RotG: Dark Menace
Chapter 06 - Before the storm
The setting sun bathed the white city in red light. 'Blood red', Locke thought when he wandered through the streets alongside of Newton, 'A forerunner of the things to come.'
The commander and councillor of Albion seemed to be calm and even upon the message of troops marching up against the city didn't lose his wits. He gave Locke and likely also his men the feeling they were with an old veteran of the battlefield who had come out alive of countless wars and knew exactly what needed to be done in a situation like this. But Locke also knew how long the Echidnas, especially those inhabiting Albion, had lived in peace. Not even Newton was old enough to ever have experienced real battles or civil wars. At least his attitude gave his soldiers confidence and hope and hopefully later on his fighting skills turned out to be as good as his acting skills.
"I will try to step in front of them one last time", Locke said, "and probably will also be the first to get attacked when they still believe more in Tyler than in me. No matter what they will do to me, don't rush into a battle against them to avenge me. They are blinded by fear and hopefully once Enerjak's other army arrives they will see who their true enemy is."
An amused grin spread on Newton's muzzle.
"Heh, I'm not a puggle anymore, my boy. I know what I'm doing." Silently so that only Locke could hear it he added, "At least I trained in simulated situations like this often enough." Loudly he continued, "Before the next morning has come we will fight together with our brothers and sisters of Angel Island again and defeat Enerjak's forces."
Once more Locke was alone when he wandered over the meadows and along the cliffs at the seashore towards the supposed landing place of Angel Island's troops. With only jets for transport but none for fighting they had to land at a place out of plain sight so Albion wouldn't immediately send their battle jets but also not too far away to reach it by foot.
Had he ever been so conscious about how how the salty sea air smelled, how grass and sand felt under his feet and how his steps sounded when he walked on it or how many colours a normal everyday sunset could have? It was as if his senses wanted to take up as much as possible as long as they still could. His heart was beating as if it wanted to escape his chest and everything inside of him was screaming to turn and run but he marched on. Of course he could have run, just could have waited for the Emerald to be destroyed and hoped the war wasn't won by Enerjak. Maybe no one even would notice he hadn't been anywhere in the battle and he could return home safely without having to exculpate himself where he had been. But would he be able to live with that feeling of guilt that he abandoned everyone - all these people who probably felt like him but fought for their and everbody else's lives instead of running like cowards? No, as long as he still knew who and what he was fighting for he wanted to carry on.
The wind carried voices towards his dirction - the first of Echidnaopolis' troops had arrived. He approached them - carefully but not in a stealthy manner. Weapons were drawn at him when the other Echidnas noticed him but though he slowed down a bit he didn't stop walking.
"People of Echidnaopolis", he adressed them when he stopped in their range of hearing. "Please, listen to me. You have to stop the attack on Albion."
"And why should we listen to one of your kind, Guardian? Why shouldn't we just destroy you like you have destroyed our city."
Locke knew that voice - and the way he spit out the word "Guardian" as if it was something disgustingly and rotten. He adressed the owner of that voice directly.
"Commander Tyler, I know it's your good right to defend your home and you can get rid of me afterwards when you still feel like it but please, let me say what I have say to first."
He looked around. In the eyes of the Echidna soldiers he could still see fear but it looked as if they at least were willing to listen to him. Seemingly not all of their trust in the Guardians, their former saviours, had been completely shattered. What would Tyler's choice be? If he ordered them to shoot Locke maybe some of his soldiers would start to wonder why he wanted to get rid of a non-glowing, unarmed and calmly standing Guardian who only wanted to talk. But if he allowed him to talk and he really was one of Enerjak's followers - not just someone who had been blinded by promises but a truly loyal, power-hungry follower like Moritori had been -
he ran the risk that his people started believing in what Locke said.
Tyler lightly smiled but kept his gun pointed at the Guardian.
"Then talk but remember that your fait remains inevitable, no matter how long your try to delay it."
Locke took a few deep breaths.
