.hack Fanfiction: Shattered Mirror - 49. Eight Phases Reborn
Time-line Update: Late Monday Night, December 9th
Chapter 49: Death Reaper, Illusionist, Creator, Oracle, Manipulator, Enchantress, Guardian, Corrupted
Kuhn groaned and rolled over on his back. He had been torn from Magus when Gorre attacked them. Evidently he had blacked out because there seemed to be a few minutes missing from his memory. The last thing he remembered was Magus hands wrapping around him and then starting to glow before everything went dark.
“…Magus…?” Kuhn asked weakly as he lifted his head. Something was different. His connection to his Avatar was stronger somehow. Slowly rising to his feet he clenched his hands slowly as he felt the power burning within him. Never before had he felt this strong. His previous state could in no way compare to how strong he was now. It was so overwhelming that Kuhn had to close his eyes and put a hand to his head. Taking a deep breath he let it out heavily and looked back down at his clothes. After a second he realized they had changed, but didn’t have time to think more on it as a shadow fell across him.
Expecting Gorre or another AIDA fragment, Kuhn whipped around defensively as his Lost Weapon flashing into his hand. What he saw was most certainly not an enemy.
Kuhn’s jaw dropped open as he gazed upon his changing Avatar.
The lower half of his body had changed from a long tail to that of a serpent with gold and green leaves lined along the sides. Green and brown leaf shaped shields hung around his hips as the framework came together at the top. Data strings formed and were covered over as the rest of Magus body began to finish forming. His torso and chest were pretty much the same aside from being much thicker then before. Both arms were still the same and the shoulders were missing the round covers and instead only had two leaves covering each side like before. The white mask was the same, but was flat in the back and had two long beaded strands hanging down from the sides and dangling down past his shoulders.
Eyes that shone greenish-gold stared back at him through the mask. A glowing sphere, or at least the aura from it, was visible in Magus chest as a familiar chime sounded. Black dots bubbled up from the sphere and began to spread outwards like a disease. It trailed all the way down his serpentine body dripping away to form a skeletal spine and ribs that were gold with a light green hue. More AIDA dots crawled upwards and spread out to create the hood of a cobra as Magus head was consumed as well. When the black slick cleared a snake head was left. It too was just the skeleton and had eyes that were the same greenish-gold color as the ones staring out from Magus mask. The mouth extended past Magus’ face and long fangs sliced down from the top as smaller teeth framed the Avatar’s face.
Etched on both sides of the snake head were kanji that read: The Creator followed by the kanji for the number three. Long serpentine coils shifted and slithered as Magus flexed his fingers and stared down at his new form. The amount of power flowing from him dwarfed his previous form by such a vast margin that it was making Kuhn dizzy.
Was all of this power really his to command now?
A loud hiss startled him and Kuhn turned around to see a Grunwald AIDA fragment rearing up to attack him. His first thought was “attack” and in that same moment Magus’ tail snapped around slicing the AIDA cleanly in half. The leaves along its body spread out and glowed as they absorbed the data streaming from the other A.I.
“Our thoughts are now one. All you have to do is think of it and I will do it. Finally we are complete and I am in my true form. While I may be different from before, my spirit… our spirit is the same. Only stronger and better than ever before,” Magus stated his voice raspy and with more of a hiss to it. Raising his arms the snake eyes glowed in response as a familiar chime sounded. Black AIDA dots bubbled and danced around his body.
“Together as Epitaph and AIDA combined, we will work together to defeat Aihane once and for all,” Magus said affirmatively as he looked up. Following the gaze of his Epitaph, Kuhn saw what must be Innis getting up from off the ground. She was robbed in a yukata style outfit with wide sleeves and her usual colors of bluish-green and white. The circle on her back was far more ornate and stylized. It had six swords sheaths with kanji titles etched on each one along with a number. Each sword was different and the sheaths they were held in had designs and colors similar to that of the Epitaph they represented.
There was a green and brown one with a gold snake wrapped along its length and the character for the number 3, followed kanji that read: The Creator. Exactly the same as Magus. The only one’s he didn’t see were Skeith and Corbenik, but the flash of metal in Innis sleeves provided a hint as to were her last two blades were hidden.
