Chapter 45 – Arrival

6 Days Later

– Isdia, Solith 34, 8034 –

“Less than half an hour until arrival, sir.”

“Mm hmm…” Chief Captain Krick nodded warily in response before swiveling his captain’s chair around to face Hero Machina behind him. “This is a pretty damn serious situation, Nimalians. The Drakkars attacking the Core Space Alliance head-on… what are we supposed to do about that?”

Kevérin frowned. “Unfortunately… there’s not much we can do. The Drakkars aren’t limited to Transpace travel, and they have beaming systems like you do. And that’s just a small part of their advantages. If the Exemplar and Sursum Drakkars are actually working together, and actually mean to wipe out the CSA, then nothing short of a miracle can stop them…”

Davídrius snorted. “Is that why we’re going after the Ayas, then?”

“We already have Syn, Aldrace, Matlés, and Tanivas,” Kievkenalis remarked. “That’s four of the nine. If we can claim all of them, then it might actually be what we need to push back the Drakkars. In the very least, we can’t let them get the Ayas…”

“And, secondarily, if we can find the Arcán Ayas, then we can use it to repair the Arcán AI,” Kevérin added. “Then, maybe it’ll be able to tell us what’s going on with the metallic infection and the Chaos Quake. Like I said, though, those goals are now secondary to finding ways to stop the Drakkars.”

“Why not leave the Ayas to the CSA, then?” Krick questioned.

“The CSA are on the front lines. I think the Ayas would be safer with us,” Kevérin replied. “…In the very least, we need to get it out of the battlegrounds, and your ship is uniquely suited to do just that.”

“I hope you guys know what you’re doing,” Krick responded with a frown, “I’ve heard stories about the Drakkars… they don’t sound pleasant at all.”

“They aren’t. They’re stupidly advanced and surprisingly difficult to counter in battle, mostly because of their ability to steal Ciei… all of your intelligence and thought patterns. If they can lay their hands on you, it’s all over.”

“If it’s only regular Drakkars that we’re up against, then we can probably fend them off,” Christeané mused, “but if either Exdominor or Surdeus show up… we’re fucked.”

“The faction leaders? Yeah, I’d heard that they’re seemingly invulnerable to everything except each other,” Krick replied.

“That’s not even half of it,” Kevérin pointed out, “even without the invulnerability thing, Exdominor and Surdeus are both insanely dangerous to fight. Exdominor can instantly steal Ciei from a distance, and Surdeus is the only known living Chaos Conduit.”

“That means he can use every single Chaos ability,” Kievkenalis stated, “including Time.”

“Is there any reason to expect that we’ll encounter them here, though?” Rebehka questioned, “given how many planets the Drakkars attacked, the leaders could be anywhere, if they even decided to join the battle themselves. Not to mention it’s been six days since we entered FTL, who knows what could’ve happened in that time…”

“We’re going to Maasen because the Ayas Sensor detected an Ayas there,” Kevérin stated, “the Drakkars have been around for far longer than we have; chances are, if we can locate the Ayas, so can they. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if either faction leader decided to show up to claim the Ayas personally. They are immortal after all, so there’s no real reason for them to stay off of the battlefield… Hopefully, we’ll arrive before they can. Six days is pretty long, even for a planetary siege.”

“Nonsense,” Christeané scoffed. “Maasen is a Siion Fortress World. That means it at least has a planetary shield generator array. There’s no way it’ll have fallen within six days, even against Drakkar siege.”

“That doesn’t mean the Drakkars can’t have found and extracted the Ayas in that time,” Kevérin refuted, “…but I hope you’re right. With luck, we can be in, find the Ayas, and out within an hour or two…”

“With luck, aye…” Krick nodded absentmindedly. “Given reports about Drakkar ship strength, and how this ship stood up during the battle in the Tyrnaus system, I’m sure we can weather a day or two of Drakkar attack. The longer we remain, though…”

“We know…” Kevérin sighed. “Just… just use the Ayas scanner to try and find the Ayas. We’ll try to figure out its most likely location from there.”

“You don’t need to tell me what to do.” Krick swiveled his chair around to face the bridge window again just as the ship exited Subspace, the outside gray-scale gradient being replaced with normal black. “I’m not the Captain of this ship for nothing.” He raised his voice as he began issuing orders to the bridge. “Initiate the cloak! Locate the nearest CSA fleet and hook into their data connection! Begin examining the Relay Point data stream for updates on the galactic condition, particularly this system. Scan the planet as well; apply the Ayas scanner and narrow down the possible locations.”

