The Golden Emperor Hylexan and his horde of tentacled monsters cornered the Circus Folk and the terrified Quilax. Denika fired an energy blast at the Emperor which it effortlessly deflected, but in doing so the energy was scattered into its minions knocking many of them back for a few seconds.
Denika then quickly created a magical force field in front of the Circus Folk and the Quilax which the Hylexans quickly tore down, but it bought her enough time to push the others back into the cell which she quickly closed over. When she opened the door the Circus Folk and the Quilax found themselves on the lower levels of the Emperors palace.
The Emperor screamed out in rage and struck several of its minions.
“Find them, the last of the Quilax must not escape! All of our work will have been for nothing!”
“Well done Denika”. The Circus Master said.
“I don’t understand?” Carlene asked.
“Its simple. The prison works through magic. Like everything else on this ship. It has no fixed point, its door can open wherever the Emperor wants it to, so I just briefly took it over and took us to the floor the Circus was on.”
“How do you know where that is?” Ashlei asked?
“I can sense it” Denika replied before being distracted by something at the edge of the corridor.
Denika could sense something else near to them, somethng twisted and broken by magic. The nearer she got to it, the more it was almost painful for her. Denika soon saw what it was when she peered into a room at the end of the corridor. Several Hylexan scientists were gathered around a massive dark energy ball, similar to the pit only much more dangerous.
“Unbelievable” Denika said. “The magics they’re playing with, they among the most destructive I’ve ever seen.”
“Why?” Ashlei asked? “They’ve already destroyed most of the Quilax? No other species in this galaxy even has magic? What could they possibly need that for?”
“I suspect the war isn’t going to end with just the Quilax.” The Circus Master said. “If you run out of enemies, just create more. I suspect a lot of their soldiers wouldn’t know what to do if there was no one for them to fight.”
“We need to move past them. That dark magic they’re playing with is so unpredictable, a fight could set it off.” Denika said.
The Circus Folk and the last of the Quilax slowly crept down the corridor. Along the way they saw other magical experiments to create new kinds of weapons in other rooms. “Amatuers” The Circus Master thought to himself. The Hylexans weapons took the form of magical energy rather than physical weapons. The energy would then be fused onto their bodies to make sure that each Hylexan soldier would never be left helpless. Each form of energy however naturally had to be perfected before it would be fused with the soldiers bodies.
Finally at the very end of the corridor, the Circus Folk could see a room containing the Circus, though by this stage it was a mere shell of its former self. So much of the magic in the vessel had been drained or damaged it looked battered and torn. It was surrounded by several Hylexan scientists who were clearly puzzled at the strange craft that looked so delicate, yet was so powerful.
“That doesn’t look like it will be able to take anyone anywhere.” Askiro said.
“She’s been through worse.” The Circus Master said proudly. “Trust me once we fix her up a bit with some magic she’ll be back to her old self, you won’t want to leave!”
Denika placed a forcefield around the door behind them. It probably wouldn’t hold back any Hylexans for longer than a few seconds, but that might be all they need. The presence of her magic being used so near however instantly alerted the Hylexans around the Circus who reached their tentacles out to grab several of the Quilax. Such was their hatred for the Quilax that they would always go for them first, regardless.
Carlene was the first to attack the monsters. She jumped over one of the monsters and landed on it from the top. She then proceeded to beat the magical alien to the ground. The nearest Hylexan quickly turned its attention from the Quilax and tried to strike Carlene with its tentacle, but Carlene quickly grabbed it’s tentacle and swung the monster around, making it knock the other two monsters out of the air.
Florence, The Circus Master, The Strange Boy and Denika started to attack the other monsters before they could retaliate. The Circus Master impaled one of the monsters with his clawed hand, whilst Denika repeatedly blasted one of the monsters into a nearby wall. Florence meanwhile was grabbed by the Hylexans tentacles, but she bit into the one that wrapped itself around her throat and tore it off. Whilst the monster was in pain, the Siren jumped at the Hylexan and stuck both of her hands through the monster’s amorphous body. The Strange Boy meanwhile jumped on one of the Hylexans and rammed it into another pushing them against a wall. The Strange Boy then tore both monsters to pieces with his claws, shredding through one and then another in a matter of seconds.
Keptis and Ashlei just watched from the sides along with the Quilax. They both hated feeling so helpless. Normally Keptis could keep up with the others thanks to his magical weapons. He was a skilled fighter of course, but in this instance it would do no good against the Hylexans. Ashlei meanwhile had felt like a load throughout the entire mission despite the bravery she had shown against the Hylexans. If they got out of this she was going to make sure that Carlene and Denika taught her more skills and tricks.
After the last of the monsters were destroyed, the Circus Master and Denika headed towards the Circus.
