Interlude 37B – Chayyiel

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“Miss Chayyiel? I mean, um, Seraph, are you okay?”

Chayyiel heard the man’s voice, but for a moment, the girl who had been ten years old for millennia gave no response. She stood there in the rounded, tube-like corridor of the spaceship with her head down, her pixie-cut black hair too short to fall into her eyes the way she wished it would. That might allow her to hide the pain in her expression.

Manakel was dead. He was gone forever, wiped away, never to live again. Dead. Forever.

The news had only just come through, right when they had been in the middle of a very important operation. In mid-battle, even. She’d taken the information, walked three more steps along the same way she had already been going on what amounted to autopilot, then stopped. Right there in the middle of that corridor, Chayyiel had stopped, lowered her head, and let the actual truth of the news wash over her.

Her escorts all looked at one another. There were six of them, each powerful Seosten in their own right, they exchanged glances briefly before the one who had spoken before did so again. “Ma’am, do you need to call this off? If–um, if you need time…”

There were many people, both in and out of the Seosten species, who would have questioned why Chayyiel felt even a moment of remorse and mourning for a being like Manakel. And she even understood that. The things he had been responsible for, the people he had hurt and killed, she knew exactly why the general instinct for most was to add spit, rather than flowers, to his grave. But the truth was that the grief that she felt then was less for the man he had died as, and more for the man he had been before. Or rather, the man that she had seen him as when she was a child, growing up in the corridors and decks of the Olympus.

Manakel back then had given the young Chayyiel, a child with far too much power thrust upon her at such a tender age, comfort. He had taught her to enjoy tea and gardening, and had allowed her to enter his quarters at any point to play with his Dymenian rastfels. He’d even taught her to care for her own pets whenever she insisted on having them, drawn from the various worlds they visited. He had read her stories from his books to help her sleep, and had tutored her in several subjects. He was one of her guardians, one of her tutors, one of her friends. That was the man she grieved for in those few seconds. Those were the memories that played through her mind.

A Seosten’s memory was perfect. Which made it harder for someone’s current atrocities to entirely eclipse the thoughts of what he had once been. It was too easy to focus on the good parts.

Finally lifting her head, Chayyiel pushed those thoughts away. That was the other thing about having a perfect memory. It was easy to stop the thought process you were having and get right back to it later without missing a beat. “No,” she said quietly while already starting to walk again, “this is too important. We’re not abandoning the mission now.”

Her escort fell into formation around her, allowing Chayyiel to lead the way through the ship corridor. The ship was called the Alisper’s Craet, and it was a fast, heavily armored vessel without much in the way of weaponry. What it did have, however, were special clamps that allowed it to hook onto other vessels or stations, cut through the hatches or even the walls there, and attach their own boarding tubes. The Craet was a boarding and raiding ship.

The corridors of this ship were so different than that of the Olympus. There, the halls had been more square than rounded, and larger. There had been a less utilitarian look to them as well, as the ship was intended to be lived in comfortably away from regular civilization for many years. The Olympus had been meant for long excursions far away from regular Seosten space. And over time, the walls of the ship had been decorated by the people serving aboard it. Here and there had been pictures drawn or taken, or paintings, or any other bit of art and personality. The ship had been lived in. It had been a home, and for awhile, the people on it had been a family.

A few more steps, and the sound of laser-fire reached the group. Chayyiel and her escort picked up their pace, jogging down the corridor before reaching one of those boarding tubes. It had been extended to their target, and a group had already taken up position on either side of the opening. Like the group with her, there were six of them. In their case, however, none were Seosten. About half were very obviously different, two being rather massive ogres (their ten-foot tall bodies would barely fit into the boarding tube if they hunched over) while the third was a tiny pixie. The remaining three were roughly humanoid and wore the standard issue black armor and helmets.

All six carried guns of various sizes, and were already using them to send a continuous hail of laserfire down the boarding tube even as Chayyiel and the others approached. They spared  glances to the new arrivals, but didn’t do anything stupid like waste time greeting them or saluting. Chayyiel had broken them of that habit as soon as possible.

Instead, they kept shooting, even as the Seosten with the girl spread out, each moving to one of the non-Seosten. One by one, in perfect coordination both amongst themselves and between each of the two groups, a non-Seosten would briefly stop firing, and then their Seosten partner would possess them, stepping into the body before resuming their attack.

Partner. That was the operative term, and it was the only way Chayyiel, as Seraph, allowed anyone under her command to work. If you were a Seosten, you were matched with a non-Seosten partner that would be drawn from a pool of volunteers. A team of both psychologists and combat trainers alike would match Seosten to the volunteer they saw as the most likely fit. The Seosten and their non-Seosten host would then both work and train together, learning how to function as partners. Once a week, both would be interviewed separately to ensure that the partnership was proceeding properly and that the Seosten was not abusing their host as was so common in most other parts of the Empire. The non-Seosten beings were treated as being just as important as the actual Seosten were, and were provided wages, rights, and benefits to suit that. Within the ships, stations, and planets that were under Chayyiel’s command as part of the Seraphim, abusive Seosten did not last very long. Chayyiel couldn’t keep track of everyone under her command. But she could keep track of those most loyal to her, and they in turn kept track of those under them, and so on down through the ranks.

And so the Seosten and Non-Seosten partners linked up there without any hesitation or awkwardness. Their shooting continued, while Chayyiel herself moved to the open docking tube, looking that way. Several bodies, random assortments of biological monstrosities that were the Fomorian footsoldiers (not actual Fomorians, but the creations they sent to do their dirty work) lay scattered along the tube, while a few more continued to try rushing forward. One ran on four legs and looked a bit like the animal known as a moose on Earth, save for its much sharper horns rather than the antlers of that creature, while the other two loped along like oversized apes with more reptilian features and scorpion-like tails. None seemed affected by the laser-fire.

