Militia: Sabotage

Big Picture made the presumption that the Ellayans weren’t going to press the attack at least until dawn of the next day.  There was plenty of work happening in their little camp and they would all need to rehydrate since their time on the surface was limited to a few hours.  Even though the Trillodan had a similar issue with needing moisture to survive, their power armor fixed that problem for them. As prepared at the Trillodan were though, they didn’t have thousands of spare suits to loan.  

After our meeting, we split up and had a few hours to kill before it was showtime.  While others went off to get mentally prepared with their collective teams, I had prep work to do.  With no available protein to consume, I was worthless in a fight.  

First order of business for me was bugging Repository and getting a massive mound of protein sludge to devour for my gift to consume.  In case we had to hit the panic button, I needed to be able to start the process and not just rely on a convenient corpse to consume. Fortunately Repository wasn’t hard to find and more than happy to help me prepare for the coming evening.     

As the stout twenty-year old conjured pile after pile of bland tasting mush to devour, I finally  asked something that had been bugging me. “How did everyone get here? We were all scattered around a planet with limited transportation.  It took us a full night of driving to get here and we were relatively close by.”

“Clairvoyant apparently started having visions of people being captured.  Titan pulled the trigger and gave his super drug to Relay and had Powerhouse give him every gift she could.  It let him reach out and grab people to pull them to him; since we knew where most people had been sent, he could reach out and pull them from the city.  The problem is that it Overexposed him something fierce. Poor bastard won’t be moving for a week probably.”  

“How many more people is Titan going to have to drug before we get off this planet?”

Repository shrugged, “I might be next.  Simply creating stuff for the construction crew is valuable.”

“Do you ever get frustrated with him?” I asked.  

“Why would I?” 

“Because we’re in a war with the Trillodan.  Because we’re literally millions of miles from home and facing down near certain death.  Because all our plans are made up on the spot since all we have are a few Cognates feeding us theoretical information.”

Repository paused, looking me up and down.  “Yeah, but at least we’re doing something worthwhile.  What the fuck were we really doing on Tso’got? Fighting for turf?  Playing at being super heroes and super villains? At least here we’re trying to do something.”

“And we’re going to get thousands of innocent people killed.  We already displaced a whole fucking city!”  

He sighed, “Yeah, but so what?  Adapted displaced people all the time.  Think of how many people are homeless now because of you.  How many buildings were flattened and demolished because of Feast Day?  Even before you, how many people were swatted aside or displaced because of the turf wars between Imperium and Surface Dwellers?”

“What’s your point?”

“My point is that we always do damage.  No matter where we go, we’re going to be a destructive group of fucking kids.  At least when we are working for Titan, that destruction has a purpose, an end goal.”  

I heard that dubious voice that gnawed at the back of my mind, eroding away my confidence.  “Do you think we can actually win?” I asked, echoing my own concern. “Do you think we stand a chance?” 

“Absolutely,” Repository replied with a confidence that caught me off guard.  

“How do-“

“Because I’m not going to give up.  Because we shouldn’t give up,” he said.  “if we lose hope, what’s the point? We all knew it was a longshot.  No one has ever taken the fight to the Trillodan and we’re the first people in recorded history who have even tried.  Of course it’s a longshot. Of course the odds are stacked against us. But, is it possible? Absolutely.”  

I ingested the last stack of protein sludge he made for me and offered a quiet word of thanks as I took off, wishing I shared his optimism.  I couldn’t get it out of my head that our only lifeline was how much more valuable we were alive as opposed to dead. The only insurance we had for survival was that our hearts beating upped the worth to the Trillodan.  

As soon as I was done with Repository, I wasn’t sure where to go since all of my teammates were either helping with construction or nose deep in a notepad.  I was saved from loneliness by a taller guy my age with slicked back hair and a form fitting black-body suit that had armored plates tucked inside. “Eldritch!” he called out to me, “Been wanting to talk to you!” 

