attack, they can cause mass devastation with relative ease, and can pierce through even the most durable of defenses.
Davídrius had never faced a Chaostechnic in battle before, but he at least knew that his best strategy was to attack his opponent before she could finish declaring any keywords — and his super speed was uniquely suited to accomplish just that. He adjusted his stance to prepare for combat and then leaped forward, but she reacted in the same split-second he used to change his posture.
A burst of Chaos Energy behind Davídrius threw him forward. The woman quickly called “Chaos Blade” and thrust the newly-created sword of Chaos Energy toward the off-balance Velocitechnic, but he managed to parry the blade away from his stomach. He then allowed himself to drop to the ground before swinging his feet around in an arc, knocking the Chaostechnic off of hers. Immediately he jumped up and moved to stab her but she reacted quickly enough to roll over and call out “Chaos Strike!” This being his first encounter with a Chaostechnic, Davídrius had no way of preparing himself against the incoming bolt of Chaos Energy that stunned him and threw him backwards. As he tumbled along the ground, the woman pulled herself back to a standing stance before muttering “Chaos Strike” several more times in quick succession. With the attack name muttered instead of outright called, the resulting bolts were less powerful, but they were still fast enough to keep Davídrius on his toes and unable to approach without harm.
“Oooh, you’re actually pretty bad for a Velocitechnic,” the woman commented, “I wonder, how did Strén ever have trouble with you…”
Davídrius didn’t reply. Instead, he dashed forward at supersonic speeds, reaching the Chaostechnic and roundhouse-kicking her in the stomach before she could even perceive his movements. The force of the kick knocked her all the way down the hallway and into the far wall; the Velocitechnic immediately blasted off after her, prepared to run her through with his rapiers.
“Chaos Arrow! Chaos Arrow!!”
Davídrius dodged to the left to avoid the first arrow of Chaos Energy, and ducked to avoid the second. He then gasped as something pierced his right arm; the sudden pain caused him to lose focus and stumble into the wall, his rapiers dragging behind him as he clutched his arm.
“That was too easy~!”
“How did you survive that…?!” The Velocitechnic turned to glare at the woman standing some distance away. “What did you do?!”
“Hmm, you really have never fought a Chaostechnic before, have you?” she responded, “you’re right that Velocitechnics are the best Chaotics to take us down, but, wow, you’re really bad at this. You could’ve had me once, if you had used your swords instead of kicking me. But you didn’t! So now I’m here, and I’ve won~!”
“Not… yet!” Davídrius declared, crouching before taking off again. He almost immediately stumbled over again, though, as a gash opened up across his chest right as he passed by the woman. “Guaghh—!” he spluttered, quickly attempting to stand up as he turned around to face the Chaostechnic — who was once again wielding a sword of Chaos Energy. He scowled. “When did you—?”
“You don’t have to hear me call the attack for it to work,” the woman responded, grinning. She then lunged for the Velocitechnic who reflexively moved to block her attack only to misjudge his remaining strength, stumble over, and drop his rapier on the floor. He quickly scrambled back to his feet and backed away, not even bothering to reel in his blades as they dragged along the ground in front of him.
Damn it, he thought angrily, to be brought down like this…! He took a deep breath and finally reeled in his rapiers, catching each by the hilt.
“You can still fight?” The Chaostechnic cocked her head inquisitively. “You’re all over the place! First I thought you were good, then I thought you were bad. Looks like I was wrong again, you’re pretty persistent! Oh well. Time to stop playing around~!”
What’s she… shit. Davídrius squinted as his vision blurred momentarily. Damn. Need to… take her out… in one go. Just one dash! C’mon, you can do this—!
Here we go!
Both combatants were interrupted as the wall to their side spontaneously blasted inward, followed by a gigantic plume of fire. Davídrius immediately reversed his dash to retreat from the heat but soon collapsed from fatigue. He glanced toward the Chaostechnic just in time to see Siyuakén vault over the metal scrap and begin vigorously attacking the woman as Kevérin rushed to help the Velocitechnic.
“Wha…at?” Davídrius muttered in confusion, watching Siyuakén chase the unknown woman down the hallway and around a corner.
“That was us saving your ass,” Kevérin declared as he looked Davídrius’s injured body up and down. “And not a moment too late, too. You really took a beating!”
The Velocitechnic growled. “Don’t mock me—!”
“Get over yourself!” the Pyrotechnic snapped. When Davídrius responded with a dumbfounded look, Kevérin continued, “look, you’re not the hotshot you seem to think you are. You’re just one guy, with no actual training. I watched you ‘fight’ back on the desert and it’s pretty clear that no one taught you how to use a sword. On top of that, those Sword Boxes of yours really hamper your ability to move. Your entire move set involves dashing at people and cutting them with your swords on the way past. You can’t even do the typical Velocitechnic acrobatics with those things on. I guess this base was actually kinda conductive to your straight-forward attacks, but it’s no wonder you had trouble trying to fight another Chaotic in these hallways. You can’t even alter the terrain!”
“…Tch.” Davídrius scowled, and then smirked despite himself. “…I don’t know which is worse, that you pissed me off, or that you proved my opinion of you wrong. You actually ain’t half bad.”
“I told you, we aren’t rookies.”
