“The Master Ayas?”
“The most powerful of the Chaos Ayas,” Kaoné explained, “nine gemstone-like objects that can actually create or destroy Chaos Energy.”
“Oh, those.” Scott nodded in acknowledgment. “I’d heard a li’l about them when readin’ the Relaynet research databases. Not a lot of public information though… anythin’ you can tell us about these ‘Ayas’?”
Kaoné glanced over at the other Nimalians.
“Don’t look at us,” Siyuakén responded uneasily, “you’re the Nimaliakian; you should know more about the Ayas than any of us.”
“Yeah, but even then, I don’t know that much…”
“Even if it isn’t much, anythin’ helps,” Scott urged.
“Well… the nine Chaos Ayas are the only objects in the galaxy that can actually generate Chaos Energy. At least, as far as we know,” Kaoné explained. “That’s their most important quality, really, but they can also be used as incredible power sources or to interface with certain technologies to massively increase their power and efficiency. If I recall correctly, the Ayas were mostly used in high-level, highly-classified technology from the Core Space Alliance, mostly spacecraft weaponry. They’re also useful to Chaotics, somehow, but the CSA classified most of their research on that topic.”
“Is that related to how your voice is doin’ that weird Chaostechnic thing where there’s a bit of an echo every time you say the word ‘Chaos?’” Davídrius paused to rub his throat. “…The hell?”
“Yeah, that’s because of the Chaos Ayas,” Kaoné replied, “I don’t really know why, I just know that the Ayas seem to respond to any Chaotic that says the word ‘Chaos.’ That’s just the most basic of the research that the CSA has done, though. Tekdecé and Nimaliaka both were making progress toward having access to that research, but then…”
“Let me guess: the Chaos Quake happened?” Kevérin interjected.
Kaoné nodded. “That’s right. The Quake happened and the Ayas all disappeared. No one knew why they disappeared, or how, or where they went. There wasn’t really any way to track them down, as far as I know, so eventually everyone just kinda assumed that they were gone for good. But now, here’s the Master Ayas itself…” She looked up at Scott. “Where did you find this?”
“You’d have to ask Shepherd,” Scott replied, “it was somewhere down in the caves east of here.”
“I don’t get it…” Captain Lead frowned as he stared at the silver sphere in Kaoné’s hand. “Something like this… it’s just a gemstone, right? Why did it disappear? Why did it show up here, of all places?”
“If you want answers to those questions, you’d have to ask a Riveranian,” Kaoné responded, “and even then, the answers you’d get would be all speculation.”
“Well. Wow.” Scott scratched his chin warily, taking a moment to collect his thoughts. “…If even you don’t know that much about these Ayas, I doubt we’ll be able to find anythin’ out. You should take it.”
“Wait, really?” Kevérin stared wide-eyed at the researcher. “You’d — you’d just hand it over to us?”
“Hold on, slow down,” Lead quickly spoke up, “we can’t just give it to you. We don’t have that authority. We’ll need to go through the proper channels first…” He took a moment to give Scott a reprimanding sidewards glance. “…But I’ll see what I can do with that. In the meantime, the four of you can help with investigating the Battlecruiser or the caves, as we discussed earlier.”
Siyuakén nodded in acknowledgment. “Sounds like a plan. …Where do we go?”
“I’ll show you around,” Scott replied, “Cap’n, you can go see about the Master Ayas. I’ll introduce ‘em to Shepherd, and show ‘em the ship.”
Lead nodded curtly and saluted before spinning around on his heel and walking out of the room.
“Alright then!” Scott clapped his hands together in anticipation. “Let’s get to work. Follow me!”
2 Hours Later
“…Er, yes?” Siyuakén responded uneasily. Before her was a stout man of average height, with brown hair and sharp cheekbones — Scott had introduced him as Captain David Shepherd before quickly leaving with Kaoné and Kevérin.
“Hmm…” Captain Shepherd crossed his arms and glanced between Davídrius and Siyuakén slowly, his expression blank. “…The two of you are Nimalians, huh.”
