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The Binding

Tari woke up, not easing out of sleep and slowly becoming aware, but abruptly like the snapping of a string, her body tense and mind seeking information. Her kyr-marks rolled in waves, dancing madly as they stretched and expanded off her skin, into the ground and air to confirm what her five senses already told her: no enemies, no battle. She knew, but it wasn’t until her marks became still on her body that she allowed herself to breathe, then she was able to take in the sensations she had initially ignored, sounds of her comrades laughing outside, the bubbling of something in a pot, fire crackling, and quiet chattering. It seemed like she was the last one to wake up, but instead of immediately going out to join them, she laid back on the soft bed, looking at the ceiling of her tent, but seeing the dream she had woken up from.

The last time she remembered dreaming, was almost a year ago, so she wanted to linger in it for as long as possible. In the dream, she was back on Marak, sitting in a nook by the window, with a book, but rather than reading, she was more interested in how the crisp rays of sunlight danced upon the black and white symbols on the page, making patterns within patterns, how those same rays, danced upon her skin, making it shimmer like bronze. The feeling she longed most for from the dream, was the way the sun heated up one side of her body, nearly burning it while the other half, within the shade, was cool, almost cold. Tari sighed and gripped her blanket tightly, as the echoes of the dream began to fade. She tried to focus harder on the feeling of the burning sun, but the more she longed to hold on to it, the faster it slipped away, like water, out of her grasp, and gone, replaced by murky lukewarmness.

She sighed again, throwing her blanket off in annoyance, and getting up. The dream was great, but it had only made her more keenly aware of the fact that she was as far as she could be from Marak.

“Ah…I hate this place,” she whispered to herself, as she peeled off her clothes. They were wet not from sweat but form the unnatural humidity and mugginess of the binding. “I hate this place with the burning passion of Fuze,” she said moving to a corner of her large tent, where the cleansing station was.

She squeezed the clothes in her hand, and wrapping her marks around them, the marks, naturally black, began to glow a blindingly white, igniting the clothes, and burning them at a temperature so hot, that not even ashes remained. Tari giggled as she watched the plasma consume the clothes. She couldn't burn down the binding itself, but she would take as much pleasure as she could from imaging that as she burned the clothes, she was also taking some small revenge on the place. She rubbed her hands together in satisfied glee, then she waved her hands over the glyphs on the cleaning station, a disc shaped piece of metal, two inches thick, attached to the wall, with a small nozzle at its center. The glyphs on the disc glowed a faint yellow, then as they tuned green, steam burst out of the nozzle, covering her in a membrane of moisture. The steam poured out for a couple minutes then, warm air followed after, drying her body, and completing the cleansing. Tari smiled, as the floral scent of the cleansing steam filled the room. One of the things that had kept her sane these last few years, was this scent, light, crisp, and clean, though she admitted that, despite the convince of cleansing stations, she still missed an actual bath.

She sighed again but deciding not to dwell on things she couldn’t change, she manipulated her kyr-marks to take on the shape of a simple shirt and leggings, then pulled kyr particles together into a soft but durable fabric of the same shape. Finally done getting ready, went to join her comrades.

“What’s the weather like today?” She asked as soon as she stepped out of the tent. There was always a moment, when stepping out, between her temperature-controlled tent and the thick warm air outside, where she had to brace herself against the strange feeling of the atmosphere. She knew that even spending ten more years there wouldn't get her used to what felt like the inside of an animal’s mouth.

“Hmm, let’s see,” Brel said coming over to her, and looking around. Then pointing exaggeratedly, he said, “Well over there is yellow murky, and there,” he pointed in another direction, “is orange murky combined with a hint of brown streaks.”

“Wow, that’s amazing,” Tari said clapping with false enthusiasm, then more seriously, “well, honestly, it’s definitely better than the purple and green mix we had yesterday.”

“Or the yellow and turquoise the day before that.”

“Exactly,” she said, and laughed loudly, in a way that was painfully mechanical, but bordered on hysteria. “This is wonderful,” she added, and sounded like she meant it.

Her four companions, stopped midway in their cooking, training, writing, and whatever else they were doing, to stare at her. Brel took a step back, watching as Tari whipped nonexistent tears from her eyes, her marks dancing frantically on her skin. Even as she straightened up, and regained her composure, they didn’t stop watching her.

“Are you okay?” Fee asked putting down the pad she was writing in, her blue hair, falling in wisps around her face.

“You seem a bit, tired,” Brel added, “Maybe you should get some more sleep.”

Tari shook her head and sighed at their concerned looks, letting out a hollow laugh. It had become their routine to joke about how much they loved the binding, and she had acted as she assumed was expected, but she saw none of the usual teasing, or lightheartedness in their tone or looks, which meant that she either really did seem unwell, or that they were too stressed to recognize the joke. It was probably a bit of both.

