Xenogears: Prelude to Destruction
Dark Angel Chapter 7: The Plot Thickens...
The Seeker Complex, Karonne
"Let me thank all of you again, from the bottom of my heart." Kyra said to the four weary travelers. Zohar, Cynewulf, Meryl, and Terra had returned to the elder Seeker's house, along with Darrell, who remained unconscious.
"That's really not necessary, Aunt Kyra. It was as much for ourselves as for you all." Meryl replied, waving off the compliment, along with a glass of tea that another Seeker tried to offer her.
"That may be the case, but either way, you most likely saved the entire Complex. And for that," the old woman stood up. "I owe you all whatever help I can grant you. The whole of the Seeker Complex will aid you in whatever way is necessary, to defeat Grendel."
"Amen to that." Said Cynewulf. Despite his cheerful tone, he still seemed to be brooding about something. "We have a few things we do need to take care of before we strike at him, though."
"Yeah." Terra put in. "Zohar here says we need to take Darrell to see some warrior woman named Lucia Meleraii."
Kyra's eyes widened. "Indeed? I suppose, if the finori knows her, then you may well get in. Just make sure he's close to you when you go."
"Have you heard of her, then?" Cynewulf asked.
"Yes. Yes, I have." Kyra returned. Before Cyne could inquire further, she changed the subject. "And shall you all be going to her?"
Meryl started to give an affirmative, but Cyne interrupted her. "No." the large Seeker said. "I'm staying. I've got some work to do in your armory, like I said when we got here."
Kyra scratched her head. "Very well. We should have energy hooked back up to it by the end of the day, Cynewulf. What is it you need to do?"
"Yeah, Cyne. Why do you need back over there? I mean, the robots were deactivated, but the area's still not going to be all that useful to you, at least as far as tracking down Grendel is concerned."
"I've got to build… a weapon. A weapon for our Finori friend here to anchor to." Cynewulf said, his eyes taking on a far-away look as he seemed to ponder the meaning of his words.
"Well… okay." Meryl said, shaking her head.
Terra cut in. "Meryl, you don't have to go either. I mean, Cyne may need help with his weapon, and I an tell you aren't exactly looking forward to this trip."
Meryl cocked an eyebrow. "You joking? Darrell's a friend of mine. I'm glad to go for him."
"Yeah, but I can tell you don't want to leave here. This isn't going to be a dangerous trip, anyway. Me, Darrell, and Zohar can go it alone, and be back in a week or two. Piece of cake."
"Well…" Meryl thought. "If you're sure you don't need my help…"
Terra smirked. "I thought so. Now, I'm going to go check on Dar, so if you'll all excuse me…"
Without another word, the young woman got up and ascended a nearby staircase. Cynewulf looked at Meryl.
"You sure you want to stay? I'm afraid I won't be much company."
Meryl snorted. "As if I was staying for you, Cyne." She laughed to see the psuedo-angry look on the large Seeker's face.
The next morning…
Terra, Darrell, and Zohar stood on a bridge just outside Meryl's ship. Before them around 40 Seekers, headed by Cynewulf, Meryl, and Kyra, waited to give them a proper send-off.
"Take care, Dar, Terra." Meryl said simply, nodding at them and giving each a friendly pat on the shoulder.
"Yeah, you too, Meryl. We'll be back soon." Darrell said, cracking his knuckles as he did.
"What, you aren't going to say goodbye to me too, Meryl? I thought surely my wit and charm had won you over by now." Zohar said, smirking at the taller woman.
"Yeah, sure, Zohar." Meryl returned.
"Well, I suppose it's just as well, seeing as you'll probably be dead in two or three weeks anyway." The finori said mockingly, and laughed unkindly when Meryl tried - and failed - to throttle the little alien.
"Good luck to you, Darrell…" Cynewulf said absently when it came his turn to say farewell.
"Yeah, thanks, Cyne. Good luck to you too, with the weapon."
"Yeah… sure…" Cynewulf mumbled, and began to walk off, without so much as another word to anyone else.
Terra, who'd been just about to bid Cyne a farewell herself, cocked a curious eyebrow. "What's up with him?"
"I suspect he worries about your upcoming battle with the lavoid. The designs for his weapon run through his head even now." Kyra said, and nodded to the three of them. "Good luck to all of you. We look forward to greeting you back here soon."
"Thanks." Darrell said. He sighed. "Looks like it's time to go, Terra, Zohar."
"Does it? I don't know. What does a time to go look like, anyway?" Zohar said mockingly.
