“Do you know how it feels for one of the greatest places of safety you've ever known to become a breeding ground of nightmares? I do. There is little you can do to prepare for such a horrifying experience when your own home as a bastion of protection becaomes the worst place in the wniverse. Many claim they can prepare themselves, but very few understand the full magnitude of such an event.”
October 20th, 2778/ID.5.3.219490
On the Imperial calender it is a day of joyful celebration among the Draconis of the Draconid Imperium, When the old are reborn as the new and the dead come back as newborns. The Draconis place great value on this time as a day to celebrate the coming of spring and as rememberance for those who had been lost to the trials of life in the previous year.
For many, Genesis Day is celebrated with feasts galore as people gather in the twilight hours for street festivals of epic magnitude. Such banquests were often immortalised either by families recording the day with holorecorders orreporters using hovercams to stream the live event across the void of space. You did nto have to be Draconis to join in the feasting, indeed there were several cultures that celebrated such a time. But the fifth day of the third month of the Imperial calender was a day the Draconis themselves set aside to celebrate the coming of spring.
Over the course of a day, hundreds of thousands of colonies had organised street festivals within many millions of town cities Imperium-wide. Closing streets, reserving meeting halls, buying harvests, all to celebrate this monumental day. On ALcanti, within the mighty city of Minos'Drakon, the Imperium's cultural elite congregated towards the Imperial Palace. The wealthiest and most priveliged of all the Imperium's citizens gathered in the ancient fortress for a night of revelry everyone anticipated they would not forget. Uriel Ultanos greeted some one thousand guests as they filed in through the front doors. Walking briskly and chatting freely. A man of his age he could recognise half of the faces in the crowd. SOme were friends, some were friends of friends, others were aqquaintences or political contacts. A mecca of the who's-who of the elite.
Everyone was wearing their finest. A veritable sea of silk, gold, velvet, platinum and silver of all manner of vibrant colours. Any tailor would weep for joy at the sight as everyone who is anyone would wear the best designs of praetoral fashion. Uriel himself was wearing a lavish navy-blue overcoat decorated with gold double-stripe piping, looping patterns and a coral-pattern sky blue tunic underneath a lavishly decorated silver-plated breastplate. he greeted everyoen who walked though the great doors with a warm smile and, for those he knew, a firm shake of the hand.
As the last guests filed in, Uriel joined them as they all made their way to the great hall. Just like everywhere else i nthe Imperium, House Ultanos had been preparing the palace for the Genesis Day banquet. Food had been imported from Ultanos estates in the countryside. numerous entertainers had been employed and various decorations hung about the walls, providing a very festive feel to the palace's baroque halls. As everyoen filed into the throne room, Uriel took his position at his seat, taking Alessa by the hand he welcomed everyone.
Uriel - Freinds, patriots, and citizens. Today marks a fresh start for us all, on this day untold millennia ago they Say Drakon fashioned us from the rock deep within the earth of his sacred garden. Today we honour his craftsmanship. The past few years have taken their toll but today is a chance once again for all of us to start anew. We take the time this day to remember the work of our forefathers and to remember them, as we remember the Lifefather for what he has done for us. To honour his memory, let the festivities begin!
On his annoucement, an orchestra began playing slow soothing music, the myriad guests found partners to dance in step to the music. With a mere smile, Uriel and Alensia trotted towards the centre of the room. Other guests kept their distance, allowing the pair room to dance.
Draconis dancing was not elaborate. Bodies were held close and the dance came more from the rhythmic footwork than any flamboyant displays of bodily movement. Step step, left. Step, step, left, the only real complication was that both of them had to cross their legs past the other to move and were not allowed to look down. Uriel and Alensia danced i na circle, spinning his wife, Alessa's dress fanned upward gracefully, a whirlpool of the finest silk and gold surrounded her as a broad smile spread across her face. It was as they danced came the next step, Alensia rested her chin on Uriel's shoulder, drifting lazily into bliss as they danced to the sweet music provided by the orchestra. They were not the only ones, many others soon began to drift into trance, the music and the pancing magically lifting their cares from their shoulders.
Alensia - I remember this tune. You used to play it on a music box whenever I felt tired.
Uriel - Don't drift off now my dear, you'd embarrass yourself.
Alensia - You know this is my song you devious man.
Alensia cheekily nuzzled Uriel's snout, perking his eyebrows in delight. He could see in her eyes she was in bliss, both from the song and being in the arms of her husband. Almsot iwithout truly knowing waht he was doing, uUriel opened his wings to shield her. He was not protecting her from anything howeve,r the gesture could be more associated with the descending feeling that it was just the two of them and masking the outside would have made the entire feeling complete.
The orchestra played other peices during the dince. The room filled with low murmours as others spoke to their partners in as much a dream-like state as Alensia was. A projection of the setting sun from the window lowered across the sky. As the orcehstra reached the end of a fourth song, a house servant entered the throne room and rang a bell, summoing everyone's attention.
Servant - Lords and ladies, the banquet is served.
Everyone's attnetion was turned to the servant, a thosuand eager eyes starign at him but the servant did not even flinch, for he was used to this kind of attitude. With civil grace, the ballroom crowd quietly filed though the palace's gilded halls and traversed across velvet carpets and exquisite marble tiles to a grand banquet hall. Looking up, the nobles could have seen the intricately patterend ceiling inliad with gold. Uriel was a man of Drakon, and as such had the ceiling adorned with religious imagery that represented some intricate and beautiful connection between the Draconis and their patron. A centrepiece freso displaying Drakon himself, adroned in a silver robe and surrounded by Draconis of all colours who stood with him not as servants or subordinates, but as though all of them were siblings. Each one looking fown proudly on the banqueters who sat around enormous marble-topped tables covered in every inch with meaty treats, great pitchers of wine of all colours and some selections of the few kinds of fruit Draconis could eat.
Uriel had also talken the time to invite those underlords - aliens whos' families had been granted noble titles as reward for their loyalty and dedication - who had risen among the gentle circles of the nobility to be able to converse with even the msot esteemed Praetors as peers. Underlords were always a step below Draconid nobles in the Imperium's social heirachy, which had bee nbuilt around the Draconis themselves, but that did not stop many from forming strong political ties to even praetors. For those sitting in the banquet hall today, they were truly peers with the highest of nobility, as though they dined in the courts of some ethereal paradise. With their own choices of food provided. As was custom, everyone sat down but no one began to eat. Not yet anyway, for Uriel and his family were only just sitting down.
After he had settled, Uriel was handed a butcer's knife. A sharp, elegantly carved ceramic alloy blade. RUnning his finger gently along the blade he stood up once again. Resting peacefully on an enormous platter was a Krann. The poor creature had been stuffed and roasted whole, it's eyes had been removed and it sat on the table as if in a deep sleep.
Uriel - As we enter a new cycle of the year, may we remember those both intelligent and beastial who did not make it past the last. Rememebr such beings well. Friends and family, lot to time. To mark the new cycle. This. Is our offer
High up hanging on the walls was an enormous clock. At the strike of twenty baritone chimes, uriel held the knife over's the Krann's sleeping corpse. After the twentieth chime Uriel drove the knife downwards. A crunching, ripping noce could be heard as the knife severed the creature's spine. As Uriel lifted his hand away, this was the cue of a thousand hungry mouths, who gathered from platters and poured glasses of wine. The feast had begun with extreme passion, nobles talked to each other heartily. Some remeniscing of personal events from the old annual cycle and before, others contemplating waht lay ahead or talking fondly of relatives. A plethora of crunching, chomping, lip-smacking, chweing, grinding, sipping and gulping shared the air with the hearty talks. The halls echoing with the sounds of a thousand mouths quenching their desire for meaty - or in some cases fruity - flesh and liquid heaven.
From the Draconis perspective, a new cycle had been born in the spirital calender. But little did these celebrating nobles know what was about to unfold.
Horrors In The Crypt
As the nobility reveled in the night's festivities in the halls above. A lone Blood Dragon patrolled the halls of the Imperial Crypt - the traditional resting place of Paragons been and gone. Two hundred and fifty millennia of history lay decaying in this tomb. Such a span of time mean that the oldest bodies were nothing more than dust lying in their tombs while others were withering skeletons. The Dragon was armed with a fusion rifle. This place unsettled him seeing the bodies of former charges, even if all but one could have been completely unfamiliar to him. It was an eerie thing, Blood Dragons protected the paragons, keeping their bodies from harm. Yet here this lone Dragon was, patrolling the eternal resting place of royalty, protecting theri bodies even in depth.