"When the people of Albion attacked you they also did it to defend their city - to preempt your next attack and damage your forces before you were prepared for the next encounter. However they couldn't do too much because I stopped them. I travelled to Albion then to find the reason behind their sudden hostility against Angel Island and found out that they had been attacked by a similar Chaos force as you - only that this time the Chaos creatures told them they were sent by Echidnaopolis while during their attacks on Angel Island they seemed to have spread the rumour they were the Guardians' doing. It was neither the fault of any of the cities nor the Guardians - it was Enerjak's doing. We thought we had destroyed him the last time but apparently we have only weakened him for a while. He regained strength and now he strikes back."
Locke saw that the fear on the people's faces slowly turned into a mix of fear and shock. He didn't know if he had their trust in him but they believed his words which was already more than he had expected at the moment. Tyler's expression however hadn't changed the slightest bit.
"Two Guardians are trapped by him and at his mercy", he continued, "Sabre is hunted by him with no ways to escape, Spectre is locked inside the Master Emerald trying to hold back its forces and peventing Enerjak from gaining even more strength - and the island to drop off the sky. I am the only Guardian left but I too can feel that he's out for me. We had been the only ones who had been dangerous to him in the past and thus we will be the first he wants to destroy. With us out of the way or at least weakened Albion and Angel Island are next."
Behind Tyler a silent buzz started but the commander did nothing to stop his men. Instead he ambled towards Locke, that sickening grin still on his face. The Guardian needed to brace up so he wouldn't flinch when Tyler stopped right in front of him, nose to nose, his gun pushed against Locke's chest. Locke's heartbeat probably caused the gun to vibrate.
"Well played, little Guardian", Tyler whispered. "But I doubt a nice little speech and a few Echidnas who now started considering if it's really worth attacking each other will stop Enerjak. Or me. You might have convinced a few but there are more on the way to whom you won't have a chance to talk to and who will continue to follow my orders. Enerjak is on his way as well, with two, maybe three Guardians and a bunch of mercenaries. Non of them as useful as I had been in the past few months though. I have isolated you Guardians from society so in case Enerjak's take-over would fail the other Echidnas would either get rid of you or treat you like threats. I convinced those people to arm for war and thus will be weakening each other before Enerjak will finally come over them. Enerjak should have chosen my body to host him instead of you filth - he could have killed all of you from the inside and then taken over me completely, regaining his full power, instead of remaining split up, each of his bodies only having a part of his powers."
In the meantime the buzzing had stopped, the two Echidnas were the center of attention though the others probably didn't understand what Tyler whispered. Locke's skin was tingling with Chaos Energy and he would have loved nothing better than to blast Tyler's insides out but he held himself back. Attacking the commander right in front of his soldiers' noses before they knew what had been going on would have been the worst thing he could do now that he probably slowly regained their trust.
"Do you want to know it, little Guardian?" Tyler continued. "Do you want to know why Davis has so many wounds that he still might not have fully recovered? He probably should just have fled instead of acting as a living shield. He might have saved the lifes of a few other refugees but to what price? And Spectre's little whore - I wished I could have shot her through the womb before she got the chance to escape. Back then I might have killed two birds with one stone, or let's rather say shot two Echidnas with one bullet. But unfortunately it would have put my high position in danger. Shoot at the commander of the EST several times and no one bats an eye. Shoot at a baby, born or not, and I suddenly would have had the same reputation as you Guardians at that time. I hope in the meantime the desert has taken care of her though."
Locke's eyes widened and he made a quick step backwards.
"You ... you bloody b*****d!" he shouted.
He felt the Chaos force boil up inside of him. He had to suppress it, at any cost, or else Enerjak would find another chance to take over him but he also wanted make this creature in front of him pay, wanted to see him suffer.
Tyler only took a few steps back, the grin still on his face. This time he spoke louder, loud enough for everyone to hear him again.
"Have you already admired my gun, little Guardian? A custom-built model that only shoots pure Chaos Energy. Useless in any other case because the dose isn't high enough to kill anyone but it will cause a dangerous overload in anyone who already channels the Chaos force and always has quite a lot of it in his body - such as a Guardian. It's a pitty to have a part of Enerjak die but he will regain his strength through other ways. Besides that part couldn't have been very strong to begin with since you are still resisting. I hope you will have a nice trip to Aurora's realms."
