Flames of Vengeance: Symphony of Chaos Chapter 5


By Mox Jet

4 for the Galactic Powers
For time that he would bide

 4 for the Lavoid Scum
To eat them from both sides

 4 to the Other Planeswalkers
To kill them they did strive

 And one for Lathain himself
With the coming of the tide
Till hidden power was awoken
And Duncan was born alive

             -Rhyme of the Eldarion.


            Back at his residence, Duncan had sought to quench the woes of the meeting with a long shower under steaming water.  The water had done him well, and his muscles were soothed.  He exited the bathroom with a towel tied around his waist, caught by surprise to find Kyrie sitting on his bed.  She looked up over her reading glasses, momentarily diverting her attention from the book that lay in her lap. 

             “I didn’t expect you to be here,” he said, slightly conscious of his nudity.  “You said you were going for a walk.”  She smiled faintly.

             “You know, months of working together and this is the first time I’ve seen you without a shirt on,” she said.  “You certainly don’t make a habit or walking around topless.” 

             His body was very pale, as most Planeswalkers were.  It was, however, chiseled out of impenetrable rock, his muscular definition easily defined as “perfect” by most standards.  A black tattoo encompassing a series of spikes entwined itself around his right bicep.  However, Kyrie was more caught by the fact that all across his chest and back were long, dark scars etched in criss-cross patterns.  She stared at them for a few seconds, her curiosity getting the better of her.

             “How did you get those, Duncan?” she asked.  He lowered his head and quickly looked around for something to put on.  Finding a brown robe flung over a chair, he snatched it and wrapped himself in it.

             “Don’t like to talk about it…” he said quietly.  Then, looking up, “You don’t ask a veteran about his battle scars.  He’ll normally tell you on his own if he doesn’t mind reliving the cause of them…”

             “I see…” she said, closing the book and rising from her seat.  She removed her glasses, folded them, then placed them in a pocket in her pants.  “So then will we be off soon?” she said, changing the subject.

             “Yes,” he said.  “I’ll be meeting with a man that Orphius knows.  He should have the information I need.”


             “Hopefully not more than a few days.  I suggest you try and make yourself comfortable here while you can.”

             “And until then you’ll be doing?”

             “Probably meeting at some point with Rydial.  We are supposed to battle with each other while we’re both here.  Also, Tyrus needs the most recent magical research that I’ve picked up from Aristrand.”  He chucked.  “Well, I guess recent is kind of the wrong word, as I only track the guy down once every hundred years or so, but I haven’t shared the newest spell library with him yet.”

             “Are there other additions to the database?” she asked.  “You did meet with Lucent, after all.  Did he have anything interesting to share with you?”

             “Just that he might have preferred if I didn’t move ancient LEA computer databases from before the Second Fall to a point in time where the information shouldn’t exist.”

             “The Razeal?”

             “It worked out fine.  Don’t worry.  There don’t seem to be any paradoxes created.”

             “You can be sure yet?”

             “I am a farseer, after all, Kyrie,” he said.  “I have the advantage of not having to wait and find out if paradoxes will appear.”

             “I sometimes forget,” she said.  “It’s odd to ponder what it must be like to comprehend the timestream in the manner that you see it.”

             “It’s definitely something else,” he said.  “And it certainly took me long enough to master it.”

             “The gift from your mother…”

             “She was good at it,” Duncan said.  “That’s for sure.  She had her weaknesses, though, namely, her feelings for my father.” He lowered his head.  “They sometimes clouded her visions. 

             “Emotions…get in the way,” he said, as if in hindsight.  “That’s how I’ve survived for so long doing what I do.  There comes a point where you have to kill most of your emotions in order to live on when you’re in my line of work.”

             “I haven’t killed any of mine, Duncan,” she pointed out.  “And I’ve been alive for almost as long as you have.”

             “Maybe you have and you just don’t know it?” he said mysteriously.

             “I’d know,” she said introspectively, looking back to her lap.  “I’d feel something like that.  Trust me…I know when I’m running from something.”

             “Is that so?”

             “I wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t.”

             “Touche.” he said.  There was a pause.

