Chapter 69 – The Rules of Chaos

3 Days Later

– Windia, Skydiath 32, 8034 –

“Why does it seem like every Fortress World is a desolate piece of garbage?”

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Kevérin refuted, his attention focused on several AR readouts as he addressed Wilkas, “Fortress Worlds are the neatest planets you’ll find. They’re all about military-grade efficiency, especially the Primary Fortress Worlds, which are the only ones we’ve seen.”

“Maasen wasn’t a Primary Fortress World,” Kaoné countered.

“…Well, true, but that’s beside the point,” the Pyrotechnic replied, glancing toward the other three Chaotics as they stared at the surrounding mountains and valleys through an observation window. Hero Machina had arrived on the world of Neticen the previous day, and were now stationed at one of the planet’s mountain bases while they awaited the arrival of the Nanocreatures. “The point is that we’ve only seen the desolate locations on each planet,” Kevérin continued, “the planets themselves aren’t desolate, or garbage.”

“Could’ve fooled me,” Wilkas retorted, “between a tundra outpost and two different mountain bases that look exactly the same.”

“To be fair, Tau’cen Dii wasn’t actually a Fortress World,” Kievkenalis pointed out.

Wilkas gave the Chaostechnic an annoyed glance before turning back to the window.

“Neticen especially is an amazing place, from a technical perspective,” Kevérin commented as he stepped up to the observation window beside Kaoné. “If you had a chance to see the plains, then you’d see what I’m talking about. Huge expanses of industrialized terrain, massive defense constructs, the anti-orbital cannons. Hell, there are some construction arrays that are larger than the entire Nimaliaka Central metropolis, and some of the anti-orbital cannons have dedicated power arrays and resupply facilities that stretch for hundreds of kilometers around. The only reason you can’t see any of that is because we’re stuck in one of the tertiary mountain bases, in the hopes that the Nanocreatures will hit here first instead of anywhere else.”

“How does that matter?” Kaoné questioned incredulously. “By the time the Nanocreatures have gotten through the planetary shields, the whole planet is as good as lost.”

“You’re forgetting that Morcii can phase through the shields,” Kevérin countered. “He did so many times back in the Oriciid’kas system, so he’s sure to do it here. This base has comparatively little value, so if he hit here first then it gives the Citans time to clear out everywhere else.”

“I thought the whole point of trying to draw Morcii here was because they were willing to sacrifice the planet?”

The Transfer Captain shrugged. “Sacrificing the planet doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice what’s on it… I guess.”

“I wanna know more about that ‘hitting here first’ part,” Wilkas interjected. “If we expect Morcii to show up here first, then why the hell are we here? Isn’t it common knowledge that we can’t do shit against him?”

“It’s a trust measure. If we won’t stick around while we test the Chaos State, then why should the Citans?”

“…That’s a terrible reason.”

“It’s also a show of our trust in the Citan defenses. We can’t ask them to commit a full theater’s worth of defenses to defend a single planet if we don’t trust them to defend us. Hell, they’ve even got the Faetos in orbit. Shit, this is the fourth Deathnought we’ve been in the same system as, you know?”

“How about instead of being in the same system as a Deathnought, we were on the Deathnought?”

“Ah, we’re probably safer down here than on the Deathnought, actually,” Kievkenalis remarked. “A Supercapital ship is a primary target, always. The Nanocreatures might take it out before even bothering with the planet, so I think we’re safer here for now.”

Wilkas snorted derisively. “Says the Chaos Conduit.”

“What? What does that have to do with this? I’m not even a Chaos Conduit in the first place…”

“No… Wilkas has a point.” Kevérin glanced toward the Chaostechnic curiously. “You used a Movement-type ability back on Tau’cen Dii, but you said before that you couldn’t use Movement-type abilities. You’ve been doing that a lot, lately, using abilities that you said you shouldn’t be able to. Are you sure you aren’t actually a Chaos Conduit?”

“Yes,” Kievkenalis responded crossly, and then frowned. “Well… I mean, I used to be a Directed-Defense-Support Chaostechnic. Those were the only types of abilities that I could use for years, but I suddenly started getting access to the other types a few months ago. It’s… weird. There’s no precedent for this.”

“And when, exactly, was the last time anyone ever even saw a Chaos Conduit?” Kevérin pointed out. “…Aside from Surdeus, obviously. My point being, if you don’t even know what it looks like to be a Chaos Conduit, then how can you so firmly say that you aren’t one?”

