[FFML] [Fanfic][Anime][X-over]Darkness Chronicles: Book I: Part I: Chapter VII

Craig fanfic at magister.net.au
Fri Feb 27 22:08:38 PST 2009


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 				   ** ** **

Darkness Chronicles
An anime-Manga Cross-over

 				   ** ** **

Book I:
Part I: The Gathering
Chapter VII:

 				   ** ** **

Madigan stood by the open door of the surveillance van, and swore 
vehemently in a fashion more inventive and more protracted than she had 
done in a very long time.

It had been going so well! The Knight Sabres had been kept occupied, 
precisely as the chairman had instructed, the six upgraded personal 
security buma playing their parts exactly as programmed.

Three were to be destroyed in the first attack, the others to lead the 
four vigilantes towards the area of the second rampage, immediately the 
last had fallen. They were slower than the hardsuits in their expanded 
forms, but they could remain active long enough to exhaust some of the 
hardsuits' much-needed energy. From the second rampage the one machine 
stripped of almost all unnecessary weight and weaponry was to remain an 
observer to the action until the end, when it would lead the Knight Sabres 
on a chase towards the third attack, its minimal armament and upgraded 
firmware giving it an excellent chance to remain out of range long enough 
to near the area without the need for backup. There again all but two of 
the buma were expendable. By then, the hardsuits would be dangerously low 
on power, and the final chase towards the DAs' hide-out, and the final 
rampage could begin. What would happen when they reached the luxury hotel 
in which the two renegade machines had gone to ground, the chairman had 
not yet told her. But Madigan had no doubt he had everything in hand.

It had seemed a perfect strategy, one so obvious that Madigan could not 
understand why it had not been tried before.

Then it had all fallen apart. Just how such a catastrophic failure had 
been possible, the frantic technicians in the van were still trying to 
ascertain. But whatever had happened had destroyed all but one of the 
buma, and this last was damaged it seemed beyond all hope of further 
action; just how badly, they were still trying to determine. The magnitude 
of the failure was made worse still by the fact that it was so utterly 
unexpected, and so impossible for which to plan.

"Madigan-sama?"

One of the men had stepped to the doorway, and was looking out at her as 
she stood staring moodily out towards the distant battle-zone where she 
guessed the ADP would already be drawing a tight cordon around the 
destroyed machines. Cursing herself yet again for not having the mobile HQ 
set up nearer the action, she whirled to face the technician, stepping 
aside and beckoning him irritably down.

"Well?" she snapped, her icy gaze holding his own for a moment before 
flicking savagely away. "I hope you have something to tell me."

She felt a moment's grim satisfaction at his quick nervous glance, then 
squashed the emotion with savage irritation. Fear was useful, but 
terrifying a subordinate for no good reason resulted only in their telling 
her what she wanted to hear. Forcing her face to its usual cool attention, 
she nodded for him to speak.

"The initial OMS report from the remaining assassin indicates a 
power-plant fluctuation," he began. "The buma lost power enough to 
initiate a full shut-down and disable its OMS link for almost fifty 
seconds. We'll know exactly how long, once we review the OMS node data. 
Approximately one minute after the initial failure, the reverse occurred; 
that is, there was a fluctuation far above base stability, lasting 
approximately ten seconds. It was this that destroyed the other machines, 
and crippled the last."

"This occurred in all the buma simultaneously?" Madigan demanded 
incredulously. "You're telling me there was an OMS fault?"

"No, Madigan-sama." The man's tone was suddenly very uneasy; "that's not 
what I'm telling you. What has just happened has no rational explanation. 
The plants are regulated internal to each machine, and although they can 
be OMS controlled to a degree: for example, reinitialised, or shut down in 
a situation where the buma becomes uncontrollable, it's impossible to 
alter the plant baseline. There would be no point in designing for that 
level of control. Besides, there was no OMS command sent to reset the 
plants, nor was there a loss of contact before the initial failure itself 
that would indicate some external influence."

"Would it be possible to emulate contact for the OMS node?" she demanded. 
"Could the Knight Sabres have caused this?"

"Not without packet interruption," he answered. "And even if they managed 
that, and I don't see how they could, there would be continuity errors in 
the data the OMS was receiving. There was no hint of trouble until the 
exact moment of the initial crash.

