Chapter 86 – State of Chaos

Chapter 86 – State of Chaos

“Ah, now that was a productive shopping trip!”

“Mm…” Kestrel grunted in acknowledgment as she trailed after Phoenix, the both of them carrying a couple bags of clothing.

“I can’t wait to properly try everything on,” Phoenix remarked, a satisfied grin on her face while she walked the glistening white walkways of the Fall’s Edge. Many other shoppers and pedestrians were out and about, taking advantage of the midday weekend to relax and run errands — though the walkway remained large enough to not feel crowded, even with all of the activity. “And I’d really like to see how those new outfits look on you,” Phoenix continued, passing Kestrel a glance. “You only tried things on one at a time, after all.”

Kestrel simply returned Phoenix’s glance before releasing a sigh. “…Lunch?” she suggested.

“It certainly is that time,” Phoenix commented, turning to look out over the falls. The early-afternoon sun was slowly continuing its westward march, now positioned to clearly illuminate all of the Anika Falls, the massive river into which they fed below, and the orange and crimson forest that filled the land out to the horizon. “We passed a few restaurants this morning that looked like they have some good views of the valley. Let’s go see if we can grab a seat! …Huh?”

As Phoenix finished her thought, it suddenly occurred to her that her surroundings had grown silent, and the riverway breeze that was a constant on the Fall’s Edge no longer brushed across her skin. Confused, she turned to look at Kestrel — only to freeze, her eyes wide with surprise, as she realized that everyone and everything around her had frozen in place.

“…What the…?” she muttered, her expression slowly collapsing into a frown as a nasty feeling formed in her gut. “Why is—?”

Just as soon as everything had stopped, however, everything began moving once again, the silence dispelled by the muffled roaring of the falls below and the surrounding crowds. Kestrel herself remained standing by the edge of the walkway, still looking out over the valley, as she and Phoenix had been doing a moment prior.

“Uh… Kestrel…?” Phoenix began; when Kestrel glanced back at her, she momentarily relaxed — only for her surroundings to freeze once again. “Okay, what the hell…?!” she muttered to herself, “…it’s like time is stopping…? Wait—! Could it be…?!”

A second later, time resumed its normal flow once more; as soon as it did, Phoenix grabbed Kestrel’s hand and looked her straight in the eyes.

“…?” Kestrel responded with a questioning look.

“Something bad is about to happen — or, is happening,” Phoenix hissed. “Can you feel it?”

“…Hmm…?” Kestrel slowly began to swivel her head to and fro, as if searching for something; while she did, Phoenix noticed time stopping and starting again a handful of times in quick succession. Eventually, Kestrel turned her attention back to Phoenix and opened her mouth, as if to say something — only to be interrupted.


“What?!” Phoenix and Kestrel both immediately moved over to the edge of the walkway, as did many of the pedestrians around them, with everyone directing their attention to the north side of the falls — where an explosion had just blasted a hole through part of the cliff face, sending rock debris and water spraying through the air over the valley.

“…The lab,” Kestrel muttered, her body growing tense.

“Wasn’t Twy down there, with Kievkenalis? Studying the Ayas, or something?” Phoenix questioned. “…What the hell is going on…?!”

A Minute Earlier





An explosion of red energy rapidly filled Twy’s field of view, only to be blocked a split-second later as Kievkenalis grabbed her and created a spinning shield of bluish energy around them. In the moment that the shield appeared, the red blast wave rocketed past them, throwing the duo against the far wall.

“Ungh—!” Twy grunted in pain as she fell to the ground, her head pounding — but her body intact. When she looked up to inspect the room, however, she froze with shock at what she found: a massive, spherical hole filled the space where the room and surrounding hallways had been, stretching nearly a hundred meters across… and standing at the bottom of it was the woman who had just caused the damage, and was now staring up at Twy and Kievkenalis.

