362 A Brief Respite

    Nix crested out of the waves, his entire body leaving the water for a few seconds before reentering without any splash.  After swimming with Soup in the sea for nearly an hour, he'd had enough and walked out of the surf.

    "You must be feeling better."  Fajii' sat on the beach with Mina, both of them wearing swimsuits that Nix had made.

    Nix held up a hand and shook his head slowly.  "Amazing, isn't it?"  His hands and feet were both slightly elongated and webbed.  His gills faded away when he left the water, but the other effects of his new Mariner's ability lingered for nearly a minute.

    Fajii stared at him for a few moments before nodding.  Mina looked away without answering; her pale face seemed unnaturally red.

    "I'll shower quickly, and then we'll get going."  Nix smiled pleasantly and headed toward the Turtle House.  It had been two weeks since he recharged the Krayven totem, he had spent most of that time recovering from the effects of Phoenix blood poisoning.

    Mina watched him walking toward the house, wishing for once that she could spend some time alone with him.  "He used to be a lot less busy."

    Fajii nodded in agreement. "Everspire is pulling him a dozen different directions.  He needed the time off."

    Mina smiled at her friend.  "Don't let him use that 'Mariner' form around any Aquarion women."

    The dark-skinned Aquarion laughed good-naturedly. The beauty standards for the Aquarion race centered mostly on the hands and feet.  "You were staring shamelessly."

    Mina bit down on a laugh but didn't deny it.  Her personality in recent weeks had significantly changed. She laughed and smiled much more than she used to.  "I know."

    Fajii reached over and stroked her friend's head, a regular occurrence between Aquarion friends. "How's everything?"

    Mina smiled, her eyes moving toward Soup, who was sunning herself on the beach. "I already agreed to live in Haven with you guys; you don't have to worry."

    Fajii shrugged slightly but didn't deny her concern. "I can't help it.  You are important to me."


    After a quick shower and light lunch, Nix spent a few minutes updating orders for the Auction House. Although his taxidermy skill was maxed out, his animation ability needed to improve. His current knowledge couldn't make anything near as impressive as the ones made by the Eidengal Taxidermist.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Don't forget about the meeting today, Nix.

    /Inferno: Nix: Fairly difficult since Semmi, Pon, and now you have reminded me this morning.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Sorry for nagging.

    /Inferno: Nix: I'll be there.


    Nix entered the HQ courtyard an hour later, Muncie was hard at work with the huge dragon puppet.  "Progress?"

    Muncie nodded.  "I can open its eyes."

    Nix covered a laugh since that was progress.  The two of them were slowly repairing the Dragon puppet that Vega used in the Mountain Pass camp.  The wings were still detached, but Nix had used his Taxidermist skill to repair the severed head.  The cost of doing so had used nearly all of his personal stock of dragon scales,  dragon blood, and dragon bones.  When Nix attempted to use the puppet, he would receive a generic message saying that the dragon was dead.  "Keep at it, Muncie."

    He ran into Pon and Wind when he walked into the conference room of HQ.  "How did that quest from Mocai go?"

    Wind gave him a thumbs up. "We found what we were looking for."

    A breach appeared next to the table, and Leva stepped an instant later.  She took a seat on the other side of Nix after bowing respectfully to Pon and Wind.

    /Inferno: Pon: Why is Leva here?

    /Inferno: Nix: I invited her since our decision on Chyanama will directly affect her territory in the Nether.

    Wind nodded in agreement, suppressing the shudder he felt.  Beta had told him what was involved in creating a minion since the albino rogue also had one.  "Nice to see you again, Leva."

    A second breach opened, and Tai'Qui stepped through. Since her first visit a week ago, she had been regularly stopping by Ionova to visit.

    Pon stood up when she stepped into the conference room, his old face creased into a smile.  The Earth Dragon made a good impression on everyone at Inferno.  She had taken the time to create two different mud baths, one at the Turtle house and the other outside of HQ.  The Scorched Earth Elementals of Inferno absolutely loved them.

    Wind also stood and greeted Tai.

