"A soldier is in no place to question his orders. He has no right to. He has no friends, no family, no loyalty to any person but his superior. His superior in turn has none of these things either. It is not a soldier's place to question. It is his place to act. A soldier can never be certain of who his friends are, for tomorrow, they will be different. He can be certain of only a single thing: his goal." Those are the words I have always lived by. A quote that fits all. It is only changed for a single purpose: when discussing female soldiers, and the "he" is replaced with a "she". Nothing else changes.
But I must wonder, should I have lived by them? What kind of words were they? Words of useless propaganda, to place control over their soldiers, fooling them into thinking they must not question orders so they can do nothing? Were they words of wisdom, from a wise man in the army who knew that, truly, a soldier questioning the words of his superior was wasting his time and money? Or were they mere words of desperation, the words of a soldier attempting to excuse his, or her, previous sinful actions? These things I do not know. None of us Inalton ever knew, or ever will know, where the quote originated from. We know only that it is considered a code among our troops.
All I know is that I have committed many things under the orders of many. To whoever is reading this little, "manifesto", I suppose you could call it, know this: I am neither proud nor ashamed of my actions. In my time, the amount of people I have murdered, I have lost count. I have lost count of even how long I have lived. How many timelines I have visited, how many places I have gone. I have no idea. But know also that I am a murderer. Yet, who am I to question whether the things I have done are truly sinful actions, or just the actions of a righteous and just freedom fighter? I have never been one to judge myself or what I have done. I have a sole purpose: to kill. And I do not know if that makes me a dreadful person. I can think of very few perspectives of morality in which I would be considered 'good' for it. But what I do know, and what my employers and my past superiors know, is that I am very useful.
So why, then, am I writing a manifesto where I ask questions to which the answer is already obvious? Why do I continue questioning my existence, as I have done for millennia, if I already know that doing so is useless? If I already know I am wasting my time, why do I bother? That is the only question I have no certain answer to. As the old quote suggests, I have no certain answers to any question but this: "what is my mission?" But for the first time, I am to give myself a new mission.
For the first time, I am doing something of my own will, for myself. Or was it the second time? Perhaps. I am Genrai Nal. And from this day forth, until I am finished, I am to atone for my sins. There is something that I must do, before I continue. I am a killer, and I will kill. But I am killing for myself now.
-From the manifesto of a fallen warrior.
The Attonement of Genrai Nal is a story written by Technobliterator, a subplot of the Ice Age focusing on the story of Genrai Nal. It will be a prelude to the story coming soon, the reboot to the failed Cleansing Flames fiction. This, for the most part, will be a solo short fiction, though collaboration is possible.
Part One, Shameless Killer
Genrai Nal had no true home. Even with the Guild of Shadows, he never had a place he ever called "home". So when he was sat in yet another spaceship of his employer, sharpening the two blades on his arms, no one ever questioned him. That was where they all found him, alone, sharpening blades, and presumably thinking of ways to kill his foes. When one thinks about it, was there ever much more to Genrai Nal? Did he ever think there was much more attached to his name other than "killer"? It didn't matter. Genrai Nal had forgotten the name of the ship he was on. He didn't even realize that he was actually in a dining hall and there were dozens of other passengers.
It was a space cruise. The parts outside the territory of the Ultimate Sovereignty of Ottzello were in complete anarchy. They claimed as much, but they were lying to themselves; the Oltauris Consortium were their leaders. The Consortium was honestly the only thing that kept anything resembling order around. It was because everyone used their products, because they had the best military, and because they had much greater influence over the people, that titles like "mayor", "governor" and "landlord" had been made useless, the "mayor" of any city does nothing but feed their face and nod their head at everything the Consortium says. The only variation was when some secretly sat and thought how much they hated having no real control or recognition.
The cruise ship would take them around a small sub-region of the Ottzello Sector. Genrai Nal had forgotten who had given him the task, but he had remembered what it was: to stowaway on the cruise ship, and at its fourth destination, get off, and kill an individual, whose name he had also forgotten. To Genrai, names meant nothing, "employer" and "target" were the only names he needed.
- Woman - Sir? Is there anything you need?
Genrai Nal ignored the woman's voice, still concentrating completely on his blades. The amount of times he had slashed them against each other to sharpen them he had now forgotten, just like many other things he simply did not care to remember.
- Woman - Ahem, excuse me? Sir?
Genrai Nal did not look up at the woman. She was a waittress, he was in one of the diners of the cruise. She was a very young, attractive looking Galotian in her early 20s, and one could tell she was only doing her job so she wouldn't feel too bad about moving in with her boyfriend as she could at least earn some money for their new house. Genrai Nal didn't look up at her, he merely grunted.
- Genrai Nal - I want nothing from you.
- Waittress - You've sat at your table for a while and you haven't ordered anything. Also, you've been playing with those weapons of yours for some time. Do you want any help with that?
Genrai Nal stopped sharpening his weapons for a moment.
- Genrai Nal - No.
- Waittress - If you need anything...
- Genrai Nal - I want nothing from you.
- Waittress - Okay.
She turned around and left to serve someone else, frankly relieved, even if she was somewhat curious. A young woman who had only really known life in Ottzello since arrival to Borealis, and since several planets chose not to join the old Unified Nation of Ottzello, she was naive to terms such as "criminal", "crime" or "order". So when she made up her mind about who Genrai was, it was "killer", and she would tell no one of her suspicions that he was probably on a mission to destroy. As long as it didn't affect her, she didn't care.
