Friday, May 22, 2015

Blue Nexus: Solar Survivors Part 1

            Konda stepped around the long table, where Aen and Nea sat on opposite sides of each other. The Close Sun shone into Konda’s eyes while the Distant Sun appeared merely as a shiny marble behind it. Konda raised his hand to cover it, then looked back to the two elders. They were motionless, their hands flat on the table. They were watching just what Konda was watching before.
            The young, very young actually, warrior from Earth known as Kyle Raiden combated a being born of the negative energy from the Nexus. He fought in a ruthless battle. Konda was all too aware of the dormant power he was scraping at every time he got up. His ally, dressed in more civilian Earth clothing, also put up a good fight. Konda couldn’t help but feel uneasy watching him, something about his power…
            This was cut off of, though, when he looked at the other image. Shindari, a mage once held prisoner under Prince Mozhi of the Kingdom Planets, held her own against a demi War God, Gargador. Born of Cata, of course. She only wanted the best of the best—or, better put, the brutish of the brutes.
            Nea chuckled, forcing Konda to turn around. The two rarely expressed an emotion, and most of the time it was annoyance at something Konda said.
            “The girl has incredible potential as a mage,” Nea remarked. “Much like my students. Perhaps I should take her in.”
            Aen shook her head. “Your girls would crush this one’s. Her magical abilities are pathetic, she’s a warrior not a mage.”
            “I know a pair that might have once blurred that line,” Konda said, folding his arms behind his back.
            The elders glared his way. Their eyes were black, their hair fallen around their shoulders. Konda was also looking more aged—three hundred and seventy-two years did that to anyone—but knew he was better equipped to fight than the others, who were once legendary mages on and off the battlefield. Perhaps they were jealous of the beauty Shindari still had.
            “Even so,” Konda said as they looked back to their floating screens, “are her combat abilities enough? That’s the only reason we’re watching her. I could care less if she were to join your ranks, Nea, I just care if she’s powerful enough.”
            “For the Renga? They would obliterate her spirit in an instant.”
            “Then what of the Nexus?”
            “Which one?” asked Aen.
            “The one who can go into his second stage,” Konda replied, nodding to the screen. He held back a great black ball of negative energy, his own energy surging out of him like a waterfall. “Kyle Raiden?”
            “In his second stage—what do they call it, Wave Two?—perhaps. But as he is now it would just be a simple brawl. I will admit, he is strong, far stronger than those who preceded him.”
            “As I said, what matters is their current power,” Konda said. “It seems to be enough, for them at least. We can work on them, if need be, when they get here.”
            “Who said they have our approval?” asked Aen.
            Konda approached the window. The field around the building stretched far, the closest town was leagues upon leagues away from where they were. Taranoi wasn’t inhabited by many but it did once hold one of the Renga shards. Bandits and power-hungry mongrels came from all over searching for it, and those they left behind once they deserted the planet in search of more have stayed ever since. A perfect location for a hideout, Konda figured.
            The clouds moved quickly overhead. The blue grass swirled in a powerful gust of wind. Konda kept his gaze away from the Close Sun.
            “Since He came and ravaged our systems, leaving us the damned shards, we haven’t had much of a choice in who we choose as our champions,” Konda said. “And given that one of his creations now looks for the shards, perhaps making him almost equal in strength, we need a champion that will be strong enough to hold him off until we can initiate our plan.”
            “Why not use deception, as we have all along?” asked Nea.
            “We’re too hold to get our hands dirty directly,” Konda said. He gestured toward the screens. “Those two? A mage and a Nexus are just what we need on our side. We may not have the numbers, but our superior intellect and their youthful prowess will prove more than enough.”
            He turned fully toward the elders, who with a flick of their wrists had the screens fizz away. Konda nodded.
            “I’ll assume, then, that I have your approval?” asked Konda.
            The two elders nodded. They held their hands up, muttering the start of an incantation.
            “Good. This is a little exciting, as we’ve never been to Earth before. Should be great fun,” Konda said as he felt his body leave their plane of existence, travelling through spirals of magic as they shot through the cosmos, through time and space.

            Kip and Luke set the net down, Kip swiping his brow the moment they set it down. Luke put his hands on his hips and stepped the side as Kyle took a practice shot, his sunglasses unwavering on his face. It went straight into the net, and the netting clanged against the crossbars. A breeze swept into the net as Kip reached into the net and tossed the ball back to Kyle, who cradled it immediately.
            “So I don’t get why you couldn’t just do this in your backyard,” Kip said. He held his hand up to block the sun. “Where there’s, you know, shade?”
            “I like the ambiance,” Kyle said. “Plus it’s nice to have more space.”
            “I’m going to have to agree with Kip, I’m not really about coming around the school in the summertime, especially since we’re so close to actually being done with it,” Luke said.
            Kyle shrugged. “At least you’re not complaining about the heat.” He prepared to take another shot before he stopped, noticing what Luke was wearing. “How the heck are you wearing jeans in the middle of the summer?”
