Xenogears: Prelude To Destruction
Dark Angel Chapter 3: Acts
"…Tell me again why I'm helping you with this, Cynewulf." Meryl said. She, Cynewulf, Terra and Darrell were standing in a secluded area near the Sol Dominion compound that Cynewulf claimed contained the Finori.
"Well… because I already told these two that you were helping me, for one thing… for another, because it's in your best interests. You remember what Grendel's kind did to you… to so many people."
Meryl sighed, and looked around herself, at the bustling city that surrounded them. "You see this place, Cyne? The city of Phosys. I've lived here for years… and managed to make quite a name for myself. I'm comfortable here, Cyne. What you'd suggest I help you do would take all that away, make me just another Seeker running across the universe."
Cynewulf nodded, and sighed, looking around himself. "You're right, Meryl. This place is beautiful, wonderful. Darrell here's undoubtedly been taking notes the whole time, trying to research every bit of it." Darrell seemed a bit uncomfortable at his involvement in the conversation, and quickly put a small piece of paper he'd been writing on in his pocket. "But… you know the goal of the Seekers, Meryl. Apart from organizations like the… mythological LEA, we're the only resistance against Lavoids."
Meryl shrugged. "And just how many Lavoids have the Seekers brought down, Cyne? Zero, last time I checked. The only thing we ever manage to destroy is our own lives."
"That may be true, madam, but," Terra cut in, "if what Cynewulf's saying about this Finori thing is true, then we have a chance to bring one down. Don't you care about that at all?"
"Well, of course I do, but…"
"Please." Cynewulf pleaded. "You know I don't want to… you know how I am… but I'll get down on my knees right now and beg for your help if I have to. We need you to get into this place, we need you to get the Finori. Please, as one Seeker to another… help me, Meryl!"
"I…okay, Cynewulf. I'll do this for you… for the hope I used to have."
Cynewulf grinned broadly and clapped Meryl on the shoulder, causing her to rub it in pain. "Geez, Cyne… it might be more convincing if you didn't break my arm before we get in."
Darrell looked around the city one last time, and up at the tiny white star that served as the planet's sun. "This place is fascinating…"
Terra shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. C'mon, let's go."
The four walked over to the computer controlled gate of the S.D. compound, and Meryl punched in a code on a small number pad before her. As she finished, a screen/camera combination lowered itself from some place in the wall, and focused on them. As it did, the image of a Sol Dominion soldier, clad in a blue-black uniform, appeared in the screen.
"Who goes there?" he asked.
"Meryl Sara the A Class Trader, along with three weapons dealers. We're supposed to speak to the Magistrate today."
"Just a second, I'll check it out…" the soldier said distractedly, and the screen flickered. When it came back into clear view, the soldier spoke again. "The Magistrate wants to know why you brought the weapons dealers with you. He said you were supposed to negotiate in his place."
Meryl waved his explanation off with one hand. "Tell them they wished to speak with him in person about a rebate."
Again, the screen flickered. "Why couldn't they have gone through you?"
"They wanted to speak to him face to face. You know how weapons dealers are."
The screen flickered one last time, and the soldier nodded. "Very well. You're all cleared to go through. I'll send someone up to meet you at the gate. He'll take you to the Magistrate."
The monitor went black, and it and the camera went back into the wall.
"How do we lose the soldier, Cynewulf?" Darrell asked, nervously fingering his blaster pistol.
"Leave that one to me. Just be ready." The large man replied, stretching his arms out.
After a moment, the front gate opened with an accompanying hiss of air. Behind it stood two men also clad in the blue-black uniforms of the Sol Dominion.
"I'm afraid you'll have to leave your weapons with this man." One of the soldiers said, motioning to the other. Darrell opened his mouth to protest, but was silenced by a wave of Cynewulf's hand.
"Certainly, my good men. No problem." He said, and handed over the blaster rifle that had been strapped across his back. Terra had no weapon, and Meryl seemed happy to give over her pistol.
After a moment of awkward silence, Darrell drew his and casually tossed it to the soldier.
"We understand your discomfort, sir, but we assure you that your weapons will not be harmed." The soldier holding the weapons said, and walked off towards one of several doors used to enter the compound.
"Now, then… if you'll just follow me, I'll take you to the Magistrate now." The remaining soldier said, and began to walk through a large door located at the top of a small flight of stairs directly in front of them. As they walked, some distance behind the soldier, into the hallways of the compound, met every few seconds by soldiers, scientists or other officials, Darrell pulled Cynewulf aside.
"Just how do you suggest we lose this guard now? We can't very well meet with this Magistrate, can we?"