Reaching into one wide sleeve opening she pulled out a traditional straw hat made in the fashion of most rice farmers and put it on over her head. A small ribbon with a bell on the end dangled down from the front. Elegant calligraphy on the front of the hat had the number 2 as well as the words: The Illusionist. When Innis turned to face him her eyes were hidden by the brim of the hat, but her lips were curved up in a smile made all the more eerie by the stitches that were laced across her mouth.
“Welcome back Magus. It looks like we have finally reached the final stage, but I’m afraid Aihane has used this opportunity to capture Tarvos. He activated the slave system he planted within her just as Ceren started to combine with her. I don’t know how he managed it, but that slave system was able to mutate and entrench itself into every line of code in her body. We have to find Macha and Skeith or we even our combined strength won’t be able to stop Gorre and Tarvos, ” Innis explained as she turned and pointed back to where Fidchell was still floating over the central dome in Mac Anu. He still looked the same as did Corbenik. They could be thankful for that at least, but there was no telling how long that would last.
They needed to act quickly.
Danger… The World was in danger.
Aura opened her eyes and a tear slipped down her cheek in distress. It would not survive this time. It was ripping apart at the seams and there were still people trapped inside. There was no way for them to escape. She could sense people from CC Corp working relentlessly to break down the barrier, but they were taking far too long.
Adding to that was the fact that Magus, Innis, and Skeith had all been severely injured. Even now she could feel the AIDA creeping through their systems. Was it a good AIDA trying to help them or was it Aihane capturing them as well? From here there was no way to tell what was really happening. Whoever this human was he was extremely good at what he did. She hadn’t seen a hacker like him since Helba. Still it wasn’t hard to figure out what Aihane wanted. One thing that was obvious was that he was going after Skeith. If he had the First Phase then that was all he needed in order to summon her. Thanks to Morganna both she and Skeith were now bound together. Both of them were here due to her influence.
Mother… it’s because of you that I was finally able to be born… now matter how much you tried to stop it from happening. Skeith is your first creation, he is a part of you and as such I cannot resist his call. If he calls to me then I must answer as I did before in the Hulle Granz Cathedral. Only this time I must go personally, Aura closed her eyes and then grimaced as she felt and AIDA begin to integrate with Skeith’s data as well.
Skeith… not you as well, Aura chewed nervously on her fingernails and then smiled slightly. Harold had told her once that his love Emma Wielant had done the same thing when she was stressing over writing her now infamous poem the Epitaph of Twilight. But she had good reason to worry.
Her three knights had either been defeated or captured. Azure Kite was gone while Azure Balmung and Azure Orca had vanished; likely they too were now under Aihane’s command.
Before Aura had retreated from The World in an effort to keep people from treating her as a Goddess and to keep humans from depending solely on her to protect and maintain the network. By retreating from them Aura had hoped they would find their own way in this new world of peace.
But that had never happened.
The network had grown more strained and her disappearance only gave rise to AIDA. She was the reason this was happening and it was only fitting that she go back to try and fix it.
Turning her attention over to another matter, Aura watched as Shino and Masato were increasingly surrounded by machines and drones inside the army base in northern Japan. It was clear that The World could not be saved and would have to be abandoned. By going there she was putting herself in a very compromising position. While it would be easy for her to break through Aihane’s barrier she would have to do it from the inside, not the outside. That would allow her to safely boot all of the players off the server just as the barrier collapsed. Once it fell all the data and code would begin eating itself as if diseased. It would only take a few minutes for the entire server to crash. This time, however, there would be no rebuilding it.
Adding to that issue was the fact that Aura knew she would be vulnerable while she did her work. Sure it would only take a second to focus her power and tear Aihane’s barrier apart, but a split second was all it would take for one of the Avatar’s under Aihane’s control to capture her. At this stage of their growth even she wouldn’t be able to fight them off. She was meant to watch over and direct The World, never to fight. Now her home was teetering on the edge of destruction and she would be the one who gave it the final push over the edge.
