The Broken Gates - Chapter 30 - Macavity116 (2024)

Chapter Text


The Broken Gates
Episode Twenty-Two:
That is how it feels to be powerless.

Emily
Creation
Rothelmen Island, Stockholm

Three Creations closed on Rothelmen Island aboard a stolen police boat. Two members of local police were on board, but they had been rendered docile via Psionics.

Kanti used Telekinesis to push the boat along the river, allowing the little team to move in absolute silence. Mina hunched over in the bow, clutching an Uzi she had taken from one of the cops. Not knowing her way around weapons from this time period, Mina knew she would not be able to reload it, so she was also carrying a pistol and a knife as well. Emily stayed near the back. She had proved uncomfortable with violence in general, but Kanti trusted her to keep watch over the stunned law enforcement officers.

“I’m a bartender, not a fighter.” Emily had reminded the others. “I mean…. I wanna help, but I don’t think there’s a lot I can do.”

It had been Blake’s idea for Emily to join the raid on the Broken Gate.

“In the Stardew Valley video game, Emily has a connection to forest magic. It’s baked into her character.” Blake had explained at the time. “She can sense the supernatural. It’s a little more vague and generalized than ‘Psionic Sensitivity’ in my other stories, but Emily can probably find the Broken Gate on that island without help. Plus, I’m willing to bet she can interact with it as though she was a Gifted person. That should free up a Creation to help us fight Malum.”

So, Emily and Mina had waited by the shoreline, pretending to be tourists admiring the many marinas around the city. They knew Kanti and Aisling would join them to help steal a police boat, but were alarmed when Kanti showed up alone and injured.

“Okay, the fight’s started.” Kanti said, dropping burned feathers as she circled above Emily’s head. “Hopefully, Malum and his allies have called for help. If we’re lucky, whoever he assigned to guard the Broken Gate will have moved by now. Let’s go.”

A group of local women, walking home from a night out, paused and blinked their eyes, trying to figure out if they really had just seen a talking peahen.

After the boat theft and short river journey, Emily was brought back to reality by the sound of crunching stone. The police boat made landfall on Rothelmen Island. Mina jumped onto the rugged shore and aimed her Uzi into the treeline.

“We’ll protect you, Emily!” Mina said. “Just show us where the Gate is.”

Cautiously, Emily made landfall and looked around.

The truth was that Emily had no way to know if her connection to “Forest Magic” followed her into this world. But she was confident it had, and she strode into the trees without hesitation. Mina followed while Kanti took flight, conducting her own search from the air.

Rothelmen Island was tiny, just over four hundred feet across. The search only took a few minutes. It is impossible to know whether Emily found the Gate through some inherent talent or if she just got lucky. Emily chose to believe the former option.

“There!” Emily hissed, pointing toward a clearing.

On the western shore of the island, a patch of rocky ground prevented any trees from growing. Here, a perfect square-shaped indentation had been carved into the rock. In its center, a ring-shaped structure stood on a metal platform. Five large purple crystals were seated in niches along the upper half of the ring.

“That’s the gate alright.” Mina said. “I guess the person guarding it has already left.”

Just to the left of the Gate, below the branches an old tree, there was a sudden flashing of light, followed by chattering noise. Twigs and branches rained down on the two Creations, and Mina screamed:

“Gunfire! Get down!”

She grabbed Emily and shoved her into the dirt. Both women scrambled behind nearby trees for cover, and Mina raised her Uzi to return fire. The stuttering burst caused Emily to cover her ears. She had seen guns in movies and TV shows, but up until this moment, she never understood just how loud they could be.

“Give up now!” Mina shouted. “I’ve got air support nearby!”

A man’s voice replied.

“I’ll shoot that damn Vanian as soon as she pokes her head out!”

Mina hesitated, lowering her Uzi.

“Wait a second… Kiri, is that you!?” She yelled.

“Mina!” Kiri let out a cry of joy as he recognized his girlfriend’s voice, but a moment later, a bolt of violet light shot down from the sky.

Kanti had struck as soon as Kiri gave away his position, lashing out with a Psionic blast that left Kiri stunned. While their foe keeled over, Kanti glided to a landing on the archway. She kept one eye on Kiri as Emily and Mina emerged from the woodline.

“I don’t sense anyone else on the island.” Kanti said. “We have control of the Gate, now we just need to figure out how to operate it.”

Mina ran past the Gate entirely, running to the spot where Kiri had fallen. Her boyfriend had dropped his assault rifle when he was hit. Mina grabbed it and pulled it away from Kiri before kneeling next to him. Emily turned her attention to the Gate.