"Oh, but we can, Darrell. Now keep quiet. I have a plan, you know?" Darrell sighed at Cynewulf's attempt at reassurance and kept on walking.
After several minutes of walking through the winding hallways of the compound, they finally came upon a large wooden door with a sign that read, `Magistrate Kip Duran'. The soldier knocked on it once, and then stood aside as a voice from within bade them enter.
Cynewulf pulled it open, but let Meryl, Darrell and Terra enter before he did, and even then he seemed to be examining the area.
Darrell, meanwhile, was examining the interior of the office, very impressed with it's furnishings. Computer screens of all sorts covered the walls, and the desk itself seemed to be made of steel. There were no windows in the room… probably for security reasons, but the back wall of monitors had been set to make up an outdoor scene, of a beautiful forest glade the likes of which Darrell had never seen.
Behind the desk sat the Magistrate, who had himself been facing the other way, out into the computer-generated forest. As he heard the door shut behind them, he stood up and turned around to greet them.
"Hello, sirs. I must say, I had not expected to receive four guests, or I would have made preparations to meet in a larger area than this."
Cynewulf shook his head, again trying to take the lead. "It's quite all right, Magistrate. This office is more than nice enough to suit us."
The man smiled. "Quite kind of you, sir…" he trailed off, obviously expecting an invitation.
"Ah, how rude of me not to introduce myself." Cynewulf said. "I am Ian Guardareo," he ignored the curious glance of the others as to his odd choice of name, "and my associates here are Sheena Beatrix and Seth Morris." Darrel cocked an eyebrow as Cynewulf spoke his assumed name, but took it in stride. "And of course you already know the lovely Meryl Sara."
The Magistrate nodded. "It's a pleasure to meet all of you. Now, if we might get down to business…"
As he spoke, he started to sit down at his desk, and as he did, he took his eyes off of Cynewulf for an instant. That was more than enough time for the huge man to nearly jump across the desk and pull the Magistrate close to him, one large arm completely encircling his arms, the other over his mouth.
"Meryl, get the rope out of my pouch, and help me tie his legs. Terra, you get the kerchief I had you take, and tie it over his mouth."
Darrell blinked. "You… you both knew about this?"
Terra nodded. "Yeah."
"Why didn't you tell me, Cynewulf?"
Cynewulf sighed, and as soon as he was able to let go of the struggling Magistrate (thanks, of course, to the fact that he'd been basically hog-tied by Meryl), he responded. "You seemed a bit too panicky about everything. I was afraid you might jump the gun."
Darrell bit back an angry retort, and his lip as well.
"Now then," Cynewulf continued, "What do we do about that guard? He'll still be standing outside the door, that's for certain."
Darrell sighed. "I have an idea."
Cynewulf shrugged. "Let's hear it."
"Okay, first let me see that paperweight on the Magistrate's desk… no, not that one, the metal one." Cynewulf tossed the large statuette to Darrell. It was, indeed, heavy, probably at least 20 pounds. "Okay, now watch."
"Hey, get in here!!" Darrell yelled, moving over to the wall just next to the door. Cynewulf, Meryl and Terra all did a double-take, and desperately tried to hide the Magistrate as the soldier opened the door to the office and walked in…
They needn't have worried, though, for before the soldier could make a sound, he'd been hit over the head with the statuette in Darrell's hands. As he dropped to the ground, Darrell shut the door again and tossed the statuette in a corner.
"That was… a bit rash." Meryl said, letting her death grip on the Magistrate's desk loosen.
"But it worked. Maybe next time you guys can let me in on your plans, so I can let you in on mine." Darrell said, crossing his arms.
"Point taken. Now, we've just got to find the Finori. I'd wager, from the look of these screens, that we can probably look just about anywhere in this place from here." As Cynewulf spoke, he sat down behind the large metal desk, and pulled out the top drawer, revealing a keyboard. As he started typing on it, the screens around them started flipping around from place to place, showing all manner of places, inside the complex and out. After several minutes of searching, they found something interesting.
"Well, wouldya look at that…" Cynewulf said, looking over the monitors. "Looks like a Finori to me, from all I've heard about them. What do you think, Meryl?"
Onscreen was the picture of a rather annoyed-looking creature about 3 feet tall, wearing a long white robe. It was bald, and it's skin was a sick-looking yellow. Still, even through the monitors, there was a certain aura of… power surrounding it.
"I'd say that's what we're looking for, Cyne. Now, where is it?" Cynewulf punched some more keys, and soon enough a floor plan of the entire building came up.
"Not too far… he's apparently staying in an old gymnasium… it's been converted, though… I'll pull up a picture."