Inside the Hulle Granz Cathedral the chained statue of AURA began to glow. The chains fell off with a loud clatter as the light filled the building until nothing else could be seen.
Xen fidgeted and darted back and forth nervously around Corbenik. His mind had never before been so clear, so focused.
He liked this feeling, but right now even he could see that things had changed. Innis and Magus had reached their ultimate forms, but so had Tarvos who was now under Aihane’s control. Looking over he could see her standing back up.
The Avatar’s human-like face was framed by “hair” made of deep pink feathers that turned to a mix of purple, pink, and red The same spike protruded through her midsection, but her legs were hidden by large wings that extended from her lower back and wrapped around front. Even larger wings extended out from the top of her back, but all along the edges were sharp pale spikes like the one rimming the end of the spike sticking through her belly. Each feather was serrated and barbed giving Tarvos a very fierce appearance. Her hands were bound together with a spiked chain that wound around her arms and connected to a spiked collar around her throat.
However, there were black marks zig-zagging across her body like strands of gangrene which served as clear evidence that her ultimate form had been corrupted thanks to the fact that the slave system had been activated at just the right time. Aihane was very clever. Written in bold kanji on Tarvos neck collar were the words The Guardian as well as the character for the number seven.
“Dangerous, dangerous. Skeith missing, missing, gone. If Scorpius succeeds it will be three against three. The World can’t handle the strain, too fragile, too weak,” Xen chattered as he darted back and forth nervously. Corbenik nodded and flexed his left arm.
“Do you remember what to do?” Corbenik asked in a steady voice, but Xen could sense the fear surrounding his counterpart.
Xen bobbed his head, “Protect Aura, save Aura,” he repeated as Gorre moved to stand next to Tarvos. Fidchell continued to hover over the main Chaos Gate. Not that there was anywhere else for people to go. Those that weren’t dead had either stopped fighting or were still putting up futile attempts to resist the AIDA that were still swarming the town. It was all over. Only the Avatar’s could determine the outcome of this battle.
Corbenik nodded and Xen darted around the city ordering the other AIDA to fall back. They did so obediently and waited to see what the Avatar’s were going to do. A sudden flurry of flower petals swirled by him and he brushed them away in…
Wait a minute. Flower petals?
Lifting his hand he caught a few and looked down at them. They were cherry blossoms, but there were no such trees built into the graphics of Mac Anu.
Looking up he saw that they were softly blowing through the air all around them. Looking around he didn’t see anything, but the message was obvious.
Macha was here. Obviously she wasn’t literally inside Mac Anu otherwise they would have sensed her already, but she must be on the outside trying to get inside or to get her friends out.
All around them The World shuddered as the graphics literally began to tear ripping open the sky and revealing gaping chasms of code.
When the darkness cleared Haseo could feel the power running through him. This was totally different from before. There wasn’t even a way to put it into words. It felt as if the entire internet was at his fingertips, ready to be bent and shaped as he willed it as soon as he thought it. Sure he could feel Skeith’s thoughts and sense his presence before, but the Phase had always been a separate distinctive being. Now he was truly a part of him. Haseo could feel his presence with every breath he took, with every beat of his heart.
Every thought was shared, every feeling completely in tune.
Turning around Haseo looked up into the shadows, but only saw a pair of thin glowing red eyes shining above him with a smaller set below. It was like he was the shadow, the darkness incarnated. No longer was he a white guardian ready to wield his scythe to fight against Cubia.
He was truly a monster. Skeith was death itself.
Haseo smirked and looked down at his own new form which looked just like the human form Skeith normally took except for his hair which by the strands floating down in front of his eyes was now shaggy and jet black.
Skeith’s deep voice rumbled through the air as he said, “When I was first created I was the Shadow of Death. Then was reborn even stronger as the Terror of Death. Now I have reached my ultimate form. Now I am the Death Reaper and you are my master. Whatever you desire I shall carry out whether for good or for evil. If you wish to save the world it will be done and no one will ever bring harm to those you hold dear. If you wish to destroy it then I will allow no one to stand in your way. Ask whatever you will of me and I shall carry it out.” The darkness rippled slightly as Skeith bent down on one knee and bowed his head.
