122 Old Friends

    The weeks ticked slowly by as Inferno continued their hard work by advancing upward in the Embassy Tower, solidifying their hold as the top mid-tier guild.  During that time, Nix finished both the Mariner course and Chiba's instructions.  Nearly all the Upper-Tier guilds that were capable of beating the Escalade Bridge Master had done so and left Colonial forever.  Semmi kept everyone updated with intel from Oasis.  As with anything, some were excited about the chance to see the new world, while others wanted nothing to do with it.

    The biggest Inferno news during this time was that three Aquarion females were pregnant.

    Inferno found themselves with two important missions before they could focus solely on Mermaid City. A guild meeting had been called to discuss their options.


    Nix sat next to Fajii at the guild table. They had come early for the meeting and took the opportunity to spend some time catching up. She was holding his hand while they spoke, a very common behavior among Aquarions.

    "Will you leave Colonial when the artifact is destroyed?" Fajii was steadily growing into her strength, with her BR and Scorched Earth buffs, she had become an invaluable part of Inferno raids.

    "We've built so much here. Honestly, I'm hesitant to leave." Nix wasn't like traditional VR gamers, once his mission was finished he could see himself enjoying a relaxed life.

    "I think I would like to see this new world." Fajii watched him for any sign of disappointment. "That probably surprises you."

    Nix shrugged, "not completely. Given your independent nature, your curiosity is understandable. You've less attachment to Aquarion culture than the others here."

    "I want you to join me." Fajii gave him a slight smile. "But...I will go, even if you decide to stay here."

    "Lots of time to decide. Seems like quite a few of our members share your interest in going."

    The fingertips of her free hand played with the earring Nix had given her. "True, but I do not love them."

    Nix stared at her for a long moment. Any further conversation was halted by the arrival of Ronnie and Semmi.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: You guys weren't  'exchanging pointers' were you?

    /Inferno: Fajii: No, I was confessing my feelings.

    "....." Nix.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Nope, unacceptable. We two sisters have already claimed him. Right sis?

    /Inferno: Sharl: Please stop talking Ronnie.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Fine you're out then. Fajii can have your half.

    /Inferno: Nix: Very diplomatic Ronnie.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Yep.

    A few minutes later, after the officers had arrived, the meeting started.

    /Inferno: Nix: I want to finish the last layer of the Onion quest before we push on with Mermaid City.

    /Inferno: Semmi: I agree, the reward is likely to be huge. We received the Embassy after the 3rd Onion quest.

    /Inferno: Darsi: Nix! Sorry for the interruption. They're back!!

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Who?

    /Inferno: Dalton: Hey guys.

    /Inferno: Pinwall: Hi!

    /Inferno: Lena: Finally!

    /Inferno: Blitz: Missed this place.

    /Inferno: Sorbie: Heyas!

    /Inferno: Moki: Best for last. Hi guys.

    /Inferno: Nix: Welcome back to Colonial guys. Hyai could you gather the party staff?

    /Inferno: Ronnie: We have a party staff?

    /Inferno: Pon: We do like our parties.

    /Inferno: Hyai: I'll handle it.  1900 at the Wharf.

    /Inferno: Nix: Awesome. Okay... the Second topic, there's a Guild Raid event on the 69th floor of the Embassy.  No one has been able to win it. Resolute has been working hard on it, but can't quite topple it. We need to be first.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Why? They are an Upper-Tier guild, it's normal if we lose to them.

    /Inferno: Semmi: The Floor Steward from the 60th floor says that the 70th floor will only be accessible by the first ones to beat the 69th-floor raid.

    /Inferno: Nix: Any guild who defeats the 69th raid after that will just move to the 71st floor. They will never see the 70th.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: YES!  That's for us!

    /Inferno: Sharl: I like the sound of that too.

    /Inferno: Nix: We won't beat Resolute unless we bring out our big guns.

    /Inferno: Semmi: Shae and Rhylia. And Nix in Salamander form.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: I have to see that!

    /Inferno: Mina: Me too.

    /Inferno: Pon: You punk!  You better show me!

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Which first? 69th floor or Onion final layer?

    /Inferno: Nix: 69th.

    /Inferno: Semmi: 69th

    /Inferno: Pon: 69th.

    /Inferno: Mina: 69th.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: 69... of course!

    /Inferno: Sharl: 69th.

    /Inferno: Milat: 69th.

    /Inferno: Wind: 69th.

    /Inferno: Shae: Sounds fun. I'm in.

    /Inferno: Rhy: I'm also in.

    /Inferno: Nix: That seals it.  We take on the 69th floor starting tomorrow.  We keep at it until we win or Resolute beats us to it.

    /Inferno: Semmi: We have a few other small items, but nothing pressing.  Let's welcome back our friends properly.

    Nix ported directly to the docks.  The shops belonging to the former members of Gladis had been closed for a few weeks, Inferno didn't have the resources to keep them open, even though they had picked the Hub clean.  Predictably by the time he walked to the shop's area, all of them were busy crafting product.  Only Darsi was standing in front.