They were, however, vulnerable to other things. And as Chayyiel looked at them, her power took over.

Left-most reptilian-primate very slightly limps on his right side. Right primate brash and easily manipulated through temper. Does not limp like the other. Both are invulnerable to most forms of energy, meant to combat Seosten lasers specifically. Blunt and blades similarly ineffective. Fire negated. Cold a possibility. Not particularly weak, but not specifically protected against it. Poisons, many ineffective, few esoteric possibilities. Eyes only one-quarter as resistant to lasers as the rest of the body–protection comes mainly from scales. Scales vulnerable to sufficient pressure at one specific angle. Tails segmented, protected similar to body but vulnerable at the joining point between sections.–

Taking in the moose-like creature at the same time, her power continued. —Quick runner, fast-acting paralytic toxin on horns. Vulnerable at knees. Blindspot directly to either side of the shoulders when within two feet and lower than shoulder-height. Hearts located exactly six inches below the throat, five inches beyond the right-front leg, and directly above the tailbone.–

Everything her power told her, Chayyiel took in within an instant. In the time it took most people to recognize that the person they were looking at had blonde hair, she had already catalogued each of those facts that her ability had reported.

It was a power that would have been dangerous enough, if it had been all that she received after accidentally being left in the other-universe that her father had opened a portal to through his experiments. But it wasn’t. Her physical attributes, her strength, speed, and more had all been enhanced far beyond what a Seosten her size and age should have been capable of. Similarly, her ability to boost herself was greatly increased.

And then there was the fact that, any time she spent in what amounted to the same room as any person, she automatically learned every physical and mental skill they possessed. Combat, academic, magical, whatever they knew, she would know. She knew their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and she gained every bit of combat skill, magic knowledge, and everything else that could give them an edge.

Just like now, when she looked at these three creatures and instinctively, immediately, knew their every weakness. She knew how they would fight because she knew how they had been trained/programmed to fight. Through knowing all of their skills and all of their weaknesses, Chayyiel knew everything that they could do, everything they would do. Knowing everyone’s skills, strengths, and weaknesses was a blueprint to understanding what they would do in any situation, against any stimuli.

After that brief instant of taking in exactly what these creatures were and what they were capable of, she launched herself into a sprint while crisply ordering, “Eyes!”

Her people reacted just as quickly. As well trained and disciplined as they were, they instantly knew that her single word meant to shoot at the eyes of the two creatures in front. Their lasers filled the air around her, Chayyiel trusting them to miss her. Which was one thing that her being so small actually helped. They could fire over her head and still miss her by a solid foot.

The two reptilian primates staggered a bit under the combined laserfire. They had to close their eyes to protect from being shot, which blinded and slowed them further. Instinctively, their scorpion-tails snapped up and around, probing the ground in front of them with a few violent stabs.

Exactly as Chayyiel had expected them to. In that instant, she hit her boost, her speed suddenly multiplying exponentially to turn her entire body into a barely visible blur. As those bladed tails rebounded from the floor, the girl moved right between them. Her hands snapped out, catching hold of the tails before she smoothly drove each up under one of the scales of the opposite creature. It was the exact spot and exact angle that her power had drawn her attention to.

Instinctively, as they felt the unknown pressure, each of the blinded primates heaved up and back with their tails. In doing so, they managed to free themselves. But in the process, they also snapped that single scale off of each other’s bodies, leaving a tiny patch of unprotected skin.

Without missing a step, she continued on past the two even while they were still yanking their tails back. The quadruped was right behind them, and coming in fast with its head lowered, those horns ready to paralyze and skewer her.

But Chayyiel was ready too. A quick, last-second step to her left and a drop to her knees put her in the creature’s blindspot. She slid that way, hand yanking what looked like an empty knife handle from her belt. She thumbed the button on it, making the eight inch laser blade hum to life.

Sliding past the animal’s blindspot there, Chayyiel used the laser-knife to cut through its front right knee. Just as quickly, as the creature stumbled on past her, she stabbed up through each of the hearts she had noted earlier, saving the one in the tailbone for last as she swung herself up onto its already stumbling body. Her weight back there drove the creature toward the ground back-end first. As it fell, a second laser-knife appeared in her other hand, and she threw each end over end to sever either side of the animal’s horns, cutting them from its head.

She sprang forward then, up over the collapsing creature’s head while her hands moved to catch its falling horns. By that point, the primate creatures had only just started to realize that she was behind them, and began to turn, still under a hail of laserfire.

They didn’t get far, however, before Chayyiel hurled the horns she had severed from their partner, straight into the tiny exposed spots of skin that their tails had exposed by snapping off that single scale on each. The horns flew perfectly, driving into that small spot before pumping their paralytic poison directly into their bloodstream.

It worked incredibly quickly, dropping each of the creatures to the ground in full paralysis a second later. Which left Chayyiel standing there surrounded by the bodies of all three Fomorian creatures. One of them dead, the other two paralyzed.

“Finish them off,” she ordered her people, already pivoting to head onward through the boarding tube and into the Fomorian vessel. “The Beta will be close.”

Beta. In the Fomorian ranks, there were generally six types of creature (with some exceptions): alphas, betas, gammas, deltas, epsilons, and zetas. Only the first three were actual Fomorians. Zetas were mindless, easily killed creatures that functioned only as massive packs. Epsilons were stronger and capable of acting alone, similar to the creatures that she had just killed. Deltas were very strong and independent, as well as being intelligent enough to create their own plans. Basically, the Fomorians’ best creations, but not really actual Fomorians.

Gamma Fomorians were young, unproven. Betas had been around long enough to make a name for themselves and made up the bulk of the actual Fomorian population. And Alphas were their leadership, rare even for Fomorians, who already had an actual population much lower than the Seosten with their own shortage.

