Beast of Xeriel

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Chapter Thirteen

Fei crouched atop a hill of sand, surveying the land. The wind combing his flawless ashen red hair backwards. Tetcht’s sun unimpeded by any cloud cover. The heat like a blazing fire, any molecule of water instantly sizzled and evaporated on his bulging muscles.

There was no scent of Dara in the dry air. He had traveled far from the city. Most of the sentry patrolling the planet for Dara simultaneously. While just 5 and 13 remained at the city in case of an ambush attack. Even in his feral form, nothing caught his nose. The wind escorted a strong sweet aroma into his nostrils. It was soothing and familiar.

Shortly after, Lale ran her fingers through his hair, gently wiping his face as she approached his line of sight. “This is the last place I had contact with them.” Lale said. Fei continued to focus on the desert.

There was no sign of foot traffic in the sand. Lale had informed him of Tumakako and her interactions with Dara. But it didn’t matter to him. He assumed the aging warrior would be no match for him, as he did all of his opponents. He was yet to be proven wrong.

Fei simply wanted to find and destroy them before Dara’s power grew beyond his own. “I can’t smell anything. Let’s go with the backup plan.” Fei ordered impatiently.

Lale dropped her head. She had agreed to help her love, and she meant it. However, she couldn’t help but notice the obsession Fei had developed. His hunger to destroy grew with every new day. He hadn’t rested or even slept. He only focused on killing Dara, Tumakako and creating battle plans for the war against Pratham once he gained access to the raw Iku.

For him to be this focused was unlike him. Fei never was one to prepare, he always attacked first as a strategy. Witnessing this change, Lale could only infer he was more afraid than ever that he may not be the dominating force he once was. Clearly what he considered a defeat by Dara’s hands ruptured his confidence.

She wanted to continue to help, but now more than ever she wasn’t sure how things would unfold. Her love, Fei, was unstable. Uncontrollable. Lale’s decision waivered with every moment since her spoken commitment. Her heart constantly at war with her word.

“You said, you were with me. So be with me.” Fei growled, sensing her hesitation. He had begun to suspect her internal struggle, but regularly ignored it believing she would ultimately choose him over anyone else. Lale hesitated. “She’s just a child Fei. She’s afraid……Let me talk to her.” She implored.

Fei growled even deeper. “I don’t care about her fear. She is a direct representation of the prime threat I must destroy. Her power could rival mine every moment we allow her to harness it.” He said assertively.

Lale rolled her eyes at his rationale. “For a child to reach the influence of Magnus and the council. She must be very powerful.” Lale joked. Fei looked up at his love with disgust.

“I despise your current nature at the moment. I would appreciate your support in place of your jovial defiance.” Fei admonished. Lale took note of Fei’s demeanor. She seized his face bringing him up to her lips and kissed his forehead.

Holding his head close to her chest. “I know you’re willing to do what is necessary……. Just don’t forget why we’re doing this.” She advised

Lale activated her armor. Instantly, she could feel a feint connection to Tumakako. Unfortunately, the repairs Tumakako had made to her armor, saving her life, the rivalry tension and genuine unspoken respect had formed an unwilling connection between the two warriors.

Lale became aware on her journey home. She assumed Tumakako would be aware too, but neither person reached out to communicate. Both parties aware of its existence but neither exploiting it for an advantage.

Lale knew Fei would never negotiate or be peaceful. There would be no sort of outcome that didn’t end in a fight. “Our connection is indistinct. I can’t pinpoint where they are.” Lale disclosed. “Even if Dara isn’t with her, I can destroy her connection to any further training.” Fei assured her.

Fei proceeded to further transform into his gargantuan primal form. Lale grabbed onto his mane, allowing his growth to propel her onto his back. Fei let out a loud roar, followed by a strong gale. He dug his paws into the ground and leapt forward to pursue his enemy.

Tumakako meditated inside her ship. Remaining on the move, didn’t permit them much time to sleep or rest. The duo always ready to flee at hint of danger. Dara had been gone most of the day continuing to train and meditate alone.

She had learned much under Tumakako’s tutelage. Her combat skills growing close to her increase in power. Dara was far from the ranks of Fei, Lale or Tumakako, but she now possessed the ability to protect herself in order to escape.

