To all of you who follow my Mass Effect Supernova stories, I'm so glad I wrote the last chapter's flashback events the way I did. Otherwise, we'd be screwed by KotET right about now. And that's all I'm saying there.
Moving on, I'm surprised by the overall positive reception. So surprised, I've already got this shiny new chapter here ready to go. Consider that my holiday gift to all you fine people reading my stuff. One Way Flight is coming soon too. Like, really soon because I'm less than a week away from an actual break from grad school. So that's another gift you all get to look forward to as well.
To those of you who want to see the original release awesomeness, don't worry. There's flashback arcs coming up just as much as the current Eternal Empire stuff, and you all get to see the other jobs that took place in the Old Republic prior to the events of KotFE. Is everyone happy now? Good, moving on.
Also, the very beginning of this chapter is a very emotional and direct retelling of "that scene" from inFAMOUS: Second Son. You know the one, so beware spoilers.
Two more notes and then we can get going. First, I realized too late that the Outlander was frozen in carbonite for five years, not two. I've gone back and fixed that. Sure, it's a dick move to leave Delsin frozen for so long, but that just makes his Conduit-empowered escape all the more epic. Second, I'm aware that curb-stomp may be going in what seems to be the wrong direction at times here, but I ask that nobody worry about power discrepancies just yet okay? I've got a plan, and I'm going to ask that you all trust me, especially since this is only the second chapter. Thank you. *walks away from podium, pauses, turns around and grins*
Oh, and while it may not have been Star Wars' finest moment… have a happy Life Day.
To my guest reviewer, Zack: It's not sudden. I've been planning this for a while, but when KotET dropped, that's what made the decision for me to start actually writing. As for "who else" is on this job, you say three or four, I say "upwards of five" hahaha! Finally, in regards to Andromeda... we're so far away from that moment, it's not even funny, but I promise you'll love what I already have planned.
Summary: Delsin Rowe has spent the past five years frozen in carbonite like a trophy. Arcann really should have killed him when he had the chance…
Spoilers: SWTOR, KotFE, eventual KotET, KotOR, The Force Unleashed I and II, and major ones for inFAMOUS: Second Son. That's most of them for the whole story. Others will come, but because I don't feel like writing that many acronyms every time, I'm just gonna say "The usual plus (insert what's new here)." Deal? Okay, good.
Disclaimer: I put the rights on my Christmas list. Santa returned the letter the next day, so unfortunately, I still don't own anything.
You Are Not In Control
Delsin Rowe: Mindscape
Reminiscence: Concrete Citadel
The mass of concrete shattered through the ledge and kept going, dropping into the sea. Dammit, weren't Fetch and Eugene still trapped inside? There wasn't time to worry even about that before Reggie Rowe began to fall too, but Delsin dove after his brother and managed to snag his hand. Held up by no more than the Conduit's fingertips, abnormally strong though they may be, the two Akomish dangled helplessly over the edge.
"Come on!" Delsin pleaded, urging his older brother to do something, anything. He always fixed Delsin's messes, didn't he? Yeah, he mocked Reg for it when they were trying to get into Seattle, but he was joking because it was true! "Reggie swoops in and makes everything okay" was the way it had been ever since they were kids!
Reggie tried to reach higher and grab Delsin by the arm, but to no avail. Worse still, the concrete around his legs was now growing to encompass more of his body. "Ah… shit," the cop said wearily as his free hand got caught as well.
Delsin groaned again. "Reggie!"
"Son of a bitch," Reggie sighed. He stared resignedly at his little brother. The little brother he'd done his best to protect and would now die to protect. "Delsin, look at me… You gotta let me go."
"No!" The Copycat Conduit tightened his grip, instantly rejecting the idea. "No-no-no-no-no! I can do this." He nodded frantically, trying to convince himself more than Reggie. "I can do this! I can do this!" Why couldn't he do this? He had superpowers! He could do anything… Right?
Reggie just kept speaking calmly through the protests. "Listen, we can't let this stuff get to you too." There was water in his eyes, and it wasn't just the rain. He smiled slightly, taking one last look at the man his brother had become. Reggie might be the one with a badge, but Delsin's gift – for his powers were a gift, he saw that now – had turned the Vandal into a Hero. "Dammit, I am so proud of you. Always have been."
"No," Delsin muttered weakly, unable to say more than that. "No. Reggie, don't…"
One last smile. "I love you bro," Reggie whispered before letting go of Delsin's hand. With so much concrete on him, he literally dropped like a stone.
For a long time, Delsin just hung there, completely and utterly at a loss. His big brother was gone. Reggie was gone. And yet the Copycat Conduit just kept reaching out as if there was something he could still do. But what could he still do? How was Delsin supposed to save the Akomish if he couldn't save his own brother?