Sure enough, right on the other end of the tube stood a tall, gray-skinned Fomorian. Its angular face, too-large eyes, and bulbous head was instantly recognizable, though individuals tended to differ widely as far as their bodies went through their own genetic enhancements.

Her power kicked in the instant she saw him. —Immune to heat up to roughly half the temperature of the core of a yellow sun. Immune to cold. Absorbs most types of radiation and energy. Absorbs most magic. Armored against blunt force. Poisons are useless. Can see through every conceivable spectrum including magic. Eyes are only one of several ways he can see. All critical organs packed into an armored shell in the center of the body, impregnable to most attacks even if they do get through the outer body.

This was a strong Beta, probably close to being promoted to one of the Alphas. And from the look in those eyes, he knew that dealing with Chayyiel would be just the boost he needed for that promotion. He started forward, each of his six arms coming up to produce a variety of bladed weapons meant for cutting her open.

She kept walking, not breaking stride as she moved straight for the Fomorian. She saw his toothy smile as the creature watched her approach. His blades went up, one of his hands opening to reveal a paralytic powder that he filled the air with. One single molecule of that powder entering her system would leave Chayyiel as helpless and frozen as the creatures she had just left.

She kept walking. Her thumb brushed over a spell inscribed into one of her gloves, and a light forcefield popped up around the girl. It wasn’t enough to hold back much, but it did force the paralyzing dust away from her, clearing the air.

The Fomorian reached for her, each of those six hands trying to grab onto the girl. But Chayyiel was too quick, too small, too aware of his every move. She barely seemed to react, ducking once, sidestepping a few inches, and turning her body. Yet all six of his grasping limbs utterly missed, putting Chayyiel directly in front of him with his arms extended past her.

He started to pull back, grinning even wider as his limbs moved to envelop the girl. But again, Chayyiel was too quick. In one, single motion, her hand snapped up, balled into a fist. She struck the Fomorian precisely seven inches below his throat and four inches to the right at the exact angle and with the exact force her power had already informed her of.

That single blow made him freeze. His arms went limp, falling to his sides, and the Fomorian made a sound like a gasping fish, trying in vain to suck in air.

His legs gave out a second later, and he collapsed to the ground, twitching and spasming as his brain went through the horrific stroke that had been brought on by that single, incredibly precise blow. A quarter inch in any direction, a fist angled even slightly differently, a blow with any more or less force, and nothing would have happened. But the blow wasn’t any different. It was exactly what her power told her to make it. And a handful of seconds later, his body was still and silent. He was dead.

Her escort arrived momentarily, and Chayyiel ordered them to follow the path that had already been planned out. The rest of the Seosten attack force was keeping other parts of the Fomorian ship busy, and her people had their own job to do. Again, her people asked if she was okay, if she needed to pull back. But again, Chayyiel refused. Destroying the brain of the Fomorian Dierev (essentially a three-hundred-plus foot tall monstrosity capable of untold devastation) before it could be delivered to the rest of the assembled body was too important to withdraw now.

Her power was too useful to sit on the sidelines. It had always been that way. For the past three thousand years, Chayyiel had been too important to sit things out. Ever since she had been lost on the other side of that portal. The portal into a strange other-universe full of indecipherable energy storms which, upon proximity with a living being, fundamentally altered that being, granting them incredible powers and halting their aging completely.

That had been her father’s project, all those years ago: to use the vast amount of resources it took to open portals into this world of power-bestowing energy storms, and expose his test subjects to them. How much power each subject received was impossible to predict, since it had to do with how much direct exposure to the energy storms they had, and the location and strength of those were impossible to predict.

When he had secretly been working on his own daughter, however, Chayyiel’s father had been interrupted. She had fallen in and been cut off for much longer than the others. Longer than she should have been able to survive.

And she’d still be there, or her body would, had two lab technicians not noticed what was happening while her father was detained, and set out to rescue Chayyiel themselves. The two had ended up exposed to the energy storms as well, for as long as it took to open the portal once more and pull the girl out. Unfortunately, doing so the way that they did, without as much time and care spent before opening the portal (as they refused to wait longer to pull her out) resulted in the energy storm somehow shorting out the hole in space that was their only access point to that universe.

The project had been over, simply because there was no way to access that universe. Not until another similar ‘hole’ in the fabric of their reality was found. And in the past several thousand years, Chayyiel had yet to hear of one. It may have been the only one of its kind, ever.

In any case, the three of them had never been intended to be enhanced the way the ‘real’ test subjects were, those who had been specifically chosen by their Choirs and had resources devoted to the program so that they could be upgraded. But it had happened, and the Empire couldn’t afford to throw any resources away, particularly super-soldiers. So, despite all of their young ages (she was still a child, but they weren’t that much older either as far as Seosten went) Chayyiel and her saviors, Sariel and Lucifer, were added to the roster of the newly formed Olympus.

The Olympus. The family. They had been a family once. Or at least, Chayyiel had seen them that way. Yes, there were problems, disputes, grudges, even all-out fights. But Chayyiel had been a child growing up on that ship. She had been taught by them, raised by them. Manakel had his problems, but he had cared for her. He had helped her, comforted her.

So yes, she mourned for him. Even as she understood the man he had become, and that he had very much dug his own grave, she was still saddened by his death. It still left a hole in her that would not be filled.

“Seraph?”

After they had completed their mission, one of her men stood near her on board their own ship once more. The Fomorian vessel had been blown apart, its deadly cargo going with it. Her man watched her, concern written across his face. “Seraph, I’m sure the leadership would agree to a sabbatical, if you wish to make a brief trip to Earth to avenge Manakel’s death.”

“Avenge?” Echoing that word, Chayyiel glanced toward the man, giving a slight shake of her head. “Kalifiel, there’s something you need to understand. Sometimes we aren’t the good guys. And when people kill us, it’s not always because they’re monsters. It’s also because we are. Because we hurt them. Because we drove them to it.

