Project Sols
a PSO fanfic by: Soliptic

Project Sols: Chapter 1 - Breath
Early Morning, Redria Sector, Pioneer 2

  The door gave way quickly, in less than 5 seconds the massive red android has entered the apartment. He quickly scanned the rooms, the coating on the exterior walls to prevent peeping androids was not usually found inside homes. The place was bare, just floor and walls. His prey had once again managed to elude him. An incoming message caused him to look at his hunter's Data Link on his left wrist.

>Tygrin, have you located the third and fourth prototypes yet?

The android through his direct connection to the Data Link sent the reply:


  Showing no sign of his incredible inner rage and frustration, Tygrin calmly turned and walked out the door, down the hall to the transporter, and disappeared. Across the street from a dark alley, four eyes intently watched the departure of the massive android. Two Numan females slowly emerged from the alley, one a tall beauty with bright orange hair, still in her sleeping clothes. The other a full quarter meter shorter, wearing black force garbs with red highlights perfectly matching her hair.
  "Good job Tear," said the taller one, "Again we were saved by your dreams. That android means business... he's impervious to all techniques, I don't know what we'd do if he ever caught us... probably take us back to the lab..."
  "Iris, what is 'lab?'", interrupted Tear, "Is lab eatable? It yummy?"
  "No Tear," Iris said, "As I have explained, the lab is where we come from, where they made us. Remember when we escaped?" Of course Iris knew, there was no way Tear could remember. She was too young back then. Too young to remember the pain, the experiments. Iris shut her eyes and turned her head, trying desperately to drown out the memories.
  "It okay sister!" exclaimed Tear with a smile on her face, "you not worry! We go get eatables now?"
  "I'm sorry Tear, we don't have any money, all our belongings were in that apartment. We had to destroy everything with foie and zonde to make sure there was no evidence Tygrin could use to track us. But... we still have each other... and out mission."
  "Right!" Tear said as she remembered their mission. "We go down to forest and find lots of yummy eatables now right!!"
"That's right, lots of yummy eatables."

  They had been on the run for years now. Ever since escaping the lab they were created in. Iris didn't know much about the project itself, except that it was known as "Sols" and that they were doing some advanced research on Numan females. She knew that, unlike normal Numans, she grew much more slowly. She had recollections of early childhood in the lab, and of the experiments. She remembered her older sister, the blue haired girl who always tried to take her place for the painful tests, but never did. She remembered the time when she was eight, how they had brought a new girl from the birthing wing of the lab, she was only 2 years old. The same age Iris had been when she first began undergoing the tests. She also remembered the screams in the night from the new girl, she way she would cry as they walked her past Iris' room on her way for more tests. Or how the floor of the hallway outside was always covered with the new girl's tears. Always in the same line, from the test room, to the new girl's room. The same trail every night, the same tears shed. She wanted to do something, she wanted to help, and to strike back at those who were subjecting both her and the other girl to the tests. Yet she was only eight, she was a young girl, with no way do stop the horror she and her new sister were subjected to.
  It all changed one night. The alarm sounded abruptly late into the night. Iris looked out her barred window to the courtyard below, there were dozens of androids entering the front of the labs, and behind them was wave after wave of humans wielding guns. From the front of the lab more, differently colored androids emerged and began to fight with the ones entering the courtyard. The lab was being raided. Suddenly the door to Iris' room burst open, a guard with a photon rifle barged in. Before the guard could act, a bright streak of electricity hit him from somewhere out in the hallway. Iris watched in amazement as the unnamed blue haired Numan girl she had seen so many times before entered the room carrying a photon pistol.
  "Don't be afraid, I am your sister, my name is Trys", spoke the girl. "Quickly Iris, come with me, we have to escape!" Trys ran to Iris' bedside and grabbed her hand. Practically dragging Iris, Trys ran out the door and into the hallway. They turned right and ran several meters to the new girl's door. Inside, face to her pillow crying, they found the new girl.
  "C'mon!" shouted Trys, "we have to go!" Trys handed Iris the gun, and went over to the new girl's bed. "Tear... Tear, please do not be afraid, my name is Trys, I'm your sister, and so is she" Trys pointed to Iris, "her name is Iris. Please get up Tear, we have to leave now. The government is raiding the lab, but the doctors have sent the elite androids to retrieve us before they teleport out. If we don't leave now, we'll never get away from them. They'll just take us somewhere else and keep experimenting on us!" Seeing the futility of her words on the inattentive little girl, Trys wrapped the little numan in a blanket and picked her up. She looked at Iris, and they both ran out of the room. Trys took lead as they ran through the dark hallways, alarm blaring. Finally they came to the emergency teleporter room, inside was a teleporter with enough charge remaining for one use. Just as they entered, a tall imposing red android entered through a door at the opposite side of the room. On the upper left side of his chest plate was written "ACAS 01: Tygrin". The android quickly made strides across the room, closing on in the 3 numan girls.
  "Listen to me Iris!" Trys shouted, "Take Tear, and never look back. There's a ship called Pioneer 2, be on it." With this Trys placed Tear in Iris arms, and shoved Iris onto the teleporter pad. She then pressed a button on the teleporter control panel. Desperately trying to stop the escape the red android reached the teleporter just as Iris and Tear disappeared. Eyes glowing with rage, Tygrin turned to face Trys. A bolt of Zonde shot from Trys' hand, but had no effect on the angry android.
  Iris opened her eyes and saw that she was standing on a cliff overlooking the lab, from many kilometers away. She watched as wave after wave of government troops flooded into the burning lab complex. She cried for the first time she could remember, the tears softly landing on Tear's own wet face. Tear stopped crying and looked up at Iris, her fists clenched, teeth grinding, tears streaming down her face. Tear then looked at the war zone in the distance. "I hungry" she said.

  Iris and Tear had traveled to the Bluefull sector commercial district. Iris had by now changed into the only thing she took with her from their apartment, her yellow hunters clothes. They stopped at the checkroom to retrieve their hunters items, barriers, frames, weapons and mags. They equipped their belongings, and walked into the hunters guild. Iris instructed Tear to wait by the door, while she approached the counter.
  "I am the hunter Solstrys", Iris said to the clerk. "I need permission to go down to the surface of Ragol with my apprentice."
  "We will need a DNA sample to confirm your identity, said the Clerk, "please place your palm on this scanner." Iris did as instructed and placed her open hand on the grooved scanner on the counter. The device made three quick beeping noises, and then fell silent. "Your identity has been confirmed, thank you Hunter Solstrys, you have permission to go down to the surface."
Her plan had worked, her near identical DNA to her sister had allowed her to get a pass to the surface of Ragol. And her sister's level 100 rank with the guild ensured that all areas would be open. They could proceed directly to the ancient ship, and begin their mission. Iris smiled, and turned to face the door, when her smile instantly changed into a look of total fear. Entering the guild was Tygrin.
  Tygrin spotted Iris and Tear immediately, and as he was closest to Tear he grabbed her first. Tear screamed out in surprise, not fully understanding what had happened. Drawing her one hope, a Gladius with a bonus to machine a seedy character on the Oberon ship had given her, she lunged at Tygrin. She hadn't accounted for the powerful barrier Tygrin was wearing, he easily blocked her attacks with one hand, while tightly holding Tear with the other. He then extended a leg and met Iris mid way with a foot to the neck. Iris stumbled back, badly hurt from the kick, she dropped the gladius and began to clutch her throat. As she did this, Tygrin drew a photon pistol from his null space item storage, and quickly began to pull the trigger in rapid succession. Several shots hit Iris in the legs, immobilizing her. Screaming in pain, Iris collapsed, unable to breathe.
  Seeing her sister bleeding all over the guild's floor was more than Tear could bear. She channeled a bolt of pure light energy from her body at Tygrin. The blast was so powerful, it sent him flying across the room, where he impacted a far wall. Just as this was happening, nearby troops rushed in to see what was going on. Tear ran to her sister's side, and cast the most powerful resta technique she could. Seeing the troops in the guild inspecting the android, Iris stood up, grabbed Tear, and ran outside. They turned right coming out of the guild and jumped onto the teleporter pad. Iris activated her hunter's data link, and frantically selected the first option she could. There was a flash of light, and then they were gone.

  Two years had passed since they escaped the lab. Everyday Iris thought back to that moment, the girl named Trys pushing her on to the teleporter. What had happened after the teleport? A kind Force named Marchioness had discovered them on the streets, filthy and begging for food. Something about them had compelled March to bring them in. She clothed and fed them, and did her best to teach them the ways of the world. She taught Iris how to read and write, and the best way to care for her younger sister. Ever since the night of the escape Tear had reused to be quiet. She talked nonstop, even in her sleep. She possessed a great curiosity about the world, a hunger for information, but despite being repeatedly told things, she never seemed to understand. It was strange the way they aged, March admitted once. Ordinarily a Numan develops fully physically in a few months, but Iris and Tear were developing at a rate almost that of a human. They were rejected by Numans for this flaw, and by humans because they were Numan. It was frequent that March would disappear, often for days at a time. She told the girls that she was at work, and her duty was very important. It was later the discovered she was a high ranking scientist working for the government. Then one day, she told the girls she would have to go on a long journey, and wouldn't see them for many years. She was a special class Force, assigned to the Pioneer, and she was leaving within a week. Marchioness apologized for the last minute information, but said that the launch had been moved up, and she could not acquire permission to take the girls with her. The next day, Marchioness brought in a woman the girls had never met before, her name was Empress, and she was Marchioness' twin. The weeks passed, and became months, time passes as it tends to do, until a full year had passed, Iris was eleven, and Tear five. It was then they once again met the menacing red android, Tygrin.
  It was very early in the morning, as if aware of the coming terror neither Iris nor Tear had been able to sleep. They were together in Iris' room, curled up on her bed quietly whispering. Looking out the window, Tear wondered about the stars, where they were, what they were. Iris did her best to explain, but she had long since given up on realistic explinations, and soon Tear had developed a theory of her own, ignoring all her sister told her. The stars, she decided, were places where everyone was happy, and there was no fear, no sadness, no anger, no envy. The stars were happy, and she wanted to visit them.
  The home's front door burst in quickly, and 4 dark blue androids of commanding height entered the home. Roused from her sleep, Empress emerged from her room and walked down the hall. Immediately realizing the danger, she ran into Iris' room. She told the girls to dress, and be ready to leave. She left the room securing the door behind her, and walked down the hallway to the common room of the house. There amongst the furnishings and electronic devices, the four androids stood scanning the house. They were confused because there was a coating on the walls to prevent androids from seeing through them. They quickly noticed Empress. The two closest charged at her. She let out a massive wave of electricity, the RA series zonde technique, in all directions. Their circuitry overloaded, they stopped dead in their tracks, unable to move. The remaining two drew photon pistols and began firing at her. She did her best to dodge or deflect the shots, but they were coming too fast. She was hit in the left shoulder, the force of the impact and pain sent her stepping back. Reeling from the pain shooting through her body, Empress cast a Grants technique at the closest Android, causing massive damage to the Android's frame and body. The remaining Android took cover behind a large sofa, while occasionally emerging to fire a volley of shots. From her null space item storage she drew her final resort, a customized photon pistol called a "Holy Ray".
  Immediately following a volley from the Android she stood up and fired as fast as the gun would fire, it's elongated shots piercing the Android's meager cover. She heard several impact sounds, then there was silence.
  Iris instructed Tear to wait in the room, they had finished dressing, and were preparing to leave, as they always knew they would have to. From the moment Iris had described the lab, Marchioness had begun modifying her home to accommodate a last second escape, concealing single use teleporters in many rooms, and coating the walls with a special chemical androids could not look through. Iris ran out into the hall, and saw Empress struck by a photon bullet in the shoulder. Iris watched as Empress cast a Grants technique, then drew an odd looking gun and began firing at the other end of the room. Iris then watched as Empress look of relief changed to one of terror. Empress fired several shots at something on the other side of the room, and began to slowly move backward. Something was advancing on her. As Iris looked on she saw why Empress was so afraid, the red android Tygrin was slowly advancing on her. Empress turned to run, and as she did Tygrin sprinted to her. Tygrin grabbed her by the neck, and threw her with great force against a wall on the opposite side of the room. Then he looked down the hallway and saw Iris.
For a moment, Iris could not move, she was inexplicably frozen in complete terror. Her body refused to move, and she was certain she would die. Then the door to her room opened, Tear looked out. Iris' senses returned to her, she ran to the door, grabbed Tear by the arm and pulled her to the far end of her room. She depressed a hidden panel on the wall, and a section of wall to their left popped out and slid away quietly, revealing a teleporter. With Tear in tow Iris ran to the teleporter, and as Tygrin entered the room they disappeared in a flash of light. They were alone again.