The Chaostechnic crossed his arms and glanced away in thought. “…I guess you’re right,” he eventually replied. “The only stories we have of Chaos Conduits are basically legends. But, that’s not me, right? I’m nowhere close to legendary. I can’t be one.”

“Weird thing to be in denial about,” Wilkas retorted. “Can’t Chaos Conduits stop time? I’d be all over that.”

“I guess…”

“What types can you still not use?” Kaoné questioned, “maybe you’ll unlock them all before the fight with Morcii is over.”

“That’s wishful thinking. He won’t even be the one fighting Morcii,” Kevérin countered, and then shot Kievkenalis an apologetic glance. “Er, sorry.”

“…Void, I think,” the Chaostechnic ignored Kevérin’s interruption as he answered Kaoné’s question. “…Yeah, I think Void is the only type I can’t use. I mean, I haven’t tried to use any Void abilities, and I’m not about to, not here, not now. …I guess Void and Nullify would be pretty useful against Morcii, though. Actually, now that I think about it, Boost should be pretty useful, too…”

“Uh, what’s that do?”

“Boost is a Movement-type ability that increases your speed and reflexes. If I used Boost and the right multiplier then I could, theoretically, keep up with even Davídrius. It’d only last for a second or two though, if I tried going that fast.”

“…Chaostechnics really can do anything,” Kaoné responded in awe.

“I mean… it’s still not as good as being an actual Introtechnic,” Kievkenalis quickly added. “Boost, well, boosts speed and reflexes, but it doesn’t provide the passive durability that Introtechnics have. I’d have to use it in conjunction with Armor or Form to even get close to the level of Introtechnic durability, and using either of those would reduce the effectiveness of Boost, so it’s really not quite as useful as it sounds…”

“Ha!” Wilkas snorted. “Still sounds incredibly useful to me.”

“If you say so…”

“Well, it’s not as though we’ll get a chance to see anyways. Not against Morcii, at least,” Kevérin remarked. “Assuming everything goes according to plan, we’ll have no business fighting him. That’s all up to Christeané…”


“Oh! Hello. So you’re the test subject today?”

“…Test subject?” Christeané glanced warily toward Davídrius, though his neck brace prevented him from turning far. He then looked back at the Citan woman who had just entered the room with a cart full of equipment. She had a thin frame, tanned skin, and dark hair. On her face were a pair of AR glasses and a number of aging marks and blemishes that lent her an air of maturity, yet she possessed a carefree posture and demeanor that seemed completely misplaced by comparison.

“That’s what we’re doing here, is it not?” the woman replied, “we’re running tests. Specifically, on the Chaos State and the extent of its powers.”

“Well yeah, but calling me a ‘test subject’ seems a little… uh…”

The woman gave Christeané a curious look, glanced toward Davídrius, and then grinned as though she had just had a revelation. “Ah, right! You’re Nimalians. You’ll have to excuse me, I often forget that non-Citans get a little touchy with how you address them.”

“’Often forget’…” Davídrius echoed, his eyebrow raised incredulously.

“Mmhmm.” The Citan nodded in response as she turned back to the equipment. “Let’s see. Master Lieutenant Christeané Kolstén of the Nimalian Systems Defense, correct?”

“That’s me,” the Forcetechnic replied warily.

“Good, good. I’m Elisah Trikonian. I’ll be in charge of the tests, with the help of the notes from your Transfer Captain.” She suddenly turned around and stared at Davídrius, startling him. “Are you the Transfer Captain?”

“Uh, no,” he responded uneasily before crossing his arms and regaining his composure. “I’m a… squadmate, I guess. I’m Davídrius.”

“Oh. Good! I almost thought my glasses were failing me again.”

Davídrius and Christeané exchanged puzzled glances as Elisah returned to calibrating her equipment.

“Alright, let’s see…” She turned back around several moments later, looking around the room before laying eyes on the five Ayas on the table beside Christeané’s makeshift bed. “Ah, you have the Ayas! Good, good. Wouldn’t be able to do the tests otherwise. Um, hm, what else… right! Procedure.”

“Procedure?” Davídrius snorted. “What’s to it? Just use the first tier, an’ then the second, an’ then the third, you know. In order.”