            Luke smirked. “You ask me that every summer. And the heat just doesn’t bother me. Besides, one of the three of us has to look presentable.”
            “I’m not sure sweaty legs comes off as presentable,” Kip said. Kyle nodded, then took a shot.
            “My legs don’t sweat,” Luke replied. “And it just helps to have an air of confidence and looking decent.”           
            “It’s the summer, though, and we’re in high school, we’re not supposed to be decent teenagers!” Kip exclaimed.
            “You must be forgetting where we live,” Kyle pointed out.
            “Aw, come on man, where’s your sense of adventure?” asked Kip.
            “Still following me from Jupiter, I think, where I got my butt handed to me by some demon Nexus being that almost made the Earth go poof,” Kyle replied. He prepared another ball in the pouch, then released it. It skimmed the lower part of the crossbar before going in.
            Luke and Kip both nodded solemnly. Kyle wasn’t entirely one for bringing up the battle against the Black Nexus, though they were usually quick to respond to a darker joke like that. They asked him a million and a half questions when the battle was over about it, and Kyle was fairly open about the experience. He tried to downplay the whole fight in the asteroid belt, though, as it was a bit embarrassing.
            There was some residual trauma but most of it was gone now. Every few days the memory of seeing Orion One vanishing into space, as well as seeing Black Nexus hurl the black ball of energy that would consume the Earth, would flash into his mind, but it was quickly quelled when he remembered that he was strong enough to stop it. Ever since then, he’d been extra tedious on his training. Phoenix was even coaching him up a little on some rudimentary fighting techniques, just in case it would take fundamentals rather than brute force to defeat an enemy. Plus it helped in the regular human form.
            For the most part, though, Kyle liked to spend his time with Kip and Luke. Things were a bit easier with them. Being around the Zanderia always made Kyle feel like he was supposed to be doing something, even though the heroes were always stressing for him and Brenda to have a life, to do things with people they knew. Brenda took that less to heart and was often busier than Kyle. She’d ventured much farther than he do to various tasks, but Kyle enjoyed the serenity that his small town provided. Not only that, but he would still go to East City nightly to fight crime over there, and found himself getting stronger and smarter for it.
            Lacrosse was just a bigger priority for him during the daytime. Since Brenda operated more in the day and he in the night, he felt a fair trade was done there, so he would just get to practice and condition when he felt he needed. Such as the very hot day he found himself in with his two best friends. He preferred going out when the conditions were extreme so that his body would be better prepared for the cooler temperatures.
            Luke tossed Kyle another ball. Kyle cradled it, shifting his arms so he was going to throw in the opposite way.
            “And anyway,” Kyle said, “I’d like to think this summer we could, you know, relax or something, take it a bit easier. Prepare ourselves for what’s coming.”
            “I’ve heard that senior year is only tough if you make it that way,” Kip said.
            “Those are probably the same people that wound up at the community college, and are still there,” Luke said, smirking.        
            “Hey, you know what, at least they made it somewhere,” Kip said.
            “Well, I’d love to see you doing all that college application crap,” Kyle said.         
            “You don’t seem worried about it. What, do you expect your super friends to start paying you for this?”
            “At least I have somewhere to crash if I don’t get a job. The Moon.”
            Kip rolled his eyes as Kyle took another shot, this one barely going in.
            “There are just some things that you never really expect to hear in your life,” Kip said. “Though for you I guess it isn’t much of a stretch, you’ve been farther out into the universe than any of us here will ever get.”
            “Happens,” Kyle said, shrugging.
            Something boomed overhead. The three boys looked up at the sky, squinting. Kyle felt the air growing thinner, and reached for his bracelet.
            “I’ll just guess that someone’s getting ready for action,” Luke muttered.
            Three thin strands materialized before a gust of wind knocked the three boys back, each of them rolling as they hit the ground. Kyle, still clutching the lacrosse stick, managed to get to one knee, looking up at the three new figures that stood before them. It appeared to be an older man and two women of the same age, but, they clearly weren’t from Earth.
            The three of them had green hair that seemed a bit flaky, as if ready to just fall off of their heads. The two women had three red eyes while the man had just two red eyes and a stitch line where the third eye would be. None of them were armed, as far as Kyle could tell. All three of them, holding out their hands to keep up the barrier around them, had craters in their hands, radiating light blue, the same color as the barrier. Their robes were white and had strange patterns on them. Kyle was unable to discern if this was some form of writing or just some symbol on the clothes.
            The man was taller than the women, who looked almost exactly the same if not for the difference that one woman had a darker left eye while the other had a darker right eye. They were just as tall as Kyle and were a little plump, while the man was lean though had a big head.
            The three of them lowered their arms, closing their fists as they did so. A blue mask moved in front of their mouths, the robes dropping down to cover up their skin.
