- 1 Subject Tytho
- 2 The Chronosphere
- 3 New Enigma
- 4 Conflicts Inside
- 5 Left to think
- 6 The God Zazane Returns
- 7 Breaking Old Ties
- 8 Slaves in the Machine
- 9 Emperor of Slaves
- 10 The Pariahs
- 11 The Brotherhood of the Blade
- 12 Meanwhile, aboard Traxus
- 13 Shattered Mind
- 14 Complications in Politics
- 15 Old Alliances Renewed
- 16 A Crown Prince's Concerns
March 8th, 2790
The Solonese Union had been adapting to the new conditions and properity that had come to them from joining the Commonwealth. Goods from across Andromeda were streaming inot their markets and the bustling planet of Foth-Venn was one of these cosmopolitan worlds.
Foth-Venn had new visitors today. Stepping out of a shuttle marked with the insignia of the union's G5 was Arith'Kethli, a Rytekian, and Grussk, a Val'Kar. Both had been sent by the G5 to investigate a laboratory situated deep beneath the streets of the planet's capital. Arriving at an elevator the two passed a retinal scan, decontamination checks and a long elevator ride to a facility a kilometre down. WHen the doors opened they were greeted by an android that looked like a silver-plated solinkidor. Arith'Kethil scoffed at the droid as it approached.
Kethil - We are here to investigate "subject Tytho"
Droid - Clearence please.
Kethil - We just passed a retinal scan, I thought we had clearence?
Droid - Please provide stage-3 authorisation.
Kethil - Alright. What do you need?
Droid - Please provide stage-3 authorisation. Blood test required.
The pair looked at each other, unsure what the droid wanted.
Grussk - ...Alright.
Droid - Please stay still.
The droid lifted its arm and the two of them did the same. The droid clasped theri palms and the pair felt a sharp stabbing pain in their palms. The android rectracted his hands to reveal pinpric wounds in theri palms. After a few seconds its eye flashed green and it walked down the corridor. It indicated for the two officers to follow it as they traveled through several hundred metres of corridor. They arrived at a waiting room where they were met by a COlamr wearing a crisp white boiler suit. He smiled as he looked up at the pair of officials.
Velebi - Greetings G5 officials. You are probably wondering why you have been brought all the way down here.
Grussk - Yeah. The thought did cross my mind.
Kethil - The report suggested some sort of bioengineering research?
Velebi- Well... not entirely true mr. Arith, but you are along the right lines. Come, I will show you.
The two officials nodded quietly and entered a dar kroom. A shutter on a window opened up to a medium-sized room with a strange child and a female Ryketian caring for her. Grussk frowned with confusion.
Grussk - Professor... How does this relate to Project Tytho exactly?
Velebi chuckled somewhat smugly in response, which drew some curiosity from Arith'Kethil.
Velebi - Gentlemen. This is Project Tytho.
Grussk - Excuse me? This bioengineering project is a child?
Velebi - Not just any child. We all know the mantra "strength in unity" right?
Kethil - Sure, what are you trying to say?
Velebi - We took genetic markers from all G5 races and spliced them into this one child. We had quite a few failures at first and Tytho One here is the first true success.
Kethil - So this child is some kind of chimera? Grussk - I think i'm gonna vommit. Velebi - Well... we added a little something else we discovered from splicing Ryketian DNA.
He approached a microphone and whsipered into it.
Velebi - Dethba, I have some visitors interested in seeing Tytho's talents.
From inside the room, the Ryketian comforted the girl and after a few encouraging words, convinced the little girl to stare at a pillow on her bed. To the surprise of the G5 officials, the pillow lifted up off the bed with no visible connections and floated into her grasp. Velebi smiled with exitment and Kethil smiled out of with interest. Grussk's face was frozen with surprise.
Kethil - So she's a telepath?
Velebi - Oh yes. We managed to define the markers and amplify them over four years before her birth, which makes her potentially one of the most powerful psychics in the union.
Kethil - Four years? Our reports say thisp roject has lasted eight and the girl looks much older than that.
Velebi - We... introduced certain hormones into her ssytem to age her at thre times the normal rate. Your reports are not wrong.
Grussk - She... she's a freak of nature?
Velebi - I prefer the term "rare genetic oppertunity".
Kethil - How exactly are you keeping her sane? We're a kilometre underground with no sunlight, how is she kept healthy?
Velebi - She is given regular access to a holochamber and the windows you see around her room arep rogrammed to resemble a country retreat. As far as she is aware, she is not underground.
Kethil - I see.
Grussk regained his composure and gulped. Inside the room the child looked at the mirror they were standing behind.
Tytho - Mummy, why do people keep asking me t operform tricks? Why do they never want ot say hello?
Dethba - People are... afraid sometimes. Don't let it worry you, you know how you get when things worry you so go brush your teeth and prepare for bed.
Tytho - Okay. And mummy?
Tytho - Can we go to the city tomorrow?
Dethba - ...Sure.
Dethba was lying. She knew that "trips to the city" were really visits to a simulation of an unknown city. None of the people were real, none ofthe places were real and she wondered how long it would be before Tytho stopped being naive enough to realise, or whether or not she already had done.
Tytho - I want to visit a real city mummy. One with real people and not ghosts.
Deathba - In time you will. Now, go to bed.
Tytho - Okay.
Dethba sighed as she left the room quietly. She turned the light off and activated a butto nto close the curtains. She quietly closed the door and left the rooms to the rest of the facility.
April 14th, 2790
Slowly and steadily, as time passed, the construction of Elysion space station progressed, and the massive structure slowly started to spring into life; thousands of spaceships now arrived there from all over Andromeda: from the station's argent domes themselves, one could see these ships forming fiery streams of light in the night sky, shimmering with various colours. Some people, however, did prefer more advanced ways of travel. Among them was a scientist who came to one of the station's smaller domes; about the size of a large building, it was created as a science complex from where all sentient species of the galaxy could share their knowledge. The entire dome was an elaborate labyrinth of vast laboratories where Andromeda's most bizzare experiments were conducted, massive machines and reactors which ensured these experiments will be safely executed, and conference rooms where new theories were introduced by the galaxy's brightest minds. Inside this labyrinth, however, was a room secret even to the complex's very scientists; only a select few knew of what did this room hold. Because it did hold the most powerful pieces technology ever known to Andromeda.
The artifacts of Andromeda War.
The same artifacts that instigated the conflict that both shook the galactic community to its core and which, ironically, unified the galaxy, in a sense. The artifacts that could destroy the galaxy, the artifacts that could make one a literal god. Now, they were kept there, in a small secret room, trapped inside the Chronosphere; a creation of the extragalactic Unified Nation of Ottzello, it created a temporal field that let nothing in or out; the artifacts and the rest of the universe were now in the different realities. Until there was time for experiments, of course: and now, there was such time.
A Sader scientist, one responsible for these experiments, was now conducting these experiments, turning off the Chronosphere to gather data and information about them. Looking up to see the ancient relics he was observing, the scientist slowly stepped back. The artifacts gleamed. The pure white light they radiated was enticing, entertaining... pleasing to his eyes. Almost hypnotised by the light, the Sader did barely manage to come to his senses to get the information he needed and turn on the temporal barrier again. Pressing a button on the machine with a shaking, sweaty hand, he saw the light vanishing yet again, now replaced by a purple gleaming of the Chronosphere. Nothing could penetrate its faceless void.
Sader - This is Archdemiurge A'on to professor Tarsus Senvinus. We have new data about the artifacts.
A'on watched a hologram of a Draconis in clean, white and yellow appearing before him - a traditional apparel of the Imperium's scientists. His eyes were curious, inquisitive, and yet slightly distressed. The Sader scientist wondered; did he hear surprise in A'on's own voice or was it mere intuition?
Tarsus - New data? What have you discovered?
A'on was breathing heavily in a mix of excitement of fear.
A'on - What I've discovered? We believed that after the artifacts were unified and used during the battle for Cathemera, they were useless now... but now, it was... it was...
On the other side of the communication bridge, aboard The New Dawn, Tarsus leaned foward with interest.
Tarsus - Spit it out, Sader. I am keen to hear of what you have learned.
A'on - I was studying the artifacts. I put them out of their place for just a few standard seconds, but then... they- they started glowing! I did study the artifacts further, and it appears they accumulate some sort of... energy! It was how this Loron used it during the War, and now it is growing- exponentially! I activated the sphere yet again, and Spode help us all if we will put the artifacts out of stasis next time...
Tarsus - This is... Intriguing. The last time these artifacts were discharged or used the recipient gained godlike levels of psychic power - and believe me: when I say this, I do not use that term often. So do you think these devices may be powering up to do this again?
A'on - It is quite plasuible. And you know what is worse? I was checking the energy signature of the artifacts. They were discharging... periodically. Apparently, there was a system in these discharges... like a signal...
Tarsus slumped forward in his chair. he descended deeply into thought for a few minutes and he looked about, away from A'on.
Tarsus - ...What could be the purposes of these discharges, could the artifacts be communicating with each other?
Tarsus perked up for a moment and he reached for a datapad on his desk. He began frantically typing away, muttering various possibilities and known theories under his breath.
A'on - If only I knew... I have nothing to tell anymore, and further experiments will probably be difficult, considering their accumulating energy. Leave me, professor. I have to think now...
Tarsus - *still typing* As you wish, Archdemiurge... oh, one thing.
A'on - What, professor?
Tarsus - The Draconid Imperium's Orolius Programme might be of help, seeing as how this Loron's abilities at Cathamera were similar to the programme's underlying mission statement and devices like this could be of interest to the scholars. Occasionally the programme develops prototype devices and substances to amplify the hyperspace interaction awareness of certain users. Perhaps their research might be of use?
A'on - I will take note of this. A'on's out.
A'on cut the transmission off, left to his own devices thinking about the mystery of the artifacts. Apparently, the Andromeda War did not end the strange relics' mystery for eternity...
A'on - Like a signal... Like a signal... Like a signal...
May 2nd, 2790
Planet Tirar, Miana system, Segmentum Umbra
As New Dawn traversed Segmentum Umbra to its destination, the ships' crew looked at the new world they were going to visit - a small Tertanai world, Tirar. Its image was slowly growing larger on the screen, and its features became more visible; it was all crystal, dust and rock, like if it was picked to bone and consumed, and only by dimly lit dots on the planet's landscape - Tertanai domed cities - could one realise that there was actually life, let alone civilisation, there.
Quendor - The landscape is pretty... desolate. Jahric said he heard Tertanai refer to this world as their cultural capital... seems pretty dead for one.
Tarsus - Many words died when the Four vanished. How or why it happened, hm, that's what we need to find out.
Quendor - Let's just land there. Perhaps the locals know what happened?
Arnas - All right. Who is going to visit the planet with us?
Most of the crew remained silent, except for a Zazane warrior, Betharon Tanaris, who was the ship's chief tactical officer. He spoke in a somewhat arrogant manner.
Betharon - I couldn't care less for such visits, but perhaps a servant of mine could come with you. Rise, Grond, and do my bidding.
Betharon pointed and one of Zazane next to him stepped forward to Tarsus and Quendor.
Grond - My name is Grond, one of Niddan Ho warriors, son of Tanaris.
Arnas steered New Dawn towards the largest domed city; when the crew left the ship, everyone was quite surprised. Even while the planet itself was desolate, the city looked like the pinnacle of architecture. Pastel, baroque buildings were constructed in geometrical order, each detail being perfectly symmetrical; their light colourations contrasted with the dark clouds that surrounded the domed city. The planet's sun, a dying red dwarf, barely managed to penetrate the overcast sky, and the entire city was lit in its dim, scarlet light. It was both sinister and magnificent. especially the latter.
Tarsus - Looks like your ealier statment may have been a misunderstanding, commander.
Quendor - Seems so. Apparently, this world is more than meets the eye.
Quendor looked at the buildings yet again.
Quendor - Quite beautiful, in fact.
Tarsus - Reminds me of some of the Imperium's cities.
Quendor watched the Tertanai citizen walking, somewhat surprised by alien visitors; it seemed as it was one of the first times they saw one with their own eyes. One of the citizen, a middle-aged Tertanai, approached the crew; by his clean formal clothings and subservient looks Quendor realised it was one of the local ruler's servants.
Tarsus - Greetings.
Ammiones - Greetings, honoured guests of Tirar. My name is Ammiones Narres, and I bring an invitation from lady Nelana mi Anar Satelemene for a visit to her residence. She is a member of the Grand Council and the head of House Satelemene, so I believe this visit will be very important.
The Tertanai was sweating like speaking, somewhat intimidated by Tarsus's look. While he was a scientist, he still was a Draconis, and his size was somewhat unnerving for Ammiones. He pointed at a large pastel green manor next to the city plaza.
Ammiones - Her residence is there.
Tarsus - You must forgive me but I am just a scientist, I do not entirely enjoy spending time with governors.
Tarsus - Unless, of course, she has knowledge on the precursors.
Ammiones - My apologies, then. But I believe she had something important for your mission. At least that's what she told me.
Tarsus - If she insists than I may as well.
Quendor - ...what the professor said.
Ammiones led the New Dawn's crew through the city's streets. As they progressed, it seemed that the buildings were growing more and more baroque; instead of structured, indentical houses they saw before, large manors and estates started to appear, as did long shady terraces, where dark blue trees, apparently native to Tertanai worlds, were planted. While Quendor was slightly suprised by this vegetation, Tarsus merely felt curious; he saw many strange things in his life and these trees weren't strange for him at all. Finally, the crew reached Nelana's residence - and everyone was quite impressed. Gleaming white, it was a massive manor, adorned with many decorations and heavy, imposing pillars; statues of Tertanai warriors and generals stood, posed as if they were defending the manor, fused into the manor's walls.
Tarsus - Hm, an impressive estate your lady has.
The manor's gates opened and the crew soon found themselves in a large guestroom. Ancient, torn tapestries were on the walls, depicting mythological and historical events. In the middle of the room stood lady Nelana, walking to meet her new guests. Her clothings were very upper-class and fashionable, marked with intristic patterns and Illidian glyphs. Taking a condescending, yet somewhat respectful, gaze at the crew, Nelana smiled.
Nelana - Ah... greetings, esteemed guests. I am honoured by the arrival of our extraterrestrial allies. I have prepared a small dinner for you, you may take a seat.
Grond - *under his breath* ...poison...
Nelana showed her guests a long table; it seemed it was made out of ivory-like wood; white in colour and bony. Having curvy, almost organic shapes, the whole table looked quite exotic and eccentric, except for the seats, which were strangely laconic - and very tall - and constrasted with the surroundings.
Tarsus - If you insist.
Tarsus and Quendor followed Nelana and sat on the table, while Grond remained standing, keeping his weapon by his side and looking away from the food.
Nelana - Forgive me, the chairs might be slightly...uncomfortable. We are not really accustomed to such practices. But be assured, every other accomodation will be the best the Alliance can offer.
Grond - Hmph, it is not because of the chairs that I stand.
Tarsus - Forgive our escort.
Multiple Tertanai servants appeared and served the food. It appeared to look like normal meat, but with a purple tinge, dressed with salad-like leaves.
Quendor - Ahem... I guess I will take a taste.
Grond - Tarsus, if you wish, I shall test the food for you.
Tarsus - *sighs* If you insist, however my body contains a technology that can aid in breaking down toxins.
Grond walked over and looked at the food, before taking a bite and narrowing his eyes at Nelana.
Grond - ...It's safe.
Nelana - I was aware that our food might be... poisonous for your species; I assure you we have taken precautions. No incidents should happen.
Tarsus grasped a small chunk of meat and placed it on his tongue.
Tarsus - We were informed that there may be artifacts dating back to the times of The Four on this planet. Apparently that was the reason yuo invited us here, was it not?
Nelana - I am well versed in the stories of the Old Alliance, sir, and I assure you: all artifacts and relics left on this planet were uncovered millenia ago. I have other news for you, though. Our scientists have intercepted several signals from the outer segmentum. When you finish, I will show them to you.
Tarsus slowed down as he eated and looked curiously.
Tarsus - Signals?
Nelana - Yes, signals. The scientists claim they might be of utmost importance, but I doubt that.'
Tarsus - I have a hypothesis, but your scientists may be correct.
Nelana - Reminocles believes the same. If you insist, I will show you these transmissions right now.
Tarsus - Very well. I am keen to know more about them.
Tarsus lifted up a thin piece of salad and uncomfortably swallowed it.
Nelana - So be it. This room has a very large holodeck - I adore the masterpieces of three-dimensional art - so be prepared.
Tarsus wiped his mouth with a cloth and looked to Grond with a smirk. Nelana presses some buttons. Several dark, obscure, somewhat reptilian figures appeared, barking orders to each other on their alien language.
??? - Gnorvi nagtah. Sravak rah naar. Kolger rah-ar naak.
Nelana - Apparently some alien civilisation...
Grond - Hmph. She could've poisoned or acidized your organs, Tarsus. Don't get so full of yourself.
Tarsus - I know, I know...
Tarsus looked to the figures and raised an eyebrow.
Tarsus - Interesting.
Quendor - I was seeing creatures like that in the data records. I believe we encountered them in Kraw Galaxy...
Tarsus - Any idea what they are or were?
Tarsus - Wait, you're not suggesting... are you?
Grond - ...Aliens. Tarsus sighed.
Quendor - I think they were fighting for Kraw against the Brood.
Tarsus - You will have to enlighten me, Kraw Galaxy politics is not my strongpoint.
Grond - Hmph, I was never in Kraw. You must ask Tyraz himself about that, or Father Tanaris.
Tarsus - Wait... Quendor, I remember reports that the Kraw had two allies in recent conflicts: Tyrekians and Gros.... it can't be.
Grond - Eh, both are stupid fools.
Quendor - Gros, then?
Tarsus - That is what I am not hoping. If so then our mission has presumeably become more dangerous.
Tarsus took a deep breath.
Tarsus - Lady Nelana, how does this relate to the ancients exactly?
Nelana - This transmission? It Is not. That one? Not sure.
Nelana pressed a few buttons; another image appeared. It was another shadowy figure; It was speakIng and unlike the previous one, its language was intelligible, although heavily distorted.
??? - ...yes, that Is my plan. The ship's remains are in this segmenum, and as long as nobody will know anything about our operation there... *distorted* ...yes, Chronosphere. *distorted*
Tarsus's eyes widened.
Tarsus - Chronosphere?
Grond - Chrono-what?
Quendor - Uh-oh. Must be serious.
Tarsus stood up rather hastily.
