Dirty, Rotten Thievery -Part Five-

A twinkling of starlight, all warning sensors pinging off, a wide, white grin… and then death.

That was the experience of Staff Sergeant Extine Avarta in the seconds it took Chaos to vault through the quarter kilometer distance between him and the block guard. He doesn’t need a weapon, let alone magic to kill enemies that can’t react in time.

The force of a collapsing building condensed into the surface area of a fist – that’s what the guard was up against. The high-class magitech suit-system Extine wore is now like a sheared aluminum can broken from exploded contents. His arms are locked by the hydraulic assist in the pose he died in: the slight upwards aim of the rifle, just a second too late, and yet out-skilled by millennia.

“Servants of the unendingly ambitious can only know peace through death,” Chaos laughs, as if this platitude were more than enough reason to take a life. “You should thank me!” he adds, addressing the pile of a once-person. He tears off the man’s arm and removes the glove, gently placing the hand onto the biometric sensor pad.

There’s a ping as the door opens, and Chaos is certain he’s already a tenth of the way through the high security block.

He rushes forward with his antennae raised high in alert. With walls this dense and with both technological and arcanological forces surging through them, it’s difficult to be aware of his surroundings. In most places he could feel everything everywhere, but here it’s almost as though his senses are blocked to the point of being a common human.

Any passage could hold myriad deadly surprises, but Chaos is confident that so long as he keeps his wits about him he’ll get through it all.

His wits are the problem, however.

“It must be…” Chaos looks down one corridor lined with all manner of dimensional criminals and horrors beyond description. “No, this way!” he corrects with a poorly-placed expectation. He passes by thousands of the very worst. Most of these inter-galactic slaughterers and investment bankers freeze in their cells. Each scumbag sequestered to their very own realm with a two meter-thick glass observation door between themselves and The Master Humiliator, not nearly enough to give them a sense of calm.

In fact the only exception to the rule is in cell R-29: some hideous-looking burnt man. He looks up at Chaos with a worldly gaze, gives a single, grievous scoff, and looks back down to the cell floor.

Chaos scoffs back, actually more pleased than anything to see that at least some people have more on their mind than survival.

He continues down until he reaches another door.

“Well… that’s quite…”

Of all the doors Chaos has seen, this is actually the largest, and that’s especially impressive considering “new records” for him are things that rarely get updated any more.

In front of Chaos is a door that spans up and across nearly a mile. It’s a massive, massive door with a massive “Block X” printed onto it with a clean white paint.

Peeking behind him, Chaos immediately realizes that singular prisoner blocks at whatever kind of prison he’s in are much, much, much larger than he had originally thought. Spanning on into its own sort of indoor horizon are the sharp lights of at least half a million more cell block passages, some reaching up all the way to the ceiling. Each of those little openings lead off to corridors that must have to be at least similar to the one he had zipped through.

He squints with a smile across his jaws, as if pleased at the ridiculousness of it all. There must be tens of millions of prisoners within this cell block alone. Without even a breath, Chaos leaps at the door and drops his fist at it as if it were paper. Without his magic, and without his mind, he smashes hard into it, but it’s not enough. The dense, metallic clang of his etherbound fist contacting the alloy can be heard in the connecting blocks, but it leaves only a tiny dent.

Chaos draws back with a bit of awe. Looks like he’ll have to call on his recently-learned skill.

Just like he did back in his cell, he closes his eyes and focuses. Before long he can feel himself between the cracks of his consciousness- there is something behind his psyche, and it’s not his subconscious.

Then, just before he can access the wellspring inside of him, he feels a disturbance in the air three hundred meters away.

In a single, stylized jolt, Chaos dodges the sniper’s bullet flying for his chest. He moved faster than a fly to a human, with an embarrassingly-apt speed, and yet with the grace and poise of a fox, he turns toward the firer.

Another one of those humans, in another of their high-level atmosphere suits – absolutely not something that would survive a direct hit from him. The suited human readies another shot, but notes his stillness, as if inviting conversation. He knows he has that effect on most people who pick a fight with him – it seems like most everyone wants to talk when they know they’re outmatched, he’s observed.

“Now how did you get out?” a female voice asks with a professional, though curious tone, almost as though they were sharing a table at a cafe.

Chaos’ smile widens. “Your security is poor.”

“Bullshit,” she says, with a sigh. “That’s the first time I used my rifle for anything other than to lean on in all my six years working on this damn cage. So how did you get out?”

Chaos squints an eye. “Ah, well that’s quite simple, my human adversary… I…” he squints. “It was actually quite complicated, but I know for a fact that it felt easy – testament to my great skill, I’m certain.”

