(All chapters 'framed' by Night, then added to by other authors)
Nightsong nodded to the five that sat with him around the great stone table that he'd had made just for the Storm Knights' Guild. These were his fellow knights, his closest friends. They'd finally finished setting up things in their rooms -- thanks largely to the help of the hundreds of R-Series robots that Night kept as servants -- and had come here, to the 100th floor of the citadel, for their first-ever meeting.
At Night's right hand sat Mox Jet, the Warrior Mage and Warmaster of the Guild. He wore a pair of black pants and a black tank top adorned with gold and silver embroidery. His black cape had been pushed over the side of his chair. Faint glimmers of various energies danced around him as he toyed playfully with the powerful Force Technique energy that he commanded with deft skill. He waited patiently for the esteemed leader of the Knights to make his welcoming speech.
Next to Mox sat Samara Secor, the bard of the Guild. Eldest of them all, she might be, but with her choice of dress and elven appearance, it would have been hard to pin down her exact age had it not already been known to him. A mischievous light danced in her eyes as she grinned at him, her pleasure at being among friends clear for all to see. Thinking over what had occurred but a few hours ago, the young leader of the Guild realized she likely would change her mind on that soon enough.
Directly across from Night sat Lynxfire. His armor shone blue and red, and his cape was a similar color. He also smiled, his sharp teeth glistening in the light of the nearby fire. The older man could be a bit vicious at times, but Night considered him a good and true friend.
To his left sat Sonicblade. At times, it was extremely difficult to look directly at him, for he seemed to be made of winds given life. However, if one focused his eye through the musical winds he could see the man within: A tall, rather skinny man, with eyes and hair the color of light sapphires, and although his eyes were unusually soft and calm, for a warrior, the inner fire that shown in them belied a more fierce presence. He was dressed in elegant white robes under light blue armor, which was engraved with silver musical symbols that curled up and over the shoulder. A silver-lined, night blue cape hung over his back to fall down to his black-booted feet. At his right hip rested the infamous Atma Weapon; slung over his back was the Paladin Shield. There was a sort of energy radiating from him, though that may have just been part of the man's rather effusive nature.
Next to him, on Nightsong's left hand, sat Cain. He was a tall youth (as tall as Night himself) and somewhat distracted-looking as he scribbled in a notepad, chronicling the events of this meeting conscientiously. He looked rather unthreatening with his glasses and neatly parted brown hair, but his innocuous appearance belied a sharp mind. He wore a plain dark blue robe, tied at the waist with a gilded belt, which held a sword and a gun, one on each side, both of which seemed different every time they were viewed.
Night cleared his throat, ending some light conversation and startling Cain out of his note-taking. "Well, welcome to Storm Citadel, my friends." Nightsong smiled despite himself, and lifted a glass of a dark wine as a toast.
Samara raised her glass with the others and inhaled the aroma of its contents. Her mouth twitched, and she nearly burst out laughing. Perhaps the others had wine in their glasses, but she didn't. 'Mm, Strawberry-Kiwi.. Third best drink in the universe as far as I'm concerned. I wonder how he found out that I liked it,' One of the servants caught her eye and gave a robotic version of a wink. 'Forget Big Brother.. The little techno-munchkins are watching me. Ha, ha.. I'll have to be on my best behavior in the presence of such vigilance.'
"To the Guild, then." Mox said, smiling widely as he lifted his glass to his lips. They drank to that, and Night couldn't help but be happy. After a few moments, though, the image of the black-cloaked cyborg came back to him.
"Friends.. as much as I'd like to let this be a care-free event, like I'd intended, something's happened that we cannot afford to ignore." Nightsong sighed as he spoke, and looked down at his table. He pushed his wine aside, prompting a golden R-series robot servant to take it and cart it off to a nearby kitchen.
"What's wrong, Night?" Samara asked, mirth changing in an instant to deadly seriousness.
"I can only recall you being so tense in one past time....and that was the last episode of Survivor." Sonic added.
"A cyborg calling himself the Technoprophet got in here about 2 hours before you all arrived."
Mox's eyes widened, along with the rest of the Guild. "What? How?!?"
Nightsong shook his head. "That's just it. I don't know. He just... teleported out when I tried to attack him, despite the fact that our shields should have prevented such a thing."
"Why was he here, though?" Lynx asked, his analytical side overwhelming the initial shock of the intrusion.