            The man slightly turned and began to speak to the women, though Kyle couldn’t understand it. His finger continued to hesitate over the bracelet, and his whole body was tense. Who were these aliens, where did they come from? And how big of a threat would they pose should they decide to fight? Kyle was holding back on that last thought given their age, but they did materialize seemingly out of thin air.
            “H—hey, if you’re looking for our leader, you’re a few miles south of it,” Kip said, barely able to stand.
            “Kip, shut up!” exclaimed Kyle.
            The man turned toward Kyle, staring right at him. Kyle quickly swiped his bracelet and held out his hand. His lance materialized as his aura flared.
            “Alright what the hell are you doing on Earth?” he barked, his voice in an alien language.
            The man and two women stared blankly at him. The man raised his hand, opening his palm. Kyle felt something grip his hand, then noticed that his arm was being slowly pulled down to his side.
            “We didn’t come to do battle,” the man said. His voice was smooth, almost as if listening to water flowing. “We came for your help.”
            “Oh, yeah, I bet,” Kyle said.
            “Well you kind of are assuming that they want to fight,” Luke admitted, shrugging.
            Kyle tightened his grip on the lance. “Well then this guy should let go of my hand, then I’ll consider putting the weapon away.”
            “We don’t have much time for consideration,” the man said. “We need you on Taranoi, now.”
            “Taranoi?” asked Luke.
            “It’s our home world, and currently our most vulnerable one,” the man said. “Which is why we’re in need of Kyle Raiden.”
            “How do you know my name?” Kyle asked.
            The tension on his arm was released. He jerked it forward out of instinct before twirling it and sticking the lance into the ground. It dinged as it sunk in, wobbling for a moment as Kyle took a step forward, clenching a fist.            
            “We know much about you and your ally, Shindari, the Red Woman. Hardly a good name for a hero, don’t you think, it seems so dull,” the man remarked, flicking his wrist as if putting Brenda aside.         
            “Oh, so you’ve just been tracking us to see if we’re good enough for you, right?” Kyle asked. Now part of him really wanted to go with the man to whatever Taranoi was, just to prove that he was in fact good enough.
            “Precisely, yes,” the man said. He looked up. “Ah, speaking of which, here she is now, we can be on our way then.”
            A red light shimmered in the sky before plummeting down toward them. A red square appeared before Brenda dropped right down to it harmlessly. Her red hair fell down her back and sat along her shoulders. She stood between the man and Kyle, her hands open as red magic flowed around them, ready to create a barrier in case of attack.
            “Your magic, where is it from?” she asked.  
            “Are you really just skipping the whole ‘who are you’ thing?” Kyle asked.
            “They haven’t attacked you yet, so it doesn’t really seem all that important,” Brenda replied. “Besides, it’s unlike any magic I’ve encountered, even amongst the various prisoners on the Kingdom planet. Blame my curiosity.”
            “I can tell you all about it once we leave, Shindari, and we should be going now,” the man said, taking the slightest step back toward the women, who slowly began opening their palms.
            “Going, where to?”    
            “Some place called Taranoi,” Kip said.
            “You’re coming?” asked Brenda.
            Kip looked over to the man. “Am I coming?”
            “Do you want to die?” asked the man.
            “Hey guys, so, we’ll be seeing you when you get back,” Kip said, walking over and patting Luke on the shoulder. “Send a postcard if you get the chance, and take lots of pictures.”
            Kyle watched helplessly as Kip and Luke walked back up the path, Luke giving one more look before turning back and continuing along the sidewalk toward the school.
            “Mere humans wouldn’t be able to handle the conditions of Taranoi nor would their bodies withstand the magic power required for such long distances of travel,” the man said. “And I would like to get this done with as few casualties as possible.”
            “Well I suppose that they’re safer here, but you still haven’t convinced me of anything,” Kyle said. “Outside of a planet needing help, which many others do, I’m not sure I’m able to go with you. This planet needs help, what if some demi-War God were to appear?
            “Gargador is not of your concern now, he has been dispatched for the time being as you know,” the man said. “And there are no threats closing in on Earth nor are there any that are presently rooting themselves into the planet. Your powers are required in a system that one day the great Terra system might resemble.”
            “Hold on, your magic…it’s been exposed to something, hasn’t it?” asked Brenda, holding her hand out.
            Kyle noticed the faintest red stream touching the man’s hand, stemming from Brenda’s fingertip. The man closed his eyes, sighed, then nodded slowly.
            “And your name is Konda, from Taranoi as you said,” Brenda said. “It’s been exposed to a great, horrifying power, but it’s name…”
            “Should not be uttered on this world else we threaten its existence as well,” Konda said. “At least on my world we’ll be in direct line to stop this threat. The source of our magic is just like any other magic but the difference is our prolonged exposure to the very thing that may destroy our system, and it’s something we’re unable to affect. Thus we need the help of two skilled warriors, and you two fit our requirements perfectly.”