“Its shielded by their magics.” The Circus Master said. “How long do you think before you can break it down?”
“A few minutes” Denika replied. Suddenly Carlene noticed the Hylexan that Denika had attacked had survived. The monster slowly crawled along the floor towards a large, green, glowing sphere on the nearby wall. Carlene jumped on the monster, but one of its tentalces whipped out and hit the sphere which sent an alarm running through throughout the base. The Hylexans had already been alerted by the emperor, but each room had an alarm that would let all of the Hylexans instantly know if intruders were there.
All of the Hylexan scientists from the nearby rooms who had been too busy with their own experiments to take heed of the Emperor’s warning before soon swamped the Quilax and the Circus Folk. They effortlessly tore down the forcefield and begun to attack the Quilax. Some of the creatures even wielded the crude weapons which they had been developing in their labs (which took the form of magical spheres.) One such weapon was so unstable however it started to explode and Denika was forced to put a magical force field around it. The force field barely contained the explosion and Denika was still thrown across the room.
Carlene, The Strange Boy, Florence and the Circus Master tried to fight off the Hylexans but there were too many of them. Carlene was hit by one of the monsters new weapons, a purple sphere which covered her in a purple forcefield. The Vampire tried to break free but the magic was too strong.
Ashlei and Askira tried to pull the magical shield off off Carlene, and after a few minutes the magic which had seemed almost unbreakable became brittle and crumbled to nothing.
“Damn” The Hylexan who had thrown the weapon at Carlene said. “It needs more work done on it.”
Another Hylexan had managed fire a yellow energy beam at the Strange Boy which briefly placed him under the Hylexans control. The Strange Boy quickly jumped Florence from behind and stuck his hand through her spine and into her stomach.
The Circus Master tried to grab the child Vampire and pull him off, but the Jiang Shi breed of Vampires were far stronger than the Circus Masters breed of Vandal; and with one smack the Strange Boy sent the Circus Master flying across the room, where several Hylexans started to swarm him.
The Strange Boy brought Florence to her knees before the effects of the magic began to wear off. Before he and Florence could do anything however they were hit by a green ray from another Hylexan that began to burn their flesh. Florence’s flesh burned much quicker than the Strange Boy, though neither of them were able to break free from the magics. Fortunately Denika was able to pull them free with her magic, though only after an immense struggle. Florence however was still badly burned and too weak to fight back.
Another one of the Hylexans fired at Denika, knocking her out of the air, whilst Keptis tried to drag Florence to safety, one of the Quilax wrapped its tentacles around his throat from behind. Fortunately however the Strange Boy quickly grabbed the Hylexan from behind and tore it in half. The Circus Master who had managed to fight the Hylexans that had swarmed him off, quickly joined The Strange Boy and the two would continue to defend the Martian and the Siren for the next few minutes against the monsters.
A few of the Quilax including Askira tried to join in the fight and help Carlene who was holding the monsters off from the main crowd, but they were no match for the Hylexans. Several more Quilax were impaled by the Hylexans tentacles. Denika meanwhile managed to finally open the Circus and used her magic to first pull Keptis, Florence and Ashlei into the tent and then all of the Quilax, whilst the Circus Master, Carlene and the Strange Boy either fought off or distracted the octopoid monsters.
As the two Vampires and the Vandal prepared to join the others in the tent, the roof began to cave in and several more Hylexans and the golden Emperor whose flesh had completely healed quickly descended. The Emperor knew it was risky to take the Circus Master on when he had the Firax, but his pride meant that he couldn’t leave it entirely to his minions. The Emperor hoped that his minions would deal with the Vandal, but if he didn’t make an appearance then he feared he would look like a coward to his people.
The Hylexan minions distracted the 3 time travellers long enough for the Emperor to quickly wrap its tentacles around them. This would normally have been enough to burn a normal life form into nothing, but the Vampires and the Vandals stronger bodies allowed them to survive for a while longer.
“Interesting?” The Emperor said. “Most life forms would be burnt to a crisp yet you still struggle. I respect your strength. Hand over the Quilax and I’ll spare you.”
The Circus Master laughed. “Lets stop pretending this is about them. It was once, but now? Relax the camera’s are off. Why not admit that you’re way beyond just simple revenge.”
The Emperor froze for a minute before answering.
“We have eliminated the monsters who once enslaved us, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be others around the universe. These weapons are to make sure that we will never be vulnerable again.”
“How will you get complete reassurance I wonder? Are you really going to let those weapons just go to waste?”
The Emperor squeezed his three prisoners harder. “We don’t have to explain anything to you freaks!” The monster shouted. “We will protect ourselves by any means necessary!” In desperation Carlene bit into the Emperors tentacles. It was unquestionably the most unpleasant thing she had ever tasted, but she bit as hard she could until she severed the tentacle that was holding her.