“Aw, you Nimalians can be so cute sometimes!” Elisah giggled as she pulled a tablet off of the cart and began writing with the stylus.

“Wha-what—? C-cute—! That, that’s not—!”

“Ha!” Christeané smirked as Davídrius attempted a retort to the Citan, who obliviously ignored the Velocitechnic’s spluttering. “Maybe not cute, but this sure is amusing.”

“…Shut it,” Davídrius growled. “Or I’ll reverse all the healin’ progress you’ve made over the past month.”

“Oh!” Elisah’s eyes lit up as she glanced back at Davídrius. “You mean, test if the Chaos State can heal complete paralysis and a dysfunctional skeleton? That sounds interesting!”

Both Davídrius and Christeané responded with deadpan stares.

“…Oooooh, that was a joke, riiight.”

“Are… are you sure you’re the one in charge?” Christeané questioned uneasily.

“I am one of the Republic’s leading Chaos Energy researchers,” Elisah remarked proudly. “I’m glad I just happened to be on Neticen — this is the opportunity of a lifetime! The chance to study the Chaos State directly! With a willing test subject! Wow!”

“’Willing?!’” Davídrius echoed incredulously.

“Aren’t you concerned about the Nanocreatures attacking?” Christeané countered.

“That’s hardly anything for me to be concerned about. I’m not fighting them. And if we all die, well, we all die. You can’t remember dying, so why bother thinking about it?” Elisah shrugged. “Anyways, the procedure. See, there are several things I want to test here, not just the power of the Chaos State. I also want to test the circumstances behind the activation, such as: how are the Ayas selected when you enter the State? Is it random? Can you control which Ayas is used for, say, the First Tier? Can you go straight to a higher tier while in the State, or do you have to disengage first? All very important questions. All while being wary of this ‘disengage scattering’ factor, as well.”

“Uh, sure.” Christeané shrugged, though the motion was significantly dampened by his disabled body. “So, what’s the procedure?”

“Before each State activation, I’ll tell you what Tier to enter, and which Ayas to use — or try to use, at least. Once you’ve activated the State, I’ll examine you to see if you’ve been healed and by how much, and then we’ll test your gripping strength, your pressure strength, and your striking strength — assuming you’ve been healed enough to test those, of course. Then you’ll disengage, and we’ll start over with new parameters. Sound good?”

Christeané responded with a blank stare, blinking twice before responding, “sure, yeah. Totally.”

“Good!” the Citan exclaimed cheerfully before quickly scribbling something on her tablet and then returning her attention to Christeané. “Alright, test one. Use the First Tier. Don’t bother trying to use any one Ayas specifically, just activate the State.”

“Sure. Chaos State: First Tier.

The Light Red Ayas spontaneously disappeared as Christeané acquired a momentary faint glow. He grit his teeth for a second before impulsively sighing of relief, prompting a response from Elisah.

“Feel better?”

…A little, he responded as he slightly shifted his position on the bed. …There’s some pain relief, but not much else. Moving around still hurts.

“That corroborates with the readings from the monitoring equipment.” Elisah nodded, and then glanced back down at her tablet as she took some notes. “…Test one, trial one: no Ayas specification. Light Red Ayas utilized. Alright, you can disengage now.”

…How do I do that?

“’Chaos State: Disengage’,” Davídrius replied.

“Chaos State: Disengage, Christeané repeated. Immediately afterward, the Light Red Ayas appeared in his right hand, which Elisah quickly grabbed and replaced on the table beside the bed.

“Good, good…” She nodded absentmindedly. “Alright. Trial two. Do the same thing.”

“…What?” Davídrius scowled impatiently. “Why?”

“It’s science. Have you never run an experiment before? You do the same thing over and over again and try to find trends in the results.”

“Over an’ over? How long is this gonna take?”

“It’ll take a lot longer if you keep questioning everything I say.”

“Alright, alright, chill out.” Christeané rolled his eyes as Elisah gave Davídrius a startlingly effective reproachful stare. “Chaos State: First Tier.

This time, the Black Ayas disappeared into thin air; Elisah quickly took note before ordering Christeané to repeat the trial once more, during which the Light Green Ayas disappeared instead.

“Ayas choice appears to be random…” The Citan researcher muttered to herself. “Hmm. I’d like to do more than three trials… but I’m not sure we have the time, so, moving on. Test two. Choose an Ayas color, tell me which, and try to focus on it when you activate the State. Understood?”