“I’m fine,” she said. “Really.”

“Are you sure, Fee said. “If you’re not okay, you have to let us know, we can’t have you losing your mind on us.”

Tari shot her a glare, then looked around, first, up into the sunless murky sky, already beginning to shift colors again, adding strange reddish hues into the mix, then down at the deep mauve stones that made up the desolate rocky terrain, and finally, she looked at her friends, and saw the strain and tiredness that painted their faces in deep shadows. She saw in them, what they probably say in her, that ten years of dimness, ten years of permanent twilight, ten years of a horrid sunless sky and its horrid colors was starting to take its toll on them all. It was no wonder they seemed concerned about her when she felt equally concerned for them.

How had she been able to keep her sanity this whole time? She wondered.

“Maybe you’ve actually lost your mind,” Silver said, turning away from her, and back to her cooking, satisfied that Tari wasn’t any crazier than she was the day before. She tasted the soup and smiled brightly.

“Maybe you should stay out of my mind,” Tari said, walking over, and kicking her lightly.

Silver made a sound which was intended to be a grunt, but which in her high hymn like voice, sounded more like sequels, then fell in exaggerated pain. Her twin brother Capricorn, joining in on the fun, leaped over from where he had been training to catch her.

“It’s not my sister’s fault that you leave your mind completely defenseless,” he said cradling his twin’s head. “Keep your feet to yourself hooligan.” He added dramatically.

“You all have far too much energy in the morning.” Fee said stretching her back. She picked her notebook up, and started writing, offhandedly asking, “Have you heard anything from Rick, Tari?”

“Nope,” she said sitting down, Brel joined them around the food, and Silver started handing out large bowls of the transparent watery soup. “That good for nothing. He must be so happy to finally be out of here. Since he left, he hasn’t bothered to contact us once, except when he bought a new pair of shoes. Why in Marvel’s ankles would I care about his shoes?”

Capricorn laughed, “That’s so like him. Well he did say he would leave the final sealing to you, it’s unfortunate that the shimeshians have been attacking more frequently. They’re not giving us any time… but more importantly,” He said, mischief creeping into his voice. “Should you really be calling your father a good for nothing?”

“And who exactly is my father?” Tari said, giving Capricorn a look of that dared him to continue.

“Rick,” the remaining four said simultaneously, laughing obnoxiously as they did.

“Oh, here we go,” Fee said exasperated, though she smiled softly, as the dialogue they’d repeated at least a hundred times in the last month played out.

“I don’t remember agreeing to become his daughter,” Tari said laughing. “He just say’s whatever he feels like.”

“Oh please. Just a few decades ago, you were always talking about how you wanted to make Rick proud, and how you loved him so much that…” the rest of Brel’s words were cut off by the pink sand thrown in his face.

“Ugh, you got sand in my soup,” he yelled, while the rest laughed at his expense.

“That’s because you say the most unnecessary things. All that happened when I was young and still thought he was the coolest man alive.”

“So, what you’re saying is that you don’t think he’s cool anymore?” Brel asked with obvious disbelief.

“No, he’s still cool, but I’ll never tell him that to his face, it goes right to his already over inflated ego… Besides Sol and Marviel are much cooler.” Tari said childishly.

“You’re all so immature, talking about who’s cool or not,” Fee said, putting down her already finished bowl of soup, and beginning to drink the remaining soup right from the pot.

“And your appetite is as baffling as always,” Tari said, putting her own bowl down.

They laughed and joked a bit more, then fell into silence for a while, each deep in their own thoughts. Tari looked off into the distance, the horizon, where the supple translucent shield walls of the binding, met the dark grey edge of the shimeshians dimension. More specifically, she looked at the point, where a large rip in the bindings dimensional fabric was roughly held together by Silver’s energy shield and her rough Kyr stitching. The shimmering threshold seemed to hum and vibrate with life. Turning back to the group, she said, “But onto more serious things, what’s the plan for today. I really think it’s about time we find some way to finish the final sealing. I know we all just love being here, but I’m ready to go home.”

Silver nodded, “I hate to sour the mood, but no matter how much we try to play at having a good time, I really don’t think we should stay here for much longer.”

They grew grave at her words. They joked frequently about it, but they truly feared that it was only a matter of time before one of them would really lose their minds, and the last thing they wanted to deal with along with the shimeshians, was a very powerful lunatic.

“I think we can finish it by the end of the week,” Fee said, using her fingers to clean out the last traces of soup in the pot. “The breech is almost closed, and the shimeshians know that, that’s why their trying so hard… think about it, for the last ten years, we’ve been slowly chipping away at it, but now we’ve spent over two months since Rick left, trying to seal a hole that should take a day or two max.”

