“WELCOME… TO ELECAL.”
The seven Chaotics of Hero Machina looked about their new environment with unease. The lay of the land appeared similar to the Nimaliaka Central valley, in which a recessed plain was bordered to the north and west by mountains and cliffs. To the east sat a sea of deep blue, though from their distance, none of the Chaotics could tell if the blue was actually water—
—because everything glowed with a blue tint.
The distant mountains, nearby rock deposits, the plain below the cliff on which Hero Machina stood — everything appeared to be colored with some tint or shade of blue, with no exception. The other colors of the spectrum were virtually non-existent as the environmental glow even lit up the moonless night sky as if under an eerie blue twilight.
“So this…” Kievkenalis crouched down to touch the ground tenderly, his grip on the Master Ayas tightening as a shiver ran through his body. “…So this is Chaos Matter…?”
“INDEED,” Arcán responded as Siyuakén turned to survey the land below. “DEPENDING ON THE CONCENTRATION OF CHAOS ENERGY, CHAOS MATTER CAN TAKE ON A RANGE OF COLORS FROM BLUE, TO PURPLE, TO RED. YOU WILL ONLY SEE SUCH COLORS AT LOWER DEPTHS HOWEVER, AS THE SURFACE OF ELECAL ONLY CONTAINS RELATIVELY LOW-CONCENTRATION CHAOS MATTER.”
“Low concentration?” Kaoné shuddered. “I already feel like I might go berserk if I stop focusing…”
“Shit, is that what this pressure is?” Davídrius grasped his chest painfully. “…Gah. And we have to find an’ fight Morcii in this?”
“I APOLOGIZE. I COULD NOT ACHIEVE A ONE-HUNDRED-PERCENT CONFIDENCE LOCK ON MORCII’S POSITION, AND WAS FORCED TO SETTLE WITH TRANSPORTING YOU TO WITHIN SOME NUMBER OF KILOMETERS OF HIS LOCATION.”
“That’s hardly anything to complain about!” Kevérin exclaimed, “you just instantly beamed us across hundreds of thousands of light years! You should be thankful that you got us this close! Hell, I would’ve been pleased if you even got us in the same solar system!”
“Regardless, we need to find Morcii now,” Kievkenalis interjected as he placed the Master Ayas into a satchel strapped tightly to his chest. “Arcán, do you have any idea where to look?”
“YOU’VE NO NEED TO LOOK.”
“What?!” The entirety of Hero Machina jumped back as a figure suddenly appeared in the air over the edge of the cliff, having arrived at high speeds from the ground below.
“…MORCII,” Arcán responded stiffly. “…WE MEET AGAIN.”
“IT HAS BEEN QUITE A WHILE, HASN’T IT, ARCÁN?” The Nanocreature leader smirked as he eyed Siyuakén. “I KNEW YOU WOULD COME AFTER ME. I TRULY APPRECIATE IT; YOU’VE SAVED ME THE TIME IT WOULD TAKE TO GO AFTER THE MASTER AYAS MYSELF!”
“WHERE ARE THE OTHER AYAS?”
“OH? YOU’RE THE ONE WHO TRACKED ME HERE TO ELECAL. SURELY YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHY I’M HERE, AND EXACTLY WHERE THE REST OF THE AYAS ARE?” A glint appeared in Morcii’s eye as he raised his hands into the air. “UNFORTUNATELY, I CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO REACH THEM.”
“And we can’t allow you to escape!” Siyuakén shouted, summoning the Arcán Claymore and leaping toward the Nanocreature leader as she brought the weapon down overhead. But before she could reach him, the cliff behind her exploded, launching the Chaotics of Hero Machina forward as chunks of Chaos Matter flew through the air. One such piece slammed into Siyuakén, knocking her off course and sending her tumbling to the ground below.
Arcán barked from within Siyuakén’s mind. THE GROUND QUICKLY APPROACHES!
I know, I know! Siyuakén gritted her teeth, mentally responding as she fired a grappling hook out of her still-corrupted left arm, catching it on the nearby cliff face. She used the line to easily right herself midair before hitting the ground below with a roll, just in time to spin around and cleave an incoming boulder in half, thereby preventing it from crushing her.
Shit… She scowled as she turned her attention to the skies. Where’d Morcii go—?
Her thought was cut off by the sound of a nearby growl, followed quickly by a furious roar from the other direction. She grasped the Arcán Claymore tightly as she glanced from side to side, unsure of how to proceed as two more angry howls filled the air. …They all went berserk?
