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Chapter Twelve
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 eminatd 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.”
  “Yeah.”
  “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.”
  “But?”
  “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...

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