Nexus looked into the essence of Kratia, and Kratia helped him to see that it was truly Takair. In fact, she transformed her body into its true and natural form, and forced Nexus to see through her (his) own eyes. The blurred, dim vision suddenly it sprang into focus. Nexus gasped, gulping in air as the pain suddenly increased. He could hear the thunder, and knew that the Crystal would kill him now.
Then the pain abruptly vanished. Kratia/Takair seemed confused, and Nexus took the opportunity to reach into her mind deeply and completely.
“I know you NOW!” he thought as he ripped apart the innermost core of Kratia’s magic, destroying her ability to draw upon the Crystal. Stripping her of magic.
She screamed within his mind, but it was no problem now to silence it. Carefully he placed her mind back in the shell of her own brain, after making sure the shell contained no restorative features for magic.
Then Takair began screaming for real, long piercing wails.
Nexus moved over to his son and plucked a wand from his grasp. He felt the energy course through him as he began cleansing his body of the poison.
“Get away from her, Nexus.”
The words were clear but the voice was toneless. Nexus straightened, keeping in his hand the wand. He turned to see Sarral (see? My eyes are healed! How?) standing under the arch of the entrance. Sarral was armed with what appeared to be Drake’s automatic weapon or a precise duplicate. Nexus squeezed down on the wand.
“You will refrain from magic, Nexus. This gun is quite lethal, and much faster than you can spell.”
Nexus shrugged. “My battle with Kratia is over and I am too tired to fight another.” He tucked the wand into a fold of his robe. Sarral moved closer to Kratia, his eyes and the muzzle of the gun pointed at Nexus.
Sarral frowned. “You have regained your vision.”
“One of the good things to result from our fight.”
“It is the last battle you will fight. Kratia’s forces are victorious. She now controls the economy, and the Strictures have been rewritten to her specifications.”
“I have my doubts on that, Sarral. In any case, it will do her no good.”
Sarral reached Kratia and leaned over the whimpering form. “Why have you transformed yourself into this, Kratia?” He extended an arm, touched Kratia on the shoulder. She (he?) flinched and shuddered, but stopped crying. She uncurled, lifted her boyish face to him.
“Kill him,” Takair whispered. “Kill him now. Kill him dead.”
Sarral stared at the tracks of the tears on the strange face. “You have never appeared as a male before.” He frowned. “And there is something else different about you.” He glanced back at Nexus again, gun clutched tightly.
“This is very bad,” Sarral said. “You have lost your magic.”
“I can still rule!” she hissed. “The Circle is destroyed; the Esafs are dead or banished. Only Nexus stands here to challenge us! Kill him!”
“You have become ineffective, Kratia.” Emotions danced across Sarral’s normally bland face. Nexus saw anger, grief, disgust flicker and merge.
“Don’t be a fool! You owe me!” shouted Kratia. “We have an arrangement.”
Nexus sensed the emotions continuing to build in Sarral, unusually powerful, dangerous emotions. He tried to slip into Sarral’s mind. He saw an image of Zand Cullo lying in bed. Dead. What was the significance of that image?
“Kratia – Takair is right, Sarral,” said Nexus. “Don’t be a fool. Your master is no longer a master. Takair needs a lot of help. So do you. Let the time of pain and obsession be at an end. It’s time for the healing, now.”
“I can’t love anymore. I can’t even hate,” said Sarral, ignoring Nexus.
Kratia stared at him blankly.
“Kill him,” she said. “For what he has done to me. To us.”
“You should have let me cry,” Sarral said.
He turned the barrel of the MP-5 around and unloaded the clip into her face. He showed no emotion as he watched it disintegrate from the impact of the point blank shells. He did not flinch as pieces of her blood and flesh splashed on him.
Nexus shrieked. Instant rage boiled up in him, erupting in a spell of destruction that was cast before he was even conscious of its formulation. Sarral, his brain numbed and conditioned to be open by years of Kratia’s service, had no time to feel pain or fear as the energy of an entire ten megawatt wand discharged into his brain, vaporizing it. The skull exploded violently, red steam spraying the room. His body jerked and fell convulsing to the floor, blood still pumping from the stump of the neck.
Billy Takashema stepped through a transport portal that suddenly appeared beside Nexus. Drake entered the room from the far end, limping and bleeding from several wounds. They both found Nexus covered with blood, cradling the body of his son. He was singing very softly, tears streaming from eyes that no longer wished to see.