Ragdoll.  Leader of Flagbearers.  An Enhancer who could adjust the mass and durability of his limbs.  On Tso’got, I had seen him kick a Trillodan soldiers head clean off thanks to his crazy acrobatic style of combat that no one else could quite replicate.  

“Hey, Ragdoll,” I said.  

His chipper expression fell for a moment, “Lightshow told me about Parasite.  I know I won’t miss him as much as you do, but he was a good friend.”

Ever since they had met on Tso’got, the two of them had hit it off.  While we had been on the ship to Vuuldar, the two of them trained and worked out together twice a day like a pair of psychos.  “I appreciate it, Rags. And it’s still hard to believe that he’s gone.”

He sighed, commiserating.  “Fortunately that’s not the only reason I’m here.  I was talking with the Lunatics and we’re going to have to split up.  It looks like there’s four weapons caches that Almanac and Infinite have spotted out, so to cover ground best we’re going to split up into groups.  Beleth and Shockwave are going as a unit, Psycho is going to sleep to get a new power and go with Pacifist and Bargain. I’m going to be with Siege and we want you to come with us.”  

I blinked a few times, confused.  “But-“

“I figure if we need a panic button, we might as well have you close by, right?  Besides, you and I have worked together before, and this time I’m not going to let you run away like you did back in Ciel.  You almost got yourself caught because you tried to be the hero, like a total jackass.”

I felt my ears burn with shame, but Ragdoll laughed and clapped me on the back.  “Relax man. Bygones and all.”

He didn’t explicitly mention no one else wanted to be stuck with me but he didn’t need to.  Without using my power, I was fragile. After using my power, I was a literal monster. There was no middle ground in the eyes of most people.  

“What about Clemency and Spectre?  You didn’t mention them.”

“They’ll be flying around, our early alarm system and first layer of interception.  Ideally we can blow apart three of the stashes and they’ll hit the last one as people start to panic and juice them up.  We dash like hell and bail before our two hour window and call it a night. Once we’re back at the ship, Zellig isn’t going to hunt us.  It’s too risky for him and his men to come close to us; Forest has way too much hold here for him to want to fight.”

It sounded optimistic.  If there was one thing I had learned from our time fighting against Imperium and Surface Dwellers, it was that no plan survives contact with the enemy.  Then again, I was the backup plan in case something did go wrong.  

Ragdoll gave me an almost pitying look, “You wanna come hang out with us for a little while?  I know that your group is a little scattered right now.”  

It was probably the gentlest way to remind me that half my team was dead or captured and the others were now cogs in Titan’s machine.  I might have been able to hang with the Lost Children, but Adamant was holed up with Distortion and Exchange who were catching up on sleep after our harrowing nightmare yesterday.  “Yeah, that sounds nice.”  

The rest of the Flagbearers were waiting around a tree on the side of hill, an open botton bottle of something alcoholic being passed between them.  As we sat down, Mr. Magnificent started shuffling a deck of cards and dealt both us in without missing a beat. Just like Ragdoll, all of them opened me with welcome arms.  While we sat around playing cards, I noticed they were short a member: Transport was gone.  

Everyone had lost someone.  How Ragdoll managed to brush such things off was beyond me.  Soliloquy and Mr. Magnificent seemed painfully aware of their teammates absence, but neither of them made mention.  Instead all of us were content to pretend everything was okay for a few hours and swear at each other because someone was clearly cheating, or so Soliloquy kept insisting.  Poor man couldn’t get a good hand to save his life.  

But eventually, all good things had to come to an end.  As the sun began to set, Ragdoll gave me a nudge and we withdrew, taking our leave from the rest of his team.  Before he left, Ragdoll exchanged a warrior’s handshake with Mr. Magnificent. Knowing the two of them, I knew that Mr. Magnificent was donating his power to Ragdoll, granting him some kind of heightened physical attribute.  