“I’m certain,” she cuts in, “so what am I missing here? I thought your cell was supposed to be an inescapable work of art.”

Chaos’ antennae click up proudly. “I am an even more inescapable work of art.”

She laughs as she clicks a small switch and button on her belt before retaking her aim. “Die.”

The agent fires a shot which Chaos easily passes by before running in to remove whatever body part or possession of hers is required for this door.

Then, from the sides, massive air-tight doors close with hydraulic-boosted power. The motors of the doors are hideously loud, but they’d have to be to shut the doors this quickly.

Chaos dives forward through one closing aperture after another, looking not simply inhuman, but inanimal in his grace and speed – it’s like magic itself attempting to move through the world on a pair of legs.

He reaches the final door the second the bulks close and differentiate the pressure enormously between the two doors. He can see her, just now noticing how far he’s moved in such a short amount of time.

The operative needs a moment to get her composure back, seeing that she was almost a streak across the floor.

“Have fun with your play mates.”

Chaos’ grin widens with a cherishing confusion. “Pardon me?” he asks, head tilting gently.

As she uses her operator access to secure a path for her and her alone, the pressure sensors on another door begin beeping loudly.

He immediately realizes that he’s about to be forcefully moved. He looks for something to hold onto, but the smooth surfaces of the facility give him hardly a molecule to grasp onto for stability.

She waves, and the door to another block opens.

The massive pressure difference causes Chaos, immensely heavy in comparison to any creature his size, to fly like a frog through a garden hose. The pressure flings him through and out into the other block – gloriously, wonderfully grinning, and just a little bit displeased at all of this.

“Oh, I’ll get you yet!” Chaos muses as if to the block guard.

In a second he travels a great distance through corridors into the center of another high-security sector of block X. He sticks the landing in the lower pressure room, the very moment each and every cell opens.

There he is, The High Overlord, standing unarmed in front of many of the greatest killers in The Omniverse, and yet none of them step forward.

Chaos looks about, assuming this diversion was expected to have him fight at least one of the several thousand people lined up in cell rows in front of them. Despite their reputations, despite their containment method, they all stay back.

The Immediate Terminator’s antennae flick about to feel his surroundings before clearing his throat.

“Why, good d- erm, time period to you all!” Chaos says with a bright smile. “I suppose you are all prisoners here as well?”

At this moment a mass array of nervous looks are exchanged from one cell across to another, come peeping out to try and gauge the void confidence of one’s fellow inmates. Others simply sit on their bunks, already consigned to their fate.

“Wh-” to everyone but the unassuming Chaos’ surprise, Zor’Vak the space orc is the first one to speak up. “Why would ya’ think dat? We only friendly gogs hea,” he explains in a slurring, stereotypically dumb-sounding orcish tone. Despite how much the majority of his fellow prisoners hate his voice, they can also make out the very unsterotypical note of horror in the orc’s voice.

“Y-yes,” a massive insectoid bounty-hunter-thing says, its mass of pseudo pupils focusing around The High Overlord without assuming eye contact. “We are… an isolationist commune. We have not committed any crimes. We do not feast on your species.”

Chaos squints at the large, deadly insect as if it were an untrustworthy fly. “Ahh… but why were you all in cells, then?” he asks. “Is this some kind of puzzle?” he adds with a bemused, entirely clueless smirk.

There’s another wave of glances about the different prisoners, most of which all but certain a wrong move will spell their ends – of course, all of them know who’s addressing them.

“Y-yes?” a truly hideous necromutant gurgles out, barely suppressing its urge to shoot jagged spinal segments of its body at the life form in front of it.

“Yes!” the invertebrate bounty hunter confirms. “You have to… decide which of us is… is…” He trails off, having only thought so far.

The bug immediately receives a bevy of disgusted gazes – the next words are going to be crucial.

“You’re going to have to find out which of us is the biggest in the block, and get their help,” a human-shaped bounty hunter says with a severe tone through his helmet speaker.

Chaos places his hands akimbo in thought. “I just need to find the largest one of you all?”

The prisoners all look at the bounty hunter as if he’s crazy, until one by one it hits them.

“That’s right,” the bounty hunter says firmly, “they’ll help you.”

Chaos draws back with surprise. In fact he was just about to ask how he could get through the block door.

“Why, thank you!” The Star Devourer says congenially. “I think I’ll get right to that!”

He takes a quick look around to find the corridor leading to the large cells.

“Good luck!” the insect says with a meek tone.

