Galaxy Tides Lore

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Chapter 3

       Several weeks later...
        Some cards blew past Skyborn’s fallen double doors as its leader reentered the premises. She was drifting, but not fast. Her shoulders hung low, barely able to keep her chin up. She was tired and out of breath.
        “Skyriss!” shouted Karth and others in desperate welcome. About forty Drifters rushed to her side.
        “I...made it back,” she said, panting.
        “The terror has not ended!” shouted someone. “The threats just keep coming!”
        “That nightmare out there has covered the sky for days on end!” said a second.
        “I think it’s getting closer!” screamed another.
        “I know...” replied Skyriss hoarsely. She glanced over her shoulder beyond the doors. The sky glowed bright fuchsia, nebula defining the shape of four figures on the horizon.
        “Please tell me you got the—” started Karth. She flashed a new card, trimmed in gold, and the faces of the Drifters around her lit up under the intense blue light it gave off. Silence fell over the entry hall for just a moment before an unnatural rumbling brought everyone back to their senses.
        “Do you really think this will work?” asked Karth.
        “It has to,” said Skyriss. She wondered how something so intangible could shake the whole planet. She supposed she was about to find out. The doorway was awash with faint pink from the sky above, its color now creeping into the castle. Skyriss turned to head back outdoors.
        “Where are you going?!” hollered an onlooker.
        “Yeah, we need you here, Ms. Delcastle!” another agreed.
        Skyriss stopped for a moment.
        “They’re right,” said Karth, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Besides, you’re in no shape to go back out there so soon! You need to rest. It takes enough out of someone to forge any new creature, but you just forged—”
        “I forged a solution!” Skyriss interrupted. She seemed more hurt than angry. She was frustrated, but not angry. Not ever at her Guild mates, those remaining who stuck by her through it all.
        “O.K.!” said Karth as he backed off slightly. “But you are not going out there alone again.”
        The other Drifters who stood nearby nodded in agreement. A Cardsmith and a couple of medics shouted at one another as they zoomed past the gathering. They were clearly lost in what was part of a longer conversation, busy with other matters.
        “Don’t worry about the others,” assured Karth. Cynthia and I will round up the rest, and we’ll follow you out there. We’re here to back you up, Skyriss. This war between two Guilds has spurred the creation of a third, and we won’t go down without a fight.”
        “But that’s what I’m afraid of,” said Skyriss. “That we’ll go down—all of us!”
        “We’re here to back you up—all of us! The ones that would’ve left have left already. We made our decision.”
        “You guys...are the best people I’ve ever known,” said the Guild leader. “Thank you.”

        After Karth and Cynthia gathered the rest of Skyborn’s members, the group was off. The entire Guild took to the skies, every last one of them, leaving their partially reconstructed castle completely vacant and the unrepaired entrance wide open. After all, if they lost this battle, there would be no one and nothing left to come back to.
        Skyriss Declastle drifted at the head of the pack. There was less than 1,000 Drifters total, which was undoubtedly small for any Guild, especially one heading straight into a war zone. The journey was hundreds of miles, and all the while they had to endure the fuchsia-colored monstrosity mocking them on the horizon. Skyriss’ heart raced as they got closer. She wondered if she was leading her friends straight to their deaths or if most would somehow find themselves back on Earth when their Helvers broke.
        Many of the Skyborn Drifters held a card at their side as they traveled, prepared to summon their first Angel as soon as they arrived. But as they reached their destination, some put their cards back into a slot on their Helver as if ready to surrender. Skyriss was first to drift to a halt at the edge of a cliff over a canyon. Her heart was pounding now, and she was sure those standing nearest to her could hear it.
Council of Galaxies
        “Ms. Delcastle and the rest of the Skyborn Guild: WELCOME!” boomed a masculine voice above a cliff on the other side of the canyon. Three other cloaked Drifters who were adorned in gold accessories stood by him. There were two men and two women. One of the girls was wearing a golden crown. They were backed by an army of over 10,000 Drifters of all ages.
        “We’re so glad you could make it! Although, we’re surprised to see every last member here, that makes our job easier! That is, unless you’re hiding some new recruits we don’t know about? On second thought, I don’t think anyone is foolish enough to join you anymore.”
        “You would know all about that, wouldn’t you?” said Skyriss. She couldn’t bring herself to call one of her ex-council members by name. Except for Victoria, perhaps, but even then she didn’t know if she could stomach it at this point. “You stole the rest of our Guild from us!”
        The second man of the four made a strange clicking noise before replying, “Stole? That’s not a very nice thing to say, and it’s not at all true. All those people chose to leave your weak Guild behind!”
        “And they chose wisely,” said the girl next to him not wearing the crown. Grins rippled through the crowd behind them and the nebula formation above shook the atmosphere and the canyon between them. Skyborn Guild members were already starting to back away.
        Skyriss glowered and her bangs fell over her eyes, masking her emotion. She drifted forward, beyond the edge of the cliff her Guild stood on.
        “Oh! Is the legendary leader of Skyborn coming out play?” said one of the males of the four.
        But Skyriss didn’t even bridge the canyon gap halfway between them when she suddenly disappeared in the blink of an eye, then reappeared a second later at the front of the opposing army. She reached out with her heavy metallic Helver and grabbed the crowned girl’s golden arm, nearly breaking it then and there. “You always were vain,” said Skyriss. “But this?” she said pointing at the space-monster above. “Even I would’ve never been conceited enough to forge a creature in my own image!” With that, she yanked Victoria upward and tossed her skyward, zooming after her.
        Both armies’ gazes followed and watched the two young leaders catch themselves in midair, the heat between them spreading through their Guilds like a wildfire.
Victoria - Leader of Order Guild