The dragon was calming his nerves by listening to an opera from inside his helmet. It wasn't perfect but it took awa much of the tension for him, the soothing melodic tones lightened the darkened and ancient halls. While usually it was quiet, tonight was different. It was as if the catacombs themselves shrieked and screamed at the Blood Dragon, either telling him to go back or come further in. The ornate patterns and traditional decorations which were stylized to suit the tastes of every individual Paragon were once welcoming, but now they only brought a sense of dread, as if the Dragon had slipped between the boundries of the living world and that of the dead. The Dragon peered at the walls, unsettled. He tuned his music down slightly and lifted his rifle. Turning towarsd a darkened corridor and shouting out.
Dragon - Who's there!
There was no reply, or rather no reply that could be made out coherently. Instead, there was simply groaning and roars, but they didn't sound like those of animals. They sounded like shouting. In an instant, the Dragon was connected tohis commanders soemwehre else in the palace. He made not a move or a twitch, sensors in his helmet responding to detected brainwave actvities. The helmets needed to be adaptable so instead of invasive cybernetics these sensors were laced into the inner lining of the Dragon's helmet ,allowing him to control every aspect of his armour with but a mere thought. In this case, activating his intercom.
Dragon' - Command we have code amber. Unidentified entities in Paragon's Crypt. Requesting backup.
As effortlessly as the reciever of his voice changed from a vocoder t oan intercom, it changed back just as quickly. he barked otu mroe orders into the dark, expecting a reply.
Dragon - Whoever is down here reveal yourself. This place is restricted!
The Dragon could barely make out a figure in the dark. He was clothed in dusty and tattered rather decorative and royal robes, but his features couldn't be seen in this light. However, he coud be heard muttering or chattering his jaws, like he was intensely cold or jumpy. The dragon attempted to compensate for the light by switching his helmet's optical sensors to infra-red mode to pentrate the darkness. He felt a chill as his visor lit up wih a pale green and he had a chance to see the figure in detail. The figure was vaguely familiar, but the Dragon didn't know from where. It was the clothes and some details of the face, or rather, what was left of the face. The figure appeared almost skeletal in Draconis terms, but despite the millennia of decomposition, he still appeared to have had some flesh preserved upon his body. And then he remembered: This was one the Paragons from the history books. Their body perhaps too decomposed to be wholly recogniseable. What was left of their scaly body still clinging toughtly to their skeleton. The dragon felt a cold rush down his face and body as he looked upon the skeletal paragon.
Dragon - S.sir.....?
Command - Davius here, we have positioned reinforcements at the crypt doors. What is the status of code amber?
The Dragon was too frightened to speak, he took a couple of steps back. The figure slowly approached the Dragon, looking upon his armoured body with its own empty sockets. Yes, this was definitely one of the Paragons. As the revenant walked ever closer, all that could be heard trying to escape his fleshless, decomposed mouth was the word "vinterva". A word made legendary as part of the Imperial mantra "dominicus vinterva", "Imperium eternal". There was no way to tell if this utterance wasfrom a shred of memory or if it had a deeper meaning this day. The pressence of this paragon as a walking skeleton, an open of the future, perhaps? The Dragon's thoughts broken up by Dragon Captain Davius on the other end of his intercom, expecting a situation report.
Davius - Brother what is going on down there?
Dragon - Captain...you... may want to bolt...the door.
Davius - What are you talking about?
Dragon - One of the paragons s-sir...it walks...
Davius groaned over the intercom, rolling his eyes out of sight of this lone soldier. After a moment of dissatisfactionhe was keen t olear nthe validity of the Dragon's report.
Davius - Brother how much have you had to drink lately?
Dragon - Only one glass an hour before patrol I swear sir!
Then came the startling realization. This lone soldier was being watched not by one Paragon, but many. He could only tell this from the fact that he could see the bare, rotted flesh and bone emerge from the shadows of the crypt. They had been watching him, but the fact that their eyes were gone and all that remained were sockets was a factor to him being oblivious to such. The Dragon was now paralysed with fear. he wanted to leave through the entrance, but such a sight may as well have glued his feet to to the floor. This would be his last sight, it wasn't much. A clawed, rotted hand tore into the Dragon's shoulder, ripping away armour, flesh and tendons in a single swipe. The ghostly army surrounded him, nowhere to run or hide. Another slash, across his pec this time. They were reaching out to him. They wanted him. Panicking, the dragon felt his trigger finger press down, burts of plasma flashed out from his gun as he attempted ot defend himself. Davius heard his cries from the other end and slammed the wall with his fist in frustration. The force from the strength-enhancing body glove that enveloped and enhanced his fist cracked the wood panelling it hit.
The plasma bursts destroyed the head of one of the Paragons, shattering into weak bone and dust. But it would have made no sense for it to stop moving now. The corpse's brain had disappeared eons ago, the movements weren't going to stop. All that was left was bone and tattered cloth. More slashes, from behind. The soldier could feel his wings being grabbed and tugged at with the force of pure muscle. In soem cases muscle which did not even exist. In a panicked state, the Dragon attempted to force his way out by spreading his wings, but as he was surrounded this proved difficult.
Davius - Code red, secure the crypt doors. I don't want anything leaving that room without my say so!
Pure Draconis strength ripped and tore at the young Blood Dragon, strength that most Draconsi even in their prime did not posess. Strength unretrained from any notions of a body's self-preservation. No skin to rip, no tendons to tear. Whatever kept this body intact was mroe tha nflesh and bone. Then, when the range was closed in, the bites began. The bone-shattering bites of forgotten lords, driven by the pure desire to feast after millennia of starvation and rot. They wanted to eat. All Davius finally heard was a scream as the communicator died, the young dragon's panicked screams ecohed through the crypt, his last moments spent in agony and horror. Even though opera music still travered into his skull, the lone Dragon never noticed, his mind blanking it out as his body was ripped apart by ancient kings.
As Davius and his men guarded the door to the crypt, they could hear footsteps, as well as slurred words and vicious growls. There was also the sound of dripping in the air, a smell of blood alongside. Taking command of the situation, Davous barked orders to his men. A dozen Blood Dragons had gathered at the crypt's gilded doors. Armed with fusion rifles and swords, they kept theri vigil. A bar made from reinforced carbon nanotubes barred the door, which was laced with elegant floral patterns embedded with gold. This door was almost designed to represent the doors to soem paradise, an eternal residence for those not bound by this mortal universe. Today however, it was a gateway int othe underworld. Kept shut by a bar science deemed unbreakable.
Davius - Steel yourselves. Don't let them breach the door!
But they all knew. If the sounds were to be belived, the dead paragons were rising - they all knew that an army could be behind those doors. One of the Blood Dragons, a new recruit just younger than the one who was sent to patrol this corrupted graveyard of lost kings, kept his rifle primed. But he shook nervously. It was a friend of his that had been patrolling tonight. His brother in arms. A man that, as per tradition, was bonded to this Dragon in a connection perhaps a strong as any blood tie.
Dragon Sergeant - What of the staff, captain?
Davius - Have them prepare for evacuation. That barricade was dsigned to hold back an army, but this is no normal army.
Kelvus - W-What is it then, captain? A few graverobbers mucking about with the corpses down there?
Sergeant - Some Genesis Day this turned out to be...
Davius - Graverobbers don't make such strange noises. Remember what your bond-brother said? He claims the dead are walking.
Sergeant - Do you really believe that captain?
Kelvus - That's poppycock! That's absolute Krann-dung! The dead don't just get up with a bad temper and kill people...do they?
Sergeant - Not usually, no. Could it be nanotech?
Davius - We'll find out when we dissect one.
There was banging at the doors. Kelvus, in his paranoia, fired at the door and into the bar by accident. He was panting, he didn't expect this within his first week. The bar was damaged by the shot. The sergeant walked over and glared at Kelvus. Gravely concerned his careless actions could have amost compromised their defence.
Sergeant - Watch your aim next time! Kelvus - This is ridiculous! Captain, they're toying with us!
Not entirely known but suspected by the most pessimistic of the group, the shot - although not completely breaking the bar - weakened it noticeably.
Davius - Looks like it's still working to me. Keep steady, your bond-brother didn't die so you could mess up your life.
While the doors could usually hold off enemy soldiers from attacking armies, enduring gunfire and other such assaults, this was very different. The force of bodies stacked upon one another, craving to simply rip and tear at the delicious meat beyond the doors, proved a strong force. The bar wouldn't hold forever. The corpse Paragons continued to scratched and slam at the door. Indicated by the tump and clang of collisions. The dead wanted release, the crypts were theis and the Paragon's guardians were eager to hold the line here.
Davius - Dragons aim and prepare to fire!