             “Speaking of which,” she said, his last word lingering in her ears.   “Why fight with Rydial.  Aren’t you above practicing with just about everyone but Lucent at this point?”  Duncan shook his head.

             “Never,” he said.  “First, it’s more about tradition than it is about training.  Second, assuming that I was too strong, there’s always the fact that I will not be using prescience in such a fight.  Not considering my speed, you have to remember that a good deal of why I’m so effective in hand to hand combat is my ability to read into the future.  See, reading only gets harder the farther you try to look.  This is because the farther down you look, the more expanded the Multiverse has become.  Looking at what is basically the instantaneous future, however…”

             “And no one can ever hit you,” Kyrie finished his sentence.  “You always know what their next move is going to be and are able to anticipate it, blocking it.”

             “But our ceremonial battles are all done in the form of-”

             “Bakura,” she said, cutting him off again to finally show that she was not completely green in this field.  “The ancient fighting style of the Planeswalkers.  The form of combat utilizing planeshifting and time bending, integrating it into combat with the Black Wings formed into a single blade, and often including discharges of Chaos energy upon contact.  It was designed by your father, was it not?”  He nodded.

             “That’s correct,” he said, smiling at her knowledge.  “See, my mother designed the prescience-wielding fighting style that I typically use.  We called it Shogunara.  It turned out to be so effective that when they cut magic out of the equation, my mom could give my dad a run for his money in a sword fight, simply by knowing where to block and when.  While I use a blend of Shogunara and Bakura against the Lavoids, amongst Planeswalkers, we fight in the traditional form of strict Bakura.

             “So it’s almost completely matter of ceremony, isn’t it?”

             “That’s right.”

            “And you Planeswalkers still hold so much of the ancient stuff holy,” she observed.

             “Not that many of us that still follow the Code,” Duncan said.  “In fact, very few of us.  Only the Knights of the Round…”

             “Your other Warrior Brothers.”

             “The Elthariji.  There were once a small army’s worth.  Now there are only thirteen of us.  We’re the last that still follow Orichalcon, the Code of the LEA.”  He gazed whimsically into space.

             “What does it mean?” she asked.  “The word…what does it mean?”

             “It was a weapon that supposedly killed a great Lavoid in the time of the Sraphites and Draconians.  It earned a reputation as being a killer of Lavoids, and so our code is named after it.  It is, after all, the code that dictates how we deal with the Lavoid race.”

             “But, from what I’ve seen, though, you never seemed to follow any code of honor when you go through Lavoids.  You’ve killed LEBC’s using just about everything, often from behind.  How is there any honor in that?”

             “I’m not talking about a code for the LEBC’s, Kyrie.  Just the Lavoids themselves.  Think about it.”

             “Oh…” Kyrie said in thought.  “I think I get it.”

             “We kill LEBC’s anyway that’s necessary.  They’re mostly pretty easy.  Guns can do a lot of the work with that, since there’s no need to cast any sort of spells other than to simply kill them on a wider scale.  It’s the Lavoids that we deal with according to the code.”

             “…Always in hand to hand combat,” Kyrie said.  “I have noticed that.  Even when you need to kill them with a spell, you normally cast the spell through the Dreamblade.  It’s because of the Dreamstone, isn’t it?  Its…properties?”

             “That’s what all the Eldarion were designed around, in fact,” Duncan said.  “They all incorporated Dreamstone into their blades because they were supposed to act like superconductors for Chaos energy, channeling magic used to kill the Lavoids.  The Phase Swords did that too, it’s just that the Eldarion are like hyper-powered versions of them.”

             “Interesting…” she muttered.  Then, looking up, “What else?”

             “The laws of the Brotherhood,” Duncan continued.  “A Planeswalker before any other.  One for all and all for one, and that sort of thing.  We know we’re basically an endangered species, so we not only fight against Spawn of Chaos, but for survival as well.  With the increasing dilution of our bloodlines, we swore to protect our fellow brothers.”  He paused and closed his eyes. 

