With our recent success in the synchro plane and our special techniques almost completed I think it was safe today we felt on top of the world. And with the rise in our collective morale, we took the opportunity in stride to develop a synchro move in which all of our elements would be used at full force. To do that we decided to train at a familiar location far away from prying eyes. We picked a more distant place of the training field where we fought Basa. Before I knew it after a hard morning's work, we enjoyed a peaceful picnic made by chef Mai. I was never able to enjoy many homes built cooking, so this was a very welcome change of pace. She managed to cook perfect meals for all of us. And when I bit into my ham and cucumber sandwich, all I could say was this.
"Wow, this may be the best sandwich I ever tasted."
"You flatter me, Aphele," said Mai.
" Oh, please Mai you deserve to be flattered, these dinner rolls are comparable to my cooks back home. And trust me that is a compliment. I wish we could enjoy it for what time is it now," said Deon.
"About 12:15 given how the sun is facing, though I'm still not getting any damn service. I like to read while having my salad," said Lunaire.
"Yeah, I'm having trouble with my service to my phone, it won't even turn on."
Soon enough, we realized that we all had problems with our archives. Unfortunately, we never could calmly answer the question as Brandon quickly spoke out mid-chew of his brisket.
"Met rown!" he said as he kicked me aside while diving for Mai.
Deon and Lunaire both used their defensive maneuvers as I suddenly our little picnic was destroyed by a volley of invisible bullets where we just ate. I quickly took a backflip with my body lit in flames ready to fight as out of nowhere a massive blur crashed right in front of us with a sickening thoomp! The mysterious man had silver hair tied up in a ponytail with serious eyes of lustrous gold. He wore a mysterious purple tracksuit with white stars on the knees and back, tying it all with an exposed white tank top that showed off a golden amulet that glowed white. With a deep and commanding voice, he simply stated bluntly.
"Hello young specialists, my name is Eridani all I ask is that you come with me. How hard that request is going to be is all up to you," he said with disdain and professionalism.
Even with my normally decisive nature, all I could do was lay there speechless. Between the crystilia and Basa, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this was another elaborate test. Even more so I could sense no mana from him. All I did was lay there defenseless until Brandon said exactly what was on all our minds.
"And why do you want to mess with us?"
I was about to facepalm myself through his sheer boldness, but surprisingly we got an answer.
"My superiors have asked me to take down Guru Drippy at any costs, and unfortunately, that means I have to use more underhanded methods for this mission. And as I said before if you surrender now, I will leave you all unharmed," he said coldly.
And with that chilling answer I realize all too well the power gap between us, if he was going to straight-up tell us his objective. Even with the truth laid out for us, our objective was made clear: escape/defeat the enemy. And with a quick gesture, I was already signaling my opponents to get ready while I distracted him.
"So were just going to come with you? What guarantee is there that you won't just kill all of us even after you kill Drippy?"
"You have my word as a fighter, and as a fighter, I knew that Drippy is a perfectionist who would not even risk one life."
I tried to hide my surprise, but it failed miserably, he was right on all accounts are given Drippy's orientation. Even still, I try to keep him talking as I glanced to see the rock pillar behind Eridani start to crack with wisps of shadow. Lunaire gives the subtle green light to the rest of us as I further lured Eridani to me. And with one violent action, I began our crazy plan.
"Sorry Eridani, but my team and I will just have to refuse."
A second after my statement a stream of fire jetted out of my hands right into Eridani and through the roar of the flames I ordered Mai and Deon to switch out with me in the form of water and lighting while Brandon used a powerful Joey dropkick to collapse the pillar on top of Eridani! Though we immediately booked the heck out of dodge before we would momentarily as in unison I planned our next move.
"Everyone stays in tight formation, Lunaire I want you to try and sense Eridani's mana. Deon, I want you to use your light decoys to expand on defense and field of vision. Mai, I want you ready to blow on my command. Brandon and I will be close/slash long-range support."
Lunaire however interjected with her strategy.
" Be smart having Deon clone himself makes us a bigger target, Brandon and I are the fastest, we can get help if we go ahead. You guys could try and hide in the meantime."
"And have us split up? Fat chance I'm going with defense over evasion here. We may be soldiers, but I am not leaving a single one of you behind," I said as Deon made four clones.
The truth of my statement instantly got tested as from out of the sky a boulder was seconds away from us! Even at Lunaire's defiance we reflexively we aimed all of our blasts at the rock, creating a sense of smokescreen. Our formation instantly crumbled with only Brandon by my side as we kept moving. And turns out that was a good thing as with his timely sweep I was able to avoid a punch that was both forceful and undetectable!
Brandon pushes me to the side, but even with the long stride, we couldn't escape from another incoming, fast-moving punch! But yet again the punch is interrupted as with Deon's reflect ray blinds Eridani's eyes. Out of the smoke, three more of Deon's decoy appeared with electrified palms that all converged across Eridani's body! The real Deon finally made his grand appearance as with his aid; we continued our escape.
