Dark Angel Chapter 25
Day of Apocalypse
All of Riven was in chaos.
In the underground stronghold of Terisiare,
human fought and killed human for the first time in nearly two decades, and
all screamed in terror as darkness fell over their eyes and their
On the surface, a harsh rainstorm lit the
night sky. A torrent of hail
and water washed over everything, and electricity blazed a trail of destruction
as it arced from the sky.
In the Black Tower, in what was left of a
once-proud Hunter capital, the Shi Kari writhed in terror, split from one
consciousness into many under the insanity of Darrell Shanning.
Many would die this day, from the rains and
and from Chaos. It was a day that would change the fates of
millions. It was a day of
Blade made of unencountered metal moving at velocity of 125 kph, at a fourty-five degree angle toward neck. Anticipated movement necessary to dodge: two yards back in next .526 milliseconds.
Such were the thoughts that should have run
through Taloncreeds mind. Such were the thoughts that should have dominated his
being. The analytical, ever-calm
voices of the Hive Mind should have been all he was
thinking. But they were not
all that was within him; they fought for space amongst the panic and the
rage and the terror, and failed to compete very
As it was, it was but luck that the Doppelganger
avoided being decapitated right then and there, as instincts that he should
have lost with his humanity guided him back a few precious
steps. His amethyst eyes were
alight as they had never been, a presence of
life, for lack of a better
within them. He
couldnt think. He
couldnt formulate a strategy.
He could barely remember to
Darrell Shanning seemed to be having no such
problems if it was indeed Darrell Shanning that now stood before
him. He had recalled Shanning
possessing silver-grey hair, but this new Shanning wore a fiery mane, and
his eyes shone with a light that the hue of his hair could only have dreamed
The deeply analytical thoughts of the Hive
Mind recognized this state, called it the Id, though there was indeed some
confusion as to the fact that this being had an Id; such things were typically
easily revealed. They urged
him to strike forward with questions such as that one, distracting, useful
questions, even as they urged him to form the blade of chaotic flame that
every lavoid born was capable of using.
Another swing of the blade shattered the
hold of those thoughts as though they were but fine-spun
gossamer. The voices of the
Shi Kari were powerless before this being, this en-Tranced, enraged
thing. And thus separated from
the Hive Mind, Taloncreed was being forced to do something he hadnt
had to in years:
think. But it was not
the thought hed had the luxury of as a human, for his memories, his
experience everything that had made him Talon Creed had been
taken from him, burned from his mind like useless
Alone, the first thought he had was to
run. This didnt seem correct,
though, or even viable. The
room they now stood in, though ruined and steeped in carnage from the corpse
of the polymicite, was far easier to move around in than the narrow, twisted
hallways of most of the rest of the
This thusly ruled out, it seemed obvious
that he must find some way to defend
himself. Looking about himself
both on his person and on the ground about him he quickly
determined that he carried no sort of weaponry on his
person. There was the vaguest
hint that he didnt need one in the corner of his mind, from an urging
voice he couldnt quite hear, but that wasnt incredibly useful,
either. If he didnt need
a weapon, then surely he shouldnt be experienceing this fright, he
Another dagger stroke, and
another. Taloncreed had begun
to dodge them without even thinking by now, even though it was becoming
increasingly difficult to do so.
Feelings of desperation, alien and unnerving, washed over the
doppelgangers senses. He
felt his legs shake in fear, and for a moment he feared he wouldnt
be able to move any longer, would be cut down in a heartbeat by the hateful
blade of Shannings knife.
Darrell brought his blades in at
Taloncreeds neck again, anxious to end the struggle, anxious to draw
the blood of other Shi Kari.
Desperation took on a new meaning within Talons twisted heart,
and exploded outward in the form of sheer power and
rage. He watched through
anger-blurred eyes as a sword made of magical flame leapt from his right
hand, and held the hateful Ilinumbar at arms length albeit with
quite a bit of effort on Taloncreeds
part. Suddenly it became clear
why he carried no weapon, and despite the fact that he had no idea who or
what he was, he knew that he would not let himself die, not this day.
Words poured forth from somewhere deep inside
him as Darrell broke off the fruitless atttack and prepared for
human! Feel the flames of
He spread forth his left, unhampered hand
and allowed himself a small smile as flames even more intense than the ones
that made up his chaos blade threw themselves out at the hateful being before
him. As they hit him they exploded
outward, engulfing him entirely.
Taloncreeds smile grew wider, and he backed up a few steps from
the intense heat to bask in his victory.
