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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, '10, 2:17 am
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Chapter Three: Dream

With apologies to Tanith for the unintentionally months-long cliffhanger.

-=-=-

Agony.

Thea quivered in it as she remained curled on the dingy cot, quietly sobbing in spite of the mysterious voice she had just heard. Who was that? she wondered. Can he see me? And why did he call me "my darling?"

Between sobs, she glanced upwards, watching her guards through the cell's force field. They didn't seem too concerned with her, merely standing outside her cell staring down the corridor. If they don't seem to be paying attention to me, she thought, slowly rising from the cot, then I should be able to get past the force field. But first...

She opened her hands, touching them to her blackened eye and bruised cheeks. Her eyes closed as she began concentrating, tuning out the dull hum of the force field generators. Once Thea's Technical Energy was gathered to her satisfaction, she whispered, "Res!"

The four Droidmen heard a brief electrical zap, followed by the sound of a woman yelping, half in surprise, half in pain, as she fell to the floor. One of the Droidmen leaned over, examining the princess, then said, "IN CASE YOU WEREN'T PAYING ATTENTION, PLASMA INDUCTION DISRUPTS ANY ATTEMPTS AT MANIPULATING TECHNICAL ENERGY. THAT INCLUDES FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES."

"But..." Thea groaned as she sat up, stars dancing in her head. "What if you need to heal a prisoner?"

"IN THE EXTREMELY UNLIKELY EVENT THAT'LL EVER COME UP, THAT'S WHY WE HAVE THIS WONDERFUL LITTLE STIMPACK WE CONFISCATED FROM YOU CALLED MONOMATE. HOPE YOU'RE NOT ALLERGIC."

"JUST IN THE EXTREMELY UNLIKELY CASE YOU ACTUALLY ARE, WE HAVE ANTITOXINS PACKED AWAY, TOO," another Droidman added. "I DON'T WANT THE COMMANDER TO SHOOT ME JUST BECAUSE SOME LAYAN PRINCESS WE HAVE TO GUARD HAD A FATAL HEART ATTACK THANKS TO RANDOM MONOMATE ALLERGY."

"I'm not just some Layan princess," Thea replied, hands on her hips in an attempt to look dignified and intimidating. "I'm Thea Shusoran, Crown Princess of the United Kingdoms of Cille and Shusoran! And as acting ruler of that union, I demand parlay and to speak with your commander!"

The two Droidmen turned towards each other, then to Thea, their protocol circuits calculating a proper response. Finally, after a few seconds, the first Droidman sighed mechanically, adding, "OH, * IT."

"WHY DOES ROYALTY ALWAYS THINK THEY CAN PARLAY THEIR WAY OUT OF TROUBLE?" the other one replied. "REMEMBER WHEN THE LAYANS USED TO JUST BRIBE US AWAY?"

"HOW COULD I FORGET? THE PHASERBOTS KEPT TELLING THAT SAME STUPID STORY, OVER AND OVER AGAIN, UNTIL I THREATENED TO TURN MY FOI CANNON UPON MYSELF."

"AND IF COMMANDER SIREN AND TWO OF THOSE FLOPPERS HADN'T TALKED YOU OUT OF IT, YOU *WOULD* HAVE," called the third Droidman.

Robots can commit suicide? Thea wondered, surprised.

"These machines are as capable of such dreaded thoughts as you and I are," the familiar man's voice said. "But in the end, they are only machines, fit only to serve the Orakians."

You again. Who are you?

"I am merely your faithful Samaritan, here to save you from this prison the Orakians have dumped you in," was the voice's reply.

Did my father send you?

"No. I heard your cry for help as you were taken from Shusoran Castle- such a lovely voice shouldn't be heard experiencing such pain."

Thea walked back to her cot, sitting down on it as she continued, Why do you want to rescue me?