Daily she had worked to hone her body, mind, power and abilities. Some days Dara would awake before her teacher and begin her training.

Tumakako focused on their next move. Contemplating what would be the most successful route for their survival. Seeing her daughter’s growth, warmed her spirit. Often, she lost her train of thought thinking of the life she wished she had with Dara and her mother.

She struggled still to keep the secret. If she could so easily be distracted by her desires and wishes, she knew with great certainty Dara would not be able to handle the truth. She would reason with her to leave, flee forever and move on.

But Tumakako understood people like Fei, Magnus and the council. They would never be free from their reach. They had to be removed permanently. However, this dilemma by far had been the worst odds she had ever faced.

An ominous feeling filled the pit of Tumakako’s stomach. She jumped to her feet. Tumakako activated her armor, waiting and listening. “We’re coming! He’s found her scent!” A woman shouted in Tumakako’s head.

She recognized the voice. To her surprise, Lale chose to aid them. There wasn’t much time to deduce her reasoning, Tumakako ran for the exit. As soon as the door opened, she screamed. “Dara!........Dara!......Dara!”. In a few moments Dara appeared at an amazing speed, sporting her new orange energy form with relative ease.

“Take the ship and go. They’ve found us.” Tumakako demanded. Dara had learned not to question her mentor, but reluctantly taking heed of her order. “Tuma, come with me. I need you.” Dara whimpered.

“Go! I’m how they found us. I reconstructed her armor; it created a connection between Lale and I. It’s time for me to leave you.” Tumakako urged. It killed her inside to utter those words. Much like the reality she faced with her mother so long ago.

“I can’t survive without you. They’ll find me!” Dara cried. Tumakako grabbed Dara’s shoulders. “Dara, we don’t have time! Run! I can stall them, but I don’t think I will last very long.” Tumakako reprimanded.

Dara’s eyes swelled with tears. The two shared an intense hug. Tumakako clasped her hands around Dara’s face. “I will always know your face.” She said. Dara held on as long as her mentor would allow.

“Dara go!” Tumakako ordered. Dara let go of Tumakako and hurried into the ship. Lifting off, moments later she disappeared over the horizon. Tumakako took a deep breath. She wondered if this would be her final moments. If she was content with giving her life for her daughter. She withdrew her purple scimitar and awaited her fate.

Fei’s speed exceeded anything Lale had ever seen before. She held on to his mane with the tightest grip possible. He moved so fast she felt like she was in a tunnel of suppressed air. Fei followed the scent religiously, changing directions seamlessly. In one leap he would clear gorges and impressive hills.

Unbeknownst to him, Lale had informed Tumakako about their pending arrival. Each paw dug into the ground propelling him forward miles at a time. Fei crossing the distance between him and his target within a fraction of the time. Fei suddenly froze.

Lale held on, nearly flying forward, crashing into the back of his head. “Why did you stop?” She asked rhetorically, as in this form he is unruly and unable to speak. Fei surveyed the land, lifting his nose in the air. His sniffs less frequent and more purposeful.

“Where is Dara?” Lale asked through her secret link. “She is gone.” Tumakako responded. Lale thought for a moment, looking down at the calibrating beast beneath her. Then she realized. Fei inhaled the fiery tinge, Dara’s excessive training leaving a healthy smolder in the air. “He has her scent! He’s figured out you’re not together anymore. You have to help me stop him!” Lale urgently communicated to Tumakako.

Tumakako’s heart sank. She desperately looked around, clueless to her best option to aid Dara. “I can’t cover that distance on foot! She is too far away by now.” Tumakako responded.

“You have to slow him down!” Tumakako ran toward the gorge. Arriving at the edge, she saw the vessel that transported Dara’s mother. She wasn’t certain it would start but decided her second option would surely be nearby. Tumakako dove off the cliff, free falling for seconds before driving her scimitar into the cliffside.

She guided herself to the ground beneath, landing with a thud. The landing was harsh but ultimately uneventful to her goal to save her daughter. She continued despite the pain coursing through her body. Yanking her weapon from the gash in the cliffside, she began making her way toward the ship.

She walked momentarily, before picking up her pace. Tumakako broke into a complete sprint. Lale, would not be able to stop Fei for long. With each second, her universe was becoming closer to darkness. As she neared the ship, the ground vibrated. From behind the large ship, a tyrannosaur revealed itself. Tumakako slid to a halt.

