In the skies above Moreuse, an epic battle will be fought between old enemies, the result of which will change the very course of the war...
Chapter One: Benevolent ConversationEdit
- Zillum: "This space is the birthright of both our people. Our rightful celestial throne. Not that of the Libertus and certainly not our new "friends"."
- Tyrant: "Urk. Basileus. Their mere presence is toxic. They believed themselves so mighty when they are nothing but purple-scaled Libertus."
- Zillum: "The Imperator think us mere thralls of his will. Pretentious oaf. Our alliance is merely one of necessity and it shall not last forever. His fight to liberate Basileus space from the Empire was doomed to failure the moment it began. Perhaps his predecessor would have been successful, but he's long dead."
- Tyrant: "Regardless of who they call leaders, we must ensure they stay in their rightful place. Under us... This reminds me, and I must ask. Whatever happened to Queen Moch-Na? As far as I'm aware, she did not join our side."
- Zillum: "Ah my dear wife. She rots in the chambers beneath the Palace on Moreuse, desperately clinging to the idea that our union was one of love and that I will eventually submit to her beloved Empire's designs."
Tyrant looked at Zillum with an expression which showed his response had left him disturbed, though he eventually looked back forward and spoke again.
- Tyrant: "...I see. I've had my share of lovers, but I outlived them all. My wives have the tendency of dying in war."
Zillum's voice was cold and emotionless.
- Zillum: "I care not for such trivialities. Power is the prize I seek."
- Tyrant: "If you say so. I merely think you cannot seek power at every second of your life... Regardless. This region of space is quiet. Perhaps, a bit too quiet."
Just as Zillum was about to retort, he received a message from the bridge.
- Bridge Officer: "My lords, we are receiving an emergency transmission from Moreuse. It is being attacked, it seems."
- Tyrant: "What?!"
- Zillum: "The Empire?"
- Tyrant: "How did they get to Moreuse without us noticing?!"
- Zillum: "Their new coronadrives, I'd imagi-"
- Bridge Officer: "Excuse me sir, but it's worse than the Empire."
The bridge officer relayed a transmission from Moreuse. A cold, mechanical symphony sounded over the comlink.
- Unknown: "Species designated "Mortalitas": Your kind will be assimilated by those nature has deemed your betters. It is illogical to resist. Your fate is inevitable. Deactivate your weapons and await our arrival."
Zillum and Tyrant were silent for several moments.
- Zillum: "The Neraida."
- Tyrant: "...Anything but them. We need to go to Moreuse immediately."
Chapter Two: Space Battle above MoreuseEdit
The Benevolent and her escort fleet dropped out of hyperspace near the orbit of Moreuse, the skies above which were teeming with vast Neraida Cubes and a single Neraida Dreadnought, feared by all as one of the most powerful vessels in Cyrannus. On the bridge of the Benevolent, Zillum stood with his arms folded behind his back, bellowing out orders to those under his command while occasionally relaying commands to the other captains in the fleet, the vast majority of them either Mortalitas or Tiranozark. Despite the near impossible odds, Zillum was confident that victory would be won, in the knowledge that his fleet combined with that of Tyrant had yet to fail in battle thus far in the conflict.
Tyrant appeared surprised over the fact the Neraida were attacking, especially since they had not been heard of in several years, and they were never known to have intervened in the war. Standing next to Zillum, he too gave orders to his men, both in the ship and outside so that his fleet could prepare itself for the vile aliens' arrival.
The Neraida fleet over Moreuse immediately responded to the arrival of Zillum and Tyrant's forces, beams of green energy shooting through space toward their targets. By the time the battle had begun, most of the Mortalitas and Tiranozark ships had activated their shields, though many of the smaller frigates immediately exploded under the devastating firepower of the larger Gigamatrix fleet. Larger ships such as the Benevolent merely shrugged off the Neraida attack, prompting the Cubes to launch thousands of aggressive pods toward the State fleet. Though small, these pods peppered against the Benevolent by the hundreds, with most disintegrating as soon as they reached the shields. One particular pod however managed to land in the cavernous landing bay of the Benevolent, though Zillum thought little of it, too fixed on holding off the larger Neraida Dreadnought holding position close to the fringes of the planet's atmosphere.
The two imposing admirals remained focused on the battle until their bridge officer got their attention again.
- Bridge Officer: "My lords, hostiles have been identified inside the Benevolent. The Neraida got inside."
- Zillum: "Tyrant. Deal with these robotic scum."
- Tyrant: "With pleasure."
- Bridge Officer: "We have visuals of the invaders."
