“Have fun in Hell, heretic!” The witch cackled. The crackling of energy around their ship converged, the armored segments of the hull seeming to ripple as space was torn apart. The chasm in the Cosmos howled as Rykon was dragged inside. The air was pulled from his lungs and the cerulean realm beyond faded darker, ever darker.
Day 16 - Dawn
Awaking with a jolt, Rykon was drenched in his own cold sweat. The shelter of the park was cold comfort compared to his nightly recollection. This hellish place, however serene it may look, was his prison. Locked away from the saffron clouds of his home galaxy, Rykon was now trapped in this despicable place, this awful world full of zealots and priests. Temples to the same god speckled the maps of the cities he wandered as if they were splatters of blood. The hideous pale green skies were covered by the shadow of night, yet its presence tainted the color of the cerulean stars above. The morning would come soon. The priests would soon come wandering the roads ringing their extravagant bells and chanting in their shrill voices. It was time to leave, and Rykon was still not ready.
Limping along the roads, Rykon looked towards any shops that may have electronics worth harvesting. He needed to repair the damage to his left arm and recharge the components in his left leg. The enhancements had saved him many times in battle, but healing and regaining energy were always such a hassle. Groaning, he found his way into a shop.
“Well hello there, friend!” the shopkeep blurted out by the second step Rykon had taken after entering. “How can we help you on this wondrous day today?” His voice was so… piercing, so aggravating. He spoke as if he were ignorant of all the troubles in the universe. Rykon adjusted his feathered cloak and cleared his throat, trying not to sound too disillusioned with reality.
“I need electricity. In my body. I don’t have money. Can I get anything to fix myself?” Rykon’s voice was gravelly and quiet, both a symptom of underuse and injury. His fight with the blasted Magi who praised the wrathful realm had worn him down. The shop owner stood and moved to find something.
“Oh-- oh dear. I’ll see what I can do. Not one of Silverstar’s children is going to be neglected energy on my watch.” The name of that false god. Everywhere he went, Rykon was met with it. Silverstar, Silverstar, Silverstar! The repetition had gone far past the point of tolerability. Just one mention of him was enough to make his heart flare with rage. Struggling to keep his cool, Rykon passed off the quaking as his limbs failing him. Horrid. Not a word could he speak of his own god. No challenge to the worship of this realm’s patron deity. Trapped in an unfamiliar realm, with only rare taunting glimpses of Aylathiya’s homely saffron spires, with his speech and beliefs stolen, hidden away, and his body severely damaged. The words of that Magi haunted him. “Have fun in Hell” indeed. Slumping over and sitting down, Rykon gave in. He had lost. While the shop worker was finding something to help, Rykon realized the scale of his defeat. Forced to rely on those of another path, stranded in a galaxy so far from his own. Intergalactic travel was nigh-impossible, wasn’t it? He’d heard tales of this galaxy. The chaos and zealotry of the realm, the worlds positively dripping with thaumic prowess, slavery to the Aeterna. And the only chance of escape to his home was through a Magi of this realm, wasn’t it? Oh, the Hell he was in indeed. Footsteps approached.
“Here you are. Uhm, if you can find a way to plug yourself into this, it’ll get your cybernetics charged up in no time. I’ll just be needing this damaged foot for a bit,” the shopkeep mumbled on as he disconnected Rykon’s left foot and took it to the counter. Rykon began fumbling with the wires. As he slowly connected them to the cybernetic parts of himself, he began to talk, though he knew not to whom he was speaking.
“The Aeterna really is a wrathful son of a bitch. Can’t believe people actually bond with it like some sort of god.” The shopkeeper responded, still concentrating on the foot with his several tools.
“Not a fan of Thaumaturgy, eh? Personally I’d say I agree, but it’s just a part of our lives.”
“Pfeh. I’d prefer if Magi would just suck up their egos and be useful for once.” Rykon grumbled. The words kept spilling out, as if he actually intended to be social with the brainwashed people in this city.