“Yeah,” the Velocitechnic replied impatiently, “what of it?”
“I never thought my first alien encounter would be so…” Shepherd thought for a moment. “…Underwhelming.”
Davídrius scowled. “Tch. Underwhelming, he says. Well why don’t you just take a look at— wait— aw…”
Siyuakén sighed in annoyance as she watched the Velocitechnic reach for the Sword Boxes that weren’t there. He had been forced to leave his weapons behind on Nimalia, as his encounter with Ind had left them in an unusable state.
Shepherd glanced down at Davídrius’s hands as he grasped at nothing. “Impressive,” he deadpanned.
“With all due respect, your comments aren’t helping,” Siyuakén responded.
“…Right. Sorry,” the Captain apologized, “I’ve been a little out of it ever since the incident with that… silver sphere.”
“The Master Ayas,” Siyuakén corrected.
“If you’ve been feelin’ out of it, why not go check in with the doctor, or somethin’?” Davídrius questioned, “there’s gotta be at least a medic here, right?”
“There is, but Sunova — this colony — isn’t as well developed as our other colonies,” Shepherd commented, “it’s unexplored frontier out here. Even the Interstellar Gate can only handle so much travel. We don’t have the men for me to waste time in the infirmary due to a little drowsiness.”
Siyuakén frowned, wary of Shepherd’s attitude. “I think you might be underestimating the potential of the Ayas.”
“And I think you might be underestimating us Earthians,” Shepherd retorted. “…Bah, ‘Earthians’. Who gave us that name? Is everyone in this galaxy named after their home planet like that?”
“Nimalians, Earthians, Citans, Siions, Dra’kis…” Davídrius counted off with his fingers. “…Hmm, sorta.”
“Even the Taizen civilizations are named that way,” Siyuakén commented, “only the Drakkars aren’t. It’s just how things work.”
“Drakkars? Those are those creepy faceless aliens, aren’t they?” Shepherd questioned, “are they different from the Dra’kis?”
“Yes, of course they’re different. There’s no connection, really, except that the Dra’kis are a part of the Core Space Alliance, which is constantly at war with the Drakkars. I guess there’s speculation of a common ancestor, but no one knows for sure.”
“Meanwhile, in the world of stuff that’s actually relevant,” Davídrius interjected as he tapped his foot impatiently, “I was told we’d be helpin’ you look through some caves or somethin’. Well… I don’t see any caves.”
“Of course not. We’re still at the Receiving Base,” Shepherd responded, “the caves are a two-hour drive to the east.”
“Two hours?!” Davídrius balked. “…I think I’ll just run over there and get a head-start.”
Siyuakén crossed her arms. “And if you get lost in the caves?”
“Never mind getting lost, you’ll never be allowed in without my clearance,” Shepherd cut in, “how would running—? Oh, you’re one of those people with superpowers, aren’t you?”
“I am indeed a Chaotic,” Davídrius replied proudly. “A Velocitechnic, I’ll have you know. Super speed is my forte!”
“Well you’ll have to keep that super speed of yours in check then, because you aren’t going anywhere without me.”
“…Is that all?” Siyuakén turned back to face Shepherd.
“For now, yes,” Shepherd replied before turning around. “Follow me. I’ll brief you some more while we’re on the way.”
2 Hours Later
“Wow. This… is really…”
“Excitin’?” Scott threw in, glancing over at Kaoné as he sat down in front of an array of consoles. He and the two Nimalians had just boarded the mystery Battlecruiser, and Scott wasted no time in leading them to the main engineering room to take a look.
“Try depressing.” Kevérin frowned as he looked around at the steel gray bulkheads. “Everything’s gray and boxy. Are all Earthian ships like this?”
“Oh. You’re talkin’ about the design aesthetic,” Scott replied nonchalantly. “Eh, SERRCom is less concerned with visual design than they are with performance. Most Earthian militaries are.”
“Of course they are…” Kevérin sighed. “If I’d known how bland this ship would be…”
“Kevérin,” Kaoné cut him short.
Scott chuckled in response. “Hah, don’t worry, I’m not a fan either. But, still! Think of all the possibilities this ship represents!”
