The one about the Circadian Counterattack
"The Zealots. They’re coming.” The Xerxian Observers working at the outpost confirmed the Parsa force’s advance. It was a scorching day, and it drenched them in sweat, but their adversaries were moving faster than ever. Getting closer.
The Rebels cocked their rifles and looked for targets, scanning the nearby dunes and valleys from the highest points of the sandy and rocky landscape. As they surveyed, a ray of blinding light pierced towards the heavens from where the Zealots were sighted.
“The Lance!” It was as well that the frontline could not hear the dismayed voices of the Observers. “They’ve deployed the Spear of Destiny. This is not a simple skirmish - they mean to eradicate us.”
Some fighters had already perished. Strength in numbers was never a real advantage the Rebels could claim, but often the ability to plan logistics and attack patterns more than made up for this weakness. Today, however, they were both outnumbered and - it appeared - outmanoeuvred.
A dying Storied Martyr compelled the troops to give their all in this fight, even while lying on the parched sand unmoving. “Our goal is bigger than the life of one, and I’m glad my blood spills to empower us. The truth will out. It must.”
Another gasp and the struggle, at least this one, was over.
“Glory to Parsa!” The war cries of Parsa Regulars and their Eager Recruits, and their Parsa Recruits, filled the air.
“How’s the Conviction?” Parsa Clarions created this morale boosting routine before sounding the war trumpets after which they were named. The question was a form of hypnotic suggestion, priming the troops with a feeling of impending victory.
“Full, Ma’am!” As always, the soldiers responded with such self-belief that they could walk through walls.
The sun had set, and a full moon had found its way to the edge of the sky. The Zealots continued their march until the reports from the lookout Sand Scouts stopped coming through. They waited to take stock of the situation, when a gravely wounded Scout returned, still bleeding.
She did not hold her consciousness for long after the relief of making it back alive, but the message she delivered was enough to curb their fanatic enthusiasm. A big group of hungry Strigoi had attacked the scouts. She saw one biting into the corpse of an enemy Martyr and ran towards the camp. On her way, she was pounced upon by a Pup, but had fought it off. The others, having to fight elder and more bloodthirsty vampires, had not been so fortunate.
Peri fluttered around the Angel’s abode At The Gates, making small and imperceptible changes to the futures of humans in Parsa. She watched the growing conflict between the Rebels and Zealots with much interest. She had not expected the Strigoi to make an appearance though.
“They’re all going to die, poor things.” She looked across to the dignified presence freshly materialised in front of the gate. “Aren’t they?”
The Scion of Pride, if he felt anything, did not relay it to Peri, and continued to look at the distant horizon. “Mortals waste their life on trivial things.”
"It is thanks to these mortals you have an existence, Angel.” Peri admonished him in her playful way.
“They possess the power to bring beings far more powerful than even myself to reality. Yet they fight amongst themselves and squander that potential. Should I be grateful, or disappointed?”
Peri flew behind him as he stood with his gaze upon something immeasurably far. She thought him wistful - if he could display such an emotion. “Iron.” She flittered to his left. “Lion.” She moved to his right. “Scion!” Peri ended in front of him.
“Do you perchance,” he spoke at last, “wish to accompany me down to the mortal realm-“
“- as a Spirit Lion-“
“Good.” He moved his sceptre in a large spiral. “We will go, but try not to tamper with destiny too much.”
A portal opened in the darkening desert. The revving sounds of a bike could be heard approaching the opening from its other side.
“So we get this Ziai flower from here, and deliver it to Hotel Barkeep, and he pays us.” Simuzen had just come along with his friend for a bit of sightseeing from the passenger seat. “Doesn’t sound too-“
Racer in Shadow’s bike rode out through the portal, and the sudden darkness blinded them. “Sheesh.” He stopped immediately.
“Wow, I was not expecting it to be this late.” Simuzen fished in his bag for something.
“I have the perfect remedy.” He pulled out a pack of instant Powerful Ramen. “No water required!”
“Your plan to remove the dark is eating?”