There was only a chuckle, then a second's pause before the man's voice said, "I have heard tales of a Layan princess, hair green as the spring grass, eyes blue as the summer sky, lips as red as an autumn sunset, and skin as soft and pale as winter's first snow. A princess whose movements are of divine grace, whose voice is like a city made of song, and whose figure is as voluptuous as Laya's Herself. A princess, virginal in her innocence, cast amongst the wolves that are the Orakians. How could I refuse?"

Thea blushed, not expecting that kind of an answer. You, sir, are a flatterer, she thought.

"Truth is an absolute defense against flattery," the voice replied. "I aim to rescue you, not only to save such a precious jewel, but to strike a blow against the Orakians."

...You're not doing it for the money?

"Should your grateful father offer me even a single Meseta, I'll gladly refuse it. Valor is its own reward, beautiful Thea."

Just one second, Thea thought, then glanced back at the Droidmen. "Excuse me," she said. "Can you hear anything in here?"

"THE ONLY THING WE CAN HEAR BESIDES THE FORCE FIELD GENERATORS IS-" The Droidman squacked and warbled for a second, then continued speaking, his voice now an exact imitation of Thea's- "'Boo hoo, woe is me, I am a prisoner, and I think I'm hearing voices, and my blasphemous 'magic' is worthless in the face of Orakian technology. Daddy, help me. Waaaaah.'" There was another series of noisy squelches before the machine finished, "ONE OF YOU THREE, PLEASE SHOOT ME THROUGH MY PROCESS CORE THE NEXT TIME I DECIDE TO SPEAK LIKE A HUMAN."

"....."

They can't hear us at all, Thea thought. Sir, how do you intend to save me?

"I have my ways," the voice said. "Just know I shall be there promptly."

Wait! Before you leave, sir... who are you?

"My name is not important, but, if my rose wishes a face so that she may match my voice to it..."

An image filled Thea's mind- a tall, handsome man who carried twin slicers at his waist. His lime-green hair danced around his shoulders, and he seemed to look into Thea's eyes with piercing dark green eyes. As the image faded, Thea smiled, the blush creeping across her face in spite of her injuries.

-=-=-

Ryan and Lyle were both surprised to see Lensol Castle was completely unguarded. The two men passed through the raised gates of the castle, pausing long enough for Ryan to nod at the black banner hanging upon the castle's wall. "The Orakian sigil," he explained. "Not sure what to think of them."

"They're all right. I know two good ones myself," Lyle replied. At least, I thought Rhys was a good one... no. He's not responsible for Siren.

"Same here," Ryan added. He adjusted his mirrored sunglasses, then tensed as he cracked his knuckles. "From what I heard, we slip past the throne room and the barracks, then we head into the dungeon."

"Sounds pretty straightforward," Lyle said, readying his twin staves. "Then we just find Thea's cell, and-"

"Knowing Orakian prison design, nothing's ever straightforward. Someone in town said we'd have to cut through the queen's bower to get to an annex. It would make sense- important prisoner in the hardest part of the dungeon to get to."

"...Right," Lyle said. Without another word, Ryan dashed into the castle's main corridor, motioning for the Layan king to follow him. Lyle flattened against a wall, taking sure to keep his remaining eye facing down the corridor.

"Just a second," Ryan said, kneeling down. He took a quick glance around the corner he and Lyle had approached, then disappeared down it. "This way," he urged. "Bear left after the barracks, and we'll be in the dungeon."

Nodding, Lyle followed his ally, stealing a quick look around for good measure. He seems to know what he's doing, he decided as they ran down the corridor Ryan had mentioned. Lyle had only made it ten steps before nearly running into Ryan's back.

"Wait up a minute, Lyle," Ryan said. "...Damn. My intel was wrong."

"What? Thea's here, right?" Lyle asked, his voice filling with dread and concern.

"Yes- unfortunately, so are a few other uninvited guests."

Ryan nodded over his shoulder, and Lyle saw what had concerned the dark-haired man: Two very strange Orakian war machines floated near the steps leading into the dungeon, their very design and motion reminding Lyle of a stage magician scattering packs of playing cards.