Terra scowled at the finori. "Would you PLEASE just shut up for two minutes?!"
The little alien nodded, and shut his mouth in a tight smirk.
"Well, let's go." Darrell said, and turned around to get on the ship. As Terra followed him, the Seekers began singing some sort of battle song… she couldn't understand the language they spoke, but the melody they wove was both beautiful and inspiring.
She sat down in the pilot's chair, still able to hear that song for a few minutes before the engines came on and drowned out all exterior sound. "Well, here we go, Dar." She said, and flipped some switches on the dashboard. As she did, the thing came to life, and she manuevered it into the air and through an airlock, out into the depths of space.
Not more than a minute later, just as she was stabilizing the ship, Zohar could be heard in the back humming an off-key version of the song she'd just heard.
"ACK! Would you stop that, Zohar?!" She yelled without turning around.
The finori appeared just to her right, and grinned. "Don't have to. It's already been two minutes." He then disappeared into the back again, humming in a most annoying manner.
Darrell shook his head and sighed, and Terra gripped the steering column all the harder. This was going to be a long trip…
The Norris Facility
Half a dozen men stood in a control room in the middle of a space station. Through a wide front window, the depths of space could be seen, stars and distant planets all around them.
Closer than that, though, were the 24 half-grown beasts floating unconscious in huge electronic restraints.
The leader of these men, a grizzled older scientist named Victor Jolith, picked up a small radio and spoke into it, all while adjusting various knobs and switches on a control panel set in front of the large window.
"This is Dr. Jolith speaking." He said. His voice rang out over the whole of the space station… the whole of the Dominion's Norris Facility. "The first tests of the control armor placed on the lavoid spawn are about to commence. All involved members," he paused; that last bit was unnecessary. Everyone in the station was involved in this test. "All faculty personnel, please proceed to your stations. I repeat, the first tests on the lavoid spawn are about to commence."
With that, he dropped the intercom, and nodded to the five other men in the room, the highest-ranked scientists in the Sol Dominion… the greatest minds in all the universe. He looked over them for a moment, his thoughts on what a momentous occasion this was, and then he spoke. "Begin awakening procedures."
The five men immediately sprang into action, working various computers that would control every single function, voluntary or otherwise, that the lavoid spawn performed. Dr. Jolith himself would be `piloting' the things on this, their first test.
He looked down over his thin-framed glasses at the things. They floated there in subspace, their thick armor laced within and without with bits of circuitry and steel.
They were beautiful, the old scientist thought. Simply stunning.
Mox grimaced as his body reformed next to the destabilizer beacon, and closed his eyes - once they had completely reformed - for several moments. He sighed.
"I had forgotten how much I hate quark destabilization. Travel by the mythical `warp' would almost be better." The pilot said aloud, scratching his aching head. "Now then, let's see if I ended up in the correct place." He knew before he checked that he had. If his coordinates had been off, even in the smallest fraction of a degree, he wouldn't be alive right now, but a mass of sub-atomic particles flying endlessly through space.
Still, though, his radar did pull up something interesting. "Hmm… looks like the Norris Facility's doing something today. Strange, I thought they shut the place down." He scratched his head and shrugged. Whatever it was they were doing didn't have the least bearing on him. What did was getting to Nova and tracking down those Union scu…
"Huh? What's that?" he looked at his radar again, more closely. About two dozen small objects, probably fighters or something, were streaking toward his location at a rather alarming rate of speed.
"What in the world?" he looked at the blips a moment more, then looked up out of his viewports. He gasped as he saw what was coming in his direction.
"Report 5219." Grey Terin said simply. Thanks to his ship's onboard computer, he had no need for annoying tape recorders at the moment. "I commenced, as formerly reported, to an area just around the Norris Facility, and they are indeed testing the lavoids, but not in the way that one would expect. My sensors readings, in a file that shall be included with this report, show that the lavoids have been augmented with circuitry of all sorts… most likely to control the lavoids themselves from the Norris Facility. Sheer idiocy…" he paused for a moment as something appeared to the far right of his scanners. He pulled out a small keyboard, and typed in several things, all the while looking at the scanners.
"Intriguing. It appears that a ship has warped in on the formerly recorded `unused destabilizer beacon' just a few miles from the Norris Facility. Initial ID checks show it to be a Shatterstar, one of the Dominion's border patrol-level star fighters." He typed some more. "Further checks show it to be under the current control of one Mox Garel, border pilot from the planet… oh, how interesting. Elosia, circa 5000 AD. The plot thickens, Senator. You couldn't possibly know why, but the plot thickens. I will now turn on my ship's cloaking sensors and move in closer. It appears that the controlled spawn are moving in on Garel, possibly for an attack."