Chapter 2 - Trys

  The light from the candles danced across the Dojo's walls. Twelve students sat with their legs crossed meditating. They were lost, confused with the recent death of their instructor, the great swordsman Zoke. The light and shadow intricately flickering across the faces of the students. They had been in deep meditation for more than 4 days, the loss of the master was a great blow to the students. The surviving master, Anze, sat with them. A small elderly man, Anze had once been Zoke's master, and had only agreed to join Zoke in the Dojo after learning of the dangers on Ragol. Zoke had taken three of the four great swords and journeyed to Ragol. He had sensed a great evil beneath the soil. A hunter from the guild had found his body deep within the uncharted ruins, all of Pioneer 2 mourned the loss.
  The sole female of the group, a light blue haired Newman woman, suddenly screamed as if in tremendous pain. Sitting to her left, the group's sole Android, a short white hunter model, activated his eyes. He looked the woman over, scanning her with his eyes to ensure there was no physical harm. Once he had determined there was none, he tuned his head and deactivated his eyes. This event seemed all too common to the others of the group, and it was a surprise when Anze spoke.
  "Trys...", the elder spoke softly, "You are troubled? Your meditation brings you no solace?"
  Her face obscured by her hair, Trys replied without opening her eyes. "I saw something that troubles me master, but think nothing of it."
  The wrinkles on the elder's brow compounded appearing more weighty than they actually were. "You cannot deny these visions any longer Trys, they are a message, you must listen to what they are telling you." The elder opened his eyes and raised his chin. He stared Trys straight in the eyes. After only a few seconds trys could not stand this and abruptly stood up. She turned away from the master and began to walk towards the door on the far side of the Dojo. "You cannot run forever girl, and until you face your inner demons, I forbid you from returning." The other students opened their eyes and looked upon the elder with a myriad of surprised faces. Trys turned her head and looked at the elder out of the corner of her eye. without saying a word she once again faced the door. A few moments later she had left the Dojo. The white Android, still sitting with his eyes disengaged, once again activated them.
  "You're making a mistake master", the Android spoke, "sending her away like that..." Anze interrupted the Android's words with a stern look. Realizing his disrespect the Android lowered his head. "I... I apoligize master, please forgive my lack of respect."
v "What was Zoke thinking?" Anze wondered to himself. "Accepting a machine into his school, how absurd."
  The students looked upon the elder's silence and slowly returned to their meditation. The Android slowly stood up. "I am sorry master," he spoke, "but I cannot allow her to combat this alone." The android turned and faced the door.
  "By the wishes of Zoke I allowed you to remain in this school BWS-1, but know this: If you walk through those doors now you may never return. I will indulge no such fancies as androids studying the arts."
  Angered by the elders words, BWS-1 spoke, "I refuse to allow my friends to face peril alone. If you will not help her, then I will. Goodbye." BWS-1 took several quick strides toward the door and exited the Dojo.

  Trys fired a bolt of Zonde in the direction of Tygrin, it had no effect. Iris and Tear were safely outside the lab now, and all that was standing between Trys and her freedom was 2.2 meters of angry red android. She sprinted for the nearest door only to be cut off by the faster moving red behemoth. She desperately tried to maneuver around him, but it was no use. He was fully covering the door. Tygrin's eyes glowed brightly as he slammed his fist into Trys' lower abdomen. Trys violently exhaled and began desperately trying to draw in breath. Tygrin clutched Trys' by the neck and lifted her off the ground to his eye level. Trys' grabbed his wrist with her hands and tried unsuccessfully to pry herself loose. If he had been capable of doing so, Tygrin would have smiled. Then he was shot in the back.
  Startled, Tygrin dropped Trys and quickly turned around to see two black androids and several humans in dark clothes, all holding photon guns pointed at him. The front most human spoke.
"You have nowhere to run Tygrin, this is your curtain call."
  As he violently charged the group of government soldiers, Tygrin's eyes glowed brightly. His speed caught them by surprise. The human who had spoken was greeted by a fist to the face, which was dealt with such strength, that it knocked him back several meters into the humans standing behind him. They all stumbled and began to fire their weapons in the general direction of the ceiling. The two androids were not so easily surprised, they fired several volleys at Tygrin, who despite being impervious to techniques, was not at all impervious to photon bullets. Tygrin stumbled back, several well aimed shots had come very close to his critical systems. The humans were getting up, and the androids were reloading. Realizing he could not win, Tygrin did the only sensible thing possible. He detached his head and threw it out the nearest window, and while the military was busy trying to figure out what the &#%$ had just happened, Tygrin's head rolled away from the lab complex to safety. Inside, Tygrin's left arm raised up, and from the hand the middle finger extended. A loud beep was heard seconds before the headless body exploded.
  From the doorway to the teleporter room, Trys watched the government soldiers recover from the odd scene they had just been party to. The lead human looked directly at Trys, he had a large indent in the shape of a fist in his face,
"Ouch" he said.

  Trys stood holding the railing looking over the edge of the shopping district to the massive city within Pioneer 2. Lost in thought, she barely noticed the crowds walking past her in all directions. The white android from the Dojo, BWS-1, walked up beside her. "How are you holding up?" , he asked.
Without looking at him, Trys responded coldly, "fine".
"Look Trys, I only want to help. You're my friend, we've known each other for years. If you can't trust me, then who can you trust?"
  Trys remained quiet for several minutes, then spoke, "I'm afraid B..." she said with a dry emotionless tone. "Iris is up to something, I can feel it, but I don't know what... I'm worried."
  "Are you still having the dreams?"
  "Yes, but... they're different, and they're faster now. I don't know what to do, Lyca hasn't had a single one, and Iris and Tear are out of reach. I need to know what they were doing to me in that lab, I... I..." Trys' voice trailed off.
  "It's okay" BWS-1 said reassuringly. He turned his head to face the city beyond the edge of the balcony. "You'll find out, you know you will."
  "...yeah, eventually, I know B, but..."
  "Hey, by the way, speaking of the little minx, where is Lyca? Weren't you supposed to pick her up after training today?"
  Trys abruptly pushed off the railing, her eyes open wide. BWS-1 looked at Trys, "so" he said "it's one of those days eh? 100 meseta says she's skipped her meds had 2 already, and probably working on the third." Trys glared at BWS-1.
  "Hey, she's only 16 you ass, what do you think she is? Some kind of slut?"
  "Trys, I've seen her when she doesn't take her medication before you remember? I don't think... I know."
  "Oh just shutup and c'mon."

  Trys and BWS-1 were walking to the inner district teleporter, on their way to the Purplenum sector to pickup Trys' younger sister Lyca from school. The message indicator light on Trys' Datalink flashed indicating she had received mail. "Hold up B", she said, "I've got mail... it's from Lyca." Trys briefly read the message on the screen of her Datalink. "She's gone down to the forest with Anim, they're going to hunt rappies. She says 'Don't worry, I took my medication at lunch'." Trys looked at BWS-1, and rolled her eyes.
  "I guess", said BWS-1, "She'll be fine then, there's no danger in the forest anyway." As he finished speaking, BWS-1's Datalink flashed. through his direct connection to it, he read the message. "Oops, sorry Trys, I forgot I was supposed to meet Haruka after we finished training today. She's a little mad, I'd better go."
  "All right B, tell her I say hello. And... thanks, for everything..."
  "My pleasure Trys, I'll mail you tomorrow, we need to work out this... situation."
  "Yeah, later B." BWS-1 turned to his left and quickly walked off into the crowd in the direction of the dining district. Trys watched as BWS-1 walked away, and just as she was about to start for the teleporter again, she was taped on the shoulder from behind. She quickly turned to see two army soldiers standing in front of her.
  "Are you Trys Sols?" The closest soldier asked her.
  "Solstrys", she corrected, "Family name first if you please. Yes, I am her. What is this about?"
  "My apologies, approximately 10 minutes ago someone using your Hunters Guild ID caused quite a commotion in the Bluefull sector before teleporting to Ragol. The initial DNA scan verified the perpetrator as you, however..."
  Trys' mind raced. There was only one person who could fake her DNA signature. Trys knew even before the soldier said the words, Iris had made her move, she was now on Ragol.
  "...a secondary scan of the DNA signature using archived guild data confirmed it was in fact a rogue hunter known as Solsiris." The soldier continued, "We have orders to bring you to our commander, if you'll follow us miss..."
  The color drained from Trys' face, when she spoke it was barely above a whisper. Her mind was working to furiously to contemplate any kind of complex answer, she managed to say "Okay", as the soldiers escorted her to the teleporter.

Chapter 3 - Tear

  Tear opened her eyes. She was laying on her back on the side of a grassy hill, staring up at the canopy of trees above her. For several minutes she simply lay there, gazing up into the trees, enjoying the cool breeze. A noise in the distance startled her, it was a loud chirping noise, a kind of noise she had never heard. She sat up, and looked at her datalink. She had never learned how to use any more than its most basic functions. She looked at the readout, she was in the outer forrest area, on Ragol. She stared at the devise, as though it were some incomprehensible alien artifact she had never before seen.
  "Um.." Tear spoke to the Datalink. "Um, linky, where I?" The Datalink gave no reply, nor would it. "Trees? These trees? Iris sister tell about trees." Tear paused for a moment as if searching her memories, she frowned. "Trees not eatable!" Tear stood up, and began walking in the direction of the noise.
  After several minutes of following loud chirping noises, Tear walked into a clearing to find two young forces fighting giant yellow birds. The older one wore glasses and a white force garb, while the other wore a green force outfit and had pink hair. Tear stood in silence as the two forces attacked and defeated the large bird, at which point it let out one of the loud chirping noises Tear had been following. The force in white noticed Tear watching.
  "Hello there!" The force in white yelled across the clearing, waving her hand in the air to attract Tear's attention. The force in green looked at Tear, the two forces began to walk towards her. When they were only a few feet away they stopped. "Hi there!" the force in white repeated.
  Tear stood in silence for several moments. "Um, what you doing?"
  The two forces looked at each other. "Rappy hunting", the force in green replied. "My name is Lyca" she said, "and this" Lyca pointed to the force in white, "is Anim."
  Tear pointed to Lyca, "Lyca", she said. Tear then pointed to Anim, "Anim" she said. Tear finally pointed to herself "I Tear, you have eatables?" Tear smiled.
  Lyca and Anim look at each other. Anim was the first to speak, "Eatables? What is an eatable? Do you mean food?"
  Tear continued smiling, "Yes! Eatables, yummy eatables. You have?" Tear paused for a second, "What rappy? Rappy eatable?"
  "As a matter of fact", Anim said, "It is."
  "Um, Tear, would you mind waiting here for just a second?", Lyca said. "Anim and I need to talk..."
  "Okay, great, thanks, we'll just be a sec..." Lyca and Anim walked to the other side of the clearing. Lyca was the first to speak. "Well, what should we do? She's obviously lost, but she has a datalink and she seems aware."
  "There's something about her", Anim said, "I can't quite put my finger on it..."
  "I know what you mean, just looking at her gives me this chill down my spine, like we've met somewhere before."
  Anim glanced in Tear's direction. Tear was amusing herself watching a butterfly intently, wondering if it was eatable. "Well, one thing is clear", Anim whispered, "We can't leave her here. let's just take her with us and when we're done for the day we can take her to the guild and see if they know what to do with her. She probably wandered onto the Ragol teleporter by accident, you know how those Army guards slack off."
  Lyca gave an acknowledging nod. They walked back over to Tear, who had caught a butterfly and was about to eat it. "Say Tear", Anim said in a happy tone, "Would you like to go with us on our Rappy hunt?"
  Tear opened her mouth wide, and ate the butterfly. Lyca made her disgustion apparent with an exaggerated facial expression. "Um, sure!" Tear proclaimed.
  "Great!" Anim said. "Okay", Anim noticed Lyca's expression, "Lyca, you all right?"
  "I will be."
  "Okay", Anim cheerfully spoke, "We're off, watch out rappies!" Anim, Tear, and Lyca walked through a door at the far end of the clearing and ventured off deeper into the forest.
  They hadn't traveled very far before they encountered a group of 12 rappies. The pudgy yellow creatures were sunning themselves in a clearing where the sun had penetrated the canopy of trees. Anim and Lyca stopped near the edge to the clearing, Tear stopped with them. "All right Tear", Lyca said, "There's alot of them, we'll need some help, equip your Mag and get a weapon."
  "Why I need bang bang?"
  "What's 'bang bang' Tear?", asked Anim.
  "Um... is bang bang, sister give. I show you?" Tear cheerfully pressed a button on her datalink, and a pair of Gatlings appeared in her hands. A small pudgy creature with bat wings appeared on the ground next to Tear. "Ahh, this Pitri", Tear informed Anim and Lyca. "Him friend, like yummy eatables too!" Anim and Lyca looked at the creature on the ground. It was clearly a Mag, and an uncommon type at that, but it was the first Mag either Anim or Lyca had seen that was on the ground like that. mags normally had a tremendous amount of energy, but this one was clearly lethargic, and appeared to be sleeping.
  "Ah, Tear", Anim began, "I know a thing of two about Mags, but..." she hesitated before speaking further, "I've never seen a mag do what yours is, is it okay?"
  "Of course! Him just sleepy. HEY PIIIITRIIII!!" Tear shouted at the Mag on the ground. She reached down and picked it up as if it were a large ball. She gave the Mag a tight hug before rubbing it against her cheek. "Wake wake Piiiiiitriii!! Nice people to meet!" The Mag slowly opened it's eyes and looked at Lyca and Anim. It blinked several times, and then closed it's eyes, and began to snore quietly. Anim and Lyca looked at Tear questioningly. "WAKE WAKE PIIIIITRIII!!" Tear happily yelled. She held the Mag at arms length and turned it to face Anim and Lyca. The Mag once again opened it's eyes, looked over Anim and Lyca, and then began to hover on it's own. It turned to face Tear, and for several seconds hovered facing her. Tear suddenly looked quite annoyed, and spoke abruptly. "No no, friends, we get yummy eatables... for Pitri too!" The Mag's eyes opened wide, and it again stared at Tear for several seconds. Tear smiled once again and faced Lyca and Anim. "Pitri will help, him want eatables too." Pitri hovered to Tear's left shoulder and stayed there. Anim and Lyca looked dumbfounded.
  "Say Tear", Anim said, "Um, were you... just now, that is... I mean... were you talking to your mag?"
  "Of course! Pitri very smart!"
  "Really? You can talk to Mags? I've heard about this before, I didn't think it was true..." Tear looked at Anim. Anim pressed a button on her datalink and a yellow mag appeared by her shoulder. "This is a Preta type Tear, I named him Ducky, he's so cute!"
  "Is duck..."
  "He is Ducky! Can you tell me what he is saying? Please!!"
  "Okies!" Tear moved closer to Ducky, it held a blank look in it's eyes. Tear slowly moved around Ducky, before finally facing Anim again. "Um..."
  "Yes!!? What did he say??!!" Anim said enthusiastically.
  "Him say 'Quack Quack'" Anim's jaw dropped.
  "'Quack Quack'?" Anim repeated the words, "Quack Quack??? What does that mean?? C'mon Tear, tell me what that means!"
  Tear looked at Pitri, then back at Anim. "Um, it means 'Quack Quack'" A profound look of disappointment slowly took shape on Anim's face. Tear again looked at Pitri. "No Pitri, not do that!"
  "Tear..." Lyca spoke up, "What is it saying?"
  "Pitri want know if Duck thing eatable, him say Duck look delicious, and he want to know if eatable." Anim's face twisted into a look of total shock and revulsion.
  "Absolutely NOT!" Anim screamed, "No one will be eating Ducky, no way!" Anim grabbed the creature and held it tightly to her bosom. "Ducky is forever! Keep that fat bat away from him!!"
  Tear appeared puzzled for several moments, then turned around and looked at the rappies sunning themselves. "I hungry, Pitri says we go get eatables now, toodles!" Tear began to quickly walk in the direction of the rappies. Anim turned her head to face Lyca.
  "Is she walking by herself into a group of twelve rappies?"
  "Looks that way."
  "I knew that girl would be trouble, c'mon." Anim and Lyca hurriedly ran after Tear, who had already alerted the rappies to their presence.