“Well, it’s difficult to hold them back with Rick gone,” Brel said, defensive of him and Capricorn, who were the main force fighting off attacks. “Tari now needs to focus on weaving the tear closed, but without her help, we can’t stop their hordes from trying to destroy what has already been fixed,” he said.

Tari sighed, taking their words more personally than they’d probably intended. She couldn’t help but think, as she was the one now filling Rick’s shoes, that if she had even half of his skills and power, she’d be able to help fight off the shimeshians and weave the dimensional thread at the same time. She knew she couldn’t carry the same weight Rick did, no one expected her to, but the burden was heavy. Their ten years’ worth of effort, fending off an incessant invasion, could all be in vain if she made a wrong step.

Silver reached over, laying a comforting hand on her back. “Don’t look so down, Tari, it’s not your fault.”

“I know, but it’s all a bit frustrating, if Rick came back a hole that size could be closed in a couple hours, yet we’ve been here for months… and if all this nonsense with Iclax and Cajara weren’t going on, Alexil would be here as well, and there would be no issue.” Tari sighed.

Fee leaned forward, and Tari cringed inwardly, expecting come kind of rebuke. “The Head of The House of Lupaine has already been absent from the galaxy ten years,” she said quietly. “Tari, you know better than anyone that that should never happen, and unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about Alexil. As the next Head, it’s your duty to do this, and to do it flawlessly,” Fee said unsympathetically, causing Tari to roll her eyes in frustration, but Fee continued regardless, leaning back. “Anyway, I’ve been doing some thinking, and I know how we can get this finished in about seven days…honestly, I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t think about it sooner”

“How?” Capricorn asked, gracefully throwing his head back and downing the rest of his soup, skepticism obvious in his voice.

“Like Brel said, we need Tari to focus on the actual sealing. She’s the only Marakian here. No one else can do that, so the rest of us need to hold the shimeshians back…”

“Sorry to cut in,” Brel said, “but that’s exactly what we’ve been doing, and the four of us can’t hold them back alone. Even when Rick was here, all five of us defended the breech while he closed it.” Brel said, rolling a small stone under his foot. “I thought you’d come up with something new.”

“Well,” Fee said, slapping the back of his head. “If you let me finish, you’d hear the rest. The fact is, when Rick was here, only four of us were facing the shimeshians, and with Rick gone, it’s down three when Tari is closing the hole. As you are well aware, Silver has been maintaining a shield around the entire place this whole time, so she hasn’t really been fighting at full strength. I think if she dropped the shield completely and helped us defend Tari could close the hole in less than a week.”

“Fee,” Capricorn said and shook his head “That’s seriously not you plan, is it? the breech makes the entire binding unstable. Silver’s shield is the only thing that has prevented this place from crashing in on us. Do you want to be crushed between two dimensions?”

The rest said nothing, but the bit of hope that had sparked, quickly died away.

“Listen to me. At the beginning, her shield was completely necessary, but that was ten years ago. The hole was almost the size of a planet for goodness sake, but now it’s not even as large as a standard hover car. Even if it’s just for a few hours at a time we’ll be able to give Tari the time she needs… do you want to spend another month or two here, hoping the shimeshians will just let us be?” she said, raising her voice slightly.

They remained silent, each contemplating the idea, trying and failing to figure out any alternatives. Silver finally spoke up.

“I think it’s the best idea we’ve got, we’ve been here for months, and unfortunately, no one else has come up with anything,” she said looking around. “Let’s try it out first, and if I notice the binding starting to collapse, all I have to do is put the shield back up.”

“You make it sound so simple, like you can just create a dimension sized shield in two seconds, by just snapping your finger,” Capricorn said, turning to his sister. “who do you think you are, Great King Marviel?”

“And not just once, but potentially multiple times? Are actually you trying to kill yourself? Death might be better than this, but there are much easier ways to die,” Brel added.

Silver laughed quietly for a moment, “There’s definitely easier ways, but right now I’m not so eager for death,” she said standing up and smiling so brightly that for a moment Tari didn’t miss the absence of sunlight. “This is actually a great idea Fee, and you know what? I think we can be out of here in two days, maybe less,” she declared.

They all looked at her with equal parts of confusion and desperate hope. “Two days?” Tari asked.

“Two days.” She said. “Like you said, Tari, a hole this size can be closed in a matter of hours if Rick was here, but I know you're capable of doing the same, so let’s drop the shield, fight hard for two days, then leave,” she finished, flicking her hand as though it were all as easy as brushing away some dust.

