March Jin Mei

March Jin Mei. As recorded by the Jars Fen Darra Chronicler of Elshara

Incident at Carrabass

 

The island city of Carrabass floated beneath a vault of bright stars on the Alvardian sand ocean. Illuminated like a red Jewel in the darkness the island rose and fell gently, the mighty sea anchors and chains creaking as they strained to hold the island in place against the powerful currents and strong winds that blew in from the Eesterlands. In the centre of old town district stood a weather beaten white tower that emitted regular pulse waves as a warning to the sand liners and merchant sloops that chanced the lethal narrow rock passage that protected the merchant sand port gateway to the western provinces of Alvardia and Tarraselum.

It was, here at the foot of the tower that March Jin Mei First Captain in the Brotherhood Elite found himself in a dead-end street. Tall and lithe for his race, black battle cape covering his blue and gold field dress he moved slowly carefully adjusting the Sha Ken that hung at his side. Attempting silence, he fought the primal urge to run as every grain and piece of debris cracked under his boots threatening to reveal his presence. Surveying the crumbling elegance of the once proud town architecture he desperately sought an exit.

Until one by one the final lights flickered and started to fail around him.

               

Why was he in this place, facing a dead end with four shadows hemming him in?

Well the answer was pure and simple.

The Rage.

What was the Rage?

For most it was a romantic legend, but for March and like those chosen before him it was a consuming fire. That had so far, without exception driven all of its hosts to madness.

He remembered the night it came to him.

A quite whisper drifting into the dreams of a twelve-season boy. A gentle pervasive voice that wound itself around his spirit. Without permission, it invaded his thoughts and quickly crossed the line between sleep and waking becoming part of the noise of ever day life. Its voice morphed into his own internal dialogue and subtly but surely it became part of him.

Less obvious though, were the other things that crept into his life that night as the Rage carried in its wake a deep well of emotions so violent and overwhelming that his young character had no chance of resisting them. The extreme opposites that gave tension and balance to the universe were starting to tear him apart. All March knew was that when the Rage leapt up and out of him he could no more control himself than he could the weather or the seasons.

It was after one such experience that unconscious and covered in blood he had been found by the Village Bonds Woman Orka Bloodstone. She had gently woken him and cleaning his wounds had taken him home. It was Orka that had recognised the Rage for what it was. She had taught him how to control the wild animal and channel it urgings. If hadn’t been for her he was sure he would have gone mad or perished probably by his own hand.

She had helped him not just to control what she called “The Gift” but to also begin to understand it purpose. She could have taught him so much more but like everyone else he loved she was taken by the Malice as they crashed through the Spirit wall and ended his childhood in the ruins of his home village.

So how had the Rage brought him here?

After the Brotherhood had found him wandering in the Wilders, naked and near starvation they quickly perceived the depth of his abilities and trained him whilst bending his young mind to their purpose. Using him in the field to catch the prayer sellers and spirit meddlers his prowess became legendary earning the unofficial title of Rojin Mei or Godless one amongst his peers. Such was his passion for executing the will of the brotherhood, promotion was swift, until one day on returning from a particularly bloody purge, he was shocked to find a communique claiming to be from an old friend Archen Dura whom he believed long dead. Buried beneath the ruin of the Sion Space Yard when the Lords Arbiter a class five battle cruiser had mysteriously slipped her orbit mooring and crashed planet bound into the city.

Surprisingly the communique had seemed genuine enough its identity fixed to the genetic marker of his old friend.

March should have known better but as always, the Rage had its own agenda and beating to its own hidden drum persuaded him to break every protocol in the rule book, take some well-earned leave and hop a sand cruiser to the island of Carrabass.

The Rage wanted him here, that much was certain but truthfully it didn’t have to push too hard as the guilt that March carried for his old friend was a sufficient incentive. As over the long years the fact of his own survival, whilst he pictured his friend crushed and dead amongst the ruins had burnt a scar into his very soul.