"Crap!!! The frickin' engines aren't fast enough!!" Mox yelled, hitting his control panel. He'd turned on both of the ship's engines, and was even drawing on all of the ether reserves he could stand to, but the lavoids… for that was sure as hell what they looked like… were still gaining on him.
Shaking his head, the young pilot flipped some switches on the ship, and turned it around, sending him straight at the spawn. Unexpectedly, this seemed to throw the things off somewhat, and Mox took advantage of this by firing off a few bursts from his ether cannon, then rushing straight past them.
The blasts didn't do much in the way of damage, though, and soon enough they'd recovered from their initial shock. They continued to pursue him, this time right back to the Norris Facility.
"That was an unexpected move. Who's piloting this ship?" Dr. Jolith asked, not really expecting an answer.
"Sir, should we really be attacking him? He could have business on the capital."
Dr. Jolith waved off that thought with an absentminded snort. "I think not. That's a border patrol ship. If you haven't noticed, we're not on the border by any stretch of the imagination. Continue the attacks… just use caution since the things are coming back in this direction. We don't want any unfortunate accidents."
Mox yelped as he saw a huge red beam of energy streak just past his ship. The energy it left in its wake threw his ship into a roll, and he barely recovered before he went hurtling into an asteroid.
"Holy… what are those things?" he said, struggling with the controls as the grav generator tried to return `down' to the area around his feet. Shaking his head, a thought came into his head. "If I know anything, those things are being controlled by the bigwigs in that facility. If I steer right for it…"
Grey laughed out loud, which was a rather rare occurance for the typically silent man. "How astonishing! Not only has he gone so far as to open fire on the lavoids, he's making right back for their little base of operations."
He typed in some commands on his ever-present keyboard, and then took hold of the controls. "Perhaps… if this runs the way I think it shall, I should pay Mr. Garel a little visit. Anyone who can stand against the lavoids deserves at least a marginal amount of respect."
He watched as the small Shatterstar flipped around in various directions, attempting desperately to avoid the ever-growing number of Beams of Fire that were coming in his direction. The silver-haired man noted, with some solemnity, that no matter how well Garel was faring at avoiding the things, a full-grown lavoid's beam would've been too much for him to handle.
`Of course,' Grey thought, `a full-grown lavoid is more than these idiotic people could handle with their technology.'
Mox's eyes narrowed. "Alright, you friggin' punks, let's see how YOU like having a lavoid shoved down your throats." Mox punched the last accelerator on his ship, then pulled the border patrol fighter up and around the various spires and trenches that seperated areas of the Norris Facility from one another. As he did, the lavoids desperately tried to follow, but they dared not risk firing, due to his close proximity to their home. Grinning, Mox barrel rolled into an especially long trench - where he suspected that the lavoids had been held, for at least some amount of time - and started pulling the ship from side to side, avoiding by scant meters hitting the actual station.
His grin grew even wider as he saw what awaited at the end of the trench… a rather large wall, and a viewport to the interior of the ship.
"WHAT?!?!!! NO!!! NO!!! Pull up! Pull up!" screamed Dr. Jolith as he struggled with the computer at his fingertips. The lavoids were not responding correctly… not at all. The border pilot had led them right back here, but traveling at far too high a velocity. The pilot himself had nearly scared everyone in the room shitless when he nearly rammed them head-on, but, as expected, he'd pulled up at the last moment.
At the moment, it didn't appear that the lavoids would have any such ability.
"Slow all natural stimuli! I will continue to pull them upward as they slow!! Do NOT panic, whatever you do!!"
For a moment, it seemed his plan would work. For a moment, it looked as though they were going to clear the wall. The angle was correct, the speed was correct, and…
Out of nowhere, a blue beam - undoubtedly fired from that border ship, Jolith noted bitterly - came down and hit one of the front lavoids squarely in the `back'. This threw it completely off-course, and it hurtled right for the scientists.
"Dear God…" said Jolith, who had never believed in one before this moment.
A split second later, the lavoid crashed through the thick wall, and hurtled into the group of scientists.
"Incredible. Simply incredible." Grey said, sitting straight up in his chair as the lavoid crashed through the facility wall. "It's a shame that that won't be enough to end their experiments. The remaining lavoids will simply go into hibernation, and they'll build a new, better defended control center. As for Garel, however… he may be in a bit of trouble. It would be a great loss to allow a lavoid killer from Elosia to die now…"
He manuevered his ship toward the Shatterstar that was just now noticing the rather large fleet of security ships coming in his direction.
