“Wow, it really is an Ayas.”
“That’s… what I said,” Kievkenalis responded uneasily. “Did… did you not understand me?”
“Nah, we understood you just fine,” Christeané replied, “Davídrius just refuses to believe anything anyone says.”
“Shut it.” The Tresédian scowled as he turned away from the Ayas to address Christeané, Kievkenalis, and Kaoné. “I mean, c’mon. It’s an Ayas. Of course I’d be a li’l skeptical when you call us from across the complex, claimin’ that you found one of nine objects that disappeared without a trace twenty fuckin’ years ago.”
“Didn’t the Earthians find the Master Ayas like this?” the Chaostechnic questioned.
“That on its own was pretty unbelievable,” Davídrius remarked, “I mean, of all the places for an Ayas to show up again, it’s an Earthian colony? Just look at a map of the galaxy. Two thirds of the place is claimed by the Drakkars or the CSA, but the Earthians have practically nothin’. How they stumbled across the Master Ayas is beyond me.”
“And it’s not really relevant to us finding this Ayas anyway,” Christeané pointed out, “if you’re trying to say that most of the Ayas would be in Drakkar or CSA space, well, guess where we are now?”
“…Tch.” The Velocitechnic glared at the Master Lieutenant before turning back to the Ayas. “Alright, so we found this thing. I guess we should take it back with us.”
“Wait—!” Kievkenalis quickly exclaimed, but not before Davídrius had sped over to the blue gemstone and scooped it up off the floor.
The Tresédian glanced at the Chaostechnic and blinked twice before responding slowly, “…what?”
“That’s a Chaos Ayas!” Kievkenalis exclaimed, “you should be more careful with it!”
“Nothin’ happened when I picked up the Master Ayas back on Sunova…”
“Well, when the Earthians first picked it up, something did happen,” Kaoné pointed out.
“…Hmph. That was the Master Ayas, this is just a regular one.” Davídrius shrugged. “What’s it gonna do, send me berserk?”
“It could have, yes,” Kievkenalis replied tersely.
“Oh. Well why didn’t you warn me then?!”
“I did! I tried! But you were too fast!”
“Damn right I’m too fast.”
“Davídrius, really?” Christeané crossed his arms impatiently. “Cut the shit.”
The Velocitechnic scowled, but didn’t respond further.
Christeané turned back to Kievkenalis. “What’s up with this Ayas? What makes it so special?”
“It’s the Dark Blue Ayas, Hastryth,” the Chaostechnic replied, “it’s not dark blue just to be dark. It actually means something.”
“Wait, hold on,” Kaoné interrupted, “’Hastryth?’ What’s that?”
“…Oh, I guess that’s not something you guys would know.” Kievkenalis scratched the back of his neck uneasily. “It’s… usually kept to Riveranians. Particularly Archonés.”
“What, could you get in trouble for talking about this?” Christeané replied incredulously.
“Well… not really.”
“Then just tell us. Explain everything.”
Kievkenalis sighed. “…According to the Oraculm—”
“Aw, this again?” Davídrius scowled.
“Just let him talk, we can discuss whether or not we believe it all when he’s done.” Christeané turned back to Kievkenalis. “Please, continue.”
“…Anyways,” Kievkenalis continued uneasily, “according to the Oraculm, each of the Ayas have their own name and a related weapon—”
Davídrius instantly perked up, his interest piqued. “What? A weapon? How do I—?”
“Davídrius, shut up,” Christeané snapped.
The Velocitechnic pursed his lips before crossing his arms. “…Sorry.”
Kievkenalis gave Davídrius a wary glance before commenting, “see, this is why I’m concerned about this Ayas. The nine Ayas are split into three groups — the Master Ayas, the Light Ayas, and the Dark Ayas… and the one you’re holding, Hastryth? It’s one of the Dark Ayas.”
“So… what, does it have some ‘corrupting influence’ or some shit?”
“Yes, it does.”
“Oh. …Well, I mean, c’mon, if any of us are resistant to a corruptin’ influence it’d be me, right?”
Christeané snorted and immediately began laughing. “Ahahahaha! You? Resistant to corruption?”
“Let’s put it this way: I’ve got less to lose, and not as far to fall, than pretty much anyone else here.”
“How does that mean you’re resistant?!” Kievkenalis questioned incredulously.
“It means I know what temptation feels like. Makes me better equipped to deal with it. Just relax, I’m sure I can handle it,” Davídrius insisted. “Just, explain the name and weapon part.”
“Uh… well, as I said, according to the Oraculm, each of the Ayas has a name and associated weapon. The Ayas that you’re holding, the Dark Blue Ayas, is Hastryth. The Master Ayas is Syn.”
“What about the weapons?” Christeané questioned.
“I… I don’t know much about the weapons.” Kievkenalis shrugged. “To the best of my knowledge, Riveranians are probably the only ones in the entire galaxy who even know that the weapons exist. They’re only mentioned in the Oraculm, and I’ve never heard of the CSA ever using the weapons while they had the Ayas. They’re not something you’d be able to use if you didn’t know that you could.”
