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Roland
True Legend
True Legend
Roland
True Legend
True Legend
Joined: November 15th, 2006, 5:53 am

March 6th, 2015, 10:44 pm #1

Ruby could barely hold the training sword up any longer, let alone track her father's movements. She knew that he was moving slow. She knew because she had seen how fast he could really move. But, it probably did no good for him to go all out on her. Especially since she was still learning. Regardless, the Knight of Gram never seemed to give away what maneuver he was going to make next. That frustrated her beyond all else.

"You don't have to look down on me like that!"

She charged, swinging her sword high. Before she could even follow through, Roland's rose and met hers with stern absolution. She stumbled back, knocked off balance, but dipped low, using her small size as an advantage. She swept the sword around attempting to hack at his legs. Roland smoothly stepped back and around the swing, his sword coming down towards her head.

"Look down on you?" Roland said, confusion clear in his voice. She was ready this time, swinging her own up. The two wooden blades met with a resounding crack. She felt her arms buckle under his strength and then dropped the sword, rolling to the side behind Roland.

"I know I'm weak, you don't have treat me that way!"

Gathering mana into both of her hand she fired two white-hot blasts at his back. They hit, exploding in a blinding flash.She stumbled back from the explosion, surprised at how much power she put into it. Had she hurt her dad? Was it possible?

Roland wanted to laugh, he wanted to burst out and cackle heartily. But, he held it back. His daughter had been smart to think ahead like that, but abandoning her weapon had been a bad thing to do. The blasts had admittedly stung. But, mostly because he had not been expecting them at all. She had a knack for fighting, that seemed true. Maybe she had inherited the family genes.

"Ruby, if I looked down on you for being weak I wouldn't spend time trying to help you get strong," Roland said. "I'm glad to see you're taking this seriously, but feeling down on yourself and projecting it to others is no way to go about things."

When did she learn to use mana though? That he wondered as he turned around. His foot went to her sword before she could snatch it up. She growled and jumped back again. He saw her fists turn white with glowing energy--another volley.

Roland glanced to Lysses, who had been leaning against the bulkhead with a training sword of his own in hand. It was time for part two of the lesson. A quick wink triggered the Phagian Berserker to make his move. Lysses moved fast, but not at any sort of super-speed. Fast enough that if Ruby had been paying attention she could react.

She didn't see it coming as his wooden sword cracked her in the back of the head. She yelped and fell into her face. Lysses boot went to her back, pinning her down.

"And you're dead," Roland said. "Just--like--that."

Lysses chuckled and removed his boot. Ruby rose to her feet, spitting fire. She charged Roland and slammed her hands into his chest, trying to push him. He didn't budge.

Tears were in her eyes. "That's cheap. What the hell? Dad! You asshole."

"Honey, Lysses was standing there the whole time. Your eyes should have been on him, and on me at the same time. He even was armed. You didn't notice that?"

"Well--no I didn't."

"Regardless. You did well. I didn't know you could control your mana so well. That's new. I wonder, did Lysses teach you that one when I was gone?" Roland said as he headed towards the hatch, his boots thumping on the metal grating of the ship floor. "I'm going to the bridge to check on things. Get a shower and bandage your wounds. Let's go Lysses, leave her to think about our lesson today."

On his way out, he heard her growl in frustration and then the clinking sound of a wooden sword bouncing off a durasteel wall.

WC: 729
Last edited by Roland on March 6th, 2015, 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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OlUub
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OlUub
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Joined: February 10th, 2015, 11:37 pm

March 7th, 2015, 1:20 pm #2

OOC wrote:Accidentally posted this as my SS. Sorry!

Lysses didn’t visibly react when Ruby dropped her blade. From what he could tell, it had been an instinct; she’d been easily overpowered and had chosen to react by changing tactics and trying to catch her opponent in the way she felt the most comfortable. Had their battle been a one on one skirmish in the middle of the woods, it might have been a good idea. Unfortunately, their fight was taking place in the middle of a massive training chamber aboard the ZSC Iscariot.

That said, he did grin slightly when she dropped to the side and fired off a hollow sounding explosion right into the depths of her old man’s back. Lysses had been keen on teaching the girl a few of his tricks; for the most part, that meant that he’d managed to help her out with her mana control and consumption. She couldn’t exactly fire off blast after blast like that, but dropping a few quick bombs on the opponent hardly required much finesse. Had she taken the time to charge them up before moving, they probably would have been enough to knock the most trained fighter to the ground from the surprise alone.

The ends of her fingertips suddenly caught fire and curled into fists, signalling the beginning of another, stronger barrage. Lysses’ gaze flickered to meet Roland’s just in time to receive the signal -- a discrete wink. Lysses nodded and sank low, flying over the tiled flooring at about a third of his top speed. The movement was slick and swift in its own right, but easily caught by anyone who had been paying him the proper attention.

He spun the hilt of the wooden training blade in his hands as he came up behind the girl and struck hard against the back of her skull. She cried out in pain -- or perhaps frustration -- and fell flat onto her face, having failed to see the surprise attack coming. To make sure that she remained grounded, Lysses stepped forward and planted a boot between her shoulder blades, taking care to keep his free hand level with the crown of her head.

”And you’re dead. Just -- like -- that,” Roland said, emphasizing his point with precision.

Lysses snickered playfully in response, stepping off of Ruby’s back and crossing his arms over his chest. Ruby immediately jumped up off of the ground with steam coming out of her ears, clearly frustrated by her father’s “cheap” tactic. Though she shoved at Roland with all her power, the older man hardly even flinched. Ruby’s strength, though impressive for her age, was hardly enough to wrestle her father’s pinkie to the table, much less get him to step backwards.

Lysses took the momentary lull in activity to place his sword on a table across the room, which had been fitted with a number of different wooden weapons. Faux spears and clubs and halberds littered the makeshift arsenal, each one looking particularly weary and worn from heavy use. Some of the weapons had been there for months; others were new additions, courtesy of Roland’s own training armory.

He hurried back just in time for Roland to step away.

"I'm going to the bridge to check on things. Get a shower and bandage your wounds. Let's go Lysses, leave her to think about our lesson today," he said.

Lysses patted his mentor on the back and followed him out, turning around only to watch Ruby throw her weapon against the wall in frustration before he made his exit.

The door to the chamber slid shut with a soft whirr behind them.

”She’s getting pretty strong,” Lysses noted. Admittedly, he wasn’t lying. Ruby’s strength had grown exponentially in the last few months. Ever since Roland had brought her back, she’d been training almost non-stop. She’d spent a lot of the time away from her father soliciting the Phagian for spars; he also had it on pretty good authority that whenever he wasn’t available that she’d go find Andraste for a quick lesson or two. ”She hasn’t been slacking. But then again, I don’t think any of us’ve been just laying around.”