Tarsus - Lady Nelana, thank you for your time.
Tarsus - Grond, I can handle this, however the Comonwelath will need to be informed.
Nelana - Wait, you didn't drink the, eh- there is also another transmission!
Nelana hastily pressed a button and a loud cybernetic voice boomed across the room. Tarsus covered his ears and cringed.
Tarsus - What in the name of the Lifefather was that?!
??? - This is HHS Apocalypse. We request assistance. We request assistance. We request-
Quendor - ...HHS Apocalypse?
Quendor's face turned pale.
Tarsus - Sir?
Grond - Quendor, you look as if you're going to vomit.
Quendor - But... the HHS Apocalypse is in the Divinarium, commandeered by Navarch Renaie... but if this is the ship's previous owner...
Grond - Spit it out, Quendor, before I make you.
Tarsus - Sir.. who was the ship's previous owner?
Quendor - Geroniel Telnhao. My mother. I believed she died during the Artharon conflict, but it seems...
Tarsus - Unless this transmission originates from the inner-rim then this could be worth investigating with the captain's permission.
Three crew members started talking loudly, making Nelana quite pissed.
Nelana - You seem worried, my friends. May I give you a cup of Tirarian Finest? It is soothing for a soul, it is said...
Quendor - I am afraid we have to go, lady. Duty calls...
Tarsus stopped for a second.
Tarsus - Hmm, may we take some for our journey?
Grond - Tarsus! It could be poison!
Tarsus - We can study the composition in the New Dawn's labs if you are so concerned. However that wll be true if the tea is biologically compatable.
Nelana's face changed her expression; a smile turned into arrogant displeasure.
Nelana - Hmph. Some commoners don't know what does "'polite"' mean apparently. I will send a crate wIth the drink to your ship, don't worry about that.
Grond - Commoners? I am Niddan Ho, a son of Tanaris!
Tarsus - ...Do not mind our escort, he is only concerend for our safety and well-being.
Nelana - Fine then. I bid you farewell in your travels. May the light of Tertamia shine upon you.
The crew hastily returned to the New Dawn. New journeys awaited...
May 3rd, 2790
Segmentum Umbra/Segmentum Exterioris
“And so the journey of the New Dawn begins. We have clues to unfold. We have mysteries to discover. The brand new world awaits us, and nobody knows for sure what does it hide from us; and we have to find out. Many dangers may lurk there, but I believe that the greatest threat to our quest lies within this very vessel...”
- - Remembrancer Theon Miranath, log 004/12:M001
Arnas sat in her seat on the command deck, clicking her fingers while waiting for the other crew members to assemble. Distracted for a moment, she looked at the walls and admired their look. After taking command of a ship, she made some work to customise the places she was working in, and now it was fitting her sense of aesthetics: not too fancy, not too bland. An old family heirloom here, a set of weapons there: the combination of all these small things made Arnas feel like she was home.
Eventually, however, Arnas was distracted again when the door to the deck opened; the crew assembled. It seemed to Arnas that all species and denizen of Andromeda came there; after all, the ship was created by the collective efforts of the whole Commonwealth, and the crewmen were suppoed to be chosen from all over the galaxy. First came the tactical officer, Betharon Tanaris; dressed in simple but utilitarian uniform (and hiding Shidium armour underneath), he sat on one of the chairs, scornful disdain etched on his face - as always. An Imperix ambassador, by the name of N'rai, came shortly thereafter, followed by the professor and a dozen or two of other crewmen. Arnas had already prepared to speak but as she viewed her audience, she noticed someone missing...
Arnas - Where are the first officer and the CSO?
Nobody did respond, but shouts from outside the deck were already enough for the question to be answered. Arnas and the rest of the crew ran to investigate the source of the noise. It turned out to be the ship's CSO's chamber... or what left from it, anyway. Broken machinery and Artharon ancestral weaponry flew everywhere, sparkling from psychic energy overload. Amidst the room stood Quendor, looking furiously at his comrade; security officer Baka'niju.
Quendor - You... you were there! I can feel it, you know what happened to her!
Tarsus - What on Alcanti is going on out there?
N'rai - Erm... I thought Radeons were calmer than that.
Quendor turned to Arnas and sighed, hanging his head.
Quendor - My apologies. The fact of my mother surviving was a shocking one...
Baka'niju stayed cool and responded in a cold tone, without taking his helmet off. It was a strange quirk in his personality; no matter what happened, he always remained calm as he forsook his personality. Artharons were usually bombastic, brutal and loud, but not him. He also never showed his face, always remaining in his ash grey, featureless armour.
Baka'niju - The oath to Thorani forbids me from talking about that.
Tarsus - '...'What is this oath exactly?
Tarsus felt somewhat intrigued.
Niju - I was once fighting for Fela'thoran and his clan. I still keep the old oaths.
Quendor - You are still loyal to HIM?! This abomination?! I knew it. You may do whatever you want... But Fela'thoran is not anymore to help you. Either tell me what happened to her, or you would better start begging for mercy right now... Artharon.
Baka'niju spoke again, once again no inflection in his voice.
Baka'niju - The Emperor might be dead, but the old oaths did not die with him.
Arnas - Commander... are you threatening a crew member with violence?''
Quendor - Uh, eh...
Quendor drew back, but was still ready to fight, his entire body shaking in anger. He watched Baka'niju doing the same.
Baka'niju - To face dishonour by breaking the oath to the Old Emperor... or to face dishonour by breaking the oath to the new one.
Arnas - If you two have a problem, might it be best to discuss it with the ships counselor? - Arsac's voice became annoyed, notes of anger appearing in it.
N'rai - Hey, hey, wait!
N'rai, a ship diplomat, stepped between the two officers, deeply worried. While her mechanical Imperix body couldn't show much emotion, according to what one could see was quite distressed of the two's tensions.
N'rai - First officer... I know I am not in position to appeal but- perhaps he just doesn't know the truth?
Quendor turned his head to N'rai.
Quendor - He knows. He was there, fighting- I clearly remember this grey armour...';
Baka'niju nodded in silent approval.
N'rai - But I do not think this is worth fighting for. Vengeance and violence won't change anything...
Quendor went silent for a few seconds, thinking. Meanwhile, N'rai quickly approached the ship's tactical officer, Betharon, and whispered in his ear.
Betharon - What is it, N'rai?
N'rai - Just in case they will start fighting, please, shoot them with whatever non-lethal weapons you have so they won't break anything in process
Betharon - Hmph, I'm chief tactical, whatever action I see appropriate goes on this ship.
N'rai turned back to Quendor and Baka'niju, now speaking to the latter.
N'rai - Sir, I think I understand you. You... still cling to the old ways. I saw others like that during my service.
Baka'niju - ...How can you understand? You are not one of us. Not one of the Artharons.
Quendor barely managed to control his anger, only kept from Baka'niju by N'rai.
Arnas - I don't think you have to be Artharon to understand the basics.
N'rai - I think I do. I met many civilisations and many people, some of them like you. I know it is hard to forget the old times... but we have to do this. You must not sacrifice a part of the present for the sake of the past.
Quendor - Negotiating with him? How c-
Baka'niju took a deep breath. Nobody could see what did he feel under his helmet, but it seemed he was as worried as Quendor.
Baka'niju - So be it... I will break an oath to the Old Emperor. May the ancestors forgive me for this.
Quendor drew his weapon back.
Quendor - You did it?
Baka'niju - Your mother wasn't killed by us. Fela'thoran - he wasn't an emperor yet - did command me to collect her body and take her to his laboratory. He said she was meant to be a slave-
Quendor - WHAT?!
Quendor drew his blade yet again, making Arnas's eyes widen. Betharon grabbed hold of Quendor and lifted him by his throat.
Betharon - I will not have you harm anybody without my authority!
Baka'niju continued to speak.
Baka'niju - No, I do not mean THAT slave. She was an engineer and a scientist. Fela'thoran wanted her to create new weapons for the Coalition.
Quendor - You...
Baka'niju - Unf- - Niju noticed Quendor's angered face - She escaped. Hijacked one of our corvettes and fled.
Arnas - Betharon, put him down, I think he gets your point.
Betharon - Hmph. As you wish. If he harms anybody, however, I will not hesitate to kill.
The Zazane dropped Quendor on the ground.
Quendor - I guess... we are fine then. - calmness returned to Quendor's voice slowly - Apparently, she got stuck somewhere here. Captain, do we have any knowledge of her coordinates?
Arnas - We are working on it now. According to a trnsmission I recieved the NTA were nto the only ones to pick up the distress signal. The message also reached the Commonwealth.
Quendor - When you will decode it, please... notify me. My mother was close to me, and if I will have the chance to find her, I will do it.
Arnas - *nods* As you wish. Now, let's go. We still have things to discuss.
The crew returned back to Arnas's command deck, now in full capacity. There were still many things to do.
Left to think
7th May, 2790
The New Dawn, Segmentum Exterioris
“I remember this moment; it was then when I realised how strong and how fragile our crew was. The New Dawn's team was made out of the best of the best; veterans of countless battles and heroes to the Commonwealth. But each hero, no matter how enemies he had prevailed over on the battlefield, still has to fight a more insidious and dangerous enemy, an enemy that cannot be defeated with mere weapons... oneself.”
- - Remembrancer Theon Miranath, log 065/12:M001
Quendor was sitting in his chambers on the New Dawn; each day since the incident, he locked himself for a few hours to be left alone. If one could open the door to his room, he could see a vastly different picture from how did people who knew Quendor usually percieved him; no righteous fury in his eyes, no anger... he was just sitting in total darkness, surrounded only by holograms depicting his past, thinking. Thinking...
Quendor - Computer, show the holopic T-1-ST.
The darkness was suddenly cleared by a picture of a Radeon family; a child, barely reaching a decade of his life, has just met his parents returning from a voyage. This child was Quendor. His deep purple eyes were big, expressive; he begged for something.
Suddenly, Quendor's mind was assailed by his childhood memories; the picture he saw started to spring into life.
Jahric - I'm sorry to say that, Quendor, but we have to move.
Child Quendor - Already, daddy? Why are we moving so much? I don't understand, daddy. I saw these huge black fire and then we moved... and then I did not saw you for three years... and then you came back and the black fire came again, and we moved again. Why won't you tell me?
Jahric, deeply unnerved, turned to his son and whispered to him, deeply worried.
Jahric - One day, I will tell you. Now, let's get to sleep, you have to wake up earlier tomorrow.
Jahric stood up again, whispering to himself.
Jahric - If you will survive...
Quendor on the holopic did not like what his father did say; in fact, he was quite annoyed. Sadness on his face slowly turned into frustration.
Child Quendor - Why are you even in the fleet?! Who are we fighting?! Where will our new home be?! Will you leave me again? Please, don't leave... don't leave!
Jahric - Uh... eh... Geroniel, please, talk to the kid.
Geroniel, which was during this time a young Radeon officer, smiled and hugged her young son. Quendor at last calmed down and smiled too.
Geroniel - Don't worry, Quendor. One day, the war will end and we'll return, and we will live in peace once again. And we will always be here to protect you.
Child Quendor - You will? Promise me, mommy.
Geroniel - I promise.
The memories faded again, Geroniel's smiling face being the last thing Quendor remembered. The face he might never see again. But why? But why did he care about her that much? Could it be that he merely wanted to bring his childhood, childhood he lost from the war, back?
Quendor reasserted himself. He was way too sentimental for a warrior. Geroniel was serving in the navy, after all; it was her duty and... wouldn't he do the same? "I would.", - Quendor said to himself. He was still this vessel's first officer and protector, and he should not fear death. Quendor turned off the old holograms and contacted the intercom.
Arnas - Ah, Telnhao. You contacted me just in time.
Quendor - What's the situation, captain?
Arnas - Our crew has just discovered the location of these signals we got from the NTA. They were all confined to a single sector of space, one we are very close too. And while we cannot yet determine their exact location, we also found another, very strange energy signal, in the same sector too. We have to investigate.
Quendor - Affirmative.
Arnas - Perhaps we'll find out what happened to your mother there.
Quendor simply bowed his head and turned off the intercom. Duty called...
The God Zazane Returns
25th May, 2790
Kol Daren was fortunate enough that the shuttle he had hijecked contained the coordinates of several enclaves that House Khaxvis controlled within Imperial Space. One set of co-ordinates in particular caught Kol's interest and he set a course for a planet coated in lush jungles. The planet itself was situated around a red dwarf in the mid-ranges of Imperial space. The size of his shuttle allowed him to discreetly travel past Imperial patrols without drawing attention. because the shuttle contained stolen Imperial registration codes he was able to slip through the gatway network without drawing attention to himself. When he landed the craft and emerged on the surface he could see nothing. However using his powers he sensed numerous lifeforms several kilometres nearby; a fortress hidden with optical cloak technology. Kol smiled a little and licked his sharp jaws, his eyes glowed as he looked in the structure's direction: House Khaxvis were hiding there and he knew it. Upon seeing through the barrier he noticed that surrounding the fortress were pits and pikes littered with Zazane bodies.
It was clear from the decay that the bodies had been discarded mere days after Volkarus's death.When he passed through the barrier a pair of battle droids turned and looked towards him.
Droid - Racial profile: identified. Designation: Zazane. Action determined: Turn back, or be eliminated.
Kol raised his arms and nodded. He slowly turned away from the droids.
Kol - Alright, I shall back off.
Droid - Action: Completed. Thank you for cooperating.
Suddenly, Kol turned back around, he grabbed the heads of both the droids and slamming together, he destroyed them without effort. The droids muttered as they malfunctioned. As they collapsed, several metal portholes opened up to reveal laser emitters that aimed towards Kol. Without hesitation they fired at him. He opened his arms and allowed the lasers to strike him as he then gasped out in pain and fell to his knees, growling in supposed agony. This did not stop the lasers from firing, however and as they continued a hologram materialised outside the main door of a Khaxvis that looked with anger at him. Kol slowly looked up, wincing in pain as he snarled a little. With a wave of the hologram's hand the lasers stopped.
Khaxvis - Your kind are not welcome here!
Kol quickly stood and he spread his arms again. The same laser fire shot out from his very flesh with pinpoint accuracy, destroying the emitters. The hologram backed up reactively and dematerialsed ot leave Kol Daren standing in front of a heavy metal door. He walked up to the door and slowly knocked on it, so that the Draconis inside could hear. On the other side, soldiers and war droids had prepared themselves behind barricades that had been integrated into the gate's defence. On Kol's side a viewscreen appeared with a furious looking Draconis looking at him.
Draconis - You have a lot of nerve coming here on your own!
Kol - Why hello my good sir, how about you open the doors and reduce the loss of lives I'm about to take?
Draconis - Hah! You think I am stupid. You Zazane are all animals, if I let you in I am sure you will try tearing us apart.
Kol - I don't have all day.
With frustration he then slammed his fist against the door, which large hole in the metal like a cannonball through a sail. Guards who witnessed it were unnerved from his attack, Kol Daren had managed to create a hole in a door designed to resist all manner of weapons, but to him it was as though it was made of paper.
Soldier - *mutters* Sacred clutch preserve us... How did he do that?
Kol - Send me your finest warrior, and I shall prove to you that I am a god. Or would you rather all have to face my wrath?
Soldier - God or not, you will end up on a pike jsut like the rest of your filthy kind!
Kol - Try me.
An officer felt disgusted at the attitude of his subordinates. he primed a fusion rifle and fired through the hole Kol had made, who gasped as the beam hit his chest, his guts exploded forward against the door as he collapsed onto the ground, out of their sight. The officer lifted his rifle and smirked confidently.
Officer - See? Send a squad outside. Shoot him until you are sure he's dead then shove him on a pike; this one will make a grand centrepiece.
A squad of soldiers nodded. They pulled the door ajar and cautiously made thie way outside. Upon seeing Kol's body - lying still with a large gash in his chest, bleeding from other wounds created by the weapon's impact and with his eys rolled back - they pointed their rifles at him as they inched closer. One soldier shot him in the head for good measure. The others apprached the body ready to pick him up.
Soldier - There's a spare pike 200m to my right. That should be a good spot.
In the blink of an eye, Kol was standing while the legs of one of the soldiers was sliced off, he was holding a bloodied piece of sharp shrapnel in his hand as the soldiers panicked and fired at him.
Soldier - Centurion close the door, I repeat. CLOSE THE DOOR!
Kol simply stepped out of the way of every shot, his movements seemingly lightning fast, before he slashed at their throats, wrists and torsoes with the piece of shrapnel he was holding. Khaxvis behind the door tried desperately to push it shut, Kol stepped foward and threw the piece of shrapnel which passed through the hole, through the stomach and spine of one soldier, and cutting off the arm of one standing behind him. While they pushed the door shut, the centurion rushed ot a console and activated a forcefield several metres in, creting a translucent barrier between them and the door. Just as they managed to hut it however, Kol's arm made another hole. He gripped the material before throwing it off it's hinges and launched it kilometres away. When the forcefield energised there were still soldiers trapped within Kol's reach.
Soldier - Sir this thing will tear us apart Let us in!
Kol smirked at the soldiers, licking his chops as he took a step forward, his pounding steps had them stepping back in fear until they found themselves backed against the forcefield.
Kol - Convince him to let me in, otherwise I shall convert this force field into a cheese grater.
Soldier - Sir let us in quickly! ...Sir?
The centurion looked solemnly at them. It was clear he was doing his best to hold back a sense of dissapointment with himself.
Centurion - It's either them.... or the citadel. I am not taking that chance.
Soldier - S-s...sir? Please...
Centurion - Zazane. How can I be certain you will not tear us all apart once you gain entry.
Kol - How can you be certain I won't get in and slaughter you all for not letting me in?
Centurion - This place is built to endure orbital strikes and massed assaults by Blood Dragons. It would be suicide to attack with anything less.
Kol - Oh yes, it would be very unwise. But I am something more.
Soldier - Sir.. he tore a 200-tonne door off its hinges.
The centurion turned to the soldier in his ranks who reminded him.
Centurion - I will not bow from intimidation to this beast!
Kol - Be very wise with your words, otherwise the deaths of ALL your men shall be on your head.
Centurion - And I'm sure the deaths of all will be on my head even if I do let you in.
Kol - Let me in, and I assure you I shall not harm even a fly.
Centurion - We all swore that we would not make the same mistake as Volkarus; Zazane are far too volatile and dangerous to be helpful.
Kol became frustrated, but at the same time slightly relieved. He grabbed one of the soldiers and slammed their head against the force field, exploding their skull in the process.
Centurion - What other reason could you possibly have for coming here other than to kill us all or bring us to ruin.
