225 Spectrum part one

    Nix could see that there were at least a few dozen Tainted attacking near the back wall at the far end of the cavern.  Several oil lamps hung from the rock walls.  Evidently someone had been staying here.

    [Summons: Morti]

    [Summons: Cal, Tor, Shadai]

    Morti shook his body, sending droplets of water showering in all directions, apparently, he had been playing in the water.

    Nix pulled one of the bear's ears. "Don't do that right next to us!"

    The huge bear yowled.  "No ear pulling!"

    Nix ignored his complaints and pointed to the far end of the cavern. "There's a lot of mobs, but they are really weak.  I want you to taunt them, while we burn em down."

    /Inferno: Semmi: Nix!  A breach just opened up in the middle of this valley, those Tainted thingies are pouring out of it.

    /Inferno: Nix: Need reinforcements?

    /Inferno: Semmi: No, we have the rangers, just want you to be aware in case a few of them sneak by us.

    /Inferno: Nix: Understood. Take all the scales you can.

    Nix considered Semmi's words carefully as they made their way toward the fighting. If Tainted were being sent through a breach, it stands to reason that the culprit was a Breach Commander.  Deidra also admitted that the Breach Commander ability was a Dragon skill.  Nix felt like there were a few pieces missing still.  Rogue Dragon?  A hidden Breach Commander?

    Morti increased his speed the closer he got to the fighting.  By the time he was within 10 meters of them, he was lumbering at a full gait.  He entered their perimeter without slowing, swatting aside Tainted when they got in his way.  At the center, he stood on his back legs and roared.  The sound was nearly deafening in the enclosed cavern.

    [Ground Pounder]

    Morti's huge paws slammed down on the rocks, stunning all enemies within range.

    [Absolute Defense]

    Morti has shored up his defenses and has become difficult to hit.

    [Absolute Challenge]

    A Titan has laid down a challenge, all enemies within range must accept.

    [Tide of Flames]

    Nix's flames washed over the tightly packed Tainted, just as the rest of the group waded into them. Within a few minutes it was over and a pile of tainted lay on the rock floor.

    /Hunter: Jun Li: Why were they so tightly grouped?  What happened to their enemy?

    Nix was dragging Tainted away from the pile and relieving them of their dragon scales one by one.  The last body revealed one last tunnel straight down, Nix could see the bottom only a dozen feet away.

    "Oh no..." Nix swore under his breath and eased himself down through the tunnel.  A half dozen fur-covered corpses were present.

    /Hunter: Sharl: What's wrong Nix?

    /Hunter: Nix: It's my boys...

    Nix found Po's body among the others and started searching for Amb and Tofo.  He had met the Ferret-men on the 5th floor of Mermaid City where they had been imprisoned.  Although he hadn't known them long, Nix had taken a liking to the fierce companions.  They had fought and shed blood together but in the end, separated and went in different directions.

    "Big Boss?"  The tubby Ferret-man was sitting against the dirt wall holding Amb in his arms.

    "Hey, Fatty."  Nix moved closer and knelt beside him. "Shadai!  I need your help."

    Tofo was covered in blood, there was a deep slash across his abdomen that he held closed with one hand.  "They were after our Spectrum."

    "Spectrum?"  Nix moved to one side and let Shadai squeeze in.

    [Blessed Hands]

    Shadai frowned when she healed him, immediately trying again before glancing at Nix.  "I can't heal him Nix. His body isn't accepting it."

    The Arch Wind moved among the corpses, testing to see if any of them could be rezzed.  She shook her head at Nix a few minutes later.

    "F*ck..."  Nix removed some cloth from his inventory and pressed it over Tofo's stomach wound.  The little Ferret was starting to wheeze and each breathe caused blood to bubble past his lips.  "I'm sorry Tofo, we arrived too late."

    The ferret squeezed his hand slightly.  "Hundreds of years of work, so of course we'd protect it.  Everspire... they are trying to raise one of the fallen."

    "Everspire?  Where is that?  Is that a city?"  Nix stroked the blood-matted fur on his head.  A low death rattle sounded from Tofo and his head slumped forward.

    "Tofo!  Hey!"  Nix stared at him for a long moment with one hand still on his brow.  "I wish you would have stayed with us."

