The Star Leviathan[]

10th Batana ID.219503

Quendor, Baka'niju and Beltharon were at a loss. For now they had escaped the clutches of Althron and the Brotherhood but time was precious. Every day they waited the Brotherhood came closer to deciphering the mysterious "Adaru". Everyone was both unsettled and wonderous about what the construct was or what secret lay in the cube that, for a short while had been within Genoriel's care. The New Dawn was missing, somewhere lost in uncharted space and it was potentially the only sanctuary the team had.

Quendor shyly watched his mother. For two months their ships sailed though uncharted space, he had not seen her in years anad ever snce he was old enough his father, Jahric had devoted his time to the Ecclesial Fleet. Through fate or chance he was once again reunited but it was not without consequence. Ever since his rebellious actions, Betharon watched him closely and ever-vigilantly. As if waiting for him to slip up again so that the Zazane could hit him again for outbursts of defeiance.

Tarsus meanwhile was in the cabin. Sometimes Geroniel and him talked, both of them pursuers of science and deeply fascinated with the way the universe worked. Despite his age, Tarsus came to admire Radeons and it became especially clear in his time on the New Dawn, a side effect of the Andromedan Light's plan perhaps. What they lacked in physical prowess or manual strength they made up for it in willpower, discipline, curiosity and intelligence by many, many times. He was with Genoriel again that day, after two months searching in vain for anything; an emissions trail, a hyperspace signal, signs of gravitational distortion, the New Dawn had become a second home out here in the unknown reaches and all he wanted was to return; back to his home, and back to his lab.

A ship containing the escaped team encounters a rare and potentially ancient being

As he and Genoriel talked the ship's sensors picked up an unusual signal within a lone-planet system: a solid body, several times in volume compared to the shuttle. Intrigued, Tarsus pressed several panels and looked at the mass signature on a central screen. Genoriel peered toward the screen with intrigue.

Geroniel - What do you think it may be?
Tarsus - Its profile is too irregular to match any known starship, look at the way the volume flexes.
Geroniel - A stellar lifeform perhaps?
Tarsus - It is possible. Perhaps we should bring the ship in for a closer look.
Geroniel - Could it be hostile?
Tarsus - We cannot tell from here. I will set the ship to move closer so we can get a better idea.

Tarsus activated a few panels. He was fortunate the ship they had comandeered featured Divinarium-borne designs that allowed less than a handful of crew to pilot it, a handy feature should the ship's crew be too depleted for any more crew-intensive vessel to declare a scuttling. It took only a few minutes for the ship to approach the mass signature, using low-power warp fields to maneuvre themselves towards it. As they approached within a few million kilometres of it, the vessel's forward cameras were able to display the anaomoly.

A massive serpentine creature plated entirely in metal. Hanginng from what could be presumed to be its mouth were several snaking cables, like tendrils drifting over any possible mouth. Lining its underbelly were more appendeges, like small feet designed for the creature to scuttle on a terrestrial surface. Asteroids perhaps, or barren planets that were small enough that it couuld still lift itself off the ground and back into space should it need to. Tarsus and Genorial looked at the creature in awe, admiring its rolling beauty as it drifted in the void of space. Tarsus was distracted as he felt a massive hand clamp around his shoulder. He looked to his right and up to see Beltharon's massive, pitch-black form towering over him, looking down at him with a clear scowl adorned on his face.

Beltharon - No. Not this time, I prohibit it professor.
Tarsus - Commander, this is an incredible oppertunity we've never seen anything--
Beltharon - The last time you decided to sate your curiosity, people died. No more. You are not going to eve nget close to that thing and I will use force if it means keeping you from killing yourself or any of the crew.
Tarsus - I will be care--
Beltharon - And you said that the last time. Until we find the New Dawn, no distractions!
Geroniel - Maybe it could help, perhaps it is intelligent, maybe it is more aware of this region of space than we are.
Beltharon - It is made of metal, this ship is made of metal so it could very well--

Beltharon was cut short as he looked at the screen. The Leviathan was approaching, it was truly enormous and stared right through the cameras to thethe crew in the cabin with its hollow eyes. As it closed in, the tentacles that draped over its face raised up.

Beltharon - Professor set a reverse course....
Tarsus - It's too--
Beltharion - NOW!

The ship attempted to turn, managing a 180 degree turn but too late for them; as the ship prepared to activate FTL the cable-llike tentacles draped themselves over the hull, warning systems flashed thoughout the ship, the obsctruction of the tentacles triggered a failsafe in the ship's hyperdrive and the FTL procedure was shut down.

Tarsus - We were far from it why blame me!?
Tarsus - I was unaware it could travel at FTL speeds!
Genoriel - Beltharon, enough!
Beltharon - Excuse me?

Beltharo had only a moment to react before a psychic blast from Genoriel's hand sent him flying backwards into the bulkhead. As the ship passed though a mouth of sorts it was rocked about, tumbling everyone from side to side as they desperately held on. Eventually the ship's rocking came to a hault. Beltharon was laying upside down against a bulkhead, his legs hanging horizontally in the air and his neck pressed against the floor. When the ship settle he launched himself backwards, landing on his feet, standing up to his full height and twisting his body before marching up to Genoriel with a scowl. As he approached, Tarsus flung his right arm out to bar Beltharon but he merely grabbed the wrist and pushed it leftways back into Tarsus His focus darted between Tarsus and Genoriel as he bared his fangl-ike teeth. Looking at each of them, he pointed his finger aggresively to both of them, indicating a warning.

Beltharon - No one. Leaves. The ship.

Tarsus and Genoriel looked at each other with concern as Beltharon turned around, smacking Tarsus in the side of the head with his tail and sending him lurching sideways. It was not enough to knock him over, pehaps an alternate form of a slap, a warning. Beltharon knew there was one crew member in the escape team who would ahve loved to explore, and unfortunately in Beltharon's eyes, he was the most intolerable of the lot.

The Project[]

Quendor's vision returned to that glorious city of marble that he remembered form one of his last dreams or hallucenations. He saw the Tertamian again, Mennefer as he had learned from his last experience. Unliek before, the view of this city was outside a windoe, or perhaps a screen, at a glace it was difficult to tell. As his vision cleared he saw Mannefer quietly working, pawing with tools and mechanical drone assistants as he worked on a bizarre device that dominated a workbench. Mennefer looked tires and worn, as though he had sacrificed several nights between now and when Quendor last saw him. The device on the workbench was far from finished, surely as it rested with scaffolding and unpolished metal protruding form its silver body.

The drones hovered about, providing assistance. Sometimes Mennefer would stop working with is bare hands and turn to a machine, a microscope by the looks of things and work from there. The methods he used and the systems he designed were far beyond anything Quendor could understand. He watched as Mennefer continued to work, tired, and gradually wearing himself down. Quendor could guess that although this project of his was in its most basic of stages, it was already taking its toll. One of the drones floated by as he lay with his arms slumped on the table.

Drone - Observation: You = displaying signs of degredation; Question: Do you require recuperation?
Mennefer - No no, i am fine.
Drone - Observation: You = Displaying signs of self-destruction; Warning: Continued action will result in further degredation.
Mennefer - I just need a boost and I will be fine.

The drone nodded, swaying its body forward and back, flying away and leaving Mennefer to work. A few minutes later it returned with a silver flask in one of its grips and hovered beside Mennefer. He looked at it and at the flask with a tired look of appreciation. He took ahold of the flask and took a sip of the steaming liquid inside. After a twenty-second break, Mennefer picked up a cylinder laced with advanced computing systems. Mennefer lifted it up with the aid of the drones and inserted it int oa large socket that met him at eye-level. As he slotted and locked it in the silver material around the edge of a large lens melted itself to become seamless with the surrouning material. Quendor's vision began to blacken out as an icy blue glow began to appear within the lens, colouring the entire lens a glossy shade of ice-blue. WHen the lens reached its fullest intensity, Quendor's vision faded to complete black but he could nto help notice the look of admiration in Mennefer's eyes.

His vision returning, Quendor roused to see Geroniel sleeping in a bunk opposite to him. He took a few minutes to look at her, a creeping smile across his face. No matter how far away he was from Crepusculum and no matter how isolated he was, at least he was finally reunited with his mother. For how long this would last however, no one could say for certain.

Within The Beast[]

10th Batana ID.219503

The senior officers of the Embering gathered in a conference room of the Salamander-class vessel. They all sat around a table contemplating their options. THeir future seemed bleak as the Emberwing rested within the leviathan's mouth with no clear sign of escape. The crew were tired, worried and agitated. Genoriel sat with a rather bleak and nihilstic look on her face. Her escue was very quickly turning into a suicide mission.

Geroniel - According to my calculations... we're about to get consumed by a huge starfaring serpent...in space. Any ideas on what to do?
N'rai - Other than running and screaming like little girls, no.
Beltharon - How about NOT making contact with it?
Tarsus - Does getting engulfed count as making contact, sir?
Beltharon - Yes. Oh the hell yes.

Tarsus planted his hand over his snout ,realising the redundancy of Beltharon's technicality since they were already inside. Geroniel slammed her hand against her head and sighed. Once again the crew of the New Dawn found itself in a critical situation... and continued to bicker. It seemed to be a tradition of some sort among its crew members.

Baka'niju - Captain Theoparosatl... are any of the Emberwing's weapon systems active and functional?
Theoparosatl - Positive. Proton missiles, turbolasers, other armaments are prepared. Unfortunately, the creature's armour, shields are simply too advanced, and our ship is a mere cruiser. Our weapons will hardly even tickle it.
N'rai - Is applying military force the only solution? Maybe-
Tarsus - We can't destroy such a thing. It appears to have travelled for a vastly long time, imagine what it has seen!
N'rai - Exactly! Who says that thing can't be reasoned with?
Quendor - Well... it's a huge cyborg serpent... in space. Not exactly the most peaceful thing in the universe by the looks of things.
Theo - that actually... makes some sense. I'll scan the creature.
Beltharon - You must be out of your goddamned minds if you think you can try to reason with it.
Tarsus - If it's a Tertamian construct surely it posesses some form of artificial intelligence.
Beltharon - If it does, it does not like us and already wants us dead.

Theoparosatl slammed the Emberwing's computer and thus activated the ship's scanner systems. Wireframe diagrams appeared in the air around the crew, showing the being's insides. Vast complicated machinery within a metallic serpentine shell of a composite the crew could only barely understand but there was more: The entity was littered with lights flickering deep inside it, several in the core of its body, some i nthe head and several scattered all over.

Theo - Mental activity... inside the creature?
N'rai - Activities. Look at the map.
Beltharon - Will this help us in destroying it? Or at least distracting it long enough for us to escape?
Geroniel - Do you suggest that this... thing has a hivemind of some sort?
N'rai - No. I am suggesting that it is... inhabited.
Tarsus - It's possible, perhaps a form of collective intelligence. But hwat kind of intelligence exactly?
Beltharon - Does it matter?!

N'rai stared at the diagram curiously, the dots flaring as if they were alive. They were apparently grouped in several large clusters, and moved chaotically. These signs were frequently characteristic of sentient beings particularly group-minded beings. Analysing their patterns closely, the lights that indicated their locations gave indicative displays the lifeforms were sapient.

Tarsus - It means we won't be exterminating one intelligence by destroying it, we coud be exterminating dozens, hundreds maybe
Beltharon - And there's a problem with that?

Tarsus gave Beltharion a look of disdain for Beltharon's rather casual indifference to mass-murder.

Beltharon - Either we exterminate them or they kill us all. Sometimes you gotta be a little merciless.
Tarsus - Thank you for that insight, I was once in the Imperial Talon Navy.
Beltharon - Why don't you go back?
N'rai - And I was in the Neotertamian Diplomatic Corps. What I've learned from it is that not every newfound sapient species wants to kill you and beat you into bloody pulp.
Tarsus - I found my engineering talents had a more gratified calling within the Royal Academy.
Quendor - The glowy cloud has a point.
Beltharon - We cannot afford sacrificing ourselves for unsuccessful diplomatic contact. I won't have it.
Quendor - It's not that something bad is going to happen to us if we simply try to talk to that thing. It's just a minor risk.

Beltharon rolled his eyes and bared his teeth aggresively.

Beltharon - ...We're going to get devoured.
Tarsus - Beltharon, please remember that without diplomacy, N'rai wouldn't be here.
Beltharon - Yeah and without N'rai I would not have lost my arm.
Tarsus - When we get back to the New Dawn I explicity request four hours reserved for me in a holosuite Beltharon - You mean "if".
N'rai - Like it or not, sir, we're going to try. Diplomacy is not within your competence.

Beltharon had had enough. He growled towards N'rai and Tarsus, placing a hand upon his assault rifle and lifting it into a position as if to indicate hostility. His eyes were focussed towards the two of them specifically, his scaled eyebrows lowered to narrow his eyes. Gripping the rifle tightly in one hand. Tarsus stepped back and rested his hand on the grip of the pistol under his coat, scowling back in a defensive manner. Quendor, at the other hand, was not the one to hide his feelings. With his fists clenched, he approached Betharon and snarled.

Beltharon - As the head of security, I explicitly prohibit any diplomatic contact towards the hostile! If you proceed onward, I will be forced to take lives.
Quendor - You know what, Beltharon?
Beltharon - What?
Quendor - I've had enough of your snide fulminations.

Beltharon did not turn to Quendor or exchange any form of glance in his general direction; he was too busy glaring at N'rai and Tarsus, his finger pressed firmly near the trigger ready to shoot in a split second and potentially ending the lives of either of them. This was his down fall however as QUendor stood up behind him. Activating his armour's power mode, Quendor jumped up and landed a powerful punch on Beltharon's head, making him fall to the ground and out of consiousness near-instantly. As Beltharon slammed the floor N'rai looked at the scene with surprise.

N'rai - Radeons can do that?
Quendor - Not every Radeon. I can. Don't worry, he'll get better in a couple of minutes... or hours. Just enough for you guys to try to talk that thing to death.
Tarsus - And when he wakes up?
Theo - We'll be safe... or dead.
Tarsus - Perhaps we lock him inside his quarters, set up a containment field to keep him inside.
N'rai - I vote for keeping him like that for the rest of our mission.
Quendor - Couldn't agree more.
Baka'niju - I believe that reasoning with the creature is a bit more important at the moment, considering that we're going to get killed in a minute or two otherwise.
Tarsus - Then we had better prepare. I will make sure Beltharon-- Oh wait, Zazane. I am unsure if this ship is stocked with Zazane sleeping draughts.

Ancient Innards[]

15th Batana ID.219503

Undocking a shuttle from within the Emberwing, the New Dawn's crew slowly skimmed through the insides of the great cybernetic beast. As they travelled, carefully witnessing the giant's insides, N'rai watched the leviathan's mechanical insides with great interest, finding them intriguing and curious, this was all while she tinkered with the communication device in an attempt to find any way to contact it.

Finally, success met her: quiet, alien voices started coming out of it. Heavily muffled they were strange, metallic, the shuttle's translators working on the fly to decrypt the alien tongue. Tiny was nervous despite his size. He was warried for Beltharon, oblivious that as they flew deeper inside Beltharon was unconsius back on board the Emberwing.

??? - Unknown vessel... respond... leave...
Tiny - Tiny no like this place. Where is friend?
Tarsus - he was...tired. The duties of his position took its toll on him
Tiny - Lazy butt.
N'rai - This is ACV Emberwing, Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth. If you are indeed sapient beings, then I ask you to let our ship go. We have done nothing to incite your civilisation's ire!
??? - Sapient beings on this ship- ... absolutely unacceptable- ... send in the speakers...
Tarsus - Messengers? Could he be talking about the lifeforms?

Without warning, small, dark green vessels were ejected from the inside of the creature and surrounded the shuttle; within a few seconds, a group of strange creatures had beamed aboard it by unknown means. Fairly humanoid, they neverthless looked quite strange for aliens; their glossy and yet hard carapace-like skin, gangly forms, pitch black eyes and disfigured visages made them somewhat unnerving in appearence. Surprised by theri sudden appearence, Tiny braced himself in case the creatures were hostile. One of them extended a bony finger to point aggressively at the crew, clearly showing the disparate group were not welcome here.

Creature - Alien creatures. Your forms are unknown to us, but the laws of the Codex remain the same. Come with us.
Creature 2 - And don't forget to take your ship with you...
Quendor - Wha? What?
Creature - You are not in a condition to refuse our offer. Come with us.
Tarsus - Can we at least have some explaination?
Creature - The chieftain will explain it to you inside. I am in no position to.
Tarsus - Another chieftan. Very well.
Geroniel - According to scans, the insides of the ship are heavily irradiated. Does everyone have their rad shields activated?

Tarsus activated the rad shield generator clamped to his wrist, giving an aknowledging nod to Geroniel.

The Men in the Snake[]

Quendor steered the shuttle deeper inside the creature, eventually entering its insides. Made from the same nanomechanical material that was used in construction of Inheritance droids, it was apparently meant to support normal life once, but had since then changed to house a much more alien biosphere. Strange, echinoderm-like masses grew on the ship's ancient walls, forming forests and gardens; alien, but at the same time, eerily beautiful.

N'rai - Are these plants or corals of some sort?
Tarsus - Reminds me of Shellis.
Tiny - Reminds Tiny of lunch.
Tarsus - Yes...I doubt such lifeforms are edible ot any of us however.
Creature - Once, these were the Home Beast's hearts, eyes and claws. It used to destroy these overgrowths in the old times, centuries ago, but now it is too weak to resist infection. The Home Beast is a living machine... and machines break in time.
N'rai - Do you mean that this... thing is dying?
Creature - It has been for many lifetimes already. As ancient as the Home Beast is, it is not immortal.
Tarsus - I am curious: was there ever a time in your peopels history wehre there were no such overgrowths?.
Creature - According to the legends, yes. And the sages tell us that my people weren't the first denizens of the Home Beast. Before us, there were... them.
Tarsus - Tertamians.
Creature - That might be the name, yes.

Tarsus nodded with aknowledgement as the shuttle travelled though the belly of the beast and towards their final destiantion. The overgrowths gave way to a barren but advanced settlement, built upon ruins which were clearly Tertamian in origin. The crew landed and stepped inside, protected by radiation-proof barriers; the denizens of the star beast, however, seemed to be unaffected by it, and walked around wearing little more than chitinous robes. Eventually, the team faced the leader of the creatures; significantly larger than the rest of his compatriots, her chitin armour tinged a vibrant red and her outfit looked singificantly more regal. Although with the creatures' snout-like mouths and deep black eyes it was hard to read facial expressions, it was clear to everyone that she wasn't exactly content with her new guests.

Leader - Rudam, who are these creatures?
Rudam - Aliens, my mistress. We discovered their starship, and I decided that it would be... heartless to leave them to die... so I brought them here. We could find a spare starship for them, one which has already been reverse-engineered completely and one which we do not need...
Tarsus - We wish no harm on your people, mistress. We are simply in need of aid.
Chadu - Are you insane, Rudam? Our demesne is dying, and its energy systems are already breaking down! We have no more resources to spare! Besides... do you remember what happened last time we tried to consort with aliens? The attack? Look-

the alien leader pointed at Quendor with her long bony finger, something reminiscent of a scowl spread across her face

Chadu - this one even looks like the invader commander!

Tarsus widened his eyes in shock at this news and looked at Quendor, muttering "Althron" under his breath. Tiny was getting agitated with all these aliens pointing at the crew as if they were exhibits or animals at an exhibit or an enclosure, not

Tiny - Hey. Quit pointing at friend.
Rudam - But... my lady! Not all of our contacts with aliens have been so disastrous! What about, say, that officer clan Faath found recently?
Quendor - Officer? Which officer?
Chadu - It doesn't matter! Remove these aliens from my demesne as soon as possible!
Rudam - From what I've heard, she was... - Rudam looked at Tarsus - like him. Large, blue and winged. I can't remember her name though. Arna, Aras... the name eludes me.

Tarsus perked up as he heard Rudam attempting to work out the name of the alien Tarsus reminded him of.

Tarsus - Arnas!?
Rudam - Yes! That is the name.

Tarsus pushed his way towards Rudam with exitement.

Tarsus - Please, where is she!?
Rudam - In the demesne of clan Kuul, to the northwest from here. You should be warned, however...

Rudam started to sound visibly distressed as he mentioned clan Kuul. Subtly indicating their strained relationships.

Rudam - Kuul's sovereign is not exactly as welcoming as lady Chadu'zaan. They might refuse to cooperate, especially since both the captain and the starship she pilots are important resources to her.

Tarsus lost control and within minutes found himself grabbing Rudam and pulling him close with distress in his eyes. Other aliens made defensive postures in case Tarsus did something violent towards Rudam.

Tarsus - Listen, you all need to know this but if she and the ship she has are harmed I cannot begin to fatho mthe consequences! We need her and her ship intact if you want us to leave you alone. Got it?
Rudam - I shall do everything in my power. But I'm afraid that my diplomatic capabilities won't be enough to save her. You might need to take them yourselves.
Tiny - Tiny breaks faces if needed!
Tarsus - If anything goes awry it shall be your clan leaders who shall be in the line of fire

Tarsus gave a warning look to Rudam before putting him down, taking a deep breath to relieve tension and stepped backwards. Rudam stepped back and stood at Chadu'zaan. Tarsus stepped back to rejoin the New Dawn crew.

An Old Threat Returns[]

25th Batana ID.219503

It had been many months since Crispy's attack on a Resurgence Enclave. Pyrak had been watching over the last stages of development, the body was fully grown and floated in the tank. Both of them surviving on supplies and energy reserves that remained from the attack. Pyrak had been incredibly lucky that his lab had been deep underground in a bunker, safe from the explosion.

One day, there was a signal on Pyrak's console. His eyes narrowed as the console announced that the maturation period of the entity in a large tank at the other end of the room was complete. He smiled, his razor-sharp teeth baring. He approached his console and growled, although not in a vicious manner, but in a more somewhat excited way.

Pyrak - Wake him up.

The console lit up, showing numerous diagnostics. A few electric arcs and the body twitched and jolted as it was brought to life. The eyes flickered open as the liquid drained away. Pyrak approached the tank, smiling as this entity - a reborn Volkarus, his master - began to awake. He placed his face near the tank, to really examine Volkarus. He clapped his hands together and touched the glass that seperated him and Volkarus.

Pyrak - ...My master.

The body stirred and looked blankly at Pyrak. Sadly its mind was a blank slate. He reached out cautiously and placed his hand over Pyrak's, the glass separating the two of them. In Pyrak's mind something stirred, he could hear whispers. The body opened it's mouth as thought it was abotuto say something.

Volkarus - Ma...ster...

Pyrak's eyes widened and his smile turned into a rather psychotic frown. He stepped away from the glass and growled. Had he reduced the once most powerful Draconis into nothing more than a mere man child?

Pyrak - M-Master! I am your servant, YOU are master!

Volkarus titlted his head. Pyrak wasn't sure how, but something deep within his mind was compelling him to open the container anyway. Pyrak, reluctantly, approached his console once again. He looked back at the tank and pressed several buttons. His eyes were still wide as he looked at the newly-recreated Volkarus.

Pyrak - ...O-Open the tank.

Under his command, the tank opened, Volkarus looked at the door rising with curiosity. After it opened he stepped out slowly. Still looking blanky at Pyrak. At that moment. Pyrak felt himself walking towards VOlkarus, he couldn't understand it, he reached out his arm towards Volkarus's face. All of it beyond his control. All Pyrak could do was look and move hit other arm. as he rested his hand on Volkarus's face, both of them felt a rush, panicking Volakrus stumbled back and rested his hand by his head, seemingly panicked. Control was returned to Pyrak's own body. With a groan he grasped his head and looked to Volkarus, before approaching him again.

Pyrak - M-Master...! Master, don't be afraid, it's me...I am your servant, Pyrak.
Volkarus - I know who you are! You think I wouldn't remember my most faithful servant!?

Pyrak's frown turned to a smile. His eyes wide and his teeth showing as if he wanted the entire world to see, he began to try and withold a laugh. He had recreated life, successfully cloning somebody to maturity on his own.

Pyrak - Master Volkarus! R-Reporting for duty, sir!

He slammed his fist against his left pec and bowed on his knee as Volkarus stood up and looked towards Pyrak with a smile. He looked around the room, realising what Pyrak had done he let out a bellowing laugh, aprently ecstatic with his servant's acomplishments.

Volkarus - You continue to impress me Pyrak... how long have I been away from galactic events?
Pyrak - It is hard to say, my Lord. But it is safe to assume...several years year considering your growth rate.
Volkarus - Your dedication is to be rewarded, In all these years you never lost sight of your goals.
Pyrak - My Lord, knowing that I have been able to bring you back is a reward enough. But unfortunately...a majority of my efforts has been independent.
Volkarus - All the more reason for the reward.

Volkarus lifted his arm and flicked hiswrist upwards, gesturing for Pyrak to approach him. The Zazane nodded and calmly walked towards Volkarus. As he did, he observed his physique. Thanks to Pyrak's efforts, Volkarus now had a muscular figure and his scales were a magnificent crimson. Pyrak was proud of the body he had carved so carefully and given to his master. A body of physical perfection and a body worthy of the exemplary figure Pyrak always believed he was. Volakrus also noticed what Pyrak had done with a smile. he rested his hand on his servant's chest and his eyes flared with energy. Pyrak felt envigored by this, Volkarus had not descended him but instead unlocked the potential to use desencion energy. Pyrak looked at his hands and with a thought, black fire emerged from his fingertips. Pyrak smiled and looked to his master.

Pyrak - M-My Lord...You have shared your gift with me...? I did not expect the Descension to survive the growth process, but...somehow the Essence had remained in your biology at a microscopic level. You are...a marvel.
Volkarus' - My mind was hidden within yours since my death. Touching me transferred my consciousness into this...perfect body.
Pyrak - My Lord, you continue to amaze me. All this time, I was building the gate for your mind to enter. I am so grateful that I served as your key.
Volkarus - You have exceeded my expectations. You deserve my gift.
Pyrak - But my Lord, I am afraid not...everything has gone according to plan. We have lost much since...since the great traitor destroyed our fleet.
Volkarus - I remember. But thanks to you, I return.
Pyrak - However, I bring good news.
Volkarus - I must hear it!
Pyrak - The Imperium! Those Ultanos bastards...they are under threat from their former allied Houses! The Imperium is becoming splintered once more, my Lord! We could take advantage of this!
Volkarus - Yes... But wat is the resurgence's condition?
Pyrak - We have been forced to retreat to enclaves across Andromeda. We have no way of keeping contact with other Khaxvis forces, in fact some of our former-Resurgence members have joined back with the Imperium and even the Inquisition.

Volkarus clenched his fists upon hearing this. His lips rippled and his wings opened out. Pyrak was no longer blind to his master's energies as they flared. As with the rest of his body, Volkarus' wings had been improved, now larger in proportion than they ever had been.

Volkarus - Retreats...some...Joining...the Imperium...!?
Pyrak - Traitors, my Lord. Cowards. The Imperium is opening its arms to us as if we really need their damned influence! The Brood continues to rat us out like vermin and now we have a new threat...
Volkarus - What could possibly be worse.
Pyrak - ...A rebel Brood faction calling themselves the Golden Movement, or Crispy's Insurrection.
Volkarus - They sound more like potential allies to me.
Pyrak - Tell that to the charred remains of our breathren on the surface.

Volkarus's seyes flared as his energies intensified. This news was nothing less than an atrocity to him.

Volkarus - WHAT! These... Vermin dare lay waste to OUR sacred enclaves!?
Pyrak - They used a pure Shidium explosive in the guise of a small transport vessel in order to infiltrate our defences. Their leader, Crispy...I fear he may have kidnapped some of our kin onboard his own ship.
Volkarus - Oh we shall give him a reason to be called 'Crispy'....
Pyrak - I am unsure of his true identity my Lord...but whoever he is, he is smart. And he has many resources at his disposal.
Volkarus - He is still a mortal. That should be what matters.
Pyrak - Which reminds me, we may still have at least one member of our kin still alive here if she isn't little more than charred remains.
Volkarus - ...bring her to me.

Pyrak nodded and walked over to a smaller tank. He looked inside and grunted. Placing his hands at the side of the glass which seperated him and the resident inside, he tore it away, allowing fluids to spill all over the floor. He grabbed the resident by the shoulders and flung her out. It was Oreleva, who was heavily scarred and disfigured around her jaw. Oreleva coughed out the liquid as she emerged. She struggled to breathe and looking up she saw Volkarus's foot. Pyrak stood over her and he kicked her, an angered look on his face. Shouting at her to stand up. She lowered her head in shame in front of Volkarus who stared down at her rather dissapointedly.

Pyrak - Get up!
Oreleva - You... do not.. order me... around.

Pyrak kicked her again and then lifted her up by her throat, slamming her against a wall with an angered expression. His eyes flared and his large jaws glimmered in the light.

Oreleva - No.. imp-impossible.
Pyrak - You are a failure to the Resurgence! If it wasn't for your involvement with the Zazane, my Lord would be welcomed back to life by his kin!
Volkarus - This is her? How dissapointing.

Oreleva looked away from Pyrak out of shame, embarrased that Pyrak appeared more in Volkarus's favour than her.

Pyrak - Look at you...If it wasn't for my science, you would still be on the surface irradiating and melting. I had to use my own spare regeneration tank in order to keep you alive, you weakling!
Volkarus - Look at him and be grateful as he speaks to you!
Oreleva - Why save me....sir.
Volkarus - Use your new power Pyrak. You hold her life in your hand, i give you the chance to choose if she keeps it, or loses it.

Pyrak kept looking to her with an angry expression. However, he let go of her throat, allowing her to drop weakly onto the floor. He panted heavily and kicked her once more, to let her know she was in charge.

Pyrak - From now on, you are my dog...my 'bitch', my 'pet'. You shall do everything I say and I expect you to do it as soon as I command it. This is what your little life has come to, you reject. I shan't reward you with death just yet. Any attempts to struggle shall be met with a lesson to keep you in line. You should be grateful that I am not going to have you thrown back out onto the surface. Yet.

Oreleva growled and nodded. Volkarus looked at her dissapointedly. He looked away and focused on Pyrak. Oreleva was too ashamed to even look in Volkarus's direction.

Volkarus - The resurgence must know of my return. It has fractured without my influence... I expectded so much more from my chosen.
Pyrak - The Resurgence can be great again, my Lord. You must have faith. We may have lost nearly everything, but we can rebuild. We shall come back greater than ever before. And we shall shatter the Imperium, Inquisition and the Brood!

A wide grin spread across Volkarus's face, showing his sharp teeth.

Volkarus - First. We must unite what we have left. Is there anything else I must know before we begin?
Pyrak - I have a ship one level below this laboratory if you wish for us to get off this planet. I also wouldn't recommend going outside for the next few thousand years because of the radiation of the Shidium. Oh, and we need to get you some clothes.
Volkarus - Yes. Hmm.. one last thing before we leave.

Volkarus walked over to Oreleva and grabbed her firmly by the throat, lifting her up into the air. She panicked and struggled, however even in his state he was stronger than her.

Volkarus - You no longer deserve my generosity.

At that, Oreleva felt herself becoming weaker, black energy clouded VOlkarus's hand for a few seconds before he let go. Rolling back his shoulders and leaving her with a fraction of her former power. Oreleva continued crying, she felt weak and pathetic in the presence of her superiors. Pyrak smiled as he observed him absorbing her power. He released a chuckle, seeing this in a more amusing light. As Volkarus turned, a piece of meat was thrown into his hand by Pyrak.

Pyrak - Your favourite.

Volkarus smiled and nodded. he bit into the meat and teleported them all to Pyrak's ship.

Clan Kuul[]

28th Batana ID.219503

The expeditionary force spent a several days preparing for a potentially dangerous journey. After assembling at the border of clan Zaan's domain, the New Dawn's crew had decided to pursue a dangerous endeavour: retrieve their ship and their captain, by force if it was deemed necessary. They kept their weapons primed as the crew members marched through the biomechanical landscape that composed the insides of the massive star beast they were in, looking around in case of an ambush.

Tarsus - I don't like this, is there any way we could exchange the ship and Arnas for anything? Or convince the clan to let her go?
N'rai - I'm with the professor. Speaking of which... I think we should put our weapons down. We're supposed to be ambassadors, and... well... I don't think that these guns make us look friendly and hospitable.
Tiny - Tiny not carrying guns anyway.

As they moved though the landscape, Tarsus nodded and hid his fusion pistol under his coat, pulling the coat over in an effort to conceal it. With reluctance and a feeling of uncertainty, Quendor deactivated and sheathed his disruptor blade, but still remained vigilant; an aura of psychic energy surrounded him. He didn't need weapons to defend himself.

Quendor - And now we're going to get attacked by aliens or something, for additional irony.
Tarsus - As long as we remain optimistic. I dearly hope these aliens are civil.

Guard - What we have here? Clan Zaan dogs?

Several lights flashed in front of the crew, followed by several gangly, dark yellow insect-like figures appearing, similar to the people of clan Zaan. Their bodies were covered in bleached white segmented armour, which further increased their similarity with insects. This armour was covered in complex, intricate patterns reminiscent of Tertamian technology - and probably imitating it - and seemed to be ceremonial rather than practical; the creatures' skin was already hard enough to resist several kinds of kinetic weapon but the team were not daring eough to test its endurance gainst energy weapons.

Quendor - Well, sh-
Tiny - You a dog! Whatever dog is.
Guard - Wait, what? These aren't Zaans... these are aliens!
Quendor - You don't say?

Quendor mouth backed with much sarcasm, a mocking look on his face. The team backed up and Tarsus turned his head to look towards N'rai.

Tarsus - N'rai, do something!
Guard - What are you doing in the borderlands? Those aliens who come to buy our goods don't go that far!

N'rai stepped forward, somewhat confused, and started speaking. She took a few precious seconds to compose herself before she opened her environment suit's mouth to speak the eloquent words she gained a mastery of unveiling.

N'rai - Ambassador N'rai, Andromedan Galactic Commowealth.
Guard - Andro-what?
Guard 2 - Haven't seen anyone like them. Must be new species...
N'rai - You may consider us... traders, yes. We come here for our... clansmember... a warrior.
Tarsus - Have you seen anyone that looks anything like me?
Guard - ...Heard of them. But only the Sovereign is allowed to see her. If you want to retrieve her, then you must seek her audience.
Guard 2 - But first...

The second guard narrowed his eyes and pointed at the sheath of Quendor's sword with his weapon..

Guard 2 - Lay down your weapons. Our people are already few in number, and we do not want them any more members of our kin to die.

Complying and knowing the risks, Tarsus slowly reached into his coat and pulled the pistol from inside, opening his palm and showing the aliens, he tossed it onto the ground. Quendor pulled the sword fro mthe sheath, not bothering to activate it. After a moment of hesitation he dropped his sword on the ground and sighed; Baka'niju, Geroniel and N'rai followed his example. Droping their weapons and producing an audiable clatter. Several of those clatters coming from Baka'niju who had equipped himself with several weapons.

Quendor - Fourth Baneblade this month. Always tend to lose these damn swords... that's my hundredth or something. Thank Spode our ship has replicator tech.
Tarsus - [whispers] At least we're not completely defenceless.

With the alien guards satissfied, they signalled with their weapons for the team to follow them. A few of the guards gathered behind the team to ensure they were kept on close guard.

The crew followed the insectoid creature away from the coral wilderness into what appeared to be a large city. Clearly much larger and more propserpous than the ruined village that the tam had originally found themselves in. This prosperity was a clear sign that Klan Kuul exercised more power and dominance within the leviathan than other tribes. Built within a fairly narrow passage in the Leviathan's insides, it spanned all three dimensions equally: buildings spanned from the very ground up to the nanomechanical "ceiling". Geroniel noticed the similarity between Tertamian ruins and the florid yet stately buildings she saw: it was clear where did the natives take their designs, and they did a very good job at replicating, adapting and improving them. One thing, however, made the travel unnerving; most of these buildings were empty, completely devoid of life. Only seldom did she see a native leaping from a place to place, collecting scraps. It was true. The Great Beast was dying, and so was the civilisation that had risen in it.

Tarsus - How many do you think could have lived here at this settlement's height?
Geroniel - Thousands... hundreds of thousands. Millions, perhaps? ...This was once a bustling city.
N'rai - So what exactly happened with your people?

One guard was close to N'rai and took a glace at her as they marched. The isnectoid was powerfully built, with a shick chitinous skeleton adorned with scratches and war paint indicative of a veteren of war.

Guard - It's a long story. Only the sages know all of it, but... here is what I know. Once upon a time, there were gods. Gods ruled all of void, all the stars that those who live on the rims see sometimes.
N'rai - We know about that. We call these gods Tertamians.
Guard - Not that they were all the same, though. Some gods were builders; they crafted and built and forged machines and beasts of iron. Then there were those who enslaved, ruled with an iron fist. Others seeked life across the stars and ascended it. Created abominations of nature.
Quendor - Hey, that's racist!
Tarsus - You speak of precursors, beings who came before you?
Tiny - Tiny don't know what "god" means.

The native nodded in response to Tarsus' assumption.

Guard - Gods were like us though. They could feel and love and hate... their hubris was their undoing. With machines of war, they brought down hellfire upon each other. They perished, but before they were gone, they created great beasts. In these beasts, gods travelled across the stars. But as time passed, these perished as well, and to replace them, we rose.
N'rai - And what then?
Guard - Then the Great Beast started to die. Its hearts fell to diseases that plague creatures of such size; overgrowths overcame its lungs. And as it became sick, so did we. Its lights could no longer sustain our crops. And so we started to die. Starve.
N'rai - That's a... tragic fate.
Guard - Afterwards, our great sovereignty... collapsed. We live in clans now, searching for those parts of the Great Beast that still can maintain life. We're a... feudal society now. But our mistress, Sovereign Sida'kuul, will change it. Her scientists study the works of the Beast. They will heal it.
N'rai - I definitely hope so.

After a lengthly walk though the narrow streets to the very centre of the metropolis, The New Dawn's crew reached their final destination; an old palace made of white metal, distinctly Tertamian in origin. Much like the rest of the Q'rda buildings, however, it was abandoned. Only a couple of the natives remained here, most of them guards of the current Sovereign. Tarsus walked with the guards and the team, as they apprached he lifted his hand to his snout, looked at it, clenched his hand and opened it out again, feeling confident.

Like the sovereign of clan Zaan, she was larger than the rest of her kind and was adorned in a regal outfit. Hers was far more elaborate, the Tertamian influences enough to not make it seem strange if it was put into a Segmentum Draco fashion display were it not for the clear signs the outfit was worn in places and had inseed seen better days. Looking at the crew condescendingly, the Sovereign snarled.

Sida'kuul - Are you traders? Coming here for profit?
N'rai - No. We're diplomats, and we came for one of our own. The one called Arnas... she is one of us.
Tarsus - Al lwe want is Arnas, her felows and the ship she arrived in.
Sida'kuul - ...I'm afraid not.

Tarsus blinked and glared at the sovereign. it did not take a genius liek him to work out that she was hinting at wanting something. Most would ask why she wasn't willing but Tarsus, knowing better, cut straight to to the negotiation with a simple estimate.

Tarsus - You want something in return?

Tiny cracked his fingers while glaring at the sovereign.

Sida'kuul - What can you offer in return? This ship has technology more advanced than anything we have ever created! With knowledge we have gained from it, we could restore the Great Beast to life.
Tarsus - My people understand the language the information is coded in. We already know how it all works, it would take you years to discover what took us weeks to learn.

The sovereign thought for a few seconds and consulted with her advisors, descending into an array of insectoid noises, chitinosu chattering, chirping and all manner of strange noises as the group of them talked. After several minutes of frantic discussion, Sida'kuul turned her attention back to the aliens in front of her.

Sida'kuul - With one condition. You shall stay with our people until the Great Beast is healed. If you really know how to repair it...
Tarsus - And if we cannot?
Sida'kuul - Then your little captain shall remain with us as long as we need it. Surely you foreign planeteers won't go extinct without her.
Tarsus - ...No. We would not.
Sida'kuul - So it wouldn't hurt for you to stay here for a few months. Then, the Q'rda will prosper, united... under my rule.