The Dean, however, wasn’t stunned into silence like Twy — and immediately acted to grab her by her shoulder and mutter, “Chaos Other Armor.” A veil of bluish energy formed around Twy’s body, creating a solid translucent set of armor similar to plate mail; before Twy could thank him or test the armor’s durability, however, Kievkenalis followed by shouting, “Chaos Time!

“Wha—?!” Twy remarked, startled, as Kievkenalis suddenly disappeared from where he was standing — and the enemy Chaostechnic also disappeared from the bottom of the massive spherical hole. In their place, several more spherical pockmarks spontaneously appeared in the crater, walls, and ceiling, with Kievkenalis suddenly appearing mid-air, and the other Chaostechnic slamming into the far wall. Quickly, Twy climbed back up to her feet and began searching for the exit, or the closest thing to an exit in the mess that the underground research center had become — but as Kievkenalis declared “Chaos Time” once more, the entire facility’s appearance seemed to change shape in an instant, with even greater damage and debris strewn across the battlefield.

That ability— this must be what Pallan meant when he said that Kievkenalis can stop time. That would explain where all this damage is coming from, if he and that other Chaotic are fighting while time is stopped. But—! Twy cut her thoughts short as an intense rumbling nearly knocked her off her feet, and streams of dirt and debris began falling out of the ceiling. Before she had any time to think about the underground facility’s imminent collapse, however, Kievkenalis suddenly appeared next to her, grabbed her shoulder, and shouted, “Chaos Teleport!

The next instant, Twy found herself standing within the campus security checkpoint on the surface of the Fall’s Edge, just outside of the elevator leading down to the Curtain labs. Kievkenalis stood beside her, already turning toward the two startled guards as he barked, “there’s an intruder! Someone wearing an SFC uniform has stolen the Ayas! Twy, get out of here; I’ll go deal with the Chaostechnic. Chaos Teleport!

“Wait—!” Twy started, but the Dean disappeared in a flash of bluish energy before she could get out another word. In the momentary lull that filled the air after he left, Twy realized that her heart was beating at an incredible pace while her whole body had grown tense; reflexively, she clutched at her chest and took deep breaths to calm herself down, all while staring at the blue armor that adorned her body, as though she couldn’t believe any of the past minute had just happened.

“What’s going on, here?”

Twy shifted her attention to the two guards. They were also wearing the white and green colors of the SFC, which put her on guard for a moment — though an intense rumbling in the ground beneath her feet quickly spurred her to action. “Um, the intruder used the Chaos State!” she quickly explained, “I think they’re a Chaostechnic, and they’re blowing everything up!”

“They used the Chaos State?!” the guard exclaimed incredulously, though he immediately beckoned toward his colleague. “Contact Command! Declare an emergency—!”

Marble, glass, and metal suddenly erupted underfoot, accompanied by a red shockwave that obliterated the entire building and flung Twy through the air. Stunned by the explosion, she was barely able to come back to her senses a second later, and only due to the air she felt rushing past her skin and through her hair. The armor Kievkenalis created for her had absorbed the force of the explosion and prevented any damage to Twy’s body, though it had now dissipated, leaving Twy completely on her own — a fact that hit her at the same moment as the realization that she was now falling through the air over the valley beyond the Anika Falls.

“Ah, damn it…!” she muttered, her brow furrowing in concentration as she quickly moved to save herself. A sea of orange and crimson laid out below her, but in the midst of it all was the flowing blue of a massive river. It approached quickly, but not too fast for Twy to react as she reached out to manipulate the water below her, raising a massive swell to engulf her in the air and slowly break her fall. Once under the river’s surface, she moved the water around her to bypass the river’s current and deposit herself on the riverbank, where she finally collapsed to her knees and took several deep breaths in an attempt to compose herself. Warily, she looked out over the river; she hadn’t seen either of the two guards fall with her, and as she thought back to her brief encounter with them, she couldn’t even recall if she saw them wearing Powered Armor. As it was, she was certain that the only reason she survived the building explosion was due to the armor Kievkenalis had granted her, but if the guards didn’t have any protection…

No, no! Now’s not the time to be thinking about that! She shook her head to clear her thoughts and turned her attention skyward. From her position at the bottom of the valley, looking up at the grand Anika Falls, Twy almost felt herself get lost in the grand beauty — if not for the fact that a massive hole now existed in the cliff face under the northernmost waterfall. What about Kievkenalis? Is he fine? Or even the city! If this keeps up, what could—?