Haseo lifted one gloved hand and then clenched his fist. Taking a deep breath he let it out slowly as he felt his Avatar’s power coursing through his veins. Was this what it was like for Aura? Having the entire network laid open so clearly before her eyes? All of his senses were heightened and sharpened. He could feel the data all around him, feel every line of code racing around him and forming the visuals in front of his eyes now. Ready to be shaped and molded with a single thought or gesture.
All his nerves were on a hair trigger. Haseo had never felt so… alive before. Looking up he could see the shadow’s rippling and slipping back and forth. That’s when he realized what the black slick actually was. Black dots, so thick and viscous that it was like oil.
“I am the First Phase, but I am also AIDA. All of the same abilities they have are now yours. The emotions and feelings of others will now be obvious to you. Ready and willing to be bent however you wish,” Skeith stated as the wall of black dot’s rippled and shuddered with anticipation.
Haseo could feel a grin spreading across his face. Finally he had all the power he had finally wanted. Enough power to change the world. Enough power to finally protect Atoli the way he should have before.
He would never let his friends get hurt again.
“Let’s go Skeith. It’s time to show Aihane that we won’t be pushed around or led on a string as he see’s fit,” Haseo ordered and the Avatar’s head turned to stare off in the distance.
There was a long pause before he said, “I can sense her. Aura is here.”
Flower petals danced around Macha as she did her work. Ren and Kisho were working from the outside to render Aihane’s barrier ineffective, while she did the same from the inside.
Endrance stood by patiently as Macha did her work. It was quite a surprise to wake up here after drifting in and out of a dazed confusion in that hospital bed. At least now he was doing something useful for his friends instead of being a burden to them. Looking up he gazed upon the beautiful form of his reborn Avatar.
Her elegant body was now jet black with vibrant pink and white-edged cherry blossoms trailed down from the right side of her face. Black and pink robes wrapped around her chest and torso and metal gauntlets wrapped around her lower arms and hands giving her already long claws a far more fearsome appearance. Both gauntlets had eye-like designs embellishing them. Macha’s lower body was now a blooming pink cherry blossom that was beautifully striated with black. Marks showing AIDA’s presence.
Painted in elegant pink calligraphy on both of her furry black shoulders were kanji that read The Enchantress along with the number six beside it.
“How much longer?” Endrance questioned as he brought up several monitors so he could check the progress of the barrier. Whereas before it had been an opaque, but solid, wall it now was starting to waver and shimmer as Ren and Kisho started to disable that. They couldn’t completely tear it down, but they could shut it off at least which would enable help to get inside or allow the other Avatar’s out if necessary. After that they needed to figure out from there was how to bring it down completely without destabilizing the rest of The World and killing what innocent people remained. The number of Lost Ones was climbing, but this time there was no way of knowing if they would ever be recovered. The Word was going down in flames for good this time.
“We’ve just lost Dol Donna.” Macha said the words softly. For a moment she glanced down at him and Endrance could see the regret in her pinkish-purple feline eyes. “There were still 600 people on that server,” she added before turning back to her work.
Endrance closed his eyes for a moment before shaking his head. “They are lost to us now. We will have time to mourn their sacrifices later. For now we have to save as many as possible and get our friends out of there safely,” he reminded her and Macha nodded and hit one final key. A green light flashed at the edges of the monitor before she waved it away.
“The barrier is effectively shut off. However, we must get to Lumina Cloth immediately. The way the server’s are connected the AIDA must briefly pass through there before getting to Mac Anu, even if they are coming from another Root Town. This transfer is imperceptible to a normal player, but by going there together we will be able to keep any AIDA from trying to intercede and provide backup support,” Macha explained to him as he closed the screens in front of him as well.
“Then let’s go. The rest of the battle lies in the hands of Haseo and Skeith now,” Endrance said as the Phase ripped a data tear in the air beside them.
