Chapter 87 – The Aims of Blood

Chapter 87 – The Aims of Blood

2 Hours Later

Alright… that about wraps that up, for now.

“For now…?” Twy echoed warily.

A situation like this was never going to be resolved in a single afternoon, Kievkenalis replied as he put away his communicator. At least the cleanup is going well. Just a couple of Geo- and Chlorotechnics, and the Curtain and the valley should be as good as new by tomorrow morning… He sighed as he sat back in his office chair and swept his gaze across the other individuals present in his modestly-decorated office: Kaoné, Phoenix, and Kestrel. His attention then shifted back to Twy, his eyes lingering for a brief moment on the small cast she now wore on her leg. …Does anything still hurt?

“Oh, no, no, I’m fine,” Twy quickly insisted. “Between your Chaos Heal, and the rapid treatment from the campus health center, I feel almost as good as new. They even said that I should be back to normal by the end of the weekend.”


“The incredible effectiveness of Nimalian medical technology aside, that Heal ability seems hella useful,” Phoenix remarked. “When you used it on me earlier, it felt like I’d just woken up from a good night’s rest! Damn, I wish I was a Support type…”

“Well, Kevken is a Chaos Conduit,” Kaoné pointed out. “His Chaos Heal is much more potent than any other Chaostechnic I’ve worked with.”

“Question…” Kestrel commented, waiting a brief moment to draw Kaoné and Kievkenalis’s attentions before continuing, “…is ‘Chaos Heal’ Direct Manipulation?”

“…Yes. That’s a good point…” Kaoné replied as she passed Kievkenalis a contemplative look. “The Keys are supposed to be immune to Direct Manipulation, aren’t they? I mean, I can’t use my Materiatechnism on any of them, so that seems like it should be the case. So why were you able to effect them, Kevken?”

It’s probably just a Chaostechnic thing, or a Chaos Conduit thing, Kievkenalis replied with a shrug. “Chaostechnics have always been able to pierce Chaos Energy-based durability. An Arrow from me will hurt a Duratechnic just as much as it would hurt a normal person, for example. It’s just a quirk of us directly controlling Chaos Energy.

“Well, all the same, I’m very thankful for you healing me,” Twy responded, her head bowed in gratitude. “I hadn’t fully realized how injured I got during that fight until it was over…”

“Adrenaline will do that to you,” Phoenix remarked. “There was definitely a lot going on during that fight, anyways.” She then shifted her attention to Kievkenalis. “Stuff I’ve been meaning to ask about, actually.”

I have some time before I need to meet with Pallan, so go head, the Dean replied.

“…Well, first of all… are you still in the Chaos State?”

Kievkenalis chuckled bitterly. Is it that obvious?

“…I actually hadn’t realized until just now, personally,” Twy said. “But, I guess once you know what to look for — or, I guess, listen for — it’s obvious enough.”

I suppose. Anyways, I’ll be remaining in the State for the time being as a security measure. I said yesterday that walking around like this is a risk, but after what happened today, leaving the Ayas in the lab would be an even greater risk — that is, if the lab had even survived in the first place. We have to rebuild the lab, run the security audits, figure out what went wrong, and fix it before the Ayas can be left on its own, again — and all of that will be difficult, since the lab and all of its security checkpoints were obliterated by the intruder.

“How did this security breach happen?” Phoenix pressed. “I was there, yesterday. It seemed like there were a billion security checks in place. How did this intruder get past them all?”

A deep sigh escaped Kievkenalis’s lips. That’s a good question. I wish I knew.

“…Uh, well…” Twy spoke up, uncertainty writ across her face. “I think the intruder might have been a Bleeder… so they might’ve had the same kind of help that the Bleeders in Relédiaka had.”

“A Bleeder?!” Kaoné echoed incredulously. “What makes you say that?”

The intruder did use the term ‘outsiders’ as a pejorative… Kievkenalis mused.

“Yes, and she also couldn’t understand me,” Twy added. “The only other people who couldn’t understand English were Bleeders, or people from Treséd.”

“RTA implants aren’t universal,” Kaoné pointed out. “There are plenty of people on Nimalia, outside of Treséd, who don’t have the implants.”

“It’s not just the language issue, though. The intruder also mentioned a ‘Sentry’ just before she attacked us, as though she were talking about a specific person that she didn’t like — and I’ve heard the Bleeders use that term to refer to Davídrius a couple times.”

Oh, she did say that, didn’t she… Kievkenalis said.

