What Measure Is For'Dan'Ta?[]

2nd Sendara ID.219504

Uriel was in one of his drawing rooms of an estate on Tarpin II. He had spent soem tiem there recovering after Volkarus' ambush on him and Alessa. It was in fact her idea that he rest within this estate. His wing had become fully regrown, it felt as good as new, as natural as it did before Volkarus ripped it off. But something else had come to his mind during his rest. He remotely activated a holocommunication terminal as he lay on a lounger within the drawing room and set it to contact Hel'Bre'K Ke'So'Va. As the call was made he sat straight, brushed himself down and laxed his shoulders.

Hel'Bre'K was reviewing strategic deployments in and around the Ko'Sa'Va sector when the call came through. He stood up, activated the hologram projector set into the floor, and as an afterthought draped a military robe over his frame before accepting the call. As theri hologram counterparts met their physical contacts, Uriel smiled and nodded politely to Hel' as the connection was confirmed. Hel', bowed respectuflly to Uriel was he replied.

Uriel - Greetings Blademaster, do you have a few minutes to talk?
Hel'Bre'K - Always, Hel'La'Ri. What is on your mind?

Uriel - I was thinking. I feel extremely grateful for everything you have done. We have moded on rapidly since the cold war and well...I had an idea for a way we could further reinforce our bonds; if you are willing of course.
Hel'Bre'K - I am listening. I do not speak for the Empire, of course, but I will be sure to pass on my thoughts to the Council.
Uriel - You know of the Blood Dragons, yes? Until now my peopl'e royal lines have always relied on the best of our own species. But I feel times are changing. And with that, so should the Dragons.
Hel'Bre'K - I assume you are suggesting that Fordanta may be chosen to be trained as Blood Dragons?
Uriel - I was wondering if you would agree to allowing the Blood Dragons to begin accepting Fordanta eggs for training and development. However through my years I have learned that different cultures have come to value the personal importance of raisig children so I understand if what I ask is questionable.

Such a controversial request gave Hel'Bre'K pause. His brow furrowed, and he paced around the large stone room for a minute or so while he made up his mind.

Hel'Bre'K - Under normal circumstances, a Fordanta would find this idea repulsive. The choice of one's life path is something close to sacred, however you might find some purchase with the Ce'So'Va bloodline. There may be some worlds where the clan mothers may allow the Blood Dragons to select young, however... they will never be Fordanta.
Uriel - I undertstand the concern. But Dragons being trained from birth is a tried-and-tested philosophy that the Royal Family has relied on for millenia.
Hel'Bre'K - It is not the method of training, or the circumstances, that concerns me, Hel'La'Ri. These hatchlings will have no place in the Empire, nor the bloodline. I find it difficult to allow this to happen when the hatchlings have yet to leave the egg. Ultimately, the decision is out of my hands. I will provide my assessment of the military aspects of this matter to the Council, and they will have the final decision.
Uriel - Tradition is a powerful tool Hel'Bre'K but those dragons who serve my family now are similar. They do not grow up under the influence of the house that laid them, they are not associated with such houses. These Fordanta would not be the first to be externally severed from heritage.
Hel'Bre'K - Our peoples are similar in a great many ways, but this is one difference that stands quite far apart.

At that, Hel' stood silent for another minute, contemplating his next words. This was a delicate matter and despite being well aware of how resillient Uriel was, Hel'Bre'K did his best to prevent upsetting uriel mroe than what was needed. Uriel lowered his head and pressed his palm against the front of his snout, more out of concern than frustration or exposure to ignorance. He was a reasonable man, if Hel'Bre'K said no then he may as well live with it. By accepting Fordanta however, not only was Uriel accepting alien youths into the Blood Drago nranks, but these hatchlings would have been foreigners - laid in a society outside of the Imepriums' borders. Ureil then had doubts. Could these Fordanta hatchings really be worth it? would they know loyalty as fervantly as any present Dragon? What had been done was done, however. And Uriel had to accept this.

Hel'Bre'K - Too much politicking to be done with this. As a soldier I suppose I have to support the idea, on the surface at least. The council will decide the Empire's stance on the matter later.
Uriel - While I understand that such a matter requires state approval. Know that in the Imperium the eggs of hopefuls come from willing donators. If one of your kin is to put their children being Fordanta first, they shall recieve no quarrel for it.
Hel'Bre'K - I will speak to the clan chiefs while the council decides its stance. You will find that things are handled quite differently within the Empire when it comes to our young.
Uriel - I understand. I thank you for your civil reception of this matter.
Hel'Bre'K - I am but a blade in the hand of my kin. My personal feelings have no place in my duty.

Uriel nodded graciously

Uriel - It was good talking to you again, Hel'Bre'K.
Hel'Bre'K - The same to you, Hel'La'Ri.

Uriel gave Hel' a farewell smile and turned off the holocommunicator. With the conversation over, Hel'Bre'K quickly set to work over his recommendation to the Council, and when that was done began to contact the various Ce'So'Va clan chiefs. He still had quite a lot to do before he could return to the battlefield but that lingering question remained: Performing this for an ally or not, was it really wise to export hatchlings who had never seen the universe outside their eggshell barriers? Somehow the Imperium within its own borders. For the Fordan Empire however, things were a lot different.

Crisis Stations[]

5th Sendara ID.219504

Alarms sounded in the catacombs of a monastery on Taspin III. As the hallways illuminated with simulated sunlight were bathed in a dim red glow. Kelsos marched his way through to a debriefing room as the klaxons blared, he was curious to see what the commotion is about, following him was a Terratrix inquisitor who filled him in vaguely. When he got to the debriefing room he entered it leaving the Terratrix to proceed to his own duties to see a Solinkidor inquisitor debriefing with another inquisitor, a young Radeon.

Surem, the Solinkidor, turned to see Kelsos marched in and saluted by pounding his chest. Kelsos however was in little mood for formalities. Ralanth, the Radeon, turned in response.

Surem - Ah. Brother Kelsos!
Ralnath - Glad to see you, sir. But there is not time to talk: before us is a matter of great urgency.
Kelsos - Spare me the formalities I want to know why there's a code red all of a sudden.
Surem - Brother, you had better tell him.
Ralnath - As you know... after the Great War, the planet known as Cathemera was abandoned by the Commonwealth, because of the... presence which was left there after the battle. Our agents in the Outer Segmentums have informed us that the Resurgence's leader is currently headed to the Core... if anything, he is after it.
Kelsos - Volkarus...Do we know where they are now?
Ralnath - I'm afraid not. All we can do now is to intercept the Resurgence inside the Core itself.
Kelsos - Damnation... And you can confirm that it is Volkarus we are dealing with or is this mere speculation?
Surem - We feel the chances of him making the approach are high brother.
Ralnath - Indeed.

Kelsos thumped his fist on the table and growled. In little mood for such a potential crisis.

Kelsos - Then we parepare a task force, I don't care if we have to blast the filth-sodden piece of kranndung from orbit. Someone contact Councillor Breek. Volkarus is his specialty.
Ralnath - As you decree, brother.

Kelsos and two other inquisitors contact Tyraz Breek

Surem nodded and pressed a few panels on the conference table, sending a direct call to Tyraz. What they did nto expect was that while they hoped he would respond quickly they did not expect to look so smug as his hologram materialised on the centre of the table. He was sitting in this throne, smirking as he observed the three obviously-troubled Inquisitors. He chuckled to himself before replying in an obvious mocking tone.

Tyraz - Well well, what do we have here?
Kelsos - Spare the childish mockery Lord Councillor. We have a problem - specifically Volkarus.

Kelsos answered Tyraz's reply in a flat and serious tone with an obvious feeling of contempt. Upon hearing Volkarus' name, Tyraz narrowed and eye and leaned forward towards Kelsos, analyzing Kelsos and the other Inquisitors with interest. He still held his smirk, however. It became a grin.

Tyraz - And what do you require my help for? Aren't you capable of fighting him yourself, "demon slayers"?

Kelsos muttered under his breath in repsonse to Tyraz's mocking response. he then exhaled as if to remove his negative feelings.

Kelsos - We could if it wasn't for the fact we know where he's going: Cathamera.

Tyraz's grin lowered and he growled upon hearing "Cathamera". He stood out of his throne and stood straight. The Inquisitors could see his crimson eyes spark with internal fire as he got closer, his lips rippling in a furious growl.

Tyraz - ...You idiots allowed Volkarus to go there?
Kelsos - We're not stupid, currently he has yet to reach the system and if we are promt enough we can intercept him in orbit.
Surem - The Inquisition installed gravity wells in a bid to prevent easy apprach, but we all know Volkarus has ways of bypassing this.
Tyraz - We could co-operate and intercept him before he even touches Cathamera...But it seems somebody requires setting their priorities straight first.

Tyraz backed away from the screen, glaring at the Inquisitor's with angry eyes.

Kelsos - Excuse me?
Ralnath - Volkarus is a cunning enemy, lord Breek. we might as well have to face him on the planet itself.
Tyraz - Now that I have this information, I am capable of exposing such to the AGC protectorates and official members while denouncing your organization in public, exposing your incompetence.
Kelsos - WHAT! You wouldn't dare!

Tyraz grinned once more as he sat down and tapped the arm of his throne to make a point.

Tyraz - If you want to keep your "feared" reputation intact, cretin, I suggest you do exactly as I say from here on.
Kelsos - You expect us to be your lackeys. Boy?

Ralnath bowed respectfully.

Ralnath - We... we shall comply.
Surem - Brother Kelsos. Perhaps we should comply with the Lord Councillor's wishes. It would be a wise idea to put reason before honour this day.

Ralnath nodded frantically in agreement to Surem, his head filling with worry at the dread of this potential future incident. Kelsos however, being a more experienced inquisitor and stronger-willed than his subordinates growled audiably and looked at Tyraz with disgust.

Tyraz - See, Inquisitor Kelsos? At least somebody knows how to pay respect to a Highlord and man of politics rather than attempt to, oh I don't know, shatter what bonds he has to his family, hmm?

Kelsos's eye twitched. While it was relatively common for inquisitors to detach themselves fro mthe families they were born into on the grounds such information could be used for blackmail, somehowTyraz had indicated something intended for Kelsos specifically. Something Kelsos had buried deep inside his min dand had spent centuries making sure was kept in the strictest confidentiality, normally the very implication of Kelsos' family history was enough to trigger a psychotic twitch.Surem looked at Kelsos worriedly.

Tyraz - It would be a shame if the whole galaxy discovered your disgusting habits, wouldn't it? I wonder what would become of your career once I exposed you for the treacherous scum you are. But...we have more pressing matters, so listen carefully, dog.
Surem - Lord Councillor...M-maybe it is also unwise to bring up p-personal information on Brother Kelsos...
Tyraz - Maybe it is unwise to try and sabotage my personal relationships, puppy. Now keep quiet or I'll have you silenced.

Surem gulped and nodded. Kelsos folded his arms and grumbled with discontent, clearly unhappy with the way Tyraz was ordering his own Inquisitors - agents considered by many to be "above" the control of politicians and wealthy practicioners - about like subordinated. Tyraz merely sat back in his chair and calmed himself before speaking again.

Tyraz - You will require anti-Essence weaponry, you will require a healthy amount of professional personnel and you will require spare medical supplies, more than what you find standard. Do not approach him, do not attempt to make verbal or physical contact with him.
Kelsos - Fine. Agreed.
Tyraz - Most importantly, do not leave a corpse and never lose sight of him. If he has come back a third time, what prevents him from returning a fourth or fifth?
Kelsos - Plenty of backup, plenty of medical supplies, no contact whatsoever, keep an eye on him, ensure body is destroyed completely.
Relnath - Of course.
Tyraz - Exactly. That is just for Volkarus, who will most probably be bringing infantry of his own. Bring plenty of your blind, devout battle puppies as you can so they can die for a false cause against his soldiers while you fight the real problem.
Kelsos - You are fortunate, Lord Councillor, that this is a holoconference.
Tyraz - Keep in mind that I am capable of making a public announcement at any moment, old dog. Do not think I shall not take advantage of this if necessary.
Kelsos - And you keep in mind you are not the only one capable of blackmail. Are we done here?
Tyraz - Hmph, yes. You had better not fail or the consequences will be more than just Volkarus to deal with. Oh, and Kelsos?
Kelsos - Hrm?
Tyraz - Don't ever touch my family again, or I shall make sure you are reminded of your own, criminal.

Kelsos's eye twitched with frustration and his lip curled. Very few popel in his life had dsiplayed such audacity without facing the potential reprecussions.

Kelsos - Fine. Inquisitor's honour.

Tyraz shut off the call upon Kelsos' words, leaving the three Inquisitors to themselves as the last thing they heard from the call was a deep, satisfied chuckle. Kelsos merely lowered his head and growled for a few minutes before he raised his head.

Kelsos - Someone get me some Lifefather-damned Verelmint tea!
Relnath - Yes, brother.

Tyraz sat in his throen feeling verry happy with himself. Somehow he had gained the knowledge of an inquisitor's past, something he hoped eh could use as blackmail. Standing in front of him with a very sly smile was Sarec, who stood with his hands clasped in frotn of his stomach.

Sarec - For a minute there I thought Kelsos' eye was about to pop out of its socket.
Tyraz - I must thank you for informing me of what you know of Kelsos, Sarec. It felt...satisfying to intimidate such scum, bring them down to concrete that they are not always in control.
Sarec - Well be careful with that knowledge. Kelsos gets extremely touchy about it. And the way you were building it up, Mentioning House Mordon by name may have been the igniter.
Tyraz - Do I not ignite everything anyway?

Tyraz chuckled to himself as he leaned back against his throne, letting out a content sigh at the deed he had done. Sarec's smile dropped to a more neutral expression as he paced up to Tyraz.

Sarec - But in all seriousness I'm not simply here to applaud your bravado. The circumstances of the coming days concerns me. I would like to join you to Cathamera. There is...something. I can feel it. Something that should never be known to mortal minds.
Tyraz - Of course, Sarec. I do not expect the Inquisitors to succeed. I can feel it as well...I have been feeling it ever since my last visit there.

Sarec nodded and rested his hand on Tyraz's shoulder. Tyraz looked up at Sarec's comforting smile and reciprocated with a much more worried, per haps eve nfearful, look in his eyes.

Tyraz - ...It scares me, Sarec. I am, truthfully, scared.
Sarec - I understand.

Sarec lifted his hand away from Tyraz's shoulder and walked towards the door, leaving Tyraz to his own thoughts. However Sarec, rather than opening the door, phased through it, vanishing just before his body passed through the other side. TO anyone in the corridor they would have seen nothing.


7th Sendara ID.219504

Upon his ship which remained hidden from the most advanced forms of technological radar systems developed by Andromeda's many socities and cultures, Kol stood before a mechanism of cylindrical shape and structure. It was hollow, designed to possess substantial storage space for particular beings and cargo. Kol watched patiently, his eyes narrowed upon the chamber. Inside it was vapour of varying shades, a sign of intense temperatures that boiled and thrived inside.

A fist suddenly punched through the chamber's door, bursting it open. An humanoid figure fell down from it, burning from the intense heat and liquid which engulfed his body. Kol viewed the figure that lay upon the floor, watching as copious amounts of scorching team radiate from his body. A smile crossed his lips as he took several steps forward, looking down upon the being that once took residence within the chamber.