You sound pretty angry about the whole role Magi play in our society. What, did a Magi break your gears like this? Heh.” Rykon flinched at the joke, though his energy seemed to be returning. The shopkeep noticed and looked up at Rykon. “Wait, don’t tell me you actually- oh Silver, I’m so sorry. How did you-” That damn god’s name again! Rykon looked back with hellfire in his eyes.
“No Paladin should ever lose to a regular Magi. That bastard only won because of their stupid Thaumic Ship! I would have killed them otherwise.” The truth was out. Suddenly, fear gripped Rykon’s body. Shit. I’ve said too much, I’m missing a foot, and I’m roughly 3 million light years out of my depth. I’m fucked. Rykon’s brain flooded with thoughts at how utterly hopeless his situation was. He couldn’t run. He could probably win a brawl with the shopkeep, but then what would he do? There were too many windows, too many possible witnesses. Rykon’s eyes showed his terror as the shopkeep got up and stepped over to him, artificial foot in hand. Step. Step. Step. Time seemed to grind ever slower towards the inevitable.
“Paladin? Really? You? With these cybernetics? You’re worse than any selfish Magi. You have access to power enough to heal your own body and you opt to waste the resources of Silverstar’s children like this?” A sound like a faint snap resounded through Rykon’s mind.
“I don't… want… to hear your damn god’s name ever again!” Standing on one foot, Rykon’s body was searing with rage. Rage at the Aeterna, for bringing him here. Rage at Silverstar, for creating this hellish world to trap him. The power filled him. The evocation of his thaumic energy was complete. Directing it within, Rykon sped himself up a hundredfold. Time slowed down around him. While snatching and attaching his foot, the shopkeeper’s eyes slowly moved. With one fearsome howl, Rykon punched. A hole through the zealot’s synthetic midsection appeared as he was blasted into the wall. There was no more time. Rykon needed to run. And run he did, hoping to be naught but a blur to anyone trying to capture the assault. Within seconds, the city had disappeared behind him, his feathered cloak concealing his face and body in a gray blur. Their god was everywhere, in speeches and banners and statues. And Rykon could say nothing, do nothing, but pretend he was one of them. Look how well that’s worked so far, he thought. Another failed day, save for some incomplete repairs. And yet, another day had been won, surviving in the cerulean Hell.
Day 23 - Midday
Word of Rykon's little incident a week back had spread fast and far. Now several cities away, the rumors were beginning to appear in passing conversations. Rykon could hear it. The way the voices of the people around him grew quieter, ever so slightly, when they saw him. The sound of footsteps falling out of sync as people looked around at him. The faint aura of anxiety in people's heartbeats, in their movements. It was growing. It was spreading. Were there a nice open hillside for him to live in, there would be some refuge from the consequences of his attack yesterday. Shit! Why the fuck did I have to lose it like that?! The voices of the people passing him grew quieter still. Too quiet. Looking up from the street beneath him, Rykon's eyes met the backs of a crowd of people, all standing in place and looking up. He looked at what was captivating them. A building's wallscreen, now displaying his face, appearance, footage of the attack at the synthetics shop, and worst of all, a rather large number of zeros next to a symbol that Rykon had become all too familiar with as of late: Azurullya's currency. It was a bounty. One placed on his head, broadcast to a city filled with millions of people, several thousand of which were right next to him.
"Fuck no. Not today." Rykon gathered his wits and bolted for the nearest alleyway. Concentrating on the angles of his feet, he jumped at one of the walls. Kicking off that one, he landed on the opposing wall, ever so slightly higher. Repeating this jump a few hundred times, Rykon made his way to the roof of the lower tower, where a small group of people was having a meal. The roof was wide enough. The sparse buildings on the inter-city roads were visible in the distance. Grabbing his cloak with one hand, Rykon planted his feet on the roof. The Aeterna brought him here, the Magi were responsible for his persecution, and the Aeterna's Angels had made that cesspit he was born on. Hatred, disgust, and violent instincts filled Rykon's heart. His vision blurred a scarlet red. It was time to sprint. Covering the width of the roof in a tenth of a second, Rykon put all his energy into his legs, making one forceful leap into the air. He soared, unfurling his cloak of feathers to control his trajectory. He had to go further, get out of the crowd, and then run. His left foot sparked a couple of times.