“So no, I don’t want to kill the people who killed Manakel. His death makes me sad, not angry. I know why it happened. I know that he deserved it. I didn’t want it to happen. I would have stopped it if I could. But avenge? No. What I want is to end the situation that made that necessary. I want to fix the problem, not make it worse.”

“End the situation?” Kalifiel stared at her uncomprehendingly. “I know you’ve changed a lot under your command, that we’re… um, that we’re different from most of the Empire. And that’s really impressive. But fixing the entire problem? Is that even possible?”

For a moment, Chayyiel said nothing. She thought of what Jophiel and her lover were doing with the same girl who was apparently responsible for Manakel’s death. She thought of Sariel, and the way the woman had been pushed into the arms of the human that she had subsequently fallen in love with. She thought of every little nudge she had given to get things to this point. She thought of the way she had directed that shard of the broken banishment orb into Dries Akens’ prison in order to draw the Heretics there so that they would free him. She thought of all the small actions with much larger results. Some that had already happened, others that were yet to come.

“Oh, it’s possible,” she murmured softly then, barely loud enough for Kalifiel to hear the words. “It may take a lot of work, a lot of time, and… well, more than a few setbacks.

“But then, being patient is just another skill. And for now, I have something else to do.”

******

“Hah, I knew they’d someone someone to pick me up.”

The human boy, Isaac, grinned as he watched Chayyiel calmly approach him. The unconscious bodies of the two men who had been his guards lay limp on the ground behind her.

“Ohh, it’s a perfectly secure prison in a base built and hidden by the mighty Athena, you’re never getting out of here.” Isaac’s words were mocking as he shook his head. “It’s like they’ve never read a comic book before. So you gonna hop out of the midget and find a more useful body for us to get out of here, or what?”

“Manakel chose to recruit you,” she informed him flatly, stopping just in front of the boy after deactivating the forcefield that contained him. “He decided that you had some use.”

“Oh yeah, and I’m even more useful now,” the boy replied with a grin, tapping the side of his head. “You wouldn’t believe the shit I’ve heard while sitting around in here. Plus I’ve got all those yummy powers.”

Chayyiel’s head shook once. “Manakel is dead.”

“Oh shit, really?” Isaac whistled then. “Right, no fucking wonder you finally came to get me. You’re shit out of options. So let’s go.”

“No.” Chayyiel’s denial was simple. “I didn’t come here to take you out of this prison.”

“What?” Annoyed now, Isaac spread his arms. “Then why the fuck are you here?”

“Because,” she replied easily, her eyes rising to meet his. “I have read comic books.”

There was a blur of motion then, accompanied by a hum of energy, And as it faded, Isaac stood there in complete disbelief, staring at the blood that had already drenched his open hands. Blood from the deep cut in his throat. His mouth opened and shut a couple times, as a weak, wheezing noise escaped him.

“And quite frankly,” Chayyiel continued while holding the laser-knife in one hand, “I’m sick and tired of villains who keep coming back.”

She turned away then, walking to the exit while the boy’s body collapsed behind her. As she moved, Chayyiel casually tossed a single, small silver object roughly the size of a pen behind herself. An instant later, it exploded and Isaac was utterly incinerated, his body reduced to little more than a dark smear on the ground.

Just in case.

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21 comments

  1. Hey guys! Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed seeing this chapter and getting a look at the littlest Olympian, as well as a bit more information about how that whole project went down. Come back Wednesday for the first chapter of the new arc to see the aftermath of Manakel’s death!

    Tags for this chapter are: Chayyiel, Isaac Acosta, Kalifiel, So That’s What Happened To All The Psychologists In The Seosten Empire. Chayyiel Is Hoarding Them., Sorry Chayyiel‚ I’m Still Glad That POS Is Dead. And Hey‚ You Added Another POS To That List!

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  2. >>”Miss Chayyiel? I mean, um, Seraph, are you okay?”

    >>Chayyiel heard the man’s voice, but for a moment, the girl who had been ten years old for millennia gave no response. She stood there in the rounded, tube-like corridor of the spaceship with her head down, her pixie-cut black hair too short to fall into her eyes the way she wished it would. That might allow her to hide the pain in her expression.

    You know, given that Chayyiel actually had to train them out of wasting time later on, the fact that the speaker had to correct himself from Miss Chayyiel to Seraph is impressive. She works with these guys a lot. And yeah, this is where she would want to hide that she’s… well not the paragon of power and wisdom that her reputation sets her out to be.

    >>Manakel was dead. He was gone forever, wiped away, never to live again. Dead. Forever.

    >>The news had only just come through, right when they had been in the middle of a very important operation. In mid-battle, even. She’d taken the information, walked three more steps along the same way she had already been going on what amounted to autopilot, then stopped. Right there in the middle of that corridor, Chayyiel had stopped, lowered her head, and let the actual truth of the news wash over her. [

    That it took three seconds for the news to finally really hit, the Olympians are really used to each other being pains to each other, but somehow not dying aren’t they? Manakel being dead just didn’t hit for three seconds. Just that has to hurt. This is Chayyiel, who doesn’t pause for nearly anything it seems. And she stopped for this.

    >>There were many people, both in and out of the Seosten species, who would have questioned why Chayyiel felt even a moment of remorse and mourning for a being like Manakel. And she even understood that. The things he had been responsible for, the people he had hurt and killed, she knew exactly why the general instinct for most was to add spit, rather than flowers, to his grave. But the truth was that the grief that she felt then was less for the man he had died as, and more for the man he had been before. Or rather, the man that she had seen him as when she was a child, growing up in the corridors and decks of the Olympus.