“Maasen is still under Siion control,” one of the bridge crew replied after several seconds of tense silence. “There’s a three thousand-strong Siion fleet engaging a similarly sized Drakkar fleet ten thousand kilometers out, and according to the Relay Point data stream, there’s an incoming Siion reinforcement fleet that’s about four days out. We’ve been denied access to the fleet data connection, but we’ve been redirected to the command stream from Maasen… the planetary shield array is still intact, albeit strained. It looks like Drakkar beaming tech can penetrate it, and there are Drakkar ground forces attacking several of the shield generators…”

“What about the Ayas?” Krick questioned, “where’s the Ayas? That’s what we’re here for.”

A holographic display of Maasen appeared toward the front of the bridge before slowly zooming into a fifty kilometer by fifty kilometer section of the surface.

“That’s one of the primary shield generators,” Krick muttered, staring at the large facility in the center of the map. A couple seconds later, three marks appeared, all roughly twenty kilometers from the primary generator, with two of them lying on secondary generators.

“So the Ayas is at one of those locations?” Kaoné questioned.

“Possibly…” Krick frowned as he read some of the scan statistics displayed to the right of the hologram. “There’s a lot of factors in play down there that are interfering with the scan results. In the very least, we can probably assume that the Ayas is in that area…”

“Well it won’t be impossible to search at least, considering your beaming tech,” Kevérin remarked.

“You aren’t wrong… but it looks like there’s a group of five Drakkar Cruisers sitting just over that primary generator. I have no idea if the Drakkars will be able to see through the cloak, especially at the range we have to approach to beam you down.”

“We need to keep the Ayas from the Drakkars, though,” Kievkenalis insisted, “and if they’re hovering over the generator — that’s even more reason to get in there as fast as possible!”

“I agree with you,” Krick replied with a scowl, “…this just isn’t going to be smooth sailing.” He glanced back at Hero Machina, noting that each of them were already suited up in their Chaos Armor. “You’re all ready for combat; good. Be ready to be beamed down with a moment’s notice; expect it to happen soon.” The Captain then turned back to the rest of the bridge as he shouted, “approach the scan coordinates at half acceleration! Apply eighty percent reversals within two hundred kilometers; uncloak at a hundred and open fire on the nearest Cruiser, then begin circling at ninety percent accuracy range. Ready all fighter squadrons for sortie, but don’t launch until my mark! The moment we’ve drawn their attention, beam the Nimalians down to the northern-most Ayas location!”

“Aye aye!” the entire bridge responded, bewildering Hero Machina with their united enthusiasm. The scanner hologram promptly disappeared, allowing clear sight through the bridge’s window as the ship turned and began approaching the Drakkar ships. The following several minutes passed in tense silence as the Genesis accelerated toward the ships, prepared to ambush them.

“Two hundred kilometers! Applying eighty percent reversals!”

“Here we go,” Krick announced as he leaned forward in anticipation. “Everyone, prepare for battle!”

“One hundred kilometers! Uncloaking; firing all weapons!”

“Alright guys,” Kevérin muttered, “this is it—!”

By the time he finished his sentence, Hero Machina had been transported from the Genesis’s bridge to the surface of Maasen below. Roughly a quarter of a kilometer in front of them, in the middle of a massive rocky field, stood the secondary shield generator, and all around it—

“Drakkars!!” Siyuakén exclaimed, immediately blowing away a nearby pair of armored figures with a massive lightning shock.

“This is it, guys!” Kevérin shouted as he blasted away another couple of Drakkars with flame bursts, “press on to the generator! And don’t allow any Drakkar to lay hands on you or it’s over!”

“Time to go all out!” Christeané grinned before launching himself forward with his battlehammers. “Overdrive: Omni Crush!

Overdrive: Conflict’s—!

“Not now!” Kevérin interrupted Kaoné, “the Drakkars don’t need weapons or killing intent to do us harm; you’d only be handicapping us! Save it for a worst-case scenario!”

“…If you say so,” Kaoné responded begrudgingly, but nonetheless complied.

Chaos Assist! Chaos Armor!” Kievkenalis shouted before pushing forward, ignoring the blasts from several Drakkar laser cannons as his armor of Chaos Energy absorbed the shots. He quickly began directing his hands toward various targets, calling out, “Chaos Massive Impact! …Chaos Strike! Chaos Strike!

“Haah!!” Davídrius slammed his foot down on a Drakkar before it even saw him coming, instantly flooring it and demolishing its armor and chest. He quickly drew two swords out of his new four sword harness and used the recently deceased Drakkar as a springboard into another nearby group, stabbing each of their hands before knocking them out of the way of Rebehka and Siyuakén, who cautiously rushed forward side by side, issuing shocks and ice clubs left and right.

