Lee, Excursion Keep (Artificer Ruins), Forbidden Space
It was over. They’d fought across millions of lightyears and at least ten different alternate universes. He’d killed Bakanan, using the device Kee designed to channel his power and so much more into a burning beam that crossed universes and expanded into more dimensions than the material creatures of this universe understood. The beam hit Bakanan’s true form, destroying him everywhere.
And now, Lee knew, there was one less of them. There hadn’t ever been very many by comparison to the short-lived races he’d been hiding among, but now there was one less. He couldn’t say he felt bad about killing Bakanan, but he did feel a twinge about bringing his species one step closer to extinction.
That thought led him to Halas.
He shook his head. With all the fighting over, he’d settled into the form he’d used when he was last here—his “dust dragon” form—the one he’d used for faster-than-light travel when they were young.
He stood if it could be called standing, in the middle of a wide circle. In the middle of the circle, a blue dome glowed. The circle sat in the middle of broken buildings, all of them made from materials that no creature in this universe so far had words for. At its height, Excursion Keep had been a city that covered half of a planet, sheltering his people as they began to explore the universes, their allies, and visitors from this universe as well as others.
He remembered the lights, the crowds, the parties that never seemed to end. He’d left one to find it still going ten years later, and that was far from the longest he’d heard of.
When he’d first arrived here, he’d been learning what he was and what he could do. After a time where they’d learned the basics, he’d left with Kee, Halas, Nataw, and many others.
Now he was back here with Halas except Halas wasn’t doing much. Halas floated inside the blue dome in his own dust form. After he’d called in Bakanan to attack Lee, he’d watched from outside the fight offering small assists to Bakanan, but nothing that put himself at risk.
After Lee had killed Bakanan, Halas traveled here. He’d planned ahead, using a trap he’d set for Lee or maybe for someone else long ago.
They’d materialized and a stasis field activated, aiming for Lee. He’d been lucky. Kee had made similar traps years ago and he knew how to avoid them. Before the field fully engulfed him, he’d moved it toward Halas who didn’t have time to move.
Now Halas floated within the blue field as a cloud of dust, unable to connect to his larger self and be released.
Lee considered killing him. It wouldn’t be hard. If he used his full abilities, he could destroy Halas before Halas knew what was happening.
He found that he didn’t want to. Well, that wasn’t quite true. Halas had tried to kill him and if he ever got free, he’d try again. He wanted to avoid that and killing Halas would be the most efficient way. In this spot though, thousands of years worth of memories of Halas poured through his mind and not all of them were bad. If he was honest with himself, most of them were good.
He frowned at the dust in the blue dome, knowing that he wouldn’t kill Halas today and wondering what the real reason why was. He couldn’t deny that he missed what he’d been when he’d started out in the universe, but he’d killed Bakanan. Bakanan had been around back then too.
He knew that he might have been changed by living among the humans for so long. Leaving a defenseless enemy alive seemed like the kind of thing Nick or his grandfather might have done.
On the other hand, he knew these traps. This one would operate for at least one hundred thousand years based on the power it had available. By then, he’d be long done with the Earth project one way or another. Earth would be fighting the Destroy faction 10,000 years in the future at most.
Halas might easily wake to a humanity that could handle him, something Lee wouldn’t mind seeing.
And that woke another thought. With the Issakass and Halas handled, he’d gotten what he wanted out of this. It was time to find out if Nick and the others had done as well as he thought they would. He concentrated and accessed the nearest ansible. Excursion Keep had a few and it didn’t take much work to attach one to the Alliance’s network.
A few minutes later, Lee cut off the connection. He couldn’t determine everything from public news sources, but what he could find showed that the Cosmic Ghosts were on the move. That was an interesting non-coincidence. If that weren’t all, he’d found news that Xiniti, Galactic Alliance, and Human Ascendancy ships had been seen jumping away from K’Tepolu.
He supposed he ought to start heading in that direction himself. Given the distance, he suspected he’d miss the main action, but being around for the aftermath might be fun. It would be interesting to see how the kids handled a multi-fleet battle.
He began to float away from Excursion Keep, taking one last look at the city while readying his form for faster-than-light travel. It had been nice to see it again.
Noticing the blue dot that held Halas one last time, Lee decided that former friend or not, if Halas reappeared before this was all over, he’d kill him and he’d enjoy it.