Chapter 4 - Revelation

  Trys stood facing Tyrell. The Principal of Pioneer 2, Tyrell, commanded all affairs dealing with the ordinary citizenry. He was an imposing man, tall and dower looking. He had lost his only child in the accident that destroyed Pioneer 1, and his stress was obvious.
  "I'll get to the point", Tyrell said, "You're here because there is a catastrophic situation unfolding down on Ragol. Hunters from the guild have been investigating the depths of an ancient ship deep beneath Ragol. We believe your sister Iris has gone to this ship..."
  "What does she want with this ship?", Trys asked coldly. Tyrell lowered his brow and frowned.
  "We were hoping", he said, "that you could tell us."
  "I'm sorry, I haven't seen her in years, I don't know much about her." Tyrell shot a quick glance to his assistant, who pressed a button on a computer console. At the far end of the Principal's office, two additional army soldiers escorting a man in prison clothes appeared on the teleporter pad. They walked to Trys.
  "This man is..." Tyrell began.
  "Doctor Emil Lander, former head of Project Sols, I know who he is", Trys finished. Trys stared into Dr. Lander's eyes for several seconds before turning to face Tyrell. "What is he doing here?"
  "We captured him shortly before Pioneer 2's launch, I thought you might want to talk with him." Trys peered into Tyrell's eyes, then turned to face Dr. Lander. Lander looked at the ground, his face appeared profoundly sad.
  "Why?" Trys asked coldly. "Why... everything... Why the lab? The experiments? Why me? Why Lyca, Iris and Tear? What was that all about?"
  Lander responded in a low tone, barely above a whisper. His voice was hoarse and cracked, as if he hadn't spoken in some time. "How much do you know about Photonic life forms?"
  "Not much, nobody does."
  "Exactly, we depend upon these creatures yet we know so little about them. Photonic energy is the basis of our technology, and these life forms can control photons at will."
  "Where is this going?"
  "Are you familiar with the name Sols?"
  "It's the family name they gave me when I became a ward of the state following my escape."
  "It is also a very important name historically, I'm not surprised you haven't heard of him... Let me recount the tail... Approximately two hundred years ago, there was a Human named Sols, who was the first to discover the life forms living in the Photonic clusters we use as power sources. He made contact with what we call a "Greater Photonic". An intelligent and powerful Photonic life form. The one he made contact with was named "Nilla". The Greater Photonic believed that Sols was attempting to communicate, so it possessed his body in an attempt to bridge the communication barrier. For several days after this, Sols demonstrated incredible power over Photons, ability to manipulate photons on the level of a Greater Photonic. Unfortunately, the possession eventually killed him. His research led to the identification of the current Greater Photonics, the ones the synthetic life forms hunters call "Mags" can summon. The Mags were a creation of work done by analyzing Sols' corpse following his death. Much was learned about the interaction between Photonics and flesh from this study."
  "How does this relate to me and my sisters?"
  "You and your sisters are the culmination of decades of work on the Numan genotype. You were designed to be able to contain a Greater Photonic indefinitely, and fully wield it's powers. The ability to control photons at will would be an incredible weapon, or tool." Trys stood silent. Her eyes open wide. "Unfortunately, there were problems with all of you, but we decided to raise you anyway. We were going to run every experiment we could imagine, we needed to know what went wrong."
  "The tests... we were... failures? Rejects?"
  "Essentially, yes."
  "What is 'wrong' with us?"
  "Well, all of you age properly. We had to modify the aging gene in the Numan genotype so you'd age at human speed, yet retain the expanded physical and mental prowess we required. But, each of you had unique flaws we didn't foresee."
  "You're brain has defects. We weren't sure how they'd affect you, but any defect automatically disqualified you from being a host." Trys immediately thought of her dreams, of her visions. She already knew how the brain "defects" had affected her.
  "Lyca was actually fine in all mental regards. Unfortunately she is fertile, which a host must not be. We had, and indeed have, no way to know what would happen if a Greater Photonic host became pregnant. Lyca's genes were additionally impaired due to an overactive desire to mate. Even as a young child, she emitted over 200% higher pheromone levels than any previously recorded Numan. I suspect you have seen the result of this in her social life." Trys silently nodded just slightly.
  "Poor Tear's mental capacity is not sufficient I'm afraid. She has the cognitive ability, but lacks the ability to retain too much information. Her personality centers of the brain were also unusual, she likely has poor social habits among other things."
  "Iris as well is fertile, though not to the degree of Lyca. In fact her childhood pheromone levels were quite low, so she may not have a desire to mate at all, but she can still do so."
  "Then..." Trys said, "Why females? Why not use males?"
  "There was actually a test group of males. They were frozen in embryo form once your initial defects were discovered. We decided to grow you and your sisters for study because young girls are easier to handle than young boys. Less aggressive and so on. However as we began the experiments we learned your defects were due to the careless mistakes of one of our scientists. Without permission he modified you and your sisters DNA with data from early Numan 'social servants'."
  "We were modified... with genetic data from Numans bred for sexual slavery?"
  "Yes. Just your physical data." Lander lifted his head slightly, and briefly stared at Trys chest. "The result is as you see. I also believe this may have something to do with Lyca's condition." Trys looked up to the ceiling of the office. She could see the stars through the clear ceiling, and she starred at them for several minutes. No one in the room spoke.
  "Tell me more", Trys spoke, still starring through the ceiling, "about how we were supposed to be hosts to Greater Photonics."
  "It's pretty simple actually, all that is needed is prolonged physical contact with a Greater Photonic, your bodies were designed to absorb their specific kind photonic energy like a sponge."   "Tell her", Tyrell interrupted, "about the Supremes."
  "Ahh, yes," Lander said with a sigh. "When the caretaker of Rykros warned us of the seal's collapse, we began to search for a suitable planet to escape to. One of the probes sent into deep space discovered Ragol, and sent back some disturbing news. There was evidence that an old Parmainian generational ship had crashed on Ragol in the distant past. Preliminary scans determined it to be deep beneath the surface of the planet. The organization I worked for suppressed all knowledge of the findings relating to the ship."
  "Because while a ship like that would be a tremendous find, what we suspected was within had to be kept secret. Ever since Sols' death, there has been some suspicion that there may be an even higher order of Photonics than the Greaters. We called these theoretical Photonics, Supremes. We correlated the ancient legends of the creature "Dark Force" with this theory, We began to believe that Dark Force was a temporary physical manifestation of a Supreme Photonic. And the scans the probe took of the inner ship showed a massive containment field in place, still operative after who knows how long. We could only think of one reason for such a field..."
  "Then, you're saying this "Dark Force" creature is on Ragol?"
  "Evidence of a creature called "Dark Falz" has been found in the ship, written in ancient Parman," Tyrell said, "We believe the two to be one and the same." Trys stopped looking through the ceiling and faced Tyrell. "Now Miss Trys, based on this information, do you know why Iris would be heading into the ruins with Tear?"
  Trys stood still for several seconds, deep in thought. "I can think of only one reason, if she knows any of this, then she probably plans to absorb this Falz creature." Tyrell frowned.
  "This is precisely what we were afraid of." Tyrell glanced at his assistant, who pressed another button on her control console. At the teleporter at the far end of the office a high ranking Army officer appeared. "Ready our contingency plan for an Omega situation Lieutenant." Tyrell commanded. The officer nodded and disappeared in a brief flash of light. The men escorting Lander escorted him to the teleporter, where they too disappeared. "I will see to it, " Tyrell said authoritatively, "that you are granted full visitation rights to Dr. Lander." The soldiers who had escorted Trys grabbed her by the arms, and began walking her down to the end of the office in the direction of the teleporter.
  "Hey! What's going on here? Let me go!"
  "Miss Trys", Tyrell said coldly "given the situation, you cannot be allowed to travel to Ragol. As of now your Guild privileges are temporarily revoked, and you are hereby ordered to stay confined to your assigned sector." The soldiers pushed her onto the teleporter, and in a flash of light she was standing in the hallway leading to her and Lyca's apartment.