Kol - Premature, but close to the estimated time of awakening nonetheless by just a mere few seconds.

The figure slowly got on his feet, attempting to not fall down. It looked up into Kol's face, its nearly blank red eyes staring against his. Kol did not attempt to help the creature that stumbled to stand before him, watching it try to adapt to the mere act of moving and controlling its muscles, although it was handling such rather well despite going through a process equivalent to being birthed.

??? - ...Who...are you...where...am I?
Kol - I go by many names, a majority false and a few true. You shall address me as "Father". And you are onboard my ship, within my laboratory.
??? - Father...

The being looked at his own hands, then looked back at Kol.

??? - You and me are not the same.

Kol smirked towards the creature, stepping forward once more. He analyzed its body from a distance; grotesque and scarred all across, pock-marked with deformities and mutations.

Kol - As I said, a majority of my names are false.
??? - Father...who am I?
Kol - Experiment 102. You are not the first and you are potentially not the last. There were many others like you - none survived the developement process. They died before they even developed limbs. You shall be christened "Sanguine".
??? - Sanguine...I am Sanguine...

Sanguine looked down on his scarred, charred body.

Sanguine - I find it a fitting name.
Kol - What are you willing to do to keep it?
Sanguine - 102...the 101 before me were weak. I will survive.

At that moment, Sanguine found Kol's fist instantly press against the side of his face in a punch, launching him across the room and into the closest wall. Sanguine crashed against the wall, and fell into the ground, grunting.

Kol - I am surprised your head didn't fly from your neck.

Sanguine got up, pressed his legs against the wall, and then leaped into Kol's direction, and delivered a punch against his jaw. Kol grunted as he was sent stumbling backwards from the punch, having to impale his claws into the ground beneath his feet in order to prevent him from damaging any nearby equipment and stop his backwards traversal. He looked towards Sanguine, whose new body still burned with steam and heat, and smirked.

Kol - Interesting. Very interesting. Although it shall take more than that to impress me, Experiment 102.
Sanguine - I am named Sanguine, Father.
Kol - Prove it to me!

Sanguine charged into Kol's direction again, trying to punch him like before. At the same time, Kol charged forward towards Sanguine, clenching his own fist to attack the heavily scarred and mutated figure. Their fists collided against one another, creating a shockwave capable of knocking over equipment and appliances that weighed more than several tons. They sent each other backwards, throwing them against walls behind their backs.

As Kol slammed against the wall, he let out a pained growl which transitioned into a laugh. Sanguine fell in the other side of the room, into his knees. He growled, and his eyes flared and shined with a black aura. Kol stepped forward and glared at Sanguine, a smile on his threatening face. He licked his jaws and placed a finger against the very center of his chest, as if goading the deformed monster into attacking him.

Kol - Come on. Earn your name.

Sanguine's left hand was engulfed in the same aura as his eyes, and he leaped again, this time with his hand open. With a swift strike, he clawed one of Kol's eyes with his left hand. The unpredictability of the attack caused Kol to scream out; a horrifying shriek that filled all rooms and chambers of the ship. Kol stumbled backwards, grasping ahold of the wound that Sanguine had delivered to him, which as a gory, bleeding wound. Sanguine licked his fingers, which were filled with Kol's blood, while staring at him.

Sanguine - My name will fit me...for I will spill your blood.
Kol - So you shall...

Kol was quick to react with an attack of his own, not willing to let his subject leave this chamber without repaying the debt. In instants, the arm that dripped with Kol's blood was within the enormous grasp of Kol's clenched hand and completely seperated from Sanguine's deformed torso. Sanguine screeched out and fell into the ground, agonizing and holding the stub that was once his arm. Kol was relentless in the following assault, slamming his knee beneath Sanguine's chin and launching him into the air. With his free hand, Kol gripped ahold of Sanguine's cranium and threw him into his knee, his stomach colliding with the monstrous Zazane's leg before the mutant was thrown across the room once more.

Kol - It is but a mere limb! Get up and fight me, earn your name! Losing a limb should be nothing to you!

Sanguine hit the wall again, creating a dent, and then fell. Despite all the punishment he had just suffered, he remained alive and slowly got on his feet. The aura from his eyes had now engulfed his entire body, and in an explosive jump, he punched Kol directly in the face. Kol, however, did not move. Not even a stumble or a shudder. He stood like a statue, unfazed by the attack. Radiating from his body was his own energies, an array of black and deep purple shades. He looked down at Sanguine and approached him with his arm - he placed his hand on Sanguine's shoulder gently.

Kol - You have made the title of "Father" true.

Sanguine looked up to Kol, still in a battle stance and his fist clenched.

Sanguine - Was this a test? Have I proven myself strong enough?
Kol - You have exceeded my expectations by a wide margin. I shall not deny you of the truth; I expected you to die before I even launched the first punch.

As he heard Kol talk, Sanguine's stance relaxed.

Sanguine - I am worthy of my name.
Kol - You have defied nearly all of my predictions. You have proven yourself an almost true son of mine, both in blood and in spirit. It was my blood that I had donated to grant you your powers and fill in the genetic gap.
Sanguine - Almost? What stops me from being completely true?
Kol - There is but one more test for you to accomplish to prove your completion; the destruction of the other donator of your genetic material.
Sanguine - Point me him, and his blood will be mine.
Kol - It is not so simple, I am afraid, for he is a being of great potential and power, a presence significant and capable enough to destroy godlike prophets of death and destruction. You will be required to train, you are still inexperienced and basic in your powers.

Sanguine panted, and looked at the stump that was his arm. He cringed and held it, in visible disconfort. Kol walked with Sanguine towards a cuboid-like chamber at the far end of the room. The chamber opened upwards, revealing a mechanism that was suspended in midair; an artificial arm, constructed of corrupted solid Shidium and other alien materials that were constructed into a single weapon.

Kol - It would be cruel of me to force you to fight with a disadvantage.
Sanguine - Is this for me?
Kol - Do you not like it? It is equipped with power claws capable of rending flesh, while also mobilized with nanomachines that can transform the entire arm elbow-down into a hypermatter cannon capable of apocalyptic levels of destruction.
Sanguine - I like it, Father. A lot.

Kol took ahold of the limb and looked to Sanguine. Without any form of warning, Kol slammed the artificial appendage against the stub that was what remained of Sanguine's arm. Sanguine could feel his flesh around the wound burning and piercing with amazing agony, before he was soon accustomed to such as the limb was now attached. After it was over, Sanguine moved the arm's fingers, and smirked. Kol pointed towards several aerial drones that were minding their own business, levitating idlely. Kol knelt down beside Sanguine as he pointed at them.

Kol - Destroy them with your cannon.

Sanguine looked at his hand, and then pointed it at the drones. The hand transformed itself into a cannon-shaped limb, and from it, he fired blasts at the drones with extreme precision. The droids were destroyed by the blasts that Sanguine unleashed upon them; they lasted little more than a quarter of a microsecond before they were engulfed in devastating explosions initiated by the blasts that tore them apart. Kol stood and looked down at Sanguine.

Kol - You are almost ready.
Sanguine - What else remains?

Kol pointed towards the other end of the room. Suspended within a rectangular space that radiated with a faint, green light was an impressive, threatening set of complex war armour that had been specially designed and developed by AI construction units, built for maximum efficiency. It was accompanied by a mask with just a set of eye-like spaces that would allow Sanguine to see. Sanguine walked up to it and watched. He appeared admired.

Sanguine - Is this...for me?

Upon hearing these words, Sanguine ripped the armor out of the space it was kept. He began dressing himself, finishing by wearing the mask. His eyes flared again, and he clenched his fists.

Sanguine - I will take the blood of the donator, and I will have it.

Sanguine was born.

Kamavera and Naziri[]

1st Sendara ID.219505

Tyraz and Iovera meet once more.

Tyraz sat with his form leaned forward, his crimson eyes hidden by his scarred eyelids. His clawed hands rested upon his knees that were dressed in his onyx armour, as was the rest of his body. He sat almost entirely alone within a skycar of impressive, ornamental design, his only company being that of a Radeon guide while the pilot was an automated intelligence. The skycar had been designed within the Divinarium's borders judging by its decorative appearance, it was something that could not have been thought up by Zazane architects. It had curves and bulges rather than edges and spikes that were commonly seen upon Zazane transportation. The roads had been cleared to make way for the vehicle, with plenty of military-grade starfighter vessels to be found within the area in case of any suspicious activity to prevent the skycar from reaching its destination. Inside, Tyraz found himself swimming in doubt, his mind clouded with what-ifs and what-abouts as he found it difficult to focus.

Guide - It is there, highlord Breek. In the outer wards.

With a slight, meticulous gesture of his hand the Radeon guide pointed at the largest pyramid from those that compsed the vast cityscape of Thelestis as the vehicle automatically dived in; the pyramid's living metal dissolved and gave way for the skycar, and it flew inside.

Tyraz - Urgh... I cannot allow this to go to waste as it did with Kezoreg. I won't let it... But what if they don't like me? Or what if she changes? What if I can't father these children, what if they won't be accepted by the rest of society? What if she hates me for it?

Tyraz looked towards the guide with worried, troubled eyes and waited for the skycar to park itself, although with every moment he felt more and more reluctant to leave from where he was sitting. If it had been functional, his heart would have been pounding out of his chest and breaking his bones or rushing to escape through his throat. Guide - Van'eo, lo'shiash'ath van thae'o. (Night cannot escape day), Highlord. Let things run as they were predestined by the Eternal One.

The guide looked away from Tyraz and stared into the ever-extending tunnel, which opened as the skycar flew. An expression of uncertainty which she recieved from Tyraz appeared on her face when she saw a small opening in the pyramid arcology's many pathways; it was the place.

Tyraz - I hope Mistress Iovera is well... What toll does pregnancy take upon a Radeon, both physically and psychologically? Is there anything I should be aware of...? ...Anything I should be cautious of?
Guide - It's a fact of life. We accept it...

The guide held her breath.

Guide - However, there is one peculiarity. Our life cycle is linked to Essence; I am not sure how will a child's body react to... foreign ones. Such as the ones recieved from the father.
Tyraz - Are you saying my spawn are at risk of fatality or worse because of my condition? ...No, this must not be.
Guide - Not my speciality, I am afraid. You should talk to the medics.

As the guide was speaking to Tyraz, the door of the skycar opened and flying holographic platforms materialised from it, linking the vehicle to the hospital. The Radeon nodded, telling the Highlord wordlessly to face his fears. Tyraz nodded to the guide. Taking a deep breath to stimulate his senses, although he didn't need to do so as his lungs were redundant, he moved from his seat and stepped outside onto the holographic platform, feeling his weight press onto the pseudo-floor. His form was filled with a fear unlike any other he had felt before. He had slain demigods, murdered deities, slaughtered hordes of the unhallowed and bloodthirsty, yet only now did his step faulter. His enemy was not physical but situational; his mind continued to weigh scenarios against him.

The hospital's circular gate opened wide, revealing a large room coloured white and having a sleek, almost organic look, typical for Divinarium facilities. Several clerks were seen working on some projects in it, operating holographic computers, while drones flew from place to place carrying medical equipment. Tyraz was soon met by the hospital's receptionist, a young Sader with elongated facial features standing on a floating platform.

Receptionist - Dei'Nar cyredrae'nii, esteemed Highlord. Her Holiness is in the first chamber.
Tyraz - Huh? Oh, thank you. It is much appreciated.

Conclave Celestians, which traditionally followed the Clericarch, were now stationed near Iovera's chamber, bowing respectfull to Tyraz. From inside it, he could hear doctors chattering and talking between each other. Tyraz moved onward, slowly and steadily. His pace showed reluctance, his expression showed intimidation. His fists could not, for once, clench to show their strength or focus his pain and anger for they were not present here. He was at a loss, he could not understand or comprehend what he was faced with.

Medic - That makes no sense. With all due respect for our allies from Daedalus, the Zazane are not from our planet, not even from our universe... by Spode, the sheer possibility of our species interbreeding should be mininal at best. The very existence of these children violates all natural laws of Dei'Nar!
'Medic 2 - You just have to accept this and move on, Senath. ...not that I understand how it works either.

Tyraz' ears flared as he heard the words of the medic that stood past the door. He had a target, an objective of focus. Those very words registered as insults towards not only him and his pride, but that of the one he loved and held dear. He stepped forward, the entrance making way for him, to appear before the two doctors that spoke ill of his race.

Medic - Ahem... greetings and salutations, Highlord Breek.
Tyraz - Your whispers violate law of the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth, "doctor". I suggest you keep your maw quiet before I make your chances of reproduction minimal at best.
Medic - I-I didn't mean to offend you or your species, my liege. I was just- the children's existence is somewhat unprobable scientifically.
Medic 2 - Yes, indeed. The two vastly different genetic structures safely integrating into each other, the... essences. I hope you understand.
Tyraz - Hmph, what does it matter whether it breaks the laws of your narrow views or not? They're here, they exist. It is your duty to bring life safely into the universe, not to discriminate against them for what they are for impossible life is still life.
Medic 2 - Yes, of course. That's what the Theosophians say; all life is connected.

Tyraz shoved past the medic with a confident step, knocking him from his path as he walked forward. Unknown to the medics who had just been subject to but a partial slither of Tyraz' anger, he had taken advantage of those ill words to provoke that fire inside of himself in order to carry himself forward. Still, the medics were visibly unnerved, sweating and panting heavily as the demon Zazane warlord stood before them.

Medic - Speaking of which, the children are well, as is their mother. They are in that chamber.

Responding to the doctor's command, one of the chamber's walls became tranluscent and slowly disappeared, forming a door. Tyraz carefully approached it to see Iovera lying on a verge of unconsciousness in a bed, her body covered by a thin sheet of silvery fabric; her face expressed pain but at the same time, relief or even happiness. Next to her lied two kids combining featured both Radeon and Zazane; one somewhat more reptilian in look, leaning more towards the former, while the other appeared to have distinct Radeon-like traits.

Tyraz' eyes darted back and forward, switching between the Iovera's pained visage and that of the offspring by her side. He reached out a leg to take yet another step; he fell, collapsing onto his front with his face being greeted by the tiled floor. The room shook somewhat by his drop from which he struggled to pick himself up from.

Iovera - T-T-yraz...

Iovera opened her eyes and looked towards Tyraz with a smile.

Tyraz - Urgh...d-do not w-worry yourself, M-Mistress Iov-vera! I-I'll... I-I'll be f-fine... a-allow me t-to d-deal with the s-situation...
Iovera - Isn't it... funny, Tyraz. When did we meet... remember? The vision. Turns out... it came true.

Iovera half-chuckled and gazed inside Tyraz's eyes: purple as usual, they glistened with joy. Tyraz lifted himself from the floor, his crimson eyes gaining just a small, noticeable tint of grass green amongst the bloody-murder red of his irises. He approached steadily before taking his place beside her, resting himself upon the bed to exchange a glance back into hers.

Tyraz - Hehe... you had thought it was but mere hallucination?
Iovera - I have long since accepted that all things have more than meets the eye to them. Especially when these things involve you.
Tyraz - You are one to talk, heh.

Iovera's hand stroked through Tyraz's crest slowly as she turned her attention towards the children.

Iovera - How should we call them?