Touching down onto the ground, Rykon's sprint began. Out of the city, onto the sparse roads dotted only with shrines and the occasional food vendor or transport station. He had gone a few kilometers within the first couple of minutes. This was good. He was making his way away from the city. Something glowed on the road ahead of him, but he paid it no mind. He stepped over it, and then again, and again... the ground seemed to be pulling him backward. No, it wasn't. Every step he took landed in the center of the thing. Rykon jumped forward, going a few hundred meters with the force he put into it... and landed back in the object's center. An intricate glowing pattern on the ground. Runes? Thaumaturgy? But who was casting such a spell?
"Alright, you sorry con artist, you think you can beat me by trapping me in one spot? Come at me then!" Rykon made sure to project his voice as much as possible. Looking around, he saw nothing but the few trees in his vicinity, the long winding road, and the hideous celadon sky. Reaching out with his mind, he also found that no Magi were nearby. But the rune's active... Rykon knew that there had to be someone nearby. But how were they hiding? Over the pounding of his own heart, he could hear no movement. Trapped again. In a rune that stops him from moving, on a planet full of zealots who want him for arguably justifiable reasons, in a galaxy so unbearable far from home. When will the chain of prisons end? When will the Aeterna decide that toying with me is enough? The rage began to build again.
Punching the ground, Rykon cried out with all his hatred. The rune, shifting in color, punched back. The force shattered his synthetic arm and blew him away. Into the air, far away, hitting the ground... and back in the center of the rune. It lay unharmed, mockingly flashing and shimmering with its many pale colors. Looking at the damage done to his robotic parts, Rykon groaned in disappointment. Sure, he could armor his own body, but how was he supposed to know that the shock from the impact would go past his punching arm and into the rest of his body? A voice, echoing around him, began to laugh. It sounded ethereal and hollow, as if it were coming from somewhere in a very spacious cave. Something moved. Rykon could not see it, hear it, feel it, but the movement was there. Nearby, probably. It had no direction. No position or velocity. But it was there. Something was moving. He just knew. Suddenly, the sky shifted tone. No, it was everything. The colors swirled and bled into each other until the world was a fine mist shrouded in dull rainbow fog. A form walked through the mist, carrying the same giggle.
"Wow. And here I was thinking I had anger issues. You're like muscle fiber in a shock tube!" The strange figure of speech stood out to Rykon. Whoever this Magi was, they probably weren't well adjusted to society. This could go one of two ways. They're either a less egotistical bastard than the rest of the Magi I've fought, or they're a psychopathic monster with a surprising level of control over my situation and a thirst for blood, Rykon thought to himself. The form wavered as it neared him in the fog.
"Ok, are you ready to calm down and behave? I've got debts to pay and you're gonna help me with that one way or another." As the Magi broke through the closest layers of the fog, her appearance became clear. Robed in a dark hooded cape and the other typical Azurullyan impractical fashion, she looked over at Rykon. A bag hung at her waist, tightly secured by three separate locks. How that would prevent people from just ripping a hole in the bag's fabric was beyond Rykon.
"Yeah, like I'm just gonna let you take me in. I might only have one arm left, but I can still beat you. You're within my range, bitch." Rykon's voice rumbled through the thaumic clouds.
"Ooh, feisty little bounty, aren't we? I don't remember asking you if you wanted to come in with me. You're going whether you want to or not. And I'm going to take the whole reward for myself." The woman's arrogance shone through her bubbly grin. Even now, Rykon could sense only a tiny spark of thaumic power in her soul. How was she doing all of this with Runes alone? How much preparation time did she have? The bounty had only been put on his head mere minutes ago, and yet she had already laid out this intricate spell right where he was walking and captured him. Rykon raised an eyebrow at her. "Right, you don't think I can do anything about it." Snapping her fingers, a circle of iridescent light appeared around the rune. The ground was lifted up from beneath it. As the stocky woman wrote something on the newly freed slab, the rune beneath Rykon's feet sprouted cage-like tendrils of light. Another rune, perhaps. A cage, likely just for show.