    >>Manakel back then had given the young Chayyiel, a child with far too much power thrust upon her at such a tender age, comfort. He had taught her to enjoy tea and gardening, and had allowed her to enter his quarters at any point to play with his Dymenian rastfels. He’d even taught her to care for her own pets whenever she insisted on having them, drawn from the various worlds they visited. He had read her stories from his books to help her sleep, and had tutored her in several subjects. He was one of her guardians, one of her tutors, one of her friends. That was the man she grieved for in those few seconds. Those were the memories that played through her mind.

    >>A Seosten’s memory was perfect. Which made it harder for someone’s current atrocities to entirely eclipse the thoughts of what he had once been. It was too easy to focus on the good parts.

    I adore this section. Just from how it humanizes Manakel in a way that we can understand why Manakel’s death hurts despite all that he had done. Tie this into the conversation he and Sariel had before she murdered him, and you can see how he had fit into the team. Tea and gardening, it fits what we saw of him. He was not a man that enjoyed swearing, given his reactions to it. The information fits, it’s not a sudden change really.

    And we know that Manakel was old even when the Olympus was young. Approaching ten thousand years means he was over six thousand when Chayyiel was nine. Of course he’d have been acting an an anchor for a young Chayyiel.

    You can see Manakel as this type of man. You can see why Chayyiel mourns who he once was.

    If we had followed the Olympus from the start of it’s events to current canon, this would have been a tragedy as whatever happened to turn Manakel so bitter and cruel was likely slowly and aching to watch.

    >>Her escorts all looked at one another. There were six of them, each powerful Seosten in their own right, they exchanged glances briefly before the one who had spoken before did so again. “Ma’am, do you need to call this off? If–um, if you need time…”

    >>Finally lifting her head, Chayyiel pushed those thoughts away. That was the other thing about having a perfect memory. It was easy to stop the thought process you were having and get right back to it later without missing a beat. “No,” she said quietly while already starting to walk again, “this is too important. We’re not abandoning the mission now.”

    This makes sense, but the tone of it given later information worries me. Chayyiel needed to take down the target. At the same time though – she’s been ever marching for a long time now. And Seosten inevitably do break without rest. It’s merely a question of when and how badly.

    >>Her escort fell into formation around her, allowing Chayyiel to lead the way through the ship corridor. The ship was called the Alisper’s Craet, and it was a fast, heavily armored vessel without much in the way of weaponry. What it did have, however, were special clamps that allowed it to hook onto other vessels or stations, cut through the hatches or even the walls there, and attach their own boarding tubes. The Craet was a boarding and raiding ship.

    >>The corridors of this ship were so different than that of the Olympus. There, the halls had been more square than rounded, and larger. There had been a less utilitarian look to them as well, as the ship was intended to be lived in comfortably away from regular civilization for many years. The Olympus had been meant for long excursions far away from regular Seosten space. And over time, the walls of the ship had been decorated by the people serving aboard it. Here and there had been pictures drawn or taken, or paintings, or any other bit of art and personality. The ship had been lived in. It had been a home, and for awhile, the people on it had been a family.

    The first paragraph is interesting world building, especially given what it tells of space combat. That it is possible to make it to enemy vessels, (albeit difficult with the focus on speed and armor) and that stations are just as valid targets as ships. And that there are times where the proper response is either to get in heavy hitting units to really scrap the insides of a ship, or you want to capture something, or steal something off the ship.

    The second goes back to the tone. Chayyiel is slipping back to thinking about the Olympus when she should really be thinking about the battle ahead. The idea that comes most to my mind is a soldier wanting to go home, but Chayyiel’s home no loner exists. And the family long shattered and torn to pieces.

    >>Partner. That was the operative term, and it was the only way Chayyiel, as Seraph, allowed anyone under her command to work. If you were a Seosten, you were matched with a non-Seosten partner that would be drawn from a pool of volunteers. A team of both psychologists and combat trainers alike would match Seosten to the volunteer they saw as the most likely fit. The Seosten and their non-Seosten host would then both work and train together, learning how to function as partners. Once a week, both would be interviewed separately to ensure that the partnership was proceeding properly and that the Seosten was not abusing their host as was so common in most other parts of the Empire. The non-Seosten beings were treated as being just as important as the actual Seosten were, and were provided wages, rights, and benefits to suit that. Within the ships, stations, and planets that were under Chayyiel’s command as part of the Seraphim, abusive Seosten did not last very long. Chayyiel couldn’t keep track of everyone under her command. But she could keep track of those most loyal to her, and they in turn kept track of those under them, and so on down through the ranks.

    Chayyiel is playing with fire. This is definitely an effective option, probably the most effective given everything. But damn, if things go wrong things will go very wrong.

    If something happens to her, that civil war will tear the Empire apart.

    Oh and allow me to express my utter surprise that the Seosten have psychologists. That actually surprised me more than the partner system here.

    >>They were, however, vulnerable to other things. And as Chayyiel looked at them, her power took over.

    The power took over, not that Chayyiel unleashed it. Her power seems to be always active. That must have been very awkward very quickly on the Olympus. And probably overwhelming for the nine year old. It probably makes things difficult even now, given how most probably know how her powers work.

    >>It was a power that would have been dangerous enough, if it had been all that she received after accidentally being left in the other-universe that her father had opened a portal to through his experiments. But it wasn’t. Her physical attributes, her strength, speed, and more had all been enhanced far beyond what a Seosten her size and age should have been capable of. Similarly, her ability to boost herself was greatly increased.

    Accidentally left in the other-universe. I’m not sure if that makes things better or worse. Because accident doesn’t quite cover being left behind in an other universe. Accidentally left at the gym sure. Left in a different universe… not so much.

    >>And then there was the fact that, any time she spent in what amounted to the same room as any person, she automatically learned every physical and mental skill they possessed. Combat, academic, magical, whatever they knew, she would know. She knew their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and she gained every bit of combat skill, magic knowledge, and everything else that could give them an edge.