It was a
Almost as soon as the doppelganger let down
his guard, let the chaos blade fall apart in his limp hand, he was shocked
to see an even more enraged and seemingly unscathed Shanning
fly out from the flames like a demon possessed.
The expression on his face barely had time
to change from smugness to shock before the first of the Ilinumbar struck
him in the neck. The barest
rasp of a scream managed to form before the second pierced his vocal
cords. His stomach had just
enough of a chance to spasm before a booted foot kicked it hard enough to
shatter every rib. His eyes
were allowed the chance to see the glowing eyes of Darrells Id narrow
before one of the daggers came back up from the doppelgangers throat
and gouged them out.
After that, there was little
pain. Taloncreed was, after
Darrell chuckled darkly as he wiped the black
blood that covered his blades off on his jacket, and patted out what few
embers of flame had managed to catch his
body. He looked around the room,
seemingly pleased at the carnage he had
caused. For the hell of it,
he even stabbed the dead doppelganger at his feet a few more times.
And then his gaze fell upon Terra Lyles,
still bound to a table in a mostly-untouched corner of the room.
He walked over to her, the mad glee in his
eyes subsiding momentarily into something akin to
concern. She hadnt been
bound quite as tightly as Darrell had, though the metal couplings that hooked
her arms and legs to the testing table certainly looked capable of holding
her. She looked as though she
were in pain
likely the result of the tiny bit of lavoid energy Darrell
could even now feel festering within
More anger accompanied
that. These fools had tainted
the only person in the world that even
he, the darkest side of Shanning,
could care for. Enraged, he
quickly took hold of the couplings that bound her hands and snapped them
as though they were nothing more than
clay. Then he took the Ilinumbar
and sliced open the bottom ones just as
easily. She was free
still unconscious. A moment
of indecision came. Should he
revert control to Darrell, and care for Terra, or continue his killing spree
before the Hive Mind reorganized?
Ten seconds later, he had vanished from the
room, leaving the young woman lying alone.
The power was out in
Terisiare. Even better, ether
energy flowed freely. It was
a happy thought for Cynewulf, who was blissfully ignorant of other happenings
on the planet.
It was not such a happy thought for the steel
door to his cell, which, while completely unaware of the chaos in other parts
of the facility, had been rather damaged when a spell cast by the burly Seeker
forced it open.
The giant peered out into the hallway cautiously,
although he fully realized that if anyone was around, they
probably would have shown
themselves when the door burst open, compliments of an Exploder
spell. This assumption proved
correct; all was silent in the darkness.
Motioning to his magicless cellmate who was still more than
a bit impressed with Cynes recent mastery over Ether he made
his way out of the cell.
feels good to breathe fresh
air again, doesnt it? he asked rhetorically, stretching out to
the full length of his 67
I rather doubt this airs all
that fresh, Cyne
were still way below
ground. Meryl returned, glancing about
cautiously. Where are
those damned Hunters?
Cynewulf rolled his
power just went out a minute or two ago.
I imagine theyre probably on their way right now.
Which is what I said when you decided
to blow up the door. We were
supposed to wait on them, not attract the guards as Id guess we
Whats up with
you? the large Seeker
asked, crossing his arms.
You dont usually bitch like this.
Meryls eyes lit up with fury as she
looked at Cynewulf. Well
me! Its not every day
we get locked up without our weapons on a planet completely
infested with Lavoid things
certainly not every day that
the people who locked us up are lavoid hunters themselves!
this. But why do you think getting
pissed of at mes going to help?! Cyne asked, starting to get
pissed off himself. I
didnt do any of this!
YOU got me involved in this in the
first place! My life was going
just fine until you stepped
in and told me you needed help to track down a lavoid
you still wont tell me
The large man
blinked. Is that what
this is all about? Youre
pissed off because things arent going so great, and you dont
even know why youre out here?
thats selfish of you.
me?! Meryls entire
body had joined her eyes in expressing her sense of fury now; her fists were
clenched bone-white, and she had shakes down the length of her
Youre the selfish
one here, using everyone for your own mysterious purposes, and not even giving
a shit when it gets people
Cynewulf was silent at that, for a
moment. Really, he seemed to
be in thought as to a retort worthy of Meryls
words. If he ever thought of
it, Meryl never heard it. At
just that moment, something whizzed by the large mans head and hit
the wall, causing large chunks of its metal surface to explode and shower
the two Seekers with shrapnel.
Immediately, the two dropped to the ground; they were weaponless,
What the hell was
that? Cynewulf whispered
frantically. It was obvious
that some sort of projectile weapon had caused it, but Cyne had never seen
a slug-thrower capable of doing that to metal
he entertained for a
moment the thought of what it would have done to his head, but was forced
to suppress it, so horrifying was the
Thankfully, they werent kept in suspense
for long as to the origin of the shot; as they cautiously pulled themselves
up into a low crouch, an old man walked into view, carrying some sort of
huge rifle-like weapon that was nearly as big as he was.
