“THE NEWS BROKE OUT?!” shouted Oyed as he met with Dr. Borg outside the frigid wastes of the new base.
“You were the one,” remarked Dr. Borg, “that insisted all logs be linked to a central database. But, to answer your question, yes, the Realms know of Arsha’s survival.”
“IDIOT! THE EMPIRE’S AT RISK!”
“If you would care to…” Dr. Borg then felt the sharpest, most excruciating pain erupt between her wings. She opened her mouth in a silent scream as she fell to the floor. Oyed then grabbed her by the antennae and slammed his fist into her face.
“You have failed me for the last time!” He tossed her across the room into a stack of barrels. He then charged up a magic blast, only for her to fire her own into it, making it explode in his face. She then flew towards him and slammed her metal fist into his gut. Oyed recovered and slammed his fists to the ground, making it rise up to meet her. It knocked her out of the air and he leapt at her, but her taloned feet grabbed him and she slammed him into the ground. He then grabbed her feet and threw her into a wall before picking himself up and dusting himself off. “Very well, you’re still entertaining. You may live a little while longer.” He left the room. Dr. Borg picked herself up painfully, then checked something on her cybernetic arm’s hidden computer. She checked the readings, then grinned. She hobbled her way to the medical room and found a berth. Shefarn then wheeled in via a water chair and saw the damage.
“Sweet Oyed!” he cried. “What happened?! Did an experiment go wrong?!”
“Actually, an experiment went right,” she explained. “I got all the readings I needed for Project: Ascension to succeed.”
“Wait a minute, I see bruises here! And cracked ribs on the scanner! Cytanek, did you get into a fight with Oyed?!”
“He heard that the news of Arsha’s survival broke out and…held me responsible, as it were.”
“He damn near KILLED you! You had to shut down your resurrector machines, remember?! If you didn’t stop when you did, you’d be dead, and we’d be widows before Project: Ascension came to fruition!” Shefarn began tending to his wife.
“I had to fight back to prevent that outcome. He seemed entertained by my attempt, at least, so I bought us some time. I’ve already given the readings to Jansha. It should take her a few days to recalibrate the machine for a Titan.”
“Well, until then, YOU’RE laid up here!” grunted Shefarn.
“As my handsome doctor wishes,” purred Dr. Borg.
“Flattery’s not getting you out of here any faster!”
As Dr. Borg was being healed, she got an earful from the rest of her spouses and Jansha about how stupid she was being. Once she was cleared for duty, her family simply gave her looks that indicated they were still mad at her, only much less so, now that they knew they were ready for their project to begin. She told Oyed that she had a plan to correct Arsha’s survival and tip the balance of power in the Empire’s favor and needed to address the whole Empire. Oyed then ordered for the Empire to return to base and attend a demonstration of Dr. Borg’s plan. Everyone assembled as Oyed and the Imperial Council sat at a table on a stage facing the audience. There was just one person missing. “Where’s Yulduk?” asked a Golem.
“Now that’s a good question,” replied Remsu, “but I’m sad to say I don’t know.”
“I must admit, I’m woefully ignorant of his location,” remarked Oyed. Yulduk then stepped onto the stage, looking perturbed about something. “…Is everything all right?” asked Oyed.
“There was a piece of lettuce in the urinal next to the one I used!” explained Yulduk. He looked to the crowd. “Which one of you putzes eats while going to the bathroom?! That’s just disgusting!”
“This coming from the guy who leaves pizza boxes strewn all across his room,” muttered Dr. Borg. As Yulduk glared, he sat down while Dr. Borg stood up. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve suffered a grievous setback with Arsha’s survival and reclaiming the Endeavor, but I stand before you now with a plan! A plan so epic, my fellow Councilors and I needed outside help and funding! So, let’s give a hand to Borome Garsheek!” A Goblin man then stepped up onto the stage as everyone clapped.
“A pleasure to be here, Dr. Borg!” called Borome. He then turned to the crowd. “You may or may not remember me as the one who infiltrated the Diamond Consortium and used that position to murder Lord and Lady Varsek!”
“Wait, that was him?” asked Oyed. “I thought it was a Crimson Diamond who did it.”
