Interlude 15 – Nicholas Petan

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Five Years From Now, In An Alternate Dimension

“My Lord?” the soft voice of a young female with teal skin and bright white hair spoke up tentatively.

Nicholas Petan turned away from the window of the ship where he had been studying the green and brown planet that they were approaching. He took in the sight of the Nereid, pausing for a moment to remember her name. At one time, it wouldn’t even have taken him that long. But, as the years and centuries passed, the number of those he was responsible for had grown beyond what he could have imagined when he was still young. Even then, however, it often felt as though he had done too little.

After that brief pause that actually only lasted a couple of seconds, he had it. “Yes, Dexamene?”

“Um, I was just… I was wondering, sir…” Dexamene hesitated. She looked nervous, and Petan recalled that this was the first time the sea nymph had addressed him directly. She was the daughter of one of the ship’s top navigators and a marine, but she herself had only graduated from their shipboard academy a month earlier. Shortly before they had sent Tristan back in time, actually. Now that he thought about it, she and his descendant had been friendly with one another. Which probably meant…

“You would like to know if Tristan arrived at his destination correctly and safely?” he guessed.

Judging from the way the nymph flushed, she was embarrassed. Yet her head bobbed up and down quickly even as she fidgeted there. “Y-yes, my Lord. I-if it’s not too much trouble, I mean. I was just—um, w-worried about him. I know we can’t—umm, that we can’t contact him or anything because of the um—the time travel. But do we—umm, can we know if he’s—umm–” She stopped, swallowing hard.

Lifting his hand, Petan settled it on the girl’s shoulder. He felt her cringe a little, and shook his head in wonder at just how shy and easily embarrassed she was. “Dexamene,” he assured her. “He is all right.” When she looked up at him, eyes hopeful, the man gave her the slightest smile in an attempt to be at least a little bit reassuring. It felt strange on his face, especially after he’d had to send Tristan away.

The boy had been a breath of fresh air around the ship, particularly once they had worked out the way to have the boy on the ship with them by anchoring him to Nicholas himself. That particular anchor had been enough to allow him to leave the Meregan’s world, but not enough to take him to their home dimension and planet. The Seosten magic barring him from that dimension was entirely too strong.

So, in between their battles with the Seosten and other enemies, Nicholas’s army (including their new Meregan allies) had searched for another solution. It wasn’t their primary task, of course. There were far too many other things commanding their attention. But they had tried several things over the years.

In the end, the best solution had been an alternative to the one they had used to allow the boy to leave the planet and stay with Nicholas: the anchor. But they had needed a better anchor, since Petan’s connection to his former homeworld had faded too much over the centuries that he had been away.

The magic barely recognized him as being from there at all. So, they had needed to anchor the boy to someone from there, who still lived there and whom he had at least a somewhat close connection with. And since Tristan couldn’t remember anything about his family (Nicholas’s stories about them didn’t seem to be able to jog the boy’s memory) that left pretty much only two choices: Felicity Chambers or Shiori Porter. Tristan had chosen Felicity. Unfortunately, so much had changed in those years that there was no connection between Tristan and the Felicity of the current time. So, they had anchored the boy to the Felicity from five years in the past, when she was still the way that the boy remembered her. And now, well, now he was there. And then. As Dexamene had said, it was impossible to contact him.

“I miss him too,” he told the young nymph in a confidential tone that made her blink up at him with wide eyes. “But yes, as far as I am aware, Tristan arrived safely. That is the best we could hope for.”

The teal-skinned girl bobbed her head quickly once more. “Good! I mean, I—h-he’s good. He’s home. I–” She shifted again, looking away for a moment as a very brief look of shame crossed her face.

Raising an eyebrow, Petan paused to consider her for a moment. “Is there something else wrong?”

“N-no, I–” Dexamene stopped, still looking embarrassed and ashamed as she admitted, “I kn-know he had to go home, b-but I… I w-wish I’d told him that I… that I umm…” She went silent once more.

“You cared for him a lot,” Petan realized, straightening a little then. “As far more than simply friends.”

The sea nymph looked stricken for a second before she caught herself. Swallowing hard, she gave one more nod. “I—w-wanted to tell him, but… but I knew he didn’t feel the same way. W-we were friends, sir. I didn’t wa-want to ruin that, and I didn’t… I didn’t want to say anything that would m-make him feel guilty about leaving. Now I… w-wish I did. But I’m g-glad I didn’t. But I’m sad. It’s… hard.”

Remaining silent to gather his thoughts, Nicholas wished that he had any idea of what to say to the girl. She had sent away a boy she cared deeply for, a boy she obviously had a very strong crush on, without telling him how she felt in order to avoid making him choose between staying with her and going home. She had let him go without doing anything that would make him feel guilty about his choice.