What March craved above all else was the redemption that seeing his old friend alive would bring. But then the Rage knew this, a perfect lever to bend March to its dark will.

So, as requested in the communique he had arranged to meet Archen at the Broken Dagger with no backup or beacon locator.

Only not entirely to his surprise, Archen had never showed.

After unsuccessfully trying to contact Archen several times March gave up and decided to make the most of the evening by getting to know the Carasion barmaid who went by the name of Sirena. The evening progressed quickly when in between offering to climb over the bar and instruct March in the ways of Carasion love dancing Sirena produced an illegal bottle of Goran fire water. Someway through the bottle Sirena had actually climbed over the bar and helped him finish the bottle and as intended instructed him in the ways of the Carasion dance.

It had been an unexpected evening and the dance remarkable.  

Leaving sometime later, March decided that on balance it probably wasn’t such a bad thing that Archen hadn’t arrived as Sirena was probably better company and a whole lot more fun.

It was then with a head full of warm perfume and liquor that March made what was to be in retrospect a very badly informed decision and decided to walk back to his lodge in the hope of it sobering up. After all, he told himself it wouldn’t do for a decorated officer of the Jin Mei to arrive back at the lodge looking like a common womaniser and drunkard.  

Somewhere in his head the lyrics of a traditional song kicked off.

 

“It only hurts when you leave me,

 Please don’t deceive me.

It’s your duty calling

But pride that will make the falling

Please don’t deceive me”

 

Shaking the tune out of his head March took a deep draught of the cool air outside the Broken Dagger. It smelt of Alder spice and cooking fires and reminded him of home.

Dam Archen for waking those thoughts, he had had them well buried and under control. Turning in the direction of the lodge he slowly meandered his way down the lane enjoying the Calabrasion night air.

It was then, like a knock on the door of his senses that he noticed them. Even in his semi drunken state his training kicked in and it became clear that two shadows on the opposite side of the lane, were keeping pace with his somewhat erratic movements. He had been about to walk across the lane and introduce himself when he caught the glint of a metallic rebreather across the mouth of one of the shadows. The sight had a sobering effect as a rebreather meant only one thing “Off worlder”.

On Elshara, off worlders including Carasion bar maids were common, but off worlder Shadows with rebreathers meant only one thing.

Mercenary.

 

[Contextual Extract taken from the Art of Combat. Author unknown or redacted: Translated and edited by the chronicler of Elshara in the year of the Queen 540002]

 

Mercenary: Almost without exception Mercenary refers to the Breed of Shadow born within the conquered Dark world slave systems. As slave resource, they are born trained and employed across the near galaxy.

Cross reference: The Scrak: Selvarion: Flesh World:

 

Careful not to change or correct his somewhat disjointed movements, March mentally repeated a trigger word that initiated a physiological reaction, instantly firing a measured shot of adrenalin into his system. The rush was like a bucket of ice being poured from a great height accompanied by the instant feeling of senses tightening like strings on a balkier. Soon they would be singing in tune with everything in his surroundings and every nuance, sound, site and smell would light up like around him like a Formosion sun rise.

Only he didn’t want the shadows to realise that.

The Rage tasted the adrenaline and stirred in his belly like a molten lake of darkness.

About to turn into a narrow ally that would take him to his lodge, he saw the enemies play. Partially hidden in the recess of a doorway the flicker of movement, the first page of a lethal strategy. Smoothly changing direction, he accelerated down another ally. Quickly turning left then right into a small neatly flowered square, doubled back across a private garden and vaulted over a wall into a small lane. Slowly jogging and putting as much distance between himself and the shadows March eventually slowed.

Only now, here he was. By his own apparent freewill facing a perfect dead end.

There was something else, or actually nothing to be precise.

The dead end was silent and even the hum of the city seemed muted here, like someone had thrown a dampening field around the area.

