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“Our home is gone. A new threat marches over the galactic horizon. Alas, in this cold expanse, hatred burns like wax - bad blood, the fire. The opposition; titans and gods of death. Let it be heard, bloodletters, that while we may be but mortal men... we are anything other than mere.”
- - Unknown
Upon a jungle-infested world within the expanse just beyond PCA space, armed forces and scientific research teams littered the forests. Temporary science facilities had been quickly erected, with resources and materials being supplied by delivery ships that made routinely rounds. These belonged to the Rovegar, who had risked discovery by the Polar Crystal Alliance in exchange for something beyond value; an obelisk stood at the deepest part of the jungle, hidden from view up until now. Several Rovegar scientists analyzed it from afar, observing it through the use of droids and automated sub-vehicles designed for close-up interaction with foreign materials.
- Scientist 1 - Amazing, isn't it? It's been millennia since the last significant discovery, it's almost like a dream.
- Scientist 2 - Indeed. This will surely make us famous across the entire Matriarchy.
- Scientist 1 - Hmph, not if the Matriarch has her way. She's bound to take the credit for this.
- Scientist 2 - Yeah...I guess you're right. Ugh.
- Scientist 3 - Speaking ill of the Matriarch so soon? Are you two unable to enjoy anything for as long as it lasts?
- Scientist 1 - I just feel like we should have the opportunity to be at least rewarded for our efforts.
- Scientist 2 - I wouldn't mind the Gallarade rewarding me, if you know what I mean.
- Scientist 1 - Teehee, have you seen him on the broadcasts recently? He has just got the biggest muscles, I hope he has the biggest--
- Scientist 3 - Sisters, please! ...Save it for after duty, you're going to make me distracted.
As the Rovegar spoke, something bizarre happened. The drones that were analyzing the monolith stopped activity and fell to the ground, lifeless. Around them, lights began to flicker before ceasing, with military-grade defenses going offline, causing the militia to become somewhat alarmed as they tried to analyze the situation.
- Scientist 2 - What's going on?
- Scientist 1 - Not sure, probably just a storm.
- Scientist 3 - A storm? Unless you happen to be mentally deficient, anybody can see that the skies are free of clouds and there is no rain.
A militant approached the team of scientists, followed by her squad of heavily-armoured soldiers. Usually she would be accompanied by a small platoon of combat drones, although they had been rendered useless. She was holding her gun tightly, they all were, as she walked up to the scientists and spoke with a worried expression.
- Soldier - Do any of you know what happened? One minute we were on patrol, the next our security drones had gone dark and fell into some mud. Did you provoke the artefact?
- Scientist 2 - It was not our doing. We were wondering what happened ourselves.
- Soldier - In that case, we'll have to assume that we are under attack, or prior to it. I want you to secure what you can and locate yourselves to the nearest safety bunke--
Before the soldier could finish, she turned herself around as they all heard the sounds of explosions and gunfire. Her squad ran forward, locating themselves around the local perimeter as they aimed and fired their weapons collectively while she drew her blade and gripped her gun tighter. Trees were either falling to the ground or being vaporized out of existence, reduced beyond dust and ash into nothing. They all heard as screams filled the air, followed by twisted, contorted roars. Roars that sounded stranglely close to some form of laughter, cackling laughter. The soldier grunted and turned to the scientists.
- Soldier - Stay behind me!
- Scientist 1 - What's going on?! Who's out there?!
- Soldier - No idea! Whatever's out there, it certainly isn't rebels by the sounds of it! Pirates, maybe. But they came out of nowhere, they couldn't have caught the beacon's signal, could they?
- Scientist 2 - If they did, then they are definetely not pirates.
The soldier nodded and ran forward, with the group of scientists following behind her as she moved behind her squad as they fired their weapons, although they were quickly being obliterated and atomized by alien weapon-fire. The soldier's face scowled as she watched her team become reduced into mere atoms.
- Soldier - Get yourselves to safety! Hide somewhere, secure yourself in a bunker! I'm going to--
Before she could finish her sentence, the soldier and one of the scientists behind her were atomized into oblivion, reduced into nothing before the eyes of the surviving scientists as they ran to hide somewhere. Anywhere that was safe, anywhere that wasn't here.
- Scientist 3 - Beliria, Nalern! They're gone!
- Scientist 2 - I'm too young to die!
The scientists ran, they could hear as screams became quickly silenced. It was daunting, terrifying. Several boxes filled with raw materials and resources were lying up ahead at one of the far corners of the science base, something that would allow them some safety and shelter, a hiding place. One of the scientists managed to get behind and crouched down to hide, while the other was shot by the bizarre gunfire and obliterated into rogue atoms.
As Rovegar all over were murdered without even a trace of blood being shed, the base found itself plagued by aliens; large, heavily-armoured, equipped with weaponry unseen and unregistered throughout Borealis' modern civilizations. They were large, horrifying. In the sky, a ship of juggernaut proportions suspended itself over the base while debris found itself falling onto the ground, burning and razed by the atmosphere. It was ship debris, evidently from Rovegar vessels. The alien spacecraft looked down upon the establishment while the soldiers secured the perimeter, with several of them approaching the artefact at the far end. There was nothing stopping them, nothing to halt their advance. As they reached it, they looked upon its bizarre, archaic designs and laughed amongst themselves.
- Alien 1 - At long last.
- Alien 2 - Clever primitives, surprising they were capable of comprehending such advanced technology.
- Alien 1 - Pitiful that they shall never see such discovery enlighten them.
- Alien 3 - Pitiful? I think you mean amusing.
Within the empty vastness of space, overseen by a million stars, a vessel traversed the cold ocean. Its design and materials suggested it was an Alliance ship, alongside the technological implications of the weaponry it had been obviously equipped with; the pinnacle of Alliance research and study into military technology had been attached to the front and sides of the ship's chassis. Within its walls, many rooms designed for multiple purposes; residence, luxury, research, technical details, maintenance, storage. However, it appeared almost empty; the latest advances in artificial intelligence made crew redundant for the most part.
A Seagon resided within the weapons section, aiming down the scope of her custom Seagon-constructed rifle as bullets were unleashed from its barrel, colliding with empty cans of standard-issue tinned food which, as they were knocked to the ground, froze upon impact; heat vacuums stored within the bullet froze the shooter's targets. Beside her, a half-empty bottle of a substance known as Paa'go; a foreign export originating from Andromeda that had since become popular within Borealis. As she released another round to demonstrate and practice her accuracy, her "ears" tingled as she heard a familiar beep coming from the audio systems of this specific room - the vessel's primary AI. It spoke with a female voice, young-sounding and innocent yet its tone was nonetheless monotonous and robotic.
- AI - Lieutenant Vesinash.
- Vesinash - What is it, Ship?
- Ship - I have detected a mass field of debris of unknown material and origin within the sector.
- Vesinash - Is that all?
- Ship - The debris could allow us insight into alien elements and potential future mining operations. It appears to be unlike any Alliance-registered element, I require onboard examination and analysis in order to pinpoint any similar chemistries.
- Vesinash - And there we go, straight over my head. Hm, fine, send a probe to bring back some samples.
- Ship - I will need Penumbran authorization in order to do so.
- Vesinash - Excuse me?
- Ship - While you are the official lieutenant of this vessel, I require the commander's permission. You may be an associate of a Penumbran, but you are not officially Penumbran yourself.
- Vesinash - Urgh, go wake up the commander then. Don't just stand... sit... Don't just keep talking about it.
Within his private quarters, a Krektal slept beneath the covers of his bed. His armour was designed to ensure comfort and thus he would not have to remove it as he underwent rest, although one wouldn't have known he was wearing armour beneath the thick covers. Penumbran Tetra, the 38th official applicant and member of the Penumbra Unit. He breathed lightly as he slept, although he began to stir as his ears registered a beeping noise from the room's audio systems, twitching slightly.
- Ship - Ship to Penumbra-Commander, Ship to Penumbra-Commander.
- Tetra - Urgh... W-What? What is it, Ship?
- Ship - I have encountered a point of interest. A large amount of unidentified debris has been detected by my local scanners, constructed of unknown elements. I request authorization to initiate a sample recovery by one of my probes.
- Tetra - I... Urgh, sure, why not. I wish you wouldn't interrupt me while I'm sleeping...
- Ship - You have been sleeping irregularly recently, Penumbra-Commander. I advise thorough examination within the medical sector in order to access professional recommendation and prescription.
- Tetra - It's... It's nothing, Ship. I'll be fine, honest. Any messages in my inbox?
- Ship - None as of current.
- Tetra - Great... Prepare a brew for me in the cafeteria, I need a drink. Where is Vesinash?
- Ship - Weapon storage.
- Tetra - Tell her to meet me in the cafeteria.
With that, there was another beep as the AI ceased communications in order to attend to other matters at hand. Tetra stirred and shuffled himself out of bed, throwing his bed cover to the floor and allowing himself to yawn and stretch. After several moments of adjusting to his surrounding environment, Tetra stood and slowly walked out of the room, the automatic door shifting to its left as it registered his approach. At his bedside was a holo-picture depicting two Krektal in casual dress, standing beside one another; one was Tetra, the other appeared similar in appearance to him, albeit younger, and wore a more feminine style of dress.
Several minutes later, Tetra sat at one of the metallic tables, sipping from a mug filled with a steaming hot, thick substance which appeared similar to coffee. Tetra wore a concerned, worried expression on his face as he always did, staring gloomly into his drink before sighing. He lifted his head as he heard Vesinash, the Seagon woman, approach and take a seat at the opposite end of the table, facing him. She carried her sniple rifle with her, keeping it at her side while she sat casually, taking another gulp from her bottle of icy blue Paa'go. The two of them exchanged glances, before Vesinash leaned forward and folded her arms.
- Vesinash - You're tired.
- Tetra - I... I need a drink, that's all.
- Vesinash - Uh-huh, you always say that. And you always look tired.
- Tetra - I'll be fine, lieutena--
- Vesinash - Vesinash.
- Tetra - V-Vesinash.
- Vesinash - You should visit the sick bay. If the Council finds out you're abusing your sleep pattern, they could suspend you for poor condition and service. And neither of us want that.
- Tetra - ...M-Maybe. I'm just... homesick, that's all. I miss my family, my friends.
- Vesinash - They'll be fine, Tetra. Hyperborea's safe, secure, nothing can hope to change that.
There was another beep from the cafeteria's audio systems which alerted the two of them to Ship's presence. Tetra looked down into his drink again and took another sad sip from its hot surface while Vesinash looked to her side, out of a window which allowed her to stare into the empty space outside. She tapped the material of the table while the ship's AI spoke over the monitors.
- Ship - My probes have returned and I have concluded interesting results. The debris was formerly pieces of architecture, presumably that of several vessels, and from what I have found through my scans it appears to belong to the Rovegar Matriarchy based on what we know of their ships.
- Tetra - How much debris is there?
- Ship - The debris trails to a nearby world within the sector, uncharted and unmapped according to Alliance databanks. It appears there was an battle, presumably between scouting parties, although it is bizarre; there is only evidence of Rovegar architecture. No signs of alien opposition whatsoever.
- Vesinash - A patrol fleet turning in on itself? No, that can't be right. Surely there is something else to add to the equation. We need to investigate that world, that may have something to do with it.
- Tetra - I'm going to have to contact to Council in order to report our findings, as well as gain authorization to explore an uncharted world potentially under the ownership of Matriarchy territory.
Tetra and Vesinash stood simultaneously and removed themselves from the table, while the beep over the audio system within the room meant that Ship was directing its voice elsewhere, presumably the primary communications room where Tetra would be able to send messages to other Alliance vessels as well as Hyperborea's own Council. Tetra had a slight stumble in his walk, appearing tired, and he groaned as he stood, while Vesinash appeared far more unflinching and energetic, perhaps even eager. The two exited the room, curious as to what they would find upon this uncharted planet at the end of the trail of ship corpses.
Tetra and Vesinash sat down within the primary communications room, looking over various holopanels and digitally-rendered screens which displayed many factors of information and data strewn across them in blue shades and colouration. Tetra tapped the holopanels as one would a keypad, eventually locating the Council's icon before pressing it in order to initiate a call.
- Vesinash - You have bags under your eyes, Tetra.
- Tetra - Well... y-you smell of alcohol.
Holograms of councillors Semirian, Xeron, Valzaria and Rylarien appeared in front of Tetra and Vesinash. They all maintained a rigid, stern pose, with the exception of Xeron, who scratched his head.
- Semirian - Greetings, Penumbran Terya.
- Tetra - Thank you for accepting my call, dear Council. I-I have matters to report, somewhat urgent.
- Rylarien - Urgent? Please, do tell us.
- Xeron - If it's about Wranploer then just go ahead and fire your guns at them.
- Tetra - N-No, not Wranploer. The ship's AI has detected a large trail of debris which she-- it theorizes originates from architecture within the Rovegar Matriarchy, based on what we know of them. The AI took samples and analyzed them onboard and has concluded that there was a battle of some kind, with no evidence of alien opposition.
- Valzaria - Penumbran, are you alright? You're stuttering and your appearance looks really bad.
- Tetra - Huh? ...Oh, I-I'm... I'm fine, Councillor Valzaria. It's nothing, honestly.
Xeron crossed his arms, hissing and frowning at Tetra's words.
- Xeron - Rovegar. Hmpf. I'm telling you all, these things are not to be trusted! There they are again, causing us trouble.
- Tetra - B-But Councillor Xeron, they haven't... done anything, this time. If anything, something happened to them. There are no intact ships; just broken skeletons of their ships, with lots and lots of stray armour and debris.
- Semirian - The Rovegar were attacked with no evidence of opposition? This is worrysome. We do not want another incident like with the first contact.
- Vesinash - The evidence suggests in-fighting between the fleet, but we think otherwise. The trail leads to an unmapped world within the sector, which may or may not be considered within Rovegar territory.
- Xeron - Hmpf. You go there and investigate, then report to us once you're done. Last thing we want is the Alliance getting blamed for this attack too. Stupid toothpick-bodied aliens...
- Tetra - ...That's not very tolerant, Councillor.
- Xeron - Why would I be tolerant for them? They're spreading through our space like weed! They tried to kill Vekaron, I'm telling you! But no, gotta "maintain peace". Bah. You'll see, I know what I saying.
- Valzaria - Please ignore Councillor Xeron, Tetra. He refuses to give the Rovegar a chance.
- Xeron - They don't deserve one!
Tetra sat back and wiped sweat from his forehead, letting out a tired sigh as he did while Vesinash turned a glance towards him. Tetra had began to appear somewhat worse than just a couple minutes before, with sweat dripping down his skin and his expression appearing discomforted.
- Semirian - ...What's the matter, Penumbran Terya? We can clearly see you are not well.
- Vesinash - Tetra...
- Tetra - I-I'm fine, Councillor. Must be the v-visual quality of the holoscreen.
- Rylarien - Hm. Please visit your medi-bay before you go to your mission. We'll be waiting for your report. Council out.
The Councillors' holograms disappeared one by one until communications were closed.
- Vesinash - Come on, you heard orders. You gotta go to the med-bay.
- Tetra - Vesinash, I-I'm fine. Must be something I ate last ni--
- Vesinash - Please, stop lying, Tetra. Please.
Tetra looked down with a gloomy expression and he sighed, a tear strolling down his cheek as he looked away from Vesinash, who proceeded to stand up and help Tetra to his feet. Together, her shoulder underneath his arm, they walked out of the communications center, with Tetra attempting to restrict and hide his quiet sobbing while Vesinash appeared supposedly indifferent.
The delivery ship descended through the planet's orbit, resisting the burning effects of the atmosphere as it approached the edge of the industrial-science base that the Rovegar had managed to establish prior to its arrival. After several minutes, the transport vessel perched itself just above the ground, hovering, while its hatched opened, allowing Tetra and Vesinash to step out. Tetra wore an sophisticated, advanced eyepiece while he injected a complex-looking syringe into the side of his neck, injecting himself with a yellow fluid which was stored inside. He coughed and spluttered as it entered his system, although on the brighter side it appeared he was no longer tired and the bags under his eyes had disappeared. Vesinash looked to him, a concerned expression on her face.
- Vesinash - Sure you're gonna be alright?
- Tetra - It'll keep me going until I get back to the ship. There's considerable ground to cover and we don't know how much time we have left.
Tetra and Vesinash nodded to one another and walked forward into the depths of the base, splitting up in order to investigate the site more efficiently and faster. Vesinash was equipped with her sniper rifle while Tetra kept himself armed with his vibroblades, using his thruster-jetpack combination to explore the site at multiple angles both on and off-land while Vesinash kept herself on the ground. As Vesinash explored behind several buildings, she heard a peculiar sound - objects were being moved, stirred. Taking cover behind a large crate, she prepared her rifle and adjusted her scope before taking the opportunity to peek from the side of the box...
At the other side of the complex, Tetra was now traversing the ground again, looking out for any signs of disturbance that may have indicated a battle. He saw no corpses, no blood, nothing that would have indicated any particular symptoms of murder or massacre. He was alone once more, with his thoughts. He sighed as he walked, taking the chance to use another syringe to inject another dose of fluid into himself, revitalizing revitalizing his systems.
At this moment, Tetra heard pained, feminine moans coming out of a wrecked facility, which had been destroyed during the attack. Tetra looked towards the facility and his eyes widened - the structure appeared to have been raided or assaulted, while a majority of the other buildings remained somewhat unscathed and untouched. He approached cautiously, keeping a firm hand on his vibroblade while his armour prepared itself to activate its thrusters. As Tetra ventured into the ruins, he eventually found the source of the sound. A lone, surviving Rovegar, wearing a scientist attire. She was heavily bruised and appeared to have her left arm being crushed under some debris. Tetra approached the Rovegar warily, examining the Rovegar with some caution. Councillor Xeron's words flooded into his mind, causing him to act more precautiously than he would've liked to. He kept his distance, his weapon still prepared for any unprecedented attacks.
- Tetra - You there, who are you?
The Rovegar turned herself to Tetra, and upon taking notice of him and his blades, her expression changed to dread. She put her free hand over her face and turned away.
- ??? - Please, don't kill me! Enough murder!
- Tetra - I'm not here to kill you! ...I-I was sent by the PCA to investigate here. A trail of destroyed Rovegar ships led me and my lieutenant to this world, we're looking for evidence as well as survivors.
- ??? - You're...you're not with...them?
- Tetra - "Them"? ...No, no I'm not with "them", whoever you're talking about. ...I'm T-Tetra. Tetra Terya.
- ??? - I'm Traslia...please, help me...I think my arm is broken...
Tetra placed his weapon away and ran to the Rovegar woman, examining the debris that had fallen atop her arm. He began to work away at it, pushing and throwing away the rubble and weight that had fallen on top of her arm, which now laid crushed and broken. Taking the chance one more, he grabbed his syringe and placed another dose of yellow fluid into his neck, causing him to act faster and stronger, removing the debris with a little less effort although it still proved to be something of a challenge considering its weight and density. Traslia watched as Tetra lifted the debris, and as he did, she crawled out of them until her arm was free again. However, it was completely limp.
- Tetra - So, Traslia... Tell me, what happened here?
- Traslia - These...reptilian monsters appeared. Killed everyone. I don't know who they were, I've never seen anything like them before.
As Tetra spoke, he couldn't resist the opportunity to take a closer inspection of Traslia; he examined the features of her body, mainly her chest, and her face for a brief instance before looking elsewhere in an attempt to distract himself from her. It was true what he was told; the Rovegar were indeed beautiful creatures.
- Traslia - ...Hey. I'm dying here.
- Tetra - Huh? Oh. Oh! R-Right! Umm... I don't see any bodies laying around here, what happened to them? What weapons did they use?
- Traslia - When they shot at my sisters, they were vaporized. From that, I can guess they use quark weaponry.
- Tetra - They... They shot... shot your s-sisters?
- Traslia - Yes. My fellow researchers...am I really the only one alive?
Tetra's gaze found itself looking over what he could see of the complex; again, there were no bodies to be found, no bloodstains, only damaged buildings and some signs of debris. There was no living soul aside from he and her, alone within this part of the base. Tetra gulped and turned back to her, nodding his head slightly while trying not to look directly at her.
- Tetra - ...I-It appears so, unfortunately. I... I'm sorry for your loss.
Tetra could hear Traslia wheeping as she held on her broken arm. Her eyes teared up as she looked away, toward the floor.
- Traslia - What...what did we do to deserve this?
Tetra appeared a little discomforted by the sight of her tearing up and crying, as he didn't know what to do to comfort her. In most circumstances, he was the one who needed some form of comfort, but today was the day where the roles were switched. A thousand scenarios ran through his head - none of them good - and he looked at the ground.
- Tetra - Me and my lieutenant will find who did this, and we will bring them to justice. But right now, I need to get you somewhere safe.
- Traslia - I...I need help walking...
Tetra nodded and placed her arm over his shoulder, allowing her to lean on him and assist her to her feet so she could make some attempt of walking alongside him. As he did, his optical scanner automatically began to scan her body; her face, her torso, her legs. Her breasts. Tetra continued to try looking away. Traslia got to her feet and let a pained grunt. She still held on her broken arm.
- Tetra - What were your people doing here, T-Traslia? Did you find a chest-- I mean, something here?
- Traslia - We were studying a Kormacvar artifact. A beacon of some sort.
- Tetra - A Kormacvar artefact? ...I'm going to have to tell the Council about this. Oh, and about what happened here as well, of course.
- Traslia - Perhaps the reptilians came here looking for it...I wouldn't be surprised if they have taken it away by now.
- Tetra - There's still a chance it could be here, I doubt they would've risked moving it. ...My transport ship is up ahead, I'll place you in there and have it take you to my main ship in order to get you to safety.
- Traslia - T-thank you...I don't know how to repay you, but I'll find a way eventually.
- Tetra - R-Repay? Ah, you... you don't need to repay m-me, I'm just doing my, uhh... service.
- Traslia - You Alliance men are nowhere as bad as we are told. Urk...my arm...
Tetra pulled out a syringe, again filled with yellow fluid, and gently grasped Traslia's limp arm before injecting into her wrist. Slowly, Traslia could feel as feeling was restored into her arm, shortly before Tetra injected himself in the neck with the syringe, groaning as he did. Traslia cringed and moaned in pain as she was injected by the syringe. As she felt it healing her, her expression changed into a small smile.
- Traslia - You could have warned me first...but thanks again.
- Tetra - Sorry... Stim-injection, a temporary solution. We have a proper medical facility onboard my ship... these are just to revitalize muscles temporarily.
- Traslia - Doesn't hurt so much now...then again, breaking bones isn't that hard for a Rovegar. We're lacking in the toughness department.
Tetra continued carrying her with the transport ship in sight, still hovering slightly above the ground as it waited patiently for passengers. It was piloted by an onboard virtual intelligence, designed purely for menial tasks such as maintaining transport vessels. Traslia looked up to the transport, and then looked down to Tetra. She found their size different somewhat humorous.
- Tetra - Right, we're almost... What are you giggling at?
- Traslia - I'm nearly twice your size...it's cute.
Tetra blushed and he swiftly looked the other way in an attempt to hide it. He faultered slightly when she spoke, almost stumbling but managing to maintain balance. He began to sweat slightly.
- Tetra - Well, we Krektral are a... s-smaller people than most.
Traslia let out a quiet giggle as she looked up to the transport again. She realized she had disconforted Tetra and decided to stop the conversation there. Tetra carried her to the transport and managed to set her down inside it, laying her on the floor with careful precision so as to not hurt her further than she already was. He let out a sigh and injected himself again, before passing the syringe to Traslia. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and he looked back towards the base, eager to explore once more as the thought of a Kormacvar beacon rested on his mind.
- Traslia - Hey. Be careful, okay? They might still be there.
- Tetra - Yeah... Don't worry, I'll be fine. I'll make sure they'll be brought to justice. Use that stim in case your arm starts going numb again, I'll inform my lieutenant and my ship's AI that you'll be on the ship. The AI should be able to direct you to the med-bay.
- Traslia - Okay. I'll see you on the ship then.
- Tetra - If I don't return in a couple of hours, request the AI to send an urgent message to the PCA Council about me being... missing in action.
- Traslia - ...Please be careful.
Tetra nodded and turned. Activating his armour's thrusters, he departed from the transport, which closed its hatch and began to ascend into the sky, towards the main vessel which awaited patiently in orbit. Tetra drew his blades once more and he focussed on a bird's eye view of the complex; he saw activity at the far outskirts. That must have been where the beacon was located, and where the woman's attackers have gathered.
Vesinash's blood boiled as she ran, clasping her rifle close to her body as she made the attempt to outrun her opposition. Behind her, some form of machine - a pseudo-creature constructed to appear as some form of amalgamation, blending the common tropes found within the species of spider and mantis into one while retaining a cold, purely mechanical exterior. It unleashed merciless, precise beams of energy from multiple ports, with these streams of energy erasing the materials they come across into non-existence; quark weaponry, technology capable of rending one divided at the subatomic scale, tearing the gravitic forces that keeps atoms bonded. She placed another batch of ammunition into her weapon and fired once more upon the unfeeling beast, although she was met with her bullets rebounding off the invisible energy shield of the machine and almost striking her across the face. She continued to run, oblivious to any available means of destroying the drone.
Vesinash - Penumbra-Commander! Come in, are you receiving?
Tetra - *over communications* Lieutenant, I am receiving. What's happening, give me a sitrep.
Vesinash - I've encountered enemy contact; a machine of sorts, like an attack robot. From what I can tell, it's equipped with hyper-destructive energy beams and fitted with an automatic anti-kinetic barrier, it's rebounding all of my shots before they even touch it.
Tetra - Hold out for as long as possible, I'll be arriving at your position soon. After we've finished with this, we're going to the outskirts of the settlement, I'm detecting heavy activity. Something isn't right.
Vesinash - Affirmative, Penumbra-Commander. Lieutenant out.
Vesinash growled as she threw herself behind a wall as cover, watching as the anti-material energy beams flew either straight past her or over her head. She panted heavily as she pulled an energy grenade from her belt and clenched it tightly before using the opportunity to momentarily peek from behind cover and throw the object towards her oppressor. However, rather than landing next to the drone as she had intended, the grenade bounced from it as it came into contact with its energy shields and was thrown towards Vesinash, causing her to have to roll to avoid collateral damage from her own grenade, which incinerated everything within a small distance of itself.
Vesinash - Goddammit! What even is that thing, anyway? Is it Rovegar tech?
As the drone aimed its weapons for Vesinash's location, it found its body of dark pseudo-metals becoming severed as Tetra's energy blades tore through it from behind, his thrusters blazing angrily with his eyes centered and narrowed. The mechanical beast, which outsized Tetra by almost three times, was divided and its upper and lower segments splayed themselves across the ground. Vesinash ran from cover and approached Tetra, clasping her rifle and looking at the remains of the machine.
Vesinash - How'd you kill it?
Tetra - Struck it from behind.
Vesinash - Did you know that would work?
Tetra - ...No. It's just my usual ...strategy, I guess. You know. It's hard to explain.
Vesinash - Nonetheless, we should take the parts and-- Watch out!
Tetra squeaked as Vesinash grabbed ahold of him and pulled him close before leaping backwards. The remains of the destroyed machine began to bubble and stretch, almost as if they were being pressurized under molten temperatures, and began to disfigure before eventually exploding into a burning, acidic substance which coated nearby objects and buildings, eating through their materials mercilessly. Tetra panted as Vesinash released him, with the two of them laying against the ground, and looked at the damage caused by the explosive remains of the machine.
Tetra - W-What...? Anti-retrieval mechanism?
Vesinash - Would make sense. It seems our opponent took some measures in making sure that nothing got their hands on a potentially expensive piece of equipment like that. I'll admit, it'd be useful if we had stuff like that.
Tetra - Yeah well, I don't think we should be admiring our enemy too much. Speaking of which, instead of admiring them we should be finding them.
Vesinash - Agreed. You said they were potentially gathered in the outskirts of the settlement?
Tetra - Yeah, although we should keep our distance if there are more of those things there. Or if they have stronger units, we know nothing of them after all.
Vesinash nodded and began moving in the assigned direction, while the thrusters of Tetra's armour ignited once more and allowed him entrance into the sky, once again giving him a useful insight over the terrain and location. It was clear that whatever had attacked here had come for this beacon, and as a Penumbran, it was Tetra's duty and responsibility to maintain the situation, resolve it, and report to his superiors the consequences leading to the discovery of this precious, priceless artefact that the girl, Traslia, spoke of.
It was also evident that whoever had desired it was not going to surrender it so easily.
Vesinash positioned her rifle, her eye narrowing as it glanced down the scope. It was then that she saw it all; the obelisk of gold and red that was the, or rather a, beacon of the Kormacvar, and the three tall, heavily-armoured individuals that were admiring it, alongside at least two other drones identical to that which Tetra and Vesinash had encountered prior. The aliens spoke amongst themselves in an undecipherable tongue, with neither the Penumbran nor his lieutenant capable of recognizing the tongue they used. Tetra was positioned in the sky, his thrusters causing him to hover without problem, and he maintained communications with Vesinash as he prepared for a shock attack, making use of the element of surprise.
Tetra - How many?
Vesinash - I'm counting three heavy infantry and two drones, like the one we saw back there.
Tetra - Are the soldiers armed?
Vesinash - Two of them are carrying what appear to be rifles, the other is carrying a longsword. Or at least, what looks like a longsword. It all looks different to any armour and weapons I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot.
Tetra - On the count of five, we'll dispatch the drones and surround the infantry. Remember, aim for behind, and use armour-piercing rounds. If you can, try to dispatch your target away from the beacon.
They both waited for the dreaded fifth second. Vesinash lined her shot and adjusted her scope and placed several rounds of armour-piercing bullets equipped with heat nullification technology into her sniper rifle, undoubtedly prepared to unleash several powerful barrages against the form of her mechanical foe. Tetra used his optical enhancement in order to scan and analyze the undergrowth of the jungle that resided upon the settlement's outskirts, and could not afford to lose any necessary time as long as it meant Vesinash's own safety. He aligned himself and readied his nerve, before taking an aerial dive as he descended towards the foe, while Vesinash unloaded round after round.
The mechanized guards were thrown from their positions, away from the obelisk. Vesinash's target was thrown from its metallic feet and launched into the depths of the jungle's undergrowth, its rear penetrated by powerful bullets that caused almost instantaneous freezing within its interior, while Tetra's victim found itself severed at the most precise, vertical angle, with the force of his descent causing its remains to be thrown forward and away from the beacon. The monstrous creatures, however, did not flinch; they didn't appear to even respond to the destruction of their drones, they simply carried on examining the beacon with an undeniably keen, eager interest. They paid no attention to Tetra, and they cared not for the rounds unleashed by Vesinash.
Tetra - Halt! This is Captain-Commander Tetra Terya of the Polar Crystal Alliance's Penumbra Unit! I demand identification and I demand to know why you are here!
There was little to no response, and Tetra was clearly dismissed by the much larger creatures as they studied and observed the architecture and structure of the beacon. With an agitated sigh, Vesinash aimed her rifle once more and released another armour-piercing shot. The course of the single bullet was painfully close to the direction of the beacon, and as a result, it chipped the slightest of pieces from the beacon's upper side. This provoked a reaction, at least; the sword-bearing monster roared to its comrades, causing the two of them to sniff the air and charge, with their weapons primed, for the source of the shot.
Vesinash - Oh crap.
Tetra - Why did you do that?!
Vesinash - They weren't listening! I thought that if we gave them reason to hear us ou--
Tetra - Ngh, activate the emergency protocol, the shuttle will take you back to the ship! I'm staying here, I'll try and get answers now that two of them are distracted.
Vesinash - Try and make it back in one piece!
With that, communications were cut, and Tetra couldn't hear Vesinash's voice any longer. With a troubled expression, he approached the remaining armoured creature, his swords drawn and his stance indicating he was preparing himself for an assault. The creature looked away from the beacon at that instant and glared towards Tetra, it's horrific eyes piercing through Tetra's morale like a knife as it towered over him like a colossus. After a minute of silence, aside from the wildlife that made their homes in the jungle, it was the alien that took the opportunity to speak, and this time it was in a tongue Tetra could identify. It was Krektal.
Alien - I suggest you leave.
Tetra - Not before you tell me who you are and what you think you're doing here.
Alien - You will either leave or die with those questions unanswered. It is better this way.
Tetra - I beg to differ. You're clearly not a Rovegar, or a Kondrakar. Not Zazane, not Zoles, and I don't think you're Kicath either.
Alien - You would understand naught of my intention.
Tetra - I understand that you murdered an entire settlement in order to get here, to this... beacon. A woman, a survivor, told me it was a Kormacvar artefact. I think I have a pretty good guess as to why you're here.
Alien - Survivors. A shame. She is, however, correct; this is a communications and information storage facility of the Kormacvar, in your most basic understanding. While it is much, much more than that in principle, you are incapable of ever fully contemplating its purpose, its function, and its meaning.
Tetra - While I may not be able to understand the details of its, I'm sure the Warmaster of the Polar Crystal Alliance can. And that is why I need you to leave, or I will have to incapacitate you.
Alien - Heh. It is as the cycles have always foretold. The pond-scum of the universe will seek to challenge the gods for forbidden knowledge. And they shall die knowing nothing.
Tetra's thrusters engaged once more, blasting with blue light in an impressively fast, agile fire while he prepared his blades for a cross-shaped slash against his much larger opposition. However, as he went in for the strike, the creature tipped its head to the side, causing Tetra to fly straight past his target and end up behind the colossus. Maneuvering himself around, he attempted to take advantage of the situation of being behind his enemy and raised his blades above his head in order to deliver a powerful slash. Once again, due to the tipping of the creature's head, Tetra missed his opportunity and flew in front of his enemy instead. Turning around once more, he glared at the warrior with agitation, while the latter wore a slight smile across its jaws. Tetra engaged in yet another forward movement, aiming for the creature's neck but was swiftly stopped when the enemy raised their arm - the force of the impact caused the energy stabilization to shatter and sparks of plasma erupted from the sword's handle.
Wearing a horrific grin, the alien took advantage of Tetra's momentary lapse of concentration as a result of what had just happened and raised his knee, slamming it into Tetra's chin and causing him to be launched upwards, where he was met with a downwards slam from the alien's clenched hand. Being thrown downwards, Tetra slammed against the beast's armoured knee and could feel his bones and armour giving way to the impact and momentum he was being pressurized under. Tetra was then swatted away from the creature in a single, swift gesture of its arm - and slammed into the beacon, causing a dent and spilling blood onto its material. The alien widened its eyes and hissed angrily, stepping forward.
Alien - Get away from that!
Tetra - Urgh!
However, it was too late; Tetra's vision suddenly disappeared, and he slipped into unconscious. Despite losing his sense of movement, sight, and even his being, he could at least hear something; voices, both masculine and feminine, speaking chaotically as if in attempted unison, some in an understable language, others within cryptic speak that he had not heard of before. Slowly, he could start to see something from within the darkness of his unconscious - a light, a light that grew larger and brighter with each passing second until eventually Tetra could identify it as an overview of the Borealis galaxy.
In reality, Tetra rested at the base of the slowly-dematerializing Kormacvar beacon, which was decaying into golden light that quickly faded. The beacon deconstructed itself without hesitation, no longer requiring usage for a physical structure. The alien looked down at Tetra's broken, unconscious body and growled, hissing with anger as it resisted the urge to stamp the life out of the Krektal then and there. Instead, it spoke aloud into its communicator a tinge of frustration and irritation to be found within its vocal tone.
Alien - Damnation. The information has been extracted by one of the animals, it appears. No matter. This one shall live for as long as deemed necessary, which shan't be long.
The alien itself soon vanished in a swift red light that vanished almost as soon as it had appeared, disappearing from the scene and leaving no other trace of its presence to be found, similar to how the beacon was now almost completely dematerialized. Tetra remained unconscious and bleeding while his Penumbran shuttle approached, hovering above the ground with Vesinash being transported within, holding her sniper rifle tightly while she wiped debris from her face and armour. She looked at the mess that was the Penumbran captain and placed a hand to her mouth in shock, before climbing out of the shuttle in order to retrieve the body of her commander.
Vesinash - I said one piece, goddammit... What part of that didn't you understand...?!
Tetra's eyes slowly opened as he regained consciousness. He was in a bed, wearing a skintight outfit that wouldn't get in the way of any of his movement and was also used to assist in regulating his vital and minor organic systems. He winced as he sat up, although he was eager to move himself. He was sat within the medical ward of his ship, a sight he despised. Traslia appeared at the door and smiled as she took sight of Tetra. Her arm appeared to have been healed, though she still appeared aprehensive to move it around too much.
- Traslia - You're awake! That's a relief.
- Tetra - Awake? I'm surprised I'm still alive. That was a... a nasty fight back there.
- Traslia - What matters is that you're safe now. We're all safe.
- Tetra - No, we're not. Those aliens got away, I couldn't even stop one of them.
- Traslia - Urk! Stop being so pessimistic! I'm trying to make you feel better here.
Tetra sat up in surprise and blinked awkwardly towards Traslia, before nodding his head with a slight smile. He raised his arm to scratch behind one of his ears, albeit slowly since he was still aching somewhat from the injuries he had sustained.
- Tetra - Eheh, I-I suppose that e-everybody being safe i-is good news.
- Traslia - Still...what happened to the beacon?
As Traslia asked the question, Vesinash appeared behind her, giving her an indifferent look on her face, although it didn't seem as if she was being hostile however she kept her rifle close to her, like she always did. She stepped forward so Tetra could see her as well and sighed with relief as she saw him awake.
- Vesinash - The beacon is... Well, last time I saw it, it was disappearing. Fading, almost.
- Traslia - Oh no. Our work is gone. Destroyed. I can't go back to the Matriarchy after this.
- Vesinash - Hey relax, it'll be fine. It's not your fault, surely your people can understand that.
- Traslia - Losing a Kormacvar artifact like that? No, the Sisterhood will not understand. I will be executed the moment I set foot inside Rovegar borders.
- Tetra - ...Oh crap! What am I going to tell the Council?
As Tetra shivered at the thought of the loss of such a valuable and immeasurably precious artefact, there was a beep over the audio systems located within the room that indicated the artificial intelligence of the ship was initiating communication. Tetra's nerves calmed somewhat as he heard her voice, and then they began to shudder again as he heard what she had to say regarding the matter.
- Ship - Penumbra-Commander, the Council awaits a situation report regarding the operation. The Council also desires a status update regarding the Kormacvar artefact that was discovered on the world's surface.
- Traslia - Oooooh! Oh! This voice!
- Tetra - Huh? W-What about it?
- Traslia - It's so cute!
- Tetra - Oh? I-It is? It's a voice that was built from audio samples of my little sister. It's never going to be as good as the real thing though.
- Ship - "Cute". This unit is programmed for maintenance, observation, analyzation, and information storage. This unit is not programmed for "cute".
- Traslia - But you sound cute! It just make me want to cuddle you!
- Ship - This unit is not programmed for "cuddling".
- Traslia - Awww. Well, you're missing out! Anyway, we shouldn't leave your Council waiting. If they're anything like the Matriarch, they'll get really mad if we don't talk to them asap.
- Tetra - That's Councillor Xeron in a nutshell. Somebody help me stand up so we can go to the communications room.
Vesinash nodded and placed her rifle to the side of the doorframe before approaching Tetra as he had wanted, however she was evidently not as eager as some others as Traslia had already made her way to assist Tetra by the time Vesinash laid down her rifle. Traslia had not even noticed Vesinash's move and had already helped Tetra get up, taking him to the communications room.
- Tetra - Ngh the Council is going to be so angry.
- Traslia - Nah, don't worry. I'm sure they'll understand.
Tetra sat down in his seat when they had reached the communications room, with Traslia sitting where Vesinash would otherwise sit. Not willing to cause even the smallest of uproars as of the current moment, Vesinash grunted and put up with having to stand behind Tetra's seat, leaning against it as they awaited the Council. The councillors' holograms appeared and looked down to the trio. Xeron drank the Niaka race's equivalent of coffee from a mug while Semirian spoke.
- Semirian - Penumbran Terya. You appear wounded.
- Tetra - That's affirmative, Councillor Semirian. I have spent the last... day? Was it a day?
- Vesinash - Yeah, about a day.
- Tetra - I have spent the last day recovering after severe injury affliction.
- Valzaria - And how was your mission? Did you discover who the invader was?
- Tetra - Errm...
- Xeron - Don't come to me with "Errrm". Send us images of the invaders!
- Tetra - Ah yes, images! Vesinash, do you have my optical?
Vesinash displayed Tetra's optical analyzer and placed it in a slot next to the holographic generator. Images began to appear on-screen, along with various recordings of the drones and the aliens that they had encountered during the operation. Tetra began to turn his head away as they were sent to the Council.
- Rylarien - Oh no...it's them again.
- Semirian - Indeed. It's the same "Zarkhator" who hijacked Hyperborea's computers months ago.
- Tetra - Zarkhator?
- Rylarien - Hostile aliens who claim to know of the Kormacvar and who all have awful, awful god-like complexes.
- Tetra - Know of the Kormacvar? Guess that explains why that one knew what the Kormacvar artefact was-- oops.
- Valzaria - Artifact? What artifact?
- Tetra - W-We came across a Kormacvar artefact while doing our assignment on the world. O-Our good friend Traslia h-here was one of the scientists... working on it when the Zarkhator a-attacked.
Traslia waved to the Council. They looked at her in mixed surprise, with Xeron glaring at her intensely.
- Semirian - A survivor?
- Traslia - Yes, sir. The only survivor.
- Semirian - ...I am female, youngling.
- Traslia - Eep! S-sorry!
Tetra giggled to himself for the moment, trying to hide it unsuccessfully as he was a little too loud and a little too obvious.
- Xeron - Now, where is this artifact? You're supposed to send us these things immediately when you find them.
- Tetra - Well, uhh... That's the thing.
- Rylarien - What's the matter?
Tetra took a deep breath in order to compose himself and keep a calm head. Taking a moment to compose and structure his words and sentences in his head, wanting to place the news within the best possible manner, he then proceeded to give his answer.
- Tetra - Me and the Zarkhator sorta... fought. And I got pounded. Into the artefact. Aaand according to Vesinash... it's not there anymore.
Xeron's eyes widened and he spit his coffee, hitting Valzaria in the process. The Galotian growled in annoyance and hit Xeron over the head, knocking him off his chair into the ground below.
- Semirian - You lost the artifact to the Zarkhator?
- Vesinash - No, we didn't lose it to Zarkhator. ...It destroyed itself.
- Semirian - Gah...if only Arkarixus was here, he could explain this better.
- Rylarien - Yes, what matters now is that we know the Zarkhator are acting and looking for Kormacvar artifacts.
- Tetra - The one Zarkhator that I fought, he said it was something like a memory storage bank or something. When I got knocked into it, I passed out and I saw... things.
- Valzaria - Things? What kind of things?
- Tetra - Well... things. It's not at all clear, but I remember seeing... the galaxy, some worlds, some ships and fleets, Kormacvar... Zarkhator.
- Semirian - Interesting...
- Traslia - Erm...excuse me?
The councillors all turned to Traslia, who had raised her hand to make herself noticed.
- Traslia - My kind can read minds...I could, like, read through the things Tetra saw and try to make sense out of them.
- Tetra - Is... Is that safe? H-Have you done that before?
- Traslia - Read minds? Sure, we Rovegar are all expected to have that ability when we're adults. But read an alien's mind? I'll admit I never tried...actually, you're the first aliens I've ever met.
- Vesinash - Well that's just perfect.
Vesinash pinched her brow with her hand and sighed out of agitation while Tetra looked at Traslia curiously.
- Semirian - It's decided then. Have your new Rovegar ally work on reading your discoveries, then warn us of what you can find. Kormacvar artifacts are things we do not yet fully understand after all.
- Tetra - Affirmative, Councillor Semirian. I'll try and ready myself... for the experience, I guess. ...You know, it sure is useful and convenient that we have a Rovegar onboard so we can decipher the mysteries of the Kormacvar artefacts, isn't it, Councillor Xeron?
Xeron got back on his chair and pointed at Tetra and his team with narrowed eyes.
- Xeron - You're receiving an extra mission for your failure to secure the artifact.
- Tetra - W-What?!
- Semirian - But that mission was supposed to be sent to Penumbran Muharin of the Ransio.
- Xeron - It was! But now Mister Krektal over here will do it! End of discussion!
- Tetra - Ngh, what mission is this? What was Muharin supposed to do?
