30 Days Until Carnage And the Uncertain End (part 5)
The choice had been to stand outside the Tower, Mages, Military, everyone. The Superiors could draw another teleportation circle outside once the Tower was evacuated, but it was difficult to fight in a Tower, and as they had to make sure that everyone got out, there was little want to fight on more difficult terrain. Instead, they were standing outside of the Tower and its protective field, facing the enemy. With the help of the Mages, they were able to take down the flying units and stabilize the ground as the earth continued to tremble. Utoia’s earthquake, the one thought capable of destroying the Tower, had not yet occurred. The issue was that Heia had no frame of reference for when it was to occur.
Reytaria had been completely destroyed less than an hour after final evacuations and Heia was hoping that they would make it in time for Utoia. She did not want to be near a Tower as it fell. The Mages, Circle, and X militaries, however, were working in perfect sync. When they had arrived at Utoia, they’d had little time to prepare, but the time they’d gained had been enough. Their seamless cooperation had allowed them to push the Aralax into the defensive instead of the offensive. Heia was concerned about Ovaria, however she had hope that the shields would hold.
Instead of returning to Ovaria after assisting Reytaria, they had been sent to Utoia in full. Bomber planes had been rerouted outside of Ovaria and Utoia, in hopes that the Towers and the mages would give them cover. Additionally, the Superior rotation that Zeydar had implemented allowed for a whole set of Superiors to be willing and able to fight at their full strength. They worked along with the military mages and turned the battle on its head.
Heia wished they had done that from the beginning.
Off in the distance more bombs fell, lighting the sky in red fires and smoke that bounced across the shadows of the night. Aralax screeched but the humans were winning. The forces for Utoia were minimal compared to Ovaria, and Heia could only hope that the city was still okay. The Ovaria magic barrier was only supposed to last three hours after the fighting began and without constant magic added, it and the Tower defense would not be enough to hold out the Aralax. They could not have another breech.
“The barrier is still active. We will need more power within the hour, however it’s lasted longer than anticipated.” Uly reported. “How is Zeydar?”
“Meditating.” Kim answered.
Heia looked back, to see Zeydar standing staring at the ground talking to Maverin on his private connection. When they had requested it before the battles, she had thought it was useless, after all their communications were a mess. What did Zeydar need to relay to Maverin that he could not do in the other channels? Zeydar rarely spoke to people, he most often used his magic and spells. However, as she could see his lips consistently moving and muttering. He was giving Maverin something. No one knew what but each time he stopped talking, the drones would change and Uly would say that the calculations had changed.
“The numbers are coming from the project or…” Heia asked Uly.
“Maverin, he’s consistently running programs and predictions. Why?” Uly asked.
“No reason.” Was Zeydar acting as Maverin’s feedback? She heard bits and pieces back in Reytaria, about refining his magic, and refining his search. He had answered questions with yeses and nos, followed by numbers and cardinal directions. He told Maverin more information regarding the top commanding forces that he called Kings, and information on the web but Heia was not sure how Maverin was converting the information to help them.
Perhaps she should not think about sciences. They were not her subject to begin with.
Zeydar had arrived at the end of the Reytaria fight, turning the magic circle to Utoia, so that the level Two Mages could enter the Tower followed by all of the forces and last the Superiors. He had then arrived in Utoia with them and had given a single instruction: evacuate and defend. Then he’d started talking to Maverin exclusively. The team had split apart with the collected special forces teams. Phil, Rayda, Lynx, and Onyx were in south. Evester, Shawn, Crass, and Karla were in the East. Trace, Robee, and Kony were in the north, as Heia, Kim, and Kori were in the west. They lead their troops forward, supported by the special force teams created by Heia, and the mages.
How much longer? Heia did not know, but the current battle was in their favor. She hoped that the others around the world were doing as well.
“We are having issues with the other Towers.” Uly warned.
“Other than Utoia?” Rayda clarrified.
“All of them save the three strong holds,” Uly answered.