"Ok, now we can go turn you in. It's a bit of a walk, though." She grinned a little at the detained Rykon.
"If you start making small talk, I swear I'm gonna kill you."
"You're right, that would be rude to do with just us. Here, let me just show you off a little more." Waving her hands, the Magi cleared the fog and the mist. The colors of the world shifted back into place. Open now to the road, the Magi began to drag Rykon's floating prison slab towards the city.
"So, Mr. Anger Issues, what exactly did you need to kill that store owner for? I've just been dying to know."
"No fucking way am I gonna start chatting with some bitch just for capturing me. Fuck off." Rykon sat down and turned away from her.
"Uh huh. Yeah, we'll see how long you can stay all cool and aloof like that when you're being professionally interrogated." The Magi walked for a few seconds before smirking. She had decided to play a game. "So, since you're not going to talk, I think I will. I think you'll find my story interesting. I'm not actually any sort of bounty hunter or military Magi. You got captured by an ordinary civilian. How funny is that?" Rykon groaned and covered his ears to no avail. "I'm actually an artificer and rune researcher. I find runes out in the wilds, note them down, and use them to enhance items. People come from all over the galaxy to get a taste of my servi-"
"Holy FUCK, do you ever shut up?! Are you a professionally trained torture weapon or something?" Rykon whipped around, glaring at the bitch with resentment.
"I just told you I'm not part of the military. Name's Cirafey, in case you were wondering." She looked up at her floating prisoner as if he were a pile of valuable crystal coins. The pile grimaced back at her.
"Now how'd such an unbearable bitch end up with such a pretty name?" Rykon mockingly asked.
"I can't tell if that's meant to be an insult or a compliment. You're really playing up the mystery criminal bit, aren't you. Big, strong, and silent. You lot always go around thinking you're the hottest shit since wormholes. But just look at you. Ratty, dirty, noxious smelling. How do you plan to keep up an image like that?"
"Tch. Bet you wouldn't know. You've probably got a nice spacious ship somewhere around here, a good home, food you don't have to beg for. Meanwhile I'm stuck in this shithole with all its priests and preachers harassing me constantly."
"Oh yes, I've got a good ship. A nice home. But don't think I haven't been broke before too." Cirafey's eyes had sadness flicker through them for just a second. "Anyway, you're gonna make sure I don't have to struggle for a while."
"Uh huh. Sure. Keep telling yourself that. Just do this one thing and you'll be on the easy road. Just one last thing, isn't it? How well's that worked for you in the past, eh?" Rykon wanted to make sure that even if this bitch sold him off to a life in prison, he'd trap her in her own mind for a few years.
"What do you know? You're just some dumb Paladin. I'm not too fond of doing dirty work for the law, but if it means I'll be able to get enough to go see Aylathiya..." Rykon's mind was flooded with thoughts as he heard the name.
"Wait, wait, waitwaitwaitwait. Aylathiya? You're headed for fucking Aylathiya? Ok, truce for just a second. I'm from there! I need to get back as soon as I can. If you're going, just take me with you!"
"Don't have the money or supplies, dumbass. It's a journey that'll take months, even with Hypertryptine FTL engines AND my own thaumic warp bubble. Ever since the Gateways got closed off, intergalactic travel is basically Magi-only. I'm lucky enough to have just barely happened upon a form of Thaumaturgy that I can actually use for that. But no, you're just gonna get me supplies, Aylathiyan." Rykon stood up with new vigor in his blood.
"Rykon. My name is Rykon Valk-Aylathiya. Just... find some way to take me along. I need to get out of this hell of a galaxy. I can't stand how fucking brainwashed everyone is- no offense."
"Oh, so now you try to play nice?" She chuckled. "You know I can't do that. I turn you in, get the money, buy supplies, and leave. I'm not making myself a fugitive by breaking you out of prison and taking the money. Why would I? I don't know you at all." Rykon fell silent, sitting down and waiting to be delivered to the cold "home" of eternal incarceration.