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of repeated explosions in the air overhead. One of them even disrupted the water in the waterfalls, sending an incredible blast of water everywhere — though Twy was standing nearly a hundred meters downstream, well out of the splash zone. Nonetheless, she felt her whole body grow tense as she pre-emptively surrounded herself — face excluded — with a protective layer of water.

And just as she did, none other than the intruding Chaostechnic slammed into the ground by the riverbank, barely a dozen meters away from Twy’s current position.

Oof… the woman muttered, having caught herself in a three-point landing. She then jumped back to her feet, staring down at her hands as she opened and closed them rapidly. …Huh. That didn’t hurt at all. This Chaos State thing fuckin’ rules!

Twy froze where she stood, completely at a loss for a response. A second later, her brain began again to function, and came to the immediate conclusion that she needed to flee. A Chaos State Chaostechnic who could match Kievkenalis in a fight, however briefly, was certainly more than Twy could handle… but before she could begin even attempting to run, the Chaotic noticed her presence.

You… The Chaostechnic squinted at Twy, and then scowled. …You’re one of them Earthians, ain’t ya?!

“Uh, n-n-no…?!” Twy responded frantically.

’No’? What the hell’s that mean? That some stupid Earth word? The Chaotic shook her head and slammed her fists together. Well, if you’re speakin’ gibberish, then that’s proof you’re an outsider, ain’t it? She then threw her right hand out — into which the Mystryth bow soon appeared. Conduit boy had less fight than I expected, but let’s see what you got!

What? Did she beat Kievkenalis?! But how—?! Damn—! Eyes wide with surprise and fear, Twy threw herself to the side just in time to evade an arrow shot from the intruder’s bow. Two more arrows followed, with Twy barely managing to dodge around them and then dive behind a nearby tree to take cover, where she paused for just a moment to catch her breath. Damn it, damn it! What do I do here? I can’t face her alone!

So you’re gonna be like that, huh? came the Chaostechnic’s voice, filled with an undercurrent of impatience. Well, fine then. Chaos…!”

Immediately, Twy manipulated the water still surrounding her body to launch herself through the air, cresting the tops of the trees in the forest. Her vision dimmed for a moment, the sudden acceleration putting an incredible strain on her body —


— but it was just enough to escape the dome of red energy that exploded outward from the Chaostechnic, obliterating a piece of the forest and riverbank, and leaving behind a crater fifty meters in radius. Twy spent little time watching the depression begin filling with water, instead using the water membrane around her body to fly back under the tree tops as two silver streaks of light shot past her. She’s still using Mystryth? But why? That Blast attack seems way more potent! Twy mused, all while weaving through the crimson leaves in an attempt to throw off the Chaostechnic’s trail — only to be slammed into the ground as the air above her spontaneously exploded.

“Ungh—!” she grunted in pain, but ignored the cuts and bruises that had formed on her knees and forearms as she forced herself back to her feet and dashed toward the river. That Chaostechnic must be an Explosive type, and if I recall correctly, shock waves can be broken up by medium changes. If I can get close to that river, I’ll have plenty of water to make shields with—!

THERE you are!! CHAOS—!

Immediately, Twy mentally reached out to the river waters — which were now only a few meters away from her — and haphazardly yanked a massive curtain of water onto the land between her and the Chaostechnic, successfully shielding herself as the intruder declared “EXPLOSION!”, prompting the very air nearby to explode. The shock wave still pierced the veil of water, but it was enough to dampen the blow that hit Twy and knocked her onto her back — though she managed to cushion the blow even further by breaking her fall with more water. A silver light blasted the ground just next to her, however; she quickly rolled to the side and stumbled to her feet, summoning Mystryth in the same motion and taking aim at the Chaostechnic all while trying to dodge incoming light arrows.