The houses facing him were dark windowed, skull like and devoid of normal life.

It was at odds with the normal rhythm of the city, as this part of the old town should have been bustling with life on a warm hot season evening, only as he walked forward the silence deepened around him and one by one the last of the lights went out.   

Everything screamed trap, the phrase “Dead End” suddenly taking on a new connotation that March had never considered before.

Then as the neurones in his consciousness finally aligned, an inescapable realisation crashed into him. That his every action and decision from the moment he had received the communique from Archen had been accurately foreseen and mapped to this very juncture.

It was little surprise then as only moments later March’s heightened senses warned him of   the two shadows behind him and two more coming in from the street on his right.

Time slowed, and forewarning trickled sweat down his spine as he considered the closing shadows. An old saying like so many unbidden words burnt into his consciousness by the Brotherhood whispered in his ear.

“Two to tail four to finish”.

These Shadows were not here to tail or restrain him.

They had one purpose and we’re a contracted killing crew.

Still, it was bold to attack a Brotherhood Jin Mei.

But then Contract Mercenaries weren’t bothered with respect or repute. It was all profit to them. In the same instant, his curiosity peaked and he wondered how much his life was worth, and who was their employer, perhaps he should ask before they began.  

Only then March felt the finishing touch.

It began as an ice-cold wave and cramp in his stomach then the spread of a creeping paralysis turning his arms and legs to stone. Invisible hands were forcing him downward toward the hard-cobbled street. 

Sirena, what a simple fool he was.

The soldier’s eternal weakness for woman and drink.

She had played him and played him well. The Goran Fire water no doubt laced with a remotely activated poison that had just been triggered by one of the approaching shadows.

March watched the odds of his survival tumble as were his rapidly diminishing options.

Four Shadows that seemed to know his every move and an unknown poison running through his system that was going to offer him up as an easy kill any moment now. 

He’d had worse odds, but only just.

Whatever he needed to do it would have to be now.

The Rage screamed and licked at his mind like a wild animal wanting release, he pushed it down. He needed to focus, think and stay sharp for just a little longer.

Thankful that Sirena hadn’t been to thorough in searching him while they were entwined March palmed a small sugar ampule from a hidden pocket in his sleeve and with rapidly numbing fingers managed to get into his mouth. The warm honey like fluid coated his tongue and slid down his throat, the sweetness quickly turning to a gagging bitterness.

The honey like substance was Cral venom, its effect instantaneous. It felt like someone had released lightening into his veins. As a venom, Cral was no doubt the most lethal on the planet and for most utterly deadly, unless like March you were still living and bore the single blackened scar left by the viper’s fang. For March, immunity to the venom now turned the very same lethal poison it into an antitoxin that targeted and destroyed every other invader in his system.

Buying himself time to allow the Cral venom to complete its work, March obeyed the invisible hands and dropped to the ground allowing his head to drop down as if the poison were taking hold.

A last glance around confirmed his fears. This was an almost perfectly constructed trap with no exits, no witness’s and a what should have been a dead mark in the middle it.  

Taking the level of planning into account it was clear that someone had studied him very carefully and had probably factored in his next moves.

That was fine as they didn’t know about the Rage and they would struggle to predict the moves of the last strategy and the unpredictable and random “Throwing of the curve”.

The strategy of the curve was a complete misnomer as in fact it entailed action without strategy or plan, and that was the point. But it was a balanced blade that cut both ways. The first in favour of the thrower, giving the element of surprise and providing the momentary lapse in concentration that would leave an adversary open. But the curve also ran the other way as the necessity of throwing the curve was usually a desperate move in response to a well-planned strategy of attack and that whatever you did would always be a secondary response and never the best choice.

Only March had an addition to the curve that made the odds better than even, he had the darkness of the Rage that was already spilling over the walls of his control like a boiling caldron on a fire.  