Davius himself readied his rifle. The door was ready to break any minute now. Kelvus raised his rifle, wanting to get an early shot at the assailants. He clearly had no idea that distance was vital in this situation; the enemy was going for physical attacks, he had the opportunity to use a gun. And yet, Kelvus, in his rage, had placed less distance between himself and the door. Concerned Kelsus' shoddiness could be a potential compromise, this sergeant looked over to him in a faceless glare. Her stern expression hidden by a featureless mask.
Sergeant - Make sure to hit the right target Kelsus.
Kelvus - What, you don't trust me to hit a walking cadaver?
Sergeant - Unlike that beam, the cadaver would be moving.
Kelvus - You make it sound like I don't know how to use a gun.
Davius - Relax Kelvus, Areesia likes to break in the newly-graduated. She's jsut having fun.
Areesia - It's less fun if they know, brother-captain.
Kelvus - My bond-brother died in there and you think this is a time for fun?
Areesia - The last thing this group needs is tension in this kind of situation.
As Kelvus answered back to his sergeant, the carbon nanotube bar shattered and the doors swung open. He turned to fire his weapon, but it was knocked from his hand. The dead Paragons no longer shuffled - they had really awoken, their craving for flesh and blood fully realized. They ran. Davius swiftly gave the order to fire and on his word, a volley of plasma fire was thrown at the corpses. Burning robes and charring skeletons. Kelvus, left without a gun, slammed his fist against one of the Paragons. The corpse staggered back, but responded with an open-handed slash across the face, cutting into the helmet, tearing away flesh and wounding Kelvus. He punched the corpse again before taking steps back. He reched down to his waist and gripped the handle of a small blade, a combat knife. Davius fired shots at the corpses, but they quickly closed the gap. After an initial volley, the Dragons were forced into hand-to-hand combat with the undead, something Davius had wanted to avoid but given the spped of the horde was inevitable.
Drawn to melee, Davius pulled a greataxe from its sheathe. The removal powering up an energy field that sheathed the axehead. he stroked the carved etchings on the handle, muttering the enthing on the shaft "for every foe I saly, a hundred more will back away" before sending great swings at his poponents. The corpses attempted to make full use of the closed distance. They lunged out, scratching and punched at their living prey. While the room was filled mainly with loud, angry shouting and roaring, incoherent mutterings of "dominicus vinterva" could be heard dropping from the jaws of the undead. Davius performed a vicious flurry. Slicing off the legs of one following through with a strike in the ribcage of another before pulling it out and cutting at another's spine and ragged wings with a twirl. A dance of death by this aged warrior. Such swings were indeed a blessing since It seemed as if the dismemberment of the limbs and torso were effective in the battle strategy against them, as they would find it harder to move to fight their prey. Kelvus managed to slam his foe away from him, however he didn't take the crawling torso of the Paragon that Davius had attacked biting the ankle of his foot, the jaws piercing his armour.
Kelvus - Agh! May Drakon send you to the Void!
Kelvus proceeded to stamp on the crawler as the numbers of undead dwindled with the combined efforts of the Blood Dragons.
Davius - Victory for life, brothers and sisters, we shall fight to defend Lord Uriel's honour and body!
Areesia fired several pulses from her rifle at the paragons, she felt a bone-piercing bite on her wings and slammed her fist against it, sending it into a wall and crushing the brittle bone. Kelvus kicked and stomped on the attacking crawling Paragon, eventually managing to incapacitate it by collapsing the torso on itself with hard stamps to the back, pilverising the spine int odust. His face and ankle bled but the damage didn't seem too severe. Davius meanwhile found himself fighting closer towards the door. He swung his axe to cut through the middle of one ribcage and as it fell he hacked the upper body in half. As he fought, Davius peered for a moment at Kelvus with a smile.
Kelvus - Sergeant, battle report! What in the name of Drakon ARE we fighting?!
Areesia - If I was using my imagination i'd say the dead.
Kelvus - And if you were using logic?
Areesia - Corpses animated with nanomachines.
Kelvus - Agh...and what is the damage report?
Areesia - As far as I can tell we're confining them. Lord Uriel and his family are being evacuated as we speak.
Kelvus - Oh, good for him! While we're down here fighting his Drakon-damned relatives!
Davius - Keeping the Paragon safe is priority one, rookie. Rememebr that.
As time passed, the Blood Dragons fought their way through and ventured deeper into the crypts to combat and restrain the undead threat. Areesia and Kelvus, as with other injured Blood Dragons, could feel a strange feeling, like they hadn't eaten for many hours. Surely an impossibility as the Blood Dragon guard were always well-fed.
Davius - Remmeber, shoot on sight. Anything that is down here is either dead or part of this group. Areesia - Urgh, could have sworn I had a lovely steak half an hour before this whole mess... Davius - After this you can order something from the palace kitchen... Kelvus - Hmph, we're fighting an infested underground graveyard and all you can do is think of food...! But now that you mention it...Wait, what in the Void is that?!
Kelvus pointed with his rifle to a glowing object that shined brightly in the darkness. It looked comlpetely alien to the soldiers, a loen light i nthese darkened crypts, somehow made darker by something mroe foul than a lack of light sources. But the infra-red vision the hlmets granted revealed something else...
Davius - Bizarre, keep weapons ready. Whatever it is it is hot. Very hot.
One of the dragons had his faceplate damaged, which had exposed his snout to the air. The glowing mass was slow at first, but soon the features became clear. In fact, Davius could sense a familiar air to this one, the remains of the face especially. It was as if they had met before in some time before this whole incident. The dragon's nose twitched however. Not only did this entity glow with an extreme amount of heat, the horrific smell had hit the Dragon as though this one body emitted the stench of a thousand rotting carcasses all at once.
Dragon - Oh, argh, Kelvus what did you eat recently!
Areesia - Please don't talk about food.
Kelvus - I'm not sure...I don't remember eating anything recently! Anyway, that stink isn't me!
Dragon - Seriously, something stinks like a dead Udulov baking in the sun.
Davius, meanwhile was transfixed on the face of the Draconis. It became disturbingly familliar now, a face Davius thought had passed on almost two hundred years ago.
Davius - No...no impossible! Uriel...
Kelvus - Yeah, he's safe, captain! You said him and his family were already out.
Davius - Wrong Uriel kid.
Areesia - Wait... are you telling us that walking bugzapper is Uriel the Majestic?
Glowing fluids dripped onto the floor as the glowing mass slowly approached the group. The swollen body of a Draconis, a very familiar Draconis, became more apparent to the group. This was definitely different to the other corpses, mainly due to its appearance, as well as the fact it smelt absolutely horrifying. It soon became apprent this was the source of the smell. It's bloated form, too extrrme for any healthy Draconis, even a dead one.
Dragon - Kelvus. About that stink? You're forgiven.
Kelvus - This is Uriel the Majestic? I expected him to look less...fat.
Davius - Decay has been known to swell the gut. But this...this isn't from decay.
Davius suddenly felt hesitant abotu striking the undead creature down. This was his former charge. Over two hundred hears ago he had made a blood pact with this man. Who had now become some luminous, bloated, walking corpse.
Davius - Uriel...are you still in there?
The extremely inflated cadaver stopped its approach when it saw Davius, just for a second or so. The eyes had gone but the expression on the face changed so slightly, but only Davius could notice this was a look of sadness, which disappeared after a second.
Uriel Sr. - ...Daariiuuuss...
Davius - I'm here old friend...
Kelvus - What are you waiting for, captain? Shoot that thing! It's stench is just getting worse!
Davius - I...I never planned for this. Uriel. I'm sorry.
Davius held his axe with one hand and drew a pistol, aiming it at Uriel's bloated body. Sighing as he did so. The undead Paragon lunged for Davius, its claws outstretched as its body dripped more of the stinking liquid. Davius pulled the trigger as the old and bloated paragon charged, a plasma flash hitting Uriel's body. Within moments, Uriel's body reacted incredibly violently to the plasma; he exploded, with burned flesh and liquid launching all over the place. The intensely hot, corrosive liquid covered Areesia's armour and wings. It didn't take long to begin eating at them. Areeesia collpased to the floor from the effects, her wings sagged as they bled, the membrane was being eaten away. She could not stand up from the pain as she rested over Davius.
Areesia - At least...I can feel death...
Kelvus tried to approach Areesia as he cried out her name, but he was stopped by Davius as he tried. Davius stood up, he let Areesia fall on her side. Even though herarmour was designed to reissist heat and corrosion, the acit ate away at a horrifying pace,
Davius - Kid...I'm not sure if there is much we can do.