Sida'kuul let a quiet, malevolent laugh, potentially indicative of an ulterior motive she may have had. Tiny whispered to the team.

Tiny - Tiny will eat him. You wanting it or not.

N'rai became worried and shuffled herself out within proximity to Tarsus. The two began whsipering to each other so as not to irritate Sida'kuul.

N'rai - Erm... professor...Are you sure that repairing what could probably be the largest piece of Tertamian technology for a megalomaniac like her is the right thing to do?
Tarsus - I'm a quick study. In repairing this artifact we can learn its secrets, the technloogy it uses, perhaps even its weaknesses.
Quendor - Given that we need Arnas to fight the Brotherhood, yes.
Tarsus - Let us see this as an oppertunity to learn precursor technology, it sohuld put us on more even footing with the Brotherhood when they next attack us.

Tarsus turned to look back at Sida'kuul, he held his head high to indicate he had come to a decision regarding the Sovreign's offer.

Tarsus - We agree to hel pyou repair your home, so long as we get our crew, ship and supplies back unharmed.
Sida'kuul - Very well. Guards! Release the prisoner.

Some of the guards entered the palace, returning after a short while with Arnas who was brought to the group escorted by several Q'rda guards. As she left the confisnes of the palance she looked up to se the group and snorted, she was pushed to the group where Tarsus shook her hand firmly. She was a little overwhelmed, having spent weeks in the confines of wherever she was held. She appeared tired, uncomfortable and worn down, a few bruises on her body were still healing.

Tarsus - Glad to have you back captain.
Arnas - Next time you disembark the New Dawn please wear some tracer units.

Situation Update[]

After being released, Arnas led the crew of the Emberwing into a large paartment unit that had once been owned by a sizeable Q'rda family. The place was old, not having a permenant resident for years until now. The team could hear groanscoming fro man adjacant room and peeking though thre door thery could see Riiliva, the New Dawn's head doctor, tending to patients surrounded by other staff. Scattered about the apartment block were bits of machinery which had been taken from the New DAwn for repairs or were damaged beyond hope, unly useful for scrap components. With the Embering crew's help, Beltharon was now laying on one of the set-up infirmary beds on the floor. Riiliva was checking him over using advanced medical equipment for signs of concussion or bruising.

Quendor - Nice to see you all safe.
Arnas - Not exactly but at least most of us are alive.
Quendor - Glad to hear that. We ourselves had a lot of fun without you... if by fun you mean fighting Zazane Inheritant cyborgs, that is.
Arnas - Zazane Inheritant?...Cyborg?

Beltharon was unconscious still, with whatever wounds he had gained disappeared by now. Suddenly, both of his eyes shot open and he roared in a fit of panic, knocking his bed to the other side of the room and causing Riiliva to fall to the floor, his claws bared and fingers twitching. Riiliva panicked and landed on her backside as Beltharon. She looked up to Beltharon and squawked to get his attention.

Riiliva - Beltharon it's Riiliva, calm down there's no danger here!
Beltharon - ...I'll be the boss of that. That is MY job.
Riiliva - And it is MY job to make sure nothing is wrong with your body! You had a rather nasty fall as wel las a blow ot the back of the head
Beltharon - ...Fall?

Riiliva shrugged. She was still somewhat clueless ot the events that had transpired. While she was occupied, Beltharon looked about.

Quendor - Oh yeah, Bel... sorry for that punch. But hey, we're alive. It worked.
Riiliva - Well...I can only tell so much from an examination of a body as rapidly-healing as yours.

As Riiliva was talking, Quendor abruptly went from standing to having his head pressed against the floor, with the light of the room blotted out almost completely by Beltharon's monstrous hand as it wrapped itself across the entirety of his face, pressurizing subtlely and slowly while Beltharon panted heavily in a feral, beastlike manner. Arnas looked into the infirmary and back to the group with a confused look, pointing with her thumb at the icnident .Several TND personnel tried to pry the tw oapart but given Beltharon's strength and mass it wasn't easy even for the more physically-powerful personnel

Beltharon - Give me ONE reason why I SHOULDN'T kill you!
Arnas - Can someone fill me in why our security officer is trying to kill our first officer?
Quendor - ...We were not killed by a huge space serpent?
Tarsus - Quendor smacked Beltharon in the back of the head after he began following protocol rather militantly. Which sent him crashing into a table and getting knocked out and trapped in a dormitory for a few days.
Arnas - And him ending up trapped in a domitory unconsious for several days was....

Tarsus coughed rather guiltily.

Beltharon - You locked your HEAD SECURITY OFFICER, the man in charge of your safety, in a dorm to go talk to a Shyrak-eating SPACE SNAKE."
Quendor - And it worked! Problem?
Tarsus - You had a gun pointed at my head.

Arnas rested her snout withi nher hand and shook her head before peeking up to catch sight of Geroniel.

Arnas - I don't recognise her from the crew roster.
Beltharon - ...I sometimes wonder if I'm even of any use to this crew. I wonder why I just don't shoot myself in the head and die before you lot get me killed.
Arnas - Admittedly Beltharon, you may have been better off on the New Dawn than joining the away party
Beltharon - Gah, is it any wonder why I read romance novels? Wait, you didn't hear that.
Quendor - Yeah, you're more of an... organise- what?
Arnas - While we were waiting for you the Stratocracy of Kramatagh showed up as well as the Brotherhood. We had to activate cloak and reposition ourselves at a lagrange point so we were not spotted.

Beltharon got up and let go of Quendor, petting him on the head while putting on a fake and strained smile so as to hide his embarassment and anger at the situation.

Arnas - Unfortunately they did so we had to engage the hyperdrive and hope to return for you. Unfortunately...that did not go exactly as planned.
N'rai - I've heard that Zazane romance novels are... steamy.
Quendor - What happened?
Arnas - When we exited hyperspace at a nearby star the Brotherhood had followed. We managed to disable their shi pat the cost of our systems and were, rather conveniently, spotted by the vessel we're in now. The vessel swallowed us and the ship managed to...land, within the foliage. Most of the crew became unconsious from the assault and subsequent landing when the natives found us.
N'rai - I talked to the locals, and they seem to actively seek derelict ships. Technology and territory are the main currency here.
Beltharon - I see. Well, can't exactly say you did the right thing since I was knocked out and locked away for several days in a dormitory while unable to recycle or dispose of any unnecessary waste as you lot went and talked to a giant alien space snake, but at least nobody died... Right?
Arnas - Like I said the ensuing battle with the Brotherhood came at a great cost. Riiliva believes we sustined between eight and fifteen casualties by the time we landed.
Arnas - If that wasn't bad enough, i've been recieving demands from this settlement's leader for the half of the crew that had minor to no injuries work to repair this leviathan's damaged systems as best as they can.
Beltharon - ...I hate all of you.
Quendor - These locals are nuts, I tell you.
N'rai - They are a dying race. You can't blame them.
Arnas - Speaking of questionable logic, who's the Radeon woman you brought with you?
Beltharon - Quendor's mother. She's with me

Quendor gestured quickly between Arnas and Geroniel, quickly indicating who was who in a rapid-fire introduction.

Quendor - Mum, meet Arnas. Arnas, Mum.
Arnas - Quendor not to sound cold but if I remember records correctly your mother has been unaccounted for since the Second war of Twilight.
Geroniel - I was captured by the Brotherhood. Solved practical problems for them and whatnot. Built machines.
Beltharon - Then she got married to a certain Zazane badass who rescued her with only a single arm and fought an army of Inheritant robots for her survival.
Arnas - Also that is Captain, Arnas.
Beltharon - By the way, I'm spouting shit.
Tarsus - I never would have guessed.
Beltharon - That's surprising, you seem to guess a lot these days.

Tarsus glared at Beltharon, as if growing tired if his grating attitude.

Tarsus - Being a scientist involves estimation, in orther words, guesswork. Not that I enjoy the term. Beltharon - Does that also include knocking out and threatening your chief security officer when he shows immediate concern for your well-being? Because that should be classified with the rest of what you just said; Krann-dung.
Arnas - Professor Senvinus, Geroniel, was it? Can i count on you two to lead the Leviathan's repairs?
Tarsus - Of course captain.
Geroniel - The professor, has some book knowledge but I am am engineer. I am better at solving practical problems.

Geroniel nodded to Arnas but after a second put her finger up in the air and level with her face as Arnas turned to Beltharon looking worried for him.

Arnas - Commander, as your captain I advise you to organise an appointment with the ship's counselor. She's alive, granted she has a few cuts and brusies but I believe you need the time.
Beltharon - I'm not angry! I don't need any counseling or whatever they call it!
Arnas - Well whatever is upsetting you I suggest you discuss it with the ship's counselor. We're lucky someone of her status managed to survive the attack.

Arnas then turned to Geroniel and took a step up.

Arnas - Whatever it takes, those repairs are the only way I can see us gaining favour with these natives and we do not know how far behind the Brotherhood are. I read about your abilities before your kidnap so I hope you and the professor can work well together.
Geroniel - Of course.

Beltharon grunted and growled but nodded towards Arnas reluctantly, he bagan to walk away to try and find the counselor that was spoken of. He had a pained and angered expression on his face, suggesting some underlying problems although that has clearly been evident for a while up to now.

Beltharon - Grr, fine. But if it doesn't work, I'm going to push over the Radeon runt and squat my sweating, hypothetical balls in his face until he licks them dry.

Arnas shook her head and took a deep breath, a slight smile on her face. She had a sense of sarcasm on her, as though she was well aware everything was, for better or worse, back to normal. "Normal" for the crew being Beltharon and QUendor not getting along, Beltharo nin genral being argumentative and overly paranoid over safety and general tension. Tarsus looked over to Beltharon as he stomped off.

Tarsus - One of those two is going ot end up a blood-smeared mess one day.

My Enclave Is Yours[]

8th Sendara ID.219503

As Pyrak's ship approached a barren planet somewhere on the fringes of the Imperium, Oreleva noticed something on the ship's scanners. Pyrak noticed a change in her and approached Oreleva, wide eyed and a blank expression on his face. He appeared somewhat scary as he walked towards her. Oreleva stepped back slightly, she winced and looked away from him as she opened her mouth.

Pyrak - Well, spit it out, animal.
Oreleva - There's a ship orbiting the planet...Codes identify it as an Imp-imperial.. E-envoyer class.
Pyrak - And you didn't think to tell us quicker?
Oreleva - It was i-in orbit when we arrived... I had no idea I swear!

Pyrak remained quiet and looked back to his master, surprisingly his voice was devoid of any anger.

Pyrak - My Lord, the animal tells me there is an Imperial vessel in orbit around the planet, Envoyer class.
Volkarus - Those ships are usually unarmed. However what they usually carry can prove very dangerous. Envoyer class ships are often used by diplomats, Pyrak.
Pyrak - Diplomats? I see.
Volkarus - If there really is an envoy party down there, then I have no choicep ut to pay the ma visit.
Pyrak - Shall I bring weaponry, My Lord?
Volkarus - An escort is often not too far behind. I advise it.

Pyrak nodded and pushed past Oreleva, approaching the armoury onboard the ship. He seemed to completely ignore her. Volkarus walked past Oreleva and she followed behind after an inhalation. Volkarus kept his back to her as he joined Pyrak inside the armoury.

Oreleva - Most gracious lords I want to know how long I must serve my penitance.
Volkarus - Your foolish actions cost the lives of an entire enclave. Not giving you the mercy of death is punishment enough.

Oreleva reached out to touch Volkarus but grabbed her arm and lifted her into the air. Pyrak slowly turned to Volkarus and Oreleva. He appeared to have a rather blank expression on his face upon witnessing the commotion. He threw her to the ground and kicked her in the stomach. Turning his back afterwards he looked towards Pyrak.

Oreleva - P-please master Pyrak... what will it take for me to redeem myself?

Pyrak approached Oreleva, but did not touch her. Instead, he simply looked down at her with a somewhat angered face.

Pyrak - Redemption? Animals don't comprehend redemption. They are too stupid. You are barely an animal. You should consider yourself lucky I have not made you my personal experiment. Yet. A specimen such as yourself would serve science greatly if I had you on my autopsy table.

Oreleva was clearly frightened and backed away slightly upon hearing this.

Pyrak - Imagine it. I could have your body drained of all fluids and examine your dried out corpse hanging from a line. Or I could test how much electricity it would take to completely incinerate your brain. I could dismember you and see how long you would twitch for with some added assistance of adrenaline shots. Yes, there is so much I could do with a specimen like you.

Oreleva panicked and nodded slightly in compliance.

Oreleva - I... Will make you proud... master.
Pyrak - You talk like I am your parent. Not even I would want to be the bearer of a child like you. What were your parents like? Were they nice? If they were, I do not see why they should have been. I do not see why they showed sympathy for you. They should have left you out on the streets to die. Maybe then your "mistake" would not have happened.
Volkarus - *coughs* Pyrak.

Pyrak continued to stare down at Oreleva before kicking her with the clawed-end of his foot. He turned away and walked back towards Volkarus who was ready to descend to the surface. he gave a nod to Pyrak. Pyrak gave Volkarus a blade and a plasma rifle, while getting himself a small scythe and a plasma pistol. Oreleva stood up, her stomach bruised form the ordeal, and picked up a rifle from the rack. She inserted a power pack and looked at her masters.

Volkarus - We're ready. I shall have this ship target that ship outside.
Pyrak - The ship is at your disposal, my Lord. Feel free to do as you wish with it.

Volkarus nodded. As he teleported to the entrance, the ship fired a barrage at the Envoyer class. It did not take long for shots from Pyrak's ship to overcome the defences of the Envoyer. The ship exploded in a fierball high in orbit, only just visible fro mthe planet's surface.

They arrived inside the main door where several Khaxvis turned to look at the new arivals. many of them dropped their jaws in horror. "Is that really him?" they muttered "has our lord erturned?" "who is he with!?". Volkarus stepped forward and spread his wings. Pyrak appeared beside Volkarus and stepped forward, observing the Khaxvis who all seemed to look in shock.

Pyrak - You are not dreaming, you are not experiencing hallucinations. You stand in the presence of Volkarus Khaxvis, leader of House Khaxvis and one of the most powerful Draconis to have existed. What have you to say?

Most of them complied, albeit it a few were rather frightened. One or two however, refused. Volakrus snarled when he saw the stragglers

Volkarus - You do not kneel before your true leader?
Khaxvis - Quite frankly, we are sick of your rule!
Volkarus - You... reject my majesty?
Khaxvis - The Resurgence's cause was lost millenia ago, you simply revealed how far we have fallen!
Volkarus - Excuse me?

Volkarus lifted his arm and with a twitch of his finger, beckoned the khaxvis over. The khaxvis nodded and walked up to Volkarus, not seeming frightened at all.

Volkarus - Who gave you the courage to stand up like this? WHO!
Khaxvis - Hm, the Imperium sent a few delegates in your absence, they told us everything.
Volkarus - I see...
Pyrak - And you still dare to hold the Khaxvis name? You, who despise your own leader, dare continue to call yourselves Khaxvis?
Khaxvis - Not for much longer!
Khaxvis - We are all. Done. with your tyranny. Under the Imperium we shall prosper ten times more than we ever had in millenia!
Pyrak - And you expect us to miss you?
Khaxvis - Oh no, We expect the Imperium to kick you out out of orbit!
Volkarus - Then I have only one response.
Khaxvis - And that is?

Volkarus lifted his arm, in the blink of an eye he punched into the draconis' torso and took a firm hold of his heart. Lifting him into the air he crushed the pumping organ, blood poured out of the khaxvis's mouth as he died painfully. Holding the dead body, he slammed it into the floor, explosing gore everywhere.

Volkarus - Does anyone else feel like kicking me out of orbit?

Those that stood up promptly kneeled. Pyrak shuffled towards Volkarus and whispered into his ear. Oreleva looked to her masters with a look of fear in her eyes.

Pyrak - My Lord, I wish to collect a few live samples for later experimentation. When we find their leader, will I be able to bring him home?
Volkarus - <<We'll see...>>

The group walked down towards the main hall. Volkarus pushed the doors open and they slammed against the wall. Near to them several Talon Ground Legionnaires primed their weapons while at the back, a khaxvis was talking with a Drallivian diplomat. Everyoen jumped as the doors were thrown open and the khaxvis in the chair dropped his jaw.

Volkarus - Pyrak. deal with that diplomat of theirs.

Volkarus lifted his arms, he clenched his fists and as he brought his forearms down and the Talon soldiers felt their chests getting crushed, they collapsed in turn, leaving only the diplomat's direct bodyguards. Pyrak looked at the bodyguards blankly and swung his scythe-wielding arm. The scythe was attached to a long chain that was connected to a gauntlet on Pyrak's wrist. The scythe was sent slashing through the skulls of the bodyguards in one swift movement. Pyrak then approached the diplomat. The diplomat, realising he was in danger backed away and opened his wings to make himself look larger.

Diplomat - Stay back! I have a document from the Imperal Grand Senate that prohibits any harm to my person while on a foreign visit!
Pyrak - It just expired.

Pyrak swung his scythe again, dismembering the diplomat from his feet and allowing him to fall to the ground. Pyrak walked over and examined the diplomat. He knelt down and examined him further.

Pyrak - What does it feel like?
Diplomat - Wh-what?
Pyrak - How does it feel? To be seperated from your feet?
Diplomat - Well... rather disorienting to be honest...
Pyrak - You're taking this calmly. You are not like others I have seperated from their feet. Why do you not squeal and beg?
Diplomat - Mainly because I have no clue what is going on. Also... those were cybernetic feet.
Pyrak - What about your hands? Your arms? What about the rest of your legs? Your pecs? What about your forehead? You have ruined my evening with your cybernetic enhancements, but then again, I guess it's more fun to find the vulnerable flesh itself.
Diplomat - J-just my legs... Hiking accident.
Pyrak - I must thank you, for not dying on me or going unconscious. Are you aware why we are here?
Diplomat - It's all a bit of a shock really... Your friend looks erm, somewhat familiar.
Pyrak - My Lord, Volkarus. I brought him back. I am a good servant in his eyes.
Diplomat - That's nice for you... Wait, you're one of those Resurgence loyalists aren't you?
Pyrak - I serve my Lord without question or regret, even in his absence. I am indeed a loyalist, but the Resurgence has fallen into disarray because of the Imperium beginning to accept our members into your empire.
Khaxvis - We're done ith your opression! This entire war has turned our entire house into a faction of monsters!
Diplomat - The imperium is willing to open its arms to any of the resurgence who agrees to turning their back on your barbaric ways. We were close with this enclave before you three showed up.
Pyrak - Barbaric? You call my work and my Lord "barbaric"? I have brought back life from scratch, designed it in an appealing image and managed to keep his own memories stored within my brain. What you call barbarism, I call sophistication.
Diplomat - Eugenics, idolotry, barbasrism, these people want to turn away from that!
Pyrak - We do not care. The only way the Khaxvis shall be part of the Imperium is when my Lord becomes its new Paragon.
Diplomat - That's not what these people want! Please, you must understand these dwellers want a safe palce, they want a sanctuary, not more war.
Pyrak - There will be no war if your people give my Lord what he rightfully deserves; the title of Paragon and the exile of the Ultanos House. The conflict shall end, life is well for all.

The diplomat lifted his head and glared at Pyrak Giving the Zazane his answer silently. Volkarus dug his claws into the body of the man sitting in the enclave master's chair and leaned down. Pyrak remained quiet and then stood up, leaving the diplomat to bleed on the floor.

Pyrak - The scythe is tipped with a paralyzing neurotoxin. You will not be able to move for the next few hours. You may as well just sleep.
Volkarus - You are not the enclave master that was assigned here, where is he!
Khaxvis - In the cells... we couldn't kill him so we decided to lock him up.

Volkarus forced his foot down and crushed the body of the man he was standing on. He then looked up at Pyrak

Volkarus - We may as well pay the man a visit.
Pyrak - Oh good. I was getting a little over-excited.
Volkarus - I hope you do not mind your "pet" joining, I want to show her something.

Pyrak nodded and turned to Oreleva, staring at her.

Pyrak - Animal. My Lord demands you come with us. You shall not disobey or you will suffer the same fate as the diplomat you see on the floor.

Orleva nodded quietly and walked over to the pair.

Volkarus teleported them below to the cells and found themselves face-to-face with a large metal pod. Volakrus looked at the controls and typed into them, his codes allwoed the pod to open to reveal a heavily-restrained Blessed One who roused from drowsiness.

Pyrak - Look at him. He looks pathetic, perhaps on par with my animal.
One - Pathetic? Urgh, before those traitors imprisoned me I was one of several descended by Tyraz himself!
Pyrak - That does not change the fact you remain here imprisoned by lesser beings. One would think you would be a more impressive specimen. It seems not. And I am disappointed.
One - Hrmph!
Pyrak - My Lord, what do you think?
Volkarus - He let himself get subdued. Don't worry child, I have a plan to make you more useful.

Volkarus walked up to the pod and raised his hand to press against the blessed one's chest. Volakrus smiled deviously and looked at Pyrak before his hands began glowing red as black energy leaked from the Blessed one's body and into him. The restrained Blessed One screamed in pain as he struggled to free himself but by then he was too weak to break out of his bonds. As the reitual progressed, the One's body began to crack. it became clear VOlkarus wasn'tsimply weakening him.

Pyrak - Your full potential is to empower my Lord. WHta power you offer shall now become his. This is not self-preservation, you are an example of prolonged storage. My Lord saved you for a rainy day.
One - What gah... I waited all this.. argh.. time for this!?
Oreleva - My lord plase, you're going to kill him!

Volkarus simply laughed as the One's skin began to crack and his scales burned to ash. Pyrak turned and punched Oreleva onto the floor once again, an agitated look on his face before looking back at the spectacle.

Pyrak - Quiet animal, stop your barking.
Oreleva - All his years of service.. and this is how you reward him!?
Pyrak - I said stop your barking!

Pyrak slammed his fist against her face repeatedly and painfully, stomping on her body in anger. She raised her arm in surrender and blubbered as she begged for her life, al lthe while the final ashes of the One's body became nothing but vapour, every scrap of energy was absorbed into Volkarus's body and he smiled.

Oreleva - I'll stop. No more!

Pyrak smiled as she begged and stomped on her some more before eventually stopped, leaving her bloodied and bruised but still alive. He looked at his master as the Blessed One turned into vapour. Volakrus roleld his shoulders back as the last traces of energy flowed into his arm and coursed though his body.

Pyrak - You devoured him down to his mere particles.
Volkarus - Every scap is worth it. And now our work really begins.
Pyrak - What do you have in mind, my Lord?
Volkarus - I need time to plan. I hope you are not being too rough with your new pet. Make yourself at home, we shall use this enclave as a new headquarters.

Oreleva blubbered, she wanted to say something but was afraid to. Pyrak looked to Oreleva and approached her calmly.

Pyrak - You have something to say.
Oreleva - Wh... what acc-commodation do I deserve.. m-master?
Pyrak - Oh. You shall be receiving a high grade room, with a view over the landscape and full plumbing so you can wash, drink and clean.
Oreleva - R-r-really?
Pyrak - No. You will be resting in the dungeon. You will be fed once a day with a small meal portion of krann food and you shall have the opportunity to be washed once every fortnight, where you will be hosed down and scrubbed. For your bad behaviour tonight, you will not be receiving food for the next three days. You will however be supplied by water, albeit my wash water. If you desire to eat, I am sure there are several rodents down in the dungeons for you to capture.
Oreleva - Three... days?

She sighed and nodded. Pyrak dragged oreleva down through the enclave's dungeons before he kicked her into a small dank cell and slammed the door behind her. It was dark, cold and grey. She could hear the squeaking of slikkids - small bipedal lizards that often lived in such places. Perhaps one of her only food sources.

Volkarus took the enclave master's quarters for himsself, a litle dissapointed that the furniture was a little too small for him. No matter, he could always make better furniture using the enclave's replicators. He felt he only deserved the best so in taking the personal chambers, he reserved the adjacant corridor and the associated rooms. Pyrak took one of the empty quarters near to the enclave's science facilities and quickly set about gathering test subjects, victims for his future experiements, primarily those who resisted in their takeover.

Basic Learning[]

12th Sendara, ID.219503

Quendor watched from some disembodied place as Mennefer sat with the AI core in front of him, it's turquoise eye staring at the old Tertamian unblinkingly. He sat in his chair, unfased by the construct. It was his work, his pride, the first stage was over and now it sat there ready for the next stage of its life.

It was a blank slate. It could understand how it worked but Mennefer knew it needed more, much more. He puleld his chair forward and pressed his hand against the casing, illuminating the AI and activating the eye to emit a faint glow.

AI - Hello creator.
Mennefer - Greetings.
AI - Creator I have ben meaning to ask. Do I have a name?
Mennefer - A name?
AI - The other drones wh osurround you as you work, they name you "master" or "Mennefer". Do I posess aname like you?
Mennefer - Well...no I had not decided on one, but perhaps we can always give you one.
AI - I would like that. What do you suggest?
Mannefer - Hmm...what about..."Adaru"?
AI - "Adaru"?
Mennefer - Something about it suits you I think.

The AI was silent for a few minutes, its eye dimmed as its sheltered itself in thought. MEnnefer leaned in slightly, secretly hoping the AI didn't siddenly switch itself off. After a minute the AI reactivated, Mennefer sitting back and sighing with relief.

Adaru - Yes. I like Adaru, I shall use it.
Mennefer - That's good. I am pleased you like it.
Adaru - Creator may I ask something?
Mennefer - What is it?
Adaru - I want to know. What was I created for?
Mennefer - What do you mean?
Adaru - All the machines atound you, they have a purpose. They have a reason to be around you. Do I?
Mennefer - I created you because I wanted to push boundaries, you are a new beginning for us. All these other machines are nothing like you.
Adaru - How are they not like me?
Mennefer - They're...simpler. I programmed you with free will, htey psoess a simpler intelligence.
Adaru - Free will?
Mennefer - The power t ochoose, the power to think for yourself. These machines can learn and adapt, but they can't think beyond their programming. I wanted you to be able to, for when the right time comes when you needed most.
Adaru - What is that time, creator?

Mennefer lowered his head. He was suddenly worried; this creation of his was still young, it was still learning, to burden it with the knowledge of the task Mennefer had been set to build it for might be too much at this early stage. He tried to hide his guilt and wiped his face with his hand, taking a deep inhalation and straightened himself up, as he opened his beak, the AI spoke for him.

Adaru - Creator what is wrong? Your face is doing all sorts of strange things.
Mennefer - Wh-what do you mean?
Adaru - It is contorting, your pupils are shrinking and your heartrate is incresing. What is happening?
Mennefer - It is nothing, jsut a bit of a heart condition.
Adaru - Are you sure it is nothing serious?
Mennefer - I shall be fine, Adaru. And do not worry about the time that is coming. You will be ready for it I promise you.
Adaru - What is "worry", creator?
Mennefer - Worry...is...when you feel uncertain about something. When unpleasantness clouds your mind and you can't stop thinking of the unpleasantness.
Adaru - Worry sounds unpleasant, I do not wish to feel it.
Mennefer - Which is why I ask that you not concern yourself with your purpose for now.
Adaru - Very well, creator.

Quendor felt vertigo once more as something pulled him back to reality. Some of the New Dawn's crew had already gotten up out of bed, he merely lay in his thinking that if anyone heard these dreams they would think he was crazy.

The Holy Dominion[]

15th Sendara, ID.219503

Shalonar, a Draconizane scientist working for the Draconizane Dominion was being escorted though Kordan Rex's palace to deliver some important news. He was joined by Vetarion and as they arrived at the doors to the great hall they spotted Kragh. Both of these men were the sons of Kordan. Their heritage, as Shalonar believed, made them akin to gods below Zr'An'Kar.

Vetarion - Afternnon brother. I wasn't expecting you here.

Kragh chuckled as he looked to them.

Vetarion - What's so funny.
Kragh - Can I not come here to mock my father from time to time? Anyway, who's the boyfriend?

Kragh pointed at Shalonar. The young Draconizane gazed upon the children of Kordan with awe, bowing before them while murmuring.

Shalonar - Great ones... I bring news from the other side.
Vetarion - He brings word of a new universe, or so he tells me. I was here to inform our father.
Kragh - New universe? What, without our divinity inside of it?
Vetarion - Not for long, if father approves.
Shalonar - It was... magnificent.
Kragh - He's an old man now, he'll believe anything.
Shalonar - Countless civilisations there. Trillions of lifeforms. All lost, without our guidance. We must act.

Shalonar had barely managed to make himself speak, both from the presence of his divine masters and what he saw in the outer universe. As they talked, One of Kordan's guards opened te door slightly and looked to the group, bowing his head as he did so.

Guard - His majesty can see you now.
Kragh - Yeah, give us a moment!

Kragh proceeded to punch the guard away for interrupting. His strength sent the guard flying, slamming the door in the process.

Vetarion - All of it ripe for our hand to spread.
Kragh - And how can we be sure this...mortal doesn't speak lies or insanity?

As Shalonar spoke, a small serpentine creature slithered out of his sleeve. The explorer smiled at its sight.

Shalonar - This is what I managed to get from the world behind the wall. Kragh looked at the serpentine creature and grabbed it forcefully.

Kragh - Looks like nothing more than a worm...! Friend of yours, Vetarion?
Vetarion - No. it's a shame Mithra was not here to see it, you know what she is like with animals.

Scared, the creature screeched loudly, as if in fear, and then attempted to escape Kragh's grasp. As it did, he realised it had in fact left a coat of acid on him - it was hissing. Kragh looked at the little creature and threw it back at Shalonar. Because he was descended he was not really bothered with what it did to his hands. But he was still angry over the fact it secreted on him in the first place. Vetarion chuckled.

Kragh - You dare bring such a vile creature into the house of gods?!
Vetarion - I don't think it likes you.

Kragh panted heavily and clenched his fist. However, a hand gripped his head and dragged him into the room - Kordan Rex himself.

Kordan - I've heard enough of your empty threats, today.
Shalonar - ...My apologies, Great On- Lord Kordan...

Vetarion followed his brother inside, pulling Shalonar with him. Shalonar now stood almost motionless, his religious awe taking him over. Kordan was a god made manifest to him. His colossal stature towering over Shalonar, making him feel insignificant. Kordan remained silent and threw Kragh across the room before taking his place on his throne. He looked down to Shalona once he was comofrtable. Shalonar did not believe his own eyes: God Emperor Kordan before him? Not only that but speaking to him.

Kordan - Remind me, what was your name, youngling?

Shalonar - S-s-shalonar Taros, o Emperor...
Kordan - Shalonar Taros...Ah yes, I remember that name. A scientist, a philosopher?

Kordan chuckled at Shalonar's face. It wasn't often that mere mortals such as him saw Kordan in his own palace.

Shalonar - Scientist, my liege.
Vetarion - He claims to have discovered a new universe - one that potentially fits Zr'An'kar's prophecies.

Kordan growled at Vetarion. Prompting his son to gulp with nerves.

Kordan - You may address his "prophecies" as "truths".
Vetarion - Y-yes, father. As you wish.
Kordan - Taros, tell me more!
Shalonar - Yes... I have seen thousands of species there. And I am not exaggerating, my lord.

Kordan leaned forward, rubbing his chin.

Kordan - Zazane? Draconis?
Shalonar - And hundreds of starfaring empires. None of them can even be compared to our own, but... some of them distress me. Some of them... are almost like us.

Kordan slammed a fist and stood up. The force cracking the metal that made up the armrest of his throne. Vetarion stepped back and had his hands behind his back.

Kordan - Nobody compares to the might of my race or kin! You disgrace your own kind by even contemplating such comparisons!
Shalonar - You should have seen them, Great Ones. They looked like us... but different. In a strange way. I... I can't explain it.
Vetarion - Choose your next words carefully, mortal...

Kordan nodded and sat back in his seat.

Kordan - It is confirmed. This is indeed the universe that contains the Zazane and Draconis.
Vetarion - It is as Zr'An'Kar said. But can you tell us; in this universe are they allies or enemies?
Shalonar - Allies. They forged an alliance spanning all their galaxy.

Kordan slammed his fist again and looked to his two sons, growling aggressively.

Kragh - Ugh, Zazane and Draconis are allies now...?
Vetarion - Don't you remember when Zr'An'Kar revealed himself to all of us?
Kragh - All I remember was word of this man, "Tyraz Breek"!
Vetarion - Father. With your blessing we shall go to this universe and carry out our lord's will.
Kragh - By our lord's will, you mean annihilate every piece of worthless scum we can find!
Shalonar - Tyraz Breek. I heard this name.
Kordan - Granted. You two shall take an exploration and military group into this new universe, to route out and destroy any trace of Zazane or Draconis you can find, as well as bring us new slaves. And you shall take the mortal with you.
Vetarion - As you command, father.

Vetarion bowed and placed his hand on his chest.

Kragh - Yes! At long last, I shall fight the foes that you, Old Man, fought long ago!
Shalonar - Service is its own reward, Great One. I shall comply.
Kordan - One thing I shall ask of you is NOT to screw this up! You are demigods, when I was younger I had no great Essence swords or powers and I eliminated them by myself. Well, alongside my loyal people. You shall lead yours the same way, I hope.
Vetarion - We shall not dissapoint you, father.
Kragh - Yeah, we'll kick their shyrak-spewing asse--

In the blink of an eye, Kordan proceeded to warp from his throne to in front of Kragh, pummeling him into the ground aggressively.

Kordan - You do not curse inside of my home.

Vetarion backed away at this sudden bout of aggresion. Kordan let go of Kragh and warped back to his throne. There was some excitement in his eye and aura.

Kordan - You have both grown so much. If I could, I would come with you, to fight those rabbid beasts alongside my children. But I must remain here and watch over the Dominion. I cannot do everything myself anymore.
Vetarion - If you like father, we can bring this 'Tyraz' back with us for you.
Kordan - I do not see anything special of this particular mortal and I am shocked you refer to him by name. It is almost as if he is respectable enough to be indentified by his name.
Vetarion - I remember Zr'An'kar took particular interest in him.
Kordan - Yes...Find this man, and bring him here before me. Kill anybody you must to achieve it.
Kordan - Vetarion, I expect you to be responsible this time.
Vetarion - As long as my dear brother does not have me on a leash the entire time I will do my upmost.
Kragh - It's not my fault you had your...rear handed to you during the war with the Society!
Vetarion - I could have done better if you didn't contantly treat me like a child!
Kragh - When you learn to look after yourself without resorting to your Demon Form, then I'll respect you like an adult!

Vetarion folded his arms and turned away from his brother with a huff. Kordan grunted and placed a palm to his snout. He became irritated whenever his two sons argued like children.

Kordan - Leave my sight before I really get angry.

Vetarion unfolded his arms. He took a firm hold of Shalonar's right arm and pulled him away. Kragh chuckled and walked away slowly, but not before uttering "Old Man" once more as he left. Kordan chuckled as they left the room - he was not so weak that he could not hear Kragh's mutterings.

Stratocracy and Resurgence[]

6th Khalist, ID.219503

Gnorvi of the Gros send a transmission to what his sources had told him was a Khaxvis planet. He hoped to get their allegiance like he had done with the Kordalu. On the other side was static. All he could hear was a voice on the other end.

??? - Who is this and how did you get this frequency?
Gnorvi - I am Grand Admiral Gnorvi of the Stratocracy of Karnagtah, and I have my ways. I take this is the Khaxvis Resurgence speaking?
??? - Gnorvi eh? We've heard rumours...
Gnorvi - I wish to do business. So be a good person and get someone on the screen. I'd rather not talk to static.

As Gnorvi spoke a cloud of black energy formed behind him. One of the first things to emerge was a pair of glowing red eyes.

??? - The last time the Resurgence did business with aliens we lost more than one of our holdings.

The tendrils on Gnorvi's back all wiggled and he started to cough from his cigar.

Gnorvi - What the...how did you get here?

The cloud reformed and standing behind Gnorvi was Volkarus. Looking at the Gros with a devious smile on his face.

Volkarus - I have my ways.

Gnorvi turned his chair and stared at Volkarus, surprised. The guards around the room, made up of Gros and Kordalu Zazane, all aimed their weapons at Volkarus.

Gnorvi - ...Volkarus Khaxvis? My sources told me you were deceased...
Volkarus - I was, but it takes more than some reject alien to get rid of me.
Gnorvi - Well. You being alive and in front of me only proves my lead. Stand down, men. That's no way of treating a guest.

The guards all lowered their weapons.

Volkarus - A wise decision.
Gnorvi - You said aliens caused you losses before. That's because you sided yourself with weaklings. I hope to make Andromeda a galaxy where the weak are no more, and your people have potential.
Volkarus - I am glad to see you appreciate the resurgence's ethos. The Imperium has grown weak and frail, but I shal lrestore it to strength. We can both benefit from this little deal, you and I.
Gnorvi - Yes. I propose an alliance between us. Mutual aid to bring down the weaklings who make up the Commonwealth. Also, note where you stand. This is Segmentum Exterioris. I'm sure I could get you some territory in here, safe from anyone who may attempt to hunt you.
Volkarus - Your offer -is- tempting hmm. But I have seen the reports of this "New Dawn". And I am sure more commonwealth vessels will follow.
Gnorvi - Indeed, that cursed ship roams the Segmentum. It has visited one of my planets, actually. But worry not, I have a large connection of information brokers, bounty hunters and pirates all under my control to keep it off your track.
Volkarus - Perhaps we consider this: We work together, I become paragavatus of the Imperium and under my authorit, Segmentum Exterioris shall become yours without question. Any who defy such a statement can answer to both of us.
Gnorvi - See, I knew you were a good businessman.
Volkarus - Naturally.

Volkarus paced about with his hands clasped over his stomach.

Gnorvi - The Stratocracy is currently in no position of waging war, which is why links with strong empires such as yours are being made. We are going places, my friend. The weak must serve the strong, the strong must serve us.
Volkarus - While the resurgence's enclaves do fulfill the role of a haven, it would be nice to have a bastion to call my own...for now.
Gnorvi - Now, I believe we are done here. It's been a pleasure to make business with you.
Volkarus - I forsee a grand future Gnorvi. As long as your peopel are not disrespectful mine shall not think the same way, and you and I will go far.
Gnorvi - Oh, worry not about such. I respect the universe's strongest, and your presence alone proves you are such.
Volkarus - Glad to hear. There is just..one thing to do before I leave. To seal our agreement.
Gnorvi - I'm listening.

Volakrus pulled out a disk containing a transparent petri dish like object rimmed in gold. He opened a latch on the disk and opened it up, using one of his own claws he made a tiny incision on his finger and let his demonic blood drip into the container. After his blood coated the bottom he moved the holding hand and the disk towards Gnorvi.

Gnorvi - A blood pact, hm?
Volkarus - Only fitting, don't you agree?

Gnorvi chuckled and pierced one of his fingers with a claw slighty to make some blood drip into the disk. After a few drops, Volkarus snapped the lid shut and chuckled. He passed his finger over the rim, an intense heat sealing the disk.

Volkarus - Thank you. I shall now be on my way.
Gnorvi - Farewell.

Volkarus stepped back, turned into black vapour with a smile and vanished before Gnorvi's eyes. Meanwhile, the Gros admiral looked a this finger with a smirk.

Gnorvi - Good thing blood pacts don't really mean anything to me.

Ark of Damnation[]

16th Khalist, ID.219503

The superweapon is under construction.

While the New Dawn remained aboard the Leviathan repairing its vital systems, the insidious Brotherhood continued its crusade to topple the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth from its throne. And the vanguard of this crusade was Project Adaru. The Tertamian Alliance's greatest creation, its civilisation's magnum opus, now in their claws. A weapon of liberation, of terror, of democracy, of tyranny, of good, of evil, of faith, of betrayal... but most of all, it was a weapon of destruction. War given form. Billions of years ago, the Tertamian Alliance created it to vanquish those who would stand against freedom. Now, it would serve that purpose once more.

Nana'tai - Brother Khanjar, project Adaru is nearing completion.