The colossal relic of the past let out a warning screech. The volume shook Tumakako’s bones. She remained still. The tyrannosaur’s approached, shaking the ground beneath her as it walked. It stood to its tallest height. Tumakako, removed her armor. Her scent leaked into its nostrils.

It lowered its head to take a closer look. Tumakako stood firm, staring it in the eye. Finally, she made a cautious approach. Slowly, reaching out with her hand and gently placing it on its snout.

Fei appeared to become drunk off the scent in the air. He sniffed a great amount of air repeatedly, confirming the specific direction of his target. Focused and determined he lowered his head, dug his paws into the ground and took off again. He reached his previous speed in less time than before. Lale’s mind was conflicted.

She understood, standing between Fei and Dara would surely create a rift between her and her love forever. “She’s just a child………. I can’t let him……. But he could bring about the greatest version of the universe.” She thought. Holding on tight, as Fei pushed himself toward his future.

“One child, for the entire universe.” She wagered. Suddenly, the image of an incapacitated Fei flashed across her brain. The feeling was familiar, as she knew what followed. A scream filled her audible senses to an unbearable degree. In her mind, she witnessed her child being stabbed.

Over and over her mind’s eye taunted her into fear. Fear of the choice she was conflicted to make. Her family or her honor. She could feel the pain from her hair being pulled and held steady to view the disheartening and soul crushing act. “My baby.” She whimpered in real time. Before long, Tumakako’s ship was in sight. Fei quickened his pace even more.

Its rear opened to expose Dara. Her eyes gaped. The ship alerted Dara to the approaching threat. She laid eyes on the beast. “Tuma? How could they reach me this fast?” Dara thought. She activated her armor and ignited her red form.

The ship continued to speed off away from her pursuers. Gathering her fire, she swiped her arms in the air sending scorching waves of fire at her attackers. Fei evaded the first before, the second caught one of his front paws, causing him to stumble.

His agility prevented him from falling over completely, merely losing a step or two in his stride. The flame seared his paws. It served as fuel to his rage and thus he regained his speed. Lale held on with great vigor.

At this speed she could die, if she was flung from Fei’s back or if he rolled onto her. Fei dodged and jumped the following attacks from Dara, as he was beginning to gain ground.

Fei nearly reach the rear of the ship. Making a desperate attempt, he lunged forward, clamping his enormous jaws into the opened exit. His body dangling in the air. Fei twisted and jerked his head. The violent force threw Dara into the ship walls.

“Fei Stop! This is insane!” Lale attempted to yell above the commotion. Fei would not yield. Lale caught a glimpse of Dara’s body being shot back and forth in the interior. The image of her son flashed in her head again. “Fei Please!” Lale begged. Dara prevented another knock against the ship.

Floating in the air, she approached her foe. Terror coursed through her body. Focusing, Dara channeled her fear. Assembling her red energy into her fist and smashing it on Fei’s nose.

Fei let out a squeal. As he relinquished his bite, Lale was flung in the air. Fei’s body skid into the ground, leaving a linear crater behind his vicious tumble. Dara flew out of the ship before it made its turbulent descent into the ground.

Flying after Lale, Dara grabbed her hands. She held Lale suspended in the air. “He won’t stop! Help me stop him!” Dara pleaded. The duo descended to the surface. “Do not hesitate or show mercy to those who would destroy our world. Promise me.” Dara reminded Lale.

“You said that to me, before you gave me this power. Right now, you’re the only one between him and our world being destroyed.” Dara continued.

Fei fought of the daze he suffered from his fall. Blood dripping from his nose. He feebly reached all fours. He saw the ship crashed on the ground. Looking around frantically before spotting Dara and Lale.

His rage fueled his power. Fei knew Dara had nowhere to run. He could easily catch her in this form. He let out a roar causing the ground to vibrate. Dara looked on in horror. “Please Lale. I’m afraid of the void. The afterlife.” Dara cried.

Fei got in position to make a final lunge. Lale looked at her fearsome lover. She could now see; he truly was willing to destroy anything in his quest for absolute power. Lale removed her armor and stood in front of Dara.