Finally, he squeezed her shoulder until she met his gaze once again, her violet eyes wide from the attention. “Dexamene,” the man informed her succinctly, “you are an incredible asset to this crew, this ship, and to me. I am very grateful that people like you are here. Thank you, for continuing to serve.”

“I—I–um–” The poor teal-skinned teenager worked her mouth before quickly stepping back. She gave him a somewhat shaky, but still acceptable salute, which he returned crisply. Then she mumbled an embarrassed thank you followed by an apology as she asked to be dismissed. When he gave that permission, the girl practically fled down the corridor, her embarrassment too much to handle by then.

As he watched her go, Nicholas smiled faintly before turning his attention back to the window. The ship was coming in for a landing by that point, and he could already see the Seosten defensive forces readying themselves. Not that many, if any were actually Seosten themselves, of course. The body-possessing false angels used subjugated races for that kind of grunt work. Besides, there weren’t enough actual Seosten to create entire armies across multiple worlds and hold them. At most, there would be two or three of the creatures on-world to ensure that things continued to run smoothly.

A few of the defense forces that settled into place even took (entirely useless) potshots at the incoming ship before their superiors obviously ordered them to hold fire and wait to concentrate on the doors that the invading troops should have begun pouring out of as soon as the ship settled into place.

“Captain,” he spoke while touched a finger to the communicator on his wrist. “Are the troops ready?”

The crisp response came immediately, confirming that the troops were indeed prepared. Smiling to himself, Nicholas touched the circle that he had already drawn on the wall beside the window. Investing it with power, he activated the spell while pressing his palm against the middle of it.

As soon as the spell triggered, several dozen of the ship’s finest and best trained troops (an eclectic assortment of various Alters, some armed with weapons while others relied on their own innate gifts and abilities) disappeared from where they had been waiting, and immediately reappeared directly behind the defensive position that the Seosten defense troops had set up. The scene dissolved into instant chaos as the troops were taken by surprise when the intruders came at them from behind.

They turned to meet the threat, and as soon as they did, then the doors of the ship opened up. The rest of Nicholas Petan’s army poured out, attacking from that side as well. Trapped in the middle, the Seosten defense forces stood little chance. Most surrendered after only a relatively brief skirmish.

Nodding in satisfaction, Nicholas started to turn away from the window. It was time to free the slaves on this planet, see what kind of supplies they could take from this minor Seosten outpost, and move on.

Unfortunately, just as he began to turn, a shadow darkened the sky and left the troops outside in darkness. His gaze flicked back that way while his communicator popped. “My Lord!” the voice of the ship’s captain came through. “We have three ships on sensors. They came out of nowhere, sir.”

“Seosten?” Petan asked, his voice tense as he prepared to move once they knew what was going on.

“No, my Lord,” the captain denied. “The ships, they’re reading as… alive, sir. They’re biological.”

Straightening at that, Nicholas took a moment before the word escaped him in a hiss that was equal parts anger and worry. Not for himself, but for those he was in command of, those who trusted him.

“Fomorian.”

******

Blood, screams, and worse filled the air. The Fomorians had wasted no time. Before Petan could prepare another spell to withdraw his troops, or even join them, they had already sent their drop-tubes to the surface. Essentially, the drop-tubes were incredibly long tentacles that shot from the bottom of their ships and attached themselves to the planet itself. Once they were hooked in, the various biological horror shows that the Fomorians had created were dropped down through the tube in egg-like structures, which burst upon contact with the ground and allowed the creatures to pour forth.

Both the previously-surrendered Seosten soldiers and Petan’s own troops were almost immediately engulfed by more types of literal monsters than Nicholas had ever seen before, even in his long life. They ranged from an enormous crocodile-like creature that was over sixty feet long and twenty feet high, all the way down to insect-sized bug things which injected a deadly poison into their targets.

His Alters were doing their best to defend themselves, and their efforts were admirable. Yet they hadn’t been expecting that kind of fight, not against those biological horror-shows. The Fomorians deliberately crafted their creatures to combat specific Alter-abilities, tailoring each creation as needed.

He had to involve himself, and quickly. Rather than taking the time to make it to the actual exit, Nicholas scrawled a quick spell on the floor of the ship, focused on himself. In that moment, he dearly wished that he was actually one of the Heretics whose abilities came from the Reapers or Hangmen, so that he could have absorbed the powers of those he had fought for so long. Instead, he was a natural Heretic, and his gifts had originally come from a troll whose body he had been buried with so long ago. Their blood had mixed, and granted him incredible regeneration and immunity to both disease and aging, strength, an utterly inhuman resistance to damage other than fire, the ability to adapt to his environment so that no temperature variation or even lack of oxygen bothered him, and the ability to induce fear in a target.