In truth, Genrai Nal didn't care either. And soon enough, the cruise ship was to land on the starport of the fourth destination. Like many things, Genrai Nal had not cared to remember the name of the planet. He knew what he was looking for, a tall figure, military uniform, an old timer who had powerful influence over this region of space, who lived in a tall palace that would look elegant on the outside, but at the same time be surrounded by brutish mercenaries. His employer had promised him billions to get this done, so it was clear this threat was a very real, and very important one. Those billions were precisely what he needed.
It was upon the completion of this mission that he would begin his atonement.
Mentor and Apprentice
The doors to the enormous metal palace were guarded only by two mercenaries. It was here that Count Raikov, the owner of a large industry in this area, resided. The palace was so tall and threatening that many didn't dare to approach it. It was also a long distance from any city. So when a single Inalton, cladded in armor, approached the palace doors, walking slowly, the guards grew curious. The Inalton stopped at the door before turning to the guards.
- Guard - Let's see your identification to get through.
- Inalton - You don't need to see my identification.
The Inalton's voice was fairly deep, and he spoke with an almost elegant tone. One could tell that he was a slick, and experienced soldier. The guards were wary, but his comment threw them off. They thought he was joking.
- Guard - Yeah, and these aren't the droids we're looking for. Why don't I need to see your identification?
- Inalton - Because...you're dead.
From nowhere, Genrai Nal appeared behind the guard and stabbed him. The Inalton jumped up in the air, activating his jetpack, and came crashing down, striking the other guard with his lance before the other could even reach for a gun. He stood up, and approached Genrai Nal, who opened the door.
- Genrai Nal - We must move quickly, Tovad, or we will be overwhelmed by Raikov's cyborgs. His cyborg soldiers are a forced to be reckoned with, almost as strong as Loron.
- Tovad - Avoiding a fight? Is that not a coward's mistake?
- Genrai Nal - We may not have the option of fighting them, they outnumber us and outgun us by miles. We may also not have the luxury of being able to run from such fast soldiers. Be wise and pick your fights.
Genrai Nal and Tovad had been given the same mission. Both were to assassinate Count Raikov, due to the problems that Raikov had been causing for the Oltauris. But why them two? Tovad had no connection to Genrai Nal, nor the Guild of Shadows. Before this mission, neither of them had met. They had nothing in common, other than both being Inalton, and both being time travellers. Tovad was one of the Oltauris' Time Assassins, a unit set up to try and change the course of history to one that would benefit Oltauris.
The two stormed the building. Naturally, Raikov's cyborgs were everywhere. Of various Ottzelloan species, they were all armed to the core, and all were worth foes of Genrai and Tovad. Tovad's lance was used to cut through them all. He was skilled at aerial combat with his jetpack and agility. Genrai, on the other hand, was skilled at stealth and hand-to-hand combat. Despite Genrai's concerns, the cyborgs were slain in quick succession.
- Genrai Nal - Ah, it has been a long time since I fought alongside a true Inalton warrior. A long, long time...
- Tovad - Hm! If you fight like that, who needs to sneak into places?
Storming the palace, it soon became clear all the elevators were locked. Neither of them needed to say what they would do next. Genrai Nal turned to the nearest window and smashed it. Tovad jumped outside, and began running up the walls. Genrai Nal followed. Missiles rained down, trying to take them out, but Genrai teleported around them and cut them apart, while Tovad simply dodged. At the top floor, they smashed through the window once again. Tovad came flying through with his lance. He came to the man that fit the description of Raikov, and in one jump, stabbed him before he had a chance to speak. Genrai showed up and killed the surrounding cyborgs.
- Genrai Nal - We have no orders to do anything else here. However, do you want to fight them?
- Tovad - Do you have to ask?
The combat prowess of the two mercenaries showed. Even the most high-tech of the PMC troopers was unable to best them in combat. It was clear they made quite a team. For a while longer, they fought until the PMC withdrew. It would gain nothing continuing to fight for a dead man that would pay them nothing.
A while after the mission, the two sat down in a restaurant, having to rest.
- Tovad - This is great. We can collect our pay and be finished here.
- Genrai Nal - And once I do, I will leave.
Tovad's eyes widened. The two had fought together on multiple occasions and developed a sort of bond, being of the same species and sharing the same philosophy. Tovad had seen Genrai as a sort of mentor, someone to look up to.
- Tovad - So soon?
- Genrai Nal - Yes. Before I continue my services, I...have something to attend to. Something now. I am to attone for my sins.
Tovad thought for a moment.
- Tovad - And why? Were you not the one who told me a soldier has no personal feelings that interfere with his or her missions?
- Genrai Nal - A soldier fights for their mission. And I fight for another mission, but this time it is personal. My personal feelings, for once, play a part here, for they are the basis of my mission.
- Tovad - What do you aim to do?
- Genrai Nal - There is someone I must defeat. Someone who I must kill. Other than that, there are many trials I must put myself through before I can retain the purity of which I lost to the Dark Chronoscopic powers I was given.
Tovad thought for a moment. Other than when employed, he had no obligation to follow anyone.
- Tovad - Then I will join you.
- Genrai Nal - You cannot.
- Tovad - Why? There are so many things I wanted to learn. I've learnt technique from you. I have sharpened my senses. But I want to learn how to think.
- Genrai Nal - To think like a soldier is something I cannot teach you. Experience alone, aand yourself. Those are the things that can teach you. Not me.
