I suggest you read my last chapter carefully, too, Nightstalker. If you intend to write about Ax and Sarah, then get them located properly in place. I had hoped Ax will stay with her.
Because no one responded before when Vakusuma asked for ideas and input and no one was interested in answering, he and I spent a lot of time figuring out how the story would end.
Not being selfish, you know you are welcome to write, but I still want my characters (and several others), to end it as Vakusuma and I have decided, without someone throwing in hitches at this late date.
Again, please read the last parts carefully...everything is set up.
Wait until Vakusuma posts the chapter he is working on now! It has a lot of surprises in it that affect everyone!
Last edited by Dell; 02-10-2003 at 12:38 PM.
Sorry about that. Exam week is coming so I haven't been able to sneak in some time for work on this chapter
By Dell's request, however, I will post the first part of Chapter 60 that I have completed so far.
“Instinct rules us all, without exception. Khatari, human… even these advanced beings. The instinct to hunt… the instinct to defend one’s pack from another, overpowers all. And when instinct takes over, intelligence flees from its presence,” Vaschin chuckled mirthlessly as they stared at the gathering Raal before them. It was truly an awesome, and terrifying, sight to behold. The tension was palpable as the two groups of the near-immortals stared at each other.
They were at the edge of the clearing, where Zan’s Raal assembled before their rogue brethrens. There were twice as many Raals on Zan’s side as there were on Seth’s side, each indistinguishable from the other, at least to those creatures unaccustomed to Raals. But the numbers seemed insignificant at the moment as Seth stared malignantly at his former general, who stared back with an undecipherable expression.
“It has come to this,” Ax sighed. “I thought that we could devise a way to capture Seth somehow before General Zan’s Raals made it here. I’m afraid that we have come too late to prevent the standoff.”
“It has to happen, you know,” Jannaleen said as she stepped up behind Ax’s little party, followed by Pedro, Leon, and Jack. She made her way to her brother and putting her arms around him, snuggled against the man who had always shared her deepest feelings, secrets… and fears. “Seth’s forces are growing, and they will definitely turn against you if you try anything stupid. Only Zan’s people would be able to distract them sufficiently so that we can do something about that madman.” She noticed briefly that LooLee was again glowing pink with the energy that had been granted to her by the Elder Tree.
… this insanity, Zan’s voice was suddenly in everyone’s mind as the Elder Tree granted the gift of understanding to everyone in the clearing. You have left me with no choice, Your Majesty. I will NOT stand still while you continue with your doomed plan to take over the universe. Remember your heritage. You will doom our people if you carry on.
Seth’s mental voice seemed derisive. You really have no vision, General. The mental voice of the monarch of the Raals, who had wrestled control of Freet’s fluid body, seemed like thunder compared to Zan’s mollifying mental voice. I long ago decided to leave you out of the equation, Zan. My plans are already in motion. Even as we speak, the fleet is already above us, ready to take us to the stars once again. There is really nothing left for you to stop, Zan. You are too late. Traces of contempt marked his voice now. There are only two choices left for all of you. Join me… or die. I have enough to carry out this plan without you anyway!
Die, Your Majesty? I don’t think so. Zan’s mental voice was dry. His voice suddenly resonated across the air as he addressed the Raals behind Seth. Have your loyalties become so skewed that you are willing to abandon your heritage? Are you willing to sacrifice your fellow Raals to satisfy the whims of this power hungry maniac you call your King?
Zan had clearly expected a nervous chatter to break out among the opposing Raals as they were faced with an unexpected choice. Therefore, it came as a terrible surprise to him as the Raals continued to stay calm. Clearly, they had considered that.
King Seth laughed madly. You are so naïve, General. I know - as you do - that they will not agree to that… well, not initially, at least. It was an excellent plan to attempt a standoff between us, but a shame. Such a shame. Then he roared a terrible mental command at his followers. SEAL THEM!
There was a sudden cackling of psychic energy in the air, and one of the Raals next to the General suddenly fell limply to the ground, the color draining with horrible certainty from her neck. Keesha!, the General cried as the Raal hit the ground, and was followed by more falling around her. Zan also felt subjected to sudden mental attacks directed at his own mind.