"In any case there's more: far more. We assumed at first that the last ADP 
helicopters to be downed had been shot down by the machines. Our own 
surveillance and satellite data shows now that this was not the case. They 
simply lost power, and crashed. The failure occurred at precisely the same 
moment as that of the buma. Also, there seems to have been a localised 
fluctuation in the city power-grid, in the battery stacks that were 
powering the ADP spotlights, and, if satellite data is accurate, in the 
Knight Sabres hardsuits."

Madigan stared at him for a moment in shocked silence.

"What you're telling me," she said carefully at last, "is that what has 
just happened should, by all accepted physics, be impossible."

"It happened, therefore it's possible. But--"

He was interrupted as Madigan's pager-phone demanded attention.

"Madigan," she said, snatching it from her pocket.

For a moment, she listened intently, slow shock and disbelief spreading 
over her suddenly ashen face.

"I understand," she said quietly at last. "I'll be there as soon as I 
can."

Snapping the phone closed, she returned it to her jacket, and turned to 
face the suddenly frozen technician.

"Cancel the remaining assassins' programs regarding tonight's operation," 
she said simply. "Initialise them to stand by for priority server 
download. MegaTokyo is under attack."

 				     * * *

The strategy would have been perfect in its inconceivable impossibility, 
had it been a strategy at all; Quincy would have had to grant at least 
that much to the unknown antagonists. It was however immediately obvious 
to him that whoever, or whatever they were, something had gone 
catastrophically amiss. Either they had attacked blind: an absurd 
proposition, or their appearance in the middle of a battle-scene was 
entirely outside their control: a ridiculously improbable stroke of 
appalling bad luck on their part. The last seemed tremendously more 
likely, given their initial bewilderment, and the way they had reacted to 
the intervention of the ADP.

There had been no warning, no indication at all as to what was about to 
happen. There had been a sudden total data-loss from the machines at the 
site of the first rampage, Quincy attributing it immediately to some new 
system of the pink hardsuit. Sylia could nearly always surprise him; it 
was one of the things that made her and her team such superb and 
fascinating antagonists.

Dismissing what he could not change, he had turned his attention to the 
other sites. For a little over a minute all had remained exactly as it 
should.

Then it had happened. In one instant the six Bu-55C-iii machines had been 
awaiting the signal to begin the third rampage. In the next, a swirling 
blackness had opened in the very air barely twenty feet from where they 
were concealed, and the creatures had begun to emerge. It had been 
unimaginable good fortune that the breach had occurred where it had, and 
that Quincy had himself been observing through the machines.

"Is this part of the plan?"

Madeleine Amura, speaking with Ligeia's mouth, had turned towards him, her 
eyes still wide with fear and confusion.

It had taken him minutes to silence the screams after her initial 
activation, then he had uttered another imprinted command phrase, and 
Madeleine had understood everything, and she had nearly screamed again.

"Of course it isn't; don't be absurd!" He had not looked at her, reaching 
instead for the phone at his side.

"But what--" she had tried.

"Silence," he had barked, not looking around.

In the next instant a gasp from her had made him glance back at the feed 
from the machines, just in time to see one of the grey-clad invaders raise 
a branch-like hand, and hurl a flurry of glowing leaf-like projectiles 
into the face of a suddenly leaping buma which had obviously interpreted 
the sudden appearance of the creatures as a priority threat. There was a 
sudden burst of white, then the feed from that machine had ended.

So it had begun, barely a minute before, and the loss of contact at the 
initial site had also been explained. A two-pronged assault were the 
imbecilic screams of Genom security. In which case, he had felt 
accommodating enough to point out to the fool who had disturbed him rather 
than doing the job for which he was employed, how very fortunate that the 
invaders had managed to choose their points of attack with such convenient 
incompetence. And how novel that they had decided to bring their children 
with them on their little campaign, this more than amply demonstrated to 
anybody other than a congenital halfwit by the fact that some of the 
creatures had sacrificed themselves to hold off the attacking buma whilst 
a few fled, hurrying a group of small, screaming creatures away with them 
as quickly as they could.

Quincy had been more than a little tempted to have the idiot terminated as 
a warning to in-born stupidity.

Smiling grimly, he set down the phone, and turned at last to Madeleine. 
She had been watching, white-faced and aghast at the feed coming from the 
remaining five machines, a strange yet undefinable sense of familiarity 
growing more potent with every second.

"What are they?" she demanded faintly at last.

"I assume that to be a rhetorical question, or did you really expect me to 
know?" he answered dryly.

Madeleine glanced towards him, her face tight as she tried vainly to find 
the source of her growing certainty that she knew the nature of the things 
she was seeing.