- Tovad - Genrai, would I be getting in your way? If your goal is personal, perhaps we can help each other. I, too, have people who I want to be rid of. Maybe we can both destroy them?
Genrai Nal sat silently for a few minutes. Later, he decided to speak.
- Genrai Nal - Very well. We leave for the closest nebulae tomorrow. There, I severe the powers of the man who I deal with before I strike him down.
- Tovad - Thank you.
There was more silence as they continued to eat. Tovad then asked:
- Tovad - Why do you fight, now that Zaarkhun has fallen?
- Genrai Nal - ...Zaarkhun was my friend, but what should his death matter to what I do?
- Tovad - What purpose have you for fighting? For existing?
- Genrai Nal - You have much to learn. I do not seek a purpose. I choose it. My purpose is to do all I am good it, which is to kill. I am a tool of the trade.
- Tovad - Do you not fight for people? Maybe the Inalton saying dictates we ignore personal feelings in favour of the mission, but should we?
Genrai Nal went silent, this time shutting his eyes for a while.
- Genrai Nal - I had one once. One person in my life long ago. I wanted to have her in my life forever, but it was not to be. I would not make good father anyway.
- Tovad - I see. I too have loved and lost.
- Genrai Nal - It happens to the best of us.
And then, the two knew there was no more to discuss. They would take a break that day, and wait for their pay the next day, when they would go. Genrai had to atone for something, and Tovad would follow his new mentor.
One by One
Genrai Nal and Tovad had boarded a space station in a nebula closer to USO territory. While the genenral policy of USO was to be self sufficient and ignore all forms of trade, a lot of trading went on underground. The Gafrili Nebulae space station, in particular, was where many of the Oltauris and others traded with a few inside USO. Or at least, that's what everyone was told. Truth is, it was a way for USO to spy on their enemies by inserting agents through the lies. The higherups at Oltauris knew, but would do nothing about it as they were powerless to.
Genrai Nal and Tovad where to go there and destroy it. With USO's knowledge of the sector gone, they would be blind to everything occurring in that region of space. And as Genrai and Tovad were to use it as their base, this was perfect for them. Genrai Nal, in his new starfighter that money had bought for him, Genrai just flew into the nebula. He completely ignored all the warnings that the space defenses gave him. And when they began firing, Genrai's ship, a rapid fast fighter that could outrun most ships in Ottzello, was able to dodge with relative ease. It was also abble to eliminte most other fighters. But it wasn't there for a dogfight. Genrai flew the ship straight into the hangar of the main space station. A huge, round, spherical location, full of people, but everyone on that station was deadmeat.
Genrai Nal had no interest in killing innocents or civillians, and nor did Tovad. They weren't here for a slaughterfest, just to take down a foe. And if that meant innocents would die, they would show no mercy. Their goal was to annihilate this space station. And as predicted, it was full of guards. Guards of many Ottzelloan species, and in many cases worse, Tralkikianoe guards. Mobile and brutish, the armor of Genrai and Tovad would have to be strong to withstand the coilgun blasts that headed their way.
Tovad spun his lance around, and jumped up, to strike a few down. He could not fight them on the ground, so he would take them from the air. Genrai Nal, meanwhile, would brawl at close combat. The guards had them beat at long distance, it was true, but Genrai Nal could teleport short distances and solve that problem eventually. A huge clash of blades against hypercharged bullets was the way to go. Eventually, they cleared out the wave at the hangar. Tovad and Genrai shared banter.
- Tovad - I'm surprised you're still standing after warping so much. Not dizzy in the slightest, eh?
- Genrai Nal - Hmph. Perhaps if you fought on the ground once in a while, you wouldn't have to dodge so many bullets and could just take them!
- Tovad - Heh heh. The skies are mine, Genrai. Are you going to take them from me?
- Genrai Nal - Of course not. But how about we take them from the Gafrili Nebula?
- Tovad - Sounds like a plan. Look out, more are coming.
In grander numbers, more guards arrived at the hangar. They aimed to destroy the ship. This time, they began to overwhelm them. The ship too heavy fire, as Tovad noticed. Genrai Nal took out those approaching, but they both had their hands full. Looking around, Tovad noticed a pipe in the ceiling. Grabbing his lance, he jumped up, and stabbed it. As he lunged to stab it, then pulled his lance out, to which charged chemicals spilled. Tovad turned to Genrai.
- Tovad - Hah, seems our friends are poor architects. Who leaves such blatant weakpoints around in this day and age?
- Genrai Nal - People who expect neither their attackers to want to destroy the station they are in, nor for their attackers to be armed with a jetpack and a lance that can pierce that kind of metal. A cunning plan, Tovad. I am impressed. Now let us leave.
Tovad and Genrai quickly hopped into their starship, as the spilled chemicals leaked throughout the hangar and would make the area impassible. They now had to destroy the station. Opening the door to Genrai's starfighter, they would fly out to the station's exposed engine, the one that would keep it floating in orbit. Weapons couldn't pierce the shield, and the weak point was only exposed by the two when they had interrogated a passer-by previously. To destroy it, they'd need to get through the forcefield. That problem had been solved earlier. While fighting the guards, Genrai and Tovad had snuck a little EMP inside the ship where their foes were occupied, and no one expected an EMP blast from inside the station. Tovad set it to blow, then walked towards the opened door of Genrai's fighter with his space suit on. Genrai Nal quickly stood in front of him and grinned.
- Genrai Nal - Hah! Think I'd let you have all the fun?