Davius held his gun in his hand. He keld it up to Kelvus and gave him a grim look
Kelvus - W-What do you mean, captain? S-She can make it!
Davius - She'll be gone in minutes, not even nanospray can fix this.
Davius handed Kelvus his pistol. Thrusting the handle at his torso
Kelvus - Huh? W-What are you doing captain?
Davius - Give her a merciful end. That's an order.
The acid was now burning against her scales, her armour was badly damaged, like nothing anyone had seen before. Acid so powerful that even the advanced and corrosion-resistent ceramic armour arodned on Areesia's body was not enough. Kelvus took a step towards Areesia and gulped, holding the pistol in both hands. Just the damage of the liquid was enough to make him feel terrified, let alone the fact at how fast it was eating her away as if she was nothing.
Kelvus - I-I'm sorry sergeant! I don't want to do this!
Areesia - Well... I--argh! I'ts b-better than this... Give them hell...
Kelvus nodded and aimed the pistol at her head. He was going to swiftly end her painful suffering with one shot. Was. Before his finger could pull the trigger, his lower jaw was sent flying across the room, his tongue dangling as a larger, less decomposed but still horrifying figure stood right in front of him.
Davius - Kranndung!
Davius raised his axe and looked upon the draconis that attacked the young Dragon, his vision tilted upwards, the figure slightly bigger than Uriel had been. Areesia fell flatly to the floor as her last ounce of strength wasted away. Kelvus dropped the pistol as his body twitched in shock and trauma. The undead Draconis simply smacked Kelvus aside, his foot stomping on Areesia's burned body, ripping it in half. Again, a familiar face. Davius didn to want to fall for hesitation again. The creature looked like Korr, his sharp masculine features and firm (if decayed) muscle tone but it had also taken out tow of his companions. Axe lifted he leaped to cleave him. This time was different. Instead of being sliced in two halves by the axe like the other lowly undead, Davius was sent off his feet as the undead Draconis delivered a strong punch to his stomach. The other Blood Dragons could see the large corpse monster twitching and moaning. The others stood back, then looked at Korr and prepared their weapons. Davius coughed from the stomach blow as he looked upwards.
Korr - ...Uriel...W-Where...is Uriel.
Davious - Why should I tell you!
Korr - Uriel...Why is he...not here.
Davius - You didn't answer-- my question.
Korr - ...I want Uriel.
Davius - Why? So you can kill him like you did my companions?
Dragon - Uhh captain. None of the other corpses were this coherent.
Korr - ...Davius...Voxis. Let me die...
Davius - There was nothing anything we could do...the swarms were too rapid.
Korr's monstrous form continued to twitch rather unnaturally as it stepped towards the Blood Dragons.
Dragon - Uhh captain. Ever noticed how Korr looks, you know, different?
Dragon 2 - Apart from being dead he's a little biger than I remember.
Korr - ...Rebirth. We must be...rebirthed.
Davius - But Uriel is Paragon now. What would happen to him if you came back?
Dragon - Captain...did he just say "we"?
As Davius prepared to fight with Korr, he witnessed at the corner of his eye one of his Blood Dragons lashing out at one of her comrades, tearing off the jaw of the target. Davus turned around and grabbed the aggresive dragon by the arm and pulling him back. Davius - What are you doing!?
The Dragon roared out and punched Davius back. However, as she lashed out, several other Dragons began shooting at their comrades, or even attacking them with their melee weapons.
Blood Dragon - T-They want our bodies, Captain! They shall have them!
Davius - Pull yourselves together!
Blood Dragon - We...shall be rebirthed, Captain...Unified in flesh!
Davius - *mutters* You too...
Davius turned to Korr with a scowl, the dragons were acting like him, talking about unification
Davius - Are youdoing this to them!?
Korr - They...They desire rebirth and unity...To become whole a-as a single collective...
Davius - Like you? Korr you're... you're dead.
Korr - Death is no longer....longer a restriction. Rather...Rather than resurrection...we have become a single entity with...with death itself.
Davius stepped back and gripped the handle of his axe tightly.
Davius - I prefer life!
Korr - Life...Life is a restriction...restriction that mortals must be...be freed from.
All around, Davius could see his former team slaughtering those uncorrupted by the foul essences that emanate from Korr. The Dragons all had something in common that Davius soon noticed - they all sustained wounds from the undead. Davius had heard enough. Lifting the axe blade he swung it upwards with the desire to slice Korr from the waist and up the torso. Korr stepped back as the tip of the axe cut through his torso, although he showed no signs of pain. Instead, he slammed his head forward, staggering Davius. Davius staggered back. The blow was lesseneed as the shock absorbers in his armour set in and he geared for another strike, this time to cut horisontally into the wiast.
Dragon - Captain don't worry about us just--
The dragon was cut short as a corrupted Dragon plunged a sword deep into his torso. As the sword plunged deep, the Dragon didn't even wait for his comrade to die before it began to sink its sharp teeth into his flesh. The dragon let out a roar of pain. This was Davius's cue - there was no glory here, he had to make sure Uriel - the living, breathing Uriel - was safe. Searching his puches, Davius pulled out an emergency flare. he activated it, a white light filled the darkness. His HUD compensated for the change in light and he bolted for the exit, tearing a chunk of Korr's flesh with him. Korr stepped towards Davius as a pair of arms ripped forward from his mangled, corrupted body. He paid no attention to the chunk of flesh that was ripped away, while the corrupted Dragons looked up and began to run after Davius, screaming "Captain" as they did while the other Dragons were also slowly corrupted as they died. Davius had but a few moments as the intense light of the flare burned into their sockets. Davius sprinted towards the exit. He set off another flare and gripped it in his hand as he barged past other undead.
Davius - Command, what is the Paragon's status!
Command - He's almsot ready for takeoff.
Davius - Almost!?
Command - Miss Alensia needed help with her clutch.
Davius - Tell him to hurry up!
The undead continued to reach out and run for Davius, their scales darkening to a grotesque colour as they ran, showing signs of their corruption. Not far behind, Korr also chased, but he was in no rush, he baced briskly towards his target, his strides helped by his newfoudn height, giving him slightly longer legs tha neveryone else. The sea of undead and corrupted flowing past him as though he were a rock embedded in a stream. Davius continued sprinting. On other fronts, the Dragons had fallen back. All Davius could think about right now was Uriel's safety.
Entering the upper corridors, Davius was supported by Dragons who had not yet been corupted, who fired on the undead as they kept pace behind him. Detecting unfamiliar and hostile entities, several paintings retracted from the walls to reveal laser focusing lenses, which blasted at the corrupted ones. At junctions, forcefields were raised, causing some to collide to colide with each other and the semi-invisible barriers in a bloody mass of flesh and ceramic material. Such barriers however were not designed for such collisions fro mso many, the fields were weakened, weakened further by clawing Draconis, those that broke dow nonly provided time for Davius to run. The corrupted Draconis began to show signs of slurred speech, beginning to roar and screech instead. The ones who carried guns fired them at the Blood Dragons, while those who were unarmed did not seem to care for being shot at, simply ignoring the damage despite being affected. It was as if the Dragons were doing everything in their power to simply rip and tear at any life-form they could reach.
Dragon - The Paragon is ready to go!
Davius - Then get him airborne.
Dragon - Lifefather above these things are abominations!
Brothers Reunited By Death
Uriel was in a hanger bay at the back of the palace getting ready to leave. In preparation for any unexpected events, he was wearing a light set of ceramic combat armour, a series of light scalloped flexible plates that curled around his body, fitting snugly. As this armour was his, the flexible plates were a dazzling white marked with sandy-brown markings to show his house. As he took one last look out of the hanger he saw Davius form the corner of his eye, running towards the shuttle followed by whatever Dragons had survived. Through his damaged helmet, a look of determination and horror was amrked across his face ,desperation that he wanted a nightmare to end.
Davius - Uriel get this thing airborne NOW!
The swivel-mounted railguns fitted to the shuttles were manned by uncorrupted dragons who fired into any undead that came close. All of which came pouring theough the hanger bay's entrance like a tide of twisted and rotting flesh. Uriel then became witness of half a Blood Dragon being thrown across the corridor and smacking Davius over. Behind him, Korr could be seen looking at Uriel with an intense fury. Uriel stepped out of the shuttle and tore a shotgun from the shuttle's emergency survival kit. His eyes then fixated on Korr and his face was flushed with fear as he pumped a shell into the barrel.
Uriel - Impossible...
Korr - Make us whole...Become one with me...
Uriel was too afraid to speak as Davius crawled towards the shuttle.
Uriel - I....Korr...