"What are those?" he asked.

"New type of robot. I think it's called a Flopper," Ryan replied. "The way the Orakians designed them, they're believed to be resistant to Techniques. Plasma generator's holding those things together."

"Oh. Well, I... I suppose I can still use my staves," Lyle told him, after a second of consideration. "But you... you're not going to-"

"No, I'm not going to use Techniques on them," Ryan continued. "Lyle, relax. See the generator in the middle of them, right there?"

"Yes. On the topmost one of those... card... things, right?"

"Yeah." Ryan grinned as he looked at the two machines. "Watch this."

Calmly, he marched towards the steps, deliberately gaining the attention of the two Floppers. One of them called out, "Stop! State yer busy-ness or we get bruutal!"

"Yees! Whoo are youu?" the other Flopper added, twirling closer to Ryan.

"My name's Ryan, and I'm here to kick the living ^%&$ out of every stinking Orakian machine in this dungeon and save your Layan captive."

The two Floppers hesitated before the first one continued, "Youu are a LAYAAN! LAYAAN!"

"Blood traaitor!"

"Raise youur haands over youur heaad, Layaan SPYY!"

With a sigh, Ryan hung his head as he raised his hands. Before the Floppers could react, he reached behind his back, grabbing a pair of objects concealed beneath his green jacket.

Each Flopper was suddenly staring down the barrel of a needle gun, fresh clips of ceramic needles readied for battle. Ryan spun on his heel, swinging left as he brought both needle guns in line with one of the Floppers, opening fire on its generator.

"Ryan!" Lyle shouted, running into the open room. "I've got the other one!"

Ryan had fired four deafening-loud reports with the needle guns, the slim ceramic of the needles penetrating the Flopper's armored generator. Its power source disrupted, the Flopper managed a pathetic "WhyyyyyyYy mee?!" before it crashed to the ground.

The other Flopper moved towards Lyle, and he regarded it with some amusement. "You look like a bunch of cards to me," he said, raising his staves. "What the hell are you gonna do? Fall over and flatten us against the walls?"

Three of the Flopper's cards started rotating end-over-end, and as they began picking up speed, an increasingly high-pitched droning filled the room. Lyle glanced down, noticing that the edges of the rapidly-spinning cards were starting to chip the floor apart, sending stone and metal flying in jagged shards. He winced at the thought of what the Flopper's attack would do to him, his armored cape suddenly feeling very inadequate against his tunic and skin.

Luckily for him, he hadn't had the need to further ponder the bizarre machine's attack- Ryan had fired at the Flopper, his shots tearing through the generator and disabling the machine. As Lyle dodged a scattering piece of the Flopper, he said, "Thanks for the save."

"Don't mention it. We'd better get moving- no doubt more of the machines heard us," Ryan told the green-haired man.

As they descended into the dungeon, Lyle remarked, "Back in Hazatak for dinner tonight, huh?"

"We'll see."

-=-=-

Asking around the twin ports of Yaata and Ilan had only resulted in one thing- "Go towards Satera, and the western kingdoms." Naturally, Ayn thought it was a reasonable lead, and he led his companions towards the stone bridge that connected his kingdom to Sari's. "You gonna be all right, Sari?" he asked.

"I... yeah, I'll be fine," Sari replied, adjusting the knives strapped to her hip. "Just not too long, okay? I don't want to see-"

"Gotcha."

Immediately as they set foot upon the bridge, Wren froze in place. Bumping into him from behind, Mieu grumbled, "Hey! Wren! You didn't bluescreen on us again, did you? We gotta get moving!"

"I have not terminally crashed, Mieu. Not yet. I'm receiving an unusual signal," Wren explained, and he pivoted at the waist. "And I'm trying to triangulate its exact source."

"Signal?" Ayn asked. "What kind of signal?"

"A repeating message from a mechanoid commander named Siren. Should I play it out loud?"

"I don't see why not," Sari said. "I mean, what's the harm it could do?"

"Of course. Broadcasting it now, Princess Sari. Please stand back."