- Tovad - Heh heh heh. You'd trust me to fly your ship? Be my guest.
Genrai jumped out, and stabbed the engine. Tovad then fly the ship back, allowing Genrai to jump inside it. The station would now come crashing down. It was a quick attack no one had expected. The two could now relax for a while. Tovad then looked back as they flew off, looking back at the station they had destroyed.
- Tovad - This is your idea of atonement for sins, eh? Killing people who have not always done something wrong?
- Genrai Nal - Do not be fooled, Tovad. No one on that station was innocent. Everyone was either a spy, or a criminal.
- Tovad - I see...
- Genrai Nal - And it is not your place, nor mine, to judge people, or the actions of people.
- Tovad - I suppose. What did you aim to acchieve, anyway?
- Genrai Nal - I was to severe a 'point of communications' between Oltauris and USO. Which is to say, I was to make USO blind to everything that occurs in this region of space. They will now not see the attacks coming for them.
- Tovad - I admit, I've no love for USO either. They are among the people I want to be rid of.
- Genrai Nal - I have no obligation to see them survive. And more importantly, as I have said, there is a member who I want to kill.
- Tovad - As do I...an old friend, though.
The two stayed silent again for a while, Genrai flying the ship, while Tovad attending to his weapons. Then, Tovad spoke again.
- Tovad - What is it you seek for your atonement? Is it vengeance? Is it repaying a debt?
- Genrai Nal - It is severing all ties to my past of which I am to be rid of.
- Tovad - Huh. There is someone who I want to destroy for a similar reason...I find that there are but two ways to deal with my past. Combat, and writing.
Genrai Nal grew curious.
- Genrai Nal - Writing?
- Tovad - Yes. I keep a journal. A journal in which I detail the things which I want to end.
- Genrai Nal - How does that help you rid yourself of them?
- Tovad - It allows me to vent whatever feelings I have towards a writing tablet, as opposed to an actual person.
- Genrai Nal - I see. Is it...personal?
- Tovad - Yes. That said, I wouldn't be heartbroken if someone else were to read.
- Genrai Nal - Very well. Tomorrow, we leave for the Blyro'Tralzica. I want to destroy USO's outpost. And I want some information. I will find the location of my target there.
- Tovad - Understood. I will rest for today.
Tovad then left to his quarters aboard Genrai's ship. Having heard what he said, Genrai felt confident that he would not be betraying the trust of his friend if he were to let his curiousity get the better of him. He would read through his friend's journal, and learn what his friend wanted. While they were close, Genrai had never trusted anyone totally other than Zaarkhun, and he was still suspicious of whoever had sent Tovad, and why they bonded so well in some ways, yet had no prior connection, and why it was Tovad chosen to accompany Genrai, and not one of them alone...
Closer to Their Goals
The Blyro'Tralzica had stayed mostly secluded. However, now, they were oppressed. Oppressed by the Ultimate Sovereignty of Ottzello, an organization they did not wish to be part of. When Genrai Nal and Tovad arrived, they found things were in a direr situation than they expected. This time, they would not be sneaking in, or starting a fight. No, this time, when they landed in the dark, barren wasteland outside a city, they found it was very alive. It was a warzone.
USO's robotic soldiers firing Chronoscopic-esque technology were warring against the Tralzica, and they, too, were fighting with the same sort of equipment. The result was incredibly chaotic. With time anomalies from left to right, enemies morphing to their younger and older selves, it was chaotic enough to see past the fact that the battlefield was full of blood shed, of explosions all around, an incredibly morbid sight. The brave, valiant knights of the Tralzica, armed to the teeth with blades and guns, fought against the malicious, cold, emotionless robots which wanted nothing other than to kill all on sight.
- Tovad - It appears it shall not be us who starts the carnage today.
- Genrai Nal - I suspect that USO sees the Tralzica as a threat.
- Tovad - What are we after?
- Genrai Nal - Information. We shall find the leader of this group, and slay him, then retrieve the information from his corpse. I want the whereabouts of my target.
- Tovad - Understood. However, after our recent actions, USO may be on the look for us. I suspect we shall attempt to blend in with the Tralzica warriors, being that they are Inalton. Preferably with the front line knights, whose methods are close combat.
- Genrai Nal - Great minds think alike.
Walking in between the front line troops, while culling any USO robot that snuck through, one would wonder how they could leave this battle emotionally unscathed. It was not just malicious slaughter, Tovad noticed one thing: the pilots of USO's robotic weapons of death were all younger, or deformed, and they were all of different races. One could see through the cockpit that many of them were screaming in pain, as if they did not want to fight. Those that were not deformed or childlike were old, and they too could look with nothing but fear in their eyes. USO used this to dump their 'useless' people away. No, these robots were not here for war. The actual soldiers were for that. These were merely for purges. To purge what USO did not want. And these robots were just prototypes. None of USO cared what happened to anything they sent here. So it was the perfect test ground. For an empire with unlimited resources, what did they care, anyway? Everything here, once it had finished its job, was going to be destroyed. These purge robots were going to destroy themselves after. To even hear about it is emotionally painful. Genrai and Tovad had to watch it. While Tovad's facial expression changed a bit, showing more worry in his eyes, Genrai had seen worse in his life.
