Morcii smashed his elbow into Kievkenalis’s chest with great force, cutting off the Chaostechnic’s attack and launching him straight through the entire outer tower to the barren arctic wastelands outside the base. Wilkas immediately jumped forward and slammed his fist into Morcii, sending the Nanocreature leader flying sideways into the nearest wall — but he flipped himself around midair, impacting the wall with his feet and instantly launching himself back at the Forcetechnic, smashing into him and sending the both of them tumbling through the hole Kievkenalis had just created. Vélunis quickly rushed after them, vaulting through the hole himself as he created two claymores and lunged toward Morcii, slicing off his arms and separating him from Wilkas. Kievkenalis took advantage of the opportunity to launch several Chaos Cannon and Strike attacks at Morcii, but the Nanocreature’s disembodied arms blocked every attack as Morcii himself dashed forward, reaching Kievkenalis in the blink of an eye and head-butting him fiercely before following up with a roundhouse kick that sent the Chaostechnic flying over a hundred meters away.
The moment Morcii and Kievkenalis had separated, Vélunis crafted a wide variety of ranged weapons and immediately opened fire on the Nanocreature leader with all of them, blowing the entire area around Morcii to smithereens within seconds. The Formtechnic then created a massive hammer that Wilkas grabbed out of the air as he dashed toward the blast zone; Kievkenalis cleared away the airborne debris with a Chaos Massive Impact just as Wilkas brought the hammer down overhead, smashing it down on Morcii’s location and shattering the terrain for hundreds of meters around. Wilkas then attempted to yank the hammer away as he jumped back, but stumbled when the weapon failed to budge.
“YOUR POWER IS IMPRESSIVE… BUT IT STILL PALES IN COMPARISON TO MY OWN.”
“What?!” Wilkas immediately jumped away from the hammer, warily backing into a defensive stance as Morcii grasped the hammerhead with a single hand… and then completely shattered it.
“Chaos Mach 8 Piercing Cannon!” Kievkenalis shouted, directing a hypersonic projectile toward the Nanocreature leader. But Morcii simply deflected it with the back of his hand, sending the projectile flying to the right where it disappeared past the horizon.
“So much for ‘piercing,’” Vélunis quipped uneasily.
“SURELY, YOU SEE BY NOW HOW OUTCLASSED YOU ARE,” the Nanocreature remarked smugly, and then turned his attention to the skies. “…BE THANKFUL, THEN, THAT MY ATTENTION IS DEMANDED ELSEWHERE… SHOULD WE CONTINUE, I MIGHT FEEL INCLINED TO END THIS FARCE WITH A SINGLE ATTACK.”
“…Elsewhere? …You mean Oriciid’kas?” Kievkenalis questioned warily, the weight of Morcii’s words alone preventing him from making a move against the Nanocreature.
Morcii snorted in derision. “WHERE ELSE? THERE ARE BUT TWO TARGETS IN THIS SYSTEM WORTH MY ATTENTION.”
“And you’re just… leaving us?”
“I ASSURE YOU, ALDREDANOID, THIS IS NO ACT OF BENEVOLENCE.” Morcii smirked. “I AM AWARE THAT YOU STILL HOLD THE AYAS. BUT I AM FAR FROM PRESSED FOR TIME… AND IF I WERE TO KILL YOU NOW, WELL. THEN YOU WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO WITNESS MY GIFT FOR YOU AT TAU’CEN KII.”
“What—?” Kievkenalis started, but before he could continue, the Nanocreature leader had disappeared into the air, soaring through the skies faster than any of the three Chaotics could track.
The moment Morcii completely disappeared from sight, the three Chaotics heaved a collective sigh of relief before Vélunis turned toward Kievkenalis irately.
“Were you trying to get him to kill us?!” he questioned impatiently.
“N…no,” the Chaostechnic replied sheepishly, “but… I was curious why he was leaving us alone…”
“He really is powerful,” Wilkas commented as he trudged back to the other two. “…I really did hit him with that hammer. All the force went through, too. I mean, you saw the ground shatter. But it didn’t affect that guy at all! It’s like he wasn’t even there!”
“I don’t know what to think about him…” Vélunis frowned. “…But thinking about him can wait. For now, we need to try to fix up the base and get the Earthians to pick us up.”
