Chapter 85 – The Process of Discovery

Chapter 85 – The Process of Discovery

“Once again, I really must thank you for coming down here to help out.”

“Oh, it’s no problem,” Twy replied, flashing a smile at Kievkenalis as they waited outside of one of the security locks in the underground research center. “Everything you’re researching here is related to me and my friends, after all. It’s the least I can do to help.”

“Glad to hear it!” Kievkenalis remarked as he returned Twy’s smile, only to then frown as he looked over at the locked doors. “Still… I really am sorry about the waiting. This is the Ayas we’re dealing with, after all, so this security is necessary, but…”

“No, I understand,” Twy responded, turning to look at the door herself. Despite having arrived in the research center mid-morning to aid Kievkenalis in his research, Twy had yet to actually lay eyes on the Mystryth Ayas. For the first couple hours after her arrival, Kievkenalis had enlisted her help in testing the parameters of her bow — the Mystryth bow — instead. Learning that the weapon she could summon was truly the very same as the one tied to the Mystryth Ayas had piqued Twy’s interest, so she didn’t mind the unexpected detour; Kievkenalis’s research was bound to answer many of the questions she had about her own abilities.

And indeed, they had. To Twy’s surprise, the Dean’s tests on her bow were incredibly thorough. From tests of the bow’s durability, to Twy’s ability to summon and dismiss it, to how it handled and how much it weighed — Kievkenalis made sure to test and document all of it. In the end, he had arrived at a single conclusion: Twy’s bow was identical to the “true” Mystryth bow in every conceivable way. It survived even the harshest of crushing and breaking attempts with nary a scratch; Twy could summon it in under a second, even while separated from it and in a different room; it handled flawlessly, allowing Twy to snipe a handful of targets with ease; and its weight was no greater than that of a normal recurve bow. Drawing the bowstring back generated the same glowing arrow of light as the “true” Mystryth bow, as well. And as a cherry on top, Twy learned that when a Chaotic holds an Ayas Weapon, they passively gain the skills to wield it with a basic level of competence — which explained exactly her sudden archery ability, despite rarely engaging in the act of archery before gaining the ability to summon a bow.

All in all, Twy thought that her morning had been incredibly productive. As the clocks struck and moved past noon, Kievkenalis was finally taking her to see the Mystryth Ayas for the last handful of tests. She hadn’t the slightest idea of what to expect, and she couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy at the thought of once again approaching such a powerful object — and yet, she found herself looking forward to it all the same.

“Alright, sir, ma’am. You’re clear to go.”

“Hmm?” Kievkenalis glanced over at the guard stationed at the kiosk just outside of the security lock. The guard wore the same white and green uniform as all of the soldiers that Twy had seen yesterday, so she figured that he was part of the SFC as well — though for a brief moment, Twy thought she saw annoyance cross Kievkenalis’s face as he looked at the guard.

…What’s up with that? she mused, Kievkenalis doesn’t seem like the type to be easily annoyed. Though, now that I think about it… he did say something kind of weird about the SFC yesterday, didn’t he? About how they were ‘up to something’ in Treséd? Sure sounds like he doesn’t like them, but why?…

As soon as the annoyance had appeared on Kievkenalis’s face, however, he had replaced it with a pleasant smile. He nodded toward the guard and turned back to Twy. “Well. Shall we?”

“After you.” She gestured forward after the locks had disengaged and the door slid open.

“Oh. How polite!” Kievkenalis remarked, quickly taking the lead as he strode through the open door and into the hallways beyond. Twy followed, at which point the door closed and locked behind them; with just two people present instead of the large group from yesterday, the loud thunk of the locks engaging was much more audible and imposing.

Now walking through the same hallways as yesterday, Twy briefly scanned her surroundings. After determining that she and Kievkenalis appeared to be alone, she opened her mouth to speak. “Um… if you don’t mind me asking…”

Kievkenalis passed her a curious glance. “Hmm? Yes?”

“Ah, well…” Twy trailed off uneasily, thinking for a moment about the best way to ask about the SFC. “I guess… I was just curious what it’s like to work with a PMC for security?”

“Eh? It’s pretty normal,” Kievkenalis replied with a shrug. “In Riverana, at least. Rebehka has some PMC with her over in Relédiaka, too, right? The Chaos Knights?”

“I… suppose…”

“The way the others talk about it, though, I guess it is weird to have a PMC taking care of everything. I’ve just never seen it done differently, really.” He sighed wistfully. “I do miss the RPF, though…”

“The RPF? Do you mean the… ‘Riverana Protection Force’ that Pallan mentioned yesterday?”