“Yeah, I gotcha.”

“Good, good. We’ll do this one three times in a row, just like the last.”

“Hngh, we’re gonna be here for forever…” Davídrius groaned, though he kept his voice low enough that Elisah failed to hear him as Christeané attempted to activate the Chaos State with the Light Red Ayas. Instead, the White Ayas disappeared; on the following two trials as well, the Ayas used to activate the Chaos State failed to match the Ayas that Christeané thought of upon activation.

“Seems like it’s just random,” the Forcetechnic observed with a shrug. “Can we move on to the Second Tier? I wanna see if it heals me.”

“No no, not just yet.” Elisah shook her head as she looked over Kevérin’s notes again. “There’s one more test before moving on to the Second Tier. I want to take advantage of the First Tier’s lack of scattering as much as possible.”

“Argh…” Christeané sighed impatiently. “Fine, what is it?”

“According to these notes, each of the Ayas has a designated name. Instead of thinking of the Ayas color, try to think of its name instead.”

“…Great. Fine. What’re their names?”

“Uh…” Elisah paused for a moment to flip through her notes. “…Okay. Here we go. The Master Ayas is Syn, the White Ayas is Mystryth, the Light Green one is Tanivas, the Light Red one is Matlés, and the Black one is Aldrace.”

“Alright. I’m going with Matlés.”

“Good, good. Go on.”

“Hmph. Chaos State: First Tier.

A mere moment later the Light Red Ayas — Matlés — disappeared. Elisah’s eyes clearly lit up, but she retained a calm demeanor as she jotted down the result and indicated for Christeané to do it twice more.

“…Interesting.” The researcher nodded after Christeané had entered the Chaos State for the ninth time total. “That’s three for three for the State selecting the correct Ayas when you think of its name. This is really interesting! I’d like to know where your Transfer Captain got this information, I don’t know anyone who knew that the Ayas had names, of all things.”

Christeané and Davídrius exchanged furtive glances, but neither spoke up about the Prior Arcán.

“So is that it for the First Tier?” Davídrius questioned.

“Considering it only seems to offer pain relief, I don’t think any of the strength tests are worth considering. So yes, for now. Don’t disengage, though,” she quickly addressed Christeané, “we already know you can enter the Second Tier from your base state, seeing as your squadmate here did it already. I want to see if you can make the Tier jump with the State already activated.”

Alright. The Forcetechnic nodded. Should I think of a specific Ayas?

“It couldn’t hurt.”

Hn. Tanivas. Alright, Chaos State: Second Tier.

The Tanivas Ayas promptly vanished, joining Matlés in the Chaos State as a soft golden glow briefly enveloped Christeané.

“Better?” Elisah questioned as the Forcetechnic clenched his fists experimentally.

…Yeah! He smiled, slowly drawing his arms back and then pushing himself into a sitting position. He grimaced during the movement, but nonetheless was able to turn himself and sit upright on the bed without assistance, with his legs dangling off the side.

“Impressive,” the researcher remarked with an approving nod. “Given standard Nimalian procedure, that’s several months’ worth of healing and physical therapy that you just bypassed.”

Yeah, this is great! Christeané grinned. …I mean, there’s still some pain, and I wouldn’t want to fight in this condition, but… He carefully removed his neck brace and then checked under his shirt and glanced down at his arms. …It even healed all of the surgery scars. Huh.

“Good, good…” Elisah turned back toward her cart and began fiddling with the equipment again. “I take it you feel well enough to attempt the strength tests?”

I don’t know about punching something, but I can try the other two, sure.

“Good! Alright, hm, let’s see. Here we go.” She gestured toward a fist-sized ball on the equipment cart. “Pick that up.”

Christeané reached over and grabbed the ball, holding it in his hand cluelessly. …Now what?

“That ball weighs nearly a thousand kilograms. You have no trouble lifting it?”

None at all.

“Alright. Good, good… now try squeezing it. As hard as you can.”

The Forcetechnic glanced back down at the ball before squeezing it in his fist… and immediately crushing it completely.

All three room inhabitants stared at his fist for a second before Christeané and Davídrius turned back to Elisah, who was still staring at his fist in awe.