The two men continued forward through the halls of the Iscariot, accompanied by the sound of their own heavy footfalls. The Bridge wasn’t far off from the training chamber (something that had actually drawn Lysses to purchase the ship), but they still had a ways to go before they’d be able to inspect their surroundings. Five men and two women (one of them more a girl, really) had set off from Kelioux earlier in the week. They weren’t slated to arrive for a few more days, but the way wasn’t exactly easy going.

In order to go from Kelioux to Kanassa, one had to pass through heavily controlled PTO Space. They were, at that moment, approximately ten systems beyond Mortoseth and about fifty from Kanassa itself.

”Then again, she really needs to develop some awareness. I remember the first time you tried to pull that trick on me,” the Phagian reminisced, fanning his face and closing his eyes. ”I nearly killed that poor instructor. I hit him with a mouth blast right between the eyes.”

His bragging was, for the most part, in jest. He had been blessed with a supernatural instinct, after all. With literally two sets of eyes, it would have been a lot harder to miss the ambush. Ruby didn’t have the same blessing on her side. Everything she worked for would be hard fought and well-earned. That, he figured, made her effort all the more invaluable and her determination all the more impressive.
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Last edited by OlUub on March 7th, 2015, 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Roland
True Legend
True Legend
Roland
True Legend
True Legend
Joined: November 15th, 2006, 5:53 am

March 7th, 2015, 1:46 pm #3

”She’s getting pretty strong,” Lysses said as they walked down the central corridor of the Iscariot. ”She hasn’t been slacking. But then again, I don’t think any of us’ve been just laying around.”

"I have you to thank for that. You've helped her a long, took her under your wing. You have my gratitude, Lysses."
”Then again, she really needs to develop some awareness. I remember the first time you tried to pull that trick on me.I nearly killed that poor instructor. I hit him with a mouth blast right between the eyes.”

"Ha-ha--yes I remember that day. You were something else. Still are kid," Roland said, clapping him on the shoulder.

When Roland had left his daughter last, in the hands of the capable Avatars, she had barely been able detect her own mana, let alone manipulate it. But, being around the Avatars she had a unique experience of watched them do things that challenged her world-view and could motivated far more than anything Roland ever could tell her. She was younger than they were, but in many ways they were her peers. She could relate with the younger Avatars far better.

 Roland realized it seemed to work this way. Only a handful of people were ever talented enough to see what could be and execute it, all on their own. But, when people see others accomplishing such feat,  and develop a basic understand of it, they catch up. This was the way of technology. Reverse engineering was an important feat that many empires accomplished. The Saiyans and PTO were often times reverse engineering Damaskian and Avalanian technologies, which were far superior.

Roland, when he was at the height of his career as a Knight of Gram hadn't even been a fraction as powerful as Ruby was now. By being around powerful beings, she in a way was reverse engineering what they were doing to reach those heights.The same thing had happened to Roland too. Upon seeing what the PTO warriors were capable of and adventuring with so many powerful beings, Roland himself had gained power at an exponential rate--at least compared to earlier in his career. Sure, he wasn't among the handful of beings that had ultimate power, but he was getting there.

Walid, Lysses, Elric, and even Raphael were all growing stronger by the day. Roland, being an old man, had to work that much harder to keep up with them. They had their entire lives to gain strength.

While, half of Roland's was gone. He knew in his heart, by the time they reached his age, they would be light-years beyond his current strength level. And by then, his body would begin degrading, power would start to slip through the cracks. Talos would eventually choose a new Avatar, and the process would start all over again.


That was, if he lasted that long. Being a warrior alone was a hard life. He was lucky to have made it this far. Being an Avatar, was even worse. He risked his life nearly everyday. It was only a matter of time before Shamshire's clutch descended upon him.

The sensors detected Roland and Lysses approach and the bridge door opened with a hydraulic hiss. The computer systems were in stand-by, the dozens of monitors dark. As soon as their boots touched the floor they flickered to life--displaying a multitude of information--casting the two Zaunites in a dull blue glow. The last things to turn on were the overhead lights, which illuminated the entire room.

"She's a fine ship," Roland said. "Hopefully well armed. Things might get sticky since we're slipping through PTO space."

Roland leaned forward, resting his hands on the top of the helmsmen console. Both of his gray eyes set upon the viewscreen, which showed a vista of swirling lights and darkness--hyperspace.

"There's something I need to show you. It's partly why I came back," Roland said, sounding ominous but not trying to sound like it. He reached to his armor and slipped his hands beneath it, pulling out the amulet that Sargonis had gifted him. Lifting it over his head, he held it out, showing Lysses the gold lined stone and its runic markings.

Sargonis's words echoed in the back of his mind as he tossed the amulet to Lysses.

"This stone is over nine thousands years old," Sargonis began. "Long ago it once belonged to a warrior named Plecius. Today his name only appears for the briefest of mentions in a handful of history books which themselves are so old their pages are yellowed and tattered. He is said to have defeated over one million enemies in single combat during his lifetime. No small feat. It is unfortunate that his legacy has been mostly lost to the sands of time. This generation could have used a Plecius. Legend has it that this very amulet was given to him by Ganr himself, forged with powers even the Grand Kai's do not understand. I give it to you now. It doesn't look like much but wear it and you shall possess supernatural strength you could not even imagine wielding in your wildest dreams. Just think of the countless things this stone has seen over the years all so that it could reach you in order to help aid us on our mission. This has been its destiny since it was created - and yours."

"Catch. And, try not to destroy the ship," Roland said.

He knew soon as Lysses touched it, the power would surge through him. The Phagian was adept enough with mana manipulation that Roland didn't doubt his ability to contain the power. He just hoped that Lysses would get the images that came with it. He needed to share them with someone else. Plecius--the warrior that had once wielded the amulet, it was his power they were tapping into and also his memories.

WC: 1,018 / 1,747 / 2,682
Last edited by Roland on March 8th, 2015, 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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future gohan123
True Legend
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Joined: February 16th, 2014, 8:05 pm

March 7th, 2015, 2:05 pm #4

The two men stepped through the threshold and onto the bridge together, their eyes immediately flickering to the display screens in the center of the room. Within seconds, the dull glow of their light had spread over the room and stole the Phagian’s attention. Information began to filter in from the outside of the ship and security feeds flared up to display key parts of the vessel. After his encounter with Orion, he had installed a number of security cameras across the Iscariot in order to better handle hostile incursions.

His eyes danced over the screens.

The living quarters were empty except for the lonely glow of a light coming from the end of the hall -- which was probably Andraste, preparing for bed. He could see Ruby, on her way out of the training chamber, still looking frustrated. Resisting the urge to chuckle, Lysses diverted his attention to the viewing screen as the rest of the lights activated across the bridge. Through the viewport, he could see a cocktail of lights trailing by; hyperspeed was something he knew of, but didn’t quite understand.

”She’s a fine ship. Hopefully well armed. Things might get sticky since we’re slipping through PTO space,” Roland noted.