Tyraz looked towards the children, his eyes analyzing them severalfold; a Zazane of lightish brown, coated with velvet fur and sporting soft, delicate features that were common to newborn Zazane that often lost such due to their brutal upbringing, and a Radeon of darkish red and black, with stubs of horns evident upon his cranium.

Iovera - The girl's yours, the boy's mine.
Tyraz - ...I wish for her to be named Kamavera; inspired by her wondrous matriarch and lifebringer.

Tyraz stroked the Zazane child softly with the tip of his finger, a smile perched upon his face as he registered the touch of fur that grew from his young daughter's soft skin. Her scales were more streamline than that of most Zazane, a feature not of a fighter but of a lover.

Iovera - I like the sound of that. - Iovera chuckled - As for the boy... hm. Abbess Ceia said I had an older brother when I was a kid... his name was Naziri. Valiant, in High Radessic. I find the name fitting.
'Tyraz - Naziri... Names of Radessic are far more fluid than that of Zan'tai.

Iovera looked at her son sleeping. Although young, she could already see that his facial features were rather peculiar and unusual for a Radeon; his skin was a lot more tough, even leathery in look, having more in common with Zazane scales. Although she couldn't exactly understand what was the source of the importunate feeling of deja vu she felt, she could swear that his face reminded her of someone or something.

Iovera - Don't remember much of my brother, but I think he was always the... feisty one in the family. Maybe Spode granted him reincarnation to give him a second chance.
Tyraz - ...What of their Essence? I overheard medics concerned about the energies of our offspring.
Iovera - I sensed their auras myself. There is some... Chranatunkulai, right? - in both of them.
Tyraz - What about your own?
Iovera - Mine comes from my purity of will, not my blood. They do have potential, though.
Tyraz - It makes me wonder; what does the Eternal One have in store for them? Will he have them punished for being of the blood of a demon... or will he have them prosper for being the blood of, what some call, an angel?
Iovera - All are equal before Dei'Nar. But I am certain that it will not forsake them...

Cathamera Ambush[]

9th Sendara ID.219505

The Grand Inquisition ahd provided Kelsos and his party with a Salamander-class Commonwealth crusier for the mission. After gathering supplies and exrta inquisitors for the mission the ship spent a seven-hour journey travelling towards the Deep core, specifically the cursed planet of Cathamera where seven years ago the horrific Andromeda War ended in an epic clash of energy and laser fire. The fate of the galaxy had rested in the hands of a few brave souls and now history was preparing to repeat itself. TYraz and every inquisitor knew there was something dreaded deep within Cathamera, the Guardians of Light and the Inquisition had pulled vast resources to keep the planet locked down.

As the crusier made its way to Cathamera, Kelsos was on the command deck looking over planetary maps and star charts on the deck's command consoles. There was little to see other than the intense blue rush of approaching space - a sight he so frequently sat that it almsot bored the old inquisitor - so he paced up and down on the bridge, muttering to himself, his head deep in thought with an Inquisitor standing attemdant. Relanath and Surem were by another console, with Relnath looking listless as he leaned against a console with his arms folded and eyes half-closed from boredom.

As he paced about, Tyraz approached from behind, wearing his trademark black battle armour as he came close to the Inquisitor, a grin upon his face as he walked. He had an air of confidence emanating from his body, as well as the energies that manifested itself upon his flesh and soul. kelsos could guess wehre part of this confidence came from and he loathed the thought. A man of his station was reduced to the lapdog. Inquisitors were supposed to answer to no political figure but here he was taking Tyraz's orders, and the demonic warlord was loving every minute of it.

Kelsos - The Inquisition ordered for the planet to be locked down. Heavily defended. Why would Volkarus be so brainless as to consider a full-forntal assault? So far long-range sensors are picking up nothing.
Relnath - Have we reached Cathemera yet, brother?
Surem - We estimate ten minutes, brother.
Relnath - Excellent! ...What about now? Are we close yet?
Tyraz - Impatient as always, Inquisitors.
Surem - ...no. It's only been ten seconds.
Relnath - Oh, yes! Pardon my impatience... what about now?
Kelsos - Brother Relnath keep that up and I'll confine you to quarters.
Relnath - Oh, yes... as you decree. What ab--

Relnath shut his mouth as Kelsos gave him a piercing glare. Relnath was young for an inquisitor, patient, but he was not immune to the aura of intimidation Kelsos gave off. For an old man, Kelsos was a formidable essence user and Relnath could feel it in his whiskers. Kelsos' peircing glare. To cut the tension, Surem drew focus back to the mission at hand.

Surem - The Khaxvis must have a plan, they wouldn't go on guns blasing on a Commonwealth stronghold like this.
Tyraz - Unless they had better guns.
Surem - Doubt it, surely. The commonwealth has sme of the most advanced weapons in the Gigaquadrant.
Tyraz - Some. Not the most. There are always bigger fish, as Kelsos would know.

Tyraz smirked towards Kelsos. This unsettled the Inquisitor as it was as though out of nowhere this one warlord knew everything about him. It was one thing for a tidbit or two to slip out, but to know his entire dossier? Tyraz was wrapped around his thumb, he knew it and he loathed the idea. He Kept a straight face so as not to make Tyraz think he was getting to the old man.

Relnath - Such as... such as the Grox.
Kelsos - I doubt he'd throw his lot in with the Dominion.
Tyraz - It's Volkarus, how can you be so sure?
Kelsos - Would he side with such merciless demons? At the end of the day he wants to control the Imperium not destroy it.
AI - Three minutes to threshold. Prepare for Hyperspace exit
Tyraz - He sided with Moxix.
Kelsos - Sources indicate he was at-first unaware of Moxix's nature.
Tyraz - And then he openly embraced upon it.
Relnath - That, and... if he desires to control the presence on Cathemera... who knows what is he willing to do in order to achieve godhood?

A bridge officer turned to interrupt the inquisitors, his features hanging low with distress.

Bridge Officer - Inquisitors. Recieving general alert from Cathamera. Attack grade black.
Kelsos - Inform them we are entering the interdition field now.
Bridge Officer - Sir...reports indicate the attackers emerged inside the field.
Tyraz - Inside the field?
Kelsos - Theoretically possible with a wormhole generator but requires a considerable amount of energy.
Tyraz - I do not care about that. All I want to know is how do we deal with it?
Kelsos - We're passing through the interdition field now. We can maintain a speed that should get us to Cathamera in two minutes.

Moments before they arrived Cathamera had been attacked with an assault force of the Resurgence. Using aquired Grox technology, Volkarus had outfitted his ship with equipment superior to the AGC's capabilities. He watched within his ship's throne room as the Guardian fleet was summerily attacked and devastated. He sat gleefully clenching his fist and savouring his victory. Standing to his right ,as always, was Pyrak who appeared to maintain a more serious face.

Volkarus - With these upgrades we are unstoppable!
Pyrak - It is not that we are unstoppable; they will just never win.
AI - New signal dected on starboard: Salamander class.

Volkarus was shown a holoram of the view outside. As he stood up he felt a presence that coused his lip to curl in frustration

Volkarus - Wait...That ship...

Volkarus clenched his fist and slammed it o nthe arm of the throne, slumping and growling as he suddenly realised who was on board.

Pyrak - Inquisition, my liege?
Volkarus - Tyraz... No. He can't be no. No now. Not when we are so close!
Pyrak - He shan't succeed today. We have Grox technology, not even he can survive such an onslaught.
Volkarus - Yesss. Open fire!

Volkarus smiled as Pyrak reassured him. Underh is command ship launched a heavy turbolaser and particle cannon broadside that impacted against the Salamander's hull, throwing everyone sideways in surprise. as they all landed on the starboard end of the comman deck, Relnath and Surem flung across the starship's command deck and slammed against the HD screens, which luckily remained undamaged. As the shock settled, everyone scrabbled up in frustration. Klaxons blared across the ship as everyoen went into alert status.

Tyraz - Ngh! What the Hell?!
Relnath - By Spode- gah, curses- eternal cycle, gaaah!
Kelsos - Ghrrh. That was no ordinary broadside.
AI - Warning. Shield integrity at sixty-five percent.
Surem - What exactly hit us?
Tyraz - Something advanced, that's for certain!

The ship fired again, this time the impacts caused hull damage on the lower decks.

Kelsos - Fire back!
Tyraz - Ngh...I need my Firesword.

The lone Slamander-class ship fored back, however the impacts caused only ripples on the shiedling of Volkarus's own warship. Proving that not only were its weapons superior to anything the Slamander had, but also its defences.

Surem - Sir we're getting battle data...energy signal for the flagship is extraordinary.
Kelsos - Urgh.. We need to prioritise.
Tyraz - Hmph, I haven't seen this much firepower in a long while.
Kelsos - Wait those energy signatures...Impossible. That ship is bristling with Grox technology! Since you're in charge, Lord Councillor, what do you say we do?
Tyraz - Hmph, get me on the ground. We cannot hope to fight him in conditions such as these.
Kelsos - Understood. Everyone planetside now.
Relnath - Yes, brother.

As Kelsos made the order, another barrage hit the ship, which caused hull breaches all over the lower decks. There were explosions occuring thoughout the ship as hull pressure buckled. The ship was dying and everyoen knew it. As everyoen recovered, Tyraz growled and bellowed an aditional order that others may have questioned.

Tyraz - Send the ship towards Volkarus' flagship. As soon as everyone is off, this thing is expendable.
Relnath - Expendable? As powerful as we are, the Inquistion's resources are far from limitless!
Tyraz - What and my son is no different, puppy?!
Kelsos - Lord councillor all a collision course is going to do is make a moderate impact on their shields.
Tyraz - That's all I require!

Surem had already ran for the escape pods followed by several other inquisitors. Kelsos sighed and ordered the captain to set an autopilot course, they then all headed to the escape pods. Planning to confront the Resurgence planetside as the ship exploded around them. A fireball burst out near to Tyraz as he ran for an escape pod, singing the scales on his left side. As the ship's level of damage reached critical levels, Volkarus sat watching with joy. He turned to Pyrak with a stern look.

Volkarus - Pyrak. Organise a hunting party and descend to the surface. I will not be satisfied until you persoanlly being me Tyraz's broken body!
Pyrak - It shall be an honour, my Lord.

Pyrak bowed and left the throne room respectfully. As he marched towards a shuttlebay he had a cadre of superzazane follow him as they checked their Grox weaponry.

False Demon[]

Tyraz's escape capsule hurtled though the thin atmosphere and smasked into the surface of Cathamera. As the dust settled outside, Tyraz rested for a moment inside the pod and took a few pants of relief. Due to his descension Tyraz could never tire ,but the circumastances that led to this moment took its toll on even his mind. After checking himself over, he unclipped his harness, unaware of waht was going on outside.

Watching as the debris settled upon the land, Pyrak was surrounded by a circle of genetically enhanced Zazane, similar to the ones Volakrus had been experimenting to create shortly before the end of OPeration: Red Snake Rising. They wore specialised uniforms patterned in the colurs of House Khaxvis and were equipped with Grox weaponry. He had arrived on the surface not long before Tyraz did and watched with some calm idnifference as the capsule hutled violently towards the ground. Pyrak himself had a set of Grox-enhanced blades within his grips that day. As he looked on, one of the superzazane turned to him, requesting a command.

Superzazane - Your orders master Yannor.
Pyrak - Fire upon the pod.

The soldier nodded and turned around. The others silently accepted the command and each raised their rifles, moving around Pyrak in order to deliver an assault in a frontal arc. All of them fired at the capsule, quickly breaching the hull and causing exlopsions inside. Tyraz was about ready to get out and was taken by surprise by the attack. As the remains clared, he lay beside the glassed ground and molten twisted remains of the capsule. With a groan, Tyraz pulled himself to sit up. His eyes widened when he saw waht he was surrounded by. The hideous, un-zazane aboninations that were undautably under the Resurgence's command. He narrowed his eyes and let a mere word pass his lips as Pyrak took a few steps forward.

Tyraz - Shyrak...
Pyrak - Tyraz Breek, Lord Councillor of the Brood of War, Highlord of Andromeda and Grandmaster of the Guardians of Light. I would say it is a surprise to see you here, but considering your more than persistent nature concerning my master, it would be a lie if I said such.
Tyraz - You...You were on the dreadnought the day I destroyed it and reduced your master to a red mess.
Pyrak - I was. I suppose it shouldn't be much of a surprise to you that I was the one responsible for his resurrection once more. A full body, constructed by myself and only myself with minimal assistance.

Tyraz and Pyrak confront each other

Tyraz growled as he attempted to stand up. He had been infuriated Volkarus had somehow returned, looking down towards him was the culprit, the man who very proudly admitted he was the oen who brought Volkarus back as thought it was the greatest achievement in his entire life. For such a serious crime, there was only one option. Pyrak however had different ideas and as Tyraz stood up as Pyrak's soldiers aimed their weapons.

Pyrak - Stand down, Lord Councillor. There's little more that you can do here.
Tyraz - I have been in more fatal situations before.
Pyrak - Squad, obliterate this man. Ground him before he can move a single inch.

Tyraz held out his hand and in a pillar of black coalescing energy his Firesword materialised as he growled. As the squad fired he surrounded himself with fiery slashes. Pyrak watched as Tyraz deflected and shielded himself with his Firesword, watching as the hellfire surrounded his body and protected him from the blasts that the Zazane super-soldiers were firing.

Tyraz - You rely on your failed stillborn abominations to best me, shyrak-eater?
Pyrak - ...Men, get closer. Continue fire.

Tyraz growled was the super-soldiers ebgan advancing. after another few slashes he gripped his Firesword firmly and rushed towards Pyrak. Pyrak raised an arm, calmly saying "wait" as if to politely halt Tyraz's charge. Tyraz halted his charge by plunging his Firesword in the ground, he created a blazing shockwave that forced other supersoldiers to back away. Pyrak felt the sarign heat of the blast wave hit him. As the fire settled, Tyraz looked up at him, eyes narrow.

Tyraz - Excuse me?

With a smile on his face, Pyrak took several calm steps back so he could retain some space for himself. He closed his eyes and began to hum noticeably, progressively getting louder as the seconds, soon minutes, passed. The supersoldiers stopped as did Tyraz, all looking confused from this display that Pyrak was engaging in. His humming began to get louder and louder, eventually almost reaching the point of absolute screaming. Suddenly, there was a flash of blue fire that knocked all around him back in some sort of shockwave except for himself and, once the icy blue fires had died down, all could see what had happened; Pyrak was covered in lightning blue veins and crystalline formations. Tyraz was thown back and landed on his back, coughing as he lay on the ground.

He had engaged in a Demon Form, but yet somehow, he didn't appear wild or savage as was to be expected.

Tyraz - What...What was that?

Pyrak approached Tyraz as the Zazane supersoldiers picked themselves up from the ground. The Firesword had landed away from Tyraz and the whole area seemed to be getting colder with each step that Pyrak took.

Pyrak - What do you think, Lord Councillor?

Tyraz slowly stood up and glared at Pyrak. Noticing the elevation in power that Pyrak had recieved. Standing up, Tyraz ran to deliver descension fuelled punches to Pyrak. As he ran up his scales blackened and yellow scras began glowing over his body. Pyrak smiled as Tyraz rushed forward, he too was engaging in his Demon Form. They both appeared heavily corrupted by their dark Essences, yet they appeared so different; while Tyraz was enshrouded within a fiery aura and covered in magma-filled veins, Pyrak was plated in icy formations and covered with veins that stored an unknown liquid.