    Shadai accepted a boost from Nix so she could climb out of the pit. It was much too small to flap her wings properly.

    Nix jumped out, his face was absent of expression.  "They were good guys..."

    [Tide of Flames]

    Nix aimed over the pit and let his flames wash away the corpses.

    "They must have dug here to make a last stand.  Or perhaps they knew of another passage below." Nix shook his head, "no way to know for sure."

    Mina's hand on his shoulder caused him to turn. "Sorry about your friends Nix."

    "I only knew them for a few hours, but they were an impressive group."  Nix tolerated the Aquarion's comforting, she stroked his hair softly not concerned that everyone was watching.

    Milat watched without comment, "these Tainted creatures feel wrong Nix."

    "Wait for me at the entrance.  I'm going to close this tunnel up and then collapse this cavern."  Nix took a half dozen sticky shaped charges and two contained firebombs.

    "Those look like explosives Nix."  Jun Li had moved closer, she could feel that he was angry.

    "Yep.  I made them with my Sabotage skill. You guys better start moving toward the exit."  He waited while the group left, Mina unsummoned her Vila but didn't follow the rest of the group.

    "I'll wait here with you."  Mina glanced down into the hole where Nix's friends had died.

    "Suit yourself."  Nix picked up the sticky shaped charges.  They were contained in a cloth tube that strongly resembled a sock.  The outside of the cloth was coated in a black tar-like substance that was sticky to the touch.  He held it in his hand and spun it around a few times before flinging it upward at the ceiling.  It stuck to the rock surface with a loud splat.

    He repeated the task with the other charges and then placed the firebombs on the floor twenty meters apart.  "Almost ready."  Nix opened his hud and found the Sabotage menu.

    [Set directional charge on Sticky Shaped charges?]

    "Yes, set direction as 'Up."  Nix glanced at Mina before walking back to the makeshift grave.  "It won't go off until I set the Firebombs."

    The Aquarion nodded and slid a hand through his arm, together they walked back. She stood next to him on the edge.  She remembered the prison raid where Nix had met the Ferrets.  He talked about them fondly on occasion, she could sense that he wished them to stay.  "Nix..."

    Nix looked up from his thoughts.  "Sorry Min, I'm ready."

    Mina shook her head and pointed to the hole.  "How come your three friends didn't burn with the rest?"

    "Hmm?"  Nix glanced down at the hole, there should only have been ashes and bone left, yet he could see the bodies of Po, Amb, and Tofo clearly. Their clothes had been burned off, but besides that they were intact.

    Nix jumped down into the small hole and knelt next to Tofo, he felt Mina following behind him.  He checked the body carefully.  "Doesn't seem to be anything odd going on."

    Mina was checking the other two corpses, her pale alien eyes taking in every detail.  "Shadai said that your friend couldn't be healed, and now they can't be burned.  See the pattern?"

    Nix nodded. "Magic doesn't work on them, that wasn't the case in the Prison Raid."

    Mina placed a hand on Amb's stomach and then quickly moved to Po.  "They all have the same wounds Nix. These two have healed over."

    Nix examined the cut on Tofo's stomach.  "It looks like an old cut that reopened.  Maybe during the fighting."

    Mina didn't comment when Nix pushed his hand into the wound, she understood the reasoning. They could have hidden something. "I'll check the other two."

    Nix ignored the sour taste in his mouth while he felt around inside of his friend, after a minute of searching he found something. He held up a blood-soaked hand and examined the object.  It was a small metallic object, the size of a marble.  "Found something."

    Mina found a similar object before moving to the last corpse.  It took only a few moments to find the last one.  "What are these things?"

    Nix handed Mina the third marble before giving her a boost out of the hole.  "Not sure.  Actually it could be part of their physiology for all I know.  One way to find out."

    [Tide of Flames]

    Nix waited while flames washed over the grave of his friends.  A quick peek over the side told them what they suspected.  All three corpses were now cremated.

    Mina still held the three objects in her hand.  She stared at them for a moment and then on a whim, tried to summon her Vila.  "I can't use magic."

    "Hmm?"  Nix held out his hand and accepted them from Mina.

    [Lance: Ice Flames]

    You cannot cast this spell.

    /Hunter: Nix: Come back to the hole.  We are going to delay leaving for a bit.
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