Chapter 43 - Unexpected Alternatives
“Overdrive: Conflict’s Judge!!”
“What?!” Davídrius exclaimed, startled as the remaining swords on his person instantly shattered and fell to the ground in pieces. His attention was quickly torn to the sudden flashes of light surrounding Hero Machina — tank turrets detonated, mech guns disintegrated, gunship rockets spontaneously dismantled. Even the nearest portion of the Riaxen Deathnought wreck sparkled slightly, a sign of various external weaponry suddenly exploding.
“What’s going on?!” Siyuakén yelped as the two gauss turrets mounted on the back of the Earthian trucks sparked violently before falling to pieces.
“…Everyone’s weapons have fallen apart…” Rebehka muttered as she slowly surveyed the battlefield. She then turned back to face Kaoné, awestruck. “Was this— was this you?!”
“I guess so?...” Kaoné responded, “…so this… this is my Overdrive? I can make weapons fall apart?”
“Looks like the Riaxen have stopped approaching, too,” Kevérin observed.
“Perfect opportunity to take ‘em out—!” Davídrius exclaimed before suddenly collapsing to his knees and grasping his helmet in pain. “GAAH! What in the—!”
“Davídrius!” Christeané dashed over to the Velocitechnic’s side. “What happened?!”
“I… I don’t know,” the Tresédian replied uneasily as he stumbled back to his feet. “I was just about to take advantage of the openin’ to attack the Riaxen… then, suddenly, pain. Damn it, what the hell was that?”
Kievkenalis looked back at the Riaxen vehicles, all of which had stopped in their tracks. Riaxen soldiers were beginning to climb out uneasily, while a couple of the mechs and gunships even turned back and fled the way they came. “…Could this be part of the Overdrive, too?”
“Huh?” Kaoné glanced back at the Chaostechnic. “What do you mean?”
“You didn’t just destroy all of the weapons in the area, you’ve also introduced a strong inhibition to fighting,” Kievkenalis mused. “Even without weapons, the Riaxen could easily crush us with their vehicles alone. And... I can’t really seem to focus on any of the vehicles myself. If I think about using a Chaos attack, the thought just… fades away. It’s like I can’t think about actually attacking them.”
“You’re saying that she’s influenced people’s minds?” Christeané questioned incredulously.
Davídrius scowled. “That’s not—! That’s not a Materiatechnic Overdrive!”
“No, but it’s certainly a pacifist’s Overdrive,” Kievkenalis countered. “Overdrives aren’t just related to a person’s Chaotic type, after all. It’s pretty rare, but they can also be based on the person’s personality. Controlling what a person thinks is technically possible for a Materiatechnic anyways, if they had an intricate understanding of the brain that no one currently does, at least…”
“So what, she’s a fuckin’ Psychotechnic now? A Realitechnic?”
“You sound scared,” Kaoné teased.
“I—!” Davídrius inhaled stiffly, his fists clenched. “This is ridiculous!”
“This is my response to your assertion about having power and being a soldier,” Kaoné countered as she casually righted the two flipped Earthian trucks. With another wave of her hand, all of the scrap metal laying around was drawn toward the two trucks before combining with them, shifting the broken frames until they both appeared as good as new — minus the turrets. The Materiatechnic stared at the two trucks and then looked down at her hands contemplatively. “…This is what I always wanted to do as a Materiatechnic. Before, I could only control matter by thinking about a region of space, you know? Like with every other Chaotic. If I was just a little off — if I misjudged a distance, or a size, or a depth, I could cause accidental harm. That’s why I didn’t want to do anything. But now, with my Overdrive… I can control objects themselves. I can save people — without having to worry about hurting them!” She glanced around at the surrounding Riaxen forces, stopped in their tracks and utterly confused, before turning to face Davídrius resolutely. “…Back on Teghica, you… you were probably right about everything you said, about me being a soldier who doesn’t fight. But now I can! I can fight — to save as many people as possible! And with my powers, I’ll do my best to make sure no one dies — because killing is never the answer!”
“I think you might be getting a little ahead of yourself,” Kevérin interjected, “all you’ve done is dismantled everyone’s weapons, inhibited killing intent, and… completely… fixed a couple… trucks…”
“Sounded smarter in your head, huh?” Christeané snorted as the Pyrotechnic trailed off uneasily.
“He does have a point, in a way,” Rebehka commented as she jumped into the driver seat of one of the trucks. “I doubt the weapons will come back together, but once Kaoné’s Overdrive wears off, there’s nothing to keep the Riaxen from attacking us again. We should really get moving.”
“I… this… what?” Davídrius spluttered.
“Hey Kaoné, I think you broke Davídrius,” Christeané quipped as he jumped into a turret-less backseat.
“I’m not— I mean, that’s not— this isn’t…” the Velocitechnic stuttered a response as the trucks revved up and took off toward the Riaxen wreck again. “I mean, this is ridiculous! Kaoné did this? This is her Overdrive? Bullshit. It’s bullshit!”