THERE IS LITTLE DOUBT THAT MORCII’S INTENTION BEHIND CAUSING THE CLIFF TO EXPLODE WAS TO INDUCE THE BERSERK STATE BY AGITATING—
Yeah yeah, I know, I know! You said Kevken can help in this case, right? And that your sword can negate a berserker as well? So let’s get going!
The Electrotechnic promptly leaped forward, exposing herself just in time to take a fireball to the face. She tumbled to the ground unceremoniously before jumping back to her feet and evading a deep blue claw; the color registered in her mind as belonging to a cloak of Chaos Energy just as she issued forth an incredible electrical shock, flinging the berserk Kevérin away. She immediately flipped backwards to evade Davídrius as he smashed his way onto the scene; landing on a large boulder, Siyuakén brandished the Arcán Claymore and prepared to launch herself at the berserkers — only to freeze in place as she laid eyes on a massive blue vortex barely a hundred meters away.
Kievkenalis jumped in front of Siyuakén, surrounding the both of them with a shield of Chaos Energy just as a massive chunk of Chaos Matter smashed into their location. The shield dissipated a moment later, prompting the Chaostechnic to mutter “Chaos Assist,” followed by “Chaos Armor.”
“What is that…?” Siyuakén questioned as she warily eyed the vortex of Chaos Matter.
“…It’s Kaoné.” Kievkenalis frowned. “Berserk Materiatechnics can get nasty, fast. I’ll take care of her; you get the others!”
“If you say so!” the Electrotechnic exclaimed, jumping down to the ground as Kievkenalis launched himself forward with Chaos Boost. She immediately forced a massive current into the ground around her, stunning Kevérin and Rebehka both and preventing the berserkers from attacking each other. Siyuakén quickly lunged forward with Arcán in hand, prepared to hit Rebehka, but caught sight of a burst of flame in the corner of her eye just in time to stop her advance and brace herself against the attack. Kevérin instantly appeared through the rolling flames, lashing out at Siyuakén with his claws — only for the both of them to be stopped where they stood as berserk Rebehka froze the entire area. The Cryotechnic then bounded forward, prepared to smash into Kevérin’s frozen form — but Siyuakén broke free of the ice first, before reaching over and grabbing the frozen Kevérin by his wrist and hurling him at Rebehka. She immediately followed with a lightning strike, stunning the two Chaotics again as she dashed after them.
Kievkenalis teleported back up to the remains of the destroyed cliff and took a moment to observe the battlefield before him — the battlefield that filled primarily with an ever-growing maelstrom of Chaos Matter, at the center of which stood the berserk Materiatechnic. “…Well, here goes,” the Chaostechnic muttered to himself, “Chaos… Time!”
The environment around him instantly came to a stop, the former blur of Chaos Matter resolving into the individual pieces of glowing blue stones. Kievkenalis observed the scene for a moment, nodding in self-approval before muttering “Chaos Teleport” again, bringing himself to Kaoné’s side. He immediately followed with “Chaos Siphon,” holding his hands toward Kaoné as the Chaos Energy from her thick berserker veil began flowing into him. After several seconds, he turned away, disgorging the absorbed Chaos Energy through the use of Chaos Beam before turning back to Kaoné and re-initiating Chaos Siphon. “…This seems too easy…” He frowned with unease. “…Chaos Beam! Chaos Siphon… …can Time really make things this easy?…”
The Chaostechnic continued to string together Chaos Beam and Siphon in an attempt to negate Kaoné’s Berserk State, but after nearly six chains of the two Chaos abilities with no change in the density of Kaoné’s Chaos Energy veil, he finally realized what he might be missing.
“Chaos Energy Detect—uaagh!!” Kievkenalis immediately recoiled, clamping his hands over his eyes in an attempt to cut off the sensory overload as the incredible amounts of Chaos Energy in the area colored his vision a solid blue, masking everything around him. Only several seconds later did his vision begin to return to normal, but he had learned everything he needed in that first moment.
“There’s too much energy in the environment for Siphon to be effective…” He scowled. “…I guess all I can do is help Siyuakén, then. Some help Time was…” He glanced toward Kaoné, still frozen in time, and then uttered, “Chaos Targeted Nullify. That should at least stop the matter storm for a while… mm. Chaos Teleport.” He teleported to the cliff edge again, temporarily removing himself from the battlefield before finally calling out “Chaos Time!”
Across the battlefield, Siyuakén lunged toward Kevérin, unaware that time had been paused for several minutes. Allowing the Arcán Claymore to clamber to the ground, she deftly wove between the flames and frozen spikes flying through the air as she quickly approached Rebehka. The moment she closed within five meters she threw herself to the side just as the berserk Cryotechnic froze the entire area in front of her, including Kevérin and Davídrius, who had just appeared on the scene. Siyuakén seized the opening to lunge forward, covering three of the four meters in between her and Rebehka — and summoned Arcán to swing overhead, using the blade to cover the last meter and slash through the veil of Chaos Energy surrounding the berserker — yet mysteriously leaving Rebehka’s body unharmed. The Cryotechnic immediately collapsed, unconscious, as the Chaos Energy surrounding her disappeared into Arcán’s blade.