Amongst the pendulum of chaos, we still couldn't catch a break with a signal in the form of a bone-rattling quake and an echoing punch I soon see that all 3 of the decoys were sent throttling to us in the form of shattered light. In frustration, I yelled out.
"This smoke is too thick; I can barely see anything."
Seconds after a surge of mana came from beneath Eridani's feet in the form of a boom burst that whips all of the dust away in a violent wind! Next time I opened my eyes, I saw that our opponents were not only unharmed but like before no mana had escaped his body. Instead what replaced it was that shining amulet of his with a dense pressure starting to fill the area. As Lunaire and Mai regrouped with us from beneath the earth, I could see our morale was crumbling with each passing second. The fear of our unknown opponent stopped our resolve in our tracks as Eridani walked forward, explaining the source of his invisible might.
"Out of all the elements, Mystic and Galaxy are the most versatile. If the mystic element is the element of outside discovery, Galaxy element was the one of inside introspection. When my time came to seize the latter with my own hands, I wanted to have my thirst for combat raw and unfiltered. And with my white dwarf amulet, my wish has answered a thousandfold. While I must always display it in the heat of battle, it grants me I complete mana control superior to even Drippy himself. With augmented defense you stand no chance, so I ask again will you come by choice or by force?"
Unlike before, I didn't know what to say, after our training in the synchro plane as a leader; I slowly grew into the voice of the team. But with this unavoidable ultimatum, I was forced to either choose bravery or safety, either I way I couldn't bear making the tough call. Like it or not, these were the only real friends I ever had, and while I was a specialist because I came to protect people, that also meant my people. So with my mind made up, I agreed to his terms.
"Alright, Eridani we will-"
"Not agree to your terms, Eridani! I think that I speak for everyone when I say that we would rather hold our ground then bow before you," Deon said while getting in front.
"All but one it seems, but you were truly honored opponents," Eridani said as realize that Lunaire had left in the middle of our squabble.
Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to realize what happened as five blasts of pure mana made their way to us!
"It's for the greater good," I lie to myself while booking it to the other specialists.
"Staying and fighting would have been pointless," I say as darkness started to seep from every barrier of hard fact I had built in my mind.
I tried with all my will to hold in the tidal wave of fear, self-loathing and doubt but it all came to a fever pitch when the black ocean I traveled suddenly ripped open in the form of bright light and a deafening impact! Next thing I know Eridani had his hand over my throat as he said two terrifying words.
From my vast library of amassed knowledge, I already knew what came next. Using his own mana Eridani's overpowers my mana nodes, bathing my mind in an assault to the senses to clear difference of our power. The only coherent thoughts I had before the darkness finally burst from my logical dam were these final words.
"Doesn't matter how far I come, I guess I will always be a coward."
Even with all of his bluster, Deon was truly a tactician. All it took was a spare invisible decoy a timed attack and a well-performed flop we were already making our way towards Lunaire. As we jumped across the various pillars, we were able to quickly find her or at least I thought it was her. Lunaire was attacking Eridani with spikes of darkness from ghastly almost beastly limbs with glowing red pupils. But most distressing at all was her personality that had turned far more malicious.
"C'mon Eridani Keep moving I want to see you squirm, I want to hear you scream!"
A thousand worries and questions filled my mind, but Lunaire was right to a certain extent, I had to be smart. Deon had given us a second chance, and I wasn't going to waste it. Once the plan came together in my mind, I commanded my teammates from moving further.
"Guys, it's time to do the quadruple E."
"I thought it was the Quintuple E," said a worried Mai.
"It is now."
As the battle continued, Eridani eventually got a lucky shot that knocks Lunaire from her crazed state. But with her, we were able to get a clear shot at our target. And soon enough we unleashed our grand attack: The Extreme, Elaborate, Eccentric Express! With a right leg wrapped in metal Brandon launched off of Mai's blast of wind and water blitzing right toward Eridani! But before our opponent could even line up a clear shot, Deon summoned a shield at the last second to divert his path! This process was repeated again and again with each step getting closer until in one last push he managed to kick his medal away finally! As Brandon landed a couple of yards away, I ordered him and Mai to check on Lunaire and the amulet while we kept watching over his seemingly lifeless body.
Even with our recent victory, I knew that this would be the only the start of my hardships. I'm glad that our training proved useful, but it also made me wonder how many more life had in store for me. My brooding, however, was cut short as I got a loud call from Brandon.
"Um, guys I can't find the amulet?"
"What the heck do you mean you can't find it?"
Too bad I could never hear his replays suddenly Eridani with renewed vigor and his amulet back in his hands he slammed Brandon into the ground while simultaneously gunning Mai down in a couple of seconds! Before I could even make a new plan, Eridnai already made another smokescreen of his to mask his presence, but even still the entire area soon cloaked in a dense aura. Deon and I opted to jump to another pillar, but I guess we were too predictable as we were quickly cut off. And with no way out and Eridani soon rocketing behind us, all I did was close my eyes and accept my fate. Knowing at the very least, I did all I could.