            Brenda looked back to Kyle. Kyle winced. She had a look he’d seen many times before, the, “Well, you coming or what?” look that he knew he simply couldn’t say no too.
            Kyle plucked the lance out of the ground, then it dematerialized. He rolled his shoulders back, striding past Brenda as the stream broke between her and Konda. The two approached the group of alien mages. The two women with Konda had hardly even moved through the encounter.
            Their arms locked forward when Kyle and Brenda stepped behind them. The blue sphere of magic appeared around them as the blue masks on their face faded. It began to thin out. Kyle heard Konda chuckle before he felt himself jerked from the ground and shot into the air, almost as if he were using his space-jumping flight speed.
            This was much slower, and a bit more strenuous on his body. He could almost feel the speed they were going at, and concentrated to keep his aura up around him so that his body wasn’t ripped to shreds. He didn’t have any time to check, but he was sure that Brenda was also keeping herself shielded from the sheer speed they were moving at.
            Everything was dark around them until there was a sudden burst of light and they landed softly on a beige, tiled circle suspended in the air. Kyle sucked in a breathe then fell back a step.
            “That wore you out? Perhaps we should send you back,” Konda said, turning to face the two heroes.      
            “I prefer flying on my own,” Kyle said, bending over as he felt his stomach heave. Nothing came out. He sighed then stood up. Brenda patted him on the back. He felt little bits of healing magic with each touch. He smiled up at her.
            “So, this is Taranoi?” asked Brenda.
            “Indeed. It’s very similar to Earth, just larger in diameter on all sides,” replied Konda. “This is the docking bay for our city. It can a bit confusing to navigate, so we’ll show you to where you’ll be staying for now.”
            “For now? What are we going to be bouncing around planets?” Kyle asked.
            “Tomorrow you’ll begin your search, yes, but not off the planet. For now we’ll have you adjust to its conditions as well as debrief you on why it is you’re here. I didn’t want any ears on Earth to know you’re after the Renga shards,” Konda said. “Now, come, follow us.”
            Konda turned back around and led the women down into a hallway, where the door slid open smoothly. Brenda moved before Kyle did, who was still hesitant. He was displaced from all allies except for Brenda and if this was some huge trap he worried he wouldn’t have the power to stop an ambush. What if Konda already had this great power and was just going to turn it right back around on Kyle?
            Then again, he could have done that on Earth easily while Kyle wasn’t in his Blue Nexus form. Perhaps Konda wasn’t so bad, but he was extremely secretive to a scary degree. What worried him was the recurring theme of these Renga shards. Whether or not Konda had them or if they were real, they apparently had some extreme power behind them. Enough to wipe out an entire system? That was something only Black Nexus was known to do, and he tossed Kyle around in his base form. Tapping into that well of power wasn’t something he entirely mastered and could so far only do it after straining himself. In the heat of a battle that could prove slightly different or could be a wildcard against him if he were to try it.
            He followed Brenda into the hallway, his aura still alight around him. The hallway was cylindrical with see-through walls. Kyle peered out to the cityscape as he walked. It was full of buildings crawling out of a ground hundreds of feet below him. He looked to the other side, where Brenda was looking out, and that had less city and more flatlands before a forest some acres out. The city itself, just looking at it, didn’t seem all that futuristic. In fact, it looked as if the same buildings were just built on top of each other.
            Kyle was more expecting something along the lines of flying ships, but instead all he saw were walkways connecting the buildings.
            “Konda, uh, how advanced is Taranoi?” Kyle asked.           
            “We’ve blended magic with technology, mind with metal,” Konda said. “Our abilities, and exposure to the Renga shards, have allowed us to flourish as a society without the need of much technology. Taranoi also has a better living environment for its denizens higher in the sky, forcing our ancestors, who were more grounded in technology, to build so high up.”
            “But, those plains out there, they look to be on the same level as some of the lower buildings, how’s that?” asked Kyle.
            “That’s because it’s actually suspended over one of our older civilizations, growing over it as time passed,” Konda explained. “Taranoi is a very, very old planet, Kyle Raiden, though our customs have not changed much. We haven’t had much need for change, simply a bit more growth for our population.” He sighed. “This has angered some.”
            “Let me guess, you mean the people coming after the Renga shards?” asked Brenda, looking away from the window.
            Konda bowed his head. They reached the end of the hallway, which was a circular elevator. The doors slid open. The five of them stepped inside, then Konda flicked his wrist and they dropped down just a couple levels before the door opened up again and they stepped outside, suddenly on a city street.
            There were only a few people on it, mostly families to Kyle’s surprise, and all of them smiled at Konda and the women, not at all heeding any attention to the two Earthlings.
            “We’ve had only some who wish to see our system undergo change, and dramatically at that, but none of them have as of yet resorted to violence,” Konda said.
            “Got a strong military or something?” asked Kyle.
            “Five soldiers,” Konda said.
            “Five?” Kyle shrieked.