At the end of this carnage, avoiding the deaths of the Tralzica around them, they eventually saw the leader. Arriving from the sky, floating, this leader clearly possessed some sort of Chronoscopic mastery. It was hard to perceive this man and not feel like they were some sort of magician, as opposed to a warlord. They had heard many things about this man, the mad scientist, Xaltsa. But seeing him gave the impression they were viewing a sorcerer of magic. This man, floating in the air, and shooting bolts of Chronoscopic lightning, would be thought of as such. But in fact, this man has crafted weapons for centuries, including these very purge robots. It was when he viewed Chronoscopic as a science, rather than a mere magic, and applied it as such, that USO became as strong as it now is. Xaltsa was also unique in being the first male Galotian they had seen.
- Tovad - I believe we have found our man.
- Genrai Nal - To slay him may be difficult. We must be cautious.
Xaltsa landed elegantly. His bright eyes looked upon the battlefield and smiled, the way a conductor smiles after conducting his greatest orchestra. To him, it was all a stage. When he spoke, he spoke, similarly, with a sort of elegance in his speech, and his voice was high pitched, though low enough to be distinctively male.
- Xaltsa - I find this barren wasteland a perfect place to wage war. It is almost as if the environment stays still, marveling in our victory today. Breathless, as it watches our march.
Xaltsa raised an arm in the air, making what appeared to be a gesture. However, instead, a huge rock fell from space. No, it was a miniature meteor as it landed, crashing and burning everything in its path. Tovad and Genrai had to avoid it.
- Genrai Nal - This man is powerful...
Xaltsa fired more bolts, tearing apart the army faster than the robots. He seemed unstoppable. While several would describe him as a mad scientist at work, on the outside, this was a musician playing to the crowd, and decimating the helpless Tralzica was his way of performing. Tovad leaped up in the air with his lance, and came crashing down on Xaltsa, knocking him down by surprise. Genrai appeared next to Xaltsa and sliced away at him. The shield around him appeared to protect him. Surprised, he blasted them away, and then got back to his fight. He pulled out a weapon, firing beams of untold energy. Neither Tovad nor Genrai knew what it could or would do, but thanks to their quick evasion, would never find out. They sliced at him again, this time, Tovad pierced the shields and stabbed him, then kicked him down. He appeared dead.
- Xaltsa - A challenging opponent is a rare thing indeed. I was happy to have such an opportunity.
The voice had come from behind them. They looked, and saw Xaltsa there. But then they looked back at what appeared to be his corpse.
- Xaltsa - How many of me are there, I wonder? Which one is the real me? Will you fight all of me until exhaustion?
- Genrai Nal - We came to fight you not out of any desire to kill you. We came for information.
- Xaltsa - About USO, I presume?
- Genrai Nal - About the whereabouts of one of your leaders.
- Xaltsa - Hmph. Charging at me and stabbing me was not the most polite way to ask.
- Tovad - You would release information to fugitives such as us?
- Xaltsa - But of course. I have much interest in seeing these events unfold.
The two looked at one another, confused. What was Xaltsa thinking? Or was he enjoying the destruction too much to care?
- Xaltsa - I know all about your fated battle, Genrai Nal. And thanks to me, so do all of USO. However, your interference in my goals here, I do not want. I merely wish to cull a large portion of the Tralzica population. I merely wish to kill a great deal of them until they surrender to me. They have been very cocky, lately. That will never do.
- Genrai Nal - ...I cannot say I care for your goals. I cannot say I do not disagree with them. I, also, cannot say that I don't want to hear what information you have to offer me.
- Xaltsa - I will relay co-ordinates to your ship now. However, this act of kindness, once your battle is over, is not one I intend to repeat.
- Tovad - Perhaps we will meet in battle another day, Xaltsa. I would very much like to end you.
- Xaltsa - Indeed, possibly.
Within USO territory, Genrai and Tovad were off to a starcruiser. That starcruiser, to which they had been given co-ordinates, was home to Genrai's target. Genrai turned the ship on auto-pilot and sat down on the couch nearby. Tovad sat opposite.
- Tovad - I would call that a victory, but I did not like what happened there. Or what I saw.
- Genrai Nal - It was not a victory that we earnt.
- Tovad - Indeed. It was handed to us. This..."Xaltsa". I have heard many things of him. He is famous in Ottzello for his music, and for his plays. And he is also apparently a scientific genius. I saw nothing there that gives the impression of such.
- Genrai Nal - I did. That he does not appear as one shows that he hides himself well. Or, at least, he hides what is inside.
- Tovad - Perhaps.
There was a long silence. Genrai Nal then spoke up.
- Genrai Nal - I have read your journal.
- Tovad - Only the most recent entry is readable.
- Genrai Nal - And that is the one that I read.
Tovad seemed unmoved, as if he was not worried at all.
- Genrai Nal - The man you are after. Yogtam. Correct?
- Tovad - He represents a part of my past I want removed. It is a personal vendetta. Besides, neither USO nor Oltauris want him around any longer.
- Genrai Nal - It appears we were after the same person.
Tovad looked up, eyes widened a little.
- Tovad - You, too, want to kill Yogtam? And that is your atonement?
- Genrai Nal - Yes.
- Tovad - ...And I cannot think of why you would. He represents all the great qualities respected in an Inalton. He represents many of the things that aliens admire about our people.
- Genrai Nal - My reasoning for his demise is complex. And while I agree with you, he, too, represents a part of my past I want to be rid of. But I also want the truth to be known. For too long has it been buried.
- Tovad - What truth?
- Genrai Nal - You will learn soon.
- Tovad - Is this how I must learn? I must simply guess along the way what you are thinking, I must simply make efforts to work things out for myself, with no idea if I am following you correctly? Is that how you want to teach me?