The silence continued as Cirafey walked, dragging her glowing cage and bounty with her. The scenery was no comfort. It pained Rykon to think about what was happening. Just when he finally saw a way out, it was used to taunt him. The fucking Aeterna and its stupid fucking shenanigans. Seething as fate toyed with him yet again, Rykon slumped over and sat down. "First Zushilo, then those fucking scavenging Magi, now this. I swear, the first chance I get, I'm going to kill everyone on this disgusting rock."
"Zushilo? What's that?" Cirafey's curious words showed Rykon all he needed to know about her.
"You're going to Via Aylathiya without even knowing what Zushilo is? You're out of your depth. I bet you only the big ones like Lorokira."
"Answer the question, moron." Cirafey clearly wasn't interested in Rykon's attitude anymore.
"It's the prime example of a Hedonist World. A disgusting cesspit of shameless lust and greed hailed as a beacon of divinity. Made that way because of a so-called Angel born from the Lux Aeterna. Might seem like a nice vacation spot if it weren't the worst fucking cosmic pebble for me to be born on. If you don't even know Zushilo's reputation within the galaxy, you've got no chance of surviving Aylathiya."
"Doubtful. What are you even going there for anyway?" Rykon thought he may be able to convince Cirafey if he could get her motives.
"Tearing down some things, particularly Angel-related stuff. So thanks for the tip about Zushilo, I guess."
"Oh, you're kidding me," Rykon groaned, "You are literally doing the same thing I wanted to, and you still won't take me back to Via Aylathiya with you? Come on, you could clearly use my help."
"I don't think I get the money before I hand you over, so there's really not a chance I could feasibly break you out in the first place. Also, you're an asshole. Why would I spend months on my ship with you?"
"I'll tell you why. You're gonna want me on that ship so I can fill you in on what goes on in Aylathiya. I'm basically a whole map of the shit you want to destroy. I'm strong as fuck and I can help you beat the shit out of people. Without my help, you're going to die sad and alone somewhere in Aylathiya, or start a whole war if you're unlucky." Rykon was getting desperate. Clutching onto the one hope he had, Rykon begged. "If you don't take me with you, then that Angel-worshipping charlatan who sent me here will never get a fist in their ugly fucking face. I'll rot in this galaxy, and for what? Funding some lonely artificer's joyride to a galaxy she knows nothing about?"
"...Ok. you know what? You're right. Aylathiya's a big place, right? Lots of nations, I hear. I don't know anything about it. If I can manage to get the money for your bounty before you're behind a wall, I'll get you out of there and take you with me. But that's only if you promise to help me out and stop being such a precocious ass. Break that and I'll throw you into intergalactic space." Rykon rolled his eyes and sighed.
"Hrmmmm... I guess. Fine, I'll do that. I promise to help you out and stop being such an ass. Happy?"
At the city's center, a monolithic building stood above all the others by several stories. Sharp gray walls showed the might of its containment potential. The tall blast doors at the entrance opened for Cirafey as she hauled her bounty inside. In the front room, officers holding plasma rifles, with hard light weapons hilted at their waists, lined the walls. Their stoic stance betrayed no emotion within this silver fortress. The doors to another room opened. A man in a fancy official uniform walked out, cape trailing behind him. The dozens of medals adorning his armored coat were testaments to his authority and power. Walking in front of Cirafey, the officer loomed and spoke.
"You have brought us the criminal in an unexpectedly timely manner, considering the bounty was broadcast," He looked at his watch, "26 minutes ago. I ought to add to your reward with a few hundred more. Tell me, citizen, what is your name?" Cirafey was somewhat intimidated by his stance, but she could sense no thaumic energy from him. If push came to shove, she could incapacitate him.
"C-Cirafey Remmer, sir. Could I see the reward before I hand the prisoner over? I want to make sure I'm getting the correct amount." Cirafey looked more nervous than she actually was. She wasn't the type to get so easily overwhelmed by a tall authority figure with a strong voice. Could she actually be trying to use emotional manipulation tactics on a law enforcement officer? Rykon played along, pretending that he was exhausted and beaten down.