             “That Hyrial was killed was a mistake,” he said dimly.  “We grieve for him because we realize that we are all partially at fault in not stopping his death.  I, who should have foreseen it, most of all…”  There was a long pause.

             At length, Kyrie spoke.  “You can’t take everything on yourself, Duncan,” she said.  “No one expects you to.  Your powers aren’t infallible, and you’ve spoken of the mist that’s been clouding the timelines recently.”

             “Something is going to happen,” he said, looking up again.  “The mists always come when there are too many important decisions being made to properly view the streams.  They came for my mother, too.  The future is never certain, even to us prophets…”  Duncan rose from the bed and wandered over to his window, gazing out of it in a dreamy state.  He pulled his robe tighter, as if a chill had just washed over him.  He forced a laugh.

             “I used to ask Lucent why my powers weren’t infallible,” he said.  “He would tell me that nothing but Iluvitar was infallible.  In a fleeting moment of optimisim, I would say that I should be infallible as well.  I used to tell him that I should be able to see everything…and that maybe he wasn’t teaching me everything I needed to know.”

             “He was, though, was he?” Kyrie said, not turning her head.  “Wasn’t he teaching you everything that he could?”

             “Between him and the tactical indoctrination machine, I think I did learn everything that I could.  Still, there was that desire to find the reason that certain things didn’t go according to plan.  The reason I couldn’t always be right, you know?”

             “You were young,” she said.  “You can’t think about things like that now.  Lucent made you what you are.”  Duncan turned around and chuckled.

             “Ah, but do you know why?” Duncan asked.

             “No,” she answered.

             “Neither did I,” he said stoically.  “And I never knew because as powerful as my prescience became, the mind of an Eternal works so differently from the mind of a human or a Planeswalker, or even an elf, that I could have never figured it out…”  There was silence for a few moments before Kyrie’s curiosity got the better of her.

             “You gonna tell me, or are you just gonna be a tease?”  Ducan remained stoic for a moment, then let loose a small grin.

             “I can’t reveal all my secrets in such a small amount of time,” he said, finally walking away from the window, passing through the room and into the changing chambers.

             “And why’s that?” she said, following his motions and glancing upwards.  Unseen to her, Duncan smirked, closing the door to the chamber.

             “Because you should consider yourself lucky as it is.  I’ve told you more about myself in the last two days than I’ve revealed to just about anyone else in the entire Multiverse.  You can’t get greedy for information, now.  Just wait for the right moment.  Everything will come in time.  Plus…the more I think about it, it’ll be your turn to have some share-time, next.”

             “What will you do now?” she asked, changing the subject away from herself.

             “Look for Rydial,” he said.  “And uphold the code.  I suggest you look into the final preparations on the ship.  We’ll hopefully be leaving here in less than twenty four hours.”

             “Will do,” she said, rising and grabbing a jacket off of the hanger by the door to the room.  “And I’ll meet you back here in two hours.”  She pulled the door open and left the quarters, dragging the door shut behind her with a slam.  Then, with Duncan alone, the room was silent.


Twenty Minutes Later…

            The hallway was dimly lit.  It was made of the stone, arched passageways that ran through the underbelly of the Citadel.  No one came down there much, and Duncan was only down there now because he was looking for someone.

             The air was damp and the floor cold.  If the servo druids didn’t keep the pest population in control, there would probably be rodents running amok across the walls.  Duncan could feel the presence he was looking for; it was unmistakable.  It was the emanations of Chaos…they followed a Planeswalker wherever they went.  This would be the location of the trial.

             This Trial, officially called the Trial of the Elders, was a series of one on one battles fought by the ruling members of the Planeswalker Council.  It had been introduced long ago in the times of the LEA due to some questioning as to the order of command.  While no one disputed Lathain’s rule, it was highly likely that the Trials were the brainchild of Teclis, who tended to be very competitive with his brother Tyrion.  He had probably been looking for a way to fight him regulated combat, and so he sought to develop this system.

             Traditionally, the each Planeswalker in the ruling council must duel with the Planeswalker ranked above him and the Planeswalker ranked below him.  In this, victories and defeats would shift around the pecking order within the Council.  Of course, the highest ranked from the last series of trials would not have to face anyone above him, as there would be no such warrior. 

