– Sundia, Nimath 1, 8034 –
“Where is she…?”
A young man stood in a small tool shack, holding the door open just enough to peer into the world outside. Several hundred meters to the east was a long line of cliffs that dropped off to a sprawling city and the coast, while to the west and south, mountains towered over a series of conservatively decorated buildings, painted to blend in to the grass- and tree-covered mountainside — which presented a stark contrast to the military vehicles parked all around the complex. The man regarded the vehicles with annoyance, but then he glanced down at his black boots, slacks, and black, white, and gray dress jacket: the uniform of a Tekdecénian Transfer Captain. Can’t very well complain about tanks on a military base, he thought to himself, …but I can complain about how long I’ve been waiting. Where is she? Seriously… He distracted himself by dusting off his uniform before glancing at his reflection in the shack’s window; a pale face with narrow brown eyes, bounded by short black hair on top, a rounded chin on bottom, and glasses in front, stared back at him. He stood just over five and a half feet tall and his build was decidedly average for the 21-year-old man that he was, rounding out his rather unremarkable appearance.
“Too bad I’m not a shape-shifter,” he muttered to himself, just before the sound of footfalls on grass reached his ears. He snapped his attention back to the shack’s door and scanned his immediate surroundings, soon laying eyes on a passing young woman with olive skin, brown eyes covered by glasses, and long, wavy black hair. Her uniform shared the black boots and slacks of the man hiding in the shack, but the rest of her outfit was a significant departure: a blue waist-cloak draped from her belt, while she wore a white shirt over a long-sleeved cuffed blue shirt, and a blue shawl around her neck and shoulders. But aside from her outfit, her short stature stood out the most, as the top of her head wasn’t even five feet above the ground.
“There she is… finally!” The man in the shack smirked to himself as he watched the woman cross the grounds unawares. “Alright, Kaoné… I’ve got you this time!”
He took a deep breath, rubbed his gloved hands together, and then…
The shack’s door slammed open and a blast of fire rushed outside, rolling over the surrounding ground before rising up into the air and fading away. The man leaped through the doorway and quickly inspected the smoldering terrain around him, his eyes coming to rest on a small rocky mound to his side just as the ground beneath him exploded upward, nailing him in the chin and knocking him over backwards. As soon as he hit the ground, the dirt jumped up and grabbed his wrists and ankles before transforming into steel and binding him to the ground. He immediately began struggling and only looked up when the rocky mound he spotted earlier rose out of the ground and disintegrated, revealing the short woman from before.
“…Damn it!” The Pyrotechnic scowled. “I almost had you this time!”
“Kevérin!” the woman protested, “you almost killed me!”
“Oh please, you would’ve been fine,” Kevérin replied. “You’re a Materiatechnic! You’re practically invincible!”
“Controlling matter doesn’t really make me invincible…”
“Come on, Kaoné. I wouldn’t have killed you. I couldn’t have killed you! I’ve never even been able to scratch you before!”
“Fire doesn’t scratch.”
“You know what I mean.” Kevérin tugged at his bounds meekly before glancing up at Kaoné. “Uh… mind letting me go?”
She sighed in annoyance. A moment later, the steel bindings disintegrated and Kevérin clumsily pulled himself up into a standing position. He stretched for a couple seconds before turning to face Kaoné and smirking. Pointing at her waist-cloak, he quipped, “on second thought...”
She glanced down at the singed article of clothing and sighed again. “What would your CO say if he heard you attacked a Nimaliakian?”
“Tch, that was more of a test, not an attack,” Kevérin retorted, watching out the corner of his eye as Kaoné’s uniform seemingly repaired itself. “We’ve been stationed here for weeks. Months? I forget which. I’m just trying to make sure we don’t get soft.”
“I know, I know. You don’t have to attack me without warning, though.”
“It wouldn’t be a surprise attack if I warned you.”
“Then don’t surprise attack me.”
“Hmph.” Kevérin idly glanced around at his surroundings as he considered the difference in power between himself and Kaoné. Both of them were known as “Chaotics,” a term for people who possess some kind of supernatural ability — and all Chaotics were dependent on Chaos Energy, a mysterious resource that pervades the galaxy and allows for all kinds of physics-defying feats. Kevérin and Kaoné at least had that in common, but their actual powers as Chaotics set them in different leagues. Kevérin could control flames and heat, but Kaoné could control and alter all matter itself. The Pyrotechnic sighed in irritation; it would take more than a mere ambush to make up for the gulf of power between him and his friend.
As he continued to muse about his situation, Kevérin’s gaze turned to the cliffs overlooking the sprawling city below, and then up to the mountains that occupied the entire southern horizon. “You know,” he eventually remarked, “as beautiful as this place is, I’m starting to miss Tekdecé…”
“You’ll probably go back soon. Things have calmed down since that one incident with the Interstellar Gate,” Kaoné stated, “Tekdecé doesn’t have a lot of reason to keep soldiers in Nimaliaka. I’m surprised you’ve stayed this long, anyway.”
“Probably the stupid conflict between the Drakkars and the CSA. Never know when they might attack each other again, and we’ll have to hop through the Gate and put our lives on the line for some galactic federation that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about us.”
“The Core Space Alliance isn’t a federation.”
“You’re correcting me a lot today.”
“You’re being wrong a lot today.”
Kevérin scowled. “…We should probably go back to our quarters now.”
Kaoné glanced at the western horizon, where the sun was rapidly descending toward the mountaintops. “Yeah… in fact, that’s where I was heading before you jumped out of that shack and ambushed me!”
The Pyrotechnic grinned sheepishly. “Sorry.”
Kaoné grinned back. “It’s okay. Just don’t be surprised if the ground starts tripping you a lot.”
“Oh boy…” Kevérin groaned before turning around, just in time for another soldier to round the corner.
She suddenly stiffened and saluted. “Sir! Ma’am!”
Kaoné and Kevérin saluted back. “What is it?” Kaoné questioned.
“Sorry about the timing.” The soldier glanced at the sunset. “Commander Nikéyin would like to see you.”
Kevérin snorted. “More fetch quests, I bet.”
“Kevérin,” Kaoné reprimanded as she elbowed his side.
“Fine, fine.” He rubbed his side tenderly before looking back to the soldier and nodding. “You can go now. Tell the Commander we’re on our way.”
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