“Agh!” Kievkenalis reeled back in pain, his entire body tense as all of the Chaos Energy in the area went erratic, inducing a painful, prickly pressure across his entire body. He clutched the Ayas Arcán tightly, having just ripped it from the shield apparatus, and sighed a moment later when the surrounding energy began to stabilize and he no longer felt any pressure. “Agh…” he moaned, finally able to concentrate well enough to speak. “What happened? How is everyone—?”
He was brought to his knees by a piercing roar — a roar that was quickly accompanied by two like it. Shit! he thought to himself, I know that roar… damn, so someone did go berserk—?!
A blast of fire interrupted his train of thought, forcing him to quickly roll away. He jumped to his feet — and then instinctively clutched his forehead as pain shot through it. …I almost went berserk myself… I can’t do anything… A moment later the Chaostechnic managed to look up, slowly realizing that a battle was raging at the far side of the room as the sounds of shouts and metal screeches began registering in his ears. What… who… who’s fighting?…
“Oof!” The air fled from Christeané’s lungs as he was flung across the room, tumbling along the floor before being stopped by the far wall. He quickly ducked to avoid a Chaos Strike and then unceremoniously rolled back to his feet just in time to dive away from several more Strikes.
((Why haven’t you hit me yet, boy?)) Surdeus taunted as he casually launched attack after attack in Christeané’s direction. ((Are you not a Chaotic? Perhaps that could explain why you failed to go berserk. But it would not explain how you have managed to last this long. So what are you? A telepath? A shape-shifter? Something else woefully unuseful in battle?))
Christeané didn’t respond — he was too focused on dodging Surdeus’s attacks. He attempted several times to block the incoming Chaos attacks with his battlehammers, but each time failed as the forces from Surdeus’s Chaos abilities blew through Christeané’s defenses and knocked him around the room.
((Based on prior experience with you Aldredanoids, those weapons would seem to indicate Introtechnism… I suppose that, too, would also explain your inability to stand up to me. To think, an Introtechnic, fighting a Chaos Conduit? How did you possibly think that you could beat me? You should have run off with your berserk friends. Ahahahaha! Chaos Slam!))
The very moment after calling the attack, Surdeus slammed into Christeané with amazing force, launching him over twenty meters into the back wall and then demolishing the rest of the metal structure with the resulting shockwave. The Drakkar watched, amused, as the debris collapsed on top of Christeané and buried him. ((Such is the fate of those who dare challenge me: buried by their hubris, unable to so much as lay a finger on me—!))
Surdeus suddenly ducked to evade a metal panel that had been flung from the debris. He quickly reached out with his hand, grabbing a battlehammer by its handle as it flew by and preparing to smash his other hand into Christeané’s approaching chest — but the Forcetechnic reacted just quickly enough to smack Surdeus’s hand out of the way as he called out, “Overdrive: Omni Crush!” The activation of the Overdrive triggered an immense crushing force in the area immediately surrounding Christeané, which instantly smashed Surdeus into the ground. The Forcetechnic then freed his battlehammer from Surdeus’ grasp with one hand and prepared to obliterate the Drakkar with his other.
A massive blast of energy exploded outward from Surdeus, obliterating the ground beneath his feet and flinging Christeané clear across the room. He rolled violently into the far wall, coming to a stunned stop right next to Kievkenalis.
Surdeus leaped up and out of the fifty-meter crater he had just created, coming to stand on the lip of the crater nearest the two Chaotics before resting his eyes on Kievkenalis. ((Oh, so I see one of your friends decided to remain as well.))
Kievkenalis stared back at the Drakkar with a mixed expression of surprise and desperation before eventually calling out, “Chaos— hrngh!”
“Kevken!” Christeané exclaimed, glancing at the Chaostechnic with concern as he suddenly doubled over in pain.
((Ha! So you’re a Chaostechnic? And Oblivion did not cause you to go berserk? Now that— now that is actually interesting!)) Surdeus chuckled amusedly, watching Kievkenalis slowly hobble back to his feet as Christeané stood in front of him protectively. The Drakkar’s eyes slowly drifted to the Ayas in Kievkenalis’s hand. ((It must be a product of the Ayas — it must be protecting you. To fail calling a single attack, however… you must be close to the brink. Though to have such a strong reaction to an oncoming berserk episode is an ability onto itself! You must truly have potential! A shame, that you cannot battle me in your current state…))
“What’s… going on?…” Kievkenalis croaked wearily.
“Davídrius, Kevérin, and Siyuakén all went berserk,” Christeané replied tersely, not once taking his eyes off of Surdeus. “Rebehka and Kaoné went after them.”
