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Chapter One   |   Chapter two   |   Chapter Three   |   Chapter Four   |   Chapter Five   |   Chapter Six   |   Chapter Seven   |   Chapter Eight   |   Chapter Nine   |   Chapter Ten   |   Chapter Eleven   |   Chapter Twelve   |   Chapter 13
Chapter Twelve
The next day was spent quietly, well as quietly as this group could ever get.  Neena fussed over Rail who purposely kept away from the control room.  Xellos practised pulling Milly into the astral plane.  Kain and Lina experimented with new ways of using magic with the Swordbreaker and Canal alternated with being excited about how her firepower was increasing and grumbling about Neena's presence.

     "Hey, Xel, how's it going?"  Lina asked using her new psychic link.

     "Pretty well, I can drag her in; I'm working on being selective about what I bring with her now," Xellos sent back.

     "Can you take a break?  There's something I want to try."

     "Okay, Milly wants to start lunch anyway," Xellos answered and feeling a wave of hunger from Lina, added, "She won't be done for a while, so don't rush down there."

     "Aww, Xel, you're no fun." Lina laughed getting a puzzled look from Kain whom was shut out from the conversation.  "I want to see if I can draw on your power if I need it."

     "Never thought of that application to our new found closeness, Lina dear, just tell me when."

     "When..." Lina began powering up, this time reaching out to draw power from Xellos as well.  At first, Xellos only supplied the barest trickle but then he started pushing it to her. "Slow down, I'm having problems controlling this."

     Xellos' thoughts flowed through the link as well as he bound himself closer to Lina, giving her some of his strength, he caught the ragged edges of power where Lina was having problems.  A wave of concern hit Lina as she became confused at where Xellos began and she ended. "Don't worry, love," she heard.  "We can handle this."

     Canal gaped at Lina as her monitors started beeping. "That's more power than a final psi code.  What is she doing, Kain?"

     "I have no idea. She told me she wanted to try something different and just started powering up."

     "Lina stop! I can't hold much more!" Canal screamed.

     "Fire the psycho blaster," Kain ordered

     "Right, that'll use the excess power." Canal worked at the controls for a minute and a shot hit a nearby asteroid destroying it.  "Whoa, I'm almost at full charge here again.  I'll have to fire a second time." Another asteroid disappeared.

     "The power levels are increasing still but slowing down," Canal sighed in relief. "There, they've stopped."

     Lina shook her head and grinned at Canal and Kain. "Like our new trick?"

     "Our new trick?" Kain asked.

     "Mine and Xellos," Lina answered smugly.

     "Xellos, but he's not here?" Kain looked around as if he expected to see Xellos pop out of the woodwork.

     "Doesn't need to be." Lina grinned. "We can combine energies from a distance; we really do have to figure out the range on it though.  I think that we'll have to sit down and go over our plans; I've fought too many tough opponents to believe that this will be a cake walk."

     "Lina, we're going to blow Darkstar out of the sky," Kain declared happily.  Lina shook her head wondering if she had ever been that reckless.

     `Of course you were, Lina, you've just learned to back it up with a plan,' Xellos whispered in her mind a he appeared in the control room behind Kain.  Then, giving Lina a smirk, he learned over towards Kain's ear. "Boo!"

     Watching Kain jump into Canal's arms, Xellos chuckled and winked at Canal. "That felt good, I've been being much too nice lately.  I really feel like stirring up some trouble."

     "Xellos!" Lina gave the offender a quelling look.  "Save it for the bad guys, okay?  Now let's all meet in the recreation room, that way we can include Neena." Seeing that Canal was about to spout off again, Lina added, "What she can do to you, she can do to another Lost Ship! Canal, get over it."

     "Humans, silly messy humans.  I really should get rid of this bunch and get some that at least pick up after themselves," Canal grumbled under her breath as she dusted off her controls.

     In the recreation room, Lina looked over the group of people who were fighting with her.  Not much at first glance but each had some amazing talents to add to the fray. Xellos and she were by far the strongest, but Kain had a hidden core to him that made her think that he could become her equal in magic someday.  Milly had given her a marksmanship demonstration that had left her in awe.  Lina had always relied on pure power to place her spells but she had always known the value of one small but accurately placed hit, never wanted to admit it, but she had known it.