Carlene then swung on the severed tentacle into the Emperor, hitting it with enough force that she sent the monster flying backwards into its minions which freed the others. Denika soon came flying out of the tent and started to blast the Emperor holding him back while Carlene, The Strange Boy and The Circus Master fought the other Hylexans off. The Emperor however quickly sent Denika flying back across the room and started to attack the others who managed to dodge its tentacles, except for the Circus Master who tried to scratch the beast to infect it with the firax. Instead of fighting him, the Emperor sent several of its minions to dogpile on the Vandal.
Back in the tent meanwhile Keptis desperately searched through the remaining weapons chest. He couldn’t find a replica of his beloved flaming chainsaw but he found several flaming knives made by the same race. “Its better than nothing” he said whilst handing a few of the knives to Ashlei, before leaving the tent.
Outside whilst Carlene and The Strange Boy were preoccupied with the Hylexans, Ashlei threw several knives at the Hylexans swarming the Circus Master. She only managed to hit two of them, but it was enough for the Circus Master to get free.
Keptis meanwhile hurled his knives straight at the Emperor who didn’t even notice the Martian he was so preoccupied with the two Vampires. The flaming knives easily cut through the monsters flesh and as his tentacles flailed around he struck several of his own minions who were vaporised as a result.
The monster reached out and tried to grab Keptis, but Florence who had begun to recover and had followed him out of the Tent managed to push Keptis out of the way. Florence was struck by the tentacle instead which burned the Siren, but not enough to kill her.
Seizing his chance, the Circus Master jumped at the Emperor and stabbed both of his clawed hands into the monster, injecting the firax into its blood. The Emperor reached its tentacles out to pull the Circus Master off, but Carlene quickly grabbed one of the flaming knives Ashlei had dropped and jumped onto the Emperor, slicing the monsters flesh down the middle. Keptis then grabbed another flaming knife and threw it at the Emperor, whilst Denika blasted the monster.
Unable to cope with all of the attacks at once, the Emperor let out a final scream before the Firex ran its way through his body. Within a matter of seconds Emperors flesh turned completely gray and began to shatter. As it did the entire base began to shake and collapse.
The Circus Master weak from the firex collapsed into the ruins of the former Emperor.
The other Circus Folk tried to reach the Circus Master but the hordes of Hylexans stopped them. Carlene, the Strange Boy, Keptis wielding his firey blade and even a weakened Florence tried to help the Circus Master but there were too many of the Octopus beasts in between. Several of the Hylexans started to beat and impale the Circus Master with their tentacles, whilst the others struggled to try and save him.
Just as all seemed lost the Quilax suddenly came running from the tent. Close to 200 of them, they all swarmed the Hylexans. Askira had been watching the Circus Folk fight the Hylexans from the Tent and felt she couldn’t leave them.
“We have to help them” Askira said. “What can we do?” one of the Quilax asked. “We have to do something. They’ve risked their lives for us. Besides if they don’t make it, neither will we.” Askira didn’t bother to argue it any longer and ran out. Several more Quilax followed her and within a few seconds, virtuall all of the survivors were following her. Many of them saw sense in her words, whilst others couldn’t leave their fellow Quilax at the mercy of the monsters. The Quilax predictably didn’t last long against the Hylexans, but they at least distracted them long enough for Carlene and Denika to get to the Circus Master. Carlene fought the Hylexans that had gathered around him off, whilst Denika used her magic to get the Circus Master back to the safety of the tent. Denika would then start to pull the Quilax back to the tent too, whilst the rest of the Circus Folk held off the Hylexans. More and more pieces of rubble started to fall from the ceiling as the space castle broke apart, crushing the Hylexans. One piece nearly hit Ashlei, but The Strange Boy managed to push her out of the way in time, much to Ashlei’s surprise.
The remaining Circus Folk managed to escape back to the Tent as even the Hylexans began to flee to escape their dying ship.
Back in the tent Denika would activate the ship to take off, mere seconds before the Emperors palace exploded. The blast was seen all over the Hylexans planet below. It was a day that would live in infamy for their race for thousands of years to come. The day that should have been their ultimate victory over the hated Quilax, but instead led to their greatest tragedy where the Hylexans who had won the war for them were slaughtered.
The Emperor would be remembered as the greatest hero of the Hylexan people for centuries to come, with all subsequent Emperors being forced to live in his shadow to some extent.
Just as the Circus Master had predicted however the war was not over for the Hylexans. Their collective paranoia would drive them to create more weapons and launch more attacks against other planets, starting with the neighbouring worlds in their galaxy.
