17 Allied Command
"Once again, not our best effort." Jun Li stood in front of her raid group, three groups of twenty were required to advance to the 2nd floor of stage four. Two of those groups had to fight through to the lever rooms while the last group went through the gate that those levers opened. Once the gate was open you only had a few seconds to get through.
"We aren't there yet Junie, we need to build a bit more strength." Semmi thought back to the Daybreakers. With the exception of their Guild Leader and Pon, they were not that strong. Was the CC guest making the difference?
June Li nodded, "After seeing the Daybreakers finish the stage, I was pumped to come in here and put it behind us." She sighed heavily, "but we are going to have to wait a bit longer."
"Let's make a deal, Guild Leader Jun Li."
Jun Li turned at the sound of the voice. "Nix... What sort of deal?"
He stood their calmly, his sun-colored eyes staring. "I'll get a group of you on the other side of that gate, right now."
The Salamander Guild stared at him, everyone in the guild felt that they were much stronger than the Daybreakers. They had to have had some sort of workaround.
June Li tried to keep her voice calm. The first floor would halt their progress for at least a week or two longer. If they could finish it off now..."What are your terms?"
"Cyphix was raided by members of the Burning Sea, they were aiding the Aquarions." Nix paused, the smiling face of Kyla the gunsmith entering his thoughts, "They took some of our friends, and I want to get them back."
Jun Li hid the excitement she felt, finishing the first floor would put her ahead of schedule. "I need a few minutes to discuss it with my guild."
Nix waited calmly, the Salamander Guild had been discussing his proposal for a few minutes. In exchange for getting them through the last gate, they would give him two days of their time, starting immediately.
"It's a no-brainer, Junie." Semmi kept glancing back at Nix, he seemed calm on the surface. "We'd spend the next week wiping here anyway. If a few deaths chasing Aquarions is the price, then we'd be foolish not to pay."
Saintess nodded in agreement. The red-haired cleric was Salamander's primary healer and a big part of their success. "It's a chance to make some friends."
Jun Li nodded, "let's do it then."
Semmi removed one of the dps from their 20 person group and added Nix. "Show us what you got."
Nix moved closer and grabbed Saintess's hand, "Join hands please."
A dark-haired scout frowned and grabbed his free hand. "Fine, but if we start singing... I'm out."
He waited until they had all joined hands, then he activated Deep Blue and Chose Mermaid City. A moment later, nineteen members of the Salamander guild arrived at the portal behind the gate.
"Follow." Nix flashed down the hallway and took a right, he waited for them at the entrance to the next room.
"You think this is on the level?" Saryn kept checking to see if they had returned. He was the second group's tank, as the weakest group they had been held responsible for holding the rest of the guild back. If they could get past this, then maybe Jun Li would get off their back.
Binder shrugged, "I'm just glad I don't have to run that damn east-side gauntlet today. We should have a few minutes before they..."
Colonial System Message: Congratulations to the Salamander Guild for clearing the first floor of Stage four in Mermaid City.
The twenty man group entered the staging area a moment later. The normally serious Jun Li was smiling widely. "Semmi you go with Nix, everyone else pack your gear for a two-day mission and meet in Cyphix in one hour."
Semmi and Nix took the Mermaid City Portal back to Cyphix. Repairs were already underway as carpenters and masons worked side-by-side in an attempt to erase the visual evidence of the attack. Nix didn't like the look in the people's eyes, they looked scared and tentative, not like the hardy pioneers that they were the day before.
"I need something that belongs to one of the women who were taken." Semmi activated an item and a small white creature appeared next to her feet. It immediately hid behind her legs when it saw Nix.
"Is that thing a pet? Kinda big for a rat." Nix tried to keep a straight face, he desperately wanted to ask her more about pets.
"What?" She stooped down and picked up the furry creature. "She's a fox! Don't listen to the bad man Tilde."
"Follow me, we'll go to Kyla's shop." Nix led the way to the Gunsmith shop, the door wasn't locked. He walked in and took a left up the stairs. Kyla had a small apartment above her shop.
He felt a bit odd going into someone else's home uninvited, but he pushed the door open.
"Clothes will work best, something she was attached to." Semmi walked in behind Nix and searched for the bedroom. She smiled at the decor, they had very similar tastes.
"I made her a dress a while back, she told me she loved it." Nix glanced around the apartment, it was more feminine than he would have guessed. He let Semmi search the bedroom while he stayed in the common area. Kyla wouldn't like some guy going through her bedroom.
"Nix?" Semmi came out of the bedroom holding a red silk dress. "You made this?"
He nodded, "yep, traded it for my rifle."
"I have an entire closet of guns you can have! Make me one!"
"Focus, please... If your fox-rat can track down my friends, "I'll make you anything you want, at cost of course."