“…’Sentry’ is what many Tresédians have started calling Davídrius…” Kaoné commented. “If the intruder really did say ‘Sentry’ and ‘outsider’, then I guess there really is a decent chance they were a Bleeder. It wouldn’t exactly be the first time that they’ve attacked outside of Treséd…”

The SFC has been operating in Treséd, as well… Kievkenalis muttered. …But, hmm… no, it couldn’t be…

“…What couldn’t be?” Twy questioned warily.

“You aren’t trying to suggest that this ‘SFC’ is teaming up with the Bleeders, are you?” Phoenix asked.

That would be pure speculation, Kievkenalis quickly refuted. The SFC might be operating in Treséd, but I don’t see what they’d gain from working with the Bleeders. The Bleeders aren’t even a centralized organization, the name is just something that separate gangs all across Treséd have picked up. It’s more like a shared brand, or identity, rather than an actual group.

“Still, if the SFC and some Bleeders were working together, and today’s intruder was a Bleeder, then it would explain how they got through security,” Kaoné pointed out.

On one hand, yes. What happened today could only be possible if the SFC was extremely negligent, or working with the intruder, Kievkenalis stated. On the other hand, we still don’t know the identity of the intruder. We haven’t had the chance to interrogate her, yet. And based on what I know of the SFC, criminal negligence is far from out of the question.

“They don’t really sound like the kind of people you’d want protecting the Ayas, then,” Phoenix replied.

And I don’t, Kievkenalis retorted. I’ve always advocated for the NSD to handle security around here, not the SFC. Maybe now that this has happened, the government will actually listen to me.

“Even you guys have to deal with people not listening to you?” Twy questioned.

“It happens more often than people seem to expect,” Kaoné responded sheepishly. “Having ‘Hero Machina’ on our resumés doesn’t actually get us very far, in most circumstances. Though it stands to reason — that was 20 years ago. It’d be naive to expect a 20-year-old accolade to be worth anything in the present day.”

“Being the ones to stop the Nanocreature War is a little more than just an ‘accolade’…”

Regardless, as Kaoné said, that’s in the past, Kievkenalis declared, and then looked over at Phoenix. Did you have any other questions?

“Yes, actually,” she replied. “I’ve heard from Twy about this ‘Subspace Storage’ thing since the fight, and it explains all the blue mist I saw, and what happened to Kestrel… But why the hell weren’t we all told that our weapons could do something like that?!”

Kaoné passed Kievkenalis a resigned glance. “…So you told them about it, huh?”

Unlike Pallan, I tend to think that having more information helps much more often than it hurts, Kievkenalis declared, and then chuckled to himself. In that regard, I think Davídrius is more similar to Pallan than he’d like to believe. He’s the one who wanted to hide Subspatial Storage from all of you.

“Davídrius again…” Phoenix muttered with a scowl.

“I kind of agree with him on this one, actually…” Twy commented as she passed Phoenix a wary glance. “I know that Austin and Sky can be short-sighted or short-tempered, sometimes, and… well, you know Pierce better than I do, Phoenix. Would you really trust him with the knowledge of Subspatial Storage? Considering how powerful an ability it is?”

“…I guess he can be pretty immature, at times…” Phoenix admitted.

“’At times’,” Kestrel echoed.

“Alright, a lot of the time,” Phoenix amended with a roll of her eyes. “Don’t tell me the immaturity of a few is the reason Davídrius held off on telling all of us, though.”

Kievkenalis shrugged. You’d have to ask him. I guess I’ll leave it up to the three of you, though, as to whether or not you tell your friends about Subspatial Storage. You know them best, after all.

“It would figure. Everyone’s so damn secretive around here,” Phoenix remarked with a scowl. “Don’t tell me that’s why no one came to help during our fight.”

“Huh? I don’t think I follow…” Kaoné responded.

“The explosion in the Curtain could be seen and heard from all of Fall’s Edge,” Phoenix declared. “I should know, because Kestrel and I were on the south side, while the explosion was in the north. And you could see the Chaos Blasts from the air—“

Don’t do that, Kievkenalis quickly interjected. As a Chaostechnic, never fully invoke a Chaostechnic ability unless you mean to use it, even if you think you can’t. Chaostechnics surprise themselves by accidentally invoking abilities all the time, and the results can be disastrous.

“Uh… right. Sorry. But you get my point, right?” Phoenix glanced impatiently between Kaoné and Kievkenalis. “Despite all the obvious signs of a fight, Kestrel and I were the only ones to come to Twy’s aid! Surely, there’s more Chaotics than us around here?”

