274 Heart of Winter conclusion

    "You were reckless, Gearpin!  Why charge in there like that?  There was an Archon among them." The white-haired female started scolding him as soon as they exited the gate. "Now we'll ha..."

    An old woman rolled gracefully out of the gate, a silver sword held in one hand.  "Greetings."

    [Ghost Step]

    Chiba appeared next to Tipha, her silver sword slashing a half dozen times against the Ice Armor that protected her target.

    Tipha retreated and summoned her sword, the first clash of blade against blade told her in no uncertain terms, the old woman was a master swordsman.  An ice shield formed in her off-hand, while she circled warily.

    Gearpin faked a charge at Chiba and then slammed his spiked tail into Tipha's stomach.

    Gearpin (Floyd) has landed a significant strike.

    [Dual-Chain: Cleave]

    Chiba has followed up Gearpin's attack with a significant strike.

    Gearpin morphed back into Floyd; the teen pursued the reeling Tipha while drawing both daggers.

    [Dual-Chain: Two Fangs]

    Floyd has followed up Chiba's attack with a significant strike.

    [Dual-Chain: Master Strike]

    Chiba has followed up Floyd's attack with a significant strike.

    Tipha has been mortally wounded.


    Neptiphago has activated her bloodline.

    [Origin Form: Water Dragon]

    Neptiphago has burned life essence in order to execute her life-saving measures.

    The blue dragon roared loudly in anger before retreating from battle, leaving Chiba and Floyd alone.

    [Personal and Group Communications has been temporarily suspended.]

    Chiba put her sword away and immediately stealthed. "We should limit our exposure until Nix catches up with us."

    Floyd nodded and stealthed. "The city seems empty.  Why?"

    "My guess is they are raiding the Ashobel. Let's find someplace to hide."


    Fabri took the news without blinking. "Is it the chosen?"

    Gearpin nodded. "Yes.  He believes that if he delivers the Heart of Winter to Tipha, she will use it to strengthen him and his clan."

    /Gemini: Nix: Dumb.  He's going to end up as fish-food.

    /Gemini: Locas: What's the plan Nix?

    /Gemini: Nix: We know approximately where the city is, Chiba and Floyd will be waiting for us.

    /Gemini: Tharaka: I'd prefer to stay here and challenge the other nomads first.

    /Gemini: Nix: I agree.  I can Breach you in if we need back-up.

    [Whisper Nix to Gideon] Pathfinder ready to go?

    [Whisper Gideon to Nix] We can be ready in five minutes.

    [Whisper Nix to Gideon] Get ready and stand by.

    "What are your plans Nix?"  Fabri's mood had turned sour since she had found out about the traitor.  As the chosen, all he needed to say was that he is moving the Ashobel in a different direction.

    "That depends.  Do you have the Heart of Winter?"

    Fabri paused for a moment and the nodded.  "It's safe since we have no Chieftain yet, I haven't been ordered to produce it."

    [Whisper Nix to Tharaka] I'm missing a piece of the puzzle.  You know something.

    [Whisper Tharaka to Nix] A very powerful Ice Soul inhabits the Heart of Winter, Centuries ago it took all twenty-five City Masters to permanently bind it.

    [Whisper Nix to Tharaka]  Another Dragon?

    [Whisper Tharaka to Nix] No, something more dangerous.  It took all of us to bind it.


    "Bastards!" Neptiphago staggered into the culling room, a trail of blood marking her path. She gripped the large basin with both hands and eased herself into the 'Waters of Life.'

    Archon Aki watched while her master recovered her health. There were invaders in the city, however, she hadn't been given any orders to start hunting them.

    The Aquarion took one last look at the basin's occupant before taking up her post at the door. The temptation to draw her sword and try to finish off Neptiphago nearly overwhelmed her.

    The Water Dragon had appeared more than a century ago.  Neptiphago was a visitor who had come with many gifts; knowledge of Water and Ice spells, blueprints on how to construct powerful artifacts and body enhancement techniques that had completely changed how Aquarions looked. The Aquarion race now closely resembled how the Water Dragon looked in her human form. These gifts that she offered came with a terrible price; Aquarion women could no longer bear female children.