Fei grunted tilting his head. “My love. This is not the way. You believe power to be the route to true glory and peace.” Lale began. Tears streamed down her face. Fei refused to abandon his position to lunge. “I know the pain you feel. We failed our baby boy. But if you do this, you will reach a depth beyond redemption.” Lale said.

A visible tear trickled down from Fei’s eye. “Please my love. I’m begging you. You’re above the power you desire. We can leave this all behind.” Lale pleaded. Dara shivered in anticipation of what would happen next.

Fei gazed at his love and the destiny she protected. After a moment, he growled aggressively. Lale, understood plainly his decision. For the first time since discovering her love amongst the war of Pratham. She felt alone.

The ground rumbled beneath their feet. Fei turned to witness a large animal hurrying toward him. Gleaming purple armor riding atop the dinosaurs back. He returned his gaze to Dara and Lale. The tyrannosaurs shrieked, challenging Fei. His primal impulse taking the better of him, Fei much obliged and charged after the tyrannosaurs. Tumakako slid down its back before tucking and rolling onto the ground.

She scampered to her feet and ran for Lale and Dara. The two gigantic behemoths engaged in a brutal battle. Fei’s claws and teeth attempting to rip through the rough hide of the huge reptile.

He was substantially faster than his opponent but was only inflicting minimal damage. He was caught off guard by its tail as it whipped, slamming into his side. The force knocked him several meters. Its powerful tail expelling the air from his lungs.

The tyrannosaurs preceded to attack. It used its arms to attempt to hold Fei down. It opened its jaws to apply a deadly bite to Fei’s neck. It was unsuccessful due to Fei’s thick mane. He let out a roar in pain none the less from the force alone.

He fought ferociously to get back to his feet. The combatants, rolled around, trying to gain the upper hand. Fei finally broke free, scurrying to his feet. The two circled one another, growling and positioning.

Tumakako reached Lale and Dara. “We can stop him with your help.” Tumakako aimed at Lale. She wanted to draw her weapon and end Lale for good but decided her help to stop the beast was more necessary. “I can’t. I won’t kill him.” Lale said behind a wall of tears.

“This is not a matter of emotion.” Tumakako said, equally to herself. “He will kill all of us, if given the chance. Do not mistake his heart. He will not be converted from his purpose. Do not convert from yours. You know what I speak is the truth.” Tumakako urged.

Fei and the tyrannosaurs continued to claw and bite. Both bloodied and bruised. Finally, their attacks generating lasting injuries. The tyrannosaur tried to whip its tail again, but Fei anticipated the move.

He scaled the reptiles back, sinking his teeth on its head and gouging its eyes. It cried out in agony. Forcing Fei from atop its body. Fei rolled and quickly returned to his feet. The tyrannosaur screeched in its blindness.

Fei circled his prey, striking strategically. Making it unaware of where Fei would strike next. His worthy opponent finally fell to its side in defeat. Fei ripped into its throat ending the fierce competition.

His mouth dripping with blood, he roared in victory. Fei focused on the trio before him. Wounded and exhausted he reverted back to his feral form.

He jumped on the defeated beast’s side, letting out a roar that nearly rivaled his primal form. Blood poured from his wounds and mouth. The ecstasy of a hard-fought victory blocking what would be incapacitating pain. His hair damp from both his blood and his victims.

He beat his chest relishing in his own glory. Fei allowed himself to calm as he remembered his goal. “Stand aside my love and I will forgive you.” He said wiping his mouth and panting. “I will not ask again.” He warned. Tumakako pointed her scimitar at Fei.

“You fool! Vanakan sought the same power you do. In the end I defeated him all the same. Give up this pursuit of Divinity. Mortality is judgement for all. Don’t you see? The Iku is unnatural. We’re not meant….” Tumakako began. “Vanakan was incompetent. I assure you, nothing you possess will ever rival me.” Fei interrupted. “Unnatural is the way of a God!” Fei declared.

Dara stepped through her two protectors. “You’re not a God!” She shouted. Fei’s face now sinister. His rage was boiling at her boldness and courage to stand up to him. “You dare speak to me that way! I should have killed you in that mountain. Your existence is an extension of my mercy. Unfortunately, my mercy has departed forever. I will erase you from the universe!” He rumbled

“Fei, I’m sorry.” Lale interjected. “I should have trusted you when I took the mission to find the raw Iku on Pratham. I should have allowed you to decide your own future. The thought of losing you to the blending. Or if you survived, I didn’t trust anyone with such power.” Lale said.