        “You only wish you could’ve forged something as beautiful as this!” retorted the girl with the crown. “We will have order!”
        “Just leave them out of this, Victoria. This fight is between you and me!”
        “No, Skyriss. This fight is ours,” said a dual voice that sent vibrations through everything in sight. The voice belonged to Victoria, her three council members below, and the four figures depicted in the fuchsia nebula above.
        “If you thought you were the only ones who could forge a creature from an entire galaxy, you were wrong.” Skyriss held up a blue card, massive spheres of energy already forming before her. “Come forth, ALANA THE STAR FORMATION!”
        The ground, the atmosphere, all of creation shook violently causing an unprecedented rumbling like music. White light momentarily flashed and blinded the planet. A blue light so bright, so intense that it overpowered the constant glow cast over the land by the fuchsia sky creature, appeared and seized the stare of every living thing. It spanned the entire horizon, made of roiling clouds, stars, and blue nebulae that formed the shape of an Angel. Her hair flowed upward into outer space as if underwater. One of her hands reached out and pierced the chest of one of the fuchsia creature’s four figures.
        The Skyborn Guild rallied, nearly blown away by the sheer force of the wind generated by her summon. With hope restored, they all drew cards and rushed forward into the sea of Order Drifters on the other side of the canyon. There was a deafening roar, and ears rang as the Order summoned thousands of creatures donning antlers against the wave of Angels.
Alana the Star Formation
        Hours later, the battle was still raging.
        “Council of Galaxies, attack Alana!” shouted Victoria. She flashed a symmetry card to increase its power just before the attack hit. Gold energy trailed like an ocean behind the fuchsia figures as they swept across the sky. The living blue galaxy took the damage, but it was not destroyed. Its glow faltered, but pulsed brighter moments later.
        “Blessing and Endowment!” shouted Skyriss, tossing the cards as they dissolved into the stardust graveyard below. “You know Angels were always the best at buffing!”
        “It’s your move, Skyriss,” said Victoria, clenching her fist. She glanced up at her Council of Galaxies; one of the creature’s four figures was completely destroyed. However, the new technique used to forge it appeared to have paid off. A creature of this magnitude would not be easily defeated, even if attacked by a creature of similar size. Even so, she had greatly underestimated Skyriss’ skills to forge an answer like Alana...
        “I see you made a cozy home for yourself up there on Starbluff Summit,” said Skyriss, drawing 6 more cards.
        “Is that what you’re calling it?” replied Victoria. “We didn’t have a name for it yet, but I like the ring to it—I think we’ll use that!”
        Skyriss gritted her teeth, disgusted at the way her former friend seemed to own the derogatory name. “I thought you were bluffing when you four threatened to leave Skyborn…”
        The double—or quadruple—voice roared with laughter in unison.
        “Especially you, Victoria, after all we’ve been through—”
        “Shows how well you really knew me,” replied the crowned brunette with a smirk.
        “We never bluff,” one of the council men added, coming to Victoria’s side. The other 2 council Drifters also rejoined their crowned leader while Skyriss took her turn.
        “Four against one now, is it?” asked Skyriss.
        “You always said you enjoy a challenge,” mocked one of them. As they made their move, the Council of Galaxies turned from the blue Star Formation and set its sights on Skyriss. Its four figures fully restored, it reached down to attack the white-haired girl as the Angel that covered her horizon was Unsummoned.
        Skyriss was in tears, not quite fleeing, but zipping around the battlefield. She was searching for someone. For anyone that belonged to her Guild.
        “Come back, Skyriss. The fun has just begun,” sang the quad-voice. Fuchsia nebula chased Skyborn’s leader like some kind of polluted Thoughtstream.
        The Order was cruel. All of them. Their battle was won and yet they toyed with her, tormenting her before her downfall. She hadn’t meant to, but she’d caused them suffering. And now they wanted to do the same to her, or worse. At last she found her Guild mates. “Steve! I need your help!”
        “Lewis reporting for duty, Ms. Delcastle!” shouted Steve, breaking away from his battle against an Order creature wielding a rapier.
        “Find Karth or Cynthia, or anyone you can and help them hold off attacks from the West!”
        “Yes, Ma’am,” replied Steve. “But why the West?”
        “I will bring our last resort and regroup with you there!”
        Steve was already gesturing to his son Logan whose Starcaster had just destroyed a nearby lancer antler creature. He wondered why his leader was going off alone—again. Afraid by the fact that their own galaxy creature wasn’t enough, he didn’t even know what her ‘last resort’ was. But he trusted her and there wasn’t exactly time to explain. He nodded as Skyriss flew off.
        Chaos was everywhere. Skyriss flew over shattered metal plates strewn across the battlefield. Wherever she looked she saw Order Drifters and their twisted angels seeking out new opponents. She prayed for the safety of her friends who remained, and hoped those defeated in battle were sent back to Earth and not lying lifeless in the chasms below. Her heart broke as she left her comrades fighting alone, flying as fast as she could over the high mountains and away from the action in the valleys. As much as she hated it, she had no choice left but to find Hal Sinogard. Dragonis’ headquarters was hard to find, and its leader harder still. But if there was time only to look one place for the red-eyed brute, she’d bet her life he’d be there.
        Even at her top speed, which was currently handicapped from exhaustion, it took her longer than she thought to get there. But she saw him; a figure in dark red drifting over a dusty plain beneath a chain of floating volcanoes. She’d never been so happy to see that color, as awful as it was, it was better than the putrid pink horizon behind her. She spun the Drifter around, almost knocking him over in haste. “Hal, I know you hate me almost as much as the council, but people are dying! Please, I need your help—” Skyriss paused suddenly, shocked to find that the crimson cloak didn’t belong to Hal at all.
        “Slow down there, Miss. What seems to be the—”
        “There’s no time! Where’s Hal Sinogard?!”
        “He’s not available right now, but—”
        Skyriss slapped the man in the face, making him drop whatever kind of stone and key he was holding. “You idiot! I’m the leader of Skyborn and people are dead! Tell me where he is right now!”
        “O-Okay,” stammered the man, nearly knocked down again. He gave her directions, but she flew off before he could finish.

