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Slaryka was sure this would be a bad day. Yes, veeerrry bad indeed, he said to himself. Yaltrax had done his job, but, in classic Yaltrax style, had created a bigger problem while solving one. He had driven off the Chilas invasion and killed all the invaders, but had endangered the rest of the base by blocking the doorway of the lab with a shelf. The test subject had the ability to absorb impact and use the energy to grow, like a Kraawa. And, last I checked, the primary response to a shelf being in one's way was to bash it repeatedly with one's shoulder until it gave.

The sound of huge impact against protosteel confirmed this theory. Slaryka increased the speed of his dash to make it to the doorway in time to restrain her, hoping he wasn't too late. Their subject had a name, they were sure, but they had not asked her of it, seeing as she was in stasis. Using her powers as an inspiration, they called her Absorber to have something to refer to her by. Due to her being in stasis, she actually wasn't aware she had the nickname.

Another crash ended Slaryka's musings. The shelf had changed somewhat, having a big dent in the center. To the side of the dent was a hole that revealed the contents of the room. From what Slaryka could see, Absorber had smashed almost everything in the room looking for another exit. Finding none, she had decided to punch her way out. Slaryka could also see what size she had reached, and he estimated that she was about two feet taller than Yaltrax. That was bad. That made it harder to stun her, and if she got much bigger, she could defeat Slaryka with one hit. He would have to find some way to contain her. Still, Slaryka had had some extremely tough challenges in his time, some tougher than this, which, under pain of what Zalkatrex would do to him, he had to succeed at. There has to be a solution.


"What!?"

"Yes, Zalkatrex, I actually failed." Yaltrax's eyes were cast down at his feet ten feet below his head. Zalkatrex looked up to see his face, but his expression was still condescending.

"So, my newest recruit has failed me, and one of my oldest operatives has made off to fix your problem. There is no doubt Absorber has gotten much larger, quite likely past the volume of your hulking brainless mass," Zalkatrex lectured. "You have left Slaryka to deal with it and come back to report your failure to me."

Yaltrax grimaced. If he didn't fear Zalkatrex, the Hokanuka elder would be long gone.

"That is your mistake. Not failing. Many of my minions fail, but are not punished for it. Want to know why? They tried again. They fixed their own problems. They stopped what they could not prevent." ----

Yaltrax looked up, intrigued. Zalkatrex smiled a sly grin, almost revolting on his animalistic face. "What I wanted them to do was succeed, no matter how hard they have to try. If they come back to report failure, then they did not try their hardest, putting everything on the line. It means they wasted an opportunity to undo their failure just to waddle back here and tell me, in effect, that they were too spineless and lazy to truly complete their mission before giving up."

Yaltrax winced. Giving up. The way Zalkatrex said these words was almost as if he had uttered an obscenity. He had practically spat the words out as if his tongue had been burned. That is the true mistake, then. Not failing, giving up. Zalkatrex was right. Yaltrax could have contained the creature had he tried. He could maybe even found a spare stasis tube to power up. He wondered if there had been one to find if he had looked for it. Too late now. Absorber probably destroyed it by now. We'll have to do it the hard way.

Yaltrax's eyes narrowed in resolve and determination. "I will aid my brother. I will undo my failure," he said to Zalkatrex. "And I will never, ever give up again."

Zalkatex's smile broadened. "That's it. Most of my operatives do not have the luxury of learning this from me. I want you to be at top of your potential. Now go show me some of that potential.”


Slaryka had to come up with something quick, or Absorber would pound her way free, leading to a quick and possibly lethal trampling being given to Slaryka. That would be bad, so the Hokanuka had to find a way to prevent it as soon as possible. Absorber stopped momentarily, noticing Slaryka and stopping briefly to meet his eyes through the tear in the metal. Slaryka lifted his sword and pointed it at Absorber. She mirrored to gesture, thinking it to be a declaration of animosity. The truth was revealed to be much different and more deadly as a metal dart flew out of Slaryka's sword and lodged in the inside of Absorber's elbow, injuring the organic tissue. To Slaryka's curiosity, the reptilian female did not grow larger from the impact, but simply cried out in pain and pulled the dart out of her arm. Intrigued, the Hokanuka assassin aimed another dart, this time at her armor. It struck dead-on, and, bouncing off, caused a small increase in his opponent's size.

So, it's the armor, he realized. Her little growing trick only works if her armor is struck. That didn't help much. He still had to contain her, but he could perhaps do it in a way that was different than Zalkatrex expected. She's not an animal. She's an intelligent being, and I need to treat her like one.

He focused the power of his Kanohi Jutlin, the Mask of Corruption. He aimed it not on the floor beneath her feet, as he might do if he could see the floor, but at the metal shelf. Rust began to form on the metal and cracks formed in the structure. Once the shelf was badly weakened, Slaryka casually kicked the structure and shattered it.

Absorber looked puzzled. "Why did you free me?" she asked, cocking her head to the side.

Slaryka was glad she didn't charge, only stood there, which allowed him to continue with his plan. "Because I want to have a discussion about your immediate and more distant future, and that is difficult from behind a battered wall."

"If it involves me captured or killed, get out of my way if you want your head pounded into your shoulders."

"The former, but not the latter. If you'll agree to my terms, you can be freed."

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