             It became written into the code around three hundred years after the foundation of the LEA, and Lathain had been against it from the beginning.  It had happened, however, that there was some growing dissent among the lower levels of the Organization as to why it appeared that Lathain ran things simply from what seemed to be a heavenly mandate.  To maintain control, keep order, and keep faith, Lathain accepted the institution of the Trials system.

             To this day, Duncan, Rydial, and the rest of the remaining Elthariji came and met for the Trials once ever year when the Brotherhood convened.  Positions rarely changed, though the Trails were looked on as one of the few chances for the Elthariji to practice Bakura combat against an opponent capable of fighting in the same style.  It was rare for a Planeswalker to fight another Planeswalker outside of this Trial system.  The Brotherhood assured that all Planewalkers were normally peaceful towards each other.  However, to a certain extent, these trials were enjoyed and cherished by the remains of the warrior race.  Duncan and Rydial, however, took a different outlook on them.

             A shadow filled the end of the corridor that Duncan had just come from.  It was the silhouette of a tall man, garbed in robes.  Energy filled the room in a swirl and a dank ethereal wind blew through the hallway, causing both men to involuntarily shiver. 

             “You came…” Duncan said, not turning around.  “I was afraid you wouldn’t show.”

             “The code must be upheld…” Rydial mumbled.  “The highest of the Order must meet in combat.  It is…unavoidable.”

             “My father never enjoyed this…” Duncan said, lowering his head.  “He was always afraid he’d slip up…lose one of them.”

             “It was Teclis’s idea to introduce the trials.  Sibling rivalry led him to want to compare power with Tyrion after all.”

             “Silly what things we hold up long after the creators have died…” Duncan muttered, and then both figures paused, motionless. 

             A moment’s silence went by, and then there was a flutter of motion on the parts of both Planeswalkers.  Duncan spun around, kicking up the tail of his trench-coat just as he slipped it off his shoulders and cast it aside.  Along with the motion, the Cauxion on his arm sparked and a black blade of energy, two and a half feet in length, shot out of the projector on the top of his hand.  Rydial had also cast his robes aside, revealing a black fighting uniform with golden embroideries across the chest and shoulders.  His own Cauxion pulsed at the ready.

             “Kalianti versaille neli?” Duncan asked.  ‘Are you ready for the trial?’

             “Ygralini istarith larius ge,” Rydial said.  ‘On my honor I uphold the code.’

             In a blur, the two figures rushed at each other and a dark wind blew through the room with a great intensity.  When their swords met, they became locked in combat, but they moved with such flawless efficiency and grace that their motions became almost like a choreographed dance.  They were both so fast…so accurate…and they didn’t keep their feet planted on the floor for very long.

             After a few seconds of extremely quick clashing of blackened blades, the combatants were in the air, rebounding off of the walls of the corridor, flying back and forth, meeting weapons in a spinning fury of lashes.  Each attack was blocked perfectly, at just the right angle to prevent a ‘whip-over’ of energy.  Duncan quickly took to running straight up the walls, and, fighting upside down from the ceiling, he fended off Rydial’s attacks from below. 

           The dance continued as Duncan flipped down, neatly parrying three attacks as he did so, then making a wide head cut and forcing Rydial to rotate backwards to dodge it.  Rydial then rebounded off of the nearest stone wall and launched himself at Duncan like a rocket, weapon extended.  Countering, Duncan jumped upward, body parallel to the ground, and whirled around 1080 degrees, his blade catching Rydial’s attack, deflecting it, and forcing him to recover on the other side. 

            Rydial recovered by rolling back up into a fighting stance.  He extended his blade, drew a small figure in the air, then ran at Duncan again, swiping at his neck.  Duncan caught him in a six parry, and riposted to the cheek: an attack which Rydial barely dodged by swaying back.  Quickly, Duncan pounced on his opponent’s unbalanced position, lunging with a thrust to the mid section.  Rydial parried this, stumbling back and beginning to regain his balance.  Duncan followed with four more thrusts, each of them met by a blade.

