Project Super Nex, Chapter Thirteen: Trickery in Twos

The eighty-story statue of Harlow Marsden — the first Warbearer Overseer and one of the six Originators who founded SPACE Union after emerging victorious in the Axiom War — stood as proudly as any other Warbearer monument. Bands of crimson and gold colored his mailed armor, which contrasted with the crimson-focused, golden-trimmed color scheme used for the advanced armor of today. His narrow eyes stared out from the grilled visor of his long-beaked helmet. He was gripping the stout hilt of his sword, Prÿte, thrusting its rune-inscribed blade into the air with as much ferocity as the tigon head patches sewn into his shoulders, below his aiguillettes.
Everyone was zooming upward in Wyatt’s jet-boots, past the light breezes whisking over their skin, into the sunlight beaming from above, gaining an increasingly high view of the yellowish-orange trees below. Then they touched down on the flat top of the Remembrance’s helmet. As Wyatt paced around the head, fiddling with his monitor, massaging a dull ache in that wrist, outstretching a hand to feel the shining metal with his energy wisps, Penelope turned to Freye and questioned, “How sure are you that the realidorr is all the way up here?”
“The signature is similar to the one emanated by your realidorr on Vestral,” Freye said, slipping a hand into her dress. The fabric seemed to pull apart, not necessarily like Sidney’s jumpsuit, because you could see the individual threads loosening and opening into a space of immense darkness. From there she produced a flat triangle of metal and opened it like a book. She ran a finger through the misty holograms that it projected. “Yes, the signature is prominent. It’s under our feet, somewhere inside the statue.”
“What if we crack open Harlow’s head?” Cooper asked.
Penelope rolled her eyes. “You hyena’s ass, we will not ‘crack open’ his head.”
“Whattanow, ya think it’s right-side up to coax out the shiner in a baby voice?” He cooed at a high pitch, “Please, little cutie shiner, come out, come out, wherever you are!”
Wyatt shook his head. “If it is here, Quentin must have made a way for us to retrieve it.”
“Unless there’s a fault in his design,” Corbin pointed out, scratching his chin.
Gene said, “Yes, brother, we must desist from obtaining any favors for granted.”
“Maybe the disc’d help us out,” Cooper said, rapping his knuckles on the helmet.
Wyatt raised his eyebrows. “Maybe it could. Penelope, do you have it?”
“And the first two realidorrs.” She took the disc out of her satchel and handed it to Wyatt.
Sidney ate a blueberry jelly tart from her sweets case. “If there’s a second forcefield . . .”
Wyatt paced around the thirty-foot-wide head, holding out the vibrating disc. The interior rim spun fast near the helmet’s blunt edge but slowed down when he moved toward the center. He returned to the edge, where the spinning became fast again. “It’s in this part — ”
“Over to the right,” Penelope interrupted, standing a few inches beside him.
Every step he took to the right made the disc’s vibrations and the spinning of its interior rim grow more powerful, enough so that he had to twist wisps over the object to keep it between his fingers. He let it go when it suddenly pulled downward, and it attached to the edge of the Remembrance’s helmet, vibrating to the point where it cracked the metal, slid open a squarish panel, shattered the forcefield, and drew out the realidorr from its crevice.
“This is it,” Penelope said, leaning over, pulling the realidorr through the disc’s central hole, standing up. She turned over the gem and narrowed her eyes at the sign carved into each end: a rectangle with two small crescents in the upper-left corner and three wavy lines running diagonally across the lower-right corner. With a short Hmmph she tucked it into her satchel.
“Two down,” Sidney chirped, kicking her legs in a fun dance, “and four more to go!”
Freye said without looking at Sidney, “Starsapiens would view your optimism as a positive trait, a tangible being that promotes peace for this universe. But it’s no substitute for calculation.” With a small flick of her hands, the air around her fingers spiraled into translucent white darts that dissolved the agents’ jet-boots. Gene exclaimed gibberish and staggered back before she flicked more darts, which curved around Wyatt’s forcefield, around Penelope as she whirled backward and hugged the satchel close to herself, and absorbed into the patched leather.
Then Freye held a hand at her waist, extended her index finger downward, and swirled it in the air once. The whole of Harlow Remembrance glowed momentarily. A second finger-swirl caused it to creak. Without a glance at the agents she jumped down from the helmet, leaving them with open mouths, arched eyebrows, widened eyes, and/or scrunched faces.