Shino swallowed hard and moved closer to Masato as the machines all turned to look at them. All of the dogs were growling in warning, but there was little they could do against guns and bullets.
“What do you want? Who led us here?” She asked in a voice that wasn’t nearly as strong as she would have liked it to be.
“Here! Over here!”
Both of them turned to see a small robot in the form of a lizard sitting on hood of one of the jeeps. Folded along its side were what appeared to be wings, probably for gliding. Shino recognized it as a new prototype spy drone that had just gotten the green light for mass production.
“Aura has summoned you here. Sorry for the deception, but it was vital that you be here. Besides it is not safe for you anymore now that Aihane figured out where you were located in the mountains. She imitated Corbenik’s signal in order to get you to come here. Should something happen then both of you will be her last resort.” The little robo-lizard tilted its head and looked them up and down.
“Follow me. We must get deeper inside to the computer room and wait for her arrival,” it added flicking its wings out and gliding over and landing on the head of the large fox-like machine that was still standing there watching them. “The World is going to collapse. Before that happens there are innocent people inside who must be saved. However, protecting them will put Aura at great risk. If the Avatar’s cannot protect her then she will come here and take a new body for herself offline so that she will be safe from further attacks. That is where you two come in. She will be weak and in need of protection until she recovers,” it stated crawling a little closer and leaning out farther to look at them.
Masato nodded and rubbed his head wearily, “They’ve been using and reformatting A.I.’s to pilot military drones and machines; letting them operate on their own rather then having humans do the work and having to deal with the potential mistakes that came along with them,” he explained and then added, “Inhabiting a mechanical body would be simple for Aura. She could reformat herself and compress her code so that her data is able to fit within any of these drones, some of which may be empty shells or old style AI’s created by people instead of Aura.”
Shino nodded slowly and whistled a command for the dogs to stand at ease. All of them relaxed, but Raiden and Mera still cast suspicious glances at all of the machines standing around them.
Finally things were starting to make a little bit of sense. Aihane had discovered them and enlisted the help of some mentally unstable young man to kill them. Then Aura had lured them here in an attempt to save herself from being captured.
The gliding robot sat back calmly. “Aura will not force you to help her, however. If you agree to see this through then not only will she will heal Masato completely, but when she has recovered she will also keep you safe from Aihane’s further attempts to harm you should they come,” it added as a compromise.
Masato shook his head. “I would have agreed either way. Aura has done so much for The World and for the real world already. It’s time we returned the favor,” he said firmly as he turned to Shino.
She nodded firmly. He had told her the history of The World several times before so she knew the history of Aura. Humanity owed her a lot more then they realized. They owed her everything.
“We’ll do whatever we can to help her. Lead the way.”
Atoli froze as The World itself shuddered violently and what could only be described as a hole began to peel open in the air above them. A brilliant white radiance spilled out as a woman’s form began to take shape. All the Avatars and AIDA stopped and looked up as the light faded to reveal a young woman with flowing white dress and hair.
“Aura has come to help us.”
Atoli looked up at the new form of Innis. The Avatar flicked her wrist and two blades flipped out from within her sleeves. One was black and red with the words Death Reaper scrawled on it. The other was a light metallic blue and had the words Corrupted etched along the blade.
Around them were the few humans left who had failed to make it inside a building or home before Aihane shut those off as well.
Silence fell over the entire city as the few humans left tore their eyes away from Innis and up to the shining form in the sky.
“Little Children of Morganna. Lend me your protection and aid!” Aura’s voice rang out through the air as she lifted her hands in supplication. Code danced around her fingers as the air surrounding Mac Anu wavered and cracked.
Immediately Hinote Gorre and Gorre Taiga shot towards her like lightning bolts, claws outstretched to tear into her. Before they could get anywhere near her Xen had infiltrated their path and curved towards Gorre Taiga teeth grinding like a chainsaw. He latched onto the bear’s arm and his teeth tore into as Hinote Gorre stopped dead in her tracks and turned around to help her counterpart. Even though the Avatar’s were stronger, Xen’s data was still corrupted and diseased and black lines began spreading out from the wound like gangrene.