Before Wren, a small blue disk blinked to life. A column of blue light flared up from the disk, and the form of an android similar to Wren formed from within the light.

"Huh! He looks just like you!" Mieu said. "I guess this makes him your brother? Bro-Wren?"

"Sssh."

From Wren's hologram emitter, the sound of a brass band playing a stirring military march was heard. When it died down, the android in the hologram began speaking. "This is a recorded message, originally encoded on the eighth of March, After War 1291. I, Commander Siren of the Orakian Automated Militia, am now repeating this message every five minutes in an attempt to rally our LORD Orakio sa Riik's forces. Today's date is the sixteenth of June, After War 2313... Orakians of the Realm, lend your arms to our cause! The beastlord Lune la Dahlia has comprised an army of fell creatures to wage war upon our way of life! But fear not- as we speak, our production facilities across Landen are churning out war machines by the hour to fight for us! But we can't do it alone- we need your help! If you suspect Layan witchcraft or trickery, inform your nearest droid commander! Your loyalty and assistance will not go unrewarded!"

With disgust, Ayn said, "Enough. Turn that off, Wren. Have you ever heard of a droid commander named Siren, Wren? He mentioned Orakio."

"I have, Prince Ayn. Before she and Orakio met at their last battle, Laya imprisoned Siren upon the moon of Azura for war crimes- specifically, incinerating prisoners of war. Orakio, in turn, imprisoned Lune on the other of this world's moons, Dahlia."

"I've heard my mom tell me a story like that," Mieu added. "Something about how his sister chose to go with him because she didn't want to leave him alone... oh, what was her name? Allaire? Alisa? I'll think of it..."

"Wait. Imprisoned, Wren?" Sari asked. "How did they get out?"

"I would extrapolate that the movement of the moons nineteen years ago caused them to emerge from what I would assume would be cryogenic suspension. I must apologize to both yourself as well as Princess Sari, Prince Ayn. I had advised your father to adjust the moons' orbital pathing in order to save the country of Aquatica."

"It's not your fault, Wren," Sari said after a long, uncomfortable pause. "And before you start, Ayn, it's not Rhys's fault, either. He didn't know."

"Sari," Ayn started to say, turning at the other end of the bridge. "My father-"

"Ayn." Sari pointed directly at the blue-haired prince, the tip of her finger gently touching the tip of his nose. "There's only one person here who should have survivor's guilt- me. Your father wasn't the one who murdered my mother and father. This Lune character was. And if we ever see him, I'm... I'm..." Her free hand closed around the handle of one of her knives.

"No, Sari. Killing Lune's not going to bring Lena and Odin Satera back."

"But it'll make me feel a hell of a lot better."

Ayn watched, uncomfortably, as Sari glanced down at her still-sheathed knives, then sighed with relief as Sari hung her head. "My God, what was I saying, Ayn? You're right..." Her hand relaxed, falling to her side as she continued, "What's it gonna do, killing Lune? Make me feel better for a while, and then what? He needs to be brought to justice, but..." She sighed again, then began to sob. "I don't know how. I don't know if we can do it, Ayn."

"We can, Sari. And we will. I swear it."

For a second, Sari stopped crying as she looked at Ayn. She took a breath to compose herself, then gently embraced Ayn, who seemed surprised. "Thanks," she whispered. "I'm glad you're here for me."

"Of course I'm here, Sari," Ayn replied, returning her embrace. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"You said your mother's a Layan- what would have happened if your father went with her to rule her kingdom? We might never have met."

Ayn couldn't help but laugh at Sari's comment- to him, the idea of being the prince of a Layan kingdom was unheard of. "I dunno," he replied. "I'd probably meet you with some Layan princess at my side, and you'd probably be really mad at me."

"Why would I be?" Sari pulled away from Ayn, just slightly, so she could look at him. "Well, besides the Layan princess, of course..." She chuckled slightly, then removed herself from Ayn. "We should get going. If we keep sticking around here, another city might get attacked by the monsters."