"Well, do you intend to stand there until morning?" he demanded. "You know 
what to do. Do it."

"Still!" she gasped.

"I don't recall agreeing to repeat myself," he said simply. "Do you 
imagine Fellini will wait, simply because my security division is staffed 
by congenital imbeciles?

"Go. And see that Fellini learns nothing of what is happening before his 
and Liana's escape. I imagine you can manage that. You are then to find 
Marina and Camilla without delay, and release the data Ligeia contains. 
After that, your course should be obvious; it *is* why I chose you after 
all."

"Now I understand at last why so many people have tried to kill you," she 
cried suddenly, her voice trembling, and her eyes blazing with 
uncharacteristic rage.

"Then keep that thought in your mind if you wish," he said simply. "It 
should prove an excellent source of motivation. Now, if you've quite 
finished wasting time?"

Her expression tight, Madeleine whirled away from him, and leapt to the 
door.

"I've never hated anyone before," she cried desperately, her voice choked 
with sudden emotion; "not really. But I really, really hate you!

"And you'll pay. I don't know how, but your kind always do."

Then it was closing behind her, and she was gone, speeding wildly through 
the vast passages, tears nearly blinding her as the rage grew, and grew, 
and Quincy's cold, amused laughter seemed to follow cruelly in her wake.

How could he! How could he have done this to her: let her real self die 
and make a copy, just to stop that madman, when he could have done it 
months ago, before it had come to this!

She had known from the beginning and before she had learnt anything of his 
history, that Fellini was dangerous. The man had frightened her beyond 
words since the first day she had met him, only hours after she had passed 
the final security checks and been confirmed in her new position as part 
of the DA project. There had been something wild and unspeakably hungry 
and malevolent in his cold, dark eyes as he had appraised her at their 
first meeting, and Madeleine had been relieved beyond measure when 
unexpectedly she had been given the choice as to which team she wished to 
join.

It had not taken her long to hear the rumours: that the death of 
Zhuranovsky-hakase's daughter had not been an accident: that Fellini had 
infected her deliberately with the first-generation prototype as revenge 
for what he saw as his rival's undeserved position as executive director 
of the project, and the choosing of his alternative as pre-eminent.

She had not doubted them, even though she had never dared ask 
Zhuranovsky-hakase directly, and Domina-san had requested she speak of the 
matter as little as possible. Alexei had suffered quite enough.

And the chairman had known: had let Marina Alexeievna die rather than lose 
his chief project scientist, considering it both expedient, and a means by 
which Zhuranovsky would become obsessed and determined enough to do what 
otherwise might well have proved impossible. Oh how she hated him now, now 
that she knew who he was, and the appalling enormity of what he had done.

Yet there was no time. Whatever his plans had been for this night, all was 
now changed irrevocably by what was happening. And he was right. Despite 
his callous manipulation, and a calculated cruelty to achieve his ends she 
could not have believed anybody capable, he was right. Fellini would not 
wait: would not let anything deflect him from his goal. And if he 
succeeded: if he and Liana were not stopped, and the weapon was 
released...

Fighting down her tears, Madeleine reached for the link, not knowing or 
caring how she knew what to do, and gasped as she felt for the first time 
the autonomous response of her adversary, and her only hope.

 				     * * *

Fellini had just slipped the last disk containing the data he intended to 
take with him in the small brief-case when the first shouts of alarm 
reached him. Then the door to his own private room was slammed open, and a 
moment later Liana was at his side, her face grim as she reached to snatch 
up the case.

"What--?" he began.

"We have been discovered," she said simply.

Her tone was frighteningly calm. "The chairman knows everything. Unless 
you intend to blast your way from the tower, we had best leave, and leave 
immediately."

For one stunned moment Fellini stared stupidly at her as though unable to 
speak. Then a cracking slap across his face brought him back to reality 
once more.

"Is everything packed?" he snapped, fighting down the urge to lash out at 
her in return.

"We've everything we need," she said quickly. "Come, while they're still 
arguing and shouting insults at one another."

"We'll never reach an exit," he continued, turning his head for a moment 
as the shouts from the direction of the research laboratories became more 
urgent.

"We won't if you stand here like an imbecile!" she answered angrily, her 
cold voice laced with contempt. "We can take the fire-escape. Are you 
coming?"

Moments later they were out of the room, and racing for the emergency 
shaft and its spiral stairway, Fellini already straining to keep up with 
Liana as she glided effortlessly along the passage ahead of him, a heavy 
case clutched fiercely in each hand.