 Rail, now there was an enigma. She liked him but there was something about him; Rail was not telling them all he knew, and Lina had no doubt that he would sacrifice them all without a hesitation or a doubt if it meant keeping humanity safe.  She would do the same but she doubted that she would ever be as cold about it.  Lina turned her assessing eye to Neena, her face softened as she smiled.  There was no mystery to Neena, just a good heart. Lina hoped that Neena would soften Rail's sharp edges in time.  Neena did have that startling ability, though, of shorting out computer systems; combined with Rail's knowledge of codes, they could possibly do more damage than one would initially guess.

"Okay people, we are all here with one goal in mind: destroy Darkstar.  The trick is not just beating him but destroying him so he can't come back.  Canal and I have both faced him and beaten him so that much can be done."

"Um, Lina," Xellos interjected.

"Right, Xel was there too and provided a bit of power to me."

"Uh hum," Xellos interjected again.

"Okay, Xellos, you and Filia provided the power." Lina shot Xellos a disgusted look at his smirk. "The others wielded the Darkstar weapons, okay?" A twitch started above Lina's left eye as she felt the amusement radiating from Xellos.

Kain looked at Xellos and then Lina, "Then you are saying that you had nothing to do with the destruction of Darkstar on your world, Lina?"

Lina turned on Kain, glad to find a target for her anger, "I'm the one that controlled the power and cast the spell.  Do you want to see an example of my power control up close?"

Kain backed off quickly; Canal and Milly had taught him the danger of angry women. "Lina, let's just talk about how we're going to fight Darkstar."

"Okay, this is my idea," Lina told them as she tried to focus on the task at hand.

Later on, after the war planning had drawn to a close, Lina sat on the edge of her bed, rubbing a knot in her neck. Feeling another pair of hands shove hers away, she sighed and relaxed.  "Do you think we can do it, Xel?" she asked.

"Of course, Lina dear.  There are a few things that you skipped down there, I noticed."

"Dark Seeder, you mean?" Lina replied, enjoying the feeling of the tension draining.

"Of course. Does that mean I can take care of him myself?" Xellos breathed in her ear.

"I'd like to get rid of him before we do anything else, actually.  Anything we can do to remove some of Darkstar's power before we take him on would help.  Kain is too personally involved in this."

Xellos' hands stopped for a moment.  "I have to disagree Lina.  Kain is too personally involved just to take care of it without him."

Lina shot Xellos a glance from the corner of her eye, trying to keep from moving her now relaxed neck. "Explain, Xellos," she demanded.

 "Dark Seeder was responsible for the death of his grandmother, and he was badly beaten when they fought before."

"So, all the more reason to take care of this without him," Lina responded.

Xellos shook his head.  "If we take care of this without him, he'll always doubt himself. If he can't take care of Darkstar's minion, how can he feel that he can fight Darkstar?"

"In other words, if he isn't part of the team that destroys Dark Seeder, he won't have the confidence to fight at full strength. Is that what you're saying?"

"Exactly, Lina dear.  And worse, if I pull him into the astral plane without his sword, Kain won't use his."

Lina shot Xellos an incredulous glance.

"Just one of those human male idiosyncrasies, honour in battle.  Don't worry, Lina dear, I have no such compunctions.  I'll take any advantage I can, but then I'm not a young human male, am I?"

Lina gave Xellos a hard look. "Just don't drift back into old patterns."

"This is a totally new pattern; before, I'd take chances to enjoy the meal, now, without that reason, I have no need to be any thing but safe.  Besides, with the fun I have with you around, I don't want to miss out on any of the excitement."

     Lina smiled at Xellos. "Good answer, now how are you going to set up this fight?"

     "This will be the one and only time I say this but I miss that dumb blond friend of yours."

     "Gourry, why?"

     "Mostly because he could train that young fool Kain with that sword of his.  Neither of us is too shabby with the sword, but I saw the way that Dark Seeder guy was using his and he outclasses both of us. The only one I know that is close is Gourry."

     "Xellos, you do have a point, but Kain isn't bad with his sword, he just lacks confidence. Dark Seeder attacked him psychically with a fear spell when they were fighting.  With no defence against that, he couldn't fight well."

     Xellos nodded. "Okay, so our first order of business is to teach Kain to protect himself from psychic attacks.  Then, we find Dark Seeder, pull him into the astral plane and destroy him.  I would feel better if we could find a way to give him some sword practice with a master."

     "So we ask Canal for some advice, if she's talking to us messy humans again." Lina smiled. "Now, how do we use that comm thing again?"

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