The former Rithul-Efla rebels gathered in the Main Hall once again, many of them gently whispering to each other. There was an aura of excitement that emitted from most people, as they are now hearing the response of what would be their new de facto government. As the presence of Leth slowly made to the central area, the audience’s voices gradually faded. Soon, the hall was silent with the exception of the noises of the people outside.
“Hello all,” Leth began, “It sure took us quite a while to count our votes, but I think we have been quite efficient with our work, counting all votes of these thousands of people in just three days. I believe that everyone’s votes has been accounted for, has it not?” Silence. “Now, the results for the election of the Council of Twelve will commence. Note that this is only a temporary council, but when we have once again formally established ourselves as a legitimate government, we will have elections again for a new council.”
He slowly then read the results. One by one, the newly voted council members rose and walked to the center, greeted with praises and cheering. Finally, as all twelve council members, including Avalel, stood at the center, Leth turned to the audience. “I now announce the formal establishment of the Council of Twelve, which will serve as an executive branch of the gov… ”
The ceiling shuddered. The lights blinked until it suddenly blacked out. Panicked cries rose from the audience, beginning as spontaneous hushed voices, but slowly rising to a roar. “Calm down, we will find a solution to fix this, but panicking is not an option!” Leth cried in an attempt to calm the audience. Although many voices died down, there were still a few that murmured amongst themselves, fearing an attack.
A messenger rushed to the hall, his clothes filled with dust. He quickly reached Leth, his voice quaking in fear. “Achien!” He shouted, as he panted to catch his breath.
“What’s this?” Leth worriedly asked.
“The Achien troops,” the exhausted messenger cried, “They’ve arrived at Thille. They fired a cannon, and now Thille is reduced to rubble!”
“Who are you?” Avalel asked.
“I’m a resident here who was at the outskirts of Thille when the cannon fired. I’m sure that most residents of Thille are annihilated by that blast! They are now turning this way! Run if you can!”
Just then, another one rushed in, the clothing on him clearly indicating he came from the power plant. “Leth! Leth! The power plant and the entrance has been destroyed!”
“A projectile struck the entrance and created an energy shockwave that rendered all our systems useless and immobile! The same projectile now flattened our surface levels, and many are in grave danger! I’m one of the few lucky ones that are unscathed by this massive tragedy!”
Another round of blasts struck, and the ceiling once again shuddered, but this time with increased intensity. There were gentle hums above, and some could hear the flickering of fires. “The Achien army has come to annihilate us all!” one cried, and in a panicked effort to seek shelter, many stampeded towards the exit, some crushed to death by their comrades’ feet.
A voice boomed outside the settlement, unmistakable as Nasition’s. “Avalel, we know you are currently hiding in here. You may have broken the tracker, but our scouts have kept an eye on the settlement, and we know you never exited the settlement after you broke it. Now come out, or I will flatten this primitive and unnecessary settlement! My artillery batteries will not stop until you come to us. Wherever you’re hiding, we’ll blast it open! I have already flattened Thille with my plasma cannons and have disrupted the settlement’s systems with the main gun of my moving fortress. Now come out to be offered a quick, painless death for only yourself or suffer from the infinite barrage of my wrath!”
The Council and Leth stared at Avalel. “What now?”
“I’ll go and face them. This way, you all can avoid death.” Just then, Kavlina rushed up, her face determined.
“Lel, let me go instead of you. I can at least hold them at bay for a while with a disguise when everyone can safely retreat, including you.”
“What kind of a plan is that? You’ll get yourself killed and have Nasition continue chasing me down!” Avalel exclaimed, “I must go. I believe I can stand a chance to cut down and hurt their army, assisting the other rebels in a way.”
“Then at least let me fight with you!”
“If she insists, let her be,” a council member sighed, “I’m sorry we can’t do anything to help our leader.”
“No,” Leth firmly replied, “I know of a sturdy chamber deep underground that we can retreat to. You all can help guide them there.”
Avalel embraced Leth tightly. “Thank you for helping us all out, and good luck.”
“You too, Heir of Achien.” With that, they parted at the gate. Avalel and Kavlina rushed upwards while Leth and the Council raced downwards.