- Xeron - We were informed by one of our new Wranploer rebels that a group of scientists working for a PMC are doing genetic augmentation experiments in a certain region of the Eastern Arm. Your job is to go there and destroy them and their experiments.
- Tetra - Do we know which PMC?
- Xeron - We don't, but considering it involves genetic experiments, it's probably Soltako Armed Military.
Tetra remained quiet for the moment. He remembered what this particular PMC, the Soltako Armed Military, had done to his homeworld, the planet of Gotla. Taking a gulp and a deep breath to hide his feelings, he nodded and let out a sigh.
- Tetra - I assume it's a no-backup mission again, isn't it. Going in alone and... stuff.
- Xeron - The entire point of being a Penumbran is going to missions with no backup. You have your lieutenant and your...Rovegar. Use them.
- Tetra - Right, right. In that case I'll get on that as soon as possible. Penumbran Terya, out.
The councillors' holograms all disappeared, and the room was in silence for some seconds. However, one hologram reappeared. It was Councillor Rylarien.
- Rylarien - Oh, I forgot to warn you all. For now on, you don't have to call for the entire council to report your missions. You can talk to just me.
- Tetra - That means not having to talk to Xeron, so I'm absolutely fine with that... Uhh I mean, this is a much more efficient change, Councillor Rylarien.
- Vesinash - Pfft.
Rylarien giggled and looked at Tetra with a smile.
- Rylarien - Each Councillor was tasked to take care of a group of Penumbran. For example, Penumbran Vekaron has to report to Xeron everytime he has a new mission.
- Tetra - Now that's gotta be a pain in the neck.
- Rylarien - Heh. And you're part of my group. So do your best out there, okay?
Tetra smiled and nodded to Rylarien, his ears twitching slightly. His expression then changed to a more concerned manner and he leaned forward, looking somewhat unsteady and worried.
- Tetra - Councillor Rylarien, could you do something for me, in that case?
- Rylarien - What's that?
- Tetra - Could you somehow tell Titri, my younger sister, that I love her, and that I want her to keep safe?
- Rylarien - I can get that done. Just give me her address.
- Tetra - Residence 401 of Residence Facility 614, Northern Hyperborea. You know, that place. For refugees.
- Rylarien - I see. I will personally deliver your message, Penumbran Terya.
- Tetra - Thank you, Councillor Rylarien. It means many worlds to me. Penumbran Terya out.
Tetra's ship approached the coordinates of the world assigned by Councillor Xeron; it was an urban, industrial world with a grotesque, scarred atmosphere caused by pollution and environmental degradation. Tetra was still suffering from his injuries, although he had healed significantly since a couple of days before when he was dealt the attacks. Equipped with a new pair of blades and a repaired armour set, he looked at the world from the ship's monitors in the navigation room alongside his team, which consisted of Vesinash and Traslia. Traslia looked down at the planet in curiosity. Having replaced her laboratory robes for a suit better suited for combat, she would accompany Tetra and Vesinash on their mission.
- Traslia - I...never really fought anyone before. Should I really go?
- Vesinash - If you want to stay aboard the ship, you're gonna have to contribute.
- Tetra - Don't think of yourself as fighting. You're... surveying our surroundings and finds in a combat environment. You're still a scientist. But with a gun.
- Traslia - I'll be surveying the surroundings, but behind you two, just in case.
- Vesinash - You're still going to have to kill people, princess.
- Traslia - Doesn't mean I have to like it!
- Tetra - I don't know about you, but I think I'm going to enjoy this mission.
- Vesinash - And why's that?
- Tetra - Soltako.
Minutes later, a shuttle was launched from the main ship towards the world. It didn't have any official identification, although those that knew of it had taken to calling the planet Khephernam. The shuttle penetrated the world's already weak atmosphere without difficulty and approached a landing zone that had been designated as safe by onboard virtual intelligences. The shuttle landed and its hatch opened up, allowing the team to take a breath of the foul air that smelled of pollution and corruption, with an additional whiff that smelled of corpses. The team moved out of the shuttle, armed and prepared, and observed the landing area - they had been placed outside of a large, industrial facility.
- Traslia - What a dump. Do these people even bother with their own hygiene?
- Vesinash - Local sources say that this place isn't owned by any government and is commonly used by rebels and criminals of all sorts. This is a place without law.
- Traslia - Hmpf. Filthy pirates.
- Tetra - I'm guessing that place up ahead is where these scientists are. It looks like a laboratory, at least.
- Traslia - Ngh, let's get this over with and go back to the ship, please.
The soldiers dropped their guns in order to cover their ears while the scientists did the same, cowering and quivering. In midair, Tetra's ears were overwhelmed by Traslia's shriek and he was caught off-guard by the enemy sergeant, who slammed himself into Tetra and threw both them against a wall, causing both of their jetpacks to stall and deactivate, dropping them to the ground. The team moved up ahead upon a pathway that led towards the facility. As they approached the colossal building, they saw large, messy piles of bones and skulls perched atop one another in a chaotic, disorderly fashion. A majority of these bones and skulls appeared to be somewhat familiar to the team, as they were in the shape of Levarcor. Some piles even contained rotted, mangled corpses which sat atop of these bone piles, as if they were thrown into this wasteland not long ago. Alongside this graveyard, up ahead they could see as soldiers, of various species, were gathering outside of the main gates of the facility, all armed with guns and equipped with basic armour. Traslia put her tongue out in disgust as she saw the corpses, before running over to cover as she noticed the soldiers, holding on the submachine gun she was given to be her weapon.
Vesinash and Tetra also ran to cover. This time, Tetra had been equipped with a shotgun alongside his blades, while Vesinash still carried her customized Seagon sniper rifle. Aiming from behind cover, which happened to be another bone pile, Vesinash unleashed several rounds, taking out two enemy soldiers while the others retreated out of sight. The team proceeded to move on as the enemy soldiers retreated, although as they got closer it was clear that the soldiers hadn't retreated far; they were just outside the gates of the facility, talking with a particularly well-equipped soldier who glared outwards into the distance, as if he was waiting for the team to emerge. He was equipped with two submachine guns and a jetpack, and he stepped forward as he saw the team approach.
- Tetra - Who's that guy over there?
- Vesinash - I believe he may be the sergeant. The gates are closed so I imagine the only way we're getting through is through him.
- Traslia - So we gotta kill him?
- Tetra - It certainly looks like it. Him and his grunts, it appears.
- Vesinash - This is going to be a piece of cake.
- Tetra - On my mark, I'll jump up and go to attack the sergeant directly, Vesinash you take out one grunt, Traslia you take ou--
Traslia took out a grenade and aimed at the sergeant. However, she held it on her hand, unsure of when to throw it.
- Vesinash - Traslia what are you doing?!
- Traslia - I-I'm gonna explode him!
- Tetra - You should've waited for my command! G-Get rid of that thing, quickly!
Traslia threw the grenade, but as she had held it for too long, it exploded only a few meters ahead of the trio. The team was thrown back and the sergeant and his soldiers confirmed their enemy's positions. They aimed their weapons and unleashed a hail of bullets at the team, blasting apart their cover with their own grenades. Vesinash attempted to fire back at the mercenaries, although she and the others were forced to run in order to find new cover.
- Traslia - S-sorry!
- Vesinash - Idiot! Where did you think that would get you? You could've blown us ALL up!
- Traslia - I was just trying to help...
- Tetra - That's enough, Vesinash. What's important is that the enemies now know we're here and we have to find another way to deal with them.
The sergeant of the mercenary group approached and placed his hand on a communicator device attached to the side of his head. He spoke into it loudly with a confident tone, pointing towards the group while his soldiers fired on them.
- Sergeant - Give it up, we know you're there! How about you come out and fight us face-to-face, huh?! Die with dignity rather than in a ditch!
Traslia turned around and fired her gun at the soldiers, her aim being subpar at best due to her inexperience.
- Sergeant - Hahah! What do you call that, huh?! Do you have a civilian with you? How pathetic! If you're not gonna come out, I'm just gonna go get you myself!
The sergeant's jetpack blazed with red fire as he ascended into the air and fired his submachine guns towards the groups, blasting apart their cover. Drawing his blades, Tetra ascended upwards as well to fight the general while Vesinash aimed at his grunts.
- Vesinash - Traslia, throw another grenade at them! And don't hold it for too long this time!
Traslia nodded and took another grenade, this time not holding it for too long and throwing it at the enemy's direction. The enemy soldiers were blasted apart by Traslia's grenade, throwing their weapons across the battlefield while Tetra fought with their sergeant in the air. The battle lasted for several minutes, with Tetra managing to dodge a majority of the enemy's shots and eventually scoring damage against the sergeant and his jetpack, causing him to fall to the ground in front of the team. He landed with a thud and panted heavily, barely alive in the aftermath of the fight. Traslia signed in relief as she succeeded in helping for once and looked over to the sergeant.
- Traslia - So much for a civilian, huh!
Tetra landed on the ground beside his team and all three of them approached the grounded sergeant, whose panting gave way to bouts of laughter beneath his helmet. He was certainly injured yet he kept a confident stance as he stood and looked towards Tetra and the group, pointing again as he shouted.
- Sergeant - You fight well for a Krektal! Hehehe, the code to get inside is A93B-L33T-C46T-R00H-M18A, if you really wanted to know. There's a panel near the gates that will allow you to input that code and open the entrance.
- Tetra - Why are you telling me this? Wouldn't you rather die than tell me how to get inside? Sergeant - It's what you fought me for, wasn't it? To get inside? So, you're going to go inside! If you had killed me you'd be unable to without having to face the automated defenses that line the outside of this place.
- Traslia - ...You're a weird guy. But thanks!
- Sergeant - And you're a pretty good-looking lady, if I might add.
- Vesinash - Quit that! Why are you being so helpful? You're the enemy!
- Sergeant - We're mercenaries. Besides, I doubt you'll be able to go that far inside that you'll prove a hindrance. It's dangerous in there. Now, I suggest you all stand back.
- Traslia - Huh?
The sergeant dislodged his backpack from his armour and threw it into the air, where it proceeded to explode in a mass of fire and smoke which threw the team back. When the smoke had cleared, there was little more that small blazes and burning debris, with no sign of the sergeant. He appeared to have vanished.
- Traslia - Yickes. This mission is getting weird already.
- Vesinash - Who was that guy?
- Tetra - ...It doesn't matter. We have the means to get inside, so we'd better as soon as possible. We can't afford to waste time.
- Traslia - Let's go before something worse happens.
The team approached a small key panel that was set beside the large gates that led into the facility, and Tetra entered the numbers that the sergeant had given them. Shortly afterward, they heard a creeking sound as the gates shifted themselves, opening slowly. Inside, the team was greeted with fresh corpses; soldiers and scientists of multiple species were splayed across the floor in a bloody mess.
- Traslia - Something bad happened here.
- Tetra - It's a massacre. I wonder what happened here.
- Vesinash - Heh, you reckon these pirates turned on one another?
- Traslia - I don't mind that.
From the far side of the room, a group of soldiers could be heard before they entered the room, rushing and firing their weapons frantically back at where they had just came from. They were yelling and screaming, and their formation was disorganized. Suddenly, several of them were shot down as their enemy appeared in the doorway - an armoured Levarcor equipped with a machine gun.
- Traslia - Yep, they turned against each other.
There was something particularly odd about this Levarcor, however; its eyes appeared almost lifeless, like a dead fish, and instead of roaring or screaming as Levarcor usually do, it remained almost completely silent. It had sustained injuries and was bleeding heavily, although that did not stop it from killing the rest of the enemy soldiers. It then turned towards the team, staring at them with dead eyes. Traslia shouted in fear at the sight of the Levarcor's eyes and hid behind Vesinash.
- Vesinash - Whoa, what are you doing? Make an analysis! What's up with that thing?
- Traslia - It's like it's dead and still walking! There's something really wrong with it!
The Levarcor raised its gun and fired at the group, before Vesinash raised hers and unleashed several rounds that penetrated through the Levarcor's armour. Blood spat from its wounds and there was a horrific sound of bones cracking and creaking as it took several steps forward, before it collapsed onto the ground. It made no dying breaths or struggle, it simply laid across the floor.
- Traslia - What...what are these pirates doing in this place?
- Vesinash - Well, what are you waiting for? Go and examine that thing! See what's wrong with the bugger.
Traslia slowly approached the Levarcor's corpse and began inspecting it, looking for answers. The Levarcor appeared somewhat discoloured in comparison to usual Levarcor, with its scales being more decayed and sickly, as if disfigured. Underneath its armour, which took Traslia some effort to remove, it could be seen that the Levarcor possessed various unnatural growths and disfigurements across its body - a potential sign of mutation.
- Traslia - This Levarcor went through bioengineering for certain. His body is full of deformities. It's likely a clone.
- Vesinash - Huh, bioengineered Levarcor clones? Looks like it took a lot of damage before going down, that can be a problem if we encounter more of them.
- Traslia - I actually heard of previous bioengineering being done to Levarcor in the past. Rovegar spies who watched the progress of the Wranploer Legion reported Levarcor supersoldiers who grew to tremendous sizes...are these pirates trying to recreate this project?
- Tetra - If they are, we can't let them carry on with it. We need to kill every soldier we find and destroy all evidence of their research in case somebody thinks it'll be a clever idea to try and start it up again afterwards. This means this is a no survivors mission; nobody must live.
- Traslia - Ngh. More killing then. I guess I'm gonna have to grow used to blood.
- Vesinash - I thought scientists got enough blood as it is.
- Traslia - Not archaeologists.
The team carried on throughout the facility. Despite it being as large as it is, the facility's design was rather linear, with pointless rooms taking up excessive space. It was clear that this facility wasn't built by the pirates or mercenaries that resided here; it had been converted from previous architecture with a modified and updated design. The group encountered little more than corpses of both soldiers and mutant Levarcor until they came across a fierce firefight taking place outside of a single elevator, enough to fit multiple people. From either side of the room, mercenaries and Levarcor fired upon one another, with some meeting in the middle to engage in melee fights with bloody results.
- Traslia - What do we do? There's too many of them!
- Vesinash - Do you have any grenades left?
- Traslia - I got...one. Just one.
- Tetra - Then... throw it at whichever side you think is harder to kill.
Traslia took the grenade before throwing it at the direction of the Levarcor soldiers. The grenade exploded and the Levarcor soldiers were thrown in multiple directions, while Vesinash had already prepared herself to dispose of the mercenaries on the other side of the room as their attention was turned towards them. Raising his shotgun and flying towards them, Tetra shot several of the Soltako mercenaries to pieces. Traslia used her psychic powers to throw waves of energy at the soldiers, while clumsily firing her gun at them. Eventually, Tetra resorted to using his blades and proceeding to fly at the mercenaries who dared to retreat; they were swiftly cut into pieces, severed limb from limb as Tetra unleashed an almost-unnatural anger against them, skimming through the air like an insect yet striking with the force of a tornado. Blood gushed and splattered everywhere and the mercenaries began pleading for their lives.
- Traslia - Tetra...?
- Tetra - None of you will escape today! My mission forbids it! Lay down and DIE!
Traslia looked at Tetra in surprise. She did not expect him be to so violent.
- Vesinash - Hm. It's best if you look away, lady. Staring isn't a wise option.
Tetra reduced what mercenaries were left into chunks of lifeless, bloody meat with his blades, his armour withstanding their guns. The sounds in the air and in their ears soon transitioned from gunfire to screaming and crying, alongside the gross, wet sounds of soft meat being pounded and severed. Soon, after all of the carnage had subsided, there was little left other that a bloodbath; innards and body parts were flung across the room chaotically, while Tetra stood amongst a pool of blood and the remains of corpses. He had carved up the entirety of the mercenary force by himself, yet his expression didn't convey anger any longer; instead, he appeared calm once more, almost relieved, and he looked towards his team once again, almost oblivious to the spree of death he had just undertaken.
- Tetra - Can't stand mercenaries.
- Traslia - Was...was that really necessary?
Tetra looked towards Traslia and approached her. He let out a sigh and looked past her, before looking to the ground at his feet. Quietly, he spoke to her while Vesinash moved away.
- Tetra - Yes, it was. This is a no-survivors mission. Not only is it important to ensure that no information regarding the Levarcor genetic program gets outside of this facility, it's important that these mercenaries are never able to hurt anybody else ever again.
- Traslia - But...do you really have to succumb to anger like that?
- Tetra - T-That wasn't... That wasn't succumbing to anger. That is how I am trained to fight. Yes, I got a l-little angry...
- Traslia - A little? I told you I can read minds. You were downright furious.
- Tetra - W-Well then... I guess you know why, i-in that case, huh.
- Traslia - Well, no. Not really. I was too distracted by your sheer anger to read your memories.
- Tetra - W-Well... I'll tell you later. Right now, we have more important things to do.
- Traslia - Okay...
Tetra nodded and approached the elevator at the far side of the room. Vesinash approached Traslia and gave her a look, before whispering in her ear.
- Vesinash - There are reasons Tetra chose to become a Penumbran. He wasn't offered the choice by the Council like all the others; he sought it out. He trained and fought hard for it.
- Traslia - I can see something pains him immensely.
- Vesinash - Those mercenaries, they--
- Tetra - V-Vesinash, Traslia. We can't lose more time than we have already.
- Vesinash - Affirmative, let's move out.
- Traslia - Alrighty.
The team got into the elevator and Tetra pressed a button on the console inside of it, which indicated that the elevator could take them directly to the science and engineering center. Shortly after, the elevator ascended through the facility, with the journey taking several minutes in utter silence before they reached the floor they had selected. When they stepped outside of the open elevator doors, they saw more mercenaries, a group of scientists, and a familiar character; the same sergeant from earlier who had disappeared after the jetpack explosion. They stood within a room that was decorated with vats filled with liquid, containing unconscious Levarcor.
- Traslia - That guy!
- Sergeant - So it seems that I didn't count on my own teams killing a significant amount of Levarcor before you got inside. How stupid, haha! But I guess you've already figured out what we're doing here.
- Traslia - And you're a fool for doing it when it already failed in the past!
- Sergeant - Hehehe, maybe so. But thing is... we haven't failed.
- Traslia - The lack of a mind in these clones tells me otherwise.
- Sergeant - That was intentional. We indoctrinated the Levarcor clones in order to make them more obedient. However, those were failed specimens, a product of trial and error. Today, that trial and error has paid off. Today, we have successfully created a perfect Levarcor; in mind and spirit!
- Vesinash - We've yet to see even one of those.
Behind the sergeant himself was a vat, different to the others; inside stoof an unconscious Levarcor, with a body free of growths and disfigurements unlike its other clone brethren which filled the room. It stood somewhat larger than the others, yet appeared more young and fresh, not displaying any of the mature growths that most Levarcor of that size would display.
- Sergeant - Admittedly, this is the only fruit of our labour.
- Traslia - We'll stop you! R-right, guys?
- Vesinash - Yeah, right. We'll stop you and destroy your abominations.
- Tetra - Vesinash, Traslia, kill the scientists and other soldiers then secure that vat. I'm taking this guy by myself.
- Sergeant - Face to face! Like a real, true man! Hahaha, I like it already!
Tetra and the sergeant activated their jetpacks, the latter of which was a replacement for the one that had been damaged and lost earlier during the mission, and ascended into the air, with the sergeant firing his submachine guns once more at Tetra, who drew his blades and charged. The other mercenaries fired upon Vesinash and Traslia, while the scientists drew sidearms and joined in. Traslia threw psychic bursts and fired her gun at all directions, intimidated by the amount of enemies attacking.
- Vesinash - Ngh, don't just fire that thing anywhere! Aim, damnit!
- Traslia - Firing a gun is hard!
- Vesinash - You can throw psychic blasts but can't fire a gun?!
- Traslia - I never used a gun before, okay?!
- Vesinash - Then what can you do?
Traslia grunted and let out an ear-piercing shriek, hurting the ears of both the soldiers and her own allies. The soldiers dropped their guns in order to cover their ears while the scientists did the same, cowering and quivering. In midair, Tetra ears were overwhelmed by Traslia's shriek and he was caught off-guard by the enemy sergeant, who slammed himself into Tetra and threw both them against a wall, causing both of their jetpacks to stall and deactivate, dropping them to the ground. When they crashed to the floor, Tetra used what strength he had to punch the enemy sergeant, knocking him over before Tetra climbed atop him. Clenching his fists, he delivered systematic punches towards the sergeant, causing their helmet to become undone and fly off from their head. Tetra looked upon the eyes and face of his opponent; it was a Krektal, like him.
- Tetra - W-What... I don't... I don't u-understand...
- Sergeant - What's a Krektal doing with Soltako? Some of us had a survival instinct, some of us wanted to live that day. So, instead of fighting it, we joined it. We joined it so we could live another day, and continue to fight.
- Traslia - This won't end well...
- Tetra - You betrayed Gotla!
- Sergeant - But we lived for the Krektal! There are more of us, more Krektal that have taken refuge under Soltako. Many Krektal.
- Tetra - They destroyed our home! They killed us!
- Sergeant - And they gave us new ones! They armed us, gave us better weapons, technologies!
- Traslia - Didn't the Alliance allow the Krektal race to use Hyperborea as a new homeworld?
- Sergeant - That's right, they did. But there were Krektal who didn't fancy waiting for help, so they joined Soltako. We are refugees just as much as your friend and his people are.
- Traslia - So you turned into a criminal. Your logic is awful.
- Sergeant - Heh, maybe. I was impatient, we all were. Frankly, joining the PCA isn't a bad idea. But it's too late for that now.
Traslia looked at Tetra, waiting to see how he would react. She already expected the worst.
- Tetra - Would you murder Krektal that are with the PCA?
- Sergeant - Yes, just as much as I would give my life to save Krektal with Soltako. No matter how you look at it, they sheltered us when we pledged our lives to them.
- Tetra - They destroyed our homes, killed our families!
- Sergeant - Yes, they did. And we were cowards, and impatient. We cannot forgive them, and I understand that we cannot be forgiven. We are the traitors, but we are also survivors. As much as I would kill the Krektal of the PCA, you would kill the Krektal of Soltako.
- Tetra - The d-difference is... the PCA didn't kill anybody.
- Sergeant - They didn't? Heh. They sheltered you, but that doesn't mean they don't take lives. Every government takes lives. Nonetheless, knowing that the Krektal will live on is all that matters, whether it'd be Soltako or the PCA or both. There is no Gotla anymore.
- Tetra - You are not Krektal.
Drawing his shotgun, Tetra aimed at the sergeant's head and fired, destroying his enemy's skull and causing blood and bone to splatter across the area, drenching Tetra's face in it. He looked towards his team and then to the recovering soldiers and scientists who struggled to reach for their weapons in a panic, knowing that their sergeant had just been killed.
- Vesinash - Tetra...
- Tetra - Why are they still alive?
- Vesinash - We... We were working on tha--
- Tetra - There can be no survivors. You know what we have to do.
Traslia backed away slightly as Tetra spoke. Vesinash nodded and aimed her sniper rifle at the soldiers and scientists. She proceeded to systematically place a round through each of their skulls, ending their lives as she had been ordered by Tetra. They both knew the stakes that were at play, and they could not afford to allow surviving enemies if they wished to prevent as much death as they could in the future. After the enemies had been slain, the team moved ahead towards the vat containing the 'perfected' Levarcor subject, suspended within golden liquids. Traslia remained in a considerable distance away from Tetra, looking over at the vat.
- Vesinash - What do we do with this one? If it's as perfected as that guy said it is, it could mean a considerable loss for the PCA.
- Tetra - He also said that they attempted to indoctrinate the Levarcor to adhere to their commands.
- Vesinash - I doubt they'd risk attempting to indoctrinate such a precious subject before it had even woke up. They'd risk failure that way, like all those other subjects, I imagine.
- Tetra - Traslia, what do you think? ...Traslia?
- Traslia - Does it really matter what my opinion is? I know you're gonna keep your bloodlust anyway.
- Tetra - B-Bloodlust? ...Traslia, you said it yourself. This project happened before, and if we don't do something about it, it'll happen again. We're s-soldiers... This is w-what is expected of us.
- Traslia - I didn't expect you to be...like this.
- Tetra - These are the men... that murdered my people. B-Burned my homeworld... t-to ash. K-Killed almost e-everyone I knew. ...I d-don't kill them b-because I enjoy it, I h-hate killing, but I f-fight to save others from a similar fate.
- Traslia - ...You want my opinion? Let it live. Let it be our ally.
- Vesinash - It could be useful to us. It could give us a tactical advantage, allow us to be more effective.
- Tetra - R-Right. Okay, we'll let it live... But how do we g-get this thing b-back to the ship?
- Traslia - I can levitate it all the way there...if you stay away from me.
- Tetra - Huh? W-What?
Traslia ignored Tetra and used her psychic powers to lift the vat from the floor slowly. She turned away and walked away, with the vat following her. Tetra approached Vesinash while looking towards Traslia's direction as she carried the vat containing the Levarcor. He looked down with a saddened expression.
- Tetra - Did... D-Did I say something?
- Vesinash - She's not a soldier, Tetra. She's still fresh to war and fighting. Remember, she was an archeologist before all of this, and it was all taken away from her in a day.
- Tetra - ...I... I-I guess you're right. I shouldn't have b-been so selfish.
The vat had been set down and established within the ship's hull after the team had returned from their assignment. Tetra had once again gone to visit the medical facility of the vessel in order to clear himself of any wounds he had sustained before calling for his lieutenant, Vesinash, to meet him within the hull in order to examine the vat and the Levarcor inside it. He had also called for Traslia to join them, although it seemed clear that she would not be joining them, even if she was important scientific personnel. Tetra and Vesinash stood in front of the vat and looked into it while the Levarcor within was still contained. They both felt nervous and apprehensive, with Vesinash keeping her gun steady and aimed at the vat while Tetra quivvered slightly.
- Vesinash - You sure you want to do this now?
- Tetra - A-Absolutely. I'm ready... You're ready, r-right?
- Vesinash - Oh, yeah, yeah. Of course I am. I'm always... ready.
- Tetra - S-Ship, open the... o-open the vat.
- Ship - Affirmative, Penumbra-Commander. Opening container.
The vat's seals deactivated and the container began to open, allowing the golden, bubbling substance of oxygenated liquid inside to escape and pour itself across the floor of the hull, getting Tetra's feet wet. Tetra gazed upon the Levarcor and readied himself, keeping the thought of his shotgun on his mind while Vesinash remained ready to fire a round at any time. The massive Levarcor fell out of the vat on its knees, coughing loudly as it woke up. Its eyes slowly opened to see Tetra in front of it, and in a charge, it grabbed him by his neck and lifted him up in the air with impressive strength.
- Levarcor - Where am I? Who are you?!
Tetra gasped for breath as he was lifted into the air, and attempted to grab for his shotgun. Vesinash aimed down her sights and fired a warning shot at the Levarcor's feet, attempting to gain its attention while Tetra struggled to talk while he was suspended. Eventually, he managed to get a few words out into the air;
- Tetra - L-Let... go.
The Levarcor turned to Vesinash and growled at her, showing off its immense fanged teeth. It turned its sight back to Tetra right after.
- Levarcor - Not until you give me answers, ant.
- Vesinash - We're on a ship! That guy's ship!
Vesinash pointed to Tetra, he grasped ahold of the Levarcor's fingers in an attempt to break himself free.
- Vesinash - As for who you are, we have no idea.
- Levarcor - The tank told me I was to obey the CEO of Soltako Armed Military. You are obviously not him.
- Tetra - Whoever that is... t-they aren't here! W-We rescued you... from S-Soltako. We d-destroyed the labs and saved you. I-I'm... P-Penumbran Tetra T-Terya... of the PCA.
- Levarcor - Rescued...saved...for what purpose? The tank spoke of the PCA. It claimed they were the enemy.
- Vesinash - Soltako indoctrination, I doubt you'd understand. You were bred to wage war and fight, to kill others, like innocents, under the command of powerful, evil men. We saved you from that so you could help us, and we can shelter you.
- Levarcor - Kill, under the command of others...that is what Levarcor are made for.
The Levarcor released its grip of Tetra, letting him fall into the floor. Tetra gasped for breath as he was let go, and held onto his neck in order to try and soothe the pain. He looked up towards the Levarcor and stood up, while Vesinash kept her gun trained on it. Tetra made a gesture towards Vesinash, signalling her to put the gun away, which she did so reluctantly before Tetra turned to the Levarcor.
- Tetra - Do... D-Do you really believe that?
- Levarcor - Is it not true? Levarcor have no purpose but to obey orders.
- Tetra - Well... On my s-ship, everybody g-gets a fair say in what goes o-on around here. We're all p-people, even Levarcor.
- Levarcor - This confuses me. The tank said I was to be a weapon. But you are offering me the chance of being a person. I was not made to be a person.
- Tetra - I'm a soldier, but that d-doesn't mean I'm not a person. We're all people. You can talk, think, act... You're a person in my books.
The Levarcor looked at its own hands in silence before turning back to Tetra.
- Levarcor - If I am a person...then who am I? What is my name?
- Tetra - Well... you're a Levarcor for starts. And your name... Well...
- Vesinash - Your name is whatever you want it to be.
- Levarcor - You are not the most helpful person, person.
- Vesinash - It's Vesinash. My name is Vesinash. Ve-see-nash.
The Levarcor walked up to the vat it was once slumbering at and looked around it.
- Tetra - What are you looking for?
- Levarcor - The tank said I was to lead a force called Lirtelto Squad. Lirtelto. That is a good name, but I will change it to Lirtelta. Lirtelto is a man's name, and I am no man.
- Tetra - W-Wait, w-what?
- Vesinash - You're... You're a woman?
- Lirtelta - You obviously know nothing of Levarcor biology. As a weapon, I already know more than you both.
Lirtelta then delivered a blow to the vat, tearing a large hole through it. She began bashing it repeteadly until it was reduced to rubble.
- Tetra - Whoa whoa whoa!
- Lirtelta - The tank also spoke too much. It annoyed me.
- Vesinash - We... We see. Though you can't just destroy, you know, EVERYTHING you find annoying.
- Lirtelta - Do not annoy me then. Give me a purpose. Give me things to kill.
- Tetra - W-Well... A-Alright then. We'll find... s-something. Umm, what exactly do Levarcor... eat?
- Lirtelta - What do we eat? Meat. We are carnivorous...and I am actually very hungry. Why did you have to mention it?
Suddenly, there was a beep over the communications systems, and the group could hear the voice of the vessel's AI speaking to them in its young, innocent tone. It had been recording the goings-on within the room since the container was breached and Lirtelta was released.
- Ship - All crew are required to consume vitamins and nutrients in order to sustain themselves and maintain an effective dietary regime for absolute efficiency in combat. The fully-automated kitchen systems are designed to accomodate for a variety of species, including Levarcor.
- Lirtelta - Gah. This voice hurts my ears.
- Ship - Then you are unlikely to enjoy the remainder of the voyage.
- Lirtelta - Hmpf. I want to crush you under my grasp, but since people don't destroy what they find annoying...just take me to where the food is.
- Ship - Affirmative. The designated mess hall is located on level three. After or before you have consumed the desired meal, I would advise visiting level two for dressing and armour facilities, as you are currently absent of such.
- Lirtelta - You better have sufficient armor for me, "Penumbran Tetra". You repurposed me. That means you must now lead me.
- Tetra - R-Right. We should h-have some information on Levarcor armour s-stored somewhere so we can m-make it. R-Right now, though I think it's m-more important that y-you eat.
Lirtelta nodded and walked out of the room, dragging her long tail across the floor as she did.
The current members of the team, consisting of Tetra, Vesinash, Traslia and Lirtelta, were gathered in the communications room. They awaited contact from the Council, with Tetra and Vesinash exchanging awkward glares as they had come to terms with the fact that they now had two species with strenuous relations with the PCA government on-board their vessel, as members of their team. Lirtelta approached Traslia and sniffed her repeatedly, much to the Rovegar's confusion and intimidation.
- Traslia - Can you back away, please?
- Lirtelta - Something about you smells awfully...good.
- Tetra - P-Personal space, Lirtelta. You g-gotta respect that sorta thing. You can't just approach people u-up close like that.
Lirtelta began poking Traslia, causing her to shiver and moan in fear.
- Tetra - L-Lirtelta! Don't p-poke! Especially not t-there!
- Lirtelta - Why is your skin so soft? Why is your skin so warm?...What are-
- Traslia - Get your hand off my chest!
- Lirtelta - Explain to me!
Traslia slapped Lirtelta's hand, causing the Levarcor's eyes to widen.
- Traslia - P-pervert!
- Lirtelta - You...attacked me? Like that? Hah, you got guts, warm woman! I like you!
Vesinash grunted and placed her head against the main console in discomfort, seemingly twitching as she whispered to Tetra under her breath. The expression on her face told the Penumbran that she was quite clearly distraught with the situation.
- Vesinash - Whatever did we do to deserve this?
- Xeron - Heads off the console, Seagon. This is no way of greeting your Councillor.
The holograms of Councillors Xeron and Rylarien appeared to the team.
- Vesinash - Ahh! C-Councillor Xeron! R-Rylarien! M-My apologies, sir! M-Madam!
- Xeron - Where's my status report?...Why is there a Levarcor in your room?
- Lirtelta - What kind of disgusting alien is that?
- Xeron - What did it just call me?!
- Tetra - C-Councilors! W-We can explain. This is... L-Lirtelta. She was rescued from the assignment you g-gave us, Xeron. Soltako was working on bioengineered Levarcor mutant clones - we saved their only perfect subject.
- Rylarien - So they were trying to revive Project Titan, it seems.
- Xeron - We cannot afford anymore monsters like Brakarion Gragon alive. Are you sure this Levarcor is the only one alive?
- Tetra - We... Well...
- Vesinash - We killed all mercenaries and scientists we came across under Tetra's order. To make sure nobody who knew of the techniques used got out. We then proceeded to bombard the facility from orbit and raze it all to the ground, killing and destroying everything inside.
- Xeron - Ah. Good. That means the project could not have survived. You have done well, Penumbran.
- Tetra - We... Also found out that many of my kind are serving under Soltako.
- Xeron - Hmpf. Traitors. After we have them all a new home for free. Make sure to bring them to justice.
- Tetra - Affirmative, Councillor Xeron. Are there any other assignments that I must be aware of before we perform the... psycho-analysis for the messages that the Kormacvar artefact gave me?
- Xeron - From me? No. You are to follow Councillor Vhezari's assignments for now on, and I will leave you to speak to her now. Xeron out.
Xeron's hologram vanished.
- Vesinash - Damned Xeron, that guy makes me want to take up smoking. Again.
- Rylarien - Why would you poison yourself?
- Vesinash - Better than talking to that slime ball.
- Tetra - Councillor Rylarien, are there any f-further assignments that we must undertake?
- Rylarien - Hm? Not for now, no. You all deserve a rest after all, you went through two missions one right after the other.
- Vesinash - We have it easier than Vekaron it seems, then. I hear about that guy all the time. Something about a whale on Kaos, last time I heard.
- Rylarien - I know nothing about that, but Xeron does give the highest priority assignments to Vekaron. As the very first Penumbran and the man who led the galaxy in the Second Great War, he is expected to be able to do anything.
- Vesinash - Aye, Vekaron's a good man.
- Tetra - All Penumbrans are, Lieutenant. To be a Penumbran is to not just be able to overcome the impossible, but be willing to do it. It is to know what's at stake and know exactly who and what you fight for.
- Vesinash - Right. And you fight for your people, don't you?
- Tetra - Y-Yes. I fight for the p-people of Gotla, and for Gotla i-itself.
Rylarien thought for a moment before turning back to Tetra.
- Rylarien - Before I go, let me tell you I delivered your message to your little sister.
Tetra's ears perked and he looked towards Rylarien's hologram with a surprised expression, his eyes widened. He leaned forward and blinked several times, a smile emerging on his face as he spoke.
- Tetra - Y-You did?
- Rylarien - Yes. And may I say, it has been a while since I've last seen such an adorable child.
- Tetra - Hehe, t-thank you, Councilor. I'm glad s-she is in safe hands and k-knows I'm alright, it means a l-lot to me to know that she's fine.
- Rylarien - I'll be contacting you later to know the results of the mind-reading. Rylarien out, and have a good day, all of you.
Rylarien's hologram vanished. Tetra smiled as Rylarien's hologram dissipated and sat back in his seat, while Vesinash tended to her sniper rifle before getting up and leaving the room with a satisfied expression across her face. Tetra turned to Traslia, who was sat behind him.
- Tetra - W-When would you f-feel comfortable?
- Traslia - ...Not now.
- Tetra - Traslia...
- Lirtelta - Adorable...tell me...am I adorable?
- Tetra - Huh, what? Umm... I-I suppose you c-could be? ...Why do you ask?
- Lirtelta - It seems like a nice word to say...Warm woman, am I adorable?
- Traslia - H-huh?
- Lirtelta - Answer me!
- Traslia - Ngh! G-get off me!
Traslia ran off the room, with Lirtelta quickly giving chase.
- Tetra - W-Wait!
Tetra attempted to chase after them both, although he simply fell out of his chair and onto the floor, where he watched the two of them race through the corridors of the ship until they were out of his sight. He let out a groan and placed a hand to his head in annoyance, although after a few moments he let out a sigh and stood up, proceeding to walk in their general direction.
Tetra sat in the mess hall of the ship, eating from a white bowl that was filled with what looked like a mound of rounded slices of meat. Vesinash sat at the far end of the same table, slurping from a bottle of Borealis-edition Paa'go while she read some form of holographic magazine article revolving around tanks and heavy weapons. All was quiet and has been for the last few hours. Lirtelta messily ate at the other side of the table, grabbing large pieces of meat and devouring them almost whole, chewing with her mouth open and sending pieces of her food all over the table. It was obvious that she was really hungry. Vesinash glanced over towards Lirtelta with a raised eyebrow, before leaning towards her and resting her head in her hands, staring at the Levarcor with a hint of curiosity.
- Vesinash - Enjoying that?
- Lirtelta - I did not expect "food" to taste so good!
- Vesinash - You mind trying to keep it in your mouth? You eat more that way. You know, with your mouth closed.
Lirtelta looked at Vesinash in genuine disbelief for a few moments. The Levarcor proceeded to chew on her food with her mouth closed, and after some moments, her expression changed to boredom.
- Lirtelta - It's nowhere as fun this way.
- Vesinash - Hmm, clearly. Here, take one of these. Try not to eat the glass.
Vesinash passed to Lirtelta one of her Paa'go bottles, filled with a lemon-tasting alcoholic substance. Using a top opener, she unscrewed the lid and placed it in front of the Levarcor, a smirk across her face as she sat back and watched the alien. Tetra took a glance towards them, himself curious as to how Lirtelta would react. Lirtelta looked at the bottle and took it, and then quickly drank all the content in it at once. The Levarcor put the bottle back onthe table and put her tongue out.
- Lirtelta - Disgusting.
- Vesinash - It's an acquired taste.
- Tetra - A taste you don't want to acquire. Alcohol's bad for your innards. And for missions.
- Vesinash - Oh don't be so boring. I'm sure Lirtelta's strong enough to resist it.
- Lirtelta - Levarcor have high alcohol tolerance compared to other Borealis races. And if i were to be intoxicated by a drink, I'd rather be intoxicated by one which doesn't taste like tank water.
Vesinash sat back and started reading the holo-article once again, before an eyebrow perked and she looked to both Lirtelta and Tetra, setting her holopad down. She shifted her head left before looking right in confusion, and looked to the two of them once again, a confused expression on her face.
- Vesinash - Wait a moment. Where'd that Rovegar girl go? You know... whats-her-face?
- Tetra - You mean Traslia?
- Vesinash - Yeah, her.
- Lirtelta - She is afraid. She locked herself in her room.
- Tetra - Afraid? Afraid of what?
- Lirtelta - Afraid of you.
Tetra tilted his head towards Lirtelta with an expression that conveyed confusion and worry, leaning towards the Levarcor.
- Tetra - Me? Why me?
- Lirtelta - I don't know why, but I can read her body language like a book. She displays fear when she has her eyes set on you.
- Vesinash - She must still be feeling sore over the mission. Obviously not used to it, I'm guessing.
- Tetra - Ngh... This is a serious problem. I can't have crew feeling... uncomfortable, especially n-not around me. ...I need to talk to her.
- Vesinash - You think that'll work?
- Lirtelta - Hiding from your problems doesn't make them go away. She will keep her fear unless confronted about it.
- Vesinash - For a newborn... newly-awoken... For somebody as young as you, you're quite versed in this sort of thing. And you've been awake for less than two days.
- Lirtelta - I was supposed to leave my pod and go straight to a battlefield.
Tetra sighed and stood up, leaving his chair and approaching the corridors in order to get to Traslia's quarters. Vesinash groaned, grabbing a bottle of Paa'go, and stood up in order to join him. She looked back to Lirtelta, who still had a full plate of food in front of her despite her excessive eating, and made a gesture with her hand.
- Vesinash - Come on, then. You're coming with us, you know.
Lirtelta grunted and quickly shoved all the food in her plate on her mouth, before getting up and following Tetra. The three of them walked through several hallways and corridors in order to reach Traslia's quarters, which was one of several designated guest rooms onboard Tetra's vessel. The door leading to her room was constructed reinforced metal materials in order to prevent break-ins, and Tetra knocked on it softly before Vesinash knocked on it with the butt of her gun, rougher and louder. The door opened to reveal Traslia, sitting on the bed designed for her. She looked at the trio with a depressed expression.
- Traslia - You don't have to knock so loudly.
- Tetra - Traslia, may we come inside? We... I need to talk to you about something.
- Traslia - ...I don't have a choice, do I?
- Lirtelta - Grrrh. Stop being a wuss.
Tetra walked inside and looked around the room, before looking back at Traslia. Vesinash did the same, loosening her grip on her sniper rifle and nodded with satisfaction.
- Vesinash - Nice room. Wish I had one like this. ...Well, no, I don't, but it's nice.
- Tetra - Traslia, d-don't be a-afraid to speak to m-me. Tell me w-what's bothering y-you, it's my r-responsibility to m-make sure my c-crew's okay.
Traslia looked at the floor and sighed.
- Traslia - Alien emotions are too different from what I'm used to...your desire to kill that man back on the mission terrified me.
- Tetra - ...Y-Yes. I wanted to k-kill that man. But whether I w-wanted to or not, he w-was involved in the e-experiments and was a m-mercenary. He needed to die to p-protect others.
- Vesinash - He was a pirate and a criminal.
- Traslia - I can't do this. Leave me in some planet, and I'll find my way back to the Matriarchy.
- Tetra - Did you not say that... you'd be e-executed for what h-happened?
- Traslia - I did.
- Vesinash - We can't do that. Not only would we, and thus the PCA, be responsible for your execution, you're also an important asset to us right now.
- Tetra - V-Vesinash!
- Vesinash - Erm... Excuse me, that came out wrong. You're... important to us. Traslia.
- Tetra - I didn't r-rescue you just so you could die anyway. You're part of m-my crew.
Traslia looked at Vesinash and teared up from her words. She shut her eyes and began screeching t the team, with enough force to blow them all away.
- Traslia - Get out! Get out now!
Vesinash was blown back into Lirtelta, knocking her out of the room and slamming them both into a wall while Tetra was cushioned by the two of them, smacking into them as he was knocked off his feet and thrown against Lirtelta's face. Vesinash grunted and stood up, lifting her arms in submission and walking away from the room.
- Vesinash - That's it, I'm done. I'm out.
- Traslia - All of you! Get out of here!
Tetra stood up and looked at Traslia with saddened eyes before walking away, looking down at his feet, defeated. Vesinash was already long gone, presumably back to the mess hall where they were prior, and Tetra patted Lirtelta's arm.
- Tetra - Come on, we'd better go. I-If she w-wants to be l-left alone... l-leave her alone.
- Lirtelta - I will punch that Seagon. This is all her fault.
- Tetra - N-Now, now. We d-don't need anymore u-upset.
- Lirtelta - I was born to be a killer, but I was not born to be disrespectful for my allies. The Seagon will have to pay for this somehow.
Lirtelta walked away, leaving Tetra behind. Tetra placed a hand on his face and let out a long, exhausted sigh, groaning as he then walked on, following Lirtelta with slow, heavy steps. It was clear from his expression he was already tired, with bags beginning to appear under his eyes, and he yawned quietly to himself as he shuffled away from his upset, maddened crew mate.
The team, excluding the Rovegar scientist, were gathered in the communications room, with Tetra preparing himself to deliver the unfortunate news of being unable to gather answers to the Kormacvar artefact's implanted information. Vesinash had a bandage wrapped around her arm and a black eye, evident that she had been in some kind of fight or brawl. Tetra was reluctant to contact the Council and took a breath before leaning back, refusing to make the call while Vesinash laid a hand upon his shoulder.