    >>Just like now, when she looked at these three creatures and instinctively, immediately, knew their every weakness. She knew how they would fight because she knew how they had been trained/programmed to fight. Through knowing all of their skills and all of their weaknesses, Chayyiel knew everything that they could do, everything they would do. Knowing everyone’s skills, strengths, and weaknesses was a blueprint to understanding what they would do in any situation, against any stimuli.

    Yeah, I’m wincing here because as completely hax this is… this kinda shows that Chayyiel has become accustomed to being able to read everyone so much better than they can read her. And looking at this, that ability is not absolute, even when you’re not talking about an Arthur class combatant. Someone probably could get information past her, if say they or someone else wiped it from their memory, going by the exact wording of the first paragraph. If she knows what they know, if they don’t know… she doesn’t know.

    Any situation, any stimuli. Meanwhile on Earth Denevus and Ammon feel like someone forgot about them. Can those two take Chayyiel… hell no. But altered states of consciousness like mind control can probably give Chayyiel wrong readings because it’s not that person’s strengths/skills/weaknesses actually in control of the cockpit.

    Chayyiel can be surprised, and I think she’s forgotten that.

    >>Exactly as Chayyiel had expected them to. In that instant, she hit her boost, her speed suddenly multiplying exponentially to turn her entire body into a barely visible blur. As those bladed tails rebounded from the floor, the girl moved right between them. Her hands snapped out, catching hold of the tails before she smoothly drove each up under one of the scales of the opposite creature. It was the exact spot and exact angle that her power had drawn her attention to.

    That said everything about her fighting proves that she has a point in expecting to know what you will do before you ever do it.

    >>Her power was too useful to sit on the sidelines. It had always been that way. For the past three thousand years, Chayyiel had been too important to sit things out. Ever since she had been lost on the other side of that portal. The portal into a strange other-universe full of indecipherable energy storms which, upon proximity with a living being, fundamentally altered that being, granting them incredible powers and halting their aging completely.

    This is kinda where I decided that Chayyiel is going to get tired one day, and someone she didn’t expect to is going to stab her in the back. Hopefully without killing her, but she’s working herself to the bone. I don’t think that her soldiers were just asking out of respect, I think they might have been seeing the warning signs of exhaustion. She’s been doing this since she was nine. The Seraphim needs to take a break. But that is impossible isn’t it?

    >>That had been her father’s project, all those years ago: to use the vast amount of resources it took to open portals into this world of power-bestowing energy storms, and expose his test subjects to them. How much power each subject received was impossible to predict, since it had to do with how much direct exposure to the energy storms they had, and the location and strength of those were impossible to predict.

    >>When he had secretly been working on his own daughter, however, Chayyiel’s father had been interrupted. She had fallen in and been cut off for much longer than the others. Longer than she should have been able to survive.

    That said Chayyiel had always been surprisingly tough. To pull from the discord:

    >>And we’ll get into more details in the actual story, but essentially the main guy behind the project, Chayyiel’s father, found a way to tap into powerful cosmic forces that fundamentally and semi-randomly alter the being subjected to them. I say semi-randomly because they halt aging and do a bunch of other enhancing, while also providing the varied special powers that we’ve seen. Each subject had to be prepared to be exposed to these cosmic forces through various surgeries so that they would survive the painful process. And…. to put it simply…

    So yeah, longer than she should have survived may have been an understatement.

    >>And she’d still be there, or her body would, had two lab technicians not noticed what was happening while her father was detained, and set out to rescue Chayyiel themselves. The two had ended up exposed to the energy storms as well, for as long as it took to open the portal once more and pull the girl out. Unfortunately, doing so the way that they did, without as much time and care spent before opening the portal (as they refused to wait longer to pull her out) resulted in the energy storm somehow shorting out the hole in space that was their only access point to that universe.

    Admittedly there were a lot of surprisingly resilient people that day. I honestly don’t think Apollo and Sariel expected to survive that, given that Lab techs would not have the surgeries to survive the process.

    >>Think of these cosmic forces as a sort of… rolling storm of power accessed through a portal, just to keep it simple. Picture a tumultuous red cloud with balls of lightning randomly moving through the red cloud in this vast plane of existence Anyone exposed to this stuff is enhanced. But, the more direct and close exposure they have to the concentrated bits of power, the not-lightning balls, the more powerful they tend to be. But there’s no way of directly influencing or predicting when there will be more of those not-lightning balls in the area where they’re being exposed to it.

    >>And it took tremendous resources to open up those portals to that space. Thus, people who were afforded more resources because they were important TENDED to end up with the stronger powers. But not always, because SOMETIMES even just opening it up for a brief time ended with very strong powers because there just happened to be a lot of the not-lightning balls right there. And sometimes someone exposed for a long time ended up with not as good powers anyway, because there just wasn’t that many of the concentrated power storms at the time.

    With how more exposure means more power I expect all three were in critical condition for at least a little while. Sariel and Apollo ended up as Olympians, while Chayyiel is in a league of her own. And I just want to comment that you can see why they were put into the infiltrator work force after this as apparently those two are good at sabotage. Since there is no way that two lab techs had actual authority to open the portal, so something was jury rigged. (And no way was Raduriel letting them anywhere near his after that.)

    >>The project had been over, simply because there was no way to access that universe. Not until another similar ‘hole’ in the fabric of their reality was found. And in the past several thousand years, Chayyiel had yet to hear of one. It may have been the only one of its kind, ever.

    >>In any case, the three of them had never been intended to be enhanced the way the ‘real’ test subjects were, those who had been specifically chosen by their Choirs and had resources devoted to the program so that they could be upgraded. But it had happened, and the Empire couldn’t afford to throw any resources away, particularly super-soldiers. So, despite all of their young ages (she was still a child, but they weren’t that much older either as far as Seosten went) Chayyiel and her saviors, Sariel and Lucifer, were added to the roster of the newly formed Olympus.

