Dark Angel Chapter 29
The Black Tower, Riven.
Despair. Fear. We are more than this we will not be this we are we are we are.
We Are Shi Kari.
And I am the Angel of Death. Your words do not impress me your thoughts speak fear.
The chamber would have been black as pitch, if not for the myriad crimson and jade glows pouring forth from the many glass pillars in the room. The essences of the Hive Mind. The essences of Shi Kari.
The beings of Chaos had their attention focused solely on one being. One being who had breached their inner sanctum. One being who had killed so many of their number.
Id stood at the doors of the chamber, wicked daggers almost seeming to glow under the glistening shimmer of the Shi Kari. His eyes were fiery, and a twisted smile marked his face. In one hand, he held the charred corpse of a farilii, one of the many victims of his wrath.
Your thoughts speak fear. The dark humans words were true . The Shi Kari were threatened now as they had never been threatened. The power before them was immense. Despair threatened to take over their collective consciousness.
But they were Shi Kari. They were willpower manifest.
Fear is a meaningless emotion, tempered by desire, resolve, power. The words were not spoken, but felt. In some ways, it seemed as though the entire planet rumbled with them. The Shi Kari spoke, and planets trembled. They Were. They WERE.
We are ancient, little human. Our power came from intelligence, perseverance, ability. We remember the days when the Earth was still the jewel of the Human empire, when the Lost Jerusalem was the homeland of billions.
And what are you? You are nothing more than a psychotic human. You attack in rage; this blinds you. You attack in arrogance; this damns you. You attack the lavoids; this destroys you.
Id laughed, his darkly sonorous voice echoing between the eldritch pillars in a dissonant harmony. Though he truly spoke the words that came next, they were in some ways louder than the piercing thoughts of the Shi Kari.
They were power.
Your power? he hissed, his silvery eyes narrowing. Your power came not from your own worth. It came from blatant submission. From bowing to your own hellspawned CREATIONS! Rage bubbled up within the being with an intensity that the Hive Mind could feel. Your power came not from intelligence, but from the blatant betrayal of your own race!
He shook his head violently, gritting his teeth, and cast the broken corpse of the farilii at the base of one of the tubes. Behold where it brings you.
The red-haired man closed his eyes for a moment, composing himself, concentrating. For a moment, the Hive Mind considered striking him down, frightened, so frightened, of what was to come. But before they could, those silvery orbs were on them again.
I judge you all guilty of treason in every sense of the word. Not treason to a nation, nor to an ideal, but to existence itself. And I shall be your executioner.
And then the seething rage exploded into action.
Cynewulf jiggled with a bit of circuitry in his still-malfunctioning robotic arm, trying to retune the sensitivity in the fingers to align with the new wiring to his central cortex.
Gods be damned, Im never going to get this thing set up correctly again. He grumbled, glancing up nonchalantly from his work and sighing.
He and his friends were holed up in what had been a Hunter medical lab, down in the lower levels where most of the fighting had already degenerated into little more than disorganized looting. In one corner near the barricaded door, the Hunters Slynt and Long whispered to each other over nothing in particular. Cyne wasnt quite sure what to make of the pair; they had been remarkably helpful, and their quick intervention had probably saved at least Meryls life, but there was something odd about them. But the cyborg couldnt put his finger on it, or name any real reason beyond blind intuition, and his logical side refused to let his suspicions gain much sway.
Meanwhile Mathiu Racnarth, planner of their rather disastrous escape attempt, stood an arms length away from Kayla Narube. The womans eyes, which the burly Seeker had remembered as being bright and somehow hopeful, were now darkened with shame and a terrible, mournful anger. Mathiu was trying to talk to her, to comfort her, to do something, but she would have none of it. All of his words were coldly rebuffed, and any attempts he made to get closer to her were met with a harsh blaring of psionic energy.
Meryl sat off by herself behind the physicians desk, nibbling quietly at a protein bar as she tried to force the lingering headache that had lingered past her concussion from her body. One hand was rested on the Railgun the Mediator had left behind; apparently she meant to keep it, Cynewulf saw.
What in the hell are we doing? he thought to himself, regarding them all. Were supposed to be after a lavoid... instead, we come to some backwater planet thats not even IN the boundaries of the Galactic Powers, lose two good friends, and hide in a fucking hole in the wall while a war that we should not have stepped into rages just outside. And it gets clearer and clearer that if we dont try something drastic, were going to be stuck here.