He had almost forgotten it, but now he remembered with painful clarity once again. He was again looking down at his fallen Majesty, while starfighters loomed menacingly on the horizon in the blood-red evening sky. Seth had been defeated at that time by the psychic seal he had erected on his liege’s mind, effectively rendering him immobile. No, the psychic seal that they had erected. He saw, once again, six of his fellow generals lying around him, the six who had helped him erect the psychic seal around Seth. It had taken him some time to recognize death, a concept so alien to the near-immortal Raals…
For the first time, he could only stare at the falling Raals helplessly. He had long vowed never to put a psychic seal on anyone again, ever, for he had recognized that the mental effort put forth into doing so may very well sap the life energy of the caster. Seth was killing his own people by sealing Zan’s Raals, and he had counted on the Raals not knowing the consequences of putting up a psychic seal. Indeed, that knowledge has died along with the six generals, and now, only he… and Seth… knew.
With that, he steeled himself for what he would have to do. It would not be easy, but his people were being reduced in an alarming rate. He himself was stronger than most Raal, and would need significant effort to seal… but soon, he would be alone, facing the combined might of hundreds of Raal. Not even Seth could face it. And suddenly realization broke within him.
RALLY FORTH! SEAL THE KING! his mental voice barked just as loudly as Seth’s has been. And immediately he felt a great surge of mental energy as hundreds of psychic energy streams were directed at the monarch… only to be met by the energy of the opposing Raals. Recognizing the danger to their liege, they had broken off their engagement and defended Seth instead, while at the same time trying to sneak off mental energy streams at the opposing team and their general.
Zan’s mind was almost curiously detached as the psychic maelstrom raged in the clearing. At this stalemate, chaos reigned. Every pretense of non-violence had been abandoned. Hatred had taken control. Only one thought raged through the infinite mind of each Raal, the most basic of them… seal, or be sealed.
They were surely going mad. All of them.
“I don’t know what the hell’s going on, Barnes, but it ain’t good,” Makambo growled as she crouched behind the bush next to her superior. “And ain’t natural,” she added with a slight shudder. Despite their exposure to psionic energies, nothing that they have experienced so far could aptly describe what they were facing. After all, a psychic maelstrom this violent could hardly be described as commonplace.
Barnes seemed to ignore her. Aside from his handgun, he still had his field telescope… antique, but useful equipment nonetheless. At the moment, he was scanning his horizon with that telescope, and Makambo was pretty sure that he was ignoring the shriek that was produced by the maelstrom in his mind.
“So, that’s Seth,” Barnes said calmly, as if the sight of hundreds of Raal in the clearing was commonplace. “He doesn’t look so tough. Now that the Raals are distracted, this is the best chance for us to act.”
“Act how?” Makambo said sarcastically. “With all due respect, Commander, there is a psychic maelstrom around that bastard. Elementary Yuri Equation dictates the presence of electromagnetic flux around a psychic field. Any energy bolt in this particular field would be ripped apart before it could’ve gone very far. And likewise for human flesh, given the presence of iron in our blood. I am a medic, of course, but I am under the impression that elementary school students know that fact by heart.”
Barnes shot her such a cold look that the medical officer flinched. For a moment, he said nothing. And then he gently laid down his rifle and unholstered an archaic-looking handgun. “Perhaps you wonder why I carry this antiquated junk around,” he said as he reached into his pocket. “I do realize that our ordinary weapons won’t work in the presence of a strong electromagnetic field. That’s the basic principle behind tach shield. Therefore, for targets like that, we need projectiles. Of course, any paramagnetic stuff in the projectile would make it useless.” He took out several bullets from his pocket and handed one to Makambo. She noted with surprise, as she turned the bullet on her hands, that the bullet was made from some kind of plastic. “It’s a Neo-Raylar bullet, popular several hundred years ago among assassins who realized that plastic bullets would not be stopped by electromagnetic field. The material is very expensive since it had to perform just as well as synthsteel alloy bullets, but it certainly would be worth it if I can bring down that son of a *****.”
