Trinary Chaos: The Azalea Effect

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Cluster

“Welcome to Vibrant News, I’m Maxwell Stevenson and I am here to give you the daily dose of news. Last time, a tropical storm formed just off our Louisiana coast. Let’s hope it won’t hit Knife’s Edge! Today, we have storm chaser Caelan Grace heading inside the storm with his private jet,” Maxwell, the announcer announced. “Tracy, let’s see Caelan in action.”

The television screen promptly changed to live footage of the inside of a jet. It was a cockpit, and the camera was aimed to view the pilots and to see through the glass. Lighting appeared in crackling marvel as the torrents of rain boomed down on the jet.

“This is amazing, as it is with anytime flying in a storm!” Caelan commented, standing in front of the camera.

Without warning, the video fizzed to nothingness.

“Um, Caelan, we can’t see you there,” Maxwell reported, “can you try to fix your video? Our viewers would love to see you.”

“I’m trying there’s something wrong-” Caelan stopped and gasped, “what is that?”

“Caelan, how about describe what you’re seeing.”

“It-it looks like some sort of colorful glow coming from inside a cloud- WHOA, the rain just got a lot harder!”

“Caelan, do you know what the glow is? Is it a weather balloon?”

“I- - - we - - going - inside - investi- -gate - -”

“Caelan?”

The audio coming from Caelan was replaced with just static.

“Sir, should we go to a commercial?” the offscreen Tracy asked.

“Absolutely.”

A weird commercial played, an animation of bread talking, who said, “It’s everywhere. It’s dangerous. But we know you want it. That delicious starch. This is gluten. We are everywhere.”

“Tracy, check the tower pings,” Caelan ordered.

“On it-” Tracy answered, “-something isn’t right here.”

“What is? People are losing valuable moments of ‘StormChasers with Caelan Grace’.”

“His plane- it isn’t pinging back or showing up on any radar!”

“That can’t be- you’re saying that plane simply vanished?!”

“Maxwell!” someone called, a voice who was clearly confused. “Weather is going bonkers! Apparently a large hurricane is somehow forming right where Caelan was investigating!”

“That’s impossible! Something must be wrong!”

“All our equipment seems to be all correct. Even worse, according to our computers, it’ll be headed to our city Knife’s Edge and our town Knife’s Blade in two days!”

“Maxwell!” another called, “Our sister location is also reporting the exact same thing!”

“Then what the hell is going on?!”

Daniel Napoleon then paused the video.

“This is footage from the Knife’s Edge, Louisiana Vibrant News building,” he began, “we have found tachyon particles high in the sky. If our predictions are correct, this may be a prehistoric hurricane.”

“And now we know portals don’t just form on the ground,” Stacy concluded.

“That’s true, and one more thing,” Xavier began, “Sukie has informed us that while most portals are linked to two locations- the present and a specific point in the past, another type of portal connects multiple locations to the present. It’s possible this sky portal may not be just an ordinary portal but the second, which we are calling a Class C portal.”

“How do we know it’s a Class C?” a soldier inquired.

“Rumours about a pterosaur sighting have been going on in both cities, as well as small, flying lizards,” Dan answered, pointing a laser at the screen. “According to eyewitness reports, we can’t be sure if these animals co-existed.”

“Now, we have modified a plane Gatling gun-” Xavier began.

“Wait, the plane has guns?!” Leo shrieked, shocked. Leo loved talking about weapons, as he could be seen as a generic mercenary. “Why didn’t anyone tell me?!”

“Justin and Lillian’s in charge of that. Now, it will now release two drones carrying the Time Cube and deactivate it. Is everyone ready?”

The entire room nodded in approval.

“Good,” Dan congratulated, “we will be sending two teams. One team, led by Jack, Kitten, and Stacy will investigate the pterosaur sightings in Knife’s Edge, while Leo, Doctor Daena, and Maizie will investigate the Knife’s Blade ones.”

“Wait, me?” Maizie queried, perplexed, “I never go on missions.”

“You’ll need the experience.”

“Fine.”

“The rest of us not on the ground team will be either waiting at Wyvern Base or exploring the plane. Justin and Lily should be able to deal with this themselves,” Xavier explained. “Well then- four hours.”

Everyone was promptly dismissed. Some stayed to play on new arcade machines that had recently been installed, while others explored their new home. Most of the ones that hadn’t gotten a chance to join any team stayed back at the luxurious Wyvern Base. Meanwhile, Kitten and Daena kept boasting about the decapitated Terror Bird head. Some didn’t believe them, but Kitten showed them footage he had sneaked out from the elevator cameras.