Kaoné followed uneasily but quickly, constantly raising steel barriers behind the group to prevent any Drakkars from following and ambushing them. Suddenly, two Drakkars rushed toward the group from the right and attempted to ambush Kievkenalis as he was looking the other way, but Kaoné deftly plucked the Drakkars out of the air by their armor and flung them aside, smiling as she thought to herself, I’m not useless anymore!

In the middle of her thought a Drakkar came flying over her head before tumbling to the ground in front of Kievkenalis. Christeané quickly followed, both battlehammers grasped and raised over his head before smashing them down on the Drakkar the moment he landed, obliterating it and creating a two meter crater. He quickly began twirling his battlehammers and launched himself out of the crater, allowing Kaoné to cover it back up as Kevérin alighted on the ground and sent out two blasts of flame to his left and right, incinerating several approaching Drakkars.

“Who said Drakkars were supposed to be dangerous?” Davídrius scoffed as he knocked away another three. “The Riaxen put up more of a fight than they do!”

“Yeah, something doesn’t feel quite right…” Rebehka responded warily as she flipped a few Drakkars away with an ice sheet.

“Ah, we’re at the shield generator now, anyways,” Kevérin remarked. “Kaoné, fence it off!”

“Got it,” the Materiatechnic replied. She then raised a massive steel wall all around Hero Machina and the shield generator. The Nimalian Chaotics paused for a moment to take in the lull in battle before cautiously approaching the generator-housing structure, which stood nearly thirty meters away — only to be surprised as a hidden hatch directly in front of the structure opened up, revealing an armored helmet.

“…You aren’t Drakkars,” the man muttered, and then exclaimed, “identify yourselves!”

“We’re Hero Machina!” Kevérin responded, “a Nimalian Chaotic squad, here with the Earthians to ensure that the Drakkars don’t make off with the Ayas!”

“…You’re here to help?”

Davídrius snorted. “Well we certainly ain’t here to hurt.

The man paused for a moment before pulling himself out of the hatch, revealing his full-body armor and the distinct two-knee legs of Siions. He glanced around warily at the steel barrier Kaoné had erected before turning his attention back to Hero Machina. “I’m Colonel Saavis,” he commented, “this generator has been under siege for the past couple hours. And now that you’re here — I think the Drakkars may have caught onto where we’re keeping the Ayas.”

“Of course they have…” Kevérin scowled. “Where is it?”

“…It’s in the area.”

“Damn it, just tell us where it is! I know you don’t want to lose it, but worst comes to worst, better we have it than the Drakkars, right?”

“And how exactly can you get it off planet any more reliably than we can?”

“We’re here with the Earthians and their newest Battlecruiser. It has beaming tech, like the Drakkars. If we can find the Ayas, then we can secure it easily!”

“…Oh, that ship. I’ve heard the reports. …Damn it. You’re right. Alright, if it hasn’t been moved, then it should be—”

The Siion was interrupted as a cloaked figure came flying down from above and grabbed his head, slamming him backwards into the ground and subsequently snapping his neck. The figure paused for a moment, crouching over the Siion’s body, before slowly standing and looking up at the shield generator. ((What hubris)) it muttered, though its voice didn’t seem to carry through the air — instead, it came from within the mind, as if it were speaking directly inside the heads of Hero Machina. ((To think, that they could hide the Ayas from me, and in such an obvious location))

“Agh…” Davídrius scowled, shivering uncomfortably from the sensation of another voice inside his head. “…Is this what the Drakkars sound like?”

“…Everyone, get back,” Kevérin muttered warningly.

((You would indeed do well to fear me. Many greater than you have fallen by my hand, and uncountably more have fallen before my armies. That you have not yet run for your measly lives speaks either to your unfounded confidence, or your blistering ignorance.))

“…I knew this would happen.” Kevérin scowled. “Just our luck to encounter one of the faction leaders…!”

((So you are aware of my identity!)) The Drakkar turned toward Hero Machina, revealing his heavy armor and black cloak. But unlike all of the other Drakkars that Hero Machina had encountered, this one’s armor left his head and portions of his skin exposed, allowing all onlookers to see the distinguishing features of Exemplar Drakkars: thick hair-like quills on his head, a featureless face save for two beady black eyes, dark brown skin, and black arrow body markings. ((Ha. You know who I am, yet you dare suggest you can stand up to me, by electing not to run? Fools! I will teach you your grave folly of underestimating me, the leader of the Exemplar Drakkars — your folly, of not fleeing from the first thought of my name: Exdominor!))

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