Damn…! I can’t get a shot…! Twy scowled as she attempted to hone in on her opponent, but between the Chaostechnic’s movements and Twy’s own running, she simply couldn’t aim well enough to hit. Agh, well it’s not like there’s any point! Kievkenalis said that Subspatial Storage won’t work on a Chaos State Chaotic! In frustration, she dismissed her bow and then threw herself to the ground just in time to dodge a streak of light. She then rose to her feet and began pounding the ground toward the river, drawing out a curtain of water as she did to deflect a couple more incoming arrows.

“Chaos Explosion!!”

Just before she could reach the river waters, the air in front of her exploded, launching her back into the forest where she tumbled painfully along the ground and slammed into the base of a tree. She struggled to her feet, her face scrounged up in pain, only for her leg to give way; she only didn’t fall due to drawing in some nearby water to support herself with, but with a sharp pain in her leg threatening to overtake her, supporting herself was about all she could concentrate on.

Damn, you’re a squirrelly one.

Twy slowly turned her attention to the side, where the Chaostechnic approached openly, Mystryth in hand. Reflexively, Twy made to retreat, only to stumble and fall on her bottom. Damn it, Twy, there has to be some way out of this! Just, make a water bubble to carry myself, or something, but… argh, everything hurts too much…!

Hmph. The woman snorted, stopping a few meters away from Twy to glare down at her. I’d heard y’all were just newbies, but you were a lot more squirrelly than I’d expect from a newbie Hydrotechnic. Still ain’t enough, though. She raised her bow, aiming directly at Twy as she pulled the bowstring back to create a silver arrow of light. Might still be useful, though. Guess I’ll bring ya home—!

The Chaostechnic then loosed her arrow, but not before some invisible force blasted into her from below and knocked her aim far off course. As a silver light streaked through the branches, causing many leaves to disappear in a blue mist, the air all around whipped up into a frenzy — a frenzy that coalesced into a single blast of air as Kestrel landed in front of Twy and launched the Chaostechnic into the river waters beyond.

“Kestrel…!” Twy muttered in relief, and then glanced to the side as Phoenix ran up to her. “…And Phoenix…! How—?”

“Holy shit, girl, what happened to you?!” Phoenix exclaimed, kneeling next to Twy to look her over. In that moment, Twy realized that a translucent purple aura in the shape of armor was covering Phoenix and Kestrel’s bodies, not unlike the armor that Kievkenalis had created earlier.

“…Well, long story short,” Twy began, struggling back to her feet as she did, “…some Chaostechnic attacked the lab, and used the Ayas to enter the Chaos State.”

“That explains a lot, but still! Damn!” Phoenix moved to try and support Twy, but the latter waved her off, instead encasing her legs in a bubble of water and using it to levitate slightly off the ground without putting weight on her legs. “…You’re still in it, huh?” Phoenix said in response, “but you should really get out of here. Look at yourself!”

Following Phoenix’s suggestion, Twy looked down to inspect her body, only to grimace at what she saw: blood covered both of her arms, and she could see a few wounds on her legs — as well as a sharp, throbbing pain halfway down her right leg. In the momentary lull, she could tell that her ears were ringing, too. “…You’re probably right,” she replied, “but I can’t just leave you and Kestrel—!”

A red flash of light from the middle of the river drew the three women’s attention. Following the flash was the enemy Chaostechnic, tumbling to the ground on the riverbank after having launched herself through the air with her own explosions.

“I’ll fight,” Kestrel declared, immediately lunging forward, the leaves and dirt around her whipping up into a fierce whirlwind as she blew back the Chaostechnic.

“That’s the one?” Phoenix questioned, her brow furrowing as she watched Kestrel engage the Chaostechnic, who had summoned the Mystryth bow again to attack with. “…What do we do?”