    [You seem troubled Aki.]

    Her master's voice sounded in her head like it always did. Aki's beautifully serene face didn't show the anger she felt. "I am worried about you Master."

    [I will be fine. You should prepare to fight. Nix has returned to Colonial and now is with the Ashobel.]

    "Nix?" Aki felt the smallest sliver of hope enter her heart. The human Fire Mage had many names among the Aquarions, all of them reflected the terror that his presence instilled. "Why would he be in Colonial?"

    [I need two hours to recover. Prepare more Ashobel for me. I will need that strength when I emerge.]

    "I shall see to it, Master."

    [Take the rest of the Archons, hunt down and kill Nix.]

    Aki left without speaking further, her thoughts lingering on Neptiphago's last orders. Her pale face held the slightest hint of a smile. The Cora'Zai had come to the IceCap, finally, he would break the chains that bound the Aquarion race.  [Cora'Zai: Reference chapter 117]


    Locas and Zinu stepped through the Breach that Nix opened up, it led to a control room deep within Inferno city.

    /Gemini: Locas: Why are we here?

    /Gemini: Nix: I can disable Aquarius security protocols from the Inferno Interface.

    /Gemini: Locas: The ones controlling gating privileges?

    /Gemini: Nix: Those and the city defenses.  This should go unnoticed until we arrive in person.

    Nix stood at the Interface in the Infusing Chamber. "Display only the System Menus that have been rebooted."

    [Inferno System Operations]

    1. Security

    2. Power Grid

    3. Transportation

    4. Master Key

    "Display Master Key Menu."

    4. Master Key.

    a) Annonymous (Disabled)

    b) Intercity Communication (Disabled)

    c) Direct Control (Enabled)

    d) City Links (Disabled)

    "Display Direct Control Menu."

    [Direct Control Menu]

    a) Inferno: Nix

    b) Chyanama: Nix

    c) Dyrekstad: Hierophant

    d) Goralpri: Bo'raz

    e) Aquarius: Neptiphago

    d) Icaraphet: Tharaka

    f) Verynzai: Unaqoir

    "Access Aquarius."

    [A message has been sent to Neptiphago regarding the start-up procedures. She has three minutes to answer.]

    "Shit... Let's hope she's busy."  Nix waited with Locas and Zinu, the seconds ticking slowly by until...

    [Aquarius City: Remote Controller Recognized: Nix]

    "Open Aquarius Security Menu."

    [Aquarius System Operations]

    1. Security

    a) City Controller (Nix)

    b) City Shields (Enabled)

    c) City Gating Platforms (Disabled)

    d) City Gun Points (Enabled)

    "Disable City Defenses and Enable City Gating Platforms between Inferno and Aquarius."

    [Aquarius City Defenses have been disabled.]

    [Gating Platforms between Inferno and Aquarius have been enabled.]

    "Display Intercity Communications."

    b) Intercity Communication (Disabled)

    i) Personal Messaging (Disabled)

    ii) Guild and Clan Messaging (Disabled)

    iii) City to City messaging (Disabled)

    "Enable all Intercity Communications."

    [Intercity Communications have been enabled.]

    /Gemini: Nix: Knock, knock!

    /Gemini: Chiba: Nix!

    /Gemini: Nix: Incoming, where are you?

    /Gemini: Chiba: Holed up in the NW Inn.

    /Gemini: Nix: We're enroute, be there in two minutes.

    Nix knew where the Inn was since all the Dragon Cities followed the same blueprint.  He created a breach to the Inferno Platform and the trio gated directly to Aquarius.

    /Gemini: Nix: Stealth up.

    Nix activated his stealth package and waited for a moment, his glowing eyes carefully scanning the immediate area.

    /Gemini: Nix: We're clear.  Follow me to the Inn, stay close.
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