Pyrak - Go on, punch me.

Tyraz gleefully landed a punch against Pyrak's stomach. His eyes began to glow more brightly. Pyrak stood still as Tyraz's punch landed upon his body, causing a minimal amount of damage which made Pyrak shudder ever so slightly. In response. Pyrak clenched his fist and delivered a powerful uppercut below Tyraz's jaw.

Pyrak - As you were gifted your Descension, I forced mine upon myself. This is what I like to call an Imperfect Demon Form - I am within control yet only through the assistance of transmitters and cybernetic enhancements within my brain and other organs. The process should be excruciatingly painful...but I feel nothing. I guess one could say...that I am numb.

Tyraz was dislodged backwards by a few steps. He regained his composure and glared at Pyrak with burning eyes and charged again.

Tyraz - You are an abomination to all things Zazane!
Pyrak - That's rich.

Pyrak clenched a fist and sent it flying in Tyraz's direction as he charged, a blank, cold expression upon his emotionless face. Tyraz ducked the fist, missing the punch by an inch and landing one of his own burning fists fist squarely in Pyrak's stomach. After delivering the first punch he sent a kick into Pyrak's thigh but Pyrak merely looked slowly down to Tyraz, glaring at him. He reeled from the attack, but he did not seem too affected by it as crystals sprouted from his wounds.

Pyrak - I cannot feel your hate, nor your anger. Does that annoy you?
Tyraz - I still hold true to Zazane beliefs. You...you discard them! Throwing everything away to lick Volkarus's feet!

Tyraz punched harder and faster, causing more crystals to sprout from his impacts. He then sent a descension-fuelled punch into Pyrak's snout Pyrak reeled once more from the attack, even though he didn't put up much of an offensive and seemed to be allowing Tyraz to place his punches upon his body. Blood dripped from Pyrak's snout, freezing the ground below him in moments as it hit thepl anet's surface.

Pyrak - You hold true to the Zazane, but do the Zazane still hold true to you?
Tyraz - What are you.
Pyrak - I am everything wrong with this world made manifest, for I do not feel guilt nor pain over my actions or the actions of others. I cannot be hurt for I am pain incarnate. You shall learn this.

Raising his large fist, Pyrak slammed down on Tyraz's shoulder, sending the Zazane several feet into the ground, leaving him stuck there as ice began to freeze over his body. Tyraz struggled to get out of the ice. His rage and fiery aura burning away in an attempt to melt the encroaching ice. This whole incident appeared to only make him even angrier. Those super-soldiers who recovered plodded over to Tyraz's location, all of them with crooked smiles on their faces. Pyrak clenched both fists before engaging in his onslaught; a plethora of punches, slaps and slashes were sent to Tyraz's face with microseconds between each attack, preventing Tyraz from being able to reel from the previous move. This carried on for an extensive minute, before Pyrak slammed his knee into Tyraz's face and chest multiple times with increasing force.

Pyrak - I wonder what shall break first. Your spirit...

The zazane giant lifted the weakened Tyraz from the ground and held him over his head, gripping his head in one hand and his legs in the other.

Pyrak - Or your body.

In a brief moment, Pyrak slammed Tyraz down onto his crystalline knee, bending the entirety of his spine as the Zazane warlord made his descent downwards. Pyrak's mouth formed a slight grin as he heard the loudest of cracks emerge from Tyraz's back, before launching Tyraz away from him - towards his Firesword. Saling through the air Tyraz hit the ground and rolled several metres before resting beside his Firesword. After a few minutes of lying near-coamtose, Tyraz jolted as his spine attempted to snap itself back together, the curs and brises he suffered added to the scars he already had. And his chest - broken from the beating - began snapping back int oplace.

Tyraz - I...will not...Yield.
Pyrak - Of course. I shall break you, you shall fix yourself and then I shall break you again. I shall place you within an endless cycle of continuous, constant suffering, one greater than any you have experiencd up until this point. I shall make you regret, I shall make you bleed but I shall not make you numb.

Pyrak slowly approached Tyraz, looking down at the Zazane with his usual emotionless look. Tyraz jolted into a sitting position as his body ficed itself, he looked up at Pyrak. Giving off a pained smile. This smile exposed Pyrak to a moment of confusion, although ti was ahrd ot tell fro mhis expressionless face. One twisted idea appeared to make him crack a very slight smile.

Pyrak - What do you smile for? Are you really this accepting of your imminent fate?
Tyraz - Not quite...

Tyraz raised an arm. A Superzazane realsng waht was going on dashed for the firesword only to be dismembered as it flew past him and into Tyraz's open hand. Holding it tightly, he sswung it upwards, jumping up in the process. Pyrak's eyes widened in surprise and he side-stepped as fast as he could to avoid the full force of the slash. The crystals that formed upon his torso and knees were reduced to ash and blood flowed from his body. He had avoided the full force of the slash, but he had not escaped it completely. The look of surprise still lay telltate on his face as Tyraz glared at him.

Pyrak - ...This is a pain unlike any other.
Tyraz - We'll see if you are numb to this pain!

Tyraz sent a downward slash against Pyraks' body. Eyes burning as malevolently as his blade. Again, Pyrak side-stepped but could not completely avoid the slash, with more of his crystals exploding from the exposure of the immense heat and his veins beginning the burst. He realised that staying was a futile effort.

Pyrak - Men! Keep him occupied! Make sure he does NOT leave this place!

The Superzazane gave wary looks to Pyrak and nodded, fully aware of how dangerous both of them were to irritate and so fired their weapons. Preferring death by an infernal blade than suffer though whatever trotures brewed inside Pyrak's mind. Pyrak, already sustaining heavy injury from mere exposure to the sword, disappeared in an immediate flash of light, teleporting away from the battlefield as the Superzazane were left with the Lord Councillor without further assistance. As the energy blasts impacted Tyraz's skin, he turned sharply, throwing energy slashes at the superzaane groups. Some found cover, others were incinerated, whittling down thir numbers. Tyraz was in too much of a fury state to care for his actions. Unfortunately, Volkarus had demanded Tyraz's body from Pyrak, and a warlord such as him is rarely tolerant of failure.

Khaxvis guards stood paralyzed where they stood, their eyes widened and their mouths left agape. Their nerves and tendons trembled uncontrollably, as if commanded to do so by some higher force that maintained control over their being. The sight they had been greeted with was one of varying natures, but the most prominent would have been disbelief and shock. They observed the crystalline, demonic colossus as it strolled onward with an obvious limp, dripping with a liquidous substance that converted itself into a more solid form as it came into contact with the ground.

Dissapointing Outcomes[]

10th Sendara ID.219504

Pyrak heaved what his body had become through the corridor of the Regante Khaxvis, approaching the doorway to his master's throne of reign. He was weighed down not just by the formations that grew upon his back but also by the shame that laid upon his shoulders, pressuring his ability to even walk. He had to stay in motion, otherwise he would never make the journey. Every step he took, liquid ice leaked from his body and froze to the floor, it took efort to break his frozen bonds, his curse for his experiments. Pyrak met eyes with the guards that surrounded the entrance to Volkarus' royal, unhallowed chamber. Reluctantly, he stopped walking and stood still, his flesh beginning to meld with the floor. One of the guards, one of Volakrus Blessed Few, looked up towards Pyrak with his mouth open in shock. After a few minutes the Blessed One regained composure enough to speak.

Blessed One - Sir Yannor...your presence is unexpected.
Pyrak - Mock me as I assume you will, I shall bear no grudge towards those who I have wronged.
Blessed One - No mock sir. But your appearence is sooner than expected...

The other Blessed One, who stood on the other side of the door, sighed and walked over to a panel. He pressed the holographic display and after a few seconds there was a clank, and then another. The Blessed One at the console turned to Pyrak with a grim look on his face and and took a deep breath.

Second Blessed One - The Master is prepared to see you. Sir...
Pyrak - Feel free to observe, I shall stand as a testament as to why one should not fail his wishes.

Pyrak, with a degree of difficulty as he struggled to seperate his icelike flesh from the floor, heaved his frozen form into the royal chamber ahead of him. He attempted to make haste, but he had been slowed by the weight of his burden both physically and mentally. He displayed no reluctance, however, instead wearing that same face of indifference as he strolled onward. Volkarus sat squarely within his dark throne at the end of the room. Pyrak could see his face the moment he stepped inside the room. Volkarus' head was low, his blood red eyes were narrow and starring directly into Pyrak's own, burning into whatever soul the Zazane had left. He was holding the arms of his throne extremely tightly, muscles tense. Closer inspection revealed his nostrils flared and his lips rippled with rage. Pyrak continued to walk until his steps stopped at the center of the room, freezing the floor at his feet. It need no saying that the amount of tension within this chamber had ascended to almost unimaginable levels, ensuring a high degree of awkwardness towards those not involved in this meeting although such did not stop the Khaxvis onlookers. Pyrak raised his head as much as he could towards his master.

Pyrak - I shall make no attempt to hide the truth from your presence: I have failed.

Volkarus continued to glare at the creature that was without a doubt one of his greatest servants. Standing up, he stood with authority, fists lenched and black energy leaking between his fingers. His eyes flared as he stood up, shifting his immense and chiseled bulk while maintaining the deathly silence of the room, everyone around him too afraid to speak up. He looked onward in stark contrast to the crippled monstrosity for he stood proud and with confidence, an aura of dark power radiating from every scale. As Pyrak closed in, he finally spoke, his demonic words chilling those who heard it.

Volkarus - What is this?
Pyrak - This is the aftermath of an unsuccessful objective. Initially, this assignment was to be my greatest gift to you, but my efforts had gone in vain.
Volkarus - I gave you a single task Pyrak because you have succeeded without flaw until now. All I asked was for Tyraz's broken body and you come back to me as...this!
Pyrak - Correction; I was to bring Tyraz's beaten body here alongside this new shape, for it was the only way I could have opposed him.
Volkarus - Yet you stand before me, with him still alive and you gradually losing your mobility...
Pyrak - My ability to estimate Tyraz' strength and adaptability had served inaccurate at this time. My focus was mislaid, my confidence uncontrolled.

In a flash, Volkarus appeared right in front of Pyrak in midair and slung his fist at the colossus' cheek, sending him flying to the side and severing his connection to the floor and makingforceful contact with the furthest wall. The impact shattered the crystalline protrusions across his body although they shortly regenerated and restored themselves with haste as his arctic skin melded to the solid form of the wall. The entire room shook upon his impact.

Volkarus - A mis-estimation!?
Pyrak - ...Exactly. My plot had been foiled by a mere error, a fault on my behalf that allowed Tyraz's survival.

Volkarus grabbed Pyrak by the neck, the heat fro mhis hand melting the ice around it Constricting tightly as black energy leaked from his arms.

Volkarus - One of your soldiers relayed the events to me. He pulled a simple trick Pyrak, he palyed on your confidence and that split second was all he needed to sever your arm!

He gripped the neck tightly, burning more of the ice as he pulled himself in. Tensing his muscles he pulled Pyrak away, slamming him into a pillar, denting the structure and causing him ot collapse limply to the floor. Volkarus walked over to Pyrak and pressed his claws int oPyrak's snout, his rage preventing the icy material that made up Pyrak's new body from freezing over his hand.

Volkarus - I expected more from you Pyrak! I thought you were beyond being blinded by pride!
Pyrak - ...You stand before me and berate me as the hypocrite you are. If even a demigod's vision can be obscured by his own sense of worth, then so can his servants. It was a mistake to come here, a flaw to think that we could find godhood.
Volkarus - No. Godhood is here. I know it! But so long as TYraz and those inquisitors are down there it shall be forever beyond our reach.
Pyrak - If you can contemplate achieving more than what I could, then go ahead and try. A 'real' god does not require underlings to do his work for him, otherwise such disasters as this occur. You placed such a high hopes in a man who was not yet ready to attain his gift of birth, so observe the aftermath of such a decision.

Volkarus growled as Pyrak saw an intense red aura around him ,the room became hotter as VOlkarus grasped Pyrak's side and lifted him over his head, tossing hi mwith great force into the floor. Every blow shook the room but VOlkarus himself appeared unfazed. He stood over Pyrak and pressed his foot down on Pyrak's chest, his rage melting the crystals both under and surrounding his foot as his aura intensified.

Pyrak - For your sake, my master, I hope godhood is here upon this world for it shall be the only thing to release us both from the harsh cycle.

Volkarus lifted his foot from Pyrak and took a step back, glaring down at his favoured servant with dissapointment. His eyes darted as the ice leaked and solidified from Pyrak's body to cover the floor, akin to watching a body freeze within a small lake.

Pyrak - As I lay here, I feel numb. Not just to pain, but to all sensations. Yet, while I may not physically recognize such feelings, I know I am supposed to feel them. And all I feel is shame, guilt, no hope. But such has been the case since even before this transformation.

Pyrak's eyes darted towards Volkarus', meeting and locking in place for a brief moment. For once, Volkarus witnessed some form of expression on Pyrak's malformed face; sadness made itself evident in his eyes, for small formations of crystals gathered beneath his sockets.

Pyrak - My hope had been misplaced, my intentions fruitless thus far. I sought reason and purpose, thus I brought you back into the cycle to serve. I attempted to restrain and destroy my doubts, but they remained clear behind the glass barrier. I have grown tired of the cycle, it was my mistake to expose you to it once again than to spare you of its workings.
Volkarus - You...regret restoring me. Despite all I have doen to restore the Resurgence?
Pyrak - I care not for the Resurgence's resurrection, I cared for you. My loyalties did not lie with the Khaxvis, they laid directly towards you, not for what you stood for. You were not my master, you were my friend. If I had done the right thing and had not allowed myself to be overcome with desire for restoration, I would have allowed you to rest without once again exposing you to strife.

Volkarus laxed, he looked down to Pyrak's crystallizing eyes, his jaw open slightly. He shoook his head, at the same time lowering it. Turning around and looking away from everyone he spoke once more, his words coming out as though something was stuck within his throat.

Volkarus - All but Pyrak. Leave me

THe guards complied slightly out of fear of not wanting to further invoke VOlkarus' wrath. They opened the doors and filing out two at a time, the last one slowly closing the door and leaving the two alone. As VOlkarus stood he turned back around. He held out his hand towards Pyrak, boilig away the ice with a sombre look on his face.

Pyrak - ...I came with you because you knew hate. Not many who were in my company before these days knew such a thing in its entirety. You were despised and spat upon without reason, the subject of irrational anger. That was what drew me in. A feeling...of belonging, for once. I am incapable of laughter at this point, but in my mind, I am finding such thoughts amusing. You cared for domination and loyalty, but blind as to why I followed you. I do not fear you, I do not find hope in your cause. I found resemblance.
Volkarus - You first approached me alongside your kin because you were dissatisfied with Tyraz and applauded my efforts to challenge him...In my descent to madness you stayed by me, rose to become my second even as I myself became obsessed with consuming the flesh of mortals and immortals alike...yet despite my madness you brought me back.
Pyrak - Tyraz is a subject of hate just as much as we are, but he does not seek what we do. You seek to make those who wronged you pay, I seek to wrong those ignorant to what they have as well as ignorant to those who truly had nothing. Tyraz...he fights for others despite their hate for him. To me, he had surrendered to the people rather than the reverse that we seek. They do not know his pain, he does not seek to show them despite possessing the right to.

