Chapter 86 – Epilogue: The Beginning of a Saga

20 Years Later

– Skydia, Beauth 6, 8054 –

“Aaaahhh… so tired…”

Kevérin worked at the buttons on his jacket as he entered his hotel suite, glancing up when the lights automatically flipped on. He removed his jacket and tossed it onto a coat rack near the door before kicking off his shoes and stepping into the main living area. Looking over at the dark window, he moved to adjust his glasses — realized he wasn’t wearing any — and smirked to himself as he opened up his AR environment anyways. I keep forgetting that I have the implants… and I got them years ago. I guess old habits die hard. He then swiped one of the holographic panels, toggling the window opacity and revealing the late afternoon coastline.

This suite is better than my office He sighed after staring out at the Tekdecénian west coast for several moments, taking in the calm ocean waves breaking against the cliffs before he turned his attention to a handful of alerts in the corner of his AR display. Institute mail… junk mail… more junk mail? What happened to my spam filters?… Wait, Kines picked a fight with Nimal again? Damn it. You’d think the ‘Elite Six’ would be better behaved… oh well. I’ll have to talk to Kaoné about that… Hmm… Oh, Maven! Let’s see… ‘Hurry up and call me you twat, you haven’t been home in three weeks! Love you.’ Yep, sounds like her. I’ll have to give her a call tomorrow… …Hmm, I guess that’s it. He passed an impatient glance toward the room’s entryway. Where are they? I could’ve sworn they were right behind me the whole time—!

A ringing bell interrupted his thoughts. “Coming!” he shouted as he turned away from the window and approached the doorway where he casually slammed a button in the wall, causing the door to slide open.

“Oi, there you went! Think you can try an’ outrun me?”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Kevérin remarked with a smirk, stepping aside to allow Davídrius — followed by Christeané and Rebehka — to enter his suite. “It’s about time you got here! Where’s Kaoné and Kevken?”

“They’re on the way,” Rebehka replied, setting her satchel down on a nearby counter as Davídrius and Christeané wandered past the entryway and into the living room. “Sidonté Demerin wanted to talk to them about something.”

“Can’t he wait until tomorrow? The Summit lasts for a whole week, we aren’t going anywhere,” Kevérin responded in annoyance as he stepped into the living area behind the Introtechnics and then turned toward his kitchen. “Take a seat wherever,” he called out, “I’ll get the drinks.”

“Ha! Drinks! Yes, please!” Christeané sighed of relief as he approached the window that overlooked the coast. “Ahhh… there’s nothing like a good drink and a chat with old friends after a long day.”

“You sound like an old man,” Davídrius retorted as he approached the window next to Christeané.

“I feel like an old man. Forty isn’t twenty, I’ll tell you that much.”

“Forty isn’t old. Trust me, it’s really not,” Rebehka countered as she took a seat on the couch. “We aren’t even middle-aged. With any luck, we’ll live three or four times longer than we already have.”

Davídrius scowled. “Fuck, I didn’t come here to get into a pissin’ contest about age.”

“And I certainly didn’t invite you all here for as much,” Kevérin added as he re-entered the room with four mugs, each filled to the brim with a translucent maple-gold liquid. Christeané eagerly accepted one and took a massive swig as Rebehka took another. “Davídrius?” The Pyrotechnic held the third out toward the Velocitechnic.

“Eh…” Davídrius stared at the mug and pulled a face. “No thanks.”

“C’mon, really?” Christeané snorted, ignoring Kevérin as he placed the fourth mug on the table in front of the couch and then took a seat in a chair to the side. “You should give it a go every once in a while.”

“Not everyone enjoys drinkin’,” Davídrius shot back, and then grinned. “’Sides, it’s more amusin’ to watch you get drunk.”

“How often do you see him drunk?” Rebehka responded incredulously.

“Too often,” Davídrius replied with a smirk. “You’d almost think he was WCU’s second Dean with how much time he spends down in Treséd.”

“You’re the one asking for all the help,” Christeané countered, “you should recruit yourself a half-decent Forcetechnic if you’re gonna complain about my help.”

“Wait, Davídrius, I thought you had one?” Kevérin questioned.

“Who, Karísah? Sure, she’s helpful, but I ain’t gonna ask one of my students to help me out all the damn time. It looks bad.”

“I’m surprised to hear you concerned about appearances,” Rebehka teased, “are you sure that isn’t your pride talking?”

“…Bah. I only got this far by forcin’ myself to care just a little bit about appearances.” Davídrius sighed wearily. “I only got WCU recognized by all the major compounds a few years ago, so I’d appreciate some… well… appreciation.” He shook his head and glanced toward Rebehka and Kevérin. “What about y’all? I haven’t really had the chance to talk with either of y’all since the last Summit two years ago.”

“Just as busy as always,” Rebehka replied, “I didn’t have nearly as much trouble as you when I started the Academy, but that just means I have different problems. It seems like every Relédiakian researcher wants a place on the faculty — though, in hindsight, I suppose there haven’t been many private-sector opportunities for Chaos Energy researchers before now. But on top of that, working out how we fit into the old conscription paradigm is… difficult, at best. …The student body is small, but well-behaved, at least.”

“Lucky you,” Kevérin snorted, taking a quick sip as he leaned back in his chair.

“Oh no. Did Kines do something again?”

“Seems he picked a fight with Nimal.” Kevérin sighed. “This wouldn’t be quite so much of a problem if Nimal wasn’t the daughter of Nimaliaka’s Archoné, and the younger sister of a Black Suns General. I swear, these kids…”

“Wait, what’s this about the Archoné?”

“Huh?” Kevérin glanced back at the entryway and grinned again as Kaoné and Kievkenalis entered. “You’re finally here!”

“You guys decide to take the scenic route?” Christeané snorted.

“No, Demerin just wanted to talk about a couple Chaostechnic training techniques,” Kievkenalis replied wearily. “Not sure why he was asking about that, though…”

“Anyways…” Kaoné turned back toward Kevérin as Kievkenalis took a seat on the couch next to Rebehka. “What were you saying about the Archoné?”

Kevérin took another drink before replying, “Kines picked a fight with Nimal again.”

“…You mean Derynii? Derynii Nimal?” Kaoné frowned, and then facepalmed. “Oh no, not again…”

“I’m just glad Sméthan didn’t get involved,” Christeané remarked. “Last time he and Cartérius got into a fight, I spent the whole week cleaning up after their diplomatic mess.”

“Man, what’s with y’all? I’ve never had any problems with my students, not like this,” Davídrius commented.

“Yeah, that’s ‘cause you’re a strict bastard and rule over them with an iron fist.”

“That’s not…! …Well okay, that’s kinda true, but—”

“Why do we always end up talking about the students when we get together?” Rebehka cut in, “can a conversation about our jobs ever not do that?”

“Maybe if Kines and Nimal weren’t part of the ‘Elite Six,’” Kevérin retorted.

“I always hated that title,” Kaoné responded with a an annoyed frown, “even when it first came into use almost ten years ago. It always just goes to the students’ heads.”

“I don’t know, I think a little competition is good,” Rebehka refuted.

“It’s not ‘little’ when I come to know the Archoné on a personal level due to how often his daughter acts up,” Kaoné countered.

“And here’s a great place to talk about somethin’ else,” Davídrius interjected as he turned his attention toward Kaoné. “How’re your kids? …Fuck! I actually just asked someone ‘how’re the kids!’ Fuck! We really are old!”

Kievkenalis frowned. “Forty isn’t old…”

“Besides, my oldest is eleven.” Kaoné smirked. “Have you really only just realized that?”

“Gah, that just makes it worse—!”

“Wait, Davídrius,” Kevérin cut in, “don’t you have a daughter?”

“What?” The Velocitechnic gave him a clueless stare before recognition dawned on his face, followed by incredulity. “You mean Relia? She ain’t my kid. I’m friends with her mom, sure, but she ain’t mine.”

“And being friends with someone who has a kid old enough to attend your school doesn’t make you feel old?” Rebehka responded, amused.

Davídrius scowled. “…Shut it.”

“If you feel old, how do you think I feel?” Kaoné sighed. “I’m the only one of us with kids. How did that even happen?”

“Whaddya mean, innit obvious? You got knocked up.”

Davídrius promptly found himself suspended upside-down in the air as Kaoné gave him an irritated glare.

“Oi oi oi, what’re you—!”

“Nice to know that you’ve matured, Davídrius,” Rebehka deadpanned.

“I’ll have you know that none of my children were accidents or born out of wedlock,” Kaoné declared. “To suggest otherwise…!”

“That’s not what I— wait…” Davídrius frowned. “…What do you mean, ‘not accidents?’ You can plan that stuff?”

“You…” Kaoné paused uneasily. “…You didn’t know that?”

“I’m not surprised,” Christeané snorted as the Materiatechnic allowed Davídrius to fall to the ground haphazardly. “Have you seen this guy with women? It’s no surprise he doesn’t know shit about sex or having kids.”

“Are you saying that you’re good with women?” Rebehka retorted.

“Like you’re one to make fun of me for being single.”

“Ooh, he’s got you there.” Kevérin smirked as the Cryotechnic drew away dejectedly.

“But still…” Kaoné turned toward Davídrius, a concerned expression on her face. “You’re forty, and you don’t know about family planning?”

“Oh, is that what that’s about?” The Velocitechnic stood up and dusted himself off. “I thought that was just… I dunno… travelin’ or some shit.”

“The shining light of Treséd, everyone,” Christeané joked.

“Oi, I’ve done more for Treséd than you and that joke of a College have ever done for East Nimaliaka,” Davídrius shot back.

“Hey, fuck you! I’ll have you know that the Kolstén College of Chaotics is doing very well for itself! Enrollment is at an all-time high!”

“And student behavior at an all-time low, am I right?”

“It’s not all about the students, we have researchers and shit too!”

“I’ll bet they’d be real impressed to hear that their Dean called them ‘researchers and shit.’”

Christeané rolled his eyes. “Ah, fuck you.”

“Fuck you too, buddy,” Davídrius replied with a smirk.

“Christeané’s right, though,” Kievkenalis commented, “I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m managing a research group, not a school…”

Kaoné shrugged. “I feel the same way, but I guess that’s just universities for you.”

“That’s not entirely true,” Kevérin countered, “of course DSC and YCUR have a higher ratio of researchers to students — their Deans are a Materiatechnic and a Chaostechnic, respectively. I don’t know if you guys realize it, but your Chaotic types are like wet dreams to Chaotic and Chaos Energy researchers.” He glanced toward Kievkenalis. “Especially since you’re a Chaos Conduit.”

“Oh, is that why I’m always being asked to participate in experiments?” The Chaostechnic asked with a confused frown.

“…Isn’t it your job to understand what’s going on?” Rebehka questioned incredulously.

“Eh, not really.” Kievkenalis shrugged casually. “I don’t stick my nose into every experiment or research group. As long as everyone follows the rules and doesn’t do anything dangerous, everything’s fine.”

“Maybe that’s why you have so many researchers,” Christeané remarked, “most people could only dream of that kind of hands-off administration.”

“It’s still a problem,” Rebehka asserted, “is it really okay for you to be so lax? I’ve had Archoné Ledkia and the NSD breathing down my neck for less…”

Kievkenalis shrugged again. “I guess no one bothers me because I’m a Chaostechnic.”

“More like because you’re a full-fledged Chaos Conduit,” Kevérin countered, and then sighed. “For some reason, I never expected founding and leading the Institute would be so difficult.”

Davídrius scowled. “Yeah, you’d think we’d’ve been able to get more shit done after we saved the whole fuckin’ galaxy.”

“The thing is, we did get a lot done,” Rebehka responded wearily. “The very fact that we were able to drop out of the military when we did, and that we were even allowed to upset the normal Chaotic education scheme by founding private schools — that’s all thanks to the gratitude we earned after the Nanocreature War. But even then, I doubt any of the nations would’ve conceded the education point if you hadn’t done it first in Treséd and shown how effective it was.”

“Fuck yeah, stickin’ to the man.”

“Can’t ask for too much, is that what you’re sayin’?” Christeané questioned.

Kevérin chuckled spitefully. “If we were going to ask for anything more, we should have done it a long time ago, back when people were still willing to bow at our feet. But it’s too late now. Hell, even back then there were a lot of people who refused to believe that we’d done anything. It took five years for us to convince the galaxy that we’d killed Morcii and get them to finally back down from high alert, and five years after that everyone had already forgotten, despite the fact that the planets attacked by the Nanocreatures are still recovering.”

“I don’t think we can fault anyone for that,” Kaoné responded uneasily, “the Nanocreature War was pretty brutal. Even I wish I could forget, sometimes…”

“But we can’t,” Rebehka declared. “Even if the whole galaxy forgets, we’ll still remember. At least, I will. I made a promise, and I intend to keep it.”

“You named your school the ‘Wanléon-Tchiréon Academy of Chaotics,’” Christeané replied with a smirk, “trust me, no one’ll be forgetting Siyuakén any time soon.”

“I hope so,” the Cryotechnic responded, and then glanced away uneasily. “…People may have reason to remember her soon, though…”

“That sounds ominous.” Kevérin leaned forward in interest. “What do you mean?”

Rebehka stared at her half-empty mug, swilling the drink around for a moment or two before looking back up at the other Chaotics with a grim look on her face.

“Oh fuck, you’re serious…” Davídrius scowled. “What is it?”

“…What I’m about to say can’t leave this room,” she eventually replied. “I’ve arranged for a private meeting with the world leaders and the NSD commander, but this can’t be said at the Summit. It’s too early to go public.”

“We get it, we get it,” Christeané urged, “…what’s goin’ on?”

“Remember… remember how the Nanocreature War was prefaced by the appearance of the metallic infection?”

“Given that’s how we lost Siyuakén? Kinda hard to forget,” Davídrius remarked.

“Well…” Rebehka glanced down again, taking a deep breath before finishing, “the infection…

“It’s back.”