As Silver spoke, Tari couldn’t help the excitement creeping into her blood, and pounding through her veins and marks, from the confidence her friend had in her. A smile slowly crept onto her face, and she got up, taking Silver’s hand. “Two days?” she said, then scoffed. “I’ll close it in one.” By now an infectious thrill had fully spread through Tari and silver, making them jump up and down wildly. Tari continued, her voice rising. “I’ll finally be able to go home,” she shrieked, jumping ten feet in the air, and dragging Silver up with her, creating a cloud of dust underneath them, they hovered together in the air, flying around in circles like drunk birds.

Fee looked at them with mild concern but said nothing, while Brel and Capricorn shook their heads slowly. They were definitely not sane anymore, and Brel was already planning a visit to Laurim for counseling the moment he got back to Nol.

“So that’s the plan then?” Capricorn asked, still uncertain. He was fine with fighting, but when he thought of the strain Silver would have to go through to put up the shield again if everything failed, he couldn't get as excited as everyone else. He looked up to where she was floating gently, her hands and neck covered in bandages from where her own powers had melted and scared her, countless times, in the years she had maintained the shield. He also thought about Tari, splitting her Kyr-marks hundreds of times smaller than a strand of hair, trying to weave a dimension. He looked to her bowl of soup, abandoned on the ground, still full. She couldn’t even eat properly anymore.

“That’s the plan,” Silver said, landing lightly on the ground, while Tari continued to fly around, morphing her marks into the shapes of mangled shimeshians, and landmarks from her home, unconcerned about the energy she was using up. “I’ll drop most of the shield, except for in a couple delicate spots. I’ll also completely remove the temporary shield over the breach, so Tari has complete freedom to manipulate it while we defend until its closed.”

“Tari, Silver…I think you guys need to really consider the consequences of this plan. Even if it’s successful, how long do you think it will take you guys to recover from…”

“When do we start?” Brel asked, putting his arm around Capricorn’s neck, and covering his mouth.

“Right now,” Fee said, “While I’m still full, it seems I won’t be able to eat for at least two days straight.”

“For one day,” Tari said as she landed beside them. “If you beautiful Cajarans, and my always hungry Zentalian sister here,” she said putting an arm around Fee, “can defend without me, I will finish this in a day.”

“Such bravado from someone who was whining about not having Rick and Alexil’s help just a moment ago,” Fee said smiling.

Tari laughed. “That’s true, but that was before I heard you plan.”

They all smiled, and for the first time in years, they actually felt happy, now that they could see an end, even Capricorn couldn’t help but give into the feeling of joy and hope. The energy of their combined excitement was so palpable that small particles in the air were instantaneously combusting, creating sparkles around them.

“Alright, let’s calm down a bit. The last thing we want is to get so excited that we mess something up,” Capricorn said.

“You’d sound more convincing if you weren’t smiling like a maniac,” Brel said nudging him with his shoulder.

“Alright, shall we begin preparing?” Fee said clapping her hands softly.

They all settle down although not the level of seriousness they had earlier and began mentally preparing themselves for the difficult day ahead. Silver sat down, closing her eyes, preparing herself to take down the shield, Capricorn and Brel went to change into their combat suits, while Fee began making more mysterious notes on her pad. Tari grew still, focusing her eyes upwards, on an empty point where nothing but the murky sky could be seen, but which she knew by instinct was the direction of Marak. Her marks settled down on her skin, and she emptied her mind for a moment to focus only on the now distant, but ever-present pull from her planet. Subtly, she also felt the presence of Zental and Fee who was still scribbling in her notepad. Fee sensed her thoughts and looked up to share a smile. After a few minutes Brel and Capricorn returned fully dressed in their Cajaran nano-lyfol energy combat suits, and Silver opened her eyes slowly.

“I’m ready,” she said, smiling, and they began making their way to the edge of the binding.

# # #

They arrived in front of the breach in only a couple minutes, their base being specifically built nearby, so they could fend off any surprise shimeshian attacks. While the others began taking their positions, and making final adjustments to their equipment, Tari stepped closer to the binding, examining it to see if there were any changes since the night before. The binding’s thin membrane wall, shimmering iridescently, and incorporeally fading in and out of sight, gave slightly under her touch, like the surface of water, pushed without breaking. Tari moved her hand to a spot where the torn dimensional fabric and the undamaged parts met and looked through to the other side. Looking through the tear, into the dimension of the shimeshians, always made Tari incredibly uncomfortable. It was like staring in to a grey, devoid of light and shadows, where the material of reality within the dimension Shimesh, was indistinguishable from the shimeshians writhing grey and colorless bodies which stared back at her with the pressure of millions of hungry glares. She paused in her inspection, taking a moment to simply stand and glare back, grinning lightly, marks jumping sporadically, showing her own hunger that she tried to keep back. If she didn’t have to close the breach, she would have taking great satisfaction in personally cutting down the number of glares she felt on her in half, though, she sighed as she returned her focus to the binding. It was all a constant futility, as the same shimeshian she cut down today, could possibly be the same one, respawned after centuries, that she would have to cut down again.