And, of course, having the Bystander-effect removed had restored what should have been his natural ability to use magic. All of that combined had made him a formidable opponent to his enemies over the centuries, and it would do the same here and now. But even then, he would have preferred an instant teleportation ability, something that could transport him out there immediately before more of his troops, his people, were killed. Every second he wasted creating and investing energy into the magic to take him out there was another one where the people who swore loyalty to him were suffering.

Finally (after what had honestly only been less than thirty seconds, even if it felt like an eternity), the spell was ready. Nicholas pressed his hand to the runes he had drawn and activated it. The hastily drawn spell lit up, and he was immediately transported from the ship to the middle of the battlefield.

He appeared in front of one of his Dryads, who was laying on the ground, bleeding from a severe stomach injury. A creature that looked like a scorpion with a snake instead of a stinger came lunging forward, tail lashing out with the poisonous serpent’s mouth wide open as it aimed for his arm.

Petan caught the snake, twisting sharply while giving a yank that tore its head from the rest of the body. Even as the scorpion part of the creature made a sharp screaming noise and tried to snatch him with its pincers, he delivered a harsh kick that put his foot through the thing’s face. The scorpion collapsed, and he tossed the snake-head aside before turning back to the injured Dryad.

“Here,” he announced, producing a small metal button from his pocket which he dropped onto her chest. “Hold it and you will be safe until we retrieve you when the battle is finished.”

As the Dryad closed her hand around the button, it activated and her body turned into what looked a lot like stone, but was actually much stronger. One of the advantages of allying with what remained of the Meregan. Considering that the ‘statue’ could have been thrown into the sun without being harmed, nothing the Fomorian horror show could do would be able to penetrate it.

That done, Nicholas straightened and turned his attention to the rest of the creatures. Perhaps someone else would have said something pithy or uplifting about the situation, something that would have lightened the mood. But that wasn’t the sort of man that Nicholas Petan was. He relied on results.

And, as he waded into the battle, delivering single blows that took the creatures apart with as little wasted motion or effort as possible, results were what he delivered. He wasn’t fancy. When he finally drew his sword to cleave the head from a charging tentacle-laden creature, he remained as silent as ever. Not a breath, nor a motion, nor an actual attack was in any way wasted. His style was an economy of motion and energy, even as he picked his way through this army. What took even the strongest of his troops three or four blows to bring down, Nicholas managed with a single swipe of his blade.

He was making his way to the worst, most dangerous threat on the battlefield: that giant crocodile. Now that he was closer, the man could see that it had a slightly smaller, humanoid (vaguely ape-like) torso, head, and arms attached just under its much larger and more prominent reptilian head. The ape arms would grab hold of prey beneath it and pass them up into the mouth of its crocodile-half.

He had to put a stop to this thing, before more of his people were killed. Yet even as Petan took a step that way after killing the last creature that had barred his path, he saw one of the Seosten troops already running toward it. Whatever race the figure was, he appeared to be humanoid, with onyx-black skin and a wiry build under his Seosten uniform.

He was also carrying some kind of double-blade sword, a staff with a blade at each end in one hand. In the other, he held what looked like a grenade launcher.

A handful of other abominations, smaller than the main target, emerged from behind its feet before moving to intercept the Seosten guard. But he spun smoothly, easily avoiding the nearest as it swiped at him with long claws. As he twisted, his bladed staff spun upward and sliced the creature’s head from its shoulders as easily as one would chop a carrot.

In the same motion, the onyx-skinned figure flipped up and around, planting one foot into the face of the next attacker to drive him backward a step. That bladed staff went through the arm and then the upper torso of the third creature, before he used the momentum from kicking off of the second one to flip himself around in the air. Adjusting his blade, he came down hard, cutting that second creature in half lengthwise, straight down the middle from his head to his torso.

The figure was practically poetry in motion, flowing like an unstoppable river to cut through two more creatures that sought to interfere. By that point, only one was left: a monster about the size and general shape of a gorilla, with six arms and hard, rock-like skin.

The thing came at the guard, bellowing a loud challenge. That challenge, however, was erased (along with the creature itself), as the figure simply raised not the double-bladed staff, but the weapon in his other hand: the grenade launcher. He triggered the weapon, and the monster was engulfed by the explosion.

Petan briefly thought the strangely competent Seosten soldier was too close, but even as the explosion itself neared him, he was lifting a hand. Somehow, possibly an ability of of his race, he absorbed the shockwave and heat, then directed it under his feet to boost himself into the air.

The giant monster’s ape-half grabbed for the rising figure. Yet even as Nicholas watched, the Seosten soldier twisted in the air to plant his feet against the nearest of the incoming hands. A quick swipe from that double-bladed sword cut clear through the wrist of the opposite hand, cutting it free. As the beast howled, the figure pushed off that hand, firing a shot from the grenade launcher into the ape-head.