Chapter 5 - Stumpy

  Iris was angry, and it showed. In her rush to escape Tygrin and the military guards in the guild she has lost her cool and panicked. Now she was somewhere deep in the subterranean caves of Ragol, and she had no idea where Tear had gone. She was alone, and hot. She hated warm weather, but the magma rivers all around her made the caves almost unbearably hot. And then there was the giant flower creatures that had been laughing at her for the past few minutes. One of them had attacked her with a paralysis inducing liquid. Even worse was the way she was bending over at the waist to pickup her datalink when the paralysis took effect. Even worse than that was when the three guys entered the room and immediately noticed her, bending over, unable to move. The apparent leader of the group, a ranger in blue, was the first to approach her.
  "Yeeowch! Is it hot in here or is it just you? Smokes babe, that's some hello wave you got there." Iris was slowly filling with murderous rage. She decided she had better get the guys to heal the paralysis before she beat them into bloody pulps.
  "Hey, finally someone has shown up", Iris proclaimed in her most helpless sounding voice. "I was afraid I'd be stuck like this forever, you guys are real lifesavers!" Iris forced a fake smile. A hunter behind the ranger spoke up.
  "I guess you got attacked by that lilly", the man pointed to the, still laughing, giant flower a few feet from Iris. "You need help miss?"
  "Hmm, I dunno", the ranger in blue spoke, "I kinda like you this way. Very photogenic." Iris couldn't see his face but she knew he was smiling. The ranger walked over to her and slapped her ass. "Ooh! Prime selection, and I see the front ain't too bad. Tell me honey, what's your name?"
  "Hey man, c'mon, heal her already you jerk", the until now silent ranger in black behind the other two spoke. "You've had your fun man, just anti the paralysis already." At precisely the the moment the ranger in black finished speaking, a female hunter none of them had previously noticed cast Anti on Iris, who immediately stood up and spun around to face the guys standing behind her. The guys all looked quite surprised to see Iris suddenly stand up, they were even more surprised when she attacked them.
The ranger in blue was the first Iris went after. She kicked him so hard she was certain he was now tasting his #$@%&. When he fell to the ground clutching his crotch screaming in a very high pitched voice her theory was verified. The remaining hunter and ranger looked in astonishment at what they had just witnessed. They slowly backed away from Iris. The lilly behind Iris laughed again, and as she turned and blasted it with a stream of the ice technique Barta, the two guys turned and ran as fast as they could. Iris ignored them, and concentrated her attention to the ranger in blue, who was now beginning to slowly standup, in obvious pain. The female hunter who had aided Iris walked to her, Iris' Datalink in hand.
  The hunter had distinctive red spiky hair, much like Iris and even appeared to be wearing the same outfit as well. "Quite a fix you got yourself in there dear, good thing I was out for a stroll. Here", the hunter extended her arm and handed Iris her Datalink, "I believe this is yours. My name's Ophelia, but most people call me Ophie."
  "The name's Iris, spare me a second if you would..." Iris turned to face the ranger in blue, who was slowly trying to sneak away. Iris put her Datalink back on her wrist and pressed a button on it's small panel. An odd purple Mag with two almost vertical wing like extensions appeared by Iris' shoulder. "Churel", Iris said to the Mag. The Mag hovered silently. Iris pointed to the ranger in blue, "Play time". The Mag turned to face the ranger, and quickly flew in his direction. Iris turned to face Ophelia. "Thanks by the way, I was never any good at that damsel in distress crap."
  "Oh it's my pleasure, but... um your Mag seems to be..."
  "Don't worry about Churel", Iris said. "She'll take care of him." The Mag continued chasing the ranger to the far side of the room, where he ran into an adjacent corridor. Churel followed.
  "I feel compelled to ask", Ophelia said, "Why you're down here all by yourself, these caves are dangerous you know."
  "I could ask the same of you."
  "I suppose that you could, but I'm quite a bit stronger than you dear. Your guild rating is 67 according to your datalink. Mine is 100, that's quite a difference."
  "Those numbers are irreverent, they are not designed to categorize me... and besides, I'm not alone. My sister is down here somewhere. As a matter of fact I was in the middle of looking for her when that flower thing paralyzed me."
  "Oh, I see. Do you need some help looking for her?"
  "That", Iris said with a grin, "Would be great!" A sudden look of total shock appeared across Iris' face, and she pointed in the direction behind Ophelia. Ophie very quickly turned around but saw nothing, then abruptly felt a sharp pain on the back of her neck. Ophie's eyes rolled back and she fell to her knees, then forward to the ground. She was out cold, Iris was standing over her with her right hand extended to where Ophie's neck was. Iris had quickly delivered a strong chop to the back of Ophelia's neck, knocking her unconscious. Iris looked down at Ophie. "Sorry 'dear', but I'm not a people person", Iris said with a sneer.
  Iris activated her Datalink's three dimensional imager, and selected the Guild Card search index. She searched for Tear's Card Index, moments later the reply came from the Guild's Ragol network. Tear was in the Forest on the surface of Ragol. Iris sent the covert commands to Tear's datalink she had had preprogrammed in case they were separated. She set Tear's datalink to automatically send Tear to the entrance to the ancient ruins the moment she stepped on any teleporter. Relieved that she could now resume her mission, Iris drew a large sickle weapon from her null item storage and began walking in the direction Churel and the ranger has ventured off in.
  It didn't take Iris long to find Churel and the hunter. Or what was left of the hunter at least. Several cleverly directed flame and ice techniques from Churel had had the effect of modifying the physique of the hunter into a form he would have a hard time explaining. Iris walked up the the barely conscious hunter and leered down at him. "From now on", Iris said to him in a cold tone, "Your name is stumpy. If I ever see you again, I will not be so forgiving." Iris extended her right palm towards the hunter and cast a weak resta spell. She stared at him for a few seconds, before abruptly plunging her sickle weapon into the chest of the very surprised, and now dead, hunter. As the hunter exhaled for the last time Iris cast a reverser technique on him, reviving him from death. He looked startled. Iris turned away from the hunter and began walking to a door at the far end of the hallway they were in. Iris addressed the mag, "Churel, come", the mag obediently turned away from the sobbing hunter and followed Iris down the hallway, and through a door.
  As Iris entered the room beyond the door a dozen green bipedal creatures suddenly teleporter into the room. They stood oddly still for several seconds, before throwing their arms up and emitting a loud screeching noise. They all headed directly at Iris. "Well", Iris said quietly to herself, "It looks like someone knows I'm here."

Chapter 6 - Sunlit Memories

  The twelfth and final Rappy let out a satisfying chirp as Anim slammed her frying pan into it's forehead, knocking it unconscious. Never had either Lyca or Anim been involved in such a bizarre series of events, and they both hoped they never would be again. Somehow, Tear had managed to defeat almost all of the Rappies with a single blast of a powerful Zonde type spell. The rappies who weren't felled by the blast however, were quite upset. They beset Tear en masse, Anim and Lyca were certain Tear would be severely injured. Three or four Rappies is manageable in a group, but 5 alone was difficult at best.
  So Anim and Lyca were even more confounded when Tear's Mag, the one she called 'Pitri', suddenly dropped it's jaw several feet and swallowed a Rappy whole. Then to watch as Tear poked a Rappy in front of her in the eyes with her index fingers, it was just too bizarre. With a odd combination of stomping on their feet, poking them in the eyes, and scratching them behind the antennae, Tear had managed to defeat all but one of the rappies. The only reason Tear didn't defeat them all, was due to Anim's compulsion to bash the last one in the head with her frying pan.
  "Wow", Anim said. "That was great! Tear, I don't think I've ever seen anything like that!" Tear smiled. Pitri dropped it's jaw and swallowed another whole Rappy. A quick series of beeps came from Lyca's datalink, informing her she had received a high priority mail. Lyca quickly read the message.
  "It's from Trys", Lyca said quietly. "She wants me to return immediately, but won't say why."
  "Well, perhaps it's for the best", Anim said. "You were supposed to take your medication an hour ago or something right? Plus, we've got alot of em today, we don't want the Rappies to go extinct or anything, right?" As Anim finished speaking Tear withdrew a massive cooking cauldron from her null space item storage, it was filled with what appeared to Anim to be boiling water. Tear grabbed the nearest Rappy by it's legs and threw it into the cauldron, which resulted in a very pleasant sounding hissing noise. The remaining rappies all suddenly sat up, and ran as fast as they could for the bushes, where they disappeared from sight. "Tear!" Anim said quickly "What the heck is that?!" Tear smiled.
  "I not like Pitri", Tear proclaimed sounding rather sad. "Sister say I not allowed to eat eatables before cooked... but", Tear once again smiled "Cooked eatables good! Delicious!"
  ;"I'm sorry Tear", Lyca interrupted, "but I've got to go back to P2 right away. Do you want to come with me? I'm sure someone at the guild can help you..."
  "NO!", Tear said abruptly. "Mission... Lyca Anim not stay?"
"I'm sorry Tear", Anim said. "But we have to get back, it's getting late and we've got school tomorrow. Don't you?" Tear frowned.
  "School? What 'School'? It eatable?"
  "Uh, no, not really... it's um...", Anim struggled to find the words, "It's a place where you are taught stuff. I guess..."
  "Oh...", Tear frowned again. "Not sound eatable." Tear turned to face Pitri. She stared at the mag for several moments before speaking again, "Pitri agree, not sound eatable."
  "Then", Lyca said, "You're sure you won't come back with us?"
  "Well, that's your decision... I guess. We should swap guild card files so we can keep in touch." Tear stared at Lyca with a perplexed look. "Um, here, let me show you..." Lyca stepped forward and pressed the guild file button on Tear's datalink. Lyca pressed the same button on hers. "See..." Lyca said, "Now we can find each other, so we can go rappy hunting again sometime." At the mention of this Tear smiled again, and suddenly lunged toward Lyca. Tear wrapped her arms around Lyca, and gave her a tremendous bear hug with surprising strength. Then in a rather odd scene with even further shocked the already bewildered Lyca, Tear pressed her face to Lyca's, and rubbed her cheek against Lyca's cheek. "It okay sister", Tear whispered into Lyca's ear, "Everything okay!". Tear released her hold on Lyca, and walked back to her cauldron where she withdrew several canisters of cooking spices from her null space item storage, and began to throw portions of them into the boiling water. Anim and Lyca looked at each other, simultaneously shrugged, and turned around to walk to the transporter back to Pioneer 2.
  The entire walk to the transporter neither Lyca nor Anim spoke a word. Once they reached the transporter, Anim was the first to speak. "Do you think it was okay to just leave her like that? She's obviously very confused."
  "Something tells me everything'll be okay."
  "Oh? Well, if you say so. By the way, did she whisper something to you when she had you in that bear hug? It sure looked like she did." Lyca stepped onto the transporter pad, she did not reply. "Oh come on!" Anim said, "We've been best friends my entire life! You can tell me what she said!!"
  "She..." Lyca mumbled under her breath "She called me 'sister'." Lyca pressed a button on her datalink and disappeared in a flash of light. Anim sighed, and stepped on the pad. She pressed a button on her datalink and vanished in a similar flash.

Chapter 7 - Duty

  Lyca materialized on the transporter pad at the end of the hallway outside her and Trys' apartment. Lyca immediately looked to their apartment's front door down at the far end of the hallway, and noticed two men in military uniforms standing outside the door. The events of the past few minutes still playing through her mind, Lyca approached the apartment with apprehension. The guards outside were very friendly.
  "Excuse me ma'am", the short guard inquired, "but are you miss Lyca?" Lyca looked at the guards, one was a short man, the other was tall, other than that, they appeared to be identical twins. Assigned births to fill the ranks of the Army, Lyca assumed the men to be betas.
  "I am."
  "Please enter, your sister will explain everything to you." Lyca placed her palm on the DNA scanner door lock, and the door slid to the right into the wall. Lyca entered the apartment. Trys' minimalist approach to interior decorating had always irked Lyca, she preferred to be surrounded by lots of stuff. Trys was the exact opposite. The sparsely decorated apartment was a series of large rooms subdivided by portable walls into various training studios for Trys, and Lyca's large room. A large kitchen with a table in the middle was the only room remaining as the apartment had been once they moved in. Trys was in her meditation room, sitting on the floor.
  "Lyca, is that you?" Trys yelled across the apartment.
  "It's me sis, I'm back." Lyca yelled back. Trys stood up and walked out of her meditation room to the kitchen. She sat down at the table. Lyca was already sitting, waiting.
  "You want to know why there are armed guards outside right?"
  "Earlier today, there was an incident at the Bluefull Guild. Someone faked my DNA signature, and teleported down to Ragol. I had a... meeting... with Principal Tyrell, he ordered you and I to remain under house arrest until they can fix the situation..."
  "I don't understand... what are you talking about? How can someone just fake a DNA signature?"
  "Lyca... There are things I have kept from you, certain... facts... about our origins. You were too young to remember much, so I didn't want to burden you with the truth. I wanted you to live a happy life..."
  "Sis... ?" Lyca opened her eyes wide and stared at Trys. A look of nervous uncertianty slowly appeared on her face as Trys spoke.
  "We were created years ago, before Pioneer's launch. For years, all I knew was that we were part of something called 'Project Sols'. When I was young, there were... experiments, conducted on me. I never knew why you weren't part of the tests, until today anyway. But what you really need to know now, is that we're not the only ones they created. We have two other sisters, one was born between you and I, her name is Iris. She was the one who faked my ID today." Trys withdrew several printed photographs from her null space item storage, and placed them on the table. Lyca began to look them over, they were of two young Numan girls, one bearing a striking similarity to Trys, albeit with darker skin and orange hair. A caption under the girls picture read: "Project: Sols-Experrimental Type 02-Iris". The other picture was of a much younger girl, who was dressed in a medical gown, and looked profoundly sad, the caption under the picture read: "Project: Sols-Experrimental Type 04-Tear" Lyca gasped, the girl in the picture was the same girl she had met on Ragol earlier, Tear.
  "I... I... I know her! I met this girl earlier today in the forest!", Lyca quickly spoke.
  "What!? When was this?"
  "I just left her about half an hour ago...". Lyca looked at her datalink. "I did get her guild file!" Trys stared blankly at the wall for several seconds.
  "It's no good, those guards are out there, even if I could get past them, they'd call in for assistance. I'd never make it to the surface before they found me." Lyca and trys both sat silent. Lyca stared at the picture of Tear, and thought back to earlier that afternoon when they had been together in the forest. "...Sister" Lyca thought to herself. "She called me 'sister'...did she know?"
  The doorbell rang, Trys stood up and walked to the door. She pressed the open button on the wall next to the door, the the door slid open. A blue android carrying a rectangular box two meters long stood in the doorway. The guards appeared to have already inspected his ID.
  "Solstrys?" the android asked. Trys looked at the android, and at the box he was carrying. It was made of finely polished wood, and bore the family crest of her master, Zoke.
  "I am she..."
  "I was left with implicit instructions to relinquish this into your direct care." The android bowed his head and handed the box to Trys. He then turned and walked down the hallway towards the teleporter. The front door shut at Trys walked back into the apartment. Trys inspected the box closely, she could find no apparent way to open it. As she examined the box, the crest of Zoke began to faintly glow.
  "Who was it?" Lyca asked.
  "Android... he gave me this and walked off. But I can't seem to open it..."
  "What's that symbol? It's glowing..."
  "It's the crest of Master Zoke's family, I think he may have had this sent to me."
  "What is it?"
  "Well... it looks like a sword box. But there's no way to open it..." As Trys spoke the crest suddenly glowed brighter, and a from the crest a hologram of Zoke appeared. Trys placed the box on the floor as the hologram began to speak.
  "Trys", the hologram began, "I am about to leave on what I am sure will be my last journey in this life. I regret that I will not be able to witness your growth as a master of the arts. I know you will some day surpass even myself, and I hope this, my final gift to you, will help you achieve your goals. I am also certain, that my master Anze has by now expelled you from my school. I must apologize for his actions. Please know that he means no ill will, it simply is his way. You and BWS are my brightest pupils, and I hope you can understand why I have done what I have done. If I fail in my task, it will fall to you and he to finish my work. A great darkness stirs beneath Ragol. Our people will never find solace upon this world unless it is removed. I know you are deeply troubled by your visions, but you must learn to see them for what they are. May you walk the path of honor and righteousness." With it's final words the hologram faded slowly. The crest on the box ceased glowing, and the box made a clicking noise. Trys knelt and slowly lifted the now released lid from the box. Inside the box sat a simple looking sword. Trys looked at her reflection in the sword's finely polished blade. A simple paper card in the box read: "Orotiagito, AUW 1975, Dousetsu". A look of total shock drew across Trys' face.
  "What is it?" Lyca asked.
  "It's... Agito. The final sword of the heavens..."
  "The what?"
  "Master Zoke...", Trys whispered to herself. Lyca and Trys remained silent for several minutes. A sudden loud thumping noise from outside the front door caught their attention. The door slid open seconds later, and in the doorway stood BWS-1. A glimmering silver Agito in his hand.
  "Trys", BWS-1 said silently, "we have a job to do."

