During our December 2016 Skycycle Flash Fiction contest, TERA community member Warr blew us away with his dark, gripping tale of a pair of federation rangers who stumble onto something that just doesn’t belong, and also a wondrous discovery that may well save us all. Warr’s winning contest entry is now an official part of TERA lore!

A hot breeze swept through the argon corridor, tinged with the scent of iron and decay. With it came a spiraling ribbon of blue energy, illuminating the area in a soft electric hue.

Feeling exposed, Kasani watched the light as it passed, her jaw clenching as she pressed her back against the wall. Horns scraping against the not-stone, the warrior panted, blood dripping from a wound on her shoulder. Various curses passed through her mind, but instead she shook her head in disbelief, whispering, “None of this should be here.”

“And neither should we.” As if materializing from the darkness, Iori knelt beside Kasani. If the ninja’s own wounds pained her, Kasani couldn’t tell, something the young castanic truly envied about her elin friend.

“These catacombs are massive. We need to find a way out to report this.”

Going home sounded good to Kasani. Like a dream, even. This place terrified her, but not knowing its purpose scared her even more. With a sigh, she shook her head before answering.

“Not until we learn more.”

Iori's eyes narrowed, but she gave Kasani a crooked smile. “Always the hero.”

Smirking herself, Kasani waved her hand to dismiss the notion, but the sudden movement made her wound flare in pain. Wincing, she nodded to her friend and turned to continue. As she did, Iori vanished into darkness once again.

As the pair inched forward, an unseen door split apart and shifted into the blue-gray wall. In one smooth motion, Kasani slid her swords from her back and moved to the entrance. She listened for movement, but heard only a soft humming.

She glanced inside and saw a short, sloping hallway that ended in a room a few paces away. Gritting her teeth, she nodded to the darkness then pointed to the open doorway, certain Iori would know what she was planning.

Kasani held her enchanted swords in front of her as she crept down, until she was at the entrance to a massive workshop with strange machinery lining the walls, tables, and floor.

“INTRUDER,” boomed a metallic voice above. A large, gem-shaped argon separated from the wall, landing on the floor with a loud crash. Its legs extended, and the center of its body glowed an eerie red. As the nightmarish creature rose to its full height, metallic tentacles erupted from its sides, lashing out at the awestruck warrior.

Kasani crossed her blades just in time to block, the impact forcing her to one knee. Grunting in pain, she looked up to see another pair of tentacles about to strike. But before they reached their mark, the bright glow of a blue plasma shuriken announced Iori’s arrival. The ninja’s attack streaked through the air and struck the argon, knocking it back.

Iori flipped and caught her weapon, preparing for another strike and giving Kasani enough time to gain her feet. But before either woman could attack, a voice cried out from the back of the room.

“Wait! Do not harm them!”

Stopping in place, the argon's illuminated core changed from red to bright blue, as it stopped moving and settled down in the middle of the room. A popori waddled around from behind it, with argon nodes fused to its exposed fur.

“I don't know how you found this place but…kk…kk…the dangers you face are immeasurable.”

Iori stepped forward cautiously, keeping her weapon at the ready. “Who are you?”

“I…do not know. I've long since…kk…kk…forgotten. But…since I awoke…kk…I've done all I can to adapt their technology. To use it…kk…kk…against them.”

The popori waved at the now inactive argon. “You've triggered an alarm…kk…kk…there will be many others soon. You should go…kk…kk…while you can.”

“Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it,” said Kasani. “Truth be told, we haven't been able to find our way out...”

The strange popori closed his eyes, and lifted his head. The ceiling split apart to reveal a darkening sky full of glowing tentacles and clouds. A thin ray of sunlight pushed through the gloom, illuminating a white…something hovering in the background.

“This is my earliest creation…kk…kk…I call it a skycycle.”

Iori moved past the popori, to stand beside a black version of the machine Kasani could only make out by the red glow of its thrusters. “And this other?”

“A prototype…kk…kk…identical aside from its power core. I call it a…kk…kk…jetcycle.” The popori raised a cyasmic paw, as if to scratch at the implants in its face.

“However…kk…kk…each vehicle was designed for a single…kk…kk…passenger. Please…kk…take them both.”

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