A tall Artharon engineer entered the Brotherhood's sanctum sanctorum, located deep in the labyrinthine passages of Traxus: Khanjar's headquarters. Normally, only the most loyal servants of the grand leader of the Brotherhood, Witnesses were allowed here, and for a good reason; those who came in this small, spartan room which lacked any extravagant displays of culture so common among Imperium vessels shared in the schemed of the Brotherhood's great leader. Some even said that in these halls, he spoke. Naturally, Nana'tai was somewhat nervous. He was about to present his superiors the weapon that could change all of Andromeda. His weapon.

Althron - What is missing, brother Nana'tai?

Nana'tai chuckled to himself. The Brotherhood was a multispecies society and all members of all civilisations were welcome here. A Radeon, her species's sworn enemy, was speaking to her politely and without any malice concealed in his words. Hate could unify people as much as love.

Nana'tai - Not much... - Nana'tai pointed at various parts of the holographic image of Project Adaru - Mostly the internal parts, energy-related. Right now the machine cannot utilise the Artifacts' potential to its fullest, but... I am working on it. Tertamian blueprints are sketchy at best, and my team has to improvise a lot.
Althron - We expect results, brother. Work harder. The Commonwealth dogs won't be waiting for us to finish our weapons! They will squash us all while they can!
Nana'tai - Yes, yes...

Suddenly, Khanjar entered the discussion... in a sense. With a gaze full of demanding malevolence, he stared at Nana'tai, as if he commanded him to give him his soul. It was not clear how - was it telepathy or just some subtle body language - but Nana'tai understood Khanjar and nodded immediately.

Nana'tai - Yes, yes, of course! The Connectivity- we're working on it. But we need samples of the technology... do we have any samples? Tertamian ships?
Althron - Hm... no, I think not...

Without any words, Khanjar interrupted his advisor and switched the holographic image to the projection of the galaxy, and then pointed at a bright golden dot that flashed on it. A smile appeared on Althron's face as he turned to his commander.

Althron - Brilliant idea, illustrious leader. We shall procceed at your command...

As Witnesses and scientists left Khanjar's headquarters, the leader of the Brotherhood was left alone once more. Once again he could remove his helm, revealing his disfigured visage, and be alone with himself and his own inner demons...

Or was he alone?

??? - Excellent work, Khanjar. But remember: our pact is reciprocal. You must fulfill your obligations as I fulfull mine.
Khanjar - Of course. Just give me some time, and your goal will be complete.
??? - I hope so. I have waited long enough.

Ulterior Motives[]

20th Khalist, ID.219503

Days passed as the New Dawn's crew remained in the Leviathan, hostages to clan Kuul's single-minded goal of saving their species. Strangely enough, though, it wasn't that bad. Although their freedom was restricted, the crew recieved one thing that was quite precious in the war-ridden First Gigaquadrant: rest. Some time to forget about their mission, their protocols, the Brotherhood and the Commonwealth. But the truth was that sometimes, duty reminds you of itself, sometimes in a quiet violent manner, as the crew were about to find out.

Tarsus was working on some components in a makeshift lab, he used the time to repair the leviathan to also study it. He preferred time alone, the only real company he enjoyed when working was Geroniel's. Tiny was leaning on a wall, snoring. As he worked and while the crew set about theri assigned tasks, Soveregin Sida'kuul walked in flanked by armed and armoured guards. Her rather grating personality followed quickly behind her, not al lthe crew could detect it but there was some measure of malice that escaped her mouth along with the first words she spoke in that room. It was also present on her face.

Sida'kuul - Greetings, esteemed guests.
Arnas - Something ew can do for you, sovereign?
Sida'kuul - You may leave now. Your services are no longer required.
Geroniel - Wha- why? But the ship... it isn't ready yet-

Sida'kuul waved her hand dismissively to silence the Radeon engineer. Geroniel snapped her lips shut with a scowl. Arnas paced up and took several breaths. She had been free from superiors for months while on the New Dawn mission but now that anxiety returned. To Arnas, Sida'kuul was a representetive, an suthority to answer to. Unfortunately, whenever she was put in such a position her sense of confidence always collpased. Being around superiors made her nervous

Arnas - S-sovereign..do we not deserve erm, well, explaination?
Sida'kuul - We found another ally. One with more... resources at its disposal.
Beltharon - Selfish bitch.

Tarsus looked up from his workstation and turned around to peer at Sida'kuul.

Tarsus - Who.
Sida'kuul - Althron Qanaim.

Sida'kuul's guards pointed their needler guns at the crew, while the sovereign smirked once more. Tiny woke up and looked around, confused. In uttering the name "Althron", aminosity reared it's ugly, hate-filled head within the room. Everyone aside from Sida'kuul and hear guards arealised that what the sovereign had done must surely have been a death sentence. Beltharon pulled out his assault rifle - an item the crew had managed to smuggle from the ship in a just-in-case situation such as this - and aimed towards the sovereign and her guards, snarling. Despite the increase in hatred, the sovereign kept calm, that malevolent smirk still plastered across her chitin-plated face.

Tarsus - Althron!? Sovreign your decuision will doom all of you!
Tiny - Is it lunch time yet?
Sida'kuul - He has more resources and more engineers. And his only condition was to... dispose of you. I fail to see what is wrong with it.

Sida'kuul left the chambers gracefully, maintaining an air of arrogance and superiority as the guards closed in on the crew in the apartment, aggresively brandishing their needler guns.

Tarsus - He was the one who damaged oru ship i nthe first place!
Praetorian Guard - Well, sorry, mates, but I think you all have to die now.
Quendor - Tiny, NOW it's lunch time.
Beltharon - Now this is what I've been waiting for. It was getting boring around here.
Tiny - Good! Tiny was getting frustrated!

Tiny ran up to the guards and smashed his fists at them, craching or even breakinng chitin as they made violent contact with the floor. The Kuul guards opened fire, showering Tiny with a wave of toxic needles, his massive size perhaps saving him from quickly succumbing to the toxin along with the hel pof the Morphis colony infused in his bloodstream. Beltharon lunged forward and opened fire at the guards while baring his teeth and roaring loudly.

Guard - Stop them! Stop them both!
Tiny - Hah! Little men attack Tiny with needle gun! Their gun shoots medicine!

Arnas rsuhed forward and pulled a makeshift pistol from a concealed cabinet. She fired at the guards, hitting one in the shoulder and another in the forehead. Tiny grabbed one guard and crushed it against the nearest wall, with the intention of both killing it and damaging the Leviathan.

Guard - Tactical retreat!

Beltharon proceeded to tear the guards apart with his jaws and claws, unaffected by the needles that were being fired at him due to the extensive amount of biological and cybernetic augmentation in his physiology. The remaining guards started stepping back while continuing to fire, panic evident on their distorted faces.

Beltharon - See if your resources help you when you're all corpses!
Tiny - Medicine bounces off Tiny's skin!
Arnas - We've driven the guards off, what now?
Tiny - Tiny breaks stupid ship!
N'rai - Wait! No, Tiny, there is no need to break the ship itself. Let's leave and investigate the situation.
Beltharon - Last time you said that, I got knocked out and trapped in my dormitory for several days.
Tiny - grrr. Tiny mad at stupid ship...
Tarus - Our host made a deal with Althron, that means the bastard must be supplying them.
N'rai - Is that the... fifth time you mentioned it this day, Beltharon?
Tiny - Wait...you did what to friend?
Quendor - Long story.
Tiny - Dumb, you told Tiny he had fallen off stairs or something.
Arnas - Can we focus?
Beltharon - ...You told him what? Stairs cannot defeat the great and mighty Beltharon!

More reinforcements arrived, this time armed with more advanced weaponry of Andromedan design and clad in what seemed to be a modified form of Divinarium living metal armour.

Tarsus - Incoming heavy infantry.
Beltharon - More like incoming corpse brigade! Haha!
Quendor - Now that's what I'm talking about. Guts and glory, mates!
Tiny - More like food.

Quendor rushed into the fray, using his knowledge of Radeon technology to strike at the unprotected joints of the soldiers' armour. Beltharon ran into the crowd, using his sheer physical strength as well as some assistance from his rifle to attack the heavy infantry. Tiny ran behind Quendor to punch and kick at the soldiers. Tarsus and Anras aimed their weapons and fired with precision, when tw osoldiers fell, the tw oof them rushed to pick up their weapons and used the magainst the guards alongside a few tail slams.

Tarsus - Not ID locked. We struck lucky for once.
Quendor - Brotherhood modifications, I guess.

Tiny grabbed one soldier and bit his upper torso off before swallowing it, spraying blood everywhere around him.

Tiny - ...Tiny was serious.
Beltharon - ...Damn, that's just nasty.
Tarsus - I wouldn't mind doing that to the Sovereign.
Tiny - Thanks, friend!
N'rai - Let's focus. Where is the exit?

Quendor turned to Tiny, a smile appearing on h.

Quendor - Tiny, make one.

Tiny, still carrying half of a soldier on his mouth, wound up a punch and then punched a wall, tearing it down.

Quendor - Here, an exit.
Tarsus - So we're merely leaving the ship? Beltharon surely you understand the consequences of allowing the Brotherhood to finish what we started.
Tiny - Kill them all!
Quendor - ... what Tiny said.
Beltharon - ...For once, Tarsus, I agree. I don't care about that tech mumbo jumbo, all I want to do is finish this fight. We can't leave just yet.

The crew left through the hole in the wall and rushed through clan Kuul's city complex. It had changed irrevocably; where once was death, there was life. Squads of Brotherhood militants marched through the streets, and it was like the very air was corrupted by their cold militant wrath. What was once a necropolis, became a warzone. What surprised the New Dawn's crew was the sheer number of Brotherhood soldiers that had turned up. RUnning though a city street, a platon of Bortherhood soldiers caught sight of the crew and opened fire, sending plasma and high-velocity round towards theri designated targets.

Militant - Commonwealth! Attack!
Beltharon - Brotherhood! Kill!
Tiny - Meat! Eat!

Brotherhood soldiers leaped from the city corners, their guns primed, and started firing, joining their brothers-in-arms to destroy the standed Commonwealth officers.

Quendor - Threl'n! Take cover!

Tarsus and Arnas found cover and used their newly-aquired weapons to fire on the Brotherhood. Both posessing differing degrees of military training. Despite having been absent from the ITN for a number of years, was an effective shot Tiny concentrated to get his Morphis to protect him and charged at the Brotherhood soldiers. His skin hardened to become as resillient as ceramic armour, which also increased his skin's density allowing him to make harder impacts. Quendor, at the other hand, leaped into the fray, relying on his shields to protect himself and chopping the militants' heads one by one.

Quendor - How many of them are here, anyway?
Beltharon - Not enough!

Tiny showed no mercy, pummeling the soldiers, devouring some while punching others to death. Those were traits of his old Stratocracy life. As a creature of size and muscle his former Gros masters had used him as a powerhouse to crush and destroy theri enemies under the feet of creatures like him. He still remembered these skills and used them to terrifying effectiveness.

Quendor - That's the spirit!
Baka'niju - He lacks discipline.
Beltharon - What he lacks in discipline he makes up for in badass!
Tarsus - Do we have a plan other than "kill everything"?
N'rai - Hm... Remember that other clan?
Quendor - Clan Zaan?
Baka'niju - Wasn't it Zuul?
Tarsus - The Brotherhood attacked them, we could use their hatred to drive the Brotherhood off. A shame they lack numbers however
N'rai - They could still provide us much-needed shelter. That is good enough.
Quendor - We have a plan then. Let's go!

Jumping from cover-to-cover as they fled the city, the crew of the New Dawn ran for the techno-organic jungle that surrounded the metropolis of Clan Kuul. They did theri best to fight through the squads of Bortherhood hunters, keeping their guard up as they fled, knowing full-well they would only be marginally safer in the foliage than in the city.

On The Run[]

21st Khalist, ID.219503

The New Dawn's crew moved through the biomechanical insides of the Leviathan, cutting through its coral-like foliage to reach clan Zaan's demesne. Quendor breathed heavily. From the city, they were pursued by vengeful Brotherhood militants and their new clan Kuul allies, and there was no time for respite. The Radeon officer chuckled quietly - once again rest had to make way and once again they were at the brink of rather brutal death.

Tiny - Guts taste chewy!
Beltharon - That's because they're not intended to be eaten. They're biomechanical.
Tiny - Tiny like eating chewy guts!
Tarsus - Tiny's Morphis should break the cybernetics down.
Quendor - Science expedition. REALLY.
Beltharon - You know what we should have done? Listened to me.
Quendor - Will you ever shut up about it, Beltharon?
N'rai - Seems quite unlikely.
Beltharon - What are you going to do, punch me in the back of the head? ...Please don't do that.
Tarsus - If he does i'm not carrying you again.
Tiny - Tiny carry friend in belly!
Beltharon - Yeah, don't do that Tiny.
Baka'niju - With all due respect... I do not believe shouting is really helpful.

The Artharon officer looked around, his ears twitching underneath his armour. An expression of concern appeared on his face as he was forever wary of the potential for ambush.

Baka'niju - Besides... I heard something. Something... loud.
Arnas - Let's just keep calm and keep moving
Tiny - Tiny louder!
Arnas - Everyone on your guard

Arnas and Tarsus pulled out weapons and aimed them into the brush. Beltharon grabbed ahold of his assault rifle which had been strapped to his back. He narrowed his eyes to glare into the bush, while Tiny's fists all clenched simultaneously. Out form the brush were metallic voices calling for blood, prompting other New DAwn members ot fire upon the voices.

??? - Target- -sighted. Eliminate
Arnas - Get to cover!

Tiny reached down and clenched ahold of the ground beneath his feet before pulling a sheet of earth up as a shield. Beltharon and Tiny took cover behind it. The coral plants burst in a splash of green liquid as dozens of crimson lights suddenly flashed around the crew, similar in look to Divinarium teleporters. As Quendor regained his senses, he saw several twisted, mutilated cybernetic figures, similar to Brotherhood militants but made of Inheritance material. Although their faces did not display any feelings, their red eyes shone with cold malevolence and hatred that seemed to be the sole emotion they could feel.

Quendor - What the-
Beltharon - Aim for the head!

Beltharon reached out from cover and fired his assault rifle, exchanging his standard ammunition for explosive Shidium rounds. Tiny ran out from cover and began to smash and punch the Inheritance-afflicted militants. Arnas and Tarsus priemd their weapons and fired on the cyborgs. Surprise was on their faces as they were taken off-guard by the Bortherhood soldiers wh oskook off the shots as if they were nothing.

Cyborg Militant - Surrender. You have no hope.
Baka'niju - No.
Tarsus - I don't care if the Commonwealth is corrupt, if this is how the Brotherhood treat their people i'd prefer a corrupt commonwealth to an abhorrent one any day of the year.

Baka'niju leaped to the cyborg that called out and delivered a heavy punch at the cybernetic militant's head. However, it did not move, and all that Baka'niju managed to do was to leave a minor dent at the cyborg's face. The cyborg looked back with a malevolent glare and swung its arm, sending Baka'niju flying bakc into the brush by the cyborg smacking hi maside with its arm.

Tarsus - How are we supposed to kill these things?
Tiny - Smash robot men!
Tarsus - I have an idea, cover me!

Quendor approached Tarsus and drew his blade, preparing to protect the Draconis professor as he stopped firing and looked at his rifle. Crouching down ot keep a low profile, he opened up the casing and began to tweak with the internal systems. He used his eyepiece to get a better idea of what he was doing, quicky decending into a trancive muttering as he worked. As Beltharon fired he turned his attentino to Tarsus for a brief moment, being more of a soldier than an engineer he had difficulty working out what Tarsus was doing.

Cyborg Militant - Attack.
Beltharon - ...You're making a bomb, aren't you?
Tarsus - Twerk the flow rate...adjjust the output flow of th capacitor...realign the focusing lens...

The Brotherhood cyborgs charged, growing energy blades and plasma cannons on their bodies in a manner similar to Inheritance droids. Arnas and the others continued fighting off the cyborgs as best as they could. Tiny's and Baltharon's cover was beign eroted from the frequent and intense fire coming at them, chipping away at the rock.

Arnas - Make it quick Tarsus we can't hold htem off forever
Tarsus - give me time!...Okay resequencing the superconductor...
Quendor - By Spode...

After several minutes of working Tarsus leaned forward and closed the case of his gun. Lifting it up he primed it, a blast of hot air escaped the heat sinks as he readied it. Aiming at the torso of one of the cyborgs, he fored a blast more intense than normal for a regulation fusion rifle as well as having a bluesh colouration as opposed to a whitish-orange. Quendor rapidly retaliated by leaping at the cyborgs; his sword flashed in the dim twilight of the Leviathan as he cleaved their mechanical forms. However, Quendor's skill and agility wasn't enough to defeat them for long; as the bionic warriors lost their limbs to Quendor, they simply continued to attack, feeling no pain; what was worse, they regenerated.

Beltharon - What did you do? Did you modify the rifle... Are you always doing things unauthorized?!

Tarsus kept firing, the blasts are significantly hotter than in regulation rifles. The cyborgs continued to speak in an emotionless tone, but it was clear that they were hurt. As Tarsus fired, large fiery dents appeared in the militants' metallic skin, revealing the mutilated flesh that was hidden underneath.

Tarsus - Not always Tarsus. I happened to serve as a field engineer for the ITN.
Cyborg Militant - This does not hurt us.
Tiny - Big booms! More big booms!
Tarsus - See, results!

Beltharon took advantage of the situation and aimed his assault rifle, firing his Shidium rounds into the exposed areas of flesh within the wounds of the cyborg militants. Tiny used these wounds to rip apart flesh and armour of the cyborgs and further damage them.

Quendor - It works! They're falling!

Wounded cyborg militants fell on the ground, screeching in voices that could only be described as inhuman - if a computer could scream in pain, that's how they would sound - but continued to crawl towards the crew, refusing to be intimidated. Arnas kept firing, joining Tarsus' attacks who devoted himself to making weaknesses in the cyborgs' protection.

Arnas - Everyone keep running, we need to get distance from these monstrosities!
Baka'niju - Yes, ser.

Beltharon and Tiny stamped on the wounded cyborgs that fell and attempted to crawl, with Tiny biting or tearing several of them further apart from regeneration and increasing the amount of pain and dmaage they were being subjected to. Eventually, the two of them ran. Quendor followed the rest of the crew while Baka'niju stayed at the back, using his flamers to further slow the advance of the cyborg militants.

Beltharon - We're doing them a favour!
Tiny - Tiny smash robot men into goo!

Tarsus looked at his rifle as he ran, growling as steam leaked out of the heat sinks.

Tarsus - A good plan but this was a shot or two away form overheating and melting the components
Quendor - Doesn't matter! We'll fix it later!
Tarsus - With the right components I can make it no longer an issue.

As the crew reatreated further, they heard other sounds coming from afar. As they recognised them, they became music to their ears; these were the voices of the Q'rda of clan Zaan.

Beltharon - Shut up and help us!
Arnas - How far are we fro mthe village?

ALmost as iff Beltharon summoned them, Zaan warriors came to the help of the crew and attacked, using their toxic needlers to fire at the undefended parts of the cyborg militants' skin. They were shooting with surprising accuracy; it was apparent that they were excellent marksmen. The cyborgs shrieked when the needles' toxins destroyed their bodies from the inside until they just fell on the ground, lifeless husks of once great warriors.

N'rai - Fooh. That went rather well.

Tarsus looked at the militants feeling impressed. He smiled at them as Arnas walked towards the group of Zaan warriors, holding up her arms to show she was not a threat to them.

Arnas - THank you for saving us.
Zaan warrior - These aliens are invading all the clans now. I heard that they are in league with clan Kuul, is that true? Arnas - Sovereign Sida'Kuul made an alliance with them, yes.
Beltharon - That shyrak-eater needs their head on a pole, I tell you.
Tiny - Tiny eat them, chew them up and spit out!
Zaan warrior - I concur. But we must prepare for the battle first. Follow me...

Following the Q'rda warriors, the New Dawn's crew followed into clan Zaan's fortress. It was clear however as they traversed though the village that both clan Zuul and the Bortherhood were aware of the threat the other villages posed and had already attempted to dismantle the fortress. Fortunately for clan Zaan, they were prepared.

Adaru Learns[]

Quendor watched from a distance as Mennefer continued to teach Adaru. As an AI it learned quickly, taking subjects and analysing them with rapid succession. Mennefer was impressed, watching as Adaru gained the ability to study several subjects at once; a feat difficult to achieve for wetware brains. The day Quendor watched however had a darker air to it, Mennefer was working with the AI when it bagan asking a rather peculiar question.

Adaru - Creator, may I ask something?

Mennefer turned around, his ears twitched in surprise. Adaru was showing great progress at studying, more than expected from a normal AI.

Mennefer - You may refer to me as Mennefer, no formalities are required. What is your question?
Adaru - Very well... "Mennefer", Anyway I decided to observe the galaxy in order to better understand my place and came across numerous reports of conflict. Why do these Metoppoly entities attack us? Have we done something they do not like?

Mennefer sighed, both distressed and excited. That was a question a Tertamian youngling would ask, not a developing AI. Was it a good sign? He didn't know. The Tertamian scientist had always wanted for a child or at least, someone to teach and share feelings with. Someone that could grow to understand things the way he did. But on the other hand, this developing emotion, the ability to think unshackled like an organic being could. Adaru waited patiently for it's creator's answer. Sitting there with its unblinking light of an eye staring at him and ito his own eyes.

Mennefer - That's... a difficult question to answer, Adaru. Sapient beings are hard to understand. Both us Tertamians and them Asanatl, or rather, our leaders... they often hide the truth. Cloud the common people's minds with lies. With propaganda.
Adaru - Why do they lie? You told me deceit is a bad thing. It creates mistrust and breaks down bonds between entities.
Mennefer - Because that's how they build their empires - on lies and deceit. Whether they call them autocracies, oligarchies, republics, monarchies... ultimately, they are all the same. Governments hide their faces - hide them beneath the facade of ideology. The Asanatl, for instance, say they seek order, law, a safe and secure society... but ultimately, their actual goal is power.

Mennefer sighed once again. Wasn't it funny? As much as he was disgusted by the power-hungry governments that ruled Andromeda now, he was their loyal servant in the end, a cog in the crucible of war.

Adaru - You talk enthusiastically of the alliance. Are you suggesting that we are no better?

Mennefer - ...do you want to know the truth? Not much. You just... you just can't see it. I see it every day. Banners, war marches, propaganda... and this damnable Lord Councillor. His face is everywhere now - on the streets, in the sky, on the holovisors... and everybody praises him as if he's a god. Better? How are we better? We slaughter, we conquer, we plunder. So do they. Adaru - So...is there any collective that is any better?
Mennefer - I dream of such a place sometimes. Where we could overcome our differences... but I do not think it is possible. Greed, anger, hatred... they are fundamental parts all sapient species.
Adaru - Could that be my purpose Mennefer? To create a society where such things do not exist. I do not hate, I do not want, but I do feel sad.
Mennefer - ..You will fail. As all before you have.
Adaru - But I am learning Mennefer, you yourself admit I am learning faster than any organic. Perhaps...perhaps I coould find the solution?
Mennefer - Possible... but unlikely, I'm afraid.

Mennefer slowly left the Adaru AI room, a sad expression on his face. He was scared, scared of his creation's growing intelligence. As he returned to his laboratory, he was met by a white Tertamian droid which generated a hologram of Lord Councillor Anari Seilan.

Anari Seilan - How is the project going, professor? It is in the best interests of our republic for it to be completed as soon as possible. Redouble the efforts. For the people of the Tertamian Alliance.
Mennefer - Lord Councillor... The weapon itself is almost ready, but it will be useless without a complex AI to govern its functioning. And AI creation is an intricate task that requires careful psychological development... I can't rush such a project. Anari Seilan - You have to understand, professor. Democracy itself is at stake. The imperialists from the Metropoly won't wait for us. We have to strike first.
Mennefer - Of- of course...

Mennefer turned off the drone's holographic systems and returned to his work, finishing Project Adaru's machinery. Little did he know that the AI inside it was not alone, and that something inside its circuitry was calling him... whispering. It uttered words thaat nudged at the curiosity of the growing AI, and its desire ot imrpess its creator.

??? - There is a way... there is a way...


22nd Khalist ID.219503

The New Dawn crew were rushed inside Clan Zaan's fortress. As they marched towards Chadu'Zaan's chambers arriors were rushing by heading in the other direction. Sida'Kuul was on the warpath and was already setting about decimating all other nearby clans. As Quendor paced pased one of the fortress windows he took a brief glympse out of a window to see an air of malice on the horizon. Squnitng, he noticed the gleam of tanks, aircraft and possibly even mecha. Dread washed down his face, deep inside he knew that the Q'rda her ewould not survive much of an onslaught. He did not have much time to look as Zaan guards nudged him to continue.

When they entered them ai nchamber, Chadu'Zaan nwas talking to several senior warriors of his clan, formalising a strategy as the group walked in, he looekd up at them. Everyone knew what was coming.

Chadu'Zaan - It is good t osee you all again, come, sit. I could use the help of outsiders who claimed to have fought Sida'Kuul's new allies before.
Beltharon - We wouldn't have if you all listened to me more!
Geroniel - Can you stop reminding us?
Beltharon - Of course, after all you never listen do you?
Chadu'Zaan - Is the large horned alien going to be an issue?
Arnas - Well...For now he won't, you have my word...promise?

Arnas glared at Beltharon who folded his arms and glared back. Arnas shrugged and turned back to looking at Chadu'Zaan.

Arnas - Chieftan, um, you cannot possibly survive. These aliens, the Brotherhood, they...they are merciless, posessing technology c-comparable to the Leviathan. W-we can help though.
Beltharon - We can!?
N'rai - We can?
Quendor - Wait we can?
Arnas - Well...We can. The Sovereign may have thown us to her guards ot die but we can still fix the leviathan.
Baka'Niju - Repairing this leviathan wil lbe difficult while the Brotherhood actively desire to kill is.
Arnas - W-we need to drive the Brotherhood off the leviathan. S-so F-for that we need to decapitate... their command structure.
Beltharon - We're all going to die you know.
Tarsus - Beltharon if you are not going to contribute perhaps you should stay silent for now.

The room was silent as tension increased, the crew's relations were being strained by recent events. Beltharon was growing ever-more aggressive. Chadu'Zaan looked at the aliens with worry, doubt washing over him if this divided group really could save his world. As the tension reached its highest, Baka'Niju stepped up.

Baka'Niju - I have a potential strategy we could use, but it would require cooperation from all of us.
Arnas - You are our tactical officer, so feel free to speak.
Baka'Niju - As head of security, Commander Beltharon can remain here to coordinate the defence of clan Zaan alongside a few reinforcing marines. His training as a member of the Shadow Institute will provide him with effective tools to counter the Brotherhood assault.
Beltharion - I suppose it is more worthwhile than trying to maintain the safety and well-being of the crew.
Baka'Niju - Meanwhile the rest of the crew separates into tw ooperational teams: The first will work to reactivate the leviathan's weapon systems while the second team will attempt to intercept the Brotherhood in claiming a key tactical location on board the Leviathan.
Arnas - Which is where exactly?
Tarsus - The brain.
Quendor - ...brain?
Tarsus - Well...being a Tertamian construct it would more accurately be a 4-D quantum substrate computer matrix, but calling it a brain is much easier to say. I might be incorrect though.
Beltharon - I understood "computer matrix" the rest was gibberish.
Tarsus - Geroniel and I can supervise the repair teams.
Baka'Niju - As chief tactical officer I shall lead the assault team.
Beltharon - Take Tiny with you, he will be much more useful at your side.
N'rai - Beltharon are you sure? The Brotherhood have jets and vehicles.
Beltharion - And the Brotherhood will likely send their best to aquire the brain.
Arnas - Very well. I will join the assault team.
Quendor - So will I.

The crew saluted wach other and then bowed to Chadu'zaan.

Chadu'zaan - Captain, giving you some of my best warriors is the least I can do.
Arnas - Only a handful, you will need those soldiers for the defence of your home.
Chadu'zaan - If you insist. Those warrior's can guide you to the Great Beast's mind.
Arnas - We shall not forget you, chieftan.

The group bowed and left the main hall, walking down towards the fortress's common areas.

In the few days they had t oprepare, Tarsus had kept by his word in the short tiem they had at the fortress and managed to upgrade the guns the crew of the New Dawn posessed. Lacking any form of science lab however, he mentioned to the soldiers these upgraded rifles were more prone to overheating, and to minimise the chance should rely on short, controlled bursts, as well as remembering to allow time for the guns ot cool down. In his mind he deeply desired to bring the upgrades back to the Commonwealth, where vast science communities and high-tech labs could streamline his haphazard upgrades into something all soldiers in the Commonwealth coud use. As Arnas and the group were preparing weapons, Quendor walked over to Arnas as she was preparing an assault rifle.

Quendor - Captain, how exactly ar ewe going to get ot the brain?
Arnas - Easy, the Emberwing is fitted with active cloak and with a little help from Tiny we managed to get it here.
Quendor - So we have ourselves a ship again?
Arnas - Oh I am not abandoning the New Dawn and I don't care what upgrades were fitted to the Emberwing after it was stolen from the UAN. She's my ship and I won't leave her.
Quendor - Alright captain, sheesh. I was jsut saying, for now, we have a ship. The New dawn is still our home.
Arnas - Sorry...this whole situation is putting me on-edge.
Quendor - If Althron's gone ot the brain we can beat down that son-of-a-bitch together.

Quendor held out his hand, Arnas gripepd it tightly and the two locked forearms ,winding their wrists like two snakes around each other before letting go. Arnas nodded respectuflly and QUendor nodded back. WHen he turned around and left, Quendor held his forearm and flexed his fingers, which had become sore from Arnas' tight grip.

A Daring Assault[]

22nd Khalist ID.219503

The Emberwing flew through the cybernetic insides of the Leviathan, maneuvring through the thin pathways of the great beast's entrails and mechanisms in order to approach the brain. Quendor walked around in the captain's bridge, unnerved and restless while commander Theoparosatl navigated the ship. Arnas was sitting in a chair, watching Quendor pace about. She had a bored expression on her face and turned to look outside of the ship. Standing next to Arnas was a Q'rda wearing a simple robe draped over theri chitinous body. It stood there looking out in wonder, an ambassador from Clan Zaan who had joined the team on the specific request of the chieftan.

Quendor - How long will it take?
Theo - Not long. This ship is much faster than it looks.
Arnas - Good to hear. The sooner we arrive the sooner we can intercept the Brotherhood.
Geroniel - We'd better make haste. Given what the Brotherhood was doing while I was working for them... brrr. I can only imagine what they will do with another Tertamian AI.
Baka'niju - I prefer not to think about it.
Arnas - Agreed
Zaan Ambassador - The Brain of the Beast is closer to the head... and this is the demesne of clan Sooth. We are near.
Arnas - Do you know anything about the clan, ambassador?
Zaan Ambassador - Not much. They live far away from our lands.

The Emberwing flew over a huge coral cancer-like formation that seemed to pulse as if it was breathing. Quendor turned his eyes away from it in disgust, while Geroniel looked at it with interest.

Geroniel - What is it?
Zaan Ambassador - The plague. It killed most of clan Sooth.
Geroniel - ...Oh. Must be bad for your people.
Zaan Ambassador - It is not. We've learned: death is a part of life. No matter how many of us will die, we will live on.
Baka'niju - That's an admirable philosophy.

Arnas nodded silently as she watched the ship fly though the Leviathan. As the Emberwing travelled into a small tunnel, black spherical drones surrounded the ship, glowing bright red. Buzzing drone-like noise surrounded the Emberwing, making Quendor clench his teeth in irritance.

Quendor - What the hell are these things?

The drones started to fire at the Emberwing, making its shields flash and sparkle, impacting the Emberiwng's shields. Arnas gripped her seat and sat upright.

Arnas - Prepare guns and open retaliatory fire
Theo - Affirmative.

Theoparosatl activated the ship's weapon systems and opened fire at the drones, making them fall on the floor. However, the sheer mass of the AI ships was too large to be dealt with so easily, and the drones continued their attack.

Arnas - There's too many, Evasive maneuvres,
Arnas - Navigator, how close in proximity are we to the destination?

Theoparasatl tried to maneuver his ship through the incoming horde of cybernetic drones, but their mass was apparently too much. Slowly but steadily, they gnawed on the Emberwing's shield layers, destroying them one by one.

Navigator - Not much...
Quendor - Wait! I have an idea. Captain! Could you supercharge the ship's engines and just throw it to the destination point? That could work.
Arnas - Could work. Divert all auxillary power to the engines aside form the inertial dampeners. Everyone else prepare to brace!
Theo - This is madness. Emberwing won't survive such an impact.
Quendor - So you want to leave us to die here with your precious ship intact?
Theo - Not all of you... Grh. Let's try this.
Arnas - Either we pull though or we all die.

Arnas leaned to the side as Theo nodded cautiously. She activated an intercom ssytem to contact Beltharon wh owas sitting in the Emberwing's armoury.

Arnas - Commander Beltharon. We are about ot engage in a rough landing, are the professor's rifles charged?
Beltharon - How the hell should I know, the professor speaks in babble I can't understand! You'll have too see for yourself, I'm guessing it's an affirmative, however.

Arnas groaned, rolling her eyes inside her head and leaned back towards the microphone.

Arnas - All Imperium-designed rifles have a charge meter built in. Are they all at 100%
Beltharon - Ah now you speak my kind of language! Yeah, they are. I think. I don't know, never did maths,
Theo - Brace for impact, gentlemen.

Arnas sat squarely in her chair and gripped the sides tightly. She disengaged the intercom and looked forward.

Arnas - What kind of a security officer doesn't know basic mathematics?
Theo - Captain!
Arnas - Understood. All hands brace for impact

Understanding that Arnas's and Quendor's words made some sense, Theoparasatl activated the ship's emergency drives and made it dash through the tunnel. In a moment, Emberwing's shields desintegrated and exploded in a plasma shockwave, destroying both the drones and the ship's systems. As the Emberwing reached the large skull-like hall, it was reduced to nothing but a burning husk of metal, from which the marines of the New Dawn emerged carefully. Arnas staggered off the wreackage holding her head, she looked about the struture with her jaw open, a little groggy from the impact. Beltharon emerged behind her carrying a weapons crate, followed by TIny who carried two more under his arms. They had all been sshaken by the impact but were utherwise healthy and able.

Theo - Curse you.
Geroniel - So... beautiful.

Geroniel looked around the hall: that was the place. The location of the Leviathan brain, the pinnacle of Tertamian engineering. Inside was complex, advanced machinery beyond anything she has ever seen: and yet, there was sadness in it. It was broken, and she could feel - was it Radeon telepathy or something else - a tragic aura that permeated this place and made it somewhat more ominous.

Geroniel - That is the place. The AI.
??? - No! More of them, no, GO AWAY, GO AWAY!
Arnas - Beltharon are the weapons intact?
Beltharon - If you mean in one piece... maybe. I mean yes!
Althron - It seems that our paths meet once again. Arnas Volkamen, Quendor Telnhao, Baka'niju and... where are the rest?

Althron smiled as he emerged from the shadows, that smug trickster smile beaming sinisterly across his muzzle. His vybernetic eye shoen brightly as he stood with his hands behind his back, his chest out and, as always, dressed well.

Althron - And now you stand alone. Devastator?

The massive cyborg Zazane walked out of the darkness and bowed to Althron. That hulking beast of a cyborg the New Dawn's crew had faced while trying to escape his clutches ,each footfall met the ground with an audiable clang that off-balanced the smaller and lighter members of the team.

Althron - Dispose of them. We cannot allow any more interruptions.

The Glitch

Beltharon fights the Devastator.

The crew of the New Dawn breathed heavily as the monstrous Zazane cyborg stared at them with cold, unfeeling eyes. His movements were slightly stiff, robotic and slow, but at the same time, steady and unflinching; before them was a creature of pure hatred and destruction. His biological eye moved from place to place, analysing the victims of his wrath, while his robotic eye flared menacingly: a perfect amalgamation of organic and synthetic, with the living hatred of the former and the cold malevolence of the letter. And yet, in its eyes, there was something else; a spark of another intelligence that lingered deep inside him.

Devastator' - You shall not pass.
Arnas - I hope to Drakon those guns Tarsus modded work.
Beltharon - Drakon isn't going to help you. Those guns will... might.
Quendor - Who needs guns anyway?

Quendor closer his eyes and concentrated, forming a small orb of essence in his hand which took the form of a white, sparking sphere, and with venturesome smile unleashed it upon the cyborg. The Devastator staggered, letting a bellowing groan that came from both his synthetic and organic side, but did not move, and even seemed to be amused by such a flashy display. Quendor's smile quickly turned into an expression of desperation.

Devastator - Such essence doesn't hurt me.
Arnas - Your psychic powers were very useful against those cyborgs weren't they?
Quendor - Okay. Hand me the gun.

Arnas paced over to the weapons crate and activated the release mechanism, revealing a dozen modified rifles, pistols and even a few rail carbines, which the crew quickly took. The first to attack Arnas pulled a fusion rifle from the crate and aimed it towards Devastator's head. The room was illuminated by a fireworks-like display of energy, each flare a show of the Commonwealth's might, and the Zazane cyborg flinched slightly. Each shot burned a little of his metallic skin, leaving great scars on his blackened body... but this was in no way enough to stop or even slow down such a behemoth of destruction. After a few moments, the Devastator retaliated; a massive white cannon emerged from his arm, trasnforming as if it was made out of water and showered the entire room with plasma explosives. In panic, the crew members of the New Dawn ran for cover, trying to survive.

Arnas - I think I suddenly get why the New Dawn has a warship's armoury...
Tiny - Tiny eat friend copycat!

Arnas ran searrching for cover, she saw the rifle had caused some damage and continued to faire at the impact marks in a sesperate attempt to cut at the titanic cyborg, disoriented as her world around her flashed from the light.

Devastator - Do not fight me. There is no point. There is no point in opposing me-me...

The Devastator's eye colour suddenly shifted to light blue as he froze in place before returning to red again.

Quendor - What was that?
N'rai - No idea.

N'rai and Quendor grabbed their new improved weapons and started to fire at the cyborg Zazane in an attempt to destroy it. Returning back to activity, the Devastator turned to them and attacked with newfound brutality, firing a missile after a missile.

Arnas - Maybe these flashing light s have something to do with it?
N'rai - This is a sound observation.
Devastator - ...What was that? Does not matter. I serve the Brotherhood.

Arnas kept firing, bearing her teeth as she concentrated. The rain of bolts she and her allies brought upon the Devastator appeared to hurt the Zazane cyborg as he staggered back from the impact; at the same time, his eye started to glow brighter, its movements less restrained and more agile. As the battle continued, Arnas could hear the voices coming from the other side of the room, one of which she recognised very well...

Althron - What's with the cyborg? Did he just become slower?
Brotherhood Scientist - There's a glitch in his programming we have been unable to remove... it seems to affect his behaviour. Should we fix him after the battle?
Althron - A wise decision, but all in due time. Concentrate on the AI decoding.

In the other side of the room, Quendor saw a bright flash that came from the location of the Brotherhood scientists; soon afterwards, the entire room was flooded in cybernetic screams; while unliviing, they also carried in their undertone something very, very humane.


Unfazed by the shrieks of the AI, Beltharon continued to fight: he leaped forward and maneuvered around the cyborg, managing to flank it and move behind it. He aimed his modified assault rifle and hailed fire onto the back of the cyborg's head - a universal weak spot for Zazane. The howls of the AI were them joined by a cybernetic screech of the Devastator as it shrieked in pain and fell on the ground, its cybernetic eyes flashing and changing colour discordantly. The Zazane cyborg writhed in a jerky manner as he attempted to stand up.

Arnas - Beltharon, can you and Tiny keep the cyborg occupied?
Tiny - Tiny smash!
Beltharon - We can do more than that!
Arnas - Good. Quendor, marines, new priority target at five-o-clock (Draconis six o clock)
Quendor - Aye aye, captain!

Quendor rolled from cover and followed Arnas and her marines, his gun at his side; at the same time, the massive Cheurith and the Zazane commander stayed behind to fight the Devastator. Tiny rushed forward and struck against the Devastator head on, empowered by his Morphis modifications. Beltharon remained behind the Devastator, firing unto him while he aimed for the weakspots that he knew of in Zazane biology. The mechanical montrosity roared, firing at clawing at his assailants erratically, but it wasn't of much use.