"Great… out of the frying pan and into the fire." Mox muttered, punching his accelerators in an attempt to outpace the many, many ships that the Norris Facility had put out against him. Fortunately, his ship was of a higher model than the others, but these were security ships, and held a rather disturbing number of weapons arrays.
Also, one ship versus several hundred of them didn't make for good odds, regardless of technology.
As the pilot flew forward, dodging dozens of - thankfully - non-ether blasts, something… appeared in front of him. It was a very strange experience. First, it was just a little glimmering… a bending of the various stars in that area of the sky. Then, before Mox fully knew what was going on, a huge ship of some sort had just appeared in front of him, complete with an already-open docking bay.
Mox had a bad feeling about the ship… but going with his gut hadn't been helping him much here lately, and since the docking port on the ship was open, he could escape from these Dominion fighters, at least temporarily.
"Let's pray my bad sense of intuition continues to be just that…" he muttered as he began docking procedures.
A few minutes later, he was fully onboard the ship, in a surprisingly spacious and well-equipped dock. From Mox's calculations, this area easily made up over half of the mysterious ship. As he cut off his engines, he heard a strange noise within the ship… some sort of engine noise, he supposed.
As he pulled himself out of the cockpit of his Shatterstar, a strange figure with creepy silver hair, a steel faceplate, and a black cloak came to greet him.
"Greetings, Mr. Garel. That was quite a show you put on just now." Grey said, smirking beneath his mask.
"What? Who are you? And… how do you know my name?" Mox's words came nervously, and he found himself backing up despite himself, backing up away from this creepy man.
"I may answer your questions in reverse order, if you don't mind." Grey replied, throwing his cloak back behind him. "The reason I know your name is rather simple. I just ran a scan on your ship. The ID code belongs to you. Any fool could tell that much." Grey ran a hand through his long hair. "As for who I am, I've been called lots of things. For you… I am Grey Terin, wanderer."
Mox raised an eyebrow. "Don't think I've ever heard anyone admit to `wandering' for a living before."
Grey shrugged. "And if you're fortunate, you never will again, Mr. Garel. What I call myself has very specific meaning, meaning you may find out one day." If you live that long, the Union spy added silently. "And I don't think I really have to answer your first question, do I?"
Mox shook his head. "You… saw the whole thing, then? Why aren't you getting this ship out of the area, then? There are a LOT of rather… er… angry fighter pilots out there."
Grey cocked an eyebrow. "You apparently don't notice much, do you? My ship has a cloaking device. On top of that, we're running on auto-pilot out of the area. You needn't worry about my survival instincts, Garel. From the fact that a border pilot is here in the core of the Dominion, I must wonder at the existence of your own. Why are you here, Garel?"
Mox sighed, and related his whole tale to the mysteroius warrior before him, all the while ill-at-ease.
After he had finished, Grey nodded. "Interesting. So you came here to Nova on the one in… what, a few million… chance that they had come here for purposes of insurrection. Highly unlikely."
Mox sighed, and leaned back against his ship, still worried that Grey might try to kill him at any moment. "True, perhaps, but I had no better leads."
Grey seemed to mull over that fact for a few minutes, and his brow furrowed as he thought. "Wait…" he muttered. His eyes lit up, and he laughed… which, of course, proved a rather disturbing experience for Mox. "Why, it's so obvious, Garel! You and I will go back to Yrrs together to confirm my suspicions first, of course, but it makes PERFECT sense, given the state of things in the Union as of now."
"Woah. Hold on a second there." Mox said, holding up one hand. "What do you mean with this `you and I' stuff? I'm thankful you saved my life and all just now, but that doesn't mean I'm going anywhere with you."
Grey's eyes narrowed, and his gloved fists tightened. One of them seemed to glow with a light for but a split second. "You misunderstand, Garel. I'm not asking you if you'd care to tag along. I'm telling you that you're coming with me. If you don't like that idea, feel free to oppose it. You'll see what happens."
Mox swallowed hard, and, deep down, cursed his luck. He made sure none of his anger read in his face, though, because his fear was MUCH more deeply ingrained at present. "Fine, then. We'll go to Yrrs II."
Grey smiled again underneath his mask. "I'm glad you see my point of view, Mox."
"The way of the warrior is to live forever in fear. The way of the fool is to let it dominate his life." Meryl Sara, Creed of the Seeker.
To Chapter 8
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