“That… that ball should’ve been able to stand up to at least thirty thousand Newtons of force! And you just… you just crushed it! Like it was nothing! Wow!” She quickly began jotting down notes on her tablet. “Wow, Chaotics really are something! Chaos Energy and its effects are so interesting!”

Sure… Christeané responded absentmindedly as he opened his fist and shook the remnants of the ball away. …I guess that is pretty impressive, huh. My normal grip strength is something like three to four thousand Newtons.

“I see. Well, I suspect the result will be similar, but let’s try all the same…” Elisah typed a short command into the cart’s side panel, triggering its lower shelf to extend out and flatten itself on the floor. “Sorry about the hassle…” She glanced back toward Christeané as she gestured for him to come around toward the cart. “I know this isn’t a true representation of pressure strength, but it’s all we have to work with in this facility.”

You want me to press down on those pads? the Forcetechnic questioned, staring at two hand-sized pads hooked up to a readout on the cart.

“If you would, please.”

“…One hell of a test,” Davídrius remarked as Christeané carefully lowered himself to his knees in front of the pads, with Elisah staring down at him from the other side of the cart. The Forcetechnic shot Davídrius an annoyed glance before turning back to the pads and placing his hands on them.

“Whenever you’re ready,” the researcher prompted.

Here goes, Christeané declared, followed by pressing down on the pad… and immediately pulverizing it and denting the floor as his hands obliterated the apparatus.

“I… I can’t say that I’m surprised,” Elisah responded warily, “but, that strength, you… I’m amazed! I’ve never seen testing apparatuses destroyed with such ease, let alone Introtechnic testing equipment!”

Well… you know, Christeané replied casually as he climbed back to his feet and puffed out his chest, being amazing is what I’m all—

“The Chaos State is so amazing!” Elisah cut him off, rapidly jotting down notes on her tablet as she obliviously turned away from him. The Forcetechnic paused for a brief moment as Davídrius chortled at his expense before he simply shrugged and returned to sitting on the bed.

“…Anyways,” the researcher continued as she put the tablet down and turned back to Christeané, “I don’t think the striking strength test is necessary, given that show. Hm… alright, I think that wraps up this session, then.”

What? Christeané frowned. What about the Third Tier?

“That comes later,” Elisah replied. “You should disengage the State now, and we’ll track where the Ayas scatter to and see if they match with your squadmate’s claim. Then we’ll try the Third Tier. Until then, we’ll take a break while the Ayas are relocated.”

The Forcetechnic sighed. I guess that makes sense.

“You should probably lie down first,” the researcher suggested. “It was hard to tell with the First Tier, but we don’t know if your healing is permanent.”

Davídrius whistled. “That’d really suck if it wasn’t.”

You don’t even know, Christeané retorted as he carefully laid back on the bed. As soon as he was comfortable he muttered, “Chaos State: Disengage.”

A moment later, the Tanivas and Matlés Ayas both appeared above Christeané before suddenly shooting outward, moving faster than even Davídrius could track as they phased through everything in their path.

“Still feelin’ fine?” Davídrius questioned as Christeané experimentally clenched his fists again.

“…Yup,” the Forcetechnic replied as he sat up again. “…A little more pain than when I was in the Chaos State, but otherwise, I feel… mostly fine.”

“Good, good. Alright then!” Elisah clapped her hands together. “I’ve alerted the retrieval teams, and they’re out looking for the Ayas now. We’ll resume once they’re found. Sound good?”

“Yep…” Christeané sighed wearily. “Sounds good to me.”


“…More waiting…”

“That’s just how it is,” Kevérin remarked offhandedly, his attention primarily focused on an AR game. “War is more waiting than fighting.”

“Sure, but you don’t have to wait by doing nothing,” Wilkas replied crossly. “We could be doing something. Hell, Kevken got to help out with finding the Ayas. Why can’t we?”

“We’d just be in the way,” the Pyrotechnic responded, “we can’t sense Chaos Energy like Kevken can. Hell, even if he couldn’t, he can still move faster than any of us, thanks to his new movement abilities. There’s just nothing we can actually do to help.”

Kaoné frowned. “I’m not sure the Citans even want our help… I offered to help with some repairs and maintenance, and they told me they were fine. Even though I’m a Materiatechnic…”

“That doesn’t make you perfect,” Wilkas retorted, “you couldn’t even fully repair my armor in our last battle!”