Wait. Whose power did he need to save the Akomish? Whose power was it that killed Reggie?
Augustine… That bitch was still up there, and she was gonna pay. Delsin climbed back up over the side and glared down at the Director of the DUP. She stood in the center of the concrete citadel with an almost intrigued look on her face. Not even a trace of regret for her actions. No remorse at all for Reggie's death. Wasn't she supposed to protect the "Powerless" from Conduits? Then who was protecting them from her?!
Something deep inside Delsin Rowe snapped. Shaking away his tears, he screamed with pure rage and agony before leaping into action. Augustine rose off the ground, floating within a swirling concrete orbital. Delsin used his smoke dash and flew between the spinning pebbles as an untouchable black cloud. Once inside, he tackled Augustine, carrying her out of the orbital. They both fell to the ground where the Copycat Conduit landed on top. He grabbed Augustine by the trenchcoat and smashed her against the concrete floor repeatedly before standing up and punting her across citadel like a damned football.
"MONSTER!" The pain in his voice was eclipsed only by sheer hate as smoke billowed over Delsin's form.
The Concrete Queen shakily returned to her feet, but when she looked around, Delsin was nowhere in sight. Did he run?
No, the bitch wasn't that lucky.
Unlike his typical Orbital Drop, Delsin was not smiling. In fact, when he reached the apex, he actually glared over his shoulder. And as he fell, the Copycat Conduit had a fist out in front rather than both hands at his side. Faster and faster he dropped, giving Augustine just enough time to look up and see how screwed she was before he crashed on top of her ass.
Augustine was literally pounded into the stone as a tsunami of black combustion washed over the concrete citadel. The impact had left a crater behind, and there were deep cracks branching out in all directions from it. Thick smoke swirled together and reconstituted into Delsin once more. But this wasn't the same Delsin that Seattle had come to love and respect. The cocky, carefree boy tagging billboards was gone, replaced by a furious "bioterrorist" with murder in his heart. He'd been a Hero since his powers first manifested, but right now?
Now he was just a Conduit looking at his big brother's killer. A killer who was currently beating a hasty retreat across and even into the stone. "So the great Augustine is hiding from me?!" Delsin taunted. He barely even registered the DUP soldiers that dropped into the makeshift arena as their leader escaped. And why would he? They weren't in Delsin's league.
But they were in his way. And in his current state of mind, that was all the excuse he needed. Delsin unraveled the chain from around his right forearm and went to town. He held nothing back. Normally, once the troops were stunned, the Copycat Conduit would subdue them with a miniature prison of smoke. After the shit he'd been through though, Delsin wasn't in a "taking prisoners" kind of mood. Instead his punishing blows reduced them to ash. Delsin Rowe, Hero and Banner Man, was disintegrating people. Even the oversized DUPs weren't spared this gruesome fate.
When none were left, Augustine returned for another round, and Delsin was more than happy to oblige. Smoke-dashing back and forth to avoid the bitch's barrage of boulders, the Copycat Conduit launched his Cinder Missiles, Cinder Blasts, and Sulfur Bombs to bring down her concrete orbital. By the time he'd cracked her defenses and sent Augustine tumbling to the floor, he was quite literally running on fumes. Again Delsin kicked her teeth in and sent her sprawling across the citadel.
"YOU TORTURED MY PEOPLE!"
Running on fumes, perhaps, but he had enough in him for one more Orbital Drop. Jettisoning himself into the sky, Delsin became a spiral of smoke climbing ever higher. Much higher than any drop before. When he returned to semi-human form, the Copycat Conduit's face said it all: he was going to end this woman if it was the last thing he did!
The citadel, an island almost entirely composed of concrete, broke like wet cardboard before the wrath of Delsin Rowe. Everyone, from DUP soldiers, to Augustine, to Delsin himself, was plunged into the sea.
And now that the dip in the frigid water had cooled the Hero down, albeit barely, he had only one question:
Where the hell was Hank Daughtry?
Delsin Rowe: Mindscape
"You hide your memories from me quite well," said Valkorion's… what, ghost? Delsin had no idea what to call the thing that kept pestering him in that same smug voice. "Many have tried. None have been so successful. It speaks to your singular existence, an existence wasted among lesser creatures."
"How would you know what kind of existence I may or may not waste?" Delsin shot back with a bored expression, ignoring the kernel of truth that was his relative superiority. "You just said you couldn't see my memories. Literally, that's what you said, not even fifteen seconds ago."
"I said you hide them well," Valkorion corrected. "I did not say you hide them perfectly."
Delsin turned to look right in the Valkori-ghost's eyes, his own peeking through the hair that was pushed down by his classic beanie hat. Keeping the impromptu staring contest up for another few moments, he finally grinned. "Nah, you're totally bluffing." Laughing, the Conduit stepped back and held out his hands. "I'll bet if you were as…" he splayed his palms out as if painting a scene, "'all powerful' as you want everyone to think, then I wouldn't have spotted it." Still grinning, he turned back to the ghostly Emperor. "But I did!" He faked a gasp. "Oh no, does this mean the whole immortality thing was a lie too?"