She looked to Seth as Barnes hurriedly loaded his gun with his plastic bullets. “You don’t even know his weak spot.”
“I’ve had xenobiology, Makambo, and I’ve known at least enough to know that all alien creatures cannot survive a well-placed shot in the head.” He cocked his gun. “The body can’t function without a brain. Seth would be no exception.”
“But, I thought you wanted to bring him to base to be studied?” Makambo almost cried as Barnes coolly raised his gun and took aim.
“Nobody said that he has to be alive for that,” Barnes replied with a faint, sardonic smile.
And he fired.
Come to think of it, I can actually make this a complete chapter. Chapters 61 and 62 coming up.
We eat ham and jam and spam a lot...
Multi-Authored Story, the Original and the Latest
Last edited by vakusuma; 02-18-2003 at 03:43 PM.
Broke the damn block at last.
Here we go, the second part of my three-part final battle installment of MAS1.
Chapter 62 hopefully will be enough for me to end the sequence.
I managed to insert two sentences from Diablo-II. Brownie points if you can find them.
An Ancient Mind
“That fool,” Jannaleen hissed as she turned sharply at the bush behind which Makambo and Barnes were concealed.
“If you’re saying that your precious General is a fool, I agree,” Jack replied promptly. The assassin was quietly studying the ensuing mental battle before him. “I tried to warn him that Seth won’t be anything but trouble.”
“Not him,” Jannaleen said, slightly more sharply than intended. The resonance of the psychic field before them was perceived as a loud hum on everyone’s mind, but to Jannaleen’s highly attuned mind, the resonance was enough to cause her massive headaches. She gritted her teeth as she tried to repress another wave of psychic resonance. “I sensed the remaining PET 3 team members behind that bush. They were following us from Mira.” It was a wonder that her overwhelmed mind could still pick up a relatively weak signature of the two humans.
Leon sprang to his feet almost immediately. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier, Jannaleen? Let me take care of them!” His tone was vehement, but one could sense his sense of protectiveness.
Jannaleen smiled briefly. “They weren’t intent on harming us. If they were, they would’ve confronted us earlier, wouldn’t they?” She seemed to be concentrating slightly. “Their target seems to be Seth, however, ever since they overheard what’s really going on in this planet. And just now, I detected a sudden tinge of alertness in the commander’s mind. Looks like they’re about to act, somehow, but I don’t…”
Her words were abruptly cut off as a loud sound rang out from nowhere like an explosion. Pedro hissed, “High-caliber manual gun. What the hell…?”
The hum of psychic energy suddenly lessened. Dumbfounded, they finally noticed a big gaping hole where Seth’s face has been, where the bullet has struck. The Raals had ceased their battle, shocked at the suddenness of the attack.
“He did it. That son of a ***** did it,” Corenna breathed.
“No, he didn’t,” Jannaleen’s voice was small, frightened. “Remember that Seth has taken control of the Kohine shapechanger’s body. And what would happen if you shoot a bullet into wet clay? What would happen to the clay?”
As they watched in horrified silence, the Raal King laughed. It was no longer a psychic laugh… it was a low, guttural laughter just below the audible threshold that made one’s hackles rise. Considering that Seth no longer had a face, the sound seemed to come from beyond the grave.
“Foolish humans!” Seth hissed, no longer speaking psionically now. “How can mere mortals like you hoped to kill an advanced being like me?” Like quicksilver, liquid protrusions of… something, began to emerge from the smooth surface of the hole to fill the hollowness. “Oh, but you will learn,” Seth continued as his flesh started to reform his face, “ for not even death can save you from me.” He suddenly roared and a new, malevolent pattern of psychic energy filled the clearing, directed at the bushes where the bullet originated. “SCREAM, MORTALS!”
And the new pattern roared into a savage maelstrom that ravaged at the bushes. Jannaleen sobbed not only because of the renewed headache, but also because of the sudden screams that filled the air. The screams were filled with agony beyond description, as if the maelstrom had came to steal one’s soul. And like puppets, the body of Makambo and Barnes flew from the bushes, hovering above the clearing. Their screams were clearly audible to everyone now, as their senses were assaulted by raw psychic energy.