Again, he absorbed and redirected the energy from the explosion to drive himself even higher. Now, the figure was level with the enormous crocodile head. It opened that massive maw and lunged inward, toward its tiny snack.

The soldier, however, was ready. He fired a handful of shots from the grenade launcher into the thing’s face. The monster reeled from the explosions, stumbling a little as it roared.

While it was recovering, the unknown Seosten guard flipped over in the air, coming down on top of the monster’s massive snout. Even as its dull eyes tried to focus on the figure, he was already aiming that grenade launcher essentially straight down before pulling the trigger.

The explosion was unbelievable that time. Nicholas realized that the soldier must have used up the last of the thing’s energy supply in one final blast.

And yet, the thing still wasn’t dead. It had been knocked to the ground, but even then, the giant crocodile was trying to pick itself up, using its ape-half’s remaining hand to push off of the ground.

Neither, apparently, was the Seosten soldier dead. He had clearly absorbed all of that energy from the point-blank explosion. And now, he was running up its snout toward its eyes. The grenade launcher was gone, and the man now held his double-ended blade in both hands. Nicholas heard a distant scream of effort and exhilaration as the guard lashed out. Both ends of the blade lit up, all of the power that the man had absorbed from the explosion filling it even as he drive the blade down into the thing’s skull right between its eyes.

The blade, enhanced and empowered by the captured energy from the explosion, cut straight through the monster’s head, all the way down through its mouth, and out the other side. The head was literally cleaved into two halves that fell away from the main body even as the man himself landed in a crouch on the ground far below where he had been.

It was down. Dead. Gone. The last of the troops that the Fomorians had sent to the ground.

“Who are you?” Nicholas demanded, stepping that way to put himself between his remaining people and this figure. “The Seosten would not have someone of your… skill protecting a backwater outpost.”

The man pushed himself up, breathing hard before focusing on Nicholas. “You’re right,” he said simply. “They wouldn’t.”

With that, the onyx-skinned man fell forward, collapsing even as a second, female figure emerged from within him. The second figure was ghost-like for a moment before solidifying. She wore some kind of environment suit that covered her whole body and face, yet was skintight.

The soldier had been possessed.

“Seosten,” he started to spit the name, bringing his sword up.

But the female figure shook her head. “Not quite,” she replied before reaching up to take off the mask of the suit. “I just killed a couple and stole their power. But trust me, they really had it coming.”

Then the mask was off, and Nicholas found himself staring for a moment before he found his voice. “You do not… appear to be five years older.”

“I’m not,” she replied. “It’s only been about a year for me, since you sent Tristan back. And now I need you to do the same for me. Send me back four years, to when I… when I left.”

“If you don’t,” Felicity Chambers finished, “Fossor is going to use my mother to kill every Crossroads and Eden’s Garden Heretic in existence.”

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47 comments

  1. So really nothing of note happened in that chapter. Sorry, guys! Better luck next time, I guess. 😀

    Thanks to the donators for choosing who this interlude would focus on. I’m, as always, incredibly grateful to you guys for everything you’ve done and continue to do. And while I’m talking about being grateful, those of you who have been voting on Top Web Fiction ( which you can do by clicking right here ) are totally awesome as well. Thank you all!

    Speaking of donators, we also have a few more scheduled mini-interludes on deck that should be coming out soon, including a couple newly commissioned ones. More info on those upcoming mini-ludes can be found on the donations/support page right here.

    Anyway, our next arc is entitled: Second Hunt. So yes, we will be seeing the next actual planned team hunt. Hopefully this one goes better than the last one did, huh? 😉

    And finally, today’s chapter tags are: Apparently SOMEBODY Takes A Few Levels In Badass Over The Next Year., Dexamene, Nicholas Petan, One Line! Dexamene Was Supposed To Have ONE LINE! Then That Whole Backstory Poured Out!, Someone Whose Name I Am Leaving Off The Tags Purposefully Because Spoilers For Those Who See The Tags First

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  2. Well. That happened. It’s going to be interesting to see future Felicity show up given the whole “you can’t exist in two places in at the same time” thing Tristan was so adamant about. So either Future!Flick will only appear in places she knows she won’t be, or they have a way around that. Probably the latter, so Flick will be able to meet herself because you can’t have future versions of characters without doing that. So rule-breaking ahoy!

    I dread/anticipate Flick killing these really bad Seosten. Maybe she’ll break the rules by possessing herself.

    And Fossor… I’m going to assume that whatever he’s doing won’t kill Flick, hence why he took Joselyn so easily. If he has her unable to obey him, he gets to do whatever he’s doing to wipe out the Heretics and then keep one for himself. Until further notice, I will assume that he’s going to use a spell similar to the one the Red Court was setting up in Changes.

