“Come at me!!”
Strén wasted no time at all — as soon as the words left Siyuakén’s mouth he pounded the ground with his fists, shattering the rock and throwing up a thick debris cloud. Siyuakén immediately launched two lightning bolts into the debris cloud but was caught off-guard as Ind leaped out at her, a Chaos Sword in each hand. The Electrotechnic quickly blocked the incoming sword slashes by crossing her arms in front of her, allowing her swinging gear to absorb the attacks; by the time Ind was bringing her hand down for another slice Siyuakén had fired a grappling hook and was rocketing through the air to the left. Just as she reeled in the line, the stone beneath her exploded upwards, launching her into the air where her forward momentum slammed her into the wall. Stunned, she fell for half a second before managing to recover just in time to knock away an incoming block of rock and then catch herself on the ground below, where she immediately dived to the right as the stone beneath her exploded again.
Of course I’d be fighting a Geotechnic in a rock arena… Siyuakén scowled as she dodged several Chaos attacks from Ind. She glanced at the upper half of the room momentarily before using her grappling hooks to snag and deflect incoming rocks. Looks like there’s metal behind all the rock. If I can just get to that—?!
Her thoughts were interrupted as Strén sprang forward, dashing toward the Electrotechnic at surprising speeds. As he charged he raised several rocks into the air and then pounded them with his fists, sending them rocketing toward Siyuakén and forcing her to constantly evade until he was nearly on top of her. Without breaking his charge he swept his fists downward in a bid to smash Siyuakén’s skull — and then stumbled over as his muscles contracted involuntarily. “What?!” he growled, realizing that he had just been shocked.
“Ha—!” Siyuakén began to taunt, but was forced to shut up as several arrows of Chaos Energy flew in her direction. She flipped out of the way before launching a grappling hook toward the upper wall and using it to swing away. She then reeled in the hook and launched the other at the wall across the room, using her momentum to swing around in a half circle before reeling in that hook and re-firing the first hook at the far wall again. By the time she swung back around to her initial position she had picked up significant speed and used it to launch a flying kick at Ind, who took it straight to the face — but not without slashing Siyuakén’s leg with her Chaos Sword. Both women collapsed to the ground in pain, but the Electrotechnic was forced to ignore her wound and throw herself to the right as Strén’s fist smashed into her former location. She quickly scrambled back to her feet and clumsily retreated, attempting to put distance between herself and Strén as the two Chaotics traded lightning strikes and boulders.
Noticing that the Geotechnic had recovered surprisingly quickly from her stunning electric attack, Siyuakén elected for a slight change in tactics. Just as Strén launched another rock her way, she dived to the left and then used her good leg to anchor herself to the ground as she snagged the rock with a grappling hook and swung it around herself, using her swinging gear as a tether. When the boulder had arced around her she prepared to release it, sling-shotting it at Strén — only for the stone to suddenly change directions and rocket straight back toward her, nailing her in the stomach and smashing her into the wall behind her.
Strén guffawed as the Electrotechnic collapsed. “Puahahahahahah!! Didja really think that’d work? You ain’t the first tree hopper I’ve crushed to a pulp!” He stepped closer as he surrounded Siyuakén’s wrists and ankles with stone and lifted her into the air. Before she was too high off the ground, however, she applied a massive electric shock to herself, shattering her rocky bounds and allowing herself to drop to the floor. She stumbled as she attempted to stand back up, but she managed nonetheless and turned to glare at Strén.
“You’re not bad,” Ind remarked, “it’s really obvious that you’ve never been in actual combat though! Especially not against Chaotics.”
“Ind, we ain’t here ta teach the enemy how ta fight,” Strén reprimanded the Chaostechnic, and then grinned as he turned back toward Siyuakén. “We ain’t here ta play fair — we’re here ta have fun!”
“What?!” the Electrotechnic exclaimed as she was surrounded by a rapidly rising circle of stone. In a bid to remain free she fired a grappling hook upwards and reeled it in, quickly raising her into the air past the rising stone barriers — just in time to see a large stone slab flying her way. Before it hit her, though, a blast of fire half-melted it and slammed it downward, where it splattered on the ground and forced both Bleeders to dive backwards in order to not be burned.
