Harry, TK, and A10 are watching the fight unfold.
“So it’s basically a street duelo,” comments A10.
TK and Harry look at each other, and back to her.
A10 glowers at the need to explain something to a couple of apparently un-hip people. “Two people mixing it up for clout. Could be freestyle, could be knives. If it doesn’t escalate, the loser loses face and goes home to rethink their life.”
“Cool. Does the loser’s circle of friends give the winner’s pals a ride back to their planet?” asks Harry, apprehensively.
TK, meanwhile, has begun to look around. “Something’s happening to the energy of the station here. Weird.”
“What are you doing?” the junior Coordinator asks.
“Simply redirecting some of the Schema’s energy,” the senior one answers placidly. His hands are operating the astrolabe-like controls, out of view of everyone. A random Agent might happen to spot it - but all eyes are on the fight.
“Y’know how I said we need to break the shield?” Kirk asks. “Some energy is coming in.”
“Dissonance Discharge at 92,” reports Jack. “I usually cap out at 35. This is really going to leave a mark!”
Erin retreats from Dominant stance. “Snipe away,” she remarks. Kirk and Jack align, becoming a living machine to aim and fire a tremendous burst of energy.
The Starry Knight has gotten into its rhythm.
William is handling the mechanics of the Continuum Sword. Jordan keeps coming up with new tools and tricks. Adam rides in the back seat, so to speak, watching for enemy attacks and using his insight into the Rainbow Warriors to suggest strategy.
Adam has kept it to himself, but he’s realized Jordan’s strongest contribution here. For all his own heroics, he’s never really truly wanted to do this job. William Eddison, for all his worthiness as a knight and wielder of a holy sword, mostly seems intent on fighting good fights. The thing his little sister brings to this fusion, Adam thinks, is that she wants to be here, being a hero in her own very specific way. She’s too young now, but what about when she grows older?
His thoughts are interrupted by the awareness of a sudden, and very large, energy build up. “Big hit!” he warns the others. “Huge hit!”
William jinks the Knight left, leaping out of the presumed line of fire. The radius of the beam is enormous, and the evasion is barely enough to escape it. But mirror-like projections appear in the air, bouncing the blast back toward the Knight’s new position.
Jordan throws up a Shadow Shield. The Dissonance Discharge wipes it out. She’s too stunned by this failure to follow through, but Adam is ready, and starts raising other Shields in her place. The energy blast plows through them like they aren’t even there.
In desperation William aims the Knight at SG-4, hoping the beam will catch them once he dodges out of the way a final time. But he’s too slow, and the attack strikes the Knight’s left arm and leg.
“Anyone get the number of that truck…?” mutters William.
“Jordan! Jordan, are you okay?” calls Adam.
“Yeah…” She sounds emotionally hurt, and scared, and Adam’s worry for her grows dire. “Adam, that’s not fair. We’re s’posed to be the good guys.”
Available energy has been depleted. Shields will operate at reduced strength, announces Anty.
Adam catches the emanation of something from Tau, and prompts the shard to express it.
A great source of fear has been detected.
Tau draws Adam’s attention to the Coordinators.
“We did it!” Kirk exults. “Alright, team, while they’re down.”
Jack concurs. “There’s a lot of energy here. Let me draw some more…”
“They’re building up for another blast,” Adam reports.
“Excalibur could handle this, but without it I don’t have any good ideas,” William admits.
“Hey, Adam, Tau said fear. Is that like a negative energy?” Jordan asks. Adam can tell she’s still scared and hurt, but he can feel determination shining through as well.
“Yeah, all emotions are energy of some kind. Why?”
“I gotta idea. You guys, let me lead. Okay?”
Adam and William exchange unspoken checks of confidence. Neither of them have a plan. So, why not…?
“All yours, Jordan.”
“Yeah, do your thing, kiddo.”
Jordan pouts. “I’m not a kiddo, I’m a princess. Now watch.”
The build-up of the beam comes. Jordan squints. She can see the energy of the blast, an undifferentiated mass of white-colored power. But at the center of it, like a tiny thread blowing in a gale-force wind, she sees what she is looking for.
There’s something Anty told her, long ago, and it stuck with her but she was never sure why.
Can I do princess stuff like helpin’ people in trouble and makin’ people feel better?
You have always been able to do that, Agent.
All this power is coming because someone is afraid.
Afraid of what?
She reaches out, grasps the thread, and pulls.
Kirk is nearest. She can feel his attitude toward Adam, but the person he really hates isn’t Adam. It’s Kirk. He’s afraid of being small, and disappearing in the shadow of all these amazing people around him.
Jack is afraid of letting people down. They’re afraid of being found out. They’re afraid of having a false face put on them, so they wear a mask of their own choosing.