Chaos waves off with a wide smile before disappearing down the way.

Everyone takes a moment to join in the collective sigh of relief.

In only a moment Chaos finds himself looking down the opening to a massive, massive cell. He looks over the digital occupant info sign next to the doors.

-Zernus Adaptus-

-Last of its kind-

-Observation Only-

The sign has a red, flashy hazard icon like his own cell’s, and he interprets that to mean one vital thing:

“A kindred spirit!” Chaos notes with a bold admiration. He enters the cell, and his feet immediately shift into a wealth of fine sand.

He looks on and sees it all with his powerful ether-cursed eyes:

Before him lies a massive holo-chamber, its walls displaying a grand desertscape. Real rock formations, cacti colonies, dunes, and more mark the landscape of the cell, several miles long. It’s all rather surreal – he could have sworn the sand simply sprouted up from the floor the moment he laid eyes on the chamber.

Chaos grins at the sight, thinking back to his beloved towers erected in biomes like these, along with all of his charming minions regularly assigned to such places.

It’s a blur to him, he feels, and he’s aware for now that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain introspective about what he’s doing. Certainly, he thinks that is exactly how he was able to escape his cell, but it feels like from what he’s gaining, he must also be losing something as well.

Chaos takes his time as he starts up the dune, looking around for any signs of intelligent life. His gaze has caught out thousands of assassins, and a numberless score of people hiding from him, but for some reason he can’t quite put his finger on it this time.

Summiting the gentle, warm sand of the dune, his blacker-than-pitch feet stop evenly.

His wide, moon-like eyes squint with suspicion, his antennae actively flicking about to catch any kind of physical, mental, or magical presence that would betray the beast’s whereabouts.

“Well, where could you be?” Chaos asks out simply, as if it would simply pop out from behind a rock with its tail wagging.

Just when Chaos was about ready to start down the dune to continue the search, Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion comes up from right next to him.

“Yeah, you’re going to have a rough time with this one,” the minion, or perhaps simply his subconscious, says.

Chaos squints an eye, but before he can speak, the Zern appears. It’s as large as the cell. Immediately Chaos is engulfed in a billion gnashing jaws, but Chaos immediately sees through it.

Forcing his crippled mind into overdrive, he sees through the illusion just like from his own cell, and strikes firm.

The illusion is destroyed as Chaos delivers a back-hand strike to the crest of the creature’s head.

There is sand and rock. They are in a holographically-generated desert, but the creature and it’s arrays of psychic treachery have been put to a swift halt by the hand of The Persecutor.

The Zern, a massive, jaguar-framed elephant thing, tumbles back over the dune from the strike, its many tons of weight rustling up a storm of sand. With cat-like reflexes, it catches back onto its feet, rearing its head up with its hardened crest shining with a psychic splendor, striking at Chaos’ mind, rather than his eyes.

While a lesser soul would be brought to their knees immediately, Chaos holds superiority over man, animal, vegetable, mineral and stellar object alike.

Without even a twitch of fatigue, he steps up to address the mighty beast staring up at him from the foot of the dune. “I have come to request your aid, noble creature. I need to escape this place, and I have been led by the sages of the great temple of many souls to find you.”

The Zern’s trunk, shorter than an elephant’s due to its low-set gait, toots comically in confusion.

“That’s what they all say, hunter,” it speaks back in the voice of a wise, elderly woman. “You have come for my tusks and my crest, have you not?”

Chaos’ antennae flick with interest, realizing that she’s speaking to him via telepathy – he only needs to think his response to be understood.

“Dear creature,” he ponders with a warm tone, “you wear it best, so you may keep them. I am not apt to taking from the humble and those that have the sense to not kick upwards from their station. I wish to escape this…” he squints in dense thought.

“We are on a floating world, hunter, do you not know this? Were you not given a habitat of your own?”

Chaos grins in bemusement. “Not quite, young lady. I had been placed in a box, and now I am in another box. I wish to escape this… floating world of ours, and go back to….” hesitation marks his glowing features. “Back to…. my own kind?”

“You seem unsure,” she notes.

He looks aside to the sandy expanses of the large cell. The context of the situation is pushing him along, but without it he feels almost as though there’s nothing to grasp onto – just why did he want to escape in the first place?

“I’m…” His eyes flare wide when he remembers Greed’s toothy, smiling face. “That’s right.” Chaos grins. “I have someone I need to hunt down… and then…” the scant memory of the thief that took the Planar Sphere crosses his astronomically-dense mind. “Something I need to retrieve.”