I thought you two might try to
escape. The voice was very familiar; Meryls eyes widened as she
recognized the almost-sibilant, dancing sound of the
Mediator. We knew those
traitors were up to something, but didnt know
what. So I came to see to you
cussed. What in the hell
are you doing, old man?
Youd kill us just
because were trying to get out?
The old leader of the Hunters nodded
emphatically. It is
necessary. I shouldve
killed that dumb fuck
Talon when he started talking about going to
the Black Tower all those years ago.
I knew it was a bad idea
and lo and behold, Argive went up in
smoke. I wont allow you
to do it all over again.
Seemingly in mid-thought, the Mediator squeezed
the trigger of his huge weapon again, causing another bullet to go screaming
past. It was only the fact that
Cynewulf had seen the shot coming that had allowed him to jump out of the
way. That realization didnt
make the little shards of metal that leapt from the wall behind him after
the bullet hit them hurt any less.
What in the world is
that thing? Meryl muttered, all the
while desperate to take shelter, but scared to move, lest the crazy man before
them take it into his head to start shooting a bit faster.
The Mediator, despite the fact that he was
across the room, heard the young womans
words. Why, you dont
know what this is? I suppose
they are rather
rare. It is called a railgun
it uses the principles of magnetism to fire a shard of metal at speeds fast
enough to go through walls. Very
useful for assassinations, beheading farilii, or
off another shot, this time in Meryls general
directions. It went wide, seemingly
on purpose, and blew another hole in the
wall. getting rid of dangers
to the organization.
Your organization is nothing anymore,
old man. Cynewulf said mockingly, gritting his teeth as he pulled a
shard of metal from his human arm.
It wouldnt matter if we did sell out the location of this
place to the Shi Kari
all theyd find here is a nest of
The Mediators eyes narrowed, and even
Meryl had to wonder what the hell her friend was
isnt smart. She whispered desperately.
Shut up. Was his reply, but she
could see something else in the mans
eyes. He had a plan
God only knew what sort of plan, but
he had a plan.
And seriously, Mediator, using a railgun
to kill Farilii? If
thats what its
for, I dont see why
one. Youve probably never
gone after a lavoid-based being in your life, you stupid coward.
The Mediators response was another
wild shot with the railgun, though this one was much closer to the
mark. Shut the hell
up! You dont understand
anything, you fool. How could
you know what the past two decades have been
like? How could you possibly
understand what its been like here?!
Go to hell,
Mediator. How could you possibly
think youre the only one whos seen what the lavoids can
do? I lost my parents to one
Ive lost any chance at a happy life to their entire
race. You can go fuck yourself
if you think Im going to feel sorry for you on
that account. His face
took on a look of appraisal.
Actually, from the look of you, youve probably taken me
up on that last offer more than once
a face like that doesnt
get closer than that to sex.
Meryl almost winced herself at the last comment,
and indeed, the Mediator seemed to take it very
personally. He squeezed off
another shot with the railgun, this one aimed dead center at Cynes
head. There was no way the caustic man could get out of the
way in time
What the Mediator didnt count
on was that Cyne wouldnt even try.
As the bullet reached the huge man, a greenish hexagonal shield appeared
and caught it. It didnt
fall to the floor, but just sat suspended in mid-air, enveloped as it was
in the ethereal green light.
I thought you seemed a prideful man.
Cynewulf said as he stood up fully, the greenish shield and the bullet moving
with him. Got so wrapped
up in what I was saying that you didnt even notice me gathering Ether
energy. Howd you get to
be a leader in this group?
The Mediator shrugged his
shoulders. Ive been
told that Im good at making people think I know less than I do.
He smirked with the comment.
Oh, and at doing this.
Without warning, or even a bit of movement
from the old man before them, a storm of ice engulfed the room, tearing straight
through Cynes shield and knocking both he and Meryl to the
ground. It stung, badly, with
each piece of ice seeming every bit as sharp as the shards of metal that
had been cutting into them earlier.
From the look of the cuts that they saw laced their body as soon as
things subsided somewhat, they had probably actually been just as sharp.
When they managed to get up, they had expected
to see any number of things. Perhaps the Mediator would have that Railgun ready to
snipe them, or maybe he was preparing another spell.
What they did not expect was to see the
emotionless face of a bluish-skinned woman standing before them.
What the hell?! Cynewulf exclaimed,
backing up a step.
