Chapter 52 – Blind Faith

Rebehka gasped as she tumbled out of the event horizon of the outbound Interstellar Gate. She quickly glanced back at the large ring in irritation. It hadn’t been properly aligned; the ground was lower relative to it than to the Nimalian Gate, causing the Cryotechnic to fall a short distance the moment she appeared. Where am I? For the Gate to not even be aligned, this can’t be any better than a Tier 5 world… She slowly scanned her surroundings, which turned out to be little more than dense forest surrounding the clearing in which the Gate stood. Rebehka stood up and shielded her eyes from the sun high in the sky as she began looking for Siyuakén.

Suddenly, she felt the hairs on her neck rise. She immediately threw herself to the side and created more ice armor just in time to survive a lightning strike on her position. She tumbled along the ground before quickly stumbling back to her feet, ignoring the pain in her knee as she confronted Siyuakén.

“Why…?” The Electrotechnic trembled, her arms cackling with charged energy. “Why… why did you follow me?!”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Rebehka countered, “you’re my best friend! I can’t let you go!”

“If… you were… my friend…” Siyuakén doubled over in pain and then lunged toward the Cryotechnic, claws outstretched. “You… would have killed me by now!”

“I can’t do that!” Rebehka dodged the lunge and slammed her elbow down into Siyuakén’s back. She quickly attempted to freeze the Electrotechnic to the floor, but she rolled out of the way and leaped back to her feet and began retaliating with lightning strikes. “I made a promise, remember?! You’ll live through this!”

“It’s too late for me!” Siyuakén growled as she deflected several ice spikes with her corrupted arm. “I can’t… control myself anymore!”

“But you can still control your thoughts!” Rebehka countered as she froze the entire clearing and both of Siyuakén’s legs, only for the Electrotechnic to shatter all of the ice with a massive electrical pulse. “As long as you have that, there’s still a chance!”

“I’m already hearing voices!” Siyuakén lunged after Rebehka, only to miss and obliterate the tree behind her instead. “I’m hearing… his voice! Morcii’s! I… I can’t… resist… much longer!”

“Hang in there, Siyuakén! You can do it! Just a little longer!!” Rebehka shouted as she nailed the Electrotechnic in the gut with a block of ice. Siyuakén tumbled along the ground and slammed into a tree before digging her claws into the bark and launching herself up into the branches, where she disappeared from sight. Rebehka charged forward, throwing several blades of ice through the trees and cutting them down in an effort to reveal Siyuakén — only to be ambushed from the left as the Electrotechnic leaped out of the branches and attempted to grab hold of Rebehka with her grappling hook. The Cryotechnic easily deflected the hook with ice, careful to not directly come into contact with Siyuakén’s corruption, before trapping the hook in a block of ice and reeling Siyuakén in. The Electrotechnic yanked her arm back, snapping the grappling line and tumbling backwards as she ran enough current through her body to melt the ice encasing that Rebehka attempted to summon. Siyuakén then jumped back to her feet, reeling in the broken grappling line before forming a new hook on the end and firing it at a nearby tree.

I can’t freeze her while she’s conscious… Rebehka scowled as she dodged a log Siyuakén lobbed at her. I’ll have to knock her out first… sorry, Siyuakén, but this is the only way!

The Cryotechnic quickly encased the log she had just evaded in ice before throwing it back at Siyuakén, who was forced to dodge to the side. Rebehka immediately froze the floor beneath her feet, tripping up the Electrotechnic just long enough to hit her with several ice boulders and send her tumbling. Siyuakén quickly jumped back to her feet and began directing powerful lightning bolts in Rebehka’s direction, forcing her to make several thick ice shields in quick succession.

“Stop… using… blunt… force…!” Siyuakén muttered through clenched teeth, “use ice shards! …Swords!…”

“I’m not trying to kill you,” Rebehka countered as she slowly inched her way toward the tree line.

“You should be! You don’t understand—!”

“Don’t understand what, Siyuakén? That we’re supposed to be friends?!”

“Exactly! I don’t… want… to hurt you—!” The Electrotechnic suddenly dived to the side to evade being smothered by a large sheet of ice before frying the two trees nearest Rebehka’s position. “But… the longer we fight… the less… I can hold back…!”

“Help me out here, then!” Rebehka replied by freezing the two trees solid and then launching them at Siyuakén. “I don’t have to kill you! Don’t shout; try to conserve your energy! Focus on holding on! If I can just knock you out—!”