Gene scurried to the edge and wailed, “Freye Urewlil, anathemas are justified for you!”
Wyatt barely made eye contact with Penelope, almost feel the blistering heat from her glare. He had bigger concerns, though, like the second creak echoing from the Remembrance. “Jump!” he yelled, grabbing everyone’s waists and arms with his energy wisps.
Everyone jumped off before a low rumble expanded through the air as if it were the yawn of a giant creature deep underground. Then fragments exploded off the Remembrance, ripping up the air with their cries, throwing off reddish-white sparks, raining down as crowds fled the park below. During the short moments where the agents plummeted from a height of eighty feet, Wyatt used the wisps he had attached to them, widening them into forcefields that puffed up like parachutes, pushing into their bodies, slowing them down. No one took a full breath until they softly landed on the shard-littered ground.
“Where’s that backstabbing sorceress?” Penelope fumed, digging the fingers of one hand into her satchel like claws, her other hand drawing a switchgun.
Several large cavities were left all over the statue. The sword’s blade was split down the middle. Almost half of Harlow Marsden’s helmet had broken off and crashed close to the agents. Eyebrows tightly lowering over his darkening eyes, Wyatt swiveled to Penelope and pointed to her satchel. “Where’s your bag?”
She arched an eyebrow. “It’s a satchel, not a bag. And you’re pointing at it.”
Corbin said, “Observe its pristine state. Wasn’t it originally raggedy?”
Penelope’s satchel inspection elicited a small growl and flaring eyes. “That witch!” She pulled out an amber key from one of the side pockets.
“Wh-where are the two crystals and, and the disc?” Gene wheezed, clutching his chest.
Wyatt was first to bolt after Freye as she raced away from the scene, having crawled outfrom behind some shrubs. Corbin helped by hurling a hoop that caught on top of a tall rock. He entered a command into the signaler on his belt and held up a second hoop, pulling the first one toward himself. The rock jerked out of the ground, but Freye’s darts disintegrated it. Wyatt cast a pair of energy bolas, which wrapped around her arms and legs and made her fall forward. Even as she ripped the bolas apart, Wyatt lunged at her and projected a forcefield to press her into the soil. She was persistently wiggling beneath him, so he compressed the forcefield to weaken her.
As a result her body flickered and released a minor shockwave, although Wyatt stayed on top of her. The others stood back as she morphed into something else — the skin turned slate, the cheekbones rose higher, the head grew thinning brown hair, the eyes glowed murky yellow, the Torchen dress with angel sleeves melted into a polished suit with bishop sleeves.
“You again.” Sidney, sounding spitefully rough, trained her boomerangs on Naazang.
“This must be alarming for you,” he said in his tone of utter calmness. With a tap of his hand on the ground, a burst of whitish-gray energy dissolved the forcefield and shoved off Wyatt.
As Naazang stood up and sprinted off, Gene cried, “A thousand anathemas, a thousand!”
The Grimhet apprentice looked back and pressed his shoes into the ground. Eruptions of dirt parted vortexes. Bystanders who had returned to the park now fled a second time, hopping over the runny ooze trickling out of the holes, dodging Grimhets that were gurgling out.
“Give us back the realidorrs and the portal disc!” Penelope yelled.
“You want these?” Naazang remained expressionless as he removed the stolen satchel from his suit and held it out in his hand as if it were a kind offering.
“Ya slimin’ rat!” Cooper enlarged his hammers and shot their heads forward. Naazang sidestepped them and did not react when Cooper shook a fist at him.
Naazang spoke to the Grimhets in their guttural dialect, ordering them to stay still. The agents rushed him with their weapons, but his hand-flick swept a foggy wall in front of himself, repelling them into the air. Then he spoke another foreign phrase and moved back as blackish-gray smoke burst out of the soil and whirled into Gargant’s sneering form.
“What took you so long?” Wyatt asked, producing his Dawnaster.
Gargant’s sneer widened. “You survived Alidiska Min. Was it strenuous?”
Penelope made a Tuh! noise. “Teö, Gargant, was it not strenuous?”
Everyone stared at her, and then Sidney quietly said, “Were you trying to be witty?”
“Oh, zip it.”
“Please, Ms. Flame, this is improper behavior in front of the megalomaniacal sociopath and his . . . his apprentice?” Gene deeply frowned. “You identify yourself as Naazang?”