She stroked the binding from the top of the tear, down to where it met the ground, contrary to is smooth appearance, it felt fibrous under her hand, like the skin of a leaf, or a flower petal, it was a wonder that something that felt so delicate was strong enough to block out an entire dimension of monstrosities. She traced the tear again in the opposite direction, feeling each undulation under her touch, she could also feel the residue of the auras left behind by its original creators: Rick, Sol, and King Marviel. Again, she certainly felt burdened by how unworthy she was to add her own signature to the binding, but she found that the sense of honor and pride, she felt was much stronger.

“Tari, are you ready?” Fee asked. Tari nodded, turning to look behind her. Fee had changed into a white two-piece suit, that included a long-sleeved shirt and leggings that fit snugly. On her feet, she wore thin strapped white Caliga sandals. Like marakians, zentalians did not wear armor into battle, but Tari couldn’t understand why they wore white of all colors. Then again, she thought, it wasn’t like the shimeshians bled.

In their combat suits and helms, Brel and Capricorn looked like grey statues, shimmering red and gold, as their powers flowed through the suits. Tari knew from experience that even high-powered laser blast from and Iclaxian battleship couldn’t pierce the shell of those suits when Brel and Capricorn wore them. She smiled, seeing that everyone was ready, the smile immediately dropped when she saw what Silver was wearing. Dressed like she was about to go to a gala instead of engaging in battle, Silver wore a light blue dress that stopped at her knees, made with a thin billowing fabric, which draped elegantly on her light grey metalo-protein skin, paired with glaringly white running shoes. She had definitely not been wearing that when they’d left their camp.

“Silver, did you just change?” Tari said, wondering why she had even brought such an impractical outfit into the binding.

“Yes, but I’m ready now,” she said, seriously.

“You did understand the plan, right? You’re not just creating a shield today, you’re actually fighting.”

“Oh, she knows,” Capricorn said, “She’s just choosing to be an overconfident princess.” He still clearly had reservations about the entire plan, and Silver’s leisurely attitude was doing nothing to improve his mood.

“Capricorn, I’m being very serious right now,” she said adjusting the bandages on her hand. “you all know that nothing can touch me,” she said smiling softly, though her eyes shone like blue orbs of defiance.

They said nothing for a moment, until Brel whispered, “famous last words,” then pretended to clear his throat.

Silver rolled her eyes. “Let’s get started, I’m ready to drop the shield.”

Choosing to accept Silver’s fashion choices, they grew serious and moved into position. Brel, Fee and Capricorn, moved to stand directly in front of the breach, with Tari and Silver stood two steps behind them. In reaction to their movements, they all felt, like the rolling of thousands of marbles under their skin, the attention of the shimeshians, turn fully towards them.

In a wave, the void behind the binding shifted, slowly lightening up as small spots of light began to fill the space, a horrid mimicry of a starry night sky, in the form of millions of bright, mad, yellow eyes opening up. Within minutes, the shimeshians were throwing themselves at the wall of the binding, and breech, trying to rip it open with the force of their assault, there was no sound when they hit, only ripples in the binding’s wall and air pushed continually into a powerful breeze. In places where the Binding was undamaged, it held firm, but the tear, which they targeted with specific brutality, only remained unbreeched thanks to Silvers shield.

“Alright,” Fee sighed, moving ahead of Brel and Capricorn slightly, “Silver, drop main the shield.”

“Dropping the shield,” Silver said, then closed her eyes, her body starting to glow a bright blue, she looked up, feeling her powers that were spread across the binding dimension, and began pulling them back, as if folding a large silk cloth, small enough to fit into a small space beside her heart. To Tari, it felt like a filled cup, spilled over, its contents evaporating instantly, leaving behind only emptiness. It suddenly felt much colder, and she shivered slightly, not realizing how the constant presence of Silver’s power over the place had made it much more bearable.

Silver opened her eyes, breathing hard, but remained standing, her eyes, now having black streaks around the corners. “Main shield down,” she said clearly.

“Confirmed, drop the breach shield on mark,” Fee replied, then stretched a hand forward, open palmed, her pale skin glowed as her veins lit up in hard, bright purple lines, in front of her palm, a large purple wall of light formed, slightly smaller than the size of the breach. Behind her, Capricorn’s hands lit a bright red, and energy constructs of plasma, in the shape of long swords, slid out of his hands. Brel, remained still, but Tari saw the small sparks of his signature gold lightening, dancing on his shoulders and around his head. The three of them were a blazing sun, but the shimeshians, though they hesitated slightly, continued to throw themselves at the breach.