Volkarus sighed as he continued to burn away the ice that fixed Pyrak to the floor. He looked at his servant silently, deep in thought at Pyrak's words.

Volkarus - If or when I ascend from this power we were promised, I shal lremember to impart some of it to you in recognition for this. You demanded so little yet gave so much to me, I would consider such as repayment. Perhaps wwith such power and with my backing the Brood can be yours. And with the Imperium mine, Dranvamus will be ours. You and I ruling it eternally, beyond the challenge of the filth that crawl between our toes. The filth both you and I despise.

Pyrak looked on in silence for long minutes, his eyes drifting away from Volkaurs' slowly. Volkarus could see it in his expression, no amount of promise could urn him back. Pyrak was preparing to deliver heavy-set news and both of then knew VOlkarus was not going to like it.

Pyrak - My friend, I cannot go through with such a process. For many years, I believed that I possessed nothing. But...only now do I realize that in the end, I had something. If we survive today...I wish to part ways, and I request you to release yourself from this cycle through ceasing your reign. I do not wish to see my friend, that something, in consistent strife.

Volkarus glared at Pyrak. However rather than another outburst, he waved his hand to dismiss Pyrak from his sight, returning to his throne in contemplation as the last of the ice evaporated. Leaving Pyrak inside a giant superzazane-shaped indentation. Pyrak stood while he could and turned. Before he left the chamber, he stood within range of the doors for a brief moment and spoke out before taking his departure, his voice unfeeling and indifferent yet Volkarus could tell that he was struggling to convey any form of emotion as of this moment.

Pyrak - You claim I demanded so little, yet you gave me so much. I will not forget, whether we part ways in failure or success. It shall be a memory carved in everlasting ice.

Just outside the door were a few other guards who looked on at the moment in confusion, equilly wildered both by the situation and the icebound colossus that stood before them. Pyrak continued onward, the crystalline formations restoring themselves at a particular pace. As he passed these unknowing Khaxvis, he spoke towards them rather than to what was to be his former-master.

Pyrak - Serve him well, not out of fear or out of hope, but out of kinship.

Pyrak walked on towards the bowels of the ship. Back in the throne room Volkarus sat slumped, his eys darted as he sat in intense thought. WOndering waht happened to turn his most loyal servant. Looking back up with a scowl he made his decision and in a flash of black energy dissapeared from his throne room without a trace.

Whispers In The Dark[]

As the bulk of the Grand Inquisition's task force fought the Resurgence on Cathemeran plains and tunnels, another Inquisition searching party was prowling in a different part of the forbidden world: the site of the Great Battle. Their intent was to gather intelligence for the order, and, what was far more important, find out: what could so important, so powerful on that godforsaken planet if Volkarus Khaxvis wanted it so badly? Surem was armed with a battle rifle and accompanied the group. He felt unsettled as they approached the heart of the greatest battle of the Andromedan War. After all, the Resurgence's lord wasn't the kind of a person that would chase ghosts, so the planet had to have something important. Relnath, the inquisitor that led the searching party, was sure of it.

Surem - The Order may have cleaned this place up but damn it al lthis place feels creepy...
Relnath - Fear means nothing to us! We're inquisitors, Surem; our mission is our foremost - and only - priority. We have to find out what does House Khaxvis seek on this misbegotten world. Relics of the Great War? Weapons? Technology? - a twinge of fear appeared in Relnath's voice - Or maybe.... something else...
Surem - I never said I was fearful. There's a foul taste in the air, I can't put my finger on it but its there...
Relnath - I can feel it too... wait, did you hear that?
Inquisitor - Three supernaturals and one high-level mentalist did battle with a machine of prototype Grox design. The combatans of the last war certianly made their mark.

Surem looked to Relnath and raised his brow, a little curious and a little worried. As he lookd t oRelnath, a voice whispered out from the darkness. Everyone heard it, the unsettling and disembodied voice could be ehard by everyone in the chamber.

??? - Inquisition... trespassers... on my world... IN MY REALM... away.... away... AWAY...

Surem made hand signals to the other inquisitors and readied his rifle, lifting it to eye level and directing it to wherever he was looking. Surem's eyes darted about, relying on his mental techniques to enhance his sensory range. It is said that Inquisitors trained in the art of clairvoyance and clairaudience, which sharpened their senses, making them more aware of their surroundings. To the enhanced senses, the disembodied voice was disconcerting, a shadow without a source.

Relnath - Something... or, maybe... someone?
??? - I am not done yet... we never die... I never die...

Out of the blue, Relnath shrieked in pain and fell on the ground, trying to cover his ears. His cried echoed through the chamber in a cacophany of pain. Seeing hispartner in distress, Surem darted his vision to Relnath, signalling for an inqisitor to cover him he ran over to support him.

Relnath - Ah.... the voice...
Surem - Brother breathe! Remember to breathe, you're with allies.
Relnath - Yes... it is... someone... AAAH!
Surem - I feel it too brother. Breathe. Remember your training!

Another surge of pain coursed through Relnath's body, overloading his senses and this time followed by more voices. He could recognise them now: it was a chorus of agonising howls, but all subservient to one, single melody... one that seemed oddly familiar.

Inquisitor - Brother there is definitely a presence.
Surem - If you see it I want all mentalists to blast it with pressure waves and mental assaults. Whatever it is I don't think rifles will work.
??? - Without a body, a mind is naught but a shimmering spark that passes away unremembered. Without a mind, a body is naught but a lifeless stone that has no desires of its own... like you, inquisitor Relnath Chamanathi. What in your mind is... yours?
Surem - Relnath remember our mandate, Whatever it is, do not pay attention to it!

Relnath did his best to resist the importunate whispers of the dark entity, but as time passed, he started to yield. Feverishly, he whispered the words the being said to him with his own lips, all while experiencing excruciating pain. Surem grew mroe worried and drew closer, looking int oRelnath's eyes best he coudl with sincerity.

Relnath - No desires of my own... what in my mind is mine? Answer me, brother... ANSWER ME! What in my mind... belongs to me?
Surem - The entity is trying to sway you brother. Pay no heed. Remember what our creed states on this. What you have are your skills, your talents and your will. Do not let the creature take your will Relnath, fight it!
??? - What is a creed? A force imposed from the outside to take away your freedom, your liberty. Your skills... indeed, you're a being of great power. You were given a possibility to achieve greatness... and instead, you've become nothing more but a weapon. Your freedom of will is an illusion.
Relnath - I am nothing more... but a weapon... freedom of will... an illusion.

Surem reared back. He took a deep breath and gripped Relnath's shoulder tightly. He showed genuine consern for his partner and was willing to drop his own guard, backed up by others, in order to protect his friend. While Relnath and the voice had a point - that the high echelons of the Inquisition did possibly see their operatives as tools or weapons - there was none of that expendable nature here. Here, in tis room, brother tried to reach out to brother in crisis.

Surem - Do not dwell on it brother. Remember the sacrifices our order makes for stability , for order.
??? - What is stability? A mortal concept that chains. Shackles. Be released from it. Let your shackles be broken. The only code that matters is you.
Surem - Relnath? Relnath stay with me. Ignore the voices whispers...for me. And for your brothers and sisters.
Relnath - But... why me... either way, I'll be your slave...
Surem - One life, for a billion others. THat is our sacrifice Relnath. The lives we save and the stability we bring outweighs what we give up.
??? - They call each other brothers, but do they truly see you as an equal? You were always subservient - not to the code, no, but to them. The Order.
Relnath - ...so hard to think... so many lies... why... why...
Surem - Brother please. You are young, we do not work for gratitude. The lives we preserve are proof enough of our cause, how many holy wars have engulfed the galaxy in our order's span?
??? - Holy wars. Wars. Remember the War. Perhaps, you could have prevented it... had it not been for the shackles of the Inquisition. Perhaps there is another way? To stop wars, to bring order yourself? No force imposed over you but your own code. Allow me to aid you. Be my apprentice. Learn freedom.

Surem could feel the turmoil in Relnath's mind. He moved closer, visibly distrought at his cohort's conflict. Two opinions, two outlooks on the world. One sought to liberate him, one sought to ground him. Freedom or duty, which was more important? Regardless, it was clear Relnath cared about his parner, his brother, his comrade. Fo Relnath however the vision dissolved, the truth melted before his eyes. Surem was becoming less of a grounding force and mroe of an imprisoner.

Surem - Please Brother...I beg you, fight it! You are stronger fighting against its words!
Relnath - Don't worry, brother. I will follow the Code.

After so long on the floor and in pain, Relnath finally stood up. However he became different; cold blue fire was now blazing in his eyes; his skin became visibly charred, his veins glowing brightly with energy.

Relnath - With my own methods. Show me the power, Mentor. I will use it wisely.
Surem - Please brother...this path is not the answer.

Surem stood back. Seeing the change the other inquisitors aimed their weapons towards Relnath. Surem looked at Relnath with dissapointment. All in a sudden, Relnath's face turned into a grimace of anger; an alien, otherworldy intelligence had entered his naive mind, open like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded. With a single wave of his twisted hand, one Inquisitor perished, falling to the ground lifelessly. Then another. And another. And another. An invisible force ripping the very life from their bodies. There was no mourning, no panic, all of them knew they were tools of jutice.

Tools. That's all they were, they existed to be used and whatever now posessed Relnath discarded them without care. Snuffing the mout with no screaming, no pain, only the cessation of breath.

Relnath - I'm sorry. This had to be done.

Having consumed most of his squad, Relnath stepped up to Surem, staring into his sorrowful eyes. They were much different now; no longer brothers. Merely a god... and a mortal. Relnath's voice now reverberated with power, alongside it the wshipers of damned souls. Listening closely, Surem could have sworn he heard the voices of his former comrdes in this damned choir. Relnath reached out his hand towards Surem, not in agression but with an open hand,

Relnath - Come with me. With these powers, I will destroy Volkarus. I will fulfill the Order's ultimate goal... order. Yes. Break your shackles.

Surem merely glared at Relnath. Lifting the rifle in his hand, holding back tears as he bared his teeth he made his choice. Aiming the battle rifle at Relnath's upper torso Surem fired several particle shots at Relnath at point-blank range. The destructive power should have obliterated mortal flesh, ripping it apart at the subatomic level. Relnath's skin had indeed burned from the impact, but the fallen inquisitor himself remained unflinching. Not a single nerve on his face moved as if he did not feel the sensation. He merely looked at Surem with malevolent eyes and curled his lip, his eyes burning more intensely.

Relnath - If I must tear you apart, brother, I will.

Surem lowered his rifle and looked into Relnath's eyes, his face dropping in horror at waht he had just witnessed.

Surem - Brother...what have you become?

In answer to his question, Surem's body incinerated in smokeless fire, a mere utterance as his body was obliterated. No ashes, no embers, no remains, merely a faint mark of where he once stood. Surem was gone... as was Relnath. All that remained was an ancient, immortal monstrosity craving for one thing.


Hold The Line?[]

Inquisitors had formed instant barricades within the tunnels of Cathamera. Barriers of plasma stretched into wafer-thin strips between stick-like generators could withstand all but the most brutal projectiles. Veterens of a thousand insurgences and a hundred battles lay lined to defend the inner reaches of the planet. But there anemy was no mere cultists, for now flooding the halls were legions of genetically-enhanced Zazane bred and selected to serve as an elite warrior caste. Alongside them were grizzled Khaxvis Draconis warriors. THe inquisition's enemies had every advantage; they were enhanced both genetically and mechanically, their armour made from prototype or Grox-developed alloys and in their hands were Grox particle guns, some of the most advanced weapons in the galaxy.

The inquisitors held fast. What they lacked in numbers or personal augmentations they made up for with discipline, determination and the finest weapons available from the Andromedan Commonwealth. They stood fast as best they could, unleashing plasma fire on their savage foes.

On the upper levels of the planet a squad was firing and holding the line. Inquisitor Kelsos contributed himself, brandishing a powerful pulse rifle as he fired without mercy into the horde of enhanced Zazane. As he fired he saw a figure moving through the horde, taller than the others - a Draconis. Widening his eyes, Kelsos issued the command to fall back. Realising how dire the situation had become, everyone complied, some firing to cover the fallback.

Kelsos - Retreat and regroup! Relnath, make sure no one breaches the inner tunnels!

As Relnath turned tail Kelsos looked back to the horde, firing another few pulses. He could not see Volkarus any more, confused he headed towards the tunnels only to collide with a colossal Draconis who had somehow appeared right in front of him. The creature barely flinched as Kelsos' head collided with his stomach. Staggering back Kelsos looked up to see Volkarus glaring down at him, that split second give him a chance to flank the old inquisitor and before Kelsos could register the monster dilivered a powerful uppercut that sent Kelsos flying backwards. The enhanced Zazane appeared to flow around the pair as they ran to hunt the other inquisitors down like dogs. Kelsos shook his head as he looked up, his helmet cushioning the blow. Volkarus' attack however was enough to crack theunderside. Volkarus stomped towards him, i nhaste Kelsos scrabbled to pick up a fallen rifle. When the inquisition particle rifle registered his DNA he fired several pulses into Volkarus chest and shoulders. The blast should have burned away his stomach but all it did was char the flesh and damage the armour. He fired to more pulses, one Volkarus blocked with his hand, burning the flesh but doing no noticeable harm.

That hand fell downwards, wrapping itself around Kelsos' throat. In defence he grabbed the arm and that's when he could feel it; Volkarus had kept in the shadows ever since his ressurection by Pyrak. Until the Inuisition had to trly on rumour, Volkarus wa sso large and so powerful now that Kelsos could not wrap his fingers halfway around Volkarus' wrist, pressing against the tensed muscle. Lifted up above eye-level, Kelsos felt a cold and painful sensation as Volkarus violently slammed him into a wall. His grip tightened further, Kelsos could feel Volkarus' claws digging in, a burning sensation as black energy leaked from his hand. Triggering the extension of the claws built into his armoured boots, Kelsos slammed his feet, toe-first into Volkarus' stomach. Black blood barely trickled from the wound. He stabbed again and again, VOlkarus merely looked down and looked back up, a sinister laugh escaping his mouth as he pulled Kelsos fro mthe wall and tossed hi mat the other one. The corridor shook as Kelsos hit the other wall with enough force to dent it. But the force and angle meant he bounced off, slamming hard into the floor.

Pacing up, Volkarus slammed his foot downwards, sending Kelsos back int othe wall and back down again. As he gained the composure to stand up he drew a plasma longsword and lifted it up to strike Volkarus in the arm, the blade glowig an electric blue from the plasma that sheathed it. As the blade came down, Volkarus grabbed it by the metal and snapped it in half, thrusting his knee into Kelsos' stomach, winding him. Kelsos shamefulyl fell down again. He looked up and bared his teeth behind his cracked helmet. Waiting to step closer, a blade that once belonged to an enhanced Zazane came flying from Volkarus' right, embedding itself into his arm. VOlkarus let out a grunt and looked to the blade, he saw more flying at him, grabbing one, using it to defelct a second and punched a third at an angle to send it flying.

Volkarus - That was not very sportsmanlike Inquisitor...
Kelsos - Urgh. Rot in the void!