“In other words, Gargant’s bitch.” Corbin gestured to Cooper. “Is that correct?”
Cooper clapped him on the back, pushing him forward. “Yepparoonies!”
Wrinkles sinking deep into his face, Gargant shook his head at the agents and ripped the satchel away from Naazang, who regarded this furious action with a neutral glimpse. “Leave now,” Gargant ordered, swinging his arm into a quick uppercut, opening a vortex in the air.
After Naazang scanned the agents once more and retreated into the vortex, it imploded and left dust on the ground. Gargant turned back to the agents, stroking the hyacinth in his lapel, clutching the satchel in his hand. “Now, this hostility isn’t necessary. How much do I have to appeal to your sense of reason so that you will surrender?”
Sidney clanged her boomerangs together. “We’ll answer that after I stab you in the face.”
Penelope frowned, but her eyes glinted devilishly. “Watch your mouth, Apples!”
Gargant roared a command in the Grimhet dialect, and a particularly muscular Goruly stamped toward the agents. They jumped away from its punches. Penelope fired her switchguns, but the Goruly held an arm over its face to block the air bullets and attempted to crush her with its other fist. She leapt away, slicing a Fiss’s legs along the way. When the Goruly chased after her, Wyatt blasted it into the ground with orbs. While it quickly stood up and fought off his Dawnaster’s spiked ball, a Drakolin breathed a stream of fire on the ground, separating Cooper and Sidney away from Corbin and Gene. The extra moments of hesitation as they thought about how to reunite cost them time when multiple Grimhets lunged at them.
For a moment Wyatt turned his attention from the Goruly to a Fiss that was raising its claws behind Gene; he was busy shooting a Rampa with his Sharpoise, unaware of the Fiss until it slammed into the ground beside him with a pitiful shriek, its bony back burned cobalt from Wyatt’s orbs. Gene shouted and twisted around to face Wyatt.
Those few seconds allowed the Goruly to grab the Dawnaster’s spiked ball and snap the whole thing away from Wyatt. It went on to take the weapon in both hands and break it in half. Its arrogant screech wasn’t loud enough to cover Gene’s scream. He shot his Gelescent ropes at the Goruly, but it smacked them away and then tried to stomp on Wyatt. He constructed a grapnel and threw it at the shoulder, but this only allowed the Goruly to whip him around by twisting itself in all directions. Sidney had Cooper lift her up — he joked about how her sugary sweets haven’t weighed her down — and hurl her at the ape.
With a bright laugh she arced down and hurled her boomerangs, and all four of them stuck out of its back. None of the hairs could curl up and dislodge them before she crashed into its back, driving her makeshift handholds and footholds deeper into its skin. Its howls shot up a note, and it spun everywhere to try to rip her off, dragging Wyatt in circles by his grapnels. Then the Goruly gave a twist of its arm, snapping the cables upward, yanking Wyatt into the air. He used this momentum to pull the grapnels, jerking the Goruly forward. Then Corbin’s hoops jerked a Hagga into its back, and it lost its balance and face-planted into the ground. During the fall Sidney removed the boomerangs from its shoulders, joined them together in front of its head, and pulled them into its throat, just like in the Journeyer.
“The cloven Dawnaster!” Gene whimpered, falling to his knees at the broken weapon. He collected the pieces and stood up only after Corbin whispered to him in their secret language.
Penelope pointed her switchguns at Gargant. “Up to fighting us yourself?”
Wyatt struck down a Betelark with a forcefield. “Penelope, don’t prod the beast.”
It was too late. Gargant stepped away from his spot beside the Remembrance, striding toward the team, calling a command to freeze his Grimhets. “Agents, I can’t let you travel to Lunatark,” he told them, forcefully but not yelling. “I need to destroy the items in this satchel to impede you. You will understand — ” His head bulges tilted backward, his wrinkles scrunched around his eyes, and he spun one-eighty degrees to shoot smoke at the incoming boomerangs; Sidney had gotten them into the air before Gargant’s approach.
When Penelope shot him in the back with her switchguns, he wrenched around with a shout and stomped a foot, spurting ooze from the ground. While it sizzled into the forcefield Wyatt had domed over his team, another boomerang slashed Gargant’s shoulder. The cut was so deep that his arm contorted, and the satchel flew out of that hand, up through the air, down to the bushes. Wyatt wordlessly opened the back of the forcefield to let Corbin and Gene scurry out. Corbin dove into the bushes. Gene distracted Gargant with Gelescent attacks.