But, Seth wasn’t satisfied. With a malicious grin, he sent a fresh mental command at the bodies. The screams were positively chilling, and inhuman, as flesh started to contort under the enormous pressure. Blood dripped in little fountains from their pores as Seth literally squeezed the blood from their bodies with his power like one would squeeze an orange.
Sarah was clinging to Ax by now, unwilling to see the mutilation of fellow human beings, however misguided they might be. Ax himself looked down at Sarah instead, stroking her hair while looking like he wished he was somewhere else. Corenna retched and emptied her stomach into the bushes behind them, while Roe went pale, her knuckles white as she clenched them tightly, not caring that her nails dug into her palms. Leon and Pedro averted their eyes, while even the normally uncaring Jack Hunt was quivering with anger… both at the atrocity, and at his impotence. LooLee had disappeared, while Vaschin was murmuring angrily in his native language… either a prayer or a vile oath.
And when the psychic maelstrom finally subsided, what was left of Barnes and Makambo dropped with a sickening thud to the ground in a pool of blood and gore and other unrecognizable things. The empty husks of the former Pet Three members no longer retained anything that resembled humanity…
“This is what awaits those who oppose us!” Seth hissed triumphantly as he turned to his army; his malicious grin faded as he realized that there was no longer any psychic energy around him. “What are you waiting for? Why are you standing there like you have lost your minds?” he screamed at his troops.
The clearing was silent. Every Raal there stared at the remains of the two humans, the colors draining from their necks, whether they were on Seth’s side or on Zan’s side.
You still don’t understand, do you, Your Majesty? Zan spoke quietly, his psionic voice breaking the silence. We are Raals. We do not kill. Sealing might prevent you from actually having to terminate a life, but if you are going to embark on a quest for domination, sooner or later you will encounter something that you just can’t seal. He pointed at the Raals behind Seth. You have seen how cruelly life can be desecrated by your powers. But is this what you want? All for an abstraction?
“SILENCE!” Seth roared. “Zan, you are a shame to our race! Why should we care about these… primitive… human beings? We are perfection… if we have to exterminate the less perfect human beings, so be it!” He turned at his Raals, who were still staring at the remains.
Zan lowered his head. Then you have given me no choice, Seth. Suddenly, a mental blast hit Jannaleen, who was still weeping. She stiffened, her eyes filled with shock. Leon gave a cry of alarm, but Ax firmly clamped his hand on the ranger’s arm to prevent him from rushing to Jannaleen, for he had recognized what happened to her. At almost the same time, the psychic energy started to pick up again as Zan directed the power of his mind at Seth. The mad king roared as he too summoned his powers to hold off the attack.
The two adversaries stared at each other, trying to overwhelm each other, but they seemed to be evenly matched…
“The General was never a match for the king,” Jannaleen said slowly. Her eyes reflected a sudden resolve. “And yet, now they are fighting like equals. It is the General’s belief that Seth was weakening, and that wasn’t because of his long imprisonment, for the stasis essentially only froze his mind… attempted to, anyway. When he…” she faltered, but she continued with even more resolve than before, “… killed… the two humans, Zan detected a faint pattern he had never recognized in Seth before. A definitely alien pattern.”
“And this means…?” Ax said slowly. In that burst of energy, Jannaleen had received the knowledge from Zan, and she was now ready. Whatever that she wanted to do, however, was still a mystery.
“Something is inside Seth’s brain. Probably an alien intelligence… or should I say, a parasite… an alien parasite feeding on his mind, sapping his strength and altering his sanity. It was his thought that if we destroy this… whatever… that plagues Seth’s mind, Seth could return to sanity.”
“Begging your pardon, woman, but you’ve seen what he has done to…” Jack eyed the husks and shuddered, “… them. How the hell do you think we will do that?”
“Me, Jack, not us. The General has given me a way to accomplish just that. That's why he’s battling Seth right now… to occupy his attention so that he will never see me coming.” Jannaleen's tone had become dead calm.
