“There’s not much time,” started Lancelei as he made his way over to me. “There is not much time to explain. The sword has chosen you, we have to get you combat ready! Mordric will be here soon,” he explained in a flurry of words. “Where’s Excalibur?”

“Who’s Mordric? What’s Excalibur?” I asked. 

“Mordric is a corrupted AI that took over a human’s body and has been growing in power ever since. Excalibur is the artifact that you opened. It is the key to stopping him.”

Red warning lights flared to life as Viviane’s robotic voice echoed over the intercoms.

“Hostile ship connecting to airlock. All miners report to the living quarters and barricade the doors.”

As the workers hurried to their rooms, the overseers assembled by the ship bay door, covertly armed with beam pistols. I started to follow the other miners, but the Knight grabbed my arm.

“You will stay and fight with us.” He handed me the sword. “Only you can wield Excalibur.”

The blade shot out the handle of the sword, arcing with electricity. I stared, mouth agape, at the weapon before me. I’ve never held a sword before, but something about this felt right. The Knight, Lancelei, and the overseers waited, still as statues, bathed in red light. The air was heavy; the only sound was the siren punctuating the tense silence. In a deafening explosion and blinding flash of light, the ship bay door burst open. A hulking humanoid amalgamation of flesh and circuitry appeared through the cloud of dust and debris. Blast doors slammed shut to keep the air in, but the force threw the Knight and me back and left most of the overseers dead with the blast. Lancelei was flung to the ground.

As I was getting up, Mordric lunged through the smoke with an overhead attack. I haphazardly parried the attack. I countered with a slash and he dodged it with a quick backstep. For a moment I could see him clearly in the flashes of the dim red light. In each hand he held a menacing sword fashioned from bone. They were razor sharp with wicked teeth jutting out. As I charged at him, he let loose a sweeping attack aimed at my head. Ducking under it, I closed the distance and engaged. After exchanging slashes, I finally warded one of Mordric’s stabs. I then side swiped him, feeling my blade hit skin and glance off metal.

“Impressive,” he groaned. He launched into an overbearing assault. With clashing swords, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. I was just able to hold out long enough until Lancelei joined in the combat with a ferocious overhead charge. Caught by surprise, Mordric stumbled back. We were both cut up and tired. Our eyes locked just before I swung and feinted to the side. I got past Mordric’s guard and Excalibur cut through an arm lined with electronics and wires, shocking his circuits and disabling parts of his body. He recoiled and retreated through the ruined bay door, back to his ship.

“This isn’t over, Arthur!” He called through the door. The debris had settled and Lancelei broke the silence. “We’re victorious, for now.”

Mason Ziegler, Nick Hughes and Matt Kramer are students at West Chester University. MZ940321@wcupa.edu; NH930602@wcupa.edu; MK936542@wcupa.edu

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