    And I’m guessing she only knows because he told her after catching her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well. That happened. It’s going to be interesting to see future Felicity show up given the whole “you can’t exist in two places in at the same time” thing Tristan was so adamant about. So either Future!Flick will only appear in places she knows she won’t be, or they have a way around that. Probably the latter, so Flick will be able to meet herself because you can’t have future versions of characters without doing that. So rule-breaking ahoy!

      Aha, to quote myself from answering the same idea on SB:

      It won’t be a second Flick. You can’t go back to a time you already lived through. One Year Older Flick wants Nicholas to send her back to the same time she left from, not the time we’re currently in. So this is more of a sneak peek for stuff that will happen later in the story. Specifically, about a year from the current time.

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      1. Yup! Just wanted to nip that in the bud right away. That’s why Future Flick specifically says she wants him to send her back ‘to her own time’ after saying that it’s been one year for her since Tristan showed up.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Honestly, you may want to try and make that a little more clear, because I’m not the only one who made that mistake apparently, and I doubt we’ll be the last.

        Maybe “I need you to send me back four years, to my own time.”

        Just so no one else makes that mistake in the future.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Secondly: Time. Travel. Plot.
    First of all: I can suddenly see all too clearly why Fossor needs to be worried.
    Thirdly: seriously, are the donators writing this story or you, because the subject matter of the Interludes always seem to be somewhat appropriate?
    Fourth: I’m time-travelling forward to the end of the week so I don’t have to wait. See you then!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Secondly: Time. Travel. Plot.

      I see what you did there. 😉

      Thirdly: seriously, are the donators writing this story or you, because the subject matter of the Interludes always seem to be somewhat appropriate?

      The best part about this particular interlude is that it could have come out at any point thanks to the time jumps (plural, Nicholas’s five year and older Flick’s one year).

      And in any case, I just wait to get the results of what the interlude subject should be and then figure out how it specifically ties into the main story.

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    1. Cerulean you really know how to make a fight read awesome!

      lol, well thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed that.

      so is Flick permanently intangible after killing the Seosten it can she turn solid again?

      She was only intangible for a few seconds while she stopped possessing that guy. The body turns intangible like a ghost, merges with the person they’re possessing, and then turns intangible again to unmerge from them.

      So yes, this does mean that at some point, Flick gains the Seosten ability to possess people. That should be fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “And, as he waded into the battle, delivering single blows that took the creatures apart with as little wasted motion or effort as possible, results were what he delivered. He wasn’t fancy. When he finally drew his sword to cleave the head from a charging tentacle-laden creature, he remained as silent as ever. Not a breath, nor a motion, nor an actual attack was in any way wasted. His style was an economy of motion and energy, even as he picked his way through this army. What took even the strongest of his troops three or four blows to bring down, Nicholas managed with a single swipe of his blade.”
    Me: I suppose Nicholas is a proponent of the “Don’t make me come over there. You won’t like it.” philosophy? Anyway, I wonder what drove the Fomorians to make that attack run?

    ““I’m not,” she replied. “It’s only been about a year for me, since you sent Tristan back. And now I need you to do the same for me. Send me back four years, to when I… when I left.”

    “If you don’t,” Felicity Chambers finished, “Fossor is going to use my mother to kill every Crossroads and Eden’s Garden Heretic in existence.””
    Me: Seems like Flick has been busy. And I am not surprised that Fossor is indulging in his genocide hobby again. That said, it looks to me as though, barring timey-wimey shenanigans, he can’t be beaten. Maybe I’m missing something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me: I suppose Nicholas is a proponent of the “Don’t make me come over there. You won’t like it.” philosophy?

      *snickers* Sounds about right.

      Me: Seems like Flick has been busy. And I am not surprised that Fossor is indulging in his genocide hobby again. That said, it looks to me as though, barring timey-wimey shenanigans, he can’t be beaten. Maybe I’m missing something.

      It’s a ways off, but I think you’ll be satisfied with how that plays out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Once again, you threw us in another loop.

    I’m guessing that Flick thwarts Fossor and he wasn’t able to her and using Joselyn to kill every Crossroads and Eden Garden Heratic in exsistance is his way of getting back at her.

    I’d really like to see what leads up to this moment. I’d know you’ll get there, but I’m just so excited.

    By the way, I forgot to ask you this in my last review, but can I make a list of villains of Heretical Edge, please?

    Anyway, thanks for updating and I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

    Like

    1. By the way, I forgot to ask you this in my last review, but can I make a list of villains of Heretical Edge, please?

      No problem, make any list you like! If it helps, there’s a character list on the TVTropes page that you can find here.

      Anyway, thanks for updating and I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

      Thanks! I hope you do too.

      Like

  6. So, that’s what Petan’s been doing over the last few centuries- traveling through space & dimensions with his army of Alters, fighting a little war against the Formorians & Seosten.