“Of course, it was me!” snapped Borome. “I killed Lord and Lady Varsek, made Realmfleet start Arsha’s journey before she was ready, and funded Dr. Borg’s research into resurrection! I! was Arsha’s! first! ENEMY!” He then drew in a breath and calmed himself. “It was nice to run the Empire’s supply lines in the shadows, but I’m very happy to be recognized publicly.”
“You know, I DID wonder where Dr. Borg got the money for her experiments and the Empire’s supplies,” mused Yamta.
“Oh, it was all thanks to him, I assure you,” replied Dr. Borg. “And, Borome, you’re about to witness what your funds were used for. I present to you Project: Ascension!” She snapped her fingers and the curtains behind the Council were raised to reveal the Divine Ones hooked up to their mechanical prison. “Thanks to the war, My science team and I were able to learn the limits of the Divine Ones and create this machine to hold them and drain them of their life-blood, their Divine Mana, the most powerful form of mana in existence!” She pulled a cloth off a table to reveal ten bottles of liquid mana in the ten colors of the Divine Ones. “Here they are! The liquid essences of the ten elements that make up our Realms; love, fire, magic, lightning, earth, water, air, endings, balance, and beginnings!” Oyed then laughed in an evil and joyous manner.
“OH, THIS IS JUST TOO GOOD!” he cheered. “MY CHILDREN, FELLED BY MORTALS INSTEAD OF ME! I DIDN’T NEED TO LIFT A FINGER! Dr. Borg, you have pleased me to no end!”
“I hate to disappoint you right now, but Project: Ascension isn’t ready just yet.”
“Then what needs to be done to complete it?! I won’t rest until I find what you need! Neither shall the Empire!”
“Willing to contribute, are we?”
“Good to know.” Dr. Borg then pressed a button on the table and a tube buried itself into Oyed’s back as multiple restraints clamped onto him and hoisted him into the air!
“Borg, what’s the meaning of this?! RELEASE ME AT ONCE!”
“We’re the ones in charge of this operation, not you!” snarled Scorpo.
“Look, it’s nothing personal…no, I take that back, it’s VERY personal!” hissed Dr. Borg. “Did you really think anyone assembled here would allow you to destroy the Realms?! We all need something to rule, and we can’t do that if our world is destroyed! We just need a bit more Divine Mana to help hurry Project: Ascension along, and you’re the last source of it!” The audience then cheered, forcing Oyed to face the reality that he had no allies.
“I WILL DESTROY YOU ALL FOR THIS!” he roared. “YOUR LIVES ARE FORFEIT!”
“Would someone begin the draining process already?!” called Dr. Borg.
“I got it, dear!” replied Tensam as one of his legs pressed a green button. Oyed then felt the tube sucking his Divine Mana out of him! He howled in pain before becoming as emaciated and weak as his children. The Divine Mana that was extracted shifted in the darker colors of his children’s.
“The next step,” chuckled Dr. Borg, “is to blend Oyed’s with each of the ten bottles.”
“That’s when you become the new gods of the Realms, right?” called a Revenant.
“Bingo!” confirmed Dr. Borg.
“Wait, Doctor,” interjected Borome, “how dangerous is it?”
“That’s where the Empire comes in. You see, we can’t just drink Divine Mana directly, the resulting power surge would kill us. The only way for us to take in the Divine Mana safely is to use a Divine Tower. According to records we obtained, there’s one still here in the Under-realm. While Arsha is locked in the Over-realm and focusing on rebuilding the Realmgate Network, I need you all to find the last Divine Tower. Have our operatives to slow Arsha down at the very least. I won’t cry if you actually do what Oyed failed to do in the first place, it will mean you’re actually better than him. Once the Tower’s found, report to us and give us the location. Who’s ready to end the Final War and be the authors of history for future generations?!” The crowd cheered and left the auditorium to carry out Dr. Borg’s orders. Tormo then spoke to Borome.
“And you’re okay with the war ending?” he asked. “I mean, you profited a lot.”
“Eh, I can profit just as well in peace,” replied Borome. “You taught me to be flexible in that regard.”
“That’s my boy!” Tormo then gave him a man-hug, a hug with both men slapping the other’s backside silly, then Borome broke it off and went to join his fellows.
“…You think we should be as active as the Divine Ones in terms of mortal affairs?” asked Femfaf.
“I’d say a little more active than that,” replied Dr. Borg. “We must show them our appreciation in them helping us ascend to godhood.” Femfaf considered Dr. Borg’s words and nodded.