“There is literally no other explanation,” Christeané replied in exasperation.
“This… tch.” Davídrius finally dashed up to the trucks and then fell into pace between them, the wreck looming ever closer. “Alright, fine. But do you really think just leavin’ ‘em back there will accomplish anything?”
“We got out of the fight and no one else had to die,” Kaoné stated bluntly.
“And that’s the thing! Your ideals are still misplaced! You really think those Riaxen soldiers are just gonna sit there and go ‘oh hey, maybe I shouldn’t kill the enemy forces after all!?’”
“No, I’m aware that they’ll come after us again… but if we can still get out of this with even just a little less death, then isn’t that a good thing?”
“These are the Riaxen you’re talkin’ about! The closest to ‘evil’ you can get in the galaxy, aside from the Drakkars!”
“Based on what? Everything you’ve heard from the Syraus, the sworn enemy of the Riaxen?”
“No, I heard this shit from the Riaxen themselves,” Davídrius snorted sarcastically.
“That’s exactly the problem! You don’t know their side!”
“They were the ones who attacked Tyrnaus!!”
“So the commanders ordered it, but what do you know about the ordinary soldier? How do you know that those mech pilots, those tank drivers, how do you know they’re ‘evil?’ That they aren’t just conscripted members of the army, like most Syraus soldiers, or even any of us? That they don’t have their own families and lives to go back to outside of fighting?”
“That’s— …that’s not…”
“It’s not black and white, Davídrius. Killing them does nothing to help us, but everything to hurt them. The only Riaxen truly deserving of punishment are the ones in charge… and even then, I don’t think killing them is the answer. It never is.”
“…But… no, that’s…”
“Weren’t expecting her to fight back, were you?” Siyuakén interjected, the smirk evident in her tone.
“Tch.” Davídrius scowled. “…I still disagree. But… I guess we can try things your way. …For once.”
“Thanks, Davídrius,” Kaoné replied.
“But I reserve the right to say ‘I told you so’ if this comes back to bite us in the ass.”
“Duly noted,” Christeané quipped. “And now that we’re done discussing philosophy, how about we focus on the one thing we all forgot to think about?”
“What’s that?” Kevérin glanced briefly over at the Forcetechnic.
“How are we supposed to find the Ayas in a fifty kilometer wreck?”
Silence fell over Hero Machina, all eyes focused forward on the ever-approaching Deathnought wreck as it towered over twenty kilometers into the sky.
“Well, that’s, uh…” Kevérin muttered, “…I’m sure we’ll think of something.”
“Davídrius is a Velocitechnic,” Kievkenalis suggested.
“Just ‘cause I can run really fast doesn’t mean I can or want to search the entire damn wreck,” Davídrius countered irately. “There’s at least, what, twenty by twenty by twenty kilometers of searchable wreck? That’s eight thousand cubic kilometers. Do you know how much time that’ll take to search?!”
“You’re the resident Chaostechnic. Shouldn’t you be the one to look for the Ayas? With all that Chaos Energy-sensing shit?”
“I guess so, but I can’t sense an Ayas from this range. I can’t sense them very strongly either, like, back on Teghica it was just a… weird off feeling. And I couldn’t even sense the Ayas on Kotak or Rossindon. I sure can’t sense any now.”
“But I can.”
The rest of Hero Machina turned to stare at Siyuakén, who herself had fixed her gaze on an area of the wreck high in the sky, toward the back of the dead ship. After a couple moments, she realized the attention she was receiving and returned the stares confusedly. “What?”
“You just said you could sense the Ayas,” Christeané replied as Kevérin and Rebehka faced forwards again.
“…I said that out loud…?”
“Yeah, you did,” Davídrius deadpanned. “Was that supposed to be a joke?”
“No, I mean…” Siyuakén responded uneasily, “…I think I can. I can sense something in the wreck. I think it’s the Ayas.”
“But… you’re an Electrotechnic,” Kevérin countered in confusion. “The Ayas aren’t electrical… last anyone checked, anyways.”
“I don’t… I don’t know.” The Electrotechnic shifted uncomfortably. “I can’t explain it, I just… I think I can sense it.”
“Well that’s really fuckin’ reliable,” Davídrius snorted. “Either that, or really fuckin’ convenient. We’ve been havin’ a lot of that lately.”
“Guys, give her a break,” Rebehka cut in just as she pulled the truck to a stop a few meters from the beginning of the wreck’s scrap. Kevérin pulled up right beside her as the women jumped out of the first truck before turning back to the rest of Hero Machina. “If she thinks she can find the Ayas, then why not give it a shot?” the Cryotechnic suggested, “it’s all we have right now. Kevken can verify once we get closer.”
Kaoné nodded. “I agree. It’s the fastest way to get in and out… and… I’m not sure my Overdrive will protect us anymore…”
“It’s worn off?” Kevérin glanced back at her.