SUBSPATIALLY STORE HER TO KEEP HER SAFE UNTIL ALL OF THE BERSERKERS HAVE BEEN NEGATED!
Got it! Siyuakén acknowledged, stabbing the Claymore into Rebehka and watching her disappear into a blue mist. She then turned back toward Kevérin — only to take a massive blow to the stomach as Christeané barreled onto the scene. Tumbling along the ground for several meters, she was barely able to recover and jump to her feet in time to throw herself to the side and evade Christeané’s next punch. The berserker’s fist continued through the air and slammed into the ground, instantly creating a ten-meter crater and launching Siyuakén into the air. She quickly countered with a series of lightning strikes and then fired her grappling hook at the cliff side, yanking herself away in time to evade a volley of fireballs. The flames hit Christeané instead, drawing the berserker’s attention to their source as he charged toward Kevérin, bowling through stone debris as if it were no stronger than sand.
Christeané and Kevérin both froze in place, trembling as they struggled against Kievkenalis’s control. Siyuakén immediately lunged toward the two berserkers, but only managed to negate Christeané’s Berserk State before Davídrius slammed into Kevérin, knocking the both of them into the Electrotechnic.
THEY’VE COME TO YOU. NEGATE THEM!
I know already! Siyuakén scowled as she emitted a powerful electrical blast, knocking both Kevérin and Davídrius backwards. She quickly followed by summoning Arcán and bringing it down over Kevérin’s head, but Davídrius slammed her wrists to the ground with an overhead kick. The Claymore spun out of her hands and through the air, lodging itself into a boulder some distance away — but Siyuakén instantly summoned it back, slicing upwards through the berserk Velocitechnic just before he could dash off again. She quickly Subspatially stored the negated berserker and then threw Arcán at Christeané to store him as well — and then summoned the Claymore back mere moments before Kevérin launched another volley of fireballs, enabling her to block the incoming barrage and then lunge forward to close the distance between herself and the berserk Pyrotechnic. However the air around her suddenly spiked in temperature, forcing her to draw back as a tornado of flames appeared around Kevérin. The berserker let loose a guttural roar as the tornado began to rapidly increase in diameter, consuming the terrain all around him in searing flames—
“Chaos Targeted Nullify!”
The flames instantly disappeared and the air quickly cooled, but before Siyuakén could close the distance between herself and Kevérin, Kievkenalis appeared beside the berserker with a massive scythe in hand and sliced through him, tearing off his veil of Chaos Energy. A second swipe had the Pyrotechnic stored safely in Subspace.
“…What the? Where’d you get the Scythe?” Siyuakén questioned as she approached the Chaostechnic.
“It’s the Syn Weapon,” he replied, and then patted the satchel strapped to his chest. “I just remembered that I have the Master Ayas on me, so I can use it—”
Siyuakén interrupted Kievkenalis by shoving him to the side and thrusting the Arcán Claymore forward just in time to deflect a massive incoming chunk of Chaos Matter. She immediately covered the entire battlefield in front of her with lightning strike upon lightning strike, attempting to locate Kaoné as the berserk Materiatechnic continued to launch boulders and Chaos Matter at the two Chaotics.
“Chaos Armor!” Kievkenalis quickly called out mere moments before being flung backwards by another chunk of Chaos Matter. He scrambled back to his feet and stared into the distance as he attempted to locate Kaoné as well. “…Chaos Time,” he eventually muttered, freezing the environment around him, at which point he teleported back up to the cliff. He quickly searched the frozen terrain below and, upon finding the berserk Materiatechnic, teleported to her. “Chaos Time,” he muttered again, and then brought the Syn Scythe down over Kaoné’s head before she had a chance to react, completely removing her Chaos Energy veil and negating her Berserk State.
“—Oh.” Siyuakén stumbled to a stop just in front of Kaoné’s unconscious form and glanced at Kievkenalis. “How did you—?”
“I can stop time.”
“…Oh, Chaos Time… right.” She exhaled warily and then swung Arcán through the air, releasing the four other Chaotics of Hero Machina from Subspace onto the ground beside her. She dismissed the Claymore as she eyed the five unconscious Chaotics. “…Well, that was one hell of an arrival.”
“I WARNED YOU OF THE DANGERS OF CHAOS MATTER BEFORE COMING HERE,” Arcán declared.
