/Every poor soul in Infinite now/
Lucem surveyed the field with a grim smile. Everything was in place now. Cyrano and his ilk, the players, Pierce, even Oracle and Maximius were as he wanted them. There was only one thing left, one final thing to determine, and all would be complete.
Cyrano, he began his pm. The time is now. Take your men and go to Siccilian: Crystal caverns. There is a teleportal location you may use. I will join you when I can. He smirked, a surge of pleasure coursing through him. At least, at last, the time was now. No more waiting, it was finally time.
Cyrano glanced at the pm, reading through it quickly. For a moment, he studied it with suspicion. It seemed odd that a player working with the mods would remain absent from something so important to the moderators. Still...maybe he was in another job from the Chancellor. So much was unknown.
There was a teleportal item included with the pm, one that had the ability to transport the entire camp. Struggling with doubt and suspicion, he activated it.
Arachni sat bolt upright when he realized what the new noise was. There were people int he dungeon, lots of them. For a second, he debated flight, then realized there was a block around the dungeon. He considered it, then decided that perhaps it was just as well. The fight would have com eventually, it may as well be now. Though, it was turning surprisingly and uncomfortably like the Cataclyst, and that was stirring up a slight anxiety in him.
Fight that. He couldn't be taken now. Quickly, he pulled up a map, checking the locations of those instruments and hands he dubbed explosives. He'd been placing them for months and they were there to plunge Infinite into chaos, at such a level that even he could be ignored. Maximius, in his mad wanderings, had destroyed a couple, but there were three for every city, five for every mountain, and hundreds scattered elsewhere. Once he set them off, even the barrier would break, and he would disappear till the right moment, snatching everything up. He smiled softly, triggering the command to set them off.
For a moment, nothing changed. Then, one by one, the marks on the map began to disappear. He stiffened, staring in shocked horror. "N-no! Who's destroying them? What happened?"
The map slid from his nerveless fingers, drifting softly to the floor. He stared vacantly at the wall, his entire body trembling violently. Those explosives, designed to release a potent virus he had modeled to perfection, the result of years work that could have finally won him his world, were all gone. In an instant, someone had reduced him to nothing once again, from hunter to hunted, from the predator to the prey. Just as Cyrano had, as Saify had, as Maximius had, as this new foe now did. From god to outcast, from ruler to fugitive, and the hunters were here now, coming for the kill Ash had said.
Killed, removed forever from the game he lived. Worse than reality, worse than life, the prospect of being cut off from the world he lived for chilled him most.
"They can't," he whispered, his voice rising to a snarl. "I won't die. Not here!"
He felt something, a presence, and whirled around. Sitting on the top of the throne was a figure Arachni had never seen before. "Who - how did you get here?"
The man smiled and bowed. "I have my ways, Pierce, as you do." Arachni's eyes narrowed, but the man continued. "I see you're in a bit of a spot. If you're willing to lose your pride, I'll let you ask my aid."
"I don't need anyone's help!" Arachni snarled. "I'm in control!"
The man smiled. "The offer remains open. When you're ready to humble yourself..." his form began to shimmer and fade. "Call for the Lucem's aid." and he disappeared, just as Cyrano and Ashimatya, followed by a score of others, burst into the room.
"Pierce!" Ash shouted.
Arachni straightened from his feral crouch slowly, exaggerating each movement as he rolled his shoulders back. When he turned, his face had recovered that knowing smirk. Well well," he said, his eyes taking in the whole of them. "Guests. If you'd sent me word, I would have prepared better. I suppose this will do." he chuckled dryly.
Cyrano stared at him, then said quietly, "I had hoped, somehow..." He shook his head, drawing his sword. "Pierce Landon, Python, Arachni, I have come to collect the debt you owe the people of Infinite."
"My, that's dramatic. How should I respond?" Arachni chuckled.
Ash suddenly started forward, stepping lightly across the fragmented floor. Zare followed, tense as a coiled spring. Cyrano started after him, trying to say something, when he suddenly fell back. Ash lowered his arm, a sick feeling in his heart, and stopped beside Arachni. He stood there a moment, then turned, his grim fact set. "I'm sorry Tyler," he said, his hard eyes focused on Cyrano, who stared in open amazement. "But Pierce is my brother, and this is wrong. I won't let you kill him."
Arachni stared as Ash reached out, resting a hand on his shoulder. Their eyes met, then they looked away.
Cyrano watched this quietly, then said softly, "Stephen." He shook his head, fists clenched. When he opened his eyes again, Ash could see the bitterness he had so feared seeing. "People are dying because of your little brother," Cyrano reminded him quietly.