    Well, if Sariel and Apollo weren’t friends before they probably were after. Because it probably took a little while for Chayyiel being Chayyiel to be discovered. And as cynical as it may be – usually one kid is not worth blowing up the super soldier matrix. The Seosten were getting potent soldiers from that, ones that lasted for thousands of years. As Lab Techs- I’m kinda expecting they were black listed. My mental picture of those two is that for awhile they found places out of sight to eat on the Olympus, away from the mess hall. They were in the dog house. And likely highly aware that the only reason that they weren’t being thrown into the brig for possibly the rest of their lives was that they were suddenly valuable combatants. Especially given that they probably took a bit of time to really grow into their powers as well.

    Must have been funny when one of the actual test subjects looked around many years later on Earth and realized that the two trouble makers and the little kid were part of the Olympian line up of the Olympus. Chayyiel is Chayyiel and thus hax. The other two… I fully expect that to have been built on a few dozen, “we are that desperate” moments. Because there is no way that anyone ever forgot who ended the project.

    >>The Olympus. The family. They had been a family once. Or at least, Chayyiel had seen them that way. Yes, there were problems, disputes, grudges, even all-out fights. But Chayyiel had been a child growing up on that ship. She had been taught by them, raised by them. Manakel had his problems, but he had cared for her. He had helped her, comforted her.

    >>So yes, she mourned for him. Even as she understood the man he had become, and that he had very much dug his own grave, she was still saddened by his death. It still left a hole in her that would not be filled.

    Yeah that’s family alright. They can be horribly wrong, but you still want the best for them.

    >>“Seraph?”

    >>After they had completed their mission, one of her men stood near her on board their own ship once more. The Fomorian vessel had been blown apart, its deadly cargo going with it. Her man watched her, concern written across his face. “Seraph, I’m sure the leadership would agree to a sabbatical, if you wish to make a brief trip to Earth to avenge Manakel’s death.”

    >>“Avenge?” Echoing that word, Chayyiel glanced toward the man, giving a slight shake of her head. “Kalifiel, there’s something you need to understand. Sometimes we aren’t the good guys. And when people kill us, it’s not always because they’re monsters. It’s also because we are. Because we hurt them. Because we drove them to it.

    This is also just a great humanizing scene. Chayyiel is seen as safe enough for Kalifiel to raise his idea that she could ask for a sabbatical for vengeance. And Chayyiel really called it, that is exactly what happened with both sides of the effort to kill Manakel.

    This is basically a Reformist heretic being told by a not as reformist, that their hardliner Uncle got killed in a fight with an Alter. Just exchange heretic with Seosten.

    >>“End the situation?” Kalifiel stared at her uncomprehendingly. “I know you’ve changed a lot under your command, that we’re… um, that we’re different from most of the Empire. And that’s really impressive. But fixing the entire problem? Is that even possible?”

    >>For a moment, Chayyiel said nothing. She thought of what Jophiel and her lover were doing with the same girl who was apparently responsible for Manakel’s death. She thought of Sariel, and the way the woman had been pushed into the arms of the human that she had subsequently fallen in love with. She thought of every little nudge she had given to get things to this point. She thought of the way she had directed that shard of the broken banishment orb into Dries Akens’ prison in order to draw the Heretics there so that they would free him. She thought of all the small actions with much larger results. Some that had already happened, others that were yet to come.

    >>“Oh, it’s possible,” she murmured softly then, barely loud enough for Kalifiel to hear the words. “It may take a lot of work, a lot of time, and… well, more than a few setbacks.

    >>“But then, being patient is just another skill. And for now, I have something else to do.”

    And this is one of the most quietly hopeful sections so far to my eye.

    The question is directly asked, can we fix this.

    And Chayyiel actually thinks, she thinks to one of her still loyal colleagues trying to foster an example of human/Seosten partnership with her human lover. She thinks to the suicide prevention that Sariel had recieved. And then she thinks to what she did with Dries.

    Change has been occuring. And not just by her. Example one was, basically work towards partnerhsip. Second – basically recovery. Third, righting wrongs/helping defend the Earth from Seosten interference. It’s also sectioned off between things others had done and what she herself had done…

    I think. It’s a bit up in the air as to how she knew about Sariel being caused by outside intervention. Which I think this is the first time that was actually mentioned/hinted at in the text. So either Chayyiel knew what Apollo was doing (possibly helping given that the assignemtn of possessing a little kid is looking suspicous) or found out somehow. The other option is that Chayyiel was actively involved given that she is apparently really good at figuring pepole out.

    But yeah just, a beautiful section in that work has been done, progress has been made. Sometimes in bitter, painful ways but done.

    >>“Because,” she replied easily, her eyes rising to meet his. “I have read comic books.”

    >>There was a blur of motion then, accompanied by a hum of energy, And as it faded, Isaac stood there in complete disbelief, staring at the blood that had already drenched his open hands. Blood from the deep cut in his throat. His mouth opened and shut a couple times, as a weak, wheezing noise escaped him.

    >>“And quite frankly,” Chayyiel continued while holding the laser-knife in one hand, “I’m sick and tired of villains who keep coming back.”

    And this section with Issac was just gold.

    One for the charecterization with Chayyiel, you can definetly see the behavior/personality that would lead to her promising to kill Puriel.

    Two is for Issac, who was still an ass but one where the audience can see his lack of knowledge. Not knowing who Chayyiel is for example.

    Three, just the above section. how Chayyiel drives home that he is ignorant with the reminder that yeah, she was friends with Apollo. Of course she reads comic books. She knows what Issac is talking about, and he did not know that. Then she kills him, which is number four.

    Just a wonderful interlude Cerulean.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Crossposting from WordPress:

    Well, Chayyiel seems to be basically as progressive when it comes to possession as the most optimistic of us were hoping. This is very good. Obviously Jophiel’s “example” won’t be needed to convince Chayyiel of anything.

