222 The Tainted

    Nix stumbled into the kitchen at the end of 7-days.  Quite possibly it was the longest week of his life. No outside contact of any kind, he spent every day crafting. During that time he also converted his Colonial skills of Hunter and Leather making, to the Oasis equivalent of Sabotage and Taxidermy. His Sabotage skill started at 100, however, the Taxidermy skill had completely reset.

    [Nix: Crafting Skills]

    Tailor: 500/500

    Sabotage: 188/500

    Taxidermy: 1/500

    Nix frowned at the Taxidermy skill, he understood what it was in real life, but it was too different from Leather Making for the levels to transfer.  "Had I known that beforehand, I would have left it as it was."

    Tailor: Tier V [Master] You didn't write the entire book on Tailoring, just a good portion of it.

    Notable Accomplishments: Flags, Camo-Overlay, The Undetectable Suit, Companion Fighting Harness.

    Sabotage: Tier II [Innovator] You have invented at least three unique methods of creating havoc, your future looks bright. If you don't blow yourself up.

    Innovations: Sticky Shape Charge, Contained Fire Bomb, Ice Puck Grenade.

    Taxidermy Tier I: [Novice] No one wishes they were you.

    Nix had got the idea from the old flag bearers in early wars. Carrying the company or unit flag into battle was a tradition dating back to Roman times.  Through trial and error, while using the Oasis crafting interface, he managed to make two Garrison Flags and two Guideons.

    Guideon: Inferno Battle Flag [Silver Standard]

    + 2000 AC

    +50 All Stats.

    +100 ATK

    +100 Defense

    Description: Plant your Guild Flag

    on the battlefield and reap the benefits

    of unity and loyalty. This effect is not

    stackable with other flags or guideons.

    Guideon: 12 Pillar Alliance Flag [Gold Standard]

    + 3000 AC

    +100 All Stats.

    +150 ATK

    +200 Defense

    Description: Plant your Alliance Flag

    on the battlefield and reap the benefits

    of unity and loyalty. This effect is not

    stackable with other flags or guideons.

    Additional Description: In order to use the Alliance

    Guideon, every group from the alliance needs to be represented.

    Inferno, Resolute, Salamander, Hoss, Daybreakers, Stilleto, Nighthawk, King X, Tsunami, Guardian, Taiga Su, and Vesuvius.

    Nix covered a yawn and stretched while storing his items. He stayed up most of the night to max out his Tailoring skills.  His stomach rumbled loudly, reminding him that he slept through breakfast.

    [Congratulations on advancing through the 1st stage of the Provincial Academy Trials. The second stage starts in 3 days]

    [Guild and Personal Messaging has been restored]

    [Archon and Breach Commander skills have been restored]

    /Inferno: Nix: Heya guys!

    /Inferno: Shae: Nix!

    /Inferno: Hyai: Hey Nix.

    /Inferno: Pon: You on some sort of secret Dragon mission?

    /Inferno: Nix: Yes, very dangerous stuff.  Sadly, I'm not allowed to talk about it.

    [Whisper: Nix to Hyai] I have a top priority secret mission for you.

    [Whisper: Hyai To Nix] I'm in, what is it?

    [Whisper: Nix to Hyai] Sending you a list, make sure to get everything.  Let me know when you have it.

    /Inferno: Nix: I need the following members to report to the Training yard at the Gemini Temple.

    Jun Li























    /Inferno: Semmi: Something up boss?

    /Inferno: Nix: Yes. Whatever you're doing, wrap it up.  Be at the Training Yard in one hour.

    An hour later, everyone on the list was waiting in the Gemini Training Yard.  Jun Li double-checked the names before letting Nix know.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: All here Nix.

    [Create Breach: Gemini Training Yard: My Location]

    Nearly two dozen people stepped into the Tree House at the same time.  They were all wearing armor and carrying weapons.

    /Inferno Semmi: What's going on boss?

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Whose place is this?  It's big!

    /Inferno: Nix: Can't I have my friends over for lunch?

    /Inferno: Wind: You feeding us boss?

    /Inferno: Hyai: Lunch is on, give me another twenty minutes.

    /Inferno: Nix: Few things first.  This is actually a treehouse.  If you're really curious, open the door and step out.  The branch in front of the door is about 10 meters thick.  The white fluffy stuff is clouds, not snow.

    Ronnie lifted the bar on the door and charged out.  "Holy crap Nix... This is actually a treehouse."

    Semmi stepped through the door behind her. "Wait... did you use one of those acorns?"

    /Inferno: Nix: I did.  Come back inside, if you fall from this height we'll have to scrap you off the ground.

    /Inferno: Semmi: This is the first level?  It's really big.