Kievkenalis nodded. “Yep. I used to work for the RPF, actually, back before the NSD existed. Fun times. But then they got mostly absorbed by the NSD, and, well… they’ve been going downhill ever since. And now, they even lost the government’s army contract to their old rival. It’s sad.”

“Wait, rival?” Twy questioned, her eyes wide in surprise. “Are you saying the SFC and the RPF were rivals?”

“Ah ha ha…” Kievkenalis chuckled uneasily, a sheepish look upon his face as he glanced to and fro. “…Well, I guess it isn’t really a secret. The Riverana Protection Force and the Stealth & Force Corps have been rival PMCs for generations, with the RPF focusing on more conventional military activities, and the SFC focusing on, well, stealth and espionage. The SFC used to really flirt with the line of Nimalian laws, which got especially hairy, since Nimalian space was kinda weird and complicated with laws until the creation of the Union fifteen years ago. So we — that is, the RPF — often had to go in and raid SFC outposts that were out of line.”

“That doesn’t sound good…”

“No, it wasn’t.” Kievkenalis sighed again as the two approached the door into the room that stored the Ayas. “I always thought the SFC was no good. But, when the interstellar arm of the RPF was absorbed into the NSD, the SFC soon became Riverana’s biggest and most influential PMC.”

“Wait… the RPF had an interstellar arm? What?”

“Yeah. We were actually one of the three main militaries of the Nimalian Territories, the other two being the Nimaliakian military, and the Tekdecénian military.”

“Uh…” Twy stared at Kievkenalis incredulously, almost forgetting to follow him through the double doors after he unlocked them. “…Doesn’t RPF stand for Riverana Protection Force? Why did they need to be interstellar to protect one country on one planet?!”

“Until the formation of the Union, most Nimalian planets were administered by one of Nimaliaka, Tekdecé, or Riverana,” the Dean explained. “So Riverana wasn’t ‘just’ one country on one planet. Though it’s kind of weird how that arrangement lasted for so long, now that I think about it…”

“What’s weird is this galaxy’s obsession with private militaries…”

“I suppose it is, huh. I hear that a lot of people don’t like the concept,” Kievkenalis remarked casually. “I think PMCs have a purpose, as long as they behave. And the SFC — well…” He glanced back at the double doors, as if checking for anyone who could overhear him, only to shake his head a moment later. “…I won’t repeat the rumors,” the Dean continued, “but I do know that the SFC has been trying to acquire land in Treséd for some time, now. I heard from Davídrius that they were recently in Compound Tresnon for that. I trust him and Selind to keep them in check, but I’d still suggest that you and your friends be careful around them.”

“Uh… sure… but why would they want land in Treséd? I thought the whole place was a wasteland…”

Kievkenalis shrugged. “Beats me, though even a wasteland can be useful for certain things. Anyways, that’s enough about the SFC.”

“Ah, right…” Twy stood back, watching as Kievkenalis approached the gleaming white triangle-cut gemstone on the pedestal in the center of the room. As he grabbed it and turned to face her, she asked, “so, what is it that you wanted to test, here…?”

“One thing I want to test is whether your Mystryth stays up to spec if I also summon the true Mystryth,” Kievkenalis declared while sliding the Mystryth Ayas into one of his pockets. “However… there’s one more aspect of the Ayas Weapons that I want to test. This one is something that Davídrius told me not to teach you guys yet, but I can’t just let this chance pass me up! You seem responsible and trustworthy, besides.”

Twy stared at Kievkenalis in confusion. “Uh… something that he didn’t want to teach us? Why…?”

“Well, the ability is really easy to abuse, and rather difficult to counter,” the Dean replied. “I’d bet that’s why. I think Davídrius just doesn’t trust you guys with it.”

“If this ability is as powerful as it sounds, then I don’t know if I disagree with him…” Twy muttered.

“Anyways.” Kievkenalis held out his left hand, into which he summoned the Mystryth bow. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a small steel ball, which he placed on the pedestal in the center of the room. “Now, as to the ability in question,” he began to explain as he backed away from the pedestal, “it’s called Subspatial Storage. Essentially, all of the Ayas Weapons have the ability to store objects in Subspace, and then retrieve those objects freely at a later time and place.”

“Really? How… how does that work?”

“Ah ha ha, well, unfortunately, the galaxy’s understanding of Subspace still isn’t all that great,” Kievkenalis replied sheepishly. “We only even learned that it exists twenty years ago. Nevertheless, Subspatial Storage is incredibly useful, since it basically gives you infinitely deep pockets. Plus, anything that’s held in Subspace is placed in a sort of stasis, such that when you bring it back out, it’s in exactly the same condition that it was when you put it in.”