 

THE END of

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TO BE CONTINUED in the

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Link to the Key Saga…



Note from the Author: Hey y’all! I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to read Rise. If you enjoyed the story, then consider leaving a review or a rating over on my Web Fiction Guide listing! (Link here) I’d greatly appreciate it!

Thanks again for reading — and I hope to see you again as I write the Key Saga!

Chapter 85 – A Prologue’s End

Mondia, Ranth 20, 8034

Overdrive: Invisible Hand—”

Chaos Slam!

Commander Krydonin leaped backward, narrowly evading Commander Reginko as she rocketed forward and slammed into a group of Nanocreatures and scattered them like sand. Krydonin sighed irately before knocking away an approaching Nanocreature beast, allowing Reginko to whirl around and blast it with “Chaos Strike!

“Don’t be so careless!” Krydonin reprimanded her fellow Commander, “I hate to say this, but you’re too valuable to lose to the Nanocreatures, especially here—!”

“You just can’t handle the dust I’m kicking into your face,” Reginko retorted, and then jumped back to fire several Chaos Cannon projectiles at distant Nanocreature attackers. “Oriciid’kas is too crowded for both Sector 1 and 2 — so I’ll show you that 2 is superior!”

“Of course you will,” Krydonin deadpanned before telekinetically grabbing a metallic wyvern out of the air and slamming it into the ground — and then yanking Reginko back just in time to save her from being crushed as a gigantic Nanocreature behemoth fell out of the air.

“I don’t need your help—!”

“Save it for the debriefing,” Krydonin snapped, her eyes trained on the behemoth as it slowly recovered from its fall and began inspecting the urban environment around it. “…This is a problem. Reginko, take your team and try to get its attention. Pull it away from the city if you can—”

“Or we can just kill it now!” The Chaostechnic smirked, completely disregarding Krydonin as she jumped forward and shouted, “Chaos Slam!” She immediately rocketed through the air and into the giant creature’s maw — where, on impact, the entire beast exploded into a massive cloud of shiny silver dust.

“…What…?” Krydonin quickly pulled herself back, keeping a careful eye on her armor’s shielding as the silvery cloud slowly lost its sheen and fell to the ground.

“Ha ha!” Reginko whooped, “see, Krydonin? Maybe if you’d stop being such a pussy you’d get a kill every now and then!”

“No…” the Sector 1 Commander countered as a myriad of messages and alerts began appearing across her AR display, “…I don’t think this was you, Reginko.”

“Huh? …Ha, right, of course you’d say that.”

“I mean it,” Krydonin responded, her lips pursed in confusion. “It wasn’t just that beast. All of the Nanocreatures in local space just… dissolved. Fell apart. Almost like two months ago, but… all at once.”

“What? That doesn’t make any sense,” Reginko snorted. “…The hell are we doing here, then?”

“We do our job. Check on the city and the civilians,” Krydonin ordered, “get your ass in gear. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get caught off guard if this turns out to be a ruse…”


“Ma’am! The Nanocreatures have broken through the far front! They’re closing into middle orbit over Tau’cen Kii!”

“Launch the On’esstin! We don’t have time for it to complete its repairs, we need its firepower, now! What’s the word on the reserve fleets?”

“The Fifth and Sixth fleets are returning from the neighboring systems, but the Second and Fourth fleets are stuck in the Lis’talra system until the Transpace can be re-locked!”

“Damn it…” System Admiral Ukinon scowled as she stared at the holographic displays in the command center of the military station orbiting Tau’cen Kii. “…Pull the Ninth fleet back from the far front, but leave the Third and Seventh fleets in position. Intercept as many Nanocreature ships on the far front as possible; the First and Ninth fleets can deal with whatever makes it to orbit.”

The Admiral sighed warily as the officers in the command center scrambled to relay her orders. It had been almost two months since the Nanocreatures all disappeared — and then less than a day ago, with no warning at all, massive Nanocreature fleets appeared on the doorsteps of both Oriciid’kas and Tau’cen Kii. The initial strike dealt significant damage, but the CSA had since scrambled to defend the two systems… only to begin losing them even faster than during the Nanocreatures’ first campaign.

Ukinon looked over the status reports as they flew across the displays, taking in the information and processing it in silence. After several minutes she leaned forward and opened her mouth to give another order — only to pause as an alert message appeared directly in front of her face. She drew back and gestured to push the alert away as she quickly scanned it.

“…Is this confirmed?” she questioned, turning her attention to the rest of the command center.

“…Yes ma’am,” an officer replied a moment later. “Every fleet is reporting the same. The Nanocreatures have just…”

“…Dissolved,” the Admiral finished, “just like two months ago… no, they dissolved all at once this time? …Scan for energy usage, or any other signs of activity. We can’t let our guard down just yet.” She drew back again, watching the command center before turning her gaze to the holographic displays of the space outside the station. I wonder… does this have anything to do with those Nimalians…?


((CHAOS KILO BLAST!!))

A gigantic sphere of red energy nearly fifty kilometers in radius exploded outward from Surdeus, carving a huge crater in the ground and exposing a portion of the planet’s mantle. He quickly called out ((Chaos Teleport)) to teleport to the crater’s edge, ignoring the spewing lava as he glared upwards at the large numbers of Nanocreature ships.

((…How dare they encroach on my territory,)) he muttered, ((…not once, but twice! Have you no sense, Morcii?! Chaos Explosion— Chaos Void!)) Dozens of Nanocreature ships disappeared as two fifty-meter blasts of Chaos Energy obliterated everything within remote areas of space, leaving Surdeus to charge forward toward the metallic beasts on the ground. ((You believe me to be this easy a target?! I would destroy this very planet before I allowed you to seize my territory! Be gone, you filthy, irritating excuses for an army!! Chaos Deflection!!))

A spinning orb of energy burst outward from his body, knocking away all of the Nanocreatures within five meters as the Drakkar Faction leader leaped into the air, shouting, ((CHA…OS…!!)) But before he could unleash his next attack, all of the Nanocreatures in the vicinity suddenly ceased all movement. Surdeus quickly finished with ((Detect)) as he caught himself on the ground below, cautiously surveying the environment around him as every Nanocreature simply collapsed into mounds of dust.

((…Again…?)) he muttered, and then turned around to stare at the horizon. ((…No. This is… hmph.)) He snorted, crossing his arms irately as he began looking around the damaged yet conspicuously silent battlefield. ((So someone managed to defeat Morcii before I had the chance))


“Commencing bombing run in five minutes!”

“Roger that,” Captain Krick acknowledged, leaning forward in his captain’s chair as he quickly scanned the various status readouts aboard the bridge of the Genesis. “Watch yourselves, Commander. The Nanocreatures have let up since they first attacked, but we can’t afford to underestimate them!”

“Never fear, Chief Captain. The First Frigate Squad are used to dealing with superior forces.”

“You got that damn right,” Krick muttered as the comm line closed. He returned his attention to the wide bridge windows, through which a number of Nanocreature ships could be seen in the distance. Below the battlefield was the planet of Eana, the Earthians’ first and only true Fortress World — and the site where four of the Ayas were formerly stored. The Nanocreatures had appeared out of nowhere and seized the four gemstones before anyone could react, destroying two of the Frigates stationed there as well as one of the planet’s outposts in the process. The Genesis was quickly dispatched to protect the planet and had been engaged with the Nanocreatures since, serving as the Earthians’ only true line of defense against such a vastly superior foe.

“Status report,” Krick ordered, ignoring a rumble as the ship’s shields took a hit.

“Shields are holding at seventy-three percent,” Captain Bourne replied from her seat at a console further down the bridge, “we are wearing down the enemy ships, but at the current rate, it will take over a week to destroy them all.”

“Hopefully Commander Reimers can change that,” Krick muttered, eying a countdown as the numbers dipped bellow one minute. “Time to see how those reverse-engineered railguns do… begin target acquisition! Lock onto the largest and weakest ships and relay targeting data to the Frigates!”

“Yes sir!”

“Bombing run in thirty seconds… prepare for a light show!” Krick smirked. “…Ten seconds! …Five! Four! Three! Two! One!”

Five Earthian Frigates rocketed out of Subspace five hundred kilometers in front of the Genesis, each one equipped with a massive railgun reverse-engineered from the Battlecruiser’s own weaponry. A split-second later, five sabots were flying through space at relativistic speeds, smashing into five different Nanocreature ships and utterly obliterating them as the Frigates zoomed past and entered Subspace again.

“Ha ha! Five down!” Krick whooped, “let’s keep this up—!”

“Uh, sir… that’s not all,” Bourne interjected as she glanced back at the Captain in confusion. “…It’s not just the five targets that were destroyed.”

“Huh?” The Captain snapped his attention back to the bridge displays — sure enough, all of the Nanocreature ship signatures had disappeared from the sensors, replaced by shiny metallic clouds that the Earthians could barely see through the bridge windows. A new display soon appeared, showing a magnified camera feed of the Nanocreature remains.

“It’s two months ago, all over again…” Bourne muttered warily.

“…I’ll take it,” Krick replied, “maybe someone found a way to get rid of them for good this time. Now, we don’t have time to waste! Begin check-ins with all of the planetary outposts! And get the Frigate squad back here!…”


“The target has taken the bait!”

“Don’t let off, draw it as far from the surface as possible!” Commander Rantéin ordered, his eyes snapping from AR display to AR display as he attempted to manage every facet of Nimalia’s defense. “That Deathnought is the single greatest threat to this planet! Disregard the rest of the Nanocreature fleets until we can draw away that ship!”

“Easier said than done, I’m afraid,” General Acknos of Tekdecé commented, approaching Rantéin and standing beside him as he glanced between the status readouts in the command bunker. “Morale is low. Not only did the Nanocreatures deal a swift blow to Nimaliaka Central, but they also took out Nikéyin.”

“Which is why we’re in command now, I know.”

“That’s beside the point. She was the commander, and for her to fall so quickly is a devastating blow, even more so when facing an enemy against which organization is most paramount.”

“And what would you have us do?” Rantéin eyed the Tekdecénian General warily. “Our fleets are stretched thin and Nimaliaka is almost overrun with those metallic bastards. There isn’t exactly any time for morale-boosting exercises!”

“I’m well aware…” Acknos sighed regretfully. “…Even if the Nanocreatures were to simply disappear now… the damage to Nimalia and the NSD is significant. I can only hope that the participating nations don’t fall to squabbling.”

Rantéin grunted in irritation. “Now’s not the time for your politicking. We have an enemy Deathnought to take care of—”

“Sirs!”

“Hmm?” Both men turned their attention toward an officer as he dashed up to them.

“The Nanocreature ships, they… they’ve all disintegrated!”

“They what?” Acknos snapped his attention back to the status displays. “…Well, I’ll be… again, huh? What caused it this time…?”

“…Hero Machina…”

“Hmm?” The General glanced toward Rantéin. “What was that?”

“The Chaotic Squad that Nikéyin put together half a year ago. They were the ones largely responsible for retrieving the Ayas and defeating the Nanocreatures the first time around. I had heard that they left Nimalia several hours ago, but…” Rantéin frowned, and then chuckled to himself. “Well, we can’t rest now. Acknos, you should return to Tekdecé immediately and help with reconstruction from there.”

“Will do.” The Tekdecénian nodded as he turned toward the exit. “Be wary, though. Who knows if this is just a ruse.”

“Ha. I’m sure Culana would say otherwise,” Rantéin muttered to himself, “…and I’m inclined to agree. Hero Machina, huh… you’ve done it again!”


Holy shit… we killed Morcii.

Fuck yeah we did! Davídrius whooped as he pumped both his fists in glee, we kicked his ass real good!

’We?’ Siyuakén smirked in amusement, turning toward the rest of Hero Machina as the Arcán Ayas dislodged itself from her hip and fell to the ground. She stooped down to pick it up, only to wince as pain shot up her left arm and through her chest.

Are you okay…? Christeané questioned, having caught the slight motion in the corner of his eye.

Yeah, what’s with the Ayas? Kevérin added, oblivious to Christeané’s observation as he instead focused on the Arcán Ayas in Siyuakén’s hand.

THE AYAS PRIOR STATE WILL AUTOMATICALLY DE-POWER INTO THE NORMAL PRIOR STATE AFTER THE SUCCESSFUL USE OF A LINK DRIVE, Arcán responded as Siyuakén winced again, this time in a much more visible fashion. …BUT THAT IS A TANGENTIAL ISSUE, I’M AFRAID.

…What? Kaoné questioned uneasily, what are you talking about…?

YOUR FRIEND—

I can tell them, Arcán, Siyuakén interjected as she grasped her left arm in pain. …But you won’t be with me much longer, will you?

…THAT IS CORRECT.

Siyuakén, what are you—? Kevérin began, but the Electrotechnic cut him off.

You need to know how to get off this planet, right? she commented, her breath turning ragged. Arcán, there’s a Gate here, right? Where is it?

THIRTY KILOMETERS TO THE NORTHEAST. IT RESTS IN A LARGE, RECESSED AREA, BUT IS STILL EXPOSED TO THE SKY. THE VELOCITECHNIC SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIND IT EASILY.

There. Siyuakén nodded toward Kevérin. Now… you know how to leave.

Why are you using ‘you’ instead of ‘we’?… Kaoné responded warily.

…This is it, isn’t it? Rebehka replied forlornly.

Ha, yep. The Electrotechnic smirked painfully. Arcán, can you—?

I AM SORRY, BUT I’M AFRAID I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO STAY WITH YOU MUCH LONGER, Arcán commented, his voice growing faint. I MUST RETURN TO MY PLATFORM… I CONGRATULATE YOU, ALDREDANOIDS, SIYUAKÉN. DEFEATING MORCII IS NO SMALL FEAT. BUT FOR NOW… FAREWELL.