It was to be expected, the majority of the forces were located at Avalain and the launch site. While they had the majority of the Superiors, most of the Mages who could fight were at the other two locations. Their walls had a better supply of constant magic. They had better defense in general. Ovaria was relying heavily on its barrier and that was shown to be imperfect in keeping the Aralax out.
“Will we lose them?” Evester asked.
“There is a possibility,” Uly whispered. “This is far worse than even the worst predictions offered.”
“Why? What happened?” Karla asked.
“The unpredictable variable,” Maverin answered as he connected to the main EverDanger feed. “Zeydar has done the majority of the heavy lifting in the last few fights, defending the Towers from most attacks. Now? He has focused on the total of four locations: Ovaraia, Avalonia, Utoia, and Reytaria. Instead of jumping around and decimating their forces like he did in the past….”
“He’s staying still.” Evester finished.
Heia looked back to Zeydar who was facing the sky with his eyes closed and arms open.
“If only we could decimate them, but they’re too fast and they evolving.” Kori hissed.
“Just wait for Zeydar.” Kony and Maverin said at once.
“We are.” Trace snapped. “Here on the north we are advancing.”
“South as well.” Rayda reported.
“I need thirty seconds of ceasefire.” Zeydar spoke calmly, after connecting to the main EverDanger chat. There was a long moment of silence.
“Impossible.” Shawn chuckled despite having no humor backing it. “We can’t do that.”
“In one quadrant or the whole map?” Rayda clarified.
“He means everywhere,” Shawn guessed.
“I do,” Zeydar answered. “Everywhere, the whole world. Thirty seconds of no attacking by our side.”
“Why?” Uly asked.
“Give the order.” Maverin said instead. “Every military. Coordinate it for fifteen minutes from now. Have everyone retreat. We are winning right now, and if we can time it correctly, we can do it before the Aralax even realize something is happening.”
“Why?” Uly repeated.
“I can end this,” Zeydar answered. Heia glanced back to Zeydar who was glowing again. Her heart was heavy in her chest.
“No.” Kim disagreed. “We can’t risk that.”
“Do it,” Evester agreed. “I believe you Zeydar.”
“Cameras are in place.” Maverin repeated, as a drone appeared before Zeydar with a projected hologram of the images onto the ground before him. There were dots on the map in multiple different colors, all of which Heia had to assume were the commanding units in terms of color coordination and the number of them. The map continued to expand until it showed the part of the world that Heia had to believe was in the dark. There were ten glowing locations which she knew to be the cities that they were defending. “Are you certain of this?”
“Yes.” Zeydar repeated. “Issue the retreat, get as far back as you can. Absolutely no magic once Maverin gives the go.”
There was silence for a moment.
“Retreat!” Kim, Evester, Kony, and Rayda ordered all at once. Quickly the orders were given to get back as far as they could. Uly reported that the other forces were issuing the retreat. The seconds turned to minutes and the Aralax did not approach. In fear of another massive attack? Heia did not know but they knew something had happened due to the strategic retreat all over the world.
“Everyone to the main channel.” Uly ordered and Heia flipped over as everyone else did as well.
“All are connected in.” Europa’s voice said seconds later.
“Hold in five.” Heia watched as the Aralax armies stopped moving. “Four.” She held her breath uncertain what was to happen. “Three.” Tightening her hand against her weapon, she withdrew it. “Two.” The main gun fire stopped and other attacks ended. “One.”
“Ceasefire achieved. Thirty second count begins now. Go.”
Zeydar walked past Heia and the others, out towards the empty zone between Aralax and human. He walked slowly, the drone traveling after him, map still visible as he walked. The Aralax then began to run towards him. Zeydar then stopped walking. The silence over the communication was deafening as the fires continued to burn but the smell of magic disappeared.
“Twenty seconds,” Maverin warned.
Zeydar slammed his Staff to the ground as the earth began to move again and the Aralax grew even closer, flying fast. In the communication Heia could hear Zeydar saying a spell slowly. Each word was enunciated and then punctuated by a chorus of gasps from those mages privileged enough to have a speaking role in the channel: Majorie, May, Kony.