Chapter 8 - Guardian of Hopes and Dreams

  Tear materialized on the transporter pad and slowly looked at her surroundings. She was obviously very confused, having seconds prior been in the forest investigating a teleporter. She had wondered if the teleporter was eatable, and when she stepped on it, she suddenly found herself in her present surroundings. The walls were metal, and had streams of light coursing in patterns all over them. A massive metal door marked the only entrance or exit from the room.
  With a sudden flash of light Tear's mag, Pitri, appeared on the teleporter pad, looking just as confused as Tear. It began to almost schizophrenically look around in all directions with great fervor. The large door opened and Iris entered the room. She looked happy to see Tear.
  "Finally! Tear where have you been?", Iris inquired.
  "Um... sister?! What happen? Where this?" Tear asked. Tear walked to the nearest wall and extended a hand out to touch it. "Cold, not eatable..." Iris sighed deeply, she was relieved to have been reunited with Tear, and she quietly congratulated herself on having the forethought to modify Tear's Datalink.
  "We're in the Mines", Iris said quietly, "Almost at the ruins..." Iris abruptly stopped speaking when she noticed Tear's mag, Pitri, still erratically looking about the room. It suddenly stopped, and stared at the teleporter. A giant red question mark appeared above the creatures head as it examined the teleporter. Iris noted to herself that she would have to someday ask Tear how her mag did that. Iris regained her composure and resumed explaining the situation to Tear. "Ah, as I was saying, we're almost to the entrance to the ancient ruins..."
  Tear interrupted, "What 'ruins'? Ruins eatable? Like rappy? Ruins eatable like rappy? Rappy delicious!" Iris lowered her head, closed her eyes, and smacked herself in the forehead with her palm.
  "Look Tear, I really need your help right now. I need some help fighting some machines in an area not far from here. You can get some food when we're done." Tear stopped looking at the wall, and turned to face Iris.
  "Sister promise? Get eatables?"
  "I promise Tear, when we're done, you can have all the 'eatables' you want." Tear's eyes opened wide upon hearing Iris' words.
  "Okay! I help! Get eatables!!" Tear smiled, and turned to face her mag. "Pitriiiii!! We help sister, get eatables!" The Mag hovered for several seconds looking at Tear. "Of course!" Tear proclaimed, "is sister, sister promise!" The Mag hovered for several more seconds before smiling broadly. A giant red musical note appeared over the creature's head, quickly moved up and down several times and disappeared.
  "Ah, Tear..." Iris began, "Your mag, um, Pitri... how does it do that?"
  "Pitri very smart!" Tear proclaimed. She extended out her hands and grabbed the pudgy creature. She drew it in and held it tightly against her chest, giving it a playful hug. She then released the Mag, and it returned to hovering near her left shoulder. "Okay!", Tear cheerfully shouted, "We ready sister!"
  Iris and Tear walked to the room's solitary door, and out into the hallway beyond. For several minutes they walked through many alike looking rooms of green metal walls with oddly glowing designs on the floor, past untold piles scrap metal littered everywhere--the remains of wave after wave of robotic enemies Iris and many other hunters had defeated journeying through the mines. Eventually, they arrived at in a room with a no piles of metal on the floor. Iris instructed Tear to wait by the door.
  "Okay Tear, we're here. Now watch..." Iris looked at her mag, which had been following obediently all the while as they trekked through the mines. "Churel", Iris spoke, "Trigger the motion detectors please", Iris pointed to the center of the room. The Mag obeyed and quickly flew to the center of the room, four large green heavily armored machines immediately teleported in surrounding the Mag. "Tear", Iris instructed, "I'm going to go fight those machines, they're called Granzes. When I get close enough, they'll all begin to fire missiles at me. I need you to destroy the missiles as they're fired so I can destroy those things." Tear appeared perplexed.
  "Missiles? What missile?"
  "Listen, when I get close, alot of flying pointed things are going to appear. Just destroy them okay?"
  "Flying pointes? Okay, yah!" Iris breathed a sigh of relief, and drew a large sickle weapon from her null space item storage. Once it appeared in her hands, Iris began walking in the direction of the Granzes. Iris' Mag, Churel, flew back to Iris and hovered near her left shoulder. As Iris approached them, the four large Green Granzes turned to face her. They each launched a barrage of 4 slow moving missiles from upper chassis side mounted launchers. Iris picked up her pace and began to run towards the Granzes. As the first wave of missiles was about to strike Iris, Tear extended out a hand. From her hand, Tear shot a bright yellow bolt of electrical current which struck the first missile and then in a looping arc struck every missile, destroying them in the air, and causing some collateral damage to the Granzes. As Iris violently tore into the first Granz with her sickle weapon, it's massive armor began to disconnect from it's frame to reveal more missile launchers. Iris swing her weapon in broad movements striking all of the now closely situated together Granz machines. With each successive hit, more pieces of armor dropped to the floor to reveal more launchers. As Iris continued her attack each Granz fired a second volley of 8 missiles apiece, which Tear skillfully destroyed with more electric arcs. The collateral damage from the multiple explosions struck Iris, and were absorbed by her mag. The Granzes broke down as Iris tore through their central support chassis with her weapon. The room now contained four large green piles of scrap metal.
  Iris turned to face Tear, who was still standing by the door. "Whew... Thanks Tear, i wouldn't have been able to do that without your help."
  "Iris Welcome!", Tear cheerfully remarked. Iris waked to the far end of the room, and opened the only other door in the room beside the one they had entered in. The door led to a room containing large multi-person transporter. "Tear, come here please." Tear obeyed and walked across the room to stand next to Iris. Iris walked to the transporter and stood in the middle of the transport pad. "Okay Tear, let's go."
  "Go where?"
  "We need to take this transporter, there's someone we have to deal with before we can go to the ruins."
  "Oh... okay!" Tear walked to the transporter and stood on the pad. Both Tear and Iris vanished in a flash of light. When they rematerialized, they were standing in a large circular room, the circumference of which was a continous line of computer screens and data terminals. From the ceiling in the center of the room a Photonic core hung, the source of power for the massive computer system that controlled the mines.
  "Volt!", Iris shouted. "Volt! I know you're here. I know you can hear me! Show yourself!" The largest of the computer screens in front of Iris and Tear began to glow, and a massive red face appeared on it.
  "Solsiris", a hollow metallic sounding voice reverberated throughout the room as if emitting from all directions. "You may not pass, the master is busy at the moment."
  "You cannot stop me Volt, I will find your master, I will carry out my mission. Others have passed you, and so shall we!"
  "With each defeat I have been handed in combat", the voice began, "I have recorded the actions and styles of my opponents. With each ensuing regeneration of my core, I have adapted my systems. Neither you nor any creature of flesh can defeat me. Your life and your mission, end here." As the voice trailed off twelve two meter tall cylindrical objects emerged from the floor along the perimeter of the room. For several seconds they remained silent, before emitting powerful bolts of energy at the photonic core hanging from the ceiling. The core glowed brightly, and shot two streaking beams of energy directly at Tear and Iris, striking them both and knocking them to the ground. As Tear screamed from the pain of the blast, her Mag's eyes suddenly lost their pigment and became pale white.
  "Tear...", Iris moaned, "Your mag... it's Photon Blast is charged... hurry..." Tear slowly stood back up. The cylindrical objects again fired beams of energy at the photonic core, and as the second blast began, Tear shouted at the mag "Pitri! Help!"
  Hovering above Tear the mag suddenly emitted a faint red glow. As the Mag glowed, all the light in the room disappeared, the photonic core shot a second blast at the Mag, which was immediately absorbed by an invisible energy barrier surrounding the mag. Above the now stationary mag, a swirling mass of smoke and vapor appeared, streaks of charged energy flashing within. As if suddenly filled with fireflies, hundreds of glowing red balls of light appeared in the room, and began to gravitate towards the vaporous mass. With a striking speed the lights sped toward the vaporous mass, and were absorbed by it. Seconds later a massive spherical energy blast emanated from the vaporous cloud, when it hit the walls it shattered all the screens. The photonic core hanging from the ceiling imploded and fell to the ground. The room was violently shocked by cascading explosions as a second energy sphere tore through all the remaining computer systems. Then as quickly as it had begun, the vapor disappeared. A few remaining red emergency lights switched on.
  Iris slowly rose to her feet. "Careful Tear, it's not over yet..." As Iris spoke, from the darkness of the ceiling a massive electrical grinding noise slowly rose in volume. A massive red metal machine slowly appeared from the blackness of the upper ceiling. "I've heard about this... Your combat form Volt? Your armored core? When I'm done with you, there'll be nothing left for you to rebuild from!" Iris swung her sickle weapon at the giant machine, only to have it bounce off the polished armor plating.
  "Your endeavors are in vein", the metallic voice spoke. "I will not fail my master." A panel in the rear of the armor dropped down to reveal several missile launchers. From what iris discerned to be it's sides, two panels rose slightly. It fired twenty missiles. Tear, still in pain from the earlier energy blast, was slow to respond. She shot an electrical bolt at the missiles, but the technique was too underpowered, and several missiles exploded very near Iris. Iris was thrown to the ground by the force of the explosions. She stood up and began to attack with her sickle weapon again, only to experience further failures. Tear began to attack the armored core of Volt Opt with a variety of different elemental techniques. None met with success. As Iris was trying to figure out an attack strategy, the side armor panels suddenly made a brief whirring noise. Seconds later a massive column of metal scrap descended from the ceiling missing Iris my less than a meter.
  "Tear!", Iris shouted, "Run!" Tear did as instructed, seconds later another massive cylindrical column of metal scrap impacted the area where Tear had been standing. Iris looked at the base of the machine. "No legs", she thought to herself, "No legs, and no anti-grav cells..." Iris looked at the top of the machine and noticed a massive column of wires and support cables leading from the top of the machine into the darkness of the high ceiling. "That's it, it has to be", Iris thought, "Not armored, that has to be the support..." Iris steadied her weapon, and charged the front of the hanging machine. As she was just upon it, Iris jumped and landed on top of the machine. "No more!" Iris screamed as she swung her sickle weapon, slicing through the cables and wires. With it's support cutoff, Volt Opt's armored core fell to the ground with a loud thud.
  "You... may defeat me... but the master... already has a host... you are... extraneous... expendable..." the voice grew quieter and trailed off as the last of the energy reserves in the core were expended. A section of wall behind Tear suddenly slid down into the floor, revealing a passageway leading down. An Erie oscillating light could be seen emanating from further down the passage.
  Iris jumped down off from the top of the core, and landed near Tear. Iris breathed a sigh of relief. "Aright Tear", Iris said, "The entrance to the ruins should be at the end of that passageway."