“And how will you do that? No one has escaped this place to my knowledge. Despite my best efforts, I’ve been prisoner here for longer than I’ve been able to measure.”

Chaos crosses his arms in thought, and then realizes, finally, the problem of the door that is impeding him, and the method in which he used to escape his cell. He doesn’t need anyone… but he’d be pleased to have someone along for the ride.

“Measure now the minutes it will take us to escape, to me!” Chaos commands with an abrupt wave toward the door.

The Zern flinches back with indecision. “You… I cannot fit through there.”

“Only a temporary state,” Chaos thinks before leaping down the dune and at the door frame with his fist raised high in victorious indignancy.

There is a great, crashing din as he sinks his punches into the door – he’ll make a way.

Admiral Aonnis watches the screen display carefully, his brow furrowed tersely as his eyes scan about a bevy of readouts.

“Redirect Squad Alpha to the interior end of Block X,” he directs.

“Aye,” is the resounding response from nearly a half-dozen helm officers.

Immediately the tapping of keys, the voices on various comms, and the confirmation hums of computer commands retakes the atmosphere of the room.

An alert tone bleeps from one of the consoles.

“He’s exited cell X-231-82,” the suit filled with some amorphous amalgam notes with a tone of heightened professionalism.

“Bring him on screen,” Aonnis instructs.

She does as she’s told and patches the image feed to his monitor. Aonnis’ brows raise as if impressed as the gerbil creature stretches over to watch in utter bewilderment.

“I-is he.”

“Yes,” Aonnis says, “He’s riding it.”

A few of the operators stop what they’re doing to watch the feed of the cell block.

Chaos, triumphantly riding the psychic elephant jaguar thing, rushes at a breakneck speed back to the primary guard door for Block X. The female guard from before is hiding in a completely different sector of the block, so there’s no one to stop the two of them from approaching unhindered.

“Son of a bitch,” Aonnis snips.

Daughter of a bitch, Admiral,” the goo in the suit says with a tone that leaves no doubt in his mind that it’s trying to be very helpful.

He sighs the moment the frog-captain leans over from his chair.

“Head Librarian Ywn’s on four, sir.”

“Thank you.” Aonnis flicks the digital switch to open communication channel four, and the whole room becomes quiet.

“Perhaps this will serve as a valuable lesson,” Ywn says with a scoff.

“You were right,” Admiral Aonnis says. “We would like to ask for your help.”

“Isn’t Eternity there? I’m certain he’d be pleased to know the results of his enlightened judgement.”

“He’s not here, sir. I’m doing this without his knowing.”

There’s a silence in the helm.

“Outstanding,” Ywn notes in his typically winsome, though gravelly voice. “It’s amazing how many good men he wastes on a regular basis simply to hold his own petty schedule. You understand The Librarium is not on good terms with the-“

“I’ll assure you on that, sir: I understand how precarious a situation we’re in, and that you have much to gain in not helping us.”

Ywn scoffs. “This is not untrue in the slightest. Send the data feed.”

Aonnis looks over to the frog, who strikes a few keys.

Ywn’s voice hums like a long, rolling wave, timeless, and yet with the power of an entire dimension behind it. “You need to evacuate all non-command personnel,” Ywn instructs. “You’re not going to win this fight.”

The Admiral clasps his hands together in pensive terror. “Good to know, I suppose,” he mutters with a slight smirk. “So after the evacuation, then what?”

There’s a beep on the console. The system’s droning voice immediately chimes in. “Jamming detected,” it alerts.

“Wait,” Ywn says plainly, almost perfectly in tandem with the system alert.

Aonnis furrows his brow in suspicion. “Wait for what, sir?”

Another alert sound, but this one is the klaxon in the helm, ringing twice with an ear-splitting yelp. Out of all the helm crew, this is a sound only Aonnis knows from experience, rather than learning – he’s fought in the stars before.

The small rodent lieutenant scans his eyes over the dimensional transmission array. “Heavy dimensional coalescence detected… looks like about two… no five… nine… oh godsf-fleet incoming!” the gerbil shouts, his tone immediately shifting from cool and professional to utter, squeaky panic.

Aonnis looks at the attendant, back at the monitor, and then leans back into his chair. “Please, give us time to get everyone off,” he says.

“I did,” Ywn answers. “You have ten minutes before the battle group is spooled for the shot.”

Aonnis slams the mass evacuation button at the very brim of his console, and the entire prison vessel is flushed in a hellish, fatal red light.

Go!” Aonnis shouts.

Everyone gets up to leave, but the Admiral himself does not move from his chair.

