Prelude to Destruction
22: Order, and Followers of Chaos
“This is incredible. I
never would’ve thought that a planet under such… circumstances would have a prison,
of all things.” Cynewulf shook his head, somewhat annoyed at his voice as he
heard it echo off the steel walls of the enclosed cell.
It was a tiny room, this cell, with but a rock-hard bed sitting in one
corner across from a rather unsanitary-looking toilet.
There was a door of some sort, surely – they’d come in through one
– but the room had been designed in such a way that it was all but impossible
to make out the outline of one, in one corner remote from any piece of
‘furniture’ or any sort of hiding place.
it makes sense.” Said Meryl, sighing as she tried to make herself comfortable
on the block of cement she’d mentally tagged a ‘bed’ for lack of a better
word. She tried as best she could
to concentrate her gaze on the ceiling, so that she wouldn’t have to see
Cynewulf pacing back and forth like a rabid dog.
weapons had been confiscated, of course – only a fool would have let them hold
onto TAGs in a chamber made of steel – and on top of that, Cynewulf had run
into a rather disheartening discovery a moment ago.
Through some process that neither of the Seekers could even dream of, the
room had been designed in such a way as to block all emissions of Ether.
The invisible, immaterial energy source was nowhere to be found anywhere
in the room, in any elemental color.
to say, the burly man was in a rather foul mood.
“Does it?” he asked curtly, coming pointedly to a stop in front of
trader shrugged her shoulders as best she could, trying to look as though she
didn’t notice Cyne’s gaze. “Yes,
it does. Think about it. Your planet’s been overridden with lavoid creatures, with
no apparent hope of the situation improving.
Sure, the crime rate probably plummeted, but mental illness…”
Cynewulf finished, his tone showing that he was reluctant to concede the point.
“Yeah, that makes sense. Also
makes clear the reasoning behind the ether blocking, though I don’t have a
clue how they managed it.” He shook his head.
“Of course, the friggin’ Council should probably be locked up in here
by that same token… damn, things are screwed up.”
started to respond, but a clanging from the other side of what they believed was
the doorway interrupted them. The
Seekers immediately turned to the door, wary of attack – Meryl actually went
so far as to jump out of the bed – and tensed themselves as the door swung
the other side of the doorway stood a rather nervous-looking guard armed with an
energy weapon of some sort, along with two Hunters Cyne recognized as Mathiu
Racnarth and Kayla Narube.
got twenty minutes.” The guard said, looking intensely and the two with his
dark eyes. “I shouldn’t even be
giving you that, you know.” He
waved the two in, and slammed the door behind them.
The noise echoed through the small chamber for several seconds as the
four stood there, none quite daring to break the silence.
Mathiu was the first to attempt words, and he very nearly failed at it. “I’m sorry.” His head was bowed low, but his voice came
across clear and obvious in its tone. Regret
played over the whole of his features, from how he held his body slouched over
to the worried lines that painted his forehead. And his eyes… their cadmium depths were dulled.
It was obvious that his confidence had been shattered, at least in
partial, by this event.
wasn’t the only one who was upset. Next
to him, Kayla seemed lost in her thoughts, almost as though she wasn’t fully
aware where she stood. Her red hair
was disheveled and fell haphazardly around her shoulders, and her clothing was
in a similar state of disarray.
the two had been up for the full six to seven hours of the night since Cynewulf
and Meryl had been imprisoned. And
even more apparently, Cyne didn’t care in the least.
I’d think you would be sorry, Racnarth. Damn,
you told us your Council was paranoid… but you never said they’d gone
insane.” The large man shook his head, and appeared disgusted as Mathiu
responded by looking even more upset. “I
mean, you must have known… about everything they told us!
About the lavoids, about the decadence…” he trailed off, shaking his
right.” Kayla said after several moments, speaking with great effort. “We should have told you.
But we didn’t. And why
not? There are a million excuses,
Cynewulf. We could tell you that we
thought your arrival would change their perception, that your incredibly high
energy signatures would impress a sense of hope in them.” She sighed, and
shook her head. “We were wrong.
That can’t be helped at this point.”
rolled his one human eye, and made an effort to look put out.
It didn’t take much. “Thank
you, Miss Narube, for acknowledging the obvious.
The problem we’re having now is
the simple fact that we’re stuck here, in an etherless prison, at the bottom
of a stronghold that’s going to be completely wiped out as soon as the Shi
Kari take a notion to come looking for it.” He muttered a curse under his
breath, something strong enough to make even the usually apathetic Meryl wince.
Cynewulf.” Mathiu said, interposing himself between Kayla and the threatening
form of the Seeker, “We realize that this shouldn’t have happened.
