The watching Paragons seemed content to sit tight so long as we didn’t try to get past them. We could simply walk away. We didn’t have to do this.
In every cycle of war with the Pandaren, it had been the Mantid that were the aggressors, the Pandaren that defended their homeland. The Pandaren defended their homes, their families, their way of life.
Now it was the Klaxxi Paragons that stood firm, showing no sign of starting shit, but determined to protect their family, their chance of a future with their father, their creator returned to them.
If we were going to get to Garrosh Hellscream, then we would be the ones to break the peace. We would have to choose our vision of a future over theirs.
We would have to be the ones to break faith with our friends.
Kind of heavy existentialist crap to deal with, when all I wanted to do when I woke up in the morning was tear some shit up. You know, blow up some Orcs, burn down some huts, maybe deep fat fry a goblin or two.
Guess we got the bonus plan.
You know what? Fuck it.
As much as I admire the commitment and honor of the Klaxxi, its not a Klaxxi overlord I’m here to stop, it’s the return of an Old God with the spiritual power of the Vale and the military might of the Horde behind it.
If the Paragons were standing between us and a new Empress, sure, no problem mates, you go on about your business, ain’t none of mine.
But nope, when that door opens it’s not going to be some punk kid needing a spanking, we’re going to be going ten rounds with an Old God. Every moment that passes, it gets to gather its strength, soak up those Vale energies. Leave shit like this to fester, and you get what we had in Ulduar, or that whole mess with C’thun out in Silithis.
Oh, hell no. I am NOT going to go around for 6 more months fishing up Red Snapper again. And bandages! Rolling those fucking bandages. Oh, kiss my ass, that thing is going down today. Like, right now.
Monstre and Pankration moved forward, drawing the attention of the Klaxxi soldiers waiting in the chamber. Within moments, the soldiers were cut off from their comrades, overwhelmed and destroyed.
Leaving Kovok still stomping around in the rear.
Monstre ran forward and smashed Kovok in the carapace. I felt like the blows were hitting my own flesh, but it had to be done, and if it were to be done at all, we’d best do it before Kaz’tik got involved.
With our combined might on Kovok, he died within seconds. Kaz’tik said nothing, only looked down upon us without expression.
This was serious. They weren’t screwing around. Even now, with the ultimate provocation to Kaz’tik of killing his most treasured weapon, they were waiting for us to actually attack. We couldn’t goad them into making the first move.
This blood would be entirely on our hands. It would be us that broke faith, and at the end of the day, win or lose we’d have to deal with that fact for as long as we had left to us.
So fucking be it. No more Old Gods. Just, no more.
Pankration smashed the harmonizing crystal in the center of the chamber, making the walls ring with the discordant sound, breaking the beacon that bound any other Klaxxi troops to the Paragons. It was just us, no reinforcements to hear their call.
No one gets out of here alive. No one comes riding to the rescue.
We moved to the attack, and the Paragons finally joined the battle.
Hisek the Swarmkeeper, Skeer the Bloodseeker and Rik’kal the Dissector all flew down from their vantage points to engage us on the ground, all while the rest of the Paragons watched, and waited.
Hisek landed lightly, saying ”Time for a little target practice…” and began rapidly firing multiple spines, most of them bouncing off of our armor. Rik’kal the Dissector called out “Yes, new test subjects!” and focused all of his attention on Monstre, who wisely drug him away from the rest of us. From the looks of things, Rik’kal was trying to get past Monstre’s defenses to inject him with something that looked truly foul. I didn’t know what it was, but I surely hoped Monstre could keep every bit of protection up he had.
Whatever Rik’kal was brewing, I doubted a shot of penicillin was going to make a dent. No, Rik’kal was nasty, and from the looks of the squirming crap in those vials he was trying to get into Monstre, he was shooting for a case of death by Candiru, and just no. “Hold on Monstre, just hold on! Don’t let him get that crap in you! And keep your pants on! For the love of Elune KEEP YOUR PANTS ON!”
In the rush to separate Rik’kal from the group, Skeer the Bloodseeker dropped in on us almost unnoticed. At least he did until he screamed out, “I will drink your blood!”, and summoned up two massive mounds of roiling blood from the sides of the room that rapidly advanced.