“I can feel something.” Emily said, raising one hand as though checking the wind direction. “It’s like, a pull.”

Emily looked into the open space in the middle of the ring. If she squinted her eyes, she could faintly see the outline of something familiar on the far side… but she could not tell what it was.

“There must be a special Psionic technique to open the Gate.” Kanti mused. “Let me think.”

A deep rumbling sound in the distance reminded everyone that a battle was taking place nearby. Kanti paced back and forth on top of the ring, her talons made a clicking sound as they scraped metal. Emily placed her hand on one of the crystals and noticed it was very cold to the touch.

“These crystals are drained. There’s hardly any energy left in them.” Emily commented.

“That must be how the Gate is powered on or off.” Kanti added. “Those are Lightstones, a type of crystal from my world.”

“Lightstones?” Emily repeated.

“Crystals made of unrefined Aetherium. Its’s a naturally occurring insulator of Psionic energy.” Kanti said. “Elerium is a conductor, used in making things like Psionic Amplifiers. But these Aetherium crystals? They can trap Psionic energy for thousands of years.”

Kanti frowned, looking at the Lightstones attached to the Broken Gate.

“Why are they so dark?” Kanti muttered to herself. “Even when drained, there should still be a faint glow.”

Kanti unfurled her wings and tried to brush one of the Lightstones with her feathers. Emily noticed a sticky black residue covering the Lightstones. Kanti brushed some of it away with her feathers, but a moment later, the residue seemed to “grow back” and re-cover the Lightstone.

“That’s odd.” Emily remarked. “It looks like all of the Lightstones are covered in that black stuff.”

“Black stuff!?” Mina repeated, looking up from Kiri’s unconscious form. “Where?”

“On the gate.” Emily said, pointing.

All of the color drained out of Mina’s face.

“Nanites!” She said. “Cassandra must be somewhere close by!”

Cassandra Espinosa
Creation
Stockholm, Sweden

Cassandra was close by. Like her enemies, she had hijacked a civilian watercraft, though she had gone about it with much more violence. She was crossing the railroad tracks near The Tanto International School when she received a warning from her microbot sentries.

She stopped on the tracks, her Nanite Armor rippling dangerously in the night as she considered her options.

For the shortest of moments, Cassandra felt a twinge of emotional pain. She knew her mother, Akira Robinson, was somewhere in the fight now playing out. Cassandra wanted to be there, to at least try and save her mother… but Malum had given her an order. Her duty was to protect the Broken Gate, and she could only join the main battle if it was safe.

Right now, the Broken Gate was not safe.

Cassandra turned around, breaking into a jog as she ran back toward the river, and Rothelmen Island.

Aisling
Creation
Paradox Headquarters, Stockholm

Aisling was trying to lead Malum into a kill zone. Cali, Blake, and Marisol were in one of the conference rooms, setting up an ambush with anti-Psionic weapons.

Shapeshifting into a small songbird, Aisling flitted down the corridor at high speed. Malum was right behind her, lashing out with Telekinesis as he tried to hit her.

Aisling and Malum thundered down a narrow hallway where numerous awards, decorations, and trophies were proudly displayed on shelves. About halfway along this corridor, Aisling’s luck ran out. She was caught in a Psionic blast and found herself being forced to shapeshift against her will.

Suddenly back in Human form, Aisling stumbled and fell to the floor. Malum was on her in an instant. He grabbed her and pulled her up to his level.

“You’ve become quite the pest.” Malum said.

At Aisling’s command, a hurricane-force wind suddenly struck the building. The blizzard raging outside smashed every window, allowing snow and ice to enter. Malum’s grip on Aisling slackened for a moment as he was hit by the stinging chill. The wind intensified, causing the building to creak and shudder dangerously, as though it was going to collapse.

“Let her go!” a voice cried out.

Marisol had appeared at the far end of the hallway, clutching the Gauss Rifle previously used by Moka. Aisling tried to speak, to cry out a word of warning, but Malum wrapped one hand around her throat and squeezed so tightly the pain made her go blind.

A gunshot rang out and Malum staggered, loosening his grip on Aisling a second time. Once more, she refocused her powers, trying to force Malum to let go. The blizzard outside became a cyclone. Part of the ceiling above Malum collapsed, raining wreckage down on the Great Khan.

Aisling’s vision and hearing returned just enough to let her see that Marisol was now firing her weapon continuously at Malum, trying to break through his Telekinetic shield. The blue flash of the magnetic weapon lit up the hallway like a lightning storm. Then Aisling realized Malum was looking at her.