- Genrai Nal - It is. But were you not following me so far, you would not have got where you are. You are making things too complicated, Tovad.
Tovad sighed. He had to guess that he had been right all along then.
- Genrai Nal - We arrive tomorrow. We slay Yogtam.
- Tovad - If you wish to fight him yourself, man-to-man, I understand. I shall support you all the way. Given that Xaltsa has allowed us to proceed this far, I suppose security shan't be too much trouble.
- Genrai Nal - Be aware that Yogtam has the same power within USO. Things might be different under him. Xaltsa's influence, and scientific sorcery, may excuse him from rules, so Yogtam may not know. If there is anyone that can bend rules of the System and hide themselves from it, it is Xaltsa.
- Tovad - I see. We are in for a great battle either way.
- Genrai Nal - Yes.
The two slept, knowing that the next day would be the fight of their lives.
The time had come for Genrai Nal to confront his past, confront his feelings, and confront his nemesis. And Tovad was with him all the way. What would possibly be the biggest fight of Genrai's incredibly long life was just a few parsecs away from him. And a few minutes later, Genrai's ship, dodging the fire it took, landed in the hangar of Yogtam's cruiser. Fighting their way there, Tovad and Genrai eventually reached the command bridge. Plowing through dozens of soldiers to get there, they arrived at Yogtam's own command center. He had already stood from his chair and armed his blades.
- Yogtam - A visit by Genrai Nal! And what did I do to deserve this pleasure?
- Genrai Nal - It is now that I am to atone for my sins. And to do so, you must die.
- Tovad - I, too, am here to confront both yourself, and my past.
Yogtam looked away from Genrai, and towards Tovad. His facial expression, once battle-ready, was now of surprise.
- Yogtam - Tovad? Is...is that you?
- Tovad - Hello, Yogtam. It's been a while. A thousand years, I believe?
Tovad stepped in front of Genrai Nal. The two looked at each other for a while. Yes, both Yogtam and Tovad were soldiers during the same period of time. Back when Ottzello was still the Ottzello Galaxy, and the Inalton's worst enemy were the Loron hordes, Tovad and Yogtam were two of the strongest leaders of the Inalton army. Both led their platoons closely together, and they were both friends, although they were also friendly rivals.
- Yogtam - I never thought you would survive. How did you end up here?
- Tovad - Since that fight, the battle in which you lost the woman you loved, the one you were to marry, I, too, lost something dear to me.
- Yogtam - My fiancé...Heltama...I always thought you two were close.
Tovad looked to his feet for a second.
- Tovad - I loved that woman for much longer than you ever did. But she fell for you, not I. There was nothing I could do to change her mind, or be with her. I resorted, instead, to raise in the ranks of the military as you did. If I were to reach that level, it was the closest I could be to her. I wanted to fight with her, but I knew I had no chance of taking her from you.
- Yogtam - I...see. Is that why you want to destroy me?
Tovad nodded, and looked back up.
- Tovad - Yes. You failed to protect her for me. I trusted you to do that. At first, in shock, I faked my own death at the hands of the Loron. They say the greatest weapon to use against your foes is deceit. I hid, until I was discovered by the Oltauris Consortium's "time recruits". They wanted assassins willing and able to travel through time and kill their foes. I ended up here. Coincidence?
- Genrai Nal - I hate to interrupt, but it shall be I who faces your, Yogtam. Not Tovad.
Genrai Nal took over and stepped in front of Tovad. They looked at each other, and nodded. Tovad knew what he had to do. He had to stop any of Yogtam's guards from getting in. He leapt away, and then Yogtam and Genrai faced on another.
- Yogtam - I have seen you many times. But what is it that you have against me? Why is it more fighting that you fight me than Tovad, whom we have wished to duel ever since becoming friends, as a friendly match?
- Genrai Nal - A match between you and Tovad would not be friendly. It would not show the warrior's respect from either side. With me, however, it would be a challenge. To see if I can overcome my past, and if you can overcome what will otherwise define your future.
Yogtam stood confused. Regardless, he drew his blade. Genrai drew his two arm-blades, and they gave each other the warrior's gesture, before charging towards one another and crossing blades. Knocking each other back for a second, Yogtam picked himself up. He slashed Genrai several times, who immediately blocked and kicked Yogtam to the window of the bridge. If Genrai destroyed the window, Yogtam would be sucked to his death. But both of them knew that would be a poor fight, and would end far too quickly. Genrai stood where he was, waiting for Yogtam's move. Yogtam leapt up into the air, trying to cut at Genrai, but realised soon he had hit nothing but a hologram. Genrai Nal kicked him from behind and stabbed him, then pulled his blade out. Yogtam allowed the nanomachines to let him recover for a while, then got up.
Turning towards Genrai, he tossed a few knives. Several of them hit, and embedded into Genrai's skin. They impaired the movement of his arms for a second. Yogtam used the opportunity to hack at Genrai's skin once move, however, it was so hard that the sword could not penetrate it. No, he would need to gather more energy towards his cybernetic muscle. As he did, Genrai punched him in the face, and kicked him back. Yogtam fall backwards, then got up, and they began to slash one another again. Their blades crossed. Yet through all this fighting, Yogtam realised one thing.
- Yogtam - But...what part of your past do I even represent? Why do you fight me, and not Tovad?
- Genrai Nal - It is because you, Yogtam...
Genrai reached to stab Yogtam, who dodged. He pulled his blade out to stab again...