"Can you--" he began.

"I've already unlocked it, and disabled the alarm" she snapped. "and a car 
is programmed and waiting. So stop wasting my time with idiotic questions, 
and move."

Seconds later he was in the dimly-lit stairwell, his pounding footfalls 
echoing in the shaft as he struggled desperately to match Liana's all but 
silent flight before him, the blood pounding in his ears as he fought 
desperately to control his sudden fear and exhilaration. Ahead of him, 
Liana glanced back for a moment, her own expression a barely contained 
snarl of frustration.

"We'll be trapped for certain if this is all the speed you can manage," 
she said in a low, savage hiss. "I'll go on ahead, and bring the car to 
the door."

"Mm," he grunted, unable to manage more against the desperate panting of 
his breath.

Flashing him a sudden vicious smile, Liana turned and sped away into the 
near darkness. A moment later she was gone, and Fellini was alone.

He struggled on, his pulse racing wildly as he pounded round and down the 
seemingly never-ending spirals, not daring to rest even for a moment at 
the landings. He cursed himself again for not taking such an eventuality 
into account: for trusting that Liana would be able to give him the 
warning they would need to escape without the need to run. If he survived 
this, he swore that he would begin to work on less drastic modifications 
for his own benefit.

Gasping, barely able to stay on his feet, Fellini stumbled down the final 
stairway, and lurched wildly for the fire-door. Staggering, clutching at 
it for support, he swung himself through, not bothering to slam it behind 
him, and nearly staggered right into the arms of the security buma that 
had obviously been waiting for him.

"You will return with me," It said in a flat emotionless voice.

It reached a clawed hand towards him, then shrieked in buma rage as its 
arm was cut from its body just below the shoulder. Whirling, snarling in 
frustrated fury, it opened its mouth wide to deal with the new threat. 
Then its head was bouncing on the asphalt, and Liana was blowing imaginary 
gunpowder from her slender fingers with a grin of malicious amusement.

"Shall we go?" she inquired.

 				     * * *

"Sylia!" Linna's scream cut through the gaping shock of the others like a 
whip. "We have to do something! That thing is--"

She was cut off by the crack of a heavy-calibre pistol, and the 
plant-woman or whatever she was that had been pinning the terrified ADP 
officer a moment before staggered back, grey blood frothing suddenly on 
her mouth as she tried vainly to scream.

Snarling viciously, eyes glowing suddenly like coals, the other strangers 
moved forwards, shedding their glamour with a terrifying speed far beyond 
any buma, becoming in a moment hideous twisted parodies of human forms. 
Then suddenly the tall grey-cloaked figure of a man had appeared as though 
by magic, and leapt to stand before them.

"No!" The command cracked like thunder, and the creatures halted, turning 
as one towards him. "Fools!"

His gaze turned to the writhing figure, who had collapsed now to lie 
prone, her limbs twitching feebly as she tried vainly to stir. "Did we not 
warn you?"

He remained still for a moment, as though gauging whether she could be 
saved. But at last he shook his head, and turned to face the others once 
more.

"How many more must we lose before you understand? he demanded fiercely. 
"These humans intended no harm. Nor did we come here to fight.

"The others are not far away. Come! Now!"

And without another word he made as though to step forwards, and vanished 
before their disbelieving eyes, the thirty or so creatures doing likewise 
a scant moment later.

Alone, the plant-woman twitched vainly for a moment as though trying to 
follow. Then with a final gush of grey blood from her mouth her body went 
limp. For an instant it remained unmoving. Then as they gaped, it simply 
crumbled and dissipated before their staring eyes, until a moment later 
nothing but a fine dust remained.

 				     * * *

Something was horribly wrong. Zeolite had known that the instant she had 
leapt into Uranite's portal, and felt a sickening lurch as though she were 
being twisted like weaver's cord. For one horrified moment she had been 
certain they were too late: that the collapse had reached the gate, and 
this was the end. Through her leaping terror, she had glimpsed the exit 
point in the near-dark Tokyo alley Uranite had selected. Then a new, vast 
horror crashed over her, and she was plunging headlong into a soaring, 
hungry blackness that she understood in an instant of nightmare was 
something terrible and inimical beyond all she could begin to comprehend, 
agony ripping through her like poisoned ice, coupled with sickness and 
giddiness, and a wrenching nausea that threatened to have her pass out at 
any second. Then she was staggering out into the full, dazzling brightness 
of a wide, well-lit street in a place she had never seen.