    And why am I not surprised that Tristan, being the player he is, left a girl behind him. Plus, with said girl being an Alter, as well as with all the time he spent with the Meregan & those other Alters, sounds like he’s a natural for Flick’s dissident group as soon as it’s established that he can be trusted. Though hope that in the end, Dexamene gets a chance to tell him how she feels. *reads ahead* – that could be a tad challenging….

    Nice takedown of the Seosten outpost, but given their ability to possess people, doesn’t seem that surprising that they would rely upon slaves for the bulk of their troops. (Wonder how hard it’d be to incite a general slave rebellion….)

    The Formorian attack was a nasty piece of business, though A Formorian invasion looks like it’d be an utterly terrifying thing to experience- hordes of engineered monsters (wonder how many count as Strangers?) dropping in out of the sky from monstrous bio-landers, and to be captured by them would be a fate worse than death.

    Though Petan got a decent group of powers from the troll he was buried with to become a Heretic [ 😮 ] can sympathize with his frustration that unlike the Reaper/Hangman-derived Heretics, like those mass-produced by the schools, he can’t power-up from any of the Strangers he’s killed over the years. And given that once upon a time, he was a medieval knight, no surprise that he’d be pretty handy with a sword, with the boosts from that troll making him even better at it.

    However, that’s one hell of a twist at the end, which is going to take some time to pull out- that mysterious “Seosten” is actually a time-traveling Flick from the future, who gained a possession power from one that she killed, bearing a warning of dire catastrophe due to something going horribly wrong in the struggle against Fossor, and the only way to stop it is getting Petan to send her back to where she’s supposed to be (about a year from the current point in the main storyline.) Just how did future!Flick manage to end up traveling into the future, and with Fossor planning on somehow using Joselyn to wipe out the mass-produced Heretics, I’m a little afraid to ask about just what might have to be done to stop it…

    Then the mask was off, and Nicholas found himself staring for a moment before he found his voice. “You do not… appear to be five years older.”

    “I’m not,” she replied. “It’s only been about a year for me, since you sent Tristan back. And now I need you to do the same for me. Send me back to my own time.

    “If you don’t,” Felicity Chambers finished, “Fossor is going to use my mother to kill every Crossroads and Eden’s Garden Heretic in existence.”

    Only appropriate reaction to this final exchange is ‘holy shit!’

    Apparently SOMEBODY Takes A Few Levels In Badass Over The Next Year.

    Um, yeah, you could say that, though it appears to be a bit of an understatement

    So yes, we will be seeing the next actual planned team hunt. Hopefully this one goes better than the last one did, huh?

    If it was anyone other than the author saying this in a comment, I’d say that they just jinxed the entire thing, but since it’s you instead of one of the readers saying that, guess the rest of us can look forward to seeing Flick & the rest of their team continuing their tradition of having something go majorly wrong whenever they leave campus.

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    1. So, that’s what Petan’s been doing over the last few centuries- traveling through space & dimensions with his army of Alters, fighting a little war against the Formorians & Seosten.

      Everyone needs a hobby.

      Nice takedown of the Seosten outpost, but given their ability to possess people, doesn’t seem that surprising that they would rely upon slaves for the bulk of their troops. (Wonder how hard it’d be to incite a general slave rebellion….)

      That gets hard when they can possess slaves at any point to find out if there’s a rebellion brewing. Hell, sometimes they even possess a slave and try INCITING a rebellion just to see who bites and thus who they need to deal with.

      The Formorian attack was a nasty piece of business, though A Formorian invasion looks like it’d be an utterly terrifying thing to experience- hordes of engineered monsters (wonder how many count as Strangers?) dropping in out of the sky from monstrous bio-landers, and to be captured by them would be a fate worse than death.

      Yeah, it’s a pretty terrifying situation to be in.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Why can’t they contact the Tristan of their now? I.e. Tristan is, lets say, 20, and the year is 2020. He is sent back in time to 2015. In the year 2021, why can’t they contact the 26 year old Tristan?

    “Ok, lets send you back…” *poof*
    “Ok, he’s gone. Let me pull up my phone, hey Tristan, I guess you made it back to give years ago? How’s it going now?”

    That’s the thing about seeking people back in time — you can presumably immediately contact them again. So, why can’t they? Will Tristan have died by then?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, wherever Crossroads is, it’s in a different dimension from where Petan is, so locating future!Tristan, who, if he makes it that far, would likely be an active Heretic, to make that call could be more difficult than just pulling up the right contact, assuming that the mechanics of time-travel wouldn’t somehow interfere

      And something happening to Tristan in the past is a possibility- over in the SB thread, someone asked why Tristan wasn’t coming along for the ride with future!Flick’s time-traveling adventures, and Cerulean replied that it wasn’t an issue at that point, which can be interpreted in a number of ways, including Tristan dying in the year between the present of the story & future!Flick going forward in time, particularly if Fossor is able to pull off his Hereticide plot due to future!Flick being temporally displaced at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for asking important questions to give me a chance to answer them for everyone else too.