It had been this way ever since Delsin Rowe was knocked unconscious by the aftermath of Valkorion's death. The explosion of energy probably wasn't what did it so much as the Emperor's spirit latching onto the edges of his Conduit mind like an unwelcome parasite. No biggie. Delsin was an old hand at telepathy from reading minds whenever he gained new powers. This was different, but he'd just managed to tweak it in reverse and keep the "Lord of Vagueness" from getting too far inside. Considering he already goes by the Eternal Emperor, Solara was the last thing he could discover.
"You play games and act the fool, but we both know you are more." Valkorion was far from amused by the petulant behavior his "host" continued to display.
"More than a fool? Oh, I dunno what you're talking about Valky." Delsin shrugged. "I'm just some punk kid with some authority issues." And the laughter resumed, albeit calmer now.
With Valkorion's challenge came a massive shift in scenery. They were in a place Delsin felt he should know quite well, but because he was a relative newbie to this territory so famous among veteran Supernovas, he just couldn't put his finger on it.
"Ziost." The Emperor smirked. "Your mind is guarded, but you possess a dreadful sabacc face."
Even with a gigantic monster made of what looked to be rock and anger, Delsin just couldn't help himself. "So you were bluffing? Knew you couldn't read my mind."
Valkorion smiled and proffered a single hand to the strange boy in a warm, seemingly generous manner. "I could do so much more for you, if you would only let me in."
Exactly like when he was cuffed before the Eternal Throne, Delsin Rowe pretended to think about the offer with an almost tangible sarcasm. "Nah, I'm good. Besides, you know the expression. 'Give them and inch and they take a mile.' I don't want to give you either."
The dream-Monolith was practically on top of Delsin at this point.
With a sigh, Valkorion backed away. "If you are so sure that you do not need my help, then prove it."
The Monolith's fists came down… on thin air. A shroud of blinding, burning smoke nailed it in the face seconds later, stunning the ugly living weapon for a few precious seconds. Behind the creature, Delsin extended a hand to the ground and concentrated. Not quite concrete – technically not concrete at all since it's all just a damn dream – but not different from concrete either. He'd practiced hard in New Solara on how to drain his most heavy-hitting power from any source. D.U.P. soldiers weren't exactly a viable fuel source out in the big bad multiverse.
But back to the not-concrete, and quickly because the scary rock monster of doom-death-doom wasn't happy about Delsin's little smokescreen trick. The name formed in his mind like a student learning a new word, meaning and proper context suddenly clear as day.
Ferrocrete. Iron and concrete molecularly bonded for greater strength. He could work with that.
Why it was in his not-quite-intentional dream world when until seconds ago he had no clue it existed… that was another matter altogether. If Delsin had to guess, he'd say it had something to do with the boring 'it is destiny' ghost of Valkorion that refused to go away from his mind. Whatever, he'd finished draining imaginary ferrocrete. Time to break an imaginary Monolith.
The monster charged. Delsin charged it right back, black and jagged concrete flowing through him, around him, over him, until it was him. He had become a seven-foot-tall running tank, and he had picked up enough speed to hit that Monolith with all the force that description would imply.
If a collision between two mutants happens, and the only one there to hear it is a ghost, it definitely still makes a noise. The Monolith doubled over as several hundred tons of Concrete Juggernaut slammed into its legs, shattering the bone and sending the Monolith to the ground. Firing volley upon razor-sharp volley of ferrocrete disks into its face as it fell, Delsin moved out from under the beast just before it crashed and then sprang into the air. Using a flurry of small concrete shards beneath his feet and around his legs, he first began to float, and then began to ascend. Why this was the only power that let him rise instead of just slowing his fall, the Copycat Conduit had no freaking clue.
Deeming himself high enough above… whatever the hell that thing on the Monolith's back was, Delsin Rowe lifted a page from Sonic the Hedgehog. Flipping and rolling, he shifted once more into a giant concrete wrecking ball and dropped right on the Monolith's ugly-looking spine. For his efforts, he was rewarded by a very sickening crunch from the beast lying motionless and broken beneath him.
In seconds, the ferrocrete exterior receded, leaving the seemingly human Delsin Rowe standing with a cocky grin on his face. Gesturing to the crater he'd put in the Monolith by cannon-balling it, he taunted Valkorion again. "What? You're not the only one who knows how to make a big impression."
Valkorion didn't even falter in his retort. "But I am the only one who knows your abilities go beyond mere smoke."