“Looks like I got here just in time!”
Siyuakén sighed in relief as she hung in the air next to Kevérin, who had landed on the rock pillar. “What took you so long?”
“Davídrius was being a big baby about closing his wounds,” Kevérin replied, and then looked down at the two Bleeders. “So, what do we have? A Geotechnic and… a Chaostechnic, right?”
“Yeah. The Geotechnic’s been doing most of the fighting though. I’m not sure what types the woman is, I’ve only seen her use Directed- and Weapon-type attacks.”
“Well then, time to find out!” Kevérin smirked. “Time to show them why you don’t mess with—”
“Don’t,” Siyuakén interrupted warningly.
“…What?” the Pyrotechnic responded innocently, “I was going to say Hero Machina.”
“Sure you were.”
“Oh, stop being ridiculous—!?” Kevérin suddenly fell off of the pillar as it spontaneously disintegrated. He quickly righted himself with several fire blasts before lowering himself to ground level with a jet stream of combustion.
“Oooh, a Pyrotechnic!” Ind exclaimed, “I don’t think I’ve fought a Pyrotechnic before! This’ll be fun~!”
“It’s only one of the most common Chaotic types…” Kevérin commented, “but if you’ve never fought one before, allow me to show you why we’re so dangerous!” As soon as the words left his mouth a column of fire erupted out around him, turning all of the stone within two meters to molten rock.
“Hehehehehe~!” Ind giggled in response, “maybe it’s time I started being serious, then!”
“Tch!” Kevérin immediately launched several fireballs at the Chaostechnic before dodging a stray stone flying through the air towards him. He threw a wave of fire toward Strén before turning back toward Ind — just in time for Siyuakén to land on the ground to his side.
“You take care of Strén,” she ordered, “I’ll deal with her!”
“There you go, ordering me around again!” Kevérin scowled. “I’m the CO here—!?”
“Quit your talkin’ an’ focus on the battle, whelp!” Strén demanded as he launched the Pyrotechnic into the air with a rock slab. Kevérin immediately flipped himself around midair and slammed his fist into the slab, causing a blast of fire at the moment of impact that shattered the stone and rained molten debris down on Strén, who quickly shielded himself with more stone. Kevérin then propelled himself downward, slamming into Strén’s cover with a fire-enveloped fist just as the Bleeder Chaotic punched the cover with great force, reversing the Pyrotechnics’s course and sending him flying into the far wall. Kevérin rapidly heated the wall as he approached, making it just soft enough so that he wasn’t stunned when he hit it. He then jumped away from the wall and blasted it, incinerating the stone that had been covering it before turning back toward Strén just in time to deflect a hail of rocks.
Across the room, Siyuakén glanced over at Kevérin’s actions just long enough to lose her advantage on Ind. The Chaostechnic ducked away from the Electrotechnic and then dove to the side, shouting, “Chaos Impact!” A second later, a blunt force impacted Siyuakén’s stomach and knocked her over, giving Ind leeway to begin pelting her with Chaos Strike and Arrow attacks. The Electrotechnic quickly recovered and rolled over to evade the attacks, doing so just in time to evade a Chaos Arrow — but not in time to evade a Chaos Strike. Gritting her teeth in pain, she reflexively fired a grappling hook at Ind; the Chaostechnic side-stepped the hook, but the moment it passed her Siyuakén forced an enormous amount of electricity down the cord, enough to cause the electricity to arc to Ind and seriously burn her left arm. Distracted by the pain, the Chaostechnic failed to notice Siyuakén preparing to unleash a particularly painful shock — until the stone beneath the Electrotechnic’s feet suddenly launched her into the air. Startled, Siyuakén barely had time to stabilize herself and jump backward to avoid being crushed under Strén’s fist.
“Hey, get back here!” Kevérin demanded, rocketing forward and attempting to slam a flame-enveloped fist into the Geotechnic’s back, only to miss and go flying past. Strén reached over and grabbed the Pyrotechnic by the back of his shirt, hoisting him into the air and then throwing him at Siyuakén. The two Chaotics collided and tumbled to the ground as Ind stepped forward gleefully.