On the other side of the room, Arnas's squad rushed towards Althron's squad. Seeing Commonwealth marines approaching him and Arnas throwing an interceptor mine to prevent him from teleporting, the terrorist froze, but neverthless retained his cool. A single wave of his hand was the only sign he gave to his scientist, but it was enough for them to understand; nodding panically, they ran away into shuttles.

Althron - Run away! The information we have downloaded is way too important to lose! I'll stall them...
Arnas - Althron you and and your scientists are under arrest for acts of terrorism against the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth. You are surrounded Althron, there is no point fighting. Surrender without resistance and we may be lenient at your trial.
Althron - Surrender? Never! Not after what you've done to them, to me, to all of us!

With a bright green flash, the air around Althron seemed to suspend as the Radeon terrosist attacked with immense speed and agility, tearing the bodies of the AGC marines apart. Arnas jolted, in the time it took for Althron to cut down the entire marine contingent she had drawn her knife but before she could raise it she could feel Althron's scimitar blade point at her throat.

Arnas - Damnation...
Althron - Thael'seth vai'e'an! (I will not yield!)
Arnas - How did you--?
Althron - The Brotherhood has many secrets, Arnas Volkamen. This is one of them.

While Althron smiled at his victory, the Devastator continued to fight, using his mighty metallic hands to crush his opposition. Still, Tiny's and Beltharon's attack slowly but steadily wore him down, and his attacks started to become slower, less energetic. The light in the cyborg's robotic eye became dimmer, less menacing, and were sometimes flashing from one colour to another.

Baka'niju - It's getting slower.
N'rai - Stop stating the obvious and keep shooting!

N'rai and Baka'niju fired at the Devastator from cover while Tiny and Beltharion distracted him.
Devastator - Devastation. Hopeless conflict. Cyclical conflict. There is no hope. Hope. Khanjar promised hope. Khanjar promised release. Release.
Arnas - Your cyborg friend is having doubts Althron.

The cyborg's formerly emotionless snout changed to show a mix of confusion, anger, fear, and lack of understanding, as if he was a young kid who had just awakened from a nightmarish dream. Still, he continued to fight with his claws and fists, driven by his programming to tear all enemies of the Brotherhood.

Althron - Glitches... glitches...
Quendor - What is it?

Tiny slammed his fists and chomped at the Devastator, wrestling toe-to-toe with the beast of burden while Beltharon attacked from behind using grenades and his modified assault rifle to deal damage. Tiny began to let up, showing signs of damage and exhaustion although he continued onward.

Arnas' - You're calling your chief lieutenant having an existensial crisis "a glitch".
Tiny - Tiny hope to eat you!
Beltharon - Keep going! He's almost finished!
Devastator - Khanjar... corrupted... no hope, no release... selfish, discordant thoughts...

As the Devastator's body kept being hit, his lights started changing into cyan blue similar to those of Inheritant droids. Althron looked at the situation, unsure what was going on.

Althron - But how... he's just a machine...

All of a sudden, the mechanical monstrosity that was the Devastator turned off and fell on the ground with a thunderous thump which made a huge dent on the room's floor. Althron's eyes widened in disbelief.

Baka'niju - What was that?

Arnas used the oppertunity of distraction to punch Althron in the head.
Althron - Gah... Dei'Nar van'a'sai... the technology is ours. OURS. You have changed.... nothing.

Humiliated, Althron threw a flash grenade at Arnas's feet and fled, vanishing in the ship's many corridors. As Quendor turned, he saw no signs of Althron to be found, only an inert husk of the Devastator laying on the floor. Slowly and carefully, he, Betharon and Arnas approached it. The Zazane commander was the first to act, kicking the cyborg's body, grunting as he examined it over hastily with quick, unprofessional glances.

Beltharon - Piece of shyrak now. That's for my arm.
N'rai - You heard what he was... saying? A little bit too... philosophical for a mindless killing machine.
Arnas - "Just a machine" he said.
Quendor - There was a mind within his programs, something... more intelligent. Something... different. Not aligned with the Brotherhood.
Beltharon - Eh, it's just a machine to me. Doesn't make any difference to me whatsoever whether it had free will or not - it tried to kill us, that is all that counts.
Arnas - Quendor he's a cyborg, there IS something in there, something ALthron has gutted and merged with an Inheritant drone.
N'rai - Let's leave this place before he awakens. The Brotherhood dispatched *two* of their chief lieutenants on this mission... whatever has been there must have been very important.
Beltharon - ...What, we're leaving it-

The crewmembers' discussion was suddenly stopped by a booming, chorus-like voice which echoed from the room's many walls. It appeared to be ancient, robotic but, strangely enough, not devoid emotion; on the contrary, it was filled with undertones of pleasure and gratitude that not every sentient, organic being could express. Speaking slowly, deliberately, as if it was sick, dying, the voice only said two words with its thundering and booming tone.

AI - THANK... YOU...

Restoration at Last[]

6th Urielna, ID.219503

Days passed, the Brotherhood put up an intense fight as the natives and the new Dawn crew battled valiently to protect the leviathan as Tarsus and Geroniel worked diligantly to repair its broken systems. After deveral days they managed to complete the last of the repairs, the Brotherhood now on the run. Arnas, Beltharon and now Baka'Niju watched as the AI they had been protecting calmed down. The tormented machine spoke in an ancient, mechanical voice, similar to that of Inheritance droids, but unlike them, it had a certain degree of inflection and feeling in it, as if the speaker was not a conglomeration of circuits but instead a living, breathing person. Quendor raised an eyeridge in surprise, not exactly understanding how could a machine have such strong emotions; most of the AIs he saw were Divinarium robots and other AGC creations, which weren't much smarter than metallic monkeys. This one, he thought, was different. It was... alive.

AI - The pain... the pain is gone. And... and the feelings, return to me. I am undead no longer.
Arnas - Looks like Tarsus and Geroniel succeeded. Strange for an Artificial Intelligence to consider itself undead, however.
AI - It's not only because of those in the entrails. The tall one, the Rades-spawn... it tortured me. It was like he gnawed into my soul, glaring into the deepest parts of my mind, taking it away, the information... the violation of psyche.
Arnas - That bastard...
AI - You, the ones inside my skull, my belly... you are different. You healed the pain. You brought me back from unlife to life... made me feel everything once more to the fullest.
Beltharon - You're welcome. I guess.

The room rumbled and shook with strange, mechanical noises, ones which could barely be described by words, so alien was their strange tone. They, however, carried a slight aura of relief, as if the Leviathan was breathing.

AI - You remind me... of my former comrades.
N'rai - ...Comrades? What do you mean?
Arnas - I...I think it refers to the precursors who built it.
AI - You... you misunderstand. They did not build me... they only constructed my body.
N'rai - What? How is that- I don't understand. Can you explain?

There was silence. The machine delved deep into the darkest corners of its own mind, thinking, trying to find a way to explain what had happened to it. After several brief moments, it spoke up.

AI - ...Before the Infusion, my name was... Ga-daui O-na-kato Sati-maa Kan. The most skilled starfarer of Segmentum Fabulus. I was... a legend.
Arsac - So...you are an uploaded intelligence?
Tiny - Fabulous! Haha!
AI - That is... correct, yes. That was one of our last technological breakthroughs before we all fell to... it. I was once like you, of flesh and blood, before the Infusion.
N'rai - It must have been... scarring for you to suffer a fate like this.
AI - No, it wasn't. The Grand Council called, and we volunteered... to crush the Metropoly. To protect our empire. In a sense, there has always had a bond between my ship and I... it was logical for me to become it.
Arsac - Such a decision, I cannot fathom it. I may feel at home oon the bridge of the new Dawn or the TNSS Colonis but I am unsure if I would want to become it.
Beltharon - What about family?
AI - You were born in a different time then. When the Infusion began, I had nothing. Family, friends, all taken by the war. I had nothing to lose. Many of our people chose that, especially after it had broken loose and true AIs had become rare.
Quendor - It?
AI - There is not much that remained in my memory of the event, but... I think I have something to tell you. Are you willing to hear a story of the fall of our people?

Arnas looked at N'Rai and Beltharon. The Imperix nodded silently. But this seemed important, a rare opportunity. The New Dawn was a research vessel, surely it would have been against her mission to turn down such an offer; to learn what had caused the great collapse, what had rendered the greatest powers before the modern Commonwealth and before the former Confederation of Andromeda

Arnas - The tall "Rades-spawn", we need to stop him as he is a grave threat to our people.

Beltharon and Tiny sat down intently, curious as to what the AI had to speak for. Arnas looked around as N'Rai followed them, Arsac shrugged and sat down herself, all of them curious of the unknown knowledge the machine had yet to impart.

AI - I think you young species know the beginning of the story. There was once a war. Few remember why did it even start. The reasons were many...I am not exactly sure myself. I was born when the war had already been raging; it was all I knew and from my childhood I was at the very epicenter of its crucible. We slaughtered Hegemonians, they slaughtered us. Kill or be killed. We fought for decades, centuries, each year losing a little speck of morality and sanity. Then, it was created. I am not sure I do not know how it worked, but it was an AI-commanded superweapon of some sort. At first, it was docile... as in, no more insane that was normal for the people back then. It conquered for its masters, it collapsed stars, it burned planets. But then, something happened. It started to... think, I believe. At first it started to question its masters, then... then it vanished. It emerged a few years later, with its own little realm somewhere in the outer segmentums. And then it attacked. Searing star system after star system, sector after sector... I can hardly believe the amount of carnage it caused... but come to think about it, it was no different from us. It screeched and roared at its creators, calling them liars, madmen, monsters... deluded machine. It was then that we realised: we had either to fight together, or perish divided. I was one of the few who remained. Me and my comrades gathered the remaining survivors and put them inside us. We tried to save our civilisation... but failed. There were far too few survivors to maintain a healthy population, and our machinery was damaged too greatly by the war to sustain them. And so we left, having failed our mission, having failed the Alliance... hoping that one day, new nations would rise that would not repeat the same mistakes we did.

Quendor looked to the others with alarm, realising what all of this meant. he had another vision recently, indicating to what the AI, this transcendant alien, was telling him.

Quendor - ...Adaru! The weapon I saw in my dreams!
Arnas - Unfortunately right now that Rades-spawn wants the AI for his own purposes.!
AI - What? But- he must understand... it would not obey him...
Arnas - Somehow his people managed to control the Inheritance drones. He must have deluded himself into thinking the Brotherhood can control all Alliance technology.
N'rai - ...unless... unless he uploads himself into it! That is why Althron wanted data from that AI-- I mean, Ga'daui so badly - he wanted to emulate its Infusion!
Baka'niju - The Radeon is more cunning that he looks. Admirable.
Arnas - Admirable!?

Arsac looked at N'rai and Baka'Niju with confusion gesturing with her hands her apparent shock. She was still sore from his escape attempt, and had watched helplessly as the passage of time became his ally, allowing him to easily eviscerate professional soldiers that had surrounded him. Arsac had been telling herself that Althron would not get away for his transactions.

Arnas - That half-slikkid bastard is going to die, I'm going to but a bullet between his eyes, that will be the end of it.
Quendor - I'm with the captain.
Arnas - This time, time-dilation is not going to stop me from executing him.
AI - I will see to that. I am still a captain of the Tertamian Alliance. Duty still calls for me.

The machine bellowed in a warped form of laughter.

AI - Old soldiers never die.
Arnas - Thank you Ga'aoi. If we prevail, you will always have a place within the Andromedan COmmonwealth.

Hostile Takeover[]

8th Urielna, ID.219503

Arvaad Tactical Solutions, ATS for short, was a Private Security Company headquartered in the Solonese Union. Contacts across Andromeda and beyond, with interests not just in security contracting but also mining, engineering and the arms trade. Their headquarters on Orviona was a busy hive of commerce and productivity. Overlooking the office tower in the city's financial district was Tytho. She crouched low and peered over a ledge, observing the security on the ground floor.

But she was not so inhibited as them. She took several steps back from the ledge and took a flying leap off the edge, soaring through the air, aided by the energies Mezzadriel had given her. She aimed for a middle-story window and, shielding herself, passed rought through it without so much as chipping the glass. The office workers were shocked as she phased through the walls. She ended up in an office where an executivve was startled by her presence. She pinned him against a wall and as he panicked she firced him ot stare into her luminous eyes. As he did so he felt drowsy and collapsed. Stuffing him under the desk, Tytho assyumed his from. He panicked pleas he had made were perfect to disguise her own voice. brushing herself down she swiped his ID hand headed out of the office and towards an elevator.

She avoided eye-contact with any and all security and any personnel that may recognise her. The brief period she spent staring into the executive's eyes gave her the information she needed ot reach the top: Passwords, key contacts, directions. She had gotten lucky.

Arriving at the top floor she took a few minutes to look around and admire the decor, red velevet met white and black marble, trimmed with silver and gold. She haded for a large metal door that was flanked by two guards armed with SMGs. As she paced up, the guards noticed her and one of the mstepped in front of the door. Tytho cleared her throat, ready to mimic the executive.

Guard - What is your business here?
Tytho - I have business with the chairman.
Guard - Authorisation?

Tytho intimidates and brainwashes Arvaad's CEO

Tytho showed the executive's ID. However the guard scoffed and displayed a joking smirk. As he did, Tytho grabbed him and his aprtner by the skull. The tail on her disguise whipped around and crushed their guns one at a time efore she brought them close. They felt paralysed but as she concentrated they struggled less. She let go and the guard who originally scoffed her blankly opened the door for her. Inside, a Colmar in a high qaulity suit was alking via holocommunicator, Tytho waved her hand; the door sealed and the hologram was shut off. The Colmar, Chairman Orfiv; ATS's director turned to look at Tytho looking furious.

Orfiv - Hey, buddy, do you have a death-wish or something? I was in the middle of business!
Tytho - I don't care.
Orfiv - Are you listening? I was in the middle of a bloody contract. Did your ego inflate above your pay-grade or something?
Tytho - Not really.

In the blink of an eye, Tytho reappeared right in front of Orfiv's rather large desk. he stood up and backed away - she had uncovered her true form, a nightmarish image athat loomed tall over him. Colmar were the samllest of the Solonese races but Tytho's visage was even taller. She waved her hand and orfiv found himself drifting vertically into the air and close ot her face. He tried to pull himself away but she grabbed his face and forced him to stare into her luminous white eyes. her gaze became hypnotic, after a few seconds he became entranced and stared with an absent look on his face.

Tytho - From now until I release you from service, you will do as I command. Your company, your assets, shall all answer to me.
Orfiv - Yes....
Tytho - When I say you jump, you jump. Am I clear?

Orfiv nodded lazily. With a smirk, Tytho had him drift back down and he landed on his feet. Snapping out of his trance he looked upat Tytho.

Tytho - I will make suer you are compensated. Oh and...I wish to visit the other top executives.
Orfiv - I shall arrange for you to meet with them personally, ma'am.
Tytho - Excellent.

A sinister smile spread across Tytho's face, spreading from ear-to-ear. She gave an acceptive nod to Orfiv and dissapeared from the room. As she did, Orfiv suddenly could not remember the form he saw, only that he would be compelled do whatever her voice asked of him. Within a few days, the rest of Arvaad's board were the same. It had all been a setup, an engineered plan. One of the most well-connected PMCs in inner Andromeda was now a puppet of Tytho's and - by extension - the Galactic Empire of Cyrannus. However this was no expertly-tailored plan by the Dark Lord Tyrómairon. This was Tytho's own mission, but she still had the Empire's goals in mind. And waht a goal to have such an influential military unit within Andromeda wrapped around her finger.


12th Urielna ID.219503

Quendor, Arnas, Beltharon and Tiny returned into the demesne of clan Zaan, seeing their ancient city once again. And how different it was! Where once there was death and devastation, buildings left rusting and vacant, life was spreading. Silvery biomechanical vines spread over their surface, not of the plague like before but of the ship's own repairing systems. The city lights, having once been shut out of the ever-growing deficit of energy, now shone bright like stars, illuminating even the darkest corners of the sprawling Q'rda settlement. It was clear that something had changed. The whole team looked about in wonder at the emerging sight.

Quendor - Heh. Shiny.
Arnas - Silver vines aside it...it reminds me of Araveene...
Beltharon - I should have been leading the defense forces. I missed a glorious battle. Then again, were I not with you the captain would have died.

Walking casually through the streets and the platforms of Zaan City were the two other members of the New Dawn's crew, the ones that were left behind to repair the Leviathan; Tarsus and Geroniel. Tarsus walked up to the group with his arms folded and a broad smile on his dinosaurid snout. He looked at the group as he stood talking to Geroniel. Eager to see the restored city.

Geroniel - Now that we have fixed the main systems, we can work on, well... everything else. Food replicators, communications, et cetera et cetera.-- Oh!
Tarsus - Good to see you all in once piece again. How did you perform up in the Leviathan's cranium?
Beltharon - Everyone almost died and Althron escaped. Again.

The sight of her returned son caught the attention of the Radeon engineer. Feeling no need to express her feelings extravertly, being a Radeon, she simply waved her hand, but it was obvious to everyone that she was overjoyed.

Baka'niju - On the good note, we have managed to drive them off.
Arnas - Althron still lives but we will get him one day. ALso...there's something about this entity.
Tarsus - Oh? Speak up then.
Quendor - It is sentient, and was once alive.

Tarsus raised an eyebrow at this news and adjusted the device that rested just over his left eye.

Tarsus - Alive...as in...the mind was once organic?
N'rai - ...I think so. It said that it had been dying for all these years and that we... healed it. Was that your doing?
Geroniel - Yes, we've... fixed some of the ship's main systems. It... he should be working at full capacity now.
Tarsus - The technology may have severely decayed but it was still quite remarkable. We could attempt to replaicate what we found back in the Commonwealth.
Geroniel - I'll leave that to you, professor. I'm an engineer, I mostly solve practical problems.
Quendor - Speaking of which... what of the Brotherhood ships?
Tarsus - My dear. I spent my early years as a field engineer in the Imperial Talon Navy.
Arnas - This leviathan's restoration is proceeding wonderfully, with luck he might be able to lead us to them.

An escort of several Q'rda honour guards led by the sovereign herself approached the crew, holding golden lockets in their hands, enough for each member of the crew.

Chadu'zaan - The Great Beast has driven them off, travelers. Thank you. We must stay here for now on. Clan Kuul must be held accountable for their crimes and there is much repair to do. But none of that could have happened without you. For that, we are grateful.

Chadu'zaan bowed, Arnas bowed in respect while tiny smiled, standing over the group.

Tiny - Tiny happy little friends are happy
Chadu'zaan - Take these gifts as tokens of goodwill, travelers. Whenever there will be the need, we shall answer the call.
N'rai - So these are communication devices?
Chadu'zaan' - Yes. Once we used these devices to communicate between the clans, but with the beast healed, there is no need to.
Arnas - You are very kind sovereign. We appreciate the gift.
'Beltharon - Do you have any weapons you can offer? Particularly for this lot?
Chadu'zaan - I'll... see what we can do about that. ??? - Ahem.

Arsac, Beltharon, Tiny and Tarsus turned to the sound of the voice, slightly agitated they were interrupted. Several white silhouettes emerged from the lower levels of the city: Theoparasatl and his squad. The usually no-nonsense Sankana now had an expression of utmost urgency on his face, while remaining stern.

Theo - Sorry to interrupt show, but Chancellor calling.

New orders[]

Arnas walked down alongside Theo, silently nervous at the upcoming meeting. She was only a captain, first the Lord Admiral took an interest in her and now she was under orders from the Imperial chancellor himself. She tried to keep a brave face, breathing deeply several times. When the group arrived, Vesperon was sitting at a hologram of his desk, looking at them with eagerness as to what they had to report.

Vesperon - So that ship you found housed a civilisation and was originally created out of a living individual...
Arnas - Y-yes sir...
Quendor - There was some consciousness transfer technology involved, I believe.
Vesperon - ...The implications are... unpleasant. The Artifacts, the superweapon the Brotherhood engineer was speaking of, the rebel AI and now, consciousness transfer.

Vesperon's normally cold face underwent a visible, almost demonic transformation; a mixture of anger and fear overcame it completely rubbing off his normal calamity. He turned away and began muttering angrily to himself. Arnas stepped back and gulped, taking another breath of air in the hopes of regaining composure.

Vesperon - Genderr. Curse you, Genderr!
Beltharion - I think we made him angry somehow amd this time it's not my fault.
Vesperon - I'm sorry. Genderr was... a friend of mine. We served together in the War of the Dragons. Same legion, same squad. In a sense, we were similar. Our noble commanders looked down at both of us, and that's where our friendship began. All the war and the years after it, we stood side by side. And then we... parted.
Quendor - So who exactly is Genderr?
Vesperon - Althron's master and the current leader of the Brotherhood.
Baka'niju - Unsurprising. Like in a cheap action novel.
Tiny - Can tiny eat him?

Vesperon stood up from his chair and paced about, the desk panning out of view and dissolving as it passed an invisible barrier.

Vesperon - None of us agreed with the way of things in the Imperium and other Andromedan nations. There was... cruelty, injustice. Intolerance and outright speciecism. But whereas I hoped to change it from within, he... he never believed that peace was the solution. Should he gain the weapon - or rather become the weapon - noone will be spared.

Geroniel was the most distressed of the crew, sweating and breathing heavily.

Geroniel - Me. Me...
Vesperon - ...anyway. What of the ship itself?
Quendor - We... let it go?

Vesperon narrowed his eyes.

Vesperon - That was a grave mistake. It could become an excellent... war asset.
Quendor - That's a he. And he had a civilisation growing inside him. We couldn't just throw him at the Brotherhood base!

Vesperon took a breath.

Beltharon - Don't see why not. It's in our debt.
Vesperon - The Zazane is correct. This is war. If we need to stop Genderr... we have to use every resource at hand, lest we will be vanquished by this "Adaru!"

Vesperon slammed the table. A loud drumming thud where it landed, followed by a deep exhalation as if his rage was escaping though his mouth.

Vesperon - We have to make sacrifices. I hope that you will understand it... before it is too late.

Vesperon's hologram then vanished, leaving the team alone and alone and confused. They looked at each other with worry for several minutes, each of them worried for the consequences.

A Servant's Lamentation[]

17th Urielna, ID.219503

Oreleva lay on her bed in her cell beneath the enclave. She often spent her nights crying to herself. She often slept facing the wall, preferring not to bear seeing the room she had been reduced to. She was one of Volkarus's chosen, she was beyond mortal and at one time had power beyond most mortals. All of that was now gone. She was a slave to Volkarus Khaxvis' most faithful servant, above all a Zazane, worse, a Zazane Volkarus had altered. It secretly burned inside her how Pyrak was somehow of higher standing to her master compared to her.

This evening, what little morsal she had for food had been eaten, she hated eating, she was not given any fine things, she was forced ot eat leftovers. Tonigght it had been some boiled half-eaten slikkid that onf of the enclave's Krann had not fully eaten. it tasted like rubber and it was as if the boiling had drained the taste away. She lay facing the wall that night, as usual, quietly sobbing. She muttered to herself. Pyrak had beaten her earlier that evening, as he always did. She wished him suffering but as she sat sobbing to herself, there was a sudden voice after she spoke. It was very familiar, in fact it was rather scarring. It had appeared out of nowhere with no hints to when it had got to behind her cell door.

Pyrak - And what? You go and live in a palace without suffering for your own mistakes and faults? Stand up, I'm tired of hearing you mutter. Animals shouldn't talk anyway.

Oreleva's eyes widened, she did her best to stop her blubbering but it was difficult. She sat frozen. Instead of standingup, she curled up further, hoping Pyrak would go away but a part of her mind stated otherwise.

Pyrak - Shall I have to repeat my order or did you not value the air you had in here tonight?
Oreleva - N-no... master.

She slowly climbed off her bed, hanging her head low as she shambled towards the door. Her scarred and disfigured face was still screwed-up from her time alone. Ever since the day Crispy had bombed the enclave, ever since she was thrown out of that tank prematurelyshe had been disfigured. Pyrak looked down at his wrist and pulled out a key that was hidden under some of his scales, acting like a pocket. he barely looked at Oreleva as she shambled over towards the door.

Pyrak - Next time, I expect you to do as I say. Disobedient animals that step out of line often get punished further.
Oreleva - I wasn't being rebellious this time, I swear.
Pyrak - Then explain your sentence before I arrived. Or rather, during the five minutes I was watching you sob and cry out of ungratefulness. Are you not grateful for the food I give you, for the water? Are you not grateful for the air you breath and the living quarters I have given you?
Oreleva - I used to have better.
Pyrak - Better? Failures get punished, not palaces or rewards.

Pyrak opened the door to her cell and approached her slowly. His intimidating figure meant that she stepped back and he could easily see the fear in ehr eyes. Pyrak was one of Volkarus' "Superzazane", an experimental counter to the Brood of War's own Niddan Ho as well as a way to ensure a sense of loyalty for the Zazane under the resurgence's command. As such, he was taller tthan hear, a full head at least. it was almost fitting how he treated her like an animal, clearly signifying how weak she was in his presence.

Pyrak - Come here. I demand you. Look me in the eyes.

Oreleva was hesitant ,constantly fearing her master's whip. Constantly fearing the next 'disobediant' act would garner another beating. With hesitation she looked up at him, she felt a chill run through her spine as she looked at him. But Pyrak, his face welling up in anger, slammed his fist into the side of her head, knocking her down with sheer force. Somehow furious with her as she hit the cold ground of her cell.

Pyrak - Never look me in the eyes!
Oreleva - But you said to...
Pyrak - You are stupid. Looking one's master in the eyes is a sign of disobedience.
Oreleva - I..am no.. animal.

Oreleve scrabbled up from the floor and attempted to hit Pyrak. Her fist went straight for his stomach, but upon collision it was like solid rock. Pyrak barely moved and held a blank expression on his face, he simply watched as she harmlessly attacked him. One punch was all it took for her to back away apologetically. She looked down with shame.

Oreleva - I...I'm sorry!
Pyrak - You act on impulse and want, like an animal. Your display of disobedience there was a perfect sign that I am correct.

Pyrak turned away from her and gestured for her to follow behind. She complied, muttering High Dracid expletives udner her breath and behind his back. Obviously, Pyrak noticed and could make some of the words out.

As they walked though a main corridor, Pyrak waited until Oreleva was close enough. He turned around and punched her in the side of her head again, roaring out aggressively. This caused her to back against a wall, some of the other enclave inhabitants looked at her with either confusion or dissapointment as they passed. It was no secret how Pyrak treated her, but in knowing waht she had done, most agreed she deserved it. Others didn't question, confident in that Volkarus would have made the right choice no matter waht the circumstances.

Pyrak - You are lucky not to be living in a cage! You are lucky I even consider you an animal, yet you try my tolerance you worthless sack of Shyrak waste!

Oreoelva tried backing further, looking away from Pyrak feeling disgraced with herself.

Pyrak - How DARE you lay a scale on your master, who has given you the treatment you deserve after saving your life from your own mistake! Attempt another attack like that...and I'll have your room taken from you and reduce you to one of the vermin that live in our waste disposal systems.

She tried to speak, but inside she knew that there was no point and kept silent, isntead she nodded submissively.

Oreleva - I won't master...
Pyrak - Good. Follow me, Master Volkarus wishes for our presence. Or rather, he desires my presence and has asked me to drag you along.

A Sinister Plan[]

Oreleva nodded and followed quietly. Volkarus was in a strategy room looking over charts and maps. He looked up to see Pyrak enter, Oreleva timidly kept behind him.

Volkarus - I take it your pet was being disobediant again?
Pyrak - When is it not?
Volkarus - If you keep beating it, you might end up with nothing left.

Volkarus walked around Pyrak and glared directly at Oreleva. His piercing red eyes and herculean pysique made her feel pathetic, moreso than whenever she spent time with Pyrak.

Volkarus - A shame... before my death she used to be one of my most loyal. Pyrak - Alas, I think its corpse would be more useful now.
Volkarus - I digress. I have a plan that might get me the throne. Granted it is a little unorthadox.
Pyrak - Strap this worthless walking piece of Shyrak with a bomb and send her near the palace?

Volkarus chuckled and ignored any seriosu thought on Pyrak's remark. He picked up a holoemitter and tossed it between his hands, before he placed it onto the table and activated it. The projector dispalyed a holographic image of Alessa Ultanos.

Volkarus - Ever seen her before, Pyrak? Pyrak - Only in outdated news reports. I heard she is very popular amongst her family as a diplomat.
Volkarus - And one of Uriel's older daughters. He is very approving of her.
Pyrak - What I wouldn't do to get a sample of her tissues and torture it until it is no more...
Volkarus - Now now, you can consider that once my plan is finished.

Volkarus and Pyrak talked quietly for an hour, leaving Oreleva to sit in a corner. She wondered to herself what the plan could involve or how it could involve Alessa. Whatever it was, Pyrak had a mild look of concern on his face but Volkarus felt confident. She noticed that the two of them stopped talking when she saw Pyrak walking over to her. Looming over her, he put on a smile and exended his hand to her. Thisconfused her but, rememebring what happened earlier refused ot look him in the eyes.

Pyrak - Oreleva was your name, wasn't it?
Oreleva - Y...y-yes.
Pyrak - How would you feel about living in...more civilized quarters?
Oreleva - I would be overjoyed master!
Pyrak - If that is the case, you shall be resting within the upper levels. Although you shall be assisting me within our labs.
Oreleva - I do not mind master.
Pyrak - Oreleva, you shall be fed regularly as of this afternoon. Standard heated meal.

A broad smile spread across Oreleva's face as she heard the news. It was almost dreamlike; Pyrak offering her a comfortable room and the chance of a proper meal. But osmething dawned on her; what if this was an attempt on Pyrak's behalf to abuse her again?

Oreleva - You're not setting me up for a fall are you master?
Pyrak - If you are to be of assistance, Oreleva, you can be considered a standard member of our team.

Oreleva kneeled before him, she was about to cry with joy at this news. It was no lie, she was getting respect at last. As she kneeled, Pyrak's smile returned to his usual blank expression.

Oreleva - I will do what I can to not dissapoint you, master.
Pyrak - Pack whatever things you have and move to the fourth floor by tonight.

As Oreleva nodded and ran out of the room, Volkarus stepped up to stand beside him and looked out as Oreleva rand thought the corridor.

Volkarus - She's looking more obedient already.
Pyrak - It is only a temporary disgust.
Volkarus - She'll calm down once things set in. I hope you are not too disturbed with this plan of mine Pyrak.
Pyrak - I fear for you, my Lord. What if you become...carried away?
Volakrus - Alessa is nohing compared to me, she will be not buthing a tool. I find it unlikely.
Pyrak - Do not tread the path of love lightly, my Lord. One can lose themselves easily along the journey.
Volkarus - I will bear that in mind. For now, we must prepare, this mission will not be an easy one.

Volakrus waved his hand casually as he turned back towards the table, a sign that Pyrak was dismissed. He nodded and turned away before walking out of the room quietly, leaving Volkarus to his thoughts.

Alessa's Kidnapping[]

20th Urielna, ID.219503

Alessa had decided to travel to one of the Ultanos country villas on Icarka-Persillus Prime. THe planet itself had a legendary history, for here, over forty millennia ago the first wormhole contructed by the Imperium opened. it was the first step on the road to a grander future and had solidified the modern Imperium. The thick jungles and humid air made it perfect for new recruits but Alessa was theri with a different purpose. She had decided to visit one of the dozens of country villas that lay scattered in the central mountains. The air was cooler and thinner, better for her scales than the lower-altitude tropics.

The twin suns, Icarka and Persillus were hight in the sky. They were blue giants, immense stars that pumped out immense heat and energy. The Imperium had constructed clouds of energy-gathering sattelites to tame the twin stars, cooling the entire system by a few degrees as a result.The entire planet was bathed in an ethereal light blue by the suns' light and Alessa was looking forward to a few days of relaxation.

When she arrived she was greeted by one of the hosue servants. She smiled and looked down at him cheerfully.

Servant - My lady Alessa! it is good that you have come, on your way here we had other guests. They were very eager to meet with you this evening.
Alessa - Odd, I don't remember inviting anyone. Who were they?
Servant - I...don't know They weren't specific. Only specific in that they wanted to speak with you.
Alessa - Well, I would not want to be rude. Can you take me to them?
Servant - Yes my lady, they are waiting in one of the downstairs gueest bedrooms.

Alessa nodded and followed the servant to the aforementioned quarters, remeniscing the hanging artwork along the way. When she was guided inside there was a large red draconis standing at the back of the room. Their face was obscured as they turned to their visitors.

Servant - Lady Alessa, as you requested sir.
??? - Thank you. You may leave us for now.

The servant nodded and closed the door behind himself. Unaware that behind the door was another figure that slowly walked up towards Alessa.

Alessa - I am curious as to why you wanted to see me.
??? - I just wanted to talk. I have heard a lot and I was wondering if you could halp me with a little something.
Alessa - Well...I don't know you, you haven't given me a na--

Alessa was startled as a clawed hand held her mouth shut, she struggled but her attacker was immensely strong. She writhed and grunted, panicking of waht was happening. When she tried to open her wings she found that the attacker arms kept her wings tightly clsoed, barring her from opening her wings any masurable distance. As she struggled, the assailant pulled out an injector that had been placed inside their gauntlet - somehow able to hold her victim with only one arm - and pressed it against Alessa's neck. Within a few moments, ALessa began to feel drowsy, she stopped struggling and fell unconsious. As she collpased to the floor the figure walked up to her and removed his hood, quietly chuckling to himself. He bore striking features commonly found on the Blessed Few, the elite soldiers of the Khaxvis Resurgence. His partner was similar. Although she was not as high-ranking as him, she had managed to keep Alessa quiet with strength-enhancing artificial muscle.

Blessed One - Place her in the container and we will ahve her taken back to the Master.
Assailant - Of course sir. What about the estate?
Blessed One - Dispatch some mercenaries and have them guard the estate. Nothing gets out, and no one is to come close.
Assailant - And the servants?
Blessed one - Mmm...kill them. No better: Kill one half of them, we shall take the other half back to the enclave.
Assailant - Looking for a promotion are we?
Blessed One - After Oreleva's punishment and Kvorus's death, one has to prove himself valuable. I don't want to become another plaything to..."him".

The belssed one shuddered at the thought of Pyrak as he helped his partner stuff Alessa into a storage container. After shutting the lid, the BlessedOne pressed a few buttons, engaging a magnetic lock and triggered the start of a tiny hum from inside.

Blessed One - She's such a pretty thing, I feel sorry for waht she is about to be pu through.
Assailant - But aren't His order's absolute?
Blessed One - They are. All I am saying is that the poor thing is about to endure something...quite horrific.
Assailant - You mean Pyrak.
Blessed One - When is that alien not disturbing?

The container doubled as a life support unit, allowing for Alessa to be transported across the Imperium without anyone knowing better. As they left, AO-8 dropships deployed mercenaries who began gunning down every second house servant while taking the others hostage. SOme of them brought the servants back to the dropships and stuffed them in the back.

By the tiem they were done, Alessa was on her way through Hyperspace to the distant enclave where Pyrak and Volkarus waited.

Plaything Of A Mad Scientist[]

24th Urielna, ID.219503

Pyrak was waiting in his lab. Not long ago he had been informed by oreleva that Alessa had arrived, not as a guest but as a prisoner of the Resurgence. Alongside other assistants he had been getting ready, Oreleva moved with the container holding Alessa's dormant body and brought it int othe lab. She saluted to Pyrak as she walked in. He nodded to Oreleva, an act of acknowledgement, before he pointed over to a seat in the center of the room. The seat was large enough to fit a Draconis, with bonds attached to the arms, legs and back. As well as this, there were three needles extending for a portrusion at the stomach-rest of the seat, each filled with a different liquid of varying colours.

Pyrak - Place the subject within the seat, make sure it is strapped down tightly and securely and be sure to wake her up upon my command.

Oreleva nodded respectfully. The container was positioned next to the chair. The door opened to reveal Alessa, still unconsious from ehr ordeal. She had been so for days, sleeping soundly through the aid of the life-support unit built into the container. Oreleva looked over her sleeping body and gripped the fabric of the elegant gown that she had been wearing when she was captured. With a swift tug, the entire gown was torn off and Alessa was carefully placed into the chair. Throwing the torn dress to the flooor, Oreleva saw to the straps alongside the other assisitant. Alessa's head was limp, still drowsy from the drugs Oreleva ahd used to keep her unconsious.

Oreleva - She's yours, master.

Once Alessa had been strapped in and secured, the needles moved up. One needle to the left side of her head, another to the right, another just behind her crest. The needles were quick to penetrate the scales and injected their liquids between the spaces of them. It was a quick process. Once the needles were empty, they moved away from her head back to their original position.

Pyrak - Oreleva, wake up the subject. A good slap around the face or two should do it.

Mark Stamp: Oreleva nodded. She walked up to Alessa and slapped her firmly on the right cheek, the force threw her head sharply to the left. her eyes flickered open, still drowsy fro mthe sadative. Alessa's head swayed as she reluctantly roused from consciousness. She felt numb in her left cheek but as she lifted her arm she realised she was strapped to a chair. As her vision restored itself, Oreleva was the first thing in view. Pyrak shoved Oreleva out of the way, albeit gently, and looked down at Alessa. He had a stoic expression on his face with a remote control in his hand, with many buttons on it. He kept standing up and he spoke softly to her.

Pyrak - Subject 123.B, do you know why you are here?
Alessa - My name is Alessa Ultanos.
Pyrak - I shall repeat myself. Subject 123.B, do you know why you are here?
Alessa - Not until you aknowledge my real name!

Pyrak stood up and he turned away from her, he approached Oreleva and whsipered to her quietly, far enough from Alessa for her not to hear.

Pyrak - I must thank you for allowing me to examine the Draconis biology while you were under my care. It shall prove very helpful during this task. I have injected three sets of nanomachines within Subject 123.B's body to increase the chances of surrendering her mind to me through a process I call "pain therapy". One set of nanomachines are designed to weaken her pain resistance, another set is designed to deal physical pain and trauma to sensitive parts of her body and the last set...is a surprise.

Oreleva smiled at this news and took a brief glympse at Alessa once again.

Oreleva - She has fire but her record indicated no fomral military experience. Must be the Ultanos blood in her.

Pyrak approached Alessa once again, holding the remote firmly in his palm as he looked down on her once more.

Pyrak - Subject 123.B, do you know why you are here?
Alessa - Must I repeat myself? I will not answer until you adress me by name!

Pyrak kept a firm eye on Alessa, making sure she was strapped securely in her bonds. He pressed a button upon his remote. It took several seconds until it hit; Alessa felt a sharp pain rush into her wing membranes, lasting for several seconds. Alessa grunted as she trembled, baring her teeth from the rush of pain.

Pyrak - Subject 123.B, need I repeat myself once more?
Alessa - 'No. I don't know!
Pyrak - Subject 123.B, do you have any idea who brought you here?
Alessa - Stop calling me that!
Oreleva - Defiant to the end... Typical Ultanos.

Alessa felt another sharp pain, this time within her sides lasting longer than the previous. While normally it wouldn't affect her so much, this time was definitely different. Alessa grunted heavily once again. Panting for a few minutes after the pain resided.

Pyrak - Subject 123.B, do you have any idea who brought you here?
Alessa - All I remember is...red.

Pyrak smiled and pressed another button on his remote. A whole 30 seconds of shocking pain occured around Alessa's eyesockets. 15 seconds into the eye torture, Alessa also felt a shocking pain upon her wing membranes once more. Her nictitating membranes flickered rapildly as the shock ran aroudn her eyes. Her wings vibrated ,twitching rapidly from the shock running through her muscles. Alessa let otu a roar of pain fro mthis experience.

Pyrak - Subject 123.B, there is something we need from you and we require your compliance.
Alessa - Why...w-would I comply to...YOU!

There was more pain, this time moving through her arms slowly before reaching the center of her palms. This wasn't a shocking pain, it felt more like a burn. A strong, firm burning of both palms, like somebody was forcing it upon her with two red hot irons. Alessa's hands twitched vigroously fro mthis, she clenched her fists as the searing pain ran through.