Kol - I require assistance, resources and a room.
Centurion - You desire the resurgence's resources? After what your kind caused, never.
Soldier - Sir he's going to kill us all!
Kol - You forget one thing, Khaxvis. I am Kol Daren, I am no Zazane!
Centurion - You mean the Zazane-thing who joined Volkarus only to use him? Yes, I've heard the rumours. You look Zazane to me, this fortress is forever forbidden to you so leave.
Kol - No.
The centurion walked up to the forcefield scowling, growing tired of Kol's attitude.
Centurion - I. Said. Leave.
Using a single hand, he smashed through the forcefield, grabbing the sergeant's throat before he slammmed him into the forcefield cracking the back of his neck from the immense strength of the pull and instantly killing him. Panic flooded the minds of the soldiers. Kol was unstoppable and they now knew it.
Kol - Now that he's been silenced, will somebody please turn off this forcefield?
One of the remaining soldiers apprehensively shuffled towards the control panel he looked at Kol through his visor and a chill rushed through his spine. One of his comrades calledout to him and primed his rifle.
Soldier - Turn that forcefield off and I shoot you here soldier...
2nd Soldier - Then it will either you or him who kills me so don't waste your breath. I prefer death from gusnhot than whatever 'he' has planned.
Soldier - Spineless worm!
He fired his rifle as the soldier worked the control panel. As the bullet penetrated his spine the forcefield deactivated and Kol stepped through into the enclave and looks around, before budging past the Khaxvis at the barricade.
The interior was certainly built to impress. However at the same time it was clearly designed ot be well-defended. Numerous Khaxvis drew their weapons but were too intimidated to attack their uninvited guest.
Kol - Have any free rooms?
Khaxvis - You don't belong here, Zazane... I hope the revered clutch are frowning on whoever let you in.
Kol - Well? Is anybody going to show me where my quartres are?
Dweller - Just.... leave. You are not welcome.
Kol - This place was mine as soon as I set foot upon this rock.
He held out a hand, and the forcefield reactivated. Strangely the only nervousness came from kahxvis wh oowere in his vicinity rather than being trapped inside a building with him.
Dweller - Lies! This ground belongs to the true heirs of the Imperium!
Kol - What, Uriel and his family?
2nd Dweller - How dare you utter those names in these halls!
Kol - What, Uriel Ultanos?
The other inhabitants became more aggressive, those with melee weapons inched closer, feeling furious that Kol just uttered the name of theri sworn enemny.
Soldier - We are warning you, Zazane.
Kol - Two things. One, you have become so splintered despite your apparent passion for Volkarus, who is now dead, and in all honesty this is somewhat pathetic. And two, you'd better get those weapons out of my face or you will witness the consequences.
Soldier - Brothers and sisters.. please
Dweller - Stow it! It's because of your comrade's failings a Zazane once again walks within these halls.
Kol - I am no Zazane.
Khaxvis - And because of their failings, this place is doomed to fall. I hope the void welcomes you all with open arms.
Dweller - Once again, Zazane, LEAVE or we shal make sure you end up on a pike!
Kol - Why do you persist making your empty threats? You know you cannot kill me and I am more likely to kill all of you anyway if even a single one of you just so much as touched me.
Such words causedo one of the dwellers to snap. He drew a large knife and with a fierce roar threw himself at Kol. Others backed away but were confused as Kol cried in terror as the dweller came at him with the knife, he fell onto the ground trying to back away. This act made the dweller threatening him more confident and stood over Kol Daren.
Dweller - Do you all see!? A coward in warrior's lcothing.
The other fortress dwellers were not so convinced and continued to back away from the scene. Whith the threatening dweller at his closest, Kol then grabbed the knife and yanked it out of his hand. He began to chuckle as the dweller couldn't seem to move which promptly changed dweller's experssion from confidence to horror. Kol watched as the dweller's head slowly split into four parts, blood gushing outwards while the body fell to the floor.
Kol - I will be requiring your research chambers and a room.
The fortress's inhabitants swiftly made their way deeper into the structure, some of them using their wings while soldiers stayed behind. Kol looked around as a dozen guards surrouned him with weapons ready.
Kol - Are you really going to consider fighting me?
Soldier - We lay down our lives to protect the inhabitants of this place.
Kol - You lay them down in vain.
2nd Soldier - But... how can we fight something that cannot be harmed.
3rd Soldier - I don't care what the enclave's master says. I am not throwing my life away too keep out a Zazane we can do nothing against.
Kol - You are wise. I came here requiring some research chambers and a room. You meet me with violence and I am forced to retaliate. 3rd Soldier - Zazane are the ones who influenced Volkarus's demise. The only way of protecting ourselves was to kill all Zazane we encountered.
Kol - Volkarus led to his own demise through his greed and...disgusting power.
2nd Soldier - It was a Zazane who empowered him, it was a Zazane who gave him trinkets of one of their own, it was a Zazane who killed him.
Soldier - In that light, all Zazane are dangerous.
Kol - What makes you think I am Zazane?
Soldier - Isn't it obvious?
Kol - I am much more powerful than any Zazane you have ever witnessed.
Soldier - You still look like one, violence still courses though your veins.
Kol - And so does reason. I'm allowing you all to live.
3rd Soldier - At what price?
Kol - You supply me resources.
2nd Soldier - If we refuse?
Kol - I shall kill you all. And rid this planet of life.
The soldiers threw their weaposns down in series. Kol smiled as their knees suddenly exploded from beneath them as Kol stood behind them, appearing to have teleported. Each of the mcollapsed and looked at Kol in horror, realising that he had in reality displayed cruelty over mercy.
Kol - The resources I need are your living bodies.
Soldier - *eyes widen* Wh-what for?
Kol - Nu-uh, surprise.
Soldier - Never trust a Zazane!
Kol - I am not Zazane.
Diabolical laughter filled the halls, chilling everyone inside to the bone. Thousands of Draconis, all loyal to House Khaxvis, were at his mercy.
Breaking Old Ties
2nd June, 2790
Uriel was in his study. A few hours ago the Galactic Empire of Cyrannus had delivered a proposal to the Andromedan Light that they were open to alliance - with the condition that ties were cut to the Tybusen Intergalactic Allied Federation. Uriel sat in his office feeling outraged by the news and quietly studied a map of the Delpha Province. He knew inside that whatever would happen between the Imperium and the TIAF, these colonies would be affected.
He knew Tyraz was willing to cut ties after news of a zazane rebel leader's capture incited riots in the Brood of War and the Divinarium was indifferent to the federation's plight with iovera's absence being far from beneficial. Sitting back from his work, Uriel sighed and typed into a terminal to contact Larnus Vontarion. A hologram of him appeared in a flash of green light and he had a sobre expression on his face. Uriel looked up with a weak smile and lowered his monitor back into the desk.
Larnus - Is there something on your mind, Uriel?
Uriel - Did you hear the news?
Larnus - About the Empire's decree? Hrm, I did.
Uriel - What am I supposed to do? Our customs tell us to respect heroes of war and strife but that bootlick Tyranus will have none of it.
Larnus - You can't change people ovrenight, you of all people know that.
Uriel - The snake is offering us only two options: The first is to break off all ties to the Federation depsite all' they have done, the second is to reject his offer and risk losing out on one of the most powerful allies the entire commonwealth could find in a lifetime! Damn those feathered bastards why must they make things so difficult!'
Uriel slammed his arms on the table, forced himsself out of his chair in frustration and looked at the holographic simulation of an Alcanti forest. He took a deep breath and exhaled forcefully before he turned to Larnus.
Uriel - What am I supposed to do? How is the Senate taking all this.
Larnus - Unfortunately, their invasion and their contribution to the Brood's riots left a sour but on the tongues of many senators. I have several in the military council who support taking those colonies by force, some considered even sending Commodore Eridarus back to that front to finish waht he started.
Uriel - --And the Chancellor would support them all the way.
Larnus - You know that only you have the authority to declare war on a power of their scale.
Uriel - I am aware.
Uriel walked around his desk and ran his finger along the rim as he passed. Larnus' hologram began pacing up and down with his hands over his stomach.
Uriel - The empire is being uncompromising. The Imperium is the only one holding this alliance back and I have been forced to choose power over loyalty.
Larnus - You are correct, it is clear that for the msot part they are only interested in the Commonwealth's firepower; why make a deal with just one member, of whom you share a connection, if you can gain the power of an entire galaxy in one move?
Uriel - This emperor of theirs is ruthless. Perhaps...
Uriel looked towards the projections and larnus stopped pacing to look at his longtime friend.
Uriel - Perhaps we can keep our ties without the Empire's knowledge?
Larnus - *chuckles* Just like you to find a third option more dangerous than the others. You know that will only infuriate the imperator if he finds out.
Uriel - The Imperator can nuzzle my cloaca for all I cares! He is not my master, I am not his puppet, I will not bow to a bootlick of some alien leader who seems to proud of his own accomplishments to realise how the Federation contributed to helping the Commonwealth emerge victorious over the Grox and the coalition.
Larnus' eyes widened and a smile crept across his face.
Larnus - I have not seen that fire in you since the war.
Uriel - I will dispatch a quantum-entanglement communicator to Captain Lorrelas which will eb linked to a paired unit in the palace. Unless the Empire is spying on the both of us they will never know we are communicating. Meanwhile the Empire will be informed that we will cut ties. But whatever happens if I hear news that a single hair or scale was harmed on any innocent citizen of the Federation, I want those responsible brought to my feet to answer for what they have done.
Larnus - As you say.
Larnus bowed and the hologram dissolved into nothing as uriel walked around back to his desk. The warm glow of an early sunset flooded the room from the projections as he pulled up his desk monitor and solemnly programmed for an encrypted transmission to the TIAF.
Before long the monitor cleared and the face of Captain Lorrelas appeared on the monitor with an eager smile on his face.
Lorrelas - Hello, Uriel! It's nice to see you again!
Uriel - It is good to see you as well, captain.
Lorrelas - What brings you to my communicator today?
Uriel - Is the channel secure and encrypted on your end?
Lorrelas - Of course it is. Why?
Uriel - I ould rather not have unwanted listeners.
Lorrelas sat up in his chair
Lorrelas - This must be important, then.
Uriel - Emperor Antediluvian passed a message to the Highlords earlier this evening. The Empire has considered offering its hand in alliance with... one condition.
Lorrelas - *sighs* I don't imagine it's beneficial one.
Uriel - No. The Empire asks that in return for a formal alliance... The Highlords are to end all affiliation with your federation.
Lorellas' expresion changed to oen of anger as Uriel spoke.
Lorrelas - What? That's outrageous!
Uriel - His envoys would not back down from this condition, no matter how hard we tried.
Lorrelas - That Empire... At every turn they are trying to ruin us!
Lorrelas furiously slammed his fist on the table and grated his teeth at the news. Uriel stayed calm.
Lorrelas - I will not have this. You cannot allow this!
Uriel - I am doing what I can but word reached the Grand Senate of his offer, and are...in support. There are still supporters of the Federation, but I am concerned it is not enough.
After taking a few deep breaths, Lorrelas calmed down and sighed.
Lorrelas - I should know that trying to fight the Empire is like running up a steep cliff. But certainly we can't cut off all contact? We have certain... cooperations that we can't just simply back out of.
Uriel - I am afraid there is worse news about that. The Chancellor is proposing that to gain the Empire's favour the Imperial Talon Navy mobilises on the Delpha Province in an act of annexation.
Lorrelas - If the Chancellor goes forward with that I am afraid that a state of war will exist between our people again.
Uriel - I do not like bending to Tyranus' orders either. The snake has to learn that not everyone will bend to his word just because his master commands it. In fact his idea of diplomacy is downright sickening! I will use what influence I can. Unfortunately I am having political troubles of my own.
Lorrelas - That little git Tyranus ought to be kept far away from communication equipment, he's rubbed out my entire respect for the Cyrannian people. And political troubles? May I ask?
Uriel sighed and leanedfoward, eh clasped his hands together and rested his forearms on his desk.
Uriel - One of my closer praetors has used information he gained from a potential Zazane dissident is being used to fuel the accusation that Tyraz is a puppetmaster to House Ultanos. The nobility is slowly turning against me and I, along with others in my family, have to tread carefully.
Lorrelas - He must be with the Golden Movement. We've had our own troubles with them but certainly I never imagined it could have penetrated as far as it has in the Imperium now.
Uriel - Do not be fooled by the scale of the Imperium, its praetors are a close-knit collective. No matter what, you have my word that should the navy be mobilised. I will make it a decree from the Paragon that any TIAF citizens will be treated with the respect they deserve for being war heroes and allies.
Lorrelas - I appreciate your efforts, Uriel. But I'm not entirely sure the rest of the Federation will appreciate annexation of our territories.
Uriel raised his clasped hands to his snout and sat in thought.
Uriel - There are those... who believed that complete control of the sector was stolen fro mthe Imperium when the Federation's invasion was repelled. My thoughts lie in perhaps dividing the province, that or we deliver a fair exchange. Perhaps we give the federation some of the Imperium's colonies either elsewhere in the Milky Way or in Bunsen...
Lorrelas - I'm afraid that the Federation doesn't have any interest in ceding any more territory in the Milky Way, I hope you understand.
Uriel - Losing what was once home is never a good feeling. sometimes it feels as though I have no control over what my governors are doing.
Lorrelas - This is a very difficult predicament now that we're in, see.
Lorrelas put hand on forehead, somehow knowing the implications.
Lorrelas - I doubt neither your Senate nor our Assembly will budge on this. Uriel - *smirks* Hm, you try telling a group of arrogent and elitist aliens that they cannot have what they desire.
Lorrelas chuckled a little at Uriel's comemnt.
Lorrelas - Well, we'll have to find our way out of this mess together. Despite what the Empire has demanded, I think it's still possible that we can keep contact with each other without the Empire knowing.
Uriel - I was never keen on choosing sides like this. Nothing is ever entirely black and white.
Lorrelas - We live in a gray world, that's for sure. I know for certain that we both hold our nations' relationship very highly but I also imagine that keeping up good relations with the Cyrannians must also be important to the Draconis.
Uriel - It has become common knowledge that our two peoples share a strange connection. Hm, some have even wondered if we Draconis had grown in the wrong galaxy.
Lorrelas - It is plausible, and I respect that... What I do not respect is the Cyrannians trying to rip apart an also-strong connection between our people and your people. I almost think they do things like this simply for the purpose of slowly eliminating us.
Uriel - Believe me, were Tyranus second to me he would be discharged promptly from my palace for his behaviour.
Lorrelas - I would have put him on permanent ambassadorial work to Asgord country. As effective.
Both of them chuckled at the lighthearted nature of their comments.
Uriel - After the loss of our colonies in the kraw Galaxy I do not believe the Senate will be fond of losing more territory. I have read the reports of the Delpha campaign, I will warn you now it is possible the Senate will send Commodore Eridonus back there should they decide to mobilise the fleets.
Lorrelas - I would think Delpha is more prepared now. The long peace we had there before may have left us vulnerable before. But it shouldn't reach that point. We will make sure it never reaches that point ever again.
Uriel - Remember that the province is partly under the control of the Imperium. I also cannot guarentee if the Empire will send support of their own to back the Talons up.
Lorrelas - I should perhaps commit extra fleets to Delpha in case the worst comes. It has become more difficult these days to defend, we have so few allies left that can give us military support since we got tangled in this mess of a political web... But I digress.
Uriel - Whatever happens, you have my word as paragon that any Federation citizens caught under whatever comes to the provice that they will not be harmed. If any soldiers do harm them, they will have to answer to me.
Lorrelas - Thank you, Uriel. I will see what I can do to minimize the damage, but if indeed my worst fears come true, I will make sure I minimize whatever casualties come on the battlefield. The Federation has never faced a threat this large in the past, even the two Bunsen Wars and the Andromeda War will pale in comparison for us if indeed the perfect storm is waiting to strike.
Uriel - I cannot help but feel that this was planned from the start. Unfortunately it seems that I am the only one of the Highlords who does not wish to break ties... if it is for the good of the commonwealth and for the galaxy, would it be wrong to refuse?
Lorrelas - I have no qualms with people making alliances and relationships with the Empire - indeed, were it not for our loyalties to Apollo and the Cyrandia, we could very well be allies with the Empire right now - but when the Empire is clearly manipulating these "allies" for their own benefit, THAT is where I draw the line.
Lorelas pressed his finger on the table when he said this and Uriel nodded quietly as he relaxed in his chair by leaning forward on the stomach rest.
Uriel - I will do what I can to ensure the Imperium and the Commonwealth do not become puppets of their emperor. Such a thing would be an insult to both me and my people.
Lorrelas - I must say it both impresses and scares me how effective the Empire is at what they do. They seem to have a plan and they make it seem like all is going according to it.
Uriel - Even the Empire has its limits. The more the annex, the larger their navy has to become to keep their holdings secure and the greater the burden becomes on their infrastructure. If their emperor is smart, he would know he can only keep this pace up for so long.
Lorrelas - That is what I've hoped for now - the Empire will become too big to function, maybe then I will see the return of the Republic. I only hope we all live long enough to witness it.
Uirel - We shall see. I will not forget you, Lorrelas.
Lorrelas - Neither shall I. I can only hope for the best between our people.
Uriel - That is indeed mutual, rintorar'entemus.
In ending the transmission, Uriel had called Lorrelas an honoured friend in High Dracid. He ended the transmission with a warm smile and slumped his arms on his desk growling once it was vut. images of Tyranus appared in his mind which only seemed to aggrevate him as he sat alone in his study.
Slaves in the Machine
- The Vault
1st June, 2790
“It was our first expedition. First mystery we uncovered. First civilisation we contacted. First step to what did await us afterwards. This cold world - I proposed to call it Ignixar, after our people's folklore hero - was but a taste of what happened next...”
- - Remembrancer Theon Miranath, log 113/12:M001
The New Dawn landed on the new world it has relocated, coordinates provided by massive energy surges coming from it. Arnas, emerging first, looked around. If not for the suits the team was wearing, she would have frozen there. While Arnas was observing the massive, pale argent glaciers and jutting stalagmites, Quendor was looking above, seeing blizzards blowing around them. What was stranger is the planet wasn't dead; the air was breathable and the temperature, while very low, was still suitable for living... as if the spark of life was lit there artificially.
Arnas - Where do we start looking?
Quendor - This planet seems mundane. Not really flourishing with life, but still... nothing wrong.
Quendor watched on his PDA's data.