On the officer's screen, Zillum and Tyrant could take a glance at the Neraida forces pushing inside the vessel. They were mainly composed of assimilated drones and some Caprigrox individuals, but what was most notable was the figure leading them. A very tall Cyrannian Marinox, whose eyes appeared as black as the void of space. The enemy stopped for a moment to gaze at whatever was recording his presence before striking at it with a vibroblade, destroying it and ending the feed.
- Zillum: "Khuenaten. Be warned, Tyrant. This is no ordinary drone."
- Tyrant: "Worry not, my friend. I'll have this abomination sent out of the airlock before the space fight is over."
Chapter Three: The Tyrant and the DroneEdit
Zillum was not wrong. The Marinox boarding his ship was none other than Khuenaten, one of the most powerful of the Neraida Gigamatrix's drones. The Mortalitas admiral's battle with him in the First Battle of Carindes was one difficult to forget, for he was almost killed by the cyborg that day. Khuenaten was one of the few beings in Cyrannus who could stand up to the Mortalitas in one versus one combat, perhaps even surpass him, but as far as Zillum knew, he was supposed to be destroyed. Khuenaten and his forces swarmed through the Benevolent aggressively, killing any unfortunate crewsmember who who was unlucky enough to stand in their way.
Tyrant prepared to face the Marinox in a larger hall of the ship in order to have space to face him, backed up by a squad of heavily armed Tiranozark marines who positioned themselves to open fire at the Neraida drones. Once the fiendish cyborgs arrived, the soldiers opened fire while Tyrant marched forward to face the giant Khuenaten himself.
- Tyrant: "Zillum has told me of you. I shall see how powerufl you really are, machine!"
- Khuenaten: "... You are not the one I seek."
Lunging forward, Khuenaten's near-serpentine form struck Tyrant with immense force, much more than his sleek limbs would indicate, causing the Tiranozark admiral to be knocked straight into the ground. Zillum and his bridge officers could watch the battle through their monitors, and they watched as Khuenaten delivered flurries of blows with his vibroblade against Tyrant, as if attempting to get him out of the way as soon as he could. A pained shout came out of the Tiranozark as the blade stabbed through his shoulder, slashing forward and cutting through his flesh and armor like butter.
- Tyrant: "Gaaaah!!
- Khuenaten: "Imprudent lifeform. You stand no chance against me."
As he spoke, Khuenaten let out gaggling sounds mixed with static, which caused Tyrant to back up holding on his arm in pain as his soldiers fired at the monster, though his highly advanced shields allowed him to ignore their shots altogether.
- Tyrant: "Hng... Y-you are... glitched, aren't you? W-why are you here? To devour Moreuse? You will fail like you failed to devour Carindes years ago!"
- Khuenaten: "Your planet is irrelevant to me, flesh sack. I am here for him. The one who defeated me."
- Tyrant: "You'll never assimilate Zillum."
- Khuenaten: "I will assimilate him not. I will destroy him."
Tyrant could barely prepare himself as he saw Khuenaten charge at him again, displaying a fury unlike seen on the usually emotionless drones of the Gigamatrix. As he was severely cut by the cyborg's blade, he was not able to tell Khuenaten was not here because he wanted to dominate Moreuse. His defeat by Zillum's hands was burned into his memory and gave him emotions a Gigamatrix drone is not meant to have. He had been revived by his Neraida masters in a new, more powerful body, but his memories were still there. And they evolved into individuality.
They gave him a desire for revenge.
- Khuenaten: "I will not be denied."
Tyrant gasped for air as he fell into the ground, unable to even strike back at his assailant as Khuenaten impaled the Tiranozark admiral with his weapon more and more. But before he could deal the final blow, heavier weaponry was brought into the fray and fired at the Neraida forces, destroying the drones and damaging the Marinox commandant's shields, forcing him to retreat through the corridors of the ship. Tyrant was gravely wounded but saved from death, however, Khuenaten continued to make his way inside the ship, looking for Zillum.
And he would not stop until either one of them was dead.
Chapter Four: The Final DuelEdit
Charging down the central corridors leading to the bridge, Khuenaten managed to engage several of his subroutines allowing for his shields to recharge to about sixty percent. However, this did little to impede on his rampage. Cutting down troopers and droids alike, Khuenaten continued to display rage unlike anything one would expect from a Neraida drone. Suddenly, the lights on the corridor went dark as a pair of crimson eyes became visible over the smoke caused by the Neraida attack on the Benevolent both from within and from space. Zillum ignited his blade as he emerged into Khuenaten's field of vision, and as he took sight of him, the Marinox let out an electronic roar.
- Zillum: "And thus we come to it at last. I will end what was started on Carindes all those years ago."