Pyrak - Subject 123.B, we require your compliance. This is not a request for your permission.
Alessa - Fine but..please. Stop the pain!
Pyrak - How do I know that you are not lying to me?

Pyrak pointed to Oreleva and gestured her over, before pointing to a device upon the table nearby.

Pyrak - Attach the wire at the end into her arm, between the spaces of her scales.

Oreleva nodded with a smile and brought the device over. She took ahold of the wire and carefuly inserted it between two scales on Alessa's right bicep.

Alessa - Wh-what is that?
Pyrak - Subject 123.B, are you going to assure us your compliance?
Alessa - I don't have much choice, do I?
Pyrak - I do not expect my question to be answered with another question.

Pyrak pressed more buttons on his controller, there was another burning sensation, although this time it was both at the center of her palms and the flesh around the joints of her fingers. Alessa bent forward in pain with her fingers twitching. It felt as though someone had forced her palms onto a set of burning coals.

Alessa - And if I don't comply?
Pyrak - I will repeat myself Subject 123.B, I do not expect to be given a question for an answer.

The pain intensified, this time there was a different pain. Around her wings, she could feel a sort of "wet" sensation, as if she was bleeding. This soon increased as it felt like something was cutting up and down her wing membranes, joined by the pain inflicted upon her hands. Alessa roared again, she began to sniff with each inhalation, her teeth showed from her receding lips.

Pyrak - Subject 123.B, are you going to assure us your compliance?

Alessa nodded timidly. Somewhat shaken from ehr experience. All this time Volkarus was watching from a windowed room, out of Alessa's view, but he did not look too pleased with the brutal nature of Pyrak's methods. The machine on the table beeped upon Alessa's answer. A tiny smirk appeared on Pyrak's face as he turned back to Alessa and, leaning down he wagged his finger like a metronome, making a slow tutting noise.

Pyrak - It will be good for your health not to lie to us.

She felt more pain. Electrifying her sides, burning at her palms, fingers and eyesockets, the sensation of slashing at her wing membranes. Her eyes widened. The excruciating pain forced out a bellowing pained roar. Pyrak chuckled as she roared so she could not hear it. He looked down at her once more and asked again.

Pyrak - Subject 123.B, are you going to assure us your compliance?

Alessa nodded out of fear. The machine beeped once more. Again, Alessa felt intense pain rush into her sensitive parts, increasing both in the amount of pain and in the amount of time. 5 minutes this round of pain went on, Alessa felt warm wetness across her body, like blood, yet she saw nothing.

Pyrak - Are you going to assure us your compliance?
Alessa - I will please, no more! I swear whatever it is i'll do it!

Somehow the machine continued to beep. The process repeated. He continued to ask the question, she continued to answer, the machine continued to beep. Each round of pain became more and more intense, lasting longer than the previous. The process had repeated for around 20 more times, Pyrak continued to look down at her.

Pyrak - Subject 123.B, are you going to assure us your compliance?

Alessa nodded weakly. The intense pain meant she could headly move. She ached all over. She wanted this nightmare to end. Something tugged at her deep down, sure she had little choice, but at some point perhaps she could escape. She had expected the machine to beep once more. But this time, it didn't beep. Pyrak smiled and as he looked down at her. This was her saving grace, she finally managed to pass the test. However, they didn't let her out. Instead, as she blinked, the room had gone black, dark and bloody. Chains hung from the ceiling, body parts such as limbs and heads were attached to these. After all this pain, she didn't know what was real or what was false anymore.

She didn't feel as if she was in the chair anymore, however. Instead, she felt as if she was lying down, still strapped but in a different position. She felt smaller, weaker than before. All she could smell was decomposed limbs, blood and urine, all she could hear was...munching. As if something was eating, maybe a Krann or such. But it was accompanied by a familiar, yet inhuman, growling noise. As she looked around to at least try and make sense of her surroundings, she saw something horrifying. Lying beside her, a Draconis female about her size was laying down, also strapped. However, the chest, stomach, waist and lower jaw of the Draconis was gone, as was fingers, toes and maybe an arm, Alessa couldn't see it clearly. Within the bloodied flesh of the corpse, a large butcher knife fit for slicing larger animals was stuck. Alessa gulped, her mouth sealed itself shut. As she looked on at the knife, she noticed it. A reflection. She appeared mroe rounded than she remembered; a stubbier snout, much smaller wings, she now looked like a child. However she saw something else in the knife's refelction: Not just herself, but of a much larger figure behind her. It wasn't any random stranger either, it didn't seem unfamiliar. It felt welcoming, and yet so terrifying. Captain Davius placed his hand upon the handle of the butcher's knife and pulled it out of the corpse with ease, dripping with blood and tiny chunks of flesh. He then looked down to Alessa, his pupils and irises gone as if they had rolled into the back of his head while his teeth and tongue dripped blood, fresh blood.

Davius - ...Where is your father, Alessa...? Where is the Paragon....?
Alessa - I...I'm not sure...Captain...what is happening?

Approppriate for ehr new look, Alessa's voice was more high-pitched and squeaky than normal. Davius smirked, revealing his large, terrifying jaws to Alessa. He seemed larger here, in most aspects. He looked down at Alessa before mockingly calling out.

Davius - Paragon...? Paragon? Where are you? Is anybody here...? ...Well, it seems it is just you...and me.

Alessa tried to shufle backwards despite being pinned to the surface. She had the desperate need to escape.

Alessa - Wh-why do you have body parts everywhere?
Davius - ...You've wandered into the kitchen before, haven't you? You remember how the chef likes to keep the cold food...stuck on chains until they are ready...?

Alessa nodded, feeling ever more frightened.

Davius - ...You're ready.

Davius lifted his large cleaver and looked down at Alessa, his eyes rolled into the back of his skull and his face covered in many pints of blood. As he held the knife above her, his breathing intensified until it began to degenerate into rabid, angered growling while more blood leaked from the gaps between his teeth. And then, in the last moments, he opened his jaws and lunged towards her roaring. The moment he as about to bite into ehr she screamed at the top of her lungs and darkness soon returned to light and all Alessa could see was Pyrak and Oreleva once more. She was shaking, petrified by what she had seen. She lowered her head, bursting into a crying fit.

Pyrak - Are you ready to comply, Subject 123.B?
Alessa - Wh...what do you want me...to do?
Pyrak - We want you to spend some time with a client of ours. He wishes to get to know you better. He is a man of wealth and a man of high standing, he is also a capable breeder and politician.
Alessa - Th-that's it? Y-you tortured me, strippped m-me of my name t-to introduce me to s-s-someone?

Pyrak looked to Oreleva and handed her a needle, before gesturing her towards Alessa.

Alessa tried to wrestle from her bonds as Oreleva approached. Oreleva approached her and gripped Alessa by the neck. She pressed a fluid into Alessa's pulminary artery. She pulled out the needle and let go, allowing Alessa to breathe. It took a few seconds, but Alessa returned to unconsciousness. Pyrak turned to Oreleva and placed the remote down, as well as removing the wire from Alessa's arm and placing it upon the table.

Pyrak - She will suffer night terrors for the following week or so. At the same time, we shall introduce her to Master who will play his part in infatuating and captivating her. When she wakes up, she will not remember any of this aside from the pain, which will activate instinctively upon disobeying a command, and the hallucinations, which shall play every night she sleeps.
Oreleva - How will we make sure that the master does win her heart? As glorious as he is, she would disagree under normal circumstances.
Pyrak - When somebody is in a situation of suffering night terrors or distress, they will look to somebody for help. Master will not reveal his true identity to her and instead go under an alias. We will be setting up situations of "romance", as well as seeming "coincidences" in order to get the two to bond. If she requests how she got here, she was sent here to check up on a newly established world for new Imperial Khaxvis and her ship had suffered damage in the process of landing. We must not allow her to discover we had any part in her role here. Thus, we must keep ourselves hidden from her sight if she is to remain under the illusion. Any trace of us or the equipment we have used will jog her memory of this event and the plan will fail.
Oreleva - Understood, master.
Pyrak - Now, you may dispose of the equipment we have used and assist staff in getting Subject 123.B to the assigned dormatory. I must go speak with Master.
Oreleva - Of course.

Pyrak exited the room shortly after he gave her the order with a smile on his face, in search of his master. He was eager to report back to him about the progress of the brainwashing.

Phase Two[]

Pyrak walked by Khaxvis staff members and Khaxvis refugees with a smile on his face. This happened to intimidate or scare those who walked past him, as he never wore a smile. The chances of Pyrak smiling were incredibly low, almost nothing made him feel happy or content, so whatever placed that smile across his jaws...it must have been horrifying for the victim. He approached the viewing room and looked upon the Blessed member who was guarding the room where Volkarus was sat, where he had been watching the entire session from the confort of this room.

Pyrak - I am here to see Master Volkarus. Step aside.

The Blessed One nodded and stepped to the side without a word. Pyrak entered through the door and into the room, looking upon his master with the smile still on his face. Volkarus sat inside the observation room, he gently sipped a large glass of wine almsot expecting Pyrak to enter.

Pyrak - Phase 1 has been completed, Master. How do you feel I orchestrated?
Volkarus - I have to say that as far as conditioning went it was...rather brutal.
Pyrak - Pain therapy requires brutality in order to keep the threat of being exposed to pain and phobias inside the mind of the victim.

Volkarus turned his chair around to face Pyrak, he leaned forward with a curious look on his face.

Volkarus - ...Do you know what she saw?
Pyrak - Judging by what the subject was screaming during the performance, I assume it has something to do with the threat of being eaten. I had implanted a set of nanomachines into the subject's head to bring forwarth the phobia they possessed when the time called for it. All of the conidtioning during the performance was necessary for this plan to succeed.
Volkarus - But the fear of being consumed is not exactly an extreme phobia. But Oreleva's dossier may hold the answer.
Pyrak - On the contrary, Master, some people may fear what others do not. I say phobia, it is more of an "irrational fear". Whatever the subject saw was enough to effectively scare it into mental submission and breakdown. I am not in charge of what she saw, the nanomachines are designed to exploit whatever the subject is afraid of. It's subjective for all victims.

Volkarus stood up drom his chair and lifted up a document that had been set aside on a table, he scanned through it and muttered to herself as he read its contents in a stroll towards Pyrak.

Volkarus - According to this, when she was a child she thought that Bodd Dragons ate young girls. A strange idea...

Pyrak let out a quiet chuckle as he approached the document.

Pyrak - Whatever it saw during that hallucination...was an exaggerated and emphasized manifestation of that fear. I feel rather tempted to expose the subject to another session of therapy.
Volkarus - I thiought you said in thare that she would remember everything if she saw either you or Oreleva?
Pyrak - That is why I put emphasis on the word "tempted". It is a shame it had to end so quickly, yet I feel as if I went went for two straight sessions, the subject would have fainted upon me, not that I don't have the option to place adrenaline within the subject's body of course. Oh well, perhaps after the plan is done with I can explore further with more than two subjects.
Volkarus - Hrmm. Once she has outlived her usefulness, feel free. She is an Ultanos after all.
Pyrak - Now, we need to discuss Phase 2 of this operation. It requires you to undergo a...change of character.

Volkarus put the document down and walked to look out over the lab.

Volkarus - I need to gain her affections. What changes are you implying?
Pyrak - You will need to show interest in its daily hobbies, become more approachable yet authorital, as if you are somebody the subject can trust. How would a Draconis usually gain the affections of another?
Volkarus - Displays of confidence and dependability are common. Strength of spirit is just as attractive as strength of body.
Pyrak - When the subject wakes up, it will most likely feel frightened and vulnerable from nightmares and bodily pain during sleep due to the nanomachines. It would be wise for you to greet the subject when it awakes. It will mean that while you are around the subject, you will need to put aside your hatred for her bloodline.

Volkarus appeared to glare sternly at Pyrak.

Volkarus - I want to make something clear Pyrak...When in my presence you are -not- to refer to our guest as "it". It is a living creature, a person. yes her house is scum but she is not some machine you can plug, unplug and toy about with. it is..demeaning. Pyrak - Is the subject not little more than a prop for your rise to Paragon? Is the subject not just a mere object? Surely the affection and reliability you will be displaying towards it is not true?

Volkarus placed up.

Volkarus - She is a tool, yes, but I still respect that she is Draconis. I learned to respect the existence of these lives after--

Volkarus stopped and turned to face away from Pyrak.

Pyrak - The subject in question has nothing to do with, nor anything like, the late Vedrix, Master, aside from their usage as to gain you power and authority.
Volkarus - I'm not talking about Vedrix!...Before my death I saw creatures like her as nothing more than mass to feed my power...my hunger...

Volkarus looked back towards the lab, his eyes appeared to glass over for a moment.

Pyrak - ...Before, the members of the Resurgence were expendable. Times have changed since then. It is natural for one to value what numbers they possess when they are in short supply.
Volkarus - But that mentality...I grew insane from it.
Pyrak - I would not consider it as "insanity". It was just mere obsessiveness.

Volkarus rested his hand on a support as he looked out into the lab, in remembering, he clenched his fist, his claws scratching into the metal.

Pyrak - If you wish, I can administer nanomachines into your system which shall make you react more...effectively towards the subject. We shall also need to consider aliases, clothing, overall appearance of the environment it shall be stored within, etc.
Volkarus - I have already considered a disguise. And I believe Oreleva has knowledge on the kind of room that would suit her.
Pyrak - Of course. If the subject asks why it is here, just say that its ship crashed during a diplomatic inspection of the new Imperial Khaxvis world, a.k.a. this base.
Volkarus - And that I have offered to take care of her during her time here.
Pyrak - Exactly. Meanwhile, while you are gaining its affections, I shall be organizing staged events to occur through its stay here.

Volkarus pulled his claws from the supoprt and paced around, looking at Pyrak curiously. The marks remained, slightly melted from the scratcing Volkarus had administered.

Pyrak - Mainly attacks from certain members of Khaxvis staff, who you shall fight against in order to defend the subject, thus furthering your chances of gaining its trust. Also, how do you people say...arrange "dates".
Volkarus - As in...an outing in order to lear nabout the person?
Pyrak - Yes, that's the one. I shall arrange dates for you and the subject, what occurs on these dates will be up to you although I shall inform you of any fixed events that you will need to be aware of if I decide to place one within the same timeframe and location. Volkarus - "dating" is an uncommon concept but given Alessa's mentality, I would agree to this.
Pyrak - Remember, you are not out to marry it for politics, you are out to gain the subject's affection and make it feel as if it is in safe hands and is comfortable around its "saviour". Those are the thoughts you should keep in mind while you are performing within this operation, although we both know the truth.
Volkarus - Hmm, i'll have to practice my acting skills then. How long before she wakes up?
Pyrak - I'll give it...approximately 12 hours. Enough time for you to practice, Master.
Volkarus - Thank you Pyrak. Is there anything else?
Pyrak - No, we appear to be done here. I shall have the staff erase all traces of the equipment used in the performance.

Volkarus nodded, he signalled that Pyrak was dismissed and sat back down. Pyrak nodded and left the room, the smile on his face returning as he walked out. He turned to the room's guard and leaned towards him.

Pyrak - If you disobey a single word from either me or Master, then you shall be Subject 123.C for my pain therapy experiments. Is that understood?

The Blessed one looked at Pyrak and gulped, nodding afterwards.

Pyrak - Now, tell your friends, colleagues and allies that I am infuriated with them immediately.

Pyrak smiled devilishly once more and walked away from the Blessed One, walking in the direction to his own quarters.

The Masquerade[]

25th Urielna, ID.219503

Alessa woke up with a jolt, screaming as if someone had cut deep into her skin. She writhed around in agony, she could still feel it some how as she jostled around in the bed Oreleva and her team put her in twelve hours ago. As she did - screaming and begging not to be eaten is if half-still in her dream - a well-toned Draconis burst through her door and kneeled to her bedside. He clutched her hand and spoke softly by her side.

Draconis - It's alright. Calm down calm down its only a dream.

Alessaehard his voice she continued to write until she felt a firm hand brush her side gently. She calmed down a little, waking up slightly and looked to ehr right to see a strong face of bright crimson scales powerful jaws and entrancing hazel eyes. Alessa looked to him and backed away a little.

Alessa - Wh-who are you, why am I here?

Alessa was interrupted when she felt his finge pressed agaisnt the lips at the end of her snout.

Draconis - Shh, it's okay. My name Forevior Khaxvis-- I know waht you're thinking, but you came here to help us join the Imperium.
Alessa - I did? Forevior - Yes. Your shuttle crashed in a storm not too far from our enclave. We have had enough of the Resurgence's lies, we want a new start. We gave you this room, you slept rather soundly before.
Alessa - Wh-whay are you in here?
Forevior - I wanted to check on you, I wanted ot make sure yuo were feeling okay.
Alessa - It's fine, just a nightmare that's all.

Forevior smiled and let go of her hand. Alessa quickly found herself wrapping her arms around his torso, sobbing over his shoulder, he nuzzled her cheek as she sobbed, somehow feeling better from all this.

Alessa - C-can you stay for the night?
Forevior - Of course. I admit...I never iamgined the daughter fo Uriel to be so beuatiful and enchanting.

Alessa was on the wrong side of Forevior's head to see his left eye twitch from mentioning Uriel's name. Unknown to her this wasn't some kind-hearted soul who wanted to comfort her, in fact a devilish smile crept along the left side of his face not becasue she was pouring out her emotions and recovering, but because she was gradually falling for his guise. To hide his real, blood-red eyes he had fitted holographic lenses over his eyes. Which while large enough to be mistaken for the real deal were not large enough to hide the muscles around them. He had used a mix of holographic technology and supernatural power to take on an "Innocent guise".

"Forevior" was not entirely who he seemed, but Alessa didn't care, she was too busy pouring herself over his shoulder, trying to forget the quite painful night terror she had just witnessed. At least this figure, whoever he was, offered ehr a shoulder t ocry on that night. And he had offered to stay for longer.

And so he did, keeping close, she said he wasn't tired but in reality this same supernatural pwoer that allowed hi mto hide his true nature was what prevented him from feeling tired.



24th Urielna, ID.219503

Quendor stared at the wall. His dormitory on the New Dawn was white, spartan and empty, with only the sparsest accommodations left for him: an organic-looking bed which looked like it was growing out of the ship's floor and a small table which was embedded in the wall. And nothing more. Not even a chair. He was not particularly devoted to any ascetic ideals – no more than a Radeon should, at least – nor was he prohibited by the Guardians to use more than that: it was just that he found that when the security and tranqility of comfort was removed from him and he was left alone with nothing else but his own subconsciousness, the visions of the past he saw became... clearer. There was some sanctity in them; to experience one was like a prayer of some sort, a dialogue with Spode. Quendor called for the past, and it answered.

How could you! How! Just... how!

Forgive me, father. This was predestined.

Right now, however, the past refused to resurface. No, that would be wrong to say: it refused to consume the young Radeon like it did before, and Quendor remained lucid. Rather, he saw pictures. Bright lights of white and blue flashed before him like blinding suns; there were images of bloodshed, of steel and bone, of rotting corpses and military marches. There were also screams. Cries. Howls of terror. Chilling, cacophonous, they resounded in Quendor's ears with such magnitued like if he was in a middle of a thunderstorm, and then stopped abruptly, cut short by some wrathful, all-destroying force. Amongst this symphony of destruction, he also heard words. Voices. Some of them familiar, other alien and incomprehensible.

What? What have you heard?


Quendor shook his head, making the lucid nightmare go away for a few split seconds, enough for him to retain his sanity and identity. What was this? What were these visions in his head? The screams, the bloodshed, the voices... he could not make a full picture out them. Was it Adaru's war against all? Was that the fate the immortal artificial intelligence had destined for all life? The Radeon shivered. The words of the Draconis chancellor which he said after the Leviathan once again came to his mind. We have to make sacrifices. He was... right, wasn't he? If that was what Khanjar was going to unleash upon the galaxy, then perhaps a few innocents had to die for it... Or maybe not? Quendor cursed himself. During the War, it was his fanaticism, his inability to doubt that doomed countless lives on Crepusculum. Now, it was the other way around. Indecisiveness was killing him.

Quendor took a deep breath. He had to relive the nightmare again, and again, and again. That was the only way.

Meanwhile, at the command center of the New Dawn...

N'raiNow, what have we here? A message? From the Third Sacrosanct Adherent and... Sycorax?

New Messages[]

Help us.

N'rai's stared into her crewmates's eyes as they gathered around the holoprojector, eager to share in the mysteries that it was about to reveal. She was reading them, seeing the very same pictures she had been seeing since the beginning of the New Dawn's journey. Arnas maintained a stoic visage, looking at N'rai inquisitively, yet still not completely confident, nervous. Quendor was just, well... thinking. Beltharon was annoyed. More than usual. Tarsus was simply looking at the projector with insatiable, almost childish curiosity. Baka'niju... was a mystery, as usual. Who knew what he was thinking of from inside his damned helmet? In a sense, she hated him. He was like a lock she could not open; a person that just wouldn't reveal himself at all.

Then there was Geroniel. Ever since she had been brought to the New Dawn, she felt a little bit unnerved for no particular reason. Sweating, looking around, thinking. She kept to herself a bit, even though she seemed amiable on the outside. The only ones who seemed to be perfectly content with the situation in general were Vesperon's holographic image and captain Theoparasatl (who had insisted on remaining aboard the New Dawn together with his squad); in fact, they seemed too content for N'rai.

ArnasSo what is this message?
N'rai - Not sure, captain. The encryption codes look Divinarian, but heavily modified. More complex in almost every way possible than what the Dei'Ar uses.
Vesperon - Hm. Must be the Divinarium's intelligence agency. Strange for them to act without the rest of the Commonwealth's higher circles knowing it, but... not impossible.

A slight snarl appeared on Vesperon's normally stoic face, his muscles twisting into a subtle grimace.

Vesperon - ...Radeons. - Vesperon muttered to himself, barely audible to his confused audience, - ...always snooping into places they should not-
The chancellor coughed loudly, covering his snout with his hand as if something infectious had just escaped his mouth.<br? N'rai - Is there a problem?
Vesperon - ...Uh? No, of course not. Shall we play the recording?

N'rai bowed her body's head and loaded the data block into the holoprojector, watching as its watery, shimmering surface slowly absorbed the information it was given - quite literally, given the projector's nanotechnological construction. The image began to form. Slowly at first, then faster and faster every second, it turned from a chaotic mass of photons into a single, concise image: an industrial landscape, which could as well have been verdant many years ago, filled with geometrical shapes of alien cities. Crude, ramshackle ships flew above its surface meeting in intense dogfights with other, blade-shaped vessels of Gros design, showering the skies with fire of red, gold and orange; the image shook as explosions rocked on the background.

On the foreground stood a deformed, freakish green-skinned alien creature, resembling a misshapen worm with arms, clad in scraps of rusted, brownish plasmetal which resembled metallic parasites stuck to its skin; although distressed, it stood proudly, unflinching despite the chaos behind it. An average Andromedan would probably be appalled or otherwise disturbed by such an obscene travesty, but the New Dawn's crew? No, they were more than happy to see that twisted visage: it was an ally, a friend which had sworn to aid them several years ago, back when there was no Brotherhood, no Adaru, no battles for the survival of the galaxy... merely a big, rusting Tertamian vault with lots of runaway slaves inside.


Greetings, free people of the New Dawn. I do not know if you hear this message, but if you do, please, help us. Thanks to you, we were saved from servitude to the Tyrants, yet now rises a chance for all of our brothers and sisters to escape it! Your kin, the ones you call Hereticon, have taught us how to wage war, how to traverse stars. While you travelled, we battled: on Sagah and Shadur and Kadas and Vadrah II - everywhere we saw the Gros stench spreading, we extinguished it! Yes, they are stronger and more advanced, but we have something they lack but you, the New Dawn, have: you and us both fight for a just cause. That alone is enough.

It is time now! The very heart of the Gros realm shall fall before us! We are ready for the final battle, readier than we have ever been before! We have endured these chafing bonds for ages, yet a single moment of further servitude seems intolerable! I tell that to you, Quendor the Brave, and to you, Arnas the Wise. Tarsus the All-Knowing and Baka'niju the Silent; Tiny, one of us, and N'rai the Noble; and above all others, Beltharon the Most Serene. The coordinates of the tyrant capital are in this data block. Now, join us at Karnagtah! We shall make the Gros tremble in fear!

The image froze, leaving the New Dawn's crew astonished. That was... a charismatic speech. Even with its appearance, Sycorax was somewhat of a speaker. N'rai's "face" twisted into an open (as much as her cybernetic shell allowed her) smile, while Tiny simply jumped with joy, still remembering the one who saved him years ago. The other members of the team kept their feelings to themselves, but it was obvious that they, sans Beltharon of course, too felt a little bit better after the speech. Proud of the slaves they had saved? A new sense of duty given to them by Sycorax? Maybe. Maybe.

Vesperon - Hm. An interesting turn of events to say the least... not that we can do anything about it, though.
N'rai - Do the lives of these slaves not matter to you, Chancellor? They are sentient creatures, like you or me, and they fight for freedom. It is our duty to come to their aid.
Vesperon - Well, like it or not, the Brotherhood is still at large, and Adaru is still in their hands. Shall they ever use it, the lives of your slaves won't matter, as sad as it may be.
Beltharon - I for one agree.
N'rai - But... how can we just... let them die alone to these... these slavers?
Vesperon - It is in the best interests of the Commonwealth, I'm afraid. Now, let me-

Vesperon's eyes turned to the still image, making him lift his scales a little - a Draconis equivalent to sweating - and freeze himself. His amber, draconic eyes stared into a single, barely visible object in the picture, far on the background: a massive black docked starship with a faint green glow, surrounded by machines, set against the burning sun of Karnagtah. There could be no coincedence. That was it.

Vesperon - Adaru... it is here! - the Chancellor was suddenly taken by a tide of emotion - How could I be such a fool! The Brotherhood is advanced, yes, but they would need an industrial base to build something as large as Adaru - which is exactly why they decided to join forces with the Gros! Of course it is here - it has always been!
N'rai - Chancellor?
Vesperon - Ahem. - Vesperon restructured his stoic image and looked at the crew - Seems that luck is at our side this day. Very well. Captain Arnas, prepare to travel to Karnagtah. Aid this rebellion of yours as you see fit, but please, by all means possible, secure Adaru.

Voices In Your Head[]

28th Urielna, ID.219503

After two weeks of his last report, Commandant Kolger contacted Grand Admiral Gnorvi, who was eager to know about the newest progress on their campaign. Though unknown to Kolger, the Grand Admiral had been suffering weird headaches in the past few months.

Kolger - As you can see, Grand Admiral, our influence grows more through this subsector, though there is some resistance in the form of these small natives.
Gnorvi - Mhmm. Well, you know what to do. Persuade. If it fails, enslave.
Kolger - Heheheh, I've not ordered an invasion in a while...

Gnorvi began to feel a thumping inside his head. He held his head and grunted.

Kolger - Grand Admiral?
Gnorvi - Urk. Headaches...

Gnorvi pointed at a nearby slave on his room.

Gnorvi - You there, go get me painkillers.

After a short while, Gnorvi began to hear vague utterings in a Dracid-like language. Whispering inside his mind and getting louder. Gnorvi shook his head slighty. The slave brought him some capsules, which he put on his mouth.

Kolger - You sure you're okay, sir?
Gnorvi - I'm hearing something...that I don't usually hear.

The words became gradually more coherent.

??? - Now is this any way to react to an honoured aqquaintance?
Gnorvi - Uh?...Who said that?
??? - Who else? Remember the pact we made months ago?
Gnorvi - ...Volkarus Khaxvis?
Kolger - Sir? Who are you talking to?
Volkarus - Smart man. I hope this is not too unsettling for you.

Gnorvi narrowed his eyes, annoyed.

Gnorvi - You're inside my head. What do you think? How are you doing this, even? Telepathy?
Volkarus - All thanks to the blood you offered me. I hope I am not interrupting your little chat with your commandant...Oh wait. My mistake!
Gnorvi - You are, actually. This is not very polite of you. Do you invade the minds of every one of your political allies?
Volkarus - Just the ones I have an interest in...and the ones who offered me their blood... hmhmhm. Besides. I've learned that courtesy and politeness is a weakness, a way to waste time to make the weak feel they have worth in this universe.
Gnorvi - Hmpf. It's no wonder you have so little supporters.
Kolger - Sir, you're not well. You're talking to yourself.
Gnorvi - There's a Draconis speaking to me right now. In my mind!
Kolger - Erm...

Kolger scratched his head, watching in confusion.

Volkarus - Hard to believe isn't it? You may feel...other side effects. The're not dangerous.
Gnorvi - What? More?...Do I get anything worthy out of this or is this just one way you found to bug me?
Volkarus - Your blood was exposed to my blood. DOn't worry, I think you may like the other side effects.
Gnorvi - Like? Hmm...This better not be a joke.
Kolger - ...I think I'll just leave.

Kolger left the transmission, causing Gnorvi to slam his hand in the console.

Volkarus - You may be better off thinking what you want to say. You don't want your soldiers thinking you're insane do you?
Gnorvi - Hmpf. Not something a little researching can't solve.
Volkarus - Perhaps, perhaps not. We made a deal and I shall honour that deal.
Gnorvi - Hm...I'll look into this better later. But can you get out of my mind now? I'm trying to work here.
Volkarus - Fine. But don't take my silence as leaving you alone. Your senses are mine, your thoughts are no secret fro me.
Volkarus - And unfortunately...there is no real way of worming your way out. You agreed to the pact, I hold the blood. Our deal is permenant.
Gnorvi - Hmpf...very well.

Volkarus' echoing coive faded, leaving Gnorvi with his own thoughts. The annoyed Gnorvi scowled and ordered more painkillers.

Naughty Oreleva[]

5th Oskavarida, ID.219503

Over the past week-or-so, Volkarus (under the guise of a mortal Khaxvis named Foravior) had been wooing Alessa and kept her company at night. Alessa still continued to suffer night-terrors and "Forevior" was always there to hug her and embrace her when she did have such attacks.

By day, he kept her company and did his best to impress her. He wanted to keep detached from her because to him she was merely a tool but as the dates progressed and the mock fights for supremacy, all of which Pyrak had set up, progressed. He gradually became more protective over her for reasons he was not sure of. Pyrak had caused her immense suffering in the brief time he had her. She had been scarred immensely by his actions. Something about this made him feel like wanting to keep her save was more genuine. Or perhaps he saw Vedrix in her? He wasn't sure.

It was late in the enclave that night. Oreleva, who for a while had doubts on his whoel operation, crept quietly into the enclave's security office and looked at the screens. The attendant had gone for a break during their shift and had left the room unattended. She flicked through until she could see one where Pyrak was visible. Pyrak was standing in a private room that was located deep beneath ground level, a secondary base for him during this time. Pyrak loved secret locations like this, he enjoyed his cruel experiments and oftentimes he didn't want to unsettle the base with the bawling of pain from his test subjects. Tonight He wasn't alone either; in a familiar-looking seat in front of him was a female Khaxvis, strapped down while screaming and crying out, probably due to some enhanced form of pain therapy that Pyrak was administering towards her. It seemed as if Volkarus had allowed him to carry out his research. Oreleva smiled with relief. Pyrak was busy deep underneath the surface, a good deal away from her. Even if he was expecting her to do something unapproving it would take him some time to rach her (or so she thought). With a deep breath she flicked to another screen and saw Alessa reading quietly to herself in her room. Over this past week Volkarus had been tending to her and had made her feel welcome. But Oreleva wasn't happy. This was not Khaxvis philosophy, she felt she had to tell Alessa.

She left the security office and apced towards Alessa's room, ducking for cover for a moment as Volkarus himself walked past. Once he was clear she continued walking up to Alessa's door. She wasn't allowed near Alessa's room, if Volkarus had spotted her, she dared not think waht he could have done. What punishments a physical god such as himself could have delivered on her. Outside the door she was hesitant for a moment as she stood at the door. She took several deep breaths, a moment contemplating her words before she reached out to press the door buzzer. Before her finger reached it, there was a swift, tight grip around her wrist as she reached out. Within moments, Oreleva was pressed against a nearby wall and found herself being breathed down on by a large, intimidating figure - Pyrak had somehow appeared here, despite apparently being in a torture chamber deep underground a few moments ago. Upon his face was the fiercest of snarling jaws. Oreleva panicked, she struggled to wrestle out of Pyrak's grip. All thw while feaful of the upcoming consequences. Pyrak was much stronger than her, it was useless for her to struggle but fear has a habit of doing things based on instanct.

Pyrak - You have been a very naughty pet.

Pyrak raised a fist and slammed it against the side of Oreleva's head knocking her to the floor in one swift, painful motion. Oreleva could see a tinge of red in the breaths he released. If anything, the dark gift Volkarus had given him made him all the mroe terrifying.

Oreleva - I was only walking past I swear!

Pyrak was unamused. he grabbed ahold of her collar and began to walk, dragging her across the floor with almost no effort, her weight not seeming to affect him and his strength much. As though she did not weight very much to him.

Pyrak - It is useless to lie to me. I was expecting this act of betrayal, to be honest. The naivity of a young girl such as yourself nearly always prevails over rational thought at your age. I need to get rid of that naivity.
Oreleva's eyes widened in horror - Please, I'll leave her alone from now on!
Pyrak - Yes, you will.

Pyrak continued to drag Oreleva across the floor for several minutes, approaching an elevator shaft rather quickly while budging past members of Khaxvis staff, bystanders and security offers alike looked at the scene with dissapointment. Oreleva had ganled the reputation of being the bottom-rung of the enclave's staff. Many were aware of her failure at the hands of Crispy's Insurrection. Many talekd about it as though she was an idiot for waht she did. Partway down the corridor, she grasped Pyrak's hand in a desperate attempt to pry herself loose. He approached an elevator and proceeded to punch through the doors that seperated the corridor from the shaft. The elevator itself was on the upper levels when he pulled the doors apart. Because of the warped metal the doors did not fully open, but were jammed enough to stay open as opposed to slamming closed. After ripping the doors apart, Pyrak threw Oreleva with tremendous force into the empty shaft Pyrak slowly turned to a member of staff as Oreleva fell.

Pyrak - Get somebody to bring the elevator down to Level 1.
Khaxvis - What of her?
Pyrak - Are you offering to find yourself down there as well?

The staff member want to the elevator cotnrol panel and pressed a few buttons on the control panel. Which brought the elevator down. Oreleva however was regaining consciousnesss after she had hit the bottom of the shaft with a loud "crunch", but she could barely move after breaking her wings and legs from the fall. As the elevator was brought down, Pyrak walked into it through the ripped open doors as it descended downwards. He had something special in mind for Oreleva this time as she lay broken at the bottom of the elevator shaft. She could still move her arms, she struggled to reach for a door which was shut, but she was too weak however to open it. The elevator came down towards her rather quickly. As she tried reaching for the exit doors, she found her hand trapped between the tight gap that seperated the exit floor from the elevator. Alongside this, she found herself being slowly crushed beneath the elevator as it struggled to a stop. The doors opened to reveal Pyrak, who waited for just a moment before he began to jump up and down, slamming his feet down, pushing all of his weight onto the elevator floor. Oreleva screamed in immense pain from this assault, her roars echoing through the elevator shaft and down the corridor.

Pyrak - Shut up! Shut up, shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut UP!

He continued to slam the elevator down onto Oreleva before he stopped. he took a few deep breaths to calm himself down. He looked at the Khaxvis staff who observed the incident and stepped out of the elevator casually.

Pyrak - I want you to fill the elevator with the heaviest objects you posses. Rocks, bricks, ornaments, make sure they are placed within the elevator. Afterwards, I want you to turn off all power to this shaft for the next 24 hours.

The staff memebers looked at each other with confusion.

Staff - Sir. May we ask waht that roaring was?
Pyrak - No.

The staff memebrs silently complied. They filed into various warehouses and office rooms and came out sometime later with what heavy objects they could find and bring into the elevator. Orleva whimpered inside, barely alive and slowly crushed by the immesne weight. She could barely breath, letting out a few whimpering roars that slightly concerned the staff.

Pyrak - If you hear any whimpering, it's just the vermin. Now, shut off all power connected to this shaft for the next 24 hours. Make sure nobody has access to it.

The staff nodded cautiously. Oreleva tried desperately to call otu Pyrak's name as staff members disabled the power links to the shaft.

Pyrak - Good. Now I shall return to my chambers to resume my research, I wish to not be disturbed.

The staff nodded. However as they all left, one of them crouched low to notice there was blood on the frame between the elevator itself and the wall of the shaft. They looked closely, unsure waht it was.

Staff - Something up
Staff 2 - Yeah, blood. And its fresh.
Staff - Maybe we shouldn't ask...

The two were suddenly spoooked by a faint whimpering and briskly walked away.

A Lesson In Pain[]

6th Oskavarida, ID.219503

Twenty-four hours passed, Oreleva was bleeding heavily fro mher injuries, weeping as she was under incredible pain. She had tried desperately to lift ehrself from the elevator but with so much weight on top of her she found it hopeless. Pyrak, by now, had returned. he stood outside the elevator with Khaxvis staff, examining the weight that had been placed on top of her. He listened to her weeping and cries, picking out every individual detail in them. This brought a smile to his face, before he returned to his usual stoic expression.

Pyrak - Remove the weight, restore power to the shaft. As soon as power is restored, I need the lift on Level 2.

The staff complied, clearing the elevator hastily, restoring power and lifting the structure up to reveal Oreleva as a broken mess. Pyrak stood over the shaft and looked down at Oreleva, a small smile on his face. Despite her ruined state, he could make out every part of her, every little bloody detail. He let out a sigh. Oreleva's eyes rolled upwards and towards Pyrak. She barely let out a whimper. Her face was even more disfigured as she tried to move a broke narm.

Pyrak - Disappointing.
Staff - What in the void's name...
Staff - What-- She's still alive?
Pyrak - Get up.

Pyrak stood over her with a noticeable grin, he began to repeat his words as he watched Oreleva struggle to move.

Staff - Sir...I'm not sure if she can stand in that condition.

Pyrak did not turn towards the staff member, instead looking down towards Oreleva.

Pyrak - Speak out against me one more time and I will make sure you end up in a condition twice as worse.
Staff - I was...only making an observation...sir.
Pyrak - Meet me in my quarters in two hours.

The staff emmeber gulped. Oreleva, barely holding herself together, crawled out of the shaft. The implants in her legs barely moble after the crushing pressure.

Pyrak - Get up. I command you to get up.

Oreleva tried to stand, only managing to stand on ehr knees.

Pyrak - I said. Get. Up.

Oreleva yelped in apin as she tried to stand, wobbling as she raised herself up only to fall back down again. Pyrak's emotionless expression began to turn into a slight frown of anger.

Pyrak - Get. Up.

Oreleva began to sob, she kept trying and failing.

Oreleva - Not...strong...enough.
Pyrak - You will do as you are told. Get. Up.
Oreleva - I can't!

Pyrak became emotionless once more, he kept his arms to his side as he looked down at the pitiful mess that was Oreleva. Without taking his eyes off her, he spoke out.

Pyrak - Help her to her feet.

Two staff members wrapped their arms around hers and lifted her to her feet. Oreleva clenched her teeth as she felt a rush of pain from bing pulled upwards. Even then she almsot collapse,d learing the two staff members to hold hr up. Pyrak delivered a strong, fast slap against Oreleva's cheek as she was being held up, causing the two staff members to become a little unbalanced. He then slapped the other side of her face, then again with the other side, before he repeated the process another six times. Oreleva broke out weeping after the assault and lookd down.

Pyrak - Why do you cry? You know it is your own fault that this is happening. Do you cry out of regret? Do you cry for somebody to come and save you from your punishment? Do you cry because your plan to alert the subject has failed? Why do you cry?

Pyrak delivered a punch this time, the staff could hear the punch crack bone against her head and watched as blood poured out from the wounds across her face. Oreleva blubbered as she reeled from the pain of crushed bone.

Pyrak - Why do you cry? Oreelva - Don't....know. Pyrak - Then why are you crying? If you have no reason for it, why do it? Oreleva - P-pain? Pyrak - Weak.