Quendor - Hm, the signal is close. In fact, it seems to be right beneath us...
Tarsus - You mean it is underground?
Quendor - Apparently so.
Quendor started observing the land around him, finding an oddity - a hole of some sort - there. It while covered by layers and layers of permafrost, was oddly symmetrical and round.
Quendor - Look at this! - Quendor pointed at the hole - It looks like a tunnel or a pipe...
Betharon - Go down it if you wish. Hell, I'll throw you in if you want.
Tarsus - That seems to be the only way down.
Arnas went closer to the tunnel and looked down. It was narrow, no more than a meter in diameter, but from what she could see, it was very deep, and under its icy shell, mostly untouched by the ages.
Tarsus - Well, Radeon, I think you have just been volunteered.
Quendor - Ah, yes. I'll try to get in there.
Quendor set his plasma pistol at low power and fired, tearing ice that covered the tunnel apart. When it melted, Quendor climbed the pipe down. The crew watched the young Radeon's sillhouette slowly disappearing in darkness, until it was no longer recognisable.
Betharon - ...You think he's going to die?
Tarsus - There is a possibility of it.
N'rai - Why are you so sure he'll die?
Betharon - N'rai, it's Quendor. He'll head-charge into a spike if it insulted his mother.
N'rai turned away from Betharon, annoyed. Out of all members of the New Dawn's crew, she did dislike Betharon the most. Maybe it was her species' distaste of violence, maybe it was his attitude, maybe it was that Betharon, and Zazane in general, reminded the Imperix diplomat of the Exitus, her species' ancestral foes... She didn't care.
Soldier - If he does end up getting killed, I call shots on his stuff.
One of the ship's marines stood to the officers.
Soldier - I just want to assure him his holoprojector is safe.
As the TND's crew members were speaking, air around them sparked and thundered. Rusted, antique and yet elegant shapes slowly started to take shape around them; walls and pillars appearing out of thin air. Finally, in the center, Quendor appeared, looking around frantically in confusion.
Quendor - In case you will start asking, I do not know what happened either! I just pressed a strange-looking picture and then-
Tarsus - it must have been some form of cloaking field. Fascinating...
Quendor - I swear, the whole thing just popped out of thin air!
Tarsus, somewhat intrigued, started observing the building itself. It looked familliar to him; its ancient, pure white material was not spared by the ages, but it was clearly recognisable. As a very recognised researcher of ancient relics, Tarsus realised he saw this material before.
Tarsus, - Looks like... an ancient Tertamian vault - I saw them during my visit to Il'larion. Apparently, Quendor must have unsealed its security systems...
Quendor - A vault?
Tarsus - The ancients did construct thousands of such vaults all over Andromeda, for various purposes. By its looks, I can deduce this one was an engineering complex...
Tarsus stopped talking, looking more into the complex's ancient walls. They looked magnificent; not beautiful per se, but radiating sheer might and inspiring fear in one's heart. Despite sharing certain elegance of other Tertamian constructsm it seemed this building was created for war.
Tarsus - And I would be intrigued to explore it further.
Deciding to follow the professor's suggestion, the crew entered the vault's gates. It seemed that the entirety of it was a labryrinth of pipes and tunnels; much like the upper part of the complex, the place did collect grime for ages, and while it wasn't subject to the frozen winds like the outside part of the complex, it was still messy.
N'rai - Ew. The whole place is dirty, like it wasn't cleaned for billenia.
Tarsus - It's cleaner than most Tertamian ruins I have seen.
While walking, Quendor stumbled across a few interconnecting tunnels, apparently leading to a hall. He had noticed something... something crawling.
Quendor - What was that?
Tarsus - What was wwhat?
Quendor - A shadow...
Quendor shuddered slightly. Normally, he rarely was concerned by such things, keeping his fear inside himself, but the dark, cramped tunnels of the ancient complex and eerie silence in the air made his visage of fearlessness and courage crack a little. His Zazane comrade, however, wasn't so concerned with that, already grabbing a gun.
Betharon - My time to take over.
Quendor - Tsst! Let's stay there...
The crew, whispering, took a crouching position, and noticed a slimy, purple serpentine creature crawling in the tunnels, enfeebled, wounded and scarred, and yet slithering with unnatural speed.
Betharon - Let me get a good aim of it.
Arnas - Hold fire, it might ignore us.
The creature slowed and looked at Betharon, apparently scared.
Betharon - Look, it's seen us. I may as well kill it now.
Arnas - ...I don't think it is too serious a threat.
Betharon - What if it's a scout?
Arnas - If it bolts, fire a disabling shot.
Creature - Eeeh... razzzzg...
Scared, the creature quickly fled the tunnel, being followed by Betharon's fire. Its skin being pierced, the creature howled in pain.
Creature - EEAAAARGH! Vraaag!
N'rai - Why did you shoot it? It might be sentient!
Arnas - We don't want it alerting an army if there is one.
Betharon - If you had kept quiet it wouldn't have escaped. Now we may have trouble.
N'rai - But now that we did hurt it, it will certainly believe we are the enemy! And that's a bad thing. Trust me, I still remember Kardus IV...
Betharon - No alien army scares me, especially if their scout is a snake.
Quendor - Hey, hey, it doesn't matter now. Let's just see what's in the hall.
Arnas, silently commanding the rest of the crew to follow her, headed down the corridor to arrive in the main hall, filled with rusting machines and antique relics, as well as some tents that appeared younger than the rest of the place.
Quendor - Weird...
Arnas - Brace yourselves in case the natives respond unpleasently.
Betharon - One step ahead of you.
Betharon laughed and grabbed his gun.
Arnas - This time we stick to self-defence.
Quendor started looking around, trying to find anything of interest. A corpse of an a dead multilated bird-like creature lied on the floor, almost as if it was melted alive, along with a silvery, shimmering necklace; these things drew his attention and he came closer, kneeling for further observations.
Quendor - Look at the creature. The would... It looks like AGC weaponry did it.
Tarsus, following the Radeon, walked and looked at the body too.
Tarsus - Hmm, i'd say this is the work of a plasma weapon.
Quendor - Or a fusion rifle.
Tarsus - Quendor, if it was a fusion rifle then where they aquired it is even stranger.
Arnas - How did Commonwealth weaponry get out here? Pirates, perhaps?
Quendor - I don't know myself... but this - Quendor held a necklace he found - might be an answer.
Quendor looked deeply at the necklace. It was simplistic in design; silver in colour, it did contain a single large cabochone gemstone, shimmering and shifting its colour. The gemstone remained monochromatic; after spending a few moments anthracite black, it then glimmered and became white, then once again restoring its original colouration. Quendor knew where did these gemstones come from.
He knew who did this necklace belong to.
Quendor - That's a Radeon necklace! A rare gemstone only found on Vendespode, my species' fallen homeworld. Bot that's impossible! What Radeon could possibly be in this place before me, except-
Quendor's face went pale.
Quendor - That must be her.
Tarsus - Commander?
Quendor went silent. Memories wandered in his mind yet again, filling his head with visions of his childhood and parents. He remembered himself getting such a necklace - it was still with him, hidden behind his Guardian armour - remembered Vendespode.
Arnas - Do you think she may be here presently?
Quendor - I... don't think so.
Betharon - If she's dead we come a long way for nothing, except now we know somebody else has access to AGC weaponry.
Quendor turned to Betharon, snarling.
Quendor - She couldn't die like that. She just... couldn't.
N'rai - I'd be concerned more for the creature that died there...
Quendor - What's with it?
N'rai - If it was killed by anyone resembling ourselves... it gives whoever inhabit the place just one more reason to leap at us and tear us to pieces.
Tarsus - And it wasn't a pleasant death either.
Arnas - This creature looks different from the one in the halls, perhaps the Apocalypse's crew were defending someone-
Suddenly, the ground beneath the crew shook and numerous creatures appeared. Most of them resembled the serpentine alien the crew saw in the tunnels, while other resembled the birdlike one they saw right now. The rest looked different from each other, but they all shared one thing: the furious expression on their faces.
Creature - Ngh! Vraaaaaarg!
Quendor - I do not think it matters now...
- The Battle Begins
The entire crew froze in surpise, and the creatures stopped, some of them snarling and growling while others remaining silent, as if they were as scared of the crew as it was scared of them. While N'rai attempted to smile, trying to solve the problem peacefully, Betharon did not think twice, already grabbing his shidium rifle and aiming at the creatures' mass.
N'rai - Wait! Wait! Don't draw the weaponry! Perhaps they want to talk...
Betharon - Or get the first shot!
Betharon growled. Seeing his aggression, smaller creatures attempted to flee, while larger, bolder ones leaped towards the crew instead. In response to this, Betharon drew the first shot. A Shidium rifle round bursted through the chest of one of the attacking aliens: cyclopean and toxic green in colour, it shrieked in pain and exploded in a burst of acidic blood. The death of the creature seemed to both horrify and embolden their comrades, as they started thrashing at the crew with even more vicious abandon, seemingly driven by desperation more than rage. While they were only holding simple melee weapons in their hands, their sheer numbers made things quite difficult for the crew.
Quendor - Blades out!
As the alien horde approached, Quendor and Baka'niju drew their weapons and attempted to engage the creatures in melee, and while they did manage to keep the horde from swarming them with sheer numbers, they still couldn't stop it coming. Meanwhile, taking a high position and shooting at the aliens from one of the machine, Arnas instead observed her enemies. Something had drawn her attention - in particular, the creatures' metal helmets.
Arnas - Hold on everyone, look closely...
Quendor - What?
Arnas - Look at their heads.
Betharon - I'm aiming at their heads!
Betharon chuckled and punched a midnight green alien that was attempting at attack him in the face, then finishing him by a point-blank headshot.
Arnas - I vaguely recall seing that sort of headgear before.'
Tarsus - Captain, now is not the best time to work out the latest trends...
Quendor decapitated a larger creature, which was thrashing at Quendor with its four arms, with his electric blade and turned to Arnas.
Quendor - What of their helmets?
Arnas - The Kraw Galaxy Campaign, there were creatures that attacked the Asgord with helmets bearing close resemblence.
Quendor - The Gros...
Creature - Gros? Gros? GROOOS!
Hearing the word, the creatures flew into rage and roared, growing even bolder in their attack. It seemed there were more and more of them.
N'rai - They don't like the word apparently...
Betharon - Go away, Shyrak scum!
The crew was once again put into battle, and this time, it seemed that they couldn't hold all of them off; as such, most of the crew were drawn to a fight. Holding ground on the pile of machinery, Betharon swinged his arm, breaking the invading aliens' necks, while Arnas and Quendor were slashing through the smaller creatures next to him. Even Tarsus was forced to unsheathe his fusion pistol; as much as he disliked fighting, he wasn't realyl fascinated by the chance of being stomped to death either.
N'rai - What if we ask them why are they even fighting? I have the universal translator, remember?
Arnas - Well do something!
Arnas opened her wings, the resulting shockwave throwing several creatures backwards.
N'rai - We are friends. Friends. We do not want to hurt you.
N'rai activated her translator and stepped forward. The creatures slowed.
Creature - Friends?..
Arnas - Yes... friends. We did not mean to harm your friends.
Betharon - Disarm yourselves and we shan't hurt you!
The aliens started to squabble among each other, speaking.
Creature - Sycorax.
Some of the creatures promptly left the hall.
Quendor - Sycorax? Who's that supposed to be?
After a minute or two, a creature similar to the serpentine being they saw, but larger and green, arrived.
Sycorax - How dare you disturb us? The Machine is ours!
Tarsus - The Machine?
Sycorax - The slavers came... made us serve. We don't know how, but the machine made us able to think again. We hid there, within its walls, so the slavers won't find us...
Quendor - Wow. So, why would you attempt to kill us!
Arnas - They might have thought we worked for the slavers.
Sycorax - Because you defile it! The Machine gives us food... gives us warmth...
Sycorax breathed heavily.
Arnas - We were not aware...
Sycorax - And then those like you came! They smelled like you, looked like you, and they killed our kin, and stole Him! They defiled the place, and the Machine stopped working now. We are hungry...
Tarsus - Wait, stole?
Sycorax - Stole him...
Sycorax - He will punish us for it! Punish us!
Sycorax pulled its arms to the sky, as if awaiting for a thunder... and thunder struck. Ground started to shake once again as massive explosions ringed above the hall.
Creature - Slavers return...
Large, blue cratures armed with large rifles followed by gigantic, 4 armed behemoths entered the area. The leader of the blue creatures was a large, scared soldier who well towered 4 meters tall in height.
??? - Though you would hide forever, scum?
Arnas pulled her fusion pistol and approached the invaders; while the slaves' leader roared.
Arnas - N'rai, stay with the refugees.
Betharon - So, this is who those people are scared of?
Sycorax - You won't enslave us! We are free now!
The invaders' leader noticed the New Dawn crew and narrowed his eyes.
??? - What the...who are you?
Arnas - I am Capain Arnas Volkamen of the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth! Vessel "New Dawn".
Betharon - I am Head of Security, Betharon Tanaris! I demand to know why you are present in our territory.
Quendor - Quendor Telnhao. The Guardian of Light. Saviour of Crepusculum.
??? - Galactic...Commonwealth...You get out of our way, these slaves must be exterminated.
Arnas - These aliens are under our protection!
??? - Why would you protect these weaklings? And "your territory"? This territory belongs to the Stratocracy!
Creature - WE ARE FREE FROM YOU! WE ARE FREEEEE!
Betharon - Stratocracy? This is Commonwealth territory, and I am the fruit of Zazane effort! I suggest you stand down!
??? - I care not for your efforts, small creature. This planet belongs to the Stratocracy of Karnagtah. I am Commandant Kolger, and I will exterminate these slaves for betraying the stratocracy.
Betharon - "Small"?
Betharon growled at Kolger, aiming his rifle while doing so. Kolger wasn't scared, though.
N'rai - The First Prime Law of the New Tertamian Alliance declares that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. You won't take them.
Kolger - If you don't get out of my way I swear I'll-
At this moment, another Gros soldier grabbed Kolger's shoulder and made him stop, whispering on his ear.
Kolger - Mhm...mhm...Fine. Men, stand down.
The Gros soldiers lowered their weapons.
Quendor - Why would they-
Kolger approached the group until he got up-close to them. He was met by Betharon growling and Quendor looking suspiciously. A lump appeared in Arnas's throat as the malevolent Gros stepped to them.
Kolger - By what I've been informed the Grand Admiral wishes no harm upon the "galactic commonwealth".
Betharon - He better not.
Kolger - *lowers his head to Betharon* However, the problem with the slaves stands. They are still Stratocracy citizens.
Betharon - Citizens in our territory. Your "nation" has set itself up within Commonwealth territory against our permission.
Arnas looked at the group, thinking.
Arnas - We have a problem. if they are anything like the Impperium then by law they won't give up easily... eve nthough Imperial slaves still retain some free will.
Kolger - Huh...Draconis, Zazane, Radeon...your "adventures" are very well known.
Sycorax - We are not your slaves! We are free!
Betharon - Is that so?
Kolger - Yes...the whole Grox incident. Quite a lot of noise, that caused.
Arnas - Be thankful the Commonwealth prevailed.
Betharon - It was Tyraz Breek who finished off the Andromeda War, along with the efforts of the Draconis and Radeon.
Kolger - I know about Tyraz Breek...Uriel Ultanos, Clericarch Iovera, Grochius II...lots and lots of characters.
Quendor - What about me?
Kolger inspected Quendor.
<Kolger - Hmm...Captain Jahric?
Quendor - That's my father.
Kolger - Close enough. The point is that the Stratocracy knows much about you.
Arnas - From your agents or from elsewhere?
Kolger - That's not of your business...You can have the slaves. We'll be on our way. You should warn your "Light" that the Grand Admiral will contact them in the future.
Arnas - *snorts* noted.
Betharon - Tyraz looks forward to it, scum.
Kolger - We are the Gros. Andromeda is our home. To make our home perfect, we must. exterminate. the weak.
Kolger and his soldiers departed, being followed by Sycorax's furious roars.
Betharon - If that is the case, why not do away with yourselves?
Tarsus - Betharon! Do not provoke them.
Kolger - "Pleased" to meet you too! Bahahaha.
Kolger and his men left and could no longer be seen.
Tarsus - Great. Looks like we have an army of passengers with ghastly headgear.
Arnas - I am hoping the ship's medbay is equipped enough to remove them.
Sycorax looked at the crew with suspicion.
Sycorax - You bargain with the slavers...
Arnas - I think there was a little intimidation in there.
Sycorax - Fine. You managed to drive the slavers away, and for that, we will be ever grateful.
Quendor - So... What should we do with them?
Quendor pointed at the rebel slaves.
Arnas - They can't stay here, they're already dying...
One of the birdlike slaves approached the group.
Slave - Where will you take us...?
Tarsus - The New Dawn's scans picked up signs of a life-bearing planet not too far from here.
Slave - I can't remember my name...my home...nothing...the slavers...they are monsters...
Tarsus - On the way there I can work with engineering to create a shield generator that should protect them if the Gros ever came back.
Betharon - I want to call you Birdo.
Slave - Birdo?...I don't see why not.
One slave standed out from the others. It was an Asgord.
Asgord - Monster is an understatement.
Tarsus, suprised by a Kraw Galaxy denizen there, cupped his chin.
Betharon - Asgord? Calling something a monster? That's a strange sight. It must've been horrible.
Asgord- I don't know where I come from but I know it's not from here...I ahve sudden urges which make me want to kill and destroy anything in my path...I don't know what I am anymore.
N'rai - What did the Gros make to them is horrible... why did we even allow them to leave?
Betharon - You could be accepted within the Zazane society. We could put your killer urges to use.
Birdo - They used us as workers, soldiers...target practice...
Sycorax - Made us slaughter our own kin...
Asgord - We tried to remove these helmets but it feels like they are...embed to our skulls. Trying to break them only causes us pain.
Arnas - We could always give you sanctuary in the Commonwealth.
Betharon - Brood, Imperium, Divinarium, wherever, it's better than here.
Tarsus - Agreed. But i say we make it a priority to have the helmets surgically removed. Even the New Dawn might have facilities better than what they have had access to.
Birdo - The slavers are cruel, sadistic bastards...I hope your Commonwealth doesn't follow the same steps as they do.
Arnas - Not neccessarily.
Eyeless Slave - One day I failed to move a crate...they ripped my eyes off and forced me to eat them.
Tarsus - Urgh. Administer that one to the regrowth lab. If the Andromedan Light is informed then we have to do soemthing about these conditions the Gros impose. The Imperium is never this harsh.