Four hours later, the plane landed at Knife’s Airport. Jack, Kitten, and Stacy took one jeep to investigate Knife’s Edge. Leo, Maizie, and Daena took another wrangler to investigate the Knife’s Blade sightings.

“Ah, Knife’s Edge,” Kitten acknowledged, “it’s been a while since I’ve been here.”

“You’ve been here before?” Jack inquired. “What happened?”

“Well, it’s classified, but a portal incident did happen a few years back.”

“Really?” Stacy wondered, “What happened.”

“Well, it’s classified, but it involved a certain Portal Corporations-”

“Wait, I thought that company sold replicas of dinosaurs?! It was debunked that they didn’t create any time portals!”

“Ah, but they did. We covered it up by saying the water supply was drugged and everyone rampaged and hallucinated,” Kitten explained, “only a select few know dinosaurs are real. We’ve recently erased some people’s memories of that. There were quite a lot of dinosaurs, including Terror Birds. But my team only arrived after a mercenary team dealt with them.”

“Peculiar indeed,” Jack commented.

Thirty minutes later they arrived in Knife’s Edge. The soldiers were ordered to investigate, pairing in teams of three.

“Alright,” Stacy began, “according to this list, we should be asking a Cashier by the name of Eileen. She works at a jewelry store near here.”

Kitten started to say something but stopped.

“Well, let’s go!” Jack exclaimed.

The trio went inside the store and whipped out their fake FBI badges. The manager promptly produced a cashier named Eileen.

“The FBI investigating some weird sightings?” she queried in disbelief, “It can’t be that bad.”

“It might be some new device or a new species. I don’t give the orders,” Kitten explained. “I follow my orders.”

“So, what exactly did you see?” Jack asked.

“I was out walking home from the store,” Eileen began, “it was around eight P.M, and so I was pretty tired. Oh, I was also walking with Davis Eidi, one of the other cashiers. I haven’t heard back from him.”

“Do you think he’s missing?” Stacy questioned.

“Maybe? He does that,” she answered, then continued the story, “we were walking when we heard this noise in the sky. Then we looked up and saw these weird shadows glide downwards. They landed on the roof and we saw the small creatures fully. It was like one of the things in books- a ptero-something. The creature then flew away. I ran away, but Davis stayed back to investigate it. He thought they were some sort of new bird.”

“This is peculiar indeed,” Jack commented, “first the storm, now this...”

“Can you guess where the creature may have gone?” Stacy asked.

“Sure- Knifewood, the shared forest for Knife’s Edge and Knife’s Blade.”

“Alright, thanks for answering these questions,” Kitten concluded.

The trio departed, now being back on the main road. They entered the vehicle and Kitten began to drive.

“Knifewood it is,” Stacy stated.

Kitten complied and drove. Knifewood was a short distance away, and within minutes, they had arrived. The first bits of the storm were beginning to touch down, and it began to rain.

“Look, footprints,” Jack pointed out, several human prints embedded into the mud. “Shall we follow them?”

“Obviously, yes,” Stacy agreed.

Kitten handed out TSC pistols and they began to follow the footprints. As they walked, they decided to make small talk.

“Funny, we haven’t encountered any dinosaurs,” Jack commented.

“Terror Birds are technically dinosaurs,” Stacy informed.

“Yeah, but I think it’d be cool to encounter raptors or parasaurus or a big dinosaur sometime.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Kitten jokes.

“That’s true, but it would be really cool,” Stacy countered, “I would love to get an opportunity to study dinosaurs.”

“Stacy?! Guys?!” came Leo’s voice, “What are you guys doing here?!”

“Leo?” Kitten queried, “What?!”

From the shadows, Leo, Maizie, and Daena emerged.

“There’s a dead body over there,” young Maizie notified, noticeably shocked.

Everyone headed to the dead body and surrounded it. After some digging, they found an ID, which contained the name. This was cashier Eileen’s friend, Davis.

The body was as if a million birds and descended upon it. Its eyes had been plucked out, the skin was ripped apart, bone was visible, blood, and gore all around the small clearing. No animals sang the song of nature. It was an almost perfect silence. Without the ID, the body would’ve been unrecognizable.

But, let’s jump back fifteen minutes to Leo, Daena, and Maizie. They were walking in some light rain.

“Let’s investigate this sighting- Jeff Cesa, he’s at the local emergency building, saying something strange attacked him in the woods,” Daena suggested.

“Attacked?!” Maizie shrieked, “I don’t want to be attacked!”

“I’ll protect you,” Leo assured, “that’s my job.”

A moment later they were interviewing Jeff Cesa. He had strange bites all over his body. His shirt and pants were shredded.