The shot went square through Locke's chest. A massive heat wave spread through his body, originating from the wound, hot as if he was burning from the inside. He would have screamed in pain but not a single part of his body was reacting to him anymore. Blinded by the pain he couldn't see but only feel how he hit the ground, his muscles still twitching uncontrollably.
A gentle hand suddenly was placed between his shoulders and a soft voice spoke to him.
"I promised I will be there until it ends. Hold on, it will soon be over."
The same second the Master Emerald exploded. Spectre dropped to the floor, splinters rained down on him. Energy was shooting through the room that it couldn't escape, dancing over his skin but the soothing, healing Chaos force inside of him that had kept him alive for so long was gone. He didn't even try to move. Forcing his eyes to stay open already cost most of his powers. Why did he still keep them opened if everything was lost anyways? Never in his life before he had been so tired, so weak. Voices whispered around him but he wasn't sure if they were really there or only in his imagination. The feeling of hunger or thirst was gone, had made place for a feeling of void, emptiness inside of him. Darkness surrounded him. He only wanted to sleep.
Kali appeared in his mind, then his daughter. He had never seen her but he could imagine how she looked with her father's dark fur and her mother's eyes. If he only had said a proper last farewell. If he only had had the time to see his daughter grow up and be the one to start training her so she would become a Guardian too one day.
"But not trained in the ways of the old Guardians", he silently said. "It's enough that I had been through military drill since I was a child. No one shall take your childhood away."
The darkness faded and he could see the green light dancing over the ceiling of the chamber again. A part of it was still surrounding him, tingling on his skin like electricity.
"I know you will be a strong girl. You have your mother's toughness and my strength after all."
His voice gained strength with each word. Slowly he rolled around. It cost a lot of strength but he finally was able to prop up on his arms.
"But it won't be just anyone to train you. Thunderhawk and Sojourner will be too slack for a girl like you and while Sabre and Locke will be able to handle you they are the ones most likely to fall back into old training tradition. No, you need someone who knows how to handle such a strength but doesn't want you to go through the same drill hell as I, someone who already has experience in training Guardians though it was only for a few days."
He slowly got to his knees then forced himself up onto his feet again. He was standing very insecure but he at least was standing again.
"The one training you will be me."
Step by step he staggered towards one of the corridors leading away from the chamber. The Chaos force inside of him might have disappeared but he wasn't completely helpless. It might have been a relict reminding him of his Dark Legion past, one that he just could have thrown away unlike all his cybernetics. But he had kept it like a treasure since it was the weapon that had killed Moritori.
"I won't only teach you how to fight and defend yourself, you will also learn about our history. Well, not exactly our history but the history of our Guardians. In this case Locke is also a good teacher, even better than me. You will soon understand why I'm refusing to train you the old ways."
While stumbling up the slippery path he continued talking to his imaginary daughter. It was as if now that the Emerald was gone he drew energy from the words to her. He barely realised the forest around him or the smell of the fresh air that he could finally breathe again after months inside of his emerald prison. His thoughts were filled with Voni and Kali. There were still beings out there who could harm his little family and he needed to protect them.
And if they already had done harm to them they would burn.
Tyler dropped the now useless gun onto the lifeless Guardian's back.
"Everyone at my command, let's move", he called at his soldiers.
They followed him but only reluctantly, most eyes still on Locke. Their image of the Guardians once had been shattered, for months they had only known fear of them, then one of them suddenly appeared in front of them and caused their world to crumble once more only to be shot by their leader a few minutes later. What had the two of them been talking about that lead to such an escalation? And the things they were about to do - was it still only about defending their home island or were they really falling right into Enerjak's trap?
Locke couldn't move anymore, he couldn't feel but still he heard the words that were spoken around him, could see the troops walking away. And he saw the Echidna scientist kneeling in front of him, looking down on him with a sad smile. No one else but Locke cared about him because no one else but Locke was aware of his presence.
"It's over now", Edmund silently said.