             Needing to turn the tables quickly, Rydial invoked a defensive spinning technique called the Kasumi, catching Duncan’s thrusts and knocking them aside as he whiled around like a tornado.  After knocking away five or six hits, his used his spinning momentum to launch an arching downward swipe at Duncan’s forehead.  Duncan was able to block, but was forced to stagger back.  Rydial used his momentum to continue moving forward in a series of angled twists though the air, each one concluding with another cut at Duncan.  The larger Planeswalker soon felt himself pushed against the wall without any more room to retreat. 

             As Rydial drew his blade back, Duncan let loose a grin and disappeared from view, allowing Rydial to swing, miss, and carve a deep wound in the wall.  Rydial spun around to find Duncan standing a few feet away, his sword in a readied position.

             “Playing that way?” Rydial asked, also smiling.

             “Can you handle it?” Duncan asked, planeshifting again and knocking away the blade that Rydial had swung in prediction of Duncan’s new location.  Then, as the planeshifting began, the fight became a show of illusions not able to be followed by any but others capable of such movement.

           To begin to describe a fight between two beings that are planeshifting in the style of Bakura combat is not an easy task.  To the observer, what they might see was the occasional flash of figures shifting back into reality, a momentary clash of blades marked by a white flash, then the figures disappearing again, only to reappear in a completely different place using a completely different angle of attack.  If the observer’s eye is not fast enough, they might only see the white flash of blades.  Or, one figure may settle into reality and fend off attacks that seem to not be actually there.  In this case, the other combatant is flashing into reality only momentarily, and is gone again before the observer can see.  The only evidence of attack is the flash of white light, but it is slightly comical to see the stationary fighter waving his weapon at something that isn’t clearly there.

            Depending on what plane the fighters were shifting into, sometimes they were meet each other and clash in that plane, shifting back into the physical plane as an alternate form of dodging.  If they picked different planes to shift into, however, they were not visible to each other whilst shifting.

            This fight, if the combatants are skillful enough, could continue indefinitely.  In reality, Duncan and Rydial were more than capable of delivering a combat technique that would normally win a fight instantly.  This could range from anything between completely disconnecting the opponent’s Lifestream from their physical body, to actually altering the continuum in order to simply crush the opponent’s body through a ‘pinching’ of dimensions.  Neither fighter was aiming to kill the other, though.  It was a game of tricks and ploys.  It was a game of trying to draw out an opening in the other’s defense, allowing for poising of the weapon in a killing position without delivering the blow.  It was a sparring contest for all practical purposes.  This was just one that was conducted at a speed which normal humans cannot follow.

             The tricks and ploys became even deeper when Rydial tired of simple planeshifting and added another main element of Bakura: time alteration.

             Wanting to throw Duncan’s final shift off balance, Rydial bent the space he was in to allow for his own body to accelerate down the time stream faster than Duncan’s incoming form.  From Duncan’s prospective, this appeared as a blurred image of Rydial’s body, surrounded by a pale luminescence of rainbow light.  Thrown off by the sudden time bend, Duncan nearly over accelerated himself to compensate, which would have resulted in him accidentally hurling himself through the wall that was behind Rydial.  Instead, he extended his own powers to the forth dimension and began to play the game as well.

             Now, if planeshifting combat is hard to describe, time-adjusted planeshifting combat is nearly impossible.  In addition to the fading in and out of the combat, adding time shifting creates a bizarre flow of motion that doesn’t always seem to match up with the surrounds of the fight.  Different areas of the room will move more slowly than others and time will alter pace as often as twenty times within the span of a second.  To see the movements of two fighters go from slow, to fast, then back again (and not always in sync) is the prime cause of headaches amongst observers of Bakura combat.  Also, as these two particular fighters were exceptionally skilled in this craft, they could attempt to speed up themselves at the same time as trying to slow down their opponents.  Like a battle with a Lavoid, it was a fight to see who could out-force the other with the Winds of Magic that control time flow.