"I've not killed anyone!" Arachni shouted. "I have no blood on my hands!"
"What about the moderators?" Cyrano shouted back ."The Chancellor told us everything! You disgusting virus, you're made of worse filthy than the junk that finds its way into the Slaver's Guild!"
"You're wrong!" Ke'Tala and Shaka Amity suddenly dropped from one of the ceiling cracks. Garrison and Andonov appeared from a passageway behind the crystal throne. The four of them came to stand with Arachni, Ash and Zare. Ke'Tala glared at Cyrano. "Pierce is not a monster. He may act like a little kid sometimes, but he's not a killer."
Arachni stared from her, to Shaka, to Garrison, to Andonov. Each one met his eyes with the same fiery belief Ke'Tala's voice held. They were there to support him, no matter what. Arachni just stared, unable to believe what was in his face.
Saify suddenly stepped forward. "People are dying," she said. "And one we trust tells us its you. Besides...I've my own personal bone to pick, Pierce!" and she rushed forward, manifesting a spear. Cyrano rushed after her, sword in hand. Behind him was Shade, her scythe in hand, and Lydia behind her. Kenji and Caesar followed from behind them.
Shaka took her spear, pure fire dancing on his figure. Garrison held a two-edged sword. Andonov held his knives. Ke'Tala was stringing five arrows. Ash held his scythe, Zare beside him snarling. Arachni's eyes trailed over this group attached to him, then he drew Eris and lunged into the fray.
A scream vibrated off the walls. Oracle thrashed about, shrieking in agony. The man beside her seemed beside himself, alternating between healing droughts and soothing.
"Oracle, you must calm down." he said urgently. "You can't let the miasma he's spreading take over."
"Remus," she breathed, suddenly clutching his wrist in a tight grip. He winced, and she spoke. "P-please," she said. "She will be, there is no avoiding it. But you must keep Aegis from her. Shew ill be our last hope if he wins."
Remus gently took her hand. "I will do everything," he replied. "Relax, please."
The battle was joined. The rest of Cyrano's crew, as much as would fit, had joined the fray, pressing against Pierce's group. Ash and Archni, locked back-to-back were holding off the joined attacks of Cyrano and Saify. Nancy and a couple others were trying to help, but Zare kept them back with dang and claw. Shaka engaged with both Lydia and Shade, her powerful fire and Shade's potent water locked in a fight for dominance. Ke'Tala tried to stay out of reach, using her bow to inflict as much damage as she could. Garrison was locked in combat with several others at once.
All in all, with the room beginning to fill up, it was a battle royale.
"I don't know about you," Ash remarked after a bit. "But I'm starting to run out of room."
"Its time to evacuate to higher ground," Arachni replied. "My crew already have a standard routine, but you're gonna have to do your own thing. Listen, take your friend into the shadows and escape to higher ground. We'll meet in Siccilian's snow fields." He slid to the mental chat. "Evasive maneuvers, now. We'll meet up top. Go!" His form began to fade into shadow.
"Hey!" Saify shouted, trying to stab him. "Running is cheating, you coward! There's nowhere you can run anyway!"
"You're so cute when you're mad." and he disappeared. Saify had a look that spoke volumes.
Ash ducked around Cyrano, using an item that petrified an opponent. Cyrano had only an instant to realize before his face went still, his entire body gone gray. Somewhat relieved, Ash dove forward to rest his hand on Zare just as he dove into the shadows.
Zare lunged back, then realized it was Ash. "Where are we?" He asked.
"We're going back tot he surface," Ash replied. "I'm using the shadow of the world to move."
Zare glanced around at the dark world and the glowing shapes that stood for people. "Interesting, but I'm looking forward to being in the light again."
"Yeah, lets get going."
"Is he okay?"
Nancy was scrolling through her spells, trying to find an anti-petrify, one she knew she had. Some kid, a newb surely, was staring at Cyrano's frozen face.
"I mean,:" the boy, dressed in desert gear, continued. "He looks pretty upset."
Nancy glanced up, her eyes lingering on Cyrano's face. His face was clear, but his eyes held his bitterness. That, and something more, but she couldn't figure it out. She extended her hand, pity in her own eyes.
"Esuna," she said. A gentle light surrounded the stone figure, and it slumped, taking on color once more. Cyrano shuddered, then lifted his face, and Nancy was shocked by the fire in them.
"Where," he grated. "Is Ashimatya?"