            That got a few looks from the surrounding citizens. He gritted his teeth and shrugged. Konda stopped and turned around.
            “Five soldiers, one general strong enough to break any half-way decent mage in half without even using his real power,” Konda said. “Against the two of you, you might stand a chance given what we’ve seen. We’ve never had need of an army as he has served the system loyally, and has been an instigator for the status quo for the longest time.”
            “Sounds like any extremists have something bad coming their way, then,” Brenda said.
            “And all of them have yet to get past the five soldiers he commands, excuse me, even two of the soldiers he commands,” Konda replied. “Not to mention that we have several other skilled mages as regular citizens wishing to keep the peace.”
            “Just seems weird to me that someone with his strength hasn’t gone entirely crazy yet,” Kyle remarked.
            “As I said, he served the system’s sovereignty loyally. Many would easily place him, or myself, as the rightful king, but we’ve no such need for a monarchy. Outside of those few extremists, which are so rare anyways, we keep a gentle peace. We have evolved past the need to destroy each other.”
            “Until…” Brenda continued for him.
            “Until our powers steadily grew for unknown reasons. Nothing had changed so what could be causing this?” asked Konda.
            The group approached a building that was about three blocks away from where they landed. Like most buildings in the city, it too was cylindrical. Konda and the three women continued to lead the way while Kyle was caught up and walking next to Brenda, who was observing the architecture with admiration. Kyle was impressed by it, too. It was marble, but it seemed thinner and more pristine than the marble back on Earth.
            It was dark inside, but Kyle’s aura allowed him enough light to follow the four mages he was around. The door left only a small sliver of light as it closed itself behind him.   
            “So these Renga shards are just good for giving off tons of energy, is that really it?” asked Kyle.
            “I do adore the simplicity of it, but, you don’t seem to grasp how powerful they are,” Konda said. “We are aware that there is a Renga shard here on Taranoi, however, we have no idea where, and we are being drastically affected by it, which means that if it is far away, and if combined with the other four, there is a power source there capable of ripping this planet in half.”
            “Which is why it shouldn’t be put in the wrong hands,” Brenda said. “There’s a saying on Earth about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely.”
            Kyle didn’t notice they entered a new room until he heard his footsteps echoing around the walls. Konda flicked his wrists and suddenly lanterns flared. It was a very basic room, with a marble table in the middle and five cases in a pentagon shape in the middle of the table.
            “I think what Brenda wants to know is what happens if all of them are found and brought here? These place doesn’t seem entirely safe to just put the Renga shards, you know?” asked Kyle.
            The two women fanned out to opposite sides of the room. Konda folded his arms behind his back, striding to go around to the other side of the table.
            “I told you that our military has so far been the ones ensuring that our society does not collapse in on itself,” Konda said.
            The two women placed a hand on the wall they were closest to. Konda nodded, and the two did the same. They slowly turned their hands clockwise. Something clicked on either side of the room, then with a sudden jerk, Kyle noticed that they were slowly moving down even further, with another room coming down slowly over them. A large shadow befell the group. Kyle’s aura intensified.
            “The problem now is that the military is the one that does want the change,” Konda said in the darkness. “And the only ones that would be powerful enough to stop them simply don’t have the ability to fight anymore. We’ve grown old while training our youth to one day surpass us. We’d hoped that the knowledge of the Renga shards wouldn’t slip out, but it somehow did and now those six warriors will do anything to get that power.”
            The lanterns were the only thing keeping the room alit while the air grew much thinner the further they moved down, at an ever-so-slow pace. Kyle crossed his arms while Konda spoke, and Brenda leaned against the marble table.
            “If we can obtain the Renga shards and keep them hidden from those six, we may be able to convince them to call off their search,” Konda said.
            “Why call in us, then?” asked Brenda. “Clearly we aren’t from around here, we may stick out to them.”
            “This is a large system, seeing a mage would be nothing out of the ordinary and a Nexus would hardly be something new to our people,” Konda replied. “And should push come to shove you may be the only ones capable of fending off our enemy long enough for us to scatter the Renga shards even more.”
            “So your goal isn’t to capture them all?” asked Kyle.
            “I want to destroy them,” Konda replied. “Perhaps, even, synthesize their power as an everlasting energy source for our people, one that can’t be weaponized.”
            “Almost make it hereditary?” asked Brenda as the winches stopped. The two women moved back over to Konda. The room grew brighter.
            The walls surrounding them were no longer marble, but were dark tan bricks. There was just one door and it was behind Kyle. Despite it being brighter, Kyle felt that the room was more closed in. Were they even underground, or just on the actual surface level?
            “Almost,” Konda agreed. “Regardless, my priority is to keep them out of enemy hands. Should any one of them even touch a Renga shard, their power may succeed your own.”
            “You know I wouldn’t worry too much about power levels, just finding these things is what’s important,” Kyle said.
            “Indeed,” Konda said. He looked behind him, and a map appeared, glowing dimly. One large, green planet rotated very slowly while two blue moons moved around it.