      Anyway, one answer to your question is that it’s a bigger deal to ‘contact’ him than you might think. He was sent back to a different reality/dimension than the one that Petan is in, AND five years have passed. Think about the Crossroads tendency to travel to different worlds. There’s no way to know where he is even if they could easily contact him. Their best chance is the Meregan genetic contact technology, and even that is harder when they don’t know what world to direct it toward.

      Basically, they’re waiting for the ‘five-year-older than when they sent him back’ Tristan to contact THEM. Which he hasn’t done at that point, as this hasn’t been that long since they sent him back to begin with.

      Tl;dr: It’s more complicated than just pulling up a phone to call him, so they’re waiting for him to contact them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 1. Tristan spent five years with Nicholas before being sent back to earth a few weeks after Flick met him.

      2. This chapter takes place five years in the future, in 2022 (Heretical Edge begins in 2017), about a month after Nick sent Tristan back, in another dimension.

      3. An eighteen year old Flick has also been sent to that time for some reason and needs Nick to send her backwards to her own time, 2018, one year into 17 year old Flick’s future in 2017 and four years back from Nick’s time in 2022.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Hendy covered it pretty well. But yes, the basics are: Tristan was still a child (thanks to being essentially cryogenically frozen for awhile) when Flick and Shiori met him. They left, and then he spent five years growing up with Petan. Then he was sent back in time five years to just a couple weeks after Flick and Shiori left him.

      Now in this chapter, we see Petan himself in that ‘five years ahead’ future just shortly after they sent Tristan back to our present time. At the end of it, we see a Flick from ONE year in the future from our current time (so 18 year old Flick instead of 17 year old Flick), who was somehow sent to that time (five years from our present time, four years from HER time), and says that she needs Petan to send her back to that time (four years in her past, one year from our present) to stop Fossor.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s one major reason why we won’t be doing a LOT with time travel, and why I established the form caveat that you cannot go back to a time that you already lived through, in the same dimension that you lived it in.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. “He a handful of shots from the grenade launcher into the thing’s face.”
    missing word at the start of that sentence, presumably ‘fired’

    also:
    Flick: “Nick! You’ve got to send me back to the [s]Future[/s] Past!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Weird passage found:

    He was also carrying what some kind of double-blade sword, a staff with a blade at each end in one hand. In the other, he held what looked like a grenade launcher.

    That “what some kind of” part doesn’t make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A minor error I spotted on my read through: He a handful of shots from the grenade launcher into the thing’s face. Should probably be: He (fired) a handful of shots from the grenade launcher into the thing’s face.

    Dexamene was great, hopefully there will be more of her in the future. On a related note I wonder if she will see Tristan sooner than she expected, especially if Tristan and Flick are still linked to each other. Then again maybe they have been unlinked. I didn’t notice anything that would have suggested that he was around in this interlude.

    Flick’s Seosten possession ability looks really powerful. It seems like like it might have an unfortunate drawback though, it doesn’t look like she gets the heretic ability absorption when she’s possessing someone. Either that or she’s gotten much better at dealing with absorbing skills.

    I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Flick ends up in this position taking the slow path.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On a related note I wonder if she will see Tristan sooner than she expected, especially if Tristan and Flick are still linked to each other. Then again maybe they have been unlinked. I didn’t notice anything that would have suggested that he was around in this interlude.

      That issue was brought up in the SB discussion thread when someone asked where Tristan was, since if they were linked, he should have come along for the ride for future!Flick’s adventures in time-travel, and Cerulean’s response was that it wasn’t an issue anymore at the point future!Flick was at. The why of that was left open to interpretation, some of which do not suggest anything good.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. A minor error I spotted on my read through: He a handful of shots from the grenade launcher into the thing’s face. Should probably be: He (fired) a handful of shots from the grenade launcher into the thing’s face.

      And thank you for catching that too! All fixed. 🙂

      Flick’s Seosten possession ability looks really powerful. It seems like like it might have an unfortunate drawback though, it doesn’t look like she gets the heretic ability absorption when she’s possessing someone. Either that or she’s gotten much better at dealing with absorbing skills.

      She’s better at dealing with it AND Nicholas isn’t capable of seeing the auras they get when they absorb, as he isn’t the same kind of Heretic. I was actually trying to work out how I could have her kill things without having the absorption aura thing give away that ‘he’ was a Heretic. Then I remembered that he isn’t a Hangman/Reaper Heretic so him not seeing the aura makes sense.