The picture on the screens changed to show an overhead shot of a large rectangular room. The floor was covered with sand and rock, though, and a look at the walls showed them to be made of reinforced steel. In one corner, something huge lay dormant. It was impossible to tell what it was, though, for the lights in the room were cut off.
"Okay, then… he's in a room just beyond that place… It's only a little ways from here. If Darrell would be kind enough to put on that soldier's uniform, we should be able to get there without a problem."
Darrell's eyes widened. "Me?!" he asked incredulously.
"Well, it's obviously not going to fit me, Darrell, and you wouldn't ask one of the ladies here to disrobe for you, would you?"
Darrell turned bright red as he looked at the two. Terra laughed.
"It's okay, Darrell. We won't look."
Darrell shook his head. "Okay…"
After several minutes of roaming the hallways, Darrell occasionally having to salute the odd soldier, they came to what Cynewulf assured them was the entrance to the room they were looking for.
"I'm getting an uneasy feeling about this, Cynewulf…" Terra said, looking about herself anxiously.
"Oh, there's nothing to worry about. What could possibly go wrong?" Cynewulf replied.
Meryl sighed. "The last time you said that was on Vysk VI, eight years ago. I think you remember how that turned out."
Cynewulf looked down and rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah, well… this is completely different. Besides, the law of averages assures that I'm bound to be right in thinking nothing could go wrong at least every once in a while."
"Oh, let's just go in." Darrell said, pulling open the large door.
They were greeted with darkness upon entering, and the large door quickly shut behind them after they entered.
"Where's a light switch?" Cynewulf grumbled, stumbling along the wall as he felt for it. He didn't immediately find it, but came upon another room. He turned the doorknob and entered it silently.
Meryl, meanwhile, had found the fuse box, and flipped on several switches, flooding the whole area with light. As she did, Darrell pulled out the assault rifle the soldier had had, and pointed it around the room, looking for some sign of life. He didn't find any for a moment, until a door on the far end of the room opened. Out of it walked a tiny being, about three feet tall, wearing a white robe.
"Who are you all?" it asked, looking at them.
"I'm… Darrell Shanning. These two are Terra Lyles and Meryl Sara. Cynewulf's also around here somewhere…" he looked around himself for some sign of the large man.
"Interesting… and none of you are with the Sol Dominion, either…"
Darrell's jaw dropped. "How… how would you know that?"
The Finori shrugged. "I know a lot of things like that. I think I can even guess why you're here… but I can't let it be that easy. After all, how can I know what you'd use my power for?"
"You are who we've been looking for, then?" Meryl asked, regarding the diminutive creature with suspicion.
"Yeah, that's right. I'm called Zohar."
Mox Garel looked around himself, and felt once more to make certain his blaster was still at his hip. `The Phosys Spaceport… just like I remembered it. Shiny, polished… and chock full of undesirables.' Of course, Mox figured he could handle any sort of pickpocket or thief that came up, and even some of the pirate merchants that came through were no big deal when you were carrying an ether blaster, but… he didn't want to draw attention to himself, especially when a quick government background check would determine that he was supposed to be out on the border… and once they discovered that, his entire tale would unravel, along with his life.
`First order of business… check the crash records over the past few days.' Of course, Mox figured that the crash of that ship he'd shot at earlier would have made the records, as did most anything entering the atmosphere; at the same time, though, he doubted anything had been done about it. Yrrs II was a border planet, and as such, it's rules were rather lax. It was a small matter for a pirate merchant to slip in unnoticed in an unauthorized zone. Now, if the ship was large, that was a different story, and the pilot in question would have the entire Dominion Military on his back. But the thing he'd shot down was a simple, maybe 6 man ship, so…
He shook his head. He was wasting time, and probably attracting thieves by standing around lost in his thoughts like an idiot. He had to check the crash records, then go to the crash sites, then… the chances of him actually finding him this way were astronomical, but Mox had always thought himself lucky… before this entire situation had proven him wrong, that was.
Shaking his head again, he sighed and walked off toward the data libraries.
"You realize, of course, that I can't just give you my power out of good will." Zohar said, crossing his arms as he floated in place about a foot above the floor. The display, of course, intrigued Darrell, but the man was good enough to keep quiet about it.
"Why not?" Cynewulf asked, even as he loaded a battery pack into a blaster rifle he'd found in the storage room he'd accidentally raided. Terra and Meryl were also now armed, though Terra didn't really like the idea of using a gun.
"Well, big guy, there're a couple of reasons. For one thing, how do I know you guys can be trusted? A lot of people get corrupted badly by power."
"And the other?" Meryl asked.
"I'm still anchored to something else, as you should know, and these idiot Dominion troops have found a way to keep me from simply releasing the anchor… actually, this gives me a good idea."
Darrell cocked an eyebrow. "How… so?"