    /Inferno: Nix: I've been too lazy all week to check out the rest of the house.  I invite you to explore it until lunch.

    A half-hour later, the dining room table and the kitchen island were both crowded with members from Inferno.  According to Semmi, the second level was entirely small dorm-type rooms, two dozen of them.  The third level was slick looking Command Center.

    Nix was sitting between Hyai and Shae, across the table from Pon and Semmi.

    The blond officer all smiled.  "So you've been hiding here all week?  Crafting?"

    Pon downed half of his beer and set it down.  "Lame... you didn't kill a single thing."

    A long while later, Nix was sitting peacefully on one of the couches talking with Hyai and Shae.  Inferno broke off into small groups and scattered throughout the house.

    Shae lowered her voice and leaned closer. "I can't believe you met Deidra Mtui."

    "The impression she left wasn't very good.  She needs a good kick in the pants."

    Shae smiled slightly, "you do realize if we teamed up with everyone else in Solomon City that still wouldn't be likely.


    Nix stood quickly and slipped his armor on.

    /Inferno: Nix: Archon Alert on Colonial, I'll investigate.

    /Inferno: Semmi: Where is Serasu? We stopped drinking a while ago, want some back-up?

    /Inferno: Nix: Alpha Team be ready, I'll bring you in if I need to.

    /Inferno: Ronnie: Can I keep this treehouse?

    /Inferno: Nix: No, but I'll give you an acorn.

    [Create Breach: Serasu]

    Nix stepped directly into the breach, a hard blow that glanced off his armor knocked him back a step.  He dodged to one side and bathed the culprit in Ice Flames.

    [Flame Throw]

    His assailant screamed and backed up several steps.

    [Ice Puck]

    The spear wielder froze in place, his body turning into an ice sculpture.

    The effect lasted only a few seconds, but it was enough for Nix to close the distance and stab through his chest. Four more spearmen wearing dark armor charged forward.

    [Tides of Flame]

    Nix let his flames wash over them while he held them in place with a dozen strands of Gemini flames.

    As quickly as it started, it was over. He found himself alone, with five corpses.

    [Summons: Ducky]

    [Summons: Mortimer]

    Morti's big head pushed into his chest.  "Nix!"

    "We're in a fight Morti, be ready."

    Morti's big head nodded up and down.  "Got it Nix."

    Nix noticed that Ducky was holding her silver bow. "Can you hit anything with that yet?"

    Ducky shook her head.  "Not really." She wrinkled her nose at the corpses.  Those things feel strange Nix."

    He bent and opened the visor of the nearest fighter. "Damn..."  Its face looked like an unfinished sculpture, the eyes were on different levels and the nose much too small for its face.  He pulled the helmet off and cussed loudly.  It had two small horns.

    [Direct Communication: Deidra]

    Nix should have been surprised to be looking at the face of a large black dragon, but he wasn't. "Want you to see something"

    He bent forward and lifted the corpse slightly.  A sudden intake of air announced the dragon's displeasure. "Something you recognize?"

    "Yes. Would you do me a favor Nix?"

    "No, I'd have to like you for that to happen."

    "There will be payment involved. Remove the chest armor and place your hand on its skin." Deidra waited patiently for Nix to comply.

    Nix did what she asked, immediately he sensed a vibration under his palm. "It's vibrating."

    Even with her in Dragon form, he sensed displeasure in her expression. She was silent for a few seconds. "You should be able to feel a small lump just under the skin above his heart."

    Nix nodded, the area in question looked red and inflamed. "Something hiding in there?" Without asking Nix took out a dagger and sliced open the skin. He held up the hand-sized scale after digging it out. "Dragon scale..."

    "Please remove all the scales." Deidra's voice sounded the same, even though it came from two hundred feet of scaled death.

    Nix was already cutting open the second corpse. These came from a real and pure dragon, they could be made into anything. He stowed the last of them a few minutes later.  "Why would they be susceptible to fire?  They were enhanced right?"

    "You can't keep those scales Nix."

    "The f*ck I can't."  Nix closed the communication.

    A holo of Deidra appeared in front of him a moment later. "Nix.."

    "This is some sort of forbidden Dragon Art right?" Nix glanced at the last corpse, it had less obvious mistakes than the others.  "I'd say whoever is doing it is probably just learning.  There's progression if you look at all of them.  They can't fight for **, at least not yet."

    "No... as you say, the art is improving.  In a relatively short amount of time, that will change. I've no idea how powerful these Tainted will become."

    Nix looked up at the word.  "Tainted?  Is that what you call them?"


    "I'm keeping the scales.  All of them.  It's the price for my silence."

    "Fine.  Your part in the Provincial Academy Trials is now over. Form a team to hunt these things down."

    "I don't work for you.  Thanks for the help."
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