“What are you doing, sir?!” the frog asks, turning back.

Aonnis gives the captain a single, damning look, crossed between the expressions of an old soldier’s retirement ceremony and a soul being thrown to hell. “Do your best, Captain.

“There are fifty thousand personnel on this ship, we cannot possibl-“

He’s stopped by the frozen gaze of his admiral – of course it’s not possible, but it’s what they have to work with. The amphibian pauses in respect for only a moment as he casts a final salute to his superior officer. At that he takes the rear and goes down the command corridor to get as many personnel out as possible.

Aonnis clears his throat, glancing back to his office. He stands up, and a small drone streaming the comms flicks out from the ceiling to follow him. “Why?” he asks.

“Some things are worth sacrificing for, Admiral,” Ywn states. “I’ve given up much more than you will have.”

“Your life?” Aonnis asks with a wry smirk.

“Like I said, more,” Ywn responds with a cold, calculating tone, almost more machine than human. “Your loyalty’s been wasted.”

“I’d like to stress just how many people you will be killing by doing this,” Aonnis says, opening the door to his office and immediately taking in the humidor-like, greeting scent of fine pleasures.

I am the humanitarian here, Admiral,” Ywn notes dryly. “removing that thing from The Verses will save more than a trillion lives in the long run. He’s already claimed billions of lives… is that the capacity of your vessel?”

Aonnis goes around his desk, appreciating the sealed hardwood’s smooth, glossy texture. “It is not,” he says, “not even close.”

Ywn sighs. “Then you can understand why I consider this a reasonable sacrifice. Not only am I potentially dealing a blow to The Eternum, but I am also removing that which impedes me most.”

The admiral sets himself down into his leather chair, official, luxurious, and a marker, like his office and everything in it, of his storied career. He offhandedly reaches to the bottom right cabinet of the desk and opens it, revealing a bottle of exceptionally expensive, 1,000-years-aged, Dycius Millennium Whiskey – he can’t remember the last time he touched it for any reason other than moving it from one office to the next.

“Surely a man of your stature has had to make his fair share of sacrifices,” Ywn says in his winsome, though functionally-calculating tone. “You should be honored to die alongside such a legendary threat.”

Aonnis, lowered at the height of the desk’s base, catches sight across the room to an in-wall shelf set: he sees, in the left corner of the lowest shelf, a young-looking man, a lieutenant, weighing a pair of laughing children on his shoulders as he swings them about. His hand stops, and his gaze rests on the old picture.

Ywn hums. “Are you there, Admiral? I do hope you’re not planning to dwell on this whole thing. Your deaths will be quite instant, I assure you, and you will be held to Rondi’s breast immediately after,” Ywn comforts, “be at peace.”

They wouldn’t have wanted me to give up,” Aonnis says, reaching back to the cabinet door to close it.

“Pardon?” Ywn asks.

“There’s too many people on this ship. I’m not just going to throw away all of The Eternum’s prisoners.”

“They are a weight, a burden to your society. I’m doing you-“

“System: Close comms,” Aonnis commands, causing the small drone following him to pulse a small blue light in recognition.

The last out of Ywn is a sigh, cut part way as the system ends the conversation.

Aonnis’ eyes scan around his office, not particularly looking for anything, but rather making estimations of his own. The potential paths and strategies flow freely through his mind, a skill only developed through practice, experience, but most importantly: clarity.

“Turn off the mana inhibitors,” he says.

There’s a pause.

“Forward jamming detected.”

Aonnis scoffs indignantly as he gets up and begins pacing about. “Source.”

Another pause. “…Source is within the ship.”

Aonnis’ eyes widen. “They’re not even in this dimension!… Give me the feed!” he says, walking back into the helm to check the displays.

“Patching.”

Up on his center screen is the primary atmospherics room, responsible for supplying breathable air to all of the supplier systems along the vessel.

He grips his console grievously. “Signature view.”

The screen display shows an alternate camera view. This feed, used for viewing electronic and magical signatures, makes it clear.

There is a directed, intelligent set of beams, coalesced through the primary atmospherics system, striking across the ship and hitting the mechanical relay systems specifically – preventing anyone from interacting with anything outside of comms digitally.

Aonnis stares at the unthinkable problem for a long moment, and then begins talking to himself.

How could the jammers be so accurate?” He takes a moment. He didn’t touch his whiskey, but right now he feels exactly as though he’d downed a few shots.

Abruptly, his brow raises in realization. “What’s the composition of the jamming beams?”