"He said that his master didn't want us to gather here. That.. I should tell you all to go home."
"Are you really thinking about going down that course?" said the ever-calm Sonic. "It would be ludicrous, I think. We don't know anything about him or his power."
"Well, we certainly aren't abandoning the Citadel," Night replied emphatically. "We've put too much work into this to duck and run."
Cain looked up and nodded thoughtfully at this, followed by a quick nod from the others as well. "We should try to find out where this prophet came from," He said.
Lynx smiled again at that. "And shove this threat of theirs straight down their throats?"
Night chuckled at that, despite himself. "Sounds good to me, certainly. We'll do just that. Better we attack them than let them get the drop on us. But," Night continued, calling for another glass. "We shouldn't worry about this right this moment. I've been looking forward to this evening for months, and we can't let a robot that thinks he can foretell the future spoil it. Let's enjoy ourselves!" The others nodded in agreement, and another toast was called.
Nightsong sat in his room alone, in a chair positioned near the massive window that made up his south wall. The sun was just beginning to dip under the clouds of the hurricane that always surrounded the Citadel, the reds and oranges engulfing the entire sky. It was truly spectacular, as was the rest of this keep.
Even in the all-too short time that he'd lived here -- only about two weeks, really -- he'd come to love the place. His collection of weaponry hung on one wall, with everything from his coveted Blade of Black and the sentient rapier Reflections, to the massive Pulsar Rifle he'd used to win the Tournament of Arms at the headquarters of the Inferno Clan and a Colt Peacemaker. On the west wall hung his other priceless items; the Gate Key he'd gained with the Epoch, and the platinum-strung harp of Galadriel. In the skylight above him, he could just begin to make out the moon and a few stars.
"We can't leave this place. Not now." He spoke his thought aloud, and slammed a bare hand down on his chair. His clawed gauntlets sat neatly on a nearby desk.
"You're right, Night. We can't, and we won't."
The voice startled the Knight, and he jumped up and whirled around. He sighed with relief as he saw who it was. "Geez, Mox, don't scare me like that."
"Sorry, Night," Mox smirked in spite of himself as Night motioned for him to sit in a nearby chair.
"What is it? I didn't hear you come in."
"I've been thinking about this whole situation, and something about it bugs me. For one thing, who even knew that the Guild was forming? We didn't exactly alert the media." That was the biggest understatement that Nightsong had heard in a while. They'd gone to the utmost trouble to make certain they weren't discovered, even going to the trouble of having the Citadel built out over one of the southern areas of the Arctic ocean. When Nightsong thought of the trouble it had been just getting the anti-grav generator hooked up...
"Well, who did we tell?" Night asked. Mox settled back in his chair, looking up through the skylight as he thought.
"One or two members of the Legion of Fantasy, a few of our personal friends... that's about it. Nanaki..Gaspar as well, I believe. Just people we could trust."
"And it was always in person, at least for me."
Mox nodded. "I think it was that way for all of us."
Nightsong sighed, and got up from his seat, pacing around his large room. "So basically, we've got to be dealing with someone we thought was an ally, or someone who's captured a friend and found out about this."
Mox stood up as well, and nodded solemnly. "And there aren't all that many possibilities. We have to suspect everyone."
Night nodded. ".. We're cutting off contact, then. Let the other groups like us think we no longer exist." Mox looked at Night for a moment to see if he was serious, then nodded and walked out of the room, his head bowed low.
While Nightsong and Mox Jet discussed who could have even known of their existence, Samara was attempting to discover how the intruder had gotten in. She asked a servant for a status report covering the past day on all shields, defense mechanisms, and possible points of entry. After about the thousandth, 'Status normal, no energy fluctuations found.' message, she waved the robot away irritably and returned to the Grand Hall.
She paced the room's great expanse in a clockwise circle, thinking as she walked, "Eliminate the impossible, and whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the possible.. Or so saith the greatest detective in literary history. And the addendum to that is that if nothing remains, some part of the impossible must be the possible. So, which situation am I dealing with, here? Is there some option that I'm failing to consider, or am I just unaware of the method they used to do it?"
She stopped her circuit of the room not too far from the fireplace with its abundance of chairs. The difference was extremely slight, but somehow, the very air felt different around her. It almost seemed as if the area was alive with a faint buzzing sound. To her sensitive ears, it went beyond annoying and stopped just short of being painful.