- Vesinash - We have to do it.
- Tetra - Give me a few moments.
Lirtelta leaned on a wall with her eyes closed and her arms crossed, as if she was resting. She paid no attention to either Tetra or Vesinash as they spoke.
- Vesinash - Give it a rest, Tetra. She doesn't want to be here and she doesn't feel comfortable. She's not fit enough to be here, she can't handle it.
- Tetra - I know! ...There has to be o-other options, we can't just abandon h-her out in the m-middle of nowhere.
- Vesinash - If this carries on, she's going to become a liability. We won't be able to operate. This needs to be sorted out.
- Tetra - We tried sorting it out... a-and you cocked it up.
- Vesinash - She overreacted!
- Tetra - Ngh, it d-doesn't matter anymore. We w-won't be able to get any i-information now, this m-mission was a failure.
- Vesinash - Surely there's another way?
- Tetra - Maybe. But it'll t-take too long.
Before Tetra could contact the Council, the doors opened. Traslia entered the room, still with a depressed expression her face. Lirtelta looked at the Rovegar in surprise as she entered the room.
- Traslia - Since I'm going to die anyway, I may as well prove I'm not completely useless...
Vesinash glanced over to Traslia with a raised eyebrow and she moved away from Tetra, who turned fully to face her, his head tilted. He was saddened by the words that came out of Traslia's mouth and her downright heartwrenching expression.
- Tetra - T-Traslia?
- Traslia - I'm gonna get your information. After that, you won't have to worry about me anymore.
- Vesinash - You don't have to be so cold abou--
- Tetra - Vesinash! ...R-Right. I r-really appreciate i-it, Traslia. W-We all do. ...H-How should we do this?
- Traslia - Sit down.
Tetra nodded and sat down in his seat, facing her. Vesinash had an apprehensive expression written across her face and she kept a close eye on the Rovegar, holding her rifle tightly although not aiming it in any particular direction. Lirtelta growled at Vesinash's direction while Traslia took a seat in front of Tetra. Focusing on her powers, her red pupils shined and an elemental aura manifested around her.
- Tetra - W-What's this?
- Vesinash - You'd better not do anything funny.
- Traslia - Silence.
Traslia extended her hands and put them on Tetra's cheeks, before closing her eyes and concentrating. Using her powers, she looked into the Krektal's mind. Tetra's cheeks flared with blush as she laid her hands on his cheeks, and his eyes slowly widened. As Traslia took a dive into the mind of the Penumbran, all was dark before a myriad of imagery began to materialize; an industrial environment.
Skyscrapers and smoke-filled skies, she could see, before focussing on something particular - an alleyway, dark and narrow. At the far end, a brick wall. She could hear rushing footsteps, somebody was running. After some moments, she could see a Krektal, smaller and more smooth-looking than Tetra, rushing through the alleyway, towards the brick wall. The Krektal stopped in their tracks and turned round, watching as they were approached by three larger, more mature-looking Krektal wearing basic rags and armour, carrying knives.
- Gangster - Nowhere to run! Give up the chase, squirt!
- Child - G-Go away! I d-don't have anything!
- Gangster - Oh, you don't? That's a lie, for starters; we've seen that little purse you carry. And besides, I'm sure that those doctors would appreciate a donation of fresh organs!
One of the mature Krektal approached the young girl, preparing his knife for a slash. Before he could afflict injury upon her innocent form, however, they yelped and growled as arms wrapped around his neck from behind, and was thrown off-balance, crashing into the nearest wall before grunting as punches swept across his face. Standing in front of him and taking his knife was a Krektal - a much younger-looking Tetra, bleeding from the cheek.
- Tetra - Get away from her!
The adult Krektal launched himself forward, tackling Tetra, who proceeded to slam the knife multiple times into the criminal's shoulder and back, causing them to spit blood. With no sign of the gangster letting up and letting go of him, Tetra sent the knife towards their face... Traslia heard a piercing scream from the gangster, and watched as their eye socket vomited out blood before Tetra kicked them away.
- Gangster - Y-You... You little shit! Agh! You fuck!
- Tetra - Get away! Before I take out your other one!
The gangster struggled to walk and glared towards Tetra, growling and snarling angrily before turning to his thugs. He nodded to them and rushed away from Tetra and the young Krektal girl, stumbling and falling over several times before he was out of sight from the two of them. Tetra turned to the young girl and dropped the knife, approaching her before embracing her in a hug.
- Tetra - Titri, are you hurt?
- Titri - ...N-Nuh-uh.
- Tetra - Good. ...I-I'm so sorry, I shouldn't h-have left you alone.
- Titri - B-Bro... bleed.
- Tetra - Huh?
Titri, the younger Krektal, touched Tetra's face with her finger, wiping away some blood from his cheek before showing it to Tetra himself. The older Krektal looked at the blood on her finger and grabbed one of the rags he wore, using it to wipe away the blood from his face, although he had unintentionally smeared it.
- Tetra - I-It's fine, sis. It doesn't hurt, much.
- Titri - Bro messy. Water, water!
- Tetra - Hehe, don't worry, sis. I-I'll find us some water to drink. There should be some somewhere...
Suddenly, the environment changed, and the Krektal disappeared. Traslia watched as the buildings of the city quickly degraded and exploded, collapsing, as if she was watching time in fast-forward. Soon, the area settled and Traslia was met with the sight of something far more horrific; ruins that were once cities, large puddles and rivers of blood filled with debris and the corpses of armoured Krektal militia, their pigment having left them to become dead pale. Not everything was lifeless, however; over the horizon, Traslia could see as a small group of Krektal soldiers, armed with guns, fired frantically in the opposite direction, running and screaming for their lives as they had looks of terror upon their faces, before they took to the air - they wore armour similar to that Tetra himself used in combat.
- Soldier 1 - Keep firing! Don't let up!
- Soldier 2 - Kill the bastards! Show them what it means to be a son of Gotla!
- Soldier 3 - I can see my house from here! ...It's just rubble now.
- Soldier 1 - Rejoin with what's left of the 22nd GTL, I hear they finally have a Captain-Commander agai-- Agh!
The soldiers were shot down from the sky by advanced weapons fire, eviscerating their armour and bodies and mutilating them in midair. Some distance away, several small taskforces of Krektal soldiers, each equipped with their own aerial maneuver suits, were travelling over the rubble of their destroyed cities, the corpses of their unfortunate comrades. The Krektal at the front of their formation wore a helmet that obscured his face, and he happened to be giving out the commands and orders to his scared comrades, providing what morale he could do them.
- Captain-Commander - Look at what you see before you, this is what those barbarians have done to us! Take it all in and use it, use it to fight them! Don't show them fear!
The Krektal soldiers followed their Captain-Commander closely, firing at whatever alien mercenaries they could find desperately. Marching over the rubble, treading over the corpses of their colleagues, the soldiers eventually managed to catch a glimpse of the far-away horizon; the sky was red as the sun began to depart from the sky. At the horizon, they could also see a figure watching the battle. An extremely large, imposing-looking Heeyorian, in dark armor and with cybernetic limbs. With his arms crossed, he looked over the carnage, with an unimpressed look on his face.
- Heeyorian - Well, this was easier than I expected. Shouldn't have expected anything else from primitives like these.
Looking out over the blood red horizon, the Captain-Commander of the Krektal glared towards the large figure in the distance; a black silhouette from where he was standing, positioned in front of the setting sun. Letting out a heavy breath, he grabbed two blades from his sides and raised them, his armour beginning to blaze with fire as he raised himself into the air.
- Captain-Commander - Squads 2 and 4, engage the enemy! Squads 1, 3, 5 and 6, spread out and look for survivors, be on your guard! If you find any, bring them back to base. If I don't come back after four hours, report me MIA.
- Soldier - Captain-Commander Terya, who will be the Captain-Commander if you die here?
- Captain-Commander - Purto Porya will take my place, he's the second-best soldier I know. Now go!
The soldiers of the second and fourth squads roared out as they fired at their enemy's infantry, ascending into the air and either shooting or cutting at their enemy, providing some challenge while their comrades did as they were commanded and spread out to search for possible survivors of the bloody onslaught. The Captain-Commander, meanwhile, turned his attention towards the Heeyorian in the distance, and launched himself in his direction, grasping his blades tightly while his helmet scanned constantly, attempting to analyze for strategic weaknesses.
The Captain-Commander, however, could not detect any weaknesses on the massive Heeyorian. His imposing armor, thousands of years more advanced than anything the Krektal even hoped to yet create, protected him from any potential attacks from the Krektal. Shots fired at the massive individual hit his shields, which barely even managed to scratch them.
- Captain-Commander - No weaknesses... D-Damnit. ...I'll just have to wear you down! For GOTLA!
The Captain-Commander soon arrived in range of the Heeyorian and looked down at him from where he hovered, grasping his blades tightly. He stopped in his charge as he felt a horrifyingly cold shiver travel down his spine as he looked at the terrifying alien warlord, and became ignorant to the screams of his comrades being mutilated by the Heeyorian's soldiers. He gulped, and over a communicator, called out to the mercenary leader.
- Captain-Commander - This is Captain-Commander Tetra Terya of the 22nd Goer'tna Protection Legion! Lay down your arms and cease your assault!
- Heeyorian - Say what now?
- Tetra - Lay. Down. Your. ARMS! We will resist you, and we will refuse surrender! Leave this place and you will be unharmed!
The Heeyorian looked at Tetra before letting out a hearty laugher. He put his hands on his chest as his laugher echoed through the ruins of the city.
- Tetra - ...W-What are y-you laughing at?
- Heeyorian - At you! Trying to order me around when I'm about to send this planet back to the stone age!
- Tetra - Why are you doing this? Do you have any idea what you're doing or are you THAT insane?!
- Heeyorian - Why am I doing this?
The Heeyorian put his hands up, gazing at the sunset.
- Heeyorian - For money, of course!
- Tetra - D-Damn you! I'll say it once m-more! Leave this place, and you will be unharmed!
- Heeyorian - Nah, I don't think so. If you really want me gone, then come get me out.
Tetra grasped his blades tightly and glared towards the Heeyorian through the visor of his helmet, breathing heavily as he fought his reluctance in an attempt to overcome fear and fight the figure ahead. As he was about to make a charge, he heard another voice; a soldier over his communicator.
- Soldier - Captain-Commander Terya! We've found survivors!
- Tetra - How many?
- Soldier - 14, including women and children.
- Tetra - Escort them back to the base!
- Soldier - C-Captain-Commander... O-One of these children...
- Tetra - Out with it!
- Soldier - T-Titri, sir. Your sister, she's alive and well.
- Heeyorian - So? I'm waiting!
Tetra's eyes widened and he lost focus, still in midair. He hovered there for several moments, gasping for breath as he contemplated the revelation of his actions in facing this dangerous, unknown individual that boasted so confidently of bloodshed and destruction. Gulping, as if to force a decision on himself, he pointed a blade towards the Heeyorian, his hands shakey.
- Tetra - ...W-We'll meet again! You hear me? We will continue to resist! And you will n-not live the next time w-we meet!
- Heeyorian - Bah. What a waste of my time.
- Tetra - Squads 2 and 4! Retreat! We have no business here, a mistake on my part! Focus on search and rescue!
However, Tetra received no reply from those particular squads. Looking down, he saw as what was left of them was left splayed across the battlefield, mutilated, severed, burned and torn apart. Gasping for breath, Tetra's thrusters blazed violently as he retreated from the location with no survivors of his own in tow for they were all little more than shreds of flesh and armour. The sun continued to set behind the Heeyorian, marking the coming of the night, and the arrival of darkness. The world faded to black and for several minutes that was all Traslia could see, yet she knew her work was not yet done. There was something more, hiding within Tetra's cranial impulses, buried into the deepest sectors of his brain matter. And then she saw it; a brown, disfigured world, within the outskirts of the Borealis Galaxy, outside of any politicial influence.
Traslia concentrated on the vision the hardest she could. The team back at Tetra's ship could see her and Tetra himself were now touching their foreheads with each other, in complete silence. Soon, she managed to capture the surface of the world; flashing images of barren wastelands and continental clouds of death. Warriors concealed in bizarre, alien armours, diverse in their design and biologies, fighting between one another, being ripped asunder and blown to oblivion by apocalyptic explosions. Colossal machines of war, launching their energized loads at one another with a devastating fury. All the while, screaming, yelling, pleading, crying. The sound of an entire world roaring in tragic agony.
Soon, as Traslia ventured deeper into Tetra's mind, she was met with an image shocking and horrifyingly sudden; a face. The scarred, bloodied face of the monsters that attacked her world, its body contained in majestic, exotic armour, not dissimilar to that of those worn by her attackers. Traslia breathed heavily as gazing upon the monsters took a heavy toll on her mind. She struggled to keep concentrated.
- Alien - Al'ahragadha sheoiem monhothrador teresceratah! Murder, murder them all! Rape their women... their CHILDREN! Ghazhraghakor llanaphera! Dismember their limbs, suspend their heads on your pikes! Crush them beneath our boots, the claws of our robots!
- Alien - Hanharaphera koromacavar tandhaghra! Let the Kormacvar BURN!
Traslia gasped and threw her head back, breaking her mental link with Tetra. She sweated a lot, and held tighly on the Krektal's head. She was clearly scared of the monsters she had seen. Tetra's eyes, which had remained still throughout the entire process, began to move. They were dry, as they had been open the entire time, and he was met with Traslia's scared, terrified expression. He had no idea what to do, unknowing of how to quell the poor girl, and thus he only did what he possibly could do; he held onto Traslia in an embrace and patted her back.
- Tetra - Ssh, ssh... I-It'll be alright. Ssh...
- Traslia - I saw...I saw Zarkhator...it was horrible...
- Tetra - Don't worry about that r-right now... Vesinash, Lirtelta, get some towels! And a drink!
- Traslia - I also saw your sister...she's so adorable.
- Tetra - Huh? W-What?
- Traslia - I can understand it all now. You don't fight out of bloodthirst. You fight to protect her.
- Tetra - ...Y-Yes, that's why I fight. But I also fight... to stop the same thing happening to others. Nobody deserves to go through what Gotla did.
- Traslia - Please forgive me. I was an idiot who couldn't understand your emotions.
Traslia hugged Tetra tightly. Lirtelta, who carried a cup of water, looked at them in amusement. Vesinash was carrying a pair of towels, watching the two of them while standing beside Lirtelta, groaning quietly as she watched them both. She wore an annoyed expression on her face, and she stood almost impatiently with the towels in her hands. Tetra did not refuse Traslia's hug, allowing her to embrace him while he kept patting her back.
- Tetra - I-It's fine... This m-must all be v-very strange for you, m-miss Traslia.
- Traslia - Strange...yes, you are all very strange to me...and I hope to know more. I don't want to leave anymore.
- Tetra - Hehe... G-Glad to hear it, miss Traslia. You're part of my crew, y-you can stay for as long as you w-wish.
- Traslia - You don't have to call me miss. You're my captain after all.
Tetra smiled and he slowly let go of Traslia, and she could see that he was blushing all across his face. Vesinash grunted and dropped the towels behind Traslia before walking off, taking a bottle of blue Paa'go as she did while holding her rifle close to her, although Tetra seemed to have been oblivious to the outburst. Lirtelta chuckled and walked over to the duo, giving them the water she had brought.
- Tetra - Alright then, T-Traslia, let's get you c-cleaned up and fed, t-then we can talk about w-what you saw.
- Traslia - Okay...your Councill will be surprised, to say the least.
- Tetra - Heh, let's hope, huh?
The Forgotten PlanetEdit
Somewhere, in an undisclosed region of Borealis space, a vessel, joined by various automated and manned escorts, loomed near the moon of a colossal gas giant. The vessel could be distinguished by its efficient design, combining the most effective aspects of many other identifiable vessels and combining them into a single model. The vessel was also branded across its metallic skin with sigils and corporate logos; a product of Soltako Armed Military and its sponsors. Within its interior, it was handled and maintained menially by organic personnel, heavy-lifting and observation cargo and resources while the more precious tasks, such as navigations and weapons care, was dictated by basic artificial intelligences. Within the bridge of the ship, a lone soldier, on a single knee, was positioned in front of a throne-like seat, the figure who sat within it obscured by shadows.
- Soldier - Commander, we have received unfortunate news regarding the gene-augmentation facility on Khephernam. Based on surveillance taken by our robot scouts, the entire laboratory was razed to the ground by orbital bombardment. No survivors were reported other than a Penumbran and their crew, alongside a single vat containing a Levarcor.
- Commander - Imbeciles. What of Sergeant Krana Krela?
- Soldier - Reported MIA, although it is likely he was killed in the bombardment if not prior.
- Commander - Typical, yet again we have lost a potentially valuable asset. Who was the Penumbran? Vekaron?
- Soldier - Negative, commander. Our scouts show that it was a Krektal who wore the sigil of the Penumbra Unit upon his armour.
Suddenly, all was quiet. The soldier, a Murgur fitted with optical implants, looked towards the shadowy figure with an expression of confusion, before he took a step or two backwards as his commander stepped out of the darkness; a dark-skinned Krektal, fitted with cybernetic augmentations, replacing his limbs and one of his eyes. He glared towards the Murgur soldier and grasped ahold of one of the blades strapped to his sides.
- Commander - A Krektal, eh? So it's true; some survived the destruction of Gotla. If one of them has attained membership within the ranks of the Penumbra Unit, that means they're under the PCA's protection.
- Soldier - Certainly appears so, commander. We were unaware of Krektal that had survi--
- Commander - Shut up. Get out of my sight, you have no need to be here anymore.
The soldier glared towards his superior with a contorted, irritated expression, although he did not risk disobeying his orders and instead did as he was told, standing on both legs and leaving the bridge so that the commander was now by himself. He looked into the vast, empty darkness of space and passed a frown, his brow lowered and eyes narrowed.
- Commander - It appears Krana was correct, then. There were... are Krektal within the PCA. Damned fool, I should have paid more attention to him while he was still around.
Interrupting the commander's thoughts was a voice, coming out of his communicators. It was the voice of his superior. The CEO of Soltako Armed Military himself.
- CEO - So! How's the progress on my Super-cor, as I like to call them?
The commander jumped, raising his shoulders as he felt a cold shiver travel down his spine, causing him to shudder uncomfortably. Taking a moment to adjust himself, he continued looking over the cosmos from the bridge, while he spoke back to his superior, folding his arms and groaning quietly..
- Commander - I have... unfortunate news, sir.
- CEO - Unfortunate, eh? Spill.
- Commander - The facility on Khephernam was destroyed. There were no reported survivors aside from a Penumbran and his crew, alongside a single subject. The research undertaken was lost.
- CEO - Penumbran? Which one?
- Commander - ...A Krektal, sir. That is all I can recall.
- CEO - Hmm. A single subject survived?
- Commander - Affirmative. It was taken by the Penumbran and his crew, before the facility was destroyed by orbital bombardment. I'm assuming the Penumbran wasn't happy with leaving it standing.
- CEO - Then why are you sitting around and not recovering it?
- Commander - We haven't managed to locate the Penumbran nor his vessel yet, sir. It will take several hours at minimum to determine where his vessel is.
- CEO - Well, I expect you to get the surviving Levarcor back fast, before I decide to get annoyed.
The commander groaned again, rolling his organic eye in an irritated manner although he continued to keep a professional stance towards the CEO, not wanting to aggravate his superior further than he already had done.
- Commander - Of course, sir. I will retrieve it personally, so I can dispose of the Penumbran and his associates as well.
- CEO - Don't come to me with "unfortunate" news next time I call you.
Communications with the CEO of SAM were then closed. The commander growled, gritting his teeth. Narrowing his eye, he drew one of the blades that were magnetically attached to the sides of his armour and quickly spiralled himself in the opposite direction, launching the blade from his hand in a powerful outburst. The blade circled through the air before slicing into the seat of the commander, causing the materials that structured and cushioned it to begin melting and dissolving. The commander turned his gaze once more to outer space, taking a glance towards the moon that orbited the neighbouring colossus of gas. Clenching his fists, he sighed heavily for a moment before allowing himself to relax, his shoulders dropping calmly and his fists opening.
- Commander - Where are you, Penumbran? You cannot hide forever. I will find you and your scum and take back from you what is ours... mine. Better yet, eradicate you from this galaxy.
The holographic communication system shut itself off once more as Tetra leaned back in his seat, his crew surrounding him in the communications room. He let out a sigh as he placed his hands behind his head, shutting his eyes for just the moment. Vesinash polished her rifle continuously, paying almost no attention to the other members of the crew.
- Lirtelta - The councillor woman was clearly scared of what she was told.
- Tetra - The implications are kinda... terrifying. I mean, we're f-facing a threat as ancient as... the K-Kormacvar, after all.
- Traslia - My race always revered the Kormacvar as a race of masters. We never expected to actually meet beings of their time...let alone fight them.
- Vesinash - If they were beaten before, they can be beaten again. Besides, since they haven't claimed the galaxy yet, they're probably not that strong.
- Lirtelta - Underestimating the enemy is the first step to be crushed under them.
- Vesinash - Aren't you just a barrel of sunshine, huh?
- Traslia - So, Tetra. What are your orders?
- Tetra - What else? We go there once this "support" that Rylarian spoke about arrives. An expert on Kormacvar history and architecture, apparently.
A member of the spaceship's crew arrived to the room, saluting to Tetra before speaking.
- Tetra - Ah, a crewman.
- Vesinash - This ship has crew?
- Tetra - Of course, there are some things that Ship can't do by herself?
- Vesinash - Huh.
- Crewmember - Penumbra-Commander. The individual sent by the Council has just arrived.
- Tetra - Thank you, recruit. Tell them to meet me in the mess hall so we can discuss the matter at hand.
The crewman nodded and left the room right after. Tetra and his crew approached the mess hall in order to meet with this individual, each of them curious as to who or what it could be. While there, Vesinash helped herself to another bottle of mature Paa'go, while Tetra abstained from eating or drinking in order to maintain a professional stance. As they arrived, they were all surprised by the individual. It was a massive Wranploer, who sat down on a chair, checking on a small device. Towering over the entire crew of the ship, including even Lirtelta, he did not notice the team approaching. Tetra stopped in his tracks as he observed the massive Wranploer, while Vesinash dropped the bottle and immediately grabbed for her rifle, aiming towards the Wranploer while taking a step forward.
- Vesinash - Put your hands... c-claws up!
The Wranploer looked at the crew with a raised eyebrow, before he got up and smiled at them.
- Wranploer - Ah! You must be Penumbran Tetra! Fantastic to meet you.
- Tetra - Umm... h-hello?
- Vesinash - Don't do anything funny! I'm aiming right between your eyes!
- Wranploer - Now, I don't think Rylarien would appreciate you killing your new associate right at the bat like this, hm?
- Vesinash - ...Associate?
The Wranploer walked over to the team, putting a finger at the barrel of Vesinash's gun and then pushing it down.
- Wranploer - My name is Voroch Leerionl. But you can call me just Voroch.
- Tetra - ...Voroch. W-Well, welcome to the c-crew, Voroch. T-This is my crew, Vesinash, Traslia, a-and Lirtelta.
- Lirtelta - Something about this...thing...is incredibly awkward.
- Voroch - Thing? I'll let you now, dear, that I'm probably the best authority regarding ancient technologies in all the Wranploer population currently with the Alliance.
Vesinash kept the grip on her gun firm, feeling somewhat uneasy as Voroch stood close to them. Tetra could feel it as well, feeling discomforted and uncomfortable around Voroch's presence. With a gulp, Tetra took a step forward and looked up to Voroch's eyes, shivering slightly as he spoke out.
- Tetra - H-Have you been b-briefed on our m-mission?
- Voroch - Oh yes, I was. We're going to investigate the site of a supposed Kormacvar and Zarkhator battle. This makes me extremely excited, I just want to pass my fingers through every piece of ruins we come across.
- Traslia - Oh Composer, it's like college all over again.
- Vesinash - Reminds me of that one chick that helped attack the Seagon in the Borealis War. A Zazane or something like that.
- Tetra - W-Well, Voroch, I-I guess it's safe for us to... you know, g-go to the planet to do this... t-thing. Ship, take us to the nearest Cold Relay.
- Ship - Affirmative, Penumbra-Commander.
- Voroch - Hm. Any specific reason your ship sounds like a little girl?
Tetra looked down, almost ashamedly, while keeping his eyes focussed on Voroch's. He fiddled with his fingers and thumbs as he quietly spoke an answer.
- Tetra - R-Reminds me of my sister.
Voroch stood in silence for a few seconds before laughing hearty. He then approached his head to Tetra's own, speaking.
- Voroch - You should hear my singing voice then.
Vesinash cringed while Tetra blushed, with the Seagon screwing her face up in discomfort. A cold shiver was sent down her spine before she turned around, dragging Tetra with her by the back of his armour.
- Vesinash - Let's just do this!
Traslia and Lirtelta looked at each other in confusion, while Voroch merely laughed and followed them. It was obvious that he was doing it on purpose.
Within the outskirts of the Borealis Galaxy, Tetra's vessel orbited a dead world, tainted brownish-red with rust with colossal scars across its surface, as if the planet itself had underwent severe injury from some opposing entity. The crew had already gathered in the shuttle, with Voroch sitting rather close to Tetra, and were descending towards the ruined surface of the world. They had wear specially-designed suits in order to survive, due to the lack of air, atmosphere, and hospitality; the entire planet was a graveyard.
Traslia hesitated to look at the planet due to the visions she had seen, while Voroch freely looked at it. Since he had arrived, Tetra's team could easily notice the Wranploer seemed unfazed to everything. Tetra examined the scars of the world while Vesinash continued polishing that rifle of hers, taking occasional glances at the surface as she hummed to herself in a rhythm.
- Tetra - We have to stay together so we don't get lost. This place looks like it's ready to collapse.
- Vesinash - The entire planet?
- Tetra - By the looks of things, yes.
- Voroch - I'll be sure to be as close as possible to you, captain.
- Vesinash - I'll stay even closer.
- Voroch - Oh? Do you sass the captain that much?
- Vesinash - Grr.
- Tetra - Come on, don't fight. This is... i-important.
The shuttle soon reached the surface after detecting a suitable landing zone and hovered above the ground, with the rear exit opening and allowing the team to move outward. Tetra stepped out first, quickly followed by Vesinash who kept her rifle firm and close to herself. Traslia levitated out of the shuttle, followed by Lirtelta and lastly by Voroch, who looked around in curiosity. Around them, the team could look into the void of space, and could look across the horizon to see hundreds of miles of carved earth, scarred deeply into the planet's crust, so far that the team were welcomed with rivers of magma and other subterranean substances, such as onyx and granite. The damage that had occurred here was definitely... unnatural, as Voroch could tell by the readings on his wrist-device; high, almost dangerous, levels of radiation was being emitted from the surface of this planet.
- Voroch - Interesting. This planet suffered quite a beating.
- Vesinash - Certainly looks it. All of these canyons and crevices and crap, wondered what sorta battle happened here to have caused all of this.
- Traslia - This planet wasn't just attacked. It was a genocide. Murder. Destruction...Rape.
- Voroch - ...What? That's disgusting.
The group continued onward until Tetra stopped, with Vesinash looking through her scope to get a more up-close look at what they had just come across; in the distance, the group could see huge, perhaps colossal amalgamations and contortions of metal and unnatural material, twisting and piercing through one another. It all appeared somewhat decayed, maybe even rotted, with huge insect-like machine corpses colliding with more quadruped-like metal bodies of giant size, what was once-sleek and clean now appearing blackened and degraded with billions upon billions of years of cellular degradation. A graveyard of war machines, stretching outwards in all directions, capable of covering perhaps the surface of a small country.
- Traslia - Kormacvar robots...and Zarkhator machines.
- Vesinash - Devastating, but impressive. I wonder if the Warmaster would ever share such designs with the PCA.
- Voroch - Look at all this...Come out, kids. It's time to work.
Voroch pressed a button on his wrist-device, and out of a backpack he was carrying, several robotic entities shaped in a spider-like form appeared and began walking around him, letting out chipping sounds. Tetra raised a curious eyebrow towards the mini-bots and tried to poke one of them, while Vesinash grunted and turned away, again raising her sniper rifle to look over the horizon, just to estimate how far this graveyard went. As it was poked, the mini-bot let out a chipping giggle before scuttling away with the others.
- Traslia - What are those?
- Voroch - Scanning devices built by yours truly.
- Tetra - Oh? I imagine they'll be useful for analysis. Vesinash, do you see anything?
- Vesinash - Nothing other than dead mechs. I wonder if we can harvest all of this for the ship.
- Tetra - ...W-Well, I wouldn't think t-that was a bad idea.
- Traslia - I'm sure the Alliance would appreciate all this tech.
- Voroch - You think?
Vesinash moved onward, moving her head side to side in order to at least try and comprehend the scale of the conflict that had taken place here, all those billions of years ago. As she did, she tripped and fell forward, slamming into something that caused her head to ache as she came in contact with the floor. As she raised her head to take a look, rubbing it, her eyes widened.
- Vesinash - G-Guys...
- Lirtelta - What do you want now?
- Vesinash - Come t-take a look at this...
Vesinash stood to her feet and pointed at what she had stumbled onto. Beneath her was the upper half of a large skeleton that appeared somewhat familiar; in shape, it appeared to be Kormacvar, albeit extensive cybernetic modifications had been made to its skeletal structure, with most of them having degraded over time. A ribcage, a skull, and its upper limbs had been partially preserved, the rest of it having disappeared elsewhere.
- Traslia - A Kormacvar!
- Voroch - By the ancestors, a preserved skeleton...do you have any idea how hard it is to find a preserved Kormacvar skeleton?
- Tetra - W-Where's the r-rest of it?
- Vesinash - I'm willing to bet... that at least part of it was crushed by a mech.
- Traslia - We really gotta have the Alliance take a hold of this planet. It's an archaeological paradise in here.
- Tetra - R-Right. I'll inform the C-Council... Urgh! M-My head!
Tetra fell to his knees and grasped ahold of his head, growling and grunting in pain as his body ached all over. Vesinash turned and rushed over, kneeling down and grabbing for her med-pack.
- Voroch - Captain! Are you alright?
- Tetra - I-It hurts! ...T-There's... T-There's something... N-Not right... O-Over there!
Tetra pointed towards a particularly mech in the distance, standing taller than all the others. It appeared similar in design to the rest of the sleek mecha that had been laid to rest here, yet surrounding it were insidious, arthropod-like machines of war whose mechanical limbs were... assimilating themselves into the chassis of the ancient giant of a skeleton. Tetra was pointing towards its primary body, specifically its chest, which was suspended at least 100 feet above the ground. Something about this mech, perhaps its gigantic size, set it apart from the others, as if it were something far more important or vital.
Lirtelta turned to the large mech and immediately ran at its direction, with her weapon in hand. Tetra activated his jetpack and flew through the air, holding his head, while Vesinash ran in an attempt to keep up with them. The arthropod machines that had been attempting to merge into the "skin" of this mech had long since been dead, deactivated or left to slumber in stasis. Nothing moved nor stirred, and yet there was something off about this particular mech that caused Tetra, and the rest of the group, to feel... curious.
- Traslia - We need to take a look.
- Voroch - Tell me your secrets, machine.
- Tetra - Voroch, d-do you have any m-more of those spider-bots? S-See if you can g-get its chest open.
- Voroch - My robots aren't made for hard work, they're just scanning devi-
Before he could finish his sentence, Lirtelta clang into the mecha and forced its chest open with her bare hands. Vesinash looked on as Lirtelta tore the robotic skeleton's chest apart with an expression of awe and shock, stuttering as she watched the spectacle. Tetra also looked on in amazement, watching as metallic debris was sent to the floor with each tear that Lirtelta made.
- Vesinash - S-She jumped... 100 f-foot in the air...
- Tetra - B-Bloody hell...
- Lirtelta - Actually, Traslia gave me a boost.
- Vesinash - ...How?
- Traslia - You forget I have telekinesis.
- Voroch - Doesn't make it any less spectacular if you ask me. Look at that strength.
- Lirtelta - Hey! You! Stop staring at me like that!
As Lirtelta tore the chest of the machine apart, she was eventually met with the sight of some form of internal cockpit; a circular room fitted with smashed monitors in all directions and dimensions, and yet another Kormacvar skeleton, assumedly the former pilot of this machine, was scattered across the floor, with some of its bones plunged into the monitors and walls.
- Lirtelta - The lack of things to kill in this world is annoying me greatly.
At the center of the cockpit was some form of stand, which held a single, spherical object, an onyx black in colour, that was etched with glyphs and alien writing. It was a perfect sphere, carved perfectly at nearly all angles, and it had brightly-lit lines stretching across its surface, all eventually leading to a single meeting point that took the shape of a diamond. Traslia levitated all the way to the chest of the mech and inspected its interior, noticing the spherical object. With some hesitation, she approached and grabbed it. There was no reaction, aside from the glowing lines across its shape beginning to glow white rather than the prior blue. Tetra approached the deep wound that Lirtelta inflicted against the mech and stepped inside of the rather spacious cockpit and looked at the sphere Traslia was holding, approaching warily.
- Tetra - B-Be careful with that! W-We don't k-know what that i-is...
- Traslia - This looks important. We should probably take it with us.
- Tetra - W-What if taking it a-away leads to something bad?
- Lirtelta - Like? We're in the middle of nowhere, in case you didn't notice.
Tetra looked at the spherical, alien object once more and looked down with a frown, before turning to Traslia and nodding to her. He then turned towards the skeletal components of the dead Kormacvar pilot and gulped, feeling a sense of what could be fear dwelling within him. In his head, he could hear those screams and roars once more, the gunfire and the clashing of metal against metal.
- Tetra - ...R-Right. But b-be careful. Try n-not to drop it.
- Traslia - Don't worry, I won't.
A few minutes later, the group were gathered outside of the colossal mech, with Vesinash and Tetra looking apprehensively towards the spherical object that Traslia held. Vesinash kept her rifle primed and ready, aiming it towards the artefact while Tetra kept a steady hand, ready to reach for one of his blades if he required it.
- Voroch - What to do with this? We don't even know its purpose.
- Vesinash - What's that?
- Tetra - W-When we get b-back to the ship... w-we can find out. It looks important, though...
- Lirtelta - We can leave. Good. I'm getting hungry and bored.
- Tetra - I'll inform the C-Council a-about this world... M-Maybe they'll f-find more things out about--
- Vesinash - I want to stay as far away from this world as possible. I don't know what it is... but it gives me the creeps.
- Traslia - I can only think of the visions...
The Penumbra-Commander and his associates were gathered in the engineering and weapons storage chamber, they had been sitting here for hours on end, watching as the spherical, illuminating object was perched atop of one of the tabels. Voroch's mini-drones and the vessel's own analysis probes examined the object, although it remained dormant. Tetra had fallen asleep where he sat, while the vessel's AI, Ship, worked at attempting to discover the contents within the ball of enigma. Vesinash had brought several packs of Paa'go into the chamber and drank from a bottle, passing one to Traslia without taking her eyes off of the sphere. Traslia drank from the bottle while Lirtelta ate from a large slab of meat with her bare hands. Voroch remained completely awake and with no signs of being tired, studying the information gathered by his mini-drones on a tablet device.
- Traslia - Feel like studying the Kormacvar beacon all over again.
- Vesinash - Well hopefully this will provide q-questions *hic* I mean a-answers.
- Lirtelta - So your job was always extremely boring and tiresome.
- Traslia - ...You could say that.
As the team waited, some patiently while others more impatiently, they heard a familiar beep over the audio systems - it was Ship again.
- Ship - X-ray scans and analysis suggest internal hardware, including deactivated power nodes, a depleted power core, advanced auto-cooling systems, and a chassis skeleton to support the spherical shape. The metallic external layers, reinforced by several inches of unknown elements to form an alloy, are theoretically designed to protect the internal systems.
- Lirtelta - Speak sense, little girl.
- Ship - In simple understanding and current concept, all evidence suggests that the artefact is a computer. More precisely, a vessel for an artificial intelligence.
- Traslia - A Kormacvar AI...
- Voroch - Interesting. Any way we can wake this sleepy boy up?
- Ship - Currently the power core is depleted. I will run an estimate and acquire a minimal amount of energy in order to jump-start its systems.
- Voroch - This is a massive discovery, captain. Kormacvar AIs are downright impossible to find these days.
In moments, everything had went dark. Ship's voice could no longer be heard, and neither could the ominous, constant sound of the ship's engines - everything had ceased, a lack of energy to support the hardware and machinery that kept the ship active. Vesinash gasped loudly as it happened so suddenly, falling off of her seat and landing in a pile of empty Paa'go bottles. Traslia yelled out and grabbed Tetra's arm, while Lirtelta looked around in confusion. Voroch remained completely unfazed as tried to get his tablet back on again. Tetra awoke, but to him he still felt as if his eyes were closed. It was blindingly dark, aside from the patterns of blue light that emanated from the Kormacvar artefact perched on the table. After several moments, the lights dimly activated once more, not as bright as before but at least they would be able to see at least something. The engines had still remained offline however, effectively leaving the ship stranded thus far. Tetra could see Traslia hugging his arm tightly, while Lirtelta came back to eating her meat. Voroch got closed to the artefact as it shined, raising an eyebrow. Tetra raised an eyebrow and poked Traslia's shoulder softly, blushing as he saw her cower beside him.
- Tetra - Umm... H-Hey...
- Traslia - ...Oh! S-sorry, captain.
Traslia let go of Tetra and backed away, scratching the back of her head and looking away from him. As Voroch approached the sphere, he could hear the internal systems that Ship had spoke of beginning to activate, the patterns of blue light on its shell transitioning to white. Soon, all within the room could hear it; a voice, emanating from the sphere. At first, it spoke in what Voroch could recognize as the tongue of the Kormacvar before it gradually transitioned into the galactic standard language.
- AI - Echtalim meara ti sainuarim paliin goronvar-- Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Can you all hear me?
- Voroch - It's awake! Everyone, pay attention!
Tetra leaned forward in his seat as he heard the artificial intelligence speak to them, while Vesinash drank desparately from her spilled bottle before getting up, falling over onto her face again before finally managing to at least stand up almost upright. Traslia looked over Voroch's shoulder while Lirtelta pointed and laughed at Vesinash.
- AI - Ah, so you can hear me! It's been a long time since I've spoken to someone, I guess you could call me something of an introvert! Allow me to introduce myself; I am... Huh, that's weird. Can't seem to remember what my name was. Well, this is awkward.
- Traslia - At least it's friendly.
- Voroch - No name? Nothing on your databanks?
- AI - Nope, I've checked, double checked, triple checked, and checked again. Can't seem to find a name anywhere, although that's probably because my data storage hardware is broken. Urgh, honestly, you'd expect them to make something reliable. I have no idea how much it's gonna cost to fix that.
- Voroch - Perhaps the captain could give you a new name.
- Tetra - Wha-- M-Me?
- AI - Ah, excellent idea! But don't try anything funny, this is a serious matter.
- Tetra - Umm... ermm... H-How about... Kinrar?
- AI - Kinrar, Kinrar. Kin-rar. Kin. Rar. Yeah alright, suppose I could use that.
- Voroch - Now, Kinrar. We have questions for you. Tell us about Zarkhator.
- Kinrar - Whoa, whoa whoa! Hold on there, buddy! I happen to have questions for you!
Voroch raised an eyebrow at the AI and backed away slightly.
- Kinrar - First off, where am I and why do you all speak funny words? You should be speaking the Bhoarehalic Galactic Standard. Are you not protectorates?
- Lirtelta - What the hell is the machine talking about?
- Traslia - Protectorates? Of what?
- Kinrar - The Kormacvar of course! You know, big guys, growing Bhoarehalic superpower, super-soldiers, the Kormacvar! Surely you know of them, or have you spent your lives living under rocks all of this time?
- Voroch - Hm. of course. The AI has been inactive, it wouldn't know of what happened.
- Kinrar - ...Pardon?
- Voroch - The Kormacvar have been extinct for 5 billion years.
The machine fell silent. Tetra stood up and approached Voroch, tapping his side gently before whispering to the Wranploer, while Vesinash had fallen unconscious on top of her pile of Paa'go bottles.
- Tetra - I think you could have delivered the news a bit more... s-sympathetically.
- Voroch - Better be honest than wasting its time.
- Kinrar - ...Ah-haha! You almost had me for a second there! You're a funny guy... whatever your name is. Now, where am I?
- Voroch - It doesn't believe me.
- Kinrar - Why would I believe that? The Kormacvar going extinct? Pfft, don't be silly. It's like, what, Tuesday today. How can the Kormacvar go extinct in less than a weekend?
- Traslia - Uh, no. Five billion years have passed. You've been inactive for that long.
- Kinrar - Look it was funny the first time you told me, now it's getting a tincy bit annoying.
Voroch folded his arms before going over his backpack. He took a small holographic device as well as a trinket of some sort, putting both at the table. The hologram turned on to show a map of the current territories of Borealis, strikingly missing the Arm of Legacy where the Kormacvar once lived. He showed the trinket off, appearing as a scorched piece of old Kormacvar equipment.
- Voroch -This is the galaxy today. The Kormacvar are long gone. New races have taken their place.
Kinrar fell silent once again, taking a few moments to analyze the holographic map and the trinket that Voroch had placed onto the table beside him.
- Kinrar - ...Oh. ...Oh dear. That's... No, no, no, no, this can't be happening! I remember it! I was in the cockpit with the Warmaster, fighting off those morosvar and then... No! Oh no! No, no!
- Voroch - Warmaster? Arkarixus?
- Kinrar - Who the bloody hell is Arkarixus?
- Traslia - Uh...Oh. Perhaps this AI predates Arkarixus.
- Voroch - Hm. What was the name of the Warmaster?
- Kinrar - It was... urgh, damn databanks, please let me remember this at least... Mayarinaris! Warmaster Mayarinaris...
- Traslia - Yes. He definitely predates Warmaster Arkarixus.
- Voroch - Tell us. What happened? What are "morosvar"?
- Kinrar - W-Well, "morosvar" is a... well, it's a slur. Slang for species that the Kormacvar didn't really like. The people we were fighting... What did they call themselves? Lemme try to remember... Ugh, I can't think for the life of me.
- Tetra - Zarkhator?
- Kinrar - Zarkhator? Zarkhator, Zarkhator, I've heard that name before... Ah, he was the guy that led our enemies. He was a commander, but he fancied himself a king.
- Lirtelta - So Zarkhator is the leader of the enemy. That means he named the enemy after himself.
- Traslia - That's some Vileraz-level of ego.
- Kinrar - ...How do you know about Zarkhator? ...Did the morosvar win? Did they destroy the Kormacvar?
- Voroch - No. The Kormacvar were destroyed by alien forces called the Grox and the Vyro'Ralza. Zarkhator has only made himself known to us recently.
- Kinrar - Vyro'Ralza? I think you mean Vyro'Narza. Those guys were pleasant, can't remember them exactly. Why would they attack the Kormacvar? And what are these "Grox" things you're talking about?
- Traslia - Hm. Explaining everything is going to take a long time...
- Ship - Not as long as it is going to take to restore power to the sector.
The audio systems beeped as Ship came back online, having observed only partially the conversation they were having with the Kormacvar machine. While usually monotonous, there was a slight tone of irritation or annoyance in Ship's voice this time.
- Voroch - Are you okay, baby? Were your systems damaged?
- Ship - I was subject to power failure in the process of lending energy to jump-start the Kormacvar AI. Its hardware proceeded to absorb all functioning, unprotected power sources on-board the vessel, alongside severing power nodes and isolating power cores across the sector in order to relocate the passage of energy to itself.
- Traslia - Don't suck the power off the ship like that!
- Kinrar - Hey, don't blame me, my body has needs, you know! I can't help that!
- Ship - The AI's hardware has caused a sector-wide power failure, leaving planets, vessels, and orbital stations without power to function accordingly. I am only active because of a pre-isolated power core that had been programmed to connect to the mainframe should the primary core fail.
- Voroch - It absorbed the power...of an entire sector?
- Kinrar - ...Whoops.
- Lirtelta - What a glutton.
- Kinrar - So it appears you primitives-- Oh, sorry, an old habit my wife used to have. You younger races require a sector to generate the power of a single Kormacvar energy node? Well, it's lucky for you that the jump-start just so happened to have kicked in my quantum batteries.
- Tetra - What's a quantum battery?