“Estimated to be an even spread of mana and intermittent wave disturbance. It appears as though the magic is what is directing the technology, Admiral,” the system claims in a dull tone.

Aonnis nods, and keeps nodding for a few seconds more than would be seen as normal. He knows what he has to do. He takes a deep breath, smacks his lips thoughtfully, and clears his throat to speak.

“System: put me on blast.”

“High Overlord,” a speaker set booms out from all directions around Cell Block X.

Chaos, mounted atop the zern like an unstoppable exotic warrior, flicks his antennae curiously.

“Ahh, it is not often that the walls themselves address me,” Chaos says with a proud grin. “What are your words?”

“W-… This is Admiral Aonnis of The Eternum, I have no time to explain until you get moving, but right now I need your help to disable the mana inhibitors.”

The zern’s trunk, short and cute in that pachyderm sort of way, raises up in protest. “He’s the master of this world. I’m certain he cannot be trusted,” she telepathizes.

Chaos nods down at her with a keen look before turning back to the speakers. “Ahh, but can you not it yourself? Are you t-“

“Overlord, forgive my forwardness, but everyone is doing to die on this vessel if you don’t help me right now,” the admiral says with a tone of clear desperation.

Chaos and the zern share a quick, reassessing glance. “What would you have me do?”

“You have to get to atmospherics and… destroy the main pressurizer. I can’t open any of the doors because of the jammer, but I know the legends about you are true!”

The zern toots in shock. “He wants you to destroy atmospherics; that would kill everyone,” she states firmly.

Chaos looks down to his companion. “Truly?”

“That supplies air to the whole world. I overheard some thoughts about it from people near my cell over the years.”

The Dark Baker of Untouchable Madness gives a quaint hum before speaking. “So, what would destroying the air do?”

“There is no time. Ywn’s jamming the mana inhibitors, and if you can’t do that, you can’t save us! The signal is inside the pressurizer, so you’ll have to smash it to the side for your to block the signal.”

Chaos’s grin immediately dies down. “Did you say… Ywn?

“Yes! Of the O.E.L.!” Aonnis practically shouts over the speakers.

In a fraction of a second, Chaos creates his own plan- now all he has to do is hold onto it. He knew there was something off about the feeling in the air. “Just how would I block a jamming signal?”

“It’s magitech!” Aonnis explains, “You’re body is made out of mana, and that’s what they’re using to direct the jammers. If you saturate the spot with your own mana, the signals will just go straight out from the coalescence. Don’t make me explain all of this, we have three minutes.

Chaos reaches out for the door to Block X. He can feel his presence ready to move. “Tell me, just how far do these inhibitors reach?”

“Ten kilometers each,” Aonnis says.

“That will be our plan B,” Chaos notes.

“We’re doing it, then?” the zern asks.

“I dislike taking orders from men of ‘command’, but I dislike that faceless imbecile getting his way even more. This will win us our freedom and solve our little troublemaker in a single, decisive strike,” Chaos says, his grin widening violently.

“Well, first thing’s first, how will we open this doo-“

The zern stops itself as Chaos somehow unfolds himself. Reaching like a sunray of ink into the door, he forces into the gap, finds the manual release lever on the other end, and pulls it.

The mighty doors of Block X separate, and at once Chaos slides off the zern.

“We’re going to have to go very fast if we’re going to make it,” she thinks to him, “From what I understand it’s at least twenty kilomete- hey!” she trumpets awkwardly as her whole body is picked up softly, like a massive kitten, and slung over The High Overlord’s shoulder. “P-please put me down! I d-“

And at that, he’s off.

Flying forward like the soul of the wind, Chaos immediately clears the large gap of space affording a loading center, a mess hall, a break room, a pair of restrooms, and then he take a solid right, taking care to curve the momentum so as not to immediately break every bone in the zern’s body.

Two minutes!” Aonnis shouts.

Chaos doesn’t need to follow the signs – he can feel the signal within atmospherics. Like the scant remainder of Ywn’s blood rushing through his impetuous body, it’s like The Overlord is being innately led, not necessarily from his own mind, but by something akin to instinct.

He leaps over an enormous loading bay of screaming, weeping people, some pushing over each other to get their own families into the rapidly-descending number of available escape pods. The crowd does not even register his presence in time. He is as a mighty, deadly shadow that appears to kill and does its work faster than fear can manifest, and yet this time he’s here to give them time.

One minute!” The Admiral reports with a trailing tone.

Chaos makes it through the head of security, primary shipping, and the gymnasium for employees, all completely abandoned.

