“Davídrius, what’s going on? I thought you said you killed her?”
“I did,” the Velocitechnic growled as he glared at Siyuakén, who blankly stared back. “…I swear, by all rights she was dead. I fuckin’ sliced through her heart! This doesn’t… she can’t…!”
Kevérin glanced toward Davídrius uneasily before turning back to Morcii and Siyuakén. Based on appearances alone, Siyuakén seemed to be her normal living self — same fit body, same moderate height, same facial definition. Nearly every physical trait was the same. Yet the metallic rashes that wreathed her entire body just prior to her fleeing Nimalia had seemingly receded to her left arm and eye alone, and there were no signs of the damage Davídrius claimed to have caused. “…Are you sure?” the Pyrotechnic questioned, “I don’t see anything that would indicate that you… er… killed her.”
“Are you fuckin’ doubtin’ me?” The Velocitechnic’s brow furrowed in fury. “I ain’t lyin’ about this, and I know what I fuckin’ saw! Just go ask Rebehka before you assume shit! I’m tellin’ you, I killed Siyuakén, and this can’t be her!”
“We did just witness the Nanocreatures’ ability to shape-shift,” Krydonin pointed out. “She’s probably a look-alike; don’t let it get to you. He’s just stalling for time!”
The Commander quickly dived to the left as she flipped the stone under Morcii’s feet, signaling for the other nearby Black Suns Chaotics to engage as well. The Nanocreature leader proved unfazed by the attack, however, and simply crossed his arms as several large metallic beasts quickly formed from the growing masses of Nanocreature bugs and attacked the Black Suns, forcing their attention away.
He smirked. “CAN’T HAVE THE SHOW INTERRUPTED, NOW, CAN WE?”
“There’s no show. You’re clearly lyin’!” Davídrius countered stubbornly, “Krydonin’s right, this is just a double or somethin’. We should—!”
“NO NO, DON’T BE QUITE SO HASTY,” Morcii interjected. “YOU DO HAVE A POINT — SHE COULD INDEED BE A DOPPELGANGER. BUT, I WONDER, HOW COULD I KNOW YOUR FRIEND WELL ENOUGH TO FAKE THIS?”
“AAGH!” Siyuakén suddenly clutched her head as she unceremoniously collapsed to her knees, her entire body tensing in pain. “Ah…! Agh… guh…”
“Wha—?!” The entirety of Hero Machina reeled back in surprise, each of them startled by the sudden display of emotion.
“Si… Siyuakén…?” Kaoné ventured warily, slowly extending her arm toward the corrupted Electrotechnic.
“…Wha…what…?” Siyuakén slowly looked up, her eyes widening as she spotted Kaoné. She then jerked her head toward Davídrius — and then Kevérin — and then Kievkenalis — before drawing back, her breath catching in her throat. “N-no, no… get, go, go away! Run! Don’t—! You’ll get corrupted, don’t, go—!”
“Siyuakén! No, wait…!” Kevérin responded uneasily, “we can—! Calm down, we can…”
“You can what?!” she shot back, her previous distress instantly transforming into ire. “Save me? From him? How? You can’t even— you can’t even kill me right, you can’t, you can’t fight Morcii, or me, not now, not—!” She suddenly broke down again, cupping her face in her hands as she stumbled backwards. “Go! Run! Please, don’t… don’t follow me!”
All that followed Siyuakén’s broken outburst was dead silence… silence that was shattered mere moments later by Morcii’s chuckling.
“PERHAPS NOW YOU ARE CONVINCED AS TO HER IDENTITY?”
“Tch!” Davídrius scowled and then blasted forward, stopping just in front of Siyuakén’s curled body moments before the sonic boom produced from his takeoff. Faster than anyone could track, he brought his blades down over Siyuakén’s head — and then stopped just short.
“What—?” Kaoné stared at him in surprise. “Davídrius, what…?”
“Fuck! Fucking… fuck!” The Velocitechnic’s face scrounged up in frustrated fury. “I can’t— fuckin’ shit, I can’t do this again… fuck!”
“HOW AMUSINGLY PATHETIC,” Morcii remarked with a sneer. “YOU CAN’T EVEN BRING YOURSELF TO KILL HER, WHEN YOU’VE ALREADY DONE SO ONCE! AND YOU EXPECT TO STOP ME?”
“…You—!!” Davídrius turned his rage toward Morcii, but before he could act on it Vélunis had dashed up, driving his own blades toward Siyuakén’s head — and then both Velocitechnics were blown away by an intense blast of electrical power.
