Dark Angel Chapter 8: Lucia
Dargaard, outer atmosphere.
"Ah, good. We're finally here." Zohar said with a grin. He, Terra, and Darrell had been on Meryl's merchant cruiser for all of three days, and the former of the three was near driving the other two insane with his unending antics… and the sarcasm. Always the sarcasm. He seemed to delight in pondering just how the two Zionites would die when faced with Grendel, and did so in as loud a manner as possible.
At least he'd gotten over the humming after 6 or 7 hours, Darrell would always try to remind the infuriated Terra when she didn't think she could take anymore.
"I'm not picking up any major signs of life on-planet, Dar." Terra said as she looked over her scanners. "It looks like the whole planet's dead. Are you sure this is the place, Zohar?"
The little finori nodded. "Positive. Lucia just doesn't care much for company. She's probably the only person on the planet, as of now, anyway."
Darrell's eyebrows shot up. "What sort of a person needs their own planet to get away from it all?"
Zohar gave Darrell a very solemn gaze - something that threw the young intellectual off entirely - and spoke. "Lucia's sort. You'll understand eventually."
As they spoke, Terra pulled the ship down through the atmosphere. After but a moment, they broke cloud cover - thankfully, there was oxygen and moisture on the planet, if nothing else. That wasn't the first thing that came to the humans' minds though, when they got their first full-on view of what was on the planet.
"Holy… what is all this?" Terra said, her jaw dropping.
On the planet's rocky surface, there lay an ornate, beautiful building that stretched out… as far as the eye could see. From the ship's mapping system, it probably went on for at least 600 miles.
"What is this place?" Darrell said, his voice hushed with wonder.
"The home of Lucia Meleraii. Dargaard's Crown." Zohar said simply, looking rather under-awed by the whole experience. "Ooh, ahh. Land over there near that eastern spire, Terra. No, not that one, the one nearest the pyramid-shaped area."
As they began to come down, a voice crackled in over the ship's radio - a rather odd truth, seeing as they'd had the radio's shut off.
"Turn your ship around immediately, or be shot down." The voice was obviously feminine, but it held a quality as hard as steel, and gave an impression that the mind of the one speaking was just as sharp as that metal.
Zohar picked up an intercom speaker, and spoke into. "Honestly, Ms. Lucia, you overreact to everything. This is Zohar… we met several dozen years ago in Beta X2Y. I have someone here with Trance abilities."
The voice on the other end sighed. "Zohar… yes, how could I forget you? The only sarcastic Finori in the whole of the Multiverse. And you say someone with Trance abilities? I don't care. Go away."
"Er…" Darrell said, looking a bit confused. "Maybe we should do like she's asking, Zohar."
Zohar rolled his eyes. "Look, Lucia, these humans are trying to kill a Class B… a Lavoid. If that alone isn't entertainment enough, you DO still owe me that favor for what I did for you back in Beta…"
"Oh… honestly, Zohar. You are no less annoying now than you were then. Very well. Bring your friends here. Land where you were intending to. I shall meet you." With that, the intercoms went silent, and Zohar sighed.
"Geez… I don't know why I'm helping you guys this much. I sure as heck didn't think I'd be calling in favors for you."
"I'm glad you said that, Zohar." Terra said, even as she manuevered the ship down to a suitable landing spot.
"What? Why?" The finori, who obviously hadn't been expecting such a response, asked.
"For a moment there, I was thinking about thanking you."
Zohar rolled his eyes, and settled back in his seat.
A few minutes later, the trio found themselves standing out on the roof of the huge building, the building Zohar had called Dargaard's Crown, almost struggling to stand against a fierce wind that blew across the area.
They had stood there, holding on to Meryl's ship, for but a moment, when she appeared in front of them, the feel of magic accompanying her. She had short blue hair, that came down to her neck in the back, and wore a simple black, somewhat karate-styled training outfit. Her feet and hands were covered by boots and gloves of the same color. But it was her eyes that truly made her memorable, made her a figure that neither Terra or Darrell would ever forget. They were a grey, but such a brilliant grey that they shone like quicksilver. Not only that, but they had a bizarre glow to them… an incredible luminescent glitttering.
"Darrell, Terra, meet Lucia Meleraii… The Warrior."
Darrell stepped forward to shake the woman's hand, but a glance from the woman's soul-penetrating eyes stopped him dead in his tracks. "That won't be necessary, Darrell. I am as well-acquainted with you as I need be."
"Aw, don't be so cold, Lucia. You have agreed to help these guys, right?" Zohar put in, stepping between the two of them.
"I suppose." Lucia said casually, shrugging her shoulders. "Just what is it that this… human needs?"
