31 Safarza

    Nix dropped off the product as promised at the boutique.  Mina tagged along and left right away to run some errands.  They tentatively planned to meet at the portal platform in Jenza at noon.

    That gave him a chance to visit Hyai at the Kindled Spirit in Cyphix.  Morning time at the inn was always a bit slow.  They didn't serve breakfast so generally the staff spent that time cleaning and prepping for the rest of the day.

    Hyai was carrying an enormous bucket of potatoes when he saw her, without any hesitation, he followed her into the kitchen and rolled up his sleeves.

    "Nix!"  She set the bucket down on the kitchen counter and hugged him tightly.

    He sighed contently, there was something overwhelmingly warm about Hyai.  "You wash em and I'll start peeling."

    Hyai raised an eyebrow, not sure if he was serious.  "Can you peel potatoes Nix?"

    "With my dexterity?  Like a champ."

    He helped her in the kitchen most of the morning.  They talked mostly about the rumors concerning Alpha.  "I'm not convinced that Alpha is some super-powerful person.  It's just as likely that he or she is a jeweler and nothing else."

    Hyai was slicing long thin strips of meat while Nix talked.  They had long finished the potatoes and moved onto other things.  "This artifact you mentioned, if he had a dozen of them; What would he be able to do?"

    Nix whistled softly, "just about whatever he wanted to.  It's a quick strike army that could be inserted anywhere.  I don't even want to think about it."

    Colonial System Message: Portal connections to the continent of Broyan are temporarily out of service.

    Nix sat down the knife he had been using and looked at Hyai.  "Why would all the connections to Broyan portals be closed?"

    "A few years ago, the portal to Cella was closed when the city came under attack."

    "I'm going to take a look, it's nearly noon anyway so I need to head back to Jenza."  He handed Hyai a box of clothes he had made for her and then gave her a quick kiss before heading out.

    "Nix? "  She looked at the box in her hand and then at the quickly fleeing culprit.  "Spoiling an old woman?"

    Nix laughed and waved goodbye, "guess so."

    He picked up Mina at the Jenza portal and then activated Deep Blue.  "We need to find out what's going on in Broyan."

    Colonial System Message: The Kingdom of Valis has come under attack.

    Colonial System Message: The Kingdom of Neptia has come under attack.

    Colonial System Message: The Kingdom of Trifelez has come under attack.

    Colonial System Message: The Kingdom of Berma has come under attack.

    A few minutes later, his entire raid team along with a few Aquarion additions was sitting on the top deck of Nix's houseboat.  He handed out custom wolf-masks to everyone in the raid. "Is that every kingdom in Broyan?"

    Pon shook his head, "There's a small island kingdom called Safarza that is highly defensible and its shores have embedded cannons.  There are only three major cities in Safarza and no portal platforms."

    Pon used his hud to show a map of Broyan.  Just off the west coast was an isolated landmass nestled in numerous mountain ranges.

    Nix whistled, "no wonder it hasn't been taken.  What's our easiest entry point to Safarza?"

    Jun Li had been sitting next to Pon, she pointed to the far western continent. "Jhabi to the west, it will be a few hours by Manta.  That's really our only option."

    "Prep for an extended stay on the western side of Safarza, from there we can move into the Berma kingdom and figure out what's going on."  He glanced up at Min who was watching quietly, "we'll need about twenty Aquarion fighters, that will keep our strike group at thirty."

    Mina nodded, "this will be a good time for us to build trust with the kingdom's under attack."

    Juni was using her hud to organize everything. As an experienced raid leader, she knew exactly what to do. "I'll prep for a tent city and a month worth  of supplies."

    "Thanks, Juni, I'll be relying on your experience during this operation."  Nix examined his own wolf-mask while Semmi talked about supplies with Pon and Juni.  "We'll try out our newly acquired night capabilities to gain an advantage.

    Satisfied with her list, Jun Li forwarded to Nix. "You'll have to take me to Jenza for a supply run."

    "Let's go now."  Nix grabbed her hand and activated Deep Blue.