Trap! she thought numbly, too shaken and disoriented to understand 
anything other than that somehow the senshi must have known: must have 
diverted the exit, and that she might die in the next few seconds. 
Desperately she tried to draw breath to scream a warning. But it was too 
late. Someone slammed into her from behind: Cryolite she realised dazedly, 
catching the scent she always seemed to wear.

"Move it damn you!" The other woman snarled fiercely. "What in Serenity's 
palace are you doing? The others will be right behind us!"

Then her voice choked off, and she too stood gaping, until a moment later 
both she and Zeolite were sent sprawling as Apatite came somersaulting 
out.

"Oh! Metallia's black *soul*!" she moaned faintly, then gaped and froze in 
ridiculous imitation of her companions, and was herself knocked reeling on 
to the other two by a tumbling Halite.

His impetus rudely interrupted, Halite lurched, arms flailing wildly, 
fighting the nausea and the lingering horror as he tried vainly to stay on 
his feet. Then all three women tried simultaneously to untangle 
themselves, and he was sent sprawling by the sudden furious lunge. That 
probably saved his life as an instant later a sizzling particle-beam 
ripped through the space in which his head had been a scant moment before, 
and cut the first of the emerging Youma in two before she had time to 
scream. Then the others were staggering out, and a moment later everything 
was screaming, and explosions.

"Where in Beryl's name have you brought us, you Metallia-damned imbecile!" 
Apatite was shrieking at the very top of her lungs at a still-retching, 
and barely coherent Uranite, , shaking him like a rag-doll even as the 
crash and thunder of a dozen simultaneous attacks seemed to fill the 
world. He had been the last to emerge into the madness, and being by far 
the most sensitive to the intricacies of the gate he had created, he 
seemed even more horribly incapacitated than the rest by the terrible, 
horrifying plunge into this impossible situation. "And where in Serenity's 
Ginzuishou-cursed name is Tellurite, and the rest of our people?"

Uranite could only stare stupidly at her as he fought desperately not to 
be sick, until a screamed warning from Halite had Apatite tackle the 
still-dazed mage to the ground before two more Youma were cut to pieces by 
yet another sizzling blast.

"What *are* these things?" Cryolite screamed, brilliant green energy 
spitting suddenly from her fingers as she tried in vain to catch one of 
the leaping buma in the head.

"Wrong exit-point!" Uranite gasped, still gagging. "Not my doing. 
Interference with the gate."

"Really!" Apatite responded, her tone dripping sarcasm and contempt. "Of 
course, we could never have worked that out ourselves."

She seemed to have decided that the only way to deal with what was 
happening was to turn on the first obvious candidate for blame.

"The collapse?" Cryolite demanded, shooting her sister a withering look. 
She hurled another barrage at their adversaries, then dived desperately 
aside as something shrieked passed almost parting her long emerald hair.

"No," he choked. "The gate was stable when I entered, and Tellurite was 
ahead of me. Nearly three-hundred made it out before we had to run! I 
don't--"

"Those cursed Senshi *filth*!" Apatite's snarl was venomous as she leapt 
to her feet once more. (They must have known; somehow they must have been 
aware, and planned this!

"Die, you Serenity-loving bastards!" she screamed malevolently at the 
attacking buma, her rage with Uranite forgotten as she threw both arms 
wide.

A blinding flash-blast of searing blue energy leapt forwards to smash into 
one of the blue machines. The buma was slammed end over end, but to 
Apatite's utter disbelief it twisted suddenly, flipping with a lithe, 
fluid grace to its feet once more, and retaliated with a searing flash 
that nearly took her head off as Halite tackled her from its path just in 
time.

"Keep down, you idiot!" he shouted at her, his own hands flying forwards.

The concussive blast of air smashed the machine down with enough force to 
break bone like kindling, but again it leapt up seemingly unhurt.

"You'll never destroy them like that."

At the new shout, both spun savagely.

Tellurite, his grey uniform dusted with what seemed to be ash, and 
sporting a vicious livid gash along one cheek bared his teeth in salute at 
their quick relieved glances, and turned towards a C-55-iii that had just 
cut a fire-throwing Youma in half as though she were no more than a 
momentary inconvenience, and was moving to do the same to a huge 
reptilian-human whose poisoned crystal shards were doing no more than 
scratch the paint-work of his adversary.

"QUAKE!" Tellurite shouted, hurling both hands down.