“Alright, then.” The Transfer Captain climbed out of the truck and looked up at the massive wreck before him. “…We’ll follow Siyuakén’s sense for now.”
“Davídrius, it’s all we’ve got,” Kevérin cut off the Velocitechnic, turning to glare at him irately. “What else would you suggest?”
“I don’t… I don’t know.” Davídrius crossed his arms and glanced over at Siyuakén. “But doesn’t this… doesn’t this seem just, you know, too convenient?”
“You think it’s a trap?”
“Well… I dunno…”
“If you can think of an actual reason to object, I’ll listen to you. Otherwise…” The Pyrotechnic glanced back at the wreck, and then up at the distant lights of the battle in orbit. “We have an Ayas to retrieve… and quickly.”
7 Hours Later
“Hot damn I don’t know how y’all do it.”
“We can’t all be Velocitechnics.” Christeané rolled his eyes as he carefully moved a broken bulkhead to the side.
“That’s pretty fuckin’ evident,” Davídrius snorted. “I know I said that searchin’ the wreck would’ve taken me forever, but I had no idea it’d take us so damn long just to reach a single target!”
“You really don’t have any other emotions than anger and impatience, do you?” Rebehka quipped.
“I—! I totally do. I mean, I’m not bein’ impatient right now. It’s been seven hours, I’ve been a fuckin’ saint by Velocitechnic standards.”
“So you say,” Kaoné deadpanned.
“We aren’t far now, anyways,” Kievkenalis spoke up after turning another corner within the vacant corridors of the dead supership. “The Chaos Energy in the area is becoming denser. This is almost exactly what I felt back on Teghica.”
“See? I told you I could sense it,” Siyuakén added haughtily.
“I don’t know…” Kaoné commented uneasily, “I… hate to agree with Davídrius—”
“Why does everyone hate to agree with me?”
“—but this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. We’ve been through almost forty-five kilometers of corridor and ten different Riaxen encounters… this wreck is barely intact. There’s no electrical systems or sensors that you could’ve accidentally tapped into, or anything…”
The Electrotechnic shrugged in response. “I don’t know. I can’t explain it; I’ve already told you that.”
“Several times over the past several hours, aye,” Davídrius deadpanned, and then paused as his stomach grumbled loudly — loudly enough to be picked up by the mic in his helmet. “…Damn am I starvin’. We’ve only stopped to eat once this whole time, you know? And it was just some shitty shit that Kaoné fabricated. And then we’ve got a fuckin’ seven hour trip back, too. Why didn’t we just bust straight through to the Ayas, again?”
“Because this wreck is way more stable than it should be, considering its state,” Christeané immediately replied, “if we’re careless, then the whole thing could come down on top of us. Last thing I want is to be crushed by a Deathnought wreck.”
“Eh, you’re a Forcetechnic. You’d survive.”
“That’s exactly the problem…”
“Wait, guys,” Kievkenalis interjected, drawing the attention of the rest of the group, “…we’re close.” He pointed straight forward at a large steel door that appeared to be jammed shut. “It’s through there.”
Kaoné wordlessly stepped forward and casually shoved the door to the side. She then stepped into the room, followed by the rest of Hero Machina.
“It looks like an engineering room,” Kevérin muttered as he glanced around. The room was large enough to comfortably hold all seven members of Hero Machina, even considering the multiple computing consoles sitting around the room. The walls were lined with similar consoles and the occasional decorative spike, as per Riaxen aesthetic. Towards the back of the room, the wall protruded outward slightly with a small transparent dome. And inside the dome…
“It’s the Ayas,” Rebehka observed.
“Light Green? That’s Tanivas, then,” Kievkenalis commented, stepping forward to more closely inspect the stone.
“Alright, great, let’s grab it and leave,” Davídrius responded impatiently, “maybe on the way out we can just bust through the wreck?”
“Wait—!” Siyuakén exclaimed just as Christeané wound up to punch and shatter the Ayas-containing dome. “There’s still a current running through the console. I think the Ayas is powering something…”
“What? …Let me see.” Kevérin quickly moved over to the console nearest the Ayas and began interfacing with it. “…Wow, it’s actually an active system. Maybe this is what you were sensing, Siyuakén? Ha, and here we thought the whole wreck was… trashed…”
“What is it?” Rebehka stepped closer to read the console screen over Kevérin’s shoulder. “…Oh, right, I can’t read it…”
“But I can,” Kevérin replied, “and what it says is worrying. The Ayas is definitely still powering some systems — two very important ones, in fact. The Structural Integrity Gravity Manipulators, and the Orbital Bombardment Shield…”
“Shit.” Christeané scowled. “Then, that means—!”
“Yeah…” The Pyrotechnic turned back to the rest of Hero Machina. “The moment we remove the Ayas from that console… this entire wreck will fall to pieces.”
Just a regular dude who likes to write for fun. My current projects come from a world 10+ years in the making, with me just finally getting around to showing them the light of day.
When not writing I enjoy playing video games and DnD (mostly playing video games).