Locke wasn't sure what exactly he meant. Was his life over? His pain? Enerjak's reign in his body?
"So am I dying?" Locke asked. He couldn't use his own voice but he could communicate with his mind.
"That's up to you and the Chaos force. Currently you are floating between life and death. For a little while you were completely overloaded and it nearly killed you but then the Master Emerald and with that your source of energy was destroyed. All that is left inside of you is the energy from the bullet and it depends if that will just vanish or heal you."
If he concentrated on it Locke could feel the faint hint of Chaos energy inside of him but that was only the bullet. No own energy and also no Enerjak. The few seconds of overload that surely would have killed Locke if it hadn't been for the old Guardians were enough to destroy the part of the demi-god. Had he been able to right now Locke would have laughed out loud.
"Thank you for responding to my last call at Haven's core, my old friend", he said to Edmund again. "And for staying with me all this time. I don't know if I could have done anything of it if I had been completely alone."
"I am glad that I could help but I wonder why you chose me. I might be a honorary member in Haven because the Guardian line started with me and my descendants carried the title 'of the house of Edmund' but I never got the chance to be a real Guardian."
"And that is exactly why I chose you. Because that makes you closer to me than any other of the residents of Haven except for maybe my namesake. According to the old rules no one of us is a real Guardian. We weren't trained in a Guardian way, neither by other Guardians nor by fire ants - in our case it was a former Legionnaire who started, the rest we learned on our own. Though being reborn versions of old Guardians we don't have Guardian family members and not a single drop of Guardian blood in our veins. Though we have started to protect the Echidnas we never took the oath, it never was our duty. But still we will continue doing so, not because we are forced into our roles but because just like you we will fight for what we love and what we believe in. Besides, define Guardian. All of us, including you, had something or someone worth guarding. A Guardian is not defined by blood line or strange rules, it's what we do that makes us what we are."
For a little while Edmund thoughtfully looked at him then he smiled lightly but not only because of Locke's words. The young Guardian hadn't noticed it but now he suddenly realised that over time he had slowly regained control over his body again. The last few words had come over his own lips and weren't sent by his mind anymore, he could feel how his wound healed and could move into a more comfortable position than the one he had fallen into. But with the consciousness the fear of the things to come returned. Also Edmund seemed to have sensed it.
"It's still time to revise your words. As you said, it's not your duty."
Vigorously Locke shook his head.
"I still know a few people worth fighting for and if I get shot again then I want it to be because I tried to protect someone. I'm afraid of dying but it's not worth to let several others die instead of me because I just ran and saved my life."
"And nothing else I expected to hear from you."
"Please, stay with me", Locke begged when he saw that Edmund was fading away. "I ... I don't think I can do this all alone and I don't know if I will find any other Guardian soon."
"Don't worry, I might be invisible again but as I promised I will stay with you until the end."
Upon standing up Locke noticed the energy gun. It still had a few more shots but it might be useless now. If Spectre was right Enerjak might have left all bodies and he probably had turned into his pure energy shape. He could be killed by another source pure energy but if Locke tried to shoot him with that thing it would only go in at one side and leave at the other without the possibility for the bullet to get stuck and release it's deadly content. Locke took the gun with him nevertheless.
Thunderhawk struggled to open his eyes. His vision was blurred and he could barely see more than moving shadows and colours but he fought to stay awake. The last he could remember was pain, incredible pain. On his way out of the Guardian's body Enerjak seemed to have tried to take along some organs but while he hadn't succeeded in that he instead had taken a huge part of Thunderhawk's energy, life energy.
His eyes focussed on the red figure lying not too far from him - if Thunderhawk had stretched out an arm he would have been able to touch him.
"Sojo", he whispered, feeling the ice cold grip of fear around his heart. The younger Echidna's chest barely moved, his breaths were close to non-existant.
Painfully slow the lavender furred Guardian crawled closer to his friend, broke down right beside him. Probably he had now used his last bit of energy but it didn't matter when they were both supposed to die anyways. At least they would die close to each other.