“What is he doing?” Trace asked.
“Ten seconds,” Maverin recited.
“Using our magic,” Kony answered, gasping for air, but laughing at the same time.
“To do what?” Heia whispered as the Aralax’s glowing eyes could be seen in the distance. Zeydar stopped the spell, lifted his staff and glanced to the images one last time.
“Ready?” Maverin asked.
“Memorized.” Zeydar said.
“Good luck.” Maverin said the words as if they were a prayer.
“Maverin do we att–?” Someone asked.
Zeydar placed his hand on the face of the Aralax that attacked him. It was a regular soldier, mindless and without the stripes of intelligence. It shattered in his hand, white light pouring out from it from the inside out. The Aralax fractured, vanished from sight and then Zeydar disappeared. Far out in the distance a bright spark of white exploded and Heia knew that it was where Zeydar had to be. All around him the sea of Aralax stopped moving.
“All forces report,” Uly ordered.
“They’ve stopped moving.” One by one all of the forces said the same thing. The air went stale and dry. In the distance the drone that had been following Zeydar moved away, flying off in the direction of the white light that had dissipated. Waiting on bated breath, Heia counted the seconds hoping for something else.
“What is this?” Kim asked.
“The Aralax are connected through their minds, the hive mind. Zeydar had to tap into that and follow it upstream from minion to commander and further up the chain until he found the King and then…”
All at once white light burst from thousands of positions out in the distance. It was far less powerful than the blinding light he had used to annihilate the armies outside of Utoia and Ovaria. This was targeted.
“He killed all the Kings at each of the battles and then should be sending the his magic back down their connection like a targeted poison.”
“And kills all of the commanding Aralax.” Uly filled in. “Brilliant.”
“There should only be base level soldiers left,” Maverin seemed impatient.
“There were three Kings at Ovaria.” Zeydar reconnected to the connection. “You all can resume fighting. Annihilate them all. We don’t want another getting close enough to affect them.”
“Can you follow it further?”
“You’re going to kill all the Kings?” Heia asked.
“I already killed all of the ones on the battlefields.” Zeydar offered.
“How much rest do you need?” Maverin asked.
“Based on the map, the closest Kings are at least two hours away, which gives our armies a two hour reprieve. I can get everyone to the strong holds once evacuations are done here and…” Zeydar answered. “But then we will all have to rest, all of the Superiors will be drained.”
“How much more time on the evacuation Uly?” Maverin asked.
“Utoia will be done in an hour.”
“Annihilate them all.” Zeydar said appearing next to Heia again. He then kissed the top of her head and disappeared. Heia turned back to the frozen Aralax and issued the order. It was followed by orders from all over the world. There were congratulations from world leaders as the clean up began and Heia felt a swell of relief.
Cleaning up the remaining Aralax was easy enough with the bombs and the remaining magic. Without them able to move the process was quick and relatively painless. One by one all cities reported their death tolls and completed head counts, as the reprieve continued. With everyone accounted for, the night continued.
“All forces retreat to be evacuated.” Uly ordered. “Civilians evacuated.”
“How many have we lost?” Kim asked.
“Numbers are being recorded.” A soldier answered her.
“Superiors are you ready to transport everyone?” Uly asked into the void. There was a long silence. When there was no answer, Heia knew that Maverin and Zeydar had disappeared again into their own channel.
“We are weak but we can get all forces away.” Kony answered instead. “We just need…”
“Forces, make your way back to the Superiors and…” Uly’s voice faded.
All around Heia, the ground began to glow and she was once again outside Ovaria in the new city. All of the weapons and machinery was transported, Superiors and Class Two mages. She was not anywhere near the teleportation circle, but near the wall.
“properly follow evacuation protocols.” Uly finished.
“Holy shit!” Kony gasped.
“What was that?” Kori shouted.
“I’ve transported all remaining survivors away from Utoia.” Zeydar reported.
One by one the Superiors around her collapsed to the ground breathing deeply.