            “The majority of the shards are more than likely within the Taranoi system, however, our sister planet may also house one,” he explained.
            He flicked his wrist and the map zoomed out, revealing another green planet though this one had far more patches of red on it.   
            “When last we checked, our six mighty foes were residing on this planet,” Konda said. “But they may have slipped here under our noses. We can’t be sure, as the warriors aren’t mages and have the ability to mask their energy readings, even after their distant exposure to the Renga shards.”
            “Oh, fantastic,” Kyle muttered.
            Another screen appeared, this time showing the image of five green shards. Each of them looked different, though, as one was long, one was wide, another looked like a tip, the other looking almost like a sword hilt, and the final one did closely resemble what a shard of something looked like.
            “Notice something?” asked Konda, stepping away from the screen.
            “The shards are all pieces of a sword,” Brenda said. She hesitated, then spoke up. “What happens if the shards all come together again, is the sword forged?”
            “The Renga sword was one of the strongest weapons in the universe for a long, long time,” Konda said. “Until a War God broke it up, but it’s magical energy remained. Should someone put the sword back together, they may very well have the power in their hand to slice the planet right in half.”
            “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Kyle said. “There’s no way something’s that powerful.”
            “Perhaps not. It’s power is just legendary, the only one who could speak truthfully on it is that War God, but nobody knows where he went. Though how much can you doubt it since it’s been essentially feeding us for so long?”
            Konda stepped up, then along with the two women took a seat, folding his hands together. Brenda followed while Kyle remained standing. He felt a bead of sweat roll down the side of his face. Slice an entire planet in half? That was insane. Yeah, even if was legendary, there had to be some truth to the matter.
            Part of him was whispering to not worry about, seeing as how he held off Black Nexus’s planet-ending attack. However, that simply absorbed the negative energy, making the planet essentially vanish, not destroy it. To swing a sword and destroy a planet was a whole other ballpark of power.
            “There’s a problem with my plan, though,” Konda said. “Something I’ve been neglecting to tell you.”
            Kyle gulped as he saw Brenda’s body begin to tighten up. She hardly showed signs of nervousness.
            “Destroying a shard does not exactly cure our problem,” Konda said. “The only way to disable the shards is to destroy one in proximity with all the others. That means we’ll have to gather them all and destroy one to make it so the sword can never be put back together.”
            “Okay, well, sounds just like a fun little game of hide-and-seek,” Kyle said. “Where’s the problem?”
            “Our enemy already has two, and if he comes here, there’s a chance he may find the fourth one,” Konda said. “And it isn’t that the five soldiers have them. No, only their leader does. The most fearsome foe in the Taranoi system, Yvatle the demi-War God.”
            Kyle smirked wearily and clenched a fist. Oh, great, another demi-War God. Gargador wasn’t enough, and now this guy had to have three magical pieces of a sword that granted him probably unspeakable power.
            “Well then what are we waiting for?” Brenda asked, standing right up, knocking her seat back. “We need to be searching for the shard on Taranoi right now!”
            “It’s not that simple,” Konda said. “Showing yourselves in public is fine but whispers will get around soon enough if you simply emerge then disappear. You need to blend into the city above ground.”
            “So why take us underground?” asked Kyle.
            “You’re forgetting that the five warriors are able to mask their presences from us, we wouldn’t be able to find them if they were so sneak up on us,” Konda said. “Nobody outside of myself, Aen, and Nea know of this building’s abilities to go to the surface. Now, we’ll send you back for the evening. You’ll find your inn three blocks away from here, but be sure to stay out until one of the moons becomes a dark shade of blue so you don’t raise suspicion, so people get used to your presence.”
            Aen and Nea tossed the two of them clothing similar to what Kyle saw above ground. He stole a quick glare at Konda before dropped his cloak, it vanished as it hit the ground, and replaced it with his newer clothing. Brenda simply placed the dress given to her over her clothes from Earth, not wanting to change in front of anyone else.
            “Perfect. Tomorrow morning when you wake we can begin our search, be sure to meet back with us at this building when you do wake.” Konda rose alongside the two women and bowed to the heroes. “It was a pleasure meeting you.”
            The door smoothly opened up, revealing yet another elevator. Kyle and Brenda nodded back to them, then stepped into the elevator. Once the door closed again, Kyle scratched at his neck. He wore a no-sleeved turtle neck with a very odd pattern on it, while he wore shorts with a similar pattern over his black pants and boots. He also had a small hat atop his head.
            They rocketed up to where they were before. The door opened and they stepped back onto the rather empty streets. Brenda moved out first, scoping the area out rather conspicuously.
            “Calm down, super spy,” Kyle said. “Let’s just walk around the blocks a few times, get a good feel for the lay of the land.”
            “You mean as if we aren’t walking into a trap?” asked Brenda.       