- Kinrar - In basic, I derive my power from matter at the quantum-scale and I convert it into useable energy. Or something like that. I'm not so sure, I'm not a scientist.
Voroch leaned closer to the AI, with his eyes narrowed.
- Voroch - "Wife"?
- Kinrar - Yes, wife. I have a wife. ...Had.
- Traslia - How does an AI have a wife?
- Kinrar - Hey, that's prejudice! I'm a person just as much as any other! I can feel love, emotions, I'm not your basic AI, I'm top of the range!
- Traslia - I-I'm sorry! It's just...our AIs don't have the need of relationships.
- Kinrar - I was a combat AI. I was made to assist in piloting the war-machines of the Kormacvar, but I was different to the others. I was made with intention for the Warmaster's mobile unit exclusively. And... we went for a couple of test runs with it, we talked, got to know each other...
- Voroch - So you were married to this Warmaster you mentioned. Cute.
- Kinrar - Yes, I was. Gah, talk about a bad day...
Tetra rubbed his chin and let out a deep sigh, and a solemn expression came over his face. Was it right for him to have made the decision to bring the AI back to the ship? Was it right for him to have awakened its archaic systems rather than let it rest in peace? Tetra closed his eyes and stood upright, before turning around and approaching the exit.
- Tetra - Come on team, he's just woken up. Ship, keep him company and try and update him on history.
- Ship - Affirmative, Penumbra-Commander.
- Kinrar - Yeah, gee, thanks. I really appreciate being woken up and not eased into this. Really helpful.
Several hours had past. The vessel was running of whatever it could be supplied from the emergency power restoration facilities that had been connected unto the ship's mainframe post-blackout, although the same could not be said for the rest of the surrounding sector, as it was without power entirely, unfortunately unable to anticipate the reawakening of ancient, energy-consuming Kormacvar hardware. Under the dim lights, Tetra was attempting to establish communication with the Council, or at least Rylarien, within the holo-panel chamber. Once again, he was joined by his team, minus Vesinash who had passed out just outside the doorframe. As of yet, little success; the energy restoration process was ongoing and slow.
- Tetra - Damnit, I'm unable to get service.
- Traslia - I didn't expect for the lights to go out for this long.
- Lirtelta - I would punch the AI if he had a face.
As per Lirtelta's mention, they heard a voice over the ship's inbuilt communication hardware; it was Kinrar, whose chassis remained within the engineering section yet his voice could be heard throughout. Tetra had a look of surprise upon his face as he heard the AI's distinguished tone and voice.
- Kinrar - Hey, I had a face once.
- Lirtelta - Have it again so I can punch it.
- Tetra - You had a face?
- Kinrar - Of course! That's how AI are made, isn't it? Take the most important fragments of the brain, clone them, stick them in a box and voila! You got yourself an AI! ...Right?
- Traslia - ...Not necessarily, no.
- Kinrar - ...Riiight, well, anyway. As you can see-- Ahem, hear, I've managed to link myself up to your ship's mainframe so now I can talk to you guys whenever I like! Ah, and I thought I was gonna be alone!
- Voroch - That's good of you, baby. But try not to interfere with our girl baby with that.
- Lirtelta - Damn you and your nicknames.
- Kinrar - Girl baby? Oh! I know who you're on about. Yeah she's fine, a bit uncomfortable but otherwise great!
- Ship - Assistance is required.
Lirtelta laughed at the ship's response while Traslia rolled her eyes. She held on her head in boredom, watching the others. Tetra groaned with discomfort and turned towards his holo-console again, once more attempting to establish communications connection with anybody outside of the sector, resulting only in failure as it had previously.
- Ship - ...Alert, alert. Unidentified craft approaching. Repeat; unidentified craft approaching.
- Traslia - C-craft?
- Voroch - Oh dear.
- Lirtelta - Things to kill! Finally!
- Tetra - Don't get too excited, it might be a rescue ship from outside the sector.
- Lirtelta - Bah. I'm so bored.
However, as the minutes passed, there was no incoming transmission to alert them of a rescue. Tetra sat, his arms folded, with an uneasy expression on his face, while Vesinash was mumbling gibberish to herself, preparing her gun clumsily while at least attempting to be careful not to fire it. Soon, the ship shook violently, and the alarms began to go off. Tetra flew out of his chair as it happened and landed on the floor, while Vesinash was thrown against a wall. Traslia held on a seat while both Lirtelta and Voroch remained on their feet, unaffected by the tremor.
- Lirtelta - Hah! I was right!
- Voroch - Oh dear. We seem to be under attack.
- Kinrar - Okay, nobody panic! Don't panic! Don't panic! Just... doooon't. Paaaaanic. Everybody remain calm and seated and I'll go check what the problem is.
- Ship - The vessel's exterior has sustained damage.
- Kinrar - Are you sure? Like, are you really sure about that? Could just be an explosion.
- Ship - The vessel's exterior has sustained damage. No internal explosions sourced.
- Traslia - W-what do we do? Captain?
- Tetra - S-Stay calm! K-Kinrar, Ship, can you fire back?
- Ship - Affirmative. However, the percentage of inflicting damage to the enemy vessel is less than 50% due to the absence of most of the vessel's required online hardware and software.
- Kinrar - In basic, we're just gonna fire randomly and hope we hit something.
- Ship - Negative; the firing coordinates will be estimated by approximations according to distance.
- Kinrar - Yeah, we're firing randomly and hope we hit something.
- Lirtelta - This is all the AI's fault. And I thank him, for I was about to strangle Voroch.
- Voroch - You wish, dear.
The ship shook once more, and out of the windows, the group could watch as their vessel's missiles were sent as a barrage against the oncoming enemy craft; it was surprisingly sleek and impressive, evidently expressive. On the side of the ship, brands and logos could be seen; the acronym for the Soltako Armed Military was a prominent feature of its decoration. Traslia's eyes widened as she saw Soltako's emblem, remembering what she had seen in Tetra's mind. She looked at him with worry, unsure of how he would react. Tetra's eyes narrowed and he stood up, although he didn't undergo the outburst that he did last time. Vesinash stood up with a struggle and looked out of the window, her eyes unstable as she held onto her gun and prepared it for action, loading rounds into it. Over the communications hardware, Kinrar could be heard panicking.
- Lirtelta - I meet my makers once again, this time as enemies.
- Tetra - You and me both, Lirtelta.
- Kinrar - Who are they? What are they doing here? Why are they attacking us? We're gonna die here, I know it.
- Voroch - For a Kormacvar AI, you're really easily scared.
- Kinrar - Oh I'm sorry, I just woke up after a billion years and now I'm being shot at! Sorry for cowardice, dick!
- Tetra - Now's not the time to argue! Everybody, arm yourselves, it looks like they're looking to board.
Tetra's demand was followed by silence. The ship, nor the Kormacvar intelligence, nor the crew spoke a word for the following moments. They watched as the mercenary vessel made its approach, its shields sustaining and absorbing the damage dealt by the missiles unleashed by Tetra's command, and it was gaining speed, heading straight for the ship's side. Tetra grabbed ahold of Traslia and Vesinash and threw himself to the floor with them, with Vesinash in turn grasping ahold of Lirtelta and dragging her to the floor with them. It took several minutes before it struck; the enemy vessel, a sword, pierced its nose into the side of Tetra's ship, stabbing into it as if it were a wound and creating a breach, allowing crew to either be crushed beneath its metallic might or be sucked into the vast, empty vacuum of cold space. Voroch took shelter himself, while Traslia yelled out and held on her head, scared by the sudden attack.
- Ship - Alert, alert. Our vessel has been breached.
- Kinrar - Everything's fine, everything's under control! Now, where's the internal turret systems?
- Ship - They are most likely to refuse activation, for the energy required to power them has been insufficient following the blackout.
- Kinrar - Oh, come on!
- Lirtelta - Let me at them! I'll kill them all!
The sirens across the ship rang, deafening the ears of those who were still alive. Fires had spread across the ship's many floors and levels, destroying many rooms in the process of being sheared by the tip of the adversary. Over the communications, Kinrar could be heard hyperventilating as he was struggling to keep himself calm during the situation.
- Voroch - This is no place for a scientist. Tell me where I may hide.
- Traslia - ...Hide?
- Voroch - You don't expect me to actually fight invaders, do you?
- Lirtelta - Fight, damn you!
- Voroch - Nuh-huh, I won't.
- Tetra - W-What? D-Don't you have a gun?
- Voroch - I don't, dear.
- Tetra - Ngh... R-Retreat to your quarters, in that case.
- Voroch - I'll be seeing you all once the problem is sorted out.
- Lirtelta - Coward! Scum!
Voroch turned away and walked off, making his way to his quarters while Lirtelta kept shouting at his direction. Tetra growled and grabbed his rifle, moving out from the communications room and had placed a single hand on the handle of one of his blades. Vesinash, beginning to return to her senses, stood up with a struggle and grasped her gun closely, following Tetra and flanking his left side.
- Tetra - Everybody, follow me! We've probably been boarded.
Traslia followed Tetra closely, carrying on her submachine gun, while Lirtelta had her rifle ready, looking around for any intruders. This was her first fight, and as such, she was eager to get started. Soon enough, they had encountered the first signs of trouble; mercenaries, equipped with hi-tech weaponry, had positioned themselves across the corridors, and fired upon the team as they approached. Their enemies took shelter behind walls, firing at the Penumbran and his associates while barking orders and jokes to one another in the middle of the fray.
- Traslia - Here they come!
- Lirtelta - So it begins! Now I shall paint my nail with fresh blood for the first time like all Levarcor are destined to!
Lirtelta shot at the mercenaries with her rifle, while Traslia concentrated and used her powers to create a psychic barrier around the team, protecting them from enemy fire.
- Tetra - Go get them, Lirtelta! Vesinash, give her support from the rear!
- Vesinash - *hic* E-Excuse me?
- Tetra - Shoot anybody that tries to flank her.
- Vesinash - Oh! *hic* Riiiight, can do!
Lirtelta let out a roar and charged ahead, her armor and Traslia's barrier absorbing the mercenaries' shots. As she got close enough to one, she put one fist before delivering a punch at his head. The whole team as well as the mercenaries could hear the sound of their fellow soldier's neck snapping and breaking in a single blow, and right after, the Levarcor swung the body at the other mercenaries, throwing them into the ground or knocking them away with it. The attacking mercenaries were cast from their positions and either crushed beneath Lirtelta's indomitable strength or broken by their impact against the walls. Tetra moved ahead, guiding his team forward while he fired his rifle at any mercenaries stupid enough to stray to close, as well as any that he himself could see. Traslia followed, keeping the barrier around the team. Lirtelta grabbed one of the mercenaries and dug her nails into his armor before delivering a headbutt against his forehead. The mercenary's head caved into his torso, killing him instantly. Tetra smiled at Lirtelta as she assaulted and mutilated the soldiers, raising an eyebrow curiously.
- Tetra - H-Hey, Lirtelta.
Lirtelta grabbed one of the mercenaries and forcefully snapped his neck before turning to Tetra.
- Lirtelta - What? I'm busy!
- Tetra - I-I was just g-gonna say... y-you're doing a g-good job for a f-first fight.
- Lirtelta - I merely do what I was created to do, and that is spilling the blood of my commander's enemies.
Soon, they came to a stop; they had arrived at the mess hall, which had been filled with hired guns, sellswords, and mercenaries alike. They had their weapons primed and aimed towards the group, grins and twisted smiles stretched across their faces as they prepared themselves to fire. Vesinash herself kept a somewhat unsteady aim upon her foes, and Tetra prepared himself to activate his thrusters. Lirtelta roared at the enemies and fired her rifle at them, while Traslia used her psychic powers to cause objects around the mess hall to be flung at the soldiers.
While many of the mercenaries were being flung and killed by the onslaught, there was one who stood firm. From the crowd of mercenaries, a body was launched in Traslia's direction - a dead crewman from one of the lower levels of the ship, his body mutilated. Stepping out from the crowd was a figure, only slightly taller than Tetra himself, and his body was adorned in a black overcoat, his face obscured by a hood. The body bounced off of Traslia's barrier and she turned her attention to the figure, while Lirtelta aimed her gun at him. Tetra turned to the figure and aimed his weapons towards him, while Vesinash continued to fire into the crowd. The cloaked individual lifted his head, and the group was met with a glowing, cybernetic eye.
- ??? - Which one of you is the Penumbran?
- Traslia - Who are you?
- Lirtelta - The dead have no need to be named.
- Tetra - ...That would be me, mercenary. You're with Soltako, aren't you?
- ??? - "With". I am not only "with" the Soltako Armed Military, Penumbran.
- Traslia - Then what are you?
With that, the figure grasped ahold of his overcoat and ripped it from his body, along with the hood. Standing before Tetra and his team was a Krektal, his body blessed with enhancements of cybernetic nature, his eye having been entirely removed and instead replaced with an implant. He had blades attached magnetically to his sides, and his voiced raised, almost eagerly. Tetra took a step back as he did, and his own eyes widened as they met with that of his adversary. Once again, he had been met with a member of his own kind in combat.
- Traslia - Oh no...
- ??? - I am Commander Nirta Nenra, head of the Soltako Armed Military's northern influence, and right-hand to the CEO! And today, you have signed your death warrant, traitor!
- Lirtelta - I will enjoy slaying you, "Nirta".
- Tetra - Merchandise?
- Nirta - The Levarcor. It was our property, remember? We funded the experiments, the process it took to construct her. She even bears our copyright logo.
- Lirtelta - "Your" merchandise? You are weak enough to lose me to Captain Tetra. You cannot say a word.
Nirta drew his blades and held them to his sides, glaring maniacally towards Tetra while a smirk spread across his scarred lips. Tetra wore a scowl as he also drew his blades, and his thruster armour began to activate, allowing him to start hovering in the air, detaching from the ground. Lirtelta growled and kept her weapon ready, while Traslia looked at both the enemy and her captain, unsure of what would happen.
- Nirta - Ah, I recognize your face, traitor. Tetra. Tetra Terya.
- Tetra - Nirta, I remember you. Lieutenant-Captain of the 15th Goer'tna Assault Legion. You betrayed us that day.
- Nirta - Betrayal? I betrayed you? "Us"? I saved "us".
- Traslia - You know this man, Captain?
- Tetra - Know him? This is the man that taught me everything I know.
- Nirta - Not only that, but gave you a home. A place to call your own, a place where your dear sister would remain safe.
- Tetra - You dare bring her up! You do not even deserve to speak of her after what you did.
- Nirta - If you had joined me, millions would still live to this day, traitor.
- Lirtelta - Your mentor? Your caretaker? Why is he serving the enemy?
- Tetra - Because he surrendered to Soltako, he was a coward--
- Nirta - Millions, soldiers and civilians, died because you refused them. Their deaths are stacked on your shoulders, and you speak of treachery to me?
- Traslia - You are the traitor, throwing yourself to the arms of criminals! Don't speak of Tetra like this!
- Nirta - Shouldn't you be with the rest of your whore kin, Rovegar? Or are you a scoundrel too, disallowed to go back?
- Traslia - What do you know of the Rovegar? Obviously nothing if you really believe my kind are all whores.
- Lirtelta - Enough talk. I want his head.
With that, Tetra zoomed forward, speeding ahead of Lirtelta as he drew his blades from their sheaths, his brow lowered and eyes narrowed. There was little more than fury upon his scowling face, his eyes glistening with the desire to shed blood and afflict death unto others. Grasping ahold of his own blades, Nirta did the same; he initiated his charge, his own armour thrusting forwards as its engines roared, fire scarring the floor with fire as he took to the air - jetpacks and thrusters were incorporated into much of the Krektal's military technology. The mercenaries began to fire onto the team once again, the room filled with the roaring of bullets and blasts, while the blades of the two Krektal met fiercely in the air above their heads.
As their blades clashed, their foreheads slammed against one another, glaring into the other's eyes with a fire hot enough to outlast and overwhelm even the eldest and most powerful of suns.
The sound of gunfire roared throughout the room as the army at Nirta's back fired upon Tetra's team, their advanced weapons unleashing blasts of hyper-accelerated energy towards their opponents. In the air, the blades held by Tetra and Nirta resonated violently as they clashed, and the two exchanged glares; Tetra's eyes were narrowed furiously, while Nirta wore a grin across his face. Traslia struggled to keep her barrier up while Lirtelta roared at the army, firing her rifle at them. Vesinash supported the two women from behind, firing her sniper rifle into the army before thrusting several shrapnel grenades from her belt into the crowd, watching them explode and dispose of a large number of soldiers, although their numbers kept coming. Tetra clashed once more with his opponent, who blocked his attack and took the opportunity to spit in Tetra's face.
- Nirta - I'll give you credit for not being a coward.
- Tetra - I want my face to be the last thing you see when I kill you!
- Traslia - I can't-agh, hold on much longer!
- Lirtelta - Just hold enough for me to kill them all!
As the group fought, they could hear voices over the ship's communications systems; Ship spoke in her constant monotonous voice while Kinrar could be heard humming desperately, as if he was trying to ignore the noise of the battle.
- Ship - Diverting power from the ship's engines into on-board internal defense turrets.
- Kinrar - Hmm mm, hmm! Mmm hmm!
- Lirtelta - Stop with the humming and do something useful!
Emerging from the walls, slots opened to reveal the barrels of a great number of auto-guns that had been installed into the ship's interior. The team watched as the turrets fired volley after volley into the Soltako mercenary army, eliminating their soldiers in huge numbers with a continuous stream of energy shots, effectively tearing the military force apart where they stood after having penetrated their defenses with overwhelming firepower. With the mercenary forces down. Traslia let go of her barrier and fell on her knees, panting heavily. Lirtelta turned her attention to Tetra and Nirta, and tried to fire at the mercenary leader with her rifle. Vesinash approached the Levarcor and placed a hand on her gun, forcing her to lower it as she glared at Lirtelta.
- Vesinash - What do you think you're doing?
- Lirtelta - Killing the enemy, what else?
- Vesinash - If you fire like that you're gonna end up hitting the captain!
- Lirtelta - Are you saying I have bad aim, woman?
- Vesinash - Well, you are a bit... frantic.
- Lirtelta - And you're a drunkard, but do you see me complaining?
- Vesinash - Ngh, just wait for the enemy to, well, not be so close to the captain before you fire.
- Lirtelta - Stop telling me what to do, you're not my master!
- Traslia - Huff...girls, stop...huff...fighting...
The two Krektal continued to exchange blows between one another, slashing and swiping at one another, their swords clashing and reverberating off each other. Propelling himself backwards. Nirta grasped ahold of one of his blades tightly and lifted his arm before launching it from his grasp, throwing it in a circular motion through the air, aiming for his enemy. Tetra had not predicted the attack and was subject to the blade penetrating into his shoulder deeply, piercing through the other side, causing blood to erupt from the wound. His right arm now incapable of moving from the pain, he could only lift his left one with a struggle as Nirta came at him once more, grasping his remaining sword with two hands. The attack threw Tetra against a wall, with Nirta's blade clashing with his own.
- Traslia - Captain!
- Nirta - What happened to you, Tetra? Have you become so blinded with anger that you can't see straight?
- Tetra - Ngh...urgh...
- Nirta - ...Worthless! Is this all your training, my effort, has amounted to? You've lost your way, Tetra, now you're both weak and a traitor.
- Tetra - Sh...S-Shut up!
The Penumbran threw his head forward, slamming it against Nirta's own with immense force, causing the figure to be thrown a short distance away from him. Taking a moment to adjust, having been somewhat disorientated by the headbutt, Nirta glared towards Tetra with a widened grin and launched himself forward. Once again, his sword was blocked by Tetra, but Nirta had not sought to slash him; he grabbed ahold of his collar and removed Tetra from the wall, throwing him downwards towards the floor. Tetra winced in agony as he could still feel the sword that had been lodged into his shoulder dig further into his arm, but he had no time to focus - he raised his arm to block a downwards slash from Nirta, who caused Tetra's descent to gain momentum before crashing into the ground, causing an explosion of debris and dirt.
Lirtelta growled at the scene as she aimed her weapon at it, but due to Vesinash's previous warning, she was reluctant to fire. Nirta stood over Tetra, slamming his sword downwards against Tetra repeatedly, which was blocked by the weakened Penumbran's blade only barely. The debris cleared, and the group watched as Nirta was bearing down on their captain, a jaw-filled grin on his face.
- Nirta - Die, die, die! Die, die! Die!
- Tetra - G-Get off... of m-me...
- Nirta - You have become soft, Tetra! You've lost your experience, your skill! Now you're little more than a mere child with a play-sword!
- Tetra - G-Gotla... Y-You joined those who t-took Gotla from us!
- Nirta - I did what I had to, to save my people! Our people! Once I'm done with you, I will save the rest of our kind from the PCA's clutches!
A stomp was heard behind Nirta, and before he could react to it, he felt himself hit over the side by a large block of metal, with enough force to send him flying across the hall. As the dust settled, Tetra and his team could see that the one wielding the block was in fact Voroch, who looked at Nirta with an almost mocking expression.
- Voroch - I must ask you to keep off my captain now.
Nirta was launched from where he stood and raised his blade, piercing into the ground in an attempt to stop his flight. After several moments, his momentum slowed and he came to a stop, with a large tear left in the floor from where he had lodged his sword. He glared towards Voroch with both eyes, his cybernetic implant having brightened furiously as the grin he wore before became a scowl.
- Nirta - A filthy Wranploer... on this ship?!
- Voroch - Now that's just rude. I'd imagine Soltako is full of Wranploer.
- Traslia - ...How can you hold something that heavy?
- Voroch - Hm hm. Dear, you forget something. I'm a Wranploer.
- Nirta - I command Wranploer! They're beneath me! So... this ship, this crew is filled with traitors... Krektal, Levarcor, Rovegar, and now Wranploer! What next?!
- Lirtelta - Your head.
Lirtelta fired her rifle at Nirta's direction while Traslia used her psychic powers to throw nearby objects at him. Nirta grunted as a shot reached his chest, burning some of his armour. With his blade, he slashed whatever was thrown at him to pieces before launching himself forward, aiming to slice at Voroch with a narrowed eye and lowered brow, an expression of grim anger spread across his face. However, as he got close, he found his blade knocked from his hand, and watched as Tetra, weakened and bloodied, raised from the crater. Tetra threw away his own swords and, with both hands, grasped onto the handle of the blade that pierced his shoulder before dislogding it and throwing it away, blood spurting and spitting from the injury. He raised his hands, his fists clenched, and glared towards Nirta with bared teeth.
- Tetra - Y-You... l-leave my c-crew alone...
- Nirta - ...Or what? What can you possibly do to me in a state like that?
- Tetra - If you... d-don't turn around... a-and retreat n-now... I'll break your FACE!
- Voroch - Break face? Good idea, captain.
Voroch swung the block on his hand like a club at Nirta's direction. Scoffing, Nirta threw one of his arms outward, slamming his clenched fist against the block and watching it shatter into little more than fragments, while his mechanical arm remained almost entirely unscathed.
- Voroch - Hm. Okay then.
Turning his attention away from Voroch, Nirta proceeded to throw his fist towards Tetra, who refused to attempt a dodge or a counter. Instead, he let the swipe strike him, and the team could swear that they heard a loud, discomforting crack as Nirta's fist came in contact with Tetra's cheek. Blood spat from Tetra's mouth and face, and he stood there, motionless and silent. Traslia yelled in terror and covered her mouth, while Lirtelta grew angrier at the sight. Voroch slowly backed away from them, his expression showing worry. After several moments, Nirta passed a smirk and stepped forward and threw out his fist, aiming for Tetra's face in a finishing move. However, his arm was moved from its course by Tetra's own intervention, raising his injured limb to pass Nirta's arm over his shoulder and miss his face. With the Soltako commander now close, Tetra clenched his fist tightly and threw it forward with terrifying speed, striking Nirta's face repeatedly. Raising his other arm, he began striking with both of his fists, ignoring the overwhelming pain as adrenaline rushed through his blood. The group watched as Tetra's fists stormed Nirta's head, with blood squirting onto the floor with each strike as the Penumbran's claws rended into his opponent's face. Nirta was powerless as the onslaught happened.
- Lirtelta - Yes! Kill him! Rip him apart, captain!
- Traslia - Tetra...
Punches began striking Nirta's stomach, disorientating the Soltako commander as he winced in agony, leaning to try and defend himself. While his head was lowered, Tetra struck it multiple times with his fists, knocking Nirta onto the floor where he was vulnerable. Getting onto a single knee and bearing down on his enemy, fists continued to fly in Nirta's direction, his head bouncing from the floor and Tetra's fists repetitively. Blood now coated Tetra's face as he had frenzied eyes, and a large gash inflicted against his cheek among other injuries.
- Voroch - Hm. Feels like I'm watching a Varkorus bar brawl.
- Traslia - Tetra...please calm down...
Tetra did not speak as he kept his deathly glare on Nirta, throwing his fists over and over against the Krektal's face, The group could hear metal and bone breaking under the pressure of Tetra's assault, and more and more blood spurted into the air as Tetra refused to stop, Nirta's whelps and pleads ignored by the Penumbran mercilessly.
- Lirtelta - This is enough reason for me to always follow the captain to the end of my life.
- Voroch - He seems to be enjoying himself a little too much there.
- Nirta - H-Hel... He... lp...
Soon, it quickly got to the point where the group could no longer here the breaking of bones and metal, but wet, moist squelching, with teeth and fragments of skull and alloy being flung all across the floor. Tetra began to pant as he continued his assault, slaughtering Nirta's face and exposed neck with punches, drenched with the blood of his former-mentor.
- Traslia - ...Voroch?
- Voroch - Hm?
- Traslia - Restrain the captain.
- Voroch - Hm.
Voroch walked over to Tetra from behind and grabbed him by his sides, keeping his arms restrained. His strength was enough to keep Tetra trapped on his grasp. Tetra's eyes widened, and he was breathing heavily, sweat and blood dripping down his face. As he looked downwards, he could see it; Nirta Nenra, the leader of the assault, with his face cut open with many gashes, bleeding and swollen, and his cybernetic eye pounded into oblivion. Nirta gasped for breath as he crawled across the floor, away from the team, leaving a trail of blood where he shambled.
- Voroch - Look, I've seen death around me since I was 3 years old. And I know the difference between kill and overkill. That, dear captain, is overkill.
- Traslia - Tetra, please...you're becoming bloodthirsty again..
- Tetra - I-I... N-Nirta...
Nirta continued to crawl until he reached a wall, where he brought himself, with difficulty, to his feet. Staring towards the team, his eyes fixed on Tetra, he muttered indecipherable words to himself quietly, attempting to say something properly but failing, and tapped a few buttons on his wrist-pad. After several seconds, he began to dematerialize in a red light, and Tetra called outwards.
- Tetra - D-Don't let him g-get away!
Lirtelta growled and leaped at Nirta's direction, trying to get to him. However, it was too late as Nirta vanished shortly after, leaving only the corpses of his soldiers and a pile of his own blood and other internal fragments. Tetra's fists pulsated red with blood and sores, and he panted, a few tears dripping from his eyes as it dawned on him that he had lost himself once more in his rage. Lirtelta bashed the floor in annoyance as Nirta escaped, while Traslia walked over to Tetra's front and held on his cheeks, looking at him in the eyes.
- Traslia - Calm down, please.
Tetra looked upon Traslia's sweet face and he continued to pant, more tears slipping from his eye sockets as he collapsed forward, sobbing and spluttering as he embraced Traslia, dropping onto his knees. Vesinash watched the sight with a bottle in hand, taking a swill from it as she leaned against the closest wall, her rifle lowered and her eyes narrowed.
- Traslia - It's okay...it's over now...
- Voroch - Hm. It's going to take a while to fix all this mess.
- Lirtelta - No, it's not okay! We let the enemy leader escape!
- Vesinash - Calm it, Lirtelta. I feel the same way. We should have let the Penumbra-Commander kill him.
- Traslia - No. If this went on, the captain would've lost his mind. Did you not feel the pure anger on his mind?
- Voroch - Sorry baby, but not all of us are psychics here. Still, yes, that was rather brutal.
- Vesinash - And I don't blame him. If somebody came and destroyed my homeworld, and took almost everything I cared for away from me, I'd feel the same way. Now we've lost the enemy leader and he has vital intelligence he can use against us.
- Traslia - What do you prefer? Losing the enemy leader or losing the captain?
The Seagon sniper glared at Traslia, her brow lowered. She made no response, instead taking the moment to stare at her Rovegar companion, incapable of answering her question. Lifting her rifle and throwing it to the floor in an outburst of frustration, Vesinash turned and departed from the room, leaving Tetra with the other members of the team.
- Traslia - Come on, Tetra. We need to take you to the medi-bay.
As the team, minus Vesinash, gathered around Tetra, they all heard the voices of the ship's artificial intelligences once again. Tetra couldn't open his eyes as he shedded tears, sobbing with great upset as he kept his armed wrapped around Traslia's sides, although hearing the voice of his beloved sister that was assigned to the ship's main AI comforted him slightly.
- Kinrar - Hey there again, sorry about my little panic attack earlier, it was uncalled for and-- Oh. Oh wow. Umm, right, okay. Looks like we're gonna need a clean-up on aisle three it seems.
- Ship - The invaders have departed from our vicinity. I am currently sending SOS alerts across the sector to any passing vessels now that power has been largely restored to the vessel.
- Traslia - So the medi-bay will be at full power to heal the captain. That's a relief.
- Lirtelta - Hmpf. I'm going to help deal with all the corpses.
- Tetra - I...I-I'm s-sorry... S-Sorry...
- Traslia - Ssh. No need to apologize. Let's get you healed now.
Tetra shuffled beneath Traslia's arm and clang to her, struggling to make out words as he couldn't stop the flowing of his upset, and he winced in outright agony as the adrenaline vanished from his bloodstream and he could feel all of the bruises and cuts that had been dealt against him, causing him to yell and groan loudly. Traslia held tightly on Tetra as she helped him walk out of the room, to the medi-bay's direction. Voroch crossed his arms and made his way back to his quarters, while Lirtelta grunted and went the opposite way, to help in getting rid of all the mercenary corpses in the ship.
Visit to HyperboreaEdit
Because of the damage caused by Nirta Nenra's attack on Tetra's spaceship, it was taken back to the space station of Hyperborea to be repaired by Caretakers and Alvino. In the meantime, Tetra and his team were also called over by Councillor Rylarien to meet with her at the base of the Council's Tower, though they arrived too early and the Councillor had no arrived yet. To pass the time, Tetra and his team waited at the plaza in front of the tower.
Tetra had sat with his eyes closed while sitting on a bench, his hands in his pockets. He wore casual attire this time, while a majority of his team had come in their usual choices of clothes. Vesinash was stood with her eyes to the floor, her sniper rifle kept to her side as she balanced beside the bench, quiet. Traslia looked at the entire environment in awe, being impressed by its sheer size and technology. She appeared fascinated and also surprised as she saw more Rovegar walking by, their people becoming more and more common in Hyperborea as time passed. Lirtelta looked at the water fountains which were scattered around the plaza while making intimidating facial expressions to whoever passed by. Voroch was nowhere to be seen, having stood behind to help fix Tetra's ship alongside the rest of Hyperborea's engineers.
- Traslia - This place is so huge...it makes the Composer's Melody look like a toy ship.
- Vesinash - Is that right? This is an entire world you know, it's not too surprising.
- Traslia - I hope none of those Rovegar recognize me though
- Lirtelta - Why?
- Traslia - They could start questioning me, asking why I'm not at home.
- Vesinash - They wouldn't if they don't want to start a fight.
- Tetra - Calm down, V-Ves.
- Vesinash - Wouldn't you do the same if a random stranger approached you?
At thos moment, Councillor Rylarien arrived to the plaza, walking at the team's direction. Following her was a taller individual, a Borealis Zazane wearing some sort of headpiece which obscured most of her face. Tetra opened his eyes and looked towards Rylarien, confused for a moment as he had almost fallen asleep but quickly regained his senses. He stood up and slid off the bench, raising a hand to salute her as Vesinash did the same, although she nodded her head slightly while doing so as if to acknowledge the Councillor. Traslia also saluted to the Seagon Councillor, while Lirtelta appeared to have not noticed her arrival, and kept making facial expressions to strangers at her vicinity.
- Rylarien - Penumbran Tetra? Excuse me for being late.
- Tetra - C-Councillor Rylarien! I-It's quite alright.
- Rylarien - Your ship is currently under repairs and should be up and running again by tomorrow.
- Tetra - T-Tomorrow, that's p-perfect. We s-should be a-able to get going a-as soon as p-possible.
- Vesinash - The help is greatly appreciated, Councillor.
- Traslia - Wow, you can fix ships that fast?
- Rylarien - Caretakers are extremely fast workers, young Rovegar. In the meantime, the attack on your ship has left me worried for the security of your crew. Because of this, I got in contact with the Merchant Fleets and got the help of another lieutenant to aid you in your missions.
- Tetra - O-Oh? You did? Ehehe, w-would that lieutenant b-be the Zazane s-standing behind you?
- Rylarien - Precisely.
The Borealis Zazane looked at Tetra and kept her barely visible eyes on him, making no reaction to his mention of her. Tetra observed the Zazane with a sense of uncertainty, feeling nervous standing in the presence of such a powerful and majestic creature, who have since gained an infamous reputation across the Gigaquadrant. Vesinash eyed the Zazane and kept to herself.
- Tetra - D-Does i-it-- He have a-a name?
- Borealis Zazane - I am female.
- Tetra - O-Oh. S-Sorry, m-miss.
- Rylarien - Her name is Khaya Chisalka, and she is referred to as a Noble Enforcer in the Adjudication. They are right there with the Niaka Special Forces in the security business, so your crew as a whole should be a lot safer with her around.
- Tetra - Y-Yeah, s-safer... N-Nice.
- Khaya - Do you doubt my skill?
- Tetra - N-No! No, c-course not, I-I just n-never had a Zazane o-on my team b-before. Well, I-I never met a Zazane b-before.
- Khaya - I see. I will show you that we Zazane are not as bad as the stereotypes say.
Khaya took a step forward and bowed to Tetra. Tetra watched as Khaya bowed and blushed as she did, while Vesinash's face lit up red with frustration, keeping a firm hand on her rifle. Likewise, Traslia's face also lift up red. Rylarien looked at both of them in humour before looking back Tetra again.
- Rylarien - This is all. You are free to do as you please until your ship is repaired.
- Tetra - I-I am...? Oh y-yeah... I am... I g-got somewhere to go, t-thank you, Councillor.
- Vesinash - Huh? Where'd you need to go?
- Tetra - S-Somewhere.
Rylarien nodded and turned away, walking back to the Council Tower, leaving the team alone. Tetra looked to Khaya one more time and bowed himself, a certain unsteadiness in his stance while Vesinash looked on, keeping quiet but faintly growling as she watched the two of them, tapping the barrel of her rifle.
- Tetra - I-It was a pleasure m-meeting you, m-miss Khaya, b-but I've got s-somewhere to be.
- Khaya - The honour was mine.
Tetra nodded while he blushed and suddenly engaged in a rush, jogging away from the team without hesitation although he seemed to almost stumble several times as he did, sweating and breathing heavily. Vesinash stood to her feet and looked on as he rushed, exhaling for a moment and sitting on the bench he had been, polishing her gun. Traslia raised an eyebrow as she watched Tetra run, while Khaya remained where she stood, static. Lirtelta glared at her and delivered her looks, but the Zazane did not react to her.
- Vesinash - So... Khaya, that was your name, right? I'm Vesinash, Tetra's most trusted lieutenant, and this is Traslia and Lirtelta. His... associates, or something.
- Khaya - Yes. That is my name. It is an honour to be part of the Penumbra Unit's team.
- Vesinash - Now remember, since I'm Tetra's most trusted lieutenant, that means I get to give the orders when he's not around, got that? Isn't that right, girls?
- Lirtelta - No.
- Traslia - Since when?
- Vesinash - Since I said so, that's when!
- Lirtelta - Hmpf. This team. I just realized something. Everyone is a woman. I am a woman, Traslia is a woman, big-mouth is a woman, this Zazane is a woman. Voroch is a woman in soul, I saw him painting his claws once.
- Vesinash - Now that's just crazy talk.
- Khaya - If the captain confirms what you say, then I shall obey your commands.
Sometime later, at the opposite side of the town, Tetra found himself walking through the corridors of a residental center, which happened to have been filled with Krektal of varying ages, genders, and conditions. A majority of the Krektal he had seen wore saddened, depressed faces, as they had to reside in the knowledge that their homeworld is now little more than ash and dust, although they did not stop him from approaching a certain apartment several levels upwards from the ground floor. Standing beyond the door, he reached forward and knocked on it several times. On the door were words written with holographic technology installed in the doorframe; "Residence 401".
- Tetra - H-Hey, you in there? I-It's me, I'm back for today.
Opening the door was a Krektal standing a little smaller than Tetra in height, with a light-coloured skin and ragged, boyish clothes. She had a saddened expression on her face as she opened the door, but as she saw Tetra, her eyes widened and her ears perked.
- Titri - T-tetra?
Tetra smiled as he saw his sister and stepped forward, embracing her tightly against his torso, engaging them both within a warm hug. Almost as soon as he laid his arms around her, tears began to formulate within his eyes, and sparkling tears glimmered as they travelled down his cheeks. Titri hugged her brother tightly, tears forming on her own eyes.
- Titri - T-the Seagon woman came in some days ago...talking about you...I t-thought something had h-happened to you and t-they were lying to me about it!
- Tetra - Hehe... S-Still around, s-sweet sis. Eugh, i-it's been s-so long...
- Titri - W-why don't you visit more o-often? I feel so alone in here...
- Tetra - I-I wish I could, sis... B-But I g-gotta do the job s-so you can s-stay here.
Tetra patted Titri's shoulder before walking inside her apartment, closing the door behind them so they would have privacy. He observed the state of the apartment; it was clean, fitted with the most modern pieces of entertainment available to those within the PCA, and was filled with photographs and pictures of the two Krektal and their friends. It was also fitted with a window that overlooked a rather promising part of Hyperborea.
- Tetra - They g-gave you a good place, like they said t-they would.
- Titri - Yeah...b-but it's no good when y-you're not around...
- Tetra - Have you t-tried making any friends?
- Titri - Uh...n-no...
- Tetra - Titri...
- Titri - M-making friends is hard!
- Tetra - I know, Titri, I know...
Tetra approached one of the couches inside the living room and sat down onto it almost eagerly, looking over to his sister and making a gesture for her to sit beside him. He smiled softly, with tired bags beneath his eyes. Titri walked over to her brother and sat by his side, looking at him. Tetra smiled and placed an arm around her, resting it on her shoulder as he leaned in and rested his head against hers. His ears twitched happily and he happily exhaled.
- Tetra - I'm here until tomorrow, you know?
- Titri - R-really?
- Tetra - Yeah, so I can do whatever we want to do, just for t-today. Whatever you want to do.
Titri smiled and hugged her brother again, resting her head against his chest.
- Titri - Having you here right now is...a-already enough.
The Krektal winced and gritted his teeth as he laid upon the operating table, artificial and mechanical limbs repairing the damage afflicted against both his biological and cybernetic components, blood dripping onto the floor. While any other patient would have been required to have been placed beneath the effect of aenesthetic, Nirta was deprived of such a gift; third party interference had meant he was forced to go through the operation awake. His face had at least been remodelled to a near-perfect replication of how it appeared prior to being almost completely destroyed by the bare hands of his nemesis, with several additional cybernetic parts placed beneath and into his flesh although it mattered little to him. He laid incapable of moving as his non-vital bodily systems were deactivated. The room he had been kept within was dark, with little light aside from that which shined on him.
Nirta could hear the doors opening, before promptly closing again. The sound of heavy footsteps could he heard as a very large figure, much larger than the Krektal, approached the table where he was laying at. The figure looked at the defeated, broken Krektal with a mocking grin, the only visible part of his body being his armor which shined against the light which shone above Nirta. Nirta's eyes squinted as he attempted to make out and identify the figure that loomed over him, grunting with pain as his face moved while the operation continued, even with the presence of the titan that had just entered the room and intimidated the Krektal warrior.
- Nirta - W-What...
- ??? - Well, well. I'm quite disappointed. Can't even deal with a Penumbran weakling.
- Nirta - W-What... a-are you doing h-here?
The entity approached the light, making himself visible to Nirta. Standing above him was a massive Heeyorian with his middle eye narrowed and a grin locked on his face. The CEO of Soltako Armed Military, one of the greatest criminals of Borealis and most important, Nirta's boss: Zoltik Relkhul. Nirta's face contorted into an expression of disdain and severe discomfort, and he felt his heart begin to pace within his mechanical chest. He glared into the eye of his master before quickly looking away, and coughed.
- Nirta - S-Sir...
- Zoltik - Look at you! You're literally gibbed! All I tasked you to was to recover a stray Levarcor, and I then receive news that you're literally dying. This isn't a good way of showing how productive you are.
- Nirta - I-I u-underestimated... the P-Penumbran's strength. P-Please, sir... h-how was I to know... t-that he was a f-former student of mine. I wasn't.
- Zoltik - Student, eh? Well, should've shot him dead. Need I remind you, Nirta Nenra, of how we operate here at SAM. The strong conquer. The weak die.
- Nirta - I-I understand, s-sir... B-But sometimes... t-the s-strong requires a d-defeat to remind him o-of his strength. I was stronger... but I w-was caught off-guard.
- Zoltik - Hm. Perhaps. About that sector-wide blackout, did you ever figure out why that happened?
- Nirta - M-My scouts said... that they have s-something on board their s-ship, something... b-barely similar to... the Kormacvar t-tech. T-That is, b-before they were k-killed by the ship's a-auto-guns.
Zoltik's smug grin vanished. Nirta watched as his boss' face turned into a frown, and he turned all of his three eyes at the Krektal while leaning closer to his own face.
- Zoltik - Did you say Kormacvar tech?
- Nirta - ...Y-Yes... s-sir.
- Zoltik - ...A change of plans is required. Forget the Levarcor. Forget everything. From now on, your mission is to get me this tech. Do you have any idea how valuable Kormacvar artifacts are? I could buy dozens of Wranploer remnants with a single piece of Kormacvar technology!
Nirta grunted as he looked upon the mogul having the displeasure of observing all of Zoltik's unattractive and discomforting facial features, and nodded weakly in acknowledgement of Zoltik's command. Within his mind, however, he cared little for the Kormacvar technology that his boss desired; thoughts and mental processes of Tetra and his team became prominent, Nirta's mind was dominated by them. He looked... almost distant to Zoltik's eyes as he engaged in thought, the Krektal embracing those murderous thoughts as if they were sustenance.
- Zoltik - ...Pay attention when I'm talking to you!
- Nirta - Gah! M-My apologies, s-sir!
- Zoltik - I'm not joking, Nirta. You will get me this tech, or I will kill you myself. If you fail me again, I swear to whatever god you Krektal worship, I will show you why I am the strongest of SAM.
Nirta's eyes widened and he nodded, holding back his whimpers in the face of his superior. The Heeyorian was a far superior being in both form and capability to what a Krektal such as Nirta could ever hope to strive for, and the thought of such an ungodly monstrosity such as Zoltik terrified Nirta to his deepest hallows. And that is why he served. That is why he surrendered that day.
- Nirta - ...Y-Yes, s-sir... I-I will g-get the t-tech.
Zoltik composed himself before backing away from Nirta, his frown slowly turning into a neutral facial expression. He walked in circles around Nirta's table, inspecting his healing process.
- Zoltik - How long until you're back in shape?
- Nirta - G-Give it a couple of d-days... a-and I will be in p-perfect killing condition.
- Zoltik - Good. Kill this Penumbran, kill the Levarcor, kill everyone who gets in your way. Get me this tech. I cannot emphasize this enough.
- Nirta - I-It will b-be done, sir... I-I will bring you their h-heads... personally.
- Zoltik - Yes, yes, that's good. I will be on my way now. Don't contact me again until you've had your hands on the tech. If you do, I can only assume you've failed your mission.
Zoltik put his hand over Nirta's head. His clawed finger remained above the Krektal's single natural eye.
- Zoltik - And you already know the consequences of failure.
Nirta's eye widened, a tear dripping down his cheek in panic. His eyeball glistened, and Nirta made a slight nod, gulping heavily as he looked up at Zoltik. Time almost seemed to slow down for him.
- Nirta - ...Y-Yes, s-sir.