- Genrai Nal - ...you and I...
...and as he reached to stab Yogtam, Yogtam counted with his swords and blocked him for a second, as they stared at one another, resisting each other.
- Genrai Nal - ...are the same.
Yogtam's eyes widened, and he jumped back.
- Genrai Nal - You represent what I once was, before this very encounter, before the Blyro'Tralzorca took me. Before they took me, before they altered me, and made me their servant. Before I thought it was a good idea to be one of them. I, of course, betrayed them, and became a Nal. A traitor.
Yogtam stood silent, but then nodded. He wasn't going to question it. After all, he knew what the Vyro'Ralza could do to people. He smiled a little. He had always had respect for Genrai. Drawing his blade, he slashed Genrai Nal several times again, who blocked. Then, Yogtam kicked Genrai towards the window. He leapt towards Genrai, and stabbed him. This time, he managed to pierce Genrai's flesh. He managed to cut a wound into Genrai's skin. That was a feeling Genrai Nal had not felt in a long time. Not, in fact, since the very encounter he was participating in.
Kicking Yogtam in the face and cutting at his armor, Genrai Nal, too, managed to scar Yogtam. But this scar, unlike Yogtam's, meant little. He stabbed a cybernetic arm. One which could recover in seconds, one which would never affect Yogtam again. Yogtam pulled this stabbed arm out, and punched Genrai with the other. As it recovered, he slashed further at Genrai's chest.
- Yogtam - I see how things are. If I defeat you, then I will become you. You wish to defeat me, to wish yourself out of existence. And atone for the sins you committed as yourself.
- Genrai Nal - No, Yogtam...it is if I defeat you that you will become me.
- Yogtam - I don't understand. If you defeat me, I shall be taken by the Blyro'Tralzorca?
- Genrai Nal - Yes.
Yogtam stood back, confused.
- Yogtam - Then why fight at all? You came here to let me defeat you? If it is your sins you want to atone for, then why even bother fighting me, knowing that your victory shall cause the very sins you want to be rid of?
- Genrai Nal - You understand so little. I remember when I was as confused as you. You know not of the sins I even refer to.
- Yogtam - ...Why the ambiguity? What even is your desired outcome for this battle?!
Genrai Nal ignored Yogtam and stabbed him further. He cut a wound into Yogtam's chest. Confused and furious, Yogtam responded by stabbing Genrai's side. Once again, the wound penetrated Genrai's thick skin. At this point, they no longer attempted to block one another. They merely stabbed at each other. The wounds cut deeper and deeper, until eventually, Genrai Nal grabbed Yogtam and threw him to the ground. Powerless, exhausted and injured, Yogtam looked up. He began to feel his eyesight fading away.
- Yogtam - Is this...death?
Yogtam then looked back at Genrai, and shook his head.
- Yogtam - ...Ah, but it is not. Through the Tralzorca, I am to cheat death.
Genrai Nal said not a word. USO had corrupted Yogtam. Yogtam was now embracing it. His body was about to die. Soon, a portal appeared behind Yogtam. Out of it, Dark Chronoscopic energy seeped into the room. In fact, Genrai Nal was not even sure he could remember why it was that they were to take Yogtam of all people. Was it the strength he had possessed when with USO? Was it a Vyro'Ralza gift to Shu'rimrodir for when Genrai would become Murangon Nal? No. It was done because Yogtam himself had willed it at that moment. If the Blyro'Tralzorca saw one in the timeline that had seen their power and wished to be part of it, they would give them no choice at their deathbed. USO had corrupted Yogtam's mind, and made him powermad. And exposed him to the dark powers. Yogtam was now a servant of the Ralza, and would be until the day came when he regretted his decision. And then, Genrai Nal would be born.
That was the main sin Genrai Nal was to atone for. By telling Yogtam about all this, by even existing, he had created himself. And to atone for his sins, he would have to face the mistake he knew he would commit. He would have to confront what had haunted him for his entire life, perform it, and walk away from it and say nothing. It was the way of the Inalton warriors. An Inalton warrior has no personal struggle, and no emotions that haunt them forever. No, an Inalton warrior had to put all of them aside. And until the day Genrai had done that, he was not whole.
Having escaped the ship, which had been destroyed, Genrai and Tovad left USO territory. They had destroyed one of its most powerful leaders. Likely, Xaltsa would take over Yogtam's authority. But that was not their concern. They had destroyed a part of their past selves. And Tovad, he had learnt what it was to be a true Inalton warrior. By following Genrai, he had found his own path. And he had also had the guts to destroy the Oltauris Time Assassins. Tovad was now wanted both by USO and Oltauris, he could join neither.
The two wondered on a world with the sun bright, in a field with green grass, as they looked over it. Having landed his ship, Genrai and Tovad would camp there for the night. Tovad would search the planet for his own starfighter, and then find a purpose, now that he was rejected by two sides. Genrai, too, had a purpose to find. By accepting this atonement, he had turned his back on his comrades at the Guild of Shadows. Genrai and Tovad sat down as they overlooked the field. They sat in silence for a while, then Genrai spoke up.
- Genrai Nal - I am proud of you, my pupil. You have become more of a warrior than I ever shall be.
- Tovad - I still feel I have a way to go yet.
- Genrai Nal - Since Zaarkhun died, no one has lived on this world that I could ever call a friend. And my fiancé...well, you know.
- Tovad - Yes.
They sat in an awkward silence. Though Tovad knew that this Genrai was barely Yogtam anymore. They knew each other very well by now.