"Deal! And don't take it back." Semmi stowed the dress away and waited for him to lead the way out.
Nix closed the Shop door when they left and headed back toward the Kindled Spirit.
"Seems like a crowd has arrived." As Nix approached the Inn, he could make out members of Daybreak, Salamander and an entire group of armed riders. Hyai was standing in front of the Inn talking to the riders.
Semmi jumped in with both feet. "Salamander Guild, camp outside the gate and await further instructions."
Sharl spotted them and waved. "Nix!" She hugged him and then quickly stepped back, she could sense that the raid had really bothered him. He had already told her his plans to bring Salamander onboard. "Hey, at least we were number one for a while!"
Nix liked Semmi's idea, "could you have your people camp outside the gate also?"
Sharl nodded and gave her people directions, both she and Ronnie stayed.
"You big armored Bull! Have your people camp outside the gate. Then come in and I'll make you something to eat!" Hyai was scolding a large bald man, when he obediently turned toward his men, Nix recognized him as Sergeant Ton.
Ton scowled at him as he walked past, the look on his face made Nix laugh.
"Jun Li is inside," Hyai said quietly. "Come in and I'll fix you something to eat."
Fifteen minutes later, the group was sitting down together planning their next move.
Semmi leaned back in her chair, casually watching the other people sitting at the table. "I've already released Tilde, she's looking for the trail. Once she finds it, she'll track them down and stay close.
"Finding them is important, but so is catching them. The reason they get away every time is those flying mounts!" Ton's booming voice echoed in the Inn.
"Don't yell at everyone Bane." Hyai wagged her finger at the Provost Sergeant.
Ton looked down at his plate and pushed his food around with a fork. "Yes Mum."
The sight of a three hundred pound man being scolded like a child made Nix smile shamelessly. Hyai had told him that her daughter had married and moved away, she hadn't mentioned that her son-in-law was Sergeant Ton from the Jenza Provost Office.
Jun Li nodded in agreement, "they are a strong and elusive race."
"The going price for a flying mount is 5 million credits, no exceptions. This is only people taking part in this exercise." When Nix spoke, the entire table stared in silence.
Sharl was the first to recover. She had seen his turtles, had he found a way to train Mantas? "I'll take forty for the Daybreakers."
Jun Li stood up, her hands on either side of her plate. "Are you serious?"
Nix nodded, "Yes. Wait for me at the camps outside the gate."
He had stopped at the Lake Cavern to empty out his Stable before heading to out. He temporarily erased the Jenza Slot and saved the Phelinomia portal. An hour later Nix was wading in the knee-deep water bordering Lapu. He activated the Sea Beast bracelet.
[Scan Surrounding Areas?]
[Scanning, Stand By...]
[140 Sea Beasts have been located.]
[Type 1: Manta: 136]
[Type 2: Green Sea Turtle: 4]
[Mount type beasts have been detected. Train mounts for stables?]
[Qeued: 40 Manta Mounts]
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Nix watched the progress bar, he had played a hunch. Why would the Aquarions have flying mounts if no one else could? That was the real purpose of the bracelet. Even if he took it off, he would have access to his stables since he now had the Sea-Beast Master skill. The bracelet was for training new beasts.
He had talked to Hyai before he left, she was setting up the payments from Salamander, Daybreakers and the Provost Office. He had asked her to set up a roped off area outside of the makeshift camps. Training mounts must be fairly quick since it finished substantially faster than his turtles had.
He activated the summon mount option from his bracelet. A blue manta appeared in front of him, a small leather saddle and bridle already attached. He had noticed that the Aquarions stood on them, so he hopped on and reached down for the bridle.
It rode exactly like a horse. He arrived at the Phelinomia gate a few minutes later, then stowed the mount and activated Deep Blue. He took a deep breath and chose Cyphix.
He appeared at the Cyphix gate and immediately summoned the mount. He jumped on quickly and headed for camp.
Hyai had been waiting patiently. Forty members of the Daybreakers were standing outside of the roped-off area. They had paid her Two hundred million credits. A noise from the camp caught her attention, it rose in volume and continued as more people looked skyward. She nearly cried when she saw him, he was flying a few hundred feet off the ground and moving fast. He circled once and landed next to the Inn Keeper.
He jumped off the mount and motioned for Sharl to move forward. The transfer process was straight forward and part of the Sea-Beast bracelet menu.
[Do you wish to transfer ownership of Manta: Mount Type to Sharl?]
Semmi ducked through the roped area after he transferred the fortieth Manta. "Tilde has found the trail, it won't be long now."
"Thanks, Semmi. Gotta run, more mounts to get."
He activated Deep Blue and chose Phelinomia. It was going to be a long afternoon.