"Is everyone here?" Arachni asked, emerging.
"Appears to be," Ke'Tala answered promptly.
He gave her a set, flat look. "Don't think taking my side like that changes anything," he said softly. "I still don't trust you." He turned around so that he faced everyone, ignoring Ke'Tala's pained face. "They'll be here shortly. Cyrano is good at moving quickly. You all saw and fought his force down there. I want you to pick out a target and take them down." Shaka nodded, a grin growing on her face; clearly she already had someone in mind. "Find yourselves a spot, and hold it. Good luck anyone." He turned and started for the hill, Eris in hand.
Ash shook his head, then started after him. Zare hesitated before loping after. Andonov went in the opposite direction, leaving what remained of Pierce's original crew together.
Shaka glanced at Ke'Tala, then said, "Don't worry, he's just stressed now."
"Is he," she said softly. "Personally, I've never seen him more relaxed." She leapt into the air and started away from the hill.
"She may actually be right," Garrison said. "For all that's happened, he's doing quite well. Heck, he was almost smiling like when he was winning during the Cataclyst. I swear, he's having fun."
"Well, why not? We're facing the most impossible odds again. Come on, I'll race you." and she started running. Garrison grinned and bolted after her.
It was quiet when they reached the surface, a lovely world blanketed in snow. They moved forward cautiously, alert to any movement. Suddenly, fiery arrows descended from the sky. Ke'Tala shrieked a war cry as the group broke and scattered, raining various magicked arrows down on them. Her eyes sought their target, a well-dressed player followed by a monkey-like companion.
Shaka soon found Shade, and created a circle of fire around them. "Now we can have a real duel," she said, grinning.
"Maybe if I take you down I can prove Fire isn't the strongest element," Shade replied,.
Shaka chuckled, taking a firm grip on her spear. "Game on," she said.
Garrison had been aiming for Nancy, but Lydia came up from behind him, forcing him to take them both on.
Arachni watched as his mini scale force took on the whole of Infinite's hosts. It did not look all that good.
"Somehow, I knew you'd be back here," came a familiar voice behind him. "on the edges, out of the main fight, hiding."
He turned to face Saify. "Thank you for sparing me the trouble of finding you." He raised his sword, smirking. "Now I believe I have a score of my own to settle with you."
Cyrano found Ashimatya at the foot of the mountain. Ash motioned Zare away, then focused his attention on his old friend. Zare, choosing to keep an eye on Ash, went off a bit to make sure he wasn't interrupted. "Be careful Ash," he said softly.
Cyrano didn't say a a word, he just charged toward Ash. Ash quickly swung his scythe, focusing on blocking and defending. It was just like that battle. Cyrano's anger was blatant in his eyes, and the ferocity of his attacks were no weaker. Ash was again backing, dodging, defending, afraid to fight back. "Fool! You knew it would come to this!"
Something was building inside him, a dark, angry hatred of everyone, everything. Why was he forced to repeat this scene again and again? Was there no mercy, no justice, just this reoccurring nightmare of constant unending pain?!
Cyrano swung around, trying to get past Ash's defense. Suddenly, Ash spun his scythe around in a fast, complicated pattern. Cyrano struggled to keep up with him. Everything abruptly twisted, and he realized he was lying on his back in the snow, his sword laying on the ground several feet away. He looked up at Ash, who stood over him. He was chuckling quietly, but it grew to a strong, throaty laugh, rising till he sounded insane. Cyrano's eyes widened.
Dark tendrils played about him, snarling, hissing things that coiled around him in thick waves. He grinned slowly as he focused on Cyrano. He raised his scythe, swinging a lazy arc. His eyes had gone dark, and he seemed a whole new person.
Zare saw this, and quickly sprinted towards him, afraid Ash had finally gone over the bend. As Ash swung for the kill, he cried, "Ash stop!"
Ashimatya froze, his eyes widening as color returned to them. Arachni suddenly came crashing down, lying them all in a heap.
Saify jumped down as Arachni scrambled to stand. He, Ash and Zare stood back-to-back as Cyrano and Saify circled them. Arachni knew they were in a spot. He had seen his forces, it was part of what distracted him long enough for Saify to get him. They wouldn't last much longer.
"The offer is still open....Call for the Lucem."
"Alright!" Arachni shouted, as Cyrano and Saify lunged forward. "You win! Lucem, help us!"
"Lucem?!" Cyrano gasped, just as the world suddenly exploded in white.
Siccilian had been stripped of snow, leaving the bare ground. hundreds of gray bodies lay scattered, fallen players who failed to survive the blast.