    "Knew you'd come Trip-7." Darsi smiled at him, "as you can see they are hard at work.  Like you, Gladis Crafters keep their crafting supplies on them."

    "That's good then, they should be set for quite a while."  Nix went into each shop individually and personally transferred the credits each had earned before running out of product, Darsi followed him the entire time.

    Nearly half an hour went by before he had finished. "Make sure our friends make it to their own party."

    Darsi nodded, "Inferno parties had reached legendary status.  I'll let them know."

    Nix noticed that Darsi was wearing the rifle he had bought her.  "Let Kyla know when it's time for an upgrade, she's not Gladis but she's top of the line."

    Darsi noticed he had activated Deep Blue.  "Where are you heading to?"

    Nix shrugged, "personal errand."


    Nix appeared on the empty platform a moment later.  It had changed a bit since last he had visited.  The Lobby had been gutted and turned into a training yard, complete with cushioned mats.  A large white throne overlooked the training area.  Several Acolytes were sparring with staffs, while others were being carefully instructed.

    The instructor turned when she noticed several of her acolytes smiling.  Her pale face also broke into a wide smile.  "Nix!"

    The Priestess dropped her staff and ran towards him, it was a bit surprising but Nix accepted a hug from her.  "How are things Cyan?"

    "Is that some sort of joke?"  A young female spoke from behind them.  "You bring us to the heart of the Ice and give us this perfect building.  Then you show up a few days later and fill it with Acolytes!"

    Nix bowed deeply.  "Shi... I am glad to see you are doing so well."

    The young girl grabbed both of his hands in hers.  They were small and cold, but despite that Nix felt warmed by the gesture.  "We could not ask for a better friend."

    "I thought I would stop in and check on things."  Nix glanced around the large building. "I like the changes."

    "Shi, I need to speak with Nix. If you would excuse me."  Cyan bowed deeply.

    "Of course.  In the future, I hope you visit more often." Without another word, the young ice spirit walked back to her throne.

    Cyan turned toward the training yard where dozens of Acolytes were waiting.  "That's it for today, you may return to your quarters.  Those on dinner detail please report to the kitchen."

    Nix followed her through a small door and up a few flights of stairs.  She grabbed his hand and pulled him along until they stopped at a familiar door.  "Is this your room?"

    Cyan nodded. "Of course." Several other girls were entering the hallways and walking toward their rooms.

    Nix stared at his picture on the door with 777 written on it.  "You can remove that."

    Cyan shook her head.  "I wouldn't dare.  The Acolytes love it."

    Nix followed her in and took a seat on the couch.  "Never actually spent the night here, but I did throw Dalton through that window."

    Cyan laughed. "You are much wilder than I would have guessed from our first meeting. This is the place you escaped from right?"

    Nix nodded.  "Yep, this would have been my permanent home."

    Cyan took a seat next to him, her face serious.  "Shi has grown stronger despite being wounded.  I believe she intends to become an Ice Lord."

    Nix could see the worry on her pretty face. "What can I do?"

    "Not sure.  We need another Lord to walk her through it."

    Nix considered her words for a moment.  "How about a Nemesis?"

    Cyan shook her head.  "Just being in the presence of a Fire Nemesis could hurt her badly."

    "I was thinking about an Air Nemesis."

    "An Air Nemesis?"  Cyan looked surprised by the words. "How many Nemesis do you know?"

    Nix grinned, "just the two.  I'm no one important."

    A knock sounded at the door.  It opened slowly when Cyan said to come in.

    A lovely blonde haired girl stepped inside, her beautiful face lit up in a smile.  "Sorry to interrupt Cyan. I can't remember if I was on the kitchen duty tonight and the roster seems to have disappeared."

    Cyan shook her head.  "Mari... If you want to say hi to Nix. Then do so."

    Mari nodded, not at all embarrassed.  "Hi, Nix.  Seen Aunty Chiba lately?"

    Nix nodded.  "Very recently actually.  She's doing well."

    Cyan waited until after Mari left before turning back toward him.  "Tomorrow would be best, but at your convenience of course."

    Nix stood up. "I'll ask Rhy and let you know. I do have a question."

    Cyan smiled.  "You want to know why your presence doesn't harm Shi?"

    "Yes. I'm the same rank that Shae was when she hid in the ice world."

    Cyan touched a slender finger to the tip of his nose.  "Because you carry the Blessing of Ice."

    "I see.  Are the Acolytes working out?"

    Cyan hugged him close for a moment and then stepped away.  "They are doing very well.  Mari seems to know some complex foot movement.  She's nearly impossible to hit."

    Nix narrowed his eyes, he had recently learned a foot movement from Chiba.  "I'm not surprised.  Anyways, I should get going."

    She watched as he activated Deep Blue.  "Hey, where'd you get so many girls anyway?"

    Nix shrugged, "found em."


    A few minutes later Nix was walking down the wharf.  There were several large hogs being barbecued while large barrels of ale were being rolled toward a makeshift bar.  He spotted Hyai showing one of her Aquarion friends how to baste the meat. "Need help Hyai?"

    Hyai shook her head.  "We got this in hand Nix.  Take a seat and relax."
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