Roaring in anger Hinote Gorre dug one paw into Xen’s side and ripped her claws back out violently taking a large chunk of his data with it. With her other paw she grabbed his mouth and forced it open and off Gorre Taiga’s arm before lifting the shark AIDA over her head and throwing him back down to the streets below. Corbenik turned from watching Aura and clutched his head and side in clear agony as he turned towards Xen who’s body had been torn apart.
Meanwhile, Fidchell fired a blast off towards Aura, but was intercepted by Magus who put up his shield and then darted forward to wrapped his long body around the enslaved Avatar, effectively stopping him. A deep warning hiss and bared fangs warned the other Phase off when he started to struggle.
That still left Tarvos who had lifted her bound arms towards the sky. Aihane had activated his slave system at just the right moment during her fusion with Ceren so she was no under his control. Magus and herself had been spared that fate and now their data was too advanced and complex for him to make another such attempt. Her wings were starting to glow with power as she prepared to launch an attack of her own.
Innis leap up into the air and spun around gracefully before landing behind Tarvos and effortlessly cutting her down with a two stroke slice. When she tried to get up she put one blade to Tarvos throat and the other to the back of her neck.
“Forgive me my friend,” Innis said softly.
Tarvos tilted her head slightly and said, “No apology necessary. My actions are not my own. Don’t worry about us. Just stop Aihane.”
Aura’s body shimmered with power and light as the barrier around Mac Anu flashed and then shattered like glass. The data tears in the sky tore open farther and new ones appeared. Buildings around the city that hadn’t been destroyed already now flashed to static and crumbled away into a jumble of numbers and symbols. Everywhere the players that were left had blue warp rings surround them simultaneously as they were kicked off the server and out of The World.
Corbenik had fallen to his knees beside Xen and had his hand over his body, now ripped raggedly apart. Both of them began to glow as the shark AIDA gave his power over to his counterpart.
Aura was still vulnerable… and there was no one left to cover Gorre.
Gorre darted towards Aura, claws dancing with fire and ice. Hinote Gorre leapt up in front of Aura and swung her arm forward to attack her claws looming dangerously over the much smaller A.I. Before she could complete her attack black dots bubbled up on the other side of Aura and a long black and red plated tentacle shot out of the mass of AIDA dots. The tip of it sprang open into three parts and a long needle snapped forward at the same time. It swerved around Aura’s form and slammed straight into Hinote Gorre’s midsection rippling with energy as it used Data Drain on her before snapping violently and throwing her down.
Another mass of black dots bubble up behind Gorre Taiga and another tentacle shot out and the needle ran itself right into his back pitching him forward slightly as it too used Data Drain before tossing him aside as well.
More black dots appeared in the sky all over the city as more tentacles slid out for a total of eight. One hovered ominously near Fidchell, another appeared beside Innis as she held Tarvos still, two more above where Corbenik and Xen had fallen.
All around them buildings continued to crumble and disintegrate.
Magus tightened his coils around Fidchell and pointed to the center of town just below were Aura was still hovering. “Skeith is here,” he said as a massive hand with black armor plates and sharp claws appeared from the black mass. Followed by a head with two large horns that swept back from his head followed by two smaller ones beneath them. Glowing red eyes scanned the area as the rest of his body followed.
Skeith had been reborn as a true monster. His armored form was bigger and thicker then ever before and spikes sprang out from his back and crawled up the sides of his legs. As he crawled up out of the AIDA dots they could see that his feet were made of three long claws, two in front and one in the back. His look and the armor plating on him was similar to that of Haseo’s 3rd form with the tentacles hovering around the city looking just like the long “tassel” that had hung down his back in that same form.
On the back of each of his hands was an eye as well as a larger one in the center of his chest all faintly illuminated by an ominous red. The spaces between Skeith’s armor plates were also illuminated and glowing red as well. Seeing him was enough to send a chill up anyone’s spine.
Atoli shivered as a building next to her dissolved like all the others and the ground around her started to shiver and fade away.