Korr was surrounded by undead Paragons and cannibalistic Blood Dragons as they devoured whatever remained of Davius' former comrades as they too slowly turned. Uriel looked away and slowly gripped the shotgun in his hand. The grievousness of the situation required his strength. he let out a sigh as he turned hsi head back around.
Uriel - I...I can't...
Korr began to approach Davius, his eyes set on him.
Uriel - Korr. Stay away from him!
Korr - Unity...through detoriation of the flesh and soul...We shall become a single entity...a collective.
Davius had almsot reached the shuttle as he scrambled up. Uriel stepped down and reached for Davius hand to help him up. He kept looking at Korr with the shotgun arm raised.
Uriel - It does not seem right Korr.
Davius - Damnation Uriel just shoot him!
The Dragon that had been torn in half reached out for Uriel, roaring at him although it seemed as if he wasn't completely undead yet, one could still see the face of a living man upon his face. Uriel momentarily turned to the Dragon. Understanding he wasn't dead. Uriel kicked the torso away and looked back to KOrr with fierce eyes. he wasn't dead but he was very far gone, better to leave him than save him.
Uriel - This is not how Drakon wanted us to evolve!
Korr - Life had restricted us...for so long. Now...now we shall become a whole new...new form of life. Life...Life sprouts from death.
Uriel - And you would kill to achieve it? This is Genocide Korr!
Korr - There is no difference between...between "killing" and "spiritual release".
Uriel - I will not allow it Korr! I still retain my authority as Paragon!
Korr - Such authority is redundant...redundant once we become...become the entity we strive for.
Uriel helped Davius up inside and climbed into the shuttle himself.
Uriel - For now. I still hold power. And you are no longer Korr Ultanos!
Korr - We do not retain our names...our former selves have no place...place within our goals...
Uriel - Enough!
As he shouted, Uriel aimed the shotgun and fired into Korr's face. A blast of air escaped from under the shutle as it lifted off. Korr staggered back as flesh flew off his face, partially revealing his skull, but it was nto enough to sto phim. unsatisfied, Uriel fired again.
Korr - We...We...Release through massacre...
Uriel fired several more times, pumping by shunting the shotgun along the barrel in oen handThe shuttle lifted off the ground and prepared to leave the hanger. Railgun bullets sprayed into the horde of dead as a blast of displaced air emerged from the bottom of the craft, pushing several undead and corrupted away. As the shuttle began to leave the city, the passengers could see not only the palace under attack from the horde, but the entire city was overwhelmed by the massive flood of reanimated corpses.
Domestic Security and civillians alike were torn apart and slaughtered as their homes were invaded or the poor souls were dragged out into the street before being torn apart or consumed. Uriel and the shuttle crews were thankful enough they could not see such orrific sights, but the sounds of such persisted. Some flight-capable citizens or those in skycars attempted to fly only to be brought down by undead either jumping off the surfaces or rooves of buildings or flying after them. Uriel slumped in his seat. In one night, he had lost a planet. His persoanl cruiser awaited in orbit. The screams and cries of children and families filled the air, along with the sound of roaring and guttural, instinctive screams.
Davius - We'll reclaim the city one day Uriel. We won't rest until every single one of those monsters have bee nground into dust.
Uriel - Yes. let's hope we don't lose too much of the city in the process.
Davius - The city was designed to withstand invasion. Even if it means fleeing to the underlevels or the tundra beyond, i am sure there will be survivors.
As they flew away, there was a sudden panic onboard - Korr's face appeared in one of the side the windows of the ship and roared as he attempted to tear it off to get to Uriel and his family, with ghastly, fleshy tentacles beginning to wrap themselves around the vehicle. Alensia panicked seeing the horrid visage. Everyoen jumped back.
Davius - Pressure room, now!
Everyone was gathered into a secure room at the front of the shuttle. Uriel had managed to suit up in his more distinctive armour and he and Davius (who had been given a better-condition set of armour)sealed their helmets and prepared to dislodge Korr from the shuttle. The light armoru uriel had worn had served as the perfect underlayer for his heavier combat armour to clamp onto, locking in magnetically, which would have made such plates impossible to dislodge without a substantial amount of force. Korr clawed and bashed at the door, with his tentacles beginning to break through into the ship's side.
Uriel - Davius, keep those tentacles at bay! I will deal with Korr.
Uriel opened the door and as it opened, he plunged his sword into Korr's chest. Air and heat rushing out as they were high in the trophosphere. Uriel did not notice as he had magnetically clamped his feet to the floor of the shuttle. Uriel pulled the sword out, dark fluids gushing from the open chest wound and swung his blade to slice at one of Korr's arms. Davius meanwhile hacked at any tentacles that broke through. Korr screamed out as he reached for Uriel, but his arm was dismembered as Uriel attacked with his sword. Korr was significantly larger this time, a sign that he had absorbed the organic matter of his victims. There was little indication how many he had absorbed or how many lives he had snuffed out in doing so. Uriel swung his blade to hack at the other arm before sending a sharp kick into Korr's ribcage.
AI - Warning - Exiting Trophosphere, pressure drop detected. External radiation levels: Rising. Containment breaches detected.
Korr roared out more and grabbed Uriel by his wrist, attempting to pull him out with him as he lost his grip, due to his limbs being dismembered. Uriel clung onto the shuttle door frame but Korr's strength was immense, eventuallu pulling Uriel free of his magnetic connection to the shuttle floor. Davius noticed uriel slipping and ran to save him, but just before he could reach, Korr's sheer mass pulled Uriel out of the cabon and Davius found homself hanging out of the cabin reaching out towards a falling pair. Watching as the two tumbled down towards the burning city below. Korr and Uriel wrestled as they fell from the ship, with Minos'Drakon directly beneath them as they rolled downwards in midair. Korr attempted to engulf Uriel in his mass of fleshy tentacles. Uriel struggled against Korr's influence. He was disturbed as he felt himself pressed against Korr's leathery body, the disturbing sensation of being pressed against decaying flesh unnerved him. he did his best to push himself out, but Korr's immense mass kept pullinghim inside the rotting body. Although restricted Uriel attempted to cut away at Korr's flesh as it extended over him. He grunted as they fell but both were unfased by the altitude; Korr because he no longer needed to worry about such things and Uriel because of his armour.
Uriel - No..I will...not...join you!
Korr - Why deny...deny your body from advancing to the next...next state of evolution...Our souls ascend while our bodies advance...We are released from our prisons of flesh and matter and we become one within the collective consciousness.
Uriel - No. If I will ascend I will do it my own...way!
At that ,Uriel used all his strength to force his wings open, breaking away many of the tentacles. He used his sword to cut the tentacles around his legs and flew away as far as he could from Korr. As Korr and Uriel were seperated, Korr let out an enraged roar and slammed a tentacle against Uriel's body, throwing him off-course and off-balance. Uriel fell towards the remnants of the Salpathi district. Before this day the district was home to the city's least well-off citizens, many aliens and less-fortunate Draconis. However with the plague, the tightly-packed district had became one of the larger conversion grounds for undead within the city. Anyone who had survived was bound to not be so welcoming of outsiders. Uriel tumbled, his wings acting asa parachute, hampered by the damage of Korr's attack and he landed with a thud some two hundred metres below the surface of the city blocks. It was dark, there was grime. Although his body was bruised and his spirit broken. He was thankful to be alive, and hopefully in a place where Korr might not find him in this hive.
At least, not quickly.
Uriel lay near to edge of one of the urban ravines that made up the arteries of Minos'Drakon, laying there in rest after a rough descent into the now-darkened megapolis. This was one of the smaller, out-of-the-way ravines. The Salpathi district was never the most glamourous district in the city, but here tonight Uriel was surrounded by signs of death and destruction, charred houses, torn-apart corpses, crashed skycars. His iwng was still injured from Korr's attack and he merely lay in the atreet, panting and weary as his visor attemtped to flicker to life. Part of his armoru had been removed where Korr had attempted to gai naccess to his body, he had no serious marks but there was clear damage on his armour. Uriel lay there ,content to rest, hoping he would stay invisible. Tonight, the skin of the Salpathi District crawled and writhed with a rage that burned within itself like a bruise of proportions that could not be bound nor locked away by reality's decree. The bulges of flesh that broke away and seperated from Salpathi's streets made their move, engaging upon a pilgrimage of carnage and bestial fulfilment; hunger and anger dictated their reanimation, not the laws of the Universe which had used death as a permanent prison for those that failed the trials that made life what it was. They spoke only in roars and outbursts; the voices of what remained of their souls.