Delsin shrugged. "Who the hell you gonna tell? You're a ghost! And even if you could tell Arcann and the hot crazy lady, why would you? Kinda defeats the purpose of your 'together we can be so much more' spiel from earlier, if you ask me."
"So you were listening."
"Oh no, I've been tuning you out for the most part. Every now and then I pretend to care though, just in case you ever think about dropping the whole 'I am all things and you must be like me and fulfill your nebulous destiny' crap and try talking to me like a normal person!"
Valkorion hid it flawlessly, but he was taken slightly aback. Did this boy, so powerful and so full of potential… not want to be like him? Impossible. He was beyond the yoke of mortality and unbound by the finite universe. What fool would choose the limitations of a "normal person" when they could instead reach for infinity itself?
No, Delsin must want Valkorion's power, as well as his throne. It was destiny as much as it was the nature of man. His ravings of normalcy, mere defenses of a scared mind that cannot yet grasp what it has been offered. In time, the boy would learn to appreciate what they had become.
These musings were interrupted as the mindscape began to shift once more. Far more violently this time.
"Hey, easy on my brain here Valky! I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that if I go down in here, so do you!"
"This is not my doing," the Eternal Emperor drawled. "We are being reborn."
Delsin rolled his eyes, fighting back the pain and nausea just long enough to get the last word. He coughed, but grinned wickedly at Valkorion. "Gotta die first to be reborn…" he fell to his knees before collapsing entirely. "Can't die if you're immortal." He coughed again, and just before the lights went out, he smirked at the Emperor one more time. "Gotcha."
This boy would be more trouble than Valkorion had anticipated.
Eternal Empire: Zakuul
"Easy, easy!" a voice pierced the thick haze as Delsin fell from the block of carbonite. "Yeah, you're gonna feel disoriented for a while. Fast healing probably saved your life. Your carbon freezing was imperfect. Anyone else, they'd be dead, but of course the same rules don't apply, do they?"
"Starkiller?" Delsin asked between gulps of air. "What took you so long? "I was getting bored in there with the ghost of Sith-mas future."
The pun was terrible, but it conveyed important details to Unique Galen Marek. First, that they were not safe to discuss anything beyond this territory and its happenings. Second, and he could sense it through the Force now as well, Valkorion was latching onto Delsin's mind. Time for a good cover story. "Okay, because Starkiller's my twin and you can't see an inch in front of your face, I'll let the confusion slide this time."
And now it was Delsin's turn to be shocked. He was careful in his words, but he honestly thought it was Starkiller. The guy was a clone after all, not quite a twin. What in the flying hell was Unique Galen Marek doing on this job?! Things must have gotten really, really bad while he was frozen in carbonite. Well not like anything else in recent memory made a whole lot of sense anyway. Might as well roll with it.
"Oh, hey Marek." Delsin grinned as if there was nothing remotely strange at working alongside a Unique. "You mind clearing me a path? Need a little longer to catch my breath."
Marek dropped his robe, though his lightsaber remained clipped at his side for the time being as he grinned back. "It would be my genuine pleasure."
Skytroopers were already flooding in by the dozens. Marek groaned inwardly, missing the "old" days when his beautiful pilot was there to slice into enemy communications and disable basic sensors and proximity alerts. Not that it mattered here. No matter how many there were, these mass-produced buckets of bolts couldn't even kill Marek's boredom.
He didn't even bother looking at the hallway full of Skytroopers, let alone dignifying them with the trademark "shove" against the air so usually associated with Force-based telekinesis. The only indication Marek was even aware of their presence was the slight narrowing of his eyes, but that alone was still more than enough to lift every single droid off the floor and crumple them like mere paper. If this was the strength of the Eternal Fleet, Galen Marek wasn't impressed.
"We're clear," he informed Delsin, as if the Conduit hadn't just witnessed the entire hallway get pulverized by an invisible hand. "There's a security checkpoint up ahead. By the time we reach it, you should have your full strength back."
Delsin pulled in a few wisps of smoke from what was left of the Skytroopers as he walked by. "That should help speed up the process."
The pattern repeated until they reached the security checkpoint Marek had mentioned. The former Apprentice to Darth Vader gave a low whistle. "Now that is a door." He was about to rip said door right off its hinges when Delsin motioned for him to see something. It was live footage from the security camera in the room where the Conduit had been frozen.
"Hey, I recognize her," Delsin said as a woman in black walked up to a dude in some kind of space-knight's getup. "She was the hot crazy lady who told everyone to clear out after Valkorion fried Marr to a crisp." He paused before adding, "I can already tell you from this angle, something is seriously wrong with that one. She's got the crazy eyes, you know?"
Marek shuddered. "Oh, I'm familiar with crazy eyes. Kinda hoped I'd never see them again to be honest."
Without warning, the black-robed woman reached out and started choking the knight with the Force before callously snapping his neck. Then she turned and made direct eye contact with the two men… through the security camera!