"Right. If they were coming from the west, then they'd definitely have to get through the mountains," Ayn realized. "Mieu, you still have that Monitor?"

"Sure do, My Prince! Let's see..." Mieu tapped the screen on the small datapad, then smiled as it displayed an image of Landen's surroundings. "Okay, we're here, and that blob right there's Satera. Now, if we go all the way around Lake Eireica..." She touched the screen again, zooming the view of Landen closer towards the massive lake that dominated the kingdom. Once the image finished zooming, Mieu slid her finger across the screen, bringing a mountain cavern into view.

"Huh. A tunnel," Ayn realized. "That'd be how Lune got his army through."

"It would indeed seem so, Prince Ayn," Wren said. "It is a day and a half's journey southwest from Satera at our present traveling speed. Shall we head there?"

"Wait a minute, Wren. What's southwest of here?"

"I've got this!" Mieu exclaimed. "Zooming out... zooming out some more... oh, wow. I can see Aquatica, and there's Aridia... maybe I can find the factory that built Wren-"

"Um, Mieu?" Sari urged. "Save it for later. What's southwest of Landen? Mother never said anything about it."

"Y'know, I really don't know myself, Princess Sari. Even back in the day, I kinda stuck to taking the ferry to Yaata and Lonely Island, and maybe a few hikes to Satera or Lake Palma. So this is kinda terra incognita for all of us, huh?!"

"I have very vague knowledge of the lands outside of Landen, Aquatica, and Aridia, Mieu," Wren replied. "Anything on the Monitor would be secondhand, and possibly decades or centuries older."

"Still worth a shot, though," Ayn said. "Check it out."

"Righty-o! Tap tap tap, and... aww. 'Compressing and storing files. LANDEN.GEO, LANDEN.TAG, CAPITAL.GEO, CLANDEN.GEO, YAATA.GEO...'"

"Mieu, you don't have to call out every geohash it's saving," Ayn told the redhead.

"I know, but I thought it would make it save faster... Here we go! 'Checking for updates.' Progress! ^_^"

There was a second before the Monitor emitted a dull beep. Inspecting it, Wren looked at the screen and said, "Prince Ayn, the stored map of the Plains of Elysium is six hundred years out of date, according to the Monitor's server records. An update is available. Shall I download it?"

Wren was unprepared for the chorus of "Yes!"es that Ayn, Sari, and Mieu had shouted at him. After a period of silence, he stated, "Our map is updated. There is a city southwest of the Elysian end of the tunnel."

"Really? Then we should check it out," Ayn said. "Maybe they would know about this army of monsters."

"Who'd have thought there'd be more Layan cities than Cille and Shusoran, huh, Ayn?" Sari asked.

"Actually, Princess Sari, the city of Divisia is Orakian, not Layan."

"Orakian?"

"Yes, Prince Ayn. It seems unlikely that the Divisian citizenry would harbor Lune la Dahlia's army, but it is a lead worth investigating all the same."

Ayn took a deep breath, considering Wren's words. "Mieu, what do you think?" he asked her.

"Well, there's always a chance someone in Divisia would know something," she replied. "And that's the next town west of us! So let's get going!"

Sari nodded. "Well, Ayn, looks like we've got a destination. Lead on, noble leader!"

With a nod, Ayn took the lead, and the four traveled west, the burned-out fields and gutted castle of Satera visible on the northern horizon.

-=-=-

"HALT. UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS IS FORBIDDEN BEYOND THIS POINT. ALL HUMANS MUST HAVE PROPER IDENTIFICATION."

The green-haired man regarded the two Droidmen standing guard before him, preventing his access into the deeper areas of Lensol's dungeon. Finally, he reached into the folds of his dark gray robe. "I see," he responded. "Allow me to properly identify myself, then."

He returned his hand to view; this time holding a large blue-green boomerang, its cutting edge honed to a single molecule's thickness. The man brought his arm across his chest, then spoke to the two machines, "I am Lune la Dahlia, second in command of the Layan League, and this is a demand that you release your prisoner, Crown Princess Thea Shusoran."

