Oh my goodness! It’s the last chapter! A bit of a tear-jerker this one, but I don’t give you much time to dwell on it, so don’t worry. Anyways, just read it and enjoy. 🙂
Jayna and Derson had no idea what Liam meant when he called out, but Cassie certainly did. She paused mid charge and turned, her enerblade whirring in a defensive pattern as she faced the Imperetor. Jayna was confused. Then, as she struggled to her feet, a loud thump jolted her to back out of her mentally swimming state. Liam had fallen to the ground, and was curled up in a ball. Slowly the Imperetor floated down and faced Cassie.
“So, you betray me again, Cassie; after all I have done for you. I gave you ultimate power! We could have ruled the galaxy together.”
“You changed me into a monster,” Cassie spat back savagely.
“Foolish girl,” the Imperetor chuckled. “You realize that this resistance is pathetic do you not? Your friend, Nightmare, has already succumbed to my mental administrations, and soon you will too. Just knowing symmetry, without the mental power to back you up, is not enough to defeat me my dear. You are not another Richard.”
“But together we are,” Cassie said, a humorless smile creeping across her face as she jerked her head in the direction of the Imperetor.
Initially, Malvolent had no idea what Cassie was indicating. Then there was a sound of tearing flesh. Slowly he turned around. Liam, towering over the Imperetor, was now in his true form. His clothes lay on the ground around him, ripped to shreds. His eyes were unseeing orbs in the center of a face surrounded by a frill of skin whose edges were serrated with miniature claws. His jaw had four mandibles around it, made of pure muscle and bone. His fingers were abnormally long, and he had ten of them on each hand, each with a claw on the end of it. And finally, he was standing in a growing pool of blood.
Imperetor Malvolent charged forward and sliced off Liam’s left arm. With a cry of animalistic rage, Liam sent Malvolent soaring through the air with a wave of mental energy. As the Imperetor looked on with unbelieving eyes, the stump of Liam’s left arm warped, twisted, and grew back into position. Then Cassie was upon him and he no longer had time to think.
Jayna, realizing now that her teacher had not really turned to the evil side, charged forward to assist in whatever manner she could. Derson began firing on the Imperetor when he had the chance, while Mako, completely unafraid, went over to stand beside his master. He could feel with his own limited powers the strain Liam’s mind was going through as he focused on keeping control of the beast inside him.
Liam himself was mentally inside a storm. His creature-like instincts were pushing in, changing him into the predator he was. He was fighting back with all his might, resisting the temptation to give into his true nature. Barely recognizing the people as the people they were inside his mental three dimensional map, Liam forced himself to focus his psychic force on putting up a barrier around Cassie and Jayna.
He could feel Malvolent’s rage. Liam could perceive the surging waves of furious energy that the Imperetor was unleashing on his shield, but that was nothing compared to the battle against himself. Just like when he had been on that injector chair when Mako had finally discovered the suppressants for his condition, Liam’s memories shot through his mind like a bullet train traveling at the speed of light. Neurons and synapses fired off in his brain like a series of fire alarms as the beast gained another step of control.
Cassie was fighting in the familiar form of Symmetry. As her hands moved in the motions that Richard had taught her, she felt herself going back, back in time to when all had been well. To be honest, all had not been well. She had been young, and foolish, apprentice of the Imperetor, and she had been sent to kill Richard, having mastered a crude form of the enerblade art he had created.
The battle had been one of perfection, at least, perfection on the side of Richard. Cassie still remembered how many openings she had unwittingly given Richard; thirty-six, before, appealing to her better side, he had cast aside his enerblade and told her to kill him. She had been unable to. She had fought so hard. Tried and tried again to do what her cause said was right, but there had been no power supporting her.
Then Richard had shown her the error of her ways; revealed to her why the Galactic Regime fought for what it fought for. Yet, their relationship had always been a cold one, and though Cassie wished for more, he had always gently pushed such things aside. Of course, she had not understood why, and doing her best, she succeeded in seducing him. He had given in, and gave his life for her.