“Well, how can I?” Davídrius pressed.
“Uh… try… thinking about it?”
Christeané frowned. “You don’t even know?”
“Hey, I’m not the Archoné,” Kievkenalis replied defensively, “I only know so much.”
“I guess I can try anyways…” The Velocitechnic paused, as if concentrating — and a moment later, an ornate blue and black handle appeared in his unoccupied hand. A glowing, metallic tether then appeared, connected to the end of the handle, and more tether length continued materializing for almost two meters before a large, curved blade with a small handle suddenly materialized at the other end of the tether. “Whoa…” Davídrius grinned, depositing the Ayas in one of his jacket pockets before leaning over and grabbing the blade by its handle. “This is great!”
“Looks like a… kind of whip weapon,” Christeané observed, “only, with a massive blade at its end.”
“So I can just summon this at will?” Davídrius looked over at Kievkenalis.
“I… guess? Like I said, I don’t know that much about the weapons,” the Chaostechnic replied.
Davídrius paused for a moment — and then the weapon seemed to disintegrate and immediately disappear. A moment later the weapon rematerialized in his hands. “Haha, alright!” He pumped his fist. “This is great!”
“Don’t get too attached to it,” Kaoné cautioned, “I’m sure the Commander will end up taking the Ayas off your hands.”
“Yeah, yeah…” Davídrius waved her off as he allowed the weapon to dematerialize. “Anyways, we have the Ayas now. We should probably get back to lookin’ for any signs of recent activity.” He whirled around on his heel and began marching down the hallway. “Hey, Christeané, c’mon!”
“Huh?… I mean, hey, wait! Slow down!”
Kaoné and Kievkenalis watched the two leave and then glanced at each other uneasily. Eventually Kaoné shrugged. “If there’s a lesson for Davídrius to learn, he’s going to have to learn it himself, I guess.”
“…I guess,” Kievkenalis responded slowly, and then shook his head to clear his thoughts. “Anyways, he’s right. Let’s get back to searching the complex.”
“Whoa — wait a minute…”
“Huh?” Rebehka cocked her head in confusion as Siyuakén turned her attention back to the generator. “…What’s wrong?”
“There was a sudden spike in the power draw,” the Electrotechnic replied, “something big must’ve just come online.”
“The base’s defenses, maybe?”
“I don’t know…” Siyuakén frowned uneasily. “The power draw of the defenses should be balanced by the activation of the other generators. And even then, this much power…”
“What kind of power draw are we talking about? What can it do?”
“I don’t know. Power… a lot of guns? A lot of mechs? I guess I don’t actually know.”
“So, it’s probably all going to base defenses, right? So you’re probably right: guns, automated defense mechs, maybe emergency transmitters… we should probably tell Kevérin about this.”
“I guess. Though, it’s still probably nothing we can’t handle, right? I mean, worst case scenario, the base is also equipped with… CENT… …fields…”
The two Chaotics glanced at each other uneasily.
“…Yeah, we should contact Kevérin.”
Rebehka turned away and held a hand over her ear. “Command: contact Kevérin Tyrion.” She paused for a moment before repeating, “command: contact Kevérin Tyrion.”
“…Something wrong?” Siyuakén questioned when the Cryotechnic removed her glasses and began staring at them oddly.
“Command: contact Kevérin Tyrion,” Rebehka tried again after putting her glasses back on, and then shook her head. “It’s weird. I can’t reach Kevérin. My glasses claim that there’s no nearby local connections, which is wrong, unless everyone else went back to the Gate, or…”
“…Or this place also has communication jammers.”
“Well, this is fantastic.” Rebehka sighed in irritation. “I think we’ve underestimated the Citans…”
“But it doesn’t make any sense,” Siyuakén countered, “Teghica is a desert planet, and it’s in frontier territory, at that. The Citans themselves abandoned the place. And even if they hadn’t, comm jammers inside their own base? Really? Why put in so many defenses?”
“…We did just walk in the front door and start messing around,” Rebehka pointed out. “All those defenses are probably meant for people like us.”
“We should head back to the rendezvous point, then. Hopefully we can meet up with everyone else there.”
“I agree. This place is more dangerous than we thought… let’s get going.”
Ah, finally. Damn, even old Citan systems are hard to crack…
Kevérin took a moment to stretch before returning his attention to the computer in front of him. Ever since the rest of Hero Machina split up to investigate the abandoned complex two hours ago, the Transfer Captain had been busy attempting to break into the Citan computer systems. He was lucky that the complex was two centuries old — if he had been up against modern Citan technology, he wouldn’t have had a chance.
Alright, let’s see what we have here, he thought to himself as he began rifling through the files and data that he could access. Base routines… maps of Citan space… of CSA space… personnel files… all two hundred years old. Bah, none of this is actually useful. He paused and scratched his head as he rolled the presented data over within his mind. I wonder if there’s anything here indicating Black Suns involvement… whoa, what’s this? Research data? Why would there be research data on an outpost like Teghica?…
The Transfer Captain began looking through all of the presented data, ranging from results of armor prototype tests to scrapped Battleship designs. He even recognized some ship blueprints as corresponding to older Citan ships that were still in service — upon seeing these he made a mental note to copy the data, just in case anyone back on Nimalia could find it useful. Then, after nearly twenty minutes of investigating the files, he happened across a section set aside for Chaos Energy.