Zoltik remained in silence for several moments before turning back, stepping away from the table to the direction of the exit. As he did, his tail slapped itself against the table where Nirta was laying at. The table shook, and Nirta panted heavily, closing his eye for a moment to regain composure. His skin crawled with the thought of being at the receiving end of the abominable Heeyorian's wrath, so much so that the pain of the operation procedures seemed to have been blotted out. Nirta watched as Zoltik left, and as the Heeyorian departed from the surgery, Nirta's head fell back. He had gone unconscious, sweat dripping his face.
Within the darkness of a chamber as black as the void, a space free of physical restraints and allowing its residents to move freely, stood the archaic tyrant whose antics had began to work into media across the galaxy; Zarkhator. His eyes were shut lightly, and his primary forearms were folded across his chest while he appeared to levitate where he stood, a faint aura of red surrounding his body as he frowned. He appeared patient as he dwelled within this free space, and for the most part, appeared as if he was the single resident that took solace here. However, after several minutes passed, the king shuffled his position slightly as he could feel the essence of others beginning to come into being within this space - three separate entities, precisely.
Emerging from the dark was one of the many countless spawn that Zarkhator had brought into existent eons ago - a Zarkhator adorning ancient, yet unimaginably advanced, cybernetic alterations and armour, seemingly powered by nothing, at least from an external view. Following this armored individual was another Zarkhator, but with a more curved and sleek body frame in comparison, a female of the race adorning less armor than the Zarkhator in front of her. As she walked inside, she maintained an aggressive, hot-blooded grin on her face. And behind both of them walked another entity. Unlike them, it was not a Zarkhator. Indeed, it was something not even the two armored Zarkhator could identify. A sleek, almost skeletal alien with jet-black skin, almost biomechanical in appearance. This being was older than both of of these Zarkhator, if not all Zarkhator spawn in existence, yet no one but their king knew who he really was.
The king opened his eyes, flourishing with red light, and he looked into the darkness, not even making the effort to turn and face those who had come to attain audience with him. The king kept his arms folded and he growled in an agitated manner.
- Zarkhator Prime - The primitives had obtained a piece of Kormacvar gadgetry. An artificial intelligence. The primitives that call themselves the Polar Crystal Alliance.
As the king finished his sentence, the female Zarkhator, named Zaharalei, spoke her mind.
- Zaharalei - That merely gives us more reasons to exterminate them all.
- Zarkhator Prime - If we exterminate them all, what would be the point to all of this? Several billion years just to destroy what I sought to spare?
- Mukharduuild - Tsk, tsk, tsk. Always going for the option with the most bloodshed. You younglings know nothing of why we're here today.
The jet-black alien let out a humoured chuckle, while Zaharalei looked at him with a frown on her face. However, she turned back to Zarkhator Prime and took a step back, appearing embarrassed.
- Zaharalei - It was merely a suggestion, my king.
- Zarkhator Prime - Do you believe you know better than I do, spawn? Do you believe you could accomplish all these billions of years of planning by yourself?
- Zaharalei - O-of course not, my king. I am nothing compared to you.
- Zarkhator Prime - Then you should quickly teach yourself to use the brain I grew for you before you open your mouth. That is my suggestion.
Zaharalei said nothing, merely facing the floor beneath her. She did not want to provoke her master's ire any more than she had already done. The armoured Zarkhator chuckled and stepped forward, kneeling before their king on a single knee with his eyes gazing towards the floor. The mechanical claws that extended from his armour rested at his sides, a "sixth" set of arms.
- Zandaratheian - What would you have us do, my king, regarding the primitives and the AI they have obtained?
- Zarkhator Prime - What else? Have it retrieved. Eventually. First, I wish for one of you to follow the vessel of one of the animals that came across the artificial intelligence of the koromacavar. Then, when you see appropriate, take it as you please.
- Mukharduuild - And what shall this one do with the animals?
- Zarkhator Prime - Whatever one wishes to do with them.
- Mukharduuild - Heh...perhaps you should let these children have this opportunity. They need to prove their worth to their king, after all.
The king glanced towards the two Zarkhator that stood before him, Zandaratheian and Zaharalei. His frown remained, a bored, indifferent expression forming across his face, and he rested his head in the palm of one of his own hands as he slouched backward, seemingly sitting upon an invisible throne within the darkness. He let out a heavy sigh before raising his hand and pointing a finger.
- Zarkhator Prime - Eeny, meeny, miney, mo... Zaharalei.
Zaharalei jolted her head back up to face her king, slightly startled before realizing why her name was mentioned. She immediately bowed to Zarkhator Prime, standing on one knee.
- Zaharalei - I will recover the koromacavar intelligence at once, my king.
- Zarkhator Prime - Do not retrieve it as soon as you attain sight of it. It is likely that the artificial intelligence will guide them to more koromacavar artefacts. Wait until it does so. And then strike.
- Zaharalei - It shall be done. I will not fail.
- Zarkhator Prime - If you do not retrieve the artificial intelligence, do not waste your breath returning to my realm.
- Zaharalei - ...Of course, my king.
With a single gesture from one of his smaller limbs, the king dismissed his spawn with a bored, undedicated motion to his movements. He groaned quietly as he did so, and as if on cue, Zandaratheian allowed himself to fade into the darkness, disappearing from sight. Zaharalei nodded to her master and got back up, turning back and walking away to prepare herself for her mission. However, Mukharduuild responded by doing the opposite, moving closer to Zarkhator Prime, almost slithering through the floor as he did. Once both Zarkhator had left, his expression changed and he spoke his mind.
- Mukharduuild - Frankly, I grow worried of the discoveries of these primitives. This intelligence shut a sector down temporarily, and there may be more of them out there. If one of the real threatening individuals got their hands on these, our plans would be ruined.
- Zarkhator Prime - There is little to worry for, Mukharduuild. It is not the animals that oppose me that I worry for, but the terror they may bring should I allow it to persist. They will become... noticed.
- Mukharduuild - Some of them interest me more than others...four of them. Vileraz the Fourth of the Rovegar. Ganthar of the Ganthorea. Maknagrius of the Kondrakar...
- Zarkhator Prime - And the fourth?
- Mukharduuild - ...The mutant. Vorius.
- Zarkhator Prime - Mukharduuild. Is that fear I hear in your voice?
- Mukharduuild - His essence controls him, Zarkhator. Regnatus'.
- Zarkhator Prime - I do not, and I did not, fear Regnatus nor any pitiful koromacavar. Insects shall be stomped accordingly once I consider them vermin to my realm. Do not worry yourself, Mukharduuild.
- Mukharduuild - Underestimating your enemy is the easiest way of losing your life to them. You should have learned that by now. Regardless... Ganthar should be contained. I fear that Maknagrius has grown more powerful than even you. And Vileraz... I would suggest taking her away. And giving her to me.
Mukharduuild chuckled to himself as he walked in circles around Zarkhator Prime. The king appeared further bored with Mukharduuild's company and glared at him, the red fire in his eyes expanding and growing more violent and luminous within seconds. The creature looked at his master, though unlike the two Zarkhator who were once in the room with them, he did not show nowhere as much fear. He began pacing around and turned his body to the exit, but kept his face to Zarkhator Prime.
- Mukharduuild - I am merely give you a warning. Remember, we have shared experiences. You know I am trustworthy of what I say.
- Zarkhator Prime - That does not mean I am required to like it.
- Mukharduuild - I believe my presence is no longer wanted here. But I know what I say. Rovegar are primitives, but they are gorgeous primitives.
Mukharduuild laughed to himself as he slithered away from his king. The ruler of this secret kingdom groaned as he watched Mukharduuild fade into the darkness, leaving this scape of shadow and null, and stared into the far expanse as he began to lose his train of thought. He released a heavy sigh, placing a hand to his head and rubbing it to soothe his frustration, and after some minutes, he fell into unconscious. Asleep.
Knowledge of the PastEdit
The Krektal sat, half-asleep, within the bowels of his personal vessel alongside the rest of his assigned team, his body slumped over a workbench as he struggled to keep his eyes open. They were gathered within the engineering and storage sub-facility, where the primary data cores for the two on board AI, including Kinrar, were located. Now fully integrated into the vessel's hardware alongside Ship, Kinrar hummed to himself while Vesinash stood behind Tetra. Traslia sat on a chair while reading from a tablet device, while Lirtelta tried to peek at what she was reading from over her shoulder, only to make the Rovegar put the device away from her eyesight repeatedly. Voroch merely stood with his arms crossed while Khaya kept herself at the sub-facility's doors, keeping her blade in her hand at all times.
- Lirtelta - What are you reading?
- Traslia - Get off!
- Lirtelta - Where are the clothes on that woman?
- Traslia - I said g-get off!
- Vesinash - ...What are you reading, Rovegar?
- Traslia - N-nothing, really! Lirtelta is making a scene over nothing.
Vesinash chuckled to herself as she looked back to Tetra, placing a hand on his shoulder and shaking him in order to simulate him, reactivating his drive for attention. Sitting up, Tetra yawned and rubbed his eyes, groaning in discomfort as he looked around, and Kinrar's humming began to agitate his ears.
- Tetra - Urgh... Why did w-we come here? O-Oh, right, I r-remember now... What is that r-racket?
- Voroch - The only racket here is that we haven't done anything productive yet.
- Kinrar - Wow, you're pleasant. First you wake me up and throw me right into the deep end of danger without even a day to come to grips with my new life crisis, and now you're insulting my humming. Are all people in this day and age so rude?
- Lirtelta - Yes. If you had a face, I'd punch your teeth out.
- Kinrar - Hmph, when I get a brand-spanking new body you'll be sorry for that.
- Tetra - Ngh... Kinrar, if you c-can, tell us more about the... Zarkhator p-people.
- Kinrar - Zarkhator? Zarkhator, Zarkhator, let me see if I can remember clearly...
Lirtelta scoffed at the AI's comment before she got up from her seat and began wandering around the room, mostly in circles around Khaya. Voroch leaned his head forward as Kinrar spoke.
- Kinrar - The Zarkhator were the nemesis of the Kormacvar, before the Grox or whatever they're called came in and drove the Kormacvar to extinction. They fought in terrible wars, using superweapons and large-scale combat to kill millions and deprive the other of precious resources. At the time... they were both as advanced as one another. I think the Zarkhator even based their technology off of that from the Kormacvar of the time.
- Traslia - There are no records of the Kormacvar before the Grox invasion. I take this means you defeated them eventually.
- Kinrar - I'm going to go ahead and assume that since it was the Grox and not the Zarkhator that drove the Kormacvar to their end then yes, the Kormacvar defeated them eventually. That's safe enough to assume.
- Voroch - But they were not destroyed. They are here and they want to destroy the Polar Crystal Alliance. Likely out of jealously.
- Kinrar - That's all I can tell you about them, I am afraid. I would tell you more, but as it stands I'm running on fumes, and, well, frankly I have no idea what happened I was knocked unconscious all those eons ago.
- Voroch - This isn't enough. We need to know more about this enemy. From their capacities to their very biologies. If they were as advanced as the Kormacvar then they are a threat of immense scale.
- Kinrar - You're right on that one. I mean, no offense. Well, it's not my fault that your galactic society is so primitive but... A-Anyway, there is... something we can do to fix that little problem. Of my amnesia, I mean. And me not being around for stuff.
- Traslia - Rude.
- Voroch - What is it?
Kinrar hummed for some minutes more, engaging in deep thought it appeared, much to the annoyance of Tetra who held his head and slumped against the workbench once again. Vesinash sighed, tapping her foot impatiently. Voroch rolled his eyes while Traslia let out a groan. Meanwhile, Lirtelta delivered pokes to Khaya's chest and stomach, trying to get her to react from her otherwise completely static and stoic stance.
- Kinrar - Dum-dee-dum-dee-doo... Ah yes, I remember now! Across Borealis, there are traces of Kormacvar technology that have long since gone into hibernation. Admittedly, I had to check the archaeological news updates from a hundred or so years ago for that, but anyway. It's likely that there are artefacts out there from that era or after that can help me recollect what happened regarding the Zarkhator.
- Voroch - So you want us to feed you so you can tell us more about Zarkhator? Fair enough.
- Kinrar - ...And if I searched correctly, it seems the good old Brood Mother is still around.
- Traslia - Who?
- Voroch - The Floridarixis. Have you never heard of her, babe?
- Traslia - Not really, no.
- Tetra - You haven't? Huh, that's kind of a surprise.
- Kinrar - I suggest we take a trip to Viniaris and see if we can get some extra help. The Brood Mother should remember me, I was the Warlady Mayarinaris' husband after all. At least, I hope she remembers. Otherwise it's gonna be awkwaaaard.
- Voroch - In that case, we know where to go. And we should go fast. The less time we waste, the better.
Tetra nodded before once again falling asleep on the workbench, closing his eyes and snoring quietly. Vesinash passed a glance to Tetra and smiled faintly to herself, admiring the Penumbran in his slumber, before she grabbed ahold of his sides and lifted him over her shoulder without having him awake. Kinrar hummed in acknowledgement to Voroch's statement. Meanwhile, Lirtelta kept poking on Khaya's chest until the Zazane looked down on her and narrowed her eyes. Faster than the Levarcor could register, Khaya unsheathed her katana and slashed in front of herself. Lirtelta looked at her finger to see her nail fall off and fall on the floor.
- Lirtelta - ...You've made your point.
After sometime travelling and attempting to gain clearance to enter the flourishing world's airspace, the Penumbran and members of his team had fitted themselves into a shuttle and were poised to land - Tetra had been holding the spherical artefact that stored Kinrar's intelligence hardware and in turn software. This would be the first time that any of them - discluding the artificial intelligence - would have visited the world of Viniaris. Traslia looked outside of the shuttle's window, looking around at the lush rainforests of Viniaris with her mouth wide open in astonishment. In her eyes, this world was absolutely beautiful, and it was almost unbelievable for her. Lirtelta appeared eager to land while Voroch distracted himself, playing around with one of his many drones. As usual, Khaya leaned on a wall, making no sound or facial expressions.
- Kinrar - You know, Mayarinaris and I were married here. It was a beautiful ceremony, even if it was raining. She liked the rain, anyway. All Warmasters were brought up on Viniaris, at least that's what they said in the history docs. Ah, if only I had a nose, this place looks like it would smell wonderful.
- Lirtelta - This place. It smells like prey. Like there are many things to prey on here.
- Vesinash - I think it's in your best interest that you don't prey on anything while we are here, Levarcor. This is why I said you should stay on the ship, but then if we let you stay there on your own, you probably would have crashed it.
- Lirtelta - Bite me, Seagon.
- Voroch - Girls, please. This land is beautiful and its inhabitants kind. Don't ruin things now.
- Tetra - I'm surprised they allowed us here. I've heard many things about this world.
- Kinrar - Take it from me; once you take a step on Viniaris, you'll never want to leave.
Soon, the shuttle landed and the hatch opened, allowing the team to step onto the verdant, green world and take in the lush smells. Tetra smiled as he smelled the air and looked around for any guides or pathways to take in order to visit the Brood Mother that they had came to see. He could see a pathway leaving to a gigantic dome made out of curved trees, and as they landed, many Alvino watched them and greeted them, while Caretakers could be seen walking around in large numbers. As Khaya took sight of of the Alvino, she put her hands on her cheeks and let out a high pitched squee, much higher pitched than her voice usually was.
- Khaya - It's so cute!!... Ahem.
- Vesinash - The hell was that?
- Tetra - ...M-Miss Khaya? A-Are you f-feeling quite alright?
Khaya returned to her usual stance, while Traslia and Lirtelta looked at her with raised eyebrows.
- Khaya - I am fine. Let us proceed.
Tetra nodded, the sound of Khaya's squeeling sticking itself inside of his head, and proceeded on with Vesinash following closely, her gun lowered and relaxed as they trekked through the forests upon the pathway. It would take several minutes before they would reach the dome, hoping to come across the Brood Mother soon, although for them it was a pleasant experience being able to journey through the jungles of this world. Indeed, the Brood Mother was there. Her titanic size made the team look like ants before her, and she had her hands together and her eyes closed. As they approached, Traslia put a hand on her head, feeling immense psychic power coming from the Alvino demigoddess.
- Traslia - This being... I've never felt so much power in my life!
- Tetra - Whoa... S-She's huge...
- Vesinash - Now I wasn't expecting that, that's... ridiculous... How could a creature grow to be this large?
- Kinrar - Beautiful, isn't she?
The Brood Mother, sensing the team's presence, slowly opened her eyes. With a wave of one hand, an apparition appeared in front of Tetra and his team. It resembled the Brood Mother, but far smaller and with legs instead of roots. The ghostly being was an ability the Brood Mother could use to speak to beings smaller than her.
- Brood Mother - Travellers. Welcome to my garden. How may I help you?
- Tetra - Eep! ...Umm, h-hello there, s-sorry to intrude, er... W-We were wondering if y-you would be a-able to assist us... i-in a mission.
- Kinrar - Hello there, Brood Mother! As ravishing as ever, it appears. Looking lovely today, even after so many eons. Now, I'm not sure if you remember me, but it's Kinrar. You know, Kinrar, Mayarinaris' husband. We were married here. ...A-Anyway, that's not important.
- Brood Mother - I remember all of my sons and daughters. And I remember Mayarinaris perfectly. But I do not remember you, for you are under the Mechanic's domain, not mine. I watch over nature, he watches over technology.
- Kinrar - ...Ah. Well then, err, awkward. Umm. Ah, yes! The mission. Do you remember a race known as... the Zarkhator? Well, if you do, they've come back, and they're not messing around it appears. Not that I've seen any of them recently, but, uhh, these guys have!
At the mention of the name, the Brood Mother as well as all Alvino and Caretakers hissed at the team's direction and backed away.
- Brood Mother - Do not speak of the Forbidden Ones!
- Kinrar - ...R-Right.
- Tetra - Uh oh... Umm, m-miss Brood Mother? The... uhh, the, well, you know, "them"... they're coming back. And... well, we're wondering... what you know about, "them".
- Brood Mother - ...They are?
- Tetra - T-They are... I fought with one... they're looking for Kormacvar a-artefacts by the sound of it.
- Brood Mother - Oh no... I hoped to never hear of them again... That whole war was a horrible, horrible experience...
- Kinrar - You're telling me.
- Tetra - I'm... I-I'm sorry if it b-brings back any... u-unwanted memories.
- Brood Mother - Do not be, you had no way of knowing. I am forbidden of speaking about them, as are all my children. This is why we refer to them as the Forbidden Ones. However, if they really are here, then you are free to take whatever information my databanks may hold. I have read your mind, and I know you have good intentions, Tetra Terya.
Tetra smiled as the Brood Mother proclaimed his name and nodded, blushing, while Vesinash closed her eyes, exhaling heavily before opening them again. Kinrar chuckled gleefully in Tetra's hands, eager and excited.
- Tetra - Thank you, Brood Mother.
Tetra carried the spherical artefact that held Kinrar's intelligence and placed it near the walls within the dome - soon, Kinrar was capable of indulging himself within the vast banks of information that the machinery had amassed over the course of the years, and soon he came across the necessary data he was looking for - history regarding the fate of the Zarkhator, their tactics and feats of technology, various figureheads who fought alongside and against them, and most importantly, the locations of various other Kormacvar artefacts.
- Kinrar - From what I have access to, I can determine the location of various worlds that hold traces of Kormacvar civilization... Including, potentially, another AI that may know... stuff.
- Voroch - What's this about another AI?
- Kinrar - Now it's just a "potential" at the moment, but apparently there's an AI buried somewhere with data that requires manual clearance to get access to. From what I gather, it most possibly has something to do with the... "Forbidden Ones" since that's what came up when I typed it into the searchbar. So to speak.
- Traslia - So we have a direction now. That's good news.
- Kinrar - ...But...
- Lirtelta - Of course, there has to be buts.
- Kinrar - There's nothing in here that suggests where it is. Only that it exists.
- Traslia - Well, it's better than nothing.
- Kinrar - However!
- Lirtelta - Ugh.
- Kinrar - To get to the lost AI, we'll be needing a map! And luckily, I have found... a map that leads to the map to find the lost AI!
- Traslia - That's... convenient, I guess?
- Kinrar - So, I suggest this plan of action; we use the map to go and find the map that we need to find the lost AI which probably contains super-secret information and then we can use that as a map to get the information that it happens to be hiding.
Lirtelta scratched her head with a perplexed expression while Voroch merely nodded with his eyes closed.
- Voroch - Sound plan. Captain?
- Tetra - Sounds like a good idea to me. So, what does the map say in order to get to the... w-well, the map?
- Kinrar - Well, you're both going to love this and hate this. Well, maybe you'll love this, more likely you're going to hate it. Ahem. It's within the Rovegar Matriarchy's borders.
- Traslia - ...Oh no.
As the team registered and acknowledged the information that Kinrar relayed to them, Tetra's eyes widened and his ears perked as he was taken off-guard by the sound of a harsh, booming explosion - outside of the dome, ships had amassed in the sky, bombarding one another with volleys, while a combination of races adorned in advanced armour had appeared on the ground, fighting with the resident Caretakers.
They were Soltako militia.
The Brood Mother's eyes opened wide and the ghostly apparition taking her form dissipated. With a wave of her hands, the curved trees which composed the dome moved, opening themselves and revealing the sky above her and Tetra's squad. The Alvino demigoddess extended herself upwards, so that she could take a glance at the invaders. Meanwhile, alarms sounded through the dome and outside, warning all individuals of the invasion. Tetra grabbed ahold of his blades and prepared his battle outfit for launch, thrusting himself forward as he cut through various soldiers, slicing them into pieces mercilessly. Vesinash stayed behind near the Floridarixis and used her sniper rifle to pick off soldiers from a distance, growling in agitation, while Kinrar whimpered and hummed to himself. Traslia shouted, intimidated at the attack, and fired her submachine gun at the mercenaries while Lirtelta roared at their direction, charging at them while firing her rifle. Voroch shrugged and ran for cover behind a large piece of machinery while Khaya jumped in front of the team, landing close to one of the mercenaries. She unsheathed her katana and delivered a diagonal slash which severed the enemy's body in two, before putting her weapon back on its sheath.
- Khaya - Nothing personal, but you threaten my captain's life.
As the Soltako soldiers fell to the conjoined efforts of the Caretakers and Tetra's squad, the group watched as several Caretakers were dismembered and decapitated, with a familiar figured emerging from the bloody mist that shot out from the dead Caretakers' bodies - Nirta Nenra, his blades unsheathed and his glare threatening. Traslia's eyes widened and she backed up, while Lirtelta let out a loud growl and Khaya turned her sight to Nirta, her expression remaining the same as always, completely stoic.
- Nirta - Tetra! I will get my hands on that AI! I won't be denied!
- Tetra - You'll have to come get it from over my dead body then!
Tetra launched himself towards Nirta and swung his blades, colliding with Nirta's own as he also activated the thrusters of his armour. Once again clashing with one another, with Tetra's blades being blocked by a single sword on Nirta's part, the Krektal mercenary placed his secondary sword away into its sheath, instead drawing a different weapon - an advanced pistol, fitted with an energy battery.
- Khaya - Who is he?
- Voroch - The reason we met you.
- Khaya - He will die then.
The Borealis Zazane stepped up to after Nirta, but shots were fired at her direction from her left by more mercenaries, forcing her to focus away. Lirtelta kept attacking the Soltako forces close to her, while Traslia kept close to Voroch in cover. Tetra had seen the gun in Nirta's hand and made a desparate attempt to back away and attempt a different maneuver in order to disarm the Krektal, however, it had been too late; as Tetra backed off, shots fired from the pistol, penetrating and burning through the Penumbran's shoulder, causing him to cry out in agony before his chest, stomach, waist, and his arms were subject to Nirta's underhanded tactics. Before Tetra could fall onto the ground, he felt a searing pain surge through his body as Nirta's drawn blade cut through his arms, severing one from his shoulder and the other his elbow. Gasping for breath and coughing blood, Nirta turned towards the Penumbran's team and made a dash towards the sphere that held Kinrar's AI, firing his pistol at the team as he did so.
- Nirta - What do you know, Tetra; I have trounced over your body!
Lirtelta roared at Nirta's direction and fired her rifle at his direction, while Khaya turned her attention to the enemy Krektal and charged at his direction, her hand on her katana's handle. Meanwhile, a psychic echo was heard as the ground of Viniaris shook, and immense roots emerged from the ground. These were the Floridarixis's roots, and they began stomping across the landscape, easily crushing everything under them. The Brood Mother's roots were gigantic, about the size and thickness of entire buildings. Nirta growled as the environment around him began to quake and shudder with the Brood Mother displaying her godly wrath and was knocked back as Khaya made a slash at him, grounding him although by this point he was not far from Kinrar's hardware. In a last ditch attempt, he leaped towards Kinrar and grasped ahold of the AI's sphere, raising him in front of himself as if he were a shield.
- Nirta - Lower your arms or I will make sure that this beautiful little piece of hardware gets crumpled!
- Lirtelta - Be my guest!
- Voroch - Shut up, babe.
- Nirta - My boss has been caused a lot of grief, with no particular fault of my own. I think it's safe to say that he is not very happy with any of you. Hehe, imagine how much this piece of junk could go for on the black market, perhaps you could buy it back if you're willing to haggle? Why don't you ask your Penumbran buddy over there?
- Voroch - You and your boss clearly have no idea what you're getting yourselves into by saying that.
- Nirta - You clearly have no idea who exactly my boss is, then, if you think he's some pushover. Hmph, I wonder how much I could buy you for, Wranploer. Clearly you're either a mercenary working for the PCA... or you really don't have any sense of dignity or pride.
- Voroch - Let me tell you, fluffy, that I'm quite proud of who I am. And also that you're an idiot.
- Nirta - Oh is that right? And tell me, Wranploer, exactly how you consider me an idiot, considering that I have just crippled your leader, hm?
As Nirta finished his sentence, Kinrar began to laugh, attracting the Krektal's attention. Before he could do anything to protect himself, electrical surges began to travel through Nirta's body, causing him to scream momentarily as his armour and cybernetics burned - he threw Kinrar away from himself, incapable of enduring the pain of having his nerves assaulted by such overwhelming amounts of energy. As he threw Kinrar out of his person, Khaya leaped at the Krektal's direction, unsheathing her katana once more and delivering a slash through his body while Voroch ran over to the Kormacvar AI and picked it up. Meanwhile, the Floridarixis raised her hands to the direction of SAM's ships and became enveloped by a burning blue aura. Far into the sky, Soltako's ships found themselves crumbling and contorting into themselves as the Brood Mother clenched her hands, and once they were fully closed, the ships exploded. Despite the distance, the Brood Mother's telekinesis could easily reach them.
With parts of Nirta's cybernetics and armour stripped away from his body as Khaya's sword pierced through it, the Krektal backed away, blood gushing from his wound and signs of charring across his form. He watched with his cybernetic eye as the Soltako ships were destroyed, although various shuttles had survived, including one that swept through the atmosphere in an attempt to retrieve the injured lieutenant - Nirta made a quick escape while Vesinash fired on him, retreating into the confines of a personal carrier which quickly ascended out of range. The Seagon sniper roared and threw her sniper rifle to the ground, rushing towards the Penumbran Tetra. Khaya attempted running after Nirta, but was incapable of reaching him before he entered the shuttle and disappeared. The Zazane steopped in place before sheathing her weapon more and walking over to the team again, while Lirtelta's face contorted in a frown. Voroch looked at Kinrar while Traslia also ran over to Tetra to check on him.
- Lirtelta - We let him escape again!
- Khaya - I apologize. I should have applied more strength to my attack.
- Vesinash - Forget about him! Tetra needs medical assistance, now!
Lying on the ground with closed eyes and slow breathing, Tetra was left broken and scarred, with significant damage having been dealt to his torso while his arms were no longer connected to it at all. In the process, his battle-suit had become damaged, the thrusters torn and scorched. Vesinash dived and leaped to Tetra's side, panicking with what seemed like fear amounting in her voice.
All was quiet as the team awaited news regarding the Penumbran Tetra's condition. He was unconscious by the time he was returned to the primary vessel - a sign of negative indication. The medical bay had been sealed off for as long as Tetra was being treated, with Vesinash waiting patiently outside, her head held in her hands as she remained almost deadly silent aside from the occasional whimper. Lirtelta had her ams crossed as she sat on a nearby seat, displaying annoyance, which in her case was the closest she could get to worry. Traslia and Voroch were nowhere to be seen, while Khaya kept static at the medi-bay's entrance, standing guard as usual.
- Vesinash - ...We're a useless team, aren't we? Can't even protect our own commander. Urgh...
- Khaya - That is incorrect. We were ambushed. The enemy had the advantage.
- Vesinash - You think that Tetra's okay? Do... Do you think he's going to be alright, after all of this?
- Lirtelta - Gah, stop saying these things. The captain has been through worse. You worrying this way just makes everyone else apprehensive.
- Vesinash - I... I'm sorry, Lirtelta. I guess you're right. I guess that the best thing we can do now is j-just to wai--
Before Vesinash could finish her sentence, the doors to the medical bay unlocked prior to opening fully and swiftly. Standing in the doorway, with various bandages wrapped around his torso, was the Penumbran Tetra Terya; two mechanical limbs had come to replace the arms that were lost on Viniaris and various cybernetic modifications had been grafted onto his body to provide some armour for his damaged parts. It was also clear that he had required internal surgery merely from the various medical scars that stretched across his torso. Lirtelta looked at the Krektal and refrained herself from speaking, preferring to stay quiet. Khaya delivered a glance to Tetra as he appeared but kept her stoic stance. Vesinash covered her mouth with her hands as the augmented Tetra appeared, who wore a saddened, miserable expression across his face while his cybernetic arms hung by his sides. He looked towards the present members of his team and sniffed quietly, before looking back at the ground.
- Tetra - Well... I... I survived, I guess...
At this moment, Voroch entered the room. He carried some sort of fruit none of the team had seen before, chewing on it. As he noticed Tetra's appearance, he showed more surprise than ever, for he slightly raised an eyebrow at the Krektal's direction.
- Voroch - Captain. I see you're awake...
- Tetra - I'm... I'm glad to see you're alright, Voroch. And... everyone else, too. ...I let you down. I let you all down...
- Voroch - You didn't. The Floridarixis destroyed all remaining SAM forces at Viniaris and Kinrar is safe and sound.
- Tetra - I was reckless, Voroch. I... I let my anger get the better of me... now look. I... Urgh... Eugh...
Tetra looked at his artificial claws for a moment before facing the ground, beginning to sob and whimper as his palms tightened and grasped the air. Vesinash could not bear to see the sight of her captain resorting to tears, yet she refrained herself from approaching, unsure of what to do. At this point, Traslia entered the room, carrying with her a small, opened box which emitted a strong but sweet smell. Upon sighting the miserable and scarred Tetra, the Rovegar's eyes widened and she took a step back.
- Traslia - I... I arrived in a bad time, didn't I?
- Tetra - I-It's fine... G-Glad... G-Glad to see you're... y-you're safe, T-Traslia...
Tetra continued to sobbing, the pitch of his voice increasing before he sank onto his knees, raising his hands over his face in attempt to hide the shame from the rest of his team mates.
- Voroch - Captain, please. I can't bear to watch you like this.
- Lirtelta - Be considerate, Wranploer.
- Voroch - Excuse me.
- Tetra - N-No, no... H-He's right... I'm your captain... t-this isn't setting a g-good example. M-My apologies... I'm j-just... shocked a-and a bit... ashamed.
Tetra rose to his feet and inhaled a breath, holding it for a moment before exhaling. Repeating the process several more times, Tetra soon managed to calm himself, wiping away the tears from his eyes with a mechanical swipe of his hand. Vesinash remained quiet and looked towards the ground, uncertain and discomforted, while Tetra attempted standing upright to appear more in control.
- Tetra - I'll be fine, t-team.
- Lirtelta - I hope so. I don't want you to miss the day we rip the enemy leader's head off his shoulders.
- Tetra - Hehe, o-of course. Sorry, I did not m-mean to make anybody feel uncomfortable. Just... needed to get it out of my system.
- Lirtelta - What are you even eating, Voroch? It smells odd, in a good way.
- Voroch - Hm? It's an Alvino apple. Traslia gave it to me.
- Traslia - Yeah... When we left, the Brood Mother spoke to me in private and gave me these. They're her own fruits, apparently. I got one for each of us.
- Tetra - Oh? That's... awfully kind of her. Heh, I guess... today was not the worst day ever, in that case. We have information regarding important Kormacvar artefacts and apples from the Brood Mother... May I have one, Traslia?
Traslia reached her hand to the box she was carrying and took out one of the fruits, handing it to Tetra. She did the same for everyone else, going to Vesinash, Lirtelta and Khaya before taking the last fruit to herself. Voroch did not receive one for he was already eating it. Tetra sniffed the fruit before taking a bite out of it, eager to take his mind off of the cybernetic augmentations that he had received. Vesinash smiled to Traslia as she was handed a fruit for herself before biting into it as well, savouring the taste and scent of the apple.
- Tetra - It smells... great. And it tastes great as well!
Traslia smiled as she took a bite of her own, while Lirtelta ate her entire fruit in one bite, causing her to couch and gag on the seeds inside it. Khaya took a bite of her apple before turning her back to the team, and once she was out of their view, she began giggling quietly and her cheeks ignited with blushing.
- Khaya - It's so delicious!
Visit to the MatriarchyEdit
As per the Kormacvar AI's relay of information and intelligence, the Penumbran squad had directed their attention towards the Rovegar Matriarchy - a trip that garnered mixed feelings amongst the crew, with a combination of eagerness and fear. Having been allowed entry into Rovegar space due to the treaty set in place between the Matriarchy and the Polar Crystal Alliance, Tetra and the members of his team had taken their shuttle and prepared for landing within one of this world's many ship ports. Traslia had a cloak around her body which covered almost all of her, as she did not want to be seen but at the same time did not want Tetra and the team by themselves in a Rovegar world. Lirtelta attempted to not fall asleep on her seat while Voroch and Khaya kept their usual disinterested expressions. Vesinash sat beside Tetra, who had kept quiet for a majority of the journey, his metallic arms crossed over his body - he wore a new set of armour that complimented his augmentations. In their hands, the team held what looked to be advanced, complicated weaponry - while they kept the overall shape of the weapons they were used to using, they were in fact of Alvino manufacture. They were particle weaponry.
- Voroch - Do we know the artifact's exact location?
- Tetra - Apparently the Rovegar have it secured in a facility some distance away from most other residential areas. It's likely that it's heavily-defended, but since I'm a Penumbran I'll likely be able to get access to it.
- Voroch - Indeed, babe. Time to put that authority of yours to use.
- Tetra - ...Perhaps.
- Vesinash - I have to say, I'm not entirely used to the new arsenal we've been given, despite the Brood Mother's insistence that it works better.
- Voroch - Alvino particle beams are among the most powerful infantry weapons of the galaxy. If I shot at you right now, you'd be reduced to goo in a matter of a second.
- Vesinash - Hmph. If that's the case, we cannot afford to lose these weapons. In the wrong hands, they could be used to wreck a lot of havoc.
The shuttle soon came to a stop as it landed at the port and the hatch opened, allowing the team to exit and roam freely as they pleased, although Tetra's affiliated would have had to have stayed close to him in order to evade unwanted attention and questioning regarding their presence. And their weaponry. Traslia hid behind Khaya as they made their way through the port, with the Rovegar around the location glancing at their direction. Such a team of diverse aliens suddenly appearing a Rovegar world was something that easily caught attention. Tetra kept to himself, his Alvino particle rifle attached firmly to his back as he walked, attempting not to make eye contact while Vesinash had her Alvino particle sniper held in her grasps, eyeing the Rovegar that had took notice of their presence, with a threatening scowl on her face. Despite their best efforts to keep hidden from view, they were eventually hailed by a Rovegar. Or rather, ordered to stop.
- ??? - You. Halt.
The Penumbran did as he was told and stopped in his tracks, keeping his arms to his sides after having made a gesture for his team to stop alongside. He tilted his head up at the Rovegar and mustered a degree of confidence.
- Tetra - What seems to be the problem?
Tetra could see this Rovegar was different from the others, wearing a blackened and dark green outfit with her face partially obscured. As the team stopped, more Rovegar wearing similar outfits appeared and joined the first one, all of them carrying rifles. As Traslia looked at them, she began trembling in place.
- ??? - I am Representative Anadraen of the Rovegari Sisterhood. You have a Rovegar with you who we wish to... speak to.
- Tetra - Well, uh, the Rovegar just so happens to be... well, my responsibility, so I will, erm, have to ask her if she would... l-like to accept your request to speak to her.
- Anadraen - She has no say in this. The Sisterhood does what it pleases and she is obliged to cooperate.
Anadraen's eyes shined and with a psychic burst, Traslia's cloak was thrown off, causing the Rovegar scientist to let out an intimidated yelp. As Anadraen's telekinetic impulse threw Traslia's disguise away from her, Tetra reached for his Alvino assault rifle, although he stopped as he laid his hand on it and narrowed his glance, baring his teeth in agitation.
- Tetra - I'm going to have to ask you to stop right there. She is a recognized and official member of my crew, my team, and I am afraid I cannot let you take her as she is no longer your responsibility. ...She's the PCA's property.
- Anadraen - Silence, alien. The Sisterhood is above the Polar Crystal Alliance's laws.
- Lirtelta - Oh, I'm gonna punch that make-up-filled face of yours!
- Anadraen - I said silence, alien.
Anadraen turned her gaze to Traslia, who felt her knees go weak as the Sisterhood member stared at her in the eyes.
- Anadraen - Traslia Larengyael, you were part of the research team responsible for studying the Kormacvar artifact located at Colony ZK067.
- Traslia - Y-yes...
- Anadraen - Said colony was then attacked by unidentified aliens, who proceeded to destroy the artifact. And you, surviving, decided it would be better to desert from the Matriarchy instead of informing us about this.
- Traslia - Well-
- Anadraen - Are you aware of the consequences of these acts? Kormacvar artifacts are precious resources which cannot be replaced. Your incompetence has caused a meaningful loss in the Rovegar race's goals.
- Tetra - Actually, miss Anadraen, I took Traslia to shelter on board my vessel as a means to keep her safe from the danger at the present time. She was not responsible for the loss of the artefact, it... could not be helped.
Tetra continued glancing towards Anadraen fiercely, tighting his grasp on his Alvino weapon as he prepared himself to pull it out for her and her accomplices to observe, although for now he kept it withdrawn. Vesinash, meanwhile, resisted the urge to raise her sniper rifle and fire at the Representative, growling in a passive aggressive manner.
- Anadraen - It doesn't matter if she is directly responsible for the artifact's destruction or not, she is still a deserter and she must answer for her crimes.
- Voroch - Babe, don't you think you're being too harsh?
- Anadraen - Don't call me "babe", you alien cretin.
- Voroch - Now you're just being rude.
- Anadraen - Traslia Larengyael, you are under arrest. You'll be taken to custody and then we'll see what the Mistresses will decide about you.
- Tetra - Like I said... I'm afraid I can't let you do that.
Tetra drew his weapon and held it in sight of Anadraen and her companions, with Vesinash also raising her weapon pre-emptively, standing in front of Traslia with a harsh scowl. While the Penumbran did not aim the weapon directly at Anadraen, it was clear to her that he had intentions to use it if the situation exceeded his patience. He appeared to wear an irritated expression. Lirtelta growled and also put out her weapon, aiming at the Rovegar militants while Khaya put a hand over her kanata's handle. Immediately after, the Sisterhood members aimed their weapons at the team, and Anadraen put out a pistol, aiming it down at Tetra's head. Traslia backed away with a fearful expression on her face while Voroch simply took a step back. The Rovegar women around the port widened their eyes and began retreating from the location, fearing they would be caught in the potential crossfire.
- Anadraen - Put that gun down, alien. I don't want to have to kill you in front of all these people.
- Tetra - I'm a Penumbran and I am on official business. You're risking an international crisis that can be easily avoided, so I suggest you stand down.
- Traslia - Tetra...
The sound of a stomp was heard as another individual approached the team, with some militants aiming their weapons at him but widening their eyes once they recognized him. It was another Rovegar, but considerably taller and wearing impressive armor, who had his hands on his hips as he looked at the scene with a humorous smirk. His, for it was a male. Anadraen turned her gaze to the Rovegar and backed away, taking a step back.
- Anadraen - T-the G-Gallarade?!
- Erureidan - Ladies, ladies. Ladies. What's going on here?
Erureidan is the Gallarade, the last living male Rovegar in existence and bodyguard of the Rovegar Matriarch. Traslia turned her eyes to Erureidan and let out a loud squee, almost forgetting the entire situation she was in. Lirtelta began sweating as she looked at the large Rovegar male, and Khaya's jaw dropped as her cheeks flared with blushing, making no effort to hide the fact she was staring at him. Voroch, surprisingly enough, did not seem to react at all, merely watching the scene. Vesinash glanced towards Erureidan and lowered her rifle immediately, distracted with her attention suddenly diverted. Tetra passed a look towards the Gallarade and tilted his head - while he was impressed by the armour and stature of the man, he was nowhere near as shocked or stunned as any of the girls that were present. He lowered his rifle.
- Tetra - The Gallarade?
- Erureidan - Gallarade Erureidan, at your service. Well, not your service, but I'm a polite guy.
- Anadraen - W-what are you doing here, G-Gallarade?
- Erureidan - Am I not allowed to go as I please on our empire now? Hm?
- Anadraen - N-ngh, I'm sorry, sir, I didn't mean that.
- Erureidan - Yeah, I hope not. What's all this racket about anyway?
- Tetra - Sir, I'm a Penumbran with specific and urgent orders that come directly from the PCA Council. I'm... not sure if you have heard, but there's an unidentified race at large in the galaxy, one that attacked the Matriarchy some time ago. I'm on a mission to stop it.
- Erureidan - Well, that's good. That's excellent. Why would these missies try to stop you from helping us now?
- Anadraen - S-sir Erureidan, they... have a deserter with them. One who's responsible for the destruction of a Kormacvar artifact!
- Traslia - E-eep...
- Tetra - I'm... I-I'm afraid that's... that's bullshit! Traslia was not involved in its destruction, she was a survivor. The unknown race... well, they're called "Zarkhator", were the ones that destroyed it. I rescued Traslia and had her sheltered on my ship while I was on your colony... fighting to try and save the damned thing.
Erureidan approached Traslia and put his hand on her jaw to inspect her. Traslia did what she could to contain herself, while Khaya and Lirtelta both stared at her with a clearly jealous expression.
- Erureidan - Hmmmm. You don't look bad to me. Let me read your mind one sec.
- Traslia - H-huh?
- Erureidan - ...Nope, don't see any trouble there.
- Anadraen - ...Gallarade, surely that's not a profession way of-
- Erureidan - Ahem! Are you gonna contest what I say now? You Sisterhood girls might be above the law, but do you really think you're above me?
Anadraen and her militants said nothing, merely stepping back from the team while Erureidan kept holding on Traslia's head. Tetra, impressed by the Gallarade's attitude, stepped towards him as he held Traslia, with a single keen eye kept on Anadraen as he moved away from her and the task-force that had accompanied alongside. Vesinash, however, moved away from Traslia, trusting in Erureidan, and glared towards the Sisterhood operatives.
- Traslia - M-mister G-Gallarade... y-you're so-
- Erureidan - Ssh, ssh. No need to talk now, cutie. These meanies won't bother you anymore.
- Lirtelta - Damn you, Traslia...
- Khaya - What does she have that I don't have?
- Vesinash - She's a Rovegar for one... I can be a Rovegar...
- Erureidan - Hm. Penumbran kid. What's your name again?
- Tetra - ...T-Tetra. Tetra Terya.
- Erureidan - Tetra. I do in fact have heard of Zarkhator. They appeared at Hyperborea a while ago, threatening your Councillors.
- Tetra - Yes, I... I h-heard about that. I chose not to believe it, I was... a l-little busy with applying for membership into the Penumbra Unit.
- Erureidan - If you're here then it means there's something in this world which can help you fight them.
- Tetra - Yes, yes there is. I have reason to believe that there's a Kormacvar artefact here on this world. I'm not going to take it, just take whatever necessary data I can extract from it.
- Erureidan - Ah, you must mean the secured artifact.
Erureidan turned to the Sisterhood militants and pointed at them, delivering a glare at Anadraen's direction.
- Erureidan - You! Take the Penumbran and his friends to the artifact! And don't you dare touch a single hair of this woman's head if you value your life!
- Anadraen - Y-yes, sir! O-of course, sir!
- Tetra - Whoa...
- Vesinash - I know, isn't he dreamy? When he shouts, he's just so...
- Tetra - R-Right, let's go team. Don't want to cause anymore fuss than what's happened already.