    I’m guessing this Beta was considerably stronger than the Hiding Man, from the way he was described.

    Hah, so Sariel and Apollo were lab techs as somebody suggested. Cool.

    It’s a good thing Chayyiel doesn’t want to avenge Manakel’s death, because I really can’t see her failing if she tried.

    Also, I notice she’s got Kalifiel calling the planet “Earth,” not “Rysthael.” Cool.

    It seems that Chayyiel is essentially the Big Good of the setting. (Grandfather would have the title, but he doesn’t seem to do very much.) This is much better than I’d hoped. It seems that essentially, if there’s something seriously bad happening in the universe, the only reason Chayyiel hasn’t stopped it is because she’s too busy. Awesome.

    It’s kind of impressive that she’s (probably) busy fighting Fomorians most of the time, and the Seosten are still losing. Ouch. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a setting where the Big(gest) Good is really OP but just too busy to save the day all the time. And I’m glad she’s taken the time to change things on an organizational level, since I think that overall that probably does more good then combat. It has to be really tempting just to fight all the time with her power, but she’s done a lot more than that. (Okay, she’s possibly not quite as morally upright as I’m saying, given that she’s still working with the Seosten Empire, but she’s pretty good anyway.)

    I literally lolled when Isaac appeared on screen. Wow.

    you gonna hop out of the midget and find a more useful body for us to get out of here, or what?”

    It’s everything I hoped it would be!

    As cathartic as it was to watch Chayyiel obliterate Isaac, I’m a bit worried by what it implies. Either 1) there was a legitimate threat that Isaac would in fact escape despite being locked up by Athena, or 2) Chayyiel’s read too many comics and is wasting time because of it. Either one of these is a bad thing.
    (I’m assuming that however Chayyiel got into Athena’s base isn’t really replicable by other Seosten.)

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    1. As cathartic as it was to watch Chayyiel obliterate Isaac, I’m a bit worried by what it implies. Either 1) there was a legitimate threat that Isaac would in fact escape despite being locked up by Athena, or 2) Chayyiel’s read too many comics and is wasting time because of it. Either one of these is a bad thing.

      I get the sense that she just really wanted to kill him personally more than anything else. Like, Athena probably would have interrogated him until she was sure he couldn’t give her much more information (because with Manakel dead most of his intel isn’t worth much) and then killed him, but Chayyiel just wanted to do it before he could.

      That’s my read on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As I’ve said elsewhere, I wasn’t exactly a fan of this chapter the first time I read it. After a lot of thought and conversation yesterday and a more careful reread today, I find that I enjoyed it (and Chayyiel) substantially more. I’m still not her biggest fan, but I do like her.

    Also I have questions.

    – What kind of animal is a Dymenian rastfel?

    – I have to ask, why did the Seosten and their host partners arrive separately? Did the two groups have different objectives before they linked up?

    – Also, how widespread is the volunteer partnership system under Chayyiels’ authority? is it limited to her personal ship and/or fleet or more widespread among those under her authority? Has she managed to get her entire Choir to follow suit?
    — Oh, I just saw the “within the ships, stations, and planets under Chayyiel’s command” line. That answers that question.

    Like

  5. >He’d even taught her to care for her own pets whenever she insisted on having them, drawn from the various worlds they visited. He had read her stories from his books to help her sleep, and had tutored her in several subjects. He was one of her guardians, one of her tutors, one of her friends. That was the man she grieved for in those few seconds. Those were the memories that played through her mind.

    A genuine shame that Manakel died long ago and was replaced by an utter bastard, isn’t it? One has to wonder if the Manakel of millenia past would be glad his current self was Ended (and find it fitting/right one of his fellow Olympians was the one to perform the deed)

    .>Her power kicked in the instant she saw him. —Immune to heat up to roughly half the temperature of the core of a yellow sun.

    Sooo, this Beta Fomorian is seemingly immune to temperatures in excess of 7 million Kelvin, in addition to everything else. This seems a tad excessive for personal scale combat, though given the weapons and powers thrown around in high tier combat in this setting, maybe not actually?

    >That single blow made him freeze. His arms went limp, falling to his sides, and the Fomorian made a sound like a gasping fish, trying in vain to suck in air.

    Of course, against Chayyiel nothing works anyway, soooo. *shrugs*

    >“Oh yeah, and I’m even more useful now,” the boy replied with a grin,

    So sure of this, are you Isaac? Chayyiel isn’t Manakel, and doesn’t share his goals/desires on many things.

    >His mouth opened and shut a couple times, as a weak, wheezing noise escaped him.
    “And quite frankly,” Chayyiel continued while holding the laser-knife in one hand, “I’m sick and tired of villains who keep coming back.”

    See? She came to kill you, Isaac. You lived and died as a mad dog. A cathartic section to read.

    Good Interlude Cerulean.

    Like

  6. Soooooo, this a warframe crossover now? The mentions of a strange dimension with weird energy storms altering whatever living being encountered then certainly sounds like the void.

    Like

  7. Okay, Chayiel killing Isaac is awesome . . . but did she do anything to let Athena, et al know that she did so, or will they think he just mysteriously vanished? An explosion that leaves nothing but an ash stain on the floor also doesn’t leave much evidence of what actually happened.

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      1. The next question is… does Chayiel ever let herself have a spa break? Because I think she’s earned herself a fully inclusive, luxury ryokan break with all the thermal bath and hot stone trimmings. For, like, thirty years.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. O/ I’ve finally caught up, nice to know we’re clearing up some story threads so that I can make remembering this… You know, NOT impossible :p

    Like

    1. Nah, Musou Tensai is the plot power win button. If she had Musou Tensai she could mop the floor with Cronus solo because Musou Tensai just plain makes you win.

      That was one of the generic karmic death punches.

      She definitaly uses Hokuto Shin Ken, though.

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