“That sounds incredibly useful, and I can think of a couple ways to abuse a power like that, but I’m not sure how it’s ‘powerful’…”

“That comes from how easy it is to store something. Watch.” Now standing on the far side of the room from the pedestal, Kievkenalis raised his bow to take aim at the object he had placed on top of it. Carefully and steadily, he grasped the bowstring and pulled back, creating an arrow of silver light that remained perfectly nocked. After a second of aiming, he then released the bowstring, causing a streak of silver light to shoot forward from the bow and strike the object on the pedestal — which immediately dissolved in a cloud of blue mist.

“…Whoa…!” Twy stared at the now-empty pedestal, and then stepped up to swipe her hand through the air where the steel ball had been — only to meet no resistance. I remember seeing this before, she thought to herself, back when we first met with EA, on that tower in New York, he sliced through Austin and turned him into a cloud of blue mist… so that was Subspatial Storage, then…? Turning towards Kievkenalis, she questioned, “what just happened?”

“That’s what it looks like when you store something in Subspace,” the Dean explained. “The way you do it is simple: when you go to attack something with one of the Ayas Weapons, you simply think, ‘I want to store that thing in Subspace’. And then, when you hit the thing — instead of slicing through it, you store it in Subspace. Simple.”

“That almost sounds too simple…”

“Ah ha ha, some people do say that. It makes fights against someone using an Ayas Weapon pretty dangerous, too, since they only have to touch you once to store you in Subspace — and once you’re in, you can’t get out on your own. You don’t even consciously experience being in Subspace.”

“That does sound powerful. Is there a way to counter it?”

“Energy shielding will still block an Ayas Weapon, so it isn’t a complete ‘I win’ button — unless you’re using the Syn Scythe. If I recall correctly, I think that specific weapon can even bypass energy shielding when in Subspatial Storage mode. You also can’t Subspatially Store someone who’s in the Chaos State but aside from that, nothing can stop Subspatial Storage. Nothing that I know of, at least.”

“That’s… kinda crazy.” Twy then summoned her own Mystryth bow, and stared at it in contemplation. “And you’re saying… that we can all do that?”

“Well, that’s what I wanted to test,” Kievkenalis remarked. “Along with something else. Hold on one second.” He raised his bow again and fired another silver arrow over the pedestal, this time causing the object that he had just stored to reappear atop the pedestal, also in a cloud of blue mist. “There we go. Retrieving something from Subspace is just as simple as storing it; just swing or fire at empty air and think of the thing you want to retrieve. Now.” The Dean glanced at Twy and gestured at the pedestal. “Why don’t you try it?”

“Right…” Twy responded uneasily, and then took a deep breath. Calmly, she raised her bow, just as Kievkenalis had a moment earlier. She took just a moment to aim at the object atop the pedestal, her brow reflexively furrowed as she focused on the glowing silver arrow beside her and the task before her. So I just have to think that I want to Subspatially Store it, right…? That really does seem too simple, but, here we go…!

After another second, she released the arrow, causing it to streak through the air far faster than she could track with her eyes, creating a streak of light that hit — and then pierced through the object as it disappeared into a cloud of blue mist.

“Huh. So you really can Subspatially Store stuff,” Kievkenalis remarked, and then flashed a grin at Twy. “That means you basically have an infinite pocket on you at all times! Pretty useful, huh?”

“I suppose…” Twy responded. This feels WAY too powerful. I think I can totally understand why Davídrius didn’t want to teach this to any of us, yet…

“Now, keep in mind that Subspatial Storage works on people, too,” Kievkenalis commented, drawing Twy’s attention back to him. “Which makes it both useful, and dangerous. Remember that if you ever find yourself fighting against someone else with an Ayas Weapon.”


“Now, time for one last test…” The Dean raised his bow once more, taking aim at the now-empty pedestal and drawing his bowstring. A second later, he released, loosing an arrow through the space over the pedestal — at which point the object that Twy had stored reappeared in the wake of his arrow.

“Wait… what?” Twy stared at the object, dumbfounded. “But… I thought I stored it!”

“That you did,” Kievkenalis replied. “And I unstored it. This is interesting. Your Mystryth bow can exist at the same time as the true Mystryth bow, but it seems like they both have access to the exact same Subspatial Storage pocket… interesting. Interesting!”

“Is that true for all of the weapons, then…?”