            “Well I’m glad I’m not the only one not entirely trusting Konda,” Kyle said. “Though it’d be a pretty well-hidden trap, am I right?”
            Brenda nodded and the two turned right, starting their trek. The city was quiet. Footsteps and some light speaking echoed off of the walls of the tall buildings. Most people were walking on the opposite side of the street, but everyone had a walking buddy or buddies. Kyle wondered how little individuality was stressed on Taranoi, or perhaps there was some hidden paranoia that made everyone walk with a friend.
            Or perhaps they were all just very social people.
            He tried to keep his gaze as forward as possible so he didn’t seem to look like a tourist. Given that this was the only city he’d been to on Taranoi he had no idea if tourism was even popular. They turned a corner, and it was much of the same scenery. Kyle felt like he was walking through an empty room. Nobody was there, everything echoed, and there was just a sense of hollowness enveloping him. Given that he had no idea where anything was, he also felt as if he were walking around blind.
            They reached the end of another block but continued on. He noticed that there weren’t really any ‘roads’ as there were no vehicles that anyone would be driving. People simply walked closer to the buildings for some reason. Part of him wanted to break the mold and walk in the middle of the street, but then it would also help them stand out and become targets for those five warriors, so he refrained from it.
            “You’re right, this is hardly a trap,” Brenda said. “We’ve been pretty much alone for a while now and nobody’s come to attack us. It’s just odd how empty this city is, given how large it is.”
            Kyle nodded, but didn’t respond. Brenda’s voice carried throughout the entire street, perhaps even further. He looked over to her, and she nodded in response. No more speaking until they were safe in a room, or at least it would have to be a very light whisper that could only carry off of the walls of that street.
            Some noise picked up before Kyle and Brenda emerged onto the next block. Two families were talking—whispering actually—while their children ran around them, trying to tag each other. Both the heroes kept their gaze away from the children as the parents looked up. Kyle and Brenda simply smiled. The parents smiled and dipped their heads. Kyle, feeling caught, continued walking, tugging Brenda for a moment before she followed right after him.
            They were in a clearing with land flat. There were a few hills off to the side that were also covered in concrete. More families were gathered over there playing.
            “Whoa, check that place out,” Brenda muttered, pointing in front of them.
            Kyle gaped at the sight of it. It wasn’t a tall building, but it was very intricately designed. It was split into two parts and resembled something like a DNA strand before coming to a head with a large metal cube at the top. The base of it was a pyramid, with statues at each point of the pyramid. The pattern from Kyle’s shirt was also scrambled on the metal cube.
            “Haven’t seen something like that yet,” Kyle said.
            This time it was Brenda who tugged on his shirt, yanking him toward the building.
            “We’ve got time to kill, let’s check this place out,” Brenda instructed.
            The couple briskly walked across the clearing until they reached the pyramid. A couple of girls slipped out, leaving the door open for Kyle and Brenda to walk in. Immediately Kyle was hit by a wave of cold air, making him shudder. Like the meeting room, this one was dimly lit by lanterns around the room, leading up to a chandelier at the top where two wide tubes were. Stairs wound up to the top to the tubes.
            There were paintings all along the wall. Kyle at first thought it to be sequential art until he was disappointed at seeing a completely new story emerge from another. Oddly enough there was no writing on the wall, instead it was all preserved for a plaque in the middle. There was a replica of the building behind the plaque, protected by a glass case. Brenda approached it while Kyle moved to stand beneath the tubes.
            Suddenly, a person emerged from the tubes, shaking it off and laughing. Kyle squinted to see more, tempted to float up but avoided the urge to keep attention away from him.
            Brenda stepped away from the case and moved toward the stairs. Kyle crossed his arms, trying to figure it out. He saw Brenda climb to the top, and felt his depth perception go to the wayside as he tried to see how Brenda could fit up there. She reached up, tapping the tube, then was raised up by a platform and was placed into the tube before vanishing.
            Kyle rushed up the stairs to the other tube. How the heck did these things work? He reached up touching the top before also being raised. The tube opened up and he was now in the tube, still standing on the platform. From the sides of the tube did two metal arms shoot out and latch onto him as he shot into the tube, moving quickly. He saw the other end coming at him quickly and he shut his eyes, bracing for an impact that never came.
            He opened them shyly, then saw Brenda covering her mouth as he giggled at him. The metal arms let him go and folded back.
            “What the heck just happened?” he asked. For once his voice didn’t echo.
            “Who cares, it was fun, right?” asked Brenda, patting him on the shoulder. She turned back to face the rest of the room. “Pretty cool in here.”
            “How would you know, you’ve been here for like five seconds?”
            Brenda shrugged. “It looks cool in here.”
            She stepped away from Kyle, moving to the opposite side of the room. Kyle hesitated, then moved forward. There was a pillar in the center of the cube that resembled the two tubes, and it also had an illegible plaque in front of it. He wished it had one of those audio pieces some museums on Earth had so he could listen.