“Yeah…” Kievkenalis nodded warily. “…And let’s just hope that whatever Morcii said about Tau’cen Kii doesn’t turn out to be too terrible for us…”
“Sir! We’ve just received word that the Nanocreatures have invaded the surface of Oriciid’kas!”
“The what—?!” Krick exclaimed, his brow furrowing in helpless anger. “…How? Was the planet’s shield breached?”
“No, the planetary shielding is still intact… it would seem that they came through the Gate itself. One of the CSA officials in charge of the Oriciid’kas Gate was apparently corrupted, and disengaged the Gate’s block, thereby allowing the Nanocreatures through…”
“…Well, if the Nimalians are to be believed, the Nanocreatures started out as the so-called ‘metallic infection,’ and have had twenty years to spread before becoming a noticeable threat, so we can’t say that this was wholly unexpected. But at the same time — does the CSA really not have any fail-safes in place to prevent one individual from disengaging the Gate’s block?!”
“That’s what the news feed said, sir…”
“I know, I know…” the Captain muttered. “…This system is falling far too quickly. It’s been two days since the Nanocreatures attacked. Two days! And already we’re at the same point that all of the other systems were at when the CSA abandoned them, yet this one is supposed to be the CSA capital! This doesn’t sit well at all…” He paused for several moments, staring at the bridge displays before shaking his head warily and speaking up again. “We’ve almost reached the polar fleet; the moment we’re able, scan the polar generator. If it’s in pieces then immediately scan for the Ayas and beam it up—!”
A string of lights spontaneously appeared in the distant space ahead of the Genesis, startling and interrupting Krick’s orders as it drew the attention of the entire bridge.
“…What is that?” the Captain questioned as the string of lights wove through space in wide, sweeping arcs.
“…It’s explosions,” one of the bridge officers replied slowly, “…something is weaving through the polar fleet and destroying every ship it touches!”
“For the love of— get us out of here!” Krick barked, “we are not sticking around for—!”
Before he could even finish his sentence, the string of lights turned toward the Genesis itself; a mere moment later the entire ship shuddered under a massive impact, throwing everyone violently to the floor.
“Status report!” Krick barked as he haphazardly scrambled back into the commander’s chair.
“Shields are down to sixty-three percent! The shock off-lined the Subspace Drive as well! …Sir, it would seem the object that hit us is still floating a short distance away—”
“Scan it! With every sensor suite we have!”
“Yes sir! …Uh… …sir, this is…”
“Huh?” Krick glanced down at the officer in confusion before another hologram appeared amongst the bridge displays, showing a camera feed of the object that had impacted the ship. The Captain’s mouth fell agape in a mixture of disbelief and fear as he beheld the humanoid form floating in space. “…Morcii?!”
As soon as the Captain identified the Nanocreature leader, he disappeared from the camera feed. At the same moment, several of the long range sensors began giving alerts for a high-speed object rushing away from Siionkagh; Krick observed all of the alerts with confusion before turning his attention back to the distant polar fleet. “…What the hell just happened?”
A gigantic mass of ice rose from the ground outside of the Oriciid’kas North Pole base, sweeping over the hordes of metallic bugs approaching the facility and completely immobilizing them. Kaoné quickly transmuted the ice into solid steel just as Davídrius leaped forward, tearing through several larger Nanocreature beasts as Kevérin took to the skies and began raining fire on the army below. Once all three Chaotics were clear of the outer tower’s walls, Kaoné turned on her heel and sealed all of the base entrances, leaving alone only the wall openings for weapon turrets as they opened fire on the approaching Nanocreatures.
“They made it into the base, you know!” Davídrius shouted back before impaling two bugs on his blades. “Just sealin’ everythin’ won’t stop those!”
“None of us are well equipped to fight in enclosed areas,” Kevérin countered. “We’ll have to leave the base interior to the CSA guard. We just need to help keep the Nanocreatures at bay!”
“Easier said than done…” Kaoné muttered.
“Maybe, but maybe not…” Davídrius eyed the several CSA Chaotic squads that had spread out around the base exterior. “It’s not just us this time — maybe we stand a chance. But we definitely won’t if we just stand around! C’mon!”