Hal Sinogard - Leader of Dragonis

        “Hal Sinogard!” Skyriss’ voice echoed through a cave buried by sand dunes. The entrance was already covered again by the moving sand. She glided carefully, using her Helver as a lantern. She heard a flap and turned and found the Guild leader inspecting faint runes on the cave wall. His Helver flared and he turned, his red eyes resting on her. “Hear me out! Hal, please—my Guild has been decimated, our castle lay to waste...I care nothing about the Guild itself anymore. There is no Skyborn Guild; I only wish to save the lives of the people who are left!” She was sobbing, she realized, and stopped only when she saw he was staring at her unresponsive.
        “Hal! Please, you must understand!” Skyriss placed both hands on his shoulders when he didn’t move. “There is a creature the size of an entire galaxy out there that destroyed everything I had left! The Order...they’re taking the lives of innocent people! And don’t think for a second they won’t come for you next!”
        Hal stared at her, amused.
        “Please do something, Hal! You are the last chance I have of saving them!” Skyriss screamed as she shook him by the shoulders. Partially collapsed, she fell against his chest and sobbed. She was at her end, and the realization of it all hit her like a freight train.
        “First, never touch me,” he said, pushing her away. “Second, I will help you.”
        “Y-You will?!” sniveled Skyriss, looking up at his unblinking eyes.
        “On one condition,” he added.
        “Anything,” she replied.
        “When this is over, you will grant me unrestricted access to Skyborn’s maps, archives, logs, the castle, and all other locations at any time for any given reason, no questions asked.”
        Skyriss felt herself exhale sharply. If there’s anything left , she thought. “Deal.”