"HOW DID YOU KNOW WE HAVE HER AS OUR PRISONER?" the Droidman on Lyle's left demanded. "SUCH INFORMATION IS CLASSIFIED."

Without a word, Lune threw his boomerang at the two Droidmen. The one on his left was sliced in half by the throw, while the other had its arms severed at what passed for its elbows. As the boomerang returned to Lune's hand, he finished, "Release her or be destroyed."

"THOSE ARMS WERE ORIGINAL PARTS, LUNE LA DAHLIA!"

"And if you don't wish to be reduced to third-rate paper clips, you'll kindly get out of my way. Now then- have I made myself perfectly clear?"

"I CAN STILL KICK YOU, YOU KNOW," the Droidman grumbled as it stepped aside, allowing Lune passage. He strode through the door with confidence, entering the cell block area the machines had set aside at Siren's request. The two Droidmen guarding one of the cells raised their rifles at Lune. He brought his throwing arm behind his back, ready to throw the boomerang at them.

"Wh- who's there?" a voice asked from within the cell. "Is it... is it my savior?"

"It is I, Thea," Lune called to her. "Allow me to deal with these two ruffians first."

"BOLTAC, HUNDRED MESETA SAYS I CAN BURN A HOLE THROUGH HIS NECK," one of the Droidmen said to the other, adjusting his aim.

"YOU'RE ON. I CAN KILL HIM BEFORE YOU CAN, STEELY DAN."

"This is pathetic," Lune said. "You two think you can destroy me, Lune la Dahlia, so easily? I thinketh not."

"LUNE LA DAHLIA? UMM..." Steely Dan looked to Boltac, then back to Lune. "I, ERR, I'M RENEGING ON THAT BET. HAVE FUN WITH THAT."

Boltac said nothing, only squeezing off two shots at Lune with his rifle. Lune held his boomerang wide to deflect the shots, then threw it at the Droidman. The razor-sharp boomerang beheaded Boltac effortlessly, then came back around to Lune, cutting off Steely Dan's left arm. The Droidman's rifle hung uselessly in its right hand as Lune smirked at the Droidman. "It is a good thing you did not take your friend's wager," he told him.

"BAH, HE WAS AN IDIOT ANYWAY. DO NOT EXPECT ANY SURRENDER FROM ME, LA DAHLIA. COMMANDER SIREN DOESN'T WANT QUITTERS."

"Siren?! That old bucket of bolts is still living?!" Lune demanded.

"HE IS. IF I GET YOU KILLED, I GET AN UPGRADE. A NEW FOI CANNON WOULD BE WONDERFUL," Steely Dan replied. A panel in his chest unfolded, revealing a rusted cannon. "I STILL HAVE THIS TO FIGHT YOU WITH."

"Lune, watch out!" Thea cried, watching as Steely Dan fired a Foi blast as big as Lune's head. Lune watched the fireball with no concern, then raised his hand.

"Tsu."

A column of water erupted from the floor, washing the fireball into nothingness. Lune pointed at Steely Dan, and the water flowed over the Droidman, overloading his circuits in seconds. Once he was sure both Droidmen were taken care of, he approached the cell. Thea blushed as she caught sight of Lune.

"You're Lune," she realized. "The man who spoke to me in my mind."

"I am, my dear Thea," Lune told her. As he unbolted the cell's door, he looked at her, then winced as he saw the bruises on her face. "You've been injured," he continued.

"Yes. By Siren. I'd have healed myself, but-"

"There is a plasma generator nearby. I can see it. It will be no problem for me, my flower. Come closer to the door."

Curious, Thea approached the cell's door. Lune casually reached through and touched the princess's cheek, saying, "Res."

A surge of Technical Energy flowed through his arm- some of it passed through into Thea, healing her wounds, while most of it arced towards the plasma field generator, shorting it out. As the generator sputtered to a halt, Thea said, amazed, "You can use Techniques, even with a plasma field in place? You are powerful, Lune..."