A brief flash of light blinded the Chaotics of Hero Machina as the blue robing, armor plating, and long ponytail disappeared from Siyuakén’s body, replaced by the maroon waist-cloak and navy blue breastplate that she wore while corrupted. She then collapsed as Rebehka jumped forward to catch her friend and keep her from falling to the ground.

…Alright, the fuck’s goin’ on here? Davídrius questioned impatiently, why’re you—?

She’s dying.

The rest of Hero Machina froze as they all turned toward Rebehka.

…Bullshit. Christeané scowled. Just because Morcii said it doesn’t mean it’s true—

“No… she’s right,” Siyuakén interrupted before breaking into a coughing fit as Rebehka carefully lowered her to the ground. She leaned against a nearby chunk of Chaos Matter and looked up at the other Chaotics, flashing them a brief but pained smile. “Hey, it’s not so bad. *cough* I mean… we killed Morcii… right?”

But… why? Kievkenalis responded in confusion. If Morcii’s gone… you shouldn’t be corrupted anymore, right?

“Ah, haha— ow—! …See…” The Electrotechnic fell into another coughing fit before continuing, “…that’s the problem, you see? Morcii… is the controller of every Nanocreature. Without him, or… any of the Ayas… every nanite stops working. …No exceptions.”

Wait, if that’s the problem— I can fix that! Kaoné quickly kneeled next to Siyuakén, desperation wrought across her features. I can— I can do this, I’ve already removed corruption from myself before, I can, I can do this…!

But the Electrotechnic simply shook her head in response. “I’m too far gone,” she countered, “…the corruption… went too far. Even… my brain…”

But… but…!

“It’s okay…” Siyuakén smiled again. “…I appreciate the thought. I really do.”

…So that’s it, huh? Davídrius furrowed his brow in frustration. You expect us to just watch you die—?

Siyuakén glanced up as the Velocitechnic paused mid-sentence. She followed his gaze down to her left arm — down to her hand that was slowly losing its metallic sheen and turning a dirty gray.

“Consider it the price of saving the galaxy,” she responded. “Not… not everyone can have a happy ending… you know?”

Christeané turned toward Rebehka. And you’re fine with this? Just… letting her die?

Don’t think I’m taking this easily, the Cryotechnic countered, …but I’ve had time to think about this. We… She glanced toward Siyuakén, who nodded back. …I knew about this since before we left Arcán’s Platform.

And you thought not telling us was a good idea?

And distract us all during the most important battle of our entire lives?

Christeané opened his mouth to respond, but paused and eventually drew back. I guess you have a point… he responded uneasily.

“…I’m happy, though…” Siyuakén muttered, her voice hoarse as her waist-cloak began fading to gray along with her arm. “…To have… met you all, worked with… you all… …to know that… I have you guys as friends…” She turned toward Kevérin. “You make… a good CO, you know…?”

Oh… thanks, he replied stiffly, and you… you’re a good fighter. Probably better than I could ever be.

“Heh, I wonder,” she snorted, and then coughed painfully as her eyes swept toward Kaoné. “…We didn’t really… get off on the right foot, but… I was the same with Rebehka, once, so…”

Yeah, we… The Materiatechnic turned away as she stifled a sniffle. …I’m glad we could meet, and get to know each other.

Siyuakén smiled briefly in response before glancing toward Kievkenalis. “Ah… …sorry… about your friends…”

No, it’s— it’s fine. The Chaostechnic shook his head vigorously. That wasn’t your fault, that was all Morcii. I’m just glad that we could avenge them… I don’t blame you at all.

“I’m glad… you think that,” Siyuakén responded, and then launched into another coughing fit, uncontrollably coughing up blood as her left fingertips began to crumble. Rebehka moved to steady her, but the Electrotechnic waved her off with her good arm as she recovered from the fit and looked up at Christeané.

Now that I think about it, we never really got a chance to catch up, did we? The Forcetechnic smirked forlornly. Since we first met, I mean.

Siyuakén responded in kind. “…Ha, I guess not. …But that was a… fun week, way back… then.”

’Way back?’ That was only a year and a half ago.

The Electrotechnic shot him an unamused glance before wincing again, the sudden jerk causing even more of her arm to crumble. “…You know what I mean.”

Ha, Christeané chuckled. I know, I know. I had a fun time, too. Both then, and now!

“I’ll bet you did…” Siyuakén replied and then turned toward Davídrius.

He pursed his lips in irritation. My turn, huh? Wait so long ‘cause you couldn’t think of anythin’ good to say?

“Just as irritating and… impatient as ever.”

Tch.

“And I’d have it… no other way,” Siyuakén finished. “…You don’t show it… but I know you care. And I’m glad.”

Ah… fuck. Davídrius looked away uneasily. Uh… sure. Thanks, I guess.

“…And that leaves…” The Electrotechnic warily glanced over at Rebehka, who was kneeling by her side. “…The best… for last…”

Siyuakén…

“…I don’t think… I need to say any… more,” Siyuakén responded in between ragged breaths as her arm dissolved past her elbow, while the rest of her body had turned a faded gray. “…Said everything… before…”

I know. Rebehka moved to embrace her friend tightly. I promised earlier, but I’ll say it again. I’ll never forget you… no matter what happens.

“Thanks…” Siyuakén closed her eyes, a warm smile spreading across her face as she brought her right arm up to pat Rebehka’s back. “Thanks… to all… of… you… …”

Her arm went limp, falling to the ground with a soft thud.

Silence filled the air. A moment later, Rebehka took a deep breath and released her friend, backing away and revealing that her entire left arm had disappeared. The Cryotechnic looked her over before climbing back to her feet as Kevérin slowly approached.

Kaoné… He glanced toward the Materiatechnic. Can you…?

She simply nodded in response before entombing Siyuakén’s body in stone and lifting it into the air.

…We lost a friend, today, Kevérin began as he turned toward the other Chaotics of Hero Machina, …I would say ‘again,’ but there’s no making light of this. This time… this time, it’s real. There’s no coming back. But there’s at least one thing we can do for her… He nodded toward Rebehka. Right?

…Never forget… the Cryotechnic responded quietly, that’s what she said… as long as we remember her…

Like hell we’ll forget her, Davídrius retorted, she saved our asses from that Ikirom guy and then went on to kill Morcii. She’ll be in the damned history books, I’ll see to that!

He’s right, Christeané declared with a nod as he flashed Rebehka a grin. Don’t worry. I— we won’t be forgetting Siyuakén anytime soon.

Exactly. Kevérin smiled in response before stooping to pick up the Arcán Ayas. …We need to get back to Nimalia, but for now, we can be happy. Yes, Siyuakén died… but she died surrounded by her friends, and what’s more, she died to save the entire galaxy! We all owe her our lives, so let’s not put them to waste. Got it? He smirked forlornly as the rest of Hero Machina responded with firm nods. Alright, then… He turned toward the northeast. …It’s time to get out of here. Hero Machina…

Move out!

Chapter 84 – Final End of Known: Harbinger

“Chaos Assist! Chaos Slam!

Kievkenalis opened the battle with a boost to Hero Machina followed by an immediate attack on Morcii. He impacted the Nanocreature leader within a second, knocking him toward the back of the cavern where Davídrius appeared and launched him upwards with a bicycle kick. Christeané quickly grabbed a nearby pillar, completely uprooting it and swinging it toward Morcii as if he were swatting a fly out of the air, but the Nanocreature threw the two Sendous Chakrams and obliterated the pillar before disappearing into the debris cloud. Kaoné instantly coalesced the cloud into a small, compact stone, trapping Morcii inside — only for him to easily break out and rocket downward, crashing into Siyuakén with incredible force.

{YOU INSOLENT FOOLS!”} he roared as he summoned back the Chakrams and began attacking the Electrotechnic with all three Ayas Weapons in his possession, dealing a flurry of blows that she was barely able to keep up with. {YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN DEFEAT ME? ME—”} He clashed blades with Siyuakén and then smashed his foot into her stomach, sending her flying tens of meters back. {—A GOD?”}

The only thing you’re a god of is delusions! Siyuakén retorted as she blasted him with a lightning strike, stunning him just long enough for Rebehka to summon a massive ice spire around him. Christeané immediately bounded forward, both arms covered by the Matlés Gauntlets as he smashed his fists into the spire and instantly destroyed it, allowing Kaoné to fling Morcii back into the air by rapidly raising the ground beneath his feet. Kevérin quickly intercepted the Nanocreature leader with a cloud of flame, but Morcii simply ignored the attack as he detached his lower pair of arms and transformed them both into laser cannons that opened fire on the Pyrotechnic as the Nanocreature himself zoomed in, bringing down the Arcán Claymore overhead. Kevérin barely managed to block with the Tanivas Staff, deflecting the blade strike but failing to dodge as Morcii lunged forward and dealt him a fierce head-butt followed by a roundhouse kick that sent him flying into the far wall over a kilometer away.

“Chaos Mach Eight Cannon!”

The hypersonic projectile tore through Morcii’s body, ripping his legs and tails away from his torso as Kaoné flung chunks of Chaos Matter at the Nanocreature. He quickly recovered and easily evaded the projectiles as he reunited with his lost limbs — and then merged his legs together into a massive downward-facing laser cannon. He immediately opened fire, sweeping across the platform below and leaving a multi-meter wide path of smoldering Chaos Matter in its path. A lightning strike from below drew his attention just in time for Davídrius to appear over him and dunk him with a fierce kick, creating a crater as the Nanocreature leader impacted the ground nigh-instantly. Christeané and Rebehka both quickly approached the crater, but when the debris cleared, Morcii was gone — only to appear out of the ground underneath Rebehka, smashing his fist into her chin and then grabbing her arm and throwing her at Christeané. The Cryotechnic immediately responded by freezing Morcii’s feet to the ground and trapping his tails in a block of ice, which Kevérin quickly superheated and caused a massive steam explosion. “Chaos Slam!” Kievkenalis shouted, rocketing forward and impacting Morcii with a shockwave, launching him out of the cloud of steam as he followed with “Chaos Targeted Nullify!”

{NULLIFY MEANS NOTHING TO ME,”} Morcii snarled, detaching his arms and splitting them several times over before transforming all of the pieces into dozens of tiny laser cannons with which he opened fire on Hero Machina. {IF I WERE A CHAOTIC IT WOULD WORK, BUT I AM BEYOND THAT—”}

He immediately held up two of his tails, catching Davídrius’s incoming foot and hurling the Velocitechnic overhead. The Nanocreature then transformed his other two tails into long blades as he blasted forward, piercing the ground on which Davídrius had landed barely a second earlier. He quickly followed by summoning and throwing both Sendous Chakrams at the Velocitechnic before knocking away Christeané with the Arcán Claymore and turning his laser cannons on Siyuakén. The Electrotechnic quickly slammed her own Claymore into the ground around her, shattering the ground and dislodging several pieces of Chaos Matter that she manipulated with electric fields to rest in front of her just in time to block the initial laser blast. She then massively increased the power behind her electric fields, crystallizing the very ground beneath her feet and deflecting Morcii’s lasers — but failing to deflect the Nanocreature leader himself as he rocketed forwards, piercing the fields with ease and throwing his foot forward in a powerful kick. Siyuakén managed to block the blow with her Claymore but the pure force still launched her backwards. Morcii crouched down, prepared to give chase, but tripped due to the bounds of ice that had appeared over his feet. Kaoné instantly launched him skyward as Kevérin and Kievkenalis followed up with a multitude of flame and Chaos attacks, ceasing only when Rebehka crafted a massive ice-club midair and smacked Morcii toward Christeané’s waiting fists.

Gotcha now! the Forcetechnic shouted with a grin as he thrust his fist forward, completely pulverizing Morcii’s chest — only for it to immediately reform around his wrist.

{NOT QUITE,”} the Nanocreature responded with a malicious smirk as he whirled around, releasing Christeané from his chest and sending him flying toward the ceiling. Davídrius moved to intercept the Nanocreature leader but Morcii launched into the air before he could, slamming into Christeané midair and driving the both of them upwards into the ceiling — and through it.

He’s getting away! Kevérin shouted as the entire cavern began to rumble violently, the ceiling around Morcii’s impact point beginning to collapse. After him!!

Kaoné paused to create a platform for Kievkenalis, Davídrius, and herself as Kevérin blasted upward, filling the hole Morcii had created with flames just before entering. His vision went black as the tunnel blocked out all light, but within seconds the air above him opened up, revealing the twilit sky and blue surroundings of Elecal’s surface. …We were this close to the surface? he muttered to himself just as Christeané tumbled past. The Pyrotechnic immediately returned his attention to the battle just in time to summon the Tanivas Staff and smash it into Morcii’s face the moment the Nanocreature leader passed him, sending him stumbling forward. Christeané was instantly upon the downed Nanocreature, lifting his hands into the air and then smashing them into Morcii’s back and creating a hundred-meter crater — which was immediately inverted as Kaoné blasted her way through.

As soon as her platform was clear, Davídrius and Kievkenalis leaped off, with Davídrius instantly locking onto Morcii’s location and dashing over to him, only to be knocked away as the Nanocreature intercepted him with the Arcán Claymore. Morcii immediately took to the air, narrowly evading another blow from Christeané as he ignored a blast of fire and deflected several incoming Chaos Cannon shots with the back of his hand, each of which went on to smash into and demolish distant mountains and plains. The Nanocreature then detached all of his limbs from his body, separating them into dozens of flechettes and laser cannons that spread out across the sky and began attacking the grounded Chaotics. Within a second of opening fire, a massive ice sheet appeared in the sky, trapping each of the pieces until Morcii broke them out half a second later — but he then failed to react in time as Davídrius leaped up through the shattered ice, summoned the Hastryth Chain Weapon, impaled Morcii, and dragged him down to the ground. The Nanocreature dislodged himself from the weapon before actual impact, summoning enough flechettes and laser cannons back to himself to reform two arms and grab Hastryth’s chain, thereby jerking Davídrius to a stop. He then lunged forward to deck the Velocitechnic across the face, sending him flying nearly a whole kilometer away before spinning around and instantly forming a shield in front of him from the rest of his cannons and flechettes to block a lightning blast followed by a punch from Christeané. The Nanocreature then resisted a call of “Chaos Control,” but the effort tripped him up just long enough for Kaoné to launch him into the air again before creating a block of stone midair and spiking him back to the ground at Kevérin’s feet. Without missing a beat, the Pyrotechnic blasted Morcii with fire and then stabbed him with the Tanivas Staff, rapidly heating the Staff and the air around it until initiating an incredible blast of heat that incinerated everything for several meters around. But the Nanocreature leader emerged unscathed — he immediately grabbed the Staff and ripped it out of Kevérin’s hands and then slammed his fists into the Pyrotechnic’s chest, sending him flying away just in time for Morcii to whip around and block Rebehka as she attempted to slice him open with a blade of ice. Kevérin quickly summoned the Staff back to himself, momentarily robbing Morcii of a weapon until he summoned the Arcán Claymore and blocked Rebehka’s next blow — only for the Cryotechnic’s blade to freeze to Arcán on impact.