Lysses nodded, more to himself than in response, and crossed his arms over his chest. Roland had a fair point. The Iscariot had been marked by PTO tracers ever since they’d bested the pirate crew on their way out of Keliouxian orbit. Though he had spent some time attempting to remove them individually, he had the sneaking suspicion that a few still lingered somewhere on the outer hull. Being pursued through space by an intergalactic army wasn’t one of his favorite things, but it was a status that he had grown used to. The PTO had been pursuing them for months.

"There's something I need to show you. It's partly why I came back."

Lysses gave Roland his attention and uncrossed his arms. It was clear that Roland was about to share something important with him. The younger man’s brow furrowed when his mentor withdrew an amulet from beneath the folds of his armor; a gemstone sat in the center of the thing, bordered by thin gold and surrounded by ancient looking markings that were not entirely dissimilar to the ones on Roland’s massive blade.

”Catch -- and try not to destroy the ship.”

He underhand tossed the amulet through the air, arcing the throw so that it the chain would land safely in Lysses’ hand. Without reservation, the Phagian gripped the metal and found himself ripped away.

Power exploded from his ankles and wrapped him up in a thick shroud of black fire. The flames crackled and hissed with a furious hunger, consuming the air that had once surrounded their owner and consuming him completely. Golden embers stoked the flame, dancing within the Phagian’s new aura and illuminating him so that he could be seen beneath the veil of power that had devoured him so fully.

His eyes widened and his jaw went slack, leaving room for his lips to part just enough to give away the cocktail of confusion, terror, and exhilaration that had begun to fill his body from the inside. The pounding of his heart quickly gave way to the beating of a heavy war drum that threatened to explode out from the center of his chest. It was then that the realization struck him; he knew that Roland had come across something that had granted him such an otherworldly power.

Lysses’ teeth ground together as he caught himself and suppressed the unleashed torrent of flames with a fierce growl. Unadulterated power coursed through his veins like magma along a rocky path, keying him in on the secret that Roland had been keeping. His power increase had come from the amulet... or more specifically, what was held within it.

”What... is this?”

Before Roland could answer, Lysses sank to a knee.

A bombardment of images forced themselves up against the blond man’s mental barrier. Like bodies crashing together under a siege, they formed an aggressive line and breached the outer wall. Lysses placed a palm on the floor to brace himself, still using his other hand to hold the amulet tightly in his grip.

A storm was brewing.

All along the coast, campfire after campfire fell to the oncoming horde. The sands had been reduced to glass and the ocean had been laid bare beneath the force of the invasion.

Plecius inhaled; the scent of smoky flame and roasting wood swept through the warrior’s nostrils. Swirls of dancing light slithered up the length of his legs, wrapping themselves around his greaves and flitting into the space beneath his armor so that he could feel the warmth his power had created. Beneath the thick plating, there existed only silence. Like the center of the storm raging in the distance, there was naught but stillness.

Far away, boots marched for war along the beachhead, setting out toward the warrior’s location. They knew where to find him and they would find him waiting. It was, perhaps, better that way.

He exhaled and a sea of failing stars blossomed outward from between his cracked lips. His fingertips dropped to his waist, where a thin sword lingered in its sheath, waiting to be unleashed upon the army that waited for him in the distance.

There had never been a shortage of conquerors. Wherever injustice was allowed to breathe, tyrants, like surly barflies, had always spread their legs and hunkered down to make camp. Planet Uvar was no different than Planet Ragnar or Planet Marina. The storm had come for them and consumed them before it had been purged by the blade of a steely warrior and the power that he carried with him.

A storm was brewing beneath the glare of the Uvarran sun, and like the typhoon that had absolved Ragnar and the hurricane that had surged over Marina, it would wash over the planet in search of furious adjudication.


Lysses grunted and slowly rose to his feet as the flashback faded, leaving him with only more confusion. He didn’t understand what he had been shown; had the memory been a warning from the amulet, or was the exposure random? His bright, blue eyes flickered up to meet Roland’s expectant gaze. Had Roland been exposed to similar memories?

”Plecius,” he breathed. The name felt strange on his lips; foreign, but familiar. He was sure that he should have heard it -- and yet there was nothing in his memory pertaining to it. It was a file without a cabinet, a lock without the key. ”Roland, what have you gotten us into?”

Lysses tossed the amulet back to his mentor with a heavy breath. The power that had fueled him a moment ago evaporated, and the magma running through his heart found itself replaced by fast rushing blood.
[align=center]1,172 / 2,107 / 3,854[/align]
Last edited by future gohan123 on March 7th, 2015, 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Roland
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True Legend
Roland
True Legend
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Joined: November 15th, 2006, 5:53 am

March 7th, 2015, 2:23 pm #5

Roland caught the amulet and held it for a long moment, studying the runes and mystical energy within it. Even Talos's wisdom was empty on the power that it gave. Roland had held objects with power, their own power, but never one that bestowed such immense strength--so easily. It frightened Roland, only because things were never that easy. There were always side-effects, always a catch of some sort.

"Roland, what have you gotten us into?" Lysses asked.

The Avatar of Wisdom was glad he didn't have to explain his predicament. Lysses now understood the gravity of the situation. The look of concern on his youthful face was real enough. Roland shook his head, his mouth forming into a heavy frown.

"I wish I had a choice. I wish I was given a real choice," Roland said. "But now, well--now I am stuck with a burden that I am not sure I am ready to handle."

He told Lysses his tale about Sargonis and his battle with the titanic warrior. He explained the offer and how Sargonis had given him the amulet at the cost that he help eliminate those who started the war. He further went to explain his battle against Lord Ice and Buu, then his subsequent spree of PTO assassinations.

"I'm fighting a war kid, all by myself. I've been focusing on the PTO alone. Because, those bastards took my wife, my country, and my home from me. They deserve it, for what they fucking do. But, when will Sargonis visit me again and make me focus on others that might not deserve it as much. What if I'm turned against the Protectorate or the Saiyan Empire. I'm afraid for that time, Lysses. Even if I cast the amulet at Sargonis's feet, he will still kill me. Then what? I leave Ruby without her father, without a family? I can't do that," Roland said.

The haggard Avatar of Wisdom pressed his hands into his face and then whipped them down, banging the console behind him, nearly bending the metal inadvertently.

"Talos has gone silent and cold on me. I still feel him there, but he doesn't agree with this burden. Its a distraction from my duties as Avatar of Wisdom. But even he can offer me no such wisdom on how to remedy it. Don't get me wrong, Sargonis is seeking vengeance for what was done to his family. That is something I can understand, but his degree of vengeance seems to have no limit, or scope. Its madness!"

Roland strode across the bridge, pausing at the bulkhead. "I don't mean to put this on you Lysses. I really do--"

The ship shook violently, nearly knocking Roland from his feet. He managed to catch himself on the bulkhead and turn around to look out the view port. The spiraling tunnel of hyperspace shattered and they were thrust back into real space. Before Roland could say anything the ship was wracked again. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the iscariot, he heard a shriek of terror from Ruby.