- Khuenaten: "You. Revenge. Destroy you and all you hold dear. You will learn to fear me."
- Zillum: "Hinder me? With fear? Mechanical fool."
Khuenaten charged at Zillum, and like he had done to Tyrant, he delivered flurries of quick but powerful blows which were evaded as Zillum backed away. At their present location, they were not too far away from the Benevolent's hypermatter reactor, the machine which powered up the entire dreadnought. From what he watched the drone do to Tyrant, Zillum knew he would not be able to simply fight Khuenaten in melee range like he had done before, for trying to would surely result in his death.
The Mortalitas made use of his psychic abilities to keep the monstrous cyborg at bay, but even then he found difficult to keep Khuenaten away due to his sheer size and strength. He had been considerably empowered since their last battle, but at the same time, he also appeared to be more and more blinded by his hate for Zillum, leading him to become rash. As he left an opening, the Mortalitas general delivered a strike at Khuenaten's left horn, severing a half of it and sending it flying across the corridor, but the cyborg seemingly showed no reaction as he retaliated by charging head first into Zillum, sending him dragging across the floor backwards until he hit the nearest wall.
Khuenaten's blows became more furious the more he chased Zillum, and his strength became more and more apparent as he managed to strike at his chest armor and an arm. The Mortalitas leader found himself incapable of finding another opening at this point, but they were about to reach the reactor, which was what Zillum intended from the beginning. As they finally arrived, the Mortalitas tried to gain some space but found himself pinned down into the ground as Khuenaten lunged at him, digging his sharpened teeth into the Mortalitas' neck furiously. Only by using all of his strength to send his blade at Khuenaten's stomach was Zillum able to free himself, which made the Marinox back away to the side and start walking in circles around the Mortalitas, like a predator cornering its prey.
- Khuenaten: "The memory of my 'death' stings my circuits. It hinders my calculations. It upsets me. No flesh sack can be greater than me. You are not greater than Commandant Khuenaten!"
- Zillum: "I am Zillum, King of the Mortalitas, Master of the Outer Rim and bane to both Republic and Empire! This is my hour! And you will fall!"
Khuenaten let out another mechanical roar as he lunged at Zillum again, who responded by using all of his power to telekinetically fling the Marinox back, throwing him at the Benevolent's hypermatter reactor. Upon contact, the Commandant of the Gigamatrix had little time to react as he was completely disintegrated to an atomic level, and even if he had explosives inside him like last time, these too would have no time to detonate.
But simultaneously, Khuenaten managed to throw his vibroblade at Zillum's direction, and the Mortalitas could feel an immense pain as it impaled his chest, most definitely skewering through at least some of his vital organs. Much like their first battle, Zillum could do little to resist blacking out as Khuenaten was killed by his blade once again.
Chapter Five: Ruminations of a Mortalitas KingEdit
After a while, Zillum rose to his feet and ripped the vibroblade out of his chest. Using the powers given to him by Tyrómairon, he attempted to heal the damage done to his internal organs, though most of the damage had already taken its toll. Pain coursed through his damaged flesh, the ruin of his chest, the perpetual pain wrought by the cyborg's blade. He welcomed it. Pain gave him focus and fed his hate for those who dared oppose him, which in turn fed his strength. As with all of his injuries caused by a lifetime of war, he would learn to accept these wounds and use them to sharpen the edges of his malice, his will to survive, his will to conquer.
Stepping out of the crackling remains of the reactor room, Zillum found himself in the now densely packed corridors of the Benevolent. Those who served under him gave him a wide berth, the sight of the feared Mortalitas drenched in his own blood and the oozing cybernetic residue of his enemy. He terrified them, he knew, and that pleased him. Even in allies, terror was a tool to be used like any other.
On the bridge of the Benevolent, the lights from the computers blinked as dictated by the skeleton crew which managed to survive the Neraida's onslaught. Approaching him was the second-in-command of the Benevolent, a Lizardian named Lizamalignan, who had been a loyal follower of Zillum since the days of the Second Galactic War.
- Lizamalignan: "My Lord Zillum, it is agreeable to see you alive."
- Zillum: "Cease the pleasantries, Lizamalignan. How goes the battle? And where is Lord Tyrant?"
- Lizamalignan: "The Neraida are gone, my Lord. Our fleet has taken heavy casualities though it appears that the death of the lead drone destablised their plans. Lord Tyrant is currently at the ship's medical bay healing from his injuries."