When they finally reached an opening and exited the settlement, they found a large crater and the hiss of the airborne divisions racing over their heads, bombs dropping to the crater. In front of them was a large army of drones accompanying a moving fort and a plasma cannon. The columns of drones went endlessly to the horizon, as if their number was infinite. Avalel could barely feel the smell of burnt flesh rising from the ruins. His eyes squinted from the strong smell and slowly turned to the army.
“Hello, Avalel,” the same voice spoke, “I see you have brought your friend here. Did you not hear what I have said? I only wanted you to surface on your own. Now, not only you will die, your comrades below will also be extinguished!”
“You never… ” Avalel didn’t have time to finish his words before a plasma beam sped towards him. Quickly diving away with the Anapadeia shielding him, he managed to dodge the lethal blast, only for it to continue on its path and strike the crater. Avalel looked in horror as the energy spread, cracks emerging from the damaged ground. The sound was deafening, causing Avalel and Kavlina shield their ears and collapsing in pain while the drones looked on. Then, a shockwave pulsed from deep within the ground, sending a wave of energy spreading to all sides. Impulsively, Avalel brought the Anapadeia up, transforming it to a shield and emitting an energy barrier. Kavlina rushed to the relative safety of the barrier as the energy now surrounded them, the shockwave almost knocking them flying before it continued its path. The skilled drones held up their shields in unison in a phalanx formation in the moments before the shockwave reached them. By that time, the shockwave had lost much of its strength as it only pushed the troops slightly backwards without even knocking one over.
Soon, the rumbling had stopped, the dust had cleared, and Avalel finally transformed the Anapadeia back to its original form. Although their ears were bleeding from the deafening noise earlier, they were relatively unscathed, and as Avalel brought his hands upon his and Kavlina’s ears, they almost instantly were healed. The army still stood menacingly in front of them, but they were no longer afraid.
Kavlina slowly walked to the crater and looked down. The blast had gone deep, destroying many of the underground chambers. Limbs stuck out of the rock, while protruded metal hung, smouldering from the heat. A water pipe gently poured water into the crater, the drops occasionally reaching the bottom. There were many fires burning in the ruins, feeding on the oil of the deceased. The destruction was vast, but Kavlina was sure there were still survivors considering the size of the settlement.
“Is there anyone down there?” she cried. No answer. “Hello?” Still no answer. “Anyone alive?” Her voice only echoed back.
Suddenly, there was a figure emerging from the bottom. “The ceiling of the bunker here was blown up, but most of us in here are fine!” Kavlina recognized the voice as one of the council members.
“I remember your voice as one of the council members! What’s your name?”
“Fravin,” the figure replied.
“Fravin, how many survivors are down there?”
“If it’s only this bunker, there’s around 30 people. The hallways outside are still intact, but they’re running out of air.”
“Are there any other council members with you?”
“Yes! There’s Taq, and there’s another who I don’t know the name of.”
Kavlina turned to Avalel. “There are still some bunkers and rooms that are intact! They’re not all annihilated yet!”
Relieved, Avalel now eyed the moving fort. “I will take that down,” he confidently proclaimed, “and I will not let one drone in here leave before feeling the power of the Anapadeia! Nasition, you have made a mistake traveling here to meet me.”
“How confident,” the voice replied, “It seems that even our most concentrated beam of plasma wasn’t able to annihilate that settlement completely. Still, have you realized your futile position? Do you know that your death is coming… now?” The artillery batteries launched another barrage, the shells soaring through the air. The bomber planes above released a shower of bombs and missiles while the fighter planes dove down, their blasts raining towards the ground. The drones pushed their pikes down firmly in the ground to form a loose palisade. Their shields lined up tightly with each other with only space for a gun to protrude out. The guns were aiming at Avalel, and suddenly, they all simultaneously fired rapidly, and combined with the other attacks, it was a hail of blasts from all sides.
Let me lend my power to you and your friend.
Avalel smiled. Of course.
The voice finally hissed, I will let them feel the wrath of Elethien. Prepare, Heir of Achien.