We all calmed down and settled in. We had made it this far using coordination, clear communication, and overwhelming firepower when we freaked the hell out.
Clearly, this situation called for the overwhelming firepower and the freaking out.
As Pankration got Skeer and Hisek under control, the rest of us switched to burning down the Bloods. They moved inexorably towards Skeer, intent on feeding their blood to him. We weren’t going to let that happen.
As soon as they went down, we returned our attention on Skeer to cut down on any more of those damn distractions. With our combined firepower, Skeer quickly died, and Hisek was looking pretty weak in the knees too.
As he fell, Skeer called out to the other Paragons waiting above, saying “Avenge me, brothers…” and in a bright burst of light, Ka’roz the Locust flew down to take his place.
It took a second for my eyes to adjust, but when they did I was finally scared. That flash of light when Skeer died had meant more than the fall of a Paragon. In that moment, the other two we had been fighting were fully healed of all their wounds.
We, on the other hand, weren’t so lucky.
Chron’s voice rose over the sounds of battle, calling out “Ignore the other two, we have to focus all of our efforts on bringing them down one at a time! They’re linked together, when one dies the rest are getting healed! Kill Ka’roz next!”
At that moment Hisek targeted me, and I got blasted, flying halfway across the room. I was frozen in place, the seconds slipping away as he focused in on me, preparing to unleash some kind of powerful blast of sonic force. Right before he fired, everyone nearby that could get there in time ran between us right into the line of fire, and somehow absorbed enough of the blow to enable me to survive. I staggered away, a little deafened but still in the fight. Whatever that was, getting in the way helped mute it, but it didn’t feel good at all.
With that kind of firepower, why the heck did Chron want us to take down Ka’roz next?
At least, that was what I was going to ask, when Ka’roz suddenly erupted in a flurry of attacks, darting all over the chamber to smack people down at random, and everyone he passed got caught up in a twisting, spinning vortex. Holy crap! Okay, kill him before the chaos gets to be too much.
Speaking of controlled chaos, Rik’kal turned from Monstre long enough to toss something at Summibs, and the next thing I see Mibs turns into a big Amber Scorpion. Oh shit, Summibs was one of our deadliest, if he starts to turn on us… oh, cool, he’s attacking Ka’roz too!
Um, what? Okay, so Rik’kal just turned Mibs into a scorpion, so instead of puking green fire all over the place, he’s ramming that stinger right up Ka’roz’s… hmm, I guess I don’t know what he’s ramming that into. On second thought, ew. Oh good, it’s worn off, he’s back to normal.
And there goes Ka’roz, down for the count. Ka’roz was so fast, so free, blazing around the room. Even lying there, battered from our attacks, his only thought was of the thrill of speed, the rush of the wind. As he fell, I heard his final words, “Curse this shell… I was not fast enough…”. He died wishing for just a touch more speed.
Another flash of light, Hisek and Rik’kal once more as fresh and ferocious as when the fight began, while we continued to tire.
And Korven the Prime jumped down, to land with a crash in the center of the chamber. “You now face the Prime. Bow down to your superior.”
Oh shit, this just got real. The Prime! Oh man, game over man, we are just well and truly fucked.
Korven slammed into Pankration, sending him reeling, but Chron rallied us, calling out “Everything you have on Korven! Blow heroes, blow cooldowns, blow whatever you have to but get him down!”
Rain of fire, rains of frogs, I even asked my pet Xu’fu to go bite him on his ankles. And it was working! His vicious assaults on Pankration were causing blood to splatter the walls, but Pumpken, Callaghan and Katilyn were keeping him alive and Korven had no support, nobody in his corner to feed him the gift of life. He was going down!
And then an Amber prism formed around him, and we all know what Amber means.
“That’s it! Burn the Amber down, don’t give him a chance to heal!”
We smashed through the Amber, shards flying anywhere, and Korven went down, the spikes of Arrakeen’s maces impaling his skull. He barely had time to whisper, “Return me to the amber…” before the death rattle shook his body.