Tumakako looked puzzled. She seized Lale’s shoulder. “Pratham? Pratham never acquired the raw formula Vanakan solved. I killed him before he could return or transmit the data back to Magnus.” Tumakako informed the group. “Unless, he deceived even me. He must have relayed his formula before I discovered his treachery.” Tumakako muttered in failure.

Lale returned the confused look. “I was tasked with a mission to retrieve the raw Iku from a team of scientists on Pratham, as my last mission. I was told they discovered a means to revert the Iku to its raw form.

I killed them all and deceived the council into thinking I destroyed the Iku and notes.” Lale shared. “You’re the reason they attacked us. Even without the last of Vanakan’s research, they figured out the process. You should never have taken that mission, you should have talked to me, we should have fled. It cost us our child. The two of you brought calamity on countless people with your secrets and failure.” Fei said, dropping down from the slain beast.

“You cost us our lives. Our freedom. Our son. For all these lies. They wanted a reason to destroy us. And you fell for their trap.” Fei said to his love. He was visibly trembling; the anger and disappointment was nearly too much for him to express. Lale wiped her eyes.

It was at last time to face the reality she abandoned for so long. “I tried to prevent something worse than Earth!” Lale lashed out. “You should have anticipated the lie. They wanted us dead. But we were too respected and visible in the public eye to destroy outright. Treason. They needed an act of treason.” He said calmly.

“Lalen. Do you see now?” Fei asked. “I’m sorry.” Lale uttered in deep depression. “With my new power, our son will be reborn. Everything will be undone. Recommit yourself to me. Together, we gain it all back.” He offered.

“I will rewrite the past. I will create life again. But I need you with me.” Fei said. Dara and Tumakako began to take notice of Lale’s anguish. The two could see her visibly struggling with the proposition she received.

“Lale, don’t give up on humanity. There is still an opportunity to alter their course. We can’t do it without you.” Tumakako said. Meanwhile she pressed her hand on Dara’s arm in a specific gesture as a signal. “All I want to do is hold my son again. Allow him to grow up free.” Lale began.

“I know he can appear radical to you. But, if you truly knew how much we did for that planet, those people, for the war. And we were rewarded with betrayal……. I hate them.” Lale responded, her voice stoic yet somehow revealing her internal fight being resolved. “It’s your fault.” Lale said turning to Tumakako.

Her eyes fixated. “If you could have been even remotely close to the warrior you were hailed to be and stopped Vanakan, I would have never had to feel like I had to take the mission. You failed first. You killed countless people in your expedition for the council and now I know certainly, it was you who cost me my world.” She said with conviction. “If you stand in our way. You represent the Pratham that must be removed.” Lale confirmed.

A smile crept across Fei’s face, as he and Lale’s link wasn’t just fully restored, it felt new, stronger. Lale and Tumakako’s link severed in the process. Dara seized the opportunity and stepped from behind her mentor unleashing a powerful blast of fiery red energy.

Lale’s armor activating just in time to protect her. Lale’s body blown a couple meters before her harsh landing. Dara drew her sword and shield alongside Tumakako, both activating their armor.

Fei launched himself in the air, his claws extended several inches. He slashed down Dara’s shield. Tumakako proceeded to attack him from behind. Like a banshee she wailed on the much larger Fei. She swung her scimitar at his neck for a decisive blow.

His armor activated to deflect the lethal attempt. Fei smashed the back of his free hand into Tumakako’s helmet, causing her to stumble back a few steps. The three engaged in a 2 on 1 contest.

Fei attacked both his opponents with great ferocity. Tumakako had never witnessed such aggression and precision before. Dara and her mentor fought close together, quickly abandoning the front and back strategy. They tried their best not to expose themselves. Tumakako saving Dara from several fatal blows during the bout. She was not sure how long she would be able to prevent Fei from reaching Dara.

Every attempt at her daughter’s life he made, came closer and closer. “Run!” Tumakako commanded through their link. With perfect transition, Dara broke away from the fray and flew after Lale. The two seasoned warriors continued their duel. Without the pressure to protect Dara, Tumakako could fight more efficiently.