“Well, yeah! I had already repaired it tons of times, of course it was going to fall apart eventually!

“Wait, what?” Kevérin finally tore his attention away from his game and glanced toward Kaoné. “You can actually fail to repair something?”

“Well… sort of,” Kaoné responded uneasily, “I mean… yeah, ever since I unlocked my Overdrive, I’ve been able to repair things on the macro level, but my ability to repair something is still tied to how familiar I am with its construction. Like, I could repair a nuclear reactor, but it probably wouldn’t be perfect because I don’t know how reactors work, you know?”

“I guess that makes sense,” the Transfer Captain mused, “but if that’s the case, how were you able to completely repair our armor all the time? Or the Earthian vehicles back during the Riaxen crisis?”

The Materiatechnic shrugged. “I haven’t had a lot of time to test out my powers, but I think it’s something like, I can fully repair something the first or second time I try, but the more times I repair it, the worse it gets? Like each repair isn’t perfect, so the imperfections stack up over time until there isn’t really anything I can do.”

“…You know, before I met you, I thought Materiatechnics were the most ridiculously over-powered Chaotics to exist. Now, I’m not so sure…”

“Hey!”

“It’s true,” Wilkas remarked with a smirk. “When was the last time you won a fight, huh?”

“What! That’s not—!” Kaoné huffed, “that’s only because I don’t like to fight!”

“Probably doesn’t help that the Nanocreatures seem invulnerable to direct Chaotic manipulation,” Kevérin added. “Neither you nor Kevken can do anything to them, and the two of you should be, by all rights, two of the most powerful Nimalian Chaotics.”

Kaoné eyed the Pyrotechnic warily. “…I can’t tell if you’re insulting me or not.”

“Eh, not really.” The Transfer Captain resumed playing his AR game. “Just making an observation.”

“Though, now that you mention it… why are the Nanocreatures immune to direct manipulation?”

“If we knew, it wouldn’t be a problem,” Wilkas retorted.

“That’s no reason to dismiss the question,” Kevérin countered. “It’s a really peculiar immunity, and knowing how it works could help us learn where the Nanocreatures even came from in the first place.”

“But it just doesn’t make sense,” Kaoné mused. “…I can control matter. You can’t get any more basic than that, unless you found someone who could manipulate sub-atomic particles, or reality itself… but the Nanocreatures are still immune. How is that possible? Only other Materiatechnics should be immune to my abilities.” Her eyes widened in alarm. “…Don’t tell me that the Nanocreatures can actually manipulate matter themselves?!”

“I doubt it. They’re immune to other Chaotic abilities as well, but that doesn’t mean they can use every Chaotic ability. Morcii said as much himself,” Kevérin responded. “Hmm… it probably has to do with the fact that we use Chaos Energy to facilitate our powers. For instance, I can create flames, and for all intents and purposes I can control fire — but what I’m really doing is using Chaos Energy in such a way that manifests as pyrotechnics. Right? So the Nanocreatures aren’t necessarily immune to you controlling matter, they’re just immune to being controlled by anything related to Chaos Energy. Which is why we can do damage through indirect use of our abilities like shooting fireballs or dropping pillars on them, but we can’t use our abilities directly on the Nanocreatures. Which is still an issue, but I don’t think it’s quite as fundamental as you’re making it.”

“I guess…” Kaoné frowned. “…It’s still puzzling, though.”

“Yeah, but you don’t necessarily need to know everything about your enemy to beat them. Them being seemingly immune to direct manipulation won’t stop us from kicking their asses.”

Wilkas snorted. “Yeah, instead we’ll be stopped because the actual ass-kicking will be done by someone supposedly ridiculously out of our league.”

“I hope you guys are right,” Kaoné replied wearily, “…maybe it really isn’t that important…”


2 Hours Later

“You understand the procedure, yes?”

“It’s only been a couple hours,” Christeané retorted as he glanced back at the five Ayas. “I may be physically disabled, but mentally I’m fine.”

“That’s exactly what a crazy person would say,” Davídrius quipped, and then smirked when Christeané shot him an annoyed glance.

“Good, good…” Elisah nodded. “Select three of the Ayas, then.”

“Matlés, Tanivas, and Mystryth.”

“Mmhmm… alright, go on.”

“Here’s hoping this’ll do it…” the Forcetechnic muttered, and then took a deep breath. “…Okay. Chaos State: Third Tier!