The ground underneath Kevérin and Siyuakén erupted upward, tossing the two of them aside and spewing forth metal and rocky debris. They were little able to shield themselves as they scrambled away from the debris and stood opposite the room from the Bleeders.
“…They’re playing with us.” Kevérin scowled. “There’s no reason she couldn’t have just used Explosion on us instead of the ground.”
“Then we should end this now,” Siyuakén declared. “…I have an idea—” she was interrupted as a stone brushed by her head, followed closely by three Chaos Arrows. “Just, try to clear out a lot of the stone in the middle! Expose the metal floor!”
“What? Why—?” Kevérin attempted to ask but was forced to evade a Chaos Strike. He then began pushing back with several flame blasts, haphazardly sweeping the room with fire while being careful to not hit Siyuakén. Despite this, Strén managed to close the distance between the two and began assaulting the Pyrotechnic with a seemingly unending barrage of stone, forcing Kevérin to focus his attacks and leave Ind to Siyuakén once more.
This time, the Electrotechnic offered Ind no quarter. The moment she had a chance, she fired off several lightning bolts, nailing the Chaostechnic in the back and arm. Yelping in pain, Ind quickly whirled around and began launching attacks of her own, most of which Siyuakén deflected with her grappling hooks. The Electrotechnic then reeled in the hooks and fired one at the ceiling before reeling in the cord, drawing her closer to the ceiling in a wide swinging arc that swept past Ind. The Chaostechnic muttered “Chaos Dual Blades” and brandished the resulting weapons in her hands, preparing to slash at Siyuakén when she flew past — however, the Electrotechnic was prepared. She released the grappling hook as she held a hand toward Ind and then produced an electric arc to the woman’s Chaos Swords. The weapons didn’t conduct the shock to Ind’s body, but it did produce sufficient force to knock her over sideways and require Strén to momentarily break his offense against Kevérin to raise the stone around Ind and protect her from further electric assault.
The lull allowed the Pyrotechnic to push forward, assailing Strén with fire from nearly all directions until the Bleeder eventually just reached over and grabbed Kevérin by his collar. With a short yelp, the Pyrotechnic was hoisted into the air and then thrown up and over Strén’s shoulder, who quickly turned around and began firing stones at Kevérin with similar rapidity to a machine gun. Kevérin quickly produced a shield of fire to incinerate the incoming stones before they could hit him — and then realized that he was almost directly over the center of the floor. Remembering Siyuakén’s suggestion, he enveloped both of his fists in flame, superheated them, and then propelled himself downward with a fire blast, slamming both of his fists into the ground as he landed. The impact created a great explosion of fire that blew Strén away, incinerated the rock for meters around, and heated the metal underneath to red-hot temperatures. Kevérin quickly began siphoning the excess heat out of the metal and using it to fuel his continued fire barrage against Strén until he was certain that the metal had returned to room temperature. “Siyuakén!”
“On it—!” she started, but a Chaos Arrow flying by her face interrupted her response. She ducked, whirled around, and launched a lightning blast in Ind’s direction just in time to deflect the next two Arrows headed her way. The Electrotechnic then fired her grappling hooks at the far wall and reeled herself in just in time to evade a Chaos Explosion. Then she fired her other grappling hook at the far ceiling, releasing the first hook and swinging back to the center of the room before releasing the second hook and landing in the center with a roll. As she fired her grappling hook at the ceiling again, she shouted to Kevérin, “get in the air!!”
“What? Uh, okay!” the Pyrotechnic uneasily responded, ducking away from Strén’s fist and jumping into the air, where he hovered via continued combustion underfoot. He used this method to fly halfway up the room before glancing down at Siyuakén, who had just crouched to place her hand on the floor — and was about to be attacked simultaneously by Ind and Strén. Scowling, Kevérin prepared to draw the Bleeders’ attention away — and then his hair began to stand on end. “What—?”
The entire room suddenly flashed brilliantly as a deafening shock and shattering sound reverberated through the walls. All of the stone in the room exploded away from the walls and floor as both Ind and Strén suffered immense electric shocks and crumpled to the floor, becoming half-buried with stone debris as the rocks began raining back down to the ground.