Zillum nodded and strode toward the window overlooking the starfield above the azure glow of his homeworld. The galaxy and the innumerable stars and worlds beyond were sprawled out before him. On the brink of death in the reactor room he had come to a realisation of the manifest will of existence. It was his duty to rule them all. His train of thought was suddenly interupted however by an untold amount of subtle flashes in the dark of night. The clear sign of an arriving fleet, of an untold amount of ships. But these did not hail from the Neraida. Behind the vast fleet, a spherical space station had appeared, casting a looming shadow over the waters of Moreuse. Overcome with cold rage, Zillum listened to the transmission.
- Taev Vosaetiur: "Attention, rebel fleet, this is Grand Mandator Taev Vosaetiur of the Galactic Empire of Cyrannus. Several weeks ago, your forces besieged my homeworld of Imperavelli. Now - allow me to return the favour. The Imperial State faces extinction and it that now remains is where it makes its final stand. Will you opt for oblivion?"
- Zillum: "You do not intimidate me. Face me in person and I will crush you under my heel."
The Grand Mandator hummed in agreement.
- Taev Vosaetiur: "I have no doubt. Fortunately, I hold the upper hand on the bridge of my hyperweapon. I shall make this easy for you then. You can fight and you'll all die, your precious world turned to space debris or you can flee and face annihilation along with your Basileus masters in the battle to come."
- Zillum: "You will roe this day, Libertus. The Empire may emerge victorious, but it will one day collapse. And I shall be the one who parades your body through the streets of Moreuse."
By his command, Zillum's fleet warped into hyperspace, leaving the now Imperial controlled Moreuse behind.
Chapter Six: Curtains for the StateEdit
Though he had been forced from his homeworld, Zillum decided to focus his rage into something productive, namely building up a powerbase elseware. Meanwhile, he approached Tyrant in the ship's medical bay.
- Zillum: "You are injured."
- Tyrant: ""Zillum... I must apologize. The cyborg bested me."
- Zillum: "Yes. It did. However, it is now vanquished, though with it, our control of the Northern Outer Rim."
- Tyrant: "Did the Neraida take over Moreuse?"
- Zillum: "The Empire."
- Tyrant: "...What?!"
Tyrant groaned and huffed in pain for a few moments before speaking again.
- Tyrant: "They must have noticed the Neraida movement and watched the battle from the shadows to take down whoever survived. Damned snakes."
- Zillum: "The Emperor is no fool. No doubt he planned this entire ordeal from the beginning. The State will not endure for long."
- Tyrant: "I cannot return to the front lines after these injuries. Even with our medical advancements, it will take me months before I can fight again... Our time in the State draws to an end, Zillum. Neither of us desired to remain under the Basileus' control for long."
- Zillum: "The future heralds a new dawn for Cyrannus. One in which the Empire and the Republic both vie for control. Fear not, I will not rest until both fall to my feet. I long for the taste of battle with the great enemy..."
- Tyrant: "And once they are both dealt with, we should exterminate these damnable Neraida once and for all."
Deep in the Unknown Regions, several Neraida had gathered in a perfect circle within one of the largest Cubes in existence. Communicating with one another through telepathy, the alien beings discussed the events which transpired over Moreuse. They appeared greatly displeased with the events.
- Neraida 1: "Drone Khuenaten launched an unauthorized attack on Species 8910, designated "Mortalitas". Individuality levels above acceptable levels."
- Neraida 2: "Cloning facility X01 will fabricate replacement. Individuality processes will be terminated."
- Neraida 3: "Recalibrating. Drone Khuenaten is to be discontinued."
- Neraida 2': Irrelevant. Useful resource. Squandering is inefficicent."
- Neraida 3: Discontinuation and replacement is the most effective action."
The Neraida communicated between each other for several microseconds more until they arrived to a consensus. Khuenaten had attacked Moreuse without their permission, attempting to break away from their control for the sake of revenge, and that was a flaw which could not be kept.
- Neraida 1: "Consensus reached. Drone Khuenaten has been discontinued. Replacement necessary. Assimilatory campaigns limited to local space."
- Neraida 2: "Drone Sakhmet. Systematic. Effective substitution."
- Neraida 1: "Recalibrating consensus. One of Two, Aedanius, Primary Highdrone of Core Matrix Twelve. Methodical successor."
- Neraida 2: "Error: Primary Highdrone of Core Matrix Twelve non-functional."
- Neraida 3: "Error rectification: Primary Highdrone of Core Matrix Twelve functional."
The doors of the Neraida's discussion opened themselves, allowing their newest drone to come in. The drone appeared to be a Libertus and though it lacked the drastic cybernetic modifications of the Caprigrox, it was still a frightening sight to behold. The legacy of the Neraida's most infamous assimilation. Though it wasn't a complete clone of Apollo, it retained the memories of his time amongst the Neraida.
- Aedanius: "State your directive."