“I SEE NOT ALL OF YOU ARE SO CAUGHT UP IN YOUR EMOTIONS THAT YOU FORGET YOUR PRAGMATISM.” The Nanocreature leader chuckled again, watching Davídrius and Vélunis stumble back to their feet as Siyuakén casually returned to hers, all hints of her previous outbreak removed from her now-blank expression. “BUT YOUR INSISTENCE ON RESISTANCE IS ABSURD. THIS EPISODE IS A TESTAMENT TO YOUR INABILITY TO STOP ME OR MY FORCES — TO SAY NOTHING OF YOUR PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS AT ‘BATTLES’ WITH ME! YOU STILL BELIEVE YOU CAN STOP ME? YOU STILL BELIEVE YOU CAN SAVE YOUR GALAXY? AND ALL YOU HAVE TO SHOW FOR IT IS A CRUDELY RUDIMENTARY LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE CHAOS AYAS, AND A REMARKABLE INABILITY TO FOLLOW THROUGH A SIMPLE MURDER? ASTOUNDING! THIS ENTIRE SITUATION IS ASTOUNDING! YOU CLAIM TO BE THE DESCENDANTS OF THE ALDREDAS, WHO THEMSELVES WERE BARELY ABLE TO FEND OFF BOTH I AND MY MASTERS? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED, IF ONLY YOU POSSESSED EVEN ONE IOTA OF THE AWARENESS YOU WOULD NEED TO BE SO!”
“You sure do talk a lot,” Kievkenalis observed, “and we’ve at least been able to hold our own against you before. You can’t just dismiss us that easily.”
“YOUR ATTEMPT AT BRAVADO IS AMUSING AT BEST, ALDREDANOID. WE BOTH KNOW THAT THE ONLY REASON YOU LIVE YET IS BECAUSE I ALLOW IT. IF I TRULY WISHED YOU DEAD, OR AMONG MY FORCES, THEN IT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED LONG AGO.”
“What?” Davídrius growled. “You’re sayin’ you want us alive? So you can, what, shove your superiority in our faces? Is that it? Need someone to flaunt your ego in front of so you feel validated?”
“VALIDATION? FROM THE LIKES OF YOU?” Morcii snorted in derision. “THE ONLY VALIDATION I REQUIRE IS FROM THE MORIKAI, BUT I CAN HARDLY DERIVE PRIDE FROM CONQUERING A GALAXY IN SUCH A PITIFUL STATE AS YOURS. AND IF I WERE TO CONQUER THE WHOLE GALAXY, THEN WHAT WOULD BE LEFT FOR THE MORIKAI? SURELY, YOU UNDERSTAND MY DILEMMA.”
“Oh, sure, definitely,” Vélunis drawled. “Man, I wish all of my dilemmas were about whether or not I should conquer the whole damn galaxy.”
“ENOUGH. I HAVE SPENT ENOUGH TIME TALKING.” Morcii turned away. “I’VE HAD MY FUN; ENJOY YOURSELVES, ALDREDANOIDS, FOR THE NEXT WE MEET I SHAN’T BE SO GRACIOUS AS TO ALLOW YOU TIME TO RESPOND—”
“Overdrive: Speed Break!!”
Instantly, Davídrius was on Morcii, his blades driven clear through the Nanocreature’s chest. He immediately followed with a fierce flip-kick, slamming his feet into Morcii’s head and smashing him to the ground. The Nanocreature leader quickly responded by extricating himself just in time to catch the Velocitechnic’s foot as he followed up with a roundhouse kick, forcing them to lock eyes momentarily.
“THAT BURST OF CHAOS ENERGY…” Morcii muttered, and then smirked. “SO YOU UNLOCKED YOUR OVERDRIVE, ALL FOR ME? I’M FLATTERED.”
“Not for you,” Davídrius muttered, “this ain’t for you.” He broke out of Morcii’s grasp, shattering the Nanocreature’s hand in the process before drop-kicking him across the battlefield. “This is for Siyuakén! And all the other poor bastards you think you can stomp all over!”
“YOU NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE—!” Morcii started, but was interrupted as the Velocitechnic appeared nearby and slammed his foot into the Nanocreature’s mouth, obliterating his chin. Recoiling, Morcii quickly reached to grab Davídrius by his throat only to be forced to dive to the side to avoid another kick; the Nanocreature leader immediately followed by leaping into the sky, ceasing his ascent several hundred meters above the battlefield to turn around, transform both of his arms into massive laser cannons, and then get smashed back ground-ward as Davídrius easily reached his height with a single bound and slammed his foot into the Nanocreature’s back.
“Overdrive: Infinite Lift!” Wilkas shouted, just in time to intercept Morcii with a massive blow and send him careening through the air and into the mountain across the valley. Davídrius and Vélunis both immediately took off down the mountainside, using their superior speed and reflexes to reach the other side of the valley as Kevérin simply flew after them.
“No…!” Kievkenalis frowned as he squinted at the other mountain in frustration. “I can’t get over there! How am I supposed to help—? Uaah?! Wilkas?! What are you doing?!”