Chapter 9 - Perpetual Midnight

  Trys and BWS-1 stood veiled in the shadows of the Whitil sector of Pioneer 2. They were near the transporter to Ragol, waiting for their comrades to arrive. It was very early in the morning, and the shopping promenade was mostly empty. Iris and Tear were somewhere down on Ragol, and they had to be stopped. A look of nervous apprehension took shape on Trys' face as she paced back and forth in front of BWS, who leaned back against the wall behind him and folded his arms across his chest. "I don't understand", Trys said, "why Master Zoke would do something like that. It trivializes the blade..." Trys thought back to her conversation earlier in her apartment with BWS. She had only just opened a sword box sent to her my her departed master when BWS arrived. They had both been sent identical swords, and holographic messages from Zoke. He had asked them to carryout his final wishes and defeat the danger he sensed beneath Ragol's surface. The swords were perfect copies of a legendary blade called the Agito, The "Final Sword of the Heavens" it was called, a masterwork of craftsmanship and design. Zoke had used nano replication technology to duplicate the sword, and Trys was having a difficult time understanding why.
  "The blade is only trivialized if it's use is unjust." BWS calmly replied. "If the master felt we needed such strong power on our side then he surely thought this entity below Ragol to be strong."
  "I suppose..." Trys eventually replied, "but still, it's not right to... copy, something like the Agito."
  "Perhaps, but dire times require desperate measures.", BWS replied.
  "Very true" the a voice from the shadows spoke up, "Now, what in Golla's name did you call me out here in the dead of night for?" A short Numan force wearing black garbs emerged from the shadows. Her outfit was a standard guild "uniform", trimmed with red. Her hair was a pinkish purple color, but it was mostly obscured by her enormous hat, which had two gigantic yellow fuzzy balls attached to the ends of the hat's two backwards slanting points.
  "Lola!", Trys exclaimed "Finally!"
  "And just what was so important that I meet you here at this hour? Why couldn't you transmit over the datalink network?"
  "Oh yes, do tell" a deep voice from around a nearby corner chimed in. A tall male Numan force with spiked hair and a golden outfit stepped out from behind the corner.
  "Hello XPunanny." BWS-1 calmly replied.
  "C'mon B, call me Pun..."
  "Okay," Trys interrupted, "it looks like we're all here..." Trys quickly looked down the empty promenade and made sure there wasn't anyone else in the vicinity. She faced Lola and Pun, and slowly explained the situation, about her past, about Iris, photonic life forms, Master Zoke, the Agitos, and the creature called Falz. When she finished explaining neither Lola or Pun said a word. It was several minutes before anyone spoke.
  "So.. what you're saying," Lola slowly said as she struggled to make sense of what she had just heard, "Is that you want us to go with you, right now, down to the ruins on Ragol... and do what? Kill your sister?" Trys lowered her chin and glanced at the floor, her eyes closed and she saw brief flashes of the night she and her sisters had escaped from the labs. She quickly opened her eyes and looked Lola and Pun.
  "If it comes to that," Trys slowly and coldly replied, "Then yes. She has to be stopped." All three looked at Trys.
  "I'm in." Pun exclaimed.
  "You know where I stand." BWS-1 proclaimed calmly. Lola stood silent for several minutes, deep in thought.
  "Right then," she slowly mumbled "guess I'm going too."
  "Okay everyone", Trys proclaimed, "We leave in ten minutes, get anything you need and meet at the Whitil Ragol transporter." The group split up, Lola and Pun walking off in the direction of the Check Room. BWS left briefly to return to his home and explain the situation to his better half. Trys stood in the cold of the night, in front of the Whitil Ragol transporter. She gazed up at the stars. Images of the night she escaped from the labs slowly drifted through her mind. A symphony of memory flooded her brain, feelings she had long repressed slowly surfaced. Tears slowly began to creep down her cheeks. She did not look forward to what she somehow knew she would soon have to do. A gentle voice pierced the stark silence.
  "They're beautiful aren't they? The stars I mean. There's so many of them, but I never tire of looking at them. Here on this ship... we live in a perpetual midnight. A haze of neon and artificial light our only beacon to guide us."
  Trys let the images and feelings fade from her thoughts, and slowly lowered her head to look at the source of the voice. A Numan woman wearing a yellow guild "uniform" with cherry red spiked hair was standing no more than a meter away.
  "My name is Ophelia", the woman began, "I've been looking for you for several hours now Solstrys, I'm glad I finally found you."
  "And what can I do for you?"
  "Well, earlier today I met one of the most rude people I have ever run across in my life. I believe you know her, she looks remarkably like you as a mater of fact..."
  "That's her. A real charmer your sister."
  "What do you want?"
  "It's quite simple dear. I know that the principal ordered you to stay on Pioneer 2 and not interfere, and I also know your android friend knocked two army guards out cold. So, it's simple, I go with you down to Ragol, or I go to the guild and report this illegal expedition." Trys pondered the situation for several moments.
  "Fine, I have no problem with you joining up. Just know that this isn't some school field trip we're taking. We're going straight into the heart of the ruins."
  "All the more reason," Ophelia replied, "For you to take me with you." From the far end of the promenade Lola and Pun returned.
  "Who is this?" Lola questioned Trys.
  "This is Ophelia..." Trys began.
  "You can call me Ophie!" Ophelia jubilantly responded, "I'll be going down with you." Pun stifled a laugh, and wound up snickering rather loudly. A slight flash on the transporter pad signaled the return of BWS-1.
  "What's so funny Pun?" BWS asked.
  "Er," Pun looked at Ophelia, who was blushing bright red, obviously realizing the unintentional implications of what she had said in popular vernacular, "um, nothing." Pun smirked.
  "B, this is Ophelia..." Trys began.
  "Ophie!" Ophelia interrupted, "Do get it right dear."
  "Right, Ophie," Trys rolled her eyes, "anyway B, she's coming with us..." Pun began to laugh uncontrollably. Trys suddenly realized what she had said. It had been too long since she had been around Pun, she had forgotten about his more unrefined personality traits. Ophelia suddenly punched Pun in the gut with great strength, he stopped laughing.
  "Well," BWS-1 began, "It's fine with me if she joins us, it's obvious she can handle herself..."
  "Okay then, I've set the transporter to take us to the teleport in point closest to where Tear is. Everyone," Trys looked at the assembled group of people, "let's go, and... thanks..." All five walked onto the transporter pad, and one by one they disappeared in flashes of light.
  It had been almost twenty minutes since they had arrived in the mines, and they had yet to encounter a single foe. Piles of scrap metal and broken robots were everywhere. The mines were eerily quiet, tensions were high as if everyone were walking on glass. "I don't like this," BWS said, "Something's not right. I've heard the stories about the crazy program, that AI called Volt Opt. Supposedly it regenerates after it is defeated. The guild always knows when it's back online because the Ruins transporter goes dead. But the mines are off-line, the ruins transporter should be active."
  "We're close to the AI now," Pun said, "I've fought it before, if it's operational I don't think we'll have much difficulty defeating it..." True to Pun's word, the party soon encountered the transporter leading to the AI core, and Volt Opt. The transporter was low on power, and barely functioning. BWS inspected the transporter, and determined it had enough power in it's buffers to send the entire party to the core. They stepped on and vanished in pale flashes of subdued light. When they rematerialized, they were standing in a circular room, with a giant heap of scrap in the middle. It was the remains of the armored core of the AI, Volt Opt. Someone had severed it's connection with the rest of the mines, and it had lost power. For now, it was helpless. The only exit from the room led to a descending staircase, an eerie oscillating light softly emitting from the depths. At the bottom of the passageway was a large door, inscribed with ancient writings none of the party could read. The door had been opened, and Trys knew that somewhere, beyond the door Iris and Tear were slowly making their way to the inner ruins, and the creature called Falz.

Chapter 10 - Ship of Regret and Sleep

  Solstrys, XPUnanny, BWS-1, Lola, and Ophelia slowly walked through the ruins, weapons at the ready. The ruins were a taboo amongst the hunters of the guild, only the most skilled of groups ever ventured beyond the entrance. The neon glow of the walls and oddly textured corridors seems to be alive. The air was hot and moist, filled with a sickening sweet smell that made people gag their first time breathing it. Trys and Lola were gagging, if he had lungs BWS would have been too. The group was on Iris and Tear's trail, there were purple blood stains on the floors of rooms all over the ruins. They lost the trail as they entered a large room with doors at all ends.
  "Pun," Trys softly said, scanning the room, "Which way do we go? You said you've been through the ruins before..."
 "Er, well" Pun blushed, "You see, these ruins... I know if sounds strange, but they change."
  "Change?" A look of confusion slowly drew across Trys' face. "What do you mean they 'change'?"
  "I mean, they're one way one time you're here, and they're another way the next time, like all the rooms and corridors are moving around. Why do you think it took the guild so long to get transporters leading to the later areas? The teams were constantly getting lost." BWS walked away from the group towards one of the distant doors. As he neared it a dozen floating metal creatures appeared. They were nearly a meter long, and floated horizontals, appearing as if they were made from metal. Trys held her blade at the ready, and prepared to attack.
  "Wait!" Pun screamed, "Don't move!" Trys and the others did not move. Lola slowly looked over at Pun.
  "Why shouldn't we move? What are these things Punny?"
  "The guild refers to them as claws... they're not much trouble, even in packs, but they're usually accompanied by friends, friends who teleport in as you're fighting these little guys. Besides, these ones are deaf and blind. They track us by our movement, they can detect the slightest air displacement."
  "Then," Lola began to ask, "What should we do? you seem to know what you're doing here."
  "Yeah, ok, forces hunters, heads up, on the count of three, I want everyone to use their strongest RAzonde technique, got it?"
  "Yeah," Lola acknowledged. Ophelia silently nodded, as did Trys.
  "Ok," Pun began. "And when they're dead, be ready for their friends, watch the skies... one," the group tensed up and each slowly scanned the room, "two", the claws slowly began to drift around the room, towards the group, "one" in unison, each member of the group sans BWS cast the strongest RAzonde technique they could. The air filled with streaks of electricity, as the metallic claw creatures briefly screamed in pain, and mysteriously vanished leaving a purple blood stain on the ground. At the four corners of the room, bizarre creatures with large blades for hands teleported in. "Dimenians..." Pun slowly spoke, "let's get to work."

  Iris and Tear slowly walked through the ruins. It was a difficult journey, and Iris had already been wounded by a teleporting, technique using creature she had never seen before. Iris walked with a slow deliberate limp, dragging her left leg behind her. "Ahh", she stifled a scream, "This hurts..." Iris looked down at her leg, the flesh was seared and burned, Iris bled profusely. "Tear... I need a recovery tech..." Tear turned her head to look at Iris.
  "I sorry Iris, not have tasties."
  "Do you have any recovery mates?"
"Nope!" Iris frowned, she needed someway to stop the bleeding or she would eventually pass out. As Iris was contemplating her situation, and cursing herself for having used all her recovery items earlier in the day, the door Iris and Tear had entered the room through opened. A very short female human force entered the room, wearing a dark blue dress like guild uniform.
  "Finally!", the woman yelled, waving her arm side to side to get Iris and Tear's attention. The woman sprinted to their location. "Whew, it's about time I found you two. I've been lost down in these ruins for hours. I might ha..." The woman looked down at Iris' leg and gasped. "Oh my! Here let me do something about that..." The woman kneeled by Iris and extended both of her palms to Iris' leg. She quietly remained still for several moments, before a sudden bright light enveloped Iris's leg, healing it instantly. "There, that better?" Iris looked down at her healed leg, the pain that had been shooting through her nervous system was subsiding.
  "It's better." Iris coldly replied, and lowered her head to stare the woman directly in the eyes. Iris was a full head taller, and was trying her best to look very intimidating. "Who are you?"
  "Oh! How rude of me, my name is Sylvia."
"I'm Iris, and this..." Iris pointed to Tear, who was cheerfully smiling at Sylvia, "is Tear."
  "Nice to meet you."
"Indeed. care to elaborate on how exactly you got 'lost' and why you're alone?" Sylvia blushed lightly, appearing embarrassed.
  "Well, it's kinda embarrassing..." Sylvia's eyes slowly looked down, she held her hands behind her back.
  "Then save it, we're in a bit of a hurry."
  "Oh? Where are you headed?"
  "Deep ruins, beyond the third area."
  "B-beyond the third area? Is that safe? Nobody has ever returned from that far into the ruins."
  "I do not intend..." Iris stopped abruptly. "Tear and I have both exhausted our recovery mate and fluid supply, and you are obviously a skilled force. Would you be interested in joining us, at least to the area two entry teleporter?"
  "Certainly!" Sylvia quickly responded. "As a matter of fact, I know the way, like I said, I've been wandering around for some time now, I'll lead." A look of perplexion drew across Tear's face. She walked to Iris, grabbed Iris' top and gently tugged on it twice. Iris turned to look at Tear.
  "Yes?" Iris inquired.
  "Um, Iris, first chibi lady say "lost", now say "wander". Pitri not understand." Iris smiled a faint smile, and placed her hand on the top of Tear's head.
  "Don't worry about it."
  "Okay!", Tear smiled back, "If Iris says so."
  Sylvia led Iris and Tear through several rooms and hallways into a large room with several doors. Sylvia stood in the doorway of the hallway they had taken to get to the room, scanning the multi-doored room for several moments. She walked out into the room and pointed at the door directly opposite the one they had entered from. "Through that door is another short series of rooms and the transporter leading to ruins area two that you're looking for." Iris, Tear, and Sylvia entered the room, expecting groups of enemies to appear, but none did. Iris scanned the room, and noticed in a far corner near another door were multiple puddles of thick purple blood. Something had already been here.
  "Sylvia, is that your doing?" Iris pointed to the puddles.
  "No, I tried to avoid as many fights as I could, I mostly ran past any enemies I came across." One of two doors near the puddles opened, 5 shadowed characters entered the room, first looking at the puddles, then at Iris, Tear and Sylvia. Iris squinted, straining her eyes to see through the low light. As the figures ventured father into the room, she could clearly distinguish 5 faces. The one in the front of the group held Iris' attention, a Numan woman wearing white guild clothes, with spikey pale blue hair, and a glimmering silver blade in her hand. Iris stood rigid and stiff, not flinching a muscle. A barrage of images and sounds flooded her mind, the burning lab, the experiments, a quiet music box melody playing, a promise yet to be fulfilled. Iris and Trys stood staring at each other, each transfixed on the gaze of the other. The room was dead silent. Sylvia was the only one to notice the door nearest Trys' group open, and the the sinister looking giant red android that emerged from it.