Citan Chaos Energy experiments… now these could actually be useful. Kevérin smirked to himself. Maybe there’ll even be some information on the Chaos Ayas. Now that’d be useful. Let’s see, hmm… wait… Chaos Energy Quake?
He paused for several moments. If the Citans abandoned Teghica two hundred years ago, then how was there any mention of the Quake, which happened only twenty years ago? …The Black Suns must have downloaded this data, the Transfer Captain concluded. I’ve found a link. But what kind of data on the Quake is worth storing?…
Kevérin entered the data directory and began perusing the presented data. After a couple moments, he frowned in confusion. It’s just a list of planets and timestamps. What’s the timestamp for? They’re all on the forty-third day of Standardized Galactic Time 10205. On the Nimalian calendar, that’s… Aldredath thirty-second, 8012. The day the Chaos Energy Quake began… Is that what these timestamps are, then? When Chaos Energy ceased to function on each planet? He continued looking through the massive list of planets and timestamps. Hmm, it looks like the Quake wasn’t instantaneous. Some planets lost the ability to access Chaos Energy later than others… though the margin is only minutes. I wonder if anyone has this data for the Nimalian Territories — it doesn’t look like the Citans do, not here, at least. The only planets here are worlds in the Core Space Alliance. …Hmm… I wonder, what would it look like if this data was overlaid on the galactic map?
He immediately brought up a holographic representation of the galaxy on his glasses, allowing them to automatically input the data read from the computer monitor. Within a minute, the glasses had read enough data to present Kevérin an image of the galaxy, each planet marked with its respective timestamp. “Command: color the galaxy with a blue to red gradient. Planets that were affected the earliest are red, planets that were affected last are blue.” A moment passed as his glasses processed the command and then marked the galaxy accordingly, leading the Transfer Captain to gasp in surprise. “Wow… the Chaos Energy Quake… was radial.”
He crossed his arms and mused over the data further. “…Well, the center seems to lay outside of CSA space. It seems like they don’t have quite enough data points to extrapolate the exact center on their own — their territory is offset by just too much. But… if we were to get Nimalian data, and maybe even Syraus, or Earthian data… we could find the center ourselves! Wow, this is probably the best lead on the Quake that anyone’s ever had!” But right as he began to get excited, a thought returned to his mind:
What is this data doing on a two hundred year old computer — a computer that’s been long separated from the Citan Intelligence Network?
Kevérin quickly backed out of the data directory and began searching for timestamps of the files themselves, or usage logs — anything to help determine when the machine was last used, or how the files even ended up on the machine. Eventually, he found an answer by means of the base’s computer usage logs. This base was reconnected to the Citan Intelligence Network ten years ago… and disconnected within a week. And almost immediately afterward, it went dark for a full two years… this had to have been the Black Suns. But what were they doing here? When were they last here? His question was soon answered as he scrolled farther down the log. The most recent access date was the thirtieth day of SGT 10231. On the Nimalian calendar, that’s Winth twenty-third, 8034. …Ten days ago…
Immediately, the Transfer Captain cupped a hand to his ear. “Command: contact Kievkenalis Yumach.” He paused for a few seconds and frowned. “Command: contact Kievkenalis Yumach. …Command: contact Christeané Kolstén. …Command: contact Rebehka Tchiréon. …Fuck!” He scowled. Comms are jammed… the base’s defenses must be kicking in. Consequence of sending Siyuakén to light the place up, I guess… He paused for a few seconds, musing over his options before he removed his glasses and set them on top of the computer. “Command: Transfer Captain unlock. Authority: Kevérin Tyrion. Setup download interface with local computer. Download everything; prioritize Chaos Energy research.” He then sat back and sighed as his glasses began downloading data from the computer, data that he could no longer read since it wasn’t being filtered and translated by the aforementioned glasses. “I may not have found a concrete connection to the Black Suns, but this data can still be of use. Time to just grab it all and get out…”
“Oh, I don’t know about that.”
Kevérin whipped around and immediately entered a defensive stance as his eyes laid on a squad of eight soldiers entering the room. All of them wore different variants of powered armor, colored black, dark blue, and silver — the colors of the Black Suns Private Military Corporation.
The front-most soldier stepped forward, her double-kneed legs and four fingered-hands giving her away as a member of the Dra’kis race. She crossed her arms and glared down at Kevérin as the soldiers behind her trained their weapons on him. “Looks like we’ve found the rat after our scraps,” she remarked with a smirk. “…Just a Nimalian. I’d almost pity you, but, well, that’s not what I’m here to do.”
Kevérin maintained his stance as he eyed the Dra’kis warily. “Yeah? What are you here for, then?”
“I’d thought that obvious,” she replied nonchalantly. “We’re here for pest control. We’re here to get rid of you.”