Rushing to the scanner station, Roland plopped down in the seat, studying the radar and readings that were popping up all over the screen. The amount of information was overwhelming, but he absorbed as much as he could. There were three large blips. The ship's cameras gained sight of them, zooming in to reveal circular craft armed to the teeth with kinetic energy batteries. If they didn't act quickly, the Iscariot would be reduced to space slag with that much firepower.

"Three contacts," Roland said.

"Warship class. Shit Lysses, we need evasive maneuvers and full power to our starboard shields. Things are about to get sticky."

WC: 642 / 2,389 / 4,496
Last edited by Roland on March 8th, 2015, 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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future gohan123
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Joined: February 16th, 2014, 8:05 pm

March 7th, 2015, 2:24 pm #6

Lysses listened to his mentor’s words with a heavy heart. He could understand where the old man was coming from; he’d felt the same way when he’d been stranded on Earth, left with no escape and with the fury of an empire hot on his heels. The blond’s eyes lowered, uncharacteristically, and came to rest on the console to his side. The thought that his home still thought of him as a dangerous traitor still stung deep, but it was a sufferance that he had to stifle. A leader was not allowed to show weakness; he had been overcome once, and that had nearly cost him his friendship with Elric.

Roland’s fists mutilated the metal console as his passion overcame him. Lysses could feel the man’s emotions, running on high and seeping out from beneath his skin like a particularly fragrant scent. He inhaled slowly, still afraid to look up. When he had been younger, there hadn’t been such a depth to the man before him. Now, now that he was a man, he could see the other side through the veil, flickering like a flipping coin. He had been ignorant to his friend’s suffering.

So much for being the Avatar of Instinct.

Lysses finally lifted his gaze when Roland brought up his Patron’s uncharacteristic silence. He couldn’t relate to the Sargonis thing. He didn’t have a daughter to lose and he’d never been close to his family, but his relationship with his Patron was something that he could use to forge common ground. He could see why Talos would have difficulty wrestling with the same problem that Roland clearly had been, but the reasons were totally different. Roland felt the remorse that his path had so far wrought, but to Talos, remorse was a thing best left never experienced.

The difficult thing to acknowledge was that Roland already knew that. That was why the conundrum had been hurting him so much. Lysses scratched at the back of his head, still frowning, as Roland strode across the bridge and came to rest his head on the inner wall of the ship’s hull.

”I don’t mean to put this on you, I really do--”

Lysses was thrown to the ground by the sudden force of undeniable impact acting against the ship’s outer hull. He grunted with pain and caught himself on his hands as the ship was ripped from it’s course through hyperspace and reduced to a speed of a few parsecs. He rose to his feet as quickly as he could and scrambled to the nearest console, ignoring the sound of Ruby’s scream. Information came streaming in from all angles on a variety of topics, informing him that their engines had been hit and that the outer shield hadn’t activated in time to protect them from damage.

”Shit, warships,” he mumbled, reacting at almost the same time as his mentor had.

”Our engines are hit, running’s not an option,” he explained, his hands flying over the controls. When he had first tried to pilot the Daedalus, his hands had fumbled over every knob; now, they moved with the trained precision of a professional. Protectorate training, it seemed, did sometimes come in handy. ”But I think I can get her to limp along. The shields are coming up, but they’re not going to be able to hold out against another big salvo. We’ve got maybe two minutes before they can unleash something like that again.”

His left thumb flicked open a little box that rested atop the rearmost thruster control. A warning siren blared out over the sound of the ship’s engines, which were struggling to life, and alerted him to the presence of another set of crafts.

”Boarders incoming -- six crafts, get ready for impact!”

The boarding pods slammed into the rear hull with a sickening crash, but assisted in adding to the ship’s slowly improving momentum. Lysses’ thumb pressed down hard on the red button while more information streamed in.

”Scanners are reading power levels of around fifty to eighty thousand units,” he called out. ”Return salvo outbound!”

A blossoming array of missiles streaked free from the sides of the Iscariot and spiraled toward the leftmost ship in the PTO formation. The onslaught found itself dissolved against the ship’s already prepared shields, but succeeded in slowing the craft’s progress.

He had to think fast; the ship was moving, but it was hardly limping along. Two of the three Trade crafts were still barreling on at full speed. They had maybe four minutes before they were caught up with completely and escape was no longer an option. Meanwhile, a number of invaders had decided to board the craft; the cameras aboard the ship showed that they were already spreading out in an attempt to find the engine room. Andraste had practically exploded out of her quarters at the sound of the first explosion and left to greet one of the invaders-- the battle could be heard in the distance, cataclysmic and dangerous. If one of them ruptured the wrong part of the hull, they’d be sucked out into the vacuum of space.

Then there was Ruby -- two of the invaders were closing in on her location, scouters ready. Ruby was strong and fast for her age, but she wasn’t going to be able to deal with a bloodthirsty bunch of soldiers. She’d been able to hold her own in a training battle, but that hardly qualified her to fight off a hostile incursion. He couldn’t leave her to deal with even one of the opponents by herself, no matter how confident he was in her.

Still, Even if he reached her in time, that left three boarding crafts yet to be dealt with.

”Roland, you’re faster. Try to take out the engines on those ships before they can get in close and fire off another salvo. They only hit one zone of the ship because of the fact that they were aiming into hyperspace. I don’t want to give them a clean shot for round two.”

He eyed the security feeds with concern as he debated what to do. Andraste could handle herself. Ruby couldn’t, and neither could the engine room if the other three invaders managed to find it. The ship’s other occupant would have to deal with the second group.

”I’ve got Ruby -- Autopilot, get us moving!”
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Roland
True Legend
True Legend
Roland
True Legend
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Joined: November 15th, 2006, 5:53 am

March 8th, 2015, 3:12 pm #7

”Roland, you’re faster. Try to take out the engines on those ships before they can get in close and fire off another salvo. They only hit one zone of the ship because of the fact that they were aiming into hyperspace. I don’t want to give them a clean shot for round two," Lysses said.

Command comes so easy to this boy. A good strategy, a clean one, Roland thought, somewhat impressed.

He had led men on the battlefield for years. Lysses was young and at this point unproven, but he had a talent for it. Not many men did. Roland himself had been reluctant to step up and lead men and learned the hard way.

A moment earlier, Iscariot had replied to the PTO attack with a salvo of missiles. The three warships however, seemed unscathed, as Roland's eyes flickered to the battle scanners. Of course, the missiles were meant to take out the boarding pods, not damage the warships, but their shields were showing as weakened. A few stray ones had made impact. He grunted and stepped to the viewport, looking out at the ships with his own eyes. Through the dark of space, they were quite a distance away--a least a fifty kilometers--mere specks.

Roland had to get aboard those ships and take them down. Normally, that would have been an insurmountable task. For Roland with his newfound powers, it was simple as getting a bead on a mana signature and teleporting aboard.

”I’ve got Ruby -- Autopilot, get us moving!”

Roland grabbed Lysses shoulder, turning him around. "Protect my daughter," he said, his voice a stern command.