Uriel was still weak and worn from his ordeal, his eyes jolted awake, but fluttering. Korr's assault on him had ben taxing on his body, his armour was damaged and had difficulty lifting him up. he looked at his HUD to see several movement signs but there was not much he could do, move a leg here, twitch a finger there, his armour had been heavily damaged. As they slowly approached he decided on a new plan of moving as little as possible, hoping they would move on. The disdain of the dead shared a single direction as of the opportunity that arose. They had the chance to snuff out the Imperium's brightest light, they could not refuse nor choose to avoid such a chance that they had been devoid of before. The vessels of rot trekked ever onward, those still possessing eyes looking towards what the sky had used as a meaningless sacrifice for them; Uriel's scent betrayed his tactics, a fragrance worn by his fearful soul. They did not appear to be ignorant of Uriel's presence, they did not stop to wonder how he had come to be here or what he was doing. They simply moved in upon him, manipulating fate to their advantage that would only sustain them for the briefest moments of time. As the hungry corpses approached, eager to snuff out his soul in an orgy of rage, hatred and desire, they came to within breating distance of him before the flash of a plasma burn hit one on the back, followed by two more shots.
From the heated barrel of a shotgun that appeared to be beyond standard, plasma had burned away at the carriages of decay and decomposition which threatened to devour the one man who held the Imperium upon his collapsed shoulders. The sound of flesh sizzling was joined by a strong, bone-breaking *crack* as the butt of the shotgun slammed itself against the fragile skull of one of these decrepid monsters. Standing before the Paragon was hope in the form of a bird; a Terratrix to be precise, clothed in makeshift but effective armour made from whatever scraps of metal were available. Standing besider her and driving off the others was a large Val'Kar. Armed with a high-power rifle, a pair of hammers strapped to his belt and many ammunition cartridges in a bandolier. After driving away the animated corpses in a display of fire and fury, he looked towards the paragon's limp body and smiled broadly. Bearing his jagged yellowed teeth. In his mouth, a massive cigar that burned with ruby embers.
Vrom'Toorgh - Hehehe sweet. Look like we got ourselves a noble's armour! And hey this one's not moving.
Merdila - Aye, he's a big'un too. Gotta wonder 'ow much that armour would sell for on the good ol' exonet, eh?
Vrom'Toorgh - Hergh. If we can get it that far. Minos'Drakon's gone to shit and it looks like it's not going to heal up any tiem soon, we may be stuck with this armour for a while unless we can get out of the city with it.
Merdila - Hmm, well ya know what the boys at the ol' club say; some tings cost an arm and a leg, ya know? It'd be easier ta drag the damn thing if we cut off 'is elbows and kneecaps.
Vrom'Toorgh gave Merdila a knowing smile. He kneeled down to inspect the armour, slinging the rifle over his shoulder while smoke billowed from his cigar and over Uriel.
Vrom'Toorgh - Ceramic-nanotube-tungsten weave, white gold alloy coating, nitrogen-carbon-oxygen synthetic muscle body glove, microelectronic interface, high-end EEG synchronisation system and one hell of a gilding job.
Merdila - By the forests, speak in a language I can understand gosh dangit! You expect me ta know what all these doo-hickeys are?
Vrom'Toorgh - Okay i'll put it simply, This guy's-- helloo
Vrom'Toorgh pried one of the loose armour plates from Uriel's body. WHile the plates were normalyl magnetically clamped, Uriel's ordeals had dislodged the clamping mechanism, aloowing Vrom to pry it off with a little elbow grease. He held it it delicately as he looked on the underside, noticing a hologram of the Royal Ultanos Armouries on the underside. As he looked, Uriel couldn't hold his breath any longer and started breathing, his chest rising and falling slowly
Vrom'Toorgh - Merdila. I'm no expert on markings but this hologram loosk vaguely familiar.
Merdila - We aint comin 'ere for some wacky 'ologram, we came 'ere for that armour and I aint leavin this pit without it, limbs or no limbs.
Vrom'Toorgh - Alright alright we'll get the body to the safehouse then pry it off him.
Merdila drew a machete from a holder strapped to the side of her belt around her waist and approached the Paragon, kneeling down to begin the amputations. However, as she raised the blade, she noticed Uriel's chest faintly moving in an upwards-to-downwards motion in a consistent pattern.
Merdila - Ey Vrom, he don't look like no corpse or any of them dang crazies but he's still movin. Look at 'is chest.
Vrom'Toorgh pried his gaze from looking at the plate in his hand and looked to see that Uriel was still alive. Placing the plate down. He kneeled down next to Uriel's face and tapped the side of his helmet, hoping for signs of life. As he peered in, Uriel reached out with his other arm and grabbed Vrom' best he could, trying to pull himself closer.
Vrom'Toorgh - Okay...this one's definitely alive.
Merdila - Well, whaddya know? See Vrom, told ya I was good fer somethin. 'Ere, lemme 'andle this.
With that, Merdila slammed her machete into Uriel's shoulder plate and got close to his face with her own, tapping on the top of the helmet to get his attention while she had an eager smile on her face, something really not appropriate for the situation at hand and completely unaware of the armour's occupant and the status he held in the society that existed withi nthis city before this day.
Merdila - Now listen 'ere. If ya don't wanna end up as one of them there crazy folk runnin around out 'ere, I advise ya listen carefully. You is gonna tell us exactly who ya are and what ya doin out 'ere, got that?
Uriel opened his mouth, after a moment of silence and a cough, he spoke.
Uriel - I...am...Ur-Uriel...Ultanos. I...I fell.
Vrom'Toorgh - Oh. Shit.
Merdila's mouth was left agape as she pondered about the situation at hand, looking over to Vrom'Toorgh with an awkward and utterly shocked look. Vrom'Toorgh was also in shock, as his mouth dropped, the cigar tumbled from his jaws and he placed his rifle by his side.
Merdila - By all those them there forests...
Vrom'Toorgh - Merdila...y-you were about to hack off the P-Paragavatus's limbs.
Merdila - No I w-weren't, ya big fat liar! Y-Ya told me ta do it!
Vrom'Toorgh - You were going to-- ahem. Maybe we should keep this quiet...how long have you been consious my lord?
Uriel - Well...I tried to hide myself from the undead by pretending I was dead so...perhaps an hour?
Merdila stood up off of the Paragon and took a step backwards, observing him several times up and down from where she stood. With a gulp, she reached down and grasped ahold of one of his arms in an attempt to lift the Draconis to his feet from the crack in the pavement that had formed around him since his collision.
Merdila - Ya gotta excuse us yah lordship, we were just comin ta find ya! We're a...a makeshift rescue team.
Uriel allowed her to pick him up, using his feet to help aid her while Vrom pulled him up by the back. As Draconis often surpassed three-hundred kilograms in weight and made even heavier by the impressive armour adorned o nhis body, far too much for a terratrix such as Merdilla to lift. With their help he rose up to stand over both of them with an indifferent expression on his face. Out of the three spacies in this one spot, Uriel was by a good head the tallest at almost three metres tall. Vrom'Toorgh, being a Val'Kar was only two-and-a-half metres i nheight, his size copensated by the colossal fibrous muscles latched to his thick skeleton.
Uriel - Rescue team or not, I thank you. A minute longer and those ghouls would have ended my life then-and-there.
Merdila - Aww, it's nothin big ya lordship, we figured it wouldn't be right of us ta simply leave such a big, strong, 'andsome Paragon like yaself to die out 'ere in an 'ellish pit.
Uriel - You are too kind. Now, I advise we get off the streets so I would like to ask; do you two have anywhere safe to stay?
Vrom'Toorgh - We're using Merdila's apartment as a safehouse. It's nothin' palatial but we've held out well since this entire district went to 'ell.
Uriel - I hope you do not mind if I stay? I am...a little unafamiliar with this district.
Merdila - Hmm, well, my answer could be a maybe if, oh I dunno, ya let me an' Vrom move up ta a more...suitable region of city after this 'ere mess is over an' done wit'.
Uriel - Since you two saved my life I can always see what I can do.
Vrom tutted smugly at Merdila from behind Uriel's back as she replied.
Merdila - Well, that's settled then! We'd best move outta 'ere quickly before more of them there crazies decide ta start patrollin again fer the third dang time tonight. They go out every three hours, but none of 'em look the same after each patrol.
Uriel nodded and agreed to follow the pair towards the safehouse. As they walked, Vrom paced up to Merdila who was leading the group back to the safehouse. Heh aad a with a concerned rxpression on his face, mixed with dissapointment.
Vrom - I take it that armour of his is not going on the Exonet markets.
Merdila - After this whole mess is done wit', we don't need any dang Exonet markets. By the forests, we could be livin in style wit' everythin we could ever ask fer! Anytin's better than this 'ellhole.