Chapter 11 - Inheritance

  Lyca stood on the balcony of of her and Trys' apartment, overlooking the Bluefull sector or Pioneer 2's inter city. She leaned against the railing and stared off into the distance, the lights of the city a blur to her. It was now early morning, and she hadn't slept the previous night. Not that she would have been able to if she had tried. In the course of a few minutes her entire life flashed before her eyes. She thought back to when her sister had been explaining how they were created in a lab, grown in tubes, genetically altered. Lyca felt violated, she felt dirty. And she felt that somehow, it was a kind of stain she would never be able to wash off. She wanted desperately to have things go back to the way they had been. She wished she had never learned the truth. She looked down at the street, the people seemed so oblivious, so happy. They walked, talked, they smiled and laughed, yelled and cried. They followed their routine as they did every morning, and Lyca envied them. She wasn't sure how, but she knew that her life would never go back to what it had been just a day before. Three slow knocks on the apartment's front door called Lyca's attention away from the cityscape. She slowly turned and walked into the apartment, through the living room, and to the front door. As she approached the door, a simple white envelope slid under the door. She bent over, picked it up, and opened the door. The hallway outside the apartment was empty, save for the two unconscious army guards. Lyca closed the door and walked back through the living room to the balcony. She opened the envelope, contained within was a simple white paper card. On one side of the card, printed in simple black lettering, a message read:

The truth shall set you free.
Today-12:30, Restaurante Blanc, Bluefull Sector

  Lyca stared at the card for several minutes. She contemplated who it may have been meant for, or what it meant. She glanced at the time display on her hunter's datalink. it was 8. She would have plenty of time to get ready, Blanc was a famous restaurant, she would have to dress accordingly. She neatly placed the card back in the envelope, walked through the living room to the kitchen, and placed the envelope on the table. She turned and walked into the living room, down the hallway past Trys' rooms, and entered her room.

  Lyca slowly made her way through the crowd of people in the streets of Bluefull sector. She wore a simple blue sun dress, by far the nicest article of clothing she owned. Trys refused to indulge Lyca's obsession with materialism, and Lyca had to fight for every trinket, piece of "non-essential" clothing, and object she owned. Lyca had tried to keep he appearance simple, she wore very little makeup, no earrings, and had even removed her datalink. She had brought Trys' antique pocket watch with her to tell the time, and her credit chit with a few hundred thousand deposited onto it, in case she had need of money while she was out. Holding the watch tightly in her palm, Lyca stopped walking and stared at the watch. She didn't know where Trys had acquired such a rare item, but it didn't seem to matter now. Lyca pressed the small button on the top of the watch with her thumb, the front of the watch sprang open. It was twelve twenty. Lyca closed the watch and resumed walking through the crowd of people. After several more minutes of wading through the massive crowds of people, Lyca came to a stop in front of the famous Restaurante Blanc, a huge four story restaurant famous for it's exquisite, and very expensive, cuisine. The curtains of the establishment were drawn shut, a very nicely dressed human man stood near the grand double doors leading into the entryway. Lyca walked to him.
  "I'm sorry miss, but we're closed until four today." The man had a beep baritone voice. Lyca opened her palm and again opened the watch. It was twelve twenty nine.
  "I'm expected," she quietly said, "to be here at twelve thirty." The doorman carefully looked Lyca over.
  "Very well miss, allow me..." The doorman opened the door, bowing gently and motioning for Lyca to enter. Lyca took a deep breath, and waked into the entryway of Restaurante Blanc, the doorman shut the door behind her. As her eyes adjusted to the lower level of lighting, Lyca marveled at the decor. Authentic carved wood panel walls, lavish furnishings, ornate decoration everywhere she could see. Lyca was very impressed. From around a nearby corner, a tall man wearing a very nice, and expensive, business suit appeared.
  "Miss Lyca, please follow me, you have been expected." Lyca took another deep breath, and followed the man as he began to walk back around the corner he had come around. Lyca followed him silently as he led her down a carpeted hallway past several large empty dining rooms, to a large grand staircase leading up to the second level. The man bowed, and motioned for Lyca to go up the stairs. A look of apprehension slowly too shape across Lyca's face as she slowly and nervously climbed the massive staircase.
  Lyca arrived at the top of the stairs to find a massive dining room on the second floor. It was dark. Near a far wall opposite the staircase a hanging lamp above a large group table was on. Lyca could make out three shapes near the table. The one in the middle seemed to be sitting, while the two on either flank appeared to be standing. Lyca slowly walked in the direction of the figures, trying desperately to hide her nervousness. She walked rigid and took deep breathes. As she approached the table the center figure spoke to her in a calm voice.
  "Thank you Miss Lyca, for being so prompt." Lyca neared the table and could clearly distinguish two tall men in very nice suits standing on either side of a shorter man with a dark complexion sitting at the table. The man had shoulder length white hair, though he was clearly not elderly. His face held a look of serene peacefulness and calm. "Please," the man spoke calmly, "have a seat." Lyca looked at the end of the table nearest her, and noticed a chair had been pulled back from the table. Lyca slowly sat in the chair, her gaze not leaving the man sitting at the opposite end of the table. he returned her stare, his deep green eyes seeming to stare beyond her eyes, peering into her soul. For several moments, neither spoke, but Lyca had too many questions to remain silent.
  "The truth," Lyca began, "shall set you free." A faint smile appeared on the man's face.
  "Indeed, it shall."
  "What truth?"
  "Yours. Mine, his, hers. Everyone's..."
  "You brought me here, so start talking."
  "No, you brought yourself here. Your own curiosity drove you to visit me, you could have easily ignored my invitation."
  "But you knew I wouldn't."
  "Then, tell me whatever it is you have to say."
  "I have a better idea," the man responded, "Ask a question, and I shall answer to the best of my abilities."
  "Okay, who are you?"
  "I am he who has inherited the name of 'Sols'."
  "What does that mean?"
  "I have become the persona of an ancient line of those who have inherited this title. The most noted of which was the man named 'Sols' who is credited with the discovery of photonic live forms."
  "I still don't understand. Explain to me why this is relevant."
  "A very long time ago," the man began calmly, "on a world very far from here, a people lived in peace and splendor. They build fantastic marvels of science, floating cities, great space colonies, they even began to terraform other planets. But their prosperity was not to be had without a price. In their serendipity, they forgot their ancient duty. When that which they were supposed to guard against slowly began to infiltrate their utopia they turned a blind eye. In the eventual chaos that followed, many lives were lost. Many more forever altered. These survivors swore that they would never again falter from their ancient duty. They banded together and established what they called the 'Society of Shadows'. For generations and generations, whenever the menace that had manifested on their home in the past reappeared, they stood ready to fight from the shadows. That menace was a creature called 'Dark Force'. The very same menace which has been reawakened on Ragol. And ever since those times long ago, the one who has led the Society, has been known only as 'Sols'." Lyca sat silent for several moments, contemplating what she was being told.
  "Then, this 'Society of Shadows', is still in existence?"
  "And you are it's leader."
  "In a manner of speaking."
  "Over time, as the people spread to the worlds of Algo, factions of the Society went with them, to carry their duty as far as possible. In time, these factions developed a separate identity, but always maintaining two constants, they followed the will of the one who inherited the name of Sols, and they maintained their sacred duty to defend against the Dark Force and it's agents. As time pressed on, for some even these constants washed away. They became the shadows they sought to emulate, puppet masters pulling strings for their own agendas. The Society became divided between the three factions. As different as they became, it was still possible to exert some control over them by the two constants. They followed the will of Sols, and they continued to stand steadfast against the darkness. However, twenty five years ago, after we first learned we would have to abandon our worlds, something slowly changed. A small part of the Society, began to follow a different path. Led by a bright young and upcoming member of the Society, they began to research photonic life forms. As their skill and knowledge grew, their leader became obsessed with the story of how a Sols of the past was possessed by Nilla, a Greater Photonic. He began a project in secret, gathering the finest geneticists and scientific minds he could acquire. He called the project simply "Sols". Genetic samples of the Sols possessed by Nilla were used as base material for creating a new breed of Numans. Numans designed to absorb and utilize a greater photonic's power. For a long time, even this was hidden from the rest of the Society. It was years before we learned if this project, and by that time we were too late to stop it. We however, could delay it. One of our operatives modified the genetic data for the initial eight test subjects, making them unsuitable for use. To our surprise, the four female subjects were 'born' anyway, and subjected to tests and experiments for years. We leaked information about the lab where these experiments were being conducted to the government, which instigated a raid of the facility. Simultaneously, our operatives were to infiltrate the lab in the confusion and acquire the 4 subjects, but we encountered a situation we had never expected. The eldest subject, seizing the opportunity, had killed her guards, and was freeing her sisters. Our forces caught up with the girls as they were being attacked by Tygrin." Sols hesitated a moment before continuing. "Tygrin was a being never meant to exist, he was... another of our failed experiments. Created by the progenitors of the Society many, many years ago. Those who had been overseeing the project called 'Sols', reactivated him and used him as a guard. Somehow our ancestors were able to make him invulnerable to every kind of photonic technique we know of. he is a monster that should have been left in the past. Unfortunately, to this day, he continues to work for those who oppose the rest of the Society. That night during the raid, Tygrin very nearly defeated our operatives. Fortunately we were eventually able to recover two of the subjects..." Lyca's face held an expression of pale shock.
  "Me and Trys."
  "Exactly... Iris and Tear had already left the facility. Unfortunately, we were unable to hold you and Trys. You were placed in government care. Some time later one of our agents found Iris and Tear, and for many years cared for them. That too, however, eventually came to an end." Lyca stared deeply into the eyes of the man named Sols.
  "Why are you telling me all this? What do you get out of it?"
  "At this very moment, Iris, Tear and Trys are down in the ancient ship. Their paths bound to cross. The last time that happened was several years ago, and it did not end well. We have also learned that Tygrin has been in the first area of the ancient ship, waiting for them. We do not expect any of them to return alive. To be honest, we would have preferred Trys be our first contact, but in these circumstances..."
  "We would like you to work with us. We are responsible for all the pain you have endured in your life. We would like to make amends if possible. Additionally, we have use for someone with your skill and unique... talents."
  "You mean my condition."
  "Yes. We have produced a variant of the medication you take. It will stem your own passions, but not the effect your uncontrolled state has on others."
  "What about my sisters... they can't defeat this 'Tygrin'?"
  "We have sent agents to aid your siblings, but they may not arrive in time. If they survive and are able to return, we will be extending the same offer to them."
  "And if I refuse?"
  "That," Sols broke eye contact and peered down at the table momentarily, "is a choice you are free to make."
  Lyca stared at the table. She knew already the answer she would give. There was no going back, no returning to the way she had been. Her old life was nothing more than sunlit memories gently blowing through her mind, moments of another life in another time and place. Things had changed more than she could have ever imagined. Lyca firmly gave her reply, "I need time to think it over."
  "As you wish." The light above the table suddenly switched off, and the entire second floor was suddenly pitch dark. Before Lyca could think about what was happening, all the lights on the floor suddenly lit, revealing a very large, and devoid of people, dining room. Sols and the two men had vanished. Lyca opened her palm and looked at the watch, she pressed the button on the top with her thumb. It was five past one. Thirty five minutes that had felt like an eternity. She closed the watch, stood up, walked down the stairs, down the hallway, around a corner, and out of Restaurante Blanc onto the streets of Bluefull sector.

