The pirates and the Endeavor crew had concocted a plan to find out what the Under-realm Splitters were up to. Step one involved finding the base. It was rather easy as a relatively small fortress was made for them. Step two was surrounding the place without being detected. Slightly less easy, but still possible for both parties. Step three, the tricky part, started when Arsha, Nazay, Reb, Melgem, Delga, Morla, and Oak snuck into the Splitter base on a small supply train. A Golem had picked up their box and loaded it, stopping as it examined the weight of the box. It then sneezed before resuming work, muttering about the lack of mana. The train moved into the base, stopping at its destination. The Golems inside then grabbed the boxes and loaded them into a cargo bay. They then left the cargo bay, giving the infiltrators ample opportunity to get out and get fresh air. “I suppose it’d be too much to ask if they could poke air-holes into the boxes,” muttered Nazay.
“They don’t exactly want anything alive in them,” countered Arsha. “All right, let’s locate the command center. If Yotek’s anywhere, he’s there.”
“So, what, we split up?” muttered Reb.
“And let a pirate out of my sight? No thanks!” hissed Arsha.
“Your trust in me never CEASES to warm my heart,” grumbled Reb.
“I’ve seen many a case when Daddy fought Splitters across the Realms,” continued Arsha, “especially his infiltration missions, but I’m positive the layout of ready-made Splitter fortresses have changed. If it hasn’t, I’d say they’ve really become as most citizens of the Realms say they are.”
“What’s that?” asked Nazay.
“Stupid,” replied Arsha. “All right, let’s go.” The team snuck through the halls, making a few wrong turns and narrowly avoiding the Golems. They soon made their way to the shadowy command center. Yotek was pouring over plans on a table. The strike team then snuck around, flanking his sides…then he slammed on the alarm button. Golems appeared and surrounded the place.
“Did you really think I would leave this place unguarded?!” snarled Yotek. “You had cameras locked onto you since you penetrated the borders of my territory! Your entire plan, both inside and out, will be undone! With your deaths, the Realms will finally see that blending them is disastrous!”
“Small flaw in your plan,” declared Arsha, “we’re NOT dead!”
“Soon corrected!” replied Yotek as he drew a sword made for a being his size.
“Keep the Golems at bay!” ordered Arsha. “Nazay, start interrogating! We’ll hold them off!”
“Understood!” replied Nazay. As the group aimed for the Golems’ heads (destroying their heads makes sure that the scroll that powers them is destroyed, causing the Golem to just collapse into a large lump of clay), Nazay pounced at Yotek. Yotek dodged and fired on Nazay with a wand built into the sword. Nazay was forced to keep his distance. “Stupid, trigger-happy…oh!” An idea popped into his head. He remembered what would make a Goblin mad. “Come on and face me, you little Gremlin!”
“…What?!” hissed Yotek.
“You heard me, Gremlin!” taunted Nazay.
“NEVER CALL A GOBLIN THAT!” roared Yotek as he charged. Nazay then lashed with his tail and coiled Yotek up. Yotek struggled to break out of the hold.
“Nice try,” remarked Nazay as his eyes started flashing multiple colors in spirals.
“Do you really think you can hypnotize me, snake?!” hissed Yotek. “Goblins are immune to hypnosis.”
“You’re resistant,” corrected Nazay as he continued the treatment, “not immune. Bashoon was kind enough to let me confirm that. I know a way to get you to surrender to my will.”
“You Mid-realmers,” chuckled Yotek, seeing where Nazay was coming from, “think the Under-realm’s language is too guttural. It might hurt your precious vocal chords. Besides, are you REALLY willing to use ancient magic? It’s dangerous.”
“Considering my instructor was harsh in that regard,” replied Nazay, “I think I can handle it.” He then took a breath and chanted. “Geotu danme koldi rekek bamte. Geotu danme koldi rekek bamte. Geotu danme koldi rekek bamte.” As Yotek heard that, his eyes went wide and he tried harder to escape Nazay’s coils. What Nazay was doing was chanting out the characters that spelled Yotek’s name in the Under-realm’s language, increasing Nazay’s power over the Goblin. Yotek continued fighting but it was a futile struggle. He succumbed after a minute had passed, his eyes spiraling like Nazay’s. “There now,” sighed Nazay in victory. “Was all that struggling necessary?”
“No, Master,” slurred Yotek.
“I didn’t think so,” replied Nazay. “Now, would you mind telling me what the endgame is?”
“Don’t mind at all, Master,” assured Yotek. “We have 5 mana bombs about to detonate on all continents in the Under-realm. We have identified the areas on each continent that has the highest concentration of Other-realmers and will destroy them so only Under-realmers can flourish once they are reclaimed. We have four set up but the one for the Northern Continent, the one being constructed here, is not ready.”
“Would you kindly download all plans and schematics relating to this grand plan onto this?” inquired Nazay as he pulled out a memory crystal.
“Sure can, Master,” replied Yotek as his arm was freed. He then transferred the mana bombs’ locations, their blueprints, the time-delays, and the people involved in the plan onto the crystal. It took five minutes before the download was complete. The crystal flashed green and Nazay took it out of the console.
“Now, when I snap my fingers, you’ll be out of the trance and will remember what you did,” directed Nazay.
“Okay, Master,” answered Yotek. Nazay snapped and Yotek’s eyes went back to normal, as did his attitude. “YOU MID-REALM WORM!” he roared as he pounced for the memory crystal.
“Captains!” called Nazay. “I have all the information we need! We gotta get out of here!”
“I agree with ALL my heart!” answered Reb. Arsha called Oak.
“Are the bombs set up?!” she asked.