The Velocitechnic immediately dashed off again, leaving Kevérin to raise back into the air — just in time to be attacked by several flying Nanocreature monsters, each possessing the size and shape of large birds. The Pyrotechnic’s armor protected him from direct harm, but he still took a second to regain his bearings before bathing the air around him in searing fire as he called out, “Overdrive: Unrelenting Flame!” Kaoné quickly transmuted the air around the burnt creatures into lead, trapping them in dense spheres that she then slammed into the battlefield, obliterating several smaller Nanocreatures as Kevérin followed up with more fire blasts before moving away to assault the horde on his own.
Davídrius continued to rush through the Nanocreature ranks, slicing and kicking with speeds faster than anyone could track while remaining careful to not get caught by any of Kaoné’s or Kevérin’s massive sweeping attacks. He easily made up for his inability to target multiple bugs at once with his extreme speed, racking up a high enough kill count to match or even surpass either of the other two Nimalian Chaotics. Within a surprisingly short period of time the three Chaotics, working in tandem with the CSA squads, had cleared out a half-kilometer area surrounding the polar base and continued to make short work of the approaching Nanocreatures.
“Haha! What pushovers!” Davídrius whooped, preparing to dash off again and continue attacking. “Some threat these guys are—!”
“Davídrius, wait!” Kevérin interjected, stopping the Velocitechnic in his tracks.
The Tresédian scowled impatiently. “What is it? We’ve actually got the bastards on the run!”
“And that’s the problem…” The Transfer Captain frowned, slowly reducing the power of his flame jets until he alighted on the ground next to Davídrius. Kaoné quickly approached as well.
“What’s wrong?” she questioned warily.
“This situation isn’t right,” Kevérin responded. “…It’s like Maasen all over again. Back then, we were fighting basic Drakkar foot soldiers and got carried away with how easy it was to fight them, and then we got lured into battles with Drakkar faction leaders because of it. And now, here, we’re fighting basic Nanocreature foot soldiers, and we’re getting carried away with how easy it is to fight them…”
“Do you think Morcii’ll show up soon?” Davídrius dropped his impatient demeanor as he turned to face Kevérin with alarm.
“I expect something to show up soon.” The Pyrotechnic glanced back at the outer tower uneasily. “…We need to pull back—”
Without warning, a massive force slammed into the polar base’s inner tower from above, completely obliterating it and shattering the entire base’s foundation as well as the outer tower’s walls.
“The— the shield generator!!” Kaoné exclaimed.
“What the fuck?!” Davídrius jumped back in surprise.
“I fucking knew it— Kaoné!” Kevérin barked, “clear us a path! We need to get to the Ayas, now!”
“R-right!” The Materiatechnic quickly began creating a steel path through the air as Kevérin and Davídrius impatiently followed behind her. They soon reached the outer tower wall; the very moment Kaoné tore a hole through the wall, Davídrius dashed through, followed by Kevérin as he immediately bathed the interior of the base with flames.
“I SEE YOU’RE WASTING NO TIME TO GAWK! YOUR COMBAT PROWESS IS IMPROVING.”
The three Chaotics instantly recognized Morcii’s mocking voice, but none of them stopped to address him. Kaoné quickly created a five-meter steel-and-diamond-reinforced ceiling in an effort to trap Morcii, while Davídrius rushed forward to distract the Nanocreature leader as Kevérin flew over to the remains of the shield generator. Without a second to spare, the Pyrotechnic began incinerating the debris and digging through the rubble in an effort to find the Ayas.
“MIGHT YOU BE LOOKING FOR THIS?”
“What—?” Kevérin snapped his attention toward Morcii just as the Nanocreature leader leaped into the air, hovering several meters above the ground as he held out Mystryth, the White Chaos Ayas. “…How—?”
“YOU TRULY FAIL TO GRASP JUST HOW MASSIVELY OUTCLASSED YOU ARE, DON’T YOU?” Morcii chuckled. “I MUST SAY — YOU AND YOUR KIND ARE CERTAINLY LEARNING, LEARNING TO CHOOSE YOUR FIGHTS AND HOW TO COUNTER MY FORCES. BUT YOU AREN’T LEARNING FAST ENOUGH, AND YOU’VE YET TO LEARN HOW TO COUNTER ME — AND I ALONE COULD TAKE ON THE ENTIRE GALAXY IF I SO CHOSE! YOU WILL NEVER GIVE ME AS MUCH OF A CHALLENGE AS THE ALDREDAS ONCE DID. WITHIN THE MONTH, EVERY ONE OF YOUR TRANSPACE WORLDS WILL BE MINE… YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY HOPE TO DEFEAT ME!”