A bright flash of light, and Iyyokuk the Lucid, Iyyokuk the freaking mentalist Mantid joined the fray.
I just…. I don’t even want to know what the hell he was going to do. Iyyokuk yelled out, “Chaos is order unrecognized by a lesser mind!” and blasted Katilyn with a powerful force that drove him to his knees, leaving him visibly diminished. Another blow like that, and he would be dead. We had to take him down!
And then these weird shapes, symbols and colors started appearing on our bodies.
“Guys, I’m kind of freaking out here, what is he doing?!?”
The symbols aligned, and lines of light raced out, linking four of us together in burning fire. Everyone got the hell out-of-the-way of those bars of flame, while I shifted my attention to burning his bug ass down.
Chron yelled, “No! Not Iyyokuk, not yet, we can deal with that, just move out-of-the-way of the fire beams. Kill Hisek the hunter next, that sonic blast is causing too much damage, and it’s knocking us around!”
Fair enough. I mean, we all kept moving in closer, and every time Hisek aimed in on someone, they went flying and everyone but Monstre had to drop what they were doing and try to block the shot and soak that blast. It made a great deal of sense to go for him next… so long as Monstre still had secure pants.
It’s times like these that the case for emergency pants is clearly made.
Hisek went down, sighing “The hunter becomes the hunted,” and in the flash of light I strained to see who would join the battle next. There was one face I was dreading to see, but it was Xaril instead. Xaril of the Poisoned Mind.
Oh dear no, Xaril AND Iyyokuk? Geek squad up and ready for battle!
Xaril smiled at me, and said “Have you come to try my new concoctions, Wakener? I assure you, these are nothing like you’ve tasted before!”
Oh what fresh hell is this.
Xaril’s talons flew, and I felt the sting of a pinprick. I slapped at it at the same moment I saw several others doing the same. Oh shit, no, he got us!
I saw a blue haze rising from the pores of my skin, as others developed a red shimmer or a yellow tinge like graverot. Oh shit, oh shit, we’re all gonna die.
It looked like Pumpken was covered in a blood red haze, and then it flared, and fire actually leaped out from her engulfing the area around her with a 10 yard wide fireball. Oh shit!
As people scattered to get away from her and anyone else covered in a red haze, the people with yellow skin started farting, yellow clouds of gas blasting from their butts leaving a big, stationary cloud.
You know, its times like these that whirlwind or hurricane is contra-indicated. No high winds, please and thank you. A farting death cloud? Really? And why didn’t I think of that first. Just think of the fun at parties! “Holy crap, who died?” “Everyone standing behind Arrakeen.” “Don’t light a match!”
Chron called out, “We need Monstre free! Everyone, kill Rik’kal, quick, before the last layer of his pants fail.”
At this point, we were a well oiled machine. With Pankration and Monstre controlling each of the Paragons, the rest of us were free to focus all of our attacks on one target, and we didn’t have any distractions, any crazy chase scenes to worry about. It was all about getting some distance, and staying alive to kill.
And that was when I blew the hell up.
Blew? BLUE! The damn blue haze seeping from my pores, when it finally went off, it exploded with the force of a million slightly decaying suns. Well, maybe not that much.
I felt a second wind as I was brought back from the brink of death by Callaghan. “Next time, find someone covered in yellow to split the pain! A ‘splosion shared is a ‘splosion halved.”
Right, right. “Hey, I need a blow-up buddy!”
That didn’t come out sounding right, did it.
Rik’kal died, and I have to say he looked profoundly disappointed to have been unable to infect Monstre. I don’t know what those parasites he was trying to inject into him would have done, but I did NOT want to find out.
As Rik’kal died, Kaz’tik the Manipulator finally jumped down, and I learned a valuable lesson.
Kovok was not his only pet kunchong.
Kaz’tik raised his arms high overhead, and called “Come, little kunchongs! It’s feeding time!”
Little kunchongs came gliding out of the shadows from around the chamber, glowing in the light of their fully raised shields. Awww, they were so cute! Cute little kunchongs, I want to hug you and raise you to eat pandaren, oh yes I do! Who’s the cute little kunchong, oh yes you is!