The instant after the words left his mouth, the Matlés, Tanivas, and Mystryth Ayas lifted into the air and disappeared — immediately followed by a blast of wind exploding from Christeané, blowing the bed and table away and toppling the equipment cart as Davídrius barely caught Elisah before she slammed into the far wall. The Velocitechnic then turned toward Christeané, about to offer an annoyed remark before freezing with his mouth open. “…What the… Christeané, you’re—?”

I’m flying! the Forcetechnic whooped, glancing down at his feet as he hovered several inches off of the ground. He then alighted and began stretching his limbs cautiously, gradually gaining confidence in his movements until finally smashing his fists together in glee. No pain, either! Everything’s healed up!

“Haha! Alright!” Davídrius grinned, quickly approaching Christeané as he held his fist up toward the other Introtechnic. Christeané responded in kind — only to accidentally send Davídrius into a violent spin when their fists connected.

“Holy— fuckin’ shit! Holy shit, man!” the Velocitechnic spluttered, managing to stop his spin with a forceful stomp. He held a hand to his head wearily as he grimaced uncomfortably. “You didn’t needa fuckin’ punch me!”

What? I didn’t punch you, Christeané retorted, that was just a tap.

“Perhaps to you, it was,” Elisah spoke up, her eyes planted firmly on the Chaos State Forcetechnic, “but you’re in the Third Tier Chaos State. If the Second Tier was any indication… a ‘tap’ from you could be enough to level a skyscraper, at least.”

Level a skyscraper? But I could already do that.

“All at once? With a single tap?”

…Well…

Davídrius frowned. “We’re still gonna need more than levelin’ buildings to stop Morcii.”

“A building was just an estimate, and a small one, at that,” Elisah responded as she began looking through Kevérin’s notes again. “…According to these notes, when you disengage the Third Tier, the three Ayas will scatter across the entire continent. That means we should confirm as much information as possible before abandoning the State.”

Sounds good to me, Christeané responded, smirking in self-amusement as he began hovering again. …I don’t know how you plan to test my strength now, though, if I broke your equipment last time.

“Hmm…” The Citan researcher paused for a moment before bringing up a map of the mountainside complex on her glasses. “There’s a spacecraft scrap metal bone yard at the bottom of the valley. I’m sure no one will miss it.”

Heh, you want me to smash it up? The Forcetechnic grinned in anticipation. Sure thing!


20 Minutes Later

“Here we are.”

Davídrius whistled as he unceremoniously dumped Elisah to the side and began looking over the valley. “When you said scrap metal bone yard, I didn’t think there’d be entire functioning spacecraft.”

“Well,” the researcher responded as she stood up and brushed herself off, “Citan spacecraft become outdated rather quickly, and unlike you Nimalians, we can afford to replace them.”

Davídrius glanced down at Elisah incredulously as he pursed his lips. “…Right…”

So this is it, huh? Christeané questioned as he flew over to Davídrius and Elisah before turning to look over the bone yard. Hundreds of craft, ranging from fifteen-meter long fighters to hundred-meter long Frigates, lay strewn across the landscape for kilometers around. Most of them appeared to be sun-bleached and aged, though a number of the craft looked as though they had been active less than a year ago. Surprisingly, all of the hulls appeared to be intact as they cast long shadows in the setting sun, presenting a dark enough backdrop that a nearly imperceptible golden glow could be seen covering Christeané’s form.

Elisah nodded in response to Christeané’s question as she took another look through Kevérin’s notes. “Yep, this is the place I was talking about. Before you begin, though, I want to bring up these ‘Ayas Weapons.’”

Let me guess, you want me to use them while I smash up the place?

“Just to see if they really do become ‘more powerful,’ as these notes claim,” the researcher replied. “Also, I think we all know that you’re well able to destroy everything in this bone yard, probably even in your base state. I want to see how quickly you can do it, and how many blows it takes.”

Heh, got it! Christeané responded with an eager nod. Is that it?

“Hmm… yep.” Elisah nodded back. “Go for it.”