“Primed and ready, Captain,” replied Oak, “but we’re sustaining casualties!”
“We have what we need!” declared Arsha. “Activate the bombs and retreat!”
“What about you lot?!” protested Oak.
“We have an exit strategy!” assured Arsha. “Detonate the bombs and get out of here!”
“Understood!” answered Oak. The call ended and Arsha’s team made a mad dash for the exit.
“Lockdown the facility!” roared Yotek. “If we die, we take them with us!” The Golems moved to obey. As they began lockdown procedures, Arsha and her team ran as fast as they could through the exit, dodging magic blasts all around them. They made it into the jungle and rejoined the combined crews. The base then exploded, taking the incomplete mana bomb with it. Everyone dove for the ground and covered their heads. The heat washed over them and the ground shook. Once the rumbling subsided and the heat died down, everyone picked themselves up.
“Well,” sighed Reb, “that WAS fun, but we need to inform Orbak about this HEINOUS plan.”
“Agreed,” affirmed Arsha. “When we get back, get me in contact with Realmfleet command and Orbak.”
Orbak was away at the moment, so Elmpam took the call with Rokalla in Arsha’s ready room on the Endeavor. “Good grief!” she breathed. “I knew Splitters from ANY Realm could be vicious, but THIS?! This is beyond what I know about Splitters! Rokalla, do you think Realmfleet will assist the Under-realm Explosives Guild in taking the mana bombs apart?”
“I think Realmfleet will be more than happy to send assistance, Your Majesty,” replied Rokalla. He then turned to Arsha. “That was some impressive work. I don’t think your dad ever stopped a plan this big when he was doing his tour.”
“No, but he’d do it in a heartbeat,” answered Arsha. “I do have to admit, I forgot to arrest Reb for trying to ransom me and my crew and attacking a military force.”
“Much as this would sting her,” countered Rokalla, “Reb Rojam’s a minor inconvenience. We’ll get her next time. Keep up the good work.”
“Will do,” replied Arsha. Rokalla’s image then faded.
“Malnar’s gonna be lavishing you with praise for this,” chuckled Elmpam. She then noticed something in Arsha’s eyes. “Is…everything all right?” asked Elmpam.
“We lost some good people,” replied Arsha. “Some of them I’ve known since training.” She released a sigh. “I have condolence letters to write and a mass send-off to complete.”
“An unfortunate duty of ANY commanding officer, be they a captain or a reigning monarch,” sympathized Elmpam. “I know this is a small comfort but take pride in the fact that they died as they lived, protecting all of the Realms.” Arsha gave a small smile.
“They did, didn’t they?” she muttered. She then sat up straight. “I need to go. See you later.”
“Farewell,” bid Elmpam. The call ended and Arsha changed her clothes to her duty uniform, keeping the hairpiece on. She then headed to the torpedo launch bay and found the crew assembled by torpedoes with the bodies of those that died inside. The names were on the torpedo shells.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” began Arsha. “We’re gathered here to honor the deaths of those that gave their lives to protect the Realms. In all honesty, I wish they didn’t need to, but not every wish can be granted. They died while stopping a Splitter plan that would have killed many more innocent people. There is only one thing to do to honor their sacrifice and that is to continue protecting the Realms as they did. Lieutenant Eltan Sontor of the Under-realm’s Crelima City, Lieutenant Sheendii Eltraa of the Over-realm’s Coliamdii Kingdom, Ensign Drelta Meltrek of the Mid-realm’s Gafinar Cecaelia Kingdom, Lieutenant Commander Blenter Ansii of the Mid-realm’s Borsootha Slime Oasis, and Commander Entran Deltar of the Mid-realm’s capital, Largandra, may you all be received in the loving embrace of the Divine Ones and may your stories be told across time so the future may learn.” She then nodded to Commander Oak.
“Present arms!” called Oak. Everyone drew their wands and pointed towards the sky. Arsha then pressed a button and the caskets were slowly brought into the launch tubes and fired, turning into bright lights as they left.
“Good luck,” Arsha mumbled. The funeral then ended as everyone headed off to grieve in peace. As per protocol, they were allowed five hours to grieve before getting back to work.
On the island, Yotek had managed to avoid the pirates’ notice as they picked through the base’s remains to make a profit. Once he was a safe distance away. He made a call on his communicator. “Operative Yotek to Supreme Under-Splitter Ansark,” he called.
“Report,” answered Ansark. “How soon is victory?”
“There will be NO victory,” reported Yotek. “The operation is a failure. All completed mana bombs have been discovered and are being dismantled. My base is currently being scavenged by the Scarlet Stream Pirates. My Golem forces are destroyed. The mana bomb that was being constructed is destroyed. The people helping us are being arrested. The Endeavor and its crew live.”
“…HOW?!” roared Ansark.
“The Endeavor’s Mid-realm navigator knew how to say my name in our native language,” replied Yotek. “He used it to put me under hypnosis. He managed to get me to copy over all plans relating to this operation and all people involved onto a memory crystal.”
“This is a SEVERE setback to our plans!” shouted Ansark. “You have failed!”
“I offer no excuse, only my life,” muttered Yotek. “I request the use of the Red Strip.”
“Request granted!” snarled Ansark as a small red strip came out of the bottom of the communicator. Yotek took it out.
“May the Under-realm dominate all without me!” he bid before placing the red strip on his tongue. It dissolved and caused cuts to open in his trachea, allowing his blood to fill his lungs. He drowned in his own blood. It is a horrible manner in which to die. Unfortunately, all Splitter branches demand that those who failed would die in such a manner. Once Yotek’s death was confirmed, Ansark ordered a feedback pulse be sent along the transmission to destroy the communicator.