He closed his eyes, reaching out and feeling the energies all around him. Lysses lit up like a beacon in the night, his power radiant and close. Ruby's which appeared much smaller, was also close and warm with familiarity. There were the others too, deeper within the ship. His instinct fell upon the strange powers which had arrived.

They were strong, no doubt elite PTO soldiers. Roland could feel the malice in their auras. These were professional and trained killers. He had no doubt in Lysses's abilities, he just hoped the youth took them seriously. If he messed around, especially aboard a ship, things could get deadly--and fast.

Roland reached his sense across space to the other ships. There he felt a multitude of energies. But, he needed to separate them. Jumping onto a ship wasn't nearly as easy as jumping to a planet. With a planet, there often was a lot of life and a lot of room for error. Getting into a ship left almost no room for error and plenty of danger.

The Iscariot shuddered hard and Roland thought he heard a brutish cry. Had Lysses taken down the first of the enemy? He mentally shrugged the thought away. There was no time for distraction. Their survival depended on his actions.

Why can't I get a bead?

A droplet of sweat coursed down the side of his face. Roland's hands shook as he struggled to figure out what mana belonged to what ship. He found the biggest signature and locked onto it. It didn't matter at this point. As much as he wanted to do it the safe-way, he couldn't.

Secret Magic: Teleport!

A ribbon of radiation erupted around his body and then Roland disappeared. That same moment, he appeared aboard the PTO vessel, right aboard the bridge. A dozen aliens sat in seats at consoles. It was a two-tiered bridge. The top tier is where the captain, comms-officer, gunners, and helmsmen sat. In the lower well, a bunch of engineers and lesser officers sat. All of the crew members wore Flexweave armor, on had scouters on their faces. All at once, their scouters detected his power signature, letting loose a chorus of clicks and buzzes.

The Captain, a veiny headed, purple-faced, alien sat up, his face slack jawed. Roland loosed a sigh of relief that he hadn't teleported directly into space. He wouldn't have been able to last very long there.

"It's Ser Roland! Soldiers, take him down," the Captain said followed by a gruff laugh. "You made a mistake coming here. Do you know how large the bounty is on your head?"

Roland shrugged. "There's a reason for that. And you want to lose your goons on me, that's a big mistake."

The first one, a bark-skinned helmsman, wrapped his arms around from behind Roland.Two more moved in, leveling arm blasters in his face, which whirred with gathering energy. The Captain strode forward, mana crackling around his fist.

Roland took a deep breath, despite the crushing arms. He had to do this carefully, if he used too much power, he could rupture the hull and then be in a real bad situation. He let loose a shock wave of concussive mana that blew out in all directions, rippling the atmosphere within the bridge like water in a pond. The brute was sent flying backwards, where he crashed into a large display, which immediately began sputtering with electricity.

The gunners were hurled as well, smashing against the hull with dull thuds. They tumbled atop their crewmates in the lower well, who shrugged them off, staring up at Roland in awe. The consoles and computers in between his body and the bulkhead erupted into showers of sparks, having been crushed beneath the force of his attack.

The Captain was only knocked back a step or two by it. His face twisted into an angry scowl. No doubt, he was much stronger than the rest, to have survived that. Roland knew he had to make a move. So, he stepped forward and grabbed the shoulder pads of the Captain's armor, bringing his own forehead to bear as a weapon. Smashing it against the Captain's chin, he heard a loud crack. A moment later, the Captain went slack in his grip. Roland dropped him to the side, where his body rolled into the lower well with the others.

"Anyone else?" Roland said, glaring at the fearful crew. Good--I'll give you ten seconds to start running for the escape pods."

The crew let out loud fearful groans and screeches as they scrambled for the bulkhead doors, knocking each other over in the effort Roland stepped over the Captain and sat down in his chair. He had never piloted a PTO vessel before, but he didn't think it would take that long to figure out, seeing as a bunch of dumb aliens often ran the vessels.

His finger found the comm button and he pressed it, transmitting a message to the Iscariot.

"Lysses, I commandeered one of their warships. This will even out the fight a bit. If you can get your ship back in the game we can run off the other two."

Deep below, he heard the thunder of escape pods popping away from the hull. Dozens were hurled into deep space at reckless speeds.

Roland activated the entirety of the vessels armament and targeted the thruster blocks of the other two PTO Warships. The solutions took a good deal of time to gather, as PTO vessels were disc shaped, having thrusters facing multiple directions. It made them highly maneuverable, but they had lower top speeds as compared to a ship like the Iscariot.

The other PTO captains pinged the Warship with warning messages, demanding he cease fire and tell them what was going on. Roland didn't oblige, cutting off the comm. Once he had full target lock, he unleashed a maelstrom of kinetic rounds and seek-and-destroy missiles. Streaks of light flashed as kinetic rounds were released. Missiles fluttered away from their racks, leaving behind spiraling trails of flame. The other ships had their shields focused in the font and their rear ones were melted under the wave destructive force. Explosions raked their hulls from aft to fore. Atmosphere jettisoned in great plumes of flame, extinguished a moment later by the hard vacuum.

The two ships turned tried to turn on their sides, the disc facing vertical rather than horizontal for a broadside, as they unleashed unleashed maximum counter fire. Roland jammed the control stick, turning his ship with them, keeping the narrow part of the disk facing them. Since he had to fight defensively, he tried to keep a low profile.

Ship combat wasn't so different than a real fight. The best stances were sideways, often, making it harder for someone to hit you. He gritted his teeth as the Warship he was on shook and bucked wildly from impacts. Its shield gave after a few salvos. The display showed several hull breaches, especially in the lower echelons of the disk, but he didn't care. It wasn't like this was his ship after all. He needed only distract them, which he did, while Lysses cleaned up on the Iscariot. Then together, they could drive the bastards back for good.

WC: 1,526 / 3,916 / 7,100
Last edited by Roland on March 8th, 2015, 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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future gohan123
True Legend
True Legend
Joined: February 16th, 2014, 8:05 pm

March 13th, 2015, 12:03 am #8

[align=center]Tac, tac, tac![/align]

Ruby ran down the hallway at a brisk pace, her arms swinging back and forth like whirring pendulums. Explosions rocked the side of the ship from the crew quarters to the engine room, the signs of a struggle only beginning to unfold. She had started running the second the ship had been hit by an initial salvo of what had to have been missiles, practically forced out of her quarters from the force of the contact alone. There was a safe room on the East Wing that her father had told her to go to if the ship had come under attack, but when he'd told her of it's existence, the odds of needing it had seemed so low.

Roland was a tall, strong man, with a back like a bridge and an overwhelming warmness that had always warded off the looming darkness of even the blackest nights... but now he was nowhere to be found. Still, she knew what he would have wanted her to do. She needed to get to safety, before whoever was attacking them made it on board the ship.

She took a hard left and bolted down the long corridor toward the Safe Room, her eyes scurrying every which way in their sockets in an attempt to keep herself guarded. A second explosion had rocked the ship not too long ago, and that had been when the other explosions had started. She could feel pressure in the air around her, pushing her shoes down harder against the flooring of the hall and bearing down on her with the force of an oppressive tyrant.