{YOU—!”} Morcii scowled, barely able to react as Rebehka tore Arcán from his grasp and then, with a single motion, summoned the Tsern Spear and impaled him, instantly freezing his entire body to the polearm. A split-second later, Davídrius appeared and smashed his foot into the frozen Nanocreature, completely shattering him and creating a cloud of ice and silvery debris that Siyuakén rapidly charged, triggering a myriad of interior lightning strikes. Kaoné then encased all of the debris in a large stone, but before anyone else could attack, Morcii exploded from the stone and rocketed up to nearly a hundred meters high in the sky. He paused for a moment to glare at the Chaotics and dodge a blast of flame before whipping around and flying off, raising higher into the sky.

He’s escaping!! Kevérin shouted, attempting to give chase as Kaoné summoned the Mystryth Bow and began firing arrows at the Nanocreature leader, only for all of them to miss.

He’s too fast! she exclaimed, what— what do we do?!

…No… he’s not too fast, Siyuakén countered, eying the dot that continually grew smaller with distance before bracing herself and rapidly raising the electric current through her body, quickly surpassing the voltage levels of any of her previous attacks.

Siyuakén?… Davídrius glanced toward the Electrotechnic warily as the hair on the back of his neck began to rise. What are you doing?…

Everyone, back away, she replied through clenched teeth as the energy in the air around her began to cause chaotic winds and sparks began leaping from her body. …This… is going to hurt. But I’ll bring that bastard back. He can’t escape me!

…I SEE. YOUR CORRUPTION IS THE KEY; IF YOU CAN ONLY—

I know, Arcán, I know! Now help me out here—!

“Cha… os… Charge!

The electric charge in the surrounding environment suddenly jumped to unprecedented levels, triggering arcs of lightning from Siyuakén to random spots on the ground several meters away as Kievkenalis offered her a quick wave and then teleported away.

Ha… thanks. She smirked, lightning beginning to jump from the air itself to the ground as Siyuakén generated enough energy to cause the stone for meters around to crystallize and liquefy. She summoned the Arcán Claymore — which immediately began to glow and spark — and slowly pointed it at the sky as she closed her eyes. Morcii had long disappeared from eyesight, but she had no need to lay eyes on him. Even attempting to sense his influence on electric fields wasn’t necessary, for Siyuakén possessed one trait that allowed her to always know Morcii’s location: she was corrupted. And as powerful as Morcii was, there existed no way for him to permanently and completely cut himself off from Nanocreature nanites.

There! Siyuakén’s brow furrowed as she located Morcii, several hundred kilometers high and rapidly ascending. Immediately, she directed the Arcán Claymore toward him — and fired an incredible blast of energy, a lightning strike streaking through the sky at thousands of kilometers per second, even piercing the vacuum of space to hit Morcii with an inescapable shock that lit up the entire region as bright as day before fading away to nothing.

And— now!

In the moment that Morcii was struck, Siyuakén seized control of his body and yanked him back, sending him careening through space and atmosphere. He quickly regained control but was unable to slow himself — and was unable to react as the Electrotechnic held up Arcán and cleanly impaled him on the blade. Immediately, Christeané bounded onto the scene, having been launched forward by a kick from Davídrius as he reached forward and grabbed Morcii’s head, tearing the Nanocreature off of Arcán and slamming him into the ground. He then grabbed two of Morcii’s tails and yanked him into the air, twirling him once overhead before releasing him into the distance at hypersonic speeds — which Davídrius easily matched and exceeded, intercepting Morcii and spiking him back to the ground with a fierce kick. The moment the Nanocreature leader hit the ground, a massive spike appeared, impaling him again as Kaoné raised several more spikes around him — followed by Rebehka suddenly flash-freezing the entire area, creating a fifty-meter ice spire that completely swallowed up Morcii — and then exploded in a cloud of steam as Kevérin rapidly superheated the object, destroying everything encased inside due to the sudden pressure and temperature change. Then, without waiting for the steam to clear, Kievkenalis teleported to the center of the cloud and shouted, “CHAOS BLAST!”

In an instant, everything within fifty meters was completely obliterated, creating a smooth crater that Kievkenalis and the remains of Morcii dropped into. The Chaostechnic immediately summoned the Aldrace Glaive and pierced the Nanocreature through his stomach, pinning him to the ground. Morcii attempted to get up, reaching up with his three remaining arms and tugging at the polearm — only for the Tanivas Staff and Tsern Spear to suddenly smash his shoulders, shearing his arms off of his body. Each arm slowly rose into the air… and then fell back to the ground as the rest of Hero Machina converged on the scene.

{…YOU…”} Morcii groaned, his third arm and his tails dissolving as his body reverted to his normal form, the Sendous and Arcán Ayas appearing in the air over his chest before dropping to the ground and tumbling to the side. “…YOU… DEFEATED… ME…!?”

We told you it would happen, didn’t we? Siyuakén countered as she stooped down to pick up the Arcán Ayas. You lost.

“NOT… POSSIBLE. I… AM…”

A god? Davídrius snorted. If you’re a god, then what’s that make us?

Ha! I’d gladly take the title of ‘god-killer,’ Christeané remarked with a smirk.

“YOU… GLOAT TOO EARLY…” Morcii responded, slowly picking himself up — only to be shocked and slammed back to the ground with a club of ice.

You stay there. Siyuakén glared at the Nanocreature leader as Kaoné covered most of his body with steel sheets, effectively trapping him in place.

THE AYAS PRIOR STATE? Arcán prompted.

I know, the Electrotechnic muttered, and then took a deep breath. Prior State: Ayas Arcán!”

The Arcán Ayas turned into a small cloud of light blue particles before translating through the air to Siyuakén’s hip, where it reformed and locked itself into her form, leaving it completely inseparable from her body.

“…YOU CAN’T DO IT,” Morcii snorted as she summoned the Arcán Claymore again. “YOU… USING A LINK DRIVE AGAINST ME… HA. YOU’LL DIE… YOU CAN’T LIVE… WITHOUT… ME.”

I don’t want to live with you, Siyuakén countered as she grasped the weapon with both hands and leveled it toward Morcii. I don’t care what happens to me. As long as I can end you, forever…!

“HA… AH HA HA, HA HA HA HA HA!” The Nanocreature launched into deranged laughter as the Electrotechnic raised Arcán over her head. “END ME? FOREVER? HA! YOU THINK… THIS IS THE END…? THIS… IS ONLY… THE BEGINNING. AH HA HA…!”

Your threats are meaningless! This is the end, Morcii. You won’t be missed! Siyuakén shouted back as Morcii continued to laugh to himself. “Link Drive: Menace Hunter!!”

A bright flash of white light momentarily blinded everyone present as the Arcán Claymore began glowing a brilliant golden color, the golden aura extending nearly two meters past the end of the blade and forming a sharp surface of hard light as Siyuakén brought the weapon down on Morcii, carving a massive hole through the ground and Nanocreature alike. The moment the blade touched Morcii, his eyes went blank — and then his body exploded into a silvery cloud that rapidly lost its sheen, turning into nothing more than dust as the golden light disappeared from Arcán. Silence followed before Kaoné gathered the dust together and coalesced it into a small block that Rebehka quickly encased in ice. When nothing followed, the seven Chaotics of Hero Machina let out a collective sigh of relief.

Morcii… was truly dead!

Chapter 83 – Final Chaos

Siyuakén lunged forward, rapidly closing the distance between her and Ikirom as she forced a massive electrical charge down Arcán’s blade. Once she came within five meters of the Morikai, she brought down a powerful lightning strike over his head — only for the strike to redirect to his side as an invisible force flung her backwards. Flipping through the air, she managed to land on her feet and then attempted to land several more electric strikes on Ikirom. Only half of the strikes actually manifested and none of them made contact with the Morikai, who simply observed with a blank expression before a snowstorm whipped up and obscured him from Siyuakén’s vision.

INCOMING, TWELVE O’CLOCK.

The Electrotechnic barely registered Arcán’s mental warning and threw herself to the side just in time for an invisible force to slam into her foot and send her spinning out of control. The pain disappeared after a second as she summoned the Claymore and stabbed it into the ground, bringing her momentum to zero and allowing her to re-orient herself. Damn, I need to be faster—

MORE INCOMING. THREE AND FOUR O’CLOCK!

Siyuakén reacted the moment she heard the first number, lunging forward and releasing a powerful electric blast to clear the snow in the area. Immediately following the blast she was flung upwards by a force from below, sending her tumbling blindly through the blizzard. In an attempt to regain her bearings she fired her grappling hook wildly; on the second shot, the line went taught and she immediately began reeling in the cord before slamming into the ground painfully.

HE IS NOT TAKING YOU SERIOUSLY, Arcán commented within Siyuakén’s mind, BUT I CAN TURN THIS INTO AN ADVANTAGE. THE LONGER WE FIGHT HIM, THE MORE I CAN HELP YOU DIRECTLY COUNTER HIS MANIPULATIONS.

How am I supposed to counter invisible force—?

TEN O’CLOCK!

Siyuakén slammed her foot into the ground and thrust herself backwards as the snow around her swept sideways violently. She quickly released another electrical blast in an attempt to electrify her surroundings and locate Ikirom through his bodily electric currents — but he never gave her the chance to concentrate hard enough to find him.

How can you tell when he’s going to attack? the Electrotechnic questioned as she began running a broad circle around where she thought Ikirom might be.

THE SIMPLE EXPLANATION IS THAT I AM A PRIOR. BUT I AM WORKING ON GRANTING YOU A SIMILAR ABILITY, SO HOLD ON FOR JUST A LITTLE LONGER.

I’m trying—?! Siyuakén’s eyes went wide as Ikirom suddenly appeared through the snow curtain in front of her, swinging the Syn Scythe in front of him. She barely managed to raise her Claymore to block the Scythe’s blade, but the pure force from the blow flung her several tens of meters to the side.

You’ve let to lay a hand on me, Ikirom commented as the surrounding environment spontaneously changed to that of a forest. Need I really handicap myself so heavily to make this a fair fight?

I don’t know what part of this is ‘fair’! Siyuakén scowled as she fired her grappling hook into the branches of a nearby tree and began to swing from branch to branch. At least I’m familiar with forests—! Her thought was cut off as a small splotch of purple appeared in the corner of her eye; a second later she realized it was rapidly approaching and moved to get out of the way — only to find that the tree her hook was attached to had disappeared, leaving her momentarily unable to maneuver.

Ungh—! She took the blow head-on, the splotch revealing itself to be another force from Ikirom. I take it this is what you meant, Arcán?

IT IS. YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO FORESEE IKIROM’S MANIPULATIONS BY A SPLIT-SECOND, BUT IT IS UP TO YOU TO REACT IN TIME—

As if to drive the Prior’s point home, a tear in space appeared in the air directly above Siyuakén through which Ikirom emerged not even a full second later. He grabbed the Electrotechnic’s arm with his tail, swung her through the air, and then slammed her into the ground; he then prepared to lift her again, but she quickly sliced through his tail with the Claymore, prompting the Morikai Commander to back away, summon the Syn Scythe, and close the distance again. Siyuakén jumped to her feet and began blocking Ikirom’s swings, yet despite the fact that the Morikai was wielding such an awkward weapon as a Scythe, his blows were fast and powerful enough to drive Siyuakén back and force her to go on the defensive.

In an attempt to fight back, the Electrotechnic began forcing a massive current down the blade of the Arcán Claymore. Each time the Claymore connected with the Scythe, sparks exploded from the contact points as the two weapons were blown apart, only for Siyuakén and Ikirom to bring them back together as each combatant continued in their attempts to cut down the other. After several more such blows, Ikirom finally tired of the apparent futility and instead backed away as he prepared a different attack. But Siyuakén immediately lunged forward, crossing the two meters in between herself and Ikirom in the blink of an eye and taking a powerful swing that missed the Morikai but connected with the Syn Scythe, discharging a massive amount of energy and flinging the weapon out of Ikirom’s hands. He immediately altered the environment to that of a barren mountainside and smacked Siyuakén with his tail, sending her flying backwards as she responded with several lightning strikes, all of which were diverted away from Ikirom and toward the Scythe tumbling down the mountainside—

—and caused the blade to shatter into a thousand tiny pieces.

What?! Siyuakén exclaimed in surprise. Wait, Arcán, I thought the Ayas weapons were supposed to be indestructible!

THEY ARE. WHICH MUST MEAN THAT THAT SCYTHE WAS NOT ACTUALLY THE SYN WEAPON — IT WAS MERELY A REPLICA. THERE’S ONLY ONE REASON IKIROM WOULD USE A REPLICA INSTEAD OF THE ORIGINAL—

Now’s not the time for speculation— what in the—?! The Electrotechnic froze in place as Ikirom disappeared from the battlefield and the entire mountain flipped upside-down in an instant, placing the cloudy skies below her and the stone ground above her. She began falling down — or up — and took several seconds to register the situation before snapping her left hand upwards and firing her grappling hook at the stone ceiling.