“You never said it could make us instantly go berserk,” Kievkenalis countered.
“I ALSO BELIEVED YOU PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF HANDLING THE SITUATION QUICKLY AND EFFICIENTLY. IS THAT NOT WHAT YOU DID?”
Siyuakén and Kievkenalis exchanged annoyed glances.
Eventually, the Electrotechnic shrugged. “Well, you have to admit, your ability to stop time made the whole thing kind of trivial.”
“I guess…” Kievkenalis frowned, glancing toward the other Chaotics of Hero Machina as they began coming to. “But this feels too easy… is this all there is to beating Morcii?”
“UNFORTUNATELY, IT IS NOT. CHAOS TIME WILL FREEZE ANY NORMAL NANOCREATURE UNIT, BUT MORCII HIMSELF WILL BE IMMUNE TO ITS EFFECTS.”
“I knew it was too convenient.”
“How can he be immune to stopping time?” Siyuakén questioned incredulously.
“Who’s immune to what now…?” Kaoné muttered as she climbed to her feet.
“…Dammit,” Davídrius grumbled, “I went berserk again…”
“THERE IS LITTLE TIME TO EXPLAIN SUCH NUANCES. MORCII WAS SIMPLY STALLING FOR TIME BY DRIVING YOU ALL BERSERK; THIS MUCH IS EVIDENT BY THE FACT THAT HE DID NOT REMAIN TO OBSERVE THE OUTCOME. WE MUST GIVE CHASE POSTHASTE; I CAN GUIDE YOU TO THE LOCATION OF THE MORIKAI SEAL.”
Christeané snorted. “What, so Morcii can drive us all berserk again?”
“Christeané’s right,” Kevérin declared. “How can we stop this from happening again? Especially if we have to cross entire fields of Chaos Matter to even reach Morcii…”
“YOU NOW KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT, AND SHOULD THUS BE ABLE TO OFFER MORE RESISTANCE AGAINST THE BERSERK STATE. ADDITIONALLY, THE INDIVIDUAL HOLDING THE MASTER AYAS WILL HAVE HIGHER BERSERK RESISTANCE THAN NORMAL.”
“…That’s it, then,” Davídrius remarked, “that’s how we can catch up with Morcii without havin’ to worry about goin’ berserk!”
“And quickly,” Kevérin urged.
“I can run faster than any of y’all, so give me the Ayas and I’ll Subspatially store the lot of you. Then you don’t have to worry about goin’ berserk ‘til we reach Morcii! It’s the fastest way to reach him, too!”
“A FAIR PLAN, BUT THERE ARE TWO ISSUES: THE MASTER AYAS ONLY OFFERS RESISTANCE AGAINST THE BERSERK STATE, NOT IMMUNITY. ADDITIONALLY, SIYUAKÉN CANNOT BE SUBSPATIALLY STORED, AS SHE IS IN THE PRIOR STATE.”
“…Eh, she’s not wearin’ armor.” The Velocitechnic glanced toward the Electrotechnic as he inspected her robing. “I can carry her.”
“And as far as going berserk, you can switch out with someone else if you feel that you’re about to go berserk,” Siyuakén suggested. “I’ll still only ever have to worry about one of you at a time, and two people can move faster than seven.”
“Especially if one of those people is me,” Davídrius replied with a smirk.
“Alright!” Kevérin clapped his hands in satisfaction. “Perfect, we have a plan—”
A sudden flash of pale blue light momentarily obscured the vision of all seven Chaotics before fading away.
“What the—?!” Christeané winced as he held his hands to his ears. “My ears are ringing…!”
“The hell was that?!” Kevérin snapped his attention toward Siyuakén’s headband.
“…MORCII MUST BE BEGINNING THE PROCESS OF UNDOING THE MORIKAI SEAL. THAT LIGHT WAS AN INDICATION THAT HE HAS LOCKED ONE OF THE AYAS INTO PLACE.”
“Then we’ve gotta get goin’, now!” Davídrius turned toward Kievkenalis, catching the Master Ayas after the Chaostechnic tossed it his way. He immediately summoned the Syn Scythe and slashed the other five Chaotics, storing each of them in Subspace. “C’mon!” He gestured toward Siyuakén, dismissing the Scythe as she jumped on his back. He took a moment to shift his balance before questioning, “okay, where to?”
“HEAD EAST AND LOOK FOR A CAVE ENTRANCE. MORE OBSTACLES WILL PRESENT THEMSELVES ONCE YOU ENTER THE CAVERNS, BUT THE PATH SHOULD BE CLEAR.”
“Alright!” Davídrius crouched down and then took off at Mach speeds. “Let’s go!”