Then she knew– she knew why Richard had warned her against this. No, love was not bad. But in a position such as theirs, fraught with danger, loving the people around you left cause for weaknesses, and forced one into corners from which there was no escaping. Now as Cassie fought the Imperetor, she could feel Richard’s gentle guidance reminding her of what she should do.
Keep the angle correct, maintain precision, only go this far, no further. These and more were what Cassie was focusing on as she battled Malvolent and all he stood for. She could feel the force field of energy surrounding her as Liam channeled his power into fending them off from the Imperetor’s vicious attacks. There was no sign of her opponent weakening, but Cassie knew that this meant nothing. The Imperetor was very strong, certainly strong enough to hide his weakness.
Malvolent knew he had to act fast, so he did. Already he had sensed the trembling of the structure that contained them, and in a sudden maneuver, he target its foundation with a potent blast of energy.
There was a groaning as the whole temple shifted. Then it began keeling over to one side. They all started sliding downwards, rapidly increasing in velocity as they moved. Then the structure began to slow its descent, and after an interminable amount of time, started to right itself. Every sinew on Liam’s body was taught with tension as he strained to balance the giant structure, and for a moment, just one moment, his mental shield lapsed.
This moment was enough for the Imperetor however, and he hastily implanted his will in the mind of Mako. The dog shook his shaggy head uncertainly, then Malvolent’s control took over, and his eyes turned red with the savage fire that burned inside. At this point, Liam managed to right the temple, and the shield was once again around the Imperetor.
However, in his mental map, he detected a new hostility right beside him. In a moment of instinctive speed, he sent the enemy presence next to him flying away to hit a wall. The short yelp that Mako let out as he smashed against the hard barrier was not missed by Liam’s constantly scanning mind, and his deformed head turned instantly to face the source of the sound.
For a moment, it did not register, then amidst the numerous sections of memory in his brain, it clicked, and dropping his shield, he rushed over to the body of his dog. Mako was dead.
Getting to his feet, Liam let out a cry of impotent rage that was heightened when Malvolent stabbed him from behind. In a flash the enerblade wielded by the Imperetor shot backwards, knocking the evil DAMARC over. Then all four enerblades in the room rose to hover in the air, and despite anything Malvolent tried, he could not pull his weapon back into his hand.
Slowly the hovering enerblades accelerated until they began spinning furiously. Realizing the fate cut out for him, the Imperetor began protesting profusely.
“No, please, just leave me alone. I’ll go! I’ll go away and never come back! I promise.”
The sightless Nightmare just turned to face the Imperetor and bared his teeth in a savage, soulless smile; then the four weapons flashed towards the cringing vilth and cut him to pieces. When this horrible spectacle was complete, there was nothing left but a pile of body parts and the disgusting smell of charred flesh.
Liam stood, with his shoulder’s heaving, then the four weapons extinguished their blades and retracted their cores. His whole body sagged, and dropping the enerblades to the ground, he knelt down beside the prone form of his only friend. There was no question about it. Mako was dead and he wasn’t coming back.
Tenderly scooping the limp form up in his monstrous arms, Liam stalked past everything and exited the temple. As he did so, he slowly morphed back into human form, and boarding the Scorpion, flew off into space.
Cassie, Jayna, and Derson, who had followed Liam to the hanger, watched silently as the DAMARC flew away.
“Well, there goes the Nightmare,” Cassie said with a mix of joy and relief and something else that she could not place.
“I don’t know whether to be glad or upset,” Jayna said with an expressive sigh. “I’ll certainly miss Mako.”
“He came and went, that’s for sure,” Derson said. “Like a sting.”
“A scorpion’s sting,” Jayna mused with a small smile. “‘Scorpion’, I think I prefer that much more than ‘Nightmare’.”
Name change accepted.
And that is the end of Nightmare! Wow, I actually can’t believe I finished another novel. It’s been so long since I’ve even come close. Thank you all so much for the support! See you in the next story. 😀