Asgord - Anything is better than this.
Birdo - Even death is a charming choice...
Betharon - Thanks but flattery won't get me to kill you.
Eyeless Slave - Maybe...maybe I'll see the light of day once again...
Betharon - I want to name you Window.
Arnas - Must you torment the poor things?
The small eyeless slave hugged Tarsus' leg, who peered down under his arm at the creature
Eyeless Slave - Thank you, stranger...'
Betharon - Careful Tarsus, who knows what he's infected with...
Asgord - We should leave now. The slavers are probably watching us...they are always watching, no matter where you are.
Tarsus - ll be fine. Morphis, remember?
Quendor - Hm. Perhaps some of you could join us on the New Dawn? We'll give you food and clothes, and you could help us with some jobs...
Betharon - Yeah, you can work while some of us lay back and watch!
Birdo - That could work. But...would he fit in your ship?
Birdo pointed at a Cheurith slave, who was looking away from the group. Big and pondering, he seemed confused, even scared, by what happened now.
Tarsus - Captain are any of the cargo holds big enough for that one?
Quendor - Ooh. Probably. I am not sure...
Betharon - Hey, buddy, you okay?
Cheurith - I harm no one. I just hungry...
Quendor looked at the Cheurith closely.
Arnas - Well... we could transfer some cargo from bay two to bay three to give him some space...
Betharon - What do you like to eat?
Quendor - Do you remember your name, big guy?
Cheurith - Eat? I like meat. Lots of meat...Name? I not know what that means.
Betharon - How about I call you...Tiny?
Cheurith - You funny, little man. I like you.
Tarsus glared at Betharon, annoyed by his attitude towards slaves.
Tarsus - Hrm, if he like it he can keep it.
Betharon - Hehe, you're a big guy. The security forces could do with somebody like you at our side.
Cheurith - Oh, I get to eat evil people! I like!...Tried to eat slaver once...they beat me with electric whip...hurts so much.
Tarsus - Perhaps the ship's meat vats could be enough to feed him. But looknig at his size he must have quite the appetite.
Quendor - Don't worry. They are not here anymore.
Betharon - Yes, yes you get to eat the evil people. - Betharon took the Cheurith's hand and felt it a little - I think I'm gonna like you, Tiny.
Birdo - He's very friendly for a creature like him. The others were all angry savages...I think I heard something about them cloning him as an adult and skipping childhood completely.
Tiny - Others bad. I kill them. Crush them under feet.
Betharon - Wow, that's... - Betharon smiled and nodded - Yeah, we could definitely put you to some good usage. Friend?
Tiny - Friend!
Tiny grabbed Betharon and put him on his shoulder.
Arnas - Fine, Betharon. You can keep him. But you have to promise us you will be the one to feed him and take him to the toilet every day.
Betharon - *chuckles and looks down to his crew* Hehe, I promise, I promise! I'll take good care of him.
Asgord - Can we please leave...this place is making me sick each seconds that passes.
Quendor - This place was spooky. I'd rather leave right now.
Arnas - Very well. Everyone return to the ship and... I'll tell engineering to prepare the teleporters.
Tiny - Tiny hopes ship has good food in it!
Betharon - Hehe, we got lots of good meat! Farmed from all over the galaxy.
Tiny laughed and clapped his hands, then grabbed a large boulder and pulverized it with a punch.
Tiny - There. I make way.
Arnas - How kind of you.
Betharon - Impressive, that strength...is astonishing.
Birdo - Proper freedom...you were right, Sycorax. There is hope.
Sycorax - With your help, we shall be free again and find a new home. I am grateful for all you have done.
Tarsus - We, unfortunately have other piorities. However if you desire a home I suggest you contact the Andromedan Commonwealth.
Arnas- Suggest, profesor? I say we insist.
Betharon - Other priorities? Such as?
Arnas - Finding the HHS Apocolypse?
Quendor - Indeed...
Quendor went silent, again thinking of his mother.
Arnas - Sycorax... to others you mentioned, the ones who looked like us, do you know where they went?
Birdo - You have helped us. We would be glad to help you back.
Sycorax - After finding Him, they fled...
Arnas - Can you give us any indication aas to theri direction? Anything at all that would help us find them?
Sycorax - We wish we could. But we can't.
Tarsus - If you cannot help us find them, was there anything in the ruins you could offer to help us to understand the previous occupants?
Sycorax started to think. Leaving for a minute or two, she then returned with broken pieces of the Machine.
Sycorax - He was there when they stole Him.
Tarsus - The Machine was in the sarcophagus?
Tarsus - Captain, it is quite possible this machine of theirs could be a replicator.
Arnas - It would explain how it was able to feed and supoprt everyone, and why the thieves might want it.
Tarsus - Thank you, this is very helpful.
Quendor - Shall we go, then?
Arnas - There is nothing else left. Let's go
The New Dawn left the planet of slaves. It was both a horrifying and an entertaining experience indeed.
Emperor of Slaves
5th June, 2790
The Andromedan Highlords all receive a message, asking for a conference. Curiously, the message appeared to hail from somewhere in Segmentum Exterioris.
Uriel - This is curious.
Tyraz - Hmph, answer. I do not recognize the location this message hails from.
Iovera - .So the New Dawn program has succeeded. Interesting...
When the transmission was accepted, the hologram of what appeared to be a Gros with regal clothing and a large mechanic eyepatch appeared to the Highlords.
Iovera - ...A new alien civilisation?
Uriel - No no, they look familiar.
Tyraz - Identify yourselves, xeno.
??? - Good to see you acceptd by hail, Highlords of the Commonwealth. I am Emperor Gnorvi of the Stratocracy of Karnagtah.
Iovera - ...Seems that my assumptions were correct.
Uriel - Greetings emperor. o what do we owe the privelige of this transmission?
Gnorvi - I must talk to you about a little incident involving your "New Dawn" spaceship. Said spaceship's crew kind of invaded one of my colonies and kidnapped my manual labour.
Tyraz - Wait...what?
Iovera - Manual labour? What do you mean?
Uriel - Slaves.
Gnorvi - I call them manual labour. Since that's exactly what they are.
Iovera narrowed her eyes.
Tyraz - Slave drivers...You have nerve contacting us.
Gnorvi - And your spaceship's crew have nerve claiming a world my people has inhabited for decades as their own.
Uriel - I read the report, the planet was essentially uninhabited but populated by precursor ruins.
Tyraz - The report read it was uninhabited. We were open to claim it according to our laws.
Gnorvi - So you just shove your laws up my throat and I can't have a say about it?
Uriel - The planet is considered a place of immense archeological importance.
Iovera - ...That's problematic. But we could solve that issue. What do you mean by "inhabited for decades"?
Gnorvi - I had colonists in there. That's what I mean.
Tyraz - Colonists, or slaves?
Gnorvi - What's the difference?
Tyraz - The AGC organization does not support slavery, xeno. Or at least, not to the extent that they don't have rights.
Iovera - But, Tyraz, in the Imperium...
Gnorvi - Don't talk to me about slave morality. The weak must serve the strong. Your empires themselves follow this to an extent.
Tyraz - The Imperium allows slaves to have rights. This xeno here...
Iovera - But, Tyraz, the Commonwealth is a peaceful organisation. A diplomatic solution is a best option.
Gnorvi - The point is that your spaceship breached my territory without my consensus acting like they own the galaxy. I don't want this to happen again.
Gnorvi smoked what appeared to be a cigar. During the entire conversation, the maintained a stoic expression.
Uriel - Then why did these colonists refuse to leave with your advance party?
Tyraz - The report read the planet was uninhabited by official sources and contained artefacts of much importance. If you really wanted to avoid a conflict, you would have told the AGC exactly of your intentions and territories.
Gnorvi - Why should I have to tell you about my empire? I don't ask you about yours. Again, you act like you own the galaxy. That is certainly not true.
Uriel - You argue might makes right against a force who's combined navy dwarfs yours.
Gnorvi - Except you know nothing about my navy.
Tyraz - We have protectorates and our job is to protect them. If you have taken members of these protectorates under your own rule without permission or authority, I must be forced to declare a state of conflict.
Gnorvi - There are no members of the Commonewealth in the manual labour. Check your accusations before pointing fingers at me.
Tyraz - Yet you're the one who comes here looking for a fight.
Gnorvi - Who said I want to fight? All i'm saying is that you are invading my space without my knowledge as claiming it as your own. Would you like if someone did that to you?
Uriel - There was no indication it was your territory.
Iovera - Tyraz, we won't fight unless the fate of the galaxy is in question. These... Gros aren't Grox.
Gnorvi - Bah. Don't compare me to those mechanical pests. I am nothing like that.
Tyraz - Hmph, Uriel is right. There was no indication this was your territory. If you had contacted us beforehand, we would have left you alone.
Gnorvi - Imagine if someone entered your house, ate all your food and slept on your bed. That is how I am feeling right now. I had absolutely no reason to contact you beforehand. I have my life, you have yours.
Tyraz thought for a moment and rubbed his chin.
Iovera - We have no desire to have any conflicts with your nation, your majesty. The Commonwealth as whole will not interfere.
Tyraz - There was no official claim to the planet. We were not to know.
Gnorvi - Well, I am here to propose that, if your ship is to enter our territory, it should at least have the decency of informing us first. We have no intention of fighting the Commonwealth. You are strong for defeating the Grox, and we admire strenght.
Tyraz - Perhaps you should have made contact with our ship first. The New Dawn would not have known.
Gnorvi - Yes yes, maybe I am overracting a little. I'll inform your New Dawn the next time it approaches one of my planets.
Iovera - So be it. Dei'nar cyra'drae'nii, your Majesty.
Uriel - If you provided us with information on your territory this incident could have been avoided.
Gnorvi - I'm afraid I cannot give you details. Consider it a matter of privacy.
Uriel - A little unacceptable isn't it?
Tyraz - You decide to yell at us for invading your territory that you're not even willing to share information about so we can avoid this incident?
Gnorvi - I can give you where my territory is, but don't expect me to point where Karnagtah is located.
Uriel - The New Dawn's purpose was to explore and map the galaxy, you are being counterproductive of its mission.
Gnorvi - Again, my comparasion. I'm not asking you to tell me about your empires' infrastructure. I have no reason to do the same for you.
Iovera whispered to Uriel.
Iovera - ...I find these... Gros suspicious, Uriel. We must beware.
Uriel gave a subtle nod.
Uriel - The Commonwealth is not as secretive as you. If you do not want information on the commonwealth that is your decision.
Hnorvi - I know everything I need... goodbye Highlords, maybe we'll talk again in the future.
Gnorvi's hologram let out a smirk as it disappeared.
Uriel - Such a statement only makes things worse.
Tyraz - Uriel, shall I send a war fleet?
Uriel - We know nothing of them and if the Emperor's statement is correct they know all they need to about us. We would be flying blind into an enemy that knows how they can defeat us.
Tyraz - This is a travesty! This is unacceptable!
Iovera looked at Uriel and Tyraz arguing, seemingly impartial.
Uriel - This situation might noe be beyond hope.
Iovera - ...Tyraz, we are not conquerors. We can't simply send a battlefleet into the Segmentum just because we find them evil.
Uriel - We know where their territory is, it should not be too hard to begin threat assessment strategies.
Tyraz - Our fleet dwarfs theirs. They know what we are capable of.
Iovera - Problem is, we need to assemble a fleet first... and keep in mind that we do not control the whole Commonwealth.
Tyraz - I am the Grandmaster, Iovera. At my word, I can control the military authority of any of our protectorates.
Uriel - Tyraz, at best I advise wekeep our fleets on standby.
Iovera - ...My point is, we can't just send soldiers there like lambs for the slaughter. We were meant to be the protectors of the galaxy. Not its conquerors.
Tyraz stopped for a moment and sighed. He sat in his seat and looked away from the other two. Uriel clasped his hands together.
Iovera - However, we won't allow all these Gros slaves to be tortured.
Uriel - Iovera has a point. Charging in right now is suicide.
Tyraz - ...Fine. But we shouldn't wait so long. Either it's suicide or we're sitting ducks.
Iovera - We don't need to *charge*, Tyraz.
Uriel - We use this time to find out more about them, when we know enough -then- we have a chance to fight back.
Iovera whispered a word in Radessic and the image of an Imperion appeared next to her: it was Andorrus.
Andorrus - What is your will, my liege?
Iovera - Send in the Hereticon, Supreme Autarch. We have a mission to do in Segmentum Exterioris.
What did Gnorvi mean with "I know everything I need"? Only time would tell.
10th June, 2790
Renus Kantus, one of the few remaining Drakodominatus in the gigaquadrant, sat contemplating in his headquarters on a nondescript planet within Andromeda. He looked at viewscreens to see the 10 million Drakodominatus before him who he had saved from likely death from the Tyranny's ultima virus. He dreaded what his kin in the tyranny had become and felt relieved that none of his people os far had managed infection. They had all recognized the folly in the ways of the Tyranny, the stupidity of survival of the fittest mentality that had permeated hisp eoples' psyche for so long. Now "the fittest" were baring down on his people with the intent to destroy everything for theri supposed cowardice.
One of his attendants approached him and reported that there were patrols being sightes. It was not entirely clear who they were however.
At that, Renus Kantus said "We have no military, we are a peaceful enclave, and we need all the help we can get. We know it is not Tyranny and we need defenses against them, so we must contact them, so send out a signal"
14th June, 2790
After a few days they recieved notification that an external figure was replying to their transmission. Feeling opeful Renus headed to a communication centre where a voice was desiring an answer. It was deep and dsitorted for some reason. Renus leant into a reciever and spoke. He didn't care wh oit was, but he could tell they weren't fro mthe Tyranny.
Renus - I am Renus Kantus, and I must meet with you, alien.
The voice agreed to send a diplomatic envoy prompltly. The tranmission anded and Renus stood up, looking at the comm room's attendants with a sense of hope.
15th June, 2790
The next day a cruiser and a small escort from the Draconid Imperium arrived in orbit over the planet. Within the hour A shuttle landed on a pad hanging from a pre-fabricated tower and overlooking the landscape. Renus was wearing his best and stood at the doorway when the shuttle silently settled on the pad. The side opened to reveal ALessa Ultanos escorted by four Blood Dragon guards. He met her with an entourage of disillusioned war veterans as shestepped out and looked up at him with a warm smile.
Alessa - Greetings, I take it you are Renus Kantus?
Renus Kantus - Yes
Alessa - The Imperium sent me as a delegate on it's behalf. I am ALessa Ultanos, daughter of Uriel the sixteenth.
Renus - Yes I know that. Now, I have very urgent things to discuss, Draconis.
Alessa - In what sense?
Renus - What race are my people Alessa?
Alessa - I recall seeing archival images... drakodominatus?
Renus - Now tell me why this is only archival and why you have only seen Dominatus.
Alessa - I'm not sure. All I can remember was news of a disaster in the Mirus Galaxy.
Renus - That was not a disaster, that was self inflicted. It has sadly always been the policy of the Tyranny for it to be the survival of the fittest at any cost. What you don't know is that the virus killed 99.999% off the population it made contact with.
Alessa - I am sorry to hear that. What of the survivors?
Renus - The remaining 0.001% were turned into the Dominatus, they represent the very best of the Tyranny genetically. Then there are us.
Alessa - Dominatus... you mean like their leaders?
Renus - Just the genetic 99.999 percentile, not nescessarily leaders. I blew us off the maps in order to spare us from the pandemic.
Renus brought them inside and led Alessa down several corridors towards a meeting room that had been set up.
Renus - Are you familiar with a woman by the name of Medusa?
Alessa - I would rather not be, but yes.
Renus - Well her philosophy represents that of the Dominatus now, and of the Tyranny in general. It is that attitude that sickened all of us and to form this colony.
Alessa - You were right to do so. I have only met Medusa briefly but her attitude is absolutely vile.
Renus - We are not an empire, we are all pariahs and outcasts who have inflicted this penance on ourselves. We now know however that the Tyranny has found our colony and is sending a fleet, we want to accept Pax Draconica for safety, as a province. If you accept, we can be everything you wish and we will help you in matters pertaining to the Tyranny.
Alessa - You wish to join the imperium to protect yourselves? That is certainly possible.
Renus - As a province. I assume your response is an affimrative, and if that is so i have many things to tell you
Alessa - The imperium always welcomes new species, especially ones with rationality.
Renus - Now let me tell you about the Tyranny.
They arrived in a large meeting room where Renus walked to position himself behind a large metal table.
Renus - Are you informed about it's educational system?
Renus - I could go on and on about the rigor of education and the intellectual demands of it however first of all imagine you are a 6 year old. Imagine from the day you were born that you have been made every waking hour to study advanced calculus, cryptography and combat skills and were punished brutally for not meeting the standards. Now imagine at the end of your sixth year you have a final exam one full week long. What do you think happens if you score proficiently in all your areas yet are in the bottom 10 percent of your class?
Alessa - From what I have heard, execution springs to mind.
Renus - The bottom 10% are all executed by the state as part of the state mandated eugenics program.
Alessa gasped and widened her eyes in horror of this news.
Renus - This has been going on ever since time immemorial , it is one of the so called proud traditions of the Tyranny education system.
Alessa - It sounds barbaric...
Renus - Imagine trying your best and excelling, only to be put to death for somebody else scoring higher than you.
Alessa - I can see why your people grew dissatisfied.
Renus - Our little group are outcasts, people who have rejected everything the Tyranny stands for. We have war veterans who have committed atrocities and stared in revulsion at it, those brave men left the monsters for us. I must also add that Tyranny infants are tortured every day for around an hour to teach them resistance to pain and interrogation. We did not want to evolve into a higher form even if we could have lived, this whole practice of eugenics is disgusting. We will not stand with a system that looks up to the likes of Medusa!
Renus slammed his fist onto the table. He noticed that Alessa had clenched her hands and opened her wings at the thought of Medusa.
Alessa - You have my favour, Renus.
Renus - We hope to do better in a place such as the Draconid Imperium where fairness exists and such madness is not the rule of society.
Renus - I hope you do not think us cowards and deserters for leaving the Tyranny.
Alessa - You are not cowards for seeking shelter from tyranny. I am sure the Imperium would gladly have you. Perhaps with our help you can become an empire even greater than the tyranny.
At that Medusa's flotilla entered orbit, Medusa herself was in one of the prototype mark 2 battleships while the rest were controlled by AIs. Alessa's escort warned her over communication channels but at that moment Medusa and several other DOminatus beamed down inside the room and surrounded Alessa and Renus, all of them towering over everyone. Alessa outstretched her wings and a reverberated growl permeated her voice out of rage.