Only a few steps away the army of outcasts kept moving, not caring about the lifeless Guardians at all. Their leader had left their bodies but with their life energy he didn't need them anymore anyways and he now was awaiting them back in his own pure form on the battlefield.
Slowly Sabre climbed through between the rocks. His body was still aching but he stifled the pain when he thought about his Guardian friends and the fate that awaited the whole Echidna kind. He had felt Enerjak's claws inside of him when he was suddenly ripped out of his body but he could barely do any harm thanks to the fact that at this very moment he barely had any power over Sabre. At first the Guardian had barely realized what just had happened but then it had slowly dawned on him that the part of Enerjak inside of him was gone completely.
He pressed himself closer to the rocks when the small army marched pass a few metres away. Sabre knew where they were heading and this was probably not the best time for a completely unarmed Echidna to be detected. As soon as they were gone he wanted to continue his way and follow them to Albion - a good distance away of course - but then he spotted the two figures that had remained behind, lying between the rocks. And one of them was lavender, a fur colour so rare on males that Sabre knew immediately who it was. He rushed closer, knelt down beside them.
They were lying side by side. Thunderhawk had protectively put an arm over Sojourner's chest. At first glance they looked completely lifeless but after a closer check Sabre found out they were still breathing shallowly. Without one more second of hesitation Sabre put his hands on their forehads, a gesture rather driven by instinct than by knowledge. He had only seen this once - when Spectre had been fighting for his life and Locke wanted to help him - but he doubted he could do anything wrong since it was nothing he could ever have learned or practiced. Maybe it wouldn't work if they were already to weak but if they still wanted to fight then he wanted to help them. All Guardians somehow shared a connection to each other - they would always find together again, even if they were worlds apart, they would always knew if something had happened to one of the others and, thinking of Locke and Haven, maybe their connection partially remained beyond death. The Chaos force had nothing to do with it or else any other Chaos bearer would have felt the same. No, these bonds were only shared by Guardians, might it be family bonds or, as in the case of the current Guardians, friendship.
Something flashed through Sabre's mind. Locke had mentioned that he clearly had seen Spectre in his fight against the darkness but this was nothing like it. A few blurred lights, and memories but mainly darkness. And then he could feel their heartbeats, beating inside of his own chest. The blur slowly formed into two figures floating in the darkness holding on to each other as if it was for bare life - and surely it was. Thunderhawk lifted up his head, called out Sabre's name, while only Sojourner's eyes flickered towards the approaching Guardian, his head remained weakly leaned against his friend's shoulder. The lavender male wanted to reach out and grab Sabre's hand but then he hesitated when Sojourner showed no reaction.
"I-I can't ... move...", his younger friend mumbled. Even inside of his mind he sounded weak. "Please ... let go and safe yourself."
"Well, if you can't then I will carry you with me", Thunderhawk fiercly said. "I'll get us both out of here."
He gave Sabre a last despaired gaze, silently pleading it would work, then grabbed his hand.
Sabre was pushed back and fell to the ground. It felt as if someone had punched against his chest and for a few seconds he wasn't even able to breathe but then he finally managed to sit up again. He was very weak and exhausted but that was nothing a few minutes of rest couldn't take care of.
Thunderhawk had already woken up. His eyes frantically scanned Sojourner for any signs of life and he let out a reliefed sigh when his friend's eyes flickered open as well.
"We ... we made it", he silently stuttered. "Aurora and Sabre be thanked, we are still alive."
Sojourner answered with a weak smile. His lips silently moved and though the words wouldn't come out the gratefulness was written his eyes.
A few more minutes were given them to rest. Way less than they actually would have needed but they forced themselves back to their feet. Three Guardians, weakened by Enerjak and drawn of their powers but they were ready to fight for their people again.
Tyler continued his march towards Albion. He had noticed that the majority of his troops only had followed reluctantly, repeatedly glancing at the dead Guardian and he huffed angrily. It had taken him months to draw those people onto his side but as soon as one of the hated Guardians returned they immediately believed their words again. Of course what the young Guardian had said was true but the people didn't know that - they only had seen how Guardians had caused destruction and had believed that Enerjak was gone for good. And still they trusted the Guardians, no matter what.