“You wanted to get to the other side, right?” The Forcetechnic replied as he easily hoisted Kievkenalis into the air and turned toward the valley. “Well, here you go!”
“Wait, what, no—! Aaaahhhh!!”
“…You can’t be serious.” Kaoné stared in disbelief as the Chaostechnic disappeared into the distance. “You really just threw him across the valley.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Wilkas waved her off, preparing to leap down the mountainside himself when a massive lightning bolt suddenly struck him from above, once again shutting down his armor. He immediately threw himself to the side to evade another strike before turning toward Siyuakén, who stared back blankly. “…Damn. Looks like we’re stuck with this bitch.”
“Look, I never knew her, aside from the fact that she blacked out Nimaliaka Central and trashed the Gateport.” The Forcetechnic clenched his fists repeatedly, stretching his fingers as he stared down the corrupted Nimalian. “All I know is that she’s in the way, and we need to get rid of her.”
“But…” Kaoné frowned as she threw Siyuakén an uneasy glance. “…But, she—”
“No buts!” Wilkas exclaimed, smashing his fists together before slamming his right fist into the ground, launching large rocks into the air that he punched to send them flying toward Siyuakén. “Now c’mon! Watch my back! And fix my armor already!”
“Overdrive: Limitless Weaponswright!”
Vélunis created a line of railguns in the air before pointing them at Morcii and unleashing a barrage of weapons fire, throwing up immense amounts of rock and debris. Davídrius disappeared into the cloud faster than anyone could track; the instant afterward Morcii was tumbling through the air before catching himself on a rock wall, using it to rocket himself back at the Velocitechnic. Davídrius quickly knocked the Nanocreature leader aside with his blades, allowing Kevérin to swoop in and bathe Morcii in flame — flames that the Nanocreature easily swept aside as he leaped into the air, smashing his head into Kevérin’s gut before grabbing his arm and launching him ground-ward, where he slammed into Kievkenalis just as the Chaostechnic approached and sent both Chaotics tumbling down the mountain.
Vélunis quickly followed by opening fire with the railguns again, blasting Morcii with projectiles in an attempt to shoot him out of the air. The Nanocreature leader took the first volley directly but whipped around and snatched several bullets out of the second volley, launching them back at Vélunis before diving down to the ground to repair himself with a handful of approaching Nanocreature ground units. Davídrius immediately moved to intercept him, managing to kick several of the units down the mountain before they reached Morcii, but he failed to prevent the Nanocreature leader from completely healing his wounds. Morcii then turned his attention to the Velocitechnic, lunging forward to engage in close-quarters combat at a far higher speed than any non-Velocitechnic could track.
“They’re… too fast…” Kievkenalis muttered as he watched the battle in front of him and Kevérin uneasily.
“Even with the Chaos State, we can’t match that…” Kevérin scowled. “Damn it, not again! Can’t the Ayas ever help us at all?!”
The two Chaotics were then forced to duck as Davídrius was sent flying over their heads and tumbling down the mountainside. Morcii vaulted over the two as well, offering them a fleeting glance before spinning around midair to counter several javelins Vélunis had launched at Mach speeds. Davídrius quickly took advantage of the opening to dash back up to Morcii’s side and dropkick him down the mountain before taking off and intercepting the Nanocreature leader to bicycle kick him into the air. Vélunis instantly open fired with his railguns again, ripping off Morcii’s left arm and leg as he dashed down the mountain himself, crafting a dozen swords in a ring around himself before launching them upwards at the Nanocreature. Morcii immediately moved to counter the attack, transforming his severed limbs into disembodied hands that he used to catch two of the blades and then deflect the rest. The Nanocreature leader then threw the blades at his opponents — one toward Vélunis and one toward Davídrius — just as he transformed his hands into laser cannons and opened fire. Vélunis dived out of the way, but Davídrius simply tanked the blast with his armor as he leaped into the air and spiked Morcii with his heel, instantly slamming the Nanocreature to the ground. Morcii quickly jumped back to his feet but was suddenly blown sideways as Vélunis rammed into him; Davídrius immediately intercepted Morcii with another kick, launching him across the mountainside where Vélunis jumped in front of him and blasted him with his railguns yet again, following up with a hard kick that knocked Morcii back into the air. Davídrius jumped up after the Nanocreature, swinging his foot down hard to spike him again — only to have his kick stopped as Morcii grabbed him by his heel.
“THAT ATTACK MAY HAVE WORKED THE FIRST TIME,” he snarled, and then yanked his arm down, launching Davídrius toward the ground below. “BUT YOU’D BE A FOOL TO EXPECT IT TO WORK AGAIN!”