“Each of the Ayas Weapons has their own pocket. So if you Subspatially Stored something with, say, Hastryth, then you wouldn’t be able to access that same thing with Mystryth. However, it looks like two of the same Ayas Weapon do connect to the same pocket. That’s good to know.”

“It also means that Subspatial Storage isn’t very secure, if multiple people can access it.”

“True, true, which is both a good and a bad thing. It opens up a lot of interesting potential use-cases, though. There’s a lot of research potential, here…”

Twy passed Kievkenalis a wary glance before returning her attention to the pedestal. “…I guess the Ayas and everything connected to them really are powerful, huh…” She then looked back to the Dean. “Which makes me wonder… if the First Tier Chaos State doesn’t seem to have many adverse effects, then why not just use it all the time? Like right now?”

“Well, a Chaos State Chaotic can still be beaten in a fight,” Kievkenalis replied. “The Chaos State would make me more powerful, sure, but it would still be easier for a hostile element to attack and beat me up when I’m out and about in the city, than it would be for them to penetrate all of the security that protects this lab.”

“I suppose that makes sense. What about right now, though? What’s stopping you?”

“Ah… right, I guess you guys haven’t learned about the Ayas’s mental influence…”


“You see, each of the Ayas have a sort of… ‘corrupting’ effect on the psyche of anyone who uses their power,” Kievkenalis declared. “The Dark Ayas — Hastryth, Sendous, Aldrace, and Tsern — tend to make you emotionally volatile, and particularly provoke feelings of impatience, frustration, anger, and battlelust. These feelings only get stronger the longer you use one of them. And the Light Ayas — Arcán, Matlés, Mystryth, and Tanivas — tend to have an excessively ‘rationalizing’ effect, where the user will slowly lose their emotions and act on a purely ‘rational’ basis. Some people find that idea appealing, but personally, I think we have emotions for a reason, so I try not to use Mystryth any more than I have to.”

“Uh… right. That’s… that all sounds rather dangerous. Is there… is there a chance that we’re being affected the same way, when we use our Ayas Weapons?”

“You mean, you Keys? I doubt it. The corrupting influence of the Ayas doesn’t depend on using their weapon — it only depends on having the Ayas on your person, or using it in a Chaos State. If you Keys were being affected by this influence, then we would have seen signs of it by now.”

“I hope you’re right…”

“Well, we are in unprecedented territory with all of this. Which is why you’re here today: to help find out these kinds of answers!” Kievkenalis declared, and then moved over to the lab doors. “Anyways, there’s still a handful of tests I want to run on your Mystryth while we have the Ayas. If you’ll follow me— oh?”

The Dean paused halfway through opening the doors, just in time to stop himself from accidentally running into someone else who was stepping in. Twy stepped over to see what the confusion was about, only to spot an SFC soldier standing just outside of the doors.

“…What are you doing here?” Kievkenalis questioned, while staring at the soldier. The soldier didn’t respond immediately, however, as she looked past the Dean toward the center of the room — and at the pedestal that was devoid of the Mystryth Ayas.

In that moment, Twy was overcome by an intense feeling of dread — dread that Kievkenalis seemed to mirror as his body obviously stiffened. Immediately, he opened his mouth to shout, but the soldier beat him to the punch.

Chaos State: First Tier!

“Shit—!” Kievkenalis scowled and ducked backwards as the Mystryth Ayas phased through his pocket, floating through the air toward the soldier and then disappearing into her chest. “Twy, get back!” the Dean shouted, prompting Twy to nearly stumble over herself in retreat — but as the two backed away from the door and the SFC soldier, the soldier didn’t follow. Instead… she broke out into laughter.

Ba ha ha ha ha ha!! She gripped at her chest, grinning like mad as she looked down at her hand — into which she summoned the Mystryth bow. Oh, man! I was told this would feel great… but this is somethin’ else!

“Who are you?” Kievkenalis barked, all while interposing himself between Twy and the soldier. “You have to know that the SFC won’t get away with this!”

Tch. I don’t give two shits about those fuckin’ outsiders, the woman responded, turning to glare haughtily at Kievkenalis. All I care about is winnin’ and makin’ a name for myself… and if I can kill or capture you, mister Chaos Conduit, then that’ll be quite the name, innit?


Save it for the dirt. Once you meet the Sentry there, feel free to blame him! But for now…! A dangerous grin crossed the woman’s face, her fists clenched in front of her. “Chaos…!”

Chaos—!” Kievkenalis immediately shouted, diving toward Twy as he did — but just as he reached her, one final word from the hostile soldier reached Twy’s ears, accompanied by the thunderous roar of a massive explosion.