Erureidan reached over to Traslia's head and delivered a kiss to her forehead, before chuckling and letting go of her. The Rovegar scientist let out a gleerful moan before falling into the ground, while Lirtelta and Khaya both crossed their arms, grunting. At this moment, though, alarms began sounding across the port, and Erureidan and the Sisterhood militants checked on devices installed on their wrists.
- Tetra - Huh? W-What is it? What's going on?
- Erureidan - Well damn. We're under attack.
- Anadraen - There are invaders surrounding the artifact!
- Erureidan - Well, would you look at that. Funny coincidence.
- Vesinash - We should get a move on, in that case. Knowing our luck, it's probably gonna be those Zarkhator guys from before. At least, that's what I'm willing to bet.
- Voroch - Either them or Soltako. Let's hope for the latter.
- Tetra - Hmph.
The Penumbran and his team alongside the Sister operatives and the Gallarade made their way towards the aforementioned facility that supposedly contained the piece of Kormacvar technology that Tetra required. As Tetra had predicted, the facility was outside of the main population centers, beyond the outskirts of the city, and was surrounded by a combination of Zarkhator and Rovegar militia - Rovegar infantry and machinery held the line while Zarkhator mech-soldiers and heavy infantry attempted to penetrate their defenses. Above, in the sky, was a colossal vessel of Zarkhator design, coming into offensive contact with various Rovegar strike forces. A chill went down Traslia's spine as she saw the Zarkhator forces, while Lirtelta, Voroch and Khaya watched the fight with a mix of awe and intimidation. Erureidan raised his eyebrows as he watched the battle, while the Rovegari militants prepared themselves for battle.
- Traslia - Z-Z-Zarkhator...
- Erureidan - Well there goes our hopes for an easy fight, I guess.
Tetra wasted little time and aimed his Alvino assault rifle at the Zarkhator forces before firing, unleashing rounds of particle beams which penetrated and pierced through their armour with terrifying efficiency. Vesinash followed suite and unleashed a barrage of particle blasts from her sniper rifle, causing mechanical Zarkhator forces to explode. Lirtelta roared and fired her own particle beam, while Khaya kept her ground, keeping a hand over her katana's handle. The Rovegar militants unleashed fire at the Zarkhator forces while Erureidan made a throwing move with one of his hands, which caused several mech-soldiers to be launched violently away by his telekinesis. Tetra ran forward, his armour igniting its thrusters and causing him to move faster; he shot down another few mech-soldiers as he made a dash towards the facility that the Rovegar militia were defending, and as he got closer, he could feel the presence of the artefact within its walls inflicting upon his mind. He felt distracted, yet his performance was proficient.
As he approached the artifact's location, Tetra could see a single Zarkhator soldier making their way to it. They wore more impressive looking armor than the others and carried what looked like a highly-advanced double edged halberd on two of their hands. Tetra stopped in his tracks and fired at the Zarkhator warrior, growling as he did. Vesinash covered Tetra's tracks and provided support, firing at any mech-soldiers that strayed too close to him with extreme prejudice.
- Tetra - Stop right there!
The Zarkhator stopped on their tracks before their head to Tetra. Lirtelta and Traslia kept firing at the mech-soldiers in the vicinity, while Khaya attacked at melee range with her katana, having not brought a gun of her own. Erureidan and the militants also entered the artifact's location, with the Sisterhood women going before the Gallarade.
- ??? - You have nerve, talking to me directly.
- Tetra - I know that... you're h-here for the artefact. I'm afraid I cannot let you take it, whoever you are. I should warn you that me and my team are equipped with some of the most... p-potent weaponry in the galaxy... s-so stand down.
- ??? - ...Hahahaha! I didn't know you primitives were so bold! Threatening the ones who govern the stars as if you had any authority!
Tetra snarled and unleashed a volley of particle blasts in the direction of the Zarkhator while his battle-suit activated its thrusters once again, allowing Tetra to skim and pierce through the air as if he were a knife. This made him faster and harder to hit, although decreased his aim somewhat. The Zarkhator dodged the shots and laughed at Tetra, going at his direction with their double edged halberd in hands. The weapon was sent at the Penumbran's direction, leaving an electric trail behind it was it was swung.
- ??? - You'll have the honour of being slain by Custodian Zaharalei of Zarkhator!
The Penumbran's eyes widened and he threw himself backward, narrowly avoiding being struck with one of the blades of the halberd weapon and continued firing at the Zarkhator, intimidated by the prowess of the woman and her skill with the weapon. Vesinash fired on Zaharalei's position from afar, attempting to gain her attention.
- Vesinash - Hey, bitch features!
The Zarkhator female turned her face to Vesinash and grinned widely as she launched herself at the Seagon's direction, aiming her weapon to sever the head from her shoulders. It was obvious that Zaharalei enjoyed the thrill of combat far more than her soldiers. Vesinash continued firing on Zaharalei, although her attention found itself diverted as the Custodian made her approach and aimed to initiate a swift, brutal decapitation assault - swiftly, Tetra slammed his body into the side of Zaharalei's head, firing his Alvino assault rifle at the Custodian's weapon-wielding hands. While her advanced armor allowed her to resist the Alvino beam's properties, Zaharalei was nonetheless knocked back, away from Vesinash. She used one of her free hands to smack Tetra away from her as she shook her head.
- Zaharalei - Gah. Now I see it. You're the alien who recovered the Kormacvar AI, are you not?
- Tetra - The name's... name is Tetra. Tetra Terya. To answer your question... Yes, I am.
- Zaharalei - Give it to me! Now!
- Tetra - ...Come and get it.
Zaharalei let out a cackle and swung her halberd at the floor beneath her. Large debris were launched at Tetra and Vesinash's direction. Tetra unleashed a barrage of particle beams from his rifle which destroyed a majority of the debris heading his way, while Vesinash decided to take cover and allow the debris to fly over her head. With a narrowed brow, Tetra threw himself in the Custodian's direction and drew one of his blades, gritting his teeth as he suppressed the fear of dying as he got closer. The Zarkhator grinned as she saw Tetra's approaching, bracing herself to attack him as he got close. However, at this moment, the Sisterhood Rovegar warriors arrived and fired their guns at the Custodian, hitting her shields and getting her attention. The Zarkhator took her eyes out of Tetra and lunged at the women, swinging her halberd at them and cutting through five of the seven militants, severing the torsos from their bodies instantly.
- Zaharalei - Rovegar... Seagon... I'm surrounded by insolents who wish they were as great as the koromacavar were. Your mimicry is an offense to my eyes!
While Zaharalei's attention was diverted and her body turned, Tetra yelled and swung his blade as he was allowed to fly in close to the Custodian's vicinity - with a combination of his aerial momentum, cybernetic augmentations, and reinforced blade materials, Tetra managed to slice through Zaharalei's tail near its base, maintaining flight as he did so while covered in Zaharalei's blood. The Zarkhator let out a pained roar and swung her body, taking the head out of another Rovegar in the process before sending her halberd at Tetra's direction, her laughing replaced by her eyes twitching in anger. Tetra had managed to secure a gap between him and the Zarkhator, allowing him to fly out of her range, so as she spun her halberd towards Tetra unsuccessfully he allowed himself to take aim once again and fire his particle rifle. While not striking anywhere significantly crucial, he managed to shoot off a portion of one of the protrusions that extended from Zaharalei's head. Zaharalei roared in pain again and launched herself back. She growled loudly, being wounded and incapable of harming Tetra.
- Zaharalei - Primitive scum! You merely got lucky!
- Tetra - I've been trained by the people of my world to fight enemies larger than myself. ...You are not the biggest threat I've ever had to face.
- Zaharalei - You've invoked the wrath of Zarkhator upon you. Learn that your precious Alliance is not the biggest threat Zarkhator has ever had to face either!
Zaharalei backed away more as her body began to dematerialize, going through the process of teleportation. Tetra fired another few rounds at Zaharalei's form. Instead of seeking to deal further damage to critical parts such as her head and face, he instead managed to damage and lower the anti-kinetic shielding that her armour supplied, allowing the Rovegar soldiers to deal several more shots against her while Tetra himself placed his gun away shortly afterward and made his way towards the inside of the facility, followed by Vesinash who also took parting shots at Zaharalei. The Custodian let out pained growls as she was harmed by the shots of the few Rovegar survivors that remained before she disappeared from sight completely. Lirtelta, Traslia and Khaya entered the facility shortly after, looking for Tetra.
- Traslia - Tetra! Vesinash! Are you alright?
Vesinash stood with Tetra, who was occupied with cleaning his face and armour from the blood that had spilled onto him. He let out a sigh as he looked back at his cybernetic claws and clenched his hand several times, before looking at Traslia and the rest of his team.
- Tetra - Yeah... I-I'm fine. Nothing major.
- Vesinash - I have to say, that was impressive. Much better than the last time you fought with one of those.
- Tetra - It's these Alvino weapons, they help a lot.
- Lirtelta - Was that the enemy leader? Don't tell me you let them escape!
- Tetra - She said she was a Custodian. She got away... b-but I don't think she'll be coming b-back anytime soon. She got hurt pretty badly.
- Khaya - Forgive me, captain. I was too distracted to be present.
- Tetra - Huh? D-Don't worry, Khaya, it's not a problem. You were fighting y-your own battles, protecting me and the Rovegar... and all of that stuff.
Representative Anadraen and another Rovegar militant, the only two survivors of the Sisterhood squad, knelt over to the remains of their fallen comrades and closed their eyes, putting a hand over their hearts and another on their heads. Meanwhile, Erureidan peeked inside the facility, looking around to see the battle over.
- Anadraen - May you rest in peace at the Composer's Skin, sisters...
- Erureidan - Huh. You're pretty tough, Tetra. Got rid of that Zarkhator all by your lone self.
- Tetra - I-I did? ...Well, I couldn't have done it w-without, you know, the cost... I'm sorry for the inconvenience, sir, I-I didn't mean for any of this to happen.
- Erureidan - Nah, don't sweat it. They'd probably have shown up if you weren't here anyway. You should go use the artifact now.
- Tetra - Right. Thanks, sir, it's an honour.
After having paid his respects to the Rovegar that lost their lives with an acknowledging nod, Tetra trekked deeper into the facility, eventually coming across a chamber that contained a rather small piece of gadgetry that was suspended in midair by use of Rovegar technology. With Rovegar soldiers watching him closely, Tetra stepped into the chamber and reached out towards the archaic, yet advanced-looking, gadget and grasped it in his palm; images flashed through Tetra's mind, images of worlds and star systems.
Soon, Tetra's visions began to become more focused - ships, evidently belonging to that of Soltako, travelled to and from a rather densely-populated world that was covered in manufacture plants and industrial complexes. With a growl, the images soon ceased, and Tetra opened his eyes with bared teeth. Traslia walked over to Tetra and put a hand on his shoulder, her face showing worry.
- Traslia - Are you okay?
- Tetra - ...I've seen where it is... Soltako. Soltako have... another piece of the map. This... This artefact... it's not... It's not the whole thing. It's divided...
- Traslia - Agh. They must be doing the same thing as us and Zarkhator then. Gathering artifacts.
- Tetra - They have no idea... how much they can potentially harm the galaxy. We need to get the rest of those artefacts so we can find out where they all lead to. This means... we need to attack Soltako.
- Lirtelta - Hah. I'm going to enjoy this.
- Erureidan - Well, I'm afraid I can't help you do that. Still, I wish you good luck, little pal.
Erureidan walked over to Traslia, taking her hand and getting down to one knee. He then approached it and delivered a sweet kiss to it, looking at the Rovegar's eyes with a smile.
- Erureidan - Goodbye, cutie. Be careful out there, okay?
Traslia gasped and stuttered as she tried to respond, being too charmed by Erureidan to form any coherent sentences. Lirtelta crossed her arms again and let out a grunt while Khaya shook her fist behind the Rovegar girl. Vesinash loaded her sniper rifle and attempted to aim at Traslia, although she had to struggle as Tetra had to physically restrain her in order to prevent any unwanted injuries, with he himself turning red with frustration and irritation as the Gallarade made his move upon Traslia.
- Erureidan - Heh. Alright, you all go now. Give Zarkhator hell, Tetra Terya.
Tetra nodded to Erureidan with a grin and promptly gestured to his team to exit the chamber and subsequently the facility, taking the artefact with him and placing it in one of his pockets. However, as he walked outside, he saw the extent of the destruction that was called - thoughts began rushing through his mind, thoughts regarding the Zarkhator, thoughts regarding Soltako. He continued to smile, but his pace increased uncomfortably, and while he faced away from his team, his face contorted into an angered scowl.
Taking the Fight to SoltakoEdit
Within the deepest reaches of the Vijaha Sector, a region known for its extensive history with criminals and warlords, the ship of the Penumbran Tetra Terya travelled - communication channels and frequency were kept minimal so as to evade detection from pirates and mercenaries, with the conjoined efforts and intelligence of both Ship and Kinrar having been required to dampen the ship's signature so it would amplify the chances of sneaking past radar systems. The vessel was on approach to the world known as Soltako - the namesake and headquarters of the particular arms manufacturer and mercenary organization.
On board the ship, Tetra himself remained quiet, as he could not use his personal radio to contact crew members outside of his team, and he kept his arms folded, his Alvino assault rifle strapped to his back. Vesinash sat back on a chair, analysing the Alvino sniper rifle she had been granted further, having taken a liking to the weapon. Traslia sat next to Tetra, her hands over her knees and tilting her head from left to right. There was not much she could do at this moment. Voroch was no with the team, being at his laboratory while they were going to their mission, and Khaya remained on guard of the chamber's door as usual. Lirtelta, meanwhile, snored loudly as she fell asleep on her chair, her tongue dangling out of her mouth.
- Tetra - I feel nervous. I must be an idiot for convincing myself this idea was ever going to work.
- Traslia - Be optimistic, Tetra. You defeated that Zarkhator leader in battle! Soltako forces are nothing in comparison.
- Tetra - That was only a small force, Traslia, I could tell it was. If they wanted to be serious, if they wanted to be efficient... They would have managed to kill us all on the spo--
- Vesinash - Do you ever stop rambling about how impending everything is? Show a bit of motivation, Tetra, for pity's sake.
- Tetra - ...Right. Right. I can do this. Soltako is nothing in comparison to the Zarkhator, that's for sure, alright.
- Khaya - You have no reasons to worry. We will be at your side.
- Tetra - I have a damned good feeling Nirta's going to be here. I'm absolutely sure of it.
Tetra narrowed his brow and pounded one of his metallic fists into the palm of his other hand, clasping it as if he were imagining himself doing something violent. After a moment, he sighed and laid his cybernetic arms down, glancing towards a map of the Vijaha Sector suspended on a digitally-provided holographic display screen - they were getting closer to Soltako's home system.
- Tetra - Shall I go through the plan with you all again?
- Traslia - If you wish.
- Tetra - We're going to take the shuttle and hide it within the presence of several meteors that are going to pass by Soltako's orbit so they don't detect our presence. When the time is right, we enter the atmosphere and find a place to land, close to where the Kormacvar artefact is.
- Lirtelta - Mhhmm... Kill lots of pirates...
- Tetra - ...And we kill lots of pirates afterward. Everybody got that?
- Traslia - Heheh. Yes, sir.
- Khaya - All who attempt to harm my team will feel my blade.
As the team acknowlegded Tetra's commands, with a particularly heavy focus on stealth combat and warfare, the Penumbran's eyes twitched as he saw what appeared to be an incoming transmission alert pop up on the holographic display. With reluctance, he approached the display and accepted the transmission - from what he could tell, the message appeared to have been coming from an unknown source and location, with only audio to work from.
- Tetra - Who is this?
- ??? - Our objectives appear to intertwine.
- Tetra - I will repeat; who is this? Are you a member of the Penumbra Unit? Are you with the Polar Crystal Allia--
- ??? - I am afraid I cannot speak too freely, for matters of security; our transmission may risk interception at any moment.
- Tetra - Well then what do you want?
- ??? - As I said, our objectives intertwine. Your ship should detect a legitimate landing beacon once it reaches the atmosphere; land there and we will discuss matters further.
Lirtelta mumbled as she woke up, while Traslia and Khaya looked at the transmission with apprehension.
- Lirtelta - What's going on...
- Traslia - We're not sure.
- Tetra - W-Well... is there anything I should call you by? So I can identify you upon landing?
- ??? - ...You may refer to me only as "Proxy".
Before Tetra could open his mouth to ask yet another question, the transmission ceased, with the holographic display returning to the image of the map that it had been showing prior to the transmission. Tetra grunted and folded his arms, an uncertain expression on his face as this Proxy's words rang in his head, over and over.
Soon, the shuttle was launched; as Tetra had planned, the shuttle was easily hid amongst the meteor shower above the world of Soltako, allowing the team to enter the atmosphere without detection, or if they were detected they would have easily been dismissed as minor space debris. Soon the shuttle found itself approaching a specific area outside of a large, industrial facility - as they had been told, the shuttle locked onto a viable landing beacon. The shuttle landed without interruption in the outside area, allowing the team to step out... and observe the large pools of blood and hills of corpses that were stacked in the area. Khaya immediately put herself in front of the team, a hand over her katana's handle while Lirtelta looked around with a seemingly frustrated expression, as she wanted to have been the one killing mercenaries. Traslia clenched on her gun as she walked out of the shuttle, keeping close to Tetra.
Vesinash raised her sniper rifle to her chest as she saw the mounds of bodies, her senses filled with the stench of blood as she stepped off of the shuttle, which proceeded to enter a state of cloaking - it would have been dangerous for it to leave without the team while this deep in enemy territory. Tetra grasped his Alvino weapon and gave a curious expression to the chaos.
- Tetra - Wonder what could have done all of this. Surely this is not the job of just one individual?
- Vesinash - I don't know, worse things have been done by just mere individuals in this Gigaquadrant. I'd be willing to bet that superpowers are involved somewhere along the line.
- Tetra - Whoever did it, they may still be around, so keep a close eye on your surroundings.
- Lirtelta - These kills are professional. Whoever caused them knows what they are doing.
- Traslia - Is this "Proxy"'s work?
As the team discussed between themselves the nature of the work that had been done here, Vesinash's senses became alert and she threw herself around, her eye looking down the scope of her rifle. She saw nothing and proceeded to let out a sigh before gasping in shock, her body being raised from the ground by an invisible force as she struggled for breath. Traslia, Lirtelta and Khaya all turned to Vesinash, confused by what she was going through. Lirtelta aimed her weapon at the Seagon while Khaya still kept her hand over her blade's handle.
- Lirtelta - The hell?
Soon, the invisible force revealed itself; materializing behind Vesinash with a hand wrapped around the Seagon's neck was a tall, large Alvino creature; however it appeared somewhat different to what the team was used to seeing in Alvino. The creature exhibited traits from both the corrected Alvino gardeners and the mutated biological weapons that they had been prior. Shortly after revealing itself, Vesinash was dropped and allowed to breath.
- Proxy - You are not as alert as I thought you would be.
- Tetra - ...A-Are you 'Proxy'?
- Proxy - Affirmative.
- Lirtelta - What the hell are you even?
- Proxy - I am not at liberty to reveal exactly what I am. All that I can tell you is that I am Alvino.
- Lirtelta - You don't like an Alvino to me.
- Traslia - Lirtelta, just forget about it, we need to go.
- Khaya - I must request you not act against my crewmates again, or I will have to punish you.
- Proxy - That will not be necessary. Penumbran, state the nature of your objective.
- Tetra - H-How do I know that I can trust you? How do I know you're not an enemy?
- Proxy - If I was in opposition to you, I would have disposed of the Seagon. And the rest of your team. And you.
- Tetra - ...Soltako have a Kormacvar artefact. An artefact that's very important. Are you going to help me get to it?
- Proxy - Your objective benefits my own. Additional assistance was required regardless; my task force has been significantly depleted.
- Traslia - Where is your task force?
- Proxy - Inside the Soltako facility. That is where you will find the artefact. That is where I will find what I am looking for.
- Lirtelta - Hmpf. We should go then.
Both Tetra and Proxy nodded to one another in acknowledgement before heading towards the entrance point of the facility. There was little resistance to be found as the group came across nothing but corpses and damaged machinery and technology, although something soon struck as odd towards the group as they trekked behind Proxy; there were Alvino corpses. Mutant Alvino corpses. Traslia's eyes widened as she saw the bodies of the mutant Alvino, while Lirtelta mostly ignored them, not really knowing what they were.
- Traslia - Are these... "His" Alvino?
- Lirtelta - Eh? What?
- Traslia - You know... "Him".
- Proxy - Members of my task-force.
- Tetra - You don't seem so fazed by this... what's going on? Why are you here?
- Proxy - I am not at liberty to say.
- Lirtelta - Gah. Just give me things to kill already.
Soon, the group came to a point where they were forced to stop, as they had heard the sounds of gunfire and yelling in multiple alien languages. It had been what seemed like hours and the group had yet to encounter resistance from within the facility. Up ahead, the group could make out Soltako militia, heavily-armed and backed up by several mechs, fighting what appeared to be mutated Alvino. Lirtelta grinned and fired her gun at the mercenaries while Traslia tried to use her psychic powers to stagger the mechs. Khaya leaped into the fray and unsheathed her katana to sever a mercenary's body in two in a swift attack, before sheathing it again. Vesinash took shots at the mercenaries from afar, killing several of them, while the mechs that the mercenaries had taken with them staggered and ceased movement momentarily as Traslia assaulted them with her psychic powers. Tetra fired his Alvino weapon onto the mercenaries' position, while Proxy had seemingly disappeared out of sight.
Lirtelta let out a roar and charged through the mercenaries, easily flooring many of them and stepping on top of their heads. Khaya turned her attention to the mechs and unsheathed her blade again, this time delivering multiple slashes in diagonal at their legs in hope to take them down. Combined assault from the Penumbran's team and members of Proxy's task-force swiftly ended the mercenaries' lives, with the mechs systematically exploding as Khaya had them collapse after taking out their legs. While several mutated Alvino had lost their lives in the attack, Proxy paid little attention to them, almost as if she was ignoring them as they died, remaining quiet as she strolled past them.
- Lirtelta - Hah! Pathetic.
- Traslia - Ugh...
- Khaya - What is it, Traslia?
- Traslia - This Proxy... I don't like her attitude.
Proxy stopped in her tracks as she overheard Traslia's comment for several moments, with an eery silence in the air. With a slight turn, she directed her attention towards the Rovegar and spoke in a lowered, calm tone that only slightly hinted towards a tinge of irritation.
- Proxy - ...They were soldiers. Their purpose was to fight until death, as is the purpose of all soldiers in the end. They died protecting others. I will grieve for them once my objective has been reached; I cannot let mourning interfere with my mission. Neither should you.
Traslia looked at Proxy and turned her eyes to the floor, saying nothing. Lirtelta merely charged ahead to keep moving while Khaya sheathed her blade once more.
As the team continued onward, Proxy led them towards a chamber near the center of the facility, with several more minor firefights involving mercenaries and Alvino mutants occurring along the way. Once the group reached the large, technology-filled chamber, Tetra stepped forward and saw a pedestal at its center with a levitating piece of gadgetry atop of it - the Kormacvar artefact, almost identical in size, shape, and design to the one they had attained within the Matriarchy's territory. Surprisingly, it appeared as if there was little to no defence within the chamber - no evident threats. Lirtelta and Khaya stepped ahead and inspected the room, looking for anything that could be a threat, while Traslia kept herself close to Tetra. The sight of the artifact comforted the Rovegar to some extent.
- Traslia - It looks the same as the one at the Matriarchy. That's fascinating.
- Tetra - Yeah, though I wonder how Soltako got their claws on it. How long have they had it? Maybe it was already on this world.
- Traslia - That's not really important. What matters is that we can take it to power Kinrar up.
- Tetra - Yeah... I guess you're right. Something doesn't feel right though, why leave it all out in the open?
- Lirtelta - This smells of trap everywhere. Keep your eyes open.
Minutes passed before a threat could be found and Tetra approached the artefact, reaching out a mechanical hand in an attempt to grasp ahold of it and take both it and the information it held for himself. However, as he could almost touch it, he leaped back and pushed Traslia away as a familiar blade was dropped onto his position near the artefact, piercing through the ground; Nirta Nenra swiftly leaped from the ceiling and grabbed ahold of the blade, pulling it out of the floor and glaring at Tetra.
- Nirta - Well, well, aren't you a persistent little bastard! I thought the attack on Viniaris would have been the end of you, though it looks like I was sorely mistaken. Don't worry though, I'll make sure this time will be your last!
- Tetra - Nirta, wait! You don't know what's at stake, I need that artefact! I don't have time for thi--
- Nirta - Look who you're talking to, Tetra! Does it really look like I'm going to give you the damned artefact? I've known about you and your friends for a while now since you've been killing all of my men.
Khaya put her hand over her katana's handle while Traslia and Lirtelta aimed their weapons at Nirta, the Levarcor growling loudly as she did. A monitor turned itself on above all individuals in the chamber, and in it was the image of a large, imposing Heeyorian who sat on a decorated chair. This Heeyorian could easily be recognized by Tetra, and he looked down at the team with a humorous grin. It was Zoltik Relkhul, CEO of Soltako Armed Military. Destroyer of Gotla.
- Zoltik - Now look what we have here. People tryin' to steal to me! I don't get that very often.
- Tetra - N-No... N-Not you!
- Nirta - Do not worry, boss, everything's under control.
- Zoltik - It better be. You already failed to get that AI I told you to, you rat. Don't disappoint me again.
At that moment, the walls of the chamber began to lower, revealing several squads of heavily-equipped mechs - each were fitted with guns of the highest, most potent caliber, and they vastly outnumbered Tetra and the rest of the group four to one. Nirta smiled and raised his blade, entering a stance as his battle-armour activated its thrusters, to which Tetra responded shortly after by doing the same, although he trembled where he stood.
- Tetra - T-This can't be happening... T-This can't be h-happening... H-How could you entrust this man with your l-life? He's... He's a monster!
- Nirta - While he destroyed Gotla, our home, he gave our race better ones! Jobs, profit, a purpose! Technology and the opportunity to see the galaxy for what it is, making the best of it!
- Khaya - Your race was given shelter by the Alliance. You have no excuse to have become a war criminal.
- Zoltik - Oh, don't you start with that crap. I've heard Niaka say that too many times already.
Before Lirtelta and Khaya could do anything, the mechs began to fire on their positions, almost overwhelming them with explosive bullets as they unleashed a hellish barrage onto them. However, before the two of them were obliterated, they both felt themselves grabbed from behind and thrown back with tremendous force, leaving the bullets to strike empty space as Proxy let go of the two of them. Lirtelta landed on her feet while Khaya hit the ground with her posterior, letting out a short yelp as the two of them went for cover. The Levarcor glared at the image of Zoltik, who turned his attention to her.
- Lirtelta - You must be the CEO. Zoltik Relkhul. The tank spoke of you.
- Zoltik - Tank, eh? You must be my Supercor then. Ready to come home with your real daddy?
- Lirtelta - I have my own master now, pirate. He has proven himself more efficient than you.
- Zoltik - And how's that, may I ask?
- Lirtelta - He was strong enough to obtain me when your soldiers failed to defeat him.
Drawing her Alvino particle beam, Proxy fired multiple shots at the nearest mechs that had fired onto her position, cloaking herself into invisibility in the process; explosions shortly followed as mechs exploded from being penetrated with the beam. Meanwhile, Nirta charged at Tetra, meeting him with sword against sword while he reached to grab his energy pistol from his belt before having it punched and launched out of his hand by Tetra's metallic fist. Lirtelta aided Proxy by shooting at the mechs from behind cover while Traslia ran up to them and gave her gun to Khaya, who reluctantly accepted it and joined the Levarcor in shooting at the enemies. Khaya disliked using ranged weapons as a matter of preference, but she knew she was more skilled at gunfire than Traslia.
More explosions followed, with the invisible Proxy leaping from wall to wall as she unleashed round after round of her particle beam, swiftly moving between positions before any of the mechs could grasp a glance of her, allowing them to become vulnerable to the Penumbran's team's gunfire. Nirta and Tetra's thrusters sped them across the chamber, their feet barely touching the ground as they met blades with one another, sending energetic sparks into the air amidst the explosions.
- Nirta - Give up and die already! I'll make your death quick. And. Painless!
- Tetra - Shut up! I'll make sure you suffer for what you've done, for betraying Gotla. For betraying our race! For betraying me!
- Zoltik - You boys sure like shouting about your Gotla, eh? Get over yourselves already. Wish I could be there having fun too, but I got things to do off-world.
- Nirta - Don't worry sir, this battle's almost over!
- Tetra - You can't kill me! As long as I have something to fight for, you can't kill me!
- Nirta - Say that again when I'm bathing in your blood, Tetra! The Alliance feeds on our kind, the kind that they think needs protecting! But Soltako? Soltako is different! They don't protect us; they give us arms to fight with!
- Tetra - They have turned you into murderers! Mercenaries, pirates, guns for hire! You disgrace our kind!
- Nirta - Weak! Weak, weak, weak! Weak! Weak!
Tetra and Nirta exchanged crippling blows between one another with their swords in hand, slashing and slicing at one another desparately with merciless intent. As the mechs began to decrease in number quickly, armed soldiers rushed into the room from behind the mechs and fired at the rest of Tetra's team, unaware of Proxy's hidden presence - as one bullet from a stray soldier hit Tetra in his shoulder, Nirta turned and swung his blade, quite literally disarming the soldier of his weapon.
- Nirta - Kill the others, but the Krektal is mine! If you interfere again, I will make sure it will be more than your arm that gets sent flyi--
Nirta could barely finish before having to defend from another attack launched by Tetra, spinning around the chamber as their thrusters continued to engage in furious ignition. Proxy disposed of another pair of mechs before leaping into the crowds of soldiers and stabbing through several of them with her organic, biological limb-blades. Khaya gave Traslia her gun back and leaped out of cover, charging at the soldiers' direction and delivering a flurry of katana slashes as she ran through them. Lirtelta and the Rovegar kept concentrating on the mechs, while Zoltik watched the fight with a grin. He was enjoying the bloodshed. Soon the fight between the Krektal took to the aerial space above their heads, their swords crashing and colliding with one another as their fight became more furious. However, as the two of them ascended into the sky, it was Nirta who was being forced back towards the ceiling - there were sparks of electricity and energy as Nirta was slammed into the monitor that portrayed Zoltik's face by Tetra, with the latter's blade extending through Nirta's cybernetic torso and into the internal systems that kept the monitor activated.
On the ground, the mechs had now all been disposed of and the mercenary soldiers were quickly felled by Tetra's team. Proxy materialized once again as she stood near the Kormacvar artefact although evidently possessed little interest in it, instead looking up at the two Krektal. Vesinash also looked up at the two of them after having finished off some of the last surviving mercenaries. The monitor glitched and turned itself off as the image of Zoltik's increasingly frowning expression vanished from sight. Khaya, Traslia and Lirtelta joined Vesinash, looking up at Tetra and Nirta.
- Nirta - You... w-will be the death of me... some day...
- Tetra - I'll be your death today.
- Nirta - Y-You're good... b-but this is just... a s-scratch...
- Tetra - I am going to make you suffer... for everything you've done... I'm going to leave you here to die, either by my sword... or your boss.
- Nirta - ...Asshole... If I c-can't kill you for money... then I'll... k-kill you out of pride... I s-saved the Krektal, I gave them the c-chance to fight, g-gave them arms...
- Tetra - You don't even deserve to speak Gotla's name, nevermind talk about what "good" you've done for the Krektal.
Letting go of the sword, Tetra turned away from Nirta, whose blood dripped from his wound and mouth, and approached the Kormcavar artefact. He took ahold of it, and closed his eyes to embrace the images it had in store for him; he quickly opened his eyes and fell onto his back, his eyes widened as he grasped the artefact tightly in his grasp. Traslia approached Tetra and checked on him while Lirtelta kept her weapon aimed at Nirta's direction.
- Traslia - Are you okay, Tetra?
- Tetra - S-She has it... S-She has it... She has it. The third artefact. The... The Zarkhator leader. The C-Custodian. She calls herself... Zaharalei.
- Traslia - W-what? She has the third artifact?
- Tetra - On her ship... A Zarkhator ship...
- Khaya - Hm. That may prove to be a difficulty.
- Vesinash - Let's get the artefact back to Kinrar and see what he can do with it.
As the team began to lift Tetra onto his feet so he could walk and move accordingly, aside from Lirtelta who kept her weapon on the now-unconscious Nirta Nenra, they all noticed Proxy leaving the room, having said nothing to them. Not even a sign of departure.
- Khaya - Hm. The Alvino is gone.
- Traslia - Who was she anyway? I don't get it... Mutated Alvino are supposed to be extinct.
- Lirtelta - Who cares? Captain, let's finish the Soltako Krektal off now!
- Tetra - No, wait! Don't... He's dying already. Let him suffer there, since nobody's coming to help him. We'll leave him to die on his own like he did to the people back on Gotla.
- Lirtelta - But... but...
- Traslia - Lirtelta.
- Lirtelta - Baaaah.
The Levarcor let out an audible grunt and crossed her arms, following the team as they made their way out of the building. Vesinash followed closely behind Tetra as they walked out of the facility, leaving the Alvino Proxy within to finish whatever it was that she had to do, although it was clear that her intentions were ultimately separate from Tetra's. With the artefact in hand and the visions of the Zarkhator on his mind, Tetra looked down at the ground, a sense of impending doom looming over him.
To the DeathEdit
It had been several days since the retrieval of the artefact from the mercenary world of Soltako, the headquarters of the Soltako Armed Military. With the information collected and harvested from the artefact by the Kormacvar AI Kinrar, all the Penumbran Tetra and his affiliates had to do were wait for a precise location as to where the third artefact would be - while they knew it to be on-board a Zarkhator vessel, the ship of the Custodian Zaharalei, it was locating the ship was the challenge.
Tetra and Vesinash were seated within the games room, with the two of them playing the Borealis analogue to what appeared to have been poker. Vesinash sat with a drink of Borealis Paa'go, occasionally taking a gulp whenever Tetra made his move. Traslia and Voroch sat next to each other, both with their eyes on their tablets, apparently doing some sort of online activity with each other. Lirtelta watched Tetra and Vesinash's game in silence, delivering glares at each of them whenever it was their respective turns, while Khaya was, as usual, guarding the entrance of the room.
- Vesinash - You know, I sometimes wonder about that Zazane girly over there. Why she doesn't come do stuff with us and all.
- Tetra - I hear Zazane are strict with their duties, especially when it concerns stuff like fighting.
- Vesinash - She could at least lighten up and come have a drink with us.
- Lirtelta - Why don't you ask her to come over then?
Tetra looked over towards Khaya and made a cough to grab her attention, a little nervous about requesting something unrelated to combat or career from the Zazane woman, especially a figure as stoic and quiet as Khaya. The Zazane turned her eyes to Tetra but otherwise did not react.
- Tetra - H-Hey, umm, m-miss Khaya? W-Would you, err... like t-to take a seat over here a-and have a d-drink with us?
- Khaya - ...Am I allowed to?
- Tetra - W-Well, yeah, nothing's stopping you.
- Khaya - Drinking on duty is frowned upon. But if you wish, I will do so.
Khaya left her usual static stance and walked over to the table where Tetra and Vesinash were playing. She took the the bottle of Paa'go, taking a gulp before putting it back to where it was. Lirtelta could be seen rolling her eyes.
- Lirtelta - I don't understand how anyone can like the taste of that trash.
- Tetra - Well, it isn't for everybody, I suppose. I prefer Gotlan ale myself.
- Vesinash - Gotlan ale? Can't say I've ever had it. What do you think Khaya? You can have this if you like it, you know, we have loads in frozen storage.
- Khaya - Thank you. I will accept.
Khaya took another gulp from the bottle, this time longer than before. A faint smile began growling on his face. Vesinash chuckled to herself as she returned to playing the game, shortly before gasping in disbelief and growling beneath her breath while Tetra wore a proud, smug smile on his face, his arms folded as he took a glance at the close-to-enraged Vesinash.
- Vesinash - You're a damned cheat.
- Tetra - No, I'm just good at playing the game.
- Vesinash - Don't you try and bullshit me, my back was turned.
- Lirtelta - You got blown out.
- Khaya - Ehehe. Blown.
While Vesinash stared in Tetra's direction, a clear look of displeasure upon her face, the faces of all of the crew within the room lit up as Kinrar's voice dominated over the audio systems; he sounded both excited and panicked, with heavy, rapid panting getting in everyone's ears as Kinrar spoke, sounding almost exhausted from performing some overly arduous task, much to Vesinash's annoyance.
- Kinrar - F-Found it! Found it! I... I f-found it! Guys, guys!
- Voroch - Calm down, babe. Speak slowly so we can understand you.
- Kinrar - I... Found... the artefact! I found it! After... A-After several days, I finally found it!
- Traslia - Nice job, Kinrar!
- Kinrar - See, I... I-I can be useful! Like you guys!
- Ship - While we could not locate the Zarkhator vessel directly, we underwent tracking to search for energy signatures reminescent to the other artefacts that you have brought back for our analyses. The signature appeared to have spiked today.
- Kinrar - Good news, right?!
- Lirtelta - So we're close to it. Yes, that's good. I'm itching for a fight.
- Tetra - Kinrar, take us there as quickly as possible. We can't afford to waste any time. Engage stealth drives if you have to.
- Kinrar - Absolutely! Oh boy, oh boy, I can't wait!
- Vesinash - How about less creaming yourself and more getting us the hell there?!
It took only hours before the vessel had entered the space where Kinrar had supposedly found the source of the signal, yet all there was to find was a rather colossal gas giant and a few moons orbiting around it. Aside from this and the sun that maintained the giant's orbit, there was little else to be found here; no ships, no colonies, nothing. While the team searched for Zaharalei's vessel, Khaya walked around, stumbling left and right with the bottle of Paa'go on her hand. She let out loud giggling sounds as her cheeks were covered in blushing.
- Traslia - Odd. Where's the Zarkhator ship?
- Khaya - Eeeheheh... *hic* probably ran away, the little shite.
Tetra and Vesinash looked towards Khaya with curious expressions, with Tetra chuckling quietly to himself as he saw Khaya's drunken state whole Vesinash shook her head disapprovingly, an amused smile across her face. Over the audio systems, Kinrar could be heard, a disappointed tone in his voice while the ship's computers and multi-layer radars analyzed the area.
- Kinrar - But... T-The signal's here! Well, near here, at least, but we should have sight of the Zarkhator vessel! Why can't we see it?
- Voroch - Perhaps it's cloaked from view.
- Khaya - I'll tell ya what's cloaked from view.
- Voroch - Calm down, you.
- Kinrar - ...Oh dear.
- Lirtelta - What is it now?
- Kinrar - Everybody, get to cover! Incoming attack!
- Traslia - W-what?!
- Khaya - I want a *hic* big boy attacking me, if ya know what I mean.
Before any of the crew could find something to hold onto, they found the floor at their feet shaking and sliding while the entire vessel rumbled as torpedos collided with the ship's outer layers, blasting off a small degree of debris into space. Materializing into view were several assault vessels and multiple escorts alongside them, with a capital ship emerging straight ahead of Tetra's vessel. It was Soltako militia once again and Kinrar managed to pinpoint the source of the signal - the Soltako capital ship. Traslia used her psychic powers to keep herself from falling over while Lirtelta and Voroch found themselves floored. Khaya was thrown about and rolled across the floor as the ship shook. Tetra rolled onto his back in an uncomfortable fashion as the ship's walls and flooring trembled while Vesinash was knocked onto her head, almost falling unconscious from the impact. More torpedos were launched mercilessly at Tetra's vessel, although a majority of them had impacted against the anti-kinetic force shielding that had come online - Kinrar allowed the ship to fire its own volleys in response to the hostile nature of the Soltako ships, destroying several of them in the process.
- Kinrar - Not these guys again! Don't they ever think to give up? Or at least take a break every once in a while?
- Voroch - So it was a ruse. They're not mindless brutes.
- Traslia - They must be after the artifact we took.
- Ship - Shields depleted by 20%. Moderate damage sustained to the vessel's exterior. Repairs and automated maintenance are underway.
- Kinrar - They have us surrounded! We don't have enough torpedos for all of them! By the Emperor, I didn't want to die this way! ...What am I saying? I don't wanna die at all!
- Traslia - C-captain! W-what do we do?
- Tetra - We call for the Council's assistance, they should be able to send us backu--
- Vesinash - They'll tear us apart before then! We're too far outside of the PCA's territory to get immediate help, they're gonna kill us all with bombardments!
- Tetra - Grr... Goddamn Soltako...
- Khaya - Well this *hic* is a big pile of Shyrak if I ever saw one.
Before the team could do anything else, there was another catastrophic tremor throughout the ship, causing machinery and gadgetry to explode with electrical sparks. A holographic monitor displayed itself from a nearby panel and Tetra sat up to take a glance at it; within the corridors in the lower levels of the ship, Soltako pirates had somehow materialized, unleashing havoc upon the crew as they appeared to be taking few prisoners. Among these kill-squads was a familiar and severely unwanted face - Nirta, appearing to have been minimally repaired based from the scarring across his armour and face. Lirtelta growled as she sighted Nirta again, being reminded of how she insisted on finishing him off at Planet Soltako. Voroch shrugged his shoulders and ran off to somewhere safe while Traslia looked at the hologram of the enemy Krektal before glancing back at Tetra. Khaya, meanwhile, struggled to get back at her feet, holding her katana in one hand and her bottle of Paa'go in the other while rambling profanities in Zan'tai.
- Tetra - Damnit! Urgh, no matter what, I'm finishing this guy today! ...I'm going to make sure he's dead!
- Lirtelta - If you don't, captain, I will.
- Tetra - Everyone, I want you all contributing! Come with me! ...Except you, Khaya, if you don't feel, w-well, in the right state to fight.
- Voroch - Well, okay, babe. But just because you asked nicely.
- Khaya - Ya kidding? I'm gonna *hic* put that guy on a leash... and give him a tiny house... cute lil' doggy.
Tetra nodded with an ounce of uncertainty regarding Khaya's state and proceeded to draw his blade, glaring at it for a moment before activating the thrusters of his battle-harness and propelling himself forward - he was determined to take the fight to his nemesis. Vesinash followed swiftly behind, loading her rifle in preparation for the conflict. It seemed clear from the holographic display that Nirta was not targetting specific control centers or facilities on board the ship; he was searching for Tetra. Traslia carried her submachine gun while Lirtelta prepared her rifle for battle, thirsty for the blood of Soltako mercenaries. Voroch carried Khaya's Alvino particle beam as well as Khaya herself, carrying her on his back while she kept rambling incoherently.
Soon, the team came across a group of crew members holding their own ground against Soltako mercenaries, taking cover behind walls and doorways as they shot at the far superior opposition with their pistols and assault rifles, taking out several soldiers which were quickly replaced by more.
- Crewmember 1 - Come on, lads! You wanna die to a bunch of stinking pirate lackeys?!
- Crewmember 2 - Haha! Look at them, held off by a bunch as sad as us!
Lirtelta let out a roar and joined the crewmembers of Tetra's ship, unleashing fire upon the mercenaries while Traslia used her psychic powers to throw them off balace. Voroch quite literally swung Khaya and threw her at the mercenary forces, easily flooring them while she swung her katana drunkenly around. Tetra rushed forward and began dicing his opposition with his blade, spouting their blood across the hallways like a fountain, while Vesinash took shots at the Soltako militia from afar, blasting through them with her Alvino sniper rifle, disintegrating them. The crewmembers, despite having held their own for some time and with the assistance of their reinforcements, were swiftly dispatched by the pirates' gunfire. Soon, however, the mercenaries were disposed off, at least on this floor.
- Lirtelta - Move on! None shall survive!
- Khaya - Don't tell me what to do. You're ... *hic* nowhere as cuddly-looking as the captain.
Looking over the bodies of the crewmembers, Tetra let out a deep exhale and remained quiet for a full minute before turning and moving on, drenched in Soltako blood.
- Tetra - Kinrar! How are the ship's shields?
- Kinrar - 45% remaining! They're not gonna hold much longer! ...Gah, we're a sitting duck anyway. Diverting power from the ship's engines to energetic shield supply!
- Traslia - We do need to hurry...
- Voroch - Cutting the evil by the roots should fix the problem.
- Lirtelta - Yes! The Krektal enemy needs to die!
- Tetra - ...I doubt it, guys. Even if I manage to kill Nirta, his ships are gonna continue raining fire on us, and we can only take out so many...
