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PostPosted: Mon Feb 4, '08, 5:56 am
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Part I: A Prologue

(AW 1287)

Every night, for the past year, Rolf Eushys found his sleep tortured and tormented, swamped in a miasma of hellish nightmares.

He found himself clashing swords with a man in black armor, his face bearing a sadistic grin as he fought. Rolf couldn't discern any particular pattern or style in the man's swordplay- just that he seemed to rely entirely on brute strength to overpower anyone he fought.

Gritting his teeth, Rolf raised his blade, parrying away his opponent's with some effort. Rolf then backed off, raising his hand to manifest a Na Foi blast. The armored man immediately took advantage of the opportunity, interrupting the Technique with a punch to the Agent's face. As Rolf reeled, his opponent knocked Rolf's sword away from him, sending it scattering across the ground to their side, following up with a swift kick to Rolf's stomach, sending him down.

As Rolf tried to manifest another Technique, he found the tip of the man's sword pressed against his neck, and his foot resting on his stomach.

"You are a fool, boy," the man told Rolf, his eyes filled with anger as he raised his sword. All Rolf could see was the black sword's tip bearing down on him, piercing his laconia chestplate and carbonfiber jacket as if they were paper. The sword plunged into Rolf's chest, and for a brief moment, the man's face twisted into a familiar, ghastly form as he taunted Rolf.

"Algo will be mine!"


"Gyaaaaaah!"

And, just like every night, Rolf bolted upright, gasping and panting for breath, trying to make sense of the dream. Sucking in a deep breath, he glanced down at his chest, noticing that, as usual, there was no massive stab wound- only old scars from a triumvirate of battles.

Settling back in his bed, he stared at the ceiling of his bedroom. That's strange... after all we've been through, I'm having nightmares, just like three years ago. But what's causing them? he wondered. Dark Force... Mother Brain... the Earthlings... they're all dead. If there was another threat to Algo, Lutz would have at least told me... unless he went back to sleep... or didn't know about it.

"Hey, Rolf? Are you okay?"

The voice next to him was feminine, warm and full of life, and more than her fair share of concern. At the moment, she also happened to be slightly muffled by a pillow. Not getting an answer from Rolf, she continued, "Did you have that nightmare again?"

"I..." He paused, reaching out to turn a bedside lamp on. Light filled the room, causing Rolf to wince as his eyes began to adjust. "Yeah, Shir. I did again."

Shir rolled over to face Rolf, giving him a concerned look as she continued, "Rolf... do you think there's more Earthlings?"

"I don't know... when we fought them, their leader said they were the last of their kind." He turned his head, then hesitated as Shir pushed some of Rolf's blue hair out of his eyes. "I don't think it's Dark Force again, either."

"That's weird. Very weird," Shir replied. "No Earthlings, no Dark Force... nope. Sorry, Rolf. I'm stumped." She gave Rolf a smile as she shifted, moving about an inch towards him. "And that's bad, because nobody- Palman, Motavian, Dezolian, or Musk Cat- outclevers Shir of the Winds! And if someone's making you have bad dreams, Rolf, then I'm gonna rob 'em blind!"

"Thanks, Shir." Rolf returned Shir's smile, despite him finding Shir's speech a little over-the-top. Still, it's one of her charms, he thought.

"And I'm not just saying that because we're dating!" Underneath the covers, Shir grabbed Rolf's hands. "Rolf, we're gonna get through this, all right? You and me, just like old times."

"Just like old times, Shir."

Shir kissed Rolf, then released his hands. "Now get some sleep, Rolf. We'll figure this out in the morning."

Rolf nodded, then turned off the light. As he settled into sleep, a new nightmare overtook him.

He was in Climatrol's central complex, watching as Nei was stricken down. Crying out her name, he ran over to the Numan, cradling her battered body in his arms. "Nei, hang on!" he said. "We'll get you back to Paseo... Amy and I are gonna make sure you get better..."

"Rolf..." Her ruby-colored eyes started to tear up as she smiled at the man who helped shape her all-too-brief life. "Why are you looking at me so sad? I don't want that sad look to be the last thing... I see..."

"Nei!"

"Rolf..." Her body started to slack in Rolf's arms. "Please, Rolf... don't let them make the same mistake when they made me."

"No, Nei..." Tears tugged at Rolf's eyes. "You weren't a mistake."

"I hope everyone in Algo can find happiness in their lives..." And with that, Nei's eyes closed, and she sighed. Slowly, Rolf gently rested her body on Climatrol's immaculate floor, then turned towards her aggressor.

Hugh Thompson stood, grinning cruelly, clutching a bloodstained laconia mace. As Rolf gave a confused glance towards him, he spoke in the same voice as the armored man.

"Yes, boy... Algo will be mine!"


"Nei!"

Elsewhere...


A hiss filled the basement of Esper Mansion as a cold sleep tank vented gas. Its hatch opened, revealing a sliding shelf upon which a teal-haired man slept. He stirred gently, then awoke, sitting upright.

"Master Lutz!" "Reverent One!" The two Espers assigned to guard his sleep were surprised, to say the least.

"You're seven years ahead of schedule, Reverent One! Is there something wrong?"

Lutz nodded, accepting some clothing offered by the other guard. "Yes, there is. Something's very wrong with Algo." He threw a mantle around his shoulders, adjusting the iridescent silver garment as he hastily dressed. "I fear her guardians are needed once again..."
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