Sighing in frustration at his own foolishness at being manipulated into this place March gently raised the hood of the black velvet cape that flowed away from the fastening at his neck. Then touching the collar stud of his battle jacket felt the compression of his cape wrap around him like vice as its molecular binding instantly altered turning the black silk material into a hardened exo-shield capable of resisting a close-proximity pulse blast or sword thrust whilst still behaving like a fine material.

Kneeling in the darkness beneath his hood and cape he stole the silent still moments before combat to slow his breathing and empty his thoughts. It was technique that served him well only just lately memories had found a way of creeping back in.

Memories mostly of his Mother, Father and brother and how ever since his encounter with the bonds Woman in his village his life had consisted of a series of violent collisions that made him feel like a leaf caught at the edge of a gathering storm. A Storm that had already ripped away so much, but that was now growing in intensity its outward spiral already setting events in motion that would soon determine the fate of the planet and its people.

There was also something else in the stillness. “The dark voice of the Rage”

 

Traditional Elsharen Proverb

“Never Poke a sleeping bear with a sharp stick”

 

Kneeling beneath the cape Marchs hands rested lightly on the rough material binding that covered the two-handed grip of the curved black and gold Shra Ken blade at his side.

Finally giving himself to it, March embraced the Rage and gave it the release it had been longing for.

As the dark fire rose up and engulfed him he heard the near silent approach of the two shadows that had followed him earlier. These shadows were good but Marches senses heightened still further by the Rage were wire tight and heard everything. The rustle of their robes, the exhalation of breath, the creak of muscle sinew and joint and finally the friction of air passing steel as the shadows finally brought their heavy blades to bear down upon his back.

The silent attack exploded into a shower of sparks as the Shadows blades clanged against his exo hardened cape like steel hitting stone. He felt the skitter as the muscles of the Shadows continued their downward thrust unable to comprehend in the instant that their blades had been turned by what seemed to be just fabric.

Then March was moving.  

Rising in a blur of circular motion, unsheathing the Sha Ken at his side he struck out slicing through the legs of the first shadow just above the ankles.

Without breaking momentum still rising like a black whirlwind he watched as the first shadow toppled away a scream forming on the white pallid face behind the rebreather. The second shadow seeing and feeling the jolt of sudden pain that overwhelmed its partner attempted to flee the rotating scythe of the black and gold blade. But realising there was not enough time to get clear foolishly used its own blade to try and block the attack. Flame exploded as the Shadows blade shattered. The Sha Ken continuing its journey unheeded slicing into the Shadows mid rift parting organs and splintering bone.

Fully upright now March stood amidst the writhing forms as a black slick of blood slowly pooled around his feet.

Then came the second pair of Shadows sliding toward him in perfect unison.

From the moment, he had first seen the shadows he had suspected it. But now he knew for certain. The coupling of the Shadows was more than simple logistics or contract. The way every movement and gesture was executed in perfect concert told him they were birth pairs. Selvarion or Scrak they would have been born from the same brood mother in the depths of one of the Shen owned flesh planets. Trained to fight as one from the time they could walk, birth pairs pair made formidable enemies.

The first pair had been Selvarion, he silently prayed these weren’t Scrak. As the last time he fought those demons, he had lost three good brothers before blasting the killing pair to eternity with a wide angled neutron beam.

No chance of one of those toys now though.

 

 [Contextual Extract taken from the Art of Combat. Author unknown or redacted: Translated and edited by the chronicler of Elshara in the year of the Queen 540002]

 

Scrak: Origin – Scall Octus, sixth planet in the Var system. Conquered and enslaved by the Shen 510001. Genetic mutation includes: Highly evolved oratory sense. Emotional and Psych manipulation. Highly developed bipedal attributes but prefers Quadrupedal movement. Reaction rating .98 Assassin success rating 89%. Often work in birth pairs. Race exclusively female. Male population removed by the female matriarchal system.   