Not even a full step from the door, a massive body suddenly burst into existence in the dead center of her path.

"Gah!" she cried out and ran face first into the creature's armored midsection, only to stumble backward. The beast-man was tall and reptilian, not all that dissimilar to the lizard pirates that Lysses and her Father had beaten on Kelioux's surface. However, where those creatures were lean and rough, this beast was muscular and spongy at the same time. Heavy scales flexed inward and outward with it's every breath, surging beneath the creature's armor like grim phalanxes within the ranks of a massive army.

"Where you goin', little lady?" the creature said, it's voice harsh and condescending. Everything that came out of it's mouth sounded more like a stiff grunt than an actual, spoken word.

Ruby pursed her lips and stepped back. Almost immediately, a flare of glimmering orange energy coalesced at the ends of her fingertips and caught fire. The alien's eyes widened briefly as it watched the girl dance backward through the hall, looking determined despite her stature.

The blast exploded with a hollow bang across the creature's chest and a cloud of puffy smoke ballooned out to consume the doorway. The beast growled in frustration swept its hand through the smoke cloud, unleashing a haughty barrage of blasts that exploded against the walls of the hallway and whizzed by the young girl's sides and shoulder blades. She winced as one of the ki balls detonated to her left, but resisted the urge to tear her gaze away from the dense cloud of smoke that continued to billow out in the space between her and her foe.

"You reckoned that'd be a'nuff to take me out? You're nay-eeve if I've 'ver seen it."

The massive alien stepped free of the cloud with a massive, toothy grin plastered across it's repugnant face. At the same time, the sound of footsteps from the other end of the hall stole her attention away. A thinner looking creature had followed her movements from before and showed up to block her only escape route.

"I've gotta get out of here," Ruby mumbled, scanning the corridor with her eyes.

"Kobra, what's this little thing's power level?" the thin man called out to the fatter man. As if to coincide with the order, Kobra pressed down on his scouter's SCAN button, prompting a set of flashing numbers to appear across the bottom of his eyepiece. "I need to know whether we're takin' her or leavin' her."

"Five-thousand, give or take a few tens."

Ruby's hands clenched into fists at her side. Why hadn't she thought to grab a sword from the training chamber? It wouldn't have helped her much, but it would have helped her some. Why hadn't her Dad arrived yet? Where were Lysses and Elric when she needed them? She just needed to hold out until her friends could arrive. Surely, the two goons that sought to accost her couldn't be that hard to hold off.

The little red headed girl danced backward and fired another blast from her other hand, the strain from her training earlier still weighing heavily on her. The sphere of white light ricocheted off of the door's metal frame and exploded somewhere in the room behind the beast as it stepped forward.

Her brow furrowed and her gaze narrowed; a single bead of sweat was beating down the side of her face. She had enough power left for a few more shots, but she didn't want to use them all at once. She had to space them out, otherwise she'd just tire herself out and get taken down faster than she could blink. She couldn't forget the alien on the other side of the hallway either, who had advanced so that he was just a few feet behind her.

"Come and get me, fat ass!"

The hair on the back of her neck rose just in time for a spiraling mass of gold and violet to whistle down the length of the hallway, its body shivering like a deflated firework on its way across the sky.

"Kobra, get down!"

The thinner alien slid to the right just in time to dodge the streak of energy, which sailed high over Ruby's head and collided with Kobra's face, where it detonated with a fulfilling boom. The hall shook and rattled from the excess force of the blast, and Ruby brought her hand over her face to shield her from the smoke. From deep within the cloud, Kobra cried out in fury and pain, his voice marred by the crackling of fresh fire.

Ruby turned to assess the source of the blast --

"Lysses!" she shouted.

Smoke trailed from the Phagian's lithe fingertips as he stepped forward at the sound of his name, steadily advancing down the hallway. His typically blue eyes smoldered with intensity and defined themselves against the sharply drawn features of his face, which looked even more severe as it surveyed the situation at hand. The weight of his boots amplified the sound of every step, making for a fearsome image as the warrior joined up with the motley crew outside of the safe room.

"Ruby, glad to see you're alright," he drawled, letting his words hang for a moment while his eyes weaved back and forth between the growing cloud of smoke and the little reptilian alien that stood between him and his mentor's daughter. "We should get you out of here."

"You're not going anywhere!" the alien cried, firing off several spheres of luminescent green ki from his fingertips. Lysses vanished in place and the bolts arced through the empty air, eventually exploding against a distant wall. When the Phagian reappeared, he stood just behind Ruby, having placed a rough hand on her slim shoulders.

"I don't think you're the one making that decision," the blond said calmly.

"Ruby, you alright?"

He looked down at the red headed girl as kindly as possible given the circumstances. She nodded her head and turned so that she faced the doorway to the safe room, where the cloud of smoke had begun to dissipate. In the center of the melting cloud, an enraged Korbian stood with his hands gripping his face. Shards of shattered glass littered the floor and covered the top of his boots, the remains of his scouter.

"That hurt!" Kobra bellowed, suddenly lunging forward toward Lysses and Ruby, his grubby arms outstretched in an attempt to catch them both.

The pair faded from view with a soft whoosh and reappeared at the end of the hall, with Ruby looking significantly more jostled than she had a second ago. She hadn't expected to be tugged down the length of the hallway. At the same time, Kobra fell to the floor a ways away, having jumped in an attempt to tackle the two before they could move.

"Bah! How strong is this guy, Addler?!"

Addler's fingertips brushed against the top row of buttons on his scouter and made sure to target the blond man that'd just made his comrade look like a huge fool. Numbers flashed and rose around the humanoid's face in sequence, slowly filling out as the silence grew.

"W-- wha?"

Lysses patted Ruby on the shoulder and nodded. Without another word, the girl ran, tearing off in the opposite direction so that she could find some kind of sanctuary elsewhere on the ship. The training chamber wasn't that far way, if she could reach it. Lysses had faith in her to get there, and even if she got caught, he had enough faith in himself that he could once again reach her in time to protect her. He would not break his promise to Roland.

He brought his fists together over his chest, blocking the doorway and providing a stiff obstacle in the way of the men who had sought to harm Ruby a moment ago. They now had bigger problems to deal with than a little girl and her ki blasts.

"You're fighting me now. Got any problems with that?" he said, voice deadpan.

"I-- I don't believe it! His power's hitting a hundred thousand even," Addler said, stepping backward and regrouping with his comrade, who had just clambered back to his feet. "Kobra, we should've called the Ginyu Force for this!"

Kobra frowned, but the fire in his eyes refused to die out. He had been upstaged by the Ginyu Force more times than he would have liked to admit. Addler wouldn't have suggested bringing them in unless the opponent they were registering was truly a force to be reckoned with... if the stranger's power level was truly over a hundred thousand, then... was that really something that they could deal with?

"Nah, we don't need'em Addler. We're strong a'nuff to take 'im out, together."