She soon managed to incorporate small increments of offense toward her powerful foe. She perceived the exhaustion Fei suffered at the hands of the tyrannosaurs and the energy he exerted being in his gigantic primal form.

Lale, slowly managed to get to her feet. The blast rendered her groggy. Dara flew at an amazing speed, plowing her body, shoulder first into Lale. The force sent her a few more meters. Dara continued to fly around, lighting a circle of fire around Lale.

Fei was beginning to show signs of fatigue as his precise attacks became slightly erratic. Tumakako twisted, turned, twirling her scimitar, parrying Fei’s attacks while landing a couple of strikes on his armor.

Unfortunately, nothing strong enough to conclude their fight. Dropping below his arid fist she resurfaced inside his view, slicing upward. Tumakako fashioned a deep gash diagonally across his chest that pierced his armor. Dara circled her mentor from above.

She elevated her power into her orange form, pushing her efforts to her maximum peak. Dara landed from the sky directly in front of Fei. She released the strongest attack she could. An emblazon orb burned for a second before blasting Fei away. A hole the size of the orb exposing his bare chest. Unconscious, his body reverted to his normal form.

Lale erupted through the wall of flames. She saw Fei’s unconscious body. “I assure you; this will be the last time you see the sky.” Lale said, drawing her crescent sword and aiming it at Tumakako. “You may have been the best warrior on Pratham. But this is not Pratham.” Tumakako fired back.

Dara dropped to her knees gasping for air. Her flame dissipated completely, only her armor remained as she was visibly weakened from her attack. “Tuma.” Dara said, barely managing to breathe. Without hesitation, Lale ran in to attack. The greatest duel began. Lale attacked with motions as fluid as water. Tumakako, immediately retreated, attempting to parry and dodge.

Lale contorted her body in ways foreign to her opponent. She rotated in midair slicing a sliver through Tumakako’s armor on her thigh. “Do not worry. I respect you. I will end this faster than the act of blinking.” Lale taunted. Lale pursued Tumakako again.

Dara observed her mentor’s patience. Lale landed multiple slices and slaps, but nothing of true significance. Yet, Tumakako didn’t appear worried. Dara could not tell if Tumakako was on the verge of defeat or preparing for a grand move. Tumakako parried Lale’s attack and swung her scimitar with speed and accuracy, slicing her arm through the armor.

Lale jumped back several feet. This was the first time she had ever been touched in battle. The cut bled profusely. “You favor that side when you fight. It’s clearly your dominant hand.” Tumakako explained.

Lale held her wound. “I see how Dara has improved so much in such a short amount of time.” Lale said. Tumakako turned the tide of their battle and pressed the attack. Lale, found herself on the defensive. Tumakako pushing forward.

Even with her best arm injured, Lale’s prowess in battle was too difficult to overcome. Neither combatant could seize the upper hand. The duo circled, looking for a moment to strike, while recovering their wind. Off in the distance, Fei regained consciousness.

He naturally entered the fetal position to nurse his pain, holding his bare chest where his armor was scorched. Sluggishly, he crawled before finding the strength to reach his knees. “Tuma!” Dara yelled. Both Tumakako and Lale, saw Fei gathering his strength. Dara drew her sword and shield, using what little energy she had left to ignite her blade and shield in a red flame.

Fei let out a fierce roar, as he transformed back into his feral form. He waved his hand through the air to retrieve his enormous black pole halberd. His weapon was famed on Pratham for requiring three soldiers to carry, whilst he could wield it with just one hand effortlessly.

Lale preceded to attack Tumakako again. Dara took to the sky, keeping her focus on Fei. She preceded to confront him, ready to place her life on the line. Dara unleashed fire, which Fei either cut through or swatted away with his blade.

His first swing narrowly missed its target. Dara flew around him, evading his powerful attempts to sever her head from her body. She tried to remain at a safe distance from his strikes but against this opponent, she could not tell what a safe distance would be.

Finally, Fei twirled his halberd and slashed Dara in the belly. Her armor just strong enough to prevent a wound, still the force immediately dislodged her from the air, dropping her sword in the process. Holding her shield tight, she rolled several times to avoid dismemberment from Fei’s Halberd providing what looked like small explosions in the sand after contact.