Cross reference: Selvarion: Flesh World: Shadows

 

He had surprised the first pair but these two would have no doubt already noted his exo shield and the capability of the Sha Ken that hummed like a dwarf star in his hand.

 

Circling just outside the arc of the humming Sha Ken, the Shadows slid to each side of March optimising the perfect strategic advantage of division.

March knew the tactic well and had learnt its effectiveness the hard way from the black wolves, that roamed the rich grassland plains of the upper Hans Velt. As a boy, he had been caught by a hunting pair whilst out beyond the wire. All he had then was a partially charged Zap staff, hardly the weapon of choice. But, what he had learnt was that they would attack one at a time and try and wear down their prey until finally exhausted the kill would be easy. So, it was with the two Shadows circling about him, they could afford to take their time. Only unlike the wolves who’s kill was functional and precise many other races particularly mercenaries, and particularly the Scrak enjoyed this part of the kill.

He felt himself silently praying they weren’t Scrak again, as although Selvarion’s weren’t exactly merciful the Scrak took particular delight in the art of death and made it last as long as possible.

March considered the response to the circling Shadows, like most the simple counter was simple, but not always easy to execute.

The voice of Sha Lu, his old combat master rang in his head like a sermon.

“March, you must never allow your adversaries the comfort of setting the rhythm of combat. Victory or defeat will depend on who calls the steps of the dance, at all costs you must break their stride by focusing your attack on just one the of the pair”

He had found from experience since then, that that It didn’t make much difference which one became the focus, as when one fell the odds became even. Still the lesson was one of the most valuable he had ever received and was thankful to Master Sha Lu and the wolves. 

The real skill though, was keeping the other one of the pair off your back while attacking the chosen target.

Studying the pair Marchs Rage darkened senses flooded him with information. There was little difference between the pair, both of similar build and by all account male by the way they moved. Inwardly he felt no small measure of relief, as the gender ruled out the Scrak as that race were exclusively female. So Selvarion Shadows then, in some ways just as formidable as the Scrak but not in their league when it came to sheer viciousness or the inbred dark need to kill everything in sight. It was difficult to quantify, but it was a known fact that when fighting the Scrak, they had the ability to project some of the horror of that was clearly locked up in their own minds. It was a sort of mind blast that leapt out of them and lit up every molecule of fear or self-doubt buried within the psyche of their enemy. This he knew, had been the downfall of those Jin Mei with him at his last encounter, it hadn’t even gotten to the fighting and they had just frozen. The only thing that had saved him that day was the Rage, that had driven him on autopilot past the blunt impact trauma of the attack.

There was one more thing, as regardless of how he tried the thought of the Scrak still terrified him. That encounter had left an open scar in him that he knew would one day come back haunt him.

Not this day though.  

 

The Shadow circling to his left was hiding it well but appeared to be carrying a slight limp. Possibly a feint or possibly not, either way Instinct and training drew March to that one of the pair.

He was about to commit to that path and begin his assault when he almost physically stumbled. Not because of anything physical but because the Rage was sensing something had detected the slightest trace of another’s will trying to enter his conscious and it was going wild, recoiling like a sea before a Tsunami. The Will and the finesse of its approach were so fleeting and subtle that without the lava pool in his belly he may have missed it, but whoever or whatever it was knew him and those fingers gently trying to pry open his thoughts felt distantly familiar, but he couldn’t quite place it.

With the Shadows pace increasing March purposefully restrained his attack as someone or something was at work in the background giving knowledge to these creatures. Intimate knowledge, that would lay his defences open, intimate knowledge that no one could possibly know about him.

Then it came again, stronger this time, the Rage heaving at its touch.

The he recognised it, the signature buried like a perfume in the fingers forcefully trying enter his head.

But it couldn’t be.

It couldn’t be her, not Sarai as she like Archen and his family were gone, lost in the ruin of his past. Sarai, had been a sister friend who was for many rotations was closer than his blood family. Her gift felt like this and she knew him, already had the keys to the subliminal connection, but no it must be another she was dead.