Right… Kievkenalis sighed warily. That’s another aspect of the failed security I want to discuss with Pallan. Don’t blame the students here at YCUR — they’ve been told that the SFC would handle any emergencies like the one that happened today, and they had no reason to believe that the SFC would fail to respond. As to why the SFC failed to respond, well… that’s another question entirely.

“The SFC…” Twy muttered under her breath, only to suddenly freeze, her breath catching in her throat as she thought back to the two SFC guards she had run into just before the cliff face exploded — and the fact that she hadn’t seen any sign of the two guards after the fact. “…Um…” she spoke up a second later, “…did… did anyone die, today?”

An uneasy silence filled the room, with Phoenix and Kestrel both joining Twy in watching Kaoné and Kievkenalis — who both exchanged a wary look. After taking a deep breath, Kievkenalis replied, I’m told that no bodies have been found. I can say that much.

“Right,” Phoenix drawled.

“Um, thanks, though…” Twy responded hollowly. He says no bodies, but from all of the perfectly rounded craters I saw, it’s obvious that Chaos Blast doesn’t leave any traces…

Kievkenalis awkwardly cleared his throat, drawing Twy’s attention back to him. A-anyways, he continued, my meeting with Pallan is soon, but I probably have time to answer another question or two, if you have any more.

“Uh, none…”

“I do, just one more,” Phoenix quickly insisted. “Back when I first read up on Chaostechnism, everything I found said that Velocitechnics are the best counter to us, since they can run up to and hit a Chaostechnic before they can finish calling an attack. Given how secure the Ayas was yesterday, it seems reasonable to assume that the intruder was part of a group, rather than acting alone, and if so… why’d that group send a Chaostechnic to attack you, and not a Velocitechnic?”

“That’s actually a very astute question!” Kaoné remarked.

There’s a number of potential answers, Kievkenalis replied. It’s true that Velocitechnics are usually better at fighting Chaostechnics than any other type of Chaotic, but they’re also uniquely weak to us. Remember, I said earlier that Chaostechnic attacks ignore Chaos Energy-based durability boosts — with the sole exception of other Chaostechnics. It’s possible that the intruder was a Chaostechnic because they didn’t want to risk me pre-empting them and taking them out. Or maybe they didn’t expect to see me in the lab in the first place. …Buuut it’s probably because I’m a Chaos Conduit.

“Why’s that?” Phoenix questioned.

…Well, as a Chaostechnic yourself, I’m sure you noticed that time stopped for you a handful of times before the Curtain exploded.

“I knew it was related. So that was you, then?”

“Stopped time?” Kestrel commented, glancing between Phoenix and Kievkenalis.

The Dean nodded. That’s right. As a Chaos Conduit, I have the ability to stop time, through the aptly-named ‘Time’ keyword. Other Chaostechnics are resistant, however. For example, if I stopped time right now, then Phoenix and I both would still be able to move — but Phoenix would perceive me as moving much faster than her, as though she has been merely slowed instead of stopped altogether. In fact, the more types of abilities that a Chaostechnic can access, the less they’re slowed by Time.

“I noticed that you and the intruder seemed to ‘jump’ around…” Twy commented. “So that was you stopping time, huh…”

Yes. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how well it would work — until today, I’ve never tried to stop time against a Chaos State Chaostechnic. Unfortunately, as I suspected, I didn’t actually slow the intruder down at all. The stopped time disoriented her a little, but she was able to keep up with me. As to be expected, from the Chaos State

“How does stopping time even work?” Phoenix questioned. “I mean, I could still see and breath just like normal, so photons and other small particles must still be moving. Does Time just freeze all macro objects, or something? And what’s even the range? Don’t tell me you’re stopping time for the entire galaxy?!”

Ah ha ha ha! Good questions! Kievkenalis remarked. …But unfortunately, I don’t have any answers. There are only two people in this galaxy, that I know of, who can stop time — myself, and Surdeus, the leader of the Sursum Drakkars. And he certainly isn’t going to cooperate with experiments. And it’s rather difficult to experiment with these things when I’m the only one who can do it.”

“I suppose…”

On one hand, I’m inclined to think that the time stop is a local effect, since every time I’ve stopped time, I’ve never had any reports of Chaostechnics from outside the local solar system detecting the stop. And if it is a local effect, then leaving time stopped for extended periods of time could be… dangerous. Especially if it only actually affects macro objects, and not small molecules and the like. And yet… A concerned frown appeared on Kievkenalis’s face. …Sometimes, it seems like time stops for me, all on its own. And other times, when I stop time, it restarts a few moments later without me explicitly restarting it.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying…” Twy responded.