Arcán…! she muttered warily as she glanced down at the sky, what’s going on?!

IKIROM IS BEGINNING TO TAKE THE BATTLE SERIOUSLY…? NO, THAT ISN’T IT. HE IS STILL TOYING WITH YOU, BUT HE IS DOING MORE THAN SIMPLE INVISIBLE FORCE.

This is toying with me?! Siyuakén scowled, followed by a sharp gasp as the gravity field suddenly shifted and slammed her back into the mountainside. She quickly jumped to her feet, only to stumble and fall to the ground again as she held a hand to her forehead tenderly. What… she muttered again, as she glanced up — or down — at the sky. …I’m on the ground, but… I still feel upside-down, like the sky is still below me? What the hell?…

Do you realize now the power of Realitechnism?

The Electrotechnic leaped to her feet again, this time overcoming the environmental disorientation through mental assistance from Arcán. Where are you? she shouted into the winds as she glanced around in search of the Morikai Commander.

Where am I? Ikirom echoed, and then chuckled. You cannot find me. In this realm, created by me — you will only find me if I allow it. No sense of yours could possibly locate me… for I am simply not present.

HE’S BLUFFING. A REALITECHNIC’S BIGGEST WEAKNESS IS THAT THEY STILL REQUIRE THEIR BODY TO LIVE; HE MAY BE ABLE TO HIDE FROM YOU, BUT HE MUST STILL BE AROUND.

Then how do I find him…? She scowled again. …What do you want, Ikirom? Why do you want to kill us?

WHAT ARE YOU—?

It’s a distraction, shush!

I have answered your question once, and I shan’t waste time answering it again. You will die here — after I’ve had my fun, of course.

Had your fun… Siyuakén snorted as she closed her eyes and focused on the local electric fields. She had been unable to locate Ikirom with electric currents during the earlier snowstorm, but she had been distracted with dodging the Morikai’s attacks as well — now that he seemed distracted, she was free to concentrate, allowing her to trace the electric fields for many meters around her… and locate a single anomaly, a small area of higher electric potential than the air around it. Ha! He’s been avoiding my attacks by setting his potential equal to my own, but he didn’t think about masking the fields at all!

PERFECT! THIS IS OUR CHANCE!

Way ahead of you! Siyuakén responded, the entire exchange between her and Arcán — as well as her locating Ikirom — occurring over the span of a mere couple seconds. She immediately forced a massive current through her body, spiking her own electric potential — and then a split-second later she forced a powerful lightning strike toward the Morikai Commander. Yet Ikirom reacted even faster; the very moment the leading spark of the lightning strike jumped from Siyuakén’s hand, the ground itself between the two combatants seemed to stretch and stretch — or rather, Siyuakén and Ikirom both seemed to shrink in place — or the ground around them seemed to grow — while the lightning strike passed over the terrain as though more distance had suddenly spawned. By the time Ikirom would have been struck, he had equalized his electric potential to Siyuakén again, allowing him to easily redirect the strike.

I applaud your effort, but it is still not enough, he projected his voice across the many kilometers between him and Siyuakén that had before been only fifty meters. Siyuakén immediately lunged toward him and began sprinting, but she only seemed to get farther and farther away from Ikirom — never closer. And the moment she stopped herself, the ground in front of her suddenly sprang upwards, a massive cliff quickly rising in front of her, as well as behind her and to her sides. She quickly fired her grappling hook into the cliff face, but the moment the hook caught in the rock, the bottom section of the cliff sunk back to the ground, returning the hook to ground level within a second as the tops of the cliffs continued to rise even further.

…You have to be kidding me. She stared up at the distant cliff tops. How the hell am I supposed to fight him…?! She tensed reflexively as her sense of “down” began to shift — as the direction of gravity began to rotate, causing her to begin sliding toward one of the cliff faces. She immediately fired her grappling hook again, catching it in what used to be the ground just as the gravity shift forced her to hang in the air over an incredibly deep hole that once led to the sky above her.

…THIS COULD BE A PROBLEM.

No shit—! Siyuakén began, only to cut her thought off with surprise as the ceiling above her spontaneously disappeared, causing her to begin falling toward the bottom of the seemingly bottomless pit. She quickly moved to fire her grappling hook again but spotted a rock moving toward her in the corner of her eye; she immediately twisted around midair, Arcán Claymore in hand, and sliced through the incoming boulder — only to reveal a multitude of boulders falling, or rising rather, toward her. She sighed irately and began blasting the stones to pieces with lightning strike after lightning strike, occasionally using Arcán to slash debris that got too close. By the time she had fought through the entire upside-down rock slide, the pit walls seemed to have disappeared into darkness, leaving Siyuakén to reach terminal velocity amongst nothing but blackness. Yet the moment her inner-ear equalized, giving her the impression of weightlessness, the darkness transformed into a star field. A split second later, a blue giant star appeared above her, hanging over her like a massive ceiling, while a red giant appeared under her as though an endless floor — yet she touched neither, instead hanging within the empty space between them, while suffering none of the negative effects one would expect from floating so close to a star.

Do you now understand my power?

Siyuakén snapped her attention to Ikirom, who stood several meters away from her as though on an invisible platform. She immediately attempted to strike him with lightning, only for no bolt to appear; when that failed, she quickly followed by firing her grappling hook at him, only for the Morikai to casually deflect it with the back of his hand.

…Damn it, she muttered irately, glancing around as she hung in space before returning her glare to Ikirom. I can’t move like this…

Of course not, Ikirom retorted. You could only move before because I allowed it; I have rescinded such permissions, as you have proven to be a rather boring opponent.

Boring?!

I will grant that you were able to disarm me, but the moment I began even the most insignificant of reality shifts, you became helpless.

This is insignificant—?!

Silence! Ikirom demanded; Siyuakén quickly moved to retort, only to find that her voice had given out.

I can’t talk?! Arcán, what’s going on?!

HE ISN’T MANIPULATING YOU DIRECTLY, BUT HE CAN STILL DAMPEN THE SOUND COMING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH TO SILENCE.

He can do that?!

I DID SAY BEFORE THAT HE WAS MERELY TOYING WITH YOU

…I see the current age is just as stubborn and ignorant as the Aldredas. I’m almost disappointed… but I cannot say I expected any better. The Morikai Commander shook his head warily as Siyuakén watched in irate silence. I understand Morcii’s claims now — your inferior civilizations are difficult to take seriously in any capacity. Even my limited powers now are due to Aldredas meddling long ago; your kind can claim no credit in regards to that. You are nothing more than an annoyance, one who’s conquering will give me little enjoyment due to how pitiful you are! Perhaps I should allow the Nanocreatures to run rampant for longer — though dial back their power, perhaps, as a way of ‘hardening’ the galaxy for a more enjoyable hunt…

…He’s monologuing. Siyuakén stared blankly at the Morikai commander. Why does everyone monologue? Exdominor, Surdeus, Morcii, now him? It’s getting a little old.

HERE YOU SIT, BEFORE THE MOST POWERFUL CHAOTIC TO HAVE EVER LIVED — LIMITED THOUGH HE MAY BE — AND ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY IS A JOKE?

What the hell can I do, Arcán? Wave my arms and wish for an act of god to snuff him out of existence? I’ve already tried my best and clearly that wasn’t enough!

NO, THAT IS MERELY WHAT HE WANTS YOU TO THINK. I HAVE DETERMINED THAT HIS POWERS ARE AN ILLUSION — OR AT LEAST, HE IS ATTEMPTING TO HIDE HIS LIMITS WITH ONE. HE IS NOT AS POWERFUL AS HE SEEMS.

Yeah? Well even if he’s only half as powerful as he seems, that’s still really fucking powerful!

YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND — TELL ME, SIYUAKÉN. YOU ARE FLOATING IN SPACE, YET YOU STILL LIVE, BREATH, AND HEAR IKIROM SPEAK. ABOVE AND BELOW YOU ARE STARS, BOTH A MERE COUPLE MILLION KILOMETERS AWAY — YET YOU STILL LIVE, AND FEEL NONE OF THEIR RADIATION. DOES THAT NOT STRIKE YOU AS ODD?

…I assumed that was just how powerful Ikirom’s Realitechnism was…

THAT CANNOT BE. HE SAID SO HIMSELF; AN INCOMPLETE SEAL RELEASE HAS LIMITED HIS ABILITIES. WITH HIS FULL POWER, IT IS INDEED POSSIBLE THAT HE COULD CREATE SUCH A REGION OF SPACE – BUT AS HE IS NOW, HE CAN ONLY CREATE ILLUSIONS. HIS MANIPULATIONS OF REALITY ARE LIMITED TO ‘SUGGESTIONS,’ IF YOU WILL; HE IS MERELY FOOLING YOUR SENSES, FORCING YOU TO MISINTERPRET YOUR ENVIRONMENT AND CONFORM TO HIS ‘ALTERATIONS.’

Well that’s basically the same thing then, isn’t it? Siyuakén questioned, still cautiously watching Ikirom as her mental conversation with Arcán passed over a hundred times faster than a spoken conversation would allow. Who cares if he’s actually altering the environment if I can’t tell anyways? I’m not a Sensortechnic, or a Psychotechnic. I can’t stop him from tricking my senses!

AH, BUT YOU HAVE IT WRONG — SENSOR- AND PSYCHOTECHNICS WOULD ACTUALLY BE EXTRA SUSCEPTIBLE TO IKIROM’S ILLUSIONS DUE TO THEIR RELIANCE ON THE NORMAL SENSES. BUT AS AN ELECTROTECHNIC, YOU ARE NOT QUITE SO LIMITED.

You’re talking about my ability to sense electric fields? We already tried that. It didn’t work!

BECAUSE YOU WERE STILL ALLOWING YOUR PERCEPTION OF THE BATTLEFIELD TO BE INFLUENCED BY YOUR OTHER SENSES. IKIROM MAY NOT HAVE IN-DEPTH EXPERIENCE WITH ELECTRIC FIELDS, BUT HE IS AT LEAST AWARE OF THEM. THE ONLY WAY FOR YOU TO FIND HIS TRUE LOCATION — AND TO TRULY STAND AGAINST HIM — IS TO IGNORE YOUR OTHER SENSES ENTIRELY. RELY ONLY ON YOUR CHAOTIC TYPE — RELY ONLY ON ELECTRICITY!

That’s easy to say, but you can’t just ignore senses like that! It doesn’t work that way!

WHICH IS WHY THE PRIOR STATE IS A BOON. I WILL INTERCEPT THE SENSORY SIGNALS TO YOUR BRAIN, ALLOWING YOU TO FOCUS SOLELY ON YOUR ELECTROTECHNISM.

Whoa, wait, wait! You’re just going to cut off all sensory input? People have gone insane from less—!?

AND I WILL PROTECT YOU FROM THAT, BUT WE HAVE NO MORE TIME TO WASTE. THIS WILL TRULY BE OUR LAST CHANCE — PREPARE YOURSELF! THREE. TWO. ONE…

Immediately afterward, Siyuakén’s entire world went black — and silent — and completely void of touch. Neither did she feel the warmth of the light from the stars, nor could she sense the location of her limbs, nor could she even feel the beating of her own heart. It was a void emptier than any mind could possibly fathom, and if she hadn’t known any better, she would have thought herself removed from existence itself.

Arcán, what—? What happened—? I can’t feel anything— or see— there’s nothing— Arcán, what, what— what did you—?!

CALM YOURSELF. YOU ARE STILL ALIVE. NOW FOCUS — THE ORIGINAL CAVERN WAS SWATHED WITH CHAOS MATTER, WHICH IS AN EXCELLENT CONDUCTOR AND CAN EVEN PRODUCE CHARGES ON ITS OWN. THERE SHOULD BE NO LACK OF ELECTRICITY, SO IF I’M RIGHT—

‘If’ you’re right?!

WE ARE OUT OF TIME. FIND IKIROM, NOW!

Argh! Fine! Siyuakén quickly disbarred other thoughts from her mind as she attempted to focus on the environment around her. For several moments, she felt nothing — she had never relied on her ability to sense electric fields so heavily before, and certainly not directly. It was always a secondary sense that she used to augment her battle awareness, never a primary sense that she utilized to actively seek out targets, so without any of her other senses to provide context—

Wait… I think I feel something…

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

The Electrotechnic responded with silence as she focused even harder on the signals she began to feel. Initially, she could only sense a sort of ‘flow’ through the air, but after a couple seconds of sensing, she began to realize the origins of the fields — and a couple seconds after that, she became able to make out slight perturbations in the fields that could only be explained as objects standing in their way. As soon as she became familiar with what she was sensing, she began making out a wide floor and a high ceiling, both acting as incredible energy sources. Towards the middle of the floor were twelve — no, thirteen — tall blocks, as if they were acting as energy sinks. And in the middle of those disturbances…

I’ve found him!

PERFECT. IKIROM SHOULD STILL BE UNAWARE OF YOUR ACTIONS, BUT WE WILL ONLY HAVE ONE SHOT. IF WE FAIL TO TAKE HIM DOWN WITH THIS, THEN HE WILL REALIZE HIS MISTAKES AND FIX THEM, AND THEN WE TRULY WILL BE TRAPPED.

I can’t attack him without raising the current in my body. He’s been able to sense incoming attacks before… but if I do it fast enough…!

HE WILL NOT BE EXPECTING YOU TO ATTACK HIS TRUE BODY, EITHER. NOW HURRY! I BELIEVE HIS SPEECH IS COMING TO A CLOSE.

Right! Now give me back my body! I can’t do this properly without it!

As soon as she completed her demand, Arcán ceased intercepting her senses, resulting in a momentary sensory overload as Siyuakén reeled back from all the sensations. She shivered from shock and then shook her head before quickly raising the current through her body.