"Well, since you brought him in so swiftly," the man said, lightly grabbing her chin and pointing it upwards, "I suppose I could show it to you." Cirafey wanted to slap his hand away. She wanted to deck this man. What a fucking creep, she thought. Are all higher-ups like this? However, she managed to keep up the act of timidity. He pulled his hand back and into the air, snapped his fingers once, and then sharply turned and walked away from Cirafey and Rykon. A carrying cart was rolled out with a stack of crystal chips. The currency. Rykon thought it looked rather small, but from Cirafey's face, he knew each one must be representative of extravagant wealth. "Now," the officer announced, "The full extent of this Paladin's charges. Six counts of assault of a priest, several acts of blasphemy, one instance of murder, and destruction of property. On top of this, the Paladin in question was found to be an Arcane Aeternalist, which is against the Theological Accords set by our great nation's founders. In all, you are sentenced to 50,432 years in prison for your crimes, where you will perform hard labor and be re-educated as penance for your crimes." Cirafey slipped the money into her bag while the man spoke, before pulling out a small rune-encrusted metal rod. She whispered something into it, at which point it erupted into a shimmering battleaxe with eidolite blades.
"Alright then, if we're playing that game, then I charge you with being a massive creep and impeding the mission given to me by a higher power. So stay still or I may have to sentence you to death." Cirafey snapped, and the slab holding Rykon in stasis fell, the runes disappearing. He wasted no time aiding her. Concentrating his hate into his legs, Rykon swooped around the room, breaking the weapons of most of the officers. Cirafey, not one to be shown up, swung the Eidolite axe, at which point the heads disappeared into a periwinkle blur of light. She dashed towards the official, hoping to pay him back for touching her so familiarly. She swung, and while the officer dodged the light, the blade cut him anyway. His chin, no, his whole lower jaw, fell to the floor. Another swing and the hand that touched her was similarly disconnected. Reeling back in pain, the officer let out an inhuman cry.
Meanwhile, Rykon was facing off with a Xherari guard who just so happened to have thaumaturgic abilities. Dodging the blasts of energy and fire, he swung his right arm towards the guard's long face. The guard, predicting this, sidestepped with outstanding speed. Damn, really wish my left arm wasn't busted up, Rykon complained to himself. Twisting around, he responded to the guard's hard-light knife with a kick to the chest. Empowered by the energy he had collected from his malice, his leg blew through the guard's armor and chest, leaving a corpse on the floor and a purple stain on Rykon's pants.
"That's the last one, Cirafey! Let's go!" Rykon shouted. The alarm had gone off at this point, and more officers would be arriving soon.
"Break through the fucking door! I don't have anything to get through that grade of blast shielding!" Cirafey yelled back. It was now or never. Rykon took a stance on the ground before the entrance. Hatred for the Aeterna. Death to the Angels it sent. Burn their empires to the ground. Vermillion veins of light flowed through his body. Using the trashed metallic stump of his left arm and the muscular prowess of his right, Rykon punched again and again. Sparks flew and metal scraped against itself as Rykon roared in a blind rage. This door, this planet, this galaxy, would not contain him. He would have his revenge. He would reduce the Angelic gifts to crimson ash, flowing in scorching smoke. The door broke open more and more. Faster. Harder. The fury that filled Rykon's body began filling the space around him with an energetic aura of bleeding scarlet. The door began to melt open. Pulling back one final time, Rykon cried out with the remainder of his strength and put his entire weight into breaking the door. Bursting away in a slurry of molten metal and crackling wind, the duo's exit path opened. They made a break for it. Cirafey began to fall behind, so Rykon scooped her up and hoisted her over his shoulder with his remaining arm. The synthetic one had done no good, being reduced to smoldering rubble from breaking the blast door open. Cirafey herself protested for a solid few minutes, but Rykon wasn't listening. His strength was fading, and quickly. He put all his effort into running as fast as he could. Electric sparks of all shades of red burst from his legs as he broke through what felt like a wall of air suddenly appearing before him. Once he had left the city, he slowed. Sliding across dirt and rock, Rykon struggled to hold his stance and keep Cirafey in his arm. He ended up stumbling and falling over, rolling in a tangle of limbs with Cirafey caught in it.