“Drop breach shield now,” Fee said.

“Dropping breach shield,” she said, and immediately, the shield was dropped. “Breach shield down.”

The result was instantaneous. The shimeshians began to push through the hole, their numbers in the tens of thousands, only to meet instant death against Fee’s wall of anti-matter. She spread her arms, expanding the wall, then leaped forward, forcing the shimeshians back into the void, along with herself, followed by Capricorn and Brel. The three small, bright spots of light, purple, red, and gold, fought against tides of grey, as they had been doing almost every day for the last ten years. The shimeshians fell by the thousand under their attacks, but where the thousand fell, two thousand rose to take their place. As they continued to fight, the three of them noted grimly, a large group of the shimeshians, suddenly turned to Fee, attacking her specifically. They twisted their bodies tightly into needles, and threw themselves at her, attempting to get past her anti-matter wall, targeting her head and heart. She fended them off, with ease, though some of their attack hit her arms and legs.

“There is a wrag mother or father among them,” Capricorn said, sending the telepathic message to all five of them. It was obvious from the way they specifically attacked Fee, unlike him and Brel, whose energy-based powers often lost some efficiency against the shimeshians, Fee’s anti-matter could not be consumed by the energy hungry creatures, so each touch of it was a guaranteed kill. Capricorn knew the regular shimeshians had no way of knowing that, but a wrag mother of father, maybe millions of years old, could easily direct the rest with is knowledge and power.

“It doesn’t matter,” Fee answered back, “Unless it chooses to show itself, and fight personally, this is just a minor annoyance.” She finished, making a slicing motion with her hand, cutting through the next wave of shimeshians like melted butter.

Capricorn and Brel, too, cut down wave after wave. Capricorn’s plasma swords, tearing shimeshian after shimeshian in two, then he stretched out his hand, and mimicking the shimeshians assault, he twisted his plasma constructs into thousands and needles, each as powerful as a small sun, and sent them hurling towards the shimeshians. Brel danced among them like lightning between clouds, sending destruction wherever he landed, creating large gaps in the shimeshians formations, with his explosions of lightning. So, they fought, none stop, while keeping alert for the monster they felt shifting among the hordes of mindless soldiers.

Within the Binding, Tari continued sealing the breach. She sat down a few feet in front of the hole, and keeping her hands on her knees, held them open, palm facing up. Her marks pulled themselves from the rest of her body, to concentrate in pools on her palms, then in fine threads, they rose up from her palms, and into the air, and onto the edge of the breach. With each strand that rose from her hand, Tari felt a small tug in the area around her stomach. She closed her eyes, as the battle ahead became too distracting. Focusing on her kyr-marks, she carefully split each band, thin enough to match the intricate and detailed weave of the rest of the binding. Each split felt like the ripping of an organ bit by bit, so that it didn’t hurt as it happened, but eventually she would realize half of her was in shreds, and the pain would come all at once. As each strand formed into the correct size, she immediately began weaving it into the binding, then once a patch, half the size of her palm was woven, she would collect kyr particles, to take the place of her marks, manipulating them into the unique material of dimensions, that was created by Rick, Sol, and Marviel. This was the easiest part, since she had the rest of the intact binding to uses as reference, but the weaving itself was a trial in patience, skill, and stamina. She continued the process, creating patch by patch, then she felt something brush past the area she was working on, and opened her eyes to see multiple shimeshians pushing past the frontline, and into the breach.

Usually, this would be the point where she would have had to stop weaving, and start helping with the defense, to prevent any shimeshians from making their way into the binding, and thereafter into Nol, through the binding wall on the other side, but this time, she simply smiled and closed her eyes, refocusing on her work, as Silver stepped in front of her. Silver stood immovable, as she forcefully smashed down and crushed shimeshians between her shields. Not one passed her to reach Tari, or the other side of the binding.

# # #

They weren’t sure how long they’d been fighting at that point, but it was irrelevant. The hole was now half closed, and the sight the progress, gave them such hope that they grew immune of any pain or weariness they felt. Fee, Brel and Capricorn, gathered closer to the front of the breach, now that they had a much smaller hole to defend, they concentrated their attacks on the shimeshians directly in front of them. Perhaps due to their weariness, which they ignored, or the hope they felt, clouding their judgment, they didn’t notice, until a large spear, snaked passed Fee’s shield, and knocked her back into the binding wall, noticing too late, she avoided it as best she could, so it barely missed her neck, but tore a deep gouge in her shoulder. From the wound, like a fountain, her fuchsia blood spilled out, staining her white shirt, warm, and glistening from the zentalian crystals in her blood. She let out a scream, but quickly bit down on her lip, and using her other hand, took hold of the spear, sending veins of anti-matter along the length of it to the creature that had sent it. As the limb disintegrated, a loud primal scream erupted from the depths of the shimeshians army, and they parted, to reveal the wrag mother in their midst.