           It also introduced a concept of bluffing.  For example, if Duncan were to exude an extreme force in slowing Rydial down, Rydial would begin to compensate with a similar effort to counteract Duncan’s effect.  Then, as Rydial would be pouring great energies into speeding himself up, Duncan might simply cease the slow-down effect that he was generating.  This would cause Rydial to fly forward in time at a greater pace than he had expected, which would probably leave him in an unbalanced and unprotected position.  One had to be leery with putting too much force in altering the stream so as not to get caught up in a bluff, yet one had to be mindful of putting enough force so that the opponent didn’t completely control the flow of battle.  All of this had to be considered whilst both fighters were shifting in and out of real space, trying to get around the other’s defenses, and still operating at a rate which seemed a blur to a normal human. 

             There were, after all, reasons why only a Planeswalker’s mind was capable of handling all of this.

             Duncan and Rydial continued to twist time and space in a swirling melee that was now completely unrecognizable as any known form of combat.  A human spectator would hardly be able to see through the blur of bent time, let alone follow the warping, shifting movements of the combatants that was constantly speeding up and slowing down.  A blade that started to come from the left could end up coming from above at ten times the original pace, only to be slowed to one fifth of it’s speed and blocked from and angle not ever anticipated.  It was truly mind-boggling.

             It became a game of one waiting for the other to slip up.  Blades still clashed repeatedly, but each strike was more of an attempt to throw off the other’s balance and disrupt their sway over the time stream.  Their stamina, if they had been human, would be beginning to wane at this point.  To exert so much control over time while battling in multiple planes is a physically exhausting task.  The ability to coordinate all of these actions was exhausting as well.  These Planeswalkers, however, drew energy from a high source: that of Chaos.  They were not met with feelings of fatigue or drain.  The limit of their battle was only contained by the limit of their patience.

             It just so happened that at this point, Duncan’s patience ran too thin.

             He took up position in line with Rydial and channeled such a massive quantity of energy that he would usurp control of the time stream for a long enough moment to perform his final attack.  The catch was that his move wouldn’t even take a moment to complete.  This is where it derived its name: No Moment.

             He executed it flawlessly.  He grabbed a hold of the time flow and slowed everything around him to a halt.  Instinctively, he sunk into astral plane, raced towards Rydial, shifting back into the physical plane just as he made his strike.  Because this technique utilized separate manipulation of time flow for each of the planes involved, Duncan appeared to Rydial as if he had literally started in one place and instantly ended up behind him, having already delivered a precision, rising slash, tearing just close enough to Rydial to slit open his combat suit without harming his skin.  Because of the massive amount of energy that Duncan used in such a short time, Rydial was completely overpowered on the temporal level, and was left open to Duncan’s quick attack.  Duncan, now behind Rydial, allowed time to flow back to normal as he stood up turned around to gaze at his defeated opponent.

             Also standing up and allowing his torn clothes to fall off of him, Rydial spun to face Duncan.  The two men gazed at each other for a moment.

             “You know, I could have simply swayed enough to allow you not to kill me,” Rydial said with a minor grin.  “That would mean you haven’t won yet.”

             “Ah, but you know as well as I that you didn’t try to dodge that.  If you had…I might have accidentally hit you instead of your clothes,” Duncan said, also grinning.  Duncan raised his blade and held it in front of his face, waiting a moment and allowing Rydial to do the same.  Both men brought their blades down in a swiping salute, then the black energies from the Cauxions disappeared and more of the swirling energies of Chaos in the room dissipated.

             Honestly relieved that neither had inadvertently killed the other, they walked up to each other and embraced hands.

             “Well fought,” Rydial said to Duncan, brushing a single drop of sweat off his forehead.  “That was a neat trick at the end.”

             “The timing is difficult to pull off.  For it to literally take No Moment, I needed to slow down the physical plane enormously, while greatly speeding up the plane that I moved in…all the while hoping you didn’t think to Planeshift at that time.”

             “Would that have been the best way to dodge it?” Rydial asked.  “I don’t think I could have.  The only thing I remember is all the energy you channeled in so you could overpower me.  It worked.  I was really caught off guard by my sudden lack of any control over the time flow.”