As we all met around the side of the ship, everyone was void of humor.  It looked like Psycho had swapped back into his Narcissism form given the fact he was a foot taller and riddled with muscle he hadn’t had three hours ago.  Clemency was decked out in his usual armor, all of the Lunatics were wearing the white coats and monstrous masks that we had originally seen them in. Shockwave wore his crimson suit with the golden mask and Beleth was back in his brown trench coat.  

Outside of the Prime Trio, this was arguably the strongest group of people here.  The only person I wished to have at our back was Lightshow, but she had joined the construction team since she could make a copy of Multi-task or Mizu and effectively double their workforce.    

“You won’t get much time,” Titan said as he joined us, flanked by Infinite.  He looked exhausted, like the poor bastard hadn’t slept in a week. “Two hours.  Distortion will be pulling you back from the same place she drops you, so don’t forget where you need to go.  Each of you has an earpiece, courtesy of Toolkit. If you need early extraction, get back and we’ll pull you out.  If you need help, Clemency and Spectre will be the quickest response team. If we need to call it a panic,” Titan said as all eyes turned to me, “Eldritch, don’t hold back.  You bring about hell while everyone else runs. Infinite will come to extract you herself if we need to.”

Our means of conveyance, Distortion, stumbled forward, using a crutch to prop herself upright since her left leg was still defunct.  Beside her, the sprite Powerhouse place a hand on Distortion’s shoulder, bestowing an extra power to the teleporter from Lost Children.  

“Don’t pull the panic alarm early,” Clemency stressed, “that goes for everyone.  If we do that, we risk advancing our time tables. We’re the best at this shit, so trust one another to handle things.”  

Shockwave took one last drag on a cigarette and stamped out the butt.  “So, let’s get to work.” 

Everyone huddled together as Distortion raised a hand and the world melted away.  After that second of nothingness, we all found ourselves in what looked like a cramped townhouse that had clearly been abandoned.  There were cheap dolls on the ground around the room, dishes left on the table, and enough of a mess that it was clear people had left in a hurry. 

As soon as we materialized, everyone ducked down.  The whole group slowly advanced to the windows to take a look out and see exactly what we were up against.  

Despite the fact that humans had all but evacuated, the city was strangely buzzing with activity.  The house’s windows looked into a small pavilion where a Trillodan dropship had been parked. Patrols of the men in power armor were circling around the block, keeping watch out for our attempts to sneak in.  Ellayans were everywhere as well. Even though they were primarily aquatic and could only escape the sea for a few hours at a time, I could see dozens moving around in the lamplight, almost like they were doing military drills.  

   “They aren’t  ready for a war on ground,” Siege said.  “They’re used to fighting underwater. Trillodan are helping get them ready to attack us. 

He was right.  It wasn’t just Trillodan marching around to watch for us, they were helping the Ellayans learn to fight and move around on the surface like the rest of us.  They were drilling them through the night, likely deliberately working to condition them to be more resilient without the water from the ocean.  

 “Alright, let’s stick to the plan,” Clemency said, taking charge.  “Spectre will copy my power and we’ll be sticking in the sky, listening in if you need help.  If you get in trouble, click once to turn on your earpiece and call for us, we’ll find you as fast as we can.  Once you’re in position to blow apart a cache, let us know. If you have trouble finding it, Spectre or I can guide you.  According to Infinite, they should look like black steel buildings, clearly designed to take a beating. Lunatics, you all go to the northern stockpile.  Ragdoll, Siege, Eldritch, you all have the southern cache overlooking the coast. Shockwave, Beleth, you two have the central cache to dismantle. Spectre and I will carve a path in the central square once commotion has started and try to provide cover fire as you all return.  Any questions?”

“When do we panic?” Pacifist asked.  “When do we ask Eldritch to pull the trigger?” 

“If a whole group is going to go down, call for the monster,” Clemency replied.  “Eldritch, you ready?” 

I nodded.  