“The Superiors are out of commission. I used the last of their energy to do it. Don’t expect much from them.” Zeydar sounded worried about something.
“We’re drained,” Kony whispered into the connection.
“You should have two hours to rest and recover.” Maverin told them all. “Use it wisely.”
“Is this battle not done?” Alan Penn asked.
“No.” Maverin answered, “Our fight is done. The Aralax will not be able to send their forces to further destroy us, not tonight. However you should keep up your vigilance.”
“Then what do you mean rest and recovery?” May asked.
“He was talking to me.” Zeydar answered.
“EverDanger gather.” Uly issued the order and Heia reconnected to the EverDanger private channel. Heia hurried over to the rest of EverDanger who were planning out the next moves. There was a chance that the moment that the sunset hit Avalonia again, the fighting would continue. Most of the cities were in shambles and the natural disasters were only getting worse. Project predictions showed that they were not going to stop and that there was a chance that the other nine Towers would have to be evacuated as well, to the three strong holds. There was not enough space, and with constant threat of Aralax attack, they were asking for annihilation.
Uly did believe, however, that if they only had three strongholds, Zeydar would best be able to defend them. Zeydar, however, did not respond as he was laying on Evester’s lap with a hand over his eyes. Heia removed her headset, to give her ears a chance to breathe, when the majority of the others did as well.
“No, the numbers are too great,” Zeydar whispered to no one. “I get that…” He paused. “I know.” He paused. “Ten minutes.”
“What’s wrong?” Heia asked as she sat next to Evester.
“The forces are too great.” Evester answered. “The next wave is going to be worse. Predictions that Maverin is checking now, have them attacking tomorrow night as well.”
“What?” Would the mages be able to withstand that? Could any of them? They hadn’t been able to sleep, but the first of the cities to fall to nightfall…
“Merotia is next in five hours.” Evester held Zeydar’s hand that was not over his eyes. Zeydar then removed his headset and breathed out a long exasperated sigh.
“Five…” They’d been fighting that long? A whole day already? Merotia had the survivors from Avalonia. If it was attacked again… “Is this it?”
“They want us gone.” Zeydar sat up, taking an energy drink. He opened and closed his hands looking at them. “The numbers won’t work. Without a full days rest the Superiors will not be able to fight at full power.”
“Will the walls hold?” Heia asked.
Zeydar continued to drink as the group stared at him, expecting him to answer.
“How much power do you have left yet?” Evester asked instead.
“I can do one more forced refill, I think, before I break myself.” Zeydar answered.
“Forced?” Shawn repeated. “What do you mean forced?”
“This.” Zeydar held up his pointer finger and wove it in the air, condensing the air into magic. “I’m forcing myself to take in the full intake of my body, sort of like healing and replenishing myself, fully.”
“I didn’t know you could do that.” Kim whispered.
“I wasn’t sure I could until today. It was a theory I had, considering my connection to magic. It is not organic over time. It’s like a microwave. Instead of an oven or rather an open fire, I’m blitzing my body with the power. It heats up the same, but I can only do it so many times before I cause damage.”
“How are you sure, you haven’t already.” Evester asked pushing Zeydar’s hair back. It was messy from sweat, the gel had not held. His eyes were dark with circles and his cheek bones were sharp. He’d lost a lot of weight in the few hours he’d been fighting.
“Physically? It’s not irreversible. Magically? One more time or it will be.” He looked to the sky. “It’s going to be enough to get me there and back out.”
Zeydar stood, and walked away. He slid his headset on. He shook his hand and summoned his Staff to him. Shifting his weight, he looked like a runner ready to sprint before standing completely still.
“Why isn’t he telling us?” Heia hissed to Evester.
“He’s going to do something extremely dangerous.” Uly answered.
“Do you know what?” Evester asked. Heia turned her focus to Zeydar who was once more gathering the magic around him.
“Maverin won’t tell me.” And Heia had a feeling that that meant they would not know until it was over. It was no more than five minutes later that Zeydar disappeared.