And then one fixed it’s yellow gaze on me, and I found myself moving helplessly towards it. I heard, sort of, Kaz’tik call out, “Feed, my kunchong, feed!” but I didn’t let it bother me. He was so cute, I just had to hug him.
Everyone else on my team attacked the kunchong, and after weakening it a bit I felt the irresistible tug lessen, then fall away. Holy shit, I was going to be willing kunchong chow!
Can this day possibly get any better?
So of course, we killed Kaz’tik next, right?
No, of course not. No, Iyyokuk’s insane calculations and lines of blasting fire were causing us too many problems, and Chron called out for us to work on him next.
This was becoming quite simple, wasn’t it? And seriously, how many more Paragons can there be? This battle is all just a blur to me now, but surely we’ve got to be getting near the end.
Yes. Yes we were.
Iyyokuk fell, throat crushed by the steel grip of Pankration, and then HE flew down.
Kil’ruk the Wind Reaver.
My one, true friend among the Klazzi.
“I will carry you one last time, Wakener… to your doom.”
Okay, I guess I’ve come this far. I’ll go down this road to the end.
But I’m not going to hurry the meeting.
Under Chron’s direction, we killed Xaril of the Poisoned Mind, and we all breathed a little easier as the colors faded from our skin, and the yellow clouds began to dissipate in the air.
This left us, for the first time in this horrible battle, with only two opponents left standing, Kaztik the Manipulator and Kil’ruk.
Kil’ruk leaped into the air, and how many times had I seen him make that same move against our enemies? We all scattered out-of-the-way, crying “Death from above!” as he plunged down, narrowly missing Trajar. Trajar didn’t even blink, he just calmly leaped backwards like a leaf on the wind, turned and unleashed a hail of rounds into Kaz’tiks chest, blowing his organs out the back in a fine pink mist.
The sudden massive trauma seemed to make Kaz’tik forget what he was doing. He forgot about Y’shaarj, about us, about everything going on in that horrible chamber. Instead, he turned toward the mound of menace that had been Kovok. He staggered towards the body of the fallen mighty kunchong, one step, then two, before dropping to his knees. He reached out with one trembling talon, his voice a thin reed. “Kovok… Come to me… I… need…”
Kaz’tik the Manipulator shuddered once more, fell forward, and was still.
This was it. We were still strong, united, and determined to win.
The only one left to stop us was Kil’ruk.
Our friend, and our greatest enemy.
“Well fought, Wakener. Well fought.”
I didn’t expect any mercy, and I certainly didn’t expect him to give up. He unleashed everything he had, flying high into the air of the chamber only to plunge down with a killing scream, but we all knew him and his tactics too well. We had fought by his side against the sha-controlled Mantid too many times, killed too many along the trails of the Dread Wastes to be fooled now. With caution and the utmost respect, we stood our ground, we rolled out-of-the-way of his deadly blades, and we overwhelmed him.
We gave him the only gift we had left to give. We ended it clean, and to his face.
With his last breath, he did not condemn us, or threaten or plead. Why we fought was of no matter. What was important was we had fought with everything we had, and the fight was finished with honor.
“Well fought, Wakener… We will… meet… again…”
For a long time, we stood there over the body of our friend. This price, this was just a little too much. But we paid it, in full.
Time to collect what we’ve paid for.
“Garrosh! We’ve come for you!”
Pankration turned to us and said, “Did you hear that? It sounds like Thrall, yelling at someone up ahead the other side of that door!”
In the stillness of the chamber, there in the shadow of the crate of the Old God’s heart, I thought I heard it too.
How the bloody hell did Thrall slip past all of this and get there first?
“If it turns out there was a service entrance up there for Garrosh to get his milk and cookies delivered, I’m going to just quit.”
Summibs looked at me and said, “What, you think Thrall wouldn’t know where the secret entrance was, if there was one? Come on, let’s hurry, we should be just in time to see Garrosh get his ass handed to him. The big green death machine is back, and it’s time for spankings!”
Yeah, somehow I don’t think Garrosh is going down that easily.