The two men dropped into reluctant fighting stances, together. It was true that their combined power levels were just a slight higher than that of the fighter before them. They were strong enough to conquer whole worlds on their own -- one man was nothing in the face of their might! Besides that, Argyle was on the ship too, and so was the back up squad. They just had to hold on long enough for the cavalry to arrive.

"You better be right about this one, fatso," the thinner creature joked. "I don't think we're going to be getting any second chances here."

The two aliens surged forward together, their mint colored auras fused in the confined space of the hallway. Instead of retreating, Lysses burst forward to meet them, his body wreathed in vainglorious gold and violet.

The two sides clashed tooth and nail with a desperate, obvious fervor. Lysses struck first blood with a powerful right-handed hook across Addler's chin that knocked the scaly beast through the West wall of the corridor. Kobra tried hard to capitalize on the Phagian's momentary defenselessness, but his sluggish punch sailed through his opponent's afterimage with an unsatisfactory whistle.

Lysses' boot exploded against the back of Kobra's armor with a loud crack and broke through the plating. The alien cried out in pain as it scrambled to its feet and blasted off at him again, hurt, but safe in the knowledge that Addler was coming at him from the other side.

Addler led with a powerful left-hook, but Lysses batted the blow down and went on to block a quick pair of jabs from Kobra on his other side. The trio fought back-and-forth in place for just a moment longer before streaking down the hallway and into the off-shoot that Lysses had created when he'd knocked Addler through the wall.

The triage of blurs found itself dissolved when Addler's thin frame went crashing through what appeared to be a dining room table and skittered over a counter top. Kobra brought his hand to level with the Phagian's chest and roared loudly, unleashing an emerald wave of light that swallowed up the makeshift apartment and devoured the blond warrior with its glow. The ship rumbled beneath the stress, but refused to break.

The light of Kobra's blast subsided to reveal Lysses' smoldering figure, hunched over in blocking formation. His arms were crossed over his face and chest, and the shoulders of his black shirt were burned out, but he looked little worse for the wear.

"That all you got?" he grinned, before zig-zagging forward over the battered flooring of the chamber toward Kobra.

Addler appeared in front of his comrade with a soft whirr and bashed his fist against the side of the Phagian's skull, sending him crashing into the wall and knocking a number of picture frames down from their place. The room had been originally set up as a guest apartment for Walid, but it didn't seem like the wanderer was going to get any use out of it after the violent incursion of the reptilian invaders.

Lysses grunted and staggered back to his feet, sporting a fresh trickle of blood that streamed down from his lip to the end of his chin. He wiped the crimson from his skin and appraised the two soldiers that stood before him while he had the chance.

"Lizard people," he muttered, absentmindedly cracking his knuckles. "Always fucking lizard people."

"You'll remember the names of the Korbian Force when you're done here, Zaunite!" the thinner lizard man shouted. It was only then that Lysses noticed the poorly painted logo emblazoned on their chest armor, which looked like a snake eating a space ship. He snickered softly to himself, but the wry smile that grew across his face didn't go unnoticed. "Let's go, Kobra!"

The two men shot forward like bullets unloaded from a gun to surround the Phagian on both sides. Lysses lowered his guard and let them in, weaving in and out of their strikes against the wall with a practiced grace. He had to figure out a way to take one of them down and end the fight quickly -- but he wasn't sure how to go about that.

His left fist buried itself deep in Kobra's face and forced the big man to stumble backward.

Lysses seized his opportunity by swirling around so that he was behind Addler and locking his well-crafted arms around the beast's neck. With a forceful grunt, he rocketed backward and went crashing through wall after wall of his own ship, bringing the creature far away from his comrade. Addler's loud groans of protest keyed the warrior into the success of his strategy, but he didn't visibly react until he twisted hard and tossed the snake-man to the ground at his feet.

"Didn't think that'd work," he muttered, watching as Addler struggled to rise back up off of the floor. "I thought for sure that your friend was going to follow me--"

As if on cue, Kobra came barreling forward through the tunnel that the Zaunite had created, spewing blast after blast from his massive, gaping maw. Lysses yelped and faded in and out of view, dodging the blasts and grieving for the innards of his ship as they exploded against expensive looking equipment.

"Lysses, I commandeered one of their warships. This will even out the fight a bit. If you can get your ship back in the game we can run off the other two."

Roland's voice crackled to life over the intercom and stole the Phagian's attention just as Kobra closed the gap and struck a decisive blow, a hooked axe handle, against his chin. Lysses flew over the ground and recovered quickly, his mind racing. By his estimation, he wasn't far from the bridge... but getting there without getting it blown to bits was going to be a problem.

The flickering vein of gold that surrounded his body grew in intensity as distant explosions rocked the ship. Andraste's fight sounded like it was still in full swing, and Elric had probably engaged the guys closing in on the engine room by that point... Lysses exhaled sharply and dropped into a tighter stance.

"Sorry guys, I gotta close up shop. I can't afford to let this drag on too long."

Energy wrapped itself around his fingertips and glimmered in the uneven lighting of their new surroundings. Fatal arcs of lightning surrounded him from head to toe, sparking against the metal of the floor and leaving thin, scathing burns in its wake. Kobra and Addler shared grim looks as the Phagian swept both arms over his chest, leaving thick swathes of golden light in the wake of his hands.

"What's he doin'?" Kobra asked, clearly concerned by the growing tide of ki that found itself pouring out of the warrior's fingertips.

"I dunno, just get ready to block it!"

The scouter on the edge of Addler's head lit up, beeping furiously as the Phagian's power level skyrocketed. The little device exploded against the side of his face and forced him to wince, but he couldn't tear his eyes off of the macabre display that continued to unfold in front of him.

"I learned this one from the man that just commandeered one of your ships," Lysses said, calmly. "From the man who's daughter you just tried to turn into a slave. From the man who taught me everything I know -- Roland, of Gilead!"

Lysses faded -- and built himself anew above the heads of his two unsuspecting foes. His left hand bore down like a furious angel upon the head of Kobra, who found himself ripped asunder by a glimmering arc of highly fatal ki. The explosion tore through the base layer of the flooring and revealed the guts of the Iscariot's bottom end, but Lysses gave no pause. Without turning he brought his other hand down upon Addler's head and buried him in the metal of the remaining floor, where his body exploded with a cacophonous boom that rocked the ship and sent light fluttering out from the windows.

The scent of blood washed over the innards of the ship, but Lysses wasted no time in mourning the defeated. He bolted through wall after wall and tore his way into the bridge with an utter disregard for his own safety, immediately taking the craft off of autopilot.

"Roland, this is Lysses!" he shouted into the intercom, his hands flying over the controls. "Firing a round with the kinetic cannon now!"

The ship shuddered in the wake of cataclysmic devastation, its massive engines temporarily stopped by the force of the cannon that fired from the left-hand side. A bolt of pure energy ripped through the rightmost ship, tearing it in half and instantly killing half of its crew. Plumes of void-like fire rippled out and tore away in the vacuum of space as the oxygen was dispersed.