            He stepped away, moving toward some of the artifacts in the room. He heard Brenda stop on the other side of the room, and the room fell silent. Were they the only ones in there?
            Kyle put the thought aside. Maybe this was the trap, and if it were, it was a good thing he was aware of it. Somehow that made him feel more relaxed. He strode over to the other side to see Brenda standing in front of an empty glass case.
            “Wonder if this is where they might put the sword,” Brenda said. “If, you know, all the shard pieces were together again.”
            “Probably not, seems like too public of a place to put them,” Kyle said. “Anyone with a hammer could steal the thing. Maybe they would just put a replica here or something.”
            “Yeah, that might be it.”
            Something slid open on the side opposite of Kyle and Brenda. Kyle poked Brenda in the side, then gestured to the opposite side. They both went over to the other side, where a man stood examining the same piece Kyle was. He looked over at the two. Kyle and Brenda smiled the bowed. The man did the same.
            He spoke in an alien language. Kyle kept his smile. Without his aura he wouldn’t be able to have it translated for him, though hopefully Brenda would be able to understand. He didn’t bother breaking his gaze, though.
            Brenda smirked, then responded with just a few words. The man nodded. Brenda moved over to the tube, and reached down to touch it.
            She immediately fell through as Kyle heard glass shattering. He went to dive down, but a cut across his cheek told him to stop. Rage filled his eyes as he turned toward his opponent. His aura appeared.
            “Nexus indeed,” the man said. “I imagine it was difficult understanding what I was just saying before.”
            “You people took a lot longer than I expected,” Kyle said. “Where are the other four, or are they just too cool to show up here?”
            “They’re around. Probably killing your girl right now,” the man said. “Though how you know who we are is a bit surprising. Care to explain?”
            “Nope,” Kyle said. “I just know that you and your boss Yvalte are looking to do some bad things, and I’d like to prevent that.”
            The man smiled. “Bad is relative.”
            “I don’t care.”
            “You should, foreigner. Yvalte knows what is right for this system and is willing to do anything and obtain any power he needs to in order to save it from the likes of Konda. Have you met that fool mage, yet?”
            “Can’t say I have, I was just sent here by some whispers in a nearby galaxy. Wanted to see if I could get a hand on, what are they called, Renga shards?”
            “Now that is something I simply cannot allow.”
            Brenda suddenly reemerged from the tube, her eyes glowing red as her hands radiated red magic. She pointed her hands toward the man.
            “My name is Soh,” he said. “My allies seem to be simply toying with you for now, probably just wanting to feel out the rest of your power. Here, let’s test it indeed!”
            Soh punched hard at the ground, dropping before another being caught him. Kyle suddenly felt the building shake and was nearly knocked off of his balance. Brenda jumped out of the hole and Kyle went to follow but it was suddenly sealed up by what appeared to be a shield. Kyle’s hand glowed blue before he punched at the shield. It dropped and Kyle blasted out of the cube, knocking whoever it was that tried to deflect him away.
            A shadow continued to grow over him and he realized what exactly it was. Glass shattered all around him and metal creaked as the cube plummeted toward the ground. Kyle caught a quick glimpse of the families scrambling to get away, as well as Brenda fending off Soh and his allies.
            Kyle spun around and shot toward the cube, bracing himself against it. He tried pushing it back and pushing his shoulders forward. Someone nearby began to laugh and it grew louder and louder.
            A thin man approached Kyle, and threw a fist his way. Kyle let go of the cube and dodged it as the man continued to soar. Kyle grunted before planting himself against the cube and pushing as hard as he could against it.
            “I think you’re wasting your strength!” a woman shouted.
            Kyle looked beneath him and saw a woman with green hair holding two small missiles. His eyes widened as she let them go. Kyle dropped down and the missiles connected with the metal.
            The sound of the explosion dulled out. When he uncovered himself, he found himself in a red cube of magic energy along with Brenda, who looked fine but very ready for battle.
            The duo landed lightly on the surface, facing the large fire that the explosion caused. Chunks of flaming metal dropped onto the concrete, jabbing into it and bouncing off of it. Brenda allowed the shield to drop. Kyle took hold of the new clothes he had on and flung them off. His cloak reappeared around him.
            “We are the strongest warriors in all of the Taranoi system,” Soh said. “Soh, El, Duh, Er, Es, led by the great commander Yvatle. We’ve been sent here with one simple mission.”
            “I can only guess what that might be,” Kyle muttered.
            “To kill you,” Soh said.
            He stepped back, then shot forward. The other four followed him. Kyle stuck out his hand, lance emerging from it, while Brenda cast two red shields their way.

            “I was getting pretty bored,” Kyle said before launching himself toward Soh.

Next time: The enemy has made themselves known and they aren't holding back! Kyle and Brenda find that collecting the Renga shards isn't going to be as simple as it sounds, and neither side has yet to unmask what they are really after. The conclusion in Part 2 next week! 

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