Arachni stared at the destruction in dazed horror. Siccilian was completely destroyed. Even the proud mountain had been leveled, till it was hardly half its original size. As for people...any living remaining would be buried under the mound of death. "Guys," he said, finding his voice with difficulty. "Where...are you?"
"They're alive, somewhere. Personally, I'm surprised you care, given all you've said."
"They are...my friends, my brother," he said quietly. He turned to face Lucem, eyes narrowed. "Who are you, really?"'
He smiled slightly. "My name is Dynos Aegis, the creator of this world." He chuckled at Arachni's skeptical look. "In one life, I was the Chancellor."
"You-" Arachni stared at him, uncertain.
"My name in the world I left behind was Vincent Carrol. I was a creator of the game of Infinite, and the creator of the new world."
"I see." Arachni studied him through narrowed eyes. "I assume, then, you're the one behind this fight? Why did you aid me then?"
"Because I am intrigued by your level of possibility." He gestured grandly. "Only certain people can appreciate the beauty of this place, and you are the only one besides me who has realized the truth of this world."
"The...truth?" Arachni stared at him oddly. "What..."
"About this world...or do you unconsciously realize it?" he smiled smugly. "I must fix that."
"Pierce!" Cyrano suddenly appeared behind them. he looked towards Aegis, and his eyes narrowed. "Are you Lucem?"
"I am the Lucem. You may call me Aegis, hero."
"What's the deal?" Cyrano demanded, marching toward him. "Weren't you working with the Chancellor? What's going on?"
Aegis studied him a moment, then turned back to Arachni. "The truth is, this world is as real as the one Pierce lives in. People can die here, or build new lives. Our Codes? They're actually our inborn genes. I have been moving people from our original run down, used up world into this one. For many, its a chance at new life, at a new beginning."
Arachni stared at him, and yet, as he thought about it, it made sense. It certainly explained the deaths. And yet...
Aegis studied his face, then turned back to face Cyrano. "How about a demonstration." He put his hands close together, and a blade of light appeared between them. He smiled slightly, then shot it at Cyrano. Cyrano moved quickly, striking to knock it out of the air. As it contacted his sword, it suddenly split into rings that surrounded him, binding him. Aegis held another blade, already flying toward him.
"NO!" Arachni cried, suddenly realizing what this meant.
The blade went directly through Cyrano with no resistance. He stiffened, then collapsed instantly, his eyes growing quickly dim.
Arachni noticed, however, his form didn't gray, like Infinite characters did. Aegis smiled as he walked over, resting his hand on the fallen. Slowly, he pulled his hand upwards, and a tiny sphere of light followed. "This," Aegis said, standing with it cupped in his hand. "Is a person's essence, the proof that reality is now here." He smirked slightly. "And Tyler Loxly is no more." He dodged aside as a dark spear flew at him.
Arachni was shrouded in shadow, glaring angrily at Aegis. He had performed a Code...Genetic...Scan, and he had seen the truth. "You...you....murderer! You've really killed him! How dare you!"
"Don't be a fool," Aegis said with a smile. "You've hurt him more than I ever could."
"But I didn't kill him! Darn you, he was my friend once. You're destroying the world I love!" Eris appeared back in his hand. "I'll kill you!" he cried.
Aegis studied him, then sighed. "if that's your choice." He raised his hand. Suddenly, Arachni was surrounded by those rings, holding him firmly in place. Aegis held his sword. "A pity. I suppose. There was so much potential."
"You filthy son of the devil!" Arachni cried, struggling.
Aegis smiled and thrust.
A streak of black suddenly dropped between them, and a woman's screams filled the air. Arachni stared at the impaled figure of Ke'Tala before him. Aegis snarled and twisted the sword, drawing from her another scream.
Suddenly, the others came raging down on him. Shaka Amity with her fire, Garrison with his sword, and Andonov with his knives. Aegis quickly threw up a shield, then teleported away from the field.
Arachni caught Ke'Tala as she collapsed, easing her to the ground. "Amber...no....please Amber don't go," he pleaded.
"Does that...count?" she asked quietly. "Do you...believe me now?"
"Amber...I'm sorry. I always did. I was a fool."
She reached up slowly, touching his face. "I love you," she whispered, as her eyes closed.
"No!" Arachni cried. He quickly used Code Scan, moving directly into her vanishing life force.
The others watched as he sat there, hardly daring to hope. Finally, Ke'Tala sighed and she seemed to relax. Arachni shuddered, then opened his eyes. Shaka stepped forward. "Is she..."