With a whoop, Christeané thrust himself forward, flying out to the middle of the bone yard almost instantaneously before raising his fists into the air, summoning the Matlés gauntlets around them, and then smashing them into the ground — and immediately creating a kilometer-wide crater, pulverizing all of the craft within that distance to smithereens and flinging away everything a half-kilometer further out. Davídrius quickly grabbed Elisah and fled farther up the mountainside as Christeané took a moment to admire his handiwork. He then summoned the Tanivas staff and launched himself toward the crater’s edge, where he proceeded to slam a nearby fighter craft with the staff, throwing it into the air. He quickly intercepted it midair, slamming his fist into it and sending it careening toward the horizon where it disappeared from sight; immediately afterward he dismissed the staff and summoned the Mystryth bow, firing three arrows, all of which hit the ground instantaneously and created multi-hundred-meter craters of their own. The Forcetechnic grinned giddily before dismissing the bow and flying back to the ground, where he continued to obliterate the bone yard craft with his fists alone.

Davídrius whistled in admiration as he watched on. “Holy fuckin’ shit. This is just the Third Tier, huh? Maybe we’ll be able to take on Morcii after all…!”

“It’s only been one, maybe two minutes, and he’s already destroyed the entire field…” Elisah commented, her jaw slack from awe as Christeané casually flew back toward the two observers. “…You… I, I don’t…”

This power is incredible! the Forcetechnic exclaimed as he alighted on the ground next to Davídrius, before today, I thought Kevérin and that Prior were full of shit when they said the Chaos State was so great. But I think I believe ‘em now!

“Just think of how powerful you’ll be with all five of the Ayas,” Davídrius pointed out. “Holy shit, I can’t even imagine what the Fifth Tier would be like!”

“…You’re… not quite right,” Elisah commented as she began scanning Kevérin’s notes again. “You have five Ayas, but one of them is the Master Ayas, so according to these notes… that would actually be the Master Fourth Tier. …Which is apparently equivalent to the Sixth Tier. …And is capable of ‘vacuum survival?’ What? How is that possible?…”

And Morcii only has four Ayas of his own, and he doesn’t even have a way to keep us from stealing them with the Chaos State! Christeané pumped his fists confidently. Ha! We’ve got this in the bag!

“Don’t start celebrating yet,” Elisah countered. “You’ve yet to actually engage Morcii. We still have more tests to run before then.”

“Oi, more tests?” Davídrius crossed his arms impatiently. “Is that really necessary?”

“Even if it wasn’t, according to these notes, the longer you stay in the higher-tier Chaos States, the worse the condition you’re in when you disengage,” Elisah replied. “We don’t know the limit of the Third Tier, and we don’t know when the Nanocreatures will show up, assuming they even do. Seeing as they aren’t showing up on the system sensors yet… or even on the Earthians’ sensors… it’d be best to disengage the State now and retrieve the Ayas. Before the Nanocreatures arrive.”

What if they show up without appearing on the sensors? They’ve done that before, haven’t they? Christeané countered.

“Perhaps, but are you willing to bet on that?” Elisah responded, “I don’t think it’s an impossibility that the Nanocreatures know the traits and drawbacks of the Chaos State, and if they do, they may simply play the waiting game. What good is it if you die from the very thing that’s supposed to help us stop the Nanocreatures?”

The two Introtechnics glanced at each other before Christeané shrugged in resignation. I guess you have a point, he responded wearily, it’d probably be best to see how healed up I actually am anyways, outside of the Chaos State.

Elisah nodded. “Good, good. I’ll notify the Ayas retrieval teams, as well as the Earthians. Their Ayas scanner should be able to find the scattered Ayas quickly enough. You can disengage now.”

“Chaos State: Disengage.”

The three Ayas appeared briefly around Christeané, forming a three-point circle around his waist before rocketing off in different directions and promptly disappearing from sight. The Forcetechnic took a deep breath before looking his body over and stretching. “…Huh. Seems like I’m all fine—”

He was interrupted as the valley suddenly filled with the echoes of alarms sounding at the mountain base. The two Chaotics snapped their attention upwards as Elisah hurriedly checked her AR information feed. “…Oh no.”

“…Fuckin’ damn it.” Davídrius scowled as he glared up at the evening sky. “The damned Nanocreatures are here? It would fuckin’ figure.”

“Right after I disengaged the Chaos State, too,” Christeané muttered. “Did they know what we were doing?”

“Whether they did or not, we need to get back to the base,” Davídrius responded as he grabbed the startled Elisah and leaped up the mountainside, with Christeané close behind. “I’ll be damned if we lose the Ayas to the Nanocreatures!”

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