“Dude, what happened to you?” Leo interrogated, flicking up his fake FBI badge.

“I was just fishing in the woods,” he began, “I was fishing in the river and had caught about eight or so fish. Out of nowhere, I saw this weird bat thing- only it wasn’t a bat. It looked like a lizard with wings! It was small, it was maybe the size of a shoe.”

“Interesting,” commented Maizie, “I wonder what it is...”

“Continue,” Daena commanded.

“I paid no attention to it, but the thing started eating one of the fish I’d caught! It chirped and a few more came,” continued the man, “I decided to save the rest of my fish and left. Suddenly there were so many of them! They came from the trees and started to swarm at the fish! I dropped the bucket and ran, but some of them kept following me and attacking me! Then I managed to get here!”

“How peculiar...” trailed Leo, “where was this?”

“Knifewood.”

Now we are back in Knifewood, where all six of them had shared stories. The rain was getting heavier, and the sun was no longer visible. It became dark fast as if it was nighttime.

“What do we do about this body?” Maizie inquired, visibly anxious. “We can’t just leave it here.”

“We’ll bring it back to the plane,” Jack decided.

“But the plane took off to shut down the portal!” Stacy reminded.

“Then we’ll bring it to the Knife’s Blade emergency room,” Daena suggested.

Jack nodded in approval. After some lifting, the teams managed to transport the body into the trunk of Leo’s jeep. Then, the two vehicles began to race to Knife’s Blade. As they did, lightning cracked like unholy magic while the thunder roared. The rain was growing ever worse, and bits of ice were also raining down.

“WHAT THE ABSOLUTE HELL?!” a nurse shouted as Leo and Daena brought the dead body into the building. “WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?!”

“Like we said, the FBI,” Daena smugly replied.

“Now we have an area where to put this body,” Stacy ordered.

“W-we- our medical examiner’s office, the mortuary is combined with this building. Take a right, then the second left for the office.”

“Thank you.”

The storm grew ever stronger, growing larger every second. Ice rained down, destroying pipes and windows. Luckily, the medical building had very tough windows, but cracks were starting to spiderweb. The streets began to flood, catching almost everyone off-guard.

Up in the air, Justin and Lily flew through the exponentially increasing storm. Ice bounced off the plane, mostly harmless. A few cabin windows had broken and Xavier had to activate the airtight doors.

A klaxon activated.

“What’s going on now?!” Justin shrieked.

“Watch out!” Lily shouted.

A giant chunk of ice was heading towards the plane. It would be powerful enough to pierce the cockpit glass.

“Activate the Gatling guns and increase sensitivity to full!” Xavier ordered through the radio.

“Yes sir!” Lily replied.

From the plane’s wings, four Gatling guns emerged and began to fire at the ice, protecting the aircraft.

“Justin, how are we doing? Found the portal?!” Xavier asked, “Cause this storm can get a lot worse!”

“Yes, sir! We are approaching the portal in a minute!”

A blast of lightning hit the cockpit windows, stunning the two pilots. But it did no effect because planes are immune to lightning. Lily attempted to launch a scanning drone, but the ice destroyed the machine before it could even begin a scan.

“There!” Justin pointed out. “The portal!”

“Activating the Time Cube soon!” Xavier told.

“No!” Lily responded, yelling for attention. “The ice will only destroy it!”

“What if we go through the portal and activate it from there?! Doesn’t it take thirty seconds?!” Justin theorized, “Right?! If it’s indeed a Class C, we might appear in a safe location!”

“I agree, into the portal!” Lily decided.

“This is gonna bite me back somehow...” Xavier moaned.

The plane flew into the large portal. Clouds circled it, illuminated by all sorts of colors and-

-the other side. They were flying in a cloudless sky.

“Now!” Lily advised.

From Xavier’s location, he activated the machine that fired the Time Cube. Two drones carried it, and it began its work. Thirty seconds had begun.

“And back!” Justin asserted.

The plane entered but did not appear in the present. They were above a coast, a rocky beach with many pterosaurs jumping around.

“What happened?!” Justin whimpered.

“Class C!” Lily realized, “More than one location! Go back in!”

The plane turned and entered. Everyone desperately checked and luckily, they were back at the present. Behind them, the portal closed and due to the large size, sent great shockwaves, knocking the plane away.

Without additional clouds and energy, the strange hurricane began to falter, now splitting up into either small tropical storms or just storm clouds. Instead of the airport, the plane landed near Knife’s Blade, preparing to pick up the others.

While the portal may have closed, the day was certainly not over.