“It’s also possible that there’s nothing special about it besides being your first Battlecruiser,” Kevérin countered.
“Hopefully, you’ll be able to help us find that out,” Scott responded optimistically.
“Maybe…” Kaoné passed Kevérin an uneasy glance. “But we didn’t think about all of the technology here being in your language. The universal translator tech only works for audio…”
“Wait, what?” Kevérin looked back at the Materiatechnic incredulously. “You don’t have the visual translation patch? For your glasses?”
“I thought that was relay-dependent,” Kaoné responded slowly, and then turned her attention to one of the screens Scott was working with. “…Yeah, I can’t read it.”
“Oh. Well I got a local copy of the patch when I got promoted to Transfer Captain. I can read things just fine.”
“…Wow. Visual translation, you say?” Scott shook his head in amazement. “Not quite as impressive as real-time audio translation, I’ll admit, but I’m still amazed that your glasses can do that and still remain so slim. I wish Earth and the colonies would setup proper relay networks and adopt the AR technology you guys are usin’.”
“It can actually get annoying at times,” Kaoné refuted.
“But it’s still pretty useful,” Kevérin declared. “Just point me to the engineering room and I can start checking things out.”
“…This… is the engineering room,” Scott replied slowly.
“…Right! I knew that.” Kevérin nodded curtly. “I’ll, uh, sit over here, and start looking things through.”
“Aw, what about me?” Kaoné complained, “I can’t read any of this…”
“Maybe you should’ve thought about that before volunteering to come up here,” Kevérin responded unsympathetically.
“Hmph.” The Materiatechnic pouted. Great. Now, what do I do…
“…This is it.”
“Eh what,” Davídrius deadpanned as he looked about the empty cave, save some industrial lighting and wires leading out to the cave exterior. “…There’s nothin’ here.”
“Of course there’s nothing here,” Shepherd retorted, “we already removed the the sphere.”
“I was expecting something more… significant.” Siyuakén frowned as she inspected the surrounding area. “Like, maybe a pedestal. Or engravings. Anything that would stand out.”
“There was nothing else,” Shepherd stated, “only that silver sphere, sitting on the ground. I thought it was just a rock until I realized how well-rounded and shiny it was; that’s why I picked it up.”
“And that’s when the Battlecruiser appeared?” Siyuakén turned back to face the Earthian. “When you touched it?”
“You’re sure they’re related?” Davídrius questioned.
“I’m certain.” Shepherd crossed his arms. “When I picked up that stone, there was this bright flash of light… I’m not a, what’s it called, a Chaotic? I’m not that, so I can’t sense Chaos Energy as well as you — in fact I can’t sense it at all, usually.”
“Earthians shouldn’t be able to,” Siyuakén commented. “None of you are Chaotics.”
“And that’s the thing — I felt something happen,” Shepherd insisted, “I don’t know what sensing Chaos Energy is like, but I’m certain that that silver sphere did something.”
“So you think it just… summoned the Battlecruiser?”
“Maybe.” The Captain glanced over at Siyuakén. “…It sounds far-fetched, I know, but I think that’s what happened.”
“I’m not sure I’d be surprised if it is…” the Electrotechnic replied, “I don’t know much about the Ayas, but I’ve heard my share of tall tales about them… if you consider that they might be based in reality, then the Master Ayas is certainly a very powerful object.”
“That kind of power…” Shepherd scowled. “I hope the top brass don’t get any crazy ideas.”
“That researcher guy seemed just fine with handin’ it over to us,” Davídrius responded.
“To you?” Shepherd drew back in surprise.
“Well, to Nimalia,” Siyuakén corrected, “we don’t know as much about the Ayas as the Core Space Alliance, but I’m sure that we’ll be able to figure out and do more with the Master Ayas than you.”
“…Maybe,” Shepherd replied slowly. “I am against blatantly weaponizing the thing, but I’m not so sure about just handing it over, either.” He then brushed his hands and stretched, turning to face down the cave. “I suppose the decision for what happens to it is out of my hands, though. We should try looking around. With any luck, there will be something else significant down here.”