When Corbin hopped out of the bushes with the satchel slung over his shoulder, Gargant clawed his smoke through all the Gelescent, pushing it back to Gene. Sweeping his good arm summoned a tentacle of oozing dust, about to snatch the satchel. But Corbin catapulted it to the others, giving a bird-like squawk. Wyatt dashed out of the forcefield, caught it, and knocked back Gargant’s tentacle with an energy staff. A second tentacle popped up and thrust into his chest, shoving him into the ground, coiling over his body, releasing deep brooouumm! noises while skittering over the energy-coated satchel in his arms.
Wyatt had lost his focus on his team’s forcefield, and Gargant ordered his Grimhets to resume attacking them. They stayed close together and spent every second fighting the beasts. It was after Corbin hoop-flung a Rampa when Penelope held her satchel high over her head and yelled, “Hey, goop dumpling, don’t you want the real one?”
“Your knapsack is fake,” Gargant asserted, pointing at her. “Wyatt has the real one.”
“It’s a satchel, get the name right! And are your eyes covered in oil? This is the real one!”
Gargant’s unwavering stare burned anger into her, so much that she lowered the satchel to block his eyes. Then he swiveled the stare to Wyatt, who was still wriggling inside the coiling smoke, not letting go of his satchel, the raggedy one. The return of his sneer curved up the forked wrinkles in the corners of his eyes. “What an artless ruse. Wyatt, you have the real one.”
“Yeppers, so how’s a real this?”
Gargant didn’t turn around fast enough before Cooper’s hammer heads drove him through a tall rock, a bush, another tall rock, and into the toe of Harlow Remembrance’s latticed boot. While the heads pinned him there, Corbin said, “Cooper, your insult doesn’t make much sense.”
Gene tugged a curl over his forehead. “Incomprehensible. Incomprehensible!”
Using energy wisps to pick away at the smoke coiling his body, Wyatt broke free and got to his feet. He cradled the satchel in one arm and extended his other arm to barrage the blackish-gray cloud around Gargant with orbs. They burned it away to reveal that he was gone, though, and the hammer heads were driven partway into the Remembrance’s boot.
“He’s still here, I can feel him,” said Sidney, having bounced between three Grimhets with powerful kicks to their heads and chests.
No one could respond before all the Grimhets contorted into masses of dust and ooze, then defined themselves into doubles of Gargant. Other than their bodies emanating a thin haze of grayness and muffled creaks, they could pass for the Grimhet master. One of them absorbed Penelope’s air bullets with a smile that showed the top row of his thin teeth. Another one refused to move when Corbin tried to pull it with a pair of hoops.
“All of you have potential, but you need to open your mind and let go of these material delusions about Lunatark, these realidorrs, the antiviral.” Gargant’s voice lingered in the air, even though none of his doubles were moving their mouths. “Liberate your souls for once.”
Eyes intensifying, gripping his satchel more tightly, Wyatt thickened his energy staff and thrust it into the ground. A shockwave spread outward in the ground but only for a second. Then all the Gargant doubles exploded into one massive vortex of dust and ooze that sucked the agents into the center, freezing them in midair, forcing them to cover their eyes and mouth. A hand with the pinky and the ring finger twisted into spirals emerged from the mess, tearing the satchel off Wyatt’s shoulder so fast that the strap snapped apart.
The vortex immediately collapsed. Some of the dust collected into mounds and the rest of it danced into the sky. The ooze blotched the soil and rocks with stains that were white with gray-black dots one moment and then gray with black streaks and white swirls the next. The agents piled on top of each other, and it took some effort to untangle themselves. Onlookers from the edges of the park gradually crowded towards them, murmuring gossip.
“How’s everybody doing? Any bad injuries?” Wyatt asked, his body swaying from the waist up, arms shaking. Then he stiffened up and inhaled a long, deep breath.
Corbin tapped a hoop on his arm. “Unless we’re hemorrhaging, then no.”
“But our quest, is it oppressed, destroyed, vanquished?” Gene asked, waving his phone over Wyatt’s head to scan him. “Is, is it time to imploringly vociferate until infinity?”
“No, brother, we’re still shining under the light. The — ”
“Shining under the light?” Penelope cut in. “Did you not see Gargant get away with our crap? He’s going to destroy them or infect them.”
“We can research the gem’s ingredients and build replacements,” suggested Sidney.