"Everyone makes mistakes," she taunted, before a sweep of her arm ripped apart the camera and killed the feed.
"Did she just-" Delsin began.
"Yup." Marek answered. "And those are definitely-"
"Crazy eyes," Delsin finished.
Both the Conduit and user Force-user shuddered. Then they looked at the door, looked at one another, and broke into matching grins as they silently agreed on a plan. Marek gently raised one hand, fingers bent as if cupping an unseen object, and with the horrible scream of metal against metal, the door began to open. Twisting his hand slightly clockwise, the noise increased as the door widened even further until there was enough space for two people to pass through. Holding it at that position, he nodded to Delsin and the two men walked calmly to the other side before Marek let his hand drop and the door slammed shut again with a resounding clang.
"Have you fully recovered yet?" Marek asked the Conduit next to him.
Rolling his shoulders back and letting out a sigh, Delsin issued a grunt in the affirmative. "Yup, all thawed out from my deep carbonite freeze."
"Then go on ahead," the former Apprentice ordered. "I'll stay here and occupy Vaylin for a bit." He tossed Delsin a sleeker, more futuristic version of his phone from back home. "There's a destination and a time you need to be at it. Until then, go crazy. We both know they can't catch you now that you're awake, conscious, and free from carbonite."
Delsin grinned like the kid on Christmas, or "Life Day" as they technically called it here. "Oh, hell yes!" he shouted with glee. Right before disappearing in a rush of smoke, Galen Marek swore he heard the boy say something to the effect of, "I am gonna touch everything!"
"Go enjoy your power, Delsin Rowe. I'll delay crazy eyes."
And what a delay. He could tell right when she was on the other side, such was her power. His was greater still, but it was an uncomfortably close match compared to everything else in the galaxy. This woman would be trouble when the time came to fight her for real. Today, however, was just a game of cat-and-mouse.
With the cat now using the Force to rip that massive door right out of the wall. Impressive, but nothing Marek couldn't do. He'd actually chosen to open it gently because he wanted to both delay Vaylin and see how she would get past the door. This was her home, after all. Did she treat what was hers with care, or with a sociopathic sense of glee? Now he knew it was the latter, along with a twisted joy in death and destruction. She liked to rip apart whatever she could.
She would have ripped the door apart too, had Galen Marek not taken the opportunity to screw with the Emperor's "favorite" child. Gathering strength between his palms, he struck out at the door with both palms, and combined with the strain Vaylin had already placed on it, the whole thing came flying off the wall and right into the psychotic woman's face. Anyone else, they'd be paste on the wall, but Vaylin merely swatted the metal aside with her mind before it even touched her.
"I don't think I know you," she said, voice caught between bored and actively seeking amusement. Then the dust cleared, and Vaylin got a good look at the man who had so rudely tossed that door at her.
"Thexan?" she asked, anger suddenly taking a backseat to confusion. The High Justice narrowed her eyes and looked closer. "No, you're not Thexan. Thexan's dead." She grinned manically. "You're turn!"
Vaylin flung her hand forward at the man bearing an uncanny resemblance to her brothers, using the Force to launch a massive telekinetic blast that would crush him right through the wall.
Marek calmly raised one hand and caught Vaylin's Force push. It was far from effortless, and he slid back a good two feet from the catch alone, but he held firm, and after adding just a bit of his own energy, he sent it flying back at Vaylin. The overcharged push caught her dead center, ripped the air from her lungs before she could even scream in anger, and practically shot her down the hallway she'd just come from. Next thing Vaylin knew, she was partially embedded in a wall of durasteel and her back was howling in agony. But the simple fact that it had happened, that a man had shown up wearing a face nearly identical to her brothers' before sending her flying like that.
And perhaps it was because he'd managed to send him flying like he had, that she managed to put the pieces together. "I remember you now!" Vaylin gasped in dissonant childlike excitement. "You're the one who caused that big mess on the planet with the ugly Wookiees." She laughed with more than a touch of madness. "Brother was so angry. Those hairy creatures swarmed all over the wreckage of the Star Fortress, grabbing whatever they could and then running back into their stupid trees to defend themselves. Like that's going to help them, hah!"
"Wookiees won't go down without a fight," Marek chuckled. "But no, that wasn't me. That was my brother. My twin."
Vaylin blinked. He had a brother? And they both looked like her brothers?! Her rage, clawing and cloying inside, began to rip and tear the facility, and she made no move to control it at all. This man, oh, this insufferable man had made a mistake coming to Zakuul and getting in her way.
Oh, she'd see him squirm before killing him. And she'd enjoy every moment of it.
Despite it all, Vaylin still didn't draw her lightsaber. She didn't need it. "You're going to die," she informed her new prey in a chillingly casual tone.