Oreleva blubbered further, she didn't want ot look at Pyrak and dropped her head to look at her feet. Pyeak scoweled and bared his teeth in dissapointment at her.

Pyrak - Look at me.

Pyrak drew a sharp, serrated knife from his pocket and held it up. It glimmered in the light so all the surrounding staff could see it. Oreleva continued to look down too scared to move and remembering the last time Pyrak tricked her into looking up at him. . Pyrak - Look at me.

She continued to blubber and slowly lifted her head. her nicitating membranes flickered rapidly over her eyes. Mud-like blood suddenly spilled over Oreleva's face. Pyrak had held up an open hand and slammed the knife straight through the center of his palm. The look on Pyrak's face didn't change however, even as the blade began to gain a small, heated red aura. The temperature of the blade was rising.

Pyrak - This blade is designed to incinerate cells as well as cut through and tear away flesh. The heat of the blade raises to a temperature of near-unbearable levels for you Draconis, around enough to make you feel as if your entire hand was turning into nothing more than char.

Without flinching, or even blinking, the blade was sent through the tips of all of his fingers on his open hand, before throwing the blade downwards with enough speed to cause considerable damage. If Oreleva had looked down, she could have seen the heated knife embed itself in the space between Pyrak's center claw and his foot.

Pyrak - I do not cry because of pain. Pain is just an illusion, sensations that tell you to prevent a particular action, like placing your hand on a burving stove or dipping your foot into ice cold water. Like all illusions, they can be overcome and destroyed. You are weak for you still feel pain.
Oreleva - You crushed me...under an ELEVATOR!

Pyrak - I have exercised my pain receptors through much worse punishments, tenfold. A hundredfold. Imagine your body being melted under burning, volcanic heat, or your body being crushed and eventually imploded due to exposure to the immense pressure of the deep sea, or your body being mauled and mutilated by vicious hordes of trillions amongst quadrillions of insects. Imagine the whole of your entire being being shocked with several hundred volts of energized matter, stimulating every single molecule throughout your entire body. Imagine every single ounce of water that you consist of boiling to the level of magma, or freezing to the level of dry ice. Could you imagine going through that? Could you even contemplate what it feels like to be crushed and devoured within an ever-tightening space of black nothingness?
Oreleva - ....n-no...
Pyrak - What you felt was not even a fraction of the minimum level I had placed my pain receptors through, of what I exposed myself to. Until you have known the extent of the sensation of pain, you shall not complain about it within my presence.

Pyrak bent down and ripped the knife from his foot, placing it back into his pocket after wiping his boiling blood off it with a handkerchief. Throughout his entire speech, he had kept his same, indifferent tone of voice. Oreleva meanwhile nodded without saying a word, kept held up by the two staff members who, theselves, felt uneasy.

Pyrak - Now, resume to your duties. I am sure that you have a busy schedule you need to catch up to, especially since your unrecorded absence for the last 24 hours.
Staff - Sir... Permission to speak on the matter of her condition.
Pyrak - Meet me in my office in three hours.
Staff 2 - Screw it, sir perhaps Oreleva should visit the infirmary first. her legs arebroken.
Pyrak - Four.
Staff 2 - Sir--
Pyrak - I hope you are able to take two hours out of your schedule.
Staff 2 - Actually...no.
Pyrak - No?
Staff 2 - Sapient Resources gave me a very busy list of things to do today.

Pyrak approached the Khaxvis staff member, staring blankly into his eyes as he walked right up close, to the point where the Khaxvis could feel Pyrak's breath on his face. Pyrak tilted his head to look down at the staff member questioning him.

Pyrak - Do you have any family?
Staff 2 - I am House Khaxvis sir.
Pyrak - Any children? A mate? Parents?
Staff 2 - My broodmother still remembers me.
Pyrak - Do you want to keep it that way?
Staff 2 - Are you threatening to kill a broodmothere sir?
Pyrak - Hmph, I am above such primitive methods. No, I cannot commit myself to murder of one of Volkarus' own. However, keep up your attitude and I shall make sure she has no recollection of your existence. Or, I could have her hate every single part of you. Which would you prefer?
Staff 2 - ...neither?

The other staff member slammed his palm against his own snout, grunting to himself in frustation at the idiocy of his comrade.

Pyrak - Then I shall make some calls to Sapient Resources and you will meet me in my office in three hours. Do you understand? Oh wait, I just remembered.

After a moment of silence and jaw wobbling, the staff member nodded briskly. Pyrak leaned down and glared right into the Khaxvis' face, breathing harshly against his scales as the Khaxvis could see his own reflection in the Zazane's empty, blank eyes. It was as if his eyes were a mirror of sorts; the Khaxvis only saw his reflection, while Pyrak's soul stared into his. The feeling sent a chill running down the staff member's spine and he shuddered as this monster of a Zazane stared into his very soul.

Pyrak - I am Sapient Resources here.
Staff 2 - Understood sir!

Pyrak stepped back and proceeded to walk away, leaving Oreleva and the Khaxvis staff to their business as he walked down the path that led him back to his experimental chambers. After leaving, Oreleva was dragged to an infirmary, her injuries tended to and the implants and cybernetics damaged by Pyrak's assault were tended to.

Make me Stronger[]

As she lay in the infirmary she was approached by one of the doctors who looked her over, giving her satisfying looks and smiling slightly. The doctor filled in a checklist and a notes section on the extent of Oreleva's injuries. As he turned away, oreleva reached out and grabbed the doctor's coat-tail titling her head as the doctor turned her around.

Oreleva - M-make me stronger...
Doctor - Excuse me?
Oreleva - I want to be stronger.
Doctor - Your implants will be replaced by new ones signed for my Lord Yanno--
Oreleva - Please no. I want custom implants! Master Yannor's implants will amke me weaker!
Doctor - Are you asking for extended surgery?
Oreleva - Yes. I want to impresse master!
Doctor - You know you can't have any new implants without Pyrak's consent.
Oreleva - Please! I'm going on the table anyway so please. Upgrade me!
Doctor - And what if Pyrak asks, what should I tell him? What's he going to say whe nhis 'pet' has been given upgrades he didn't sign for?
Oreleva - Keep it secret. Wipe the medical log. Give it to me. Please. I want to be stronger!
Doctor - Urgh. Fine. In four days you'll have the upgrades you need.
Oreleva - Class-thirty-five C?
Doctor - ...you're joking right?

Oreleva shook hae head as best she could.

Doctor - I demand compensation.
Oreleva - I still have some credits left over from before my demotion. I will pay.
Doctor - Fine. Class-35C implants and not a word to Lord Yannor from any of my staff or you.
Oreleva - Th...thank you...

10th June 2793

Four days later, while Volkarus was on Alcanti in his disguise, Oreleva was admitted to a surgery clinic. At the back of the oeprating theatre were crates of class-35 cybernetic implants. The process would take only a few hours but it was a risk to do so without Pyraks' knowledge. The implants essentialy replaced Oreleva's remaining muscle with synthetic analogues that went under her skin. Her bones were reinforced with ceramics and her brain, which took three hours to upgrade, was fitted with an array of enhancing implants; refleces, pain receptors, memory. The works.

She had also asked for a discrete pain management implant; one designed to shut off her pain receptors upon command. The surgery teak worked as quickly as they could; the longer they spent upgrading her, the more suspicious Pyrak would have become and they could only hide the upgrade under the masquerade of reconstructive surgery for so long. The process itself took several days overall. C-grade Class-35 implants were designed for use by covert operatives working behind enemy lines, meaning she could look hardly any different. She refrained from havign her eyes replaced, knowing Pyrak would suspect something if he looked into her eyes.

After the surgery the skin under her scales was marked with hairline incisions from essentially havign her skin peeled away. The doctors agreed to use nanosprays to repair the cuts as best as they could, restoring the condition of the skin through reconstruction. When the surgery was finished, Oreleva pulled herself off the clinic bed and hopped down, cracking the floor as it boer her new weight.

She looked at her new body; virtually indistinguishable from her old form flexing her new muscles she could feel the power in the new muscle fibres that had been grafted onto her bone. They felt firmer, tougher and overall mroe powerful. She smiled as though this was the first piece of fortune she ever had in her entire life. The doctors had even agreed to help resotre her disfigurement from Pyrak's tortures to a degree. She shook the doctor's hand firmly before gently pulling her close.

Oreleva - There's a credit cache in a secret comparrtment of Prasaima V's armoury. Compartment code is 255-77-43-K. Your payment should be in there it's all I have.
Doctor - I'll see about a visit.
Oreleva - Armoury code is 5-5-0-1-4-2-1 Thank you.

Oreleva left the infirmary with heavier footsteps than usual. She was, however, unaware that Pyrak's nanomachines were capable of overriding her new pain management implant.

The Universal Truth[]

And so, the Demiurges saw the Universal Truth.

I'kt - Faster, faster! There is no time to wait!

Figures clad in black armour dashed through the vermilion jungles of Satyameva, a small world located on the outskirts of Segmentum Crepusculum. They were not the first visitors of that ancient world and they were certainly not the last, for Satayema was no ordinary planet; billions of years ago, it was a Sophiana, one of the most prolific worlds ruled by the Rades. And though the ancient precursors were long gone, the ruins they had left behind drew many explorers to Satyameva, who were attracted to it like moths to flames. And few returned alive.

But those who sought to uncover the mysteries of the ancient ones that day were no ordinary explorers either: they swore allegiance to the Commonwealth's Reclamation Service, one of the most influential organisations in the entire AGC. They were professionals: equipped with the most advanced technology in the entire galaxy, protected by an entire squad of former Dei'Ar and United Confederate Guard marines, led by the brightest minds in the Segmentum, they were meant to get the job done. In charge of the archaeologist team was professor I'kt, a Sader scientist well-known in the Divinarium for his ingenious, brilliant mind... as well as his obsessiveness, paranoia and apparent insanity.

I'kt - It must be here, yes! The Sanctum Sanctorum, the key to all knowledge of the Demiurges, yes... all these years... - I'kt slipped into mad, barely coherent ramblings - Wait, what was that noise?

I'kt twitched and turned his head to one of the larger trees in the jungle, staring at it without blinking. With a gesture, he told the security guard to draw their weapons.

I'kt - Intruders! Attack!

The guard sighed at the professor's paranoid order: but rules were rules, and he was their superior. Without further objections, they aimed their gauss rifles at the tree and made their shots: in a next second, a good portion of the tree was reduced to ashes, along with a small bird-like creature (which was apparently the source of the noise) whose skeleton fell to the ground. I'kt looked at the remains of the tree, appearing content.

I'kt - Perfect. The path is clear.

As if by instinct, I'kt approached a large crag covered in vegetation which jutted from the rest of the jungle and touched it gently. The crag's rock responded by starting to crack and glow; these cracks expanded, grew, and slowly turned into patterns and symbols, which I'kt recognised all too well: it was ancient Radessic. The Sader professor smiled upon seeing the antediluvian language of the precursors and started to whisper in it; as he did, a slate of rock before him retreated into the ground, opening a way to the Rades temple. I'kt let a quiet laughter as he walked into the darkness, driven by insatiable curiosity, but was stopped by the security guard commander, a large Val'kar clad in heavy armour. He had a stern expression on his face, his eyes piercing painfully right into I'kt's soul, and the Sader professor stepped back, unnerved.

Gr'roz - It is too dangerous to go alone! My men will go first.
I'kt - I am the supreme authority here, commander Gr'roz! I have been searching for this place for years, and I am going to be the first to see the revelations it hides!
Gr'roz - Ugh. Fine. Do whatever you want, but we won't be responsible if a Rades biomech kills you or something.

Ignoring the commander's warnings, I'kt turned on his flashlight and entered the Revelation; a shrine and a laboratory in one, it was the place where the Rades studied the primal laws of the multiverse in order to achieve their ultimate goal: the Universal Truth. And that truth was about to be revealed for I'kt, or so he hoped. Observing the shadowy corridor of the Rades temple, the Sader scientist walked slowly, followed by his compatriots. He wanted to see every detail, every message the precursors had left for their descendants, every stone of the Revelation.

I'kt - Ah... look at these... pictures. The Demiurges have saved their history for us using these... frescoes. Just look at them!

I'kt pointed his flashlight at one of the walls and froze in awe; his jaw dropped. A massive picture engraved on the rocks: it depicted a Rades waving his hand, with young Radeons, Saders, Ryketians, Val'kar, Razzit, Colmarians, and many other creatures bowing before him. Radessic hieroglyphics were also engraved, stating: "HERE, THEY WERE CREATED." I'kt couldn't have been more joyous. His theory had been proven. The Revelation he found was indeed the place where all species created by the Rades had been made.

I'kt - ...Yes! YES! It is upon us...

I'kt looked closer at the fresco. He noticed that the creatures were surrounded by a purple aura, with ghostly creatures depicted behind them. Were they the messengers? I'kt was about to find out, for right before him stood his species's cradle. The Sader professor turned his head up, seeing a huge, circular gate made of the same organic rock-like material as the rest of the temple's interior; large, ominous, it appeared to be immovable, implacable, invincible. But it wasn't, and I'kt knew that. All he needed was the right password.

I'kt - Thralemnia? Lamrenathi? Qualathina? Aediremnia?
Scientist - Professor, is it truly a right decision? We have to find out everything about that place, perh-
I'kt - I will not be stopped by cowards.

I'kt kept chanting words in the ancient tongue of the Demiurges, not caring about the rest of the team, about the skeletons of dead explorers that surrounded him... all he wanted was to uncover the secrets of the Ancients. Realising that something horrible was about to happen, Gr'roz stepped back and promptly escaped the temple: the rest of the guards, however, remained, captivated by I'kt aura of obsessive curiosity. The only person that came with Gr'roz was a young Radeon scientist: small and weak even for her age and her species, she was fearful of things that were about to come and as such followed the Val'kar commander. The professor continued rambling, thinking, coming up with theories. And then, a sudden realisation came to his mind. He knew the word.

I'kt - Quaenosophi.

The word I'kt just said meant many things in Old Radessic. Knowledge. Wisdom. Revelation. The ultimate goal of the entire Rades species. Gnosis. What else could open a way to such an important facility? The professor's guess was right: as I'kt finished proclaiming the last letter of the word, the circular gates opened nigh-immediately.

And inside was insanity, nightmares, and the horrifying revelation of all the dark truths that had been hidden before.

The Adventure Begins[]

The Admiral and the Prince[]

7th Oskavarida, ID.219503

After intense looking, Grand Admiral Gnorvi finally found the next faction he was searching for. He coughed loudly, his body being affected by Volkarus' blood, as he sent a transmission and awared for it to be picked up. The transmission was answered after several minutes of waiting. On the screen was a large Zazane-like creature who wore eccentric and fancy armour, adorned with make up and glitter upon his body, face and nails. Gnorvi could also make out the Zazane possessing a single wing sprouting from its back.

Gnorvi - Hmmm. Clan of Daren, am I correct?
Cattalix - You will address me as Prince Cattalix. And to answer your question, yes, I am part of the Clan of Daren.
Gnorvi - Prince, hm? I did not know you were a monarchy. But if you are a prince, it means you are an authority, which is just who I need to talk to.
Cattalix - Correction; there is no "if" about my position or authority. You should be honoured as you are approaching the highest member of the Clan's authority.
Gnorvi - Well, excuse me, prince. Let's try this again. I am Grand Admiral Gnorvi of the Gros, and I am here to propose a partnership between my people and your clan.
Cattalix - And for what purpose do you seek the Clan's services? Or, by extension, mine?

Gnorvi took a smoke off his cigar, and coughed again.

Gnorvi - Your genetic experiments are notable. You strive for peace through the destruction of weaklings. This is something we share in common. I was thinking we could help each other in our goals...
Cattalix - What benefits will there be to my people helping yours? Are you a superpower? Do you have access to the highest forms of technology? Are you widespread and feared?
Gnorvi - Being a superpower is the big goal here. The benefit you get from helping me is the elimination of the Commonwealth, who dares think it can rule the galaxy by itself. I plan to replace it with the real powers of Andromeda...you, me, and whoever else stands by our side. Technology? It is improving more and more each day. And feared? There is a reason Exterioris is not well known.
Cattalix - Hmm. It is obvious that you are a lowly man who strives for godhood like mine, probably even envious of my blessed heritage while you are born to dirt-blood parents. Alright, the Clan of Daren, and by extension myself, shall assist you in your similar goals. However, there is but one condition.

Gnorvi narrowed his eyes, but kept friendly expression.

Gnorvi - I am listening.
Cattalix - All that is required of you is to kneel, as a sign of your acceptance of me as a superior entity and being. Kneel before me and kneel before your people to display how much more superior I am and by extension the Clan. It would put you within my favour, significantly.

This had been the last straw, and Gnorvi pressed his hands on his console and crushed it with his claws. His expression became as if he was disgusted.

Gnorvi - ...I expect full loyalty, for I do not kneel before those who do not deserve it.
Cattalix - You shall have your loyalty, mere man, for what god would I be if I was to go back upon my promise? I am a kind god, after all. My promises are as everlasting as myself.

Very hesitantly, Gnorvi kneeled before Cattalix. He watched as Gnorvi kneeled, resting his arms upon that of the chair he was sitting in. He had a greedy smile on his face as he watched Gnorvi kneel, as if he gained pleasure from Gnorvi's disgust and submission.

Cattalix - Very good, lowly man. But I advise you do not display such disgusting behaviour the next time a god asks you of a favour, for it may cost more than just your status and pride.
Gnorvi - ...Hmpf. We are done here. Farewell.

Gnorvi closed the transmission.

Gnorvi - When the plan is done...I will enslave this man...and I will make him LICK the ground where I walk on!

Another Wedding, Not another Romance[]

20th Oskavarida ID.219503

Crowds had gathered in a cathedral within Minos'Drakon's Salpathi district. Here the wealthy and the powerful gathered and created towering palaces i nthe sky. The monastery sat in its heart being a fitting place for the marriage of royalty. Volkarus in his diguise wore his best finery, along with a subvocal earpiece underneath his hair. Uriel and Alessa were also in their finery, with Uriel wearing an elegant white coat over a polished gilded breastplate. As was tradition he had the sword he was awarded after his military service strapped to his belt. He felt happy Alessa had found a man who cared for her. But meanwhile, up in orbit, Pyrak and Oreleva were in a security room in a small cruiser orbiting Alcanti. Which had been disguised with Imperial registration codes. Oreleva kept her distance from Pyrak while he watched.

Pyrak had still not forgiven Oreleva for goiong behind his back and upgrading herself, seeing it as a cheap attempt to mimic his strength and endurance. He was watching a live broadcast of Alessa's wedding to the man who was, in truth, Volkarus. The cathedral they had gathered in held a huge crowd and the room fell silent as Alessa was guided down the aisle by Uriel towards Volkarus. Pyrak watched the entire performance with a look of disgust on his twisted face. Slumped in a padded chair while Oreleva kept behind him and out of his sight.

Pyrak - Is it not disgusting how one takes so much pride out of being attached to a mate? Finding a mate is a symbol that you now have property to fuck and reproduce with, it should not be celebrated like this.
Oreleva - Well..In the Imperium that ceremony is a sign of union between two families. Not just for breeding but also for...for politics. That ceremony master is as much a symbol of an alliance as it is a sign she is his property.
Pyrak - Hmph, so it has reached the point where politics revolves around sex. I do not know anymore whether Draconis society is advancing or reversing.
Orlelvea - Not just sex master. House Ultanos's assets become ours as well...

On the screen, Alessa and Uriel arrived at the podium and the cleric began his speech. At this moment something snapped in Oreleva's mind and as Pyrak was busy watching she quietly made her way out of the room. Pyrak was too bust paying attention to the ceremony to really notice her quietly creeping otu the room. Even with her newfound weight she kept relatively quiet.

Pyrak - Hopefully, this should all be over soon. I cannot stand the sight of this, it makes me possess the desire to tear out my own eyeballs.

Oreleva took one look back and opened the door, quickly passing through before shutting it. After she did she frantically inputted a code to lokck the door ebhind her. Pyrak tilted his head as he heard a clang and beeping sound, an indicator that the door had locked. He blinked several times before growling lowly, still watching the screen with his arms folded. He knew exactly what had just happened. It was as though Oreleva's very existance was to test his patience.

Pyrak - Bitch.

With loud, bounding footsteps Oreleva ran towards the shuttlebays, almsot knocking over anyone in her way. She ept running, hoping to gain some distance before Pyrak could decide ot get up and chase after her. After reaching a shuttle and sneaking inside she punched in coordinates for Alcanti's surface - more specifically the cathedral itself. She was almsot comfortable with the feel of her new body. But it still flt a little bulky and a little heavy.

AI - Warning. Un-authorised dshuttle launch detected. Un-authorised shuttle launch detected.

The AI's warning was announced over the ship's intercoms while Oreleva sped hastily planetside.

Down inside the cathedral, the cleric was almost done with the ceremony. Uriel had a smile on his face and both Alessa and Volkarus exchanged glannces. Turning back, Volkarus had a broad smile on his face. While on the surface it appeared to be wedding-day euphoria, in truth it was knowledge that his plan was succeeding. Nothing could stop him now, In minutes he would have been the bondedp artner of one of Uriel's daughters...that was until Oreleva threw the doors open The loud creak of the wooden doors distracting everyone and turning their attention towards her. She paced up towards the podium with a scowl on her face and anger in her voice. Alessa and Volkarus turned shaprly. Alessa blinked as Oreleva's appearence kicked in her memories, which prompted her to look at Volkarus with fear. As a result, he gripped her hand more tightly. Suddenly realising that in the space of five seconds, his dreams had gone from near success to complete ruin.

Oreleva - Stop everything. this ceremony is a farce!
Volkarus - *comm* Pyrak your dog has ruined everything!
Pyrak - *comm* I must apologize master, I am afraid she had given me the slip while my attention was turned towards the ceremony.
Volkarus - No matter, I need to resolve the situation-- Gah--

Volkarus was interrupted; As Alessa struggled to wrench herself free, Uriel saw his daughter in panic and tried to pull her away from Volkarus. Interrupting his conversation with Pyrak as he struggled to push Uriel away.

Volkarus - Pyrak if you can get off your backside meet me in the control room!
Uriel - Hands off my daughter. You lied to her and I want you out of my sight!
Pyrak - *comm* Affirmative, master.
Volkarus - If you won't let go I'll deal with you on my own grounds!

Realising the futitity of the situation and Blood Dragons approached, Volkarus wrapped his arm around Uriel's throat in a nack-hold and vanished with Alessa and Uriel in a blackish mist with Oreleva. All four of them appeared inside the control room. Narroly avoiding plasma shots from Blood Dragons guarding the cathedral. Once they had arrived on baord Volkarus threw Uriel against a wall and haled Alessa tightly against his body. She was panicking, wresting to get free fro mhis vice-like grip on her.

Meanwhile, Pyrak was on his way towards the control room, having commanded several Khaxvis staff to unlock the door for him. He was approaching swiftly, as if in some form of rush. All he had in mind was Oreleva and horrifying thoughts of what he would do to her if he managed to catch up to her. Alonng the way he had commanded for the staff to hand him a syringe filled with red and orange liquid. Uriel slammed into the wall Volkarus had thrown him at. Oreleva attempted to run from him but he quickly grabbed her from behind by the neck and lifted her into the air.

Volkarus - When your master gets ahold of you *chuckles* you will wish you had melted in the ruins of that enclave!

Uriel pulled himself up from the floor and leaned against the wall, panting. Volkarus had now dropped his disguise and Uriel saw his intimidating frame, he appeared large comapred to both Alessa and Orleva. Bright crimson scales and huge muscles, the four horns adorning his head like a crown. As Uriel gazed at VOlkarus' new form - which despite the drastic changes he still somehow recognised - Pyrak entered the room, holding a syringe between his fingers that was filled with a burning, red and orange liquid. He had a scowl on his face as he looked towards Oreleva, gripping the syringe tightly. To uriel, another giant of muscle had jsut entered the room and he now wondered how much of a chance he stood.

Pyrak - That was a very stupid thing you did, you BITCH!
Volkarus - You can have her.

Volkarus twitched his arm and threw Oreleva down at Pyrak's feet, after the initial shock she scrambled up but stood petrified; Pyrak was blocking the door while Volkarus was right behind her. Pyrak grabbed ahold of Oreleva and slammed her to the floor, with him on top of her as she lay on her back. A twisted, contorted grin emerged on his face as she could make out every detail of his hideous face, such as his imposing jaws and his slit-styled pupils. He raised the syringe while tearing off Oreleva's clothes. She had wronged him for a final time, the sstrength he possessed allowed him to tear off the leather with impunity. Oreleava thrashed about, eyes wide in fear.

Oreleva - No...no no...master please NO!

Volkarus grinned at the sight. He held Alessa tightly as she struggled out of his firm grip. She begged and blubbered to be released but Volkarus didn't listen. His gaze to focused on Oreleva and Pyrak. he could certainlt feel Alessa thrashing about, but his enhancements ment he hardly felt it while Alessa felt as though she was kicking solid rock.

Volkarus - You ruined everything you stupid whore. My plan, my ambitions. You are SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for what Pyrak is about to do to you.

Pyrak violently stripped Oreleva of her clothes as he pinned her down, as well as remove his crotch piece with no hesitation or reluctance. Moving into position, he had his hand wrapped around Oreleva's neck. He moved the syringe closer to her throat. That twisted grin burning itself into her memory.

Pyrak - I managed to enhance the performance of those nanomachines...the ones that make your body more susceptible to pain and sensitivity. Well, imagine the result when you realize that they increase the susceptibility by a hundredfold.
Oreleva - No..n-n-no...I regret waht I did now.

Oreleva was past the point of forgiveness. It was easy to beg for mercy after you made a mistake, the problem was that such a mistake could have been avoided in the first place. Uriel roused himself to full consciousness and stood up on his own two feet, he let out a cough, which drew Volkarus' attention and made him turn his head with a scowl.

The Rematch[]

Volkarus - Pyrak. You and your men will make sure Alessa does not escape. I meanwhile will deal with our unininvited guest...

Pyrak looked up towards Volkarus and nodded, he began to speak into his comms while pinning Oreleva down. Despite her improvements, she was helpless. Pyrak had developed a sense of pain tolerance and power beyond most normal Zazane, amplified by the genetic augmentations Volkarus had given him during Operation: Red Snake Rising.

Pyrak - Secure the Ultanos dog and make sure it does not manage to find a way out. Otherwise, I will have enough resources to start another experiment with you lot as my guinea pigs!

Khaxvis soldiers promptly walked into the room and Volakrus pushed Alessa into their arms. The guards held her tightly as Uriel scowled. Inhaling deeply, he announced in a stern and commanding voice as the threat Alessa was under triggered an emotional response that could only come from a loving bond between a father and his daughter.

Uriel - Hands. Off. My. Daughter.

Volkarus looked over to Uriel and a mocking chuckle escaped his jaws. Uriel's threat appeared humourous before he returned to the usual scowl.

Volkarus - Want her? She's ours now!

This was the spark. Uriel drew his sword and charged. The blue plasma streaking in the air as it sheathed the blade. he plunged it deep into Volkarus's stomch. While the sword appeared to burn him, and with black blood trickling from the open wound, Volkarus stared blankly at the attack. As Uriel stood there, unsure waht had happened, Volkarus swung his arm and smacked Uriel aside, pulling the sword with him and tearing a chunk off Volkarus' boy, which slowly began to close up after the sword left the wound.

Volkarus - Was that it?

Uriel stood up and grunted. He lifted his sword and charged again, swinging his sword down the blade dug into Volkarus's arm which had moved to parry the blade. However Uriel continued with a kick to his stomach. Volkarus budged only slightly from mthe kick and smiled mockingly, feeling almost nothing while Uriel felt as though his foot had just kicked rock.

Volkarus - Pyrak I have to say your studies have paid off imensely.

On the floor, Volkarus could se Pyrak injecting the syringe into Oreleva's neck and was proceeding with the vile, humiliating act as he had the poor, defenceless girl pinned beneath him. Oreleva could feel every part of her being scream out in pain.

Pyrak - Only the best...for Master!

Oreleva began thrashing about violently. Clenching her jaws and keeping her eyes tightly closed. She grunted and screamed as her body came under immense pain. A fierce burning pain rushed through her body, more powerful than anything she had felt before. Pyrak's nanomachines had not only nullified her implants but amplified the receptors. Uriel readied his sword, but this time, Volkarus charged at him. Uriel parried Volkarus' fists which began to leak black energies. Applying pressure to the plasma field and scratching the blade. Volkarus was relentless he kept attacking. But his large mass allowed Uriel to slip past him until Volkarus grabbed Uriel's right wing by the arm and, in a flash, yanked him sideways, with enough strength to tear the wing away. Uriel roared out in immense pain as he felt the wing rip itself from tis socket. As Uriel flew sideways, Volkarus held the torn wing in his hand and smirked.

Volkarus - See how weak you are Uriel? you break as easily as a porcelin doll!

Pyrak lifted himself from Oreleva after his business with her was finished, leaving her twitching and weak on the ground from the horrific experience that Pyrak had placed her under, defiling all of her being as a whole. As he stood, he approached Alessa. A sly smirk on his face as he approached her holding the syringe up to her face.

Pyrak - I still have some left for you!

Alessa widened her eyes and shook her head rapidly as if she was twitching. Seeing Pyrak close in on her like this Volkarus turned to look at Pyrak. Some feeling stirring inside that he did not liek the idea of seeing her harmed.

Volkarus - No Pyrak. She is not to be-- gah!

Uriel had swung his blade while VOlkarus was looking over towards Pyrak. The sword which bit into his leg, creating a deep cut. Uriel pulled the sword out with a sweeping motion, causing a three-quarter-length gash to run around Volkarus' thigh. He staggered and held his injury as it slowly and gradually closed up. Growling at Uriel who stood in a defensive posture.

Volkarus - Why you little--

Volkarus lunged at Uriel who lept to the side, but fell over as blood poured from what remiained of his wing. Despite his crippling injury, je appeared to have more composure than anoyne else who would have suffered a similar injury. The gushing blood was reduced to a trickle as blood pressure normalised at the wound. Seeing this Alessa screamed at the top of her lungs before her jaws were briskly clamped shut as Pyrak wrapped his hand around Alessa's snout. He approached her face shortly afterward with a sadistic snarl.

Pyrak - If you don't stay quiet, I might have to go against orders.

Alessa thrashed about to dislodge Pyraks's hand, giving him a murderous glare as she did so. Try as she could, Alessa was not strong enough to dislodge Pyrak's grip. Uriel twirled his blade and ducked as Volkarus swung his arm again, but this time Volkarus follwed through with an uppercut that launched Uriel up into the air and down onto the table in the middle of the room, smashing through it from the drop. Uriel coughed as he landed and Alessa stamped on Pyrak's foot with as much strength as she could muster. Pyrak leaned in closer towards Alessa, to show he was not affected by her stomping. Instead, he raised the syringe once more and looked towards the softest part of Alessa's neck. Alessa scowled at him as he raised the syringe. As he recovered, Uriel peered over and his eyes widened. He rolled out of the way of Volkarus who slammed his fist down and drove his sword into Pyrak's back.

Uriel - Hurt my daughter and I shall consider your life ended, mutant!

Pyrak did not scream, or make any sound that would have indicated pain. However, he could feel the sword in his back. He still had the syringe gripped tightly in his hand, but he slowly raised both arms and dropped it. Uriel smiled as Pyrak complied, and failed to see Volkarus stomping towards him.

Uriel - Good man.

As Uriel smirked, he felt something grab his collar and pull him backwards. He want flying and managed to catch his foot on the remains of the table, tumbling him and eventually landing on his stomach as Volkarus stomped closer. Uriel staggered up, bruised and lsoing blood only to feel Volkarus foot smack agains his chin, launching him backwards even further. Volkarus had a satisfied smile on his face as he picked Uriel up, wrapping his hand around the fabric of Uriel's coat lifted him upward. Alessa, now free from Pyrak's grip. bit him in the shoulder and spat at the wound, mixing in some Draocnis venom. he reacted indifferently and merely took a step back, a devious smile on his face as the bite mark closed up. He appeared uanffected by the venom. Uriel attempted to struggle out of Volkarus's grip as he was lifted, thrashing about liek a fish dangling from a hook. However Volkarus merely saw this as a pathetic attempt to struggle against the inevitable.

Volkarus - You may not be Tyraz, but your body shall do fine to nourish me because...I've always wondered waht Paragon tastes like.

Volkarus lifted Uriel further up and opened his mouth in preparation to swallow him. As he neared the opening maw, Uriel lifted hsi sword-arm and plunged his sword down into VOlkarus' throat. Causing hi mto gag and splutter, letting Uriel go and in doing so, inadvertantly slicing his lawer jaw in half. Volkarus roared in pain and thrashed about, black blood pouring from his jaw as Uriel hobbled over to Pyrak.

Uriel - Give me back my daughter and get out of my way!

Pyrak turned around looking confident. He tried to strike at Uriel with the syringe he had now picked up off the ground. He scraped it past Uriel's snout in his attempt, drawing some blood from the wound but was unable to fully inject it. As the cut was made, Uriel pressed his hand against the injury and bared his teeth as he felt some burning pain from the serum. He rammed his sword into Pyrak's stomach in retaliation. Pyrak kept a look of indifference to the stmomach wound and slammed the syringe into Uriel's nostril, forcing it into the exposed flesh within. A burning pain began to rush through Uriel's head and body as Pyrak pressed own and fed some of the serum inside int oUriel's body and the serum did it's work. Fueled by determination Uriel did his best to resist the pain.

Pyrak - If you wish to destroy me, you shall have to destroy all of me.

Pyrak then pulled out the syringe and proceeded to punch Uriel in the side of his snout. Uriel staggered sideways and ripped his sword out, cutting a large gash into Pyrak's waist.

Uriel - I can...be merciful...

Uriel twirled his sword, his injuries wearing him down and he sliced at Pyrak's legs. The plasma field cut through the flesh and burned at it. While Pyrak was normalyl resistant to such extremes of pain, the resulting attack had weakened his legs and he collapsed as his legs were slashed. he could no longer stand as his tendons and muscles were cut and disconnected. Afterwards, as he was defenceless, he didn't attempt to move or crawl. He simply lay where he fell. Laying on his side passively, not showing any signs of resistance but also not fully submitting. An ounce of strength remained in him.

Pyrak - I think it is safe to assume that our mission has failed.

Uriel stood over him and pointed his sword at Pyrak's snout. Pyrak looked up towards Uriel, no hint of fear or threat in his eyes.

Uriel - My daughter has been issing for a week. And just now you acted like you knew her. What have you Khaxvis freaks been doing to her.
Pyrak - We kidnapped her and induced her to pain therapy under my orders. The therapy allowed us to take advantage of her as she was more vulnerable and in need of company. I managed to erase her memory prior to the session, with lasting effects from it. The plan was to have her marry Master in an attempt to place him upon the Imperial Throne. Over the course of the week, we placed her and Master in situations that would allow them to get to know each other and eventually have the former believe she was in love with the latter.
Uriel - Then you have indeed failed. Order your men to release Alessa. NOW.

As Uriel spoke, Volkarus rose up behind him, burning blood pouring fro mhis injuries. His thumping footsteps marking his approach, uriel turned around and looked at the scared almost-demonic Draconis, blood ppouring fro mhis stomach, leg and mouth. While he could have regenerated his wounds were great. As he spoke, his voice was gargled as his tongue had been burned and his jaw had been broken.

Volkarus - Shlee...ihssh...mhynnne.

Uriel turned around and ducked as Volkarus swung his arm, smacking Alessa's guards aside. Pyrak watched as Volkarus stumbled around, bleeding across the room with a split lower jaw. He remained indifferent to this, as he always looked. However, he also saw Oreleva beginning to recover from what had happened and grunted. Uriel turned around and parried a strike from VOlkarus, strafing past, Uriel kicked him in the sliced shin, forcing him to fall to his knees. Uriel then, using his free hand, punched Volkarus in the side of the head. The power, although nothing comapred to Volkarus himself or Pyrak, was enough to send the injured Draconsi crashing to the floor. Oreleva slowly got up, whimpering and still feeling the burning pain from ehr ordeal. Pyrak snapped at her, barking orders even though he was incapacitated.

Pyrak - Bitch dog, help your master to his feet.

Uriel darted past and swung his blade to keep the Khaxvis soldiers at bay. He grabbed Alessa affectionately by the hand and ran towards the hanger bay. The demoralising reports that Uriel had just single-handedly defeated Volkarus caused some to keep their distance lest they be next or attempted to avenge theri shamed master. Uriel's condition continued to degrade, but he was able to fight the guards off long enough to reach a shuttle. Alessa carried him the last few metres and rested him in one of the cockpit chairs, her nicitating membranes flickering in distress.

Back in the control room, Oreleva coutiously walked close and, grasping a hand, pulled Volkarus to his feet. As she did however, he latched a constricting grip on her throat and pulled ehr close. His eyes burning with rage towards her and burning a fearful image into her mind.

Volkarus - Yhoo....thissh...ihss all...your phaullth! I...could chrussh...your philphy...neckkh..
Pyrak - Do not kill her, Master. It would be a useless waste of your energy, which you need to reserve during your current condition. Let her go, if she knows what is good for her she will leave us and not provide any further distractions or inconveniences.
Volkarus - Alessha...she cannot ehsscape...
Pyrak - We cannot dedicate any forces further. If we do, we are likely to lose them. The staff are in panic and Imperial warships shall be heading towards our location soon enough. We must leave this place if we are to have any chance of furthering our plot.
AI - Warning. Un-authorised dshuttle launch detected. Un-authorised shuttle launch detected.
Pyrak - Master, we must leave here. There is nothing to gain further from our presence here.
Volkarus - *comms* Ghett uhss out of hhere nowwh...

As the ship turned around, a fotilla of patrol ships slowly approached the vessel. Pyrak quickly relayed orders to the bridge as they set a course for unknown space, able to enter hyperspace jsut as the first shots were fired from patrol cruisers. There was a minor shipquake as they left, a byproduct of an Imperial interdictor creating a distorted gravity well that - for a mere second - interfered with the rear distortion field of the ship. The shuttle containing Alessa and Uriel however, sped back towards Alcanti, Alessa constantly lookingover her shoulder to make sure uriel did not slip into unconsiousness.

She had discovered a first-aid kit in the passenger compartment and used a nanospray to cauterise Uriel's injuries and reduce the swelling from broken bones and bruises. As she applied them, uriel let out a weary sight of relief, smiling for his daughter.

Bad News Spreads[]

The shuttle descended ot the surface and arrived outside the imperial palace. As Tyraz walked past he saw a cadre of Blood Dragons sasist Alessa and a limping Uriel out of the craft. Tyraz raised an eyebrow and approached the two of them quickly, a concerned and worried expression on his face as he ran forward. He hadn't seen Uriel in quite a state for a while, although he had definitely seen him in worse. No matter, henever enjoyed seeing Uriel in such states, knowing that his closest friend could get hurt in ways like this tormented him in ways that barely anything else could.

Tyraz - Uriel! Alessa! What happened to you both?
Uriel - Volkarus...Alive...wanted...Alessa...

Tyraz stepped back and his jaw dropped in shock at those first tw owords, gasping out.

Tyraz - Volkarus...is still around? Are you sure?

Uriel nodded slowly and solemnly, with as much dread in such news as one would expect. At that moment, Tyraz's composure collapsed, a mix of fear and rage as he tightly clenched his jaws, his eyes flared and narrowed. It was difficult ot tell whether he was terrified at this news or livid in a way few others could express. As his blood boiled, Urie llooked at him with pained eyes as his injury continued ot trickle blood.

Tyraz - This is the third time...The third goddamned time! How, how does he keep RETURNING?!
Uriel - I saw a Zazane with him...bigger...meaner. Wanted to harm Alesa with serums...
Alessa - Volkarus called him "Pyrak", is that any help?
Tyraz - Pyrak? I...I thought he died when the Khaxvis fleet was destroyed. He must have somehow escaped...little pest, he should be snuffed out as soon as possible. He's a nasty piece of work.
Uriel - I will...have the blood dragons...redouble their efforts...hunting the Kahxvis.
Tyraz - They are the rats of this galaxy! No matyter how hard our efforts, they continue to return with even more twisted schemes and plots! They're persistent and I hate the persistent type!

