Qlippothic screamed as her Sephiroth shattered in a cascade of deepest hues as breathtaking as it was heart-wrenching to behold.
Darien lay silent on the floor, his white lab coat scorched and cut to ribbons, oozing with the emerald serum that had replaced his blood as his body continued to smolder.
"Daddy?" Moaned Wren as she crawled out from under him. Looking down, she saw that she was undamaged. Her father had taken the full brunt of the explosion for her. She flipped him over on his back. She covered her mouth as she gasped. She was no stranger to gore at this point, but to see her father in this extreme condition...
Her expression turned to relief as she watched his organs draw back into his body by themselves. His open fractures abruptly snapped back into place. He slowly sat up. Both lenses of his goggles were shattered, but the emerald glow in his eyes shone even brighter than before, cutting through the smoke filling the laboratory like a foglight.
"QLI!" He quickly limped past the equipment array, ignoring the still exploding showers of sparks. He reached the table where his Firstbuilt lay just in time to see the glow of her eyes fade to complete darkness. Her cranium was warped from the explosions inside. Leaving the top of her metallic skull misshapen and and dulled from the heat. Her face, at least, still kept its serene mask.
"Qlippothic..." Darien shook his head as he cupped his hand behind her head, ignoring the sizzling sounds as it burned his flesh. "My God, Qli...I'm sorry...I should have listened to you..." Glowing green tears hissed as they landed on near-molten brass.
"Daddy?" Whispered Wren as she quietly followed him to the table. "Is she...repairable?"
He shook his head sadly. "No Wren. The Sephiroth were unique. Irreplaceable. Her soul was bound to them. Unless..." He tapped his fingers on Qlippothic's chassis as his burning gaze fell down towards the revived urchin. "Wren? How would you like an upgrade?"
A thunder of shattering glass and splintering wood echoed through the consulate as the clank dropped through the roof, landing upright on the laboratory floor with a tremor that shook the Consulate.
"No, Doctor Mason..." boomed the construct as it lumbered across the cracking tiles, "this madness ends now." The pistons of massive claws whined as they stretched forward, opening to reveal the large bores aimed squarely at the Scientist. "By the authority granted me by Baron Klaus Wulfenbach in matters of the Consulate, I place you under arrest for the murder of my sister..."
Ash was unable to complete his sentence as a blur of a tentacle lashed around his exoskeleton and slammed him through a wall of equipment. The tentacle slowly retracted through Darien's sleeve as he sneered at the fallen android.
"Foolish CLANK! You dare to think you can stand in the way of SCIENCE!" His voice grew increasingly bestial as he spoke, almost as much a bubbling roar than speech. Wren stared at the tentacle a moment, then quickly ran for the exit as Darien continued. "Even though her spirit was consumed, the experiment was a SUCCESS!" Darien advanced slowly as crimson wings erupted from his back and quickly warped into misshapen and tattered banners. "For the span of three minutes and forty seconds we recreated the effect of the ancient Arcane Towers that once powered this region!" he cackled. "Magical energy is flooding into New Babbage as we speak! This is a new reality that only *I* fully comprehend! The Steamlands shall BEG me to teach them my revised laws of physics for this BOLD NEW ERA, the PAX MASONICA!!!"
Ash's retort was a crack and flash of his Tesla cannon as lightning wrapped around the Scientist, hurling him backwards through the air. A jagged metal I-beam pierced through his chest as his limbs trembled violently. Several sickening popping sounds erupted from his frame as the electricity dispersed within the next few seconds, leaving his barely recognizable body to hang limp from where he was impaled.
Ash manually pried open the containment unit of his now depleted exoskeleton. With an expressionless metal face he scanned the damage to the room, and focused his sensors upwards at his creator.
"Life signs: Negative. Pandorus neutralized..." He telescoped his legs to reach the ceiling. He wrapped his arms around the charred corpse and began to pull it free from the beam. "I had no choice..."
"NOW YOU HAVE NONE!" Shrieked the shape that expanded around Ash as it sprouted a ghastly array of writhing limbs. The android struggled only a moment before it was crushed inwards. The metal shell fell backwards on its stilted legs to collapse in the corner. Its chest was ripped open, and the dust that was once its soul-chip floated from it to mingle with the thick layers of smoke.
Bony limbs stretched to the floor, dozens of claws on the misshapen appendages scraped deep gashes of chaotic patterns in the tiles. "SUCH DELICIOUS POWER! MORE! MORE!" The roof peeled upwards as the gargantuan horror that was once Darien James Mason savored the screams of terrified mortals outside.
"IT IS ALL MINE!" It screeched through what now seemed a nearly insectoid jaws. "NEW BABBAGE! CALEDON! STEELTOPIA! STEELHEAD! THIS WORLD SHALL BE FOREVER..."
The whistle of mortar rounds drowned out the tirade as the monster shuddered under a barrage of Reality Enforcement Bombs.
Minutes later when the dust cleared, Darien found himself half buried in rubble. He was choking on dust, and coughing very red blood down his chin. Half a brick fell from the mound behind him and glanced off his skull as the ground shook again. Opening a swollen eye as best he could, he strained his neck to stare up at the colossus of Lord Smashington as its eyes shone down on him.
"Don't stop to gloat, Doctor Obolensky," whispered Darien as his chest heaved with rattling breaths. "Just finish this...finish..."
"TURN IT OFF!" screamed Qlippothic as she stared at the images glowing within the metal hoop of Aleister's machine. "TURN IT OFF!"
Koen sat in the corner, his hands covering his face and his tail curled into his lap. Aleister turned a dial and the scene of Lumina, Koen, Amarantis and Wren gathered at a black obelisk faded to black.
"My Timewindow has shown you vat vas der most likely outcome of der Doktor's experiment," stated the vampire calmly. "I could not stop Koen from using der Retroaktif Continuum Device before...it interfered vit der frequencies..."
"But it worked this time," interjected the neko.
"I zink you vill agree, zat in zis instance...der ends justified der meanz, Ja? Huntil vee can cure Darien of der madness, vee must keep you avay from him. At all costs."
Qlippothic lay quietly on the table for a few minutes before she spoke again. "Agreed. I will stay here on the Bloodwing's Revenge and help you devise a plan to cure my father. Now please reconnect my motor processors."