((You should have gone in their stead!)) Surdeus remarked, ((I’m sure they would have offered me a more interesting battle! …I suppose I am to blame, though, for causing three of your friends to go berserk… I’m truly surprised more of you did not, though. For that, you have my praise.))
Christeané snorted. “Do you want me to thank you?”
((It would be appreciated, but I know not to expect as much from Aldredanoids. No… I think it will be thanks enough for you to serve as my plaything until your friend has recovered enough to fight me. Haha, now that will interesting, to fight a fellow Chaostechnic, backed by the power of an Ayas!))
“What makes you think I’d play along?”
((Have you not been paying attention, boy?)) Surdeus retorted, and then narrowed his eyes into a sadistic glare. ((You cannot refuse my offer. You do not possess even one tenth the power required to refuse what I say! Now dance for me, like the pathetic worm you are! Chaos Strike!))
“I know, I know!” The Materiatechnic quickly transformed the ground all around Rebehka and herself into dirt, just in time to insulate them from the electrical surges of Siyuakén as the berserker haphazardly fought against Kevérin’s wild blasts of flame. Rebehka pressed forward, rapidly cooling her burnt surroundings before freezing the floors and walls in an attempt to slow down the berserkers. She quickly raised an ice shield in front of her just in time to shield herself against a plume of fire and then jumped out from behind the shield, fashioning two blades of ice and using them to cut through further fire attacks. She was able to make little progress before Kaoné seized her armor from afar and yanked her to the side to evade Davídrius as he blasted back onto the scene — where he then wiped out on the ice and smashed into Siyuakén with incredible speed.
As soon as Rebehka recovered, she leaped forward, moving her arms in a great sweeping motion as a gigantic slab of ice formed from the ground up and around Davídrius and Siyuakén. The berserk Velocitechnic quickly fled the scene, but Rebehka succeeded in catching Siyuakén — until Kevérin suddenly bolted onto the battlegrounds, bathing everything in fire and melting the ice encasing the Electrotechnic, who immediately responded by sending out a massive electrical shock that blew out Kaoné and Rebehka’s shield generators. The Cryotechnic quickly raised shields of ice around herself and Kaoné to protect them from the incoming flames and lightning strikes as Kaoné repaired their shield generators with but a single thought; she then began attempting to hold the berserkers still by taking hold of their armor. The shroud of Chaos Energy surrounding each berserker prevented her from grabbing the armor, however, and she was left to try and stop them by trapping them in matter. She succeeded in catching each of the berserkers several times, as did Rebehka, but each time one of the other berserkers would rush in and destroy the encasing with their rampant attacks, constantly setting the two non-berserkers back to square one.
“Alright,” Rebehka huffed, fed up with their lack of progress in stopping the berserkers. She quickly raised an ice shelter around herself and Kaoné before turning to the Materiatechnic impatiently. “We need a plan.”
“A plan?” Kaoné responded incredulously, “but we can’t plan for anything. They’re berserk!”
“We need to be able to trap all three at once…” Rebehka thought aloud, ignoring Kaoné’s remark. “But Davídrius is too fast, Kevérin’s flames trump my ice, and Siyuakén keeps shutting down our armor…”
Kaoné frowned. “Can’t we just let them be? The Berserk State will wear off eventually. We should probably go back to help Christeané and Kevken…”
“And just leave the three of them here, unaccompanied? What if Exdominor shows up again?”
“If Exdominor shows up, do you really think us being here will change anything?”
The two women paused for a moment as the ice enclosure suddenly cracked under the pressure of a massive blow from Davídrius.
“…You have a point there,” Rebehka admitted, “but we still need to try to contain them… isn’t that normal protocol for dealing with berserkers in a battle situation, anyway?”
“I don’t think anything about having two Drakkar faction leaders show up on a single planet within an hour of each other is normal…”
“Just… just try to stop Kevérin, alright? If you can get him, then I can catch Siyuakén and Davídrius.”
“…Alright. I’ll try.”
“Good. Now get ready!” Rebehka shouted as she exploded the ice enclosure outward just in time to counter a burst of flame. She immediately froze the entire floor and then skated forward, freezing Davídrius in a chunk of ice as he spun out next to her. Mere moments later, though, Kevérin bowled onto the scene again, melting the floor around him and half of the ice encasing Davídrius before leaping at Rebehka with two fireballs in hand. She quickly encased her hands and forearms in ice before thrusting her right arm at Kevérin, grabbing his right hand as he leaped past and flash-freezing it to her own, simultaneously extinguishing his fireball. His momentum carried him forward and snapped his hand out of the ice mere moments afterward, but the motion flipped him onto his back — after which Kaoné quickly rose a mound of stone around him, leaving only his shrouded head exposed to the air.