Kevérin scowled, unsure of how to respond to Morcii’s claims. He glanced warily down at Davídrius and Kaoné — just in time to catch the Materiatechnic jerk her head slightly. Kevérin snapped his attention back to Morcii just as a massive steel pillar appeared directly above the Nanocreature and slammed him into the ground; the Pyrotechnic immediately dove after him, shouting, “Chaos State: First–nngh!!”
He was painfully interrupted as Morcii instantly tore through the steel pillar, grabbed Kevérin by his neck, and slammed him into the wall of the outer tower with enough force to completely obliterate the entire structure. The Pyrotechnic’s energy shielding and Overdrive State protected him from significant damage, but the blow still stunned him long enough for Morcii to encase his wrists and ankles in bonds made of Nanocreature nanites as the leader himself hovered just over ten meters away.
“WHAT MAY HAVE WORKED ONCE WILL NOT SUCCEED AGAIN!” Morcii declared. “I’VE HAD MY FUN. IN MINUTES, YOUR ARMOR’S SHIELDING WILL FAIL, AND I WILL THEN BE FREE TO CORRUPT YOU AS I PLEASE!” He slowly turned toward Kaoné and Davídrius, who had both frozen where they stood in surprise and awe at the raw speed and power of Morcii’s actions. He slowly extended his left arm toward Kaoné as he added, “I HOPE NEITHER OF YOU PLAN ON RUNNING. BUT JUST IN CASE YOU DID…”
The Nanocreature leader fired his entire lower arm toward Kaoné at hypersonic speeds — but in the very instant his arm separated from his body, Davídrius leaped into the air, smashing his blades against the projectile with enough force to shatter both blades and knock the arm off course. The Velocitechnic ignored the new hole in the wall beside Kaoné as he quickly shouted midair, “Chaos State: First Tier!”
The Ayas disappeared from Morcii’s hand as Davídrius fell back to the ground. The Nanocreature leader immediately dived after him, but the Velocitechnic leaped out of the way just in time to avoid obliteration. He quickly summoned the Mystryth bow and yanked its string back before releasing it, haphazardly firing an arrow at Morcii. The hypersonic projectile blew a hole through the Nanocreature’s torso before smashing into and piercing the outer wall, instantly creating a massive hole all the way through it. Davídrius smirked at the sight before ducking under a punch thrown by Morcii. He then attempted to back flip away, but stumbled as Morcii caught his foot and flung him toward the far wall. The Velocitechnic quickly righted himself midair and pulled back the bowstring as he landed on the ground again, taking aim at Morcii once more and firing. The arrow once again flew through Morcii, this time blowing off his right arm; in addition, the leftover stub glowed blue for a brief moment, but the glow quickly disappeared with no consequence.
Morcii immediately jumped backwards and into the air, glancing down at the debris that the arrow had struck just as the damaged metal dissolved into tiny blue particles that then disappeared into the air. “…SO YOU ATTEMPTED TO USE SUBSPATIAL STORAGE ON ME? I SEE YOU’VE BEEN SPEAKING WITH THE PRIORS.”
“Tch…!” Davídrius scowled, quickly firing another arrow at Morcii in frustration, only to have the same effect: none.
“A CLEVER IDEA, TO BE SURE.” Morcii nodded in approval. “BUT YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE WRONG OPPONENT TO USE IT ON. I CAN DISSOCIATE NANOMACHINES FROM MY BODY AT WILL; I CAN THEREFORE EASILY CIRCUMVENT THE CONTINUOUS BODY RULE OF SUBSPATIAL STORAGE. IN FACT, ANY NANOCREATURE CAN, EVEN THE LOWLY ‘FOOT SOLDIERS,’ AS YOU CALLED THEM. I’M AFRAID THIS TACTIC SIMPLY WON’T WORK AGAINST ME… YOU CANNOT DEFEAT ME QUITE SO EASILY.”
“…Tch.” The Velocitechnic smirked spitefully. “What will it take to defeat you?”
The Nanocreature leader smirked back. “I’M INTERESTED TO SEE IF YOU CAN FIND OUT.”