The monsters had always resented the other life forms in their galaxy. As most of the other sentient species in the Hylexans galaxy were humanoid, the Hylexans felt that their neighbours looked down on and were repulsed by them. The Hylexans would develop a particular hatred for all humanoids that would lead them to move on to slaughter other humanoid life forms across the galaxy. Over time however they would come to fear and despise all other life forms in general.
The Hylexans developed a core belief that the only way they would never be at the mercy of another species again was if they came to dominate all other life forms they came across in the universe. In the later years of their history the monsters would go one step further and seek to exterminate all other life forms. Their fear of suffering under another race like they had done under the Quilax ultimately led the once peaceful Hylexan race into becoming one of the most evil and feared races throughout the history of the entire universe.
The Quilax meanwhile would have a very different destiny. The Tent managed to take them to a far away planet, hundreds and thousands of light years beyond the Hylexans reach.
The journey thankfully only took a few hours. The 200 surviving Quilax were rather cramped in the tent to say the least. Many of them including Askira had been badly injured by the Hylexans. Denika would be able to heal most of the injured with her magic, but sadly not all of the Quilax made it.
The Circus Master was knocked out during most of the journey. The strain of the Firex had taken its toll on him, and at one point Denika was worried he might not make it. Fortunately however the Circus Master’s Vandal healing powers allowed him to recover.
The planet the Tent took the suviving Quilax too was a lushious jungle planet. It was the only inhabited world in its solar system and other than the plant life, there were only a few primitive animal life forms.
It was the perfect place for their race to start over. Barely 200 of the Quilax were left, but it would be enough for their race to survive. The Circus Folk would stay with them for a few days. During that time they helped to bury those who had died on the journey and using Denika’s magic, build a few settlemants to house the survivors. Eventually after a few days however the Circus Folk knew they had to move on. They tried to slip away in secret, but Askira noticed them all leaving and followed the Circus Folk to the tent.
“You could have said goodbye?” Askira said to Carlene somewhat jokingly.
“I thought we were friends?” Askira and Carlene had spent a lot time together over the last few days, and whilst she understood that they had to leave, she was still a little upset.
“Sorry darling, but we have other worlds to visit.”
“Yes!” The Circus Master interrupted. “Its not easy being a hero you know. We’re constantly on the move, risking our lives to save others.” He continued to boast, to the embarrassed moans of his team mates.
“I understand but I just want to thank you one last time.” Askira replied, ignoring the Circus Masters boasts.
“Don’t thank us.” Carlene said. “We just did what anyone would have done darling.”
“Well a little thanks is okay” The Circus Master interrupted.
“Still” he continued in a more serious tone. “Its important now that you use this second chance for your race. The Hylexans may be monsters now, but they didn’t spring out of nowhere.”
“I know.” Askira said with regret. “I’m still not sure we deserve this second chance.”
“That’s entirely up to you darling”. Carlene said. “When we were on that city you told me about how ashamed you were of what your people had done? Well now you can prove it. Make sure that you break the cycle here and focus on your own people now.”
“That’s easier said than done. Some of us are already talking about revenge, about using magic as a weapon.”
“Well we never said that rebuilding a civilisation was ever going to be easy.” The Circus Master replied.
“All races are capable of great evil. You’ve seen where it leads not only with your own race, but with the Hylexans. Always make sure to remind your people of that.”
“I will, I promise.
“Maybe we’ll come back in a couple of hundred years, see how your descendants are doing.” The Circus Master said with a smile as he and the others went back into the tent. Carlene was the last to leave. She shook Askira’s hand one last time and wished her luck before joining her comrades. In a matter of seconds the battered old tent vanished back into the vortex before the amazed Askira.
It would now be up to Askira and other members of her kind who had recognised what had led to the downfall of their previous civilisation to stop the Quilax from falling back into their own ways.
As the Tent sped on through the vortex to a new time and place Denika and the Circus Master got to work on repairing the Tent which had been reduced to its bare bones by the firex.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do on the ship Denika. At least the tv wasn’t destroyed.” The Circus Master said cheerfully.
“Just make sure you get the toilet fixed first.” Keptis replied.
“Well Ashlei darling that was your first alien planet.” Carlene said. “I’m sorry for what that thing did to you,” she said more sensitively. “But you didn’t give in and did us all proud love.”
“I didn’t” Ashlei said. “I was pretty much useless throughout the whole time. I want you to train me more. You and Denika. I want to learn how to use magic as well.”
“I’ve been training you darling and you’ve come along great.”
“Its not enough. Please I don’t want to be a useless again Carlene.”
“I’ll do my best love. You weren’t a load on us though. Always remember that. We’re all glad you’re here. None more so than me.”
Journey To The Centre of Evil