- Lirtelta - Doesn't hurt to try! Or rather, it does hurt. It hurts him! Let's go!
With those words, the team rushed onward through the decks and halls of the ship while taking out any Soltako presence they happened to come across. Soon, the team came to a stop as their eyes were greeted with the sight of the scarred, damaged Nirta Nenra, backed by mercenaries and pirates of varying races, their guns aimed onto the Penumbran and his team. Tetra took a step towards Nirta while Vesinash aimed her sniper rifle at the pirates from behind cover. Lirtelta grinned as she aimed her gun at Nirta's head, with Traslia and Voroch doing the same. Khaya dragged herself across the floor, trying to drink from the now obviously empty Paa'go bottle and letting out a disappointed sigh.
- Tetra - How did you get here and what did you do this time, Nirta? ...Why come here? To kill me? To get my AI? The artefact?
- Nirta - ... After you left me to die on Soltako... I knew Zoltik was coming to... try and kill me. So... I used what strength I could to get out of there... amass a fleet, an army, and generate a signal... based on the research of the Kormacvar artefact... All so... I could... have... one last chance... at KILLING YOU!
- Tetra - So it was a ruse after all; you tricked our AI into thinking it found the location of the third artefact all so you could take us down with you. Any other person would admire that persistence. I just think you're a pain in the arse.
- Lirtelta - A pain we will cure now. You will have the death of a pirate, which is not a honourable one.
- Khaya - Frickin'... shove a blade up his ass...*hic*
- Nirta - Tetra... Even if you kill me, my fleet will... destroy you. It will tear you apart... and all of your friends. Your death will have been... in vain...
- Tetra - I've had enough talk, Nirta. Too much talk and too little fighting. I don't need to hear the words of a fallen man or a coward if it lends nothing to what I fight for.
- Nirta - Hehe... Persistence, it appears to be a trait we both share... Even if, in the end, we're both destined to die...
- Tetra - I cowered away from death once. I lost Gotla that day.
- Nirta - We lost Gotla that day...
- Traslia - And you died that day.
- Lirtelta - Kill him already!
The two Krektal drew their blades, glancing at one another with merciless intent. Walking off to the side where they would not interrupt either team of Penumbran affiliates or Soltako mercenaries, Tetra nodded in acknowledgement to Nirta who nodded back and momentarily turned to look at his team, looking at Traslia with a slight smile.
- Tetra - Deal with the mercenaries, I'll take Nirta out myself.
- Nirta - Don't show any mercy...
- Voroch - Leave the goonies to us, babe.
- Traslia - Be careful, Tetra.
Suddenly, the two Krektal activated their thrusters, colliding with one another as their blades clashed, sending sparks into the air. The Soltako mercenaries laughed as they unleashed bullets and grenades onto the team, vastly outnumbering them, although before the team could fire back they found armed crewmembers pushing past them and firing at the pirates, covering the Penumbran team. Lirtelta roared as she fired her rifle at the mercenaries' direction, while Voroch and Traslia did the same with their own weaponry. Khaya shambled her way forward, running over to one of the Soltako soldiers before lifting her bottle of Paa'go and then breaking it on the enemy's head with enough strength to floor him. She proceeded to stomp on his head until the sound of cracking neck bones could be heard.
- Khaya - And THAT'S how... it tastes!... Takes... tastes... *hic*
Blood spurted and gushed from the pirates and crewmembers as bullets and hellfire were exchanged, with more Soltako pirates coming in to replace the ones that were killed. While the two groups were fighting, the ship rumbled again, sending tremors throughout although Tetra and Nirta remained on their feet, their blades clashing against one another. The two of them remained largely silent - they had been focused on killing one another. The mercenaries managed to land solid hits on Khaya, who began bleeding and falling on her knees. She mumbled more profanities in Zan'tai before falling completely, unconscious. Traslia used her psychic powers and throw the weapons out of the mercenaries' grasps, giving Lirtelta, Voroch and the remaining crewmates an opportunity to attack. The crewmates fired their pistols and rifles at the Soltako mercenaries as they attempted to grasp for their weapons, knocking them down and allowing the team to move in the open for a few moments. Meanwhile, Nirta was on the defensive as Tetra bombarded his position with powerful sword swings, shoving Nirta against a wall and aiming to slit the Krektal's traitor throat while Nirta rested his mechanical hand on the blade, attempting to shove it away.
- Tetra - You have no... idea how much trouble you've caused us!
- Nirta - What... do you even... need the artefacts for?
- Tetra - There's a storm coming, Nirta... You won't understand! You're too... obsessed with putting money in your pockets, plundering and killing!
- Nirta - You're... not fighting... for Gotla?
- Tetra - I don't just fight for Gotla... I fight for the fate of this entire galaxy!
Lirtelta left her cover and charged at the mercenaries' direction, enduring shots as they hit her arm and torso until she got in close range, throwing several enemies into the ground and firing at them in close quarters. Traslia grew increasingly irritated by Soltako's numbers, causing her to use more of her psychic powers and in greater intensity. Mercenaries were flung into walls through telekinesis while Voroch and the crewmembers shot them down in midair. Vesinash fired into the crowds of mercenaries, blowing them apart with efficient marksmanship while Traslia's telekinesis made it easier for her to hit them. Tetra struck Nirta several times more - delivering a cut to the Krektal's shoulder - before taking a step back and glaring at Nirta, preparing his sword for a swift penetration.
- Tetra - This isn't about Gotla anymore!
- Nirta - Then... what it is... about?
- Tetra - You'll never understand!
- Nirta - Tetra... This... This galaxy is our home... The home of our kind... You say it's under threat?
- Tetra - ...Yes. Yes, the galaxy is under threat; our kind, the Alliance, Soltako, the Matriarchy, all of it.
- Nirta - ... Wait...
Grabbing one mercenary by the head, Lirtelta used him to bludgeon another one, caving their skulls together and spilling their blood on her armor. Psychic pulses raged through the Soltako forces as Traslia's eyes shone intensely, her victims leaving ethereal blue trails behind them while Voroch merely fired his gun, not displaying a strong opinion on the battle.
- Nirta - Zoltik... wants my head... Gotla is gone... I have nothing... to fight for...
- Tetra - So you came here and decided to try and kill me and my team out of spite?
- Nirta - Not spite... dignity... I always... respected you, as a warrior... a soldier...
- Tetra - You were... trying to regain your honour?
- Nirta - What was left... of it... Heh... How "honourable" is this...
Tetra lowered his blade, although he kept a steady, firm hand on it in preparation for any surprises. Taking a step towards Nirta, he saw that the Krektal mercenary had lowered his gaze, a miserable display written across his face while he attempted to feign a smile. Nirta looked back towards Tetra slowly, his shoulders rising and lowering repeatedly, with a sad expression. Traslia and Voroch glanced toward Tetra and Nirta, curious of what was going on. Lirtelta, though, kept slaughtering mercenaries around her, shooting punching and kicking everything that was unfortunate enough to get close to her. Tetra approached Nirta and rested a hand upon his shoulder, causing the mercenary to look away in shame. The Penumbran placed his forehead against Nirta's, glaring into the Krektal's artificial eyes.
- Tetra - If you want your honour... you can fight for a better cause.
- Nirta - You would... let me fight... with you?
- Tetra - If I die here... if we die here... the galaxy is at risk. A very, very large risk.
- Voroch - Aww look, they're becoming friends.
- Lirtelta - Huh... Oh, you've got to be kidding me!
Nirta nodded to Tetra and raised his blade, glancing towards the Soltako mercenaries as they continued to storm the hallways. With a swift motion and the activation of his thrusters, pirates and mercenaries found themselves reduced to tatters as Nirta flew through the crowds, swinging his blade in multiple directions, splattering the walls with blood and gore.
- Tetra - Everyone! Kill the mercenaries, but don't aim for the Krektal!
Traslia smiled proudly as she used her psychic powers to throw the mercenaries about, while Lirtelta growled angrily as she massacred them with her rifle. Voroch ran over to Khaya and threw her over his shoulder as he also fired his weapon a smile also being present in the Wranploer's jawless mouth. Tetra followed Nirta in brutally disposing of the Soltako mercenaries, whose numbers began to quickly dwindle with the change in the Krektal's allegiance. As the Soltako mercenaries began to lower, Nirta raised his wrist to his face to observe a wrist-pad and spoke into it loudly.
- Nirta - Soltako fleet, retreat from these premises! We've been defeated!
Soon, the tremors and the rumbling across the ship ceased - the Soltako ships had stopped firing upon the Penumbran vessel and, as Nirta had commanded, turned tail and rushed from the premises of the star system. Nirta panted as he disposed of several more mercenaries before placing away his blade, his cybernetics sparking with electricity. Weakly, he fell onto his knee, grunting. Voroch walked away to take Khaya to the medi-bay while Traslia approached Tetra, curious about the developments between him and Nirta. Lirtelta, though, kept her gun raised and aimed at the Soltako Krektal's head, growling. Tetra looked towards Traslia and smiled to her before looking back at Nirta, watching as both Lirtelta and Vesinash had their guns raised and aimed at the Krektal's head; Nirta would have been powerful to do anything should either, or both, of them decided to pull their triggers.
- Lirtelta - Don't believe his lies, captain. Being created by Soltako, I know that their soldiers take every opportunity they can to win. Including trickery.
- Nirta - Are you... mentally deficient or what...? If I wanted... to win... I wouldn't have called... those ships to... retreat...
- Lirtelta - Watch your mouth before I rip it off, scum.
- Vesinash - ...He has a point, Lirtelta. If he wanted to win he would have allowed his ships to keep firing on our position. But he's still a Soltako operative, so we can't put our trust in his words.
- Tetra - I don't put my trust in a Soltako operative. ...I'm putting my trust in the man that tutored and accepted me. Then again... he betrayed me once.
- Nirta - Like you said... this is... not about Gotla anymore...
- Lirtelta - This is a mistake. You'll regret this decision, captain.
- Traslia - I can gaze into his mind... he has no intention of harming us anymore.
- Nirta - Clever girl... Now... Somebody get me to the damned med-bay...
- Lirtelta - Walk your way there yourself.
Nirta growled and stood to his feet with a struggle, shambling while his cybernetics continued to spark and flare. With heavy panting, Nirta turned and walked past Tetra, artificial blood dripping from where he had sustained injuries from the battle today and prior, during the assault for the second artefact. He placed a hand on Tetra's shoulder momentarily, breathing with some difficulty.
- Nirta - Eurgh... Thank you... for the second chance...
- Tetra - Get going before you pass out. I don't want you dying on me, at least not today.
- Lirtelta - This is ridiculous. What else? Are we going to sing sweet songs and hold hands with the Zarkhator Custodian now?
- Traslia - Heheh. What if we did?
- Lirtelta - I'd kill myself.
The Custodian's DreadnoughtEdit
Several days had passed since the Soltako assault on the Penumbran vessel, with the former-operative Nirta Nenra having been operated upon within the medical bay of the ship to restore what cybernetics and internal hardware he had lost. During the intervention, the Kormacvar AI Kinrar had once again detected a signal reminescent to the artificial presence that the Soltako fleet had generated, and began tracking for a pin-point location. With the stealth operations engaged, Tetra and his crew resided within the upper decks, waiting patiently. Lirtelta could be heard snoring as she slept on her chair once again while Traslia hummed to herself while reading from a tablet device, apparently checking for new clothes and accessories. Voroch adjusted the circuits of one of his spider-like drones while Khaya was, as usual, guarding the room's entrance. The Zazane had no memory of the prior incidents, and had no intention of remembering them at all. Tetra sat in his captain's chair, almost falling asleep as he awaited the information regarding the location of the third artefact, or rather the Zarkhator vessel that the third artefact had been stored upon. Vesinash polished her sniper rifle while retaining a keen, close eye on the bandaged, augmented Nirta Nenra, who sat quietly be himself, his cybernetic eyes deactivated.
- Traslia - Ooh, this is gonna look great on my ears...
- Lirtelta - Hhmm... Steak... Bloody, juicy...
- Voroch - Any sight of Zarkhator yet, babe?
- Tetra - Not just yet. We're on the right track though, the signal's getting stronger with each minute.
- Nirta - I would assist in helping you retrieve the artefact, but I fear that my presence may cause disruption. I'm not much of a stealth agent as I am, well, something or other.
- Traslia - If I may say, captain, perhaps we should leave Lirtelta out of this mission. She's... well. Loud.
- Tetra - You're right, Lirtelta would be too much of a liability to take with us. We're planning not to start a fight this time around.
- Lirtelta - Eheh... punch, punch... that'll teach you to not take my steak, Seagon...
- Vesinash - I second that notion. Besides, I need some time away from her, she's been driving me closer to going over the edge recently.
Voroch let out a chuckle as he let his drone run off from his hand back into his bag.
- Voroch - I believe I should take part of this. I want to see how Zarkhator technology looks like up-close.
- Nirta - You could try and find vulnerabilities in their armour, so to speak. Vulnerabilities other than Alvino particle beams, as effective as they are.
- Voroch - Of course, that's one of the things I'm looking forward to. As soon as we find an unattended terminal, I can start working.
Minutes passed before the holo-displays appeared, picturing the location of the third Kormacvar artefact upon their screens; a colossal vessel, biomechanical in its aesthetic and impressively built, extended across the expanse of space, with various tendrils wrapping around and emerging from its metallic hide. Tetra's vessel was not even a quarter of this ship's size - allowing it an advantage in scale, with the cloaking and presence-hiding hardware and software implemented by Kinrar amplifying their ability to stay hidden. Voroch and Traslia both looked at the ship in fascination, being able to glance at it while not under fire at once.
- Voroch - It's massive. Mmmmm. Just the way I like it.
- Traslia - H-how are we gonna infiltrate that?
- Kinrar - Amazing... The Zarkhator haven't innovated at all in the last few billion years. Their warships look exactly the same as before! Hah!
- Voroch - Huh. Really? Even after five billion years?
- Kinrar - If I am correct, the ship will have an on board artificial intelligence that handles a network of other AIs, one of which maintains the security procedures. I have an idea...
- Voroch - Go on...
- Kinrar - I can try hacking into the network and locating the security sub-AI and temporarily put it under system replacement - instead, for the time being, I will be the security sub-AI.
- Traslia - We should be able to sneak in easily in that case.
- Kinrar - I... should warn you that I have a 99.9% of alerting the mother AI, and in turn the security sub-AI, and getting myself both booted out of the system... and terminated.
- Traslia - ...Oh.
- Kinrar - However! That ratio isn't based on my competency, heh. No, based on my competency I have a 97.9% of failure. So let's focus on that number rather than the other one.
- Traslia - ...If you say so. Erm... we know you can do it!
- Nirta - We're going to die, aren't we?
- Tetra - What happened to that persistence?
- Nirta - As you know, Tetra, I have a knack for talking shit.
- Vesinash - I woke up with a headache today, now this.
- Kinrar - Thanks for the confidence guys, really appreciated!
All went quiet soon after as the Kormacvar AI had engaged in the challenge of hacking the Zarkhator vessel's internal intelligence mainframe, whistling and humming while he worked, much to Vesinash's annoyance. Nirta growled, tapping his cybernetic foot repeatedly with his arms folded while Tetra closed his eyes to meditate and comprehend tactics for the situation ahead. Lirtelta rolled on her seat, mumbling to herself as she slept while Traslia and Voroch remained in silence, awaiting for Kinrar's work to be done. Khaya took a glance at the rest of the team, especially at Nirta, but did nothing.
- Kinrar - So, uh... Right, right right right, right. Ah, this is going to be a bit difficult... erm... Don't mind me everyone, just, uh, doing my work, you know, the hacking. It's all coming along nicely... Err...
- Traslia - Be cautious, okay?
- Kinrar - Oh you don't need to tell me that! Heh, oh I've done this hundreds of times, it's not even hard. You just gotta... uhh... well, you have to, umm... Oh, here's some news! Did you know that there is an intelligent society of cetaceans in the Plazith Rim? Who'd have thought, eh?
- Ship - Diverting focus from vessel maintenance to inter-vessel virtual infiltration. Previous resources were incapable of penetrating the foreign vessel's virtual defenses.
- Kinrar - Oh no, it's fine, really, you don't have to.
- Ship - Multiple processing units fitted with complex intellectual capabilities are more competent and efficient than a single processing unit.
- Kinrar - But... W-Well then, uh, suit yourself. I don't mind working with an extra pair of hands, myself.
- Nirta - The AI can't shut up even when he's getting help.
- Voroch - They make an adorable pair if you ask me.
Minutes passed in silence before there was a loud beep that filled the room, alerting the crew and waking up the Levarcor in her chair, while Kinrar panted heavily, sighing with a breath of relief. Tetra looked around in confusion while Nirta merely glanced up towards the ceiling, with Vesinash holding her sniper rifle closely. Lirtelta was thrown out of her chair and fell on the ground, yelling and squirming in place before putting her hands on her ears.
- Lirtelta - What the hell?!
- Kinrar - There we go! See, that wasn't so hard? Easy peasy!
- Tetra - We needed two AI to get through. One of them is less advanced than you Kinrar. I'm willing to bet she did most of the work.
- Kinrar - Yeah, well... Give credit where credit's due, I guess.
- Voroch - What matters is that our path is clear. Shall we get on the shuttle?
- Lirtelta - Oh? We're going already?
- Traslia - Umm... we are, Lirtelta. But you aren't.
- Lirtelta - ...Why not?
- Khaya - This is a stealth mission. You are not suited for it.
- Lirtelta - ...Not... suited...
Lirtelta walked over to the Borealis Zazane, glaring at her in the eyes. Traslia and Voroch both glanced at them and took a step away, and Khaya had to look up as the huge Levarcor stopped right in front of her, looking down at her. She then spoke.
- Lirtelta - ...Fair enough. Kill a Zarkhator or two for me.
The shuttle that Tetra and the members of his team used to infiltrate the ship was undetected as Kinrar now had full control over the traffic pertaining to security. Arriving within one of the colossal storage facilities that happened to store a great number of fighter jets and automated infantry, the team managed to walk freely as there were very few guards aside from Zarkhator machinations - the team and the shuttle were practically invisible as Kinrar chose to ignore their presence. Both Traslia and Voroch looked in awe at the sheer magnitude of the Zarkhator ship's interior while Khaya stood close to Tetra, her hand always on the handle of her katana. Several of the Wranploer's drones began crawling out of their bag and scuttled around their creator's body, seemingly eager to start studying the spaceship.
- Tetra - I can feel the artefact's presence on board. Follow my lead and we should avoid getting into any trouble if Kinrar is able to keep the real security sub-AI suppressed.
- Traslia - Understood.
- Voroch - See if we can also get to a terminal so I could perhaps download some information out of it.
- Tetra - Right. Everyone, stay close.
The architecture of the ship appeared almost biological in nature, with the walls being covered in what appeared to be metallic "tissue" that seemed similar in aesthetic to muscles and veins, while the corridors possessed spine-like structures that ran all the way through. Tetra and Vesinash felt unnerved to say the least, with the robots that patrolled the ships moving in and out of these walls with little difficulty, seeming to merge into them. Looking closer into the walls and the strange tissue caused Traslia and Khaya to cringe. The Borealis Zazane was especially disturbed by the flesh-like appearance of the architecture, while Voroch did not display anywhere as much surprise as the rest of the team.
- Voroch - You know, if you don't count the whole "inside a stomach" feel of this place, I can see lots of similarities between this and Kormacvar architecture.
- Vesinash - But why would Zarkhator use Kormacvar technology? I thought that they were enemies?
- Traslia - Remember when we fought the Custodian at the Matriarchy? She was accusing my kind and the Seagon of trying to mimic the Kormacvar.
- Voroch - Perhaps they try to make themselves as similar to their old enemies as possible while refusing to allow any other race to do the same. Sounds like extremely jealously if you ask me.
- Tetra - Whatever the reason, I can see a terminal up ahead from here. It's... merged into the wall. But it's there. I think.
Voroch walked over to the terminal, looking around to see if there were no guards around before approaching. As he approached it, his drones leaped out of him and began crawling around it, trying to find places for themselves to fit in and start searching through its files. However, once a few seconds had passed, the drones froze; they had no need for insertion as the information the terminal held that was available for access flooded through into their memory drives via a bizarre form of transmission, wherein the information was transported for storage within the drones upon touch. Tetra looked away, attempting to pin-point the location of the third artefact, growling as he became frustrated. The small spider-like machines scuttled back into Voroch's bag while the Wranploer looked at the terminal, scratching the bottom of his top head.
- Voroch - Fascinating.
- Traslia - What's wrong, Tetra?
- Tetra - She has the artefact... it's close to her. Ngh.
- Traslia - The ship seems quiet, though. Perhaps the main crew is asleep?
- Voroch - If we're lucky, we can get the artifact without alerting her.
- Vesinash - Yeah, if we're lucky. We can only hope that she's asleep, if these creatures even do need sleep. Gah, I'm sure we made a mistake by coming here.
- Tetra - We'll never know if we don't try, Vesinash. But you're right, I'm losing hope that we'll be able to complete our mission and keep Borealis safe.
- Traslia - ...Guys! Why are you saying this now? We're so close to succeeding!
- Vesinash - Just wait until everything goes wrong.
Tetra rested against a wall, a hand upon his head as thoughts wandered, attempting to strategize a means to retrieve the artefact without having to alert the personnel on board the vessel. However, while he knew the artefact was here and could determine its presence clearly, it would be locating the archaic object that would pose the problem. He leaned with his arms folded and eyes closed, deep in thought. From Voroch's bag, one of his many spider-like drones crawled out and jumped on Tetra, scuttling around his armor. It let out chirping sounds which the Krektal could hear, alerting him from its presence. Tetra looked towards the drone and raised an eyebrow, with Vesinash scratching her chin as she also leaned against a wall, ignorant to the drone's interference in Tetra's meditation.
- Tetra - Yes?
- Voroch - Hmm. I managed to get data off that terminal... Perhaps my drones can detect the Custodian's quarters.
- Tetra - ...Voroch, you're right! That's brilliant!
- Voroch - Aww, thanks babe. Don't make me blush now.
Voroch grabbed the drone out of Tetra's armor before placing it next to his tablet device, connecting them through a small port. The Wranploer worked on his device could several moments before giving it to Tetra. The Krektal could see a simplified but still workable map of the Zarkhator dreadnought, including the Custodian's quarters.
Tetra smiled and nodded to Voroch in firm appreciation before moving onward, following the map's layout closely as the last thing he would come to desire would be taking an incorrect turn in an alien vessel. The map would take Tetra and his team up several decks and levels with many turning points until eventually they would come to pass upon the internal sector that held the Custodian's place of residence - there were few other rooms, and those that were present were either technical rooms designed to hold technology or armoury and storage facilities.
- Traslia - Are we close?
- Tetra - Very close. Everything appears to be on auto-pilot so it makes sense there would be no crew around at these hours. I guess even the Zarkhator need their sleep.
- Khaya - Keep your weapons up. We do not know what may happen.
Tetra moved towards a room at the far end of the corridor they happened to be within, with the room being sealed off to the team by a pair of large, metallic doors that, like the rest of this vessel's architecture, gave the impression of being at least partially organic. As Tetra stepped into its vicinity, the doors slowly slid to the side, opening so that the team may glance into the room ahead...
The room was largely bare and devoid of decoration aside from 'veins' that ran across the walls and floor, pulsating and throbbing. At the far end of the room was a cocoon-like structure that appeared to consist of the same material as the rest of the ship's interior; wrapped within it, the Custodian Zaharalei. The artefact that Tetra had come searching for was encrusted into one of the walls that the cocoon rested upon, set into its foundations firmly. The Custodian was fast asleep, mumbling to herself in a language the team could not translate. However, she had an apparent smile on her face, and her tongue dangled from side to side as she spoke to herself.
- Traslia - There is it... at the wall.
Tetra grumbled to himself as he saw the artefact encrusted into the wall. Thinking for a moment, he passed Voroch's device back to him before letting out a deep exhale and stepping into the room. As Tetra walked, he could hear the sounds of the artificial veins pumping energy, causing his stomach to tighten as he approached the artefact. So far, the Custodian did not awaken, and Tetra was as close to the artefact as he could get - within grasping distance. Zaharalei mumbled again before moving on her coccoon, though she did not awake, merely changing her position. The veins on the walls began to sicken Khaya, who began clenching on one of Voroch's arms with a dsturbed expression. Tetra gritted his teeth as he reached forward and grasped ahold of the artefact, finding it lodged firmly within the wall. With a low growl, he tugged on it harder, yet still it remained wedged into the wall. He continued to try and pull the artefact from its place, grunting louder as he did, with the sound of the veins upon the walls also increasing alongside the Krektal. Traslia's eyes shined as she used her psychic powers on Tetra, trying to help him pull the artifact out of the wall from a distance.
- Khaya - Hurry up, captain. Urk.
With Traslia's telekinetic assistance, the artefact dislodged from the wall with a sudden jerk, forcing Tetra back with it grasped in his palm; he fell onto his back, groaning loudly before standing up and looking at the artefact in his hand. As he prepared to see into the contents it held, he found himself suddenly distracted. The Zarkhator Custodian's eye opened as the impact of tetra with the floor caused a loud enough noise to wake her up. Rising from her coccoon, she turned her gaze to the team. Traslia's legs shook while Voroch and Khaya both stepped back, the Zazane keeping her hand on her sheath.
- Zaharalei - What the...
Tetra took a step back as the cocoon that cuddled around Zaharalei's body unpeeled and opened itself, allowing the Zarkhator free movement. Tetra gritted his teeth firmly, keeping the artefact clenched tightly in his grasp.
- Tetra - Oh... S-Sorry for, uhh, waking you... Y-You can go back to sleep now.
- Zaharalei - ...Wait... this is no dream... h-how did you get here?!
- Traslia - Ngh! Run!
Tetra turned and ran, as did his team, with the thrusters on his armour activating as he did so, propelling him forward with the artefact in hand. Vesinash took several shots at Zaharalei although she had missed each one in the panic and rushed along with Tetra. Traslia quickly ran after her captain, followed by Khaya and Voroch whose head swung from side to side as he ran as fast as he could, which for a Wranploer was not much. It would not take long until Zaharalei took chase after them, holding on her double edged halberd with a furious expression on her face. What the team could see was that she was stark naked, her privates completely exposed as she ran after them.
- Zaharalei - I will rip you to pieces!
- Vesinash - Oh boy, she has a big one!
- Tetra - ...A big what?
- Vesinash - Look back and you'll see!
- Tetra - I don't fancy looking back right now, thank you very much!
Traslia turned herself back to face the furious Zarkhator and unleashed a pulse of energy from her mind at the same time that Zaharalei swung her halberd forward. The Zarkhator was tripped and fell down, slowing her case to the team, but the Rovegar was struck across the chest by the highly advanced weapon, delivering a large horizontal slash which went through her shoulder all the way to her belly. Her chest horn was opened, revealing a bright, blood red flesh as the Rovegar fell, gasping in excruciating pain. Vesinash turned as she heard the Rovegar's screams and pleas, watching as both Zaharalei and Traslia were on the ground, although the former was quickly regaining her footing. Taking a moment to step away from the team, Vesinash placed away her sniper rifle and knelt onto a knee, picking up Traslia in her arms.
- Vesinash - See what I mean? Everything's going wrong!
Zaharalei took hold of her halberd as she regained her footing, striking at Vesinash's direction and barely missing her tail as Tetra's team ran. Blood poured out of the immense gash left on Traslia and she squirmed on the Seagon's grasp, tears forming from her eyes and incoherent grunts coming out from her mouth. By Rovegar standards, she had just been stabbed in the heart. Vesinash rushed with as much haste as she could muster, with very little weight being placed on her by Traslia due to her Rovegar physiology, although she could hear the humming from Zaharalei's halberds practically within her ear as the Zarkhator gained significant speed. She closed her eyes as she followed her team, the sound getting louder; she could feel the heat on the back of her neck.
There was a loud, sudden slam as, behind Vesinash, a wall had formed almost instantaneously; wet, moist, thick tendrils emerged from the nearby walls and wrapped around one another completely to seal off Zaharalei from the group, causing her to slam head-first into the seal. Vesinash panted heavily as she carried Traslia, refusing to stop running even if they had escaped Zaharalei's grasps. Loud bashing and roaring was heard from the other side of the suddenly appeared wall as Zaharalei tried to get past it, but to no avail.
- Khaya - That was too close! Too close!
- Tetra - Is everyone alright?
- Vesinash - We'd better keep moving, Traslia's bleeding heavily! Her little spike... chest... thingy got cut, deep!
Hours had passed since the escape from the Zarkhator vessel. Kinrar had disengaged his position as the temporary sub-AI that maintained security functions on board Zaharalei's ship and, somehow safely, retreated without getting too scathed. The group awaited outside of the medical bay, once again, and awaited the fate of their Rovegar companion who had sustained severe injury while undergoing the stealth operation.
Tetra sat on a seat, examining the artefact he had retrieved in his hands, looking at the intricate markings and patterns upon its metallic skin, appeasing his curiosity and providing a distraction from the horrid event that had occured, while Vesinash was nowhere to be seen; she was within the surgery room, watching over Traslia as whatever happened, happened. Lirtelta sat on her chair, her face clearly showing worry as she had her hands together, playing with her fingers. Voroch worked with his drones, studying the information gathered by his drones while Khaya guarded the entrance as usual. Not the room's entrance, but the entrance to the medi-bay.
- Tetra - ...Do you guys think it was worth it?
- Voroch - Definitely.
- Tetra - But Traslia got hurt. Badly, from what it looks like.
- Voroch - She knew the risk. I could've been wounded as much as her but I went to that ship fully aware of it. Same for Vesinash and Khaya.
- Tetra - I just hope she's alright... I'll need to apologize later, I should've been more careful.
At this moment, the medi-bay's doors opened and out of them came Vesinash and Traslia. The Rovegar clenched on the Seagon who helped her walk, with Khaya looking at them with a worried expression as she left her usually stoic pose. Vesinash helped over to one of the seats in the room where the Rovegar sat down, now wearing her usual scientist uniform. Tetra and the others could see a large scar starting from her shoulder, going through her chest horn and ending on her belly. Before the Seagon completely let go of her, though, Traslia reached over to her and wrapped her hands around Vesinash in an embrace. Her voice was still low and weak.
- Traslia - T-thank you... for s-saving my life...
- Vesinash - Don't mention it, I was just doing my job. Sit down and have a rest, you'll be needing it for some time.
- Traslia - Job... heehee... okay...
- Tetra - T-Traslia, I... I'm sorry that this happened. I should have been more careful when retrieving the a-artefact, I never m-meant for any of this to happen.
- Traslia - Sssssh... Read its contents... d-discover its secrets...
Tetra nodded to Traslia, guilt written on his face as he glanced at the sealed scar that stretched across the Rovegar's body, and grasped the Kormacvar artefact tightly, allowing his mind to access the information at the core of the archaic piece of gadgetry; a lifeless, barren world in empty space, surrounded by debris and shrapnel, as well as the corpses and skeletons of various ancient, alien vessels. Tetra was allowed a closer view; upon one of the dry, desert continents of the world was what appeared to be a structure of some shape, partially buried and covered with sand, dirt and dust. It seemed almost blatantly identical to the artefact that Tetra had come across upon the Rovegar research outpost all that time ago.
Tetra fell back as he returned to the real world, grasping his head while it ached from possessing the insight that the artefact allowed it. Gritting his teeth, Tetra looked to his team and smiled, for once a confident expression upon his face as he was filled with a sense of certainty. And completion.
- Tetra - Guys... We're almost there. I know where the second beacon is.
- Traslia - Second... b-beacon?
- Lirtelta - I thought we were searching for an AI.
- Kinrar - Each Kormacvar beacon contains its own AI drive that ensures the security of information that had been kept within it. The beacon is the hardware, the AI is the software. When you came across your first beacon, the AI must have chose to pass its information onto you, Tetra. In fear of the Zarkhator gaining it.
- Voroch - This second AI may give us all the information about Zarkhator we could possibly need for the Alliance to prepare itself for them...
- Tetra - I always thought that... it was by pure chance I got access to that info. ...No, I'm not a chosen one. Anybody could have accessed that information if they were deemed worthy enough.
- Vesinash - We had better not waste time. We should go back to Hyperborea and get prepared, inform the Council personally. Request assistance if necessary. Say goodbye to our... loved ones.
- Tetra - Titri... Heh, well, I don't know what we're all sitting around for. Let's get moving, we can't risk waiting any longer. Now it's just a matter of getting there and securing the beacon so we can get its secrets... and defeat the Zarkhator.
- Traslia - W-well... spoken... captain...
The Penumbran's vessel was docked within one of the many space ports that were constructed across Hyperborea, resting while it underwent various repairs both external and internal, as well as modifications to its weapons and shielding systems as per information granted from Voroch's drones that had been handed in to the Council and the PCA's highest elite regarding science and military. While the ship underwent its surgery, Tetra and his team dispersed across the pseudo-world to attend to personal matters - Tetra found himself in the company of the Councilor Rylarien, the one who gave him his assignments. The Seagon leader, having read Tetra's reports about the various incidents his team went through, had a clearly worried expression on her face. She held a datapad on her hand which contained information sent to her by the Wranploer Voroch, who was her main informant on the Penumbran's team.
- Rylarien - ...This is horrible.
- Tetra - Huh?
- Rylarien - Zarkhator. It's a far greater threat than we imagined.
- Tetra - Yeah... Things aren't looking, well, too bright, I-I guess. I wouldn't be surprised if t-they're converging on a war path r-right now.
- Rylarien - Only the Grox can hope to face a force with such power. I fear for the future of the Alliance, Tetra. We already went through a devastating war five years ago, we don't need another one.
- Tetra - Do you think I'll be able to... h-handle all of this on my own? One ship isn't g-going to do much against a fleet as advanced as... well, the Zarkhator.
- Rylarien - On your own? No. No one can... Voroch's report mentioned a second Kormacvar beacon. What is this about?
- Tetra - We paid a visit to Viniaris for more information on the Z-Zarkhator after retrieving our Kormacvar AI, Kinrar. From what Kinrar could get, h-he... he said there were a few artefacts which l-lead to a second Kormacvar beacon, like the o-one on that Rovegar world where I first fought the Zarkhator.
- Rylarien - And you think this beacon can help us against the Zarkhator?
- Tetra - It might contain the secret to defeating them, or at least tell us more about w-what they are and what they plan to do.
Rylarien put a hand over her chin, thinking to herself. The Seagon took the datapad again and gave it another read before glancing back at Tetra.
- Rylarien - Voroch has also sent me information about data you apparently hacked out of a Zarkhator vessel. This could potentially be used to find weakspots on their equipment, among other things.
- Tetra - Alvino particle beams tend to work well against Zarkhator i-infantry and armour, we know that more t-than anything else. Both Kinrar and Voroch said t-that... the Zarkhator, f-fundamentally, use Kormacvar construction methods.
- Rylarien - I see... You can't do this by yourself. I'll be getting you a fleet to help in recovering this beacon.
- Tetra - A-A f-fleet? M-My apologies, Councilor, b-but I have no experience in c-commanding a fleet.
- Rylarien - You don't have to command it, I'll get you a fleet with a commandant and all you have to do is instruct him. I believe Commandant Asraels of the Zoles would be more than glad to lend you a hand.
- Tetra - A-Asraels? I've only ever h-heard of him, never seen him in person... H-He has a good reputation from w-what I hear, though. I wouldn't c-challenge that under any circumstance.
- Rylarien - Asraels is the current leader of the entirely of the Zoles Imperium's navy. He is truly a man of many battles, with far more experience than even Penumbran Vekaron.
Tetra nodded with a smile and clenched his fist confidently; possessing a veteran admiral at his back would truly be an advantage worth making extensive use of, even if it were only for this one encounter. A man with more combat experience than the Penumbran that Tetra aspired to be would certainly lend a great deal of assistance, with thoughts of Asrael's tactics crippling Zarkhator vessels rushing through Tetra's mind.
- Rylarien - I know this is a very dangerous mission but... please, secure the beacon. Discover its contents and inform them to us. They might be our salvation against these bloodthirsty warmongers.
- Tetra - Do not worry, Councilor... I-I'll make sure that we bring b-back the beacon. Oh, and, I have a favour to a-ask of you. It regards Kinrar, the Kormacvar AI on my ship.
- Rylarien - Hm?
- Tetra - He's a combat AI... I-I'm wondering if it w-would be possible to put him to use in t-that aspect. Give him a b-body to use, maybe.
- Rylarien - Oh, certainly. If he's a Kormacvar AI then he should fit well in a Caretaker body.
- Tetra - Understood, Councilor. Heh, y-you know, I didn't think that I would be going on a m-mission as high risk as this... a-at least, not when I first became a Penumbran.
- Rylarien - Believe me, Tetra, the Council most certainly does not enjoy sending you to these missions. However, someone has to do it, and you are our most skilled.
- Tetra - Heh, w-well, that isn't true. I think V-Vekaron deserves that credit, Councilor.
- Rylarien - There's a reason Vekaron asks for several months of vacation after we assign him missions.
- Tetra - I fear 'vacations' may not be a thing in the coming y-years, Councilor, if the Zarkhator continue to p-persist. We c-can only really hope that we have s-seen the extent of their arsenal rather than them h-having hidden stuff from us.
- Rylarien - Indeed... I should warn the rest of the Council about this. You're free to go now, Penumbran Terya.
- Tetra - Thank you, Councilor Rylarien.
With a nod of acknowledgement for her words, Tetra turned and approached the door that led into her office, intending to use it as a means of exit. In his mind, he found himself torn between mustering the confidence to accomplish the ordeal ahead and collapsing under the pressure granted by the scale of the situation.
Elsewhere, within one of the more populous commercial sectors of Hyperborea, the Seagon Vesinash and the Rovegar Traslia explored the many shopping centers that resided upon the artificial world, buying whatever they could find that appealed to their tastes, whether it happened to be on offer or not. Traslia did this, at least, while Vesinash spared most of her money, remaining quiet for a majority of the afternoon with her arms folded, a discomforted, distant expression on her face. Having brought multiple pieces of clothing and make-up for herself, Traslia walked over to Vesinash with a smile on her face. She was now wearing a new shirt and dress, with what looked like lipstick on her lips and shadow added to her eyes. The scar caused on her by Zaharalei was clearly visible on these clothes, who were somewhat more revealing than her scientist uniform, though the Rovegar did not seem to mind much. Her voice was still somewhat low compared to normal, but it was obvious that she had recovered considerably by now.
- Traslia - They have so much good stuff here! Are you not gonna buy anything?
- Vesinash - Nah, too much fashion and too little guns for my liking. I would rather spend my credits on something useful, like scopes and modifications, but that's not going to stop me from carrying your bags for you. ...How is that scar doing? Feeling any better?
- Traslia - It hurts a bit if I twist my body too much but I feel a lot better now. Your Alliance has exceptional medical bays, I gotta say... Or I'm just really lucky. Usually, harming a Rovegar's chest horn kills them instantly.
- Vesinash - That right? Next time you should consider wearing a little bit of armour, at least. Gah, what am I saying, just keep doing what you're doing, it seems to be working out alright for you.
- Traslia - ...Is something wrong?
- Vesinash - What? What makes you say that?
- Traslia - You don't seem content with me being here. I just wanted us to do something together... We rarely get to talk at all. We've been serving on the same ship all this time yet I know so little about you.
Vesinash glanced towards Traslia with a stern expression before shrugging her shoulders, keeping her hands in her pockets as she looked to her side, away from Traslia. She grunted in discomfort, a frown emerging on her face as she contemplated Traslia's words for a moment.
- Vesinash - I'm not much of a people person.
- Traslia - I want to be your friend. I want you to trust in me like I trust you.
- Vesinash - Nothing is stopping us from being friends. I'm... I don't know. I'm not much of an interesting person.
- Traslia - Oh, but you are! You're the best sniper I've ever seen and you're really courageous too! Don't look down on yourself because you don't deserve that.
- Vesinash - It's in my job to be a good sniper and to be "courageous". My career depends on it. If I wasn't a good sniper or 'brave', I would either be dead or out of a job. I've never been considered... pretty, like you, not even by other Seagon. Not that it bothers me. Much.
- Traslia - Aww, don't say that. You're good looking for sure. And speaking of which, there was something I wanted to talk to you about...
Traslia sat next to Vesinash and approached her ear, lowering her voice more than it already was.
- Traslia - I've noticed how you glance at the captain.
Vesinash sat back with lightning quick reflexes, her eyes widened and her mouth agape in a combination of utter shock and absolute surprise, not expecting to have heard such words spout from Traslia's mouth. With a twitch activated upon her face, Vesinash glared at Traslia in silence for several moments before speaking.
- Vesinash - W-Where and w-when did you get that i-idea?!
- Traslia - Heheh, I've noticed by how act. We learn about body language at Rovegar college, so I could totally see how warmer you became whenever Tetra was around. You smiled more often, and yours eyes seemed to lose themselves when you gazed at him.
- Vesinash - Listen lady, I-I... I... P-Please don't tell anyone, will you? If he or anyone else finds out I'm ruined!
- Traslia - Teehee, don't worry. We're friends, I'm not going to do anything bad for you. What I was thinking was, perhaps I could give you some tips to conquer the captain's heart?
- Vesinash - ...A-Absolutely not!
- Traslia - Why not? I've had my share of girlfriends already, I know how to do it! Granted, none of them were aliens, but still.
- Vesinash - Are you aware of how unprofessional that would be? Personal relationships between a captains and subordinates would definitely cause internal disorganization and a lack of discipline, no doubt! ...Besides, he doesn't take that much of an interest in me.
- Traslia - Are you gonna put work above your heart? That way, you'll never have the chance to be happy with him!
- Vesinash - And if it doesn't work out, what then? No, the risks would be too great. Not every relationship works out Traslia, this isn't a movie. This is real life.
- Traslia - ...But... what if he takes another woman in front of you?
- Vesinash - Then I'm going to have to deal with it. Besides, he already has and it seems I'm doing alright so far.
- Traslia - What do you mean?
- Vesinash - You're not the only one who can read a person's expressions, Traslia. I was an assassin for Rothneld Vhezari, I was trained to examine my prey.
Traslia looked at Vesinash before backing away from her, turning her face to the floor. Her expression was changed into one of sadness and guilt.
- Traslia - I... I'm sorry... I just wanted to help. I shouldn't have brought this up.
Vesinash chuckled and wrapped an arm around Traslia, bring her close and embracing her in a friendly, warm-hearted manner. The frown from Vesinash's face had disappeared, replaced by a faint smile as she clasped and briefly rubbed the Rovegar's shoulders reassuringly.
- Vesinash - Now now, don't be such a wuss. It would be unprofessional of me to hold hard feelings towards my colleagues. Yes, I was upset and sad, but I have come to grips with it. We're adults, you know.
- Traslia - Well, I'm a teenager by Rovegar standards. But yeah, I guess you're right...
- Vesinash - Now, cheer up and get spending, we only get so little time before we throw ourselves into the fire.
- Traslia - ...Do you wanna visit the weapons session?
- Vesinash - Sure, that would be exciting. Wonder if the PCA got any new mods in. Or if there are any black market dealers anywhere I could get some from, hehe.
The artificial sun began to set beyond Hyperborea's horizon, bringing nightfall and darkness over the sector where Tetra and his associates had decided to rest within. The aforementioned Penumbran once again stood outside of a door that led into an apartment, 'Residence 401' written in holographic letters upon the door's surface. Tetra adorned himself with a heavy coat, hiding his mechanical arms from sight as he reached out and knocked on the door, awaiting an answer. The door opened after a few moments and at the other side was Titri, Tetra's younger sister. As she took sight of her brother, the Krektal girl immediately threw herself at her brother, wrapping her arms around him.
- Titri - B-bro!
Tetra smiled as his sister embraced him and laid one of his hands upon her back, the arm hidden within the coat's sleeve while he wore gloves over his cybernetic claws. He pressed Titri against his chest lightly, his ears perking as once again they shared their warmth between one another.
- Tetra - I've missed you, little sis.
- Titri - I-I missed you too... I-it's been so l-long since your last visit...
- Tetra - I've been severely busy, heh. I can't afford to stay long either... a day at most.
- Titri - W-why so?
- Tetra - Important business, I'm afraid, little sis. I... I'm being tasked with a very, very important mission. One I'll be needing a PCA fleet for.
- Titri - Y-you're leading... a fleet?
- Tetra - Well, correction; a guy called Asraels is leading a fleet. He's helping me. It's very... high risk, Titri.