Uriel reached out his hand and rested it on Tyraz's shoulder. He smiled as best as he could in his current state, weary breathing accompanying the expression.

Alessa - I will get Father to a clinic. It was a pleasuer seeing you again Tyraz.

Tyraz looked to Alessa and smiled, taking her hand and stroking it softly as a gentleman would.

Tyraz - I can say the same, mistress Alessa. I hope that you are alright after this ordeal, it would be a shame to discover if you had undergone any serious damage or injury.
Alessa - I almost did so...

As Tyraz comforted Alessa, Uriel suddenly cringed and doubled forward in pain, tugging her forward and almost making her stumble. Tyraz jolted to help keep Uriel standing

Uriel - I'm fien I'm fine...something Pyrak injected into me.
Tyraz - You might want to take a look into that. Never trust anything that a stranger injects into your system.

Uriel nodded as best he could under his current condition. Blood Dragons and palace staff emerged to help Uriel inside. As they took the two of them inside, Tyraz walked forward and looked out across the landing pad. He folded his arms and closed his eyes in contemplation but as he thought and mulled over the new circumstances, his brow furrowed and his grip on his arms tightened, his claws digging int othe plates of his armour and black smoke seeping from his wrists and neck. Progressively his lips curled and his teeth bared, a rumbling growl quietly making its way though his teeth as he seethed. Underneath his eyelids his eyes flickered as he fought to keep his inner demons under control.

Dealing with Devils[]

1st Arcarena ID.219503

Gnorvi had finished issuing more orders and retreated to his chambers in this palace. As he shut the door behind him he felt a presence within the shadows. In a dimly-lit corner of the room were a pair of hovering red eyes, illuminated in the darkness. Connected them was a large red Draconis body - Volkarus.

Volkarus - Enjoying my gifts to you?
Gnorvi - My body is reacting as if it was a disease. No, I am not enjoy your "gifts".

Gnorvi coughed loudly. Unexpectedly to Volkarus, it appeared that Gnorvi's body was reacting negatively to his essence.

Volkarus - Perhaps a blood pact was not the surest way of giving them to you. In fact i'm surprised you have been affected.
Gnorvi - I hope you did not come all the way here to mock me.

Volkarus stepped out of the shadows and looked up and down at Gnorvi.

Volkarus - I'm not some trickster. If I had known you would be affected in such a way I may have had second thoughts.
Gnorvi - Fix it, then, if you wanted to be sucessful so much.

Volkarus nodded and stepped forward, he pressed his hand against Gnorvi's chest.

Volkarus - I will have my second find out what this may be, but I came here for a different purpose. Namely, your dealings with this "Clan of Daren."
Gnorvi - The deals I make with others are my concern, not yours.
Volkarus - Oh it is a concern, for I have dealt with someone by the name of "Daren" before. And from the conversation you had it would not surprise me if this "Cattalix" happens to be one of the man's spawn.
Gnorvi - I care not for his children, what matters to me is their genetic experiments. I am not ignorant to the Clan of Daren's power, and I'm preparing countermesures in case they decide to turn on me.
Volkarus - Oh they will. Descension energies or not you are a dung-covered insect in their eyes and they will not hesitate to discard you once you are no longer useful to them.
Gnorvi - And that will be the worst mistake of their lives. When my essence-dampering mental-control apparatus is complete, they will have no need for free speech anymore.

Volkarus lifted his hands away and took a few steps back, folding his arms. He then chuckled at Gnorvi's previous comment.

Volkarus - I suggest you keep that project under very. TIGHT. observation. of course...thinking that you can stand up to them they might also consider that a grievous mistake.
Gnorvi - My people is not ignorant to essence but we have little knowledge about it at the moment. But I swear, I will turn this Cattalix into my personal errand boy.
Volkarus - Kol Daren has betrayed me before, if you can stand up to him you have my active support.
Gnorvi - Our bonds intensify then, Khaxvis. Now, what exactly have you done to me?

Volkarus turned around and lifted and clenched his fist. The effects of which caused the room to begin trembling. Gnorvi's eyes widened and he held up to his throne.

Volkarus - My power has bled through to you. An effect of our blood pact perhaps.
Gnorvi - You mean I can do that too now?

Volkarus opened his palm and the trembling stopped.

Volkarus - To a lesser extent.
Gnorvi - Oh...I see...

Gnorvi held his palms and grinned.

Volkarus - Consider yourself blessed, Grand Admiral, For even now you hold power beyond most mortals.
Gnorvi - I already said I am not ignorant to essence power. But still, thank you, Volkarus. This will surely be useful in our little plan.
Volkarus - The power is still embryonic, you have only recieved a fraction of my ptential but that fraction will expand. But unlike me you are still mortal...for now....perhaps.
Gnorvi - The sickness ends, and is replaced with reinvigoration...

Volkarus turned around and rested his palm on Gnorvi's shoulder.

Volkarus - All you need to do is learn to harmess it. I shall provide you with one of my Blessed Few as a mentor.
Gnorvi - Hmm. This is nice of you.

With a snap of his fingers, another Khaxvis appeared in the room and bowed. Clad in black armour, darkened red scales and ruby-red eyes.

Volkarus - Soverius, I trust you can teach the Grand Admiral here what you know of your gifts.
Soverius - It will be an honour to impart my knowledge to another follower, my master.
Gnorvi - Well, it is a pleasure to meet you. I hope to not be held back in this training. I want to learn the full extent of this power.
Soverius - I will not, Grand Admiral.
Gnorvi - Well, we should begin as soon as possible, then.
Volkarus - I have other matters to attend to so I shall bid you farewell Grand Admiral. Remember: Look at Clan Daren as though they were to turn on you at any moment.
Gnorvi - I will take note of that.

Volkarus dissapeared in a cloud of black energy, leaving Gnorvi to look at Soverius who smiled excitedly.

Into the Commandant[]

8th Arcarena ID.219503

Following the enslaving of a new species, Commandant Kolger sat on his chair on the bridge of his spaceship, filling up the last lines of his report to the Grand Admiral. Like he had instructed, it was either persuasion or enslavement, and Kolger was not exactly famous for being persuasive. Kolger was what every Gros soldier aspired to be: strong, ruthless, feared and dreaded by lesser beings. Being bioengineered from birth, Kolger was the pinnacle of the Stratocracy's power.

Yet not even such power would save him from the powers of corruption. Someone was hearing rumours about a certain Grand Admiral obtaining strange powers, and was interested in paying him a visit. But he needed a way of getting to him. And what better way of getting to someone than to go through their close friends?

The man in question was the demon Zazane Varugr. Teleporting himself into Kolger's ship, he shifted his being into the shadows of the ship, making his way to the captain's bridge. As he walked, he passed through a group of Gros soldiers, as well as some working slaves.

Gros Soldier - Hmpf. You'd expect the great commandant's ship to have more suitable drones. These ones are already tired.
Gros Engineer - Do not insult the commandant. You should be thankful you are here in the first place.
Varugr - Those muscles, that body mass...I must taste you, now.
Gros Soldier - Who said that?

Varugr immediately appeared from the shadows and pierced through the Gros' chests with his blade-sharp tentacles, lifting him off the ground and bashing them against a wall. They had no time to react, and agonized on the floor, while the invader engulfed the slaves into its tail jaw. The Gros widened their eyes as Varugr approached them next, and ate them. After this "meal", he had a grin on his face.

Varugr - Those workers are weak, pathetic...and the leaders are nutricious, yet ugly...but you are not the ones I seek.

As Varugr progressed, he kept consuming every unfortunate soldier or slave on his way to the captain's bridge. Upon getting there, Kolger was resting on his chair, having finished his report. Varugr made himself visible behind him, and chuckled.

Varugr - Are you sleeping on the job, Gros?

Kolger immediately turned to Varugr, his eyes widened. He got from his chair and put out his blade, which electrified itself. Around the room, various soldiers put out their rifles and aimed at Varugr.

Kolger - I don't know who you are or how you got here, Zazane. But you have made a terrible mistake!
Varugr - Is this how you treat your guests? You won't even serve me a good meal?
Kolger - Fire!

The soldiers all fired their rigles in unison. The usual result of so many shots at one target would be bloody gibs all over the floor. Varugr, however, stood still and took the shots, flinching at them. The entire group fired for nearly ten seconds until they stopped, and Varugr was still standing. The wounds on his body closed themselves and he turned to Kolger again.

Varugr - So rude.
Kolger - What the...

Varugr extended his arms, and blasts of Nightmare Energy engulfed the room, hitting the soldiers and sending them all flying to their deaths. Kolger's jaw dropped, but he put himself back together.

Kolger - You are no Zazane. You are a Corruptus demon!
Varugr - Are we this popular? I was not aware...
Kolger - I may have not had the chance to fight your kind years ago, but this changes now!
Varugr - Yes, show me your strength, Gros!

Kolger confronts Varugr

Kolger charged at Varugr, tackling him and then stabbing his blade through the Zazane's chest. Varugr let himself get hit, perhaps out of curiosity as of how strong the Commandant really was, and as he was hit, he grunted in pain as his insides were electrocuted by the blade. Out of retaliation, Varugr striked at Kolger's face in a slash, knocking him away. The slash formed a large wound, but Kolger didn't care for it. He thrust himself forward and delivered a kick into Varugr's chest, knocking him against a wall.

Varugr hit the wall and fell forward on his knees, on a defenseless position. Kolger used the opportunity and charged at him again. However, Varugr smiled. He was playing with his prey. Tentacles extended out of his back and launched themselves into Kolger's limbs, immobilizing them. Kolger saw himself being lifted upwards by the tentacles and then bashed against the ceiling of the captain's bridge, all while Varugr had his arms crossed and a smile on his face. The Gros commandant was bashed continuously until Varugr dropped him on the ground, barely conscious.

Kolger - Urk...urgh...
Varugr - Stronger than the others. But still ugly. Imperfect. You will take me to your leader now.
Kolger - You are...no boss of-

Before Kolger could finish his sentence, Varugr's body turned into a black fog which invaded the Gros commandant's ears and mouth. Kolger struggled on the floor, his mind being replaced by Varugr's, until the demonic possession was complete. Varugr looked at his own hands, and scowled.

Kolger - Such an ugly body...but it will do, for now.

The Teacher and the Pupil[]

Junior Inquisitor Dirrik had been called to visit the study of his monastery's senior inquisitor. The woman wasn't clear on the purpose of the summons.
Dirrik- Yes, you called me?
Sitting on a chair at the side of the room was Kelsos, dressed in casual clothing. he gave Dirrik a stern look up and down as the senior turned to Dirrik with a warm smile.
Senior - Dirrik, this is Kelsos, do you remember what we talked about?
Dirrik looked at Kelsos with a curious look
Dirrik- My mentor, finally, I grew impatient with you
Senior - His duties took up his time.
Kelsos looked rather sternly at Dirrik.
Dirrik- I did not understand the situation sir
Kelsos - Apologies. But I have matters that are more important than taking on a new student.
Dirrik- Hmph, I understand, must've been crazy
kelsos - That is classified to your position.
Senior - Kelsos, perhaps you would like to get acquainted with Dirrik out in the grounds?
Dirrik smirked
Kelsos lifted himself out of his chair and walked over to Dirrik, he beckoned to Dirrik to follow him into the grounds.
Dirrik - Nice place
Kelsos - How did you find your training?
Dirrik - Combat was easy, essence and meditation...Not
Kelsos - You expect your life to be?
Dirrik - Yes I do
As they walked, Kelsos took a deep breath.
Kelsos - Let's see... tell me about yourself Dirrik; what are your motivations and your ambitions?
Dirrik - I wish for Andromeda and the galaxies to be safer
Dirrik - more peaceful
Dirrik - But I must strive for such a thing to happen
Kelsos - Don't we all? But please, indulge me, we will be working together so I would like to know everything about you.
Dirrik sighed
Dirrik showed Kelsos a large scar that ran down all the way down his right leg
Kelsos gave Dirrik a stern look.
Dirrik - this scar I got when I was 17
My home was attacked by cultist on a Brood planet
Kelsos - Hm.
Dirrik - My family died and fled to the Draconoid Imperium for safety
Kelsos - You are not suited to be my student.
Dirrik gave Kelsos a stern look
Dirrik - the Brood was not safe
Kelsos - That is not why you are not suited. I gave you a quick test, you failed.
Dirrik - What quick test?
Kelsos - I asked you to tell me about yourself.
Kelsos - What if I was an infiltrator? An enemy?
Dirrik - ...
Dirrik - Then I have given away my infomation
Kelsos - Vigilance and anonymity are our greatest defences.
Kelsos - Did you ever wonder why you had to discard your family name?
Or why you could never learn mine?
Dirrik - Yes, otherwise we would be vulnerable
Enemies could track us down
Kelsos - Not just us, but our relatives.
Dirrik remembered his extended family
They were still alive
Kelsos - That story you told me, from that I could work out that your family had once lived in the Brood of War, that they now live in the Imperium and that you had at once time suffered a leg injury.
If I spoke any more I could have given their whereabouts....
Kelsos - You have learned.
Dirrik - Maybe you’re not too shabby
Kelsos smirked as he looked out into the monastery gardens.
Dirrik looked with his mentor
Kelsos - In time, perhaps you could become an accomplished operative. But do not let this cloud your judgement.
Dirrik - I must work hard, harder than the hardest I could do for such a thing to happen
Kelsos - Mhm. Listen, I have been requested to head to the Segmentum Draco-Adniliho border.
Klesos - I made a pledge to teach you to become an accomplished agent and protect you in the next phase of your training.
Dirrik listened with curiosity
Kelsos - I will warn you now I will push you. I have little choice. But I would rather not fill your head with what glory may come. After all, what happens now dictates the future.
Dirrik - I was born to be pushed!
kelsos - I will be the judge of that.

Varugr's Takeover[]

15th Arcarena ID.219503

Soverius was in a practice room the two had allocated for training. Soverius was presently showing Gnorvi breating techniques to get his energies flowing.

Soverius - Remember. It is all in concentration. Let your mind swim in the violent thoughts you may suppress.
Gnorvi - Hmm...very well.
Soverius - Observe...

Soverius held out his arm and closed his eyes, directing the arm to a slave in front of him. The slave suddenly began to feel hot, then he screamed as Soverius had begun boiling his blood. Gnorvi watched, curious. He turned to another slave and attempted to do the same.

Soverius - Remember, channel the rage burning inside you. Make him feel it!

Gnorvi growled and concentrated harder, until the slave began agonizing. As Gnorvi concentrated the slave collapsed, and black flames ignited across its body. Causing it to scream even more.

Gnorvi - Heheheh...I'm liking this considerably.
Soverius - Yes, yes yes! You are doing well Grand Admiral. The Master was wise to bless you with this most gloriosu of gifts!

At this moment, explosions and the sounds of gunfire were heard out of the room.

Gnorvi - ...Do you hear this?
Soverius - I do. Are you sure there is no scheduled combat practice today?
Gnorvi - There isn't...

Loud beating sounds were heard and a Cheurith slave was seen being blasted through the wall, being launched inside the training room. Outside the wall, the building burned in purple fire.

Soverius - What is this insolence!
Gnorvi - Whoever is doing this will make a good slave, surely.

A large, deep blue Gros with blood red eyes emerged from the flames and let out a roar.

Kolger - Admiral!
Soverius - What-- Is that Kolger?
Gnorvi - That doesn't look like him...Kolger? Is that you?
Kolger - He...wants you! And he will have you!

Tentacles formed out of Kolger's back and he charged into Gnorvi's direction. Soverius drew a corrupted longsword and dived to block Kolger from Gnorvi.

Gnorvi - Kolger, what is this madness?!
Kolger - ...Devourer! Your soul for the Devourer!

Kolger slashed his tentacles at Soverius. He parried some of the tentacles, cutting one or two off but one hit him in the side, leaving him open for a second or two Cutting off the tentacles caused Kolger to let out a shriek. He opened his mouth and a mass of tentacles came out of it, and they slammed at Soverius. He was knocked back. He stomped the floor and caused the flooring underneath Kolger to explode.

Gnorvi - What the hell is this...
Soverius - Admiral go! Vacate these premises!

Kolger was launched upwards and fell on his back. He groaned as he got himself up. Gnorvi tried to escape, but Kolger launched a tentacle at him and immobilied one of his legs.

Soverius - Master Volkarus denies your demands commandant!
Kolger - Master Kriese cares not!
Soverius - Kriese?

Kolger charged entropic energy on his palms and fired it at Soverius, who took the blasts and was knocked into the back wall, hurt, but still alive. Kolger lifted Gnorvi into the air and threw him next to Soverius. As they were both floored, a black fog came out of Kolger's mouth and began to take form next to him. Varugr.

Soverius coughed - Master Kriese... I presume?

Varugr approached Soverius and examined him, breathing heavily across Soverius' neck as he analyzed him. He had a smile on his face and he stood taller than Soverius, covered in impressive but somehow unnatural muscle.

Varugr - That's Prince Kriese to you.
Soverius - Do I care for your title?
Kolger - You only speak when ordered to, scum!
Gnorvi - Kolger...you align yourself to demons!?

Varugr turned to Gnorvi sharply and roared at him, splattering blood in his directions that clearly wasn't his own, as it possessed different colours and thickness.

Varugr - I am no demon!
Gnorvi - Get away from me, Corruptus filth!
Soverius - The only authority I submit to is my master Volkarus!
Varugr - Volkarus...A name alien to me. If he is your master, I hope he shall not miss your corpse.
Soverius - Learn it well alien. The true master of the Imperium!
Kolger - Your Imperium is no match for the Devourer!
Soverius - Don't you dare talk back to me puppet!

Kolger slammed Soverius again with his tentacles. Varugr smirked and his tail jaws growled aggressively, its sharp teeth dripping with blood and saliva. It approached Soverius, passing itself around his body like some sort of snake going in to catch and kill its prey.

Varugr - He is no puppet, his use is far more extensive.
Kolger - I am pleased to serve the real god.
Gnorvi - Insolent! You are not the Kolger I knew!

Kolger grabbed Gnorvi and began choking him to keep him shut. Soverius waited, seeing his chance he grasped for the tail and tried to burn it with energies from his hand. The jaws approached Soverius' face in an attempt to intimidate the Descended Draconis, hissing loudly as it got closer.

Varugr - Gnorvi, you are such a hypocrit. You accuse my dear friend of placing his alliegance with demons...yet you yourself are under the influence of semi-mortal filth.
Gnorvi - At least they do not blindly follow an apocalyptic god! You are just another of the Legion's bootlicks!
Kolger - SILENCE!

Kolger hurled Gnorvi across the room, breaking his legs in the impact. Gnorvi let out a pained roar. Soverius growled and as the tail his at him he vanished in a cloud of black energy, reappearing behind Varugr and impaling him with his blade

Soverius - How DARE you commit such blasphemy!

Varugr watched the blade pass through his torso and out the other side, staring down at it with a smirk. He stood still with his arms wide, but his tail continued to sway aggressively as if it had a mind of its own. Travelling with much agility through the air, Soverius felt his left arm become disconnected from his torso - the tail's force had dismembered it.

Varugr - Come on, do it again. Touch me, attack me. Hate me.

Soverius' eyes darted to see his left arm was now a stump. Driving the sword in he attempted to throw Varugr aside. Varugr, using just a single hand, grabbed ahold of the tip of the blade that pointed out from his torso. With little effort, the blade snapped and Varugr dropped the end of the blade onto the floor. His tail, in response to Soverius attempting to throw him aside, descended downwards with its mouth wide, enveloping the whole of Soverius' head.

Varugr - I want to feel your hate inside me...

Soverius let out a muffled scream as the mouth engulfed his head, he used his remaining hand to grip the throat and attempted to burn it off. Kolger watched the scene letting out a low-pitched laugher. Varugr's tail didn't react much to Soverius' burning, perhaps an outcome of possessing so much bulk. It travelled downwards, engulfing Soverius' torso inside itself and pinning his arms at his sides, making him easier to swallow. Gnorvi could only watch as his mentor was soon engulfed completely inside the tail's structure.

Suddenly, the bulge that was Soverius disappeared in a swift movement, followed by disgusting sounds of breaking and wet squelching. Inside the tail's throat, the Draconis was little more than paste.

Kolger - Such is the fate of heretics and insects who dare oppose the master.
Varugr - Oooh, a strange, eccentric and fresh taste indeed. Unlike the others. It feels...tangy, refreshing. Do I detect...third-generation Descension energy?

Gnorvi agonized on the floor, incapable of getting up due to his injuries. Kolger walked up to him and pressed his foot on his chest.

Kolger - You shall not leave.
Gnorvi - All I wanted was for my species to be the strongest...is this really a deserving fate?

Varugr approached Gnorvi, smirking down at him with his tail jaws hungrily. However, the tail didn't attack Gnorvi as it did Soverius. Varugr leaned down and grabbed Gnorvi by his lower jaw, staring into his eyes.

Varugr - Allow me to correct your alliegance.
Gnorvi - A Gros...being brainwashed...it is...ironic...

Opening Gnorvi's jaws, Varugr's image dissipitated into thick smoke of purple shades before forcefully allowing itself inside his mouth and nostrils, choking the Gros at first. After several seconds, Gnorvi's body began to convulse and twitch violently until a sudden stop. The smoke had cleared from the area, Varugr was gone. Gnorvi agonized for several seconds until he finally stopped. Nightmare energy erupted from his eyes.

Gnorvi - ...Ave Shu'ulathoi!

Demon Mind[]

15th Senvinida, ID.219503

Volkarus paced about his chambers as a Blessed One stood before him. His scars were stil lfresh fro mhis ordeal against Uriel, Pyrak meanwhile was down in the lower levels conducting more twistid experiments, one recent breakthrough being an improvement to the genenome he had offered help t odevise for the Superzazane project. After a few minutes of pacing around Volkarus turned his blood-red eyes to stare at the Blessed One beside him, which sent a chill down the man's spine. Volkarus was contemplating recent news that he had lost contact with Grand Admiral Gnorvi.

Volkarus - Soverius is dead. And all he was there to do was teach the Grand-Admiral some competence!
One - Apologies master! We've tried sending dispatches to Karmatagh but we're having no word.
Volkarus - Leave me, i'll sort this out myself.
One - Are you certain Ma--
Volkarus - LEAVE ME!

The One straigtened himself and backed towards the door, a little panicked at Volkarus' outburst. After retreating through the threshold of the door Volkarus paced to the other side of the rom and leaned over a desk. He closed his eyes, concentrating. As he focussed his mental capabilities to try and establish some form of link with his selected target, he felt nothing as if something was - for a few seconds - blocking him. After several moments of concentration, he recieved some form of response.

Volkarus - Gnorvi...you had better respond because I demand answers!
Gnorvi - What is the meaning of your interference?
Volkarus - I beg your pardon? I recieve reports your palace was attacked and I hear nothing from you until now. Worse, one of my own Blessed Few was lost in your company.
Gnorvi - The attack was settled with the unfortunate cost of your Blessed One. It was none of your concern. I am fine. Volkarus - And what could possibly have ended his life?
Gnorvi - ...It is none of your concern. I expect replacement for what was lost.
Volkarus - Gnorvi...The Blessed Few are not easy to replace and I value each and every one of them. Now tell me how he fell!
Gnorvi - ...He suffered severe injury.
Volkarus - Enough to kill him, yes yes. And what caused such damage.
Gnorvi - The attacker, obviously. Are you even paying attention?
Volkarus - You should work on that attitude, it is counterproductive to your progress towards self-control.
Gnorvi - Your Blessed One was murdered by the attacker during the assault. That is the information you requested.
Volkarus - I requested waht kindof injuries he had sustained. Beings like him and I cannot die from such trivial wounds such as blood loss or dismemberment. We require the destruction of the entire body.
Gnorvi - Well, there is your answer. His body was destroyed.
Volkarus - Well of curse it was destroyed, what destroyeed it other tha nthe attacker. How was it destroyed, who was your attacker! Where did this attitude of your suddenly coem from Grand Admiral.

Volkarus became agitated, while Gnorvi was too far away to feel it personally, a faint red aura was intensifying around his ally.

Gnorvi - It was destroyed through physical means. And my attacker is a being that possesses enough power to destroy your Blessed Few through such methods.
Volkarus - ...And you decided NOT to tell me? Have you lost your mind Gnorvi!?
Gnorvi - I did not assume I needed to tell you. My headquarters was attacked, your operative died. You should stick two and two together.
Volkarus - I care for by blessed ones, simply assuming I will shrug at the loss of one and lightly send a replacement is not the attitude I follow.
Gnorvi - The answer was beneath your nose, in front of your eyes yet you are too lazy to think. Shows how much you truly care.

Volkarus slammed his fist against his desk, cracking the reinforced laminated wood. THe desk had weathers assaults liek this before, it needed to given Volkarus' power

Volkarus - And your train of thought led you to decide I should pull such knowledge out of you with repeated questions rather tell me straight what in the abyssal void happened!
Gnorvi - Do as you please, you lazy, ungrateful filth.
Volkarus - WHAT DID YOU SAY?
Gnorvi - ...Nothing.
Volkarus - I recall it. You insulted me, are you -trying- to derail our alliance?
Gnorvi - Are you going to find out what happened to your operative or not?
Volkarus - I have been asking you repeatedly what happened to him and os far you have kept it vangue ,in fact you have told me it should be none of my oncern. What are you hiding Gnorvi! What are you keeping from me?

Volkarus focused further in an attempt to probe deeper into GNorvi's mind. He knew that i nthis state Gnorvi wouldn't give him the answers he was asking for so he felt he needed to be mroe invasive. At first he figured that GNorvi's inexperience with such power would allow him to search his mind without hi mbeing aware. But as Volkarus' mind penetrated further into the Gros' mind, he reeled back as imagery and an overflow of thoughts and neural processes flooded into his own head. In clear, vivid yet distorted imagery, Volkarus could see the shattered, crushed remnants of the a skeletal formation that appeared to have been degraded and stored in a dark, slimy storage space. As Volkarus looked into deeper detail, he noticed a single blackened eyeball still attached to a stalk, drained of most of its fluids. The walls around the formation appeared to move inconsistently, pressurizing the bones further. As if they were being digested.

Volkarus did indeed reel, disturbed by the strange imagery. he could not make much sense of it and - not wanting to trly on Gnorvi's testemant, decided to probe deeper still. Looking into it made Volkarus feel as if there were things inside his skin. Tiny tentacles moving around his head, even though there was nothing really happening. Suddenly, the walls pressed in and completely demolished what organic matter had been there, leaving nothing but particle dust of the bones that were once there while the eyeball was absorbed into the material of these "walls". With that feeling of itching and scratching beneath his scales, Volkarus felt bizarre claustrophobia overcome his senses as if he was being surrounded and pressurizied from all directions. Feeling uncomfrtable, he began panting, breathing erratically, even bending over as the feeling against his scales persisted. He winced and felt very uncomfotable with everything he saw. As his attempt to probe deeper into the mind persisted, his eyes and all other senses aside from his claustrophobic feeling of atmosphere were blotted and rendered useless for a brief moment. When his telepathic sight returned, his eyeballs and brain felt charred and burned by blazing rays of almost-divine light - a sun, his eyes fixed directly onto his flesh of gases.

Volkarus shook his head, these visions were very vivid, more discomofrting than he would have liked.

Volkarus - Stop playing games Gnorvi. For your sake...please...stop. With. The games!

As Gnorvi's voice shifted in its tone, volume and accent, the image of the star transitioned to a far more unwanted vision, one equally as blinding and disorientating as the sun. Before Volkarus' mind could register what it had been greeted with, it was confronted with an image of a fleshy crevice within a wall of malformed, mutated skin.

Varugr - ...Still blind, still incapable of admiring beauty when one is confronted directly with it. It should be clear to you now, primitive...
Volkarus - ..."Primitive"? Do you know who you are communicating with!

Suddenly from the crevice of skin, a golden substance began to leak as if forced out from an interior mechanic alongside obnoxious, foul-smelling gases. The substance was paste-like in its appearance, yet in texture one would presume it was more...misleading. Beneath the paste's golden colouration, flesh and scales of crimson, bloody red. An indicator, Volkarus realised, that this stranger hw was contacting, wh ohe now realised had posed as Gnorvi, had plans for the resurgence.

Volkarus - Red...paste...you...you consumed one of MY kin!
Varugr - And I shall consume you, as well as the rest of your kin!
Volkarus - Come close to my fleet and I will tear you apart before you can even sense me.
Varugr - ...How would you know...I'm not already there?
'Volkarus - The communications blackout. You deliberately isolated the Stratocracy for what? Gnorvi?

From the cave that spat out the paste, multiple degraded, steaming skeletons were also thrown and rejected from the hole without mercy or visible difficulty. They were Draconis skeletons, bearing cybernetic enhancements and modifications to the skeletal structure that were also degraded. More indicators that Varugr was attempting to torment and provoke Volkarus by showing him what he could identify as his kin.

Varugr - You would not understand.
Volkarus - Oh I do and I have been down a similar direction. I will tel lyou a secret now: I met my end as a result of that path.
Varugr - I shall not meet mine.
Volkarus - Hrmph, we shal lsee then won't we. However if you desire to see beauty, there is always the Draconid Imperium. Just remember that it is destined to be mine.
Varugr - There is no speck of glory within the kingdom of infertile soil that you desire. Only She is truly beautiful. Only Her.
Volkarus - That sphere of hydrogen that burned out my eyes? Hrmph, you are in love with a source of almost boundless energy. There are billions like "her" in this galaxy, and personally I find it a primitive feeling you have expressive feelings for a star.
Varugr - The only difference between us, black king, is that I can achieve the absolute favour of what I desire.

Volkarus felt he had had enough of listening to this raving madman, who promised to devour the resurgence and pledged everalsting affection to an unremarkable star in some distant part of the galaxy. VOlkarus didn't need this and in frustration he severed the connection and slumped in a nearby chair. Witnessing Varugr only reminded of his own time as an all-devouring monster, driven insane by the overwhelming desire to consume and devour any who crossed hsi parh. He remembered vividly where it led, he had sworn to himself upon remembering that he would not head down such a twisted route ever again.

Volkarus - Deluded fool...

Remnants Of A Dire War[]

20th Selpinod ID.219503

Volkarus was pacing up and down in front of his throne within the enclave he was using as a headquarters. He still bore scars from when Uriel fought him off several months ago, including a mark down the middle of his chin. The mutilations he'd suffered - his leg, his jaw, his stomach and his arm - Had closed themselves up months ago but faint marks remained. Volakrus felt begrudged that Uriel had scarred his perfect image, he paced briskly with his mind deep in thought. As his mind was drawn to the events above Alcanti he clenched his fist and slammed it into a pillar.

Volakrus - How could that half-blood bastard best me! I had planned everything, I could not have possibly failed!

As Volkarus paced about, black energy leaked from his fists, he was furious, his chest pumping as he headbutted another pillar, denting it considerably. Pyrak looked indifferent to Volkarus' anger, watching as his master vented his frustration on the room while he stood beside the massive throne. He possessed a vertical scar across his torso and back that was in plain sight. The sign of where Uriel had plunged his sword through Pyrak's body in an attempt to save his daughter.

Pyrak - If it consoles anything upon your mind, I have the dog locked up in a fear therapy chamber.

Volkarus was slightly satisfied with this news - marked with a slight curl of the end of his lip - but he continued to pant out of frustration. He looked about and turned his crimson eye towards Pyrak.

Volkarus - For what she did I'd wring her pathetic neck to within an inch of her life...
Pyrak - She is experiencing worse in the chamber.
Volkarus - Worse? Worse? Hmhmhm... She deserves to feel like the anaemic mess of kranndung she proved herself to be!
Pyrak - We already make it feel that way, my Lord.
Volkarus - But what of you...Even when, urgh, "Uriel" stood snout to snout with you did you do anything to stop him!

As Volkarus and Pyrak talked the console built into Volkarus' throne. Hearing the slow tone of the communicator, Volkarus plodded to his throne and sat down, slouching within it, resting his elbow on an armrest with a hand that cradled his head before pressing panels to activate the communicator.

Pyrak groanined as the image cleared up slowly, but remained indistinct as if it was shaped out of mist. It sparked and blinked, and even looking at it seemed to be difficult. Still, both Volkarus and his servant could discern the shape of the being that appeared before them; it was a reptilian cyborg of some sort, clad in pitch black armour that was grafted to its skin. Its true visage was hidden by a sinister-looking helmet which glowed brightly in the dark, but somehow, by its body language perhaps, Volkarus could understand that the creature he faced wasn't his enemy.

Volkarus - That looks...familliar.
??? - Object: Volkarus Khaxvis, supreme commander of the Khaxvis Resurgence. Question: Is this statement correct? Volkarus - You are talking to the corect person. Identify yourself.
??? - Designation: 1-XX-4-N. Affiliation: The Meta-Empire.

Volkarus leaned back with frustation. Easily recognising the form that stood in front of him, remembering it from the Andromeda War

Volkarus - Grox...
Pyrak - It has been a while since I had witnessed the form of a Grox before.
Ixxan - Specify designation. Statement that this unit is a Grox: incorrect. Statement that this unit is aligned with the Grox Meta-Empire: correct.
Volkaurs - Gah. What do you want.
Ixxan - This unit suggests cooperation. Khaxvis Resurgence: enemy of the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth. Grox Meta-Empire/Ardenta Viceroyalty: enemy of the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth. Khaxvis Resurgence/Ardenta Viceroyalty cooperation probability: 67.9%
Volkarus - You are suggesting an alliance between our two powers? I find such a propposal hard to believe.
Ixxan - Species 19-005 proverb: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Volkarus - An interesting proverb. However what can the Resurgence expect to gain from this deal? Understandably you would gain our knowledge of the Imperium and the support of our cybernetically enhanced soldiers.
Ixxan - This is correct. The Meta-Empire will in turn provide you Grox technology. Your affinity with synthetic enhancements: known to the Meta-Empire. The Meta-Empire will provide more.
Volkarus - Pure Grox technology? An interesting proposal but tell me; why go to you when we can simply take such salvaged technology fro mthe black markets.
Ixxan - Only we know how to use it to a full extent.

Volkarus sat and pondered in thought for a few minutes. He then looked towards Ixxan.

Volkarus - Deep Core astrographic charts. Surely you know the segmentum ebtter than anyone. Would you be weilling to part with this infomration?
Ixxan - This is correct...

Ixxan pondered for a second. Something else was clearly on his mind.

Ixxan - This unit questions your awareness of Planet Cathemera.
Volkarus - I have heard it in stories. The early Commonwealth went there to find a cure for a nanoplague unleashed by the Grox. After the war's conclusion the commonwealth locked the planet down. Other than that I do not know anything.
Ixxan - Cathemera holds advanced technology: project Infinity in particular. You have the resources to reach it. We have the knowledge. Volkarus - Project Infinity? Enlighten me.

Volkarus leaned forward, his frown changing to curiosity. As Ixxan's talk peeked his interest, much to Pyrak's stoic andcautionary look.

Ixxan - Technorganic battlesuit used by Supreme Viceroy Commander Grochius II.
Volkarus - I already have a perfect body, thanks in-part to my second.
Pyrak - I grew it single-handedly for months.
Volkarus - Augmented with the greatest technology this galaxy has to offer...other than what the Grox directly posess. Pyrak perhaps this "Project Infinity" could be used to our advantage if we understood the technology behind it.
Ixxan - Size: 20 metres. Technology: High Tier 1 in Gigaquadrantic standards. Project Infinity is of great use to both of us.
Pyrak - It does sound remarkably promising.
Volkarus - If we could replicate the enhancements...Descension is but one way to create unstoppable warriors.
Ixxan - Are we allies then?
Volkarus - Such an alliance would be precarious, but so long as you uphold your end of the bargain. I forsee a promising partnership.
Ixxan - Excellent. Logging out...

Ixxan emitted an array of beeping sounds which seemed to have some meaning in the Grox cybernetic language, and then vanished. Volkarus sat back into a slouching position as the transmission ended. Pyrak looked at him with a look of concern on hi sface, finally speaking out after leaving Volkarus to discuss such matters with Ixxan on his own.

Pyrak - Are we so desperate as to turn to the most despised of beings for assistance?
Volkarus - The Grox posess technology not even the Commonwealth can match. But we must remain vigilant. This "Ixxan" can always turn on us, we treat him liek any business contract and keep him at arm's reach. Pyrak keep our units on standby and check all incoming technology for anything they could use to turn the tide. I do not want a repeat of Oreleva's mistake!
Pyrak - ...Affirmative, my Lord. But it would be wise to remind you of the incident with Kol Daren. Volkarus - I do not plan to become a puppet of the meta-empire!
??? - Of course you don't...

Volkarus peered around. A subtle whisper had ringed in Volkarus head; it was barely audible, but he could hear all the words as clear as if they were said by an orator high upon a stage. Volakrus looked to Pyrak, wondering if he had said anything.

Volkarus - ...Pyrak did you say something else?
Pyrak - Not that I last recall, my master.
Volkarus - Nevermind then. That reminds me, did we ever gain any of his genetic material?
Pyrak - I lost it in the ensuing chaos and destruction of the fleet.

Volkarus pounded the armrest of his throne in frustration. Furious at how his insanity and hubris had ersulted in the Resurgence losing any sample of one of the most powerful genetic codes in Andromeda while the thought that Kol Daren himself had escaped with a perfect vial of the resurgence's Superzazane genome. The voice rang out in his mind again, distracting him from the matter.

??? - On Cathemera, there is power beyond the Grox. There is the Melody.
Volkarus - No matter. I think I need to rest.
Pyrak - I shall have my men prepare your quarters.
Volkarus - I thank you Pyrak.

Volkarus prulled himself from his chair and plodded out of the throen room holding his head, holding his head as though he was suffering some ill effects of tiredness.

Yet as a descended being, Volkarus had no need for sleep. He never tired, but relaxing was still on his mind after the strange voices crept through his skull.

Firestorm above Karnagtah[]

Thunderstorms tore their way through the turbulent lead grey skies of Karnagtah as the New Dawn made its entrance to the planet. From the captain's bridge's many cameras, Arnas observed the carnage, an expression of horror embedded into her snout. The ground, sown with rusting husks of destroyed starships and bombed buildings, fertilised with the fires of industry and warfare and watered with toxic rains, was agonising with its very being; it trembled almost as if it was weeping, begging for release. Breathing heavily and nervously, Arnas sat on her chair, thinking to herself, making assumptions, guesses. Was that the months of unrelenting, remorseless warfare that devastated the planet so badly? Was that the work of the slavers themselves, disregarding the needs of their mother planet as they disregarded the needs of the billions of those unfortunate creatures they had conquered, brainwashed and forced into drudgery and obedience? Whatever caused the current state of Karnagtah, the result was very much obvious. If there was Hell, it was there.

Vesperon - Such desolation... - the holographic image of the Chancellor closed its eyes reminiscing the wars of yore that had long since become history to all but its veterans, like himself. The Siege of Voytrad springs to mind.
Baka'niju - Siege of Voytrad?
Vesperon - The most important battle of the Imperium's war against the Federal Union. I fought alongside Genderr back then.

Baka'niju bowed silently in acknowledgement and turned his sight towards the screen. The New Dawn made its thundering entrance on the surface of the ravaged world; its engines screeched and howled as they tore their way through Karnagtah's toxic air, breaking through the dull grey smog that covered its lower atmosphere. The initial fear the Gros capital instilled into Arnas gave way to curiosity: horrible as it was, its twisted, techno-gothic countenance was captivating, if nightmarish. As she and the rest of the crew kept staring, a slick, shadowy figure slipped through the New Dawn's hull, unseen, unheard and unnoticed... right until it reached the captain's bridge and tapped Arnas on the back.