We’re both incredibly shocked and sorry that it did happen… but… it
is not our fault, and it’s not like
we’re just going to sit here and do nothing about it!”
you’re going to do something about it, Racnarth?
Like what? I suppose you
could just go talk to your Council and they’d be happy to let us go run along
our merry way, eh?” The large man
shook his head again, ignoring Meryl’s attempts to calm him.
the hell do you think we’re so shook up?” Meryl said, her indigo eyes
locking with Cynewulf’s for several long moments.
“Because we’re shocked and surprised that this happened?
God no… like I said, we probably should’ve expected it.
We’re upset because of what we’re almost considering doing here.”
eyebrows furrowed, the woman not certain she could possibly be understanding
what Kayla meant. “Excuse me?”
sighed deeply, ran a hand through his long flaxen hair, and looked straight at
the Seeker woman. “We’ve
decided we’re going to help you escape.”
what?” Cynewulf was incredulous
for a moment, but he could tell from the young peoples’ eyes that they were
serious. “You…. you’re
joking, right?” the two just nodded in response, and Cynewulf’s dour
expression, already quivering, crumbled entirely, leaving a look of complete
shock in its place.
you get caught doing this, there’s no telling what the Hunter Council will do
to you!” Meryl protested, grateful for the offer of help, but worried for the
expression went grim. “Screw the
Council. They aren’t even Hunters
any more… like I heard you told them, they’re all just scared children,
trying to hide under their blankets from the big bad wolf.” He sighed deeply,
and ran a finger over the silvery metal of the wall with an air of regret. “Unfortunately, the wolves are out there, and they aren’t
going away just because we want them to.”
sighed and nodded, and took an uneasy seat on the concrete slab of a bed.
“We both appreciate this gesture, Mathiu… but what do you have in
mind? This whole chamber’s
ether-free, seems like, and our TAGs are gone.
And whether or not that guard was willing to do you the favor of saying
‘hi’ to us, he’s not going to just stand idly by.”
his disposition somehwat improved, smirked suddenly.
“Ah, but I’ve got a plan, haven’t I, Kay?”
shook her head, and grinned despite herself.
“Of course you do, Matt. You
always have some sort of thing running around in your head.” She chuckled. “Explains why you can’t concentrate on the here and
young Hunter rolled his eyes and shrugged.
“Yeah, something like that. Anyway,
the point is that I’ve got a plan, and it’s a good one.
Meryl asked quizzically, leaning up casually against one wall. “I wouldn’t say a plan that involves making use of fools
like us is ‘foolproof’.”
looked at the woman ambivalently for a moment, saying nothing.
Then he shrugged. “Whatever.
Anyway, let me get started.” He
scratched his head, and without a thought sat down on the metal floor of the
cell. “Okay, let’s deal with
the things impeding escape first. Most
obviously, there’s the deal you mentioned about the anti-ether field. That one takes the most explanation, but it’s a fairly
simple thing to get around. You
see, we could…” he trailed off as he caught a pointed glance from
Cynewulf’s direction. “Ah, but
you want to know how the thing works. Alright.
the Anti-Ether Field works on an anti-Order principle, established by a nebula
located in the Planetary Union. You
see, it…” Mathiu trailed off again, and sighed exasperatedly as he caught
the blank stares of Meryl and Cyne. “I
swear, don’t you Seekers hear about anything?
What is it you don’t know: Order,
anti-Order principles, the Chaos Nebula?”
on the first one, and end with the last one.” Meryl said, cocking an eyebrow.
covered his eyes with the palm of one hand, and tried to look put out. He had more trouble pulling it off than Cynewulf had a few
minutes ago. “Of course, we only
have fifteen more minutes to pull this all together, and you want a science
lesson. Fine, fine.” He leaned
back against the wall, closing his eyes as he tried to pull together his
memories. “First off is Order, I
suppose. I really would’ve
thought you two had heard this one before.
Basically, it’s the term used to define the force that makes up the
‘winds of magic’, or the Ether fields.
It works as an opposing force to Chaos:
whereas Chaos energy comes from outside the Multiverse, is used in
casting non-elemental – for the most part – spells, and promotes a distinct
feeling of… well, chaos… Order comes from within the Multiverse, is used in
the casting of all elemental spells, and promotes a organization, control…
order, ya know.
supposed to be a kind of balance between the two energies throughout the
Multiverse. Like I said, Chaos
energy promotes anarchy, destruction, greed – I’d imagine you already knew
that, if you’re at all familiar the complete transformation a human goes
through once they’re exposed to that energy, even if they aren’t being
injected with it – it’s dangerous for too much of it to be present on a
planet. Given that you two have
ancestors on Earth, I imagine you know what happens when too much Chaos
shook his head. “Your saying
Chaos controls our actions? That
doesn’t make sense.”
snorted. “It makes plenty of
sense, ‘Wulfie.” He smirked to see the large Seeker’s reaction to that
nickname, then went on to prevent the man from saying anything about it.