Shiva. The Mediator
executioner. The old man stifled a chuckle as he saw the reaction the
two Seekers gave in response to this.
What, you didnt think there were any living mages with
the ability to Summon left? No
indeed. Now, then
he glanced about himself, as though looking for
something. I have other
business to attend to. Shiva,
kill them. He looked at
Cynewulf, and grinned viciously.
And make it as painful as possible.
There was nothing either of them could do
as the Mediator proceeded to turn around and leave the room.
Mathiu Racnarth was also unaware of other
happenings on Riven, but he could have hardly called his ignorance
blissful. He probably
couldnt have called it anything at present, actually; he was too busy
trying to stay alive.
It had become more and more apparent to him
over the past few minutes had it really been but
minutes? It felt like it had
been hours that the mace was hardly a weapon suited to turning aside
the pointed edge of a foil.
Hed managed, somehow, to bash Sien Taggarts weapon aside
every time it threatened to pierce something vital, but it was a much more
tiring movement for him to swing his mace than it was for Sien to thrust
with his foil. And as far as
spellcasting went, Matt could forget about
it. He simply wasnt being
given enough time between enemy attacks to concentrate enough to cast a spell,
and hed never managed to master the art of the Fast Draw well enough
to actually use it in a combat situation.
went. Thrust, parry, lunge,
disengage, thrust, counter, repost, etc.
A dance of death; truly, this Sien moved with a certain grace, dark
though it was. He was a true
fighter, Matt could tell. The
only emotion that this realization brought him, though, was some sort of
mixed awe/disgust. On the one
hand, it was incredible that a man could be so dedicated and skillful at
his craft. On the other, it was the fact that his craft
was the ability to kill people, and to basically be a sociopath about
it. It was almost like the man
wasnt even human.
The only sound either man could hear, other
than their own increasingly labored breathing and the clash of metal on metal,
was the quiet screeching of the Terisian power generators as they slowly
burned to nothing.
After an indeterminate amount of time had
passed in this manner, something
happened. Sien momentarily lost
concentration, as though he were hearing
something. It was barely noticeable;
in fact, the only way Matt could tell something was different was in the
fact that he was granted enough time between thrusts of the rapier to actually
think about what was going
The break was punctuated with a redoubled
pace on Siens part; for a moment, the narrow foil struck at Matts
mace with enough force to shatter bone.
The old Hunter cursed several times as his attacks failed to put a
dent in Matts defense, then backed up a few
steps. Mathiu moved to continue
the attack, but a quick thrust of Siens blade convinced him to keep
Consider yourself lucky,
Racnarth. The master has other
plans for me
for now. But
I will be back for you before you even consider leaving Terisiare, and you
will die. His angry features twisted into a mockery of a grin, one
made almost spectral in the flickering
firelight. Enjoy your
last minutes of life.
And he was
gone. There was no flash of
light customarily associated with a teleportation spell, and neither did
he burst into motion. It was
one moment he stood, that smirk on his face, before Matt, the
all Matt stood before was thin air.
Several long moments passed as the young
Hunter caught his breath. He
rubbed his eyes with his free hand and sighed deeply as he finally became
convinced that Taggart was truly gone.
Hes right. The young man muttered to
himself. What is the point
of even going on? Im
dead where I stand. He started to sink to the ground, letting the hand
that held his mace go slack.
A single thought ran through his mind as
it clattered to the ground.
What about Kayla?
A single tear ran down Matts sweat-drenched
face, lit by the dying fires of the generators like a single shard of
crystal. If he gave up now,
dead-man-walking or no, Kayla had no chance of making it
out. She was counting on him,
like those other two Seekers were counting on him.
And even if there was no chance of
Ill protect her to my dying
breath. He thought grimly, retrieving
his mace from the cold metal ground where it
lay. He spun it around once
in his hand, letting its magic flow slowly through
And if Taggart, or anyone else, lays one hand
on her, they die
even if I have to die to make it
A moment later, Matt had vanished from the
room as well, although it was with a less arcane method than whatever Sien
Taggart had practiced. His sprint
proved no less quick, though.
War has been called hell it is worse than that. It is Chaos. Sheena Vontex, Eternal.
Authors Note: Good lord I do believe that this is the 25th chapter. I've written... 25 chapters! Oh my God! *ahem* Excuse me. While I originally intended to move this one farther along, I realized Id never get it done if I did that and I didnt want to subject anyone to a 20-page chapter. Hows everyone been enjoying the story thus far? Your comments are always appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org, whether they be good or bad. Now behold as I move into the last 15-20 chapters of the story. I think youll like where things go.