Without pause, a salvo of smaller laser fire targeted the other remaining ship, which had already turned to face the craft that Roland had commandeered. The two ships traded intermittent fire -- and then the Iscariot unloaded again, firing with its kinetic cannon and ripping the PTO saucer in two. At the same time, noise around the ship began to quiet as the violent resistance of the PTO's soldiers was snuffed out like a series of candles on a windy night.

"Looks like we're good! A few scuttler vessels managed to scurry out of the second ship, according to the display. Should we chase them down?" Lysses said, preparing to act on Roland's orders.

For as much as he trusted himself, there was something... secure in the old man's voice. It helped him discern right from wrong, war from peace, and fear from courage. There was no honor in shooting down those who ran, but there was no safety in allowing them to go. There was no good decision.
[align=center]3,684 / 6,869 / 10,784[/align]
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Roland
True Legend
True Legend
Roland
True Legend
True Legend
Joined: November 15th, 2006, 5:53 am

March 13th, 2015, 2:32 am #9

Thud, thud, thud… thud, thud, thud… thud.

And then the entire ship bucked as if it had been kicked by a giant. Roland was nearly thrown from the Captain's seat as the kinetic round plowed through the opposite end of the ship. His fingers dug into the metal frame, curling it like putty as he fought against the sudden g-force of the ship swinging. He had done well in making sure the ship had been turned at an angle where it was a lot harder to hit it. Now, with that impact, it careened hard, exposing the flat of the disc to enemy fire.

Roland went to redirect the shields to full charge at the top of the vessel, when he realized the shields were dead. Another kinetic slug ripped through the antechamber behind the bridge, with a shrieking so intense that Roland thought his ears would bleed. The engines were dead as well, meaning he couldn't make any course adjustments to keep in the fight. Now, the Warship he had commandeered was nothing more than a floating hulk with only a handful of active weapon batteries left.

"Time to bail," Roland said, rising from the seat.

The whole intention had been for him to cause a problem among the enemy attack group, and he had done that. The Iscariot, which had been their initial target, had received no further fire from the enemy. This protected his friends and his daughter, which were still aboard. Roland could faintly feel Lysses mana signature, no doubt the boy preparing to finish a foe.

"Come on kid, I need covering fire," Roland muttered.

As if summoned, the voice of the Phagian broke over the ship's com, distorted by static. "Roland, this is Lysses! Firing a round with the kinetic cannon now!"

Roland looked out the starboard viewport to see a lance of pure destruction, like a spear thrown from the gods, plow through the nearest PTO Warship. Roland couldn't help the hoot he let out. Victory always felt good. The Avatars would persevere this day.

A sensation passed over Roland like cold ice. He felt the hairs rise on the back of his neck and suddenly his mind was plunged into elsewhere, a different time, a different place. Plecius's memories were back at the most inopportune time.

Last time Plecius had stepped foot on Pandemonium, the Capital world of his people, he remembered there being sapphire seas. Where there had once been a glittering bay, now only resided mud-flat, pock-marked with craters and strewn with bodies of valiant defenders.

Scowling beneath his silver mask, he stepped over the broken body of a Kaisoshin warrior wearing ceremonial robes. Half of his torso had been blown away, cauterized by the heat of a ki blast. There were more kaioshins dotting the landscape, all had fallen in similar gruesome fashions.

He shook his head. The kaioshins likened themselves to gods, but were anything but. He knew all about them. Grown from the fruit of trees, they were the poster children of the higher dimensions. They looked down upon those in the mortal realm as if they were ants scurrying about. For them to be here, it meant something serious was happening.

Plecius liked that. He hadn't faced a serious enemy in almost a century. His hand fell to the shaft of his spear, which he had tied to his back. He drew swung it down, pointing its sharpened tip towards the mud, but never quite touching it. Gungir only could be dirtied by the blood of his enemies.

He found the bodies of soldiers from the First Legion, Pandemonium's elite guard. They wore chromatic mechanized armor which enhanced their already elite abilities. The few bits that had gone unscathed glinted in the sunlight, but their corpses looked ravished and muck streaked He saw a few decapitated heads and forlorn limbs. The one thing that kept pressing at his mind, as he strode across the muddy expanse, was where the seawater had gone. It was a pressing concern.

Where is the sea?

The heavy curtain of mist and smoke that had veiled the remainder of the battlefield until now shifted and opened, inviting him in. He steeled himself--stepping inside. The mist curled behind him, like doors shutting. There was no turning back now.

In the center, he saw a giant gaping hole in the earth, at least fifty miles wide. It reached so deep into the crust that he could see the faint orange glow of lava, bubbling violently thousands of leagues below. That explained where the sea went, at the very least.

Above the hole, he saw a fissure rippling through the sky, purest black and writhing like a serpent. It sputtered blue lightning, which flashed and streaked with wicked fingers. He felt a icy presence at the back of his mind, a voice emerged.

You are the greatest warrior?

His silver mask did not betray the grin on his face.

I am. Where are you? Face me, coward.

The air shifted above him and a sleek figured glided down. It was a being with skin blacker than the the most forlorn part of space, where the light of the stars could barely reach. Its body looked like it was composed of armored plates, all interlocked. It had a humanoid face, with ridges atop its skull. Molten gold eyes stared at him.

You remind me of him, the golden one. The only one to stop me. But,that was a different universe and a different time. A realm that I've since consumed.

"What are you talking about?" Plecius said. "It's a foolish thing, to admit you've been defeated."

Steel flashed as he raised Gungir high, pointing its sharpened end at the dark being.

Roland snapped back to, the world whirling around him. Alarms blared and warning lights flashed red and orange. Computer systems and displays sparked and buzzed. Bodies, broken by his own actions, lay strew about. Dizzy, it took him a moment to realize that that vision had cost him nearly a minute of time.

The status screen showed that the PTO Warship was at its last leg. No doubt it had bled so much atmosphere that if he stayed, he would suffocate. The core itself was starting to leak radiation and the engines had lost so much coolant they were close to exploding.

Concentrating, he found Lysses's energy signature--a beacon in the dark. Bright white energy shone around his body and he teleported away. That same moment, he materialized on the bridge of the Iscariot, falling to one knee. The atmosphere here was fresh at least, and he caught his breath.

"Dad you made it," Ruby said, clearly choking back despair. She threw her arms around him.

Roland couldn't help but chuckle. Not so long ago she had been screaming at him. How fast things changed, after battle. He returned a firm hug, his eyes falling to the Phagian Berserker.

"Looks like we're good! A few scuttler vessels managed to scurry out of the second ship, according to the display. Should we chase them down?"

"No," Roland said and shook his head. "No use burning more fuel and wasting ammunition on scraps. Let's just figure out if this ship is stable enough to make another hyperspace jump and get the hell out of here."

Roland wanted to lie down and sleep off the nightmare he witnessed. But, he couldn't. There was too much to do. The Iscariot had taken a beating, regardless.

WC: 1,278 / 5,192 / 12,060
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