"Indeed. Come, Thea..." He opened the cell, then gently took Thea's hand into his. "Let me escort you out of here-"

"Whoa! Ryan, what the hell happened to these Droidmen!?"

Lune instinctively guided Thea behind him, then turned towards the block's door, watching as two men entered- one with black hair, one with green. "I happened to these Droidmen, that's what. Now, who the devil are... wait. I know who YOU are."

"Yeah. That's right, Lune. It's me." Ryan rested his hands on the grips of his needle guns. "Never thought you'd meet the leader of the unification effort here, huh?"

"You know him?" Lyle asked.

"Yeah. That's Lune la Dahlia, and that son of a &()^@ is the leader of the monster army destroying the Orakian kingdoms," Ryan explained.

"Correct, but for one detail, friend Ryan: That's EMPEROR Son of a &()^@ to you. I assume you have come for the princess?"

"Princess!?" Lyle demanded. "Thea's here?!"

"Daddy?" Thea peeked out from behind Lune. "Daddy, you're here to save me, too?"

"This guy's with you, Ryan?"

"Hell no. Lune killed my brother because we wanted the Orakians and the Layans to reunite."

"Lune, is this... is this true?" Thea asked.

"It is, my dear Thea, but simply because the Orakians greatly outnumber us and have the strength of technology on their side," Lune told her. "That is why we have an army of engineered monsters."

Ryan mockingly gave Lune a slow clap, knocking his guns together as he said, "Wow, Lune. How many more lies have you fed her?"

"I speak the truth, Ryan. I would not put it past you to have my sister kidnapped and sold into Orakian slavery."

"You know I'd never do that to Alair," Ryan replied. "I can't believe a genocidal lunatic like you was about to be my brother-in-law."

"Hey, Ryan? Lune? What the hell's going on between you two, anyway?" Lyle asked. "If this is the Lune, then he'd be over a thousand years old. How old are you?"

"Old enough," Ryan replied. "He had the mercy of cryogenics to keep him alive."

"Yes. I must thank you, King Lyle, for helping Landen's King Rhys revive me." Seeing the surprised look on Lyle's face, he said, "Yes, I know who you are. My patron has told me everything you did nineteen years ago."

"Well, then, I guess you know I'm here to pick up my daughter," Lyle said. "Thea, come along."

"Why order her around, Lyle? Let Thea make her own decision." Lune then turned to Thea. "Thea, my sweet, would you like to return to Shusoran and Cille with your father, or would you like to see Dahlia, where I am king and emperor?"

"Dahlia?" Thea asked. "The moon?"

"Yes. Paradise beneath the stars, my Thea."

"Stop influencing her, damn you!" Lyle shouted. "Thea, don't listen to him."

"But, Daddy, I saw it as the Droidmen took me away. Shusoran was burning... is there anything left?" Thea wondered. "Are our people safe? I trust Lune... and I'd really love to see Dahlia up-close..."

"See? Thea has made up her mind," Lune said, again taking Thea's hand. "Now, if you'll excuse us-"

"You're leaving with her over MY dead body!" Lyle shouted. "ZAN!!"

A gust of wind twirled around Lyle's staff, and rushed towards Lune. Picking Thea up, he leapt out of the way, then threw his boomerang, severing Lyle's staff. Ryan replied by firing staccato bursts of needles at Lune, watching in surprise as he effortlessly dove underneath them.

"Observe my might, foolish man! Shu!"

As a wall of energy appeared around Lune and Thea, he continued chanting, "Fanbi!" He then winced as he felt his muscles tightening. Perched on his back, hanging on for her life, Thea asked, "Order Techniques?"

"Indeed. Terribly useful, despite what some would say."

"So are Temporal Techniques," Ryan said. "Let's see how well you do without that damn boomerang and Techs. Shiza!"