His communicator went off and when he answered the call he heard the voice of one of the Echidnas he had ordered to guard the Chaos Chamber.
"Sir, we have a huge problem here. The Guardian is on the loose."
"So what? It's been your task to find a way inside and get rid of him so if he decided to get out on his own, even better for you."
"Well, there's this little problem now. Close to the chamber he was still protected by some kind of force field and then he managed to escape into the woods. And he's got a gun. And he's one hell of a sniper. We haven't seen him ever since but we hear him, not only when he shoots. He is..." The caller hesitated for a second. "He's reciting parts of Guardian history."
Tyler closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"That Guardian has gone completely nuts. And you are completely incompetent if you can't take care of a maniac who even has forgotten that he possesses Chaos powers and uses weapons instead. I don't care what you do or how you do it but eliminate him."
When he turned off his communicator he could feel the gazes of his own troops in his back. Had he spoken loud enough for them to hear? But if so they showed hardly any reactions.
Albion's army awaited them outside of the city. None of the white uniformed Echidnas tried an attack, they hadn't even readied their weapons. What were they planning?
"So eager to die?" Tyler called over the last distance between them.
"We didn't come here to fight", Newton loudly replied. "Albion surrenders."
A surprised murmur among his soldiers showed that Albion obviously hadn't planned to surrender but the commander silenced them with a quick gesture and awaited Tyler's answer.
"Well, too bad for you but good for us. At least we won't be disturbed while we overrun the city."
"I am sorry to remind you about our codex, commander", Newton said coolly. "The inhabitants of the defeated places might be kept as prisoners of war or are forced to join the superior nation but they shall not be attacked anymore. In your case I would suggest the latter. Enerjak's army will be here any second and no one knows if or when the Dak Legion will send their backup so it might be a good idea if you accept your inferiors' offer and let the guards of Albion help you to defend our homes."
Now the murmur started behind Tyler. It was the second time Enerjak had been mentioned and it wasn't by a Guardian this time. If he now ordered his soldiers to attack the white city anyways they would declare him as insane. Or they would see the traitor in him.
"Join us in death if you want to", he only said and looked at the direction he expected Enerjak's army to come from. "They will be here soon. I'm waiting for them."
Heavily breathing Spectre stumbled over the rocky paths. Most of his persecutors were dead, the others either had lost his trace or given up searching - for now. His sanity slowly returned but so did the pain and exhaustion. Additionally to his already existing weakness he was bleeding from several wounds which without the help of the Master Emerald probably wouldn't heal for months. Eventually his legs gave in. He had done everything he could for his family and now ... the time for sleep had come.
Floating in a state of half-consciousness he heard footsteps. They stopped short for a few seconds but then quickly came closer. Had his enemies found him at last? No, the hands who touched him, shook him, lifted him lightly up were careful and gentle. At least he would die in the arms of someone who wasn't an enemy. He could hear voices but they sounded as if they were coming from far, far away. Too far to even hear if they belonged to a male or female. The last he felt was that he was picked up from the ground then he blacked out completely.
His eyelids flickered open but he immediately closed them again. Even the twilight of the evening hurt in his eyes. Someone might have noticed this short sign of life because an arm was shoved under his shoulder blades, lifted him up lightly. Then something wet dripped on his lips. Still being dizzy it needed him a little while to remember what it was. How long had it been since he had last tasted water? The next he quickly needed to remember was how to properly swallow before he could choke on the liquid slowly filling his mouth. The water was warmed up by the sun but at least it didn't hurt as much as cool water might have done when it ran through his completely dry throat. With his senses slowly returning he felt the bandages on his body, the sand he was lying on, heard the voices around him. Finally he also thought it was safe to open his eyes without feeling blinded. Thank goodness she had lowered the bottle or else he would actually have choked on the water. Kali warmly smiled down on him, tears of happiness were still running down her cheeks. Spectre weakly lifted up an arm, wanted to wipe away her tears and she wrapped her fingers around his hand, held it against her cheek. His lips slightly moved but he couldn't find any words to say. Moments passed and they only looked at each other, the world around them was nearly forgotten.