…and so our encounter must come to a close, Ikirom commented, his attention returning fully to Siyuakén. You are attempting to attack me again? Even though it has never worked before?

The Electrotechnic opened her mouth to speak, thought better, and simply settled into an amused smirk.

Ikirom narrowed his eyes, his suspicion growing due to Siyuakén’s response. You believe yourself to have the upper hand, he muttered as a weapon spontaneously appeared in each of his four hands, each one possessing the appearance of one of the Ayas Weapons. But I have had enough. Your life He launched each of the weapons toward Siyuakén. Ends here!

Floating in space as she was, the Electrotechnic was unable to dodge — but she had no need to. Before any of the weapons came within a meter of her body, she released an incredibly powerful strike of lightning. Ikirom confidently ignored the attack, expecting it to deflect around him as every strike prior — and indeed, the strike missed him.

For it instead leaped to the left, toward the location of his real body.

What?! The Morikai’s eyes shot wide open, only for the entire environment to spontaneously disappear and return to that of the cavern on Elecal. Ikirom’s fake body simply vanished as his real one collapsed to the ground; Siyuakén took a moment to regain her bearings before cautiously approaching the downed Morikai, offering the colossal pillars around her a brief glance as she passed. She stopped a couple meters away and blasted Ikirom with several more lightning strikes, just to be certain — and when he failed to respond, she let loose a lofty sigh of relief.

And then the entire cavern disappeared in an instant, replaced with a pitch black void with no defining features whatsoever.

Ah ha ha ha! As if such a paltry attack could possibly defeat me!

What? No! Siyuakén snapped her head around to face the source of the voice, only to be forced to face forward as chains exploded from the darkness, wrapping around and restraining her limbs and entire body within the blink of an eye. She violently struggled against the chains, attempting to free herself or even destroy the chains with massive currents — when none of that worked, she summoned the Arcán Claymore and attempted to Subspatially store the chains, but the restraints around her wrists merely tightened and prevented her from turning the blade enough to do anything.

I must admit, I did not expect you to be quite so clever, Ikirom remarked with a smirk as he appeared in the air right in front of Siyuakén. Had I the durability of any normal individual, or perhaps even of the First or Second Tier Chaos State, you would indeed have killed me. But you should know: the first thing any competent Realitechnic does is permanently increase their durability to incredible levels! Nothing short of the Ayas Weapons or a high-tier Chaos State can hope to have a chance at killing me, even in my current, limited state!

But!… Siyuakén scowled back at him. …Everything was just… illusions, right? So…! How…?!

You may think them illusions… but that is where you went wrong. I am a Realitechnic. I do not cause illusions — my illusions cause reality! That you assumed otherwise shows how little you understand!

…!

This was an interesting final interaction, Ikirom mused as another replica of the Syn Scythe appeared in his hands, but it is now truly the end. Prepare to return to your friends, descendant of the Aldredas, and watch with helpless eyes as I bring ruin to all of your brethren! He raised the Scythe into the air and then swung it sideways, sweeping through the air toward Siyuakén’s torso—

CHAOS RESET!

The black void immediately disappeared, replaced again by the cavern of Chaos Matter. Siyuakén stumbled, no longer bound by chains, as Ikirom stared at her blankly from his location several meters away. The Electrotechnic eyed him warily before tracing his gaze to behind her — to where the rest of Hero Machina stood, just as confused as Siyuakén as Kievkenalis stood in front of them with his hand stretched toward Ikirom.

OF COURSE, CHAOS RESET! Arcán exclaimed within Siyuakén’s mind, THE ABILITY THAT NEGATES ALL CHAOS ENERGY-BASED ALTERATIONS TO THE ENVIRONMENT… IT’S THE PERFECT COUNTER TO REALITECHNICS!

Why the hell didn’t you say this sooner?!

THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE. GET THE MASTER AYAS AND RE-INITIATE THE AYAS SEAL! IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO STOP IKIROM!

Right! Siyuakén turned her attention upwards, searching the pillars for the one that hosted the Master Ayas. Upon spotting the silver gemstone she fired her grappling hook, attaching it to the side of the pillar and flinging herself skyward.

Halt! Ikirom shouted, whirling around toward the Electrotechnic as the pillars disappeared from sight, replaced by massive columns of flowing lava—

Chaos Reset!

The pillars instantly returned to normal as Ikirom whipped back around to glower at Kievkenalis.

Chaostechnics are hard-counters to Chaotics like you,” he quipped. “I’ve never had a reason to use Reset until now, but wow, it’s really useful!”

You…! The Morikai Commander growled as he summoned a multitude of weapons and aimed them at the Chaotics of Hero Machina. You cannot possibly—!

Hey, Ikirom!

The Realitechnic whirled around again and snapped his attention upwards, meeting eyes with Siyuakén as she grabbed the Master Ayas.

Too slow! She grinned, and then shouted, “Chaos: Seal!

—Huaaaaaghh!! Without warning, Ikirom was blasted backward into the center of the oval formed by the thirteen pillars, his tail and second pair of arms — as well as any other bodily additions he had gained from Morcii — disintegrating into their metallic components and exploding from his body as the weapons he had summoned simply disappeared from existence. An invisible force held him suspended in the air as a light blue circle appeared on the ground beneath him, with each of the Ayas beginning to glow. He strained his neck to glare back at Siyuakén, who casually stood atop the tallest pillar with her hand on the Ayas.

You…! he snarled as strikes of blue energy began streaking between himself and the Ayas, so I’ve underestimated this age, it would seem! Defeated before the Keys even appear…! His body began to disappear limb-by-limb, in a similar manner to how he had first appeared. You will regret this, descendants of the Aldredas! Your attention is misguided — you misunderstand the threat before you! His arms and legs completely disappeared as his torso began to dissolve, the wave of particles slowly working upwards toward his neck. As long as I am sealed away — as long as the Morikai are trapped in this seal… the Menace… will never—!

Ikirom’s mouth then disappeared, leaving the rest of his face to glare at the Nimalian Chaotics for a second before disappearing as well, leaving nothing behind. A subsequent flash of light filled the Chaotics’ vision, after which the Master Ayas disappeared and the rest of the Ayas fell out of the air and clattered to a stop atop their respective pillars.

“…The hell just happened?” Davídrius questioned.

Chaos Reset…” Kievkenalis called cautiously, and then sighed of relief when nothing happened. “That’s it… he’s gone.”

I can’t believe it… we did it! Siyuakén exclaimed as she jumped down to the ground and ran over to the rest of Hero Machina. We— we stopped Morcii’s plan! We stopped the Morikai!

“’We?’” Christeané smirked as he watched Rebehka rush to the Electrotechnic and embrace her tightly. “Much as I’d love to take credit for beating a Realitechnic, this was all you.”

“Yeah, it took me a while to figure out what was going on and even think about using Reset,” Kievkenalis commented. “If you hadn’t managed to last as long as you did…”

“Guys, wait…” Kaoné muttered warily, looking up at the Ayas atop the pillars as Rebehka and Siyuakén released each other. The rest of Hero Machina turned toward the Materiatechnic in concern.

“What is it?” Kevérin questioned.

“Something… isn’t right.” Kaoné frowned, and then pointed upwards. “Wait, there—!”

The seven Chaotics turned their attention upward just in time to see eight silvery clouds descend from the ceiling of the cavern toward the Ayas.

“Shit— Morcii’s still—!” Davídrius exclaimed.

“We can’t let him have the Ayas!” Kevérin shouted as he blasted himself into the air toward the nearest gemstone. “Everybody, grab one!!”

“On it!” Davídrius replied as he leaped high into the air, easily clearing one of the farther pillars and snatching the Ayas Hastryth just before the cloud of Nanocreature nanites could seize it. Before he even hit the ground, Kevérin and Kaoné both had reached the Tanivas and Mystryth Ayas respectively, grabbing the Ayas and leaping away from the pillar tops as Christeané moved to claim Matlés. Rebehka easily scooped Tsern out of the air and tossed it down to herself while Kievkenalis demolished the top of a pillar with Chaos Strike and caught the Ayas Aldrace as it fell out of the sky.

QUICK, THE ARCÁN AYAS!

I’m trying—! Siyuakén scowled as she flew through the air along her grappling hook, her hand stretched toward the Light Blue Ayas. She quickly released the hook just as she passed it, launching herself even higher… only for the silvery cloud nearby to suddenly form an arm and attack her. She successfully blocked the blow but was still knocked ground-ward, unable to stop the Nanocreatures from seizing the Ayas.

{SO IT HAS COME TO THIS…”}

“There he is,” Kevérin muttered apprehensively as Morcii’s body began to take shape at the far side of the platform. The two Ayas that the Chaotics had failed to claim — the Sendous and Arcán Ayas — both rapidly converged on the Nanocreature’s location and disappeared as his body transformed into the same monstrous form that he had used during the fight against Christeané on Neticen.

USE THE CHAOS STATE! Arcán ordered, prompting the six Ayas-wielding Chaotics to quickly call out the activation phrase. AS WE’VE DISCUSSED, TRULY DEFEATING MORCII REQUIRES USE OF THE LINK DRIVE, WHICH REQUIRES AN AYAS PRIOR STATE, AND YET—

Yet Morcii has the Arcán Ayas, Siyuakén finished, summoning the Arcán Claymore and leveling it toward the Nanocreature leader as he turned toward Hero Machina. So we just need to beat it out of him. Sounds good to me!

{BUT IT WILL NOT COME TO PASS,”} Morcii countered with a snarl. {YOU MAY HAVE DEFEATED IKIROM AND RE-SEALED HIM, CAUSING THE MASTER AYAS TO DISAPPEAR… BUT THIS IS A MERE SETBACK. I CAN FIND THE AYAS AGAIN LATER, I CAN PROPERLY RELEASE IKIROM LATER… BUT IT WAS A MISTAKE TO ALLOW YOU TO LIVE FOR AS LONG AS YOU HAVE!”}

It’s easy to say that you ‘allowed’ us to live, Rebehka quipped as she stepped forward to stand next to Siyuakén. But at this point it’s just an excuse.

We may not have won every battle against you, but today we will! Siyuakén declared, this is our final battle, Morcii, and you will lose!

{HA! YOU BELIEVE THAT THE MERE FIRST TIER CHAOS STATE MEANS ANYTHING AGAINST MY FUSE FORM?”} Morcii roared as he summoned the Arcán Claymore and both Sendous Chakrams, grasping each of the weapons with one of his tails. {EVEN WITH ONLY TWO AYAS, I AM FAR MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU COULD POSSIBLY HOPE TO MANAGE. YOU HAVE ONLY ONE THING CORRECT, ALDREDANOIDS: THIS IS INDEED OUR FINAL BATTLE—”} He launched himself forward. {”—FOR NONE OF YOU WILL LIVE A SINGLE DAY LONGER!”}

Chapter 82 – Final Threat

“THE MORIKAI WILL BE RELEASED… WHETHER YOU LIVE TO SEE IT, OR NOT—”

Siyuakén interrupted Morcii with a powerful lightning strike, knocking the Nanocreature leader back several meters. The rest of Hero Machina quickly spread out, with Davídrius and Christeané moving to close the distance between themselves and Morcii, only for the Nanocreature leader to jump back to his feet and lunge forward fast enough to blast past the two Chaotics. Kaoné instantly stopped his approach by spontaneously lifting a pillar of matter from below, slamming Morcii’s chest and launching him skyward.

“Everyone, get back!” Kievkenalis exclaimed, jumping back as he raised his right hand toward the Nanocreature leader. “Cha…os…!” Each uttered syllable issued forth a shockwave powerful enough to shatter the ground beneath his feet, each subsequent shockwave more devastating than the last as the Chaostechnic continued, “Mach… Five… Cannon!

The force of firing the projectile slammed Kievkenalis into the ground as it instantly tore into Morcii, completely obliterating his body as his constituent metallic parts spread out and fluttered to the ground.

“…That did it?…” Kaoné questioned, frozen in shock.

“Of course not,” Kevérin countered, “he’s still around here somewhere—!”

The very moment the Pyrotechnic completed his thought, the ground underneath Kievkenalis exploded upward as Morcii appeared, snatched the Master Ayas from the Chaostechnic before he could react, and took to the air.

“The Ayas—!?”

“Fuck! After him!!” Kevérin shouted as he gave chase to the Nanocreature leader who had fled to the cavern’s higher platform. He, Rebehka, and Kaoné all flew through the air while the other four Chaotics rushed up the steps, each of them pausing at the platform’s edge to take in the sight before them: a massive arena, nearly a half kilometer wide and a whole kilometer long, with thirteen wide, blood-red pillars forming an oval around the platform’s center. At the top of the right-most four pillars were the four Light Ayas, at the top of the left-most four pillars were the four Dark Ayas, and at the top of the tallest pillar, the one located farthest back from the steps, was…

“Morcii!!” Davídrius roared as he crouched down and then leaped high into the air, prepared to slam his feet into the Nanocreature leader — only to be blinded by a bright flash of silver light, causing him to miss completely and slam into the far wall instead.

“HA… AH HA HA HA. BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!” Morcii released a maniacal guffaw as he stood atop the tallest pillar, the Master Ayas hovering in place behind him. The pillar was too tall for any of the Chaotics to make out Morcii’s expression, but they could feel his haughty glare nonetheless.

“Sh…shit…!” Kevérin scowled, his entire body tense as he realized the situation. “That’s… that’s all the Ayas…!”

“INDEED!” Morcii replied, a malicious grin spreading across his face as he slowly lowered to the ground across the platform from Hero Machina. “FINALLY… AFTER A HUNDRED THOUSAND YEARS… THE MORIKAI WILL REIGN ONCE AGAIN. MY GOAL HAS BEEN ACHIEVED — ALL THANKS TO YOU!”