"What the hell was that about?! You almost killed me!" Cirafey berated Rykon as she struggled to untangle herself from his limp body. Pulling arm from under leg and leg from between arms, she managed to free herself.
"I... had to... get us out of there... faster. You were... slowing me do- ...down." Rykon was utterly out of breath. Yet again, his cybernetic legs had failed to complete their intended purpose. Wheezing with each breath, he tried to regain enough stamina to at least sit up. "You owe me... a new arm." He tried to lighten the mood with the most dry humor he could muster, but it was in vain.
"You went way past my ship. What is it with you and making everything into long walks?" Suddenly, she looked off into the sky, as if seeing something fly overhead. Rykon looked in the same direction, finally able to sit up, but there was nothing there. She spoke again, with a different tone. "But how do I even... I don't get it... Yeah, but what about him?" Rykon looked her up and down, wondering if she was ok in the head after their supersonic marathon. She turned to him. "I'm gonna try something. You stay here, ok? Keep this tracker with you so I can find the way back." Standing up, she brushed herself off and prepared to leave.
"Cir... C-... Fey, I can't stand. No way am... I going anywhere. Where are you going, though? Don't tell me you're just... gonna leave. That'd... be a real dick move." Cirafey turned back to him. With absolute serious determination in her eyes, she said what may have been the stupidest thing Rykon had ever heard.
"I'm going to go get my ship while cloaking myself, fly back here, pick you up, and then get out of here once and for all."
"How are you even... What? You won't be back for days, even if you manage to stay... hidden." Rykon was catching his breath, but moving was still a struggle. Already walking off, he could see the colors of Cirafey's form bleeding into the environment.
"Just trust me, alright? Though, what I'm doing is also something new." A muted flash of light encompassed her, and then she was gone. Rykon was left in a crater, tired, broken, and alone. He had nothing to look at but the sparse trees, the buildings in the distance, and the ever-ugly green of the sky. He looked down at the tracking device Cirafey had left for him. He'd have to put all his trust in her to get him off this awful planet. And why would she betray him now? She'd just risked everything to keep him from being locked away. Sure, it might be for ultimately selfish reasons on both ends, but she needed him for her mission, and he needed her to survive. The device was his last little gemstone of hope, as it shined with its dark orange bead at the top. It flashed a couple times, and then a breeze came. Stronger and stronger, winds whipped around Rykon's clothes and hair. Suddenly, colors began to ripple out of the sky. The hull of a sleek ship emerged from the sudden illusive mist. Touching down, the back of the ship folded out into a ramp, from which Cirafey exited. It had been all of two minutes since she cloaked herself. What had she done? How did she get to the ship that quickly? Rykon remembered the head officer's comment about her uncanny speed. Was it some ability she possessed?
"Right then, Mr. Paladin. This is my pride and joy, the Night Cereus. Let's get you on board." Cirafey tried to pick up Rykon, but he proved too heavy for her. "Ok, maybe ditch the robot bits next time you plan to get so worn out." She laughed. Rykon dragged himself on board as best he could, with remarkably minimal help from Cirafey. The interior of the ship was relatively spacious, with folding shelves to store materials, a safe with a presumably large amount of money in it, and a large station that appeared to be a tinkering bay. Folders with thousands of pages of runes were laid out on the station's main desk, and a small ring was in a holder. Now barely able to support himself with Cirafey's help, Rykon hobbled over to the second seat in the cockpit and sat down. Cirafey sat down in the pilot's seat, chanted a short phrase, and took off.
"So, you called me Fey back there."
"I couldn't get the full name out. Won't happen again."
"Oh, don't bother. I think it sounds pretty nice." Fey took the throttle and accelerated the ship, watching as the atmosphere thinned and darkened until they were floating among the stars in the Cerulean Gem.