Alessa - You.
Medusa - I have no quarrel with you Alessa, this is a matter that belongs to the Tyranny.
Alessa - Not anymore.
Medusa - What?
Alessa - As of now, with the consent of the population, this planet is within Imperial space.
Medusa - Renus, is this true?
Renus - Yes you vile monster.
At this, for the first time Medusa lost her temper. She was furious as she stood over Renus with Alessa bing kept back by her own bodyguards who were in tirn surrounded by Medusa's dominatus escort.
Medusa - You worm, not only did you avoid the Ultima, you also subjected yourself to another empire? Has your demotion from Admiral and your exile taught you anything?
Renus - Yes, it has taught me everything, perhaps you should learn as well
At that, Medusa truly burst with rage. She grabbed Renus by the torso and lifted him up to eye-level with his legs dangling in the air.
Medusa - You monstrous traitor, you will pay for such an offense! The only price for treason is DEATH!
Alessa - STOP
Alessa barged past hwe guards to bring attention to herself and Medusa turned to her, still fuming with rage.
Medusa - THIS IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS WENCH. Go flatter your suitors you useless harlot, this is High Treason.
Alessa - This man has, by the nature of Pax Draconica, become an official citizen of the Imperium. He came to the Imperium's door to request sanctuary for both him and his people, and the Imperium has responded under my wisdom!
Medusa in an ancient dialect of High Demogorgon - used only in ancient literature - shouted a few eords: "Deutyrannostav Grasiviak jivintoniem Subgarvzkzt," Survival of the fittest.
Medusa - You are a traitor, and you will pay for this in the deepest bowels of hell. Your name will go down in our history as a foul rodent who opposed our greatness. You will pay for this someday.
Alessa - THen you must bring it up with my father!
At that, Medusa and her entourage teleported back up into their ships and exited into hyperspace, they left Renus to fall from the high he was held at. After landing with a heavy thud he stood up and rubbed his backside. He looked t oAlessa who outstretched her hand to help him up.
Renus - Surely you now see the barbarism of our so called great empire. No matter how large the facade of the intellect it will never enlighten us fully.
Alessa - You do not have to worry any longer. Your people are now safe.
Renus knelt to Alessa and lowered his head, feeling immensely grateful towards her.
Renus - We cannot thank you enough for this. However i wish that the Drakodomiantus will have opportunities within this imperium.
Alessa - There shall be a place for the imperium for you. By the powers granted to me by the Grand Senate, The Draconid Imperium welcomes you as a province under its eternal gaze. May our guidance grant you and your people a thousand years of prosperity.
Alessa called for him to stand and he willingly did so.
Renus - One last thing; I would like myself and my people to be clad in the garments of the Draconid Imperium, i want to shed all vestiges of the Tyranny and I I want never again to be associarted with them...I've done too much for them
Alessa - There is no official uniform for civillians. And those who join the Imperial Navy will wear the garments of service.
Renus - That will be all, once again thank you.
Alessa nodded and left. Renus sat in a chair with the feeling of relief creeping across his face. Now that he had the Imperium to back him up, the Tyranny would not dare touch him or his people. At least, that's what he thught.
The Brotherhood of the Blade
2th October, 2790
“And so the battle begins.”
- - Remembrancer Theon Miranath, log 150/12:M001
For the following months, the New Dawn's crew enjoyed a period of normality; no more battles, no more Tertamian relics to be found, no more slaves in the catacombs. The ship did its work: categorising alien civilisations, studying Segmentum Exterioris, going where no Andromedan has gone before... and yet, this time of peace was but a calm before the storm. For many eyes now gazed upon the lone vessel, each having a purpose its own, each a piece in the grand design. As the New Dawn traversed Andromeda's unknown regions, another starship, which was believed to be destroyed decades ago, followed it.
??? - Commander Khanjar, this is brother Althron. The Commonwealth ship is nearing our base of operations.
One of this ship's crew members, a Radeon clad in dark armour, stood to his master. He didn't respond with words, but Althron wasn't suprised at all - it was known to all brothers of the Blade and their lord, Khanjar, was almost always silent. Some believed his vocal chords were destroyed in one of the battles, while others said he just never saw anything sensible enough for his response. But Althron did not need words to understand him - a single gesture made by Khanjar was enough.
Althron - I understood, my liege. I will spread the world of your old friend returning. We shall leave none alive.
The Radeon left his master's chambers, ready to attack. Something terrible was about to unfold.
- The Battle Begins
AI - Attention: we are under attack. Repeat, we are under attack..
The cybernetic voice of the ship's AI awakened the crew from their rest; quickly assembling at the captain's bridge, they saw the red light illuminating it - a sign that the ship was being (as the AI said) under attack.
Quendor - What is happening?
Hastily taking a seat, Arnas activated the New Dawn's camera screens.
Arnas - Unknown ship on intercept course. All guns prepare to fire.
Arnas looked into the screen to see a huge ship coming at the New Dawn. Although it was black and grey and had weapons which Arnas has never seen before, it seemed to be vaguely familliar. Its blocky shapes made Arnas realise... it was a Draconis ship.
Arnas - That... that's an imperial ship...
Zorrev - Confirmed captain. Highcortex pattern, but look at the guns.
The vessel continued moving towards the New Dawn, attacking as it approached; the entire crew felt the floor shaking beneath them. From the visor screen, Arnas could see beams of blue energy coming from the invading ship - the weapons were unlike anything she ever encountered. To Quendor, however, they were strangely familliar...
Quendor - My father described the Inheritance's weapons just like that...
Zorrev - Where the hell did these guys get Inheritance weapons from!?
Arnas - We can worry about that once we stop the attack. Right now I want power diverted to shields.
??? - No need to.
Arnas - Wha?
The holographic image of the invading ship appeared on the New Dawn's screen. It seemed to be similar to that of the Draconis ships, but seemed to be rusting and used in a stark contrast to the shining elegance of the Imperium ships. Members of many species of Andromeda - Draconis, Rapidox, Kroogvon, Radeon, Imperion, Zazane, Artharon - glared at the New Dawn's crew from the screen malevolently, all sharing the same anger, the same visage of fury. In the center of the image stood a scarred, tall Radeon clenching a rapier in his cybernetic hand, dressed in a black, dirty armoured trenchcoat, covered in scars.
Arnas - Everyone... the Andromedan Light might want to see this...
Althron - Slaves of the Commonwealth, yeesss... Leader Khanjar's assumptions were correct, as always.
Arnas - What are you talking about? We're not slaves.
Althron pointed at Arnas.
Althron - You, all! I do not want your blood to be spilled. If you surrender and renounce your allegiance to the Commonwealth, we shall spare you. If not, well...
Arnas - You think we would give up our allegience to the Commonwealth just like that?
The New Dawn's crew started hearing a buzzing, high-pitched sound. It didn't took long for them to realise: it was a sound of the invading ship's weapons activating.
Althron - I do not think I need to say more.
Althron smiled and clasped his hands.
Arnas - Drakon forsake you, what do you have against the commonwealth?
Althron - Hmph...
Althron's face twisted in contempt.
Althron - All of us have different reasons, but we share one thing; we all know that your Commonwealth is in the hands of a madman and a tyrant.
Arnas - You actually believe why they say bout Highlord Breek?
Althron - Oh, we have no allegiance with that... insurrection. We know more about your Commonwealth... much more.
Althron's words were filled with spite and hatred - it was almost visible, every time he spoke. Quendor, already shaking in anger, drew his sword and roared at Althron.
Quendor - Enough. All weapons, attack!
Quendor was about to give an order, but was cut short by a smirk of his opponent.
Althron - An unwise decision, Guardian.
Arnas - Explain?
Althron waved his hand to show his ship's crew, as if suggesting Quendor to look at them - and Quendor looked, indeed. The traitor Radeon's armada was horrifying to behold, its members' faces scarred and twisted by anger. Among them, however, he found one that was much different from the others... In fact, it was familliar to him. Very familliar.
Quendor - ...Mother!
Althron - Ah, so that's who you are. This.... Geroniel told me much about you.
Arnas - Huseless bastard!
Quendor's anger literally tore him apart - and, being a powerful Radeon psychic, the entire crew could feel it. Small furniture, weapons and machinery surrounded him, floating in a ring-like formation.
Quendor - Don't you even-
Althron - Don't worry, Guardian. I mean her any harm - in fact, she is at my side... which is one more reason for you to abandon your old allegiances.
Arnas looked worridly around the room. She was aware of how dangerous Quendor could be.
Arnas - Can I duscuss this with my crew?
Althron - Fine. You'd better make the right choice. Otherwise, well... I don't think anything good awaits you in the afterlife.
The rebel Radeon's crew's image vanished.
Arnas - All senior officers to the briefing room. Now.
Quendor - ...Complying.'
Arnas - Alright, we need ideas on the table.
Quendor remained silent. He was still thinking of the mysterious enemy, of the events to come... of the fact that Geroniel was alive.
Arnas - That man has several Divinarium officers on board his ship, at least one could compromise the integrity of the Divinarium.
Quendor - That's it... we can't just attack the ship.
Baka'niju - Hm...
The rest of the officers turned to the Artharon.
Baka'niju - There is a saying among our people... the true path is the simplest one'. I suggest... an attack. No traitors shall survive.'
Quendor - She is no traitor, Artharon!
Arnas - But what about the others?
Quendor - ...We should not risk even one officer of the Divinarium... We shouldn't!
Baka'niju - The first officer stands for his clan. But if the clan is disgraced, then the disgrace must be cleansed. By blood.
Arnas - Alright. Betharion, what do you think?
Betharion - Hmph, if it poses a risk to my crew, then I shall not support it.
Arnas - We cannot be sure if she even wants to come back.
Baka'niju - We could weaken the ship to the point it will be forced to retreat- and none of your clan shall be harmed, Radeon.
Betharion - Any hostage onboard that ship is no concern of mine.
Quendor - She couldn't have joined them just like that! I am sure that they leave her trapped, feed her false information... we could send a rescue expedition and bring her back, to our ship! There must be a way...
Arnas - So we either force them to retreat, board them or destroy them.
Betharion - Quendor, I am the leading security officer onboard this vessel. If you put my crew at risk, you are a liability to me.
Arnas - And what if they are the die fighting type?
Betharion - I say we destroy the adversaries swiftly.
Arnas clasped her hands and went deep into thought.
Quendor - No way!
Quendor's voice became roaring.
Betharion - Quendor, I am sorry, but we cannot be certain they shall simply let us turn away or hand over the hostage peacefully. And even then, the hostage could be used as a bomb or infiltrator. We destroy the vessel.
Baka'niju - I support officer Betharion.
Arnas - What if we crippled the ship and disabled it. Without it shields could we use the ship's teleporters to beam her out?
Betharion - No way - the Zazane slammed the table - She is a liability! She could be hostile towards us!
Arnas - If we put her in quarantine we could convince her otherwise.
Quendor - Indeed...
Arnas - Baka'niju, your thoughts?
Baka'niju - Hm... - the Artharon froze - I fear such tactic is too dangerous.
Arnas - Her last known location was on the bridge. What if we took a scan of the ship? It's an Imperial ship, so I am familliar with the layout.
Baka'niju - ...So be it.
The New Dawn's crew left, preparing to face the mysterious threat.
- The Battle Begins
Commander, we have reached a consensus', Arnas declared to the holocommunicator, making the visage of the Radeon rebel return to the screen, looking down at the crew.
Excellent. I assume you have chosen to abandon your tyrannical Commonwealth and join us in embracing the true path, Althron said sarcastically with a smug expression on his face, staring at Arnas, awaiting her to snap, to enrage... but she remained silent. ...Have you?
No., Arnas said; no emotions were present in her voice, but she was literally boiling from the inside, as were the rest of the crew. - We have not.
Althron did not respond, merely muttering something to himself, and simply smiled malevolently before cutting the transmission off. At the exact same moment the hologram vanished, light engulfed the entire ship, and sirens started howling, accompanied by a cybernetic voice chanting: All shields failing, all shields failing. It was apparent that Althron's boasts about his ship's power weren't unfounded.
Geelum, reroute all power to the shields!, Arnas shouted to the Kroogvon officer, who ran to the ship's engine, struggling to walk as the floor was shaking beneath him from the Brotherhood's cannons. Seeing that there was no time to activate the shields in time, Arnas instead chose another way to escape the Brotherhood's weapons; turning the starship's steering wheel, she attempted a bold maneuver; she plunged the New Dawn through a nearby asteroid field, where the ship would be relatively safe from the enemy fire.
The engines roared from energy deafening the entire ship's crew and the New Dawn's sillhouette in space turned into a blur; the very stars around Arnas seemed to move. Small, barely visible in the debris, the small research ship maneuvred between the asteroids, dodging the incoming energy bolts from Traxus which sparked in the void, occasionally blowing nearby asteroids in a shower of dust and rock. The New Dawn responded, striking at the Brotherhood vessel with its plasma cannons - but Traxus's shields seemed to be invincible, and the plasma bolts just dissipated upon touching the ship.
The battle continued for hours, with neither side being able to prevail over the other. Arsac observed the battlefield with hopeful eyes, praying that this battle wouldn't be the end of their expedition, and it seemed to her that the New Dawn was getting an upper hand; despite the renegade vessel's powerful weaponry, it was not as maneuvrable as the New Dawn which was built using the technology of all Andromedan species, and Traxus's defenses were slowly failing. As the blue shields around the terrorist ship finally bursted and went dim, Arsac cheered, commanding Betharion to aim the New Dawn's cannons to deal a finishing blow. However, just as the Zazane officer was about to activate the ship's weaponry, he realised: something was wrong. Traxus, despite being at the brink of destruction, remained still; the terrorists didn't attempt to flee, to escape into the space, even while they had full capability to. Betharion watched Traxus, puzzled, until he at last realised what was wrong.
The terrorist ship's cannons were moving.
Honestly, I hoped we could resolve that conflict peacefully, - Althron appeared on the holoscreen once more - I expected you to see the truth for yourselves. But if you want to continue with your insolence, then so be it. But remember: the time for fun and games is over.
As Althron finished his speech, Traxus attacked once again; swarms of white, silvery cybernetic drones left Althron's ship, engulfing the New Dawn within seconds. In horror, she watched them crushing her ship's complex shields with their sheer numbers, one by one, and then, tearing the hull apart. Almost screaming, she turned to her crew and proclaimed: they should retreat.
- We can't do anything, - Arnas said, weariness and stress in her voice being evident, - These drones will turn our ship into scrap in a few minutes if we won't do anything. We have to flee.
- What? - Quendor yelled, enraged, But... there's a-
- I know! Geroniel is at that ship. But if you want to have another chance of seeing her alive, we have to retreat now. This terrorist wanted us to surrender to him peacefully, to give him our ship - but now, he wants to kill us all, and he can and will do it if we will stay here and continue fighting. We retreat. This is an order.
Quendor stood silent, just staring at Arnas, and then left the captain's bridge, once again without saying a word. Arnas simply nodded to the Radeon officer and then turned to the ship's controls, preparing the transwarp engine. Hull integrity follows 75%; warp jump may result in further damage, - the ship AI proclaimed, but Arnas didn't listen. She had to save her ship, here and now, and nothing was going to stop her.
Computer, activate the warp drives. Coordinates: 9304-99-X, 00549-11-Y.
The dots of stars turned into bright lines around Arnas, and the suddenly, the drones and the terrorists were gone, disappeared in a flash of light; the New Dawn was now alone in the void. Seeing that danger was over at last, Arnas sighed in relief as the entire crew cheered and celebrated their victory (or, rather, survival). The entire crew.
- Where is Quendor?, - Arnas asked worryingly, looking around.
- Captain, - one of the crew members responded - Quendor is no longer aboard, and one of the New Dawn's escape pods is missing.
- By the void...
It seemed that one problem has replaced another for the New Dawn's crew.
- The Revelations
The crew met once again, all taking their places at their seats - all but one. Quendor was gone. Among the most distressed was Arnas, who sat in her chair looking rather frustrated.
Arnas - Let me get this straight. As we were about to leave uendor took a craft from the hanger and tried to rescue Geroniel herself!?
Baka'niju - It appears to be so.
Arnas - By the time we get back their ship would be gone.
Betharion - He was a liability to my crew's safety.
N'rai - But we can't just let them have our first officer! We have to do something.
Arnas - What about tracking it? It may leave a signal in hyperspace we could follow.
Baka'niju - A wise tactic, captain.
N'rai - We have to learn more about these rebels, too. They called us "slaves of the Commonwealth"... but why?
Arnas - They seem to think anyone who shows allegience is a slave.
Arnas started thinking. The parts of the puzzle were not fitting each other. She could not understand: who were these rebels? And what was more important: what were their goals?
Betharion - Hmph, reminds me of the Insurrection somewhat.
N'rai - "In the hands of a madman"... Sure, they might just be brainwashed terorists... but still. It puzzles me.
Arnas - They appear to be operating this sector. Therefore I advise that as we search for Quendor we look for we look for more information on these terrorists.
Suddenly, the holographic image of a gray Draconis appeared, looking at the crew. Dressed in elaborate, elegant clothes contrasting with his scarred and bruised face, he maintained a cold demeanor, hiding a barely visible shred of anger within.
Vesperon - And I have this information, captain.
The Draconis bowed slightly.
Vesperon - This is Vesperon Maltris, chancellor of the Grand Senate of the Imperium. What you have just seen is, officially, dead people. The information I will reveal now should remain *strictly* confidential.
Arnas - I will make sure of it... s-sir.
Vesperon continued speaking with well-planned, somewhat dramatic pauses between sentences.
Vesperon - The organisation you have faced is called the Brotherhood. Terrorists, rebels, renegades - all of them. They would have remained just that - a pest - but their actions and their technology make them much more of a threat.
N'rai - The technology we saw is something abnormal. Something... ancient.
Arnas - W-we saw sir. Inh-heritance technology...
Vesperon - Exactly. The Brotherhood has been engaged in multiple anti-Commonwealth attacks, each time using technology beyond our understanding. According to our intelligence, they somehow managed to discover the way to adapt even the most advanced precursor relics.
Baka'niju - ...That Brotherhood is a dangerous foe, then.
Tarsus - Such an ability is definitely useful. Perhaps some of their personnel have such talents?
Vesperon - Perhaps. The most distressing news, however, is that... the Artifacts have been lost.
The entire crew gasped.
Tarsus - Impossible! The defences were flawless!