“Good.  Let’s go.  Out the back and be as stealthy as you can be.”  

Once we were outside, everyone was deathly quiet.  I stuck close by Siege as Ragdoll took point, throwing himself around with alarming agility, scouting ahead by tossing himself onto a rooftop with his strange brand of mobility.  He would wave Siege and I forward to avoid the Trillodan drill sergeants. As we started to move in closer, our progress became more haphazard. Siege and I were having trouble avoiding detection with there being more artificial lights and more people being drilled.  

“We’re taking too long,” Siege muttered under his breath.  “We’ve already used up half an hour and we’re still a several blocks out.  We’re going to have to fight our way out. We need to get there now.”  

“I don’t think rushing is the right idea.  No one else has chimed in saying they were ready to go yet,” I said.  

We both held our breath and Ragdoll launched himself onto another rooftop, beckoning for us to come forward.  

“And why are there so many people here,” I wondered.  

“Construction,” Siege muttered, pointing down the street.  Sure enough, the Ellayans were hard at work on more than just military drills.  The closer to the coast we crept, the more the buildings were being hastily erected of the same black metal that the Trillodan power armors was comprised of.  “This isn’t just a militia.”

“It’s a fucking prison camp.  They’re making the Ellayan’s their slaves.” 

“When your slave driver can destroy the planet in the push of a button, you do what they tell you to do,” Siege said, grim.  “They’re making a base of operation for the Trillodan. Even after our bout with the Ellayans, we’re going to be squaring off against a fresh batch of Trillodan military.  Zellig is looking to get his forces on the ground for a proper battle with us.” 

“No wonder people evacuated.” 

We hustled across the road as Ragdoll waved us forward from the roof.  

“Their security seems like shit,” Siege thought out loud.  “These guys can survey entire planets; you’d think they’d have better eyes on their own construction project.  Someone as trained as Zellig should be a step ahead of us, right?” 

Even one of Zellig’s underlings, the demolitionist Salah, had cordoned off a whole chunk of city and had it rigged with explosives and surveillance equipment.  Siege was right, there was no way they didn’t have it better monitored. “Trap?” 

“Probably.  I’m just wondering why they don’t spring it.” 

“Waiting for us to be better farther apart maybe?”

“Would Zellig want to just leave regular soldiers to handle us though?”  

I was worried that Siege was right.  Even though he had a fascination with killing people, Siege was no fool.  He didn’t survive going against Serpentine because he dived recklessly into engagements. 

Ragdoll waved us forward again and then dropped to meet us.  “Looks like it’s right ahead of us. Though, it’s got a handful of guards.” 

“Then we let Clemency know we’re in place to blow this shit up.  The fast we get the fuck out of here, the better.” Siege tapped his finger to his earpiece, “We’re good to blow shit up.  Everyone else ready?” 

Ragdoll and I looked to each other, alarmed; his voice hadn’t come through the earpiece.  

“Jamming communication,” I whispered.  “Which means no early extraction.”

“And no calling Clemency or Spectre for backup.”

Siege scoffed at the two of us, “Stop being so worried.  If we’re in place and we have no additional movement, others should be in place.  If not,” he said with a chuckle, “They’re going to have to hurry up.” Siege smiled as he stood up straight, closing his eyes for a moment; as his eyelids flicked open, his eyes were covered in a matrix of light.  From his core, a suit of armor materialized out, covering his torso and limbs like he had a swarm of nanites rapidly constructing it for him.  

Not just any armor.  Dragoon’s armor.  

Siege was a Conjurer that could fabricate copies of weapons or vehicles that he had seen or interacted with.  While his things had an expiration date, he didn’t normally need to use the full duration of the weapons he summoned.  He opened his hand and a massive rocket launcher materialized in his palm. “God, your friend’s armor is fucking dope,” he laughed, the helmet muting his voice.  “I can’t wait until she makes some upgrades on version three.”