Chapter 12 - What We Couldn't Say

  Trys and Iris' stares stood fixed on each other. It had been many years since they had seen each other, bad memories flowed like wine through their heads, clouding their judgment and emotions. Both were oblivious to the sound of a door near Trys and her group opening, and to large red android passing through it. Trys watched as the gaze of the force flanking Iris quickly and sudden;y turned to Trys' right. On instinct, Trys turned her head to look. Following Trys' eyes Iris looked, and saw Tygrin as the door closed behind him. Iris and Tear stood frozen in shock and fear, Trys in bewilderment. Tygrin turned to face Trys' group.
  "T.. Tygrin?!" Trys barely managed to whisper. Across the room, Iris and Tear suddenly ran for the door leading to the transporter area. Trys glanced in their direction. "Damn!, they're running..." Tygrin's eyes began to glow a pale white, he was walking towards Trys' group slowly, methodically. BWS stepped in front of Trys, sword drawn and at the ready. He stood perfectly still prepared to fight.
  "Trys, go after them, we'll handle him." Trys glanced at BWS, and nodded. She ran as fast as she could after Iris. "Now, I've heard about you," BWS spoke to Tygrin, "but this is the end for you." XPunanny, Lola, and Ophelia drew their weapons and flanked BWS, ready to fight. Had he been able to, Tygrin would have smiled. Trys reached the door Iris and Tear had passed through, and ran through it into a long corridor with another identical door at the far end.
  Trys emerged from the corridor in a large dark room, filled with wreckage from Pioneer 1's assault vehicles and military devices. The door shut behind her, bathing the room in absolute darkness. Trys' Numan eyes helped her a little to see in the dark, she could make out silhouettes of the pieces of wreckage, and she slowly proceeded on Iris and Tear's scent. The room was confusing, Trys was certain Iris and tear were still in the room, but the stale air of the ruins made scent tracking difficult, and a Numan nose simply wasn't strong enough to penetrate the fowl air. Trys walked slowly, knees bent, her sword at the ready. A sudden flash of light from near a distant piece of wreckage caught Trys' attention, the photon bullet hit her in the left shoulder, causing her to stagger back. Trys heard a loud pinging noise above her and looked up, a anti-gravity proximity mine had appeared above her head. Someone had booby trapped the room. The mine exploded a moment after appearing, knocking Trys to the floor and sending her sword sliding along the floor into the darkness. Trys' forehead felt warm, and she slowly ran her hand across the skin, and brought her hand to eye level. Even in the darkness, Trys knew there was blood on her hand. A second flash from near the first caused Trys to jump to behind a nearby piece of wreckage just as a photon bullet whizzed past her head.
  "What are you doing here!" Iris shouted from the darkness, "You have no business here!" Iris' voice echoed and reverberates throughout the room, making sound location impossible.
  "I could ask the same thing to you!" Trys shouted back, "This isn't a place for any of us!"
  "On the contrary! This is exactly the place for Tear and I. We were born for this very purpose!"
  "You intend to absorb Dark Force?! That's insane!"
  "What if I do? It's no business of yours!"
  "You are my business Iris, you always have been!"
  "You're a fool Trys, believing their lies. You had your chance back in the mountains all those years ago. You couldn't stop me then, and you can't stop me now!"
  "I didn't kill you that day because if I had Tear would have never been found!"
  "Lies, all you do is lie, and be lied to. I was willing to let you be, but you had to press the issue. You had to come here. You had to interfere!"
  "Iris, there were so many things we couldn't say back then. So many things unresolved."
  "No more time for words! Only one of us will leave this room."
  "I'm sorry Iris, so sorry..." Trys pressed a glowing button on her datalink and a red photon pistol appeared in her hand. "...but I can't let you go through with this. One way or another, it ends here." Trys stood and began to run for a pile of wreckage near her, she fired several shots in the direction the previous two from Iris had come from. From a different position, Iris returned fire. For several minutes Iris and Trys exchanged fire, running back and forth amongst the piles of wreckage, using them for cover. Each shot from a pistol a momentary flash of light in a room swallowed by darkness. Trys ran from pile to pile, rolling from her run, ducking, leaning to avoid some shots, Iris doing the same. An unrehearsed symphony of emotion covered by the darkest of veils, revealed only through momentary flashes revealing the silhouettes of the two women. A door opposite the side Trys had entered opened, Tear standing in front of it.
  "Found it sister!" Tear yelled in the direction Iris had been firing from. Trys looked at Tear, she was smiling. A shot from nearby was fired, Trys ducked, but immediately noticed the shot was aimed too high to hit her. It hit a concealed anti-gravity proximity mine instead. The explosion knocked Trys to the floor, and sent a shock wave of pain throughout her body. From the corner of her eye Trys saw Iris emerge from behind a pile of wreckage and run to Tear, then grab Tear's hand and run through the doorway into the hallway beyond. The door closed, and the room was again bathed in absolute darkness.

  Iris and Tear ran through the final hallway to large door, appearing exactly like all the others they had thus encountered. They stood in front of the door for several seconds before it opened. The stepped into a room with several levels of perimeter elevated walkways, in the center of the room directly in front of them was a guild transporter, the one leading to the inner ruins.

  Trys slowly sat up, her entire body was in pain, she was certain she was bleeding, probably badly. She remembered with clarity what had happened, and it confused her. Iris had never been a fighter, something was wrong, Iris would never have been able to win in a fight. Trys pushed herself to her feet, and began to walk in the direction of the door Iris and Tear had left through.

  Iris and Tear slowly walked towards the transporter. Something wasn't right, the guild almost never put something so valuable in such an exposed location. They stopped in front of the transporter. Iris waved her left arm through the energy current of the device, and pressed a button on her datalink. Her datalink's small screen gave readouts on the transporter's condition.
  "Tear," Iris knelt down and placed her hand on Tear's shoulder, "this transporter is low on power, it looks like it will only be able to transport one of us at a time. You should go first." Tear turned her head to look at the transporter.
  "Um... something... not want to, something bad..." The door they had entered through opened, Trys stood on the other side. She slowly walked through the doorway, the door slowly closing behind her. She was limping, he left leg appeared injured, and she was bleeding from the temple. Her left shoulder had a severe photon burn on it. In her right hand, she held a red photon pistol.
  "Iris..." Trys could barely speak, and it was taking everything she had to do so so loudly, "No further..." Trys raised her pistol and pointed it at Iris. "This has to end..." Trys could barely hold her gun steady, she was dizzy from blood loss, and on the verge of passing out. She had had two mines detonate in close proximity to her, she was lucky to even be alive. Trys stared Iris dead in the eyes, Iris returned the stare. Iris raised her right arm, a red photon pistol held in her hand.
  "You're right, this does have to end. Goodbye sister..." Iris lowered her brow and took one final look at Trys. The door behind Trys opened, Tygrin stood in the doorway. A look of terror and shock drew across Iris' face. Trys felt the door open behind her, and as quickly as she could she turned around to see Tygrin within arms length of her. Trys looked up and Tygrin's face, his eyes were glowing. She tried to raise her gun, but he quickly swatted it out of her almost limp hand.
  Tygrin grabbed Trys by the neck and slowly lifted her up to his eye level. Trys was badly injured, and in no condition to offer any serious resistance. For the first time she could remember since her childhood, Trys was terrified. Trys could feel Tygrin tighten his grip around her neck, and she slowly felt her heartbeat slow. The blood running down her brow began to run over Tygrin's hand, the blood was indistinguishable from Tygrin's hand, their color was the same.
  Iris snapped out of her shock and squeezed the trigger several times in rapid succession. Tygrin dropped Trys and put both of his arms in front him in a defensive position. The shots hit his arms and caused no apparent damage. Tygrin lowered his arms and slowly began to walk to Iris. On the floor, Trys gently coughed several times before passing out. Iris began to slowly backup towards the transporter.
  "Tear!," Iris shouted, "listen to me, get on that transporter and go to the inner ruins! Quickly, I'll follow right after you..."
  "Iris..." Tear attempted to protest, but was interrupted by Iris.
  "Listen, do it now!" Iris shoved Tear onto the transporter, "Go!" Tygrin stopped advancing on Iris and Tear. On the transporter pad, tear began to flicker, her body slowly becoming transparent.
  The transport sequence was not going as it should have, and Iris knew it. She starred at Tear, standing on the pad, she looked terrified. The transporter began to make a low humming noise, and as soon as it began, Tear began to scream. Iris frantically inspected the transporter with her datalink, but could find nothing wrong. On the Transporter pad, Tear began to cry, still screaming as if in terrible pain. There was a sudden flash of light, and Tear vanished. The transporter shut off.
  "Tear?! TEAR!!" Iris screamed at the transporter, she wanted to know what had happened.
  "What's the matter?" A deep metallic reverberating voice from behind Iris spoke, "Weren't expecting that to happen were you..." Iris turned to face Tygrin, he was laughing.
  "You... you did something to it didn't you!"
  "Of course. I've been waiting for you down here, you two are always disappearing in front of me on these transporters, not today it seems." A look of rage quickly formed on Iris' face, tears began to stream down her face.
  "You BASTARD! She was... she was so... oh Tear..."
"She's gone, I only need one of you. I was hoping it would be you."
  "My sister, Tear, she's gone... what did you do to the transporter?! Where did she materialize?!"
  "She didn't materialize, she was vaporized. No reversing this time, no running, no fighting. You're MINE." Tygrin's eyes began to glow. He slowly resumed walking towards Iris, he was still several meters from her. Iris dropped the gun in her hand, it hit the floor with a clicking sound. Iris stood firm, unflinching, unafraid, the tears streaming down her cheeks.
  "Tear... for you..." Iris whispered. Iris' eyes slowly began to glow a deep orange, waves of energy began to emanate from her body. A flame like energy began to wisp from her skin, streaks of electrical current filed the air. Tygrin stopped walking.
  "What is this? What are you doing?" Tygrin's words held a menacing tone. On the far side of the room near the door, Trys regained consciousness, and slowly shifted her body to watch. In two overlapping and identical voices, Iris spoke to Tygrin.
  "You are mistaken. It is you who are MINE." Iris raised her right arm and pointed her fingers at Tygrin. A powerful blast of energy eminated from Iris' hand and struck Tygrin, the impact blasting him across the room. Tygrin flew through the air from the impact of the blast, and impacted the wall near the door. He slid down the wall and slumped into a sitting position, his head rolled aside and came to rest on his left shoulder. A giant scorch mark remained on the front of Tygrin's torso.
  For a moment, Trys believed that Iris may have defeated Tygrin. He sat there, his eyes not glowing, he did not move. Iris began to walk towards Tygrin slowly, methodically as he had done to her so often in the past. As Iris approached, Tygrin quickly and suddenly stood up. With tremendous speed and agility Tygrin crossed the distance between himself and Iris. Just as quickly he planted a fist in Iris' lower abdomen, she collapsed. Her eyes quickly ceased glowing, and the energy she had been emitting dissipated. Trys could barely believe what she was seeing. Tygrin knelt down, and was preparing to pickup Iris when he was struck by a powerful concentrated blast from a photon rifle. He stood back up and looked at the elevated walkways along the perimeter of the room. Standing all around him were dozens of green female androids, all with large photon rifles, pointed at him. From behind one of the green androids Trys observed a Numan female appear. She jumped from the elevated walkway she was on to the ground level, standing directly in front of Tygrin. She was taller than both Trys and Iris, her hair was short and white, but she was clearly not elderly. Her face was the same face Iris and Trys shared, her skin a deep tanned olive brown.
  "Tygrin, this is the end." She spoke softly, and raised her hand in the same fashion Iris had done a moment before. Tygrin moved to attack the new woman in a similar fashion. She dodged his attack, seeming to move faster than physically possible, and turned her palm towards Tygrin. A powerful bolt of white photonic energy emanated form her palm and struck Tygrin, burning a perfectly round hole through his abdomen. Tygrin looked down at the hole in his chest, and collapsed onto the floor. His eyes ceased glowing. The woman walked over to Trys, and knelt down. "Please be patient". The woman extended her palms towards Trys and cast a very powerful resta technique. Trys could feel her wounds slowly begin to heal, she knew that slow healing meant she was on the verge of death, and it would be several more minutes before the healing took full effect. She was still in pain.
  The woman with the white hair stood up and began to walk towards the door out of the room. The green androids on the upper levels all disappeared.
  "W... Wait... " Trys barely managed to say through a cracked voice, "Who are you?" The woman stopped in front of the door. She turned her head, but not her body. "I am a shadow."
  "A... shadow?"
  "A shadow, I am the fifth. I am Solace. It was nice to meet you, sister." With her final word Solace opened the door and walked into the hallway beyond, the door closing behind her. Trys, still reeling from pain, drifted off into unconsciousness.

  Trys regained consciousness in the medical center of Pioneer 2. She was laying in a medical bed, still wearing her bloodstained hunters clothes. She turned her head to her right, in a bed next to hers, lay Iris. Beyond Iris lay a closed window, the room was barely lit, it must have been night. She turned her head to her left, standing by her bedside was BWS-1 and Lyca. Lyca appeared to be sleeping.
  "You're awake..." BWS calmly and quietly said.
  "Yeah..." Trys managed to whisper. Her entire body felt stiff and sore. She noticed her wounds were healed. "What happened?"
  "Well, I was hoping you could fill us in."
  "Tell me what happened with Tygrin down there..."
  "Not much to tell, he was immune to all Lola and Pun's techniques, and he moved so fast, neither I nor that Ophelia woman could hit him. I feel embarrassed to say, but he made short work of all of us. You too judging from those scars you had when we found you. You were lucky to be alive."
  "What happened? Down there I mean? Iris hasn't woken up, the doctors and nurses have been mumbling something about her having a "strange aura", any idea what that means?"
  "Not really, but I know who would."
  "Right, well, we'll take care of it tomorrow, you need some rest now."
  "What do you mean 'but'?"
  "You're going to ask me something else, aren't you."
  "Well... when we were carrying you to the P2 transporter, you kept saying something."
  "What was I saying?"
  "Something about 'solace'." Trys thought about the woman who had called herself Solace. Trys' memory was fuzzy, she was having trouble remembering what had happened. She remembered the woman named Solace, the woman who killed Tygrin and claimed to be a 'Shadow'. Trys was tired. She closed her eyes, and went back to sleep. There would be time enough for all explinations and questions tomorrow. Right now, she just wanted to rest.

Project Sols, End...