“…Is that what we’re here for? A damn treasure hunt?” Davídrius complained, “why can’t there be anythin’ exciting?”
“Be careful what you wish for,” Siyuakén countered, “without your weapons, you won’t be much help in a fight.”
“Not much help?!” Davídrius bristled with irritation. “Look, despite what happened back in Treséd, I can totally hold my own in a fight!”
“I’m just saying,” Siyuakén responded lightly, “you… didn’t do so well against that woman.”
“I was caught off guard. I’ve fought the Bleeders before and won! Several times!”
“You couldn’t win against the Chaotics, though.”
“I just said: I was caught off guard! I’ve never fought a damned Chaostechnic before. And Strén’s a double Chaotic. He wouldn’t just go down that easily!”
“Kevérin and I were able to deal with them just fine on our own.”
“You’re tryin’ to say that you think I’m worthless, aren’t you?!”
“No, I’m just—”
“Bullshit! You listen here—!”
“Hey,” Shepherd cut in, turning to glare at the two Chaotics just as Davídrius was practically shoving his finger into Siyuakén’s face, “I don’t know what the problem is between you two, but I’d appreciate it if you could keep it to yourselves.”
“…Tch,” Davídrius drew back, and then glanced sheepishly the Captain. “…Sorry.”
“Don’t,” Shepherd cut Siyuakén short. The silence that followed was quickly replaced with a quiet whistling sound.
“That’s a breeze,” Davídrius commented. “…Why’s there a breeze down here?”
“It means there’s either an exit, or some other large open area nearby,” Shepherd replied. “You asked for something exciting; maybe this is it.”
As the Captain moved on, the Velocitechnic shot a quick smirk toward Siyuakén. She sighed before stepping forward to follow Shepherd. The trio continued walking through the caves in silence, taking several turns before reaching a long and straight tunnel with a light at the end.
“Light?” Davídrius questioned, “that means it’s outside, right?”
“Maybe,” Shepherd responded, “I’ve yet to see any here, but there’s plenty of subterranean fauna that emit some sort of light back on Earth. It could just be a massive cavern.”
“Well I’m goin’ ahead to check,” the Velocitechnic declared before dashing off. The next instant he reached the cave’s end, skidding to a stop just before a short cliff. He whistled in admiration as he slowly inspected his surroundings.
“What’s there?” Siyuakén shouted as she came running down the tunnel after him.
“I dunno if it’s actually worth anythin’,” Davídrius replied, “but it’s a huge cavern filled with gold!”
“Gold?” Shepherd repeated incredulously before arriving at the cliff side next to the two Nimalians. He glanced around in surprise, taking in the sight before him: a massive cavern, nearly a hundred meters long in every dimension — and the floor was entirely covered in gold. Surprise soon turned into confusion, and then to wariness as the Captain continued to survey the massive piles of gold. “This… doesn’t feel right.”
“What do you mean?” Siyuakén questioned, ignoring Davídrius as he jumped to the ground below and then sped off to the other side of the cavern.
“I… I don’t know.” Shepherd scowled. “I have a feeling that we shouldn’t be here. But I don’t know why.”
The Electrotechnic turned back to look at the huge cavern. “Nothing seems off to me…” She frowned. “Hmm, maybe Davídrius found something. He’s coming back.”
A moment later the Velocitechnic leaped up to the cliff side and landed in a crouch. As he stood up he glanced between Siyuakén and Shepherd warily. “Somethin’ weird’s up with this cavern…”
“What’d you find?” Shepherd questioned.
“At the far side of the cavern, there’s this little room,” Davídrius explained, “there’s four pods in there, I think they’re stasis pods. Well, I guess they gotta be; they look like they haven’t been touched in forever an’ a day. The kicker is what’s inside.”
“Well don’t keep us waiting,” Siyuakén responded impatiently, “what’s there?”
Davídrius glanced back at the far side of the cavern uneasily before returning his attention to Shepherd and Siyuakén. “…They’re kids. There are children inside those stasis pods.”