“And it’s not really a control, so much as a desire.
The presence of Chaos energy brings out lusts like nothing else.
I mean, God, the only reason the lavoid race exists
is because of a lust for power in the hearts of the people in control on
the Seekers to chew on that for a moment, Mathiu tactfully moved the subject
from Chaos. “On the other hand, a
complete permeation of Order, with no Chaos present, can be just as bad. This leads to the stifling of creativity, the need for
organization to the point that tyrannical dictatorships are formed, and the
persecution of anyone who threatens to think differently than their peers.
In short, on its own, Order breeds control to the point of decadence, and
Chaos breeds ambition to the point of anarchy.”
young Hunter, after seeing that he’d receive no sort of response on that bit
of information, decided to move on to the next topic.
“As for anti-Order principles, they’re just what they sound like.
It’s a set of theories on what conditions will stifle the presence of
Order energy. There are basically
two ways to go about it: if an area becomes too permeated with Chaos energy, the
ability to use Order energy can vanish entirely – this is kinda strange,
actually, because up to a point the introduction of unneeded Chaos energy can
increase the strength of ether magic. The
second point’s the one that we make use of in the anti-ether field machines…
seeing as it’d be nuts to try to use that much Chaos.
ether energy – Order, to be specific – has difficulty traveling through
unique points of the Multiverse. It
thrives on redundancy in the various timelines to move through the dimensions,
if you take my meaning. Thus, in
order to create an Order-dampening field, all you have to do is slightly alter
the fundamental nature of all the molecules in a set area.
Nothing to it, really.”
cocked one eyebrow, and tried to hold back an impending headache.
“How in the world is such a thing possible? I mean, if one group of scientists even found a way to alter
the molecules in a given area without killing everyone IN that area, wouldn’t
they have counterparts in other dimensions doing the exact same thing?”
that was the exact problem with the theories behind the device.” Mathiu
returned. “So what they did was
input a program in use by gamblers for years:
a randomizer. Basically, the
device re-balances matter on such a small level – the alteration of a single
quark, for example – that it’s easy to change which place the device alters
with no significant damage done, as well as make sure that it’s unique to the
blinked, and started to ask a question. He
was cut off before he could even form the first syllable.
ask how it works, Cynewulf. Trust
me, you don’t want me to go into the formulas required for that.”
how did you come up with these theories in the first place?” the big man asked
instead. “What’s all this about
sighed deeply, and shrugged her shoulders.
“Look, we’re running low on time.
Let’s just say that there’s no ether energy available in a pretty
large quadrant of the Planetary Union, and move on, ‘kay?”
launched a protest to that, but was silenced by Mathiu.
“Look, Kayla’s right. If
we don’t get these plans straight now, we’ll never be able to carry them
out. Let me tell you what I had in
the other side of the steel wall that made up the Seekers’ prison, a lone
Hunter stood. He’d long since
sent the guard off on break; it wouldn’t do for anyone to hear the
conversation he planned on having with Narube and Racnarth.
Taggart enjoyed his privacy, after all.
was an older man, more than old enough to have been a Councillor had he so
chosen – and certainly old enough to have gained the trust of that motley
group. His hair, once a fine dark black, had been tinged with silver
in a number of places, but it was still thick and ran midway down his neck.
His clothes, though the standard grey fatigues of the Hunter
organizations, were cleanly pressed and gave him a feeling of sheer presence
that men around him (on the rare occasion that there were men around him)
lacked. Most of the reason for that
was in his eyes, though. Their
pupils were a glimmering, intense red, like flaming hot iron set in his sockets.
only visible weapon he carried was a simple foil – an edgeless stabbing sword
with no decoration and not much length. It
looked somewhat out of place on such an extraordinary person.
he stood there, not even a thought running through his mind, until Mathiu
Racnarth and Kayla Narube gave the knock that signified they were ready to
leave. Sien was more than happy to
oblige them on that score, and with but a motion of his hand, the door that was
across the room swung open. The two
younger Hunters were obviously surprised as they walked out to see him standing
there, but they hadn’t time to form a question before the steel door to the
cell they’d just been in slammed behind them.