“Did the mutable deities collogue about favoring us with contempt? Did they collogue?” Gene’s fingers whitened the more he clutched his phone while waving it over Wyatt’s chest.
Corbin rested a hand on his shoulder. “Brother, allies, anxiety is pointless. I — ”
“‘Collogue’ is an archaic word,” said Sidney, which made Gene murmur something.
Corbin’s eyes twitched. He tightened the grip on his brother’s shoulder. “Could you please compose yourselves so that I may announce the safety of our items?” He drew the portal disc and the realidorrs from an inside pocket of his vest, to almost everyone’s amazement.
Wyatt, calmly smiling, said, “I had a strange feeling they weren’t in the bag.”
“Satchel. It’s a damn satchel,” growled Penelope. “Not hard to drill into your memory.”
Sidney mumbled, “Snatched the satchel. Snatched the satchel. Snatched the satchel.” She let out a chortle. “Wow, that’s a hard tongue-twister! And sharp thinking, Corbin.”
While Penelope scooped the items from Corbin and peered over her glasses at them, Wyatt rested a hand over his upper left arm and winced. He couldn’t hide this from neither Gene, who kept scanning him, nor Sidney, who crinkled up her eyes and told Gene to move away. She rolled up his sleeve and made a small noise, not quite a gasp, after seeing the bloody bandage.
“No wonder you’re suffering a copious energy drainage,” said Gene, typing on his phone with his finger and thumb. “I cannot help but feel a little trepidatious.”
Wyatt started to reach for his monitor, but Sidney said, “Don’t use it yet,” and drew her first-aid kit. Snapping on gloves, pulling off a corner of the bandage, she scrunched up her face at the freshly-split gash and the pinkish-red veins spreading away from the swollen edges.
“What happened to your enhanced healing rate?” barked Penelope.
“Maybe it’s not back up to full strength.” Sidney peeled away the whole bandage and stuffed it into the kit’s disposal slot. “But it’s great that there’s no pus. Give me your stats.”
Wyatt checked his monitor. “Eighty-five.” He tapped Quentin’s bracelet. “Seventy-one.”
Cooper itched his eyebrow. “Why’s there a diff between the digits?”
The agents tossed more questions and incomplete answers back and forth, ignoring the onlookers’ rumors whisking around them. Sidney re-bonded Wyatt’s arm and applied a thicker bandage, claiming it would act like armor for the gash. She gave him permission to use the monitor’s anxiolytic. It relaxed his tense muscles, but a dim heaviness hung in his hands, chest, and knees, as if to drag his body all the way to the core of Octoberry Trails.
Then everyone in the park craned their heads up at the crimson gunships roaring in the sky. Four of them extended large barrels from their bulky hulls, surrounding a slimmer ship in the center with the Warbearer emblem embossed on the sides and two rows of claws running along the roof. “Vacate the landing area immediately,” a pilot ordered over the intercom. The agents were directly underneath them, so they sped away even faster than the onlookers.
When the gunships thumped onto the ground and swung open the doors, sentries filed out with W16s and pokers in hand. Following them were medics designated by three horizontal white stripes across their chests. Marsden marched out of the center gunship in the uniform she had worn for the Rad-Bio demonstration, flanked by six sentries. Her eyes darted up at the spoiled face of Harlow Remembrance, down to the fragments on the ground, and then to the team. “You’re lucky this isn’t as messy as it could have been. Do you have the realidorrs?”
Penelope returned the stare, responding with a slight throatiness, “Next time, you could come here a little earlier to help us with the mess itself instead of the cleanup.”
“We deployed as soon as the alerts were received, but Drakoline were obstructing the atmosphere. What’s your report?” After Wyatt explained the realidorrs and Naazang’s ambush, Marsden smiled thinly. “The portal gems. Yes. I heard about this matter. Do you have them?”
During Wyatt’s explanation, Penelope had put them in her satchel, the pristine one that Naazang had switched. Now she revealed them by opening the flap, then slapped it closed just as fast. “We’ll keep them with us.”
“What makes you assume I’d let you do that?”
“Because, Marsden, they’re safest in here.”
“However, Gargant almost achieved his intent to rob us of the treasures. They are not as sheltered — ” Gene shot out a muffled squeak when Penelope elbowed his arm.