Alright, people. We need to have a chat. He said, closing up the exposed areas on his robotic arm and flexing it experimentally. It still wasnt responding just like he wanted it to, but there was no help for it.
Meryl was the first to glance up at him and walk over, leaving her new weapon sitting at the desk. So what now, Cyne? she asked, arms crossed.
We have to continue our plans to get off of this planet, regardless of the complications. Right? Mathius words were as grim as his expression, but there was a determination in them.
If at all possible. came the simple reply.
Back up a step. Slynt said, regarding Cynewulf quizzically. Last time I checked, its not at all possible. How in the world do you plan to get around the Energy Star?
Cynewulf stood up slowly, pushing himself up jerkily with his malfunctioning prosthesis. When we first came to this planet, the Energy Star was fired at us while we were still in orbit. Through no small amount of luck, I managed to maneuver our ship down to the Black Tower itself. Its displacement tech, which youre no doubt already familiar with, teleported us past the tower, but apparently they couldnt affect their weapon with the same displacement. Instead, they forced it to dissipate.
Now, its not the sanest thing in the world to attempt, but with a little maneuvering and a little luck, it would be possible to do the same thing again, except this time take advantage of the situation and get off-planet.
Slynt and Long exchanged a glance, then, after a silent moment, turned back to Cynewulf. Were in. Long said. What will you need to pull this off?
The Mediators old ship Starfire. Mathiu said, frowning as he leaned up against one wall. Its the fastest ship in Terisiare that would still be functioning.
And more importantly, from what I understand its stocked with the tools well need to track a lavoid. Finished Cynewulf. Noting the newcomers slight surprise at this, he chuckled. Something else you should know, before you sign on. Meryl and I, were after a Class B. If youre going to come with us well.
Youre just sweetening the pot, seems to me, Eddard Long said, brushing a strand of wiry hair from his dark face. since killing lavoids is what we do. Were Hunters, after all.
Enough talk, then. Things are only going to get worse here. Kaylas words were quiet, but firm. Her gaze remained on the floor.
True. Cynewulf said, picking up his TAG from the table. Lets go.
Rage consumes the minds of men.
Ids twin daggers again slammed into the unnaturally strong glass tube that held the first of the Shi Kari. They managed to scar its surface, but ultimately made no headway.
Shut up. He growled, flipping back a few steps as a bolt of lavoid energy arced at him.
Rage consumes their hearts.
Id came out of the flip with a catlike grace, and in the same fluid motion he launched his own bolt of energy at the first of the tubes. It crackled around it for several seconds, but ultimately fizzled.
But come into our fires, mortal.
Growling, he tossed one dagger to the ground, and rushed forward with the other held in both hands. Magic coursing through his body, he slammed it into the glass with all his strength, and was rewarded with an ear-piercing crack.
Well show you how hate starts.
As it did, the life energy within the tube almost literally flowed out, and began to disperse. But before it could, the energies in the other tubes rushed outward on their own, as if the glass that held them back were no more material then smoke. They wound around the energy of the damaged tube, and together snaked downward.
Straight into the still-smouldering corpse of the farilii Darrell had cast at them.
A brief moment passed before unnatural light flickered in the dead things eyes. But that small sign of life was rapidly followed by a shockwave of energy, almost blinding in its dark radiance. Id found himself stumbling backwards as quickly as his feet would carrying him, one arm held up to shield his eyes.
When the light had faded, the farilii had risen once more, but it was scarcely the same being. Its charred skin was ripped and torn in places, where tendrils of lavoid corrupted energy had pushed through, and its eyes shone with a bloody light.
I am Shi Kari. Its voice was like lightning, crackling and utterly inhuman. The essence of will. It brought one hand up, and a blade extended outward. Unlike the familiar flame blades of the Farilii, however, this one was constructed entirely of the glowing energy the being exuded. Fight me, human.
The red-haired warriors eyes narrowed, and he brought his dagger up in an offensive stance. More than happy to oblige. With an almost feral growl, Id rushed the being, whirling around at an almost inhuman speed and bringing the Ilinumbar down in a crushing arc. It was met almost effortlessly by the energy blade the Shi Kari wielded, and glanced off harmlessly.