There was something so horribly wrong about him using my friends armor, but I wasn’t going to say anything yet.  For now, we had a job to do.  

“Knock, knock,” Siege said with glee as he stepped into the street and took aim.

  Even with the strength granted by the suit, Siege staggered back as the missile flew down the street with a screech, slamming into the building with a deafening explosion.  Chunks of metal were shot in all directions as a hole appeared on the side of the stockpile. The guards positioned around the perimeter had been tossed aside, leaving a clear path…to absolutely nothing.  

“Empty,” Siege muttered, “This one was a fake.”

“Of course it was,” a familiar voice said derisively.  

On the roof above us, a familiar armored figure loomed.  He was clad in gunmetal colored armor that shifted and morphed into its own  flexible weaponry. The Trillodan responsible for maiming Dragoon. Tol, one of Zellig’s lieutenants.  

He dropped down on us, slapping aside the rocket launcher and easily evading a strike from Siege.  Tol slapped a hand against Siege’s chest and a pulse rippled through the air, sending him flying backward and through a wall like he’d been fired from a cannon.  The whole arm shifted into a blade, the edge just missing as Ragdoll threw himself backwards and rolled back up to his feet.  

“Fuck me,” I muttered as I backpedaled.  “Dragoon shot your arm off!”

“And you cost me a leg,” Tol snapped as his attention shot to me, “But thanks to Vaneel, I’ve just been improved!”  His right hand reformed, shifting like the rest of his armor did. He was right, all we’d done was given an already dangerous fiend a way to be more lethal.  

Tol’s attention snapped to the right as a new screech ripped through the air, another missile flying straight at the lieutenant.  Before impact, Tol’s arm morphed into a shield but the shockwave still sent him skidding backwards. Siege staggered back through the hole in the building, a bit marred and dusty but otherwise okay.  “That suit of yours is pretty cool,” Siege said as his current armor turned to dust, “I think I’ll give it a try.”  

Just like he’d created a copy of Dragoon’s, a picture perfect copy of Tol’s armor materialized across his skin.  

“Oh yeah,” Siege said with a laugh, “You guys make some great stuff.  I’m going to like this.”  

Tol sprinted back at us as an alarm klaxon began sounding, letting the entire installation know they were under attack, as if destroying a building wasn’t enough.  Around the smoldering building, Trillodan soldiers began forming up, as well as Ellayan militia. “Eldritch, Ragdoll,” Siege shouted, “Leave this bitch to me. Do some real damage if you can find a real cache.  We need to hit it and run!” 

“Eldritch, burn half of what you’ve got.  We need you to have some size as we run. Don’t go full beast mode yet.”

“Understood.”  I reached into my storage and felt a hundred kilograms of material dissolve.  I’d bought myself fifteen minutes at about three tonnes; it would be enough to fight against most regular soldiers and certainly against the scattered Ellayans.  

Behind us, Tol and Siege squared off.  While it was clear the Trillodan lieutenant had more combat prowess, Siege was able to rapidly equip a new arsenal to keep Tol at bay.  The first item in his hands was a copy of Dragoon’s rail gun that sent a round screeching through the building behind Tol. His other hand materialized a hand grenade as Ragdoll and I turned the corner.  

I hoped that Siege could keep himself safe for a little while.  

“Left,” I hissed to Ragdoll as a group of Ellayans formed up, all taking aim with Trillodan laser weapons.  Ragdoll threw an arm forward and sailed with it, closing the gap and rolling to his feet fluidly, immediately disarming one.  As the aquatic people tried to fight the man in their midst, it was clear they were out of their depth. Ragdoll whirled around, like a human tornado, knocking people aside with ease. 

As I lumbered forward to catch up, the bout was all but done.  

“Eldritch, grab that one,” he insisted.  I obliged and engulfed a poor, rattled Ellayan in a mass of writhing black tendrils.  I could feel his heart hammering as he stared back at my mass of growth, terrified.  