“I’m Maxwell Stevenson, and if you’re listening, this is a recording!” the reporter reported, “Our lines are all down because of the storm. The storm that just mysteriously disappeared! Something is going wrong here in Knife’s Edge! The s-sky!!”

The camera pointed to the window.

“A-as you can see, a swarm of things is flying over us and landing a-all over our town! Strange beasts are here! Stay indoo- aaaagh!”

A small winged lizard crashed through the window, followed by more. Maxwell ran away, running to his safe room. The winged demons knocked over the camera, destroying the footage as well.

Sadly, his assistant Tracy wasn’t so lucky. The swarm descended upon her, biting and scratching in insane hunger.

The monsters flew up, fulfilled. In Tracy’s place, was an unrecognizable corpse.

“What the hell is going on?” Maizie muttered, “What is that thing?!”

“Lemme scan it,” Stacy shot back.

Our heroes were in the mortuary room, when a single pterosaur burst through the only window. Stacy had put it inside a cage. After that, Leo barricaded the windows.

Rhamphorhynchus,” a monotonic voice sounded.

Suddenly, Kitten’s phone rang.

“Hello? Xavier? Dan?”

“It’s Dan. Kitten, tell everyone to stay indoors!”

“What?! Why?!”

“There are these small animals flying everywhere. A swarm of them! They find a target, attack, and eat them!”

“I think we just- - Dan? Hello?”

They were all alone. Kitten reported the conversation to the others.

“Now what?!” Maizie shrieked, afraid. “We’ve got to get back to the plane or something!”

“That’s just it- We can’t!” Jack voiced.

“We also need to stop these Rhampy somethings!” Daena reminded.

“What if we all lead them away?” Stacy offered. “Then we either poison them or blow them up!”

“That might work, but we’d need bait,” Leo supported.

“I could get to the plane and synthesize a pheromone that could lead them away! Leo, you could rig this area to explode!”

“But what about us?” Maizie asked, panicking.

“If I’m correct, these creatures will be after the pheromones, giving you time to escape!”

“But you’d need to get to the plane,” Daena reminded.

“Oh, true...”

“Wait,” Jack started, thinking, “not if we use the sewers. I saw a sewer hole nearby on the way in.”

“Then it’s a plan,” Stacy began, a slight smile on her face. “Leo will remain here to rig the place to explode while I and everyone return to the plane to synthesize a pheromone!”

Everyone had to agree. Leo rigged up a makeshift flamethrower and handed it to Stacy, who passed the cage to Jack.

The five, led by Stacy, went out of the medical building, where the pterosaurs immediately noticed them.

“There!” Jack pointed out. “Run!”

They ran, and as the pterosaurs attacked, Stacy burned them. Kitten and Daena lifted the trapdoor and jumped in. Next to jump was Maizie, then Stacy, last, Jack, who closed the circular entrance.

“We did it! We freaking did it!” Maizie crowed.

“Not yet- we still have to get to the plane!” Kitten reminded, reminding the others of what their fate would be if they failed. “Luckily, I’ve memorized the pathway to the hole nearest the plane!”

“Then what are we waiting for?!” Stacy countered. “Go! Lead the way!”

Five long minutes later they were climbing out the sewers, quite close to the plane. They ran as the small pterosaurs noticed them. However, Lily noticed them as well and activated the ramp.

And so our heroes lived, now safely inside the plane. A moment passed as Stacy worked. Another. And at last, Stacy held up a small vial of liquid pheromone.

“I need this to be able to shoot as a mist, from the back of a car,” Stacy declared.

“I’ll get right on that,” Dan replied.

“Stacy, you’ve done enough,” Daena began, “I’ll lead them back into the building.”

For that, Stacy agreed.

A moment later, everything was ready. Daena drove down the ramp, the pheromones spraying occasionally. The pterosaurs followed, and Daena drove faster. Going into town, the car was slammed into by attracted pterosaurs. Soon, she saw the medical building and prepared to crash into it.

It was closer.

And closer.

And- CRASH!

The small car drove into the building. Leo arrived, and Daena beckoned to him. Together, the two went into the sewers.

During the crash, the liquid vial had shattered, and the pheromones were attracting more of the small pterosaurs. From all around the small town, the Rhamphorhynchus were gathering to check out the building, attracted to the pheromone.

The crashed car began to burn, no doubt about to explode. Slowly, the fires neared the oil tank and-

BOOM!

With that, the car exploded. The animals were shocked, and-

BOOM!

The building exploded, incinerating the swarm of crazed pterosaurs. Skin melted, bodies exploded, and flesh burned. Smoke choked any remaining pterosaurs that had survived the heat. A lucky few escaped, never to be seen again.

And just like that, the swarm was dead, the day, over.

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