      Dexamene was great, hopefully there will be more of her in the future.

      lol, yeah as the tags were pointing out, she wasn’t even supposed to be named. She was supposed to be a nameless character with ONE line, which was basically just ‘say something about how he seems distracted and that leads him to talk/think about Tristan to establish that it hasn’t been long since they sent the boy back’

      Then… well… all that stuff poured out and she became a character. *gestures helplessly*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She’s better at dealing with it AND Nicholas isn’t capable of seeing the auras they get when they absorb, as he isn’t the same kind of Heretic.

        Now I’m going to be wondering about what happens with sweet heretic on heretic possession. Do both heretics get credited with the kill? If so do they both get the same skill from the kill or can each heretic get different abilities in that case? If both heretics don’t get the kill is it awarded to whoever is in the driver’s seat so to speak? This raises so many interesting questions!

        Also it could have been that I’ve simply forgotten if you mentioned it somewhere else in the story, but, up until this chapter I had sort of been assuming that all heretics had the skill absorb on kill ability. I’d have to go back and recheck, but, I thought that something along those lines was mentioned when Fomorian was monologuing during Thanksgiving. Wasn’t the absorption ability the killer feature of their human project? I guess I could just be confused because the big two non-edge heretics that I can remember (Prosser and Bosch) were both made from hangmen/reapers.

        I was actually trying to work out how I could have her kill things without having the absorption aura thing give away that ‘he’ was a Heretic.

        On my reread after knowing about my reveal one of my favorite things is Petan watching the solider fight and reading about their fighting style. I didn’t catch it at all on my first read, but, going back after and it’s obviously an improved Flick’s style using a few new skills and some different weapons to approximate her staff.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “I’m going to be wondering about what happens with sweet heretic on heretic possession.”

        It seems like the guy who was being possessed died afterward, so it’s probably not a valid tactic to get a massive possession chain going such that every perdiddle killed will increase everyone’s healing in the chain. Although maybe it will. Maybe that’s how Jocelen got so powerful so quickly. Go with a group and slaughter a herd of “animals” (not really animals) and normally everyone would get 2-3 kills. Get a good possession chain that can utilize the combined magical powers of everyone in the chain who’s all passing on orders from on top, kill everyone and everyone gets every kill? That’d soon start yielding tremendous power.

        Like

    3. Responding to the top comment so you’ll get to the alert, but I’m quoting something you say later in the conversation thread.

      Also it could have been that I’ve simply forgotten if you mentioned it somewhere else in the story, but, up until this chapter I had sort of been assuming that all heretics had the skill absorb on kill ability. I’d have to go back and recheck, but, I thought that something along those lines was mentioned when Fomorian was monologuing during Thanksgiving. Wasn’t the absorption ability the killer feature of their human project? I guess I could just be confused because the big two non-edge heretics that I can remember (Prosser and Bosch) were both made from hangmen/reapers.

      Here’s how it works. All humans can take on the powers and traits of an Alter by mixing blood with them (or melding with them in other ways, like with the Heretical Edge’s light). That’s the ability we were engineered to have by the Fomorians. That and interbreeding.

      Nicholas has troll powers because he was buried with that troll and their blood mixed with his. Prosser obtained the Hangman’s powers when it bleed into one of his wounds. Humans become vampires when they drink or are otherwise imbued with Akharu blood. So any human can obtain Alter powers and become a Heretic as long as something happens that lets them combine their DNA or whatever with an Alter, which also removes the Bystander Effect and lets them use magic.

      The ability to absorb powers simply from killing an Alter without doing something to meld DNA with them is unique to Reaper/Hangman Heretics like Prosser and those made from the Heretical Edge, because that ability is the power that gets absorbed from mixing DNA with a Reaper.

      So Nicholas was able to absorb the powers of a troll by mixing his blood with one, but he can’t take powers from those he just kills because his powers come form a troll instead of a Reaper.

      Of course, the natural question that arises from that is: why doesn’t Nicholas just mix his blood with more Alters? I imagine most humans can only do it with one Alter before they need outside assistance to gain more powers.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on Twilit Dreams Circle and commented:
    If she changes the future, won’t that mean that the future her past self gets transferred to won’t exist? So doesn’t that mean she doesn’t exist in the future as is? Or will it create a branching timeline, which means that the past Flick goes to the new future, or… or…

    Ow, my head…

    Like

  12. While rereading…
    Petan briefly thought the strangely competent Seosten soldier was too close, but even as the explosion itself neared him, he was lifting a hand. Somehow, possibly an ability of of his race, he absorbed the shockwave and heat, then directed it under his feet to boost himself into the air.
    That should have clued me in a bit

    Like

    1. I read it and thought, “How fascinating, perhaps this person will be her tutor and teach her some new tricks.”

      I never thought that it might be her. 😉

      Like

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