    [Whisper Wind to Nix] Since when is that old man so friendly?

    [Whisper Nix to Wind] No kidding.

    Shae was the last of the Officers to arrive; Leva gave up her seat so that the Salamander could sit next to Nix while she stood behind him.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Going to start a temporary channel so our guests here can discuss the topic.

    You have joined the HQ channel.

    /HQ: Jun Li: Welcome Guests, thank you for taking part.

    /HQ: Nix: The first topic today are the fallen cities.  I invited Tai here since she will be the one helping us move them.

    [Whisper: Jun Li to Nix] I thought you wanted to hold off on that.

    [Whisper: Nix to Jun Li] I wanted to, but I have to recover the Spectrum I used in recovered cities.  I can't do that until they are linked with Inferno City.

    [Whisper: Jun Li to Nix] Understood.

    /HQ: Tai: Moving cities through the planes isn't especially difficult.  No more so then sending troops through a Breach.

    /HQ: Nix: Filamina, Alliance City, and Chyanama are all ready to be moved.

    /HQ: Semmi: Filamina and Alliance City were formerly known as Aquarius and Dyrekstad.

    /HQ: Fajii: Chyanama is part of Leva's territory in the Nether.  Won't this cripple her power base?

    /HQ: Leva: The Nether has changed dramatically in the last few months.  With free passage throughout the planes, there have been no border skirmishes of any kind.

    /HQ: Nix: I won't push it if you don't wish to move Leva.  However, I would like to link Chyanama with the other Dragon Cities and place you in the City Master position.

    /HQ: Leva: Wouldn't creating a Nether City cause problems with the Dragon Masters?

    /HQ: Tai: A few months ago it might have, but since the peace treaty, there have been quite a few Nether citizens who have passed the planar trials and become residents of the other Dragon Cities.

    /HQ: Semmi: I worry that there might be some hold-over bad feelings.

    /HQ: Nix: You may be right, Sem.  We can wait a bit longer on Chyanama.

    /HQ: Pon: There shouldn't be any issues with Filamina or Alliance City.  Many of the 12 Pillar Alliance members have taken up residence in Alliance City.

    /HQ: Mina: Filamina is empty.

    Nix laughed at her words; it spread to a few others before stopping.  Mina's Aquarion sense of humor wasn't able to find the amusement in her own words.

    /HQ: Nix: Filamina is in Northern Colonial while Alliance City resides in the seed world of Elementia.

    /HQ: Semmi: What does moving them entail?

    /HQ: Nix: I will bring Tai to each of them, and then she will create the City Breach.

    /HQ: Jun Li: What about opening travel from our Sky cities to Free Trader City?

    /HQ: Nix: There's really no reason to oppose it.  Alliance City and Inferno City are already partially settled.  They require more resources and commerce to grow.

    /HQ: Fajii: What about Filamina?

    /HQ: Jun Li: I recommend keeping it locked up until we need to expand.

    /HQ: Ronnie: We could use it as a party city.

    /HQ: Sharl: Or just give it to Ronnie and lock her up.

    /HQ: Ronnie: Yes!

    /HQ: Nix: Anyone opposed to connecting Alliance and Filamina to the other Dragon Cities?

    /HQ: Pon: What is the status of the Greater Houses in Inferno City and Alliance City?

    /HQ: Nix: I have them locked down.

    /HQ: Jun Li: I recommend opening up the Greater Houses in Alliance city for the 12 Pillar guilds.

    /HQ: Semmi: The Greater Houses are big enough for Guild Halls, it will go a long way towards strengthening our Alliance.

    /HQ: Pon: We should open access to Ionova also.  The new commerce will help the city develop.

    /HQ: Fajii: I agree.  It also gives the members of the Alliance the ability to move about in Northern Everspire.

    /HQ: Nix: Okay.  I'll open gate access from Ionova and Free Trader City to our territories in the Sky Kingdom.

    /HQ: Tai: I'll need to be in Filamina and Alliance City to open breaches for them.

    /HQ: Nix: Leva has been to both.  The three of us and Alpha Team will handle it.