Remember what I said just a minute ago: I’m not the only one in this galaxy who can stop time.

“…Wait, hold on,” Phoenix replied incredulously, “are you saying that you can tell when this Surdeus guy stops time, and that he can restart time after you’ve stopped it?”

I’ve never been able to verify, but I do wonder… Kievkenalis commented. The sudden time stops and starts that I experience could be explained by Surdeus, but if that’s the case, then it implies that Time’s timestop is galactic in scale, at minimum. But no other Chaostechnic has experienced what I’ve experienced, despite them knowing when time has been stopped on a local scale… it’s all rather confusing. He shrugged. Well, this might just be one of those areas where the explanation is ‘because Chaos Energy’ and everything just works out, because Chaos Energy. Who knows?

“I was hoping you would, but I guess even you don’t know some of this galaxy’s mysteries…” Phoenix replied with a resigned sigh.

“Is that really the answer to these kinds of questions, though?” Twy glanced doubtfully between Kaoné and Kievkenalis. “Just… ‘Chaos Energy did it’, and that’s that?”

“It’s frustrating, but that’s just how it goes, sometimes,” Kaoné replied. “It is often said that Chaos Energy got its name from the fact that trying to integrate it into the laws of physics as we know them leads only to chaos.”

“A pithy quote, to be sure, but there is more to it than you might expect.”

Oh! Archoné! Kievkenalis quickly stood up from his chair as Pallan entered the office. Apologies, I didn’t realize the time.

“You’ll hear no complaints from me,” Pallan commented as he eyed Twy, Phoenix, and Kestrel. “After what happened today, it stands to reason that there would be many questions. Many questions, indeed…”

“I certainly still have plenty for you,” Phoenix retorted.

“Yes, but unfortunately, it will have to wait,” Kaoné interjected, already moving toward the office door and gesturing for Twy, Phoenix, and Kestrel to follow suit. “Kevken and the Archoné have more pressing matters to talk about, for the moment.”

Sorry, Kievkenalis said with a sheepish smile.

“No, it’s fine,” Twy replied. “You’ve already done more than enough for us… I can’t thank you enough for coming to our aid.”

Ah, you should give yourself more credit. If you hadn’t realized that I had been Subspatially Stored and freed me, I never would have been able to help. If anything… Kievkenalis adopted an uneasy frown. …It was my own fault for allowing myself to get stored, in the first place. If I’d been more on top of things, this all could have ended much more quickly, and none of you would’ve been hurt… a-anyways.He shook his head vigorously, as if to shake idle thoughts out of it, and returned to looking at Twy, Phoenix, and Kestrel. The three of you did an amazing job, holding off the intruder for as long as you did. It might not feel like it, but it is worth commending.

“Thanks, I guess…” Phoenix responded.

“And now, it’s time for us to leave.” Kaoné paused for a moment to bow her head toward Pallan; she then glanced at each of Twy, Phoenix, and Kestrel, and then stepped out of the room, with the three women following suit. Once outside, and the door closed, Kaoné released a pent-up sigh. “…I’d like to echo what Kevken said,” she commented quietly. “I’m very sorry that things ended up the way that they did, and you all should be proud of yourselves for handling it the way you did.” The Dean then passed Phoenix and Kestrel a doubtful glance. “…Normally, I’d say that joining a fight in progress, as novices, was incredibly foolhardy — but if everything you’ve told me is correct, then you handled yourselves much better than I expected. Good job.”

“…Honestly, I agree with you on the irresponsible part,” Phoenix admitted. “At the time, I just thought that Twy might be in danger, and wanted to help… by the time I realized the stakes, I was already in the thick of it, ha.”

“Thanks for sticking your neck out for me, though,” Twy replied.

“Don’t mention it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, just like I’m sure you’d do for me. And don’t say that you wouldn’t,” Phoenix insisted, just as Twy opened her mouth to respond. “After all, you said exactly the opposite when Kestrel and I showed up. And if not for you sticking around, she and I would’ve been screwed.”

“Mmhm.” Kestrel nodded in agreement. “Thanks.”

“…Ha ha, well, if you say so,” Twy responded sheepishly.

“It really warms my heart to see you all getting along!” Kaoné remarked with a grin, drawing the other three’s attention to her just in time for her to begin leading them down the hallways of YCUR’s administrative building. “But for now, let’s get back to the hotel. I’m sure your friends want to see that you’re all okay. And aside from that, we’ll be leaving Anika tomorrow, so make sure you have everything packed. Now… let’s get going.”