Marek bit back a laugh at the irony. "Yes, but not here, and not for quite some time." He didn't draw his lightsaber either though. Because, for now at least, he didn't need it either.
For a moment, absolute stillness. Then utter chaos as they met in psychokinetic battle.
Alert: The Outlander Has Escaped!
The Alert Response Team consisted of half a dozen Skytroopers providing fire support for what could only be described as a walking tank. Yes, it was a tank, and it was perched on two very sturdy metal legs. Behind them, access across the Skybridge was cut off by a series of laser-gates held up by metal posts.
Really not a problem for Delsin. At all. Not even bothering to stop and play 'let's kite the tank' with a bunch of Skytroopers trying to kill him, the Conduit rushed forward as a cloud of smoke and slipped between the beams in the laser gate. Repeating the process for each subsequent laser gate on the bridge, Delsin stopped only once he'd reached a relatively safe distance and gave the Skytroopers a friendly wave.
"Better luck next time boys!" he called out before turning around and running once more, only he stayed in flesh and blood form now, and he slowed his pace to a light jog. He didn't get far, however, before a familiar medley began to play from the phone Marek had given him.
"What the?" Delsin muttered aloud, pulling to phone out of his pocket. "Oh for the love of- Indiana Jones is my default ringtone on this thing? Seriously Marek? What did John Williams ever do to you?" Sighing in frustration, he answered the incoming communication. "Shit's Creek Paddle Company. How can we help you today?"
"Oh fantastic," a female voice on the other end of the line groaned. "We're risking our lives to save the man who killed the Emperor, and only now do we find out he makes jokes."
Delsin rolled his eyes. "Hey, just gonna go on the record here, I didn't kill the Emperor. I screwed him up, sure, but the other guy with half his face in a mask? Yeah, he tried to kill us both. Stabbed me right through daddy Emperor.
There was no response for several seconds, and then, "Arcann stabbed you… with a lightsaber. You then spent the last five years frozen in carbonite. And you're not only still alive, but you're healthy enough to joke at all? Koth, put a rush on it, we need this one yesterday! Outlander, sorry Delsin Rowe was it? It's been a while, so I forget that you 'strange and gifted individuals from nowhere' much prefer to be addressed by your actual names. Lana Beniko, by the way, former Minister of Sith Intelligence, currently unemployed and hoping we don't all die."
"Yeah, that's me. Now, I'm assuming there's a reason for this call? Kinda wandered off topic there when I mentioned not directly killing the Emperor, sooo…."
"Yes, the extraction," Delsin heard lasers and muffled explosions on Lana's end. Like him, she was probably being chased by lots of things with lots of guns. "There are coordinates on your personal datapad – before you ask, that's the device in your hand – but those coordinates aren't good anymore. We need to move the pickup location."
"I'm assuming the reason has to do with all the things trying to kill me?"
"They're trying to kill all of us. Hi, Koth Vortena at your service. I signed on to this absolutely suicidal rescue mission because I wanted to see if you were everything Lana and the others kept going on about. Now I hear you didn't kill the Emperor. The guy causing all our other problems did that too."
"I mentioned he stabbed me through the Emperor already, right?" Delsin scoffed. "Forget it, you said the pickup's been moved. So where am I going now, and how do I get there?"
Lana's answer was cut off by a massive shockwave, and Delsin looked up just in time to see Galen Marek crash through a high-rise window and freefall down onto the Skybridge. Then Delsin saw the crazy lady from earlier appear at the broken window, watching eagerly Marek as he fell to what she justifiably assumed would be his death. At first, it actually looked like the former Apprentice was about to get splattered on the bridge. However, at the last second, Marek unleashed his immense power, breaking his fall and spreading the impact of his landing across the whole of the Skybridge, nullifying any damage to his person while shattering anything made of glass for a good hundred meters
"Now that's just cheating," Vaylin whined as she pursued her target. Unfortunately for the High Justice, she had less experience with falling from spectacular distances than either of the powerhouses she was chasing, and as such, her body protested greatly upon landing.
"Argh!" she cried, too angry to even consider the chase fun anymore. "Enough!"
"We should probably run," Marek suggested.
"Already running!" Delsin replied, shooting off in a puff of smoke.
Vaylin lashed out and gripped the air, clenching it tight with an angry hiss as she used the Force to grab at the smoke that was Father's pet. "I don't think so."
Delsin had no words to describe the agony he felt upon being shoved back into human form against his will. Technically, he was still a cloud of smoke, but Vaylin had grabbed every last particle and smashed them together until they were shaped like him again, trapping the Conduit between two very, very different states of material existence. "Ow! Jeez! And you accused us of cheating, crazy bitch?" Flinging one hand out as best he could and hoping to not explode, Delsin sapped any and all ferrocrete he could manage out of the Skybridge beneath his feet. "Pleaseworkpleaseworkpleasework," he nervously repeated as the mixture flowed up his aching arm. "Aaaand yes!"