“They’re an Explosive-type Chaostechnic…” Twy muttered. “I didn’t read up everything on Chaostechnics, but—“

“So they’ve been using Blast and Explosion? Damn. That explains a lot, but damn…” Phoenix scowled. “Blast has a 50 meter radius, centered on the user, so we can’t get close — but Explosion lets her basically detonate the air at will, dozens of meters away from her. Which means running will be hard…”

“I see you’ve read up on this.”

“I’m a Chaostechnic too, after all. I figured I should know all of the abilities.” Phoenix then turned to look Twy in the eye. “Where’s Kievkenalis?”

Twy met Phoenix’s gaze uneasily. “I… don’t know.”


Another blast of red energy interrupted Phoenix and Twy’s exchange, followed by Kestrel slamming into the ground at Phoenix’s feet, the purple armor protecting her dissipating into thin air. Kestrel herself seemed fine as she jumped back to her feet — but another red blast eviscerated the forest in front of the three, revealing the enemy Chaostechnic charging forward.

“Shit!” Phoenix swore aloud, and then grabbed both Kestrel and Twy by their shoulders and shouted, “Chaos Other Armor!” Translucent purple armor again formed on Kestrel and Twy’s bodies as the trio began retreating into the forest, ducking around bushes and tree trunks to evade a barrage of light arrows — arrows that pierced several of the tree trunks and left behind nothing but dissipating blue mist, filling the air with sounds not unlike sifting sands or a fizzing drink. Amidst the slowly dissolving forest, the enemy Chaostechnic charged blindly forward, throwing her bow to the side as she shouted aloud, “Chaos…—ungh!

A sudden blast of wind knocked the woman against a tree just behind her, interrupting her attack. Phoenix immediately jumped on the opening, calling out “Chaos Impact! Chaos Cannon!” to hit their assailant with a wall of blunt force that winded her, followed by a Mach-speed projectile that knocked her legs out from under her. Kestrel followed by violently whipping up the air around the Chaostechnic and attempting to form a vacuum around her head, so as to prevent her from calling out more attacks — but the Chaotic responded by resummoning Mystryth and releasing a barrage of arrows into the trees, forcing Kestrel and Phoenix to evade. Twy, meanwhile, circled around back toward the river, hoping to use the vast swath of water to her advantage, but she was forced to hold off as she heard the enemy Chaostechnic shout through the forest, “Chaos BLAST!!”

Red energy again exploded outward from the Chaotic, obliterating the nearby forest and sending dirt, bark, and leaves flying everywhere. Phoenix and Kestrel were flung through the air, their armors breaking under the force of the explosion while Kestrel just barely managed to catch them with cushions of air before crashing down to the ground. As the one person who had retreated far enough to not be hit, Twy’s armor remained intact, and she was able to quickly respond by launching several high-speed water projectiles down into the newly created crater, at the Chaos State Chaotic who stood at its bottom — projectiles that successfully knocked the Chaostechnic backwards. Brow scrounged up in fury, the Chaotic glared up at Twy, and held her hand out toward her, shouting, “Chaos Explosion! Chaos Explosion!!”

“Ack—!” Twy immediately manipulated the water bubble surrounding her legs to engulf her entire body, just in time for two loud cracks to emanate from nearby, accompanied by two painful shockwaves that knocked her to the ground. Her head throbbed, pounding with pain, but she was still able to keep it together enough to gather her protective water shield into a single mass of water, from which she launched a barrage of high-speed water pellets like gunfire, forcing the Chaostechnic to evade — and allowing Phoenix to nail her with a handful of her own Chaos attacks.

Upon seeing Kestrel and Phoenix jump back into the fray, Twy allowed herself a moment to catch her breath. Damn it… everything hurts…! But, somehow, it feels like my control over water got a little better after Phoenix and Kestrel showed up. Is that another unique ability, due to me being a Key…? No, Twy, this isn’t the time to think about this! She briefly glanced up at the Anika Falls, now a few hundred meters upstream from her current position. …What happened in the lab? Did that Chaostechnic really beat Kievkenalis? But how…?