Zohar grinned and nodded to himself. "This is a great idea! Talk about a way to save time. Well, you see, I've got to test you, anyway. And since you'll have to destroy the object I'm anchored to take me with you anyway, I can just attack you with that! Very efficient."
Terra's eyes widened. "Did you just say you were going to attack us?"
"Well, yeah. I can't just hand you my power. Like I said, I have to see if you're pure of heart, and all that jazz. Now then," as he spoke, he disappeared, appearing on the far side of the room, "Let's see if you can stand up to the power of Mechagear!" With that, the Finori vanished. As he did, though, the large object in the corner of the room, the thing they hadn't really thought to examine, seemed to come to life before them. It was a huge humanoid robot made of some kind of steel, armed with all sorts of projectile weapons. It started to walk toward them threateningly.
"Oh… my… God…" Meryl said, mostly to herself, as she ran backwards, loading a battery pack into her laser pistol.
Cynewulf pulled his rifle into the ready position and started backing up quickly. "I must say, this isn't quite what I expected when my source told me they anchored it to a weapon…"
Darrell also put his pistol at the ready, and in fact fired the first shot, but the energy seemed to be caught by the huge robot.
"Um… what?" he said, mostly to himself, as he broke into a dead run away from the thing. Terra followed close behind, no longer all that hesitant about carrying the pistol.
"What the hell do we do, guys?" Meryl said when they got a fair distance away, still trying to fire shots at the huge robot. Every single one was being caught by the huge thing.
"Well…" Cynewulf began, scratching his head, "Maybe we could cut its power source?"
Darrell rolled his eyes, and was quickly forced to follow suit with his entire body as a huge anti-tank gun began firing on them.
"Actually… Cyne… wouldn't it," he jumped again, "make sense to think that the Finori's powering it?"
"Well, yeah." Cynewulf said, firing a charged blast from his gun… only to see it, too, caught by the lumbering robot. "But I'd think he'd be anchored to some sort of engine or something, wouldn't he?"
"Good point." Meryl came in suddenly, crouching down under the now-constant stream of gunfire. "Problem is, our guns are useless against that thing. How do you intend to break it open?"
"Better point." Cynewulf replied. "I don't have a clue." As he spoke, it became apparent that Terra had had enough.
"This is ridiculous! If the stupid guns don't work, then we don't use them!!" she tossed down her pistol and began running straight at Mechagear, her fists clenched. Along the way, she somehow managed to avoid a hail of gunfire.
"What is she DOING?!" Cynewulf yelled, and ran after her. He was followed closely by a panicked Darrell. Meryl stayed behind, still firing blasts at the robot from afar.
"They're all insane…" she muttered.
Terra, meanwhile, had actually managed to reach the thing, and was in the process of trying to climb one leg - much to the robot's chagrin, as shown by his shaking the leg up and down trying to get her off - when Darrell and Cynewulf reached her.
"Terra! Get off of there! That's not going to work!!" Cynewulf yelled, both angry at and scared for her.
"And what is going to work, Cynewulf?" She yelled back, still trying to hold on. Doing so distracted her attention, though, and her grip was already loosened when the robot finally stopped blocking Meryl's shots for long enough to flick her off with one finger. She went to the ground quickly enough, and didn't get up. At the same time, though, one of Meryl's pistol shots hit Mechagear straight in the chest, partially ripping through some of its outer armor. Cynewulf ran over to see about Terra.
Darrell, meanwhile, was going through something entirely different.
A surge of anger washed over him the moment he saw Terra go to the ground. Now that the robot was distracted by its damaged systems, that anger transferred into a rush of power such as Darrell had never felt before. He tossed his gun to the ground, and, using the robot as a kick-off point, jumped up to the robot's chest level, landing on one outstretched arm.
"Iri-magari-HAIIIII!!!!" he yelled, and rushed the dented area with his bare fists. They took on a strange purplish glow as he did, and as he punched into the thing's chest cavity, they seemed to move at lightning speed. Again and again he punched, until finally he was forced to jump off of Mechagear's limpening arm.
As he hit the ground in a roll, his vision blurred, and he passed out on the spot.
Cynewulf and Meryl, meanwhile, were left to see the charred and twisted remains of the robot, completely ripped apart.
"Was that… chi, Meryl?" Cynewulf said quietly.
"Yeah…" Meryl said, her eyes focused unblinkingly on the remains of Mechagear.
"The test of the Finori… known throughout the Multiverse as one of the singly most dangerous things you can choose to undertake. Even if you do manage to survive it, you'll likely be completely changed by it…" - Meryl Sara, Final History of the Seekers.
To Chapter 4
Back to Dark Angel Index