Suddenly, an idea flashed through her brain, and she advanced slowly on the chair that had contained the cyborg-like Technoprophet. 'I wonder what Night'll say if I'm wrong and destroy this nice, expensive piece of furniture for nothing.. Oh, well,' she thought cheerfully. 'If he complains, I'll pay him back in dragon diamonds..'
In a flash, she flipped a dagger out of her sleeve and sliced the seam affixing the upholstery to the chair. The tubular shape of a wire was soon visible to her eye and she grinned triumphantly, continuing to dismantle the chair until the whole spying/holographic apparatus had been revealed to her. It was still active, thus the source of the nearly supersonic hum. She took the audio sensor in one hand and held the visual sensor before her in the other. "I sure hope you're still monitoring this, whoever you are.." Samara began, weighting every word with a performer's emphasis. "I just thought I'd let you know how much I hate being told to leave someplace when I've barely arrived. And, not only do you threaten me, but some close friends of mine as well. To say that it a dangerous course of action is a vast understatement."
She paused briefly for breath before continuing, "Of course, such challenges to our security cannot be allowed to go unpunished. Consider this to be a warning and a foretaste of the agony that awaits you, should we ever happen to cross paths again.. Thunder Bomb!"
Collapsing into a large, black leather chair, Mox sighed wearily at the recent turn of events. Ever since Night had brought forth this idea to him..this idea of the Guild, he had waited with utmost anticipation for the day to come. Now, just as they were about to enjoy the inception of the Guild, a threat to all of them had appeared. What would become of them now? Mox knew that Night was trying to remain confident about the whole thing, but the man knew his friend too well to fall for false appearances. Night was unnerved. It wasn't much, but the mighty warrior was affected by it more then he let on.
The warrior resided in the North Tower of the Storm Citadel. He had managed to procure the first pick as to the tower he wished to dwell in, and snagged what he considered the most architecturally impressive of the five surrounding towers.
Mox casually eyed his collection of 'toys' that had accumulated over his years of journey. On the far wall hung his collection of the powerful magical artifacts known as the Moxes, taken from his own namesake. Jet, Pearl, Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire were the relics that made up the set. Each proving a source for a different type of power, seemingly created to match the various magical arts which he practiced.
Mounted on the near wall, next to the wall-wide window that made up the north wall, was his collection of bladed artifacts. All were of great value, but he valued the mythical Dreamblade more then any at all. Capable of channeling his own energies into a blade, it was a formidable weapon in the hands of a formidable swordsman.
Next to the blades hung a powerful Fire Pike, a weapon used by the LEA to kill the Lavos Spawns on infested worlds. Below the Fire Pike was the Deathbringer, an Astral Plane weapon the focused the users energy into a blast in a manner similar to the Dreamblade. Various energy weapons from uncountable worlds hung around daintily around the two large guns in the center of the display.
With another great sigh, Mox climbed from his seat, reaching over and removing the Dreamblade from the wall. "I believe I'll go to the simulator for a while," he thought out loud. He was speaking of the combat simulator that lay five floors down on his tower. It was one of the few things he had specially put in the cathedral. He chuckled shortly at the sudden thought of Night and his echo machine. Shaking it off and hooking the sheathed Dreamblade to his belt, he tossed his cape to the ground and headed for the door. He was suddenly stopped, however, by a powerful surge of Lightning class energy coming from the east tower. "What that-?!" he muttered, instinctively touching his hand to the hilt of his blade. Quickly, it clicked. "Samara!" he shouted out. "Damn! What is it now!?" he cursed. Shortly regaining concentration, he touched to fingers to his forehead and mouthed two words: Instant Transmission. With that and a blur of light, he was gone.
In an instant, Sonic had teleported from the interdimensional transport station in the Storm Citadel(where, unknown to the rest of the crew, he was researching the cause of what was known as The Tenchi Factor for his own personal use) to the source of the sound, which happened to be Samara.
"What's going on?" he asked her, as Mox appeared beside him. He smelled a burnt tinge of fire in the air, and asked: "Are you trying to make pancakes again?"
Samara turned and looked at Sonic. "No..." she said, irritated. "I found a sensor in this chair. It was obviously placed by the TechnoProphet. I destroyed it.."