Vrom - I still wonder how he ended up down 'ere. Salpathi isn't exactly a popular stomping ground for royals.
Merdila - Ya know Vrom, sometimes it's better to be grateful fer what ya got rather than ask bout it, ya know?
Vrom shrugged with a smile, silently agreeing with Merdila's reasoning. That kind of attitude was common in the Salpathi district, which was often home to the less affluent citizens and often home to aliens of all varieties. Oppertunism was common and after all it was like the old saying says: "Don't look a gift-Udulov in the mouth".
The safehouse was a small apartment at the end of an alleyway. The layout of the windows meant that residents had a clear view of anyone approaching from the front of the building. Wooden barricades, metal sheets and a few improvised sandbags were scattered out front. The ally was cramped and Uriel had a little trouble getting inside a building not designed for something as big as a Draconis. In fact he had to keep hunched over in the main rooms of the safehouse. Given the recent depopulation, Merdila and Vrom'Toorgh had the unit and all floors between it and the front entrance to themselves. When Merdila arrived through the units' front door she was greeted with a stomping down the stairs of a teenage girl. A Terratrix, who had a broad smile on her beak when Merdila entered the door. She sat on the stairs llooking at the woman shyly.
Lavlitta - So did you get me anything while you were out?
Merdila looked towards the teenaged girl with a smile. Reaching into one of her pockets she threw the girl a box the size of a human hand, it sounded as if something was rattling inside of it. The box was finely coloured and decorated with a bright, velvet bow that made it appear like some form of high-class, romantic present. It clearly didn't belong here.
Merdila - Managed ta get some poor sucker's box of choc treats for 'is wife, who much preferred him ta whatever was in that there box judgin by 'ow much she was chompin on 'is skull.
Lavlitta - Eww. Did you have to tell me that?
Merdila - Nah, but it's fun ta see ya expression.
THe girl looked at Merdila with a frow nbefore opening the box. Her face suddenly lighting up with glee as she saw an aray of exotic chocolates line the interior.
Uriel - A bit of an unsettling thing to tell such a girl isn't it?
Lavlitta's eyes turned to the massive Draconisstanding in the rom next to Merdila, so big he was having trouble fitting inside the room. Lavlitta but the box down, scrambled up from her seat on the steps and ran to hide behind Merdila out of sheer surprise. Merdila smiled at Lavlitta as she cowered behind her and placed a comforting arm around her shoulder, bringing her into a sideways embrace as Merdila looked upon the Paragon that attempted to adjust to the size of the room, although his efforts appeared to be somewhat futile.
Merdila - She's used ta it, she's 'eard worse bedtime stories.
Lavlitta - M-mum...that big Draconis looks familiar.
Merdila - Course he does, my little scooterbug. That there is the Para-whatnow 'imself.
Lavlitta's eyes lit up like stars and a gaping smile spread across her baked face
Lavlitta - WOW! This is the best present ever!
Merdila - Good ol' Vrom and I managed ta rescue 'im from a bunch a crazies and rotters. In return, the Para-doohickey promised ta find a better place fer us to live in once this 'ere mess is sorted out by the military.
Uriel looked as Lavlitta let go of Merdila's side and slowly and dreaily walked over to Uriel, kneeling down he rested his armoured and battle-scarred hand on her shoulder. Giving her a friendly smile. Merdila smiled and leaned against the doorway, grabbing a nearby can of Soorim in her hand - a popular fizzy-drinks brand in the Imperium - before slicing the top of it with the tip of her beak and gulping it down like there was no tomorrow, which in a place such as this could have been highly possible, especially now.
Uriel - A beautiful girl. Yours?
Merdila - Could say that. She lived wit' her daddy fer a few years, the old bastard 'ad enough of me and decided ta take custody of 'er. Then everythin changed when Vrom an I got ta 'is home and found he'd been mauled by some rotter and started attackin 'er. Good blow ta the head and she was mine again after t'ree long years of waitin fer a visit.
Uriel - I see. I'm sorry you expereinced such trouble but at least she is safe.
Vrom - Fer now at least.
Merdila - Trouble? Weren't no trouble; I enjoyed watchin his useless drunken brains splatter all over the wall. Only reason he had 'er was because he accused me of abusin 'im. Old fool jus' didn't like playin' rough was all, grumpy bastard.
Uriel - As much as I would enjoy staying I feel I can't. it may have been fate that the Lifefather spared me within this district. I need to get back to the Imperial Palace as soon as possible.
Vrom - Woahwaohwoah I saw reports that place was being evacuated. When Nobles start running from a place like that it often mans things have gone to 'hell. Why go there?
Uriel - Not sure. I have an isntinctive feeling that whatever has taken residence could be the key to saving our city. The longer we wait, the more I fear people may be lost in worse ways than being consumed or corrupted.
Merdila - Can't argue wit' that logic, I've been followin' it fer years and it aint done me any 'arm. 'ey Vrom, ya did manage ta gather some of the beers we found from the rotter pit, didn't ya? ...Please?
Vrom - A handful, yes. Well...I managed to save a few after one of them tried to flank me.
Merdila - By the forests, I'd kiss ya if ya breath didn't stink of a rotter's arse pit. Where were we? Ah right, the Imperial Palace. I thought that place was one of the most protected places in Alcanti, what's it doin' bein' a rotter pit?
Uriel - Well...it contains a crypt on its lowest levels. I fear that one of the former paragons may have reawakened, and something ha made him more powerful and dangerous than he ever was in life.
Merdila - Sounds like an ol' movie I watched when I snuck inta a theatre when I was just a chick.
Merdila approached a box that resided in Vrom's side of the room and opened it up, allowing cold, ghastly vapour to pour out of it as it it was positively overflowing with the stuff. She reached a hand inside and pulled out a deep brown bottle that appeared to be labelled with the words "Dragonbreath". Dragonbreath being a high-end brand of beer common amongst aliens such as Vrom'Toorgh. A powerful beverage to the constituion of a smight alien such as Merdila. Merdila - Want one, ya lordship? Ya look as if ya could do wit' one. Uriel - I prefer wines but, I am not feeling picky tonight.
Merdila reached in and grabbed another beer before lazily throwing it towards Uriel. It would appear as if she was somewhat drunken or out of her senses before she even came back here, probably meaning that she had been at least semi-drunk back at Uriel's impact site. Her throw was off-course but its range was close enough for Uriel to grab ahold of. Uriel reached out with flash reflexes, aided by his body glove and caught the bottle mid-flight. Pulling the cap off he downed a mouthful of beer and swallowed it, a satisfied look on his face after experiencing the mature taste.
Merdila - Prefer wines my ass, ya lordship.
Uriel - Wine was...not always available during shore-leave periods in the Imperial Talon Navy.
Merdila bellowed out with laughter and handed a beer to Lavlitta, breaking off the bottle cap with her beak before she did and stuff the cap in a nearby ash tray that was filled with plenty of other caps.
Merdila - Well Vrom, it looks like we 'ave a job ta do for the good ol' Para-dingdong 'ere. We 'ave ta get 'im back ta the Imperial Palace, we'll be doin' jus' that fer 'im! No arguements! Although, preferably not tonight since Uriel's been drinkin'.
After being handed the bottle, Lavitta hugged Uriel's leg with a happy smile on her face.
Lavitta - Can I coem to the palace too ma? Can I can I!?
Merdila - Well...what's ya favourite colour, my little leafchewer?
Lavitta - Yellow!
Merdila - Yeah! Course ya can come along! I've taught ya how ta use the grenade-flamer already, 'aven't I my little barkspitter?
Uriel - As long as she can take care of herself I do not mind too much. I promsie I will protect her on this journey.
Lavitta - AWESOME!
Merdila - Watch who ya talkin' about, ya lordship. This 'ere grubpullar's sent plenty of them there rotters back ta their rebirth cycle by 'erself wit' just a custom makeshift grenade-flamethrower hybrid. If anythin', ya better hope she promises ta protect ya on this 'ere journey.
Uriel chuckled and rested his hand on top of Lavitta's head rather affectionately, shuffling the feathers about within his palm and doing so delicately so as to not upset her.
Uriel - And to think my fall would deprive me of a bodygaurd.
Merdila - In the meantime, ya lordship, 'elp yaself ta whatever ya fancy, we got plenty of loot that them there crazies and rotters won't be missin'. An' don't ya worry bout makin' ta much noise, we 'ave explosive whatchamacallits round the back an' front of the place.
Vrom - Mines, Merdila.
Merdila - They aint just yas, ya greedy slugger! Them 'ere whatchamacallits are fer everybody!