             “That’s the idea.  Its kind of a one shot go,” Duncan said.  “If you miss, you’ve over exerted yourself and are vulnerable…”  Duncan walked over and picked up his trench coat from the floor, brushing off the dust that had been kicked on it.  He slid it over his shoulders and absentmindedly fingered the hilt to the Dreamblade.

             “Kinda like this killing Cain thing,” Rydial said.  “If you miss…you’re in trouble.”  Duncan chuckled.

             “Yes, Rydial, that was the parallel I was trying to make, oh perceptive one,” he said sarcastically.  The two of them walked down the hallway and he bent over and picked up Rydial’s robes, handing them to him.

             “Nervous?” Rydial asked.

             “A bit.  I don’t like trusting people other than Kyrie and other Planeswalkers.  I suppose this information is coming from someone Orphius recommends, but it still means I’m going outside of the loop to get it.”

             “Whatever’s necessary,” Rydial said, glancing over at him.  “And we’ll all benefit from this.  Who doesn’t?  Cain is a dictator anyway.  The Dominion should revel in his death.”

             “Until someone is selected as his successor.”

             “You think Multani might rise to the task?”

             “Hah,” Duncan muttered.  “My father should have offed Multani centuries ago.  I still don’t know why he was sparred.”

             “Your dad probably respected him in a sense.  It’s the same reason he didn’t kill Cain.  Lathain simply was making a point.  He wasn’t out to destroy the Dominion.  He just needed them out of his way.”

             “I know this,” Duncan said as the two men wandered out of the hallway and began climbing a spiraling stone staircase that led to the main levels of the Citadel.  “But that still doesn’t make me wonder why he didn’t see fit to simply get rid of them.  I understand that he was not interested in ruling a galactic empire, but Cain was an insult to his strength.”

             “He knew that if the Dominion was in enough confusion so that Cain would stop shooting down his ships, he could go back to his Crusade, Duncan,” Rydial said.  “And you know that.  You’ve read the history books just as many times as I have.”

             “This is true…” he said.  He shook his head.  “What am I doing?” he asked Rydial.  “Why am I doing this?  Should I wait till he actually tries to intercept me?  Should I let him come to me?  Why am I going after him?”

             “You’re the prophet, Duncan,” Rydial answered.  “Why are you going after him?  You fear of being hit first?  No, I don’t think that’s it.  You’re confident enough in your own abilities.  You fear for the others….for those like Hyrial.”  Duncan didn’t answer for a moment.  He gazed around the walls of the stone stairwell as they continued to walk until they came out in an entry room decorated in red tapestries and rugs, covering the cold stone floors and walls. 

             “Yes,” he finally said in a low voice.  “I fear for the others.”

             “For the man who often says to kill emotions is the only way to survive in this game, it must sound funny for me to tell you that you need to worry about yourself as well as them.  They’re not as helpless as you’d sometimes like to think.  Not as helpless…”

            “They are, though, Rydial,” Duncan said.  “And you know it, too.  And our blood is thin.  We cannot have any more unneeded deaths of our own species.  We must preserve and persevere.”  Rydial put his hand on Duncan’s shoulder and halted his pace, causing Duncan to stop and turn.

             “Duncan….as a friend and as a brother….watch out for yourself.  You can’t treat your life like a fight, waiting for that one time to overexert and risk yourself.  There are times when life is not like the battlefield…as much as you chose to live on one.  Please…be careful.  Do what you have to do.  Kill the bastard before he comes after us, but be careful.”

             Duncan looked at Rydial for a moment, then the two men embraced in a hug that was about as emotional as Duncan thought he could get. 

             “I’ll watch out,” Duncan said as they released each other.  “And I’ll kill the bastard good and quick.”

             “I’ll mind things while you’re gone, Duncan.  If all goes well, I’ll see you in two weeks.”

             “That’s a promise,” Duncan said, beginning to walk away.  “And have a good time while I’m gone!” he called back.  Briskly, and without further words, he walked out of the room.

             “Will do…” Rydial, said, looking at the ground.  “Don’t get yourself killed, you crazy son of a bitch.  Just stay alive…”

Chapter 6

Mox Jet's Fanfiction