No! Siyuakén shouted back, charging forward and releasing several lightning bolts toward the Nanocreature leader as she brought the Arcán Claymore overhead and prepared to slash him. At the same moment, Davídrius dashed up from behind and prepared to deal a fearsome kick to the Nanocreature, forcing him to take at least one of the two blows… except Morcii simply disappeared, the nanomachines constructing his body dissipating into the air.

“YOU ARE TOO LATE,” Morcii retorted, his body reforming in the very center of the oval formed by the red columns. Before any of Hero Machina could react, he raised his arms into the air, shouting, “CHAOS: RELEASE!

Each of the nine pillars hosting the Ayas immediately turned pure white, emitting columns of light that reached up to the cavern ceiling. A thirteen-point circle appeared on the ground around Morcii, lighting up a brilliant blue as the Nanocreature leader jumped back, allowing a series of energy blasts to strike the center circle as hurricane-force winds picked up in the cavern, causing the Chaotics of Hero Machina to reflexively shield their faces. Then, as the energy strikes continued to grow in brightness and ferocity, a form began to manifest in the circle’s center, starting with a right leg—

—then two strikes later, a left forearm—

—five strikes later, a torso—

—three strikes later, two hands and feet—

—six strikes later, the remainder of the legs and arms—

—two strikes later, a set of extravagant armor swathed in black, silver, and gold robing—

—and four strikes later… a head.

A brown head with dozens of backward-facing hair-like spikes, similar to that of the Drakkars — yet with a sharp nose, pursed lips, and black eyes. The figure possessed the skin tone, stature, and apparent physical frailty of the Drakkars, yet it also possessed the bodily and facial structure of an Aldredanoid, with a two and a half meter height and a pair of five-fingered, two-thumbed hands that resembled neither.

…IKIROM…

“That’s Ikirom…?” Rebehka echoed quietly in response to Arcán’s utterance, “…then… the Morikai have really…!”

“No… something’s wrong…” Kevérin narrowed his eyes as he watched Morcii approach the new figure and kneel. “There’s only one of them… Morcii sounded like he wanted to free the whole race, so why only one—?!” The Pyrotechnic clamped his mouth shut and froze in place as the recently formed figure began to move, slowly shifting his gaze to fall on the five Chaotics of Hero Machina who remained by the platform edge. Silence befell the entire cavern for several moments, with no one moving so much as a millimeter until Morcii finally opened his mouth.

“MASTER IKIROM, SUPREME COMMANDER OF THE MORIKAI… WELCOME BACK TO THE PHYSICAL REALM.”

Ikirom narrowed his eyes into a frightful glare, his gaze remaining on the Nimalians as he addressed Morcii, a hundred thousand years it has been, Morcii. And thisthis is all you can manage?

“I APOLOGIZE, MASTER. THE ALDREDAS’ MEDDLING HAS EVEN EXTENDED INTO THE CURRENT AGE; THIS IS ALL I COULD ACCOMPLISH FOR NOW.”

Hah, the Morikai snorted, his arms crossed behind his back. He eventually turned away from the Chaotics to look up at the Ayas upon the cavern pillars; Davídrius and Siyuakén seized the opportunity to attack, lunging forward from their position behind Morcii and Ikirom. The Nanocreature leader quickly jumped to his feet and whipped around, prepared to counter their attacks, only for the two Chaotics to be suddenly yanked into the air by an invisible force and thrown forward, hitting the ground hard and tumbling to a stop just in front of the rest of Hero Machina.

…Surely you jest, Ikirom retorted, having moved nary a muscle. He swept his eyes across the Chaotics once more before addressing Morcii again, I count merely two Chaotics who could have possibly given you trouble, one of which is hampered by her aversion to violence, and the other has only recently reached his full potential. Yet you’ve allowed them to reach this far? To last this long?

“He… he knew our types without even seeing us in action…?” Kaoné faltered.

“He knew we were comin’ without even lookin’!” Davídrius scowled as he climbed to his feet and kept a safe distance from the Morikai Commander. “And then he flung us across the platform without even movin’!”

THAT IS BUT A FRACTION OF IKIROM’S POWER… Arcán responded tensely, THAT… IS A REALITECHNIC’S POWER.

“…I APOLOGIZE,” Morcii commented, ignoring the stunned Chaotics as he replied to Ikirom, “I MAY HAVE… GOTTEN CARRIED AWAY WITH MY ACTIONS. THE URGE TO PLAY WITH THIS INFERIOR AGE IS DIFFICULT TO QUELL.”

Is this ‘urge’ of yours to blame for this pitiful excuse for a release? You should know well what it takes to undo an Ayas Seal. Yet you create an incomplete replica of the initial moments, allowing only I to come out and leaving the rest of my brethren within that cursed space?

“I APOLOGIZE.”

That is not all, either. Your incredible lack of ability leaves me chained to this region of space, and my powers limited. What you have here is not enough to undo a full Ayas Seal, Morcii!

“I BELIEVED THAT RESTRAINT TO BE A NON-ISSUE GIVEN YOUR CHAOTIC TYPE, MASTER.”

You incompetent fool! Have you spent so much time in this age that you forget the basic laws governing the Chaos Ayas and all else derived? You are beginning to draw my ire; know well that my wrath has no bounds, and even servants such as yourself can be reduced to nothing with a thought!

“…They’re arguing,” Christeané deadpanned.

“This would be funny,” Kevérin commented uneasily, “but for Morcii to be acting so subservient… just how powerful is this guy…?”

“Why are we still here?” Davídrius questioned, “he’s a fuckin’ Realitechnic, right? We can’t fight that!”

“It sounds like he’s handicapped, though,” Rebehka commented. “…But it still might be best if we left—?!”

The Cryotechnic gasped as the entire cavern immediately turned pitch-black, removing all definition from the surrounding platform. A second later, the environment was replaced with an endless gray plane, stretching for as far as the eye could see in every direction toward twilit horizons while the sky itself appeared to be a dark static-like fuzz — and neither the pillars housing the Ayas nor the Ayas themselves were anywhere to be found.

Do not be mistaken, Ikirom addressed Hero Machina, my powers may be limited, but you still cannot hope to stand against me. Nor shall I let you; it was your ancestors who locked me away in that timeless prison, after all. Thanks to their short-sightedness, I have spent countless millennia observing the galaxy, unable to interact with it in any way, left only to watch as that which I saved was claimed by the descendants of those who betrayed me! I may not be able to exact vengeance on the true perpetrators… but you shall receive punishment in their stead, children of the Aldredas!

A severe gust of wind exploded outward from the Morikai Commander as seven pitch-black holes appeared in space behind each of the Chaotics. The seven glanced behind themselves in surprise just before a steady stream of hurricane-force winds began rushing outward from Ikirom, pushing Hero Machina toward the tears in space.

Chaos Time!” Kievkenalis quickly shouted, forcing the environment around him — Ikirom included — to come to a sudden stop. He then relaxed, taking a deep breath as the strong winds were no longer a factor.

“GOOD EFFORT.”

“What—?!” the Chaostechnic exclaimed, crossing his arms in front of himself as Morcii appeared and dealt him a fierce kick, sending the Chaotic flying into the black hole behind him — where he immediately disappeared and the tear in space closed.

“BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE USED ‘RESET.’” Morcii sneered as the flow of time returned to normal. Ikirom offered the Nanocreature a brief nod before stretching his arms forward. Catching the motion in the corner of his eye, Davídrius broke into a head-long sprint, attempting to counter the high wind speeds and attack the Morikai. Before he could reach him, however, Ikirom snapped his fists shut, imparting a sudden and massive force to each of the Chaotics and flinging them all back toward the holes.

“What!?” Kaoné exclaimed, barely holding herself in place with her Materiatechnism as she watched Davídrius and Christeané tumble backwards and get swallowed by the voids in space. “Wha, where’d they go?!”

Shit! Hold on! Siyuakén grasped the Arcán Claymore with both hands and drove it into the ground, using it as an anchor as she turned around and reached toward Kevérin as he struggled to fight against the wind currents with his own flame jets. Kaoné reached out to help the Pyrotechnic as well, but as soon as she took her attention away from Morcii, the Nanocreature leader appeared by her side and dealt a fierce blow to her chest, flinging her into the void. Kevérin was quick to follow, but Rebehka managed to deflect Morcii’s attack and keep herself anchored to the ground with massive ice sheets. Eying the white anchors, Ikirom simply twisted his mouth up into a half smirk — and all of the ice spontaneously disappeared.

“Siyuakén—!”

I’ve got you! The Electrotechnic released Arcán, jumping backwards to grab Rebehka’s hand before summoning the Claymore again and stabbing it into the ground — only for Morcii to interfere and knock the blade away. Failing to properly anchor herself, Siyuakén stumbled and tumbled over backwards, inadvertently letting go of Rebehka in the process.

NO—! Her eyes shot wide open as she snapped her attention backwards just in time to watch the Cryotechnic disappear. She froze for a second before whipping out Arcán again and slamming it into the ground, followed by shoving such an incredible current through the weapon that the dark ground for meters around glowed a bright white. Even Morcii and Ikirom found themselves shoved backward from the force of the blast.

Interesting, the Morikai Commander muttered as the final void closed without receiving its target. The Prior State offers more resistance than I expected

You… bastard…!

Mm? Ikirom responded calmly, eying Siyuakén as she tore the Claymore out of the ground and held it in front of her in a battle-ready stance.

You…! She trembled with rage. What did you do to them?!

What did I do to them…? For now, nothing. I have simply subjected them to the same bodiless limbo that I experienced for countless millennia. Ikirom crossed his arms behind his back again. They are certain to be disoriented, but perhaps they will realize their own station in time to witness your defeat at my hands. He then summoned the Syn Scythe, twirling it in the air once before grasping it firmly and slamming the pole-end into the ground. I do not believe I have fought another user of the Prior State before

His voice… that weapon…! Siyuakén muttered warily, glaring at Ikirom as she tightly grasped the Arcán Claymore. Arcán, is he…?

I SEE… THE ALDREDAS KEYS DID SEAL AWAY THE MORIKAI SHORTLY AFTER THEY DEFEATED THE MENACE, AFTER ALL, Arcán responded. HE MUST SOMEHOW STILL BE IN THE SYN PRIOR STATE… BUT IF THAT IS THE CASE… SYN! PRIOR PRAEFECTUS SYN! ANSWER ME! WHY DO YOU STILL SUPPORT THIS THREAT?

You will receive no answer, Ikirom countered as he stretched an arm toward Morcii. The Nanocreature leader immediately dissolved into a silvery cloud that rushed toward the Morikai Commander and coalesced around his body, forming a second pair of arms and a long tail. Syn remains loyal to me. And if you knew your place, Prior The sky was spontaneously replaced by a giant red orb of plasma, illuminating the entire area with the light of a red giant star while leaving temperature and radiation levels somehow survivable. Then you, too, would join me!

YOU SPEAK NONSENSE. ANY OTHER PRIOR WOULD AGREE! SIYUAKÉN, MY PRESENCE AND THE PRIOR STATE AFFORD YOU A LEVEL OF RESISTANCE TO HIS MANIPULATIONS, BUT EVEN SO—

I got it, be careful. She nodded resolutely, and then raised her voice to address Ikirom. I don’t really know what you did way back when to deserve this, but if you’re Morcii’s commander, and the first thing you do when you show up is attack me and my friends with deadly force, then you leave me no choice but to kill you!

You may think that a threat, but in truth it is merely an empty promise, Ikirom responded calmly. But if you truly wish to fight me, very well. Allow me to demonstrate for you the power of the Morikai He leveled his Scythe toward Siyuakén as the environment spontaneously changed to that of a tundra. Allow me to demonstrate the power… of Realitechnism!

Chapter 81 – Final Rush

Overdrive: Speed Break!!

Davídrius blasted forward, easily breaking Mach 10 as he dashed and leaped across the terrain underfoot. Siyuakén tightened her grip on him and clamped her eyes shut in unease as the Velocitechnic covered over two kilometers of ground per second, seeking out the cavern entrance that Arcán had mentioned. Within half a minute he laid eyes on a hole in a hillside — and standing guard were no less than three behemoth Nanocreatures, each a hundred meters longs and similar in appearance to the base-wrecker that had appeared on Neticen. But the Velocitechnic remained undeterred — closing to within a kilometer of the beasts, he leaped into the air and twisted around to thrust his foot forward, using his incredible speed to tear through one of the Nanocreature beasts and obliterate it with sheer kinetic energy. He hit the ground running, not even bothering to attack the remaining two behemoths as he slowed to a more manageable Mach five and entered the caverns.

The only light to be found within the caves was the dim ever-present glow of Chaos Matter, but it still provided enough light for Davídrius to see and react to incoming obstacles. Darting around corners and dashing through corridors, he covered more ground in mere seconds than any of the other members of Hero Machina could have covered in half an hour, all while retaining a tight grasp on Siyuakén. Then, just as he rounded another corner — he and Siyuakén both were blinded by an intense flash of dark green light.

“Gah!” Davídrius clamped his eyes shut reflexively, slamming his feet into the ground to slow himself to a stop — only to feel the ground suddenly disappear from under him. He immediately snapped his eyes open and found that he had careened off an edge… and that there was nothing but darkness below. “What the… what in the—?!”

Hang on! Siyuakén shouted, directing her attention up at the ceiling as she reached toward it with her left arm and fired her grappling hook. A second later it caught against the stone walls, transferring the Chaotics’ downward momentum into a forward swing. The Electrotechnic released the hook at the apex of the swing and fired it forward again, allowing her to sail through the air while Davídrius clung to her torso.

“What the fuck…” The Velocitechnic scowled as he glanced down uneasily. “Where’d the fuckin’ ground go?!”

What, you scared?

“Look, I ain’t scared of heights, but not bein’ able to see the ground is just fuckin’ ridiculous!”

Oh, relax—! Siyuakén fired her grappling hook again, but stopped mid-sentence when another flash of light — this time pinkish red — filled her vision. The distraction lasted for only a second, but it still delayed the Electrotechnic’s realization that her hook failed to catch on anything. She then snapped her attention upwards — only to see that the ceiling had disappeared as well.