Thirty seconds!” The Admiral says the moment the klaxons beep in alarm once again. Chaos doesn’t need to look at a monitor to know it’s a Librarium fleet coalescing into the dimension with weapons hot to fire.

He finally makes it to systems: electric, heating, fluid treatment, and then, yes, atmospherics.

Like a living sledge he slams through the doors, the three-inch thick steel flimsy in comparison to Block X’s doors. Chaos puts down a motion-delirious zern as he immediately targets onto the massive center pressurizer. He leaps at it, sinking a hand through the steel.

The pressure immediately releases into his arm, blasting it off completely and firing the zern out into the connecting corridor – he should have expected that much pressure.

Chaos hears the admiral curse over the speaker – he’s certain the gentleman thinks he’s dead, but it will take much more than a few thousand tons of air pressure to bench him.

The Overlord, ignoring the injury, immediately leaps into the now much-wider hole afforded by the rapid release of pressure, locks onto the one point of the jammer coalescence, and simply places his hand into it, as if engulfing the minutely-small source of the signal.

‘Done,” Chaos says with a smile, as if he had just finished his turn in a board game.

Admiral Aonnis leaves nothing to chance at this point.

“System, cut all power to mana inhibitors, then cut digital connection.”

“Admiral, cutting digital conne-“

“Acknowledged,” he interrupts, hurrying the system along.

“…Complete.”

A mass crackling of dimensional light overtakes the view of the helm. Suddenly the large ship display shows large “UNK” icons to stand for an unknown status on top of all the inhibitors – they’re disconnected, and can’t be reactivated

Anyone can use magic now, but there’s only one person who’s ready to do so.

“Do it, damn it! Do it!” Aonnis shouts into the mic to Chaos.

At once, all camera visual on the overlord and the zern in the atmospherics bay ceases, as if they were only phantasms there to visit for a moment.

“Fleet entering local space,” the system says.

Aonnis turns to the helm front with an official air, his usually dark eyes unusually clear with emotion. He remembers this feeling – the feeling of the youth of his career.

Then, the alert tone emits over and over, dozens of times in quick succession as ship after ship after ship smacks into the space of their dimension.

The design of The O.E.L. is obvious: pure, white, resplendent monoliths of power- hideous in their scope, and yet with the sort of pearl-like quality that can wrench tears from the beauty. Utilitarian to the point of losing all semblance of function itself, the ships of the fleet fire in with their pre-ignited weapons hot for an immaculate, dimension-conquering kill.

Aonnis just watches. He can’t divert any power to any strategy in time. He’s just going to watch, and hope all goes as planned.

The white light of the beam weapons emit from a dream-like glimmering to a massive burst of scathing light.

The helm auto-corrects the brightness outside in the windows so the admiral can see what’s going on outside, but the helm glass needs to be nearly black to block out the eye-damaging levels of light resounding from the weapons mid-fire.

For a moment, he thinks he’s dead, his crew, and their families, and everyone else on the ship is dead as well, but he then hears one, single pinging noise.

“Hull temperature exceeding safe levels,” the system says in its typical, winsomely-calm tone. There mere fact that the system’s capable of giving this alert is miraculous.

Aonnis takes a deep breath, and barely, barely makes out the vision through the helm of the beams and the ships.

The thing about Librarium design is that they always pack weapons several classes higher than their own armor is rated for. Effectively shock weaponry, they’re designed to utterly intimidate any new space-faring civilization simply by obliterating the competing fleet with a single shot.

In this case, however, against an enemy like this, their tactic fails cataclysmically.

The admiral gives a long sigh of relief as several abrupt “exit” pings emit from the console’s speakers. Ship after ship, one by one, they blip off the screen as the redirected beams strike into their own fleet.

The light of the beams is now in competition with the light of the exploding ships, their post-nuclear energy exploding in a fantastical aurora that crosses the entire spectrum of color.

Then, just barely, Aonnis can see it: a small blip of a life form, like a black cut out of the universe were it not for the shining eyes and grinning jaws, floating gracefully in the open space outside of the ship. An array of precisely-aimed portals, torn by the hand of The High Overlord, close. After all, the beams were fully aimed at a single point, so all Chaos had to do was open a portal in, and a portal out to fully rebut the attack.

“You amazing bastard,” Aonnis says under his breath, watching the extra-dimensional predator flash a single, knowing glance through the helm.

Suddenly, a ping.

“Incoming link from out-of-verse, Admiral,” the system says.

Aonnis places his hands cleanly behind his back. “About fucking right,” he mumbles before the comms screen displays the brilliance of The Head Librarian in his robed glory – like a divine automaton.