Chaos Cannon, Chaos Cannon!” Phoenix called out, ignorant of Twy’s current state as she pressed the attack against the Chaos State Chaotic. Multiple purple energy projectiles few out of her hands and slammed into the Chaotic, but the intruder simply weathered the attacks with a grimace as she whipped her bow around to take aim at Phoenix. A blast of air knocked her shot off course just as she fired, resulting in a nearby tree dissolving into a blue mist; Kestrel immediately followed by sweeping both herself and Phoenix up into the air and away from the Chaostechnic as she shouted “Chaos…!”, in preparation for the incoming blast. Just as the pair crossed the 50 meter threshold, however, the enemy Chaostechnic instead declared, “Explosion!”

The air above Phoenix and Kestrel suddenly detonated, throwing the two women to the ground. As they quickly tried to recover, a powerful blast of red energy suddenly flung them backwards through the air, again breaking their armor that Phoenix had so recently renewed. Kestrel quickly caught the both of them in a cushion of air again, and brought Phoenix close to renew their armor once more, but as she did, a loud crack emanated from within the new crater nearby — followed by the Chaos State Chaotic rocketing up into the air over the forest. The moment she spotted Phoenix, she shouted “Chaos Explosion!”, detonating the air behind her to launch herself forward.

“Shit—! Chaos Impact!!” Phoenix quickly replied, launching a nigh-invisible plane of blunt force that deflected the incoming Chaostechnic back into the air. As she began to fall back to the forest, she summoned Mystryth and fired once more, almost managing to hit Phoenix — if not for Kestrel yanking her out of the way with a lasso of air at the last second. Two detonations in the air nearby soon followed, however, stunning Phoenix and knocking Kestrel flat to the ground. Immediately, she moved to pick herself up… but not before the Chaos State Chaotic rocketed onto the scene, dissolving a tree trunk into blue mist and then blasting through the mist to practically stand on top of Kestrel. Before either Kestrel or Phoenix could react, the Chaotic had brought Mystryth to bear and fired an arrow into Kestrel’s back — thereby dissolving her into a million tiny blue particles, that then disappeared into the air.

“No, Kestrel!!” Phoenix shouted, her eyes wide — only for her to snap her attention back to the Chaostechnic, her brow scrounged up in fury as she began calling out, “Chaos—!

But the Chaostechnic managed to preempt her. “Chaos BLAST!!”

“Agh—!” Phoenix yelped in pain as the powerful explosion, centered on the Chaostechnic, launched her through the air and down into one of the many other craters created by the Chaostechnic’s many uses of Chaos Blast. After rolling to a painful stop and her armor breaking, Phoenix quickly muttered “Chaos Armor” and began trying to pick herself up, only to be stomped back to the ground as the enemy Chaostechnic dropped down on top of her, and then grabbed her mouth to prevent her from speaking further.

Tch… you Earthians are a pain in the ass, the Chaostechnic growled while holding Phoenix still, despite the latter’s struggling. Fightin’ another Chaostechnic is actually pretty damn hard when you can’t understand what they’re sayin’! Still, you and your friend gave me more of a challenge than I expected, I’ll give ya that. Now—! The woman released Phoenix, stepped back, and summoned Mystryth, all in one suprisingly graceful swoop as she aimed directly at Phoenix, a light arrow already nocked. Lie still—!

Chaos Slam!!

One moment, Phoenix was staring down an arrow made of silver light — in the next moment, Kievkenalis had rocketed onto the scene in the blink of an eye and slammed into the Chaos State Chaotic, impacting with a blast of energy that launched the Chaotic across the ground.

“What…?” Phoenix muttered, stumbling to her feet as she looked between Kievkenalis and the enemy Chaostechnic in confusion. “Weren’t you—?”

Chaos Assist, Chaos Heal,” Kievkenalis said, his hand on Phoenix’s shoulder. A wave of energy and comfort swept across her body, removing all of the pain and exhaustion from the previous fight and making her feel as good as new. “Now, stay here!” the Dean demanded, “I’ll take care of this!”