Wrag mothers, unlike wrag fathers did not take on a recognizable bipedal or animalistic form, instead, they were large balls, the size of moons and planets, rippling with monstrous life, as they poured young shimeshians out of their bodies, like smoke from a factory chimney. This one was on the small side, though the concentration of its greyness that practically drained any hue form its surroundings, the way parts of it were fully translucent, and the thousands of large yellow eyes all over its body let them know that the monster was not to be underestimated. Sharp spears, and needles, protruded from its body, one still shrinking from Fee’s attack.

Kicht,” Brel cursed. “Fee, how are you doing?” He asked, not looking away from the wrag mother.

“Fine,” she said through gritted teeth. “You and Capricorn take care of the wrag mother. Silver and I will protect the breach,” she felt Tari reaching for her telepathically, but Fee interrupted whatever Tari had to say “We don’t need your help Tari, all you need to do now is focus on the breach. That’s the way you can be of best use to us right now,” she said, moving back into the binding.

The wrag mother screeched, and the shimeshians renewed their assault. Capricorn and Brel, charged through them, aiming for the wrag mother, trusting that Fee and Silver would hold back the assault. They flew quickly, discharging lighting and plasma in their wake. As they approached the wrag mother, the concentration of shimeshians grew thinner, but each one became stronger. Capricorn and Brel fought hard, slashing and cutting, sending energy blasts, and creating shields of fire, but each death was flowed by another birth from the wrag mother, though, the successive shimeshians were becoming weaker, as their gestation period within the wrag mother was shortened.

“It’s a matter of patience,” Capricorn told Brel telepathically.

“I feel like we’ll be worn down long before that thing is exhausted,” Brel replied, laughing lightly, as he grabbed a charging shimeshian, and sent a powerful bolt of lightning through it, and the five others behind it.

“Yes, you look so tired,” Capricorn muttered, responding with his own blast of plasma. Red hot liquid death flowed from his hands, mowing down shimeshians. Their progress was slow, but steady, and soon they were before the wrag mother, now struggling with each birth it attempted, many of its eyes dimming and shutting, the spikes on its body dropping slightly. Brel stretched out a finger, channeling lighting right at the creature’s center. Contrary to it weekend appearance though, the wrag mother, reacted quickly, extending one of its spears to meet the attack. It absorbed a bit of the energy, and batted the rest away, then three more spears followed, aiming for Brel. Capricorn moved forward, quickly extending his swords, and cutting down the spears, then he spun, avoiding another spike, but missing one that grazed his leg, and was sure he would have lost the limb if not for his armor. Brel joined him, moving in on the creature, and surrounding it. The creature fought desperately, but it was a losing battle. For every hit that its spikes landed, more were cut down, and it could no longer focus on creating more shimeshians to defend it. Capricorn pulled back, then he raised his hand up, Brel quickly moved away, as Capricorn brought the hand down, and in the shape of his fist, many times larger, a thick wall of plasma hit the wrag mother, and engulfed it in liquid fire.

It Screamed and thrashed, in formless agony, letting out a belt of pain, extending its spikes out suddenly, in blind fury, one catching Brel on the side of his head, knocking his helm off, another through his shoulder, while Capricorn got one through the leg again. Cajaran’s did not bleed, but from each wound, energy spilled out profusely. They pulled back, and sent more beams of power, towards the creature that refused to die, each blast of weaker that the last. They stayed together breathing hard, and barely dodging the mad attacks of the wrag mother.

Capricorn saw how the wound on Brel’s head spilt out his power into the empty void, how his gold eyes were diming to a pale yellow, and quickly pulled him closer, and farther back from the wrag mother. Brel tried to brush off his friend’s hands, but Capricorn didn’t let go. Now, some of the shimeshians were pulling away from the hole and coming to the aid of the wrag mother. With the wrag mother in front of them, and the horde behind them, Capricorn quickly created a shell of plasma around them, attempting to give them time to rest, though he knew it would not last long, as he did not have his sister’s skill for creating shields.

“He quickly thumbed his hands over the glyphs on his waist, and a thin strip fell into his hands, and after a second, it began to expand and unravel, into a sealing patch.

“Brel, hey Brel, look at me,” he said, pulling Brel’s head close and brushing away his golden hair which was also dimming to a dull yellow. “Brel,” he yelled.

“Why the Kicht are you yelling, I’m not even unconscious,” Brel said snatching the patch from Capricorns hand’s, and fixing it to the wound himself. “What do we do now?” He asked, as he got some more patches and began covering some of his other wounds.