"That was my favorite chair," said Sonic, calmly. Then: "WHY DID YOU GO AND BLOW UP MY FAVORITE CHAIR!!!!!!"
The sonic waves that constantly rippled around the man suddenly turned violent and blew the other two Storm Knights back a couple of feet. Any less powerful beings would have been knocked off of their feet, or thrown through the wall. It took a lot to make Sonicblade mad, but once he got to that stage, it wasn't wise to stay around him.
However, Mox and Samara were only slightly ruffled by this slight temper tantrum. "Man, calm down!" said Mox. Samara only glared at him.
"Alas, it was an unfortunate loss," said Sonic, once again the unperturbed. "And, you said there was a sensor? That is also unfortunate, but not much of my concern." And with that, he transported himself away.
"That was weird." said Mox. "What is his concern, if it's not the well-being of the Guild?"
Samara replied, "I don't know. He's been acting strange lately, stranger than normal, which is saying something, but I don't know why. Somehow, I get a bad feeling about this..."
"I did just as you commanded, master." The Technoprophet knelt before a metallic throne within a huge audience chamber. There were pipes exposed along the walls from which steam occasionally spewed. The floor itself was made of steel, and the booted heels of soldiers clanked as they paced before the entrance to the hall.
The man that the cyborg prophet spoke to was not a man at all, but a bizarre cross between organic life and machinery. He was not, however, a cyborg, for it seemed almost as though the organic bits of himself had been added on to machinery, rather than the other way around.
"You did a decent job, but it could have been better. I certainly could have done better, but I never do anything myself, because where's the fun in that?" The cyborg nodded in response. He was used to such comments from his master.
"They wish to defy you, but their citadel has disappeared from our radar screens. They are cutting off contact with the outside world entirely." The man.. thing on the throne smirked, his eyes narrowing viciously.
"That's nice. They will have no idea what is about to happen to the world, then. They will be the only ones left standing when we are through, left in shame that they closed their eyes to my quasi-decent destruction!" As he spoke, a harsh and rapid clanking was heard along the floor. A man in grey robes dashed into the rooms, right past the ever-watchful guards, and tripped, falling flat on his face before the dark one's throne.
"Master Bio Spark! Master Bio Spark! We've found that they're still using their sensory equipment! They might be.. looking for us, sir!" Bio Spark X, furious at the use of his name, stood up and picked the foolish man up from the ground, hurling him back ten or twenty feet.
"Of course they're looking for us, Sancdar! Why wouldn't they be, you spoon?!?" he yelled at the rather unimpressive-looking man.
"I just thought.. thought you'd want to know." He said lamely, cowering a bit before he remembered the other thing he had come to say. "B..but, there's something else. Not too long after they cloaked a citadel, the holographic spy device, which was placed in their hall at your direction, was discovered by the bard, Samara. She.. threatened us and cast an electrical spell on it, sending a power surge back through the network that irreparably damaged one of our power generators."
"I was already aware of that, you idiotic buffoon. Yet, the spy device has served its purpose, and the biological data it gained from coming into contact with her more than makes up for the loss of one measly power generator, the cost of which is coming out of your pocket for failing to supply the equipment with sufficient surge protectors," Bio glared at the robed fool for a few more seconds, then chuckled a bit as a thought came to mind. A smile spread over his amalgamated face. "As distasteful as the thought may be to me, your presence has given me an idea. You and the Technoprophet will distract the Storm Knights. You must. keep them off-balance, while my full plan comes to fruition. You've been wanting to do this anyway, haven't you, prophet?" The cyborg nodded to his master.
"Indeed, my lord, though I would enjoy it more without this. idiot with me."
Biospark laughed at that, even as Sancdar attempted to look insulted while simultaneously cowering. He failed completely, and just managed to look frightened and constipated. "I'm sure you would. But, like him or not, Sancdar is a powerful fighter, and the Guild members aren't slouches themselves. You will need his help."
Technoprophet nodded grudgingly at this, and began to leave the room, Sanc pulling himself up to follow. "Take the Red Wings fleet with you, while you're at it. I understand that Storm Citadel has a fairly large number of robot pilots they could deploy when you begin your.. diversion."
Tech nodded again at that, and walked out of the chamber, his black robes seeming to flow behind him. Sancdar followed him out, somewhat unnerved at being with the cyborg.
"You're a frickin' moron." -- The Technoprophet.