Then the Rage returned possibly sensing some minute change outside his natural sight. Body already moving toward the shadow on the right by all indication the stronger of the pair accelerating forward. The phrase “Throwing the curve” flashed back into his thoughts.

Logic and his instinct was directing him to the weaker but that was what the shadows were expecting. It was what they were being told by the intelligence in the background.

March smiled and grunted grateful for the curse of the Rage.

“Try and predict this. Then de-materialised from their midst”

 

[Contextual Extract taken from the ruins of the library at Elsenium: Translated and edited by the chronicler of Elshara in the year of the Queen 540002]

 

Bio Molecular Coincidence –Summary

Slip Shaping or to be more precise Bio Molecular Coincidence is by virtue attributed almost exclusively to the male Elsharen Genome. It is a physiobiological mechanism that can initiate a quantum teleportation stream on will. The mechanism is triggered from the cerebral cortex that can with training be instructed to create the Coincidence on command. Trajectory and re-materialisation coordinates are provided from the temporal lobe that in turn receives images co-ordination from the eyes. Thus, there is a strict requirement for the Bio Molecular Coincidence subject or more commonly the “Slip Shaper” to be able to see exactly where to re-materialise.  

For detailed information on Bio Molecular Coincidence and the way this interacts with Quantum teleportation refer to subtext on the Elsharen Physiognomy

 

Old Friends

Sarai and Archen Dura watched the dance play out in silence from a blackened room overlooking the dead-end street. As the second Shadow fell the broken breathless voice of Archen stumbled into the darkness.

“He has been taught well by the Brotherhood but he senses your gift and steps outside the lines. Both a statement and question and typical of this version of Archen, Sarai watched the dark hunched silhouette and wondered about horrors he had endured over the fifteen rotations since the village. Out of nowhere and barely alive Archen had shown up at the Palace gates asking for her, his appearance altered almost beyond recognition. It was only his gene marker and remaining shreds of character that confirmed his identity. It had taken almost a season of constant attention to heal him and during that time when he wasn’t delirious he was comatose. Eventually on regaining consciousness Archen had described the events that had brought him to the Palace of Shemaret. His escape from the village as the Malice had poured in through the breach in the Spirit Wall and how he had almost immediately been recaptured by his former jailers. He had relayed in very brief pictures his existence beneath the flesh world since then and the cold horror of it all. But when pressed for detail Archen became vague and unwilling to elucidate further. Sarai seeing the hollow pain beneath his red filmed eyes, that had been burnt like his lungs by the acid laden atmosphere pressed no harder assuming that time would perhaps ease the pain.

But regardless Sarai and March owed Archen their lives as it was his message that had saved them both from the breach. Separated in the confusion of that night she had thought March dead, but Archen’s appearance and the message that he was alive had quickened her heart.

Hindered by weakness, his broken breathlessness fracturing every sentence she had listened as he slowly recounted what he had discovered.

It sounded like madness and from anyone else it would have been, but then he showed her what he had found in the sunken library of Generasi. A small book of script with a simple golden flame and on one side of a set of scales.  

Archen called it the ‘Book of balance’ and explained its contents and his plan.

Still reeling from the possibility that March was still alive Sarai’s response was.

“You believe that this Rage has chosen March to maintain the tension of balance.

It was a step too far.

Only as Archen had persisted and told her more about the Shen’s plans for Elshara did she start to consider there may be some truth in what her old friend was telling her.

That had seemed like an age ago and only now as she watched her old friend for the first time since the village did she concede that he may just be this saviour Archen described. But what they needed to know. Could he harness The Rage and would it be enough to defeat the Shen Armada that was en-route to Elshara.

If indeed he was he would become the Shar Kai that the Jars Fen Dara had foretold and chronicled one hundred generations before.