Terra stepped forward, cutting off any reply from Terra. "Don't talk like we're not here, lady. You can ask us what we need… and just what do you mean by `this human'?"
Terra smiled. "Of course. How rude of me, miss… Terra, isn't it? Ha… you remind me of Lucent Mazer. So impetuous." She turned around in her tracks, and Darrell noticed with some trepidation that neither her clothing or her hair moved in the wind. "I suppose I could explain just who and what I am, eh? It's been a long time since I had any visitors here at the Crown, anyway."
Darrell and Terra gasped, almost in unison, as everything suddenly went black around them. Any attempt at audible noise faded, however, when they found themselves surrounded by swirling green light, and moving through it at a rather rapid rate of speed. Just when they were about to either panic, or vomit, though, it faded, and the world became recognizable again.
They now stood in a long, glass-walled hallway, more than likely within Dargaard's Crown itself. Beyond the glass lay…
"Weapons. Thousands of weapons." Darrell mumbled. A voice to his left both shocked and frightened him.
"Millions, actually, Shanning." Lucia, standing besides Zohar along the opposite wall, said. "I… collect them."
"How is that possible?" Darrell asked. "And how did we end up in here?"
"It was just a simple usage of ether energy that got you into the first part of my storage facility. Your first question, though… takes a little bit more thought."
"You see…" she began, pacing back and forth in the wide hallway, "I'm not human. Actually, I'm not even originally from this dimension… but you don't even know anything about that. Ack… how to begin."
She glanced at Zohar reproachfully. "One could think you could have given them a simple explanation on how the Multiverse works, given that you've been traveling with them."
The finori shrugged. "They didn't ask. I suppose I could do it now, if you'd like."
The strange woman didn't reply, but waved her hand.
"Fine, fine, then. Okay, guys, it's actually fairly simple, but it could take some time for you to comprehend, anyway. I'm sure you guys have both heard the theory that there's more than one `dimension' in existence, correct? The theory that there are multiple versions of reality, different planes of existence where different people, things, and even planets exist?"
Darrell nodded. "I… think so. It's true, then."
Zohar nodded. "Certainly, and more true than any of your theorists could have ever realized. Basically… in the beginning… you know, before the human race, before the universe itself existed… there was Chaos. It's still there, actually, but… ack, I'm getting off track."
"Chaos?" Terra asked, raising an eyebrow.
"It's been named Chaos by the denizens of the Multiverse, because of its properties. Basically, it IS energy. Chaos is a gathering of energy that has neither mass nor shape nor depth. It's called Chaos because of the fact that every molecule of this energy acts independently of every other molecule. Basically, every energy reaction that occurs within it occurs randomly."
The finori looked up at the ceiling, and sighed. "I can't really explain how, given that I wasn't there, but eventually the Multiverse was created from this energy. When it began, there were just two dimensions… one called the Nexus, and one called Prime.
"The Nexus… was unchanging… well, in theory, anyway. It was inhabited by a magic-enhanced race of beings known as the Eternals. They were meant to live forever, because, being that their essences are inherently magical, their bodies were little more than an illusion. Of course… something went wrong, a long while back. A big war."
"And I am one of the last survivors of it." Lucia said, looking up at the ceiling.
Darrell scratched his head. "Well… okay. So you're an `eternal', huh?"
Lucia rolled her eyes. "No. I just claimed to be one to throw you off guard." The warrior-woman sighed. "Yes, of course I'm an Eternal."
"Well, no offense or anything, Lucia, but it's not like we've ever heard of your kind before today. This is just a bit new to us, you know?" Terra put in, obviously over her initial awe with the weapons chambers.
"Of course. How could you be expected to know anything about how the Multiverse works, or about the Nexus, or anything like that? You're just humans… just silly, petty humans, who think they can kill a lavoid on their own." Lucia sighed again, and started to walk on down the hallway, leaving the others behind.
"Hey!" Darrell started to follow after the woman, but Zohar stopped him.
"Leave her alone for a while. The Eternals… can be rather eccentric, at times. Bult make no mistake that they have more than enough power to do anything they feel like doing. They walk planes at a speed that makes my own ability look like a pop gun compared to a nuclear missile. And their magical energy would make all but the strongest lavoids pee in their armor."
Terra looked down on the finori, her eyes narrow. "And what would you suggest we do while she gets over whatever bizarre thing pissed her off?"
"Well… I suppose I could always finish my explanation of the Multiverse. I mean, it may not be that important to what's happening to you guys right now, but… you never know." The little alien shrugged.
"Well…" Darrell leaned back against the wall. "I suppose it's better than just twiddling our thumbs. And I must admit, you have piqued my interest."