“I doubt you will ever come to terms with the damage you have caused in assisting him.”

The admiral raises his pepper-gray eyebrows. “Even if I did help him. The ship and its crew would have died to your assault before he would have succumbed to it. If the ship was destroyed, he’d have been released, and quite ready for whatever you were trying to eliminate him with. It was your plan that was wanting, not my response,” he claims.

Ywn just stands there in the center of the Librarium Headquarters, a trillion, octillion bytes of data flowing behind him along the data center connecting an untold multitude of universe.

“Rather cheeky, don’t you think?” Ywn, an individual with exceptional control of his emotions, like anything else in his environment, asks plainly, simply, and calmly.

“The only thing that’s cheeky about this is how you asked me to trust you despite it being in your plan to destroy this vessel,” Aonnis says, entirely statuesque.

Ywn’s head looks down and to the side of the receiving camera. The Head Librarian, thousands of years old and inter-dimensional commander of the largest, greatest military that reality has even known, gives a subtle, gentle *tsk*. “Enjoy your honors, Admiral. If you had cooperated we would have both been the true heroes.”

“You’re right. I will absolutely relish the knowledge that I saved my crew from tyrants.”

“…It’s becoming apparent that you don’t know what that creature has do-“

Ywn’s head cuts aside to a nearby screen, then he nods his head down as if giving someone, or something his ear. He immediately looks back up. “Another time, perhaps, Admiral,” Ywn disengages before cutting off the signal abruptly.

Aonnis takes a deep breath and then releases a long sigh before addressing the system once more. “Where’s the Block X primary hold?”

“Scanning… complete. The primary hold is nowhere to be found.”

Aonnis sighs and patches himself back to the intercoms. “Overlord. If you’re hearing this… thanks.”

Suddenly, a ping from the system. “…Evacuation complete, Admiral.”

His head falls low to his chest. Alone, and alive.

“Put a call in to homeworld. Be sure to send them the ship logs before opening comms,” he orders with a relaxed tone.

“Yes, Admiral.”

For saving eighty trillion sins of Eternum property and tens of thousands of lives, Aonnis won himself not just a medal and a promotion, but a statue in The Eternal Capitol. The one reward he cared about most, however, was to make amends with his family. He put in his retirement packet that same week.

He didn’t hear the admiral. In fact, he’s already home.

In Towerne’s Mountain Tower, the one that he just so happened to be able to clearly envision in his mind first to cut his way through the realms to it, he steps down on its cool moss-laden brickwork with a pair of four legs right behind him.

“Wh-egads!” the zern exclaims telepathically as she trumpets in awe.

Chaos smiles. “I suppose you’ve never seen mountains before?”

She stares on at the monumental formations of nature with her trunk hanging low. “No… this is… this is incredible! What are they? Will they talk?”

His smile grows into a grin. “I suppose if you listen in the right way, they will speak. I haven’t heard Great Nature speak the words of conscious minds, but they can tell you quite a lot… now then.”

The zern peels her face away from the grandeur of the tree-covered mountain range over to her rescuer. “What’s next?” She sees him, eyes closed, rubbing his dark chin with his equally dark hand while his antennae move about in feverish contemplation.

“They’re close enough here that I can hear them… seems as though…” Chaos’ eyes open with a hint of perplexity to his usually overt expression. “The parasite… she is vying to aid us?”

“The who?” the zern asks, her trunk raising to the side quizzically.

Chaos smiles back to his apparent new vassal. “My oldest and greatest nemesis… I think.”

“You… you think?

The Destroyer of Billions begins pacing, but only for a few seconds. The various wind chimes hung up and down the exterior of the tower catch the oncoming breeze, and the entire audiosphere cascades with thousands of wooden, metallic, and glassy tones. “It matters not. If she’s vying this hard to protect them, then we’ll have to play along.”

“Diplomacy?”

He grins, and looks out again to and past the mountains. “Heavy-handed, overwhelming, unquestioning violence.

“Where are we going next? I’ll follow you anywhere.”

Chaos squints an eye. “Anywhere, would you?”

She nods, not a flicker of fear on the highly psychic jaguar elephant creature. “Absolutely. Show me the world I’ve missed out on.”

Chaos laughs, his deep tone sending a chill through the zern’s spine through some primordial reckoning of danger. “It will be quite the action on my side, but I’ll have another task for you.”

Her trunk lifts with a purr. “Anything!”The Dimensional Slayer takes on another wide grin, and this is the one that all of his enemies know and fear.

One thought on “Dirty, Rotten Thievery -Part Five-

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