“I guess I have to give ya that much…” the Velocitechnic replied, and then began getting back to his feet. “Good thing y’all came along. Now, time to find Strén…”
“Whoa whoa whoa, hold it!” Kevérin quickly stepped in front of Davídrius, blocking the way further down the hallway. “You aren’t going anywhere except back outside.”
Davídrius glowered at Kevérin. “…If you take that back right now, I’ll pretend you never said it.”
“You can’t be serious. With your body like that you’ll just get yourself killed! Look — you’re bleeding all over the place!”
The Velocitechnic glanced down at his lacerated torso, and then at his right arm, which he realized he had been clutching tightly with his left hand. Sure enough, in both locations the white under cloth had been turned a damp red – furthermore, part of the left side of his Sword Box harness had been sliced, leaving the left box to hang precariously from his belt alone. “O… oh…” he muttered, dumbfounded.
“Damn, you’re — tch. Hold out your arm.”
“At this rate you’ll bleed to death if you don’t do something about the gashes. If you let me cauterize them they shouldn’t be an issue so long as you get actual medical help within the next few hours.”
“…You can do that?”
“I’m a Pyrotechnic, of course I can do that. …Though, only under one condition.”
Davídrius sighed irately. “You want me to go back.”
Kevérin nodded. “If you try to fight anyone as you are now, it’d just be suicide. There’s no way you’d even be able to beat that Strén guy, especially not when he’s waiting for you.”
The Velocitechnic looked down and scowled again. “Tch… fucking… damn it!” He then looked back to Kevérin. “Alright, fine. I’ll go back, but only if you can promise me something—”
“Siyuakén and I will take care of Strén. I give our word as the Hopeless Maniacs!”
“Keh, you can bet your ass y’all are hopeless.”
“…Uh, that’s not what I meant—”
“Sure it’s not. Now fix my damn wounds already!”
“Chaos Strike! Chaos Arrow!”
Siyuakén easily absorbed the Strike attack, taking advantage of its similarity to electricity to simply redirect the Chaos Energy back at the incoming Arrow, thus diverting the second attack. She continued chasing after the Chaostechnic, who had been attempting to shake Siyuakén off for the past five minutes as they weaved through hallways and down stairwells. Siyuakén had no idea exactly how far into the base she was, but as she rounded another corner and then jumped down another stairwell, she reckoned that she was at least seven levels below ground. This won’t be good if they decide to bring everything down on top of us… she thought warily, the desert sand will fill in any holes faster than we could possibly hope to escape…
She then threw herself to the side to evade a Mach-speed Chaos Energy projectile. Her forward momentum lost, she quickly thrust her arm out and fired her grappling hook, latching it into the wall at the far end of the hallway. She then rapidly reeled in the cord, yanking her forward and giving her a boost to continue chasing after the unknown woman. Unfortunately, the Chaostechnic was already out of sight around the next corner; scowling, Siyuakén pounded the metal walls with her palm and let loose a massive electric pulse that rushed through the entire hallway. Hoping to have at least stunned the woman, Siyuakén rounded the next corner with haste, ready to lay on the full-powered attacks—
—only to drop into a gigantic pit.
“What?!” she exclaimed, but wasted little time reacting. She fired both of her grappling hooks at opposite walls, but one of them failed to pierce the metal; as a result she soon found herself slamming painfully into the side of the metal pit. Ooooh… at least I’m not falling anymore…
Immediately Siyuakén jumped away from the wall, reeling in her grappling hook and then firing the other at a lower spot in the wall just fast enough to evade the Chaos Energy projectile. Upon realizing just how close to the floor she was, she deftly swung down and then released the hooks, sailing through the air until she landed on the ground below with a roll. As soon as she slowed down she leaped up into a standing position and looked around warily. She was now standing in a large circular room with flooring and walls covered by stone, but constructed of metal. The ceiling, in which there was a hole — the hole she had fallen though — was built of metal as well, and also partially covered by stone. The walls were mostly homogeneous except for two doors across the room from each other; Siyuakén would have quickly made her way toward one of the doors if a certain duo weren’t standing in her way.
“Heheheh… puahahahahah! You done well, Ind!” Strén guffawed. “Takin’ out that brat and leadin’ ‘is new buddies into the Destruction Room!”
“The what?…” Siyuakén scowled, backing into a defensive stance as she glanced between Strén and the Chaostechnic, whose name appeared to be Ind.
“Eh, well, it really wasn’t all that hard.” Ind shrugged casually. “He wasn’t nearly as hard to deal with as you said he would be.”
“Keheheh,” Strén chuckled. “Thas’ mah girl.” He then turned to address Siyuakén directly as he slammed his fists together in murderous glee. “You’ll regret the day you decided to try an’ fight the Bleeders!”
“Oh really…?” The Electrotechnic smirked despite her poor odds. “I don’t think you know what you’re getting yourself into. Well, it probably won’t be a bad thing for one of Hero Machina’s first accomplishments to be taking down dangerous gang leaders…”
Strén and Ind glanced at each other in amusement. “What’re you talkin’ about?” The large man snorted. “Ha! You think you actually got a chance?”
“I guess we’ll have to see,” Siyuakén retorted as her hands and arms began sparking dangerously. “Come at me!!”