- Genrai Nal - And you and I have an understanding. We understand one another, right?
- Tovad - Yes...
They both stood up, and stood back, and stared at one another. They leapt out into the field of grass, and drew their blades. They made the warrior's gesture.
- Genrai Nal - You understand, then...
- Tovad - ...that we must now fight to the death.
- Genrai Nal - Never have I met a foe so worthy, or so close to my own prowess.
- Tovad - I assure you, Genrai, I shan't disappoint.
And they stood at the ready. The final fight was to begin.
Tovad leapt up into the air, a move Genrai Nal was well familiar with, to crash down on Genrai. Of course, Genrai evaded, vanishing into thin air, ready to appear behind Tovad when he struck, and stab him. Tovad anticipated this. He did not strike his lance into the ground, instead, immediately countering Genrai and they crossed blades again. Genrai Nal kicked Tovad, who was knocked to the ground, and then reached to stab him. Tovad grabbed Genrai's arm and threw him to the floor, then stood up, and stabbed Genrai. He stabbed Genrai in the same place that he had been wounded by Yogtam. Genrai pulled the lance out, and stabbed Tovad's leg. He fell to his knees, as Genrai then stabbed his side. Tovad pulled the blades, and slashed Genrai again.
To see two warriors, who were practically brothers to one another, fighting, would strike the average person as odd. And, indeed, it was odd. Neither of them seemed to hold ill will towards one another.
- Tovad - Genrai, you had caught wind of my plan, hadn't you?
- Genrai Nal - But of course. There was no reason Oltauris would send one of the lackeys to face me, were it not to replace me.
- Tovad - Heh...to think that one would keep someone such as me around, train them and treat them like a brother, knowing they are going to kill you. I admire you as much as I envy you, friend.
They crossed blades again. This time, Genrai vanished once again into thin air. Just as he was about to strike Tovad from behind, Tovad leapt up into the air, crashing down on Genrai again, and stabbed his lance further into Genrai's skin. For thousands of years, Genrai's tough, outer body shell had not been penetrated. Today changed that, as two fights had gotten to Genrai that much. It seems his thick skin was wearing out.
- Tovad - But you are, in fact, the same Yogtam who I declared I must defeat. And besides, is it not fitting to see an apprentice rise above the master?
- Genrai Nal - I am proud of you, Tovad.
The two fought for hours. Genrai knew every trick Tovad was using on him, yet Tovad was younger, more fresh, more powerful. Genrai could read Tovad's every move through examining his muscles, though Tovad could move quicker than Genrai could react. To face a foe as powerful as him, Genrai had never had this pleasure before. Their attacks only got more and more aggressive. It was not out of spite, though. It was not about destroying the foe. It was about proving superiority over the foe. This was the fight of brothers, but a fight to the death nonetheless.
Eventually, Tovad flew up in the air once again, but Genrai leapt up and knocked him down, taking his lance and tossing it to the side. Genrai then turned to the now unarmed Tovad...and sheathed his blades. It was now to be a fist fight. The first blow would be dealt by Tovad, who would quickly have his armed grappled and tossed to the ground. But Tovad pulled Genrai with him and got up, stomping on his throat. Genrai managed to get up again, and kick Tovad in the stomach. Both of them were now starting to feel a sense of fatigue. Both of them were exhausted.
Having fought for hours, Tovad grabbed his lance and struck it in Genrai's wound once again. Genrai fell to the ground, and Tovad dug his lance deeper, and then eventually, pulled it out. It was now covered in blood, the blood of a warrior, the blood of a corrupted Dark Chronoscopic soldier, and the blood of someone who was practically his brother. Genrai Nal rested back, knowing his time was at an end. For the first time, he had truly been content.
- Genrai Nal - Tovad...you have proven in such a short space of time that you can outmatch me. I ask you now to carry on not my legacy, but the legacy of our people. Of the Inalton.
- Tovad - It was no mere short space of time, Genrai. Years, decades, even, of trying have got me to this point.
- Genrai Nal - You said to me a while ago that you wished to be taught how to think like one...have you worked it out for yourself yet?
Tovad waited for a moment, and nodded.
- Tovad - Yes. The old Inalton saying, that a soldier has nothing personal on the battlefield, is misinterpreted. No, on the battle, they have nothing but what they were set out to do. In their hearts, however, many things. People they love, people they want to protect. While they should not let such things drag them down and distract their goal, they should let them retain their importance.
- Genrai Nal - Precisely. Ours is a race of honour...and sacrifice...
- Tovad - It is I who am to carry on our people's legacy, is it not?
- Genrai Nal - Yes...you are pure, you are untouched by darkness, you can still shine through. I must ask, before I..."leave"...
- Tovad - ...
- Genrai Nal - Did you really leave Oltauris?
Tovad looked away from Genrai, then looked back.
- Tovad - I have not left them. For I still owe them a great deal.
- Genrai Nal - Then I understand. Normally, in death, one should ask something of their killer...but I ask nothing of you. You live your life as it pleases you. I trust that you will make...the correct judgement...
Tovad knelt down, and shut Genrai's eyelids. He then took out a smaller lighter, and set fire to the grass. While it would eventually burn the field slowly, more importantly, it would cremate Genrai's corpse. Tovad dropped it, and saw the fire spread throughout the field. He walked back off to Genrai's ship, which was now his own, then looked back at his friend's corpse.
- Tovad - Fairwell, Genrai. You were like a brother to me.
And he walked off into the distance.