Capricorn, certain that Brel would be fine from his attitude, began doing the same, paying attention to the large wounds on his leg. A loud crack against his shield, startled him, and he saw the wrag mother, retracting a spear, and preparing to strike again.

“I think we came in too deep,” he said, looking to the thick army of shimeshians that separated them from the binding wall. He could hardly see the purple and blue light of Fee and Silver’s powers.

“How long have we been going at this?” Brel asked.

Capricorn just shrugged, then flinched at another hit from the wrag mother.

“Ahh. We’re dead,” Brel said.

“You can die by yourself,” Capricorn said, placing his hand on the shield, and sending shafts of fire at the mass of shimeshians.

“It’s healing,” Brel said, pointing at the wrag mother, as it began to absorb some of the shimeshians into itself.

Capricorn’s heart dropped. He reached telepathically towards Fee, but felt no response, so he tried Silver.

“What’s going on,” he asked

“Capricorn how are you guys doing, I can’t see you anymore. Fee is too injured to keep fighting, and I’m out of the binding, but I’m not sure how Tari is doing. I can’t reach her telepathically,” she replied.

“Kicht,” He cursed.

“I…” then she was cut off.

Another strike against the shield, cracked it, and Capricorn groaned loudly.

“What’s going on?” Brel asked.

“I don’t know, she got cut off… but Fee is out, and she can’t contact Tari,” he said quickly, then they braced themselves, as another hit shattered the shield. “We’re retreating,” he yelled, and they started pulling back.

They began moving backwards, back to back, with Brel clearing the way back to the binding, while Capricorn fended off the attack of the wrag mother. As hard as they tried though, minutes passed, maybe hours, yet they did not seem any closer.

“This isn’t working, Capricorn,” Brel said, without a hint of humor in his voice. “We’re in trouble, I’m barely making sparks at this point.”

Capricorn said nothing but saw as his own plasma blasts were looking more like thin strips of fire. As if to make them painfully aware of their impending deaths, the wrag mother, now mostly recovered, let out a screech that Capricorn could have sworn sounded like laughter, and then charged at them. Brel quickly turned to face the charge with Capricorn, together, creating a wall of compressed energy, that though protected them, broke under the first hit, and left their back open to the smaller attacks from the shimeshians. Fortunately, their suits protected them from the smaller assaults, but as the wrag mother charge forward again, spears extended, eyes blazing hungrily, they boldly raised their hands again, forming a shield they knew would not be strong enough to protect them.

Yet, as the spears bore down on them and struck, they rebounded backwards, burning with blue light. Surprised Capricorn felt a shiver run down his spine, and turned back, to see, Silver, in her ridiculous dress, still pristine, cutting a wide path through the shimeshians with her shield. Like the batting of a giant fan against flies, she flicked her hands, and pushed the horde back, crushing them under the force of her shields. Then behind her, moving through the cleared path, unhindered, on large black wings, Tari flew past them, creating a powerful gust as she did, and changed at the wrag mother.

Tari extended her hands, and her marks formed into a thousand blades of steel, twisting like snakes, striking the wrag mother. It screamed furiously, sending shockwaves that shook Tari’s bones, and rattled her teeth. She undid the kyr-marks that made up her wings, and dropped, avoiding a spear from the wrag mother, then as the spear started to retract, she wrapped her marks around it, allowing it to pull her closer to the creature. Once close enough she placed her hand on the creature’s body, thick like mud, and pulling her in like quicksand, she remained unphased. At the point where her hand touched, her marks began to leave her body, crawling and spreading over the wrag mother’s body. Tari stared into one of its eyes and smiled viciously. She felt the creature shudder as her marks invaded it and restricted its movements. She manipulated all her marks into the form of barbed wires and tightened them, until the only thing that dared to move on the creature, was its eyes, which shook in a mad fervor that its body could no longer express.

“Die,” Tari whispered, and with her marks, forced the creature’s eyes closed, as she shredded through it, and burned its pieces, leaving nothing behind.

The wrag mother passed silently, but the shimeshians screamed an insane cry that thundered and echoed in their minds, yet they bodies were unmoving, in catatonic stillness. Tari did not know if they screamed out of grief, or anger, but they screamed and screamed, until she cut them all down as well. She felt no pity for the shimeshians, as they were not so deep in the heart of their dimension that their deaths would be permanent. Unlike them, her and her friends did not have the luxury of reformation after death. Now that shimeshians had been cleared away for the moment, Tari joined Silver, Capricorn and Brel, as they made their way back to the now fully intact binding.

# # #

The battle and sealing of the breach had lasted about three days, and after taking four more days to give themselves time to recover, and make sure the binding was fully secure, they were finally able to put their ten years in the binding behind them and return to Nol.

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