Vrom - No, they're called "landmines", girl.
Merdila - "Landines"? That's such a borin' name! From now on, we're callin' 'em "land bangers". I'm sure the poor bastards we looted the resources from woulda wanted it that way.
Lavitta - Where's the Paragon gonna sleep mum? He's a bit big for our beds.
Merdila - Hmm...ya a smart girl, my little leafclump. Looks like we're gonna 'ave ta put two beds and a sofa together fer him ta sleep on. Sorry, ya lordship, we're jus' tryin' to make the most outta what we got. Ya can have mine an' Vrom's beds and the sofa in my tiny dustpecker's room ta make a makeshift bed.
Uriel - Do not worry about making me comfortable, I have often slept under the stars in my travels.
Merdila - I 'ope ya don't mind sleepin' under a flicker light, then. Besides, me an' Vrom won't be needin our beds tonight. Somebody's gotta stay up an' keep watch fer any rotters or crazies that make it past the land bangers. I'm goin first!
Uriel shrugged and Lavitta guided him upstairs. Luckily for him the starway was quite open, wide enough for him to walk up.
With Lavitta's help, the two of them managed to create a makeshift bed, he learned from her that the attack on the palace was several hours after the rest of the city was attacked. He felt guilty that citizens such as her, Merdila and Vrom were either running for their lives or hiding in safehouses such as this one while he and the rest of the Imperial nobility were busy drinking, feasting and dancing.
Two hours into the night, Uriel was stirred when a shaft of light flooded over him. He was no longer wearing his armour, but stil lwar the body glove for decency's sake. He saw Lavitta standing in the doorway looking shy. He lifted his head up.
Uriel - Yes?
Lavitta - Ma said I should get some sleep...c-can I sleep with you tonight?
Uriel - Well...what's wrong with sleeping downstairs?
Lavitta - E-ever since my dad went crazy. I feel safer deeper into houses.
Uriel - And your own bed?
Lavitta - Well...Ever since my ma saved me I
Uriel - I understand perfectly.
Uriel lifted himself up and opened one of his wings out a little. The friendly smile returning as he pattted the matress.
Uriel - Come, I don't bite.
Lavitta - Well.
Uriel - I am a father as well you know. Don't be shy.
Lavitta shuffled forward shyly before slowly climbing onto the matress. She shuffled close to Uriel and touched his body glove. It felt soft, almsot squidgey like a water-filled matress. As she settled down Uriel lowered his wing over her.
Uriel - Comfortable?
Lavitta - Yeah...
Uriel - I am certain your mother and her friend will protect the house well now try to get soem sleep.
Lavitta - Sir?
Uriel - Yes?
Lavitta - Your skin is squidgey, I thought Draconis had hard and rough scales.
Uriel - This? It is called a body glove, by wearing it I become several times stronger.
Lavitta - Like a superhero costume?
Uriel - In a sense.
Lavitta - Okay. It feels comfy though.
Lavitta curled up as Uriel looked at her drifting off. Before he drifted off to sleep himself, before he did he lamented on what Lavitta mentioned. His heart sank as a reality came forward; how could he kill something that was essentially animated flesh? At least there was no doubt it could have been his late brother.
Alensia Take Heart
The the Royal Alcanti Star Crusier "Worldfather's Grace" had become a home of sorts for the evacuees of Alcanti. After rendezvousing with the 1st fleet the remains of Alcanti's orbital defenses had powered up thepl net's shields, isolating it from the rest of the system in order to prevent the spread of the Tabescere but with little knowledge of whether or not their plan would work. After gathering who they could and screening everyone coming aboard the 1st fleet had left the system for interstellar space, leaving some ships behind, unfortunately infected by refugees who inadvertently turned cannibal. Luckily, the TNSS DOminax and the Wroldfather's Grace had been spared of infection.
Alensia was sitting within a nursery within the core of the royal starship. She was flicking though a botanical holobook, looking at various plants cataloged from frontier worlds as she looked at a monitor embedded to resemble a window, which she had set to a mountain landscape with expansive vineyards in the midground. To her right was an incubator unit, ornately decorated and edged with gold. Inside were five Draconid eggs, bathed in a warm glow inside, ideal conditions for development and allowing Alessa to both monitor her eggs and attend to her own needs without worrying about the safety of the growing infants inside.
As she studied one particular set of flowers from a planet somewhere in the Milky Way she heard a harmonious chime at the door. She lifted her head from her reading material and let out a worried sigh before placing the book on a nearby surface and turning towards the door.
Alensia - Come in.
The door opened and Larnus stepped in, still wearing his dress uniform. Alensia spun her chair aronund and stood up, pacing a few steps towards the solemn admiral, but she saw his face and deep inside her heart she had that dread feeling.
Alensia - Uriel--
Larnus slowly shook his head and Alessa's wings sagged, taking slight and rapid gasps and took a few steps closer. Larnus reached his arms forward and allowed Alensia to take a hold of them. As she moved closer he opened his wings over her. That solemn look still spread across his snout.
Larnus - I am sorry my paragavessa, we lost sight of him as he was thrown from the shuttle.
Alensia - Lord-Admiral you have to find him! I can't live without him, his unborn--
Larnus held an open palm close to Alensia's snout.
Larnus - Minos'Drakon is presently overrun, I fear for his well being as well but at present it is too dangerous to send a search party into the city
ALensia - You must do something. The longer he is stranded the higher chance we return to find him dead or worse. I do not want my children hatching and not knowing their father, he has always been there whenever my clutches have hatched!
Larnus - I am unsure what we can do. Alcanti is isolated, we cannot risk spreading this plague--
Alensia pushed Larnus away from her and spread her wings out, a scowl set on her snout and clearly agitated.
Alensia - No excuses Lord-admiral! I do not care how many lives it takes but Uriel must be recovered. For the sake of my, my spawn and for the people. You will find him.
Larnus stepped back but moved his arms to clasp over his stomach.
Larnus - I will do what I can then mylady, in the meantime, the Grand Senate has convened and the councils have decreed you are to fulfill your duties as paragavessa.
Alensia - I have filled in for my husband before, what makes--
Alensia's face contorted into a scowl and she spread her wings further, the mechanism all draconis had that allowed her voice to reverberate in an echo of power began to rise within her before she snapped in a stern and echoing voice.
Alensia - Lord Admiral...I cannot live with myself if I must take my place as paragon over Uriel's corpse. You will have the legions search for him, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many lives are lost, you will bring him back to the fleet. Otherwise, as Varlum'Paragavatus [Steward-Paragon] I will see to it you receive an adequate replacement for your position Lord Admiral.
Larnus - Is that all, my lady.
Alensia nodded, wings folding back as her voice returned to a more normal state, her scowl partially receding. She turned around and walked back towards her chair, lowering her head at the frustration she bore.
Alensia - Drakon's Eye may be presented to me if it must, but I refuse to wear it until I know for certain my Paragavatus is dead.
Larnus - As you wish, my paragavessa.
Alensia - Is there anything more?
Larnus - We should be arriving in orbit of Araveene in three hours, my paragavessa. Word within the fleets is the infestation has not yet spread to there.
Alensia - Have three fleets sent to bolster the system and have every cargo vessel arriving within 0.5 light-years scanned and decontaminated. Present a royal request to the senate that if the infestation is detected on any inbound ship within point-four light years from a celestial body, the navy has the right to destroy it unless under certain circumstances.
Larnus - Is that wise, my paragavessa?
Alensia - The people must be protected, we cannot allow this plague to spread though the trade lanes.
Larnus - I will relay your request to the Grand Senate, my lady.
Alensia - Thank you, that is all.
Larnus bowed and paced backwards, the door opening behind him as he walked out. Once it was closed shut, Alensia walked towards a figurine, a small trinket Uriel had given her from one of his travels. it was a wooden carving hung from a string as an amulet, designed to resemble some nature spirit from one of the many less advanced cultures her husband had traveled to. Alensia took the carving in her hand, no bigger than one of her fingers and looked down at it, feelings of pain welling up as she envisioned her loss, she clutched her hand over the amulet, squeezing tighter in some half-aware dreamyness, her mind adrift in the pain of her loss.
Her thoughts were abruptly tossed away when she heard a silence-piercing "chik" coming from her hand. Opening her palm she realised what she had done; the carving lay on the soft underside of her palm, snapped into three pieces and surrounded by splinters and shards of wood, her nicitating membranes flickered and her mouth creased up, all she could do was delicately let the fragments slip from her palm, down her fingers and onto the table where she found them once whole and sat back in her chair, slumping on the stomach-rest, weeping for her missing love.