“Ho… ly… shit…” Kevérin whistled in admiration as he gradually lowered himself to the floor beside Siyuakén. “What did you do?”
“I… I forced a… a whole lot of current… through the walls… and floor…” the Electrotechnic panted.
“’A whole lot’? You probably could’ve powered a small town for two hours with what you just did—! Siyuakén?!” Kevérin exclaimed as she collapsed to the floor as well. He quickly crouched next to her and took her pulse. “…She’s still alive. Just unconscious. Phew…” He stood up again and surveyed the damage to the room. Damn… he thought to himself, …I had no idea she could do this. Sure, she knocked herself out, but, wow. I really need to step up my game. He then realized the consequences of being the only person still conscious in the room. Damn it. Now I have to carry her ass all the way back. Hmph… guess I’ll go check whether or not the Bleeders are dead, first… he moved on to perform the tasks, grumbling the entire time.
3 Days Later
“Well… looks like y’all are better than I thought.”
“I told you we weren’t rookies,” Kevérin replied confidently.
“Keh, well, I see that now.” Davídrius smirked. “Takin’ on both Strén and that woman, and takin’ ‘em both out… I’ll admit, in hindsight, I’m not sure I could’ve done it.”
“You’re not sure you could’ve done it?” Siyuakén echoed, glancing incredulously at the Velocitechnic’s many bandages.
“…Shut up,” he growled. “You got injured, too!”
“It was a superficial cut. Nowhere near as serious as your injuries.”
“Tch. If I had been in an open space like you said you were, I wouldn’t’ve been beaten so badly.”
“Mm hmm.” Siyuakén nodded patronizingly.
Davídrius scowled, but chose to drop that line of conversation. Instead, he turned back to Kevérin. “So, with Strén gone, the Bleeders ain’t much of a threat. I’m fine with leavin’ this place and joinin’ y’all…” He glanced over at Kaoné. “…If you’re willin’ to let me.”
Kaoné shifted uncomfortably as Kevérin and Siyuakén turned their attention to her as well. “What are you looking at me for?”
“I’m fine with him joining,” Kevérin commented, “so is Siyuakén. You’re the only one who’s shown reservations.”
“Complete reverse from the start,” Davídrius remarked.
“…I guess it’s fine,” the Materiatechnic slowly responded.
Davídrius raised an incredulous eyebrow. “You ‘guess’?” he echoed, “you sure?”
“Yes. …I’m sure.” Kaoné nodded. For now… she added mentally.
“Alright!” Kevérin rubbed his hands together expectantly. “What’s next then? We go get Kievkenalis?”
“Actually, no,” Kaoné refuted, “Commander Nikéyin called in yesterday… she wants us to return to Nimaliaka Central.”
“She called? Here? How?” The Pyrotechnic frowned in confusion.
“The compound has an old comm receiver,” Davídrius explained. “…I could’ve sworn the thing was disabled, but, well, what do I know about machinery.”
“Chaos Engines in mechs…” Kevérin shook his head, amused.
“Hey, there was no way I could’ve known—!”
“Anyway,” Siyuakén spoke up, “why do we need to go to Nimaliaka?”
“For a mission brief…” Kaoné commented, “something to do with the Earthians.”
Davídrius scowled. “I thought y’all were investigatin’ the Chaos Energy Quake, not bein’ interstellar baby-sitters.”
“Maybe it’s related to the Quake, somehow,” Kaoné suggested hopefully.
“Regardless, we won’t know until we get there,” Siyuakén stated, and then glanced back at the Velocitechnic. “As soon as you can move around again, we should head out.”
“What do you mean ‘as soon as’?” Davídrius smirked, hopping out of the bed to his feet. He winced slightly, but tried his best to hide it. “See? Perfectly fine. I could head out today.”
“In that case, let’s do that!” Kevérin exclaimed, jumping toward the door. “Hill—!” He paused as he felt the disapproving stares of Kaoné and Siyuakén burrowing into his back. “Uh… what I meant was, of course: Hero Machina, move out!”