Fearing for her daughter’s life, Tumakako tried her best to successfully disengage from Lale. Each attempt was foiled, as even a minor mistake could cost Tumakako her own life with such a skilled opponent. “Ugh!” Dara grunted as she struggled to evade death.

Dara managed to scurry to her feet and flew toward the two duelists. Fei pursued his target without hesitation. He lunged for another killing blow. He twisted in the air to gain momentum and force. “Tuma Down!” Dara called out. Tumakako, dropped to the ground immediately, just as Lale’s blade followed its trajectory upward.

The motion carved a laceration up Tumakako’s cheek through the exposed area of her helmet. With her arm in the air, Dara placed her shield on Lale’s chest, encircling her body and holding fast to her back side for protection.

The contact twirled Lale to face the incoming attack. Before Fei could react, his halberds blade shattered Dara’s shield, penetrated Lale’s armor, effectively impaling her in the chest. The blow sent Lale and Dara airborne.

The two bodies rolled for seconds before the friction of the ground halted their advance. Dara rolled over in pain. The force still was strong enough to leave her without air. Lale laid still on her back. Her armor dissolved exposing the truth of her wound. Fei leaped to her side.

The blade still lodged in her chest. Fei curled his love’s head in his lap. “Lalen! I didn’t. Lalen, I’m sorry.” He pleaded. Lale’s cheeks were drowned in her and Fei’s tears. “I love you…….” She whispered. Rubbing his face.

Lale’s face at peace for a moment before it distorted into fear. Her eyes gaping. “Dark……Fei, the dark.” She murmured her last words staring into his eyes. “Lalen, please don’t leave me again. Lalen! No! Lalen! I need you!” Fei cried.

Her eyes were void of existence. Fei held her head against his chest. The agony worse than any pain he ever endured. His tears rinsing her hair beneath his chin.

Fei gently removed his blade from his love’s chest. His own weapon dripping with her blood. Tumakako readied herself for what would come next. Fei softly laid Lale’s head on the ground. His eyes intense. He gazed at Dara. “Bring her back.” He commanded.

“I can’t.” Dara responded unsure about the request. “You have the power. Bring her back now.” He demanded again. Dara was too weak to respond, still trying to recuperate from his misplaced attack. Fei turned his focus to Tumakako. Trying to flesh out all of his options.

He didn’t know what to do next. He had lost her. They were together again. Whole again. And now, she laid, gone. On a planet where they should have been the strongest beings. She lay dead, by his own mistake. He refused to accept this reality.

“I need the raw Iku” He thought. “Take me to Vanakan’s lab.” He demanded. Tumakako shook her head. “I’ve destroyed everything. All his research, his trials and test subjects on this planet. I destroyed it all.” Tumakako answered.

Fei searched her body language. She was telling the truth. Then he thought for a moment. “This planet.” He muttered. He figured it out. There will definitely be duplicates of Vanakan’s work back on Pratham.

Tumakako, would surely know where his most secret lab would be. “Not here. Pratham. Take me to his laboratory on Pratham.” He demanded. Suddenly, Fei could feel her angst. She remembered.

Magnus wouldn’t know she is still alive; the council will be caught off guard by their arrival. He just needed the guide to where the raw Iku would be. Fei wasn’t interested in her coming willingly. He moved at a blinding speed, landing a punishing blow to her abdomen, rendering Tumakako unconscious. Dara rushed into her aid.

Fei stepped aside effortlessly, palming her head and forcing it to the ground, knocking her out. Both of their armors dissolved. Fei removed Tumakako’s bracelets. He wrapped his arm around Tumakako’s waist and lifted her in the air, her unconscious body dangling.

Fei looked down at Dara, he couldn’t care about any other matter than to resurrect his love. He lifted his foot to crush her but thought for a moment longer. If this mission failed, he would need a backup plan.

For now, he chose to allow her to live. With no ship, she would be stranded on Tetcht if he needed her. Fei made his way over to Lale’s body and gently scooped her in his free arm. With one jump he landed next to Tumakako’s crashed ship.

He entered the ship with the two women. Fei unceremoniously dropped Tumakako’s body, before placing Lale on a surface. He held Tumakako’s shards in his hand allowing him to control the ship. He piloted their ascent, before disappearing into the atmosphere.

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