        “Look, she’s back!” exclaimed a Skyborn Drifter just as he got pummeled by a direct attack from an Order creature with dual blades. A symphony was rising across the field.
        Karth and a handful of other Skyborn Drifters waved their arms wildly at a fast-approaching Skyriss from the West. Their hope had worn thin, desperate for good news. She crash landed near them, nearly falling off the edge where they stood. Most were too worn out to drift.
        “I—I brought backup,” she said, out of breath again.
        “What do you mean, ‘backup’?” one asked.
        Skyriss produced a shiny new card from her Helver that looked beautiful and deadly at once. “The first cross between a Dragon and an Angel!” she said. But before anyone could express their mortification, a loud wind came on the heels of a battalion of Dragonis Drifters making their way toward the battlefield behind Skyriss.
        “Look sharp, Delcastle!” said a Drifter in red as Dragons flooded the field. Drifters in their ranks passed out cards to the few Skyborn Drifters left standing. Dragonis members waved their Helvers over different parts of the stardust-laden field to re-piece back together destroyed Angel cards. They shuffled them into their own decks and their Helvers transformed, talons & feathers jutting from metal.
        “W-What are they doing here?” asked a Skyborn member of Skyriss.
        “They’re on our side, for now.”
        “An alliance? At what cost?!” asked another.
        Skyriss hesitated. “None.”
        Steve, Logan, and Karth exchanged glances while others murmured anxiously. “Now even I don’t believe that,” said Logan. He was 14 years old.
        “None. No questions asked,” repeated Skyriss. With that she turned to face the monstrous nebula creature being controlled by four Drifters who were going mad with its power. “C’mon, we have a war to win.”
        It all happened so quickly: Skyriss led her remaining troops directly to Victoria and the others at the helm of the Order. At the same time, tens of thousands of Dragonis Drifters engaged in battle with the rest of the Order. Dragon fire scorched the planet as blades pierced scales and feathers, backed by the soundtrack of the Order’s anthem as its musician angels played.
        “Go on, summon it!” said Hal as he and two other Drifters stepped up to challenge the council alongside Skyriss.
        “What have we here?” teased Victoria. “What’s the matter, Skyriss? Already so desperate that you ran crying to your sworn enemy for help? What happened to having valor? You make me sick.”
        “Funny, I was going to say the same thing to you,” replied the girl with white hair.
        Hal Sinogard grumbled and immediately summoned a Dragon from a portal. It collided with one of the musician angels, returning it to stardust. It was four versus four, with thousands dueling in the air and on the ground beneath them. The fuchsia threat loomed restlessly overhead. “Enough talk. We’re going to end this terror right here and now!” Skyriss declared. “I summon Drangel!"
        Feathers ruffled and wings turned to ears as a majestic creature surged into play. Fireflies swarmed to it like remora to a shark. It had the body of a Dragon, but was covered from head to tail in pure white feathers. It was a boon to the battlefield, as suddenly all of the thousands of Angels and Dragons grew more powerful and began taking out Order creatures at a faster rate. Additionally, one of Skyriss’ helpmates activated a symmetry card that brought forth a chain of floating green islands. The lower rarity creatures grew to the power level of Order’s rare creations.
        “We will end this once and for all!” shouted Skyriss as she dove, and threw a card like a knife down into a crevice below. The canyon erupted, a blinding blue exploding in every direction. Alana the Star Formation returned, filling the valley around them with deafening force. Blue energy crackled as Drangel prepared to assist Alana’s attack. A whole Heavenly Host appeared on one side flanked by Dimensional creatures returning from stardust. On the opposite side of the field, angels with antlers brandished all kinds of weapons and blades, some waiting to conduct multiple attacks and others there simply to protect fellow Order creatures.
        “Only we can bring order to the chaos of this world!” bellowed the quadruple voice, the council spoke together with an echoic tone. “Attack!!”
        The Dragonis & Skyborn side bellowed a command as well, and the two planet-sized nebula creatures attacked each other in the atmosphere above, their collision both a beautiful supernova and a deafening catastrophic event.
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