 

March watched the Shadows on either side of him as they wound themselves to the point of release. Above everything he needed to get behind them and escape what was referred to in Brotherhood Combat classes as the clench. 

Picturing the exact point of destination, he pressed the internal physiological trigger that released the coincidence. March re-materialised outside of the shadows clench his sword already arching outward to the space where the shadows back should be.

Only the Sha Ken met clean air.

Humming its disappointment March’s blade returned to his side after cutting only thin air the shadows expertly shifting their position to put him back in the clench where he was most vulnerable.

Shifting again March repeated the manoeuvre to get outside the shadows killing space. But again, he was thwarted as the shadows precisely countered his every movement.

Then he had it, the curve he was throwing was too predictable, it's movement visible to whatever intelligence was guiding these killers that had already adapted to his movements. With no time to consider that only someone with a deep knowledge of him could have adapted so quickly he shifted tagging the memory for later.

Only this time his shift took him nowhere and he re-materialised in exactly the same spot. To his satisfaction found the back of one of the shadows in striking distance facing exactly where he would have been if continued the same strategy. In a blur of confusion, the Shadows realising their error tried to recover but the mistake was fatal as the Sha Ken ran through and impaled the nearest of the pair. The scream was a physical assault on Marches senses as on feeling its partners death the other Shadow threw itself at March in a blind fury. The assault almost worked, only now the odds were even. Actually, more than even to be precise as the remaining Shadow had never fought alone before. Now isolated half blind, half deaf and suffering the shock of separation this shadow crossed the bounds of angry and threw everything at March.

Falling backward March parried the ferocious assault and watched his attacker as it carelessly expended its strength. He noted the preference of his attackers’ sword arm, the slight limp it carried on its left side and more than anything he catalogued the slow return stroke that left the Shadow monetarily defenceless after striking.

With sufficient information March allowed the Shadow to continue its frenzy.

Normally he would have expected to see signs of weariness taking their toll by now but this Shadow was angry, past the point of reason and would probably die of exhaustion before throttling back.

Then it was time to end the game.

Why was it time?

March never really understood this knowing but it was never wrong.

So, stepping back March allowed the Shadow the pleasure of one last blow. Only this time he didn’t parry the blow but let it slip through his defence. The blade cut the air above his head as he dropped to one knee and in a single motion severed the Shadows leg below the thigh. Rolling away he deflected the wild blow as the Shadow fell then seeing the exposed neck the fear dilated pupils he neatly severed the shadows head.

With four black garbed corpse at his feet March wondered what else was going to get thrown at him as someone had expended a lot of time and money to set up this ambush.

 

Sarai heard the rasp of appreciation from Archen as the last Shadow was decapitated. It was a cold hollow sound that filled her with horror. What had he become, as on the surface he was still Archen but underneath in the depths something dark was eating him alive.

In a whisper Archen continued.  

“It is time to leave before the Rage reveals our hiding place”

Sarai nodded.

Old friend or not she was uncertain if March would recognise her through the eyes of the Rage.

Standing Sarai and Archen gripped the metallic transport ring their outlines instantly dispersing like the morning mist across the Wilders as they reappeared halfway across the globe in the Palace of Shemaret.

 

As the blood vision of the Rage dispersed March smelt discharge of the teleport ring and the trail of proton particles that emanated from the dwelling directly across from where he was standing. It would have been a perfect view for whoever had arranged this ambush

Bending over the four shadows at his feet, March mercifully allowed the first and third shadows to meet their God. Then blessing them all for their service he cleaned the dark stain from his Sha Ken and considered his next move.

It had been and eventful evening and although he hadn't actually met his old friend Archen something told him he that he had been close by.

But a trail was still a trail and the Rage did have powers he had not tested so far. He had been experimenting with shifting outside the scope of the visual cortex. So far the limitations of its range seemed endless. The question was could he follow the ionisation trail and where would it lead him.