“Innis!” She called out to her Avatar and right away she jumped back away from Tarvos and landed in front of her. Right away Tarvos opened a data tear and escaped through it. Gorre moved towards Magus who hissed but retreated at the threat of fighting both of them and Fidchell. When the Phase had been freed all of them went through a data tear and left the area. The scant AIDA fragments that remained did the same.
“My lady we have to get out of here, it’s not safe,” Innis said as she reached down and held out her palm. Atoli stepped onto it as her Avatar stood back up and looked over at Skeith who had summoned a scythe to his hand. It was the same shape as Shadowy Death which was the name of the Lost Weapon Haseo had received in the Great Temple of Caerleon Medb.
“Don’t worry about them. Skeith will not let anything happen to Haseo. Both of them will come back to us alive,” Innis said calmly added as she nodded to Magus who dipped his head and slid over to pick up Kuhn before moving to Pi who was laying on the ground immobile as The World crumbled around her. He gently picked her up and slid his snakelike body through a data tear that opened next to him.
Innis flicked her wrist and data tear opened up next to her and said, “Macha informs me that she has been fighting off AIDA hordes that were trying to invade Mac Anu. All of them are retreating and the area around her is collapsing. We are to meet her back on the secure G.U. servers set up by Niketas and Rhodesia along with Magus.”
Atoli chewed her lip nervously, but took a deep breath and nodded slowly. She had to trust them.
Take care of him Skeith, please don’t let me down, she thought as they left The World for the last time.
Skeith narrowed his eyes and tightened his grip on his scythe as Corbenik rose to his feet.
His body was now mixed with contrasting dark and light blues. On the back of both of his wrists were two curved fins. His fingers had were webbed and his thick body was covered in very short uniform ridges. Just like shark skin. His head was now a skeletal shark head with rows of gleaming teeth. Blue eyes gleamed ominously from the eye holes as well as inside the open skeletal mouth as black AIDA dots filled the space inside the otherwise empty skull. A bony spine ran down his back along with three more large shark fins it stretched down his shoulders to his forearms and fingers and down to wrap around the front of his legs. Thin metal stitches laced Corbenik’s body and gave him a pieced together appearance and there was a large scar gouged into his chest.
It was a hideous sight to behold. He looked completely misshapen.
Kanji etched into his shark skull had the character for the number eight as well as the title The Corrupted.
Xen’s body wasn’t complete when he fused with Corbenik. That must be why he looks so… Haseo’s thought’s trailed off, but Skeith knew exactly what he meant. The Eighth Phase just looked… wrong somehow. Almost diseased. Discolored blotches of skin covered his body and when he stood he was hunched over slightly.
Reaching back Corbenik removed the bone “spine” on his back and it extended and sharpened at both ends to form what looked like a harpoon; like the kind divers would use to ward off sharks. It had curved spines all over it and looked ready to tear any enemy into pieces.
Skeith opened his left hand and black AIDA dots bubbled together to form a second scythe identical to the first.
Aura had fallen to the ground the area around her remaining solid as the rest of Mac Anu withered away. There was practically nothing left but an empty sea of jumbled symbols.
Neither Avatar moved.
Finally Corbenik turned and slung his harpoon around a long bone chain whipped out after it. Leaping forward Skeith whipped both of his scythe’s around and sliced the harpoon and the chain holding it into numerous pieces. Turning around he stood in front of Aura protectively.
“Go Aura. The only reason he’s still here is so that he can capture you. You must escape while there is still time,” Skeith’s deep voice ordered as he twirled his left scythe around tauntingly. Corbenik’s eyes narrowed as the cut up harpoon burst into AIDA bubbles and reformed in his hand.
Aura was gasping hard with the effort she had exerted. Looking up at him she looked ready to object but then a deep weariness fell over her face. Nodding slowly she climbed to her feet and glowed faintly. Corbenik snarled and leapt towards him ready to spear Skeith clean through with his harpoon. All around Mac Anu the long tentacles retracted and reappeared above Corbenik shooting towards him as if to impale him.