“Sis,” Ax’s eyes widened as a sudden awful realization occurred to him. “No, I will not let you do that!”
She sighed. “Ax, you’ve known for a long time that nothing can stop me once I have resolved to do something,” she chided. “Don’t start trying now. Besides, if you try to weaken me, the more chance there is I will fail. And I simply couldn’t afford to fail.”
“Wha…” Leon gaped as Jannaleen took a deep breath. “Ax, what is happening? What is she going to do?”
“Something incredibly stupid,” Ax muttered, but kept his hand firmly clamped on Leon’s arm. “But probably our only chance. Don’t even think about interfering.”
Jannaleen gave a small smile. “Thank you, Ax. Guard my back, will you?” And she hurled her mind forward…
… and she felt like she had hit a brick wall.
“You have no idea of the power you face!” Seth hissed at her, but her mind was curiously detached as she considered the mental shield that lay before her. Even during his battle with General Zan, Seth had been aware of her. But she definitely detected a weakening on his shield.
Again, her mind slammed into Seth’s shield, and Seth seemed to flinch. Maybe he did, physically. But she was past caring. With another powerful thrust, she pierced her enemy’s shield and hurled herself into the chaos within…
Jannaleen studied her surrounding with almost a detached interest. This was not the first mind she had gone inside, but it was certainly vastly different. It looked… diseased. As she floated along the various pinkish caverns of the mind, she noticed sickly pale green growth everywhere. The caverns were alien, of course, but the growth stuck out even more so. Some clung to the wall, pulsing with life… and some that grew from the ceiling wall hung down. She resisted her impulse to feel and analyze those growths, for it was unspeakably repulsive even to look at.
How could she ever purge the parasite from Seth’s mind? Everywhere she looked, she couldn’t see any healthy, clean cavern wall. The parasite had had perhaps millions of years to grow, though, so she really shouldn’t be surprised. Perhaps she should’ve looked at the very core of Seth’s mind to understand better what was going on.
She gave a start as the form of General Zan shimmered before her. The General looked exhausted, but he gave her a regal nod. “Excellent work. I knew I could count on you.” His psychic voice seemed to gain resonance in this place, and Jannaleen actually perceived it as audible sound.
“But how… how could you…” Jannaleen gasped.
“Your piercing of the shield has hurt him more than I could imagine,” Zan chuckled. “Seth is practically screaming in unspeakable agony right now. Let me put it in a way you humans can understand: what would you feel if someone had pierced your eyes with a needle?”
Jannaleen shuddered. “It was that painful?”
“Indeed. His temporary agony had allowed me to slip inside his mind,” Zan replied as he looked around. “By the Light, the parasite has ravaged his mind more thoroughly that I had imagined. I’m surprised that I didn't discovered it earlier.” He looked curiously dejected as he started to float away, beckoning at Jannaleen to follow him. “I was hoping that there would be at least some part of Seth that could be saved, but perhaps I am wrong. The disease does explain his unusual genocidal tendencies earlier in his life, however.”
“What are you going to do, then?” Jannaleen asked.
“I was hoping that the parasite hadn’t grown this extensively, so that we could destroy the Prime Spore, where the growths originate, and let Seth clean up the dregs. At this stage, however, the Prime Spore must’ve had embedded itself so deeply that it is now virtually inseparable from Seth. I don’t like the option, but if we destroy this spore, we will destroy Seth as well. I will need to look at the Prime Spore to decide on the best course of action.”
“I take it that this is not the first case of parasite infection you have encountered,” Jannaleen said as they floated along the decaying caverns. The caverns were vast, reflecting the complexity of the mind. The previous minds Jannaleen had been into were markedly smaller and less convoluted.
“No,” Zan confirmed. “Several Raals have been infected in the past, but those were quickly discovered, and so it was not too late to cure them.” He thought for a moment. “I suppose that the battle in which Seth was wounded very badly made his mind very vulnerable. We Raals developed a natural immunity to the mind disease for a long time before that happened, for we learned in time how to shield our minds against such infection. Seth’s injury made it very easy for the parasite to enter his mind and fester. Since he was the King, and also because it had been a long time since any of us has been infected by the parasite, no one had dared to suggest to Seth that he had caught the disease. And now, it’s far too late.”