Vaylin had been focusing on crushing particles of smoke into a single form. When that form was too solid all of us sudden, her grip faltered and Delsin broke free and took off running in "concrete juggernaut" mode with Marek right on his heels. Neither one took the time to see that, instead of following, Vaylin had turned to look at the nearby reactor. "No, I'm not going to chase you. I want to make it fun again first."
Zakuul: Skytrooper Factory
Alert: Outlander Has Escaped!
Alert: Catastrophic Reactor Failure Imminent
The explosion outside was almost enough to send both men toppling over inside. What the hell did Vaylin just throw at the building?
"Catastrophic Reactor Failure Imminent"
Well, ask a stupid question…
"Why is it that every time I'm forced to deal with crazy and – to varying degrees – attractive women, I either have to chase them, or I'm running for my life while they chase me?" Delsin shook his head. "Gotta be a punchline in there somewhere."
"Ask your predecessor," Marek replied, choosing his words carefully in case Valkorion was both capable and bored enough to actually be listening. "I hear he's something of an expert on that particular subject."
Delsin laughed. "Oh so the punchline is that it's a problem for people like me. Great."
"Tell me these scans aren't correct," Lana shouted at both men over the comm. "What did you do to the reactor? And who's that with you, Delsin? It sounds like Starkiller, but that's impossible. He's... elsehwere." Lana didn't want to risk giving up their ally's location, even over a secure channel.
"Galen Marek," the man in question introduced himself. "Starkiller's brother. Now, I'm flattered that you'd immediately assume it's our fault because let's be honest, most days you'd be correct in that assumption. However, and it really hurts to admit this, this time it wasn't me." The walking disaster zone that was Vader's former Apprentice groaned audibly. "Damn that really stings, but I'm man enough to admit that Vaylin's really good at destruction. And just like me, I highly doubt she ever took the time to learn how to stop her destruction before it got out of hand.
"What?" Koth protested. "You're brother, Starkiller. He pulled a Star Fortress out of orbit on Kashyyyk. From the surface! Can't you do some Force-y thing to, I don't know, contain that reactor's explosion? Or just shut it down like us mere mortals? Either way works, but if you don't do something, a lot of innocent people, people with nothing against you guys or any of Arcann's conquered worlds, are gonna die!"
"There's no time," Lana argued. "They need to get out now and find a way to meet us so we can get out with them! Don't you see? The fact that Vaylin would even do something like this goes to show how far they'll go to stop Delsin from escaping!"
"Not really," Delsin pointed out. "It mostly just shows how much of a bitch Vaylin is. She probably didn't even think about the cost to Zakuul. She just wanted to see the pretty colors while still trying to catch me, so she broke half of the reactor off and threw it at us. Not the best example of 'whatever it takes' if you ask me."
"Yes, well there's nothing you can do to stop it," Lana reminded Delsin, much to the chagrin of both the Supernova and the Unique acting the part of a Supernova. "Unless a Sun Generator somehow falls under your list of power sources?"
"Maybe, maybe not," Delsin refused to let out all his secrets at once, even if he didn't need to hide it. Civilization couldn't function at this kind of scale without making use of every kind of matter he drew power from, and that's why surprise wasn't an issue. Unless Zakuul felt like taking a trip back to the Stone Age, they'd never be able to pin the Conduit down. "Either way, "I've got a plan."
Augustine had managed to grow giant slabs of concrete from practically anywhere, at practically anytime. Build fortresses, sink bridges, stick Delsin's feet to the ground, or on her worst days, grown the concrete daggers right out of the bones and bodies of his fellow Akomish, with no way out unless she removed them personally. Delsin hadn't tried any of that, but now was as good a time as any, he supposed.
"Don't try this at home!" the Conduit yelled out to no one in particular. Then, psyching himself up with a roar, Delsin Rowe swept his hands from the floor towards the ceiling. The results were almost instantaneous. Huge jagged slabs of concrete cut through every important-looking coil and wire in the room, as well as all the machines outside that were sending random discharges of electricity into the main junction. That was next – and last – on his list of volatile inanimate victims…
And of course that's when he ran out of concrete to spawn on every available surface. "Okay, that's awesome, but it's gonna need a bit of practice," Marek commented.
"Well then, Plan B." Delsin unwrapped the length of chain wound around his right forearm and lashed out at the main junction, his innate concrete durability passing through its metal links and snapping through the tubes feeding into the machine like they were dry twigs.
"Primary grid shutdown protocols are in effect"
Delsin grinned as he whipped the chain back into place around his arm and wrist. "And that's how it's done."