Without wasting a moment to look at Kevérin, Rebehka spun on her heel just as Siyuakén turned to face her. Kaoné immediately fabricated a steel shield in front of the Cryotechnic, channeling all of the electricity from Siyuakén’s subsequent lightning strike straight into the ground as Rebehka quickly re-froze all of the floor that Kevérin had melted. Davídrius then blasted past Siyuakén, diving at Rebehka and almost nailing her in the chest as she ducked under him. Kaoné rose the ground just behind Rebehka and trapped the Velocitechnic’s torso in stone, leaving the rest of his body to flail about — until another electrical blast demolished the stone support and freed the speedster.
“I know you can be trouble sometimes,” Rebehka muttered as she attempted to freeze Siyuakén in place, only to fail as the berserker dashed away, “but… now? Really?!”
“Where’d Davídrius go?!” Kaoné exclaimed as she slowly slid across the ice toward Rebehka.
“Huh—?” The Cryotechnic turned toward Kaoné for just a moment — the same moment that Siyuakén leaped forward at Rebehka’s back, the Chaos Energy shroud around her fingers hardening into claws. Simultaneously, Davídrius reappeared, clutching at the ice with his berserker claws to stop himself and then lunge straight for Kaoné’s back. Just as the two berserkers fell on their prey, the two non-berserkers raised giant mounds of ice and stone, with Rebehka freezing Davídrius solid just before his claws reached Kaoné, and Kaoné trapping Siyuakén in stone just before her claws could reach Rebehka.
The two women froze for a moment, and then, realizing what they had just accomplished, collapsed to the ground with a collective sigh of relief.
“We did it,” Kaoné commented wearily.
Rebehka shoved the Materiatechnic playfully. “See? I told you we could.”
“I didn’t really doubt that we could… I just doubted we had the effort or time.”
“Oh, shit! Christeané and Kevken are still fighting Surdeus all on their own! We need to go back and help them—!”
Rebehka’s thought was cut off as an explosion of fire erupted halfway across the room, obliterating Kevérin’s stone trap as the berserker jumped back to his feet. Almost immediately after, Davídrius obliterated his ice prison with a powerful kick, and Siyuakén disintegrated her stone trap with an incredible electrical pulse. The three berserkers quickly reconvened at the center of the room and resumed duking it out.
Kaoné and Rebehka watched the spectacle in stunned silence before the former turned to the latter uneasily.
“I guess it wasn’t actually that easy…?”
“Fucking damn it.”
((Chaos Strike! Chaos Strike! Chaos…!))
A giant dome of red energy exploded outward from Surdeus’ body, engulfing the measly sphere of deflection and tossing both Kievkenalis and Christeané against the wall. The Drakkar leaped out of the crater he had just created and looked around at the shield maintenance room, which had been completely obliterated during the battle. Most of the roof had caved in, revealing the cloudy night skies above the massively cratered and debris-covered flooring.
Surdeus glanced back at the two Chaotics in front of him as Christeané stumbled to his feet, with Kievkenalis lying on the floor beside him, panting.
((You are certainly very resilient, to survive Blast so many times.)) The faction leader chuckled. ((But… you are a Chaostechnic, and you are depending on the Ayas’s assistance, so it is to be expected.))
“Chaos… Assist…” Kievkenalis muttered, and then wearily climbed to his feet beside Christeané. “…What… do you want? Why are you fighting us?”
((Why am I fighting you?)) Surdeus echoed incredulously. ((Are you not holding the Ayas Arcán? It belongs to me.))
“That’s not it. You could have ended us a dozen times now; why haven’t you?”
“Uh, I wouldn’t exactly point that out,” Christeané responded uneasily.
((Oh? Do you desire defeat?)) The faction leader crossed his arms and glared down at the two Chaotics haughtily. ((I hope you realize just how bold your inquiry is.))
“Why wait?” Kievkenalis pressed, “you said it yourself; I’m holding the Ayas. You aren’t the only one after it; the longer you wait, the more time others have to come and steal it from you. So why haven’t you taken it yet?”
((I had hoped that you would offer an interesting battle. But you appear to be master of only defense and support techniques… well, if prey grows insolent, then the predator has no choice but to cease playing and go for the kill. Isn’t that right?))
“Kevken…!” Christeané scowled and brandished his battlehammers defensively.
“You’re stalling.” Kievkenalis narrowed his eyes as he backed into a defensive stance. “You’re afraid of something. What is it?”
((You mistake my intentions, boy!)) Surdeus growled, ((you seem to have it in your mind that I, Surdeus, possess fear. You believe incorrectly! I merely hold far more power than you could ever hope to achieve, and thought to allow you a glimpse of it before you expired. But your insolence displeases me, so I must now cut your preview short! For those who do not value the time that they have, will eventually succumb to the winds of time itself! Chaos… Time!))