Ragdoll stepped froward, forcibly turning the Ellayan’s faces so they looked into each others eyes.  “Those guns, where did you get them?”

“The Trillodan-”

“A location.  A stockpile. An armory.  I’m assuming they don’t let you take those underwater.”  

“I, I can’t-”

“Eldritch, eat him,” Ragdoll commanded.  

“Wait!” the Ellayan shrieked, suddenly gifted with an epiphany.  “North of us. It’s a big green building. The Trillodan reinforced it.  Impossible to get into.”  

“You swear on your life?” 

“Yes!”  

In a blur, Ragdoll punched the Ellayan and knocked him cold.  “Drop him. We go fetch Siege and head north. If we can find Beleth and Shockwave, we group up with them.”

It was easy to retrace steps and find Tol still fighting with Siege.  The Trillodan lieutenant was actually losing ground against Siege and his adaptive arsenal.  There were cracks in Tol’s armor with blood seeping through. His movements were a bit sluggish while Siege still looked crisp and up to snuff.   Siege’s suit was glowing red. He’d created those red disks and opted to use a couple of them.  

Tol saw us coming and snarled as he was driven back again by Siege’s limitless weapon selection.  Reaching into a compartment on the armor, Tol cracked open one of those white glass tubes that teleported him away.  As Ragdoll and I drew closer, Siege let the armor around him disintegrate and he nearly fell onto Rags.  

“I think I hurt him, but whatever was in those red disks,” he muttered, “It’s not good for you.” 

Along his skin  there were little red streaks creeping, like there was some kind of noxious weed spreading roots across the flesh.  

“Whatever this shit is,” he said, “It’s strong.  But not worth what it does to you.” 

Overhead, a blue blur soared by, layering a few buildings in flame.  His other hand blasted out globes of acid that began eating through the Trillodan’s barricades.  Several tried to take shots at him; nothing connected but it kept him from getting any work down melting down the buildings.  

“Come on, we have to keep moving,” I hissed, “I only have another eight minutes left on my growth.” 

“So eat someone,” Siege suggested.  

“Grab something on the run,” Ragdoll insisted as more and more footsteps began clattering towards us.  “I can hear people trying to box us in. We can’t let that happen.”  

I lumbered forward, checking the road; as I stepped out, Ellayans shouted and began turning around, taking aim.

Can’t be cut down.  We’ll need to eat.

I didn’t want the monster to be right, but we couldn’t afford to be broken down.  If I was to lose my mass, I wasn’t going to survive this warzone. I roared and charged forward, terror stunning a few of them and I felt pity wash over me as I smashed them into the ground, gobbling up the mashed remains.  Their mass went to reclaiming my size and injuries. Even just eating two fresh bodies, I felt Eldritch itching to be let go, to be unrestrained with so much delectable material close by.  

Behind me, Ragdoll threw himself into another group of Ellayans, dealing devastating damage with his heavy blows.  Siege equipped a Trillodan weapon that I had never seen; instead of firing a laser it fired a bubble of purple liquid that exploded in a burst of violent flame once popped.  The three of us kept pushing forward with only our objective in mind.  

“Half our time is gone,” Siege told us after we had fought off a second little squad of Ellayans.  “Do you think everyone is having the same trouble we are?”

“Titan picked us because we were the best.  The others can manage,” Ragdoll insisted. I wasn’t so optimistic, but Ragdoll was right that we couldn’t afford to worry about them.    

While Clemency was being harassed in the air, he had managed to start one hell of a blaze and amp up the confusion and disorder.   Ellayans were scrambling trying to both fight and put out the fires he had set. Another two small regiments of militia tried to get in our way but did very little to harm us.  Even though it wasn’t as good as Tol’s armor, the standard Trillodan armor kept Siege safe, Ragdoll was too nimble to let himself be hit, and I could soak up lasers all day. The standard fare simply didn’t have enough punch to get through me.  