Moving to intercept, the First Phase whipped one scythe around to catch the harpoon before twisting the handle to wrap the chain around the blade to immobilize the weapon. Planting his feet, Skeith brought the other scythe around and brought the sharp blade right to Corbenik’s neck… before slicing clean through it.
Jerking back the Phase gripped his weapon and stumbled a step back which prevented Skeith from cleaving his head clean off. A hand went up to his neck which now had a gaping hole that poured black ooze. Black lines shot out of his neck and wove together stopping the black ooze and firmly stitching Corbenik’s neck back to his shoulders. Thin black lines had started to crawl up the blade and hilt of Skeith’s left scythe which was still holding the harpoon and chain and keeping it from being used. The corrupted data that Xen had been made of had evidently made its way to Corbenik’s new form. Anything he touched would be corrupted. Hence his new name.
The large scar on his chest peeled back to reveal another mouth with rows of grinding teeth. It snapped and bit at him eagerly. Disgusting.
The tentacles Skeith controlled hovered near Corbenik’s head, ready to attack at the slightest provocation. The long spikes on the end showed Scorpious’ influence and each one had the same power to Data Drain anything unfortunate to be impaled on it. However, they could also attack if necessary.
Meanwhile, the light from Aura grew brighter and brighter and then winked out abruptly leaving nothing but an empty space where Aura had once been.
“Your target is gone Aihane. Leave now before you lose one of your precious slaves,” Skeith said loudly as he stared back at his former companion. Eyes that had once that had once begged him do something and to stop the human controlling him were now vacant and empty. No emotion, no feeling, no nothing. Just an empty shell following orders.
“I’m going to save you Corbenik. I promise Aihane will pay for all the damage he’s done today,” Skeith whispered, but his words garnered no reaction from the Avatar across from him as he expected.
Flicking his left scythe back Skeith released the harpoon and Corbenik jumped back and opened a data tear. He cast one last look at the First Phase before jumping through it and leaving the area.
We’ll get him back Skeith, don’t worry. We won’t stop until we get all of them back, Haseo promised him and Skeith knew his User meant every word.
Both of his weapons burst into black dots and faded away. For a moment he stood there and gazed around at the place that had once been his home. Now there was nothing left.
Black dots bubbled around Skeith as he turned and exited The World and escaped the dying server.
He left The World behind… forever.
AN: A thousand apologies for taking forever and a day to finish this chapter, but I was literally agonizing over every word, sentence, paragraph, and part to make sure it was as good as possible. I’m sure there is still more I could have done to make it better but I tried my best!
So how do you like the Avatar’s new forms? The only one you didn’t get to see was Fidchell but I promise you’ll get to see him next chapter.
As for the whole thing with Skeith vowing to obey Haseo whether his decisions were for good or evil… yeah I’ve just been playing too much Infamou and Infamous 2 on my PS3 so you don’t have to read anything into that. ….or do you? (cue cryptic laugh)
I was going to have something terrible happen to Ryou but then I decided that tearing The World to pieces and shattering it beyond all recovery was bad enough so there you go.
I know I should have proofread it better but… but I really wanted to get it posted for all of you who have been waiting so long… (note: this is an excuse utilized by the lazy procrastinators of the world not a valid reason. Feel free to pummel me for it).
Thank you all so much for being so patient! Chapter 50 will be the last so hold on tight folks because the end is coming next chapter!
AUTHORS NOTE: As soon as I posted this chapter someone took the opportunity to post horrible reviews. Not just flames, but saying that I had been dropped on my head as a child, my stories are trash, nigger, i must have been abused as a child, etc etc along with words I’m not even going to repeat. All of those reviews have been deleted and because of this idiot who seemed determined to go down the list and spam every chapter I had anonymous reviews are no longer allowed. Sorry to do this to all of you innocent readers who have faithfully left anonymous/unsigned/unlogged in reviews, but I’m not gonna tolerate that kind of behavior. I have better things to do then sit around while people called me names. If my story was really that terrible then why read it at all? Sure my story needs work and I know that, but ignorant hate is not allowed here. I’ve got a story to write after all! Thanks everyone! 😉