    By the time the sun was setting on the Broyan continent, a dozen tents had been pitched on the western shores of Safarza. They were hidden nicely on three sides by huge rock formations.  In addition to the sleeping quarters, there was also a mess tent (Meals), the TOC, (Tactical Operations Center) and a supply tent. The highly efficient former officers of the Salamander Guild had set everything up.  Nix knew enough to step aside and let experts work.

    The raid group was sitting in the TOC, a  central hud was displaying the 3-D map of Broyan. Jun Li was standing next to it.  "We are an hour from Berma by Manta. Wind and Semmi are currently scouting the capital city, we'll make our decisions based on the intel they bring back."  Jun Li was wearing all black since they had decided to operate at night.  Her long hair was down, she looked relaxed for once.

    Mina was sitting next to Pon and Ronnie, she had an easy way about her that made humans feel comfortable.  "Nix, you should tell them what to expect."

    Nix nodded and moved next to Jun Li.  "If you face someone with a wolf mask on the ground, do not engage.  It may seem like they are alone, but most assuredly they are not."

    Ronnie already knew about the Beast Masters. "Air and Range then?"

    Nix nodded, "Stay on your Manta, do not bring the fight to the ground if you can help it. These Beast Masters can have anywhere from twenty to eighty beasts."

    Mina held up the Beast Master Bracer, "if you kill them, then make sure to take this.  Like the Sea-Beast Master bracer, they always drop on death."

    Ronnie reached for the bracer and turned it over in her hands, she flashed a smile at Nix.  "Can I have this?"

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    "Sure... it's basically a pretty paperweight now.  These are customized to the person. They also contain stable storage for the Beast Master, they are helpless without it."

    Nix and Mina had talked about the differences between the Sea Beast Masters and the Land Beast Masters.  The Alpha had figured out how to make the Land version of the Ricoli artifact.  Nix was a hybrid version of the Sea Beast Master, the ability to use and store beasts without the artifact was unique to him alone.

    Ronnie slipped it on her hand, "it's pretty but I want the wolfie things too. Where did you get this one?"

    Nix smiled, "Kryn."

    The old fire mage chuckled slightly. "You know... Kryn burned to the ground yesterday."

    "I did them a favor, that place was an eyesore and all that dry wood was definitely hazardous."

    The team sat around discussing different approaches and possible targets when Wind and Semmi returned.

    Wind uploaded his notes to the map that was currently being displayed. Semmi started the brief.

    "The capital city is under siege by a small force, they have taken the palace and also hold both gates exiting the city. City guards are dying by the dozens whenever they face these wolfmen."

    Jun Li zoomed the map to display the capital.  "Do we know how many?"

    Wind nodded, "two on each gate, I also counted forty beasts at each location."

    "So four Beast Masters hold the gates."  Mina frowned, that was more than they had planned.

    Semmi glanced at Wind and continued, "it gets way worse than that.  I counted at least ten more in the castle, their beasts are patrolling the halls and keeping the royal family locked in their rooms."

    "Smart... hold the ruling family hostage and the army is helpless."  Jun Li shook her head and looked at her party.  "Any ideas?"

    "I'll contact the leaders of the army, if we can take the city gates back they can lay siege to the castle."     Semmi had already scouted out the location of Berma's army.

    Pon nodded in agreement.  "If we take the gates fast, the people in the castle will think it was the army.  They won't be looking for us."

    "Mina and I will have to split up, each of us on a gate team.  We'll send our beasts in and use range damage from the air."  Nix shot a glance toward the two archers in the group.  "I'll take Chael and Ronnie will go with Mina."

    Jun Li considered the plan.  "The rest of us could already be on the Castle Roof.  We should already be in play in case the gates go sideways on us."

    Nix gave Ronnie a hand up. "It's cloudy out tonight, 0200 is generally when people are the most tired."

    Jun Li closed the hud, "let's plan on that.  That gives everyone a few hours to sleep.  Make sure you are ready!"

    Nix walked into one of the sleeping tents and lay down on a cot.  Ronnie had picked the one next to his.  "Get some rest, Ronnie."

    The dark archer yawned sleepily, "don't have to tell me, I stayed up too late last night."
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