A seething blackness struck the ground before his feet. Dimly the others 
could sense it as it travelled beneath the earth, until suddenly it 
erupted upwards directly beneath the buma. A moment later a shattering 
explosion turned the machine and the reptile-Youma into a fireball.

"Not exactly what we wanted," Zeolite felt it necessary to point out as 
she avoided losing her left arm by a hair's breadth, and retaliated with 
an attack of her own that seemed to have as little effect as most of the 
rest. "What happened?"

"I certainly didn't expect that," Tellurite shouted over the explosions 
and the snarls and screams of Youma. "Plainly these things are not magical 
in origin. Yet I can't see how the humans' technology could have created 
them. There would have been reports, and they'd have been used against 
Beryl's agents. Wherever we are, we're not in Tokyo. Something has gone 
very wrong."

"Uranite believes the exit-point was tampered with,"  Halite answered 
above yet another scream of pain, then had to dive aside as yet another 
four Youma were incinerated. "But I agree; this makes no sense!"

"We can't sustain these losses!" Cryolite screamed, glancing desperately 
to where her sister, and Zeolite stood now back to back. "If we don't do 
something, we might as well have left them all to die!

"FLARE!"

Green fire exploded from her mouth and hands while twin beams of 
emerald-green energy lanced from her eyes into the head of another of the 
buma.

For a moment nothing happened, then with a cataclysmic blast that 
vaporised several more Youma the machine erupted into a brilliant pillar 
of flame. The force of the explosion sent all six hurtling backwards to 
smash through the plate-glass of a jewellery boutique.

"Oh perfect, just *perfect*," Zeolite groaned dazedly as she shook the 
stars from her head, and glared at the emerald-haired fighter with 
uncharacteristic venom. "Thank you very much!"

"You could have done better?" The other woman challenged, wincing as she 
plucked glass from her neck. "I don't recall choosing to have it explode 
almost in my face!"

"I doubt I could have done worse," Zeolite responded acerbically.

An instant later what was left of the window exploded as two machines came 
leaping into the boutique.

Bounding to her feet, a long, jagged spear of crystal materialising in her 
hand, Zeolite turned towards them, black energy erupting to engulf the 
spear as she hurled it at the buma. Then a flash from the mouth-laser of 
one struck the projectile. Detonating prematurely, the tiny shards 
nevertheless penetrated the machines in a thousand places, but seemed to 
do little more than to enrage them further, if that were possible.

Cryolite made as though to say something suitably cutting, then turned as 
Uranite staggered to his feet, seeming at last to have shaken free of the 
nausea and stupefaction that had kept him unable to help since he had 
emerged into the fray.

"It won't work, cousin," he said grimly, glancing to where Zeolite had 
paused for a moment to heal a vicious slash in Apatite's left arm with a 
brief touch of her hand. (These things have no aura: no soul: nothing to 
stun or control. Metaphysical attacks are useless.

"BURN!"

Searing violet heat erupted from his suddenly thrusting hands. In the next 
instant a devastating detonation smashed the already battered six through 
several display cases, the counter, and register, and through another 
display-window to slam, dazed and bloodied into the street.

"Oh *brilliant*!" Apatite moaned, barely aware of the faint, agonised 
screams of the Youma as a blazing tornado of plasma expanded from the 
point at which the buma's reactor had exploded, engulfing the shop, the 
machines, and many of their adversaries. "Why don't you just kill us all 
and get it over, you halfwit!"

Barely conscious, Uranite could do nothing but shake his bleeding head in 
dazed confusion, until at last he managed the concentration needed to heal 
himself. Stumbling to his feet, he moved to do the same for the others 
rather than wait for them to recover. Zeolite, the only true healer in the 
group but less able than he to protect herself with a shield was just 
staggering to her feet.

"What..." Halite demanded, too stunned for the moment to be enraged.

"I...it seems the golems power comes from an element akin to my elemental 
magic," Uranite answered grimly, "but far more unstable and prone to 
fission. I've seen it only once before, in an alchemist's workshop, but it 
was too dangerous and deadly to be useful. And it doesn't care to be 
disrupted; it doesn't care for it at all.

"I'm sorry; that attack is too dangerous to use again."

"Nice of you to discover that *after* the fact," Cryolite commented drily 
as she yanked her younger sister unceremoniously to her feet. "Wakey 
wakey, little sister; you're missing the festivities."

Apatite contented herself with a killing glare at Uranite for answer.



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