    [Whisper: Semmi to Nix] Why are we going with you?

    [Whisper: Nix to Semmi] I need you to bring one of the Spectrum pellets back to HQ before we head off in search of Goralpri.


    An hour later, a massive Breach was opened up in the skies over the Polar Ice Cap in Colonial. Filamina was moved into the air and taken through the Breach without any issues.  The entire team moved to Alliance City from there.

    Semmi watched the procedure repeat itself.  She had already confiscated one pellet of Spectrum.  Just holding it made her nervous, she could use none of her abilities while carrying it.

    Nix stood at the Control Interface of Alliance City, after linking it to the rest of the cities, he locked it the Control Interface up tight and removed the Spectrum pellet from the diffuser.

    Leva opened a gate for everyone to return to HQ.

    Nix waited while Semmi put the Spectrum in HQ's vault.  "I need to contact the Taxidermist in Free Trader City tomorrow.  We can start looking for Goralpri immediately after that.

    Wind shared a grin with Pon.  "Alpha team back together?"

    Nix nodded.  "Yep."

    /Everspire Announcement: Gate Access from Free Trader City to Alliance City in the Sky Kingdom has been enabled.

    /Everspire: Announcement: Gate access from Free Trader City to Inferno City in the Sky Kingdom has been enabled.

    /Everspire Announcement: Gate Access from Ionova to Alliance City in the Sky Kingdom has been enabled.

    /Everspire: Announcement: Gate access from Ionova to Inferno City in the Sky Kingdom has been enabled.


    Shae was the only one in the house when Nix arrived a few minutes later.  She was sitting on the couch while browsing the Auction House on her hud.  "Hey, Nix."

    Nix returned her smile and took a seat next to her.  If both Hyai and Fajii were somewhere else this late in the evening, then they weren't coming back.  "You sent the girls away?"

    Shae nodded.  "They are in Haven with Mina; I don't get to spend much time with you since I've been busy with the eggs."

    Nix grabbed her hand and pulled her closer, "How are they doing?"

    Shae leaned against him, her soft red hair brushing against his cheek. "Very good, she is going to be very strong."

    Nix didn't have to ask who 'she' was.  Shae immediately assumed motherhood over the salamander hybrid.  "How long until they start hatching?"

    Shae pursed her lips while she considered the question. "More than a year for our daughter.  The first will be in a few months and then continue for the next two years."

    Inferno needed the dragonspawn to increase their strength, but Nix hadn't considered the care they'd require.  "Should we hire some help?"

    Shae shook her head.  "Nansu has already approached me regarding the first one.  Semmi has also expressed interest."

    Nix nearly choked at the mention of the blond officer.  She still fumed on occasion when reminded that Pon already fathered an Aquarion daughter.  "Pon's going to love that. You want to have Inferno members adopt them?"

    Shae nodded. "There are several couples within Inferno.  Wylie and Banzi are willing to take one also.  I think it will work out."

    "I suppose you're right."  Nix tipped her chin up with one hand and kissed her gently.

    "Hmmm... very sweet.  Can I ask you something?"

    Nix nodded slightly.  "Feel free."

    "You said her name several times while you were under the effects of blood poisoning for the last two weeks."  Shae's light brown eyes were gentle.  "Do you still miss your younger sister?"

    "I suppose I do."  Nix had made peace with the death of his sister; for some reason, the sickness caused by the Phoenix caused her memory to resurface.

    Shae's soft hand stroked his face gently. "Bev has told me many stories about her from when you were children."

    "She has?"  Nix found the statement puzzling.  His older sister usually found a reason to change the subject whenever he mentioned Lisa.  "She never wants to talk to me about her."

    "Is it surprising? Between the three of you, who had the closest bond?"

    Nix frowned slightly at the statement.  They had often left Bev out because she was a bit too serious. "Lisa loved Bev, too; they didn't get along very well."

    Shae nodded but didn't say anything else.  She grabbed Nix's hand and pulled him to his feet.

    Nix let himself be led into the bedroom.  "I'll visit Bev in a few days."
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