“The fuck—?!”

QUICK, THE MATERIATECHNIC!

“Uh, uh, right!” Davídrius responded quickly, summoning the Syn Scythe as he and Siyuakén began to fall. He slashed through the air, releasing Kaoné from Subspace.

“What—? Where…?” she questioned, looking about uneasily.

“Your turn!” Davídrius interrupted, tossing her the Master Ayas as the three Chaotics began to enter free fall. Kaoné reached out to catch it, missed, and then crafted a platform midair to catch both the Ayas and the three Chaotics. She tossed the Ayas to herself with a small springboard before summoning the Syn Scythe and Subspatially storing Davídrius.

FORWARD, TO THE DISTANT LIGHT!

“To the what?…” Kaoné glanced toward Siyuakén.

Over there. The Electrotechnic pointed into the distance toward a tiny light in the darkness. …I think that’s where we need to go. It’s in the same direction we were heading, anyways.

“Alright…” Kaoné nodded as she began moving the platform through the air. Siyuakén fired her grappling hook down at the platform to secure herself and began slowly inspecting the abyss below, wary of any further threats.

Shiiiiin–––––

“That ringing again—!” Kaoné winced as a bright flash of white light briefly filled her vision.

THAT IS THE FOURTH AYAS TO BE LOCKED, Arcán declared. EVEN IF MORCII DOES NOT POSSESS THE MASTER AYAS, EIGHT LOCKED AYAS CAN STILL BE A THREAT. WE MUST HURRY—

The moment before Arcán could finish his sentence, the platform exploded upwards, flinging the two Chaotics aside as a massive dragon not unlike the beast found on Sunova smashed its way through the air. Siyuakén immediately latched on to the metallic beast with her grappling hook as Kaoné created another platform to catch herself, struggling to shield herself against the many sharp projectiles the dragon was launching from its tail and back. The Materiatechnic attempted to catch each flechette, but stumbled as she began to feel an increasing pressure from the Chaos Energy around her, resulting in several of the metallic darts scoring near hits. Spotting this in the corner of her eye, Siyuakén quickly reeled in her grappling tether and then released the hook the moment she reached it, using her momentum to catapult herself through the air and toward Kaoné. The dragon responded with a roar as it turned back toward the Chaotics, but the Electrotechnic simply shocked it with an incredibly powerful lightning strike before turning her attention back to Kaoné — and slashing her with the Arcán Claymore mere moments after she went berserk.

Damn it!… Siyuakén scowled as they both began to fall into the abyss, with Kaoné unconscious despite her exceedingly short berserk episode. Desperate to reach the distant light in the wall — which she took to be an opening to another cave — the Electrotechnic haphazardly latched onto Kaoné’s clothes with her grappling hook, yanked the Materiatechnic toward herself, and grabbed the Master Ayas. She summoned the Syn Scythe, Subspatially stored Kaoné, and then released Rebehka — who quickly assessed the situation and promptly created a platform of ice.

Take this, and go that way! Siyuakén tossed the Master Ayas to the Cryotechnic and pointed toward the light in the distant wall. I’ll deal with this dragon!

“What dragon—?” Rebehka began to ask, but froze as the beast’s roar reached her, followed by dozens of flechettes that Siyuakén managed to deflect with an intense electric field.

That dragon! the Electrotechnic retorted, Now go!

“Going! Brace yourself!” Rebehka shouted back as she crouched down and then jerked the ice platform up and at an angle to launch both herself and Siyuakén through the air. She then created a massive shield of ice to block the dragon’s next several projectiles and distracted it just long enough for the two Chaotics to come tumbling to a stop at the lip of the cave in the cavern wall. The two quickly climbed back to their feet, with Rebehka stumbling down the tunnel as Siyuakén triggered a cave-in at the entrance with a blast of lightning. She winced as a flash of blackness suddenly filled her vision, prompting her to turn back to Rebehka as she questioned irately, hey Arcán, I thought you said the Nanocreatures wouldn’t attack us!

NOT IF LEFT ON THEIR OWN, BUT IF MORCII IMPARTS ANY LEVEL OF DIRECT CONTROL, THEN HE CAN FORCE THEM TO RECOGNIZE YOU AS FOES.

“That would’ve been nice to know sooner—!” Rebehka began, but was interrupted as the cave behind them exploded forward, launching the two Chaotics into a large cavern at the other end of the tunnel where they fell several meters and then tumbled to a stop. They glanced up at the cave as the dragon’s snout peeked through, as though the beast were struggling to slip through the opening and give chase.

“Siyuakén…!”

Huh? …Oh. The Electrotechnic glanced toward Rebehka and then where she was looking — at a veritable army of Nanocreature units in front of them. …Ha. We can totally take this!

“Maybe… but I’m… about to go berserk.” The Cryotechnic closed an eye as every muscle in her body tensed in an effort to maintain control. “…Sorry!…”

It’s fine, Siyuakén responded coolly as Rebehka summoned Syn and slashed through the air, releasing Kevérin from Subspace. The Pyrotechnic immediately turned toward Rebehka as she handed him the Ayas; he promptly used the Scythe to return her to Subspace before glancing over at the Nanocreature army.

“…You guys had trouble with this?” he responded incredulously.

Oh shut up, Siyuakén retorted as she began walking forward, casually blasting the Nanocreature units left and right with electricity.

Overdrive: Unrelenting Flame,” Kevérin muttered and then joined in the assault as he bathed entire swathes of the cavern in flames and fused Nanocreatures to the floor. As the two continued forward, he glanced up at the cavern ceiling and walls. “…They’re… reddish-purple? Not blue?”

WE ARE PROGRESSING INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE PLANET’S CRUST. THE DENSITY OF CHAOS ENERGY AND CHAOS MATTER IS INCREASING.

“Yeah…” Kevérin winced as a flash of dark red light filled his vision. “I can really tell…”

Kevérin… Siyuakén muttered warningly as she glanced back at the Pyrotechnic, if you’re about to go berserk…

“Ha, I can last longer than this,” he declared as the two finally reached the other end of the cavern. “It’ll take more than just a bunch of Nanocreatures to make me go berserk—!”

An explosion of stone and Chaos Matter from the other side of the cavern drew the Chaotics’ attention just in time to see the metallic dragon tear down the entire cavern wall and lunge forward. Siyuakén immediately drew in the destroyed Nanocreature units littered around the cavern with electric fields, fusing them together and then launching them at incredible speeds in an attempt to slow the beast’s approach. Head, feet, shoulders, even its chest — she pierced them all, but still it charged forward, closing to within fifty meters. Kevérin then jumped forward and sent a wave of fire across the cavern floor, incinerating the destroyed Nanocreature units and burning the dragon’s feet to a crisp — only for it to take to the air as a pair of arms exploded out from its neck and grabbed the two Chaotics. Each of them quickly broke free with incredible blasts of elemental power, sending them tumbling to the ground as the dragon lifted higher into the air.

“Ungh…” Kevérin groaned, unable to climb back to his feet as he was forced to focus on preventing himself from going berserk. Siyuakén wordlessly stepped forward to cover him, blasting the dragon with lightning and redirecting its attacks with electric fields as the Pyrotechnic finally calmed down, summoned the Syn Scythe, and released Christeané from Subspace. The Forcetechnic took only a moment to observe the situation before grabbing the Master Ayas from Kevérin and subsequently storing him; he then dismissed the Scythe and slammed his fists into the ground, shattering the stone for meters around and freeing several chunks of Chaos Matter that he rapidly began lobbing at the corrupted beast. It deftly dodged the pieces of debris as it launched volley after volley of flechettes at the Chaotics, with Siyuakén easily deflecting them all. After several moments of this standoff, the dragon withdrew its arms into its body and let loose a massive roar before turning back to the Chaotics and opening its mouth wide. Sensing a build-up in energy, Siyuakén immediately drew in the masses of discarded flechettes, fusing them together into one large sheet of metal and inserting the sheet directly between the dragon and herself just as it fired a laser from its mouth. The shield immediately blew into dozens of pieces that rained down on the two Chaotics, who instinctively raised their arms to shield their faces; Christeané quickly withdrew his arms just in time to see the beast diving toward him. He immediately drew back his fist and then threw it upwards, obliterating the beast’s jaw and upper neck. Stunned, the metallic creature crashed to the ground to the side of the Forcetechnic; he immediately seized the opportunity to grab the beast’s tail, yanking on it once to confirm his grip before whirling the dragon around his body and then launching it at the nearby wall. At the very moment of impact a flash of pale green obscured the Chaotics’ vision — and once it faded away, the dragon was nowhere to be seen or heard, while a dark red cave had opened up in the cavern wall.

…Where’d it go? Siyuakén questioned warily as she and Christeané cautiously approached the new cave.

SPACETIME SHIFTING. EACH TIME AN AYAS IS LOCKED INTO PLACE, THE SURROUNDING SPACETIME IS SHIFTED CLOSER TO THE STATE IT WAS IN WHEN THE SEAL WAS ACTIVATED. THIS IS LIKELY WHAT PRODUCED THE SEEMINGLY BOTTOMLESS AND CEILING-LESS PIT YOU ENCOUNTERED EARLIER.

That doesn’t make any sense!

“Things stopped making sense a long time ago…” Christeané scowled as he took a shallow breath and clutched at his chest painfully. “…Fuck. There’s so much Chaos Energy…”

…Get Kevken, Siyuakén muttered as she warily glanced between the Forcetechnic and the red cave. I have a feeling that caution is more important than speed at this point…

“I think… I agree with you there.” Christeané smirked as he summoned the Syn Scythe and released Kievkenalis. He then tossed the Master Ayas to the Chaostechnic. “Take it from here. Be careful.”

“Uh, sure…?” Kievkenalis responded uneasily, but nonetheless used the Scythe to Subspatially store the Forcetechnic. He then turned toward Siyuakén. “What’s going on?”

We need to get going, she responded as she approached the cave again and gestured for Kievkenalis to follow. I think we’ve almost reached Morcii…

“Oh…” The Chaostechnic glanced toward the cave and shuddered. “There’s… so much Chaos—?!” He froze as the mere utterance of the word sent a small wake through the air, knocking Siyuakén off her feet and cracking the nearby walls.

What the hell…? she muttered, quickly jumping back to her feet and turning toward Kievkenalis.

“I, I didn’t mean—!”

I DID NOT LIE WHEN I SAID THAT CHAOS ENERGY WOULD BE INCREDIBLY DENSE. HOWEVER, I DID NOT THINK THAT IT WOULD BE QUITE SO DENSE THAT SUCH MINOR MANIPULATIONS WOULD HAVE PHYSICAL EFFECTS…

“There’s so much Energy, I feel like I’m underwater…” Kievkenalis muttered, “…how is it possible to have this much Energy in one place?”

THAT IS A QUESTION BEST SAVED FOR LATER. YOU WERE CORRECT; YOU ARE ALMOST UPON MORCII. BUT THAT IS NO REASON TO DAWDLE.

…He’s right. Siyuakén nodded as she spun around on her heel and launched into a sprint. Come on! We don’t have any time to waste!

“Uh, right!” Kievkenalis responded hastily as he quickly followed. The two Chaotics proceeded through the dark tunnel, Siyuakén using electricity and the Arcán Claymore to light the way as they took turn after turn, descending even further into the caves. Kievkenalis eyed the deep red stone around him as they dashed by; instead of the wonder he had felt upon seeing the vast fields of blue Chaos Matter on the surface of Elecal, the red matter he faced now instilled only a sense of foreboding.

I see… light…

The Chaostechnic glanced past Siyuakén, toward the end of the tunnel. The two Chaotics rapidly approached, slowing to a fast walk as they exited the cave into a massive cavern. Every last inch of the walls, ground, and ceiling glowed a deep red color, providing enough light to see without aid. A large, flat area in front of the Chaotics led into a peculiarly well-preserved set of stone stairs that wound back and forth and then further back into the cavern, ending at a massive platform over fifty meters in the air. The platform extended almost to either side of the cavern and all the way to the back; it was too high for either Chaotic to see what was on it, except for the presence of several tall pillars that reached almost as high as the cavern ceiling itself.

WE HAVE ARRIVED, Arcán declared. THE MORIKAI SEAL LIES ON THAT VERY PLATFORM.

Then that’s where Morcii is… Siyuakén muttered grimly as she gripped the Claymore tightly, wincing as one more flash of light — this one dark blue — temporarily obscured her vision.

THAT WAS THE EIGHTH. MORCII HAS NOW LOCKED ALL OF THE AYAS INTO PLACE…

Of course he has, Siyuakén responded warily. She then glanced back at Kievkenalis. …Release everyone else.

The Chaostechnic nodded as he summoned the Syn Scythe and swung it through the air, spawning five clouds of blue mist that quickly resolved into the remaining members of Hero Machina. “Chaos Negation,” he immediately declared; the effect lasted for no longer than a fraction of a second due to the incredible density of Chaos Energy, but it was just enough to clear the Chaos Energy reserves of the other Chaotics and thus give them more time before going Berserk.

“…I take it this is our stop,” Christeané commented tensely after taking in the environment around him.

“INDEED IT IS.”

The Chaotics of Hero Machina reflexively backed into battle stances as the ground far in front of them exploded from impact. The dust cloud rapidly faded, revealing the form of the Nanocreature leader as he glared haughtily at his opponents.

“I DO APPRECIATE YOU MAKING IT THIS FAR,” he continued, the corners of his mouth raising into a dangerous grin. “BUT YOU ARE TOO LATE. THE MORIKAI WILL BE RELEASED… WHETHER YOU LIVE TO SEE IT, OR NOT.”

Chapter 80 – Final Hour

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.

Chaos Deflection!

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.

Chaos Teleport!

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.

Chaos Control!

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!”

PLEASE EXPLAIN.

“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!