Pulling out the blade in his arm he rammed it into a wall and rammed the blade he was holding into Kelsos' side, causing him to let out a restrained shout. A snicker escaped Volkarus lips as kelsos felt two large heated hands rest themselves against the sides of his head. Kelsos felt weightless all of a sudden, the hands blocked the cameras that allowed Kelsos t osee, all he could make out were the collections of crimson scales beside him and a vaguely Draconis-like shape right in front of him as he felt his legs dangle in the air.

Volkarus - You are old inquisitor. Your bones are brittle and your strength fails you. Time to see how thick your skull really is!

Kelsos could sense Volkarus' movements. When he reached his highest he thrusted his legs forward and pressed them around Volkarus' throat, extending the claws to dig into the skin. He was unable to see the pair of tentacles made of descension energy emerge from Volkarus' shoulders. They wrapped themselves like serpents around Kelsos' legs and without warning crushed them to pulp. Another pair extended from Volkarus' sides, this time crushing the arms. As Kelsos roared in pain, Volkarus displayed a sadistic fanged grin. Bu Kelsos new his time had run out as he could feel Volkarus' hands squeezing his helmet. Signals started and he was given a high pressure warning as the ceramics began to crack.

Volkarus - Oblivion calls for you inqisitor.


As Khaxvis troops broke through the line, several inquisitors had broken off and fallen back under Kelsos' orders. Some of them providing covering fire. Running through the tunnels Tyraz felt an all-too-familiar presence nearby in another tunnel. Alongside what he recognised to be Kelsos' own essence signature. Tyraz showed little care or concern for the Inquisitors around him, counting them as little more than lambs sent for the slaughter and their ultimate purpose here was to draw the fire and attention of the enemy forces that would have quickly eradicated any standard form of army by this point. Peeking into the tunnell that seemed to severely agitate his extrasensory perception, he caught sight of the conflict ongoing within; an agonizing, sufferful death at Volkarus' hands loomed over Kelsos. Instead of charging in, Tyraz allowed himself to hesitate fora moment; he could have easily struck down two birds with one stone.

He didn't wait any longer than a brief few seconds to make his decision. Evaporating into a blackish-red vapour, his physical body rematerialized within this 'arena', looming above Volkarus with a clenched fist. Focussing sheer physical strength into the confines of his fist, he made a downwards descent and slammed his clenched hand downwards towards Volkarus, scoring a harsh impact just behind the demonic Draconis' crest. As Tyraz landed, he propelled himself forward and rammed his head into Volkarus' side in an attempt to shove him away from the Inquisitor. Volkarus' eyes widened as he was hit by Tyraz, his grip on Kelsos' skull slipping and allowing the old inquisitor to fall to the ground. When Tyraz headbutted him in the side he staggered sideways for a few paces, slamming his foot into the floor t osto phimself further and reached for the handle of a longsword strapped to his side. Tyraz could see the bright cromzon scales adorned over his herculean from, taller than any natural Draconis or Khaxvis. Volkarus merely looked at TYraz and an expectant chuckle escaped his maw as he narrowed his eyes in satisfaction.

Volkarus - I knew you could not resist trying to save this whelp Tyraz. You are so easy to draw out it is almost shameful.
Tyraz - I did not spare him for his own sake, so do not think I am saving any innocents here for they are all guilty in my eyes. But none more guilty than you for what grief you have caused.
Volkarus - And for a moment there I was convinced you had become Arsac's lapdog, then again...perhaps she didn't want to share with the Imposter.
Tyraz - Hmph, I am not fighting for Uriel's sake either. After all, he can handle himself well judging by that scar across your chin.

Volkarus brushed the scar with his other hand as he gripped the sword handle tightly. A mir kappearing on his face as black energies coalesced down his swordarm.

Volkarus - The price I pay for reducing that whelpling daughter of his to the crying little hatchling she always has been. She's never even set foot onto a rifle range.
Tyraz - Hmph, there must be some form of achievement for a demigod allowing himself to be severely injured by just a mortal man.

Volkarus snarled and drew the blade. At one time it would ahve been a large Draconid longsabre, what was once an ornate gold crossguard and handguard had been corrupted int oa ruby-red colouration with veins of black material streaming down it. The blade itself ha been darkened and a fierce red tinge enveloped it. Volkarus held the blade aloft the blade at his side, as the red faded out it became black. A sinsiter grin was on Volkarus face as he looked toward s Tyraz with mudereous eyes.

Tyraz - Go ahead and commence another one of your speeches proclaiming your dominance, I am certain that neither I nor Kelsos grow tired of them after every encounter that is recorded of you.

Rather than commencing a speech, Volkarus dashed towards Tyraz fast enough that he had a trail of displaced air behind him, rushing outward like a shoackwave, Twsiting the sword he swung the blade t oslice across Tyraz's torso from his bottom-left to upper-right. As a result of the impact, Tyraz was launched across the room, he had never witnessed Volkarus move so fast before this encounter; his movements had always been slow or hulkish, never agile or as accelerated as it was now. Tyraz hit the nearest wall, creating a Zazane-shaped dent into it although he recovered quickly and drew his Firesword, rushing at Volkarus who stood his ground. As Tyraz came in for the kill he watched as the Firesword was lifted, but as the sword came down Volkarus vanished, appearing behind TYraz and swinging his sword downwards to hack into the ar mbearing Tyraz's firesword. With the cut made, he sent a swift descension-fueled kick into Tyraz's back.

Tyraz was launched onward from the impact, his face slamming into the furthest wall ahead of him and rebounding him, knocking him onto the ground where his black blood spilled and sprayed across the floor. Before Tyraz had any particular chance to think, his sight was focussed towards Volkarus who had positioned himself near the Firesword. With a vicious growl, Tyraz's body launched itself and slammed into Volkarus' chest, knocking them both away from the Firesword to prevent any chance of one gaining more advantage than the other, although this meant that Volkarus was sufficiently more armed than his Zazane enemy. Volakrus dug his claws in as Tyraz zlammed his body backwards, knocking hi mback but quickly creating a deafening shriek as Volkarus slid backwards and the embedded talons dug into the metallic flooring. After stopping Volkarus looked at his opponent humorously.

Volkarus - I was always the better swordsman, remember?
Tyraz - Did not stop me from destroying you twice before, I shall do so again!
Volkarus - Oh i've improved, thanks in part to my friend Pyrak. He made me better, stronger, faster...But my restoration is not all he has done.

At that moment, Volkarus' eyes and aura flashed red, the scar on his chin began to glow with a sulphur-yellow along with numeorus outher scars on his body, some of which had been dealt py Pyrak in some manner. He began to laugh with maddening glee as the scars' glow intensified, his muscles swelled further and a fierce red aura envoloped his body. As Volkarus' scars illuminated, Tyraz stepped back and dug the claws upon his feet into the ground below so as to avoid being launched backwards by the significant increase of kinetic energy released by Volkarus' empowerment. He recognized the process, it was a horrific sight for sure. Simply looking at those illuminated scars almost provoked Tyraz into losing himself again, although he continued to remain stable for the most part as of the current moment in time. As Volkarus grew in height he continued to laugh, losing himself in the moment. At that moment, VOlakrus lowered himself and launched towards Tyraz, enormous, brutal and razor-sharp claws extending outward as they reached out, desiring to rend Tyraz's flesh.

In response, Tyraz growled and launched forwards, heading straight for Volkarus as they both traversed towards the other's direction at an increible, almost impossible speed. Tyraz came into physical contact with Volkarus, his crest colliding with the snout of the titanic Draconis, however it was Tyraz that yielded from the blow and was launched backwards once more into a wall, right in Volkarus' path as his collision did not seem to impede the Draconis and he continued to fly forward. As Tyraz hit the wall he folowed shortly after, his claws digging rigt into the body. With his prey pinned to the wall the massive demon looked at him with maddened eyes. But the impact did more than simply press Tyraz further. Volkarus' own momentum smashed a hole in the wall, and TYraz quicky foudn himself lying on the floor, Volkarus' clawed hands pressing down on him.

Demon Volkarus - Eight years I have waited for this! ANd i'm going to enjoy every moment!
Tyraz - Urgh...aaaaaaaAAAAAGGHH!!! You...S-Shyrak eater! Rot in Hell!

Tyraz launched the upper part of his torso forward, headbutting Volkarus although he was still confined to the floor with Volkarus' gargantuan claws impaling his flesh-based body, utterly refusing to initiate his own Demon Form as he had grown tired from its last usage. Volkarus reared his head as the torso jutted up, retalitaing by dropping a massive fist to push it back down with violent force. With the other hand, Volkarus ripped into Tyraz's skin, still smiling.

Demon Volkarus - And to think you detested this kind of power! You are weak Tyraz! A worm I shal lhappily crush and devour!
Tyraz - Ngh..urghaaaaAAAARGH!!! You a-are little m-more than an o-obnoxious blight! A w-warmongering m-ma ruled by j-jealousy!

Volkarus pulled Tyraz from the metal and threw him across the room. Standing up and rolling his shoulders back as Tyraz rolled across the metal floor, the impact cracking more bones.

Demon Volkarus - You think your sense of restraint can save you? This is no child's story Tyraz. THe hero doesn't win the day by proving he has the moral high ground, he proves his point by tering his opponent to pieces!

Tyraz panted with exhaustion, his body broken and beaten by Volkarus' onslaught of attacks that had drastically increased in terms of strength than the last time Tyraz had come to blows with the demon. Enough had been enough, he was away from the rest of the Inquisitors here and they had the arena to themselves without any interruptions. Tyraz' scales blackened and his scars illuminated in a similar manner to Volkarus, a sign that made Volkarus' smirk ever wider.

Tyraz - ...Then p-promise me t-this, scum...DON'T. HOLD. BACK.

Volkarus chuckled disturbingly, dashing forward at a similar pace to before and planting his fist strait at the tip of Tyraz's snout. Tyraz attempted to resist the strike, his claws digging into the ground beneath their feet as the fist's pure kinetic energy conflicted with Tyraz', forcing one against the other. This resistance lasted for over ten seconds before Tyraz was once against launched off his feet, although this time he had managed to take advantage and propel himself off the closest wall into Volkarus' direction. Volkarus positioned himself to take Tyraz's rebound. The two of them slamming into each other and sending both towards an opposing wall. Volkarus dug his burning claws into Tyraz's body and the two of them tumbled for a few brief seconds in an attempt for the other to slam into the wall first.

Tyraz was the first to slam the wall, once again collapsing it with their immense force and power. He was at a severe disadvantage by this point, possessing only a single arm and an already-damaged body alongside tiring quickly due to the previous battle that had drained much of his physical energies. He was losing, but he continued onward nonetheless.

After settling, Volkarus clenched his fists and repeatedly slammed them into Tyraz's head. TYraz could see that VOlkarus was losing himself to the Demon as the battle raged on, his mind gradually becoming lost in the ecstesy born from harbouring immense power. Feverish grunts escaped his mough with every blow as he wore Tyraz down.

Demon Volkarus - Do. You. Feel. It? The rush. The pain. The glory. The power. I will drive you into the ground. And then...then I will celebrate. The blood pumping through my veins!
Tyraz - You call this running me...into the GROUND?! I've seen children fight HARDER!

In retaliation Volkarus launched his head foward in a descension-charged headbutt, furious at Tyraz's taunt. The impact evidently caused a lot of damage as Tyraz's Demon Form incinerated upon impact, forcefully disengaging Tyraz of his empowered state. He desperately tried to keep his blazing eyes open, but they rolled into the back of his skull and all signs of struggle quickly ceased on Tyraz's part. He entered a state of near-unconscious, with Tyraz lying in a puddle of his own black blood. Volkarus stood over the body, black energy leaking from his fists and his scars bruning with an infernal yellow light.

Demon Volkarus - Eight years I have waited for this...Seven resting dormant in Pyrak's head.

Volkarus held out his arms and tentacles of descension energy snaked out from his back and sides, that maddened laughter returning and ecohing though the tunnels.

Demon Volkarus - Your body is mine Tyraz...I have won it form you, beaten you almost to death. Once I am done with you...godhood AWAITS!


Relnath - It does not. Godhood awaits ME.

Volkarus reared the tentacles and turned to look behind him, a scowl forming over his burning eyes. As he snapped in response, a burst of fire escaped his mouth. A figure had appeared out of nowhere to challenge him and, being the man of pride Volkarus Khaxvis was, he was unhappy with the interruption.

Demon Volkarus - WHAT? Who dares!
Relnath - I do.

Volkarus turned around and looked down towards Relnath, a chuckle escaping his lips as he sized his opponent up: Amidst the charred labarynthine tunnels of Cathemera, a lone figure appeared to challenge Volkarus. Though its Imperion stature was frail and small compared to the mighty descended Draconis, it neverthless radiated power, pure power. Its skin, charred and blackened, was cracked like volcanic stone, blue energy radiating from the fissures; the same blue energy sipped from its eyes. The moment Volkarus gazed in them, he realised: this Imperion was no ordinary inquisitor.

Demon Volkarus - That energy...the power here...you've taken it haven't you! You stole it from me as I beat your wothless "Protector" into his own pool of blood!
??? - Yes, apprentice. That's what the Inquisition wanted, isn't it? Order. Volkarus will be the first on your path to bring the galaxy unto perfection. Destroy him. Consume his energy. Make him suffer.
Relnath - ...I will make you... suffer...

Volkarus roared and threw his arms outward, sending arks of black flame towards Relnath as the walls of the tunnels ignited in demonic fire. Screeching in pain, the Imperion Mali'Nar roared wildly and charged at Volkarus, his visage mutating as he ran. Spikes, blades and tendrils grew all over his body, turning the mere inquisitor into a dreaded creature out of nightmares themselves. Volkarus snarled audiably. As Relnath charged he slammed his fist into the ground, sending a wave of molten metal towards Relnath. He clenched his other fist, scars glowing and black blood pulsing, ready to strike the Inquisitor when he got clsoe enough.

??? - Beings like us do not fear pain. Pain is an illusion. Revel in it.
Relnath - Revel... in pain....

With newfound strength, Relnath turned his right arm into a tentacle and attempted to strangle Volkarus, all while muttering to himself; "Revel in pain, break the shackles, change the universe, as the Mentor said" over and over under his breath. Volkarus lifted his free arm and grabbed the tentacle, burning it with more black fire as it tried to wrap itself around his trunk-like neck. A masochistic look was on his face as he spoke once more.

Demon Volkarus - The power is mine whelp. Once I destroy you I shall devour you, it shall be mine!

Relnath ignored Volkarus's taunts and simply struck again, forming new weapons from his mutating body as he attacked. The very ground shattered as he bent the laws of reality. He pulled Relnath close with his own unnatural strength, tentacles of descension energy emerging from his back and sides to wrap up Relnath and draw hi min. The fallen inquisitior responded by blasting the Draconis with waves of tainted Elemental energy, tapping to the powers his master had given him. As he attacked, however, he began to realise: his power was limited.

Relnath - Mentor... power...
??? - This battle is yours. Not mine. Prove your worth, apprentice. Succeed. Succeed by any means necessary.

Volkarus weathered the attacks, his flesh burning and scarring, slowly healing. The process however was slowed by the tainted energies Relnath unleashed. As he pilled Relnath in he let out a demonic growl, bearing his brutal teeth.

Demon Volkarus - Is that it?
Relnath - By any... means... NECESSARY!..