“There,” Siege said, pointing to an intersection that was being flooded by Trillodan soldiers and Ellayans alike.  

At first I couldn’t see what he meant, but then a concussive wave bowled a dozen people over.  In one corner of the intersection, Beleth and Shockwave were holed up. Beleth had made the terrain in front of them a bed of spikes and trenches while erecting a barrier for the both of them.  For Beleth’s shield, Shockwave was the sword. Beleth would drop the barrier of rock to let him fire a pair of blasts from his hands before the barrier was pulled back up to prevent recourse. Even though they were cornered, I felt pity for the Ellayans and Trillodan who were trying to assault them.  

“Problem,” Ragdoll cried out, pointing down the road.  

“Is that a Trillodan tank?” I hissed.  

It had the same steel plates that their prisoner transports did, and it hovered a few inches off the ground.  What made it distinct was the immense cannon on top as well as several barrels on the side. The Trillodan knew they couldn’t do more than just keep Beleth and Shockwave in a corner; they’d fetched a bigger gun to blow straight through the makeshift barricade.

“We need to get rid of that,” I hissed, “I can-”

I stopped in my tracks as Siege put distance between us, and materialized the same tank.  The original tank tried to pivot but couldn’t take aim before Siege’s duplicate fired a massive green bolt of energy that carved a hole straight through the center of the metal vehicle.  

Siege’s tank disintegrated immediately afterward and he fell to the ground, wheezing.  

The ensuing commotion gave Beleth and Shockwave a window to break free and clean up the rest of the stragglers in the intersection.  Those who weren’t impaled by stone spikes were blasted and crushed by Shockwave. A few lucky ones managed to escape and fight another day.  

“Good timing,” Shockwave said.  “Our cache was a bust, nothing there by some jackass who turned himself invisible and tried to stab me.  Good thing Beleth here can feel stuff through the ground.”  

“We know where their stockpile is.  It should be pretty close,” Ragdoll insisted.  

“It’s right there,” Siege panted, pointing at a green structure that stood a little taller than the surrounding buildings.  “Probably why they had a fucking tank right nearby.”  

Beleth stood in the middle of the group and waved a hand forward; the ground underneath us moved, letting us all glide down the road effortlessly.  Anyone who tried to stop our charge was either met with a blast from Shockwave or riddled with laser fire from Siege. Ragdoll and I were simply along for the ride.  

As much time as I had spent fighting against Beleth and Shockwave, the two of them were scary powerful.  Watching them work together made me very glad I wasn’t still at odds with them.  

We came to a stop in an open space that had likely been some kind of market square.  There were bits of what looked like vendor stalls broken down and abandoned to make way for this ugly green building.  The few Trillodan guards there were knocked aside by Beleth as Shockwave charged both his hands, each one giving off an ominous white glow.  

“You all should back up,” he insisted.  We obliged immediately as he swung his hands together in a thunderous clap.  A ripple of energy shot from his hands, exploding the second it touched the surface of the building.  Wood and metal exploded as shrapnel was blasted everywhere. The building groaned as its structure began to fail.  The sound grew as the three story building collapsed in on itself and released a billowing cloud of dust.  

Before we could celebrate, I felt Eldritch squirm and recoil, alarmed.  

They’re here for us.  

At first I wasn’t sure what it meant.  But, from the edges of the market, several figures stepped forward, all of them wearing custom armor and donning custom weaponry.  

Tol, Kalr, and Salah were there as well as three I hadn’t clashed against yet.

“We can trade a simple weapons depot for the six of you,” Salah said with a condescending laugh.  “You’ll be much more valuable to Zellig and Vaneel than any amount of basic armament.” 

“These Ellayan’s are fodder anyways,” another said, clearly one who wielded some authority given the commanding tone of voice she used.  “A tool to get what we want. But don’t worry,” she said.

“You all will be of great use to the Trillodan empire,” Tol concluded.


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