An image of stars circled around Lune, then faded away uselessly. Gritting his teeth, Ryan continued, "Well, the boomerang, then... Deban!" He then watched as an image of a sword breaking fluttered around Lune, who was unaffected by the Technique.

"Well, that worked," Lyle said.

"Hey, it's not my fault he's powerful," Ryan replied, firing his needle guns at Lune.

The wall of Technical Energy easily absorbed the needles, and Lune replied with a throw of his boomerang, cutting one of Ryan's guns in half. He dropped it just in time to avoid a massive hand injury, but Lyle was not so lucky. The boomerang cut into his arm just as he was finishing a Technique.

"Unghh! Gra- oh, no!"

The concentrated energy missed Lune, but struck Thea in the head, and she screamed in agony as she was torn from Lyle's back, crushed beneath the localized gravity. Lune knelt beside her, watching helplessly as bruises formed all over her body. Her breathing became weak within seconds.

"YOU! You did this to her!" Lune screamed as he caught his boomerang. "FORSA!"

He pointed at Ryan, smirking with satisfaction as he watched the black-haired man collapse, pain wracking his entire body. Lyle screamed in anger as he saw Thea, then rushed towards Lune, swinging his remaining staff blindly.

Lune replied with a block from his boomerang, then headbutted Lyle, knocking him down next to Ryan. It was obvious that Lyle, while disoriented, had stopped Lune's Forsa Technique from killing Ryan outright, but the dark-haired man was in no condition to do anything.

Lune raised his hand before Lyle could do anything. "Gra! Foi! Wat! Zan!" he shouted, sending bursts of concentrated gravity, fire, water, and wind on top of Lyle. With grim satisfaction, he folded his boomerang, placing it within his robe, then scooped the injured Thea into his arms.

"You... The...a..." Lyle groaned, reaching for his daughter.

"You nearly killed your own daughter," Lune said. "Why should you ever see her again?"

"Damn... you..."

Lune pulled a small ocarina from within his robe. "Damn you, for your near filicide. It is time someone qualified took care of Thea, Lyle Shusoran, and that would be... me." He blew a small tune into the ocarina, then vanished, bringing Thea with him.

Lyle groaned, spending the last of his stamina on pulling a syringe loaded with Trimate from his pocket. He held it point up, then sighed in complete defeat and exhaustion as he fell on it, hoping the Trimate would kick in and save his life.

-=-=-

He had no time to spare. As soon as he reappeared with Thea within his palace on Dahlia, Lune rushed towards his throne room. "Forget the salute!" he shouted. "Let us through!"

"Quam priamquam, Emperor Lune!" one of the soldiers called back as they quickly cleared a path. Within a minute, Lune was back in his throne room. Adjusting Thea's weight in his arms, he stepped to the side of the throne, pushing it aside. Thank you, Laya, for teaching me Fanbi, he thought as the throne finished sliding, revealing a secret passage behind it. Lune ducked into it, making sure Thea wouldn't be bumped around, then he hastily marched down a long corridor.

The entire length of the corridor was lined with candles that burned with purple flames, culminating in a large dais flanked with two candelabra, each one filled with candles that burned with the same purple flame. The sickly light highlighted Thea's injuries, and silently urged Lune to hurry on his way. He stepped forward, reaching the dais.

Upon the dais was what he needed- a jet-black crystal, carved to resemble a casket. It had appeared to Lune years before, back when he started his worship of his patron, but he never had any need for it until now. Gently, he placed Thea within the silk-lined depths of the crystal, then took a deep breath. Thea barely stirred, and her only response was to groan weakly.

Lune closed the crystal, then stepped back. He watched as arcs of purple lightning shot towards the crystal, flowing through it.

Yes, he thought. She is worthy- she will be the key to finally destroying the Orakians. Just as you had planned, Master.

(With Lyle and Ryan on the brink of death, what will their next move be? What will Ayn and his companions find in the Plains of Elysium? And what does Lune have planned for Thea?)

Last edited by Snorb on Mon Sep 13, '10, 2:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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