"Okay, then. Hmm… I can't really tell you too much more about what happened with the Nexus, except that it's a dead plane now. Nothing lives there, and it just serves as something of a midway point between the dimensions… a way to get to even the farthest outlying ones in a single jump." Zohar sat down on the ground, and stretched his arms. "So… the basic principles of the rest of the Multiverse now come into play. You believe in fate, Darrell?"
"Well… not really. I wouldn't want to think that what happened on Zion was meant to be."
The finori nodded. "Well… fate does exist, in a rather odd way, I hate to tell you. It's a little bit complicated to put into words, but the eternals will all tell you the same thing; the normal dimensions of the Multiverse all sprung from the Prime Dimension. From what they've told me, every time any sort of event comes into play where there's more than one possible outcome, the dimension in which the event happens replicates itself once for every possible outcome of the situation. In each one, a different outcome is played out. This, in turn, leads to new situations that require even more dimensions to be created."
Darrell blinked. "But… random events occur every split second, and… if it happened in every dimension at once…"
Zohar nodded. "Yep. The Multiverse has expanded exponentially every moment since it's creation, and continues to as we speak. The number of parallel dimensions are now so high that they could never be counted, and the outlying ones are so completely different from anything that you could ever comprehend that it's staggering."
Darrell shook his head. "Incredible…"
Terra just shook her head, and looked back out of the glass. She hated it when the talk got scientific like this, especially when the facts called into play made her head hurt.
"Question, Zohar." Darrell said, eliciting a sigh from Terra, who had just been wondering how much more of this scientific mumbo-jumbo she could take.
"Yeah?" The little finori asked, standing up.
"Why is Lucia collecting all of these weapons? I mean, there's got to be some sort of reason."
"Well… yeah, I guess there kind of is. You see, she…"
"It's rude to talk about people behind their backs, you know." The voice of Lucia startled all of them, coming from just behind them in the hall - coming from the way opposite the one she'd stormed out a moment ago.
"He just asked me a question, Lucia." Zohar said, defending himself.
"Yeah. I know. And I think I'd be better suited to answer it than you, finori." The eternal returned, her eyes twinkling.
"Fine, then. Whatever." The little alien rolled his eyes.
"It's a pretty simple thing to tell you all why I'm collecting all of these things." Lucia said, beginning to walk off down the hall again. Darrell, sensing no hostility from the strange woman, felt compelled to follow her. Terra and Zohar were close behind.
After a moment, they left the long hallway into an offbranching elevator, also made of glass so that the weapons gallery - or whatever the woman wanted to call it - was fully visible.
"A long time ago, three of the other survivors of the Eternal War and I made a pact. In an attempt to find the full meaning of the Multiverse… to decipher a code dating from before time… we decided to gather all of the information held within it… to gather every single thing created by mortal hands. My colleague Aristrand Clarist opted to study the magical arts, to gather a copy of every single magical spell in the Multiverse, while Richter Zeraii went with music… he can play any musical instrument you can imagine, some you can't, and has a collection of every song ever penned down… at least in the dimensions he's been to. Sheena Vortex gathered the works of prose and poetry throughout the Multiverse… and I gathered information on the art of combat, and on weaponry.
"Everything you see around you," she motioned around herself as the elevator came to a stop, opening out into a new hallway, in a new wing of the weapons gallery, "is a result of my labor. In the east wing of the Crown, I've got tomes of every combat style imaginable."
"Incredible…" Darrell mumbled. "That must have taken thousands of years of work."
"Hundreds of thousands, Darrell." Lucia returned, sighing. "And I'm still as far from being finished as when I started."
Darrell's eyebrows shot up, and even Terra seemed rather impressed. After a few more minutes of walking in silence, Lucia stopped before a large steel door, which rather stood out against the mostly-glass areas the travelers had come upon thus far. It slid open after Lucia made a simple hand motion before it, and she beckoned for Darrell, Terra, and Zohar to enter.
Beyond there lay a lavishly furnished room. The floor was a fine black marble, and a huge fireplace was framed by a huge, black-cushioned couch and various rugs and other chairs. Lucia bade them to sit, though she herself remained standing.
"Now, then, Darrell, tell me about these trance abilities of yours, or, if you can't remember to, Zohar or Terra may. I have to know what type of potential I'm working with before we can do anything."
Before Terra or Darrell could say a word, Zohar proceeded to tell Lucia, in great detail, every bit of trance-related energy he'd seen Darrell use, from the force tech-type technique he'd seen used on Mechagears back on Yrrs II to the more recent ether usage in the Seeker Complex. He also commented on the various differences in appearance that Darrell experienced when in this state, and made several allusions to people that Darrell and Terra had no idea who were, like `X-Death', and `Zeikfried'.