“No. I mean, who doesn’t like a bit of eating, sure - but the real trick is this ancient mechanism I found the other day at the Night Market.” He produced a small circular metallic disc from his pocket. “The Disk of Circadia. It changes day to night, and night to day. Just need some stuff.”
Before Racer could respond, something jumped at them. They moved back and avoided a lunge from an aggressive Strigoi.
“Gaah!” Racer staggered, but recovered his balance and tried to strike the vampire. He missed, and the vampire could not connect either.
“What to do, what to do, whattodo...” A flash of brilliance struck Simuzen. “Yes, that will work!” He fished out a crest with a lightning insignia emblazoned on it.
Another Strigoi had joined the attack on Racer in the meantime. “Whatever it is, do it before we become their dinner.”
“Right.” Simuzen threw out a Healing Potion from his bag and pressed the Disk. It made a whirring sound and turned. “Et Voilà!” He pointed the crest at one pup. “Smite!”
The impact was immediate. The pup fell to the floor, limp and lifeless. The other one looked confused, but not yet ready to leave the fight.
“What now? Can you hit the other one with that lightning?” Racer asked as he repositioned himself closer to his bike.
“No, but we won’t need another one now. Look.”
The sun had reappeared on the horizon, and the pup had taken on a distraught appearance. With a piteous howl, it ran off, away from the daring duo.
“These beasts cannot handle direct sunlight.” Simuzen had a smug smile plastered on his face. “Orange you glad you brought me with you? Eh, eh?”
“Say something, will you-” Simuzen’s words escaped him as he realised uniformed soldiers, and their guns, surrounded them.
A Xerxian Sympathiser contacted the Parsa camp, asking for an audience. The Zealots were en garde, but the Strigoi threat had made them wary. They saw her appear from a cavernous area holding something, and the scout confirmed no others were following her as she got close. They were surprised when she threw a pup’s decapitated head on the floor towards them.
“We have a vampire problem.” She looked at the Clarions and Crusaders at the back. “I’ve seen the lay of the land. There are hundreds of these critters around, and they’ll get us all. No one wins this fight, and our country gets ravaged by these demons. We have to work together.”
They had but taken a moment to consider this, when from their own ranks a voice responded. To their surprise, this soldier turned out to be a Xerxian Recruiter, who was furthering the Rebel cause from within their camp. On another day, this would be plenty to rain her down with innumerable bullets. But now, they needed to get out of the desert with as few casualties to the Strigoi as possible.
More Rebels moved in cautiously, and one stepped forward with two unkempt men following her. The Zealots were having their patience tested with each fresh development.
“Who are these outsiders?”
“They came through a portal and fought off some pups with their weapons.” The Sympathiser explained to the Clarion.
“Yeah, like we came to get some Ziai flower, you know, for the spice mix to flavour all the Powerful Ramen, but those things attacked us in the dark, so I had the idea to-“
Racer tapped Simuzen on the shoulder and stopped his panicked rambling. “We have a way to damage the creatures. They also dislike direct sunlight, and we have a way to make night into day.”
“All this sounds like some fantastical story.”
“He can prove it.” Racer motioned towards Simuzen.
“Right.” He pulled out a Squire Pike, the Disk, the Smite crest and another pack of Ramen from his bag.
“How many things do you carry in there?” Racer asked. “On second thoughts, just get on with the show.”
Simuzen ate some ramen and pointed the crest towards a safe spot, Smiting it. The Disk turned, and nightfall began.
Along with that came the now familiar scurrying sounds. The Strigoi were already coming out with the sun disappearing.
“And back!” He threw the Pike on the floor and ate more ramen, Smiting and turning the Disk yet again. The returning sun looked almost confused by the extra exercise.
“The area where our portal is, yeah, we can’t go there. It’s overrun by those things. So we figured,” Racer looked at the Rebels from the side of his eyes, “that we’d help you take them out, and we can leave to our place. Win-win.”
“I guess we don’t have any other option.” The Disk-powered display had apparently satisfied the Zealots. “Take up your arms, troops. Time to send those vampires where they belong.”
Rebels and Zealots stood as one.
“How’s the Conviction?” The trumpet sounded.
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