The Nanocreature leader dived into the ground, barely missing Davídrius as the Velocitechnic managed to jump out of the way. Vélunis quickly followed up with another railgun volley, but Morcii simply leaped out of the way before slamming his floating hands into the Formtechnic and then grasping him by his ankles and hoisting him into the air. Davídrius jumped in to try and sever the bonds but was intercepted by Morcii, who had replaced his severed left leg with his right arm — transformed into a left leg — and deftly blocked each of Davídrius’s blows with his feet alone before suddenly growing an arm out of his chest and punching the Velocitechnic in the face, sending him reeling back in surprise. Morcii then lifted his right leg into the air and brought it down over Davídrius’s head—
Kievkenalis rocketed into Morcii, impacting the Nanocreature leader with an explosion of Chaos Energy and knocking him clear down the mountainside and into the crevice below.
“The fuck was that?!” Davídrius exclaimed, recovering from being knocked back himself.
“That… that was a Movement-type ability,” Kievkenalis muttered, dumbfounded. “I… didn’t know I could do that. I shouldn’t be able to do that…”
“But you tried it anyways?” Kevérin snorted as he approached and alighted next to the Chaostechnic.
“I don’t know, it just popped into my head…”
“Look, I’m glad for you and all, mate, but we’re still in the middle of a fight here,” Vélunis commented as he dropped to the ground after cutting himself free of the Nanocreature binds. “He’s stuck in the crevice, now would be a good time to get the drop on him.”
“You’re right.” Kevérin lifted into the air again, his flame jets melting the rock underfoot. “I’ll sweep the crevice with fire and then we’ll jump in and catch him by surprise!” He blasted away from the mountain before stopping his flame jets and allowing himself to fall toward the crevice as the other three Chaotics quickly jumped down the mountainside themselves. Within seconds, Kevérin found himself just above the lip of the crevice — immediately, he re-engaged his flame jets and then filled the entire crevice with flame, covering the rocks and lighting up the darkness as if hell itself had appeared. He maintained the heat bath for several seconds before snapping the fires out of existence; Kievkenalis followed up with a quick call of “Chaos Assist” before the four Chaotics jumped down into the crevice, Kevérin lighting up their path with his flames.
“Ungh—!” Davídrius grunted upon landfall. “This crevice is deeper than I thought.”
“Is this a major fault line or something?…” Kievkenalis questioned as he stared upward at the thin sliver of light that was the crevice opening. “How is it so deep?”
“And so dark…” Vélunis scowled as he crafted a rifle with a flashlight attachment and used it to look around. “Let’s hurry up and finish off Morcii. I’m already having second thoughts about coming down here.”
“AS YOU SHOULD! THOUGH YOUR FORESIGHT COMES A LITTLE TOO LATE.”
“What?!” Kevérin exclaimed as the light above them disappeared with the sound of metal hatches slamming shut. The Pyrotechnic immediately bathed the entire area around the Chaotics in flame again, illuminating the dark crevice for meters around — and revealing Morcii’s levitating form.
“TO THINK, THAT YOU ACTUALLY FOLLOWED ME INTO AN ENCLOSED UNDERGROUND AREA…” The Nanocreature leader laughed to himself. “YOUR LACK OF FORESIGHT IS APPALLING.”
“We can still fight you here, easily,” Davídrius shot back. “Hell, easier than up above, even. There’s nowhere for us to go, sure, but there’s nowhere for you to go, either!”
“NOWHERE FOR ME TO GO?” Morcii echoed, and then grinned viciously. “YOU SEEM TO BE UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT YOU HAVE TRAPPED ME HERE. BUT IN REALITY…” He paused momentarily as a deafening cracking noise reverberated through the crevice. “…I’M THE ONE WHO TRAPPED YOU.”
“Tch!” Davídrius scowled and then leaped at the Nanocreature leader, but before he had cleared even half the distance a rock column exploded out of the wall beside him and slammed him into the opposite wall.
“AGAIN, YOU UNDERESTIMATE THE NANOCREATURES!” Morcii exclaimed, “YOU UNDERESTIMATE MY ABILITIES, AND YOU UNDERESTIMATE MY CONTROL! YOU LEAVE ME NO CHOICE BUT TO CLAIM YOU FOR MYSELF, QUAKEBORN, EVEN IF I MUST BEAT THE AYAS OUT OF YOU FIRST!”
“Chaos Deflect!” Kievkenalis called out just in time to knock away a large boulder that almost crushed the Chaotics. He then glanced around at the rock walls as they began to tremble violently, shaking loose smaller rocks and dust that cascaded down to the crevice floor. “Guys, we need to get out of here—!”
“THERE IS NO ESCAPE, ALDREDANOIDS!” The Nanocreature leader slowly rose higher and higher into the air as more and larger stones began falling to the ground, forcing the Chaotics to direct all of their attention to avoid being crushed. “LIE BURIED WITH YOUR HUBRIS, TRAPPED UNDER YOUR FOOLISHNESS! FOR NOW…” He glared down as the rock walls on either side of him completely shattered and caved in. “…YOU ALL BELONG TO ME!”