“You can’t do that… if you’re… holding back…” Siyuakén grimaced, dodging the trees and then attempting to jerk her arm away as she continued firing lighting blasts at Rebehka. “You keep… underestimating… the corruption!”

Rebehka ignored the remark and dived in close to Siyuakén, attempting to hit the Electrotechnic with a massive ice club. Unexpectedly, Siyuakén reached out with her left arm and sunk her claws into the club, grasping hold of it and jerking it into the air — and Rebehka along with it. She then smashed it into the ground, disorienting the Cryotechnic and allowing Siyuakén to close the distance between them and hold her left palm up to Rebehka’s face. “Rebehka—!”

Overdrive: ICE STORM!

Siyuakén was immediately frozen solid as dark clouds gathered overhead and the temperature rapidly plummeted. Mere seconds later, snow began to fall; seconds after that, winds whipped up and the snow grew thick enough to reduce visibility to mere centimeters. The Electrotechnic broke out of her ice prison shortly afterward and stumbled backwards, squinting through the snowstorm in an attempt to find Rebehka.

“I’m not the one doing the underestimating, Siyuakén…”

The Electrotechnic quickly ran a current through her body and then violently discharged it, blowing away all of the snow within several meters and increasing her visibility temporarily before snow rapidly took over again.

“I can save you, Siyuakén. I know I can!”

“It’s…” Siyuakén threw herself to the side just in time to evade a massive chunk of ice. “Not…” She was then thrown forwards as another chunk slammed into her back. “That…” Rebehka completely froze her to the ground. “Simple!” She freed herself with a massive current run through her entire body. “Listen to me, Rebehka!” She crossed her arms in front of her just in time to shield herself from another ice bludgeon. “It’s because we’re friends… that I know… we’ll just stalemate each other!” She dived to the side and made a dash for the tree line. “I’m… holding back… as much as I can! But it’s still only so much! Kill me now before I lose to the corruption completely, because… because I know you won’t be able to stop me then!!

The Electrotechnic was suddenly caught within a massive block of ice, but quickly freed herself with a violent discharge of energy. She immediately sunk her claws into a nearby tree and stripped it of its bark, using the material to shield herself from the storm as she climbed up into the branches.

“I can’t give up on you yet!” Rebehka shouted back, her Overdrive enabling her to easily track Siyuakén through the blizzard. “I’ll only give up once you’ve lost. And I’ll have won before then!”

“There you go again! Do you only think… about what you want? Can’t… can’t you think about me for just a moment?!”

“What?!” the Cryotechnic exclaimed, just as she crafted an ice shield to block a lightning strike.

“Don’t… let me… lose… to Morcii!” Siyuakén responded through clenched teeth as she dashed back into the scene, lunging straight for Rebehka again. “I’m not… just telling you to kill me so… so that you won’t have trouble later. I want you… to kill me now… while I still have some control!… Let… me die… with dignity!… …Please, Rebehka!… At least… give me that!…”

“You’re assuming that I can’t bring you back!” the Cryotechnic countered as she flash-froze Siyuakén again — only for the Electrotechnic to quickly free herself. “Just have a little faith in me!”

The Electrotechnic didn’t respond. Instead she disappeared back into the tree tops; Rebehka immediately gave chase, dashing into the forest and launching several ice blocks at Siyuakén in an effort to knock her out of the trees. Due to their Relédiakian backgrounds, though, Siyuakén was easily able to work her way through the branches and evade all of Rebehka’s attacks while simultaneously retaliating with multiple lightning strikes. Eventually Rebehka jumped up to the branches herself, crafting ice platforms to aid her ascent and get close enough to Siyuakén to lay a hit she couldn’t possibly evade. But the Electrotechnic was faster; just as Rebehka reached the same level of branches, Siyuakén dropped down to the ground and let off a massive electrical pulse that pulverized all of the trees within four meters. She paused for a moment in an attempt to sense Rebehka but was simply smacked in the face with another ice block, sending her flying into another clearing.

By then, the snow storm had calmed enough to see the other side of the clearing, but snow was still whipping around the two women as they confronted each other again. Siyuakén quickly crossed the clearing before turning around to face Rebehka, who stood opposite her. The Electrotechnic then began raising the current through her body, charging an immense amount of energy as Rebehka thickened her ice armor and prepared a suitably large chunk of ice.