Gathering all his remaining strength, Relnath made his last charge at Volkarus. Mutated beyond recognition, it no longer resembled an Imperion; covered in writhing tentacles, burning with hellish energies, he was an avatar of hatred, power and destruction. His attacks tore through Volkarus's flesh, piercing deep into his very soul.. But, as strong as he was... that was not enough. He desired more, begged the voice for more.

Relnath - More... more... more... Mentor... Mentor... Mentor...

Volkarus let out a bellowing roar as the attacks tore into him, the arena's perimiter fire burned more intensely and in a desperate bid to finish the Imperion off, Volkarus plunged his fist down towards the ground and towards Relnath. As the fist approached him, his new mentor spoke again.

??? - ...Good job, Relnath. You did well.

Then, in a flash, the Imperion's power was gone. The light in his eyes passed away and he fell, his mutations burning away. With his might gone, so did his madness - and then, he understood what he had done. He was amidst a nightmare... and he couldn't wake up.

Relnath - Power... where are you... mentor... return it to me!...
??? - No. You have failed. I will find another host.

As his fist came down in an infernal shockwave, the chamber was decimated. In the middle, panting and kneeling on the floor was Volkarus, exhausted and in his more normal state. The demonic titan he was had evaporated and there a more controlled Volkarus was in a kneeling position. The ground around him cracked and molten to resemble the surface of some rapidly-solidified liquid.

??? - That host... - the entity silently whispered into Volkarus's head - will be you.

Volkarus looked up, his blood red eyes staring towards Relnath. he was panting heavily and had difficulty standing up.

Volkarus - Host?
??? - Consider me an advisor, in a sense. I am a being from outside the planes of existence. I can provide you knowledge, power... godhood.
Volkarus - If you offer power...then I accept!
??? - Very well, Volkarus Khaxvis. Are you aware of who I am?
Volkarus - ...No. But if you offer power I do not care so long as I am not driven to madness as I was before.
??? - Your mind is strong, and you are certainly not like this... wretch. In a sense, you are quite similar to myself, Volkarus Khaxvis. You follow no creed. Obey no master. Your sole ruler is yourself. You have the potential for... enlightenment.

For a second, a vision sparked in Volkarus's mind, resembling a shadowy Loron figure.

??? - Once again, all planes shall know my name. Br'klakkon the Sublime has returned.

Taste of Power[]

Volkarus was kneeling with one foot and one knee on the floor. As he tilted his head up his scars shifted from an intensely-glowing yellow to a burning icy blue, the transformation rushed up from his feet u his legs nad up his torso. Volkarus puffed out his chest as the feelign rose up his torso and into his head, upon reaching his scarred head he slowly opened his eyes to reveal two burning spheres of ic blue light. His initially blank expression had changed to one of pride as he felt his newfoudn power begi nto coarse though him, gently clenching his fists, some of the smalelr flecks of rubble and scrap within the chamber slowly drifted up into the air. Those same bruning eyes then slowly turned their gaze to Tyraz's body, a proud grin spreading across his face and letting a deep echoing chuckle of confidence burst between his sealed lips. THere was little doubt, whatever Volkarus did with Relnath, it changed him.

As Volkarus looked over Tyraz' frail and broken body, he could make out that the Zazane was within the process of regeneration across his form; cuts and scars moulded themselves back into place at a slow, gut-churning pace unlike his usual quick healing processes that lasted for a mere second or so. A breath escaped Tyraz's jaw as his eyes rolled forward and his eyelids lifted, allowing him to see once more although he still felt weak. Volkarus, lifted his foot and began slowly walking forward forward towards Tyraz. As he lifted each foot, the loose pebbles of scrap metal beneathhim floated int othe air ,as if Volkarus' presence here no longer applies to the very principles of the universe. As his feet passe far enough away, the shards scattered gently. Each footfall produced an audiable "thump", that sent an extra surge of energy though the ground.

Volkarus - You were a fool to attempt to stop me Tyraz. A pathetic, desperate and agony-ridden fool.

Tyraz forcefully lifted himself from the crater that had been made with his body with evident assistance from Volkarus' brute strength. His limbs and torso were numb, he had no sense of feeling over most of his body parts although he attempted his hardest to move. Standing on both legs and clenching his fists, Tyraz glared weakly towards Volkarus.

Tyraz - M-Madman...Y-You're a m-madman!

Volkarus gave a mocking smile to Tyraz, with the mere flick of his wrist downwards, the pull of gravity underneath Tyraz became immensely strong, weighing him down far more than a second ago, eventually forcing him to his knees. He could feel his demonic blood sinking towards his feet, his head gaining an immense sense of weights as VOlkarus looked odwn with a sadistic sense of glee.

Volkarus - Look at you, too weak and feeble apppear even the slightest bit threatening.
Tyraz - Ack! Urgh...W-What...What h-have you done...?!

Volkarus extended his arms to his sides and smiled with confidence yet again, feigning modesty as though what happened simply "happened".

Volkarus - I achieved my goal Tyraz: Power. Ultimate. Power.
Tyraz - You had power! More p-power than you could d-deal with! And look what h-happened then!
Volkarus - And I will not make the same mistake again!

Another flick of his wrist ,this time upwards and Tyraz felt himself launched into the cieling. Only this time, he wa sallowed to fall back down to the floor, albeit rather firmly. Tyraz grunted loudly as his body smacked against the ground, struggling once more to stand. He panted heavily, his black blood dripping from his lips copiously as he sustained more and more injury and trauma to his physical form. It was more than what he was able to heal at this moment in time due to his earlier defeat. He wiped the blood from his mouth and glared once more, struggling to stand as he limped forward.

Volkarus - Want to strike at me again?

Vokarus threw out his arms and vanished

Volkarus - Come on find me, cut me! Your rage pumps though your veins like a fire to let's see how brightly it really burns!

Tyraz, breathing with obvious signs of difficulty, gasped out as he fell to the floor again, his leg giving way. However, he nonetheless stood himself back up, enduring the pain given off by his significantly damaged limb. With clenched fists, he attempted to track Volkarus' signature, although he had become unfocussed and distracted.

After a few minutes with him and a disembodied opponent, Tyraz was flanked by a shadowed Draconis of more normal size, roaring and leaping for him. The rush of it all making it difficult ot see who it was. It roared at the top of its lungs, calling for Tyraz to strike him.

Tyraz growled and turned in a hurry, throwing out a fist as the Draconis leaped towards him. He had been spooked, with thoughts rushing through his head blindly while he attempted to distract himself from the pain. His body shivered, a sign of the extent of the trauma. His fist plunged itseld into the Draconis' chest, his vision cleared a little to see he had inadvertantly punched Uriel straight in the torso. Uriel looked down at the wound and back up at Tyraz, a look of horror in his eyes. Tyraz leaped back, landing onto his back in panic. As his eyes looked upon the image of the Paragon, Tyraz's eyes welled up. His shoulders raised and lowered with haste, blood dripping down Tyraz's torso from his scars, nostrils and mouth. Tyraz - ...T-Tricks! Lies! Y-You fight w-with illusions!

Uriel's expression switched from horror to a devilish grin, Uriel beckoned Tyraz over, pulling him closer with telekinesis.

Uriel - And I thought you cared for me Tyraz. Was I wrong al lthis time?
Tyraz - You a-are not Uriel! I-I have been d-decieved many a time...y-you shan't trick me a-again!

Tyraz slammed his head against Uriel's, although the damage was not much compared to the punishment Tyraz had been forced into. More blood squirted from his face as his eyes weakly struggled to remain open. Uriel however hardly felt the impact, merely dissapearing in a black cloud soona fter and re-appearing behind Tyraz, unleashing arcs of lightining towards his back. Knowing the illusion was broken, Uriel had returned ot looking like Volkarus

Tyraz was launched forward, slamming once more into a wall and painting it with his blood and flesh. As his body slithered to the ground pathetically, he attempted to stand once more to no avail; he could only remain upon the ground, painfully turning himself round to look upon Volkarus once more to try and hope and deflect whatever offensive maneuvers he had in mind. As TYraz stared up at him, Volkarus gathered torrents of air in his hands and thoew it in a deadly ball towards Tyraz, seconds before it hit another Draocnis appeared in front of Tyraz and created a barrier to absorb the ball. The purple scales and distinctive armour were eerily fmiliar to Tyraz, as wel las the intense aura. COmpared to Volkarus' however, his was of a pure white light.

The other Draconis retaliated by throwing a torrents of his own make at Volkarus, which launched him backwards. Tyraz looked up weakly, struggling to breath as his eyes caught sight of the Draconis that had stood between him and Volkarus. With a brief struggle to sit himself up once more, he attempted to gain a clear view of who this saviour had been, although he had plenty of ideas and guesses rushing throughout his head. After Volkarus was planted into a wall the Draconis turned around and kneeled own, revealing himself by faceto be Sarec. Sarec wrapped his hand aroun dTYraz's arms and he could fee lhis flesh knitting back together, his strength gradually returning as Sarec held him.

Sarec - It's okay Tyraz it's me, I'm here to help.
Tyraz - Aargh...urgh...S-Sarec...W-What are you...w-what are you doing h-here?
Sarec - Saving your tail. Are there any other survivors?
Tyraz - The...T-The Inquisitors...T-There should s-still be s-some somewhere...

Sarec looked about, his eyes fixating on Kelsos. At that moment he let go of Tyraz he felt a rush of electricity flowing though his body, causing him to cringe in pain. Behind him, Volkarus had his hand out, arcs of electricity dancing around his fingers as he snarled viciously.

'Volkarus - You! My mentor has declared you a thorn in his side. In his name I shall destroy you as well as Tyraz.
Sarec - T-tyraz...che-ck on Kelsos!

Tyraz nodded and managed to make respectable haste for a man of his current physical condition. Despite his broken body he travelled as fast as he could, not wishing to leave Kelsos alone within this conflict, but he could not foresee any viable strategy that would have allowed victory in their favour for the time being. He almost stumbled as he traversed though he kept reasonably steady and approached Kelsos, who weakly turned his head as best as he could.

Tyraz - G-Get up!
Kelsos - Ty-raz...M-my limbs...Volkarus...crushed them...damaged the armour...Canot move.

Tyraz knelt down and heaved the Draconis' weight onto his shoulder, lifting Kelsos up while wrapping an arm around him so as to make sure he didn't fall. He was heavy and Tyraz felt weak.

Sarec was back in the chamber, fighting for his life against an incresinly angry Volkarus. Both were throwing pressure waves, objects though telekinesis, fire, anything to wear the other one down, unloading immense levels of energy. Sarec saw Tyraz pulling Kelsos though and in that split second was knocked to the floor by a pressure wave. He wasn't unconsious but he had strength enough to reflect another blast back at Volkarus.

Kelsos - Leave me...i'll only slow you down.
Tyraz - Y-You are...but I c-cannot afford to l-leave you behind. You...you're s-still useful.

Sarec scrabbled up. he pushed with both his arms and legs towards the pair and opened his wings to shield them as Volkarus continued to throw lightning. He envoloped both Kelsos and Tyraz in his wings before all three vanished in a flash of light. As the torrent blew past their former position, Volkarus stood and stared, but he was not stupid, he knew that they were still alive and Sarec had merely whisked them away. Clenching his fists in rage the tunnels began howling with the screams of the damned, joined by a roar of fury that began warping and twisting the fabric of the tunnels.

Pipes twisted and were warped to point towards Volkarus' location. Debris began sliding as if some invisible force was dragging them towards him. Clenching his fists and tensing his muscles before spreading his wings outward and vanishing in a shockwave, the subsequent shockwave caused a spherical crater comparable in size to a small moon to eject debris from Cathamera's surface, the shockwave rocking the planet with an earthquake as debris escaped into orbit, leaving Cathamera's steel and alloy guts exposed to the void of space.

Revelations Of Information[]

25th Sendara ID.219504

The TNSS Colonis, a Starfury-class Imperial Talon crusier was patrolling the galactic halo of the Plazith Rim. The ship, commanded by aspiring captain Arnas Volkamen was making a border survey, making contact with outposts and research stationed that were a part of the Shellious Imperium, which at six hundred thousand systems was one of the Draconid Imperium's largest provincial empires.

The patrol was quiet, that was until a ripple of nebulaic material was detected by the Colonis's lomg-range sensors. Unfamiliar with such an anomoly, one of the crew, the Terratrix subcommander Orvipiol, relayed his peculiar discovery to his captain, wh owas sitting in her chair at the back of the upper-level command deck. Upon being informed of this, Arnas leaned forward in her chair. As she leaned forward, interested in Orvipiol's discovery. At that moment, light began pulsing from the nebula itself, travelling inwards so as to create a strange void at the centre of the anomoly. Activating FTL in the intermediary, the Colonis was now a mere few astronomical units fro mthe perimeter of this small nebula. Somehoe, the nebula sensed an artificial presence approaching. It detected the COlonis approachinad and in response, the nebula suddenly shifted on the interior, forming a series of neverending rings. The rings flowed like gas and dust around a star, but no stars were there to illuminate the nebula, instead the rings circled the void that was the epicentre of this nebula, where light was travelling inwards to some unknown horizon, smehow deeper in than the nebula's epicentre yet such a thing was an impossibility.

Tanverm - Captain detecting energy signature point-three AU ahead.
Arnas - Slow approach. Prepare to launch probe.
Tanverm - Launching probe now.

Tanverm, a Draconis lieutenant complied and fired a small probe that had been stored in one of the missile bays of the TNSS Colonis. As the rpobe approached, the nebula sprang to life.

Orvipiol - We're getting a feedback singal. SOmething's interfacing with our probe captain Arnas - Interfacing? Send the datastream through a quarantine.
Orvipiol - On it now captain.

The datastream was passed though a quarantine filter designed to scan for viruses and malignant coding. WHen it came up clean, the information then began to access the ship's transmission systems, interfacing itself with the command deck's broadcast ssytem. SUrprising everyone, a voice spoke. A tone of a thousand voices all speaking in unison and in an angelic harmony.

??? - Who are you?

Arnas stood up and cleared her throat.

Arnas - I...I am captain Arnas VOlkamen of the Draconid Imperium.
??? - What is your purpose here... Captain Arnas Volkamen?
Arnas - We are exploring.
??? - Makes more sense. We are the Tavalta'Aena.
Arnas - I bear salutations to you, Tavalta'Aena.
T'A - Thank you. We greet you with open...knowledge.
Arnas - What knowledge do you posess?
T'A - For epochs, we have been observing the universe. Reaching out to observe the physical, metaphysical and nonphysical workings of the realms beyond this infra-quadrant of the universe. We run simulations in pocket universes to see what universes would become as time passes.
Arnas - Transuniversal ancients... I am honoured.
T'A - We are...very old, but we aren't sure if we would refer to ourselves as "ancients". We were created by an AI early on in this infraquadrant's existence, which we split from. Despite this, we could be referred to as "ancients". We don't necessarily... mind the term.
Arnas - Your existence still predates our civilization by eons.
T'A - Ah. If you would like to view the "interpocket hubs" of our simulations, you are welcome to send the ship into this nebula. We will make sure that major damage, if any damage, will not take place.

Hearing this news, one alien stood up. Orvipiol was the Colonis's head science officer, responsible for any scientific operation on board the ship. His eyes glossed over with exitement when the Tavalta'Aena offered them access to the simulated universes they used. Information that Orvipiol frlt eager to see.