Id took advantage of the momentum provided by the failed attack and fell back on one hand, kicking up with one foot. The Shi Kari leaned back just in time to prevent the blow from connecting with its chin, then stabbed down at Id with its own blade. A laugh escaped the humans lips as he pushed himself up and forward, past the deadly fall of the sword and inside the Shi Karis guard. In the same fluid motion, he punched his dagger into the lavoid creatures chest, the sheer force behind the attack knocking it through the energy barrier and burying it almost all the way to the hilt.
The pillars in the room flickered in shades of red and green, dimming somewhat as energy rushed from the wound. A low growl rumbled like thunder from the thing that was Shi Kari, and it threw Id bodily from itself with a powerful swipe of its hand, dagger and all. The red-haired man struck one of the walls in the room painfully, and hit the ground face-first.
The Shi Kari looked down at its wound as though puzzled for a moment, placing its hand over the rift where glowing light poured out and dissipated in a steady stream. Souls. Our souls, dissolving into the ether. You would take them so? Then you shall feel them.
It pulled its hand away from the breach, which was slowly reknitting itself into singularity. Energy clung to the fist in glowing tendrils as the being held it in front of its face. You shall feel them.
As it spoke the words, the power bound to the Shi Karis fist began to spark and glow brighter. With a fluid motion, it drew the hand back over its head, and spoke one word. Shatter.
The power of the corrupted souls arced forward faster than a lightning bolt, and Id was engulfed.
He collapsed almost instantly under the assault, convulsing in pain as the energy seemed to melt his flesh away. His mind was assaulted by a cacophony of thoughts, all screams of rage, all directed at him. Any semblance of coherent thought left him, lost in the midst of the hatred and the pain.
And it was there, on the edge of that madness, that he heard it.
It was a blinding sound, a sound that evoked every color in the spectrum, and a million that could not exist. It held infinite impossibilities within it, it was power beyond reckoning.
It whispered to him, though not with words. It caressed his mind, making everything beyond it slip away. It told him to reach out, and take it. To use it. To kill with it.
He pulled it into his mind.
Lavoid Energy still glowing fiercely over every inch of his body, Id rose to his feet. The Shi Kari, thinking this fight over, were stunned.
That shock only grew when Id opened his eyes. They glowed with the power of Chaos. Black engulfed his form as he calmly took a step forward, the energy within him corrupting farther the souls that had sought to destroy him, subtly altering their power, making it flow outward instead of in with its burning touch.
Another step, and he was somehow next to them. There could be no reaction but pain as one ebon-charged fist slammed into the being that was the Hive Mind. The light in the farili corpses eyes dimmed a bit; the touch did not batter the corpse, it extinguished the souls animating it.
Panic. The Shi Kari tried to back up, desperately. It tried to retaliate, something, anything, but the words of magic slipped from its minds. It could only stand there in horror as the human-thing took another step, and was with them again.
His hands moved again, this time open-palmed, centering on the Shi Karis chest. And, with a thought, the Chaos began to draw them out, one by one by one. They burned as they touched the Chaos, and fizzled and died.
Minutes passed, with psionic screams echoing out over the planet as the souls died. It was to no avail. Nothing could stop this. They died in their screams, all will gone from them.
And with them died the Shi Kari. Those farilii that remained collapsed under the half-heard screams of their masters, clawing at their skulls until they bled as though hoping that would drive the pain away. The Black Tower itself felt the screams, LE-powered lights and generators exploding as they surged and ebbed.
As minutes passed, they quieted, a black dirge reaching its final chords. The black glow surrounding Id had engulfed much of the chamber at this point, rendering all but himself and the derelict host of the Shi Kari invisible. The lights in its eyes were almost gone, and as the final souls faded the black overran even that.
The corpse that had been Shi Kari slumped to the floor, useless and empty. As it did, the black energy seemed to disconnect itself with Id, surging outward and fading out of the visible spectrum.
Darrell slumped to the floor, unconscious.
is the score upon which reality is written.
Henry Miller (1891-1980)
Authors Note: Yes, I know. I know how long its been since I last updated this. Ive had writers block like you wouldnt BELIEVE. But, this was a big chapter in more ways than one. Sit tight, folks, I hope to have the story finished within the next few months.