"I hope that was worth it." Lana sounded frustrated and sarcastic, but they could all tell that, deep down, even she thought it was worth the effort. If not because they'd prevented countless innocent casualties, then at least because it was an impressive display of skill and power on such short notice. "Now, can you please attempt to reach the rendezvous? At this rate, we're as likely to die from oldage as anything shooting at us."
"On our way," they both replied.
As the grid finished winding down, the artificial sun from the reactor quickly disappeared.
"And just like that, it's dark outside," Delsin sighed as they exited the building. "Of course it is. Zakuul doesn't even have the decency to rely on an actual day-night cycle for sunshine." He frowned as he ran with Marek under the cover of darkness along a series of catwalks. "Is it just me or did this suddenly get too-"
Right as Delsin jinxed himself, a pair of warriors dropped down to block their path, both wearing the same futuristic gold suit of armor as the guy they saw Vaylin kill on the security camera earlier.
"Zakuul Knights!" Marek shouted, warning Delsin to stay back. Concrete may have been the physically toughest of the Conduit's powers, but it was also much more tangible than Smoke, Neon, or Video. Those powers allowed Delsin to phase through his enemies' attacks, concrete didn't.
"Knights?" Delsin echoed. "Why is it always 'Knights' with you people? Jedi Knight, Zakuul Knight, haven't you ever considered something more original?"
"Why don't you take it up with them?" Marek suggested.
"Outlander!" the one on the right, Novo yelled at Delsin. "You are guilty of assassinating the Immortal Emperor and evading imprisonment.
Tanek, the one on the left, then yelled, "We demand your immediate surrender!"
Delsin held up a hand in the universal "wait a second" gesture before proceeding to laugh his ass off. "I'm sorry, but did you just say I assassinated your immortal Emperor? I'm charged of killing a guy who can't die? How does that even make sense to you people?"
Tanek looked at his partner, who could only manage a helpless shrug, as if to say, "He kinda has a point…"
That moment's distraction was all the opportunity Marek needed to strike at them both. Reaching out with his right hand, Vader's former Apprentice launched a surge of Force lightning into Tanek before flinging him into Novo, who just barely leapt out of the way in time. Tanek kept going and almost fell off the side of the platform, only just managing to stay on by the tips of his fingers.
"How?!" Novo yelled. It was obvious that outside of their late Emperor and his children, none of the Knights were accustomed to Force-sensitives actually displaying any kind of strength, let alone what Marek and his clone could both accomplish. Novo didn't stick around, however. That display was more than enough proof that if the Outlander's accomplice wanted him dead, he'd be dead.
These people, these monsters, were too much. And so, like a coward, Novo ran. He had no idea that Tanek would be the one to pay the price.
Marek's victory was short-lived, however, as the walkway further ahead of them broke off and fell crashing down into the depths of the city below.
"She's back!" Delsin pointed behind them at the steadily approaching Vaylin. "As if that wasn't totally obvious. Dammit, even if I'm the scapegoat, she's supposed to be protecting Zakuul from me, not ripping it apart 'because reasons.'"
Vaylin pointed right back at Delsin. "I wanted you to stay still for a change. That's my reason."
"Not gonna happen," Marek retorted, grabbing the Conduit by the back of his vest. "Jump!"
The two men fell through the hole Vaylin had conveniently ripped in the walkway, landing almost perfectly inside the open door of Koth's waiting ship. "About time!" the Zakuul native called up from the pilot seat.
Before Delsin could make a joke of stopping for caffa – the territory's equivalent of coffee – he was interrupted by a crash along the right side of the ship. Vaylin was throwing more pieces of the city at them, and apparently she managed to hit something vital, as the Copycat Conduit suddenly felt himself tumble backwards out of the same door he'd just entered. In a twisted sense of déjà vu he managed to snag the edge of the ramp before getting thrown out completely.
Despite the fact that he was hanging on for dear life, Delsin remained surprisingly calm. Mostly because he knew the fall wouldn't hurt too much. "Can I get a little help here? Concrete might let me hover pretty well, but it does not fly."
A robotic hand reached out and effortlessly yanked Delsin back inside the now-damaged ship. "Declaration: Concrete or otherwise, meatbags can't fly."
"You'd be surprised," Lana Beniko informed the droid known as HK-55. "Unfortunately, after what Vaylin just did, this ship definitely can't fly."
Which left them all with only one option: Crash, burn, and hope to survive.
We're cutting there. Yup, I'm evil like that. Not that it's much of a cliffhanger with this lot though, let's be honest. I originally planned this differently, but I'd still love to hear what you think so drop a review if you can.
More fun to come eventually, but first, I should probably focus on One Way Flight, yeah? Let me get through finals, and then everyone can enjoy Tali's Trial, I promise. Until then, however, I'm sure you're becoming quite familiar with the drill:
Read, Review, and Enjoy!