“We have open vaults in Warbearer Foundation. Your items will remain secure until you need them to teleport to this alternate dimension, if it even exists. You don’t even have to pursue this by yourself. I’m considering arranging my cubs to investigate — ”
Wyatt shook his head. “No. We can let you secure the pieces if your vaults are secured enough. But we’re continuing with our task. We know what we’re doing.”
“We have our fields of expertise,” Sidney agreed. “And we only have three gems to find.”
“Don’t you realize that Gargant is determined to do anything to stop you?”
Corbin said, “We acknowledge that, Overseer, but we’ll maintain our activities.”
Gene pointed up his forefinger. “Even though there are many menaces to sidestep.”
Marsden stared at all of them before she said, “I’m still urging you to hand over your realidorrs and your disc to me. Get your rest tonight. Resume your mission tomorrow.”
After some debating the team handed only over the realidorrs from Vestral and Octoberry Trails and the Gigalek amber key from Penelope’s satchel. Wyatt used the argument that since the disc had been necessary to find them, it might be the same way for any of the next three gems. Penelope also stated that she should keep the gem from Quentin’s cavern. Marsden agreed to this, then asked if she could study the flashlight that Xavier had told her about. Wyatt put his foot down with this, asserting that his team might use it again.
After the agents returned to their mobulars, Wyatt said, “We should heed Marsden’s tips, take a break before we get tossed into the fray tomorrow.”
Cooper fist-thumped his chest. “Yeppers, I’m binge-playin’ Catastrophic Gladiators: Centum’s Honor. Hopin’ I nail all five stars before our trip to Lunatarky.”
Gene said, “My brother and I will refine our equipment. Mr. Durrell, I implore you to assemble your energy, both to heal your arm and prevent Grimhet’s future ambuscades.”
“His arm is already healed.” Sidney turned to Wyatt. “You know that.”
“I know.” He nodded, and she smiled, but not enough to diminish the worry in her eyes.
Corbin suggested, “What if we uncover all three gems tomorrow? A swift conclusion — ”
“Let’s not pressure ourselves,” Penelope said, wiping the dried ooze from under her fingernails. “If we have to deal with repeats of this crap three times in one effing day, not only will I get extremely pissed-off, we won’t have the gas in our engines to travel to Lunatark. Marsden’s got her tail up her ass already, and I’m shocked she didn’t roar more about the Remembrance and how ruined it is and how it’s all our fault.”
Cooper groaned out a yawn. “Puh-leeeze, ya don’t think she’s green-crossin’ our records?”
“Look, we need to focus,” Wyatt said, brushing a thumb over his college ring. “We don’t need to care about green crosses, we don’t need to care about who might roar, we don’t need to care about SPACE Union. We need to care about Cosmotic and what will happen if there’s no
antiviral to stop Grimhet in its tracks. You saw how tireless that Goruly was.”
Gene pinched a curl above his ear, stretching it towards Wyatt. “It swung you in circles.” He let go of the curl, and it sprung backward. “You, the Super Nex warrior.”
“Because the virus is making Grimhet stronger. That’s why we have to focus on what’s important here.” Wyatt looked each agent in the eye. “Do you understand?”
Cooper clapped his hands once and made a sliding motion with one of them like he was smoothing over a rumpled blanket. “Completes!”
****
“They deceived you. I’m puzzled as to why you’re not expressing your fury.”
“You pester me about reining in my passion, and now you chide me for not appearing angry enough? Naazang, you know how much I despise the sin of hypocrisy.”
The two of them were seated at an angle to each other in wide armchairs with spirals of cracked stone woven into the frayed fabric. Gargant’s chair had a high back and an embroidered pattern of animals with the head of a bear, the body and tail of a leopard, and the legs of an eagle taking place of the forelegs. Naazang’s chair had a low back and one dusty moth with yellow-dotted wings pinned to each armrest. Except for pieces of antique furniture here and there, the rest of the large living room was empty.
“I will be testing them with my secret project,” Naazang put forth.
Staring into the pure white flames as they rustled in the fireplace, Gargant replied, “You should not have sequestered it for so long. I would have understood your reasons.”
“That is not true. You would have forced me to return it.” Naazang rested his head back on the chair and closed his eyes. “Sigint will hinder those stardreamers. I can guarantee that.”
The ridges in Gargant’s cheeks were distorting every few seconds. “I do not trust it.”
Naazang said as calmly as before, “You’re not obligated to trust it. Such a crucial duty falls on my shoulders.”

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