Vesperon - The identity of a... thief is, currently unknown, but given the Chronoscopic nature of the defense system... Whoever stole the Artifacts must have had essence users with them. If the Brotherhood was behind it, one can only wonder what are they going to do with them.
Tarsus - Personally chancellor, I am dreading any potential user. From what I remember, the last time it was used the person it bestowed became - as best as I can describe - a god.
Tarsus - If the Bortherhood ever had that kind of power... well...
Vesperon - Indeed. Right now, your goal is split. While your original mission of exploring the Segmentum remains, you must also stop the Brotherhood if possible. The Artifacts' power must remain in our hands.
Vesperon - This is not just for the sake of Andromeda. This is personal.
N'rai - What do you mean, chancellor?
Vesperon - The Brotherhood's leader... I once considered him a friend. Let's say we... parted ways.
The Chancellor's image faded, leaving the crew with much more questions.
Meanwhile, aboard Traxus
- The Hunt
Quendor was breathing heavily. The air around smelled of sweat and blood, making his legs give way, and everything seemed to blur around him. Despite this, however, Quendor continued to stand, slowly stepping through the Brotherhood ship; he cared little about the stench, about the captain's orders... he cared little about anything, actually. Now, for the last part, Quendor thought - and that was perhaps the only thought he had in mind now. To find the mother. Like a shadow, he slowly sneaked through the dirty corridor and soon found himself in a labyrinth of corridors. Though the glowing Dracid runes that marked the doors had confused the Radeon captain at first, Quendor quickly came back to his senses and started reading the letters; it seemed that he was inside the ship's main engineering.
She was a scienist, he thought, if anywhere, she must be there. Wasting no more time Quendor hurried to the engineering, but as he was about to enter the room to search for his mother, the door before him closed, and sirens started ringing around him. Quendor cursed in Radessic, drew his blade and sliced through solid metal; when he "opened" the door, though, he was no longer alone: figures in black armour, which seemed to be Draconis or Drasheril, were standing in front of him, clenching fusion rifles in their hands.
Brotherhood Militant - Commonwealth scum! Halt or be destroyed!
Quendor - Only after you.
Quickly reacting to the situation Quendor activated his armour's teleportation mechanism and appeared before one of the Brotherhood militants' backs, quickly stabbing him with his disruptor blade; the defeated militant did not even have time to scream and simply gasped while falling to the ground lifeless. The rest of the warriors, however, were not scared in a slightest; instead, they simply stopped, snarling at Quendor.
Militant 2 - Brother Mannulus!
Quendor was confused by the sudden serenity for a split second, and that split second was enough for the rest of the militants to regroup, charging at him with an ear-piercing warcry; smashed by the sheer momentum, Quendor was thrown into the air and smashed against the wall, his armour being the only reason he didn't turn into a bloody mush immediately. Bleeding and panting heavily, Quendor roared and started a fierce counterattack. One by one, the Brotherhood militants fell, either beheaded or blown into little pieces by plasma. In a few minutes, only one of them was still breathing, barely alive, among the corpses. Quendor laughed victoriously and put his boot on the last militant's chest. However, despite bleeding heavily, he did not intend to die so easily; coughing blood, he glared at Quendor and spoke.
Militant 3 - You... killed them all... Karvanus, Retamus, Mannulus... we fought together from our childhood and you... you monster. I'll make you pay.
With his last bit of strength, right before Quendor pierced his chest, the Brotherhood trooper rose to his feet and shot right into the Radeon captain's stomach. Quendor screamed in pain as he fell on the ground together with his enemies, with only his sheer willpower keeping him conscious. So that's what was death like? To die with your purpose unfulfilled - that was true death. At least if he could, before his death, see the person he was searching for, the Grail of his quest... but no, he couldn't. He had failed.
Or maybe... maybe there was still hope? Writhing in agony but still clinging to life, Quendor crawled to one of the doors within the engineering and opened it, in a last hope, in a last hope that perhaps in death, he could at last find Geroniel. He didn't. Instead, what he saw was a flash of blinding light... and the vision that would change his life forever...
First, there was nothing. Quendor felt as his senses, one by one, left him, along with the pain. He was nowhere: a disembodied consciousness, a drifting spirit, unconnected to the outside world, with only one thing left: to think.
Then, for some reason, Quendor's senses reawakened, or so it seemed to him; once again he heard something. A voice. Was it Geroniel? Arnas? A Brotherhood trooper preparing to finish him?.. No, it wasn't. The voice was different. Strong, wise, unearthly and above all, ancient, it carried an air of sophistication; Quendor could not even understand the words of the antediluvian tongue it was speaking in... but somehow, they all made sense to him.
Mennefer - ...I am busy, 34C3. Who sent you?
In a flash, Quendor's sight became clear again... but he was no longer in the realm of the living, that's for sure. What he saw was something... not of this world; it came from a place beyond time and time beyond counting. Before him stood a city of pure white marble, gleaming so bright he could barely be able to see anything; it was reminiscent of the Tertamian catacombs which the New Dawn's crew had dicovered recently but unlike them, untouched by the ages. As Quendor's senses grew used to the light, he managed to recognise a few sillhouettes - a Tertanai-like figure, dressed in alabaster vestments that made him almost instingishable from the surroundings, and a small robotic creature that had apparently brought its master a message of some sort.
34C3 - Sender = Lord Senator Anari Seilan; message = of utmost importance; you + message = great success for the Alliance.
Mennefer - What? The Lord Senator himself? Activate the transmission, C3. Now.
Immediately complying, the small white robot sparked and turned himself into an image of another Tertanai-like creature; unlike his companion, he was dressed in golden, stately clothings and exuded an aura of confidence, even arrogance. Perhaps a noble or a politician, Quendor thought. Then again, I do not even understand what in the evercycle is going on, so I can't really make any assumptions.
Anari Seilan - Ah, at last. Greetings, professor.
Mennefer - Greetings, Lord Senator. Do you need anything from me?
Anari Seilan - Indeed I do; the whole Fraternity of Species does. We are at war, professor, and we are losing. The Metropoly is pushing our forces out of Crepusculum now; if we don't stop its advances right now, the fate of Il'larion itself will be at stake. We need to change the tides right now.
Mennefer - But why me? I am but a scientist, sir; I'm a man of peace, not a warrior. What can I change? The Alliance has allies; why can't we call them for aid?
Anari Seilan - Unfortunately, we can't. The Grox have severed all ties with the Alliance and are now leaving the galaxy - to Vareal and Rimnali, I believe - and the Kormacvar are too far away to help. Ultimately, this battle is ours and ours alone. However, we have one ally at our side. You and your scientists.
Mennefer looked at the Lord Senator with a mix of surprise and confusion.
Mennefer - You want me to make a superweapon for the Alliance?
Anari Seilan - Exactly. A weapon that could lay waste to entire sectors.
The scientist paled and froze at the words of Anari Seilan, showing with all his being that he was repulsed by the idea.
Mennefer - Entire sectors? I-I am not sure about that. Morality issues aside, Lord Senator, creating such a weapon is downright impossible with our industrial capacity! We simply won't have enough energy to power it!
Anari simply smiled and waved his hand; around him, multiple holograms appeared, showing strange black and green cubes which glowed malevolently.
Anari Seilan - Don't worry about that, professor. With these constructions at our disposal, we won't have to worry about energy anymore.
Mennefer - I don't understand. What are these... things?
Anari Seilan - We have retrieved them from a devastated Memfian world in Segmentum Crepusuculum, professor. The surviving Rades called them Aeons, and told us that they contained power beyond our comprehension. Our scientists have confirmed their claims: the Aeons are indeed a limitless source of energy... though very dangerous. Your mission is to devise a way to harness this energy into a weapon that will ensure our victory.
Mennefer - But perhaps... perhaps...
Anari Seilan - You heard me. We need that weapon to preserve our sovereignity and culture, and you shall create it. Vinarasan be with you, professor.
Anari Seilan waved his hand and his image disappeared, leaving Mennefer alone with his robotic servant.
34C3 - Question: 34C3 = further service?
Mennefer - Ah... no, no. I want to be left alone. You are dismissed.
As the scientist said his last words, the image blurred, and the vision was gone. Once again, Quendor was left alone. He felt nothing at all.
Quendor was awakened from unconsciousness by a flash of light, followed by the piercing pain in his stomach. When he opened his eyes, he saw the interior of the Brotherhood ship he was in, surrounded by soldiers and... Althron. The rebel Radeon smiled upon seeing Quendor return to consciousness and spoke to him in an affable but cold manner, his voice somewhat distorted because of his cybernetics.
Althron - I see that you have understood the meaninglessness of opposing the true path, my friend. - Althron laughed - Have you changed your mind? It is never late to join us, after all.
Quendor - Threl'a... sa - Quendor struggled to speak, but still had enough energy to spout Radessic profanities at Althron. - Geroniel...
Althron - Oh, that's so... ungrateful. After we healed your wounds, after we gave you a chance to... reunite with your mother, you still refuse? How irrational of you.
Quendor - I'm a Guardian of Light, terrorists. I have sworn to protect Andromeda from the likes of you.
Althron - And that is exactly what does Brother Khanjar wants, Quendor. His vision is the one of unified Andromeda, free from corruption that mires the Commonwealth, free from the iron grip of three species, free from the tyrant that holds the throne of the galaxy now.
Quendor - Everybody says that. Demagogues.
Althron - I am not sure that you have a choice, Quendor.
Althron pointed at the squad of Artharon soldiers with plasma rifles; roaring wildly, they kept watching Quendor, waiting for their commander to order them to kill. Quendor shivered in fear at first, but quickly restored his morale and spoke to Althron.
Quendor - I am a warrior. I do not fear death. I am ready to sacrifice my life for-
Althron - Uh, uh, uh... Geroniel, remember? You refuse, and she... well...
Althron laughed; in this laughter, there was a little bit of amiability, evil, as well as certain insincerity. Quendor's face paled in horror as he stared at the rebel Radeon commander.
Quendor - ...Wait, wait... Okay, okay, I get it, you're right... I'll join you.
Althron - Excellent, my friend. Welcome to the Brotherhood...
20th November 2790
Images of Kol Daren still scarred Nelasa's mind. he blood and gore haunted her nightmares. For the past few weeks she had kept the babygirl she had found in her qaurters. She didn't want to reveal her but she was growing astoundingly quickly and whiel colour had returned ot it somewhat it was forever hungry. She had been slipping rations form the monastery's canteen to the child. For days she had put off transmitting the footage from her armour for fear of getting caught.
She sat huddled one day, recently suffering another flash when she was alerted by a knock on her door. She kept quiet hoping it would go away but the person kept knocking. Eventually they let themselves in - It was Eluros, her mentor. He approached her in her vunerable position and kneeled down to comfort her as she timidly looked up.
Eluros - Nelasa... it's been days and we have yet to revieve the footage your armour took fro mthe enclave, what happened down there?
Nelasa kept quiet and looked at him. She was clearly upset as he held her hand. He was distracted when he heard a squeak. Suspicious he looked around and felt the baby's presence. He cautiously walked over to find the girl, which by now was almost a metre tall was waking up and calling for attention.
Eluros - Nelasa... what have you been keeping from me?
Nelasa still refused to speak as Eluros reached in to pick it up only for it to bite into his hand. He let out a roar as the bady tore it off and swallowed it. Eluros turned to nelasa and stormed over to her. He overrode the settings on her armour and discovered that, according to the recordings, she had turned on the Blood Dragons she was assigned to and had ferociously torn them apart. Eluros snarled with rage.
Eluros - You... after al lthe order gave you... after we forgave you for your heritage... this is how you repay us!? Why.
Nelasa - It wasn't me you must understand! I was framed.
Eluros - I saw Kol Daren. he tricked you, he corrupted your mind didn't he!?
Nelasa - No! I--
Eluros - Enough! The fact you hid this... thing, kept vital information from me and--
Suspicious he graped Nelasa's hand and forced it open to find House Khaxvis's insignia carved into her hand. He snarled audiably but before he could do anything nelasa's claws were wrapped around his throat.
Eluros - I... Knew... it.
Nelasa - Save your words. I have always been damned, you only prolonged my suffering!
Eluros - But--
Nelasa - Kol Daren, Volkarus, Arsac, they all made me suffer! I am toys or tools to them and I will no longer put up with it!
Eluros continued to choke as Nelasa's enhanced strength slowly killed him. He reached out with his claws and managed to make three deep marks on the side of her snout as she gave a quick shake and snapped his neck. She let the body collapse and curled up beside it, now realising what she had done. Yidda, the girl she had rescued, walked in and stood in front of her.
Yidda - ...Mummy, i'm hungry. Why are you crying?
Nelasa - It is nothing, go back to sleep. I will come soon.
Yidda - But i'm hungry...
Nelasa looked at Eluros' corpse, which was still warm. She sighed and Yidda looked in response.
Yidda - Can I mummy? I'm starving!
Nelasa - ...go on, his body has no other purpose.
Yidda hugged Nelasa tightly before she tore at Eluros's clothing and sunk her teeth into his body. For the next few minutes she ravaged at the corpse like a starving animal, tearing away at the flesh and swallowing large mouthfuls. when Yidda felt she had enough she returned to Nelasa and settled down by her surrogate mother.
Nelasa then realised, for a brief few moments she felt as though she truly belonged somewhere. The Zazane she had saved from potential death was now her life. She accepted her as a mother and Nelasa felt a slight sense of joy. As Yidda dozed off Nelasa lifted her wing to shelter the child and thought about her next plan of action. The Inquisition would never forgive her for this, she had to escape.
Complications in Politics
10th December 2790
The Galactic Empire of Cyrannus agreed to an alliance with the Commonwealth on the grounds that their alliance with the Tybusen Intergalactic Allied Federation is severed. Grand Mandator Aeresius of the Core Worlds is sent to Andromedan Light to meet with the Highlords. He is accompanied by two guards and an aide.
- Aeresius - Good day.
- Tyraz - Greetings, Aeresius.
- Uriel - Good day mandator. We trust you are the imperial delegate for this occasion?
- Aeresius - Yes. I will represent the Emperor today.
- Ma'fest - Dei'nar cyredrae'nii.
- Andorrus - Greetings, Mandator.
Uriel smiles as he walks over to a table that occupies the centre of the room. Aeresius takes a seat. Uriel sits in the chair reserved for him as a Highlord. Tyraz remains standing, feeling uneasy but he looks calm enough. Ma'fest takes Iovera's chair and sits, with Andorra right next to him.
- Aeresius - Before we begin, I will need proof that any connection with the Tybusen Intergalactic Allied Federation has been severed.
- Tyraz - I can assure you that the Brood's connection to the Tybusen has since been cut due to events in the past.
- Uriel - As you wish. But I wish it to be known that I did not break ties proudly; are you aware of their involvement in the recent Andromeda War?
- Andorrus - Indeed. Their militant and diplomatic efforts have proven themselves greatly beneficial during the Coalition conflict.
- Tyraz - They are incompetent, however, as seen with their attempt at trying to assist the Brood against the Golden Movement.
Aeresius looks unimpressed.
- Aeresius - I will need proof that the alliance has been severed.
- Uriel - I do posess proof of the Imperium's severed ties, if you wish to see it.
- Aeresius - Yes, I wish to see it before making any official start to negotiations.
Tyraz pulls out a piece of paper declaring the Brood's seperation from the TIAF's alliance, signed in Tyraz's blood.
- Tyraz - I hope this shall suffice.
- Ma'fest - Andorrus, please.
Andorrus presses a button on his microcomputer and a holographic text appears on the table, describing the severed ties between Crepusculum and Tropicana. With a sigh, Uriel pressed a few panels on his chair. A hologram of a draconid news service reported of the severed ties and an announcement for the division of the Delpha province, supported by military supervision.
- Aeresius - Thank you. We can now proceed.
Uriel sighed with dissapointment and sat back up after taking a few deep breaths.
- Ma'fest - Excellent...
- Tyraz - Why do you look so down, Uriel?
- Uriel - It's nothing. The Cyrannian probably does not want to hear an old man's ramblings anyway on such an important day.
- Tyraz - Fine.
Tyraz turns to Aeresius.
- Aeresius - What news of the Tybusen's reaction?
- Tyraz - They were not so happy they had lost my support.
- Uriel - Does it matter?
- Aeresius - Very well. I suppose it is time to consecrate this alliance.
- Ma'fest - Splendid. What are your conditions?
- Aeresius - The Empire's only major condition was the cancellation of the TIAF alliance.
Uriel called for an attendant to hand him a tablet device and, using his finger, he quietly wrote onto a blank panel on the screen.
- Uriel - Breaking ties was a heartfelt loss for all the commonwealth despite any past difficulties. Would you be open to considering any offers as well as a pact of alliance for our trouble?
- Aeresius - As far as I can tell, the Brood were only too happy to cut off relations, while the Divinarium seemed rather impartial.
- 'Uriel - They were still valued allies in the Commonwealth. And there is often a difference between opinions between the government and the populace
- Ma'fest - But an alliance means a set of agreements. How do both sides benefit from our alliance?
- Aeresius - Military and economic aid as well as a substantial boast in Gigaquadrantic affairs is what we offer.
Uriel glared in thought at Aeresius, clasped his hands together and drummed his fingers. he then looked to both Ma'Fest and Tyraz.
- Ma'fest - Paragon?
- Uriel - A tempting offer. I can accept on one condition: I made an oath to the Tybusen that any TIAF civillians harmed in the Imperium's annexation of the Delpha Province would have the responsible officers would answer directly to me for their actions. Should the Empire become involved I would like for such a condition to extend to your own forces. In short: I would like that any Imperial who harms civillians, direct or indirect, in that sector during the annexation be brought before me for their actions.
- Aeresius - Your condition is acceptable.
Uriel sat in a more relaxed position and added to his writhings with a smile.
- Uriel - Good.
- Aeresius - Do you have any other requests?
- Ma'fest - I find your current conditions suitable for the Divinarium.
- Tyraz - I have one.
At the bottom of the panel, Uriel used his finger to draw up a section for signatures. As Tyraz spoke he lifted his finger away.
- Tyraz - Any colonizers from Cyrannus that settle in or near Brood territory must devote resources to the nearest Brood colony and are required to learn mandatory military service. They are also to stay out of affairs concerning the Golden Movement, otherwise known as Crispy's Insurrection. In other words, they are to have no contact, whether the Movement wishes it or not. All I can tell you is that they are not with the Commonwealth, thus they are not of Cyrannus' concern.
Tyraz turned his head to the Paragon.