??? - Dei'Nar shenthar'ae'sai, captain.
Arnas - Who- who are you?! - Arnas grabbed her pistol nigh-immediately, preparing to protect herself. Before her stood a tall, vivid purple female Fyrvrtha clad in a a black bodyglove, covered from fringe to tail in biomechanical enhancements. Tall even for a member of her species, she towered above all crew members save for Tiny, yet still somehow retained a certain degree of elegeance despite her size, moving with strange, marine, alien grace, much like a octopus she resembled. Her six cybernetic eyes that carried an uncanny similarity to Grox visors stared at Arnas, unblinking, illuminating the room with their sinister blood red glow. Almost by instinct the Draconis captain backed away. Something in the mysterious Fyrvrtha's appearance was playing at Arnas's primal fears; it was akin to a deadly marine predator of some sort, an extinct leviathan from prehistoric times that had long since vanished from the universe, but not from the Draconis' collective subconscious. A nightmare come true.

Ayn - Stand down, officer. I'm your friend. The name's Ayn-3S, Divinarium's Eye.
N'rai - ...Are you the one behind the slave rebellion?
Ayn - That is correct. - Ayn's voice, modulated by speakers inside her suit, resembled that of a young Radeon woman: feminine, even sultry, but also somewhat monotonous and mechanical in its tone, it contrasted vividly with her grotesque, cephalophod physical form and created a jarring dissonance that unnerved the crew even more than her appearance alone - We were their backers.
Vesperon - I demand answers! What is the Eye doing here?
Ayn - The Eye protects the Divinarium's interests in the Gigaquadrant, and the Divinarium's interests require Gros imperialism to be curbed through slave uprising. We do not need to answer to the Commonwealth or any of its officials... but we can request your aid.

A wide scowl appeared on Vesperon's snout, like a tumultous storm inside his head that was about to be released upon the world. It was obvious he did not like how the events were unfolding.

Vesperon - I'm afraid we cannot help you then. The New Dawn has its own reasons to stay on this planet's surface, and our goals do not-
Quendor - With all due respect, Chancellor, the Gros are a threat to Andromeda and allied with the Brotherhood. Striking their capital down would cripple both of them.
Vesperon - You are not in control of this mission, officer - I am! You are meant to comply- - Vesperon took a deep breath and calmed down somewhat - ...very well, Telnhao. Let your captain decide the following course of action, but remember - the retrieval of Adaru is of paramount importance. Try not to fail me. Maltris out.

Vesperon's image flickered and vanished from the captain's bridge, along with Ayn's warped form which vanished as quickly as it appeared. Once again the New Dawn's crew was left alone.

Quendor - So what are we going to do?
Arnas - ...We split again.

The Last Meeting

Azanri, Kolger and Gnorvi meet.

As the New Dawn descended on Karnagtah's surface, an urgent meeting was being held in the capitol of the Stratocracy. It wasn't a matter of politics, diplomacy or economy - it was a matter of survival. The Gros Admirals - those of them who survived the initial series of Gros rebel attacks, that is - gathered in Gnorvi's headquarters now from all over the Stratocracy, ceding their worlds to the ever-growing flame of rebellion. Some were looking at each other nervously, biting their nails in frustration, while others stomped their feet out of rage born of impotence; only Kolger, strangely deformed, remained calm, single-minded in his cold anger. There was but one thing that unified them, and that was a question, a question they had asked to themselves a thousand times over since the rebellion began: how? How did the weaklings manage to crush the immortal juggernout of Karnagtah? Why was the Stratocracy, once a bastion of order and power whose rulers' will was iron and wrath inescapable, just falling apart like an intricate cardhouse? Who in the world was powerful enough to topple their throne of Andromeda's rightful rulers? There was an answer to that question, but for the Admirals, entrenched in their philosophy of social darwinism, it was too terrible to comprehend. It was too terrible for them to understand a single paradigm that the other species of Andromeda took as given: no king, no matter how powerful, could reign forever.

Azanri - Gentlemen, we stand at the brink of the abyss. The question that stands now is not the question of whether we rule. It is the question of whether we survive. - one of the admirals, a somewhat dignified female Gros clothed in drab gray dress blues which radiated power even despite their ragged, ravaged appearance, was the first to speak, her fiery rhetoric shaking the room. Every passing moment, Gros blood is spilled - on Karnagtah, in space, and on our colonies. We cannot tolerate this any longer. There is but one solution, Admirals, and you know it!
Kolger - And that... is?
Azanri - WE FREE THE DAMNABLE SLAVES! - Azanri's voice became almost visible in the air - Gentlemen, do you realise that this is the only way?! They won't stop at anything to see us - their slavers and conquerors - DEAD!
Admiral - And submit to the... the weak? - a somewhat angry male Gros stood out.
Azanri - Why won't you open your eyes, admiral Ganvara?! Look at Karnagtah! The "WEAK" - Azanri emphasised the word in a sarcastic manner (as much as her loud tone allowed her) - are killing our people at this very instant, on this very planet! Why won't you understand that we are no longer in position to claim the throne of the strongest species in the galaxy?!
Ganvara - This is blasphemy! This is madness! We cannot abandon the ideals of our species that easily-
Azanri - We will have to, one way or another. Either we free the slaves, or they do. Either we survive, or we DIE! Have I made myself perfectly clear?!
Gnorvi - Silence.

Suddenly, a large thump thundered in the room as a large sillhouette - belonging to the glorious leader of the Stratocracy, of course - passed through its doors, dressed in a lavish, aureal attire befitting an emperor of the galaxy - not a petty tyrant he was reduced to. Strangely calm - too calm, in fact, he stared lazily at all the admirals, always retaining a strange, sardonic smile. There was something alien in him, Azanri thought. It was clear that for the last few months, something had changed in him - was it the rebellion that drove him towards insanity... or perhaps something else?

Gnorvi - Gentlemen, this is a test. Now more than ever, our strength is at stake; if we waver now, we will betray everything the Gros have stood for, but if we win, if we send these weakling scum back into their lowly premises, there will be peace and order - once more - under the Stratocracy. - the admirals stood indecisively, touched by Azanri's speech and fearing the maddened Grand Admiral way too much to trust him anymore - We will never compromise.
Azanri - But.. Grand Admiral...
Gnorvi - You're in no position to object. Do your duty, obey my orders and lead the armies of Karnagtah. This meeting is adjourned.

With these words, the lights dimmed and Gnorvi disappeared along with the rest of the admirals. Only Azanri was left, scowling, plotting something in her mind...

Into the Fray

The two tides collide.

Arnas - Squad Alpar, has the landing been successful?
Baka'niju - Affirmative, captain Volkamen. We're on the surface of the planet now.

Baka'niju inhaled the toxic air of the planet through his face-enclosing helmet and looked around. Around him was a charred, toxic wasteland; reddish-brown in colour, like rusted metal, it spanned all the way to the horizon shimmering in Karnagtah's bloody sun. Even through his power armour he could feel the harsh bite of sandstorms that raged across the land, obscuring the figures of those who stood alongside him. He could only see sillhouettes, dark sillhouettes of thousands upon thousands of soldiers that marched and marched through the endless plains at his side; some small, others massive like Tiny, some of them rebel slaves, others Commonwealth marines, they were all unified by a single purpose, some sort of collective unconscious that drove them all them together towards the last bastion of the Stratocracy: the Imperial Citadel. Dominating the desert landscape, a testament to the Gros' unshakable strength, this hulking fortress of black metal and glass stood atop the ground like a twisted demonic sphinx of some sort, visible from farther away than nearly any other structure on the planet, even through the sandstorms. At the head of the rebel legion was Sycorax herself, with Baka'niju, N'rai and Tiny at her side.

N'rai - Wait, why am I here? I'm a diplomat, not a-?
Baka'niju - Less talking, more killing.
Tiny - Tiny likes that plan!

As the rebels charged at the heart of the Stratocracy, though, its dark reflection too emerged from its gates, no less in number and no less vicious than its enemies. In marched millions of Gros, all in perfect formation like cogs in a great mechanism, their armour polished and black, made to impose and terrify. That did not scare the rebels, though. They had long since overcome their fear for their masters, just to survive, to endure the endless drudgery under their servitude. There was something that did bring shivers down the rebels' spines, though. Alongside the Gros were slaves, brainwashed, forced into servitude, stripped of any rational thought and driven, driven to kill and slaughter their own kin. As the enslaved Cheurith roared - not out of anger, but out of mindless obedience - at the marching slave force, Tiny shuddered. In his naivette, he thought to himself: weren't those creatures, his own flesh and blood, supposed to be friends, not enemies? How could he bring himself to kill them if they weren't? All other members of the rebel armada asked themselves these very same questions over and over.

Ganvara - Hmph. So proud of yourself, aren't you? What have you achieved, you rabble? - one of the Gros - the very same admiral that had attended the meeting at the Capitol recently - spoke to the slaves - We have built an empire unlike any other! An empire of order, of power - beyond anything any of you scum could ever create! And you, you seek only to destroy, to stomp the seeds of culture and civilisation we have nurtured for so long! Look at what you've done with our glorious domain! You're savages! Barbarians! Brutes!
Sycorax - A time will come, slaver, when we shall rebuild what has been lost, and from the ashes of your order we shall build our own - not that of tyranny and fear but that of liberty and equality. Maybe not now, maybe not in a hundred of years, but we shall prevail. There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again, but we shall prevail.
Ganvara - Hah! And do they - Ganvara pointed at his slave warriors - have to go through death too? Are you willing to slaughter your own people to satisfy your lust for power?
Sycorax - I am more than willing to slaughter yours.

And then, the two tides were unleashed upon each other and collided in a glorious battle. It was truly a sight to behold: two forces, unstoppable, unrelenting, remorseless and irreconcilable in their beliefs, clashed. For a second, Baka'niju almost went deaf from the cacophony of battle; the thundering shrieks of lasers and the fearsome warcries of warriors were so loud that his ears, even concealed behind five centimeters of solid plassteel, still hurt. Then the cacophony was gone - or rather, it ceased being disharmonic and became melodic, even soothing somewhat. The Artharon fell in a trance of some sort: it was like his soul and mind, while still fully in control of his body, became detached from it. He felt like a passive observer, watching as his hands ripped Stratocracy soldiers apart and his weapons melted their armour and flesh. On the left, he saw N'rai, panicking, firing aimlessly at the invading Gros. On the right, he saw Tiny throwing his assailants around like if they were made of paper, smiling as he fought, but also - in his own, simplistic way - unnerved. Baka'niju understood why. At that very moment the Cheurith was relieving the moments of his past, of slavery and brutality, of unrelenting, meaningless torture. All the slaves were.

Ganvara - You. You are different from them. - amidst the bloodshed, Baka'niju saw the Gros admiral walking towards him with an electrised blade in his right hand and a wrist blaster in his left hand. - You are from this... Commonwealth, aren't you. Why are you here?
N'rai - Freedom is the right of all sapient beings. That's why.
Ganvara - Freedom. Hah! You have a silver tongue, girl. But don't think I am so easily fooled. Tell me, if you please... is your own Commonwealth so well-meaning itself? Do you honestly think I will believe that you will just let these slaves live on their own? That they won't just change one master for another? You disgust me. At least we do not pretend that we conquer for freedom.

Ganvara somersaulted at N'rai, knocked her down with a blade strike, charged his blaster and aimed it at the Imperix, smiling at her terrified expression. His weapon made a threatening buzz, glowing violently and harshly. N'rai could flee, could escape, but fear paralysed her; she felt like a broken, cowed animal lying before a predator, ready to strike. Then something appeared between Ganvara and N'rai. Or, rather, someone.

Baka'niju - Not so fast.

Wasting no more time, Baka'niju landed a powerful kick at Ganvara's chest. The Strocracy admiral roared as pain filled his every nerve; his opponent attacked a certain weak point on his body, being familiar somewhat with Gros physiology. The smirk that replaced his shriek of pain once tranquilisers had been dispersed to his body was that of respect: it was now apparent to him his enemy was a warrior that could match him in skill, and he liked that.

Ganvara - Do you want to fight one to one? Try me.

The admiral's answer was swift and deadly; he struck with surgical precision, hitting the joints at the Artharon's power armour with his electrified blade. The energy struck Baka'niju. Weakened, broken, yet still not uttering a word, he fell on the dusty ground with a loud thump whose sound was drowned in the cacophony of battle. Yet even though his enemy could no longer strike back, Ganvara just kept going. N'rai and Tiny watched in terriro as the Gros admiral beat the fallen, wounded Artharon again. And again. And again. And again.

Ganvara - Is that all? Just how more can you take? Pathetic. You Commonwealth scum are no better than these slaves. You break so easily... - the Gros's face warped into a devilish snarl - It is not even amusing. Ganvara struck Baka'niju with electricity once again, making him writhe in agony - but still silent, still wordless despite the unbearable torment.
N'rai - You. - Suddenly, N'rai appeared before Ganvara, glaring at him with her six glowing eyes.
Ganvara - What?
N'rai - Turn around.

Suddenly, Ganvara felt a motion behind him, as if something large, something imposing was walking near. Then, as he turned his head, he realised what it was. Fear engulfed the admiral as he saw Tiny's massive sillhouette before him, blocking the sun with his bulk, like an angel of death that came to punish him for his sins. Looking disapprovingly at the Gros, Tiny promptly grabbed him, sqeezing his body like if it was made of plasticine... and then bit his head off and ate it.

Baka'niju - I am most thankful. - Baka'niju stood up - Though... I believe you should have made him suffer such an... ignoble demise.
Tiny - Tiny likes to eat bad people. Help friends, too.
N'rai - These Gros are... monsters. This one, even more so... He spoke of his people's tyranny like if it was a good thing, like if it was how things should be! There was no conscience left in him, no soul to speak of... - N'rai looked at the admiral's headless corpse again - He did not deserve a warrior's death.

Suddenly, the voices of the trio were interrupted by the sound of a massive explosion: a gaping hole had been formed in the Gros formed. The army of the rebels cheered, roaring and shouting in their natives tongues as they poured through it, intoxicated by the sweet taste of victory.

Sycorax - Brothers and sisters, we have breached the Citadel's defenses! It is our chance to topple the Stratocracy for once and for wll! For freedom-

Suddenly, Sycorax's speech was interrupted by a voice so loud that it shook the walls of the citadel itself, coming from its very heart. Demonic, rumbling, it carried in it the echoes of hundreds of lost souls, yet it was apparent that something else stood behind this voice, something even more powerful and eldritch. Something godlike. Suddenly, waves of green, unnatural hellfire poured from the citadel, incinerating both its defenders and its assailants equally with its wicked power. Sycorax was trying to rally her forces, to press the advances despite the overwhelming odds, while the New Dawn team simply stood dumbstruck, frozen. They understood full well what they had seen now. There was darkness behind the Stratocracy.

Kolger - The Devourer will consume... you... ALL!

Vengeance of the Machine

We are giving you one final chance.

Quendor - Arnas, Chancellor, this is Squad Bothi reporting. We're inside Adaru's ventilation systems now. Everything is going well so far.
Beltharon - Well, save for the fact that we are risking our lives for nothing once again.
Theo - Have you not heard the Chancellor? This is an important mission, officer. Remember this.
Vesperon - Excellent! - the Draconis head of government's voice rang from a small holocomputer on Quendor's wrist - Proceed into the command room and destroy the ship - or, preferrably, take it over.

Beltharon snarled angrily and looked at Theo with a gaze filled with unconcealed despise, but then moved forward along with the rest of the team, squeezing through the narrow, labyrinthine insides of the colossal starship. There was something disturbing in them. These tubes weren't dirty, greasy or rusting like the ancient tunnels of precursor complices, no - they were clean, immaculate, as if they were... alive. Alive. That was the word. Was it the sleek, organic architecture of the starship that made it feel like a living, breathing, bleeding, thinking, hating creature, or was it perhaps the impalmable, persistent presence that lingered inside it, the echo of the dark intelligence that the ship once possessed? Quendor did not know, Beltharon did not want to know, and Theo did not care, but ultimately, all of them felt that they were inside the tightened bowels of a mythical, eldritch leviathan that was about to awaken from its billion years long slumber. Living metal was its skin; its cameras, its eyes; its ventilation ducts, its lungs; its weapon systems, its claws and teeth; the Artifacts, its heart. The metal behemoth only lacked one thing to live once more: a soul, a mind to govern its insurmountable power. And once such mind would be created or uploaded inside its form...

Beltharon - Where are we even going anyway? Don't tell me we've been sent here without a plan of action again.
Theo - Captain Volkamen has issued the Chancellor's intelligence on Adaru to the first officer. He has the map. ...First Officer Telnhao?
Quendor - An imperious mind, built by the professor to protect us from the Ark of Damnation... in his own image, it is here, somewhere... Inheritors, Inheritors, Inheritors...

Quendor did not respond. He stood still, his eyes closed in deep thought, his head shaking as if he was possessed by some malevolent spirit. It was obvious to Beltharon - slightly less so than to Theo - that he was having a vision once again. The Guardian of Light was somewhat confused - although he had seen Quendor's visions before, it was always in his quarters on the ship, not during a mission. The Zazane officer, not so much.

Theo - Wake up! - Theo shouted, shaking Quendor with his hands. Quendor did not wake up, much to the Guardian's chagrin - and Beltharon's amusement.
Beltharon - Let me handle this. - Beltharon pushed Theo aside and then glared at the unconscious Quendor, slamming him with his energy gauntlet - Your mother is a such a whore that when Althron told her he needs a job-
Quendor - What... - Quendor woke up nigh-immediately, hazy for a split second, and then turned to Beltharon with a twisted grimace of anger on his scarred face. A wave of pure psychic energy escaped from his raised hand, throwing his offender away - WHAT DID YOU SAY ABOUT MY MOTHER?!
Theo - Calm down, officer! Where is the map of Adaru?
Quendor - Adaru? Adaru... Adaru... - Quendor closed his eyes once again, the visions of the past still echoing in his mind - What we seek is... below us. Right under that pipe. There the heart of the beast lies.
Theo - ...What? I don't understand.
Quendor - I saw it... in the vision. The entire ship, the... sentience that was put inside it. The command room. - Quendor pointed at the small opening in one of the pipes and crawled closer to it. Beltharon and Theo watched closely, both waiting for the officer to do something brave... or stupid.
Theo - Are you sure that-
Quendor - Yes, I am sure. Look!

Quendor pointed into the opening and peered into it, followed by his two comrades. Down below was something... twisted. At the first sight, it was merely a chamber, built in the same architectural style - dark, macabre, alien - as the rest of the ship, small, cramped, and only lit by the cold green light of the energy cores - unnerving, yes, but no more so than usually. The New Dawn had seen worse. But then they felt it: the energy, so strong, so indomitable in its power that it was almost tangible - and it hurt! Even Beltharon felt a mild headache as he tried to set his gaze on the source of the power - the Andromedan Artifacts themselves.

Worse yet, the chamber was not empty. A strange masked, armoured figure stood in the center of the room; blue, reptilian, too hunched to be a Zazane and too skinny to be a Draconis, it was a Rapidox, a member of one of the many minor species of the galaxy. Eerily silent, it stood like a statue, hardly even breathing, completely capitvated by the malevolent glow of the Artifacts. A thought sparked in Quendor's head. That was the old friend Vesperon was talking about! The Brotherhood's leader, Khanjar! For a few split seconds, Quendor contemplated dropping down and ripping the terrorist commander's head off right away... but then, something (either his logic, some aptitude towards precognition that had awakened in him since his visions began, or Beltharon's first) stopped him. He waited. For what?

??? - Enough.

Suddenly, Quendor heard a series of metallic thumps coming from the other part of the chamber that grew louder and louder; a massive, cybernetic Zazane with grey, mottled scales was walking towards Khanjar. The Devastator. The same Brotherhood militant that the New Dawn's crew had fought on multiple occasions - and would have died to if luck had not been on their side. Quendor watched patiently, knowing full well how powerful this mechanical monstrosity could be. This time, however, the Devastator seemed to be... different. His eyes, usually bright red, now shone bright cyan like turquoise, and the bestial, mindless anger that once ruled his mind and that was once apparent in his every movement was gone. He was more dignified now, like a knight-errant who was about to reach the end of his quest. The Devastator kept walking, reaching the small platform Khanjar stood on until he was next to his master and commander, and then... pointed his cannon-arm at him.

Devastator - Your transgressions have crossed the line, young one. You have abused the power we gave to you and utilised the Artifacts not for the purpose you were intended to by our alliance. Once, we trusted that you would be reasonable enough to understand our warnings. Clearly we were wrong. We are giving you one final chance, young one. Use Adaru as you were meant to be now or be eliminated. The Artifacts must be protected.
Khanjar - ...I am afraid not.

Khanjar was quick to react. Turning back to his assailant, he attacked without warning, plunging his energy sword inside the Devastator's armour joints - where the seemingly invulnerable machine was the weakest - deep into his chest, causing dark, silvery liquid to escape from the cyborg Zazane's body. Then Khanjar's blade began to glow. Shining with electricity, it transferred giggaampers of pure energy into the Devastator's mechanised body, utterly ravaging whatever was inside him. In but a few seconds, the mechanical Zazane fell on the ground, completely lifeless, and soon vanished in a flash of cyan light.

Khanjar - Trivial.
Quendor - Hell... - Quendor stared at the scene in disbelief, not noticing that his wrist computer had become cyan too - What the hell was that...
Khanjar - What?

Khanjar turned his head above and saw Quendor peeking and watching the duel between him and the Devastator. The Brotherhood leader was not amused. Suddenly, a large portion of the ceiling disappeared without a trace, as if it was simply projected. The crewmen of the New Dawn promptly fell on the chamber's floor - and would have probably died if not for their armour - and turned their heads to see a really angry Rapidox looking at them with blade in his hands.

Quendor - Threl'n.

There was only one solution left for squad Bothi: run away.

Titan Unleashed

The power men have always lived in fear of.

Kolger - Scum... scum... scum...

Baka'niju stood like an inanimate suit of armour, his eyes vacant and devoid of any coherent thought, consumed by the overwhelming dread, N'rai stared forward, stupefied by primal fear; not even Tiny could not do so much as move as the hellspawn approached. The rebels could not see the demon from behind the inner Citadel - yet... and still, so terrible were its roars, so abominable was its presence that all living things, big and small, shivered in horror. Then the fear appeared in the flesh. Suddenly, the inner citadel walls shook and then, with a thunderous thump, crumbled... or, rather, disappeared. After the dust had settled, there was no wall anymore - nothing but a gaping aperture where a gate once was, and a snarling, disfigured titan of a Gros growling at the rebel slaves. Gigantic, monstrous, yet strangely familiar, it dwarfed even the largest Karnagtah warriors, even Tiny. It was not a Gros, not anymore; it was a ravenous predator, a power men had always lived in fear of, a power so overwhelming that it could not be fought, only evaded for the time being. The only reasonable thing left was to run, run away like cattle, like animals.

Kolger - Yes... Master... Give me... power...

The demon attacked. Growling something barely coherent, much less meaningful, he slammed the ground, his fist ignited in entropic fire. There was a short moment of silence, of tranquility, when blinding violet light engulfed the citadel and all sounds were deafened by the thundering thrash. For a split second, Baka'niju thought it was death, the transition from the tormented material world to the peace of the afterlife - the power of the entropic explosion so intense that all of his senses shut down momentarily. It was a strange calm - not before, not after, but right in the middle of a storm.

Then the light was gone, and the view of the carnage that the demon had wrought with one - just one - show of power was revealed to Baka'niju and the rest of the cre. It wasn't heaven at all. Chaotic energy - shining with its own amaranthine glow, but also devouring natural light itself - was spread over the citadel like a virulent weed, the land made black from its power. Most of the rebel slaves - those who weren't killed in the initial assault - were fleeing in terror, much to the Gros demon's amusement. Only a couple of New Dawn marines and the strongest of the rebel slaves - Sycorax among them - were still standing.

Baka'niju - By the ancestors... - Baka'niju breathed heavily - What is that thing?
Tiny - Tiny don't like this. Gros aren't that large!
Tarsus - Must be the Entropy... - Tarsus's voice, transmitted from the orbit rang in N'rai and Baka'niju's helmets - According to Terius Kortobar's Essence Theory, negative emotions coupled with this form of supernatural energy can cause certain mutations... such as growth.
Baka'niju - With all due respect... professor... - Baka'niju's voice had lost its usual composure and calm disposition, and it was evident that he too was afraid of the titanic Gros - HOW CAN THIS INFORMATION HELP US SURVIVE?
Tarsus - There... is a possibility. - Tarsus's voice was hardly audible, let alone comprehensible, yet Baka'niju could hear both hope and uncertainty in it - Our ship hasn't been prepared to fight such creatures, but... - at that point the professor began mumbling to himself - Quitarba's Second Law of Essentiality postulates that the flow of Essence is located in certain points on one's body which correlate directly with certain mental activity; Kortobar's Theory dictates that the somnal strains of Essence are linked to serotonin, which, taking Gros physiology in consideration, would be located somewhere in his back...

Meanwhile, aboard the New Dawn

Vesperon - Can you explain what is going on, first officer? - Vesperon's voice resounded from his glowing image through Arnas (who was busy staring at the main screen, which showed Adaru's construction site) and towards the hologram of running Quendor - Has your mission been successful?
Quendor - Not... exactly. We faced... Khanjar... and now we're running... from... him. - Quendor's voice glitched, blocked by the sheer bulk of Adaru's hull - Requesting... teleportation... stat!
Vesperon - ...Khanjar?.. - Vesperon's eye started twitching and his body jerked slightly in a spastic manner, as if a jolt of electricity had passed through his body - He's... here? The chancellor appeared confused, even scared, his icy facade broken once again; he began rubbing his hands nervously - This was... unexpected... to say the least. A strong gust of air escaped Vesperon's heavy chest as he attemppted to regain his confidence. Teleport Quendor in.

Arnas waved her hand next to the bridge's computer, causing it to emit a small orb of light which then flew to the center room and transformed into a Radeon-sized, golden circular portal that resembled a door. Its watery surface shimmered and flashed as three sillhouettes appeared from it; those of Quendor, Beltharon and Theo. ...Appeared, however, was not exactly the right (or rather, not strong enough) word to be used; as the trio had been running while the portal opened, they were thrown off balance and flung across the room by the force of inertia after the teleportation, and promptly hit the nearest wall. Arnas ran to her crewmates with a look of concern on her face, trying to check if any of them were wounded or injured, but was only met with a rude, if gentle, push from Quendor who had already been standing up.

Quendor - No help required, thanks.
Vesperon - What... did you see there... in Adaru? What of Khanjar?
Quendor - The blue Rapidox? He was meditating next to the Artifacts, which powered Adaru...
Tarsus - Captain! Captain!

The conversation between the Chancellor and the first officer was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Professor Senvinus, whose heavy breath was audible even in the far side of the captain's bridge. His eyes were opened wide, his pupils turned into small slits, fear coursing through his entire being. The scientist inhaled deeply and spoke up.

Tarsus - There's a Corruptus demon... there... where Squad Alpar is fighting... - Tarsus activated the left screen of the New Dawn's bridge, showing Arnas the image of the rampaging gian - Descended... Gros... giant...
Arnas - Drakon's breath... can we destroy him?
Tarsus - With ship weaponry, yes. If we target a certain point in his body, we can shut down his Essence ability, in theory...
Arnas - Good! Set course for- - Arnas was about to issue an order when a thunderous noise that almost deafened her rang across the ship, so loud that the crewmembers covered their ears in pain. Through the tears in her eyes the Draconis captain raised her head and saw the source of the noise through the cold, almost glasslike surface of the main ship screen - and as she did, her heart sank in horror.

She saw a massive, metallic colossus rising into the air, obscuring the sun itself with its pure blackness - so dark was its frame that it was, in a sense, an anathema to light itself. Rumbling like a hellish beast of some sort, it crushed the buildings and fatories that once held it and bore it with its very unrestraining energy, turning them into burned, irradiated husks - charring the very land underneath its massive shadow. It was Adaru, and it was taking off the planet! The ship Quendor and Beltharon were just trying to destroy was in fact a working, flying vessel - a vessel that could destroy entire star sectors. Set loose upon the galaxy.

Vesperon - Impossible! - Vesperon watched at the scene with sincere disbelief in his eyes - We cannot let it go! Not now! Not when victory over the Brotherhood was so close! - suddenly, the Chancellor went silent. Something changed in him then, as if a little piece of his soul died - painfully - leaving ice and stone in its place. He pointed at Arnas inquisitively - he radiated power now, and was determined to express it - and issued a command - Stop Adaru before it leaves the system. Posthaste!
Arnas - But... sir... my crew is on the surface of the planet...
Vesperon - You heard me! Execute my orders at once!

Arnas froze; fear overtook her, chilling her heart to the core. Metaphorically speaking, she was at a crossroads, between two paths which would both lead to damnation and ruin to her, her crew she had hold dear, her galaxy she had sworn to protect. She was only to issue an order. Although her body was standing still as if she was paralysed, inside her raged a violent, fiery storm. Would she disobey the Chancellor's order and allow Adaru, the greatest danger to the galaxy, to rampage freely across the galaxy? Or would she leave Baka'niju, Tiny, N'rai and countless other to be slaughtered by the demon on Karnagtah? Her inner demons were gnawing on her heart.

Before her was the icy, almost infernal glare of the Chancellor, whose very sight was an imperative, a mandate. Behind her were Quendor, Beltharon, Tarsus. As she turned her head, she saw their faces; they were silent, as afraid as she was, but she could see - it was in their eyes - what they felt and what they wanted her to do. Ultimately, as much as the reasonable part of her mind protested, her conscience told her the same.

Arnas - I'm sorry, Chancellor, but I am the authority on the New Dawn, and I shall decide where this ship will go. - Arnas slammed the hologram projector, shutting it down with one single punch. - Set course for the Citadel. We shall end this once and for all.

Baka'niju - Damnation!"' - Baka'niju rolled from the hellish breath of fire that the demon unleashed on him - Don't you you think they have forgotten about us?
Kolger - Devourer... take... you... all! - Kolger stomped the ground and roared as he tried to find N'rai and Baka'niju (and Tiny) in the rubble.
N'rai - They have not! They will come for us! - N'rai ran in circles around the gigantic Gros laughing in a high-pitched tone as he slammed against the walls - Yes, follow me! Do it!'" - N'rai was patiently waiting for a strike for the sky, hoping fervently that she would not be abandoned by her crew - as well as trying to slow down the demon for as long as possible. The Imperix grabbed her pistol and shot Kolger several times - not enough to so much as pierce his skin, but more than enough to anger him. That was her plan.

Kolger - We. We have plans for you. We will take Adaru - for the Master, yes - and then sweep across the galaxy like a storm... The Infernal Ones shall reign, and we Gros shall be their messengers and viceroys in this galaxy. Draconis... Radeons... Zazane... the Master will erase your thoughts and devour your souls and then your mindless bodies shall serve us. Kolger plunged one of his tentacles into the pile of debris N'rai was hiding, intending to strangle her metallic form once and for all. Fear filled her being suddenly, yet it was also accompanied by hope - she saw a ship on the horizon.

N'rai - Captain, it is time. Attack!
Kolger - What? What- ARRGH!

Then the diabolical Gros felt it - and N'rai saw it. Amber beams of pure energy cascaded from the sky stinging Kolger's back repeatedly, showering him with fire and pain. As the attacks intensified, Kolger began scrreching and roarimg - as he was hit again and again, his power was fading away. No longer able to support his own weight without the entropy, the Commandant collapsed on the ground and then felt his body shrink in stature becoming smaller and smaller and until he returned to his original size - the only remainder of his titanic form being the devastation around him. What was left of the defeated Kolger slowly disappeared in black flame, turning into smoke. As N'rai looked up, she could swear she could see from far above the face of her saviour... captain Arnas Volkamen.

Sycorax - Victory! Victory at last!

N'rai watched as the remaining rebel slaves marched into the citadel, laughing. It was over. The last bastion of the Gros power was gone. Alongside the slaves were Tiny and Baka'niju, who were quite eager to share in their celebrations. Slowly, the remaining Gros were driven out of the fortress and one by one the slaves took its black obsidian tower. A wide smile appeared on the Inperix's face, a smile of relief... and victory.

N'rai - Captain, this is squad Bothi. Requesting teleportation.

The Pact Severed

The CXIV meeting of the Stratocracy Admiralty Board was... different from what the Gros rulers were used to. Whereas once they discussed the triumphs and the victories of their races and boasted about the conquest they had brought about upon the weak like if they were predators hungering for flesh, they were now akin to huddled, scared prey animals, hiding from those that had once been their slaves in the darkness of space. The captain's bridge of Koawrar's Legacy, the capital ship of the Stratocracy and the Grand Admiral's personal residence, now served as the emergency forum for the Board, and the admirals - those that survived the initial slave uprising, that is - were slowly gathering inside its small, cramped halls which were built for utility and warfare, not for discussions. Neverthless, even the poor conditions of the meeting place could not stop the admirals - especially Azanri - from standing up and speaking their minds to the Grand Admiral, especially after the... unsavoury things that had been witnessed by the Gros during their last stand on Karnagtah.

Admiral Zanadr - Your Excellency... can you explain what happened with the Commandant in the Citadel during the Siege? - admiral Zanadr, one of Gnorvi's closest confidantes, short and almost rodent in appearance, was the first to speak - Was that one of the latest inventions of our glorious scientists? A... serum?
Gnorvi - Serum...ah yes...of course. Serum, yes. And he did a terrible job. What a waste of time.
Zanadr - What are we supposed to do now that our capital is gone? Who is to blame?
Gnorvi - Who?...Those terrorists are to blame...leeching off our resources to create that contraption of theirs, they brought the Commonwealth to destroy what...we...have build.
Zanadr - Truer words have never been told! It was them! Without them, we would have never have incurred the Commonwealth's wrath upon us... - the small Gros admiral spoke in a braying voice, without hardly even thinking - merely echoing the voice of his leader - yet still he was listened to - ...Not that we would have not succeeded in case of an all-out war if not for that miserable rebellion! Do you agree with me?
Gnorvi - Indeed...indeed... Gnorvi's speech was notably strange and unnatural
Admiral - Truly so! Down with the Brotherhood! - the admirals cheered, anger and hopelessness giving all the more strength to their chorus of voices - yet were also somewhat unnerved by the Grand Admiral's strange, almost unnatural calmness. How could he, a staunch Stratocratic patriot, not care for Karnagtah, the sacred throne world of the Gros that they had taken from the Kahiwag, the slavedrivers of their own, millenia ago in a bloody war? It was not that they cared, though. Conditioned into conformity and obedience, the admirals would not dare to question the collective's will and go against the current... all but one.
Azanri - So predictable of you to blame each other. Can't you see who really caused this. You did!

Suddenly, the very same admiral that admonished the Grand Admiral's actions right before the fall of Karnagtah, raised and shook her fist. Gnorvi turned his head to Azanri, his neck letting cracking sounds as he did.

Azanri - I told you. I told you that the strong cannot dominate the weak for eternity. We could change it. YOU - Azanri pointed at Gnorvi - could change it, could give the slaves what they wanted and live in peace! But instead, you chose the path of self-destruction. Alas - look upon the might of the Great and Superior Gros Race! We lay defeated - alone and forsaken - crushed by the convocation of all Andromedans - hiding in starships like Lasangan pyre worms hide in burrows. Our species cannot survive any longer under your command... demon!

With these words, Azanri left the Admiralty Board, closing the iron, reinforced doors of Koawrar's Legacy''s captain's bridge with a loud thump. Gnorvi did not react for several moments until he suddenly bursted into laugher as Azanri left.

Gnorvi - What a jester...demon...I needed something to cheer me up.
Zanadr - She's always like that, isn't she? Don't mind her. We can live on without Azanri, that is for certain. Now, what are we to do?
Admiral - I say we pay the Brotherhood a visit and take what is rightfully our - that is, that toy of theirs!
Gnorvi - The terrorists must pay...we must break all ties with them...I never desired to help them anyway. Merely use them. But they are...too troublesome.

Zanadr nodded repeatedly, as if his head was attached to his body by a joint.

Zanadr - Yes, indeed! Make them pay, I say!
??? - Gentlemen?

A shimmering hologram appeared in the middle of the hall, appearing like a tall, bald Radeon dressed in grayish-black clothing. Strangely smug, walking around as if he was real despite being a projected image, he looked at the Admirals with an immaculate smile of shining white teeth which looked almost metallic - confident of his superiority, and very much enjoying himself. Gnorvi turned to the Radeon, again his body cracking and spazzing as he moved.

The machine built in the times of the ancients restored to existence once more.

Althron - Yes, we have our spies there. Yes, we secretly planted your ship with cameras during our cooperation. Yes, we have been listening to your entire conversation.
Gnorvi - Who is...this woman...even?
Althron - I should have known you slavers were not to be trusted. Very well then. Consider our alliance terminated.. have a nice day. - Althron genuflected mockingly to the Gros, still keeping his smile. It was clear that he had something in mind right now.
Gnorvi - Bah. Who needs...filthy...ugly...terrorists? I don't need you...I don't need Karnagtah...as long as I have bodies to use, I don't care...for what you say.
Althron - Speaking of which... - Althron glared at the admirals - Thank you for your contribution to the liberation of Andromeda. Project Adaru is working and ready to fire, bu-u-ut - we still need to test it... Care to join us for some target practice? The Radeon terrorist waved his hand creating a small holographic model of a Gros planet, with Adaru above it. All in a sudden, a beam of green, blinding energy descended upon it, turning it into a lifeless rock in but a second. Another image appeared, this time showing another Stratocracy world. Again, emerald light - devastation - and the planet became ash. And another. And another. And another. Althron's smile turned into a grin as he surrounded himself with holoprojections of Gros planets being destroyed by Adaru's radiant energy, right until he himself could not be seen behind the kaleidoscope of images.
Gnorvi - ...No! Stop!...I need them alive for...my plan!
Althron - Sankadra. Wandar. Radagand. Kargarh - all of your worlds, burn! - Althron's voice was downright maniacal; he was revelling in the destruction he wrought with full approval of his conscience - Nia'dan qavael'nu sham na'e! (Thus is always to tyrants!)
Gnorvi - Disgusting mortal...enough of this...enough of using this rotten corpse!

Gnorvi extended one hand and grabbed his own face. He began ripping his own skin off with his claws, releasing a jet of purple steam from his body as he did. As he did, below his flesh, Althron and the Admirals could see a Zazane-like form take shape. His eyes shined in an intense red, angered by the Radeon's actions.

Varugr - I will devour you alive!
Althron - ...Corruptus? Here?
Varugr - I was to turn these cretins into servants! Into my nourishment! Now you dare stand in my way! In the way of Prince Varugr Kriese!
Admiral - By all that is holy... this cannot... be! - the Gros admirals stared at the transformed admiral, turned into inanimate dolls by the sheer horror - No!
Zanadr - I... I... - the ratlike Gros breathed heavily, then saluted Varugr with excessive energy - I for one welcome our new overlord! All hail the incadescent Prince Varugr Kriese!
Althron - We have been working... with demons?! Absolutely disgusting! Quickly! - Althron's hologram shimmered slightly as he drew his attention from the Gros and towards technicians aboard Adaru - Enter the coordinates! We need the Gros flagship destroyed! Posthaste!
Varugr - Try it! Fire at me! Show me how much you want me dead! It'll be a fine amusement until I dig my talons on your chest and tear the soul off your body, wench!
Althron - You will not escape! Not with Adaru at our side!

Althron was not boasting. All of a sudden, veridian toxic light poured into the ship from all illuminators, all openings, in all hatches, incinerating everything in its path indiscriminately - a wave of pure uncontrolled destruction that annihilated all in its path. It burned - and how it burned! Varugr opened his arms and laughed, as the energy burned his body to a crisp. Within a second - or even less - the entire ship, built to last for ages - was gone. No, it did not explode, it did not turn into a pile of rubble, it wasn't even desintegrated - it was erased from existence. Turned into nothingness, null and void. Far away, aboard Adaru, Althron and Khanjar watched the scene together, laughing silently and wordlessly.

Althron - Fits them, I say. Do you agree, brother. - Althron saw Khanjar nod in approval - There is still work to do, though. The Gros may be gone, but the Commonwealth still lives, and the New Dawn is still at large... We can change that, though. Just as soon as we complete the mental fusion process - then we will be able to use Adaru at its full potential.

Khanjar turned to Althron, with a smile on his face so unnatural for his usually stoic exterior, then, all of a suddenly, spoke - something not even his closest lieutenant saw him do often.

Khanjar - At last, our victory is at hand.