"I shut her body down," he said quietly. "Crystallized it to be exact. when I can heal her, I can remove it."
Shaka nodded. Arachni stood, cradling Ke'Tala in his arms. He looked at each one of them, then said, "Meet me back at the hideout, you can reach it from the Crystal Throne exactly. We need to save this world from a madman now." After a moment, he added, "I've permanently fixed the log out function to you, so you can still leave if things get messy. First priority is to do the same for those still trapped. Go!"
One by one, they teleported.
Oracle had quieted, though her forehead was drenched in sweat. There was no sign of Remus.
Aegis walked through the pillars towards her, eyes alight in anticipation. There were faint marks on the sides of his face, but they were hardly visible. He towered over Oracle, smirking. "And at last" he said softly. "I have won."
"What did you do?" she asked weakly.
"The "barrier" contained the magic that killed all the people. The other spell took out nearly everyone in Siccilian. When those I allow awaken, they will find the technical gone, replaced by all that is real. All I need now is the girl you carry."
"She'll never serve you," Oracle said quietly. "The world sings too strongly in her for that."
"I don't need her alive."
Oracle gasped. "You wouldn't!"
He chuckled at her face. "No, I won't. She is, in sense, part of you, and I'm too fond of you to do that."
Before she could reply, a pain wracked her body. She began to glow faintly, then brighter. Aegis leaned forward eagerly. A tiny, egg like shape emerged from her body, slowly opening to reveal a tiny girl, curled up like a ball, little blonde ringlets covering her head. Aegis quickly reached forward to catch her, when he was suddenly jerked back. Remus flung his arms around him, pulling the struggling man away, and the child rested safely in Oracle's arms, "Release me!" Aegis roared angrily.
"Hurry Crea!" Remus shouted, struggling. "Hurry!"
Oracle rested her hand on the girl's head, smiling softly. Whispering a name, she kissed the baby's head, then realized her. She hovered a moment in the air, then transformed into light and disappeared. Oracle sighed and lay back.
"NO!" Aegis suddenly thrust back, sending Remus flying. He crashed into a pillar and sank to the ground, dazed. "Where is she?" Aegis demanded, grabbing Oracle by the shoulders, shaking her in his growing rage. "What is her name? Speak you fool!"
Oracle smiled serenely at him, "She is safe," she replied. "And with the players' aid, through her, we will be saved from your mad dream."
Remus tried to rise, when a sword of light impaled him through. His dying screams filled the halls as Aegis said, "You will tell, one way or another. After all..." He raised a small sphere in his hand. "There are more ways than one to use a virus."
Minutes later, her own screams filled the halls.
Ash stood amid the carnage, his eyes dim. His mind was locked on his fight with Cyrano, on the strange being that seemed almost to rise within him. He still felt it now, deep inside, and he knew it inside and out. The Dark Angel. The monster had come alive, and it was trying to claw its way to the surface even now.
Zare, where was he? So much death, so much evil done. Where was Pierce? Light, where was Zare?
Caesar glanced from behind the rock he was hiding behind. His eyes widened at the sight. "My, what a mess," he said. He glanced down at Kenji, who he'd pulled out of the way just in the nick of time. "Are you alright?" he shook his head tiredly, resting his hand on Kenji's shoulder. "Light, Kevin...I think I'm taking a break from Infinite for a while. Will...." he sighed, then looked straight at Kenji now. "Will you meet me, when we leave here? When we return to reality?"
Pierce stretched, slowly coming back to focus. He sat up and looked around. The place was still and quiet; Apparently Jean and Co. weren't home yet. He stood quickly, stowing his gear. Tearing off a sheet of paper, he quickly wrote on it, then pinned it to the wall and left.
Mr. Retired Detective Jean, thanks again for granting me sanctuary, even if this all began at gunpoint. If gave me the time I needed to do what I needed. No, I didn't blow up Infinite, but I found someone who was. I would advise you to avoid entering Infinite until it is safe again, though now that you've caught Aeon I wonder if you've any interest remaining. Me, I'm going to do some cop work of my own. Wish me luck.
OOC- Last post everyone! I'm sorry If I didn't do so well, writing in a hurry never works well, and god modding makes me uncomfortable, honestly, because I'm so afraid I'll mess up....anyways, please make your last posts. Note: logging out is currently still an option, even for those who couldn't before. Why? I'll explain when I'm bored. Suffice to say, you can log out now.
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5
"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22
Thank you. Have a good day.