I do not feel pain from the explosion. Or the hot shards of shrapnel lodged inside me. The same applies to the rubble that came tumbling down upon me. But lack of feeling does not translate into lack of impairment. Smoke coils from my armour. I am limping. My skirn is torn and ripped, and with it my strength in the Force is diminshed. The Dantari crystal does what it can. The fight is on. Gunther and his minions close in. Each of them carries a lightsabre. Metal against metal.
When they attack, they do so in a near-seamless manner. The moment one blade is blocked, parried or evaded, another has struck. Even a body made of Phrik gives way when struck enough times. I am on the defensive and, unlike them, I am not undamaged. We trade blows of tremendous power and ferocity. They are relentless. The minions cannot slay me, but they can slow me down. Leave me open. I punch, slash, stab, draw upon what meagre reserves of Force power I have to smash them. They keep coming. I cannot fail. I cannot.
“Caoimhe!“ I call out to her. But she remains unmoving. Rigid. “You can be a slave forever, or you can break free.“ She remains rigid and stands as still as a statue or a machine. Her face is like it is made out of granite. One HRD is cut down by my blade, another struck by a blast of mechu-deru. Gunther presses on. He is faster – a lot faster than me. When I call upon the Force, all I manage is a weak push.
The brief respite is insufficient. A turret sprouts from beneath the ceiling, and vomits a volley of high-powered ion bolts. My armour is too damaged to offer much protection. My wrist disruptor disintegrates it. But then the melee is on again. I am falling back. The Force is not with me, but it is with Gunther. In a manner of speaking. The gauntlet he is equipped manages a close enough approximation of telekinesis by manipulating enough gravity. Enough to undo my balance and enable his blade to break through my guard. And cause my dominant hand and my lightsabre to hit the ground. I do not bother look down. Rather I ram him. Fast and hard enough to cause his weapon to fall out of his grasp and for him to tumble. But he is soon back again.
We trade blows powerful enough to smash a human’s bones or pop a skull like an overripe melon. I throw him through a wall. Ere I grab my lightsabre, his gauntlet has thrown it away. Then he is upon me. I am flung around His punches are like hammerblows. My HUD is being flooded with warnings. For a moment there is naught but static. Signals are slow to transfer from my organic mind to rest of my body. “Cao…“ I never get to finish. My skull gets smashed into the floor. An eye flickers badly. My vision is blurry. I see Caoimhe out of the corner of my good eye, approaching. My brainbox is smoking hot.
Both loom above me.
“U-Unit 008 e-e-liminate the a-aberration,“ Gunther speaks through his damaged vocabulator. She looks at me with those empty eyes. There is a snap-hiss as her lightsabre ignites, filling the air with a burning violet light. Her sword hand trembles. Indeed, her body seems to be shaking.
“Uni…“ Then suddenly she turns and a storm of lightning shrieks from her hand. Some of it strikes me. More of it blasts Gunther. Electricity crawls over him. His eyes flash a bright crimson. Then she is suddenly doubling over in pain. Her limbs convulse and she collapses. The implant. Archangel’s final fail safe.
I feel rage. It consumes me like an inferno. I arise. I move faster than I should. She will live. I will not allow it to be otherwise. Gunther is still twitching from the lightning. He swings his fist at me. My fist is like bludgeons and my nail like sharp talons when I strike. My hand seizes his throat and I pull, ripping his head off. Sparks fly. I let his body fall with a loud thud. Then there is silence. I pay him no mind. Just a machine. Caoimhe is lying on the ground. Her body is shaking. I kneel and take ahold of her. Her mouth opens. She tries to speak, but no word escapes her lips. Her hand is raised limply. She struggles to breathe. Then her body goes rigid. “No, you’ll live, sister. You hear me? You’ll live.“ I try to pull at what little strength I have left in the Force and make it flow through her. “You’ll live.“
'These are the, uh, damaged areas of her brain," the doctor points them out on the screen. I barely pay attention to them. My eyes are glued on her. She looks so peaceful in her bed. Serene even. "We have analysed the treatments Archangel gave. I hate to say this, but she was already burning out before the, um, implant was triggered. Even if we manage to rouse her from her vegetative state...it is unlikely she'll ever be functional." He takes a deep breath. I say nothing. Medical droids are seeing to her and monitoring her status. I’ve won. Moira Skaldi has been destroyed. Archangel is mine. We are safe. Caoimhe is a vegetable.
"Will you be making the decision?" At that I turn around to face him. "I've already my decision. I've decided she's going to live. Her will to live is very strong. So you must be your will to save her. I'll help you." My good hand jabs the muzzle of a blaster against his throat. "Go back inside and tell your minions to do the possible, then the improbable and then the unthinkable until she has recovered. Because when you're finished, doctor, she will have either recovered and you will still be breathing or you will have failed and you will be extinguished inside a molecular furnace. Do you understand?" I blot out his stammers.
“Good. Thuella will help you.“ He manages to regain his composure sufficiently to get the stutter out of his voice and hastens away. Thuella joins me. She, too, bears the scars of battle. But she looks resolved. I only speak once he has vanished into the hospital room. “Can you save her?“ Before she can utter a word, I continue. “Answer me honestly, as a Typhos, can you save her?“
“Yes…sister. We’ll bring her back.“