“Rebehka… please!” Siyuakén begged, trembling as she attempted to prevent herself from discharging her energy. “I… don’t… have… much… time…!”

“Neither do I,” Rebehka quipped, “we’ve been fighting for long enough — I think I can end this now!”

“Rebehka—!” Siyuakén started, but was interrupted as the Cryotechnic suddenly hurled the massive block of ice at her. The Electrotechnic immediately discharged all of her built up energy into a single focused electrical strike, blowing the boulder into debris and clouding the air with fine ice. Before Siyuakén could react further, Rebehka leaped through the cloud of ice, club in hand as she brought it down over Siyuakén’s head, prepared to knock her out once and for all —

— only for the Electrotechnic to suddenly and unexpectedly discharge an incredible amount of energy directly toward Rebehka, knocking the club out of her hands and blowing her backwards several meters.

Disoriented by the shock, the Cryotechnic could barely feel her outer limbs as she attempted and failed to pull herself up — only to freeze in place as Siyuakén approached, her entire body glowing with cackling electricity.

“N…no…!” Her eyes widened in shock as her left arm lifted to direct her palm at Rebehka’s face. “No…! Rebehka, stop me!”

“But—! I… I…!”

“Stop me!”

“I—!”

Kill me!!

Rebehka clamped her eyes shut reflexively, the only way she could bring herself to respond. She tensed her entire body, prepared for the incoming massive electrical shock — when it didn’t come, she slowly opened her eyes, and then widened them completely, shocked at the sight before her.

Siyuakén was standing in place, her arm still outstretched but no longer cackling with energy as she slowly looked up at Davídrius — who had just stabbed her through the chest.

He smirked grimly. “Sorry I took so long. Your… ‘favor’ was a little hard to decipher.”

“No… you were just in time…” Siyuakén slowly smiled, her eyes closed. “…Thanks.”

“Yeah…” He glanced away. “…No problem.”

And then he ripped his sword up through her chest to her shoulder, obliterating her heart and lungs.

“Si… Siyuakén!!” Rebehka cried, haphazardly climbing to her feet and stumbling over to Siyuakén’s body before collapsing to her knees next to it. “No… Siyuakén…!”

Davídrius watched the Cryotechnic sob for a few moments before moving to place his hand on her shoulder. “Rebehka—”

“No!” She flinched away from him reflexively as she cradled Siyuakén’s head. “She’s not—! She can’t be dead. She’s not dead! She— she— she fixed her arm earlier, so, so, this, she can fix this, this isn’t—!”

“ISN’T WHAT, HMM?”

“Morcii!” Davídrius growled, immediately stepping in front of Rebehka as the Nanocreature leader casually strolled out of the trees. “The hell are you doin’ here?!”

“IS IT WISE FOR YOU TO STAND THERE AND ASK THAT QUESTION?” he responded, eyebrow raised. “BUT, IF YOU MUST KNOW, I WAS SIMPLY ON MY WAY TO RETRIEVE ONE PARTICULAR SPOIL OF WAR. HOWEVER…” His gaze drifted to Siyuakén’s body, which Rebehka cradled even closer to herself, as if to protect it from Morcii. “…YOU SEEM TO HAVE CAUSED IT SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE.” He turned back to Davídrius. “I BELIEVE THIS CALLS FOR YOU TO RECIPROCATE ME… YES?”

In the blink of an eye, Morcii cleared the entire distance between himself and Davídrius. The Velocitechnic immediately threw himself to the side to evade the Nanocreature and then — instead of attempting to counterattack — he dashed over to Rebehka, pulled her away from Siyuakén’s body, and tossed her over his shoulder before taking off toward the Interstellar Gate.

NO!” she screeched, reaching for her friend’s body as Davídrius fled the scene, “no, no, no! Siyuakén—! You’re forgetting Siyuakén!”

“I ain’t forgettin’ her,” the Velocitechnic replied quietly as they arrived at the Interstellar Gate. He quickly moved to the control panel to input a new set of coordinates, as the connection to Nimalia had expired. “Trust me, I’m not. I’ll remember her for as long as I live.”

“You killed her! You—! She—! I could have saved her!”

“No, you couldn’t,” Davídrius muttered coldly, waiting for the Gate to activate before hurriedly stepping through the event horizon. “You… we were too late. There was nothin’ else we could have done.”

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