- Tyraz - Isn't that right, Paragon?
- Uriel - Indeed. Dealing with them is strictly a commonwealth affair.
- Aeresius - Of course, I agree.
Uriel tapped the tablet and added his signature on a line just above the bottom. He then passed the tablet to Ma'fest.
Before taking the tablet, Ma'fest turns to the Mandator.
- Ma'fest - One thing. Make sure the Empire will respect our faith. No Masaari follower should be persecuted in the Empire.
- Tyraz - Quiet, Ma'fest. Religion should have no place in politics.
- Aeresius - Religious freedom is guaranteed in the Empire.
- Ma'fest - Excellent. I have no further objections then.
Ma'fest quickly writes his name on the tablet.
One of Aeresius' aides approaches him. She whispers in his ear.
- Aeresius - If you'll excuse me for a moment, I have received a message from Orbispira.
He steps to the side. Meanwhile, Tyraz takes the tablet and then slashes his index finger with his tooth before writing on the tablet.
- Uriel - Was that neccessary for such a device?
- Tyraz - When a Zazane makes a pact, he does it with his blood.
- Ma'fest - ...A strange rite indeed.
- Uriel' - I remember. At least the finger should register, blood or none. let's be glad the mandator didn't see it.
- Tyraz - Ma'fest, Iovera would never be so concerned about her faith when in politics.
- 'Ma'fest - With all due respect, Grandmaster, faith is what the Divinarium was built at and I won't allow it to fade away!
- Uriel - I still feel like a betrayer doing this. When Andromeda was in the grip of war they did nothing. And now we turn to them over a faction that almost saved us.
- Ma'fest - We live in a dark universe, Paragon. We have to make right decisions and do not doubt them.
- Tyraz - I was all to happy to seperate associations with the Tybusen. They have caused me and my Brood many troubles. And do not forget they plagued the Imperium at one point as well.
- Uriel - That is the problem Exarch. How can we know for sure this is the right decision, you have never even met the Emperor.
Aeresius walks back to the table.
- Aeresius - My apologies.
- Ma'fest - '"Welcome back.
- Uriel - It is of no trouble. The agreement is ready for you to sign unless there is anything else.
- Aeresius - Yes actually. This negotiation is over.
- Uriel - Pardon?
- Aeresius - I regret to inform you that Orbispira has decided not to pursue an alliance with the Commonwealth.
Tyraz snarled and stood.
- Tyraz - What is the meaning of this?
Uriel glared at Aeresius and the room's guards readied themselves.
- Tyraz - Stand down! The Mandator must have his reasons.
- Uriel - The agreement was ready to be signed. Why does the empire pull out at the last second?
The guards nodded at Tyraz's order and stood back. Aeresius looks quite indifferent.
- Aeresius - I shall take my leave. My apologies for any inconvenience caused.
- Tyraz - Not until you fulfill our request, Mandator.
- Uriel - No. The Empire put forward this proposal, we demand answers as to why they are pulling out before the wax has dried.
Aeresius smiles slightly. He and his aides and guards translocate to their ship in orbit.
Uriel sat there but visibly grew angrier and angrier.
- Uriel - Naval forces. Do not let that delegate leave the system.
The ship opens a wormhole and departs to Cyrannus. Uriel quickly stood up and opened his wings.
- Tyraz - Bastards! I feel tempted to declare war on their time-wasting Emperor! Shyrak eaters!
- Ma'fest - ...A pity.
- Uriel - The Imperium risked a war with the Federation because of those bastards and now they pull this on us. Their emperor has a lot of explaining to do for this!
Uriel stormed out of the room and his guards followed him as he forcefully pushed the doors open. Tyraz grunted and let out a horrific roar, before vanishing into vapour.
Old Alliances Renewed
12th December 2791
Uriel was still frustrated from the meeting with Grand mandator Aeresius. He paced in his studdy and muttered several unpleasant things under his breath, he had not been this infuriated with the behaviour of a respresentetive of foreign power in a while. The normalyl calm paragon felt betrayed. he looekd out to the cityscape from his study window, he remembered the things he had said to the Tybusen and wasting little time he opened a communication channel. he used the special channel he had secretly set up with Captain Lorrelas. he knew from the channel's very nature the Empire could not listen in.
Then again, the way he felt he did not care. To him the Empire had wasted both his and the other highlords' time. Lorrelas accepted the communication almost as though he was expecting the call.
Lorrelas - Hello, Uriel. Rough day?
Uriel - I take it you saw the news reports.
Lorrelas - Indeed, the news is quite big here in the Federation.
Uriel - I can imagine. I feel foolish for ever going along with this!
Lorrelas - I feel a bit conflicted over it. While I'm relieved to see the Empire not gain new allies, I also understand how devastating this must be for the Commonwealth.
Uriel - You have known the Cyrannians for longer than I have, were they always this vile?
Lorrelas - Not until the Imperial era. The Republic before them was one of the most kindhearted nations in the entire Gigaquadrant, and even the Confederacy was not nearly as bad as the Empire.
Uriel - These new imperials, They seem to spit on the legacy of their precursors; I've seen this kind of behaviour before. It is a popular thing for dark-hearted leaders to destroy past legacies, former empires, and so on, all done through the way their people act. It sickens me that such a regime sits on the other side of a wormhole.
Lorrelas - I have always held high respect for the Cyrannian people, though I find it difficult now to recognize the difference between the Cyrannian people and the Cyrannian government.
Uriel - Such arrogence. I've seen power-hungry praetors more honourable than those imperials.
Lorrelas - I don't see where they were going cutting the alliance with the Commonwealth, it seems only detrimental to them in the end.
Uriel - Especially the way their delegate did it. Insulting to say the least however it made me realise. I should keep to the people I trust like yourself.
Lorrelas - Indeed, with people like the Empire out there we can only really trust the people who show their loyalty. Anyways, since it seems that the Empire has retracted their offer, we should talk about the matter of TIAF-Draconis relations.
Uriel - There have been citizens in the imperium calling out against the Empire for their manipulations aginast us, the federation still has supporters here.
Lorrelas - How has the Senate reacted?
Uriel - many have been scorned at the empire's false generosity. It made some of them realise how valuable our partnership was.
Lorrelas - Ah, that is comforting to hear... I'm afraid though that the Assembly and a large part of our population doesn't seem to feel the same way...
Uriel - They're not fond of the Imperium's abandonment?
Lorrelas - I think they are still bitter over the Imperium choosing the Empire over the Federation. I don't hold that kind of sentiment, but the Federation's citizens seem a bit hurt.
Uriel - What if we told them that through this ordeal the people of the imperium now fully understand your plight and why you are so vengeful of the Empire.
Lorrelas - I can tell them that, but ultimately it lies on the Assembly to decide whether they want to reestablish the alliance, which they appear to not be interested in right now. I think it will take time for the damage to fully heal, and we are still on alert in case any ITN officer decides to try to go forward with the Delpha annexation.
Uriel - I am willing to personally appeal to the assembly if it will help them change their minds.
Lorrelas - You can try, but on issues as serious as this sometimes they do not even listen to my appeals. But I think it's our duties to do everything we can to convince them.
Uriel - It is my fault for putting oppertunity over loyalty. I do not wish to make the same mistake again. I will see if I can arrange transportation to Tropicana.
Lorrelas - The Federation values loyalty above all else, I think you understand why they can get so bitter over this.
Uriel - I do, all too well.
Lorrelas - Well, I'll see to it that the Assembly will have audience with you. My only concern is that I don't know how your visit will be received; I don't know where Tropicana's population stands on this. But I will make sure the Assembly listens to you.
Uriel - Thank you captain. Whatever happens I will prepare myself to remain strong.
Lorrelas - I shall see you at Tropicana then, friend.
Uriel closed his communicator and turned to look out of the window of his study. As he sighed Alessa entered, feeling concerned for her father. He turned slightly in her direction but still remained solemn.
Uriel - How much did you hear?
Alessa - O-only that you desire to visit the Federation planet of Tropicana.
Uriel - Would you join me?
Alessa - Is something wrong, Father?
Uriel turned back to look out the window as Alessa walked up and moved her arm to wrap around his. He tilted his head slightly towards her and smiled softly as she gently cuddled his arm.
Uriel - Nothing too critical. I want to fix what damaged I caused with these Tybusen. I want to make things right for all of us.
Alessa - Father I know you will do waht is best. I will go with you.
Uriel - Thank you.
Alessa leaned to the side to rest against her father. Uriel smiled calmly, his frutration subsided in his daughter's presence.
18th December 2791
Within the week Uriel had arranged transportation abord his personal cruiser to Tropicana. After being granted clearance by space traffic control to land. Uriel was groomed and wearing his armour, buffed and polished which shone in the sun while Alessa wore an elegant dress with gold and silver trim. Security officers briefly ran a security check on the both of them. Protesters outside had becoem aware of the visit and were chanting anti-Draconid slogans outside the main doors, with Tropicana's police forces keeping them at bay.
Alessa - Father, are you sure you wish to go through with this?
Uriel - I was the one who made the final choice to break us apart. it should be my responsability to repair the damage.
Lorrelas and his wife arrived in a shuttle at the spaceport entrance. As they did so Uriel looked at the crowd and looked back to Lorrelas. When protestors saw Uriel they chanted more loudly and aggresively
Lorrelas - Hello, Uriel, the shuttle will take us to the Central Federal Complex. Please come in.
Uriel nodded and guided Alessa to climb inside as tthe protestors shouted at them. Once inside they both looked at Lorrrelas but appeared feeling a little uncomfortable.
Lorrelas - I apologize for the tight space, these shuttles weren't designed for Draconis. And don't mind the protesters, it's just one of the things that comes with freedom of speech.
Alessa - You were certainly not wrong when you said the people were upset.
Lorrelas - We are quite passionate.
Uriel - I can see. Is there anyone among the population apart from you who does not hate me for what I did?
Lorrelas - Of course there is. There are some who are not quick to forgive and there are others who are.
Uriel - I see.
The shuttle arrived in front of the Central Federal Complex. There are more protesters were waiting at the entrance. Uriel's visit had become big news and it seemed like every citizen with anti-imperium sentiments had come out to voice their anger. Alessa looked out of the shuttle window as they flew in on approach.
Alessa - Oh my... Is our visit truly this much of a problem?
Lorrelas - Do not worry about them. Some citizens want to act about what they believe in, and they believe protesting is what will accomplish that. Do not think that the entire Federation feels this way.
Uriel - Let's pray my words will help in the Assembly.
Lorrelas - I hope they are receptive today.
Everyone stepped out of the shuttle and floolwed Lorrelas to the assembly chamber. *TIAF politicians were walking around inside, analysing papers and having discussions with each other. As Uriel walked he sorted himself out after the brief period he spent in the Shuttle. Alessa held his arm and he instinctively raised his wing over her, some politicians had to duck as Uriel stretched his wing out. The politicians in the High Council chamber took their seats when Lorrelas entered the chamber. Uriel took several deep breaths and walked inside the room. He felt confident with himself and it showed.
Head Councillor Arkeyta - Greetings, Commander. The Council honors this visit by Paragon Uriel. Paragon and Commander, please step forward to the podium.
Uriel stepped forward and assumed his position.
Arkeyta - Please begin.
Uriel - Members of the Grand Assembly. I come before you because I feel I have wronged you all. When the Empire offered an alliance, it was I who chose to side with them and break thies with the federation. I have come with news now that I do not want to make the same mistake again and ask if there is anything that can be salvaged from my mistake.
Councillor Restram - Tell me, Paragon, what was your reasons for choosing to pursue an alliance with the Empire rather than the Federation?
Uriel - I chose to side with the Empire because our nations shared a strange cultural bond. I felt that in order to foster that bond my people needed to becoem more closely-tied.
Restram - What kind of cultural bond? Surely it must be important.
Uriel - I'm not sure... Sometihing about the Capricornians suggested a similarity somehow.
Restram - And this was of more value to you than our loyalty?
Uriel - My people value history and we value the ideas of others, perhaps this time it was not yet I was misguided to see it.
Councillor Lusitana - Paragon, we have often heard this from other Draconis, and I wish to ask you this: do you find the TIAF to be an immature culture?
Uriel - In some ways, perhaps, but I also see it's merits.
Restram - Did you think that Cyrannus had superior culture to us, thus why you chose them over us?
Uriel - I do not believe that there is a heirachy of cultures. Different cultures have their own merits that were born from different ciercumstances. I chose Capricornian culture because it was closer to my own peoples'.
The councillors looked at each other and nodded in approval. Uriel felt satisfied that his words held meaning and rolled his shoulders back.
Lusitana - Paragon, some of our citizens say they feel the safety of themselves and their loved ones is threatened by the threat of Draconid annexation of Delpha. Would you act to prevent any forceful annexation of Delpha?
Uriel - I would do my best to prevent conflict, for six months ago I swore that for any citizen harmed during the anenxation, the soldiers responsible were to answer to me personally.
Lusitana - I believe the Federation's citizens also feel threatened by the fact that your Senate was in support of annexation of the territory. Some are worried for their loved ones who serve in the military especially if annexation were to occur, which would mean war.
Uriel - Many of those politicians felt that control of the sector was solen from them by the New Raysong Concordat. I know the Lord-Admiral and I know our laws - The Imperium cannot declare war unless I say so and under the approval of the Lord-Admiral.
Restram - Your politicians must feel resentment for our war against your kind several years ago!
Uriel - It was a misunderstanding, many in the senate accept that, it's happened before.
Restram - Then why did they press for annexation of Delpha? You have said they felt robbed because of the Concordat, they still resent our past conflicts.
Uriel - From reports the capital had been occupied by the time of the concordat. Victory was assured for the imperium and your forces were all but defeated. The concordat came and split the territories my politicians believed they had righfully claimed.
Lusitana - They are willing to start a new war because they are sore about diplomacy?
Uriel - I have met several nobles selfish enough to consider it. But none would try it without risking being considered a rogue member unless I give the word. I promise that I will not reest soundly until we reach a peaceful conclusion. In fact, without the Empire looking over us perhaps we can restore the old system.
Councillor Shorva - We feel that Draconid loyalty has been put into question by your actions; what do you have to say for you and your people?
Uriel - I apologise, for everything. In fact the conclusion of the 'meeting', has proven to me these imeprials are not to be trusted.
Shorva looked at Uriel impatiently.
Shorva - ...Do you have anything else to say in conclusion?
Uriel - I was wrong to agree for the Imperium to turn it's back on you. Loyalty, honour and dignity should always come before power. Arkeyta - Thank you, Paragon. The Council will convene on this and decide whether the Imperium is worthy of our trust again.
Uriel - I thank you greatly for your time, councillors.
Lorrelas motioned for Uriel to leave the chamber the two of them left the chamber and Uriel sighed after they passed though the door.
Lorrelas - They can be an earful, I know. Uriel - Nothing I have not really before. Some Draconis really know hwo to talk... Lorrelas - It could have been much worse if you had said anything they didn't want to hear. Uriel - Heh. I know how these meetings go.
The councillors began debating and both of them could hear it through the doors. Lorrelas rolled his eyes as Alessa returned to Uriel's side.
A Crown Prince's Concerns
20th December 2790
Maxios Telvenum was more concerned than ever. Within his guest chambers in the Imperial palace he paced up and down, thinking over what he had heard from the past few days. A half-empty glass of Sodarian sunrise wine rested on his desk and glinted gold in the afternnon sun that shone through the windows of his room. As he paced his eyes trailed upwards and he saw an image of him and Guolivian on Vencortium and rememebred the state visit. His eyes lit up, he walked over to a wall panel and dialled a code to open a communcation channel to Guolivian's office.
Telvenum brushed himself down as a hologram of Guolivian materialised in the centre of the room, however Maxios was far from pleased to see his contact.
Telvenum - Guolivian, there is something we need to discuss. It is about this mess between our two culures.
Guolivian - I assume you refer to the incident involving Grand Mandator Aeresius.
Telvenum - Unfortunately yes, I've hardly ever seen Uriel so frustrated. From what I can tell he is losing faith in your government.
Guolivian - While I have the utmost respect for you, I fail to see why I should be concerned over your leader's opinions on the matter.
Telvenum' - He has worked for years to build mutual relations between our two cultures, he has told me time-and-again that he thought we were getting somewhere only for.... this, to happen.
Guolivian - I have complete faith in Aeresius' judgement. And from what I heard before the meeting, Uriel was hardly ecstatic about the Empire.
Telvenum - Draconis have a habit of staying by old friends, keeping to old ways. For Uriel he was forced to give up ties to the Tybusen Federation that have been in place since the near-dawn of the Commonwealth. I won't deny he has talked about doubts, but... It still eludes me as to what these Draconis find so bizarrely fascinating about your galaxy. At least it is driving them to want strong ties. is there anything that could be salvaged?
Guolivian - Hm. In time, I suppose these wounds will heal. I'm afraid time might be the only thing for it.
Telvenum - Surely there must be something? I know Uriel. he is a man of pride and a man of honour. he sets an example to the entire population here.
Guolivian - I am not entirely sure what you expect. I am sure the Emperor doesn't intend to antagonise the Commonwealth. I'd imagine things will blow over eventually.
Telvenum - If you will not do it for Uriel's sake would you consider doing it as a favour for me? Surely there must be some in the senate who realise that ties to the Imperium would be a good thing for everyone?
Guolivian - Very well. I will make a case to the Senate. But know that many have the view of the Commonwealth that in order to survive, they must become more centralised under a single civilisation. Not everyone in the senate believes it should be yours.
Telvenum - I can understand why they may think that. The Imperium is not perfect. We have plenty of enemies as well as allies and--
Maxios paused and sighed as Guolivian looked expectantly at him.
Telvenum - I know I am asking a lot of you for this. but I promise that I will return the favour when I can. Both our cultures share a strange bond of similarity. I know a good number who would hate for such a conection to be severed or strained by political disputes.
Guolivian - Not to worry, I promise you I will make the strongest case possible for healing relations.
Telvenum - Thank you. If you ever happen to be in Andromeda, I would be more-than-happy to share a bottle of chilled wine from my wine cellar. My treat.
Guolivian - Oh! That sounds enjoyable. I can always find the time to share a bottle of wine with a friend.
Telvenum chuckled, by this time he had calmed down a lot since the conversation began.
Telvenum - Marvelous. Keep safe then.
Guolivian - Farewell.
As the hologram dematerialised, Telvenum picked up his glass fro mthe table and sat down in a lunger. He sipped it and exhaled with relief, perhaps things were not as disasterous as he first thought.