the noise echoed throughout the room, Sien walked over to the pair. His boots clacked harshly on the tiled floor of the room,
sending chills through Mathiu and Kayla. As
he came within a few feet of the two, he ceased his motion and regarded them
curiously. “Having a pleasant
shrugged his shoulders. “As
pleasant as can be expected right now. As
you could imagine, the Seekers are none too happy with us.”
why should they be?” Sien asked, his flame-red eyes dancing amusedly between
the two children. “They have
proven themselves a threat to our organization, and have been foiled in their
were no threat!” Kayla said, making a sharp motion with her hand. “And I can sense, from what little of your dark mind you
make open, that you don’t believe that either.”
grinned. “Oh, that’s right. You’re a telepath. It’s
a bit rude to intrude on others’ minds, you know.” He made a negatory motion
with his hand, resulting in a gasp of pain from the young Narube.
This, in turn, nearly caused Mathiu to pull out his mace, but his partner
say I don’t think them a threat?” the older Hunter asked.
“Perhaps their coming was not intentionally harmful.
But they are still threatening the organization.
They breed discord…. Perhaps,” his grin disappeared, and he stared
angrily into Racnarth’s eyes, “even treason.”
would think,” Matt’s words came out between gritted teeth, “very
carefully before you accused me of treason.
I have never lost sight of our goal, of the mission.
You would do well to remember that.”
my.” Sien’s eyes danced again with amused fire, and he cracked his knuckles.
“Is that a threat, Racnarth?”
looked grimly up at the taller man and unconsciously moved closer to Kayla.
“No. It’s a warning.”
shall certainly keep that in mind, child.” Sien smirked.
“But it is beginning to grow late, and all little children must mind
their bedtime. I wouldn’t want to
to tire you out too much, not with all the plans I suspect you have for the
are you implying?” Kayla asked sharply, perhaps with more anxiety than she
meant to. It drew another laugh
nothing, nothing. Just remember
that I’ll be keeping an eye on you two.” He gave a low, mock bow to the two,
and turned to walk off. “The
Council doesn’t trust you anymore… with good reason, it seems.
Watch for their eyes on all sides, and don’t do anything stupid.” He
chuckled a bit, cold and humorless about it.
“The Hunt grows boring otherwise.”
With that, he walked away down a long hallway and up a staircase.
Mathiu noted, with no small amount of discomfort, that his formerly noisy
boots made absolutely no sound as he walked away.
and Kayla stood there in silence for several long moments, until they heard the
guard for this particular jail block coming back.
want to get something to eat, Kay?” Mathiu asked, rubbing his temples with one
hand. “I doubt you’re any
hungrier than I am, but I need to sit down and think things out… and who knows
when we’ll have opportunity to go to the cafeteria again.”
young woman shrugged. “We may as
well. I need to think through all
this too… and it’d be nice to see everyone one last time.”
two left the room silently, passing by a rather confused-looking guard on their
way into the long and twisting hallways that connected the chambers of Terisiare.
Their thoughts ruled them as they made their way for the cafeteria,
‘Can I let
Kay do this, even when the stakes are this high?’
Matt asked himself, looking over at the young woman.
‘If she got hurt, I don’t know what I’d do… besides
never forgiving myself, anyway.’ This
string of thought lead into another involving love and things of that nature;
one he made very careful not to let Kayla see.
mental guard was completely unnecessary; his partner was too lost in her own
thoughts to try to traverse anyone else’s.
‘Are we doing the right thing?
The Council, as crazy as they might be, has a very real fear here. If those two… if we get caught by the Shi Kari, it’s
probably all over for Terisiare. And
there’s nowhere else to hide after that.’
She shook her head and closed her eyes, letting her mind guide her down a
hallway she’d walked down many times in her short life.
‘If we even make it that far.
That Sien Taggart… the Council doesn’t assign him to just anything.
If he’s watching us… we may not even make it out of Terisiare alive.
At least that proves we’re doing something good… in a day when we
have to worry about getting killed by our own kind.’
sighed deeply, and could have cried as they reached the cafeteria. It was, as usual, filled with people; all her fellow Hunters.
And yet, all but a few of their friends were like the Council, like Sien
Taggart. She could almost feel the
distrust in them for each other, for the whole damned planet.
The elders all sat together on one side of the room, no doubt reminiscing
about the times before the Shi Kari had come.
The younger Hunters all sat across from them, gossiping about their older
counterparts and dreaming of a mission to wipe out the Shi Kari that they knew
would never come.
Kayla realized they weren’t really leaving much behind at all.
“It was a day when lavoid hunter fought lavoid hunter… much to the amusement of that accursed race. And that shall ever be the problem with exterminating our enemy; humanity’s too busy destroying itself to see the real threat.” – Meryl Sara, Last History of the Seekers.
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