Erin fears disappointment. When you’ve been told you’re gifted, and set up to think you can’t fail, your first failure is devastating. Your next one, and the one after that, build and build. She fears trying, because it might mean failing, so she does what she already knows will succeed.
And beyond them, she feels the fear of a very old person, whose whole life has just been thrown into chaos.
Jordan takes everything she’s gotten off the thread, and hurls it with all her might back down the line.
Let every one of them feel what the others feel. You stop hurting when people share their feelings. That’s what being a princess is about. Stopping fighting, by making people realize they don’t have to fight.
The energy discharges, but it’s no longer a focused beam. It’s an explosion of energy, blanketing the arena of battle. SG-4 is motionless, because its component members have been psychically stunned by the sudden insight into each others’ minds. And they have realized how little faith the Coordinator really has in them.
Jordan takes the Continuum Sword from William, and lunges at the vulnerable fusion. But not to strike it down in a moment of weakness.
“You all treat Adam like crud, but it’s not Adam’s fault!” she shouts, and the Knight shouts too, for everyone in the Schema to hear.
“You’re all meanies, but you’re also okay people when you aren’t bein’ mean!”
She slams the sword into the core of SG-4, using it as a channel to communicate her own memories, her own feelings. “Alla you got chosen, same way as Adam! Alla you got this power! It’s not Adam’s fault if you’re not usin’ it to help people! It’s yours!”
“I got this power ‘cause I wanted to be a princess, so that’s what I did! Well, what do you wanna do with it? Huh? Who in your life needs some helpin’? Who needs their negative energy taken away? Huh? What’s stoppin’ you?”
The Möbius Meter glows with incandescent intensity.
The elder Coordinator manipulates the device further.
At his station, the Warden notes the further drop of energy. Isolation energy is being drawn away, with an authorization that overrides even his own safeguards.
Inside SG-4, a tremendous pool of energy accumulates.
The Elder closes his eyes. Some sacrifices must be made.
Kirk, Jack, and Erin recover their wits in time to find SG-4 set, essentially, to self-destruct via energy overload. And then, the power is just… gone.
They look up.
The Starry Knight is holding Excalibur.
Its surface coruscates with siphoned energy. A significant percentage of Orion Schema’s power has been absorbed into it.
The Knight turns, and aims the blade. A window opens in the wall, exposing the base to outer space for just a moment, and the accumulated power lances outward in a single blinding blast.
Excalibur fades, and the Knight returns its attention to SG-4.
The Warden looks at his dashboard. He looks at the numbers. And he looks through a portal, to the floating bubble beyond the station proper, whose outlines are already starting to fade.
He slaps a hand down on the alarm he never, ever thought he’d have to use. His pride and talent have been good enough, all these years. But this too is part of his duty.
“CONTAINMENT FAILED. PRISONERS ARE ESCAPING. STATION INTEGRITY IS FAILING.”
The Agents who were observing the fight have been shocked by what they’ve seen, even if that’s only a fraction of the drama that’s truly unfolded. But now they mobilize.
Senior Agents take charge. “Rho, Sigma, Chi teams - apprehend Zaxelis, Om, and Kwa Benga.” “Auxiliary Agents - form up, fuse up, get the Rigellian refugees into lifepods. Enhanced authorization to draw on whatever Schema energy is left.” “Escalation Tier Four Team. If - when - Karkath gets loose, we need to buy time.”
Orion Schema shudders.
TK starts marshalling power from the station. “All aboard,” he calls, and wraps A10 and Harry in a protective life-support shell.
The Starry Knight fusion separates. SG-4 finds itself looking down at Jordan, who’s looking back at them, hands on hips, eyes narrowed in stern disapproval. But then she smiles. “I’m not gonna put you three in a bubble. That’d be mean.”
The SG-4 fusion separates, and three Agents appear. None of them seem willing or ready to talk about what just happened. They look at Jordan, and Adam, and William.
“You better get outta here,” Kirk says at last. “Station’s gonna collapse.”
Jordan glances back at Adam, then at Kirk, and nods.
The lifepods, crafted from Orion Schema’s own psychokinetic energy, drift away in regular lines. In the distance, the human heroes can see a mass of Agents battling against some kind of multidimensional monstrosity.
“Moon Eater? Sounds fun.” A10 punches her palm with a balled-up fist.
“Not our fight,” Harry says firmly.
“What does the Concordance do now?” TK asks Adam.
Adam shrugs. “I’m not sure. I don’t think any of this went the way anyone wanted. But I guess we’re free to go home. Just hold the bubble steady, and I can get us there.”
“What happens when we get home?” Jordan asks curiously.
“Well, Mom and Dad will probably ground us both forever.”