"Your powers lack balance." Malum seethed. "Even the readers questioned your abilities. Characters like you are terrible protagonists."

Aisling clawed at Malum's arm. He tightened his grip around her throat.

"Killing you was never part of my plans for my story." Malum said. "If you value your life, stop trying to be a hero and play the role of innocent bystander instead."

The Great Khan turned on the spot and threw Aisling with all his might. Her broken body crashed into the Mr. T Memorial Showcase and slumped to the floor, where she was buried in an avalanche of broken glass and shattered YAYA trophies. Wracked head to foot in overwhelming pain, Aisling could not move.

"Do you feel that?" Malum growled at Aisling's limp form. "That is how it feels to be powerless. Sit back and watch this war end. It's all you're good for now."

“Aisling!” Marisol screamed.

Again, there was gunfire. All Aisling could do was cover her head and wait for it to end.

“I’ve got you covered!” Another voice called out.

Varian Robinson had appeared in the opposite end of the hallway, and she (or he) was not alone. The Paradox SWAT team, trudging through ankle-deep snow that was piling up throughout the office, was bringing up the rear.

“FLASHBANG!” Varian yelled.

Aisling closed her eyes and covered her ears. Three loud blasts rang out, but something about them seemed off. She did not lose her hearing, nor did she go blind.

Looking up, Aisling saw that three of the SWAT operators were down. Their flashbang grenades had prematurely detonated, and now those fighters were clutching at the mangled remains of their hands.

“He Fused us!” Varian shouted. “Ballistic weapons only! Shoot him! Shoot him down!”

Varian, Marisol, and the remaining SWAT operators raised their weapons and opened fire. Marisol, who had never fired a gun before tonight, had no idea her weapon was out of ammunition. She just kept pulling the trigger, hoping it would do something.

“Enough! I am a God and you are all beneath me!” Malum shouted.

A swirling bubble of Psionic energy began growing outward from Malum. It expanded past Aisling until Marisol, Varian, and the SWAT crew were all inside of its perimeter. The world took on a disturbing indigo hue. As soon as they were inside of the bubble, all of the guns stopped working. It was as though they had jammed simultaneously.

“AW, f*ck THIS NOISE! We’re inside a Psionic Bomb!” Varian yelled. “Break contact and run! Run now before it kills us all!”

The SWAT crew grabbed their wounded and started to withdraw beyond the perimeter of the Psionic Bomb. (The bubble had finally stopped expanding) Malum pushed through a conference room door and vanished into the snowstorm just beyond. In moments, Aisling was alone inside of the Psionic Bomb, unable to move, unable to save herself from what was about to come. She closed her eyes, knowing she was about to die.

“My hand!” A distant voice cried out. “Take my hand!”

Aisling opened her eyes.

Marisol was standing above her, digging through the rubble to reach Aisling. Swirling strands of Psionic energy tumbled through the air, rapidly pulsing with brilliant light. The Psionic bomb was only moments away from detonating, and yet…

Marisol had run into its very center to retrieve Aisling.

“Get up! Grab onto me!” Marisol gasped.

Aisling reached up and seized a fistful of Marisol’s shirt. She pulled herself up as best she could, but a searing pain in her leg told Aisling she would not be able to stand on her own. Leaning on Marisol for support, the pair started shambling their way to the lobby. Blinking blood out of her eyes, Aisling could see the outer perimeter of the bubble. It was just a few feet inside of the lobby. Aisling could see Akira tending to the semiconscious forms of Moka, Dak, and Whetu. Varian was tapping her on the shoulder and pointing at the Psionic Bomb.

Akira, Varian, and Cali all ran across the lobby as fast as they could, but it was too late. Suddenly, the bubble began to shrink. Aisling and Marisol were nowhere near the outermost perimeter, yet suddenly they were outside of it, and the world had resumed its normal color scheme. Aisling knew this meant only one thing:The Psionic Bomb was about to detonate.Marisol must have figured this out too, because at the last second, she forcefully grabbed Aisling and pulled her to the right until Aisling was standing directly in front of Marisol.

The Psionic Bomb imploded, then released a telekinetic shockwave that shook the building like an earthquake. Marisol took the full brunt of the blast, shielding Aisling from the worst of it. Lights went out and the north wall collapsed, revealing the frozen streets outside.

Marisol and Aisling both collapsed into a snowbank that had formed on the street-facing side of the lobby. When Aisling finally lost focus… she also lost control of the blizzard raging just outside.

The Broken Gates - Chapter 30 - Macavity116 (2024)

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