Jannaleen carefully avoided a particularly large growth that hung from the ceiling in front of her. “How badly is Seth’s mind suffering right now?”
“The parasite works by slowly assimilating into the mind. The process is very slow, and infected shorter-lived species, like humans, typically die long before the effect of the parasite would become noticeable. But this parasite has had a long time to assimilate Seth’s mind. Seth is definitely not himself anymore; his personality has become that of the parasite’s.”
“You’re saying then that if you destroy this mind, you would be destroying the parasite, since Seth was effectively dead a long ago?” Jannaleen pressed.
“Part of this mind is still Seth’s, but he has become extremely dependent on the parasite. Some of his coherent thoughts are still his, but his feelings are gone.”
“The parasite, regardless on how much it has ravaged this mind then, is definitely killing Seth, isn’t it? Wouldn’t killing the parasite and Seth actually be an act of kindness, to release your King from the disease and give him peace?”
Zan fell silent as he considered that. “You are right, in a fashion,” he finally conceded. “Very well, I will not hesitate to destroy this mind if it comes to that.” He pointed with his vestigial arm. “There is the Prime Spore.”
Jannaleen looked at what would’ve been the core of Seth’s mind. Instead of a glowing, vibrant core, she was looking at a huge, pale green pulsing mass, towering over them. The spores had completely covered Seth’s core; feeding on Seth’s mind power seemed to have made them grow to monstrous proportions.
“By the Light,” Zan breathed, “that is the biggest parasite colony I have ever seen in my life.”
“How are we going to destroy this Prime Spore?” Jannaleen asked as she looked with dismay at the huge structure.
“We are the representation of a minute tendril of our mind right now,” Zan said, “so it is possible to focus your entire mental power through yourself to destroy it. That was how we normally did it, but this colony is too big even for both of us to tackle. I don’t think what remained of Seth would try to overcome this. However, there’s the matter of the shapechanger, whose mind and body are occupied by Seth right now.” Zan pointed at a slight white protrusion on the Prime Spore, which was only partially covered. “He is still intact, but very much a prisoner. His mind, being one of the tenants of this place, would definitely be strong enough to help us overcome this parasite.”
“How very nice of you to notice,” suddenly a new voice rang out in the caverns. “It’s about time someone realized what fine mess I’m in right now. So, when are you going to help me out?”
Jannaleen looked angrily at the protrusion, which was the essence of the shapechanger. “For someone who’s in deep trouble, you do have a big mouth,” she retorted. “And for all your efforts in trying to kill me, why should I even bother to let you go free? Why shouldn’t I let you to sink inside that… that… disgusting thing?”
“When I figure out the way to get out, girl, I’ll make you sorry for that remark.” The protrusion pulsed briefly, and Jannaleen suspected that the prisoner was again feeling the lock that had been imposed on him. “It’s only a matter of time.”
“Who are you kidding? You are trapped inside one of the most powerful minds in the universe. How long will it take you to break free, if you don’t get assimilated first?” Jannaleen tapped her foot impatiently… or at least, that was what she would do if she had actual control over her body. “You need our help, and you’re not helping us in return. I have no time to waste on you. We can figure the way out of our problem by ourselves, and you can figure the way out of yours.”
And suddenly, the entire cavern shook… not only the walls, but also the substance that had seemingly supported Jannaleen and Zan. The shapechanger wailed as the two intruders tried to desperately steady themselves.
“Too late!” he moaned. “You should’ve released me when you had the chance! The blasted monster had recovered… and by golly, he’s coming for you! There is no escape for us… we are going to die together!”
We eat ham and jam and spam a lot...
Multi-Authored Story, the Original and the Latest
Last edited by vakusuma; 02-20-2003 at 02:51 PM.
God, I hate Geocities.
FTP is restricted to paying user. And now their File Manager is completely inaccessible. Can't update the damn website.
Anyone have any suggestion of a good host I can switch to?
We eat ham and jam and spam a lot...
Multi-Authored Story, the Original and the Latest