When all of this explanation had passed, Lucia nodded simply, and stretched her arms out. "I think I know just what type of training you should go through, then."
"T-training?" Darrell stammered. "I thought you'd just teach me how to control this, and we'd be done."
Lucia laughed. "Nothing in life is that simple, Darrell, not even if you're effectively immortal. What you get out of something is equal to the amount of effort you put into getting it. And for you to learn to control your Trance abilities, you'll have to go through a lot of physical and mental training."
Darrell looked downcast by the prospect of `physical' training, anyway, and sighed deeply. This seemed to amuse the proprietor of the Crown to no end.
"Now then. I'll guide Terra and Zohar to their quarters, and you and I will move on to one of my training facilities. Zohar… I assume that if I tell you to take her to the ones in the eastern block where you stayed last time, you can get there without sidetracking through my entire home, correct?"
Zohar smirked. "The last time was just to shake you up, anyway. Yeah, I can get her there lickety-split." He gave a mock bow to Lucia, then motioned for Terra to follow him. Almost before she had time to react, he'd left the room, forcing her to jog out after him with only the vaguest of farewells to Darrell.
After they had gone, Lucia grinned and cracked her knuckles. "Think you can handle another brief teleport spell, Shanning? You looked about ready to lose your lunch last time I pulled you through one."
The young scientist thought for a moment, then nodded, despite his better judgement. "I was just unprepared last time. I can handle it, no problem."
Lucia grinned. "Ah. False bravado. I like it. Try to hold on to that when you're about 6 hours into the training, would you?"
Before Darrell had a chance to respond, Lucia had cast the spell, and it was back into the world of green energy.
Zohar motioned for Terra to follow him down yet another hallway. As she followed him, she sighed. They'd been walking for about half an hour now, and every turn they made just made her more convinced that Zohar was lost.
"Zohar… I thought you told Lucia you knew where these bedrooms were." She said finally, her words coming out in something akin to a groan.
"I do, I do. Honestly. You just don't understand that distance means nothing to an eternal. I mean, she can teleport all over the building in the blink of an eye. Half an hour's walk for you is nothing for her."
Terra sighed. "As I recall, you can teleport too, finori. Why don't you just teleport us there, if you know where we're supposed to be?"
Zohar thought for a moment, then shook his head. "No can do, Terra. I don't have the magical ability to teleport TWO people."
Terra groaned. "But you teleported Meryl, Cynewulf, Darrell AND me to Meryl's ship just a few weeks ago!"
Zohar didn't answer to her protest, though… he'd already gone off down another hallway.
"I swear, I'm going to kill that little alien." The young pilot muttered as she ran off after him.
When she came into the next room, she found that it wasn't really another hallway at all, but part of the weapons gallery itself. Just scant feet from her lay display cases and black velvet ropes of all sorts, along with actual signs giving the name of the weapon displayed and a brief background on it. Zohar was looking through the different weapons with great interest, the plight of their room apparently completely forgotten.
Just as Terra was about to say something to him, something caught her eye. In a display case just in front of her, there was one of the most interesting weapons she'd ever laid eyes on before. Despite herself, she stepped up to the case and took a closer look.
It was a pair of gloves of some sort, but not as she would typically think of such. They were made of leather, but laced with some sort of high-quality metal along the outside. On the fist itself, in the area where one would punch, there were inlaid diamonds and silvery spikes. The two gloves matched each other perfectly, down to the last jewel. She looked at the sign before it.
"The Kaiser Knuckles…" she said to herself, reading over the brief history. Apparently, this weapon had played a role in some sort of rebellion against a tyrant bent on destroying the world… that was certainly a new one on Terra. The thought that a human would want to destroy a planet was rather alien to the young woman.
"Strange…" she gazed back at the knuckles.
"Yeah, it kind of is for you, I guess. In my experience, insane tyrants with too much magical power are a dime a dozen." Terra gasped at the voice, and tensed up until she realized it was just Zohar.
"Geez… you startled me, Zohar."
"Yeah, I saw you drooling over this weapon here, and I figured I'd give you a wake-up call. Now, would you PLEASE hurry up? We're supposed to be going to our room, if you can remember that far back."
With that, the little finori lifted himself into the air, and began flying at a rather high rate of speed off toward another door. Terra growled angrily, and rushed off after him.
"The race of eternals/Of decadence lost and/ Of power wasted for/Nothing…" - the Akraphimneryon, Book 2.
To Chapter 9
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