What the hell…? the Chaos State Chaotic shouted, having now recovered from Kievkenalis’s attack. How are you here?! Argh, Chaos…!”

Chaos Cannon!” Kievkenalis quickly called, preempting the Chaostechnic’s attack to hit her with a high-speed projectile that knocked her flat. Then, without missing a beat, he called out in rapid succession, “Chaos Impact! Chaos Impact! Chaos Massive Impact!” As he spoke, the enemy Chaostechnic was pounded into the ground by three successively more powerful blunt impacts, to the point that she was half-buried in the dirt after the final strike. She began struggling against the dirt, attempting to get back to her feet, but Kievkenalis didn’t wait. “Chaos Form, Chaos Surefire,” he muttered as he held his right hand toward the Chaotic, a protective cloak of bluish energy forming around his body. Then, he shouted, “Chaos Mach 15 Cannon!!

In the very moment after the words left the Dean’s mouth, a blue energy projectile exploded from his hand and rocketed into the Chaos State Chaotic. The recoil blasted Kievkenalis backwards and into the edge of the crater, while the projectile moved so quickly, that Phoenix was barely able to discern that it had existed at all before it slammed into the enemy Chaostechnic with enough force to form a small crater under her body. Tentatively, the Chaostechnic raised her arm, as if attempting to recover… only for her arm to then fall to the side, her body limp, as the Mystryth Ayas appeared in the air over her and then fell on top of her.

“Whoa…” Phoenix muttered, frozen in place in sheer awe of Kievkenalis’s demonstration of force. The Dean himself remained in action, however; as soon as he spotted the Ayas, he muttered “Chaos Teleport”, appearing next to the now-incapacitated Chaotic. He then declared, “Chaos State: First Tier.” A second later, the Mystryth Ayas again disappeared, but this time, to within the body of Kievkenalis. As soon as it did, he summoned the Mystryth bow and fired a single arrow into the body of the downed Chaotic, causing them to disappear in a cloud of blue mist. Only then did he finally relax, his shoulders dropping as he took a deep breath.

“Oh, Phoenix, you’re alright!”

“Twy…” Phoenix muttered, watching the Hydrotechnic slowly float down into the crater half-suspended in a levitating bubble of water. “…What just happened? Where’d you go?”

“Sorry…” Twy apologized, “I didn’t mean to leave you and Kestrel alone… uh…” She paused for a moment to look around. “…Where is Kestrel?”

“She…” Phoenix scowled and turned away. “She’s fucking gone, Twy, that’s what.”

“G-gone?! What?! As in…” Twy began to respond, only for doubt to form on her face. “Wait. Was it a blue mist?”

“Yeah, just like half the damn forest that got dissolved by that fucking bow,” Phoenix retorted. “What of it?”

“Oh, one second.” Twy summoned her bow and then loosed an arrow through the air next to Phoenix. A mass of blue particles appeared in the trail of the arrow, coalescing a half-second later to form Kestrel’s body — who immediately jumped, as though startled, before cautiously surveying her surroundings.

“…Phoenix?” Kestrel eventually called out, her voice uneven.

“Kestrel!!” Phoenix immediately leaped forward, nearly bowling her friend over as she enveloped her in a massive hug. “Oh my god, I thought you were dead for a second! …But, wait!” She paused, confusion overcoming her features as she glanced back at Twy, and then at Kievkenalis, who was now approaching. “…What the hell happened, here?”

“The same thing that happened to Kievkenalis, happened to Kestrel,” Twy explained. “That Chaotic Subspatially Stored you, and I was able to bring you back.”


We can explain later, Kievkenalis commented, and then looked around himself at the crater they all currently stood in — that was itself filled with pock marks, smaller craters, tree debris, and other battlescars. …This damage is going to be a pain to repair… he muttered with a sigh, but for now, let’s get you all back to Anika. We have a lot to talk about…