Morcii then dived toward Davídrius, prompting the Velocitechnic to leap out of the way. However, instead of counterattacking, he quickly aimed Mystryth toward Kevérin — who was still trapped in the air by Nanocreature shackles — and fired. The arrow effectively phased through the Pyrotechnic before he disappeared in a blue mist.
“Davídrius, what are you—?!” Kaoné exclaimed, but her statement was cut off as the Velocitechnic fired an arrow at and Subspatially stored her as well.
“Hopefully,” he muttered to himself as he leaped through one of the massive holes in the tower walls and began sprinting at hypersonic speeds across the polar tundra, “…hopefully, I just saved all our asses…”
“What’s going on?!”
“We’re getting our asses kicked, that’s what’s going on.” Krick scowled, not even bothering to glance back at Kievkenalis, Vélunis, or Wilkas as he responded. The three Chaotics had been beamed up to the Genesis less than half an hour ago, and the Battlecruiser was now busy joining the Siionkagh polar defense fleet in an attempt to drive back the increasing numbers of Nanocreature ships. “…Do you have the Ayas with you?”
Kievkenalis nodded. “Yeah. I was able to keep it out of Morcii’s hands with the Chaos State.”
“Wait— are you saying you had a direct confrontation with Morcii?”
“Yep,” Vélunis replied tersely.
“…He left before we beamed you up.” The Earthian Captain finally swiveled his chair around to face the Chaotics directly. “So you’re saying you got into a fight with him, but he retreated? Did you manage to beat him?!”
“No, he just left.” Wilkas shrugged. “He just stopped fighting and… left.”
“He said something about his attention being required elsewhere,” Kievkenalis added warily, “and then he said something about a surprise at Tau’cen Kii.”
“Confident little bastard assumes this system is as good as his, huh?” Krick snorted, and then frowned as he returned his attention to the bridge displays. “…Well… he isn’t exactly wrong. Just before we picked you up, he single-handedly obliterated a full tenth of the polar fleets.”
“What?!” The Chaostechnic snapped his attention up to the bridge displays but faltered when he realized that he couldn’t read any of the Earthian text. “What’s the status of the system?”
“Twenty-five space stations have been either destroyed or breached, seventeen of those housing upwards of a billion inhabitants… two of the fleets defending Oriciid’kas have been either wiped out or assimilated, and each of the five fleets defending Siionkagh have been reduced to half their strength at best. The North Pole planetary shield generators on both Siionkagh and Oriciid’kas have been destroyed, the Oriciid’kas Gate has been breached and Nanocreatures are flooding across the planet’s surface, and the Nanocreatures are beginning to make planetfall on the other terra planets in the system as well.”
“The Oriciid’kas generator was destroyed? Wasn’t everyone else stationed there? And the Ayas, too?” Vélunis questioned, “are they okay?”
“There’s no way for us to know. The planet’s fallen under a complete network blackout, and the Nanocreature presence in orbit is increasing past the point of safe escape, even for us,” Krick responded wearily.
“Wait, so you’re saying you’re not even going to check?!” Kievkenalis exclaimed, “but, you can’t—! We at least need to recover the Ayas, right?!”
“We do,” the Earthian Captain replied as he squinted at a new information box among the many bridge displays, “…but we can’t afford an extensive search. We can swing by the pole and make a quick scan for the Ayas and your friends, but we can’t afford to waste too much time here.”
“’Waste?!’ What else would we be doing?”
“Pulling back,” Krick stated flatly. “We’ve received an order directly from System Command: we’re to fall back to Tau’cen Kii and help the forces there try to invent a better defense plan.”
“…We’re pulling back?” Vélunis echoed uneasily. “We’re… abandoning the system?”
“Not… completely. The current defense fleets will stay behind in an effort to stall the Nanocreatures. But we have an Ayas, and we have some data on Morcii’s demolition streak, so we’ll be of more help to Tau’cen Kii, which is still fully intact for now, than we would be here.”
“System Command is still acknowledging the fact that we can’t take back the system, though,” Kievkenalis muttered. “So… we’ve lost, haven’t we?”
Krick stared hard at the bridge displays, and then out through the Genesis’s massive bridge window to the battles outside and the planet below. “…Yeah… we’ve lost. The Oriciid’kas system is as good as gone.”