"Do you want to see Voni?" Kali whispered. "She's with Lara while I was taking care of you."
Spectre could only nod.
When Lara knelt down beside him and carefully laid down the little puggle on his chest he felt very dizzy and for a second he feared to black out again but then he realized he was only overwhelmed by his feelings. When he gently placed his hands on Voni's back and she snuggled closer to the warmth of his chest a dry sob escaped his lips. But he didn't cry, he couldn't. He lying in Kali's arms holding his daughter in his own arms - how he wished this tender moment could last forever.
"You have carried me? All alone?" Spectre asked after Kali had told him how she had found him and brought him to the camp.
Around them it had become even darker but a campfire was providing light. Spectre was sitting leaned against Kali. Not that he would have needed support anymore; he only wanted to be close to her. The puggle was sleeping in her arms.
"Well, you aren't actually a heavy weight. You never have been but now you were only a bunch of bones, skin and a few cybernetics to carry. It's a miracle that you are still alive after months without water and food."
"That was the Master Emerald. I think it's rather a miracle how I survived the minutes after it was destroyed until you found me."
He remembered the whispering voices in the chamber. Could it have been the ancient Guardians Locke often seemed to hear inside of Haven? Maybe they had given him the strength to carry on.
"As much as I wish to, I can't stay here", he finally said with a deep sigh. "Enerjak might be out of our bodies but it's not over yet. He's still out there somewhere; I can feel it. I need to join the other Guardians - hopefully they are still alive - and continue my fight."
"I understand", Kali silently said, a saddened look in her eyes. "But how will you find him, how will you get there fast enough and how will you defeat him without any Chaos powers."
"Lanzer promised me to help us in case of danger. I don't fully trust him but since Enerjak is a threat to the Dark Legion as well I believe him that if that damn demi-god starts an attack somewhere the Legionnaires will join the other Echidnas. In that case I only have to go to the next Legion camp, ask around if they heard of Enerjak lately and if yes board one of their vehicles. And for the last part - I need your help, the whole camp's help if necessary. The Guardians can't fight him without the Chaos force so someone has to put together the Master Emerald again. I will tell you the location of the Chaos Chamber. There's energy buzzing around inside but don't worry, it won't harm you." At least not as long as the ancient Guardians keep it bay, he thought. "Just put the pieces together. The ... the forces inside the chamber will seal it for you and the free energy will return into the Emerald."
"I will do it and I will take everyone available to help me", Kali promised.
Soon after Spectre left the camp he heard fast footsteps behind him. He turned around and saw Lara quickly approaching. She stopped in front of him breathing heavily.
"I'm coming with you and don't even try to stop me. Unlike most of the other camp inhabitants I am not wounded and if I hadn't been banned from Echidnaopolis I already would have been among those being sent to Albion a good while ago since I know how to handle weapons and have experience in fighting."
And you can't stand the thought to leave Locke alone when it comes to the greatest fights, Spectre thought. He rather would have wished she hadn't asked and stayed back - not that he doubted in her skills or anything, it was rather because of Locke that he wanted to know her protected - but he also wouldn't turn someone skilled and willing to fight down. He shortly nodded.
"Alright, but tell Locke that you boarded that Legion jet on your own and don't mention you came with me. If he finds out I let it happen that you put yourself in danger he would rip off my head."
The last few Legion jets were getting ready for takeoff when the remaining soldiers noticed two figures approaching in the dark. Weapons were quickly drawn but they relaxed a bit when they recognized one of the newcomers. One of his kind was the last to worry about right now.
"Do you still have space for two more soldiers?" the dark furred Echidna asked.
One of the Legionnaires raised an eyebrow. "Yes but ... has hell frozen over or since when are Guardians flying together with Legionnaires."
"Since my brother sent me an invitation", Spectre replied and without taking further notice of the Legionnaires around them - some of them puzzled, some others lightly amused - he and Lara climbed up the ramp leading into the jet.
(Inspirational song for this chapter: any Enya song available on the harddrive)
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