Titri looked up to her brother, her expression changing into one of worry. She tighted her arms around her brother's body as her voice became fearful.
- Titri - D-don't put yourself in d-danger, please!
Tetra chuckled to hide the fear he himself had deep within his chest and he walked inside of Titri's apartment - it had stayed relatively clean and tidy, like the last time he had paid a visit to it. He folded his arms and looked down at his little sister, before patting her head with a gloved hand.
- Tetra - H-Hey, hey, don't worry about me, I'll be fine. Your... Y-Your big brother isn't going to do anything that's gonna get him killed, I'm s-smarter than that.
- Titri - Y-you better... I'd be r-really angry with you if y-you did.
- Tetra - Heh, Cold Ones forbid that you get angry, I don't know how Hyperborea would cope. Have you tried making friends recently? There's lots of us that need them right now.
- Titri - W-well... I spoke to this girl yesterday... also t-this boy... b-but I don't think they see me as a f-friend.
- Tetra - Heh, well, doesn't hurt to keep trying, sis. I believe in you.
- Titri - I believe in you too, bro... But, p-please... be careful... if s-something happened to you, I-I don't know what I'd do...
Tetra cuddled his sister closer, pressing her head against his chest warmly. The thoughts of her witnessing his cybernetic arms rushed through his mind, at which point he decided it would have been better for him to have kept his coat and gloves on. He exhaled heavily, a content, satisfied smile on his face as he found a great deal of comfort in her.
The following morning, the team had amassed outside of the Council Tower, standing within the plaza so that they could soak up the rays of the sun as well as ensure every member of Tetra's associates were present. Tetra sat upon a bench with his eyes closed, while Vesinash stood with a case full of rifle scopes. Nirta, however, was nowhere to be seen. Traslia sat beside Tetra and Vesinash, a bag full of beauty-enhancing items next to her. She was now wearing yet another dress, this time a skirt, and had her exposed legs crossed while wearing high-heels. Lirtelta, Voroch and Khaya were also all present and sitting on benches, with Lirtelta doing her usual act of making intimidating facial expressions to whoever passed by them.
- Vesinash - What's taking the new guy so long? You think he got arrested?
- Lirtelta - We're not that lucky.
- Tetra - He shouldn't have been since we got him pardoned. That is, unless he got into a fight somewhere and killed somebody...
- Voroch - Well let's hope that's not the case. We already an enormous problem to solve, we don't need anything else.
After some time, the group heard the sounds of heavy steps approaching, and all turned their head to see who exactly was making these steps, although were strictly prepared for what they would witness; standing in the open with several guards at his back was Nirta Nenra, his torso and limbs fully augmented with cybernetic machinery, with his face largely obscured by implants and armour. There appeared to be very little, if any, biological tissue remaining on the Krektal's body, his augmentations showing clear signs of combined PCA and SAM technology. Voroch showed some surprise at the sight of the now completely cyborgized Nirta while Traslia, Lirtelta and Khaya all widened their eyes in surprise.
- Traslia - I-is that him?
- Tetra - N-Nirta...? I-Is that you underneath all of... that?
- Nirta - My old body was weak and fragile. With this new form... it will be harder for me to die. You said you required the very best for your upcoming mission, Tetra. This is the best I can offer you.
- Voroch - How literal.
- Lirtelta - Hm. That's good. We don't want cannon fodder.
- Nirta - I hope you are all prepared. It may not be my place to advise you in that aspect, you may not even trust me fighting alongside you as of yet, but we all share something in common; we are all soldiers fighting for a cause now. We have all lost or never had something to fight for.
- Vesinash - And it's thanks to Tetra that we're now fighting on common grounds, fighting for a cause, fighting for something we need. A cause that we all believe in, a cause we all must share.
- Traslia - And we'll succeed, no matter what. We'll reach our cause, and we will conquer it.
- Lirtelta - And we'll kill all Zarkhator who stand before us!
Tetra nodded and stood, his friends' and colleagues' words echoing inside his head, flowing through his veins and into his heart, fuelling him with a sense of keen eagerness - an eagerness to fight. As he prepared to clench his fist and speak onward, something interrupted him and his team, almost ruining the moment...
- Kinrar - Hey guys! Look what I got!
Standing before the team was a Caretaker, modified and augmented with advanced weaponry and cybernetics to assist the Kormacvar AI in controlling his new body. Vesinash raised an eyebrow, impressed with the state of the physical form Kinrar now managed to assume. Traslia and Lirtelta also peeked over at Kinrar, while Voroch delivered a glance but did not really do any strong reaction. However, Khaya put her hands together at the sight of Kinrar's Caretaker body, a smile growing on her face.
- Khaya - It's so cute!
- Kinrar - Now isn't this the hot stuff, or isn't this the hot stuff? There's a reason why I call myself a combat AI, and it's not just my programming.
- Vesinash - So they gave you a body after all. Heh, perhaps now you'll be useful for something at least.
- Tetra - Think you'll be able to really fight with that thing?
- Kinrar - Compared to old Kormacvar mechs, this thing's easy-peasy! Not much of a challenge at all! Nu-uh! I can pick flower petals with the amount of control I have over this thing!
- Traslia - That's a weird analogy but I'm sure your help will be really useful.
Tetra smiled as he looked over the members of his team and raised a hand, pointing to the sky with his mechanical finger. He glanced at the members of his team confidently, his brow lowered and narrowed with a wide smile written on his face - one could practically feel the amount of hot blood that rushed through his veins at this very moment, as his squad became only ever more potent. With a brave face, Tetra spoke;
- Tetra - Team! We've come a long way from being just a ragtag group of lost causes; we're all in this together now, fighting to protect the people and worlds that we care about. We're fighting for freedom and security. We're fighting for the lives of every man, woman, and child across not only Hyperborea, but the entire PCA! And if we fail, then we've failed doing something that many would find it difficult to do!
- Traslia - We will not fail. We will win, and we will live to tell the tale!
- Lirtelta - Let our claws be drenched in Zarkhator blood!
Traslia, Lirtelta, Voroch and Khaya all clenched their fists and threw them up, sharing their captain's hot blooded eagerness. Nirta drew one of his blades and raised it to the sky while Kinrar did something similar with one of his mechanical claws, with Vesinash pumping her own fist into the air. The Hyperborean sun shined brightly onto them, causing the nearby buildings and windows to glisten with bright, aspiring sunlight.
- Tetra - The Zarkhator will never know what hit them!
Battle for the Second BeaconEdit
The conglomerate of Polar Crystal Alliance vessels had penetrated the Arm of Memories, equipped with particle-rending technology that would allow for equal footing against the unknown capabilities of their alien enemy. Leading the front were the ships of the Penumbran Tetra Terya, his team on board, and the Commandant Asraels, the widely-renowned and well-respected Zoles admiral. Tetra and his team sat upon their ship's bridge, with Tetra having hailed Asraels with a holo-display so they could discuss matters. The Zoles kept a serious and militant stance when speaking to the Penumbran, never doing as much as smile at his general direction. It was not because he did not want to be present, but because Asraels always desired absolute discipline. Tetra, in kind, honoured the aged Zoles' expectations and remained firm and steady, restraining his stutters to allow a more set and readied tone to emerge while he folded his cybernetic arms.
- Tetra - Commandant Asraels. You have my thanks for escorting me and my team here, it is a great honour for me and my crew to fight alongside you. I hope we are not proving an inconvenience for you.
- Asraels - It is not, Penumbran Terya. I am more than content with aiding the Alliance. Now, please give me a briefing about the mission.
- Tetra - We're here for Kormacvar beacon located upon a world within this Arm. Your mission is to hold off any hostile naval forces that may attempt to take it from us while I secure it on the ground.
- Asraels - Understood. Let us make haste.
Tetra nodded and swiftly uploaded a map of the Arm of Memories, with a chart of planetary bodies that had been discovered within the Arm from recent study - the world that the fleet was looking for was circled and located near the edge of the galactic outer-rim, almost outside of and beyond recognized Borealis space thus out of sight from perhaps all of the resident, native civilizations up until this very point. With a nod, Asraels directed his fleet to the nearest Cold Relay so that they could make their jump to the system in question. The dreadnought used by Asraels as his flagship stood next to Tetra's ship, dwarfing it in size by a very large margin. By using the Cold Relays, Tetra and the fleet would arrive to the planet in a matter of minutes.
The world was without a star, drifting through the empty void in pure, perfect isolation as the PCA fleet materialized within the space that the world found itself within. With haste, PCA ships orbited the world, their weapons prepared and readied for the battle ahead if there was to be one. Meanwhile, Tetra and his team, with aside from Nirta and Kinrar wearing suits designed to protect them in the vacuum, set foot upon the ancient, dead world - there was nothing. No ruins, no graves. Just planetary debris. Voroch and Traslia both looked around curiously, with the Wranploer's drones letting out their usual chirping noises as they looked for something to study. Lirtelta and Khaya both stood close to Tetra with their respective weapons ready in case something happened.
- Voroch - Hm. Seems like we're the first to get here in a long, long time.
- Tetra - Why here? Why put an important artefact on a world so far away from everything else that it can't be discovered by anyone?
- Vesinash - Remember, Tetra, the Arm of Memories never used to be like this several billion years ago. Back then, it was the Kormacvar Empire's largest expanse of territory.
- Tetra - But still, this world is almost outside of the galaxy entirely.
- Traslia - The old Northern Arm is estimated to have been the largest of the galactic arms before "they" destroyed it. From what I learned, at this exact location... we should be around, halfway through the arm?
- Voroch - One third into the arm, in fact.
- Tetra - ... Whoa...
- Nirta - Such history really hammers in how small and insignificant creatures like ourselves are.
- Kinrar - Aww, come on now, don't think like that. All life is important, in all shapes and sizes, colours and... whatnot. You know the deal. Besides, every great empire has to start somewhere. Even the Kormacvar were small in scale at one point.
- Lirtelta - We should keep the history class for later. We have a beacon to find.
- Tetra - Right. I can feel it here. It's presence is... strong. Hmm...
Tetra concentrated for a moment, focusing on the beacon as its signature appeared over and over within his head, almost giving him a severe headache as he kept his mind directed on it. He began walking and did so for minutes, his team following closely behind him, before he stopped; he stood in front of what appeared to be a colossal rockface that towered over the group, and buried into its flesh, poking outward, was what appeared to be one side of a rather alien-looking structure. Traslia's eyes widened as she took sight of the object, while Voroch's eyebrows perked up. Lirtelta and Khaya kept their stances in case any kind of defenses appeared to attack the team's position.
- Traslia - Is that...
- Tetra - It is. I can feel it.
- Kinrar - Looks like it's stuck in the rock surface. We probably don't need to get it out, though, since it passes information by touch after all.
Vesinash grasped her weapon tightly, astounded by the sheer scale of the artefact. It was cyclopean in stature from what could be seen poking out of the rockface, causing the sniper to wonder for a moment; why was it so large? The one that Tetra had found at the start of the venture had not been anywhere near as large as this monument to Kormacvar technological prowess.
- Vesinash - It's big. Bigger than the one we found on the world we rescued Traslia on. When we first fought the Zarkhator.
- Kinrar - Hmm... it's possible that perhaps the reason it's so large is a defence mechanism. In case anybody tried touching it, they would receive the information it holds... underneath several thousands of years' worth of useless junk info.
- Traslia - That could pose a problem.
- Kinrar - I'm sure it'll trust Tetra though. Tetra has... the 'keys', so to speak.
- Asraels - Penumbran! Enemy ships have been detected from all sides! Mercenary vessels and... unidentified alien vessels!
- Tetra - Soltako and Zarkhator?! Here?!
- Vesinash - Nirta!
- Nirta - Don't look at me, I did not bring Soltako here. My boss- my old boss wants my head, remember?!
- Lirtelta - Hahahah! Let the bloodshed begin!
In the sky, the group could see PCA vessels coming into contact with the specialized ships of the Soltako Armed Military and the utterly alien fleet led by the Zarkhator, their ships - almost organic in aesthetic and motion - extending fierce tendrils while unleashing quark volleys against their enemies. Infantry and fighter-craft had already penetrated the surface and aerial space of the planet, causing Vesinash to aim her particle beam rifle and fire at the opposition in the distance. Lirtelta grinned as she opened fire at the enemies, with Traslia and Voroch promptly following suit. Soldiers from the Alliance also began deploying into the planet, sent by Asraels to protect Tetra's location, and it soon became a large, chaotic brawl with the allies, mercenaries and precursors fighting one another.
- Tetra - Team! Keep them off of my back, I'll go and secure the artefact and get what information I can!
- Vesinash - You sure you're gonna be alright, Tetra?
- Tetra - I'm not called a Penumbran for nothing!
- Traslia - Leave it to us, captain.
- Khaya - I will not allow them to lay a finger on you while I still breathe.
- Voroch - Do what you must, sir. We'll be okay.
Tetra nodded and turned, making a desparate dash for the colossal artefact while activating the thrusters of his battle-suit, propelling him forward fiercely. He narrowed his eyes as he approached the monolith while his team had stayed behind to occupy enemy forces, with the PCA, Soltako, and Zarkhator soldiers fighting one another with fierce ferocity. As the Krektal approached the artifact, though, a shuttle flew above his head and opened its doors, and out of it, an immense Heeyorian jumped out and fell close to the monolith, a grin forming on his face as he regained his composure. It was none other than Zoltik Relkhul himself, who turned his head to Tetra. His grin grew wider.
- Zoltik - Well, well. Look who's here. The kid who stole my gem.
Tetra froze in his tracks and he looked up to glance at the Heeyorian's face, feeling a horrid concoction of emotions consisting primarily of fear and wrath. Tetra drew his blade and pointed at Zoltik, struggling to remain strong in the presence of the man who had destroyed Gotla and the hope of his people.
- Tetra - G-Get out of my w-way! I-I'm not afraid... t-to fight you! If you d-don't move, you'll die here a-along with Soltako!
- Zoltik - Oh, are you gonna start with the buzz words already? First you steal from me, now you try to order me around? You're just like the rat at Gotla who tried to order me around, only to run away like a coward right after.
- Tetra - Yeah? W-Well... I-I won't be running this time! I'll ask one last time; get out of my way!
- Zoltik - So that was you. Just like I thought. You've not changed a thing since then, if you really think I'm gonna do what you say.
- Tetra - I don't; it's polite to ask first before I end up kicking your arse!
Zoltik looked at Tetra and let out a hearty, mocking laugh before dismissively turning away from the Krektal and making his way to the beacon, reaching a hand to it.
- Zoltik - The riches I can get with this... I'll be able to buy the whole damn galaxy!
- Tetra - Don't do it!
As the huge Heeyorian mercenary reached his hand to touch the artifact, he was forced to throw himself back as another alien materialized in front of him, sending a double-edged halberd at his direction. There stood Custodian Zaharalei of the Zarkhator, her face locked in an angered scowl, much to Zoltik's surprise. The Heeyorian had, after all, never seen a Zarkhator before.
- Zoltik - What the devil?
- Zaharalei - Get your grubby hands away from the koromacavar item, primitive!
- Zoltik - Oh. Okay then. You're one of those types. Listen here, you-
- Zaharalei - Silence yourself! You speak to a Custodian of Zarkhator!
- Zoltik - And you speak to the CEO of Soltako Armed Military, mister man!
- Zaharalei - I'm a woman, you asshole!
- Zoltik - Like I have a way to tell!
Tetra's brow raised and his eyes widened, unnerved by the presence of the two tall, battle-hardened entities, both of whom possessing a power far much more potent than that of Tetra himself. Nonetheless, Tetra kept a firm hand on his sword and the thrusters of his suit activated, preparing to accelerate him forward while he kept one hand firmly clasped onto his particle rifle.
- Tetra - Today just got a hundred times worse...
- Zaharalei - The beacon is mine! You dirt-eaters are not worthy of learning its contents!
- Zoltik - Nah, the beacon's mine. I'm filthy rich now. Well, even filthier rich than I already am.
- Zaharalei - You want to use such an artifact for monetary gain?!
- Zoltik - Why the hell not?
- Zaharalei - Because... ugh! Just shut up and stand still so your death is swift!
- Zoltik - Those are fighting words, you ugly bitch.
- Tetra - Neither of you are getting your claws on the artefact's contents! You'll have to go through me if you're that desparate to try and get it.
Tetra unloaded a round of particle blasts in Zaharalei's direction, his attack weakening the anti-kinetic shielding that her armour provided yet not completely removing it, in an attempt to catch her attention. He wore a stern, irritated expression on his usually neutral or saddened face, gritting his teeth in agitation. The Zarkhator woman, who was so far completely unaware of Tetra's presence, found herself surprised as she was fired at, backing away in an attempt to evade the Krektal shots. Zoltik let out a laugh as several robotic arms grew out of his armor, each holding what looked like large plates made of special allows. His blades also appeared out of the robotic enhancements on his arms as he prepared himself for battle.
- Zoltik - Can't lay a finger on me! I'm fucking invincible!
Tetra growled and fired more shots at his enemies, aiming for Zoltik with one round while firing directly at Zaharalei with another. Placing the rifle away shortly afterward, Tetra charged into battle, his thrusters blazing, with his sword clasped tightly in his hands. Zoltik placed the plates in front of himself and the shots hit him. While they did damage, it was nowhere as much as when Tetra shot the regular mercenaries serving Soltako. The Heeyorian sent one of his immense blades at the Krektal's direction, aiming to gore him with it. Their swords clashed and Tetra felt himself lower rapidly towards the ground, the one thing keeping him from being turned into pulp being his own blade which he held out in front of him in a horizontal position, blocking Zoltik's colossal impact although somewhat fazed from the attack. He groaned as his muscles ached, but his cybernetic arms and his sword remained firm. Zaharalei sent her halberd at Zoltik's back, cutting through his armor and getting the Heeyorian's attention, who pushed Tetra away and turned his attention to the Zarkhator. As she attacked again, Zoltik put his shields in front of himself, and once her weapon impacted with them, an explosion sent the Zarkhator Custodian staggering back.
- Zoltik - Hah! You got lucky once, gal. Just once, though.
Growling, Tetra raised his arms and sent his sword downward as Zoltik turned his back on him, penetrating through the flesh and bone of the giant Heeyorian's tail and pinning it to the ground. Grabbing his rifle, his aimed and fired at the staggered Zaharalei, aiming for the more vulnerable components of her armour as he tried keeping behind Zoltik and out of his range. Zoltik's shields were thrown at the Penumbran's direction, bashing against his body with enough strength to send him flying back. Despite his wounds, Zoltik did not display any discomfort, his grin not leaving his expression. At least, until the Zarkhator Custodian used the opportunity of his distraction to send her weapon at his chest, breaking his comparably inferior armor and making him shout out in pain, stumbling backwards.
- Zoltik - Gaaah!... Better than I thought!
- Zaharalei - If you two believe your feeble weapons are a match to me... you're very mistaken.
- Tetra - I have news for you, lady; this isn't my weapon!
Tetra fired his Alvino particle assault rifle once again at Zaharalei, grunting as he wiped away some of the blood that dripped from his lower lip from where he had sustained damage from Zoltik's attack. He was also aiming several shots towards her halberd, aiming to break or deconstruct the weapon. The Zarkhator growled as she charged at Tetra, dragging one of the tips of her weapon into the floor as she gained speed. She evaded his shots with far more agility than one would expect from a creature of her size, and once she was close enough, she sent one of the blades of her halberd at the Krektal's direction with furious strength.
Tetra charged towards Zaharalei with an intense glare, still firing the weapon as they got closer to one another, although as she sent the blade of her halberd at the Krektal, he rolled forward, a hand on the other sword strapped to his belt. He swiftly drew the blade from its magnetic sheath and slashed at Zaharalei's exposed heels and ankles before leaping away, firing his rifle at her back as he desparately evaded her offensive maneuvers. The Zarkhator grunted in pain, but as she tried to turn back to go after Tetra, Zoltik leaped into her and dug his claws into the Zarkhator's back. Zahralei let out a loud, pained scream as Zoltik then removed his blades and kicked the Custodian into the floor, before turning back to Tetra. His shields stood ready as he prepared to charge at the Krektal's direction, his grin growing more as his blades were stained in blood.
As Tetra grasped ahold of his blade, he watched as a grey-and-black blur threw itself in Zoltik's direction; out of seemingly nowhere, Nirta threw his thruster-fuelled mass against the side of Zoltik's gigantic head, his own blades in hand. Nirta growled in a distorted, mechanical tone as he collided with the titan before bouncing off and landing on his feet, drawing his blades to face the giant in combat.
- Nirta - I am afraid that I cannot let you get in my boss' way. Sir.
Zoltik staggered in place before stomping on the ground, looking at Nirta's direction. His grin slowly turned into a scowl.
- Zoltik - Nirta. Turning yourself into a toy won't forgive you if your treason.
- Nirta - I don't seek forgiveness, sir. On the contrary, consider this as my official resignation from the Soltako Armed Military firm.
- Zoltik - You only resign from SAM on death. How about I help you with that!
- Nirta - Oh, good. I've been requiring some assistance with the paper work!
Zoltik charged at the cybernetic Krektal's direction, his blades dripping blood and his shields preparing themselves for any strike Nirta could attempt to do. Each of the Heeyorian's steps shook the pebbles and dirt below him. Nirta observed Zoltik's shields and glared coldly, rushing towards them before activating his thrusters and approaching the Heeyorian's position swiftly, although before he came into contact with his nemesis he loosened the grip on one of his blades and threw it from his hand, directed at the shields that were held out in front of Zoltik. As usual, contact with the shield's front caused an explosion which destroyed the blade. Zoltik let out a mocking laugher as his shields opened up again, preparing to gore Nirta with his immense blades.
However, as Zoltik's shields opened, Nirta was practically in front of his face as he swung his remaining blade in multiple directions, severing two of the mechanical arms that supported the explosive shields before leaping back and glaring at Zoltik with a tooth-filled grin. Zoltik's eyes widened as two of his four shields were thrown into the ground harmlessly. The Heeyorian gritted his teeth as he sent his blade at Nirta, growing angry at his actions.
- Zoltik - You little shit!
Nirta ducked beneath Zoltik's blade, although the sword had pierced through the cyborg Krektal's shoulder as he did, spilling some of his artificial blood, and emerged from behind and underneath the Heeyorian. Leaping upward with some assistance from his thrusters, he grabbed ahold of the other arms that were attached to Zoltik and tore them from the Heeyorian's back with some effort that caused him to stall for a moment. Zoltik stumbled as his shielding was completely neutralized, growling at Nirta's direction before sending one of his robotic legs at his direction, hitting the Krektal across the chest with enough strength to knock him away. Nirta was thrown back and collided with a rock, which shattered into fragments as he was knocked through it, shards of it becoming lodged in his cybernetic armour. Sparks and blood spilled from his body as he struggled to stand, grasping his one blade in his hand before turning to Tetra.
- Nirta - Tetra...!
- Tetra - Nirta!?
- Nirta - Tetra! I'll... I'll keep him occupied! You... You secure the artefact!
- Tetra - Nirta, you're hurt!
- Nirta - Don't worry about me and complete your mission! Besides... I can handle myself from here!
Tetra heard a roar behind himself as Zaharalei hot back on her feet, sending her halberd at his direction from behind. Rock formations hit by her weapons, including the ground, were cut almost like a knife through butter. As Zaharalei's weapon cut through the rock formations, she heard the sound of her halberd clashing against the alloy of Tetra's blade, who one again held it out in front of him in a horizontal direction, one hand on the edge of his blade and one on his hilt. He was knocked back, but remained firm. Dirt picked up from the earth as he was sent backwards a short distance.
- Tetra - You...
- Zaharalei - I will crush you like the insect you are!
- Tetra - With your superior weaponry and armour, right? Your assets and resources? Grr... Let me tell you something... about us primitives! We're younger... less-advanced... nowhere near as numerous... But! There's something I have... that we have... that will overcome your weapons! And your armour! Your ships, your soldiers!
- Zaharalei - Oh yeah? And what is that?
- Tetra - Determination... Willpower... And most of all... Our greatest weapon... HOPE!
The thrusters on Tetra's armour ignited furiously, propelling him forward. With their weapons suspended in a state of clashing, Tetra began pushing Zaharalei back, despite her advantages in arsenal, mass, and strength. Zaharalei's eyes widened as she found herself forced backwards, dragging her feet across the earth as Tetra pushed her. The Zarkhator did her best to resist, but despite all of her strength, she felt herself overpowered.
- Zaharalei - Agh... What are you?
Tetra continued pushing Zaharalei back until his blade began to creak and crack from the pressure, eventually shattering it pieces - to which Tetra responded by grasping ahold of the blade of Zaharalei's halberd with his cybernetic hands. With momentum on his side and his unrelenting will, Tetra forcefully threw the weapon from Zaharalei's grasp with his own and spun in a full circle, sending the blade of the other end of the weapon slashing through the Custodian's advanced armour and through her flesh.
- Tetra - I am a primitive... I'm a member of a young, inexperienced race... trying to find their place in the galaxy! I'm a Penumbran, trying to fight for a cause! I am a Krektal! I am... a son of Gotla!
Zaharalei let out a blood-curled scream as a large gush of her blood was launched at Tetra. The mighty Zarkhator fell, hitting the ground and causing a loud thud on impact, her eyes going blank and all movement ceasing on her body. Meanwhile, Zoltik, who had been distracted by Nirta during this time, watched the scene with his eyes widened.
- Zoltik - ...Hell.
Nirta shambled while Zoltik had his attention diverted, his body bruised and damaged as he had taken significant blows from the massive Heeyorian. However, now was his chance, and he took it; launching himself upwards, quickly weakening, Nirta grasped ahold of his blade's hilt in two hands and activated his armour's thrusters. With additional force added to his attack, Nirta thrusted the sword into Zoltik's vulnerable chest, the blade penetrating deeper as Nirta's thrusters continued ignition. Shortly after, however, Nirta released his grasp of the blade and his thrusters failed, falling onto his back weakly with a grunt as his cybernetics and augmentations sparked and twitched. He gasped for breath uselessly, as he no longer had lungs to grasp air with due to his modification, and clutched the dirt he laid upon with his mechanical fingers.
- Zoltik - You're strong... I'll give ya that...
Zoltik winced in pain as he ripped the blade out of his chest, stumbling back. Throwing it into the floor, the Heeyorian decided this treasure was not worth dying for. His shuttle flew above them, and the Heeyorian leaped into its door, which quickly closed as he got inside.
- Nirta - Yeah... You'd better run... y-you son of a bitch... Tetra!
Tetra threw the Zarkhator weapon in his hands away from himself, watching it crash against the ground as its wielder was now lying still upon the cold, filthy ground. Turning around, Tetra watched Nirta crawl onto his feet weakly, spluttering artificial blood as he watched the battle between the Soltako mercenaries, Zarkhator infantry and PCA soldiers unfold over the horizon.
- Tetra - Nirta? How're you holding up?
- Nirta - I-I'll be... I'll be fine... T-Tetra... Secure that a-artefact...
Tetra nodded and, without saying another word, moved in to secure the contents of the titanic second beacon. With a hand outstretched, he met with the colossal beacon in front of him, its alien surface exposed within the rockface. After some moments of hesitation, musing on Kinrar's warning, he took an inhale and placed his cybernetic palm onto the beacon's metallic flesh, and awaited what it had to show him...
He stood within the confines of the cylindrical chamber, lit with lights that refracted off of the golden architecture. The creature stood, solemn and silent, with his head directed at the floor where his clawed feet happened to be. His once-regal robes had become tattered and filthy, deprived of his hyper-advanced armour and anti-kinetic shield batteries. He was imprisoned within what appeared to be a cylinder, extending from one wall to another, constructed of glass - it was far more than this, however.
While the elite guard that maintained the security of the cylindrical prison could see into the glass to observe the prisoner, he could only see sheets of impenetrable golden material. The prison not only contained the prisoner, but maintained a secondary, pocket universal plane that kept the old warlord trapped and sealed away from the reality that his captors inhabited. Despite the guards being capable of observing the prisoner, it did not work vice versa, and they could not engage communication with the captured veteran due to the separation of realities.
- Zarkhator - Once again, I am forced to ponder as to how I came to be here. A miserable prisoner, distanced from all that I may find comfort in. Left not even to rot, alone with my thoughts. How utterly terrifying.
The warrior stood in complete solitude in this devious prison, except a single other entity who shared his cell with him. A small, jet-black creature scuttled around the chamber on all fours, its body sleek, almost skeletal like. Its body structure could be compared to one of the Kormacvar race's Alvino gardeners, though it was quite clearly not a member of that race. The creature was an animal, completely ignorant to the fact it was imprisoned, or to the fact it and its owner had been punished eternally into this pocket reality. The imprisoned warlord rested a hand upon the creature, stroking its back with a glimpse of affection, although mostly out of pure boredom. There was little else to do. There was nothing else to do.
- Zarkhator - I will spend forever here. Never to die. I have already forgotten my name. The name of my people. My superiors. My underlings. All of them. How much time has passed? ...Does time even truly pass here? Am I... imagining myself stroking this pitiful creature?
- Mukharduuid - ...Wuh?
- Zarkhator - The koromacavar... Did they do this to the others? ...Are there 'others' to speak of? Am I... the last? ....I thought I knew despair. But only now do I know what despair is. What it means. I have become the embodiment of the word 'despair - not the harbinger, but the sufferer. I do not want to be here. I feel like I am trapped within a dream. Perhaps if I sleep, I can dream of elsewhere.
- Mukharduuild - Wuh.
- Zarkhator - I cannot dream. I dream only of myself, here. In this... prison. This room. With this. This thing. And when I wake up, I am here. In this prison. With this thing! ...Perhaps if I stay still, it will eat me. Yes, devour my skin. Be useful for something. Kill me!
The creature tilted its head before laying down on the floor, wrapping its tail around itself, letting out a yawn. It could not understand Zarkhator's words, nor the conflicts on his mind.
- Mukharduuild - Wuh.
- Zarkhator - I hate this thing. I want to kill it. Destroy it. But then I will be alone. In a way, I like it. At the same time, I want to crush its exoskeleton into itself and reduce it to a stain. Yet if I wake up one day to find it not present, I feel I would cry.
- Mukharduuild - Wuh wuh.
- Zarkhator - I want to be free. I feel... scared here. Urgh, argh... Eeek... M-Mother... Father... I... I was o-only trying to help...
- Asraels - Penumbran. The enemy fleets are retreating... Penumbran? Are you there?
Tetra jolted, falling from where he stood and landing on his back. His eyes were widened and he gasped for breath. It took him minutes to compose himself, shaken by the experience of the information transferal, and he responded to Asraels over his communicator, an unsteady tone in his voice.
- Tetra - G-Good, good... T-That'll show them, heh... S-So, we won?
- Asraels - Yes. The enemy has been defeated. Is the Kormacvar beacon secured?
- Tetra - Y-Yeah, it's secured. I have the i-information, don't worry.
- Asraels - Excellent. Mission accomplished.
As Tetra's consciousness adjusted to the reality around him, having been fully synchronized in the information transportation process just moments prior, he could hear the sound of footsteps approaching from behind him. Standing up and turning, catching a glimpse of Zaharalei's still body in the distance where she had fallen, he saw the companions that had followed him throughout his journey.
Vesinash smiled proudly with a bottle of Paa'go in her grasp, taking a large gulp out of it while Kinrar continuously bashed two Zarkhator corpses together as if they were ragdolls, making noises to represent the fictional damage the two were doing to one another before looking towards the Penumbran and stopping immediately, throwing the bodies away. Nirta approached, shambling with a grin on his face and using his sword for balance. Traslia, Lirtelta, Voroch and Khaya all had bruises across their bodies but were not gravely wounded, all of them smiling as they walked over to Tetra. Lirtelta in particular was complete drenched in blood, to the point most of her body was coloured red.
- Lirtelta - That was the best fight of my life!
- Traslia - I'm so glad it's over...
- Tetra - How are you all holding up? A-Are any of you hurt?
- Voroch - Not as hurt as all those dead bandits, babe.
- Khaya - No wound may stop me from fulfilling my mission... Ow, my side.
- Nirta - I'll be fine... As long as my brain and spine are in one piece, I shouldn't suffer so much. At least, that is what the doctor told me before he removed my skeleton.
- Vesinash - Could be worse, captain. So, what did you find out? What's that big old artefact storing inside?
- Tetra - ... There's more. M-Many... many more...
- Zaharalei - Yes... More than you can hope to fight...
The Zarkhator Custodian slowly began to get back on her feet, clenching on her double-edge halberd. Traslia, Lirtelta, Voroch and Khaya all stepped back in surprise as they aimed their weapons at her, though she did not appear to be interested in fighting at this moment.
- Tetra - ...What now then? Will you unleash the rest of your army on the PCA? Is a war really what you want?
- Zaharalei - Heh... I am not the one who decides who or what dies... I merely kill what I'm ordered to. Your victory here... means little in the long run.
- Tetra - We'll keep fighting. We'll always keep fighting. Down to our last breaths, we will always be up in arms against our enemies, because we're not fighting for ourselves. We're fighting for others. For a cause.
- Zaharalei - Hmpf... You will pay for this one day... You confront gods, "son of Gotla"... You have evolved because we allowed it... and you will die, because we demand it.
Zaharalei grunted as she was teleported away until she completely vanished from sight. Truly, her immense flagship was the last Zarkhator vessel to leave the battle. Tetra grunted and coughed for a moment before folding his arms, looking up at the sky with a heavy weight on his shoulders. Vesinash watched as Zaharalei's dreadnought left the battlefield and the PCA fleet dominated the airspace, taking shots at the remaining Soltako mercenary ships. Tetra looked to his team and smiled.
- Tetra - I know their weaknesses now. Their strengths. I know how to fight them now. I know how we can defend the PCA and win against them. The Kormacvar did it before... we can do it again.
Tetra emerged from the communications room, wiping his eyes and yawning tiredly, exhausted from the battle and all that had taken place prior. It was now that he began to understand as to why the Penumbran Vekaron took vacations. He rubbed his chin, noticing some stubble, and proceeded to shrug and tiredly wander aimlessly, admiring his vessel truly for once.
Traslia had her legs crossed as she relaxed in a seat while Lirtelta ate the Alliance's equivalent of chips, with tiny pieces and dust getting all over her mouth and armor. Voroch, as usual, was working on his drones while Khaya was, surprisingly, not guarding any doors. Instead, the Borealis Zazane was sitting on another seat, resting her head on it with a comfortable smile on her face. Kinrar's Caretaker body resided at one end of the room, with the AI himself having been restored to the ship's mainframe and leaving his body only until the next batch of missions. Vesinash sat beside Traslia, drinking an excessive amount of Paa'go with a wide grin on her face, while Nirta also ate chips, remaining quiet and far less messy as he sat beside Lirtelta.
Tetra took the opportunity to glance over the entirety of his crew and smiled, rubbing his eye as he took a few seconds out of the moment to analyze Traslia's legs from afar, before letting his hand fall to his side and exhaling heavily.
- Voroch - Is the report done, captain? How did the Council react?
- Tetra - Well, they liked it. They said I did an... exceptional job and that I'll be getting commendations, heh. But... they're scared. Scared of the Zarkhator, which I'd be surprised if they weren't. I'm... I'm scared too.
- Traslia - It's understandable. We're facing an enemy who fought on equal levels with the Kormacvar.
- Lirtelta - If it bleeds, we can kill it.
- Tetra - But, for now, I think thing's have done enough bleeding. Too much bleeding and too little relaxing. I think that... that we can get a rest, for now. Yeah, that'll be good.
- Traslia - Indeed... Khaya, you told me before the mission you wanted to learn how to be prettier, right? Later tonight, I could show you all the stuff I bought!
- Khaya - ...I'd love to! I feel like no boy ever looked at me back at the Corps, it was like, ugh, so annoying!
- Traslia - Teehee, I know how that feels.'
- Lirtelta - What's going on here!
- Tetra - ...Did somebody give Khaya drugs?
- Nirta - Nuh-uh, definitely not me this time.
- Vesinash - She hasn't drink anything either.
Tetra glanced towards Khaya with a raised eyebrow, before chuckling and approaching Vesinash, who swiftly placed an opened bottle in his grasp. He took a long, extended sip from the bottle and closed his eyes, finally feeling at ease after all that has happened.
- Tetra - You shouldn't feel like that Traslia, I'm sure at least somebody notices you.
- Traslia - Oh, I had many girlfriends already. Especially at college.
- Tetra - Any boyfriends?
- Traslia - Silly, there are no male Rovegar, remember?
- Tetra - Well, in that case, why not try a boyfriend sometime? You might like it. I-I mean... I wouldn't know, I've never had a girlfriend before.
Traslia blinked as she looked as Tetra before her eyes widened and her face became red with blushing.
- Traslia - I... I w-wouldn't mind trying...
- Lirtelta - I don't like where this is going.
- Nirta - Why don't you both go get a room? I'm sure you have plenty on this thing.
Tetra also blushed before taking another gulp of Paa'go. Vesinash rolled her eyes with a smirk on her face as she looked away and continued drinking blissfully. Aside from the weight that had yet to show itself bearing down upon them, the team had little else to fear; life was fulfilling and enlightening, and would continue to be for some time.
However, the time would soon come once again - the Zarkhator would return wielding prejudice and wrath, a force more potent than nature itself, and piracy and crime would still continue to go on throughout the arms of Borealis. But the harsh galactic reality could wait for at least a few weeks, as for now it appeared that rest, leisure and celebration were the primary concerns for the team. This would be their next objective to achieve, their next mission to complete. And there was little else that could get in their way.
The maddened king gritted his teeth as he sat upon his throne. The flesh-like material that decorated the walls pulsated and groaned aggressively, violently, in accordance to the king's anger. Zarkhator Prime could barely contain himself as he saw his 'daughter' before him, his secondary set of arms clenching their fists tightly while he merely glared in her direction with reddened eyes, a horrifying scowl upon his masculine face. Zaharalei, wounded from the fight with Tetra and Zoltik Relkhul, could do nothing but stare in fear of her 'father', not knowing what to expect. She knew she made a mistake by returning to this location, though not returning could imply she had deserted or were dead. Mukharduuild was also present, looking at the defeated Custodian with a furious expression.
- Zarkhator Prime - You have failed me, Zaharalei. I placed my trust in you and you utterly betrayed it. You gave the primitives reason to believe that the Zarkhator are weak. That we can be defeated. You are a disgrace.
- Zaharalei - I-I'm s-sorry, my k-king... B-but I was o-overpowered...
- Zarkhator Prime - I did not ask for your apologies or your excuses. I asked for your effort and success. And you did not give me that.
- Zaharalei - I-I gave m-my best...
The Zarkhator progenitor continued to glare, his expression remaining static as he glanced upon Zaharalei's form. As he looked towards her king, she could notice the fiery, reddish aura that radiated from his form, his eyes illuminating in a hellish manner as he continued to glare. Soon, the colours of the fleshy walls of metallic tissue began to transition from a daunting blackish-grey to a bloody, horrifying red and black. Zaharalei could begin to hear the sound of her own heartbeat. The Custodian's eyes darted around in fear, her breathing becoming heavy and her legs becoming shaky, afraid of what her creator had in mind for her.
- Zarkhator Prime - I hope you are aware that as much as I am your creator, I can be your destroyer.
- Zaharalei - I... I am f-fully aware, m-master...
- Zarkhator Prime - But. While I can be a destroyer, I shall reserve that treatment for another occasion should you provoke my disappointment once again. Today, you will learn how I can ensure that you will not find your joke of an existence worth living.
- Mukharduuild - Heheheh. I'm going to enjoy this.
Zaharalei felt herself drop to the ground with a sudden, slight gesture of her creator's fingertip, his red aura growing fervently. Once she had fallen on her back, she could feel a force - invisible - tighten around her ankles and knees, soon her thighs. She could not move from where she was and while she was held down, she thought she could feel the hot, unseen slithering of several serpentine entities crawl up her legs slowly. Zaharalei's eyes widened as the sensations grew intense and made an effort in attempting to shake herself, with little avail.
With the more she struggled, the more the invisible tendrils of Essence made their way up her legs, surrounding and engulfing her waist through her armour as if it were nothing. As they moved over her body she felt herself increasing in her temperature and her senses soon went from tingling to writhing in agony, shortly before she could feel several tendrils move in between her legs. Panicked groans could be heard coming out of the Zarkhator female as she struggled, though none of her efforts could do a thing to lesser or slow down her torture. Soon, the unseen tendrils invaded her body, writhing inside of her with eager, malicious intent, while the ones that covered her legs began to make their way up her torso, infesting within the injury dealt to her chest. After a few moments, they made their way up again, and, pinning her arms to the ground, invaded the orifices around and upon her face.
- Zarkhator Prime - This is the price you will pay for failing to succeed. To call yourself a daughter of mine is an embarassment towards me. Let this be a lesson to you; this is how I feel whenever the younger races feel pride in themselves. It hurts me, as this hurts you.
Zaharalei squirmed in place, letting out fearful groans, grunts and moans. She found it impossible to speak at this moment. Soon, the torture ceased, with the tendrils crawling out of the orifices across her body and allowing her the liberation of her body, giving her the chance to move. Zarkhator Prime continued glaring, stoic, towards the woman while his aura began to settle, his eyes slowly losing their hellish glow.
- Mukharduuild - Get out of here and think about what you did. Or rather, what you've failed to do.
- Zarkhator Prime- Disappoint me again, Zaharalei, and I promise you that you will suffer. You will cry. And in the end, you will die.
Zaharalei said nothing as she crawled out of her king's chamber, blood pouring out of her wounds and tears falling from her eyes. The Zarkhator king watched as the disgraced woman escaped from his chambers, leaving him and his accomplice to themselves. Zarkhator Prime leaned against the arm of his alien throne, which thrived with veins and muscular tissues, almost biomechanical in nature, and stared aimlessly into nothingness as he spoke with an agitated, bored tone.
- Zarkhator Prime - I feel that aborting the stock that she came from would have been a correct decision.
- Mukharduuild - Imbecile. I would've killed her here and now. And used her biomass to create a more efficient clone. Because of her incompetence, the primitives have confidential information about us.
- Zarkhator Prime - If I have to, there will be nothing left of her. Her biomass is clearly not worth recycling. She is deficient.
- Mukharduuild - This is a major problem... This could ruin everything we've done all these millenia. Damn her! And damn the primitive who defeated her! Damn him twice!
- Zarkhator Prime - It is already damned. Just because an animal knows what a tool is, does not mean it knows how to use it correctly. A mere creature will not collapse our plans, Mukharduuild. You worry far too often.
- Mukharduuild - And you, old friend, underestimate the primitives too much. The Kormacvar were slaughtered by the Grox. We tried fighting the Grox for five billion years, and they have slaughtered us over and over and over again. These primitives felled the Grox. They did in a decade what we failed to do in all of our lives.
- Zarkhator Prime - And yet they did not fell us. We are still here after five billion years of the Grox fighting us. They slaughtered us repeatedly, yet we still stand here, our plans intact. The Grox were not even a setback. And now that they are gone, there is nothing stopping us.
- Mukharduuild - On the contrary. Our enemies have the Grox on their side now. They can use them as a weapon against us! They know our weakness, they know us on an individual level!... I question why we don't just sterilize the whole galaxy, it would make our lives much easier.
- Zarkhator Prime - Then what would we have been fighting for? You are far too selfish, you consistently forget what I have spent the last five billion years attempting to accomplish. If I sterilize the galaxy, I would have done their job for them.
- Mukharduuild - A completely lifeless galaxy would mean they would have no reason to be here...
- Zarkhator Prime - A completely lifeless galaxy would mean we would have no reason to be here. I will save us, Mukharduuild, do not let your cowardice convince you otherwise. I will save us and so much more.
- Mukharduuild - I am no coward, Zarkhator. I merely worry about you.
- Zarkhator Prime - You have always worried for me, yet no matter what I or anyone else does, I will always emerge from the wreckage fine. There is no other use for this curse.
- Mukharduuild - ...I will leave you alone now. I should go back to my duties.
- Zarkhator Prime - Do I intimidate you, Mukharduuild?
- Mukharduuild - Sometimes.
Mukharduuild turned to the exit of the chamber and made his way out, dragging his skeletal tail across the floor as he did. Zarkhator watched as his only friend left him to himself, alone. Again. He waited several moments before closing his eyes, quickly leaving his state of consciousness while his body sat still and straight upon the throne. The tranquility of his sleep allowed the mad king to engage with the pure, incinerating wrath that dwelled deep within his body, burning away his worries and concerns in exchange for ashes of confidence.
Cinders of hope within a man who incarnates despair.