Orvipiol - Captain...the information the Royal Academy could learn vrom a voyage into this entity--
Arnas - Could the ship's computers handle such an influx?
T'A - We could provide some...upgrades to the ship, so to speak.
Orvipiol - We have a recently-upgraded computer core but this enitity...well we have no idea.
Arnas - If you offered to upgrade our systems, would we be able to return them to our people for study?
T'A - Why else would we upgrade your spacecraft? You are, surprisingly, the first empire to make official contact with us. {SENDING UTILITY FOG TO DRACONIS SPACECRAFT. EXPANSION OF MEMORY BANKS IN PROGRESS}

An amber mist began filling up the lower decks of the Colonis, searching for and improving information connections and computing matrices thoughout the ship. THe flow of utlitity fog also began augmenting the ship's hypermatter reactors, tripling their potential safe output.

Tanverm - Accelerating ship to enter the anomoly. Databansk open, the increased memory is incredible.
Arnas - Everyone brace.

Arnas's ship gradually entered the anomoly, everyoneslightly apprehensive of what was about to happen

T'A - You have 200 Thousand Yottabytes of Memory. You are inside of us. Welcome to the Tavalta'Aena Network.

Arnas and her crew marvel at the universes simulated by the Tavalta'Aena

The command deck's crew were awed by the influx of data their computers began ot gather

Arnas - All this information it's...unbelieveable.
T'A - Look outside. You will be astounded. Honestly, it is beautiful.
Arnas - ...Transfer A-all information to long-term storage...By the Lifefather this information is incredible.
T'A - Seriously. Look out of the "viewing windows" on the bridge, corridors, etc. Stunning, right?

The command deck's screens flickered to life, displaying patterns and universes of an alien nature, their formations and flows were akin to dancing light shows that darted gracefully. Not long after they entered there was a rumble and a pulse of light.

Arnas - This view, the sights...where are we?
T'A - You're inside of the Tavalta'Aena. Inside of us. You're in between your universe and our many pocket universes. This is where data flows through to and from each network. Ah, a new simulation is running. Would you like to look?

The image to appear looked similar to a galaxy, however what differed was that light danced around the centre of this galaxy like a laser light show, forming a void in the middle where all light entered.

Arnas - It's all...so beautiful...
T'A - This is all one universe, condensed into a galaxy. It's a very large galaxy.
Orvipiol - Recorders storing data now...JUst imagine what the Royal Academy would think of all this data, it could continue our golden age, maybe catapult the Commonwealth into something even greater.
T'A - Of course, not all universes are stable. There is one which we are... a bit, well, unnerved over.
Arnas - Unnerved? How so, Tavalta'Aena?
T'A - It didn't quite...end well.
Orvipiol - I presume a universal catastrophe, captain.

Dominating the central displays was a universe that appeared to be almost like a grid. However it appeared fragmented, sickly, as though the universe itself were a piece of cloth stretched to such a nextent one could see the cross-stitching that made up its construction, between the fibres was endless void. This was an effect not merely coming from the abscence of anything in those parts of the universe, but from the lack of information itself. Spacetime too stretched and warped to be detectable by anything.

T'A - It's a universe, uncannily like your own, in perpetual decay and shredding. Yes, shredding. Tearing at the seams. You should probably see it, though. It's a terrible sight to see, yes, but it should be seen.
Orvipiol - A universal rip. When the fabric of spacetime becomes so stretched that information becomes too sparse to be collected.
T'A - Quite right. It's a Big Rip which cannot come apart entirely.
Orvipiol - It's a predicted end to a universe, captain.
Arnas - Quite predicted, it seems...
T'A - What do you think of it?
Arnas - It is grim but...also spectacular.
T'A - We have to agree. A sight to see, but it's a sad sight. It could be yours, but the pressure in its creation was a fraction too much to have been stable for another 1,000 years after your current time period. Arnas - Wait wait, ours?
T'A - Not actually your universe, no. A universe just like your own, but with a fraction more lag-time in pressure during the "Big Bang" and "Inflation Era" of your universe. Just enough for this to happen.
T'A - A miniscule fraction.
Orvipiol - Theoretically, if the presence of dark energy in a universe is great enough, a universe could expand to meet such an end. Spacetime becomes too thin a medium for information to be detectable. But a thousand years...the presence of dark matter musst have been immense.
Arnas - Incredible...
Orvipiol - It is the wonders of physics, captain.
T'A - Are you ready to return? You can have access to these coordinates at any time.
Arnas - We...we are ready.
Orvipiol - Captain the Royal Academy is going to celebrate upon the arrival of this information.
T'A - {DRACONIS SPACECRAFT EXITING.} We hope that you have enjoyed this experience, despite the harsh reality of the miniscule points of data needed to change this universe for the better, or for the worse.

With the immense wealth of information the ship now had on the nature of the universe's workings. They plied a course for a node to connect to the Andromedan Virtual Network. The information they had available was vasy and required a powerful connection for effective transfer. SOme worried however, that the Royal Academy would request striping the Colonis in order to study the advanced computing systems the Tavalta'Aena had given it, several crewmembers believing such an act would strip the craft of a personality. SOme wondered if with all the new hardware that the Virtual Network could actually access the archived data.

Uncertain, Arnas decided to continue her patrol, visiting twenty locations across the halo before embarking back towards the Imperium's Plazith Rim core worlds.

New Initiative[]

15th Urielna ID.219504

The sun was lowering over the urbanized, industry-dominated landscape the Industrial-Residual sector, a region of the Karvelmus State; the official name for the Zazane-inhabited province within the Draconid Imperium. The heavy industry tinted the sky with vibrant colours of orange and red that provoked feelings of aspiration and bouts of daydreaming in those who sought a higher commercial standing, desiring to be those men that made corporations and brands famous amongst the public. Within a particular block of apartments that were built for those unable to afford their own private properties, a watcher stood by his window with his hand against the nearest wall.

His apartment appeared somewhat empty, yet it was nonetheless slightly pleasant and appealing, at least towards his cultural tastes. It was spacious with multiple rooms that were interconnected between one another, decorated with possessions that were often held high in terms of worth and material value; a holoscreen emitter, couches, coffee tables, wall-implanted stereos for music or news updates, a stylized personal home computer system with multiple holo-screen projectors and a powerful, yet efficient, processing unit to allow effective storage of data and hardware. Storage units designed for clothes with modified sections for armoured pieces and attire, paintings hanging from the walls that were constructed of a cheap material that was often used for efficiency, stability and cost within residences. Advanced kitchens units that were designed for multifunctional usage between a variety of cuisines and meals with customized settings to appeal towards the resident's tastes.

The window-gazer was Zazane; he had a lighter complexion of red within his scales due to the absense of Shidium from his lifestyle, although his appearance showed no indication of weakness despite such a lack of material. The muscles upon his limbs and torso were enlarged and impressive, supporting a build that suggested he had always appeared so intimidating in his appearance and was born of strong genes. His expression was a frown, his intense, blood-red eyes focusing on the sun as it began to disappear beneath the horizon of the ocean beyond.

As the Zazane looked out the window, watching the sun set over the industrial landscape, there was an electronic buzz This was a sound that in many residences was generated by devices built to signal a homeowner there was someone at the front door. But was the Zazane expecting any visitors at this time in the evening? The Zazane did not take his eyes off the sun as it continued its descent, although he heard the sound of whooshing as the doors to his apartment were opened. Peculiar, as most home systems required the manual pressing of a button on a panel or remote in order to open from the inside and an identification card for entry from outside, yet the Zazane did not move an inch. He sat within his kitchen, wearing little more than a customized equivalent of trousers manufactured for Zazane citizens, constructed of a leather-like material to appeal to their culture.

Poking their head though the door was an alien of a plump figure. The presence of many brightly-coloured feathers, a beak and talon-like feet made it appear distinctly avian. The stranger poked their head though and examined the spartan apartment, their brow furrowing as if the look of it was not entirely pleasant ot the eye. With a sigh, the alien, a terratrix dressed in a practical navy-blue suit under a thick overcoat, chirped out to signal to anyone who was inside.

Rahtaba - Hello? Is the homeowner in?
Skarthrax - What do you want?
Rahtaba - I apologise if I am being rude but mr. Skarthrax. I represent a certain high-level high-level administrator in the Grand Senate who would liek to make a proposal for you. You were a graduate of the Royal Academy's Tempered Heart project, yes?

The Zazane stood silent for a moment, shifting his head an inch or so to glance over his shoulder towards the terratrix standing at his door. His glare was intimidating and fierce, although he didn't move from where he was standing.

Skarthrax - ...Take a seat.

Rahtaba looked about the room and identified a couch. After walknig over to it she brushed the seat before turning around and planting a feathered bottom on the middle cushion. She looked at the Zazane with a chill down her spine. She had done her resarch on this figure, but this only made her worried, reading about his capabilities not just as a Zaane, but thanks in a big part to the project he was once part of on behalf of the Alcanti Royal Academy. The kitchen section of the apartment overlooked the landscape with a wall-sized window, a view that was of expensive cost and allowed the residence to be classified as one of the more luxurious places for hire in the block, although it paled in comparison to other far more well-funded places that was usually reserved for nobles. The Zazane still watched over the sunset before ceasing his lean against one of the cooking units and approached a couch opposite of the one being used by Rahtaba. He took a seat, slumping down and resting his head back.

Skarthrax - I thought I was done with all of that. All the tests, experiments, practical runs, shyrak.
Rahtaba - According to records you were one of the academy's first stable successes, which is what drew the interest of my benefactor to you.
Skarthrax - What do you want? I'm not interested in serving with the navy, if that's what you're asking. I thought I was done with you, I got my paycheck.
Rahtaba - Well...Not the navy "exactly". The career oppertunity I offer is a little closer to the throne than that.
Skarthrax - Why do I not like the sound of where this is going?

Rahtaba leaned forward and tossed a card on the table. Skarthrax would ahve recognised this as an exchange card; used commonly thoughout the Imperium for the transfer of goods and information, including item deeds.

Rahtaba - My benefactor is a very affluent man in the Grand Senate. On this card is the deed to a home in the core worlds along with the relevant requisitions to get to it. In exchange, you do a few operations for my Benefactor in the name of the Imperium.
Skarthrax - I'm not doing anything for you or your Imperium until you give me a name and what he wants done. Don't expect me to sign any contracts blindly; I've already learned my lesson the first time.

Rahtaba sighed and leaned forward, clasping her hands in her lap.

Rahtaba - I was asked to keep it confidential because he did not want his rivals knowing.
Skarthrax - You think I'm an informant? Hell, if I was then I would have revealed all the nasty little things certain people did during the program, things that are kept off-record, out of sight and out of mind, to the public. Things I wasn't informed about prior to my agreement.
Rahtaba - Actually I was more worried one of my benefactor's rival's agents listening in or following me. The Grand Seante is a cut-thoat world mr Skarthrax and there is a lot of stuff that goes on behind closed doors.
Skarthrax - If they were, I'd know about it. You are speaking to a graduate of the program after all, that was the purpose behind Tempered Heart. Now you are going to give me a name and some more information otherwise we are done here.
Rahtaba - Fine, if you must know I work for Praetor Servella Velardion. She is interested in your...abilities and asked me to deliver an offer of being one of the first members of a little praetorian project she's putting together.
Skarthrax - Praetorian? You want me to be a bodyguard?
Rahtaba - ...With maybe a little black-ops stuff on the side. If her project sails though, you will be in line to be one of the Paragon's personal assets I mean...could you wish for anything more glorious?
Skarthrax - I'm not concerned with the Paragon or his assets. What's in it for me aside from shaking hands with politicians and kissing his arse every time he calls on it? I'm not like those other Zazane who consider that sort of shyrak an honour; what's my pay and who am I killing?
Rahtaba - Is the estate not enough? The Praetor is happy to pull strongs and have you work alongside other graduates of the Tempered Heart Project and any subsequent benefitees of its results. Great forests, the deal even comes with a lisenced starship!
Skarthrax - Hmph, fine. You tell your benefactor that we have an agreement, so long as I get my privacy. I also want selection over my own estate and that starship had better come with armaments. My kill count and lethality score is higher than any other graduate to have survived the Tempered Heart Project, your benefactor would be wise to give me information on these "others" she has selected.
Rahtaba - I-I will make sure that is passed on. Yes. A-all I need is a signature...

Rahtaba, clearly unnerved by Skarthrax's nature pulled out a palm-reader unit and gently rested it on the table that was between the two of them. She sat back down and twitched her thumbs, nervous and waitning. Skarthrax grunted and leaned forward, reaching an arm out towards the palm-reader. He pressed his hand against the reader, waiting for it to analyze and scan the structure of his hand. After it had spent a second or so examining and accepting his palm, Skarthrax pushed it back towards Rahtaba and leaned back on the couch, slumping once again.

Skarthrax - This isn't a pledge of loyalty, don't mistake it for one.

Rhataba picked up the device from the table and placed it back within her coat pocket, she gave Skarthrax a puzzled look as she did so.

Rhataba - I'm surprised. Do you feel nothing for the Imperium?
Skarthrax - Hmph. The Imperium isn't my concern. If it came under attack tomorrow, I wouldnt' fight for it based on loyalty or alliegance. If you had gone through Tempered Heart, would you feel as if you owe something to the Imperium?
Rahtaba - Well I...Isn't the Imperium your home?
Skarthrax - "Home". Home is where somebody feels comfortable, where somebody feels safe and secure. A home is where somebody can relax, spend their leisure time, raise family, die old. You ask me if I think I feel comfortable here, if I feel like I want to spend my dying days in this place. With an eternity ahead of me, what is home?
Rahtaba - Then...where would you feel comfortable?
Skarthrax - I think you have overstayed your welcome. We're done here, conversing with you is beginning to irritate me and frankly I feel bored of your presence here.
Rahtaba - If you insist Mr. Skarthrax. I will however keep in touch regarding your new life.

Rahtaba stood up and walked towards the door. Before leaving he turned around at the door's entrance and looked at Skarthrax with a sigh.

Rahtaba - Enjoy your eveing, sir.
Skarthrax - Don't tell me what to do.

Rahtaba tutted as she walked out of the door and into the hallway. The doors closed behind Rahtaba as she stepped out into the hallway, locking behind her to prevent a second entry. Inside, Skarthrax walked into the kitchen unit once more, approaching the window that overlooked the landscape. He growled as he looked out the window, snarling agitatedly as he had missed the sunset he had been waiting for since the start of the evening. She had left the card on his table, perhaps an indicator of her trust. WHether or not such trust was misplaced, perhaps the evening was not a complete loss.

Project Adaru[]

Unspecified date: subject to retcon


Safe travels, New Dawn, and good luck. You shall need it, that is for certain.

A few days have passed since the New Dawn's departure from Karnagtah. To say that the team's spirits were raised would be an understatement; they were heroes! Liberators! Intoxicated by the sweet taste of victory, the team drank and feasted celebrating victory over the tyrannical Stratocracy, wasting the ship's precious and, fortunately, replenishing food and water supply. Yet also with the fall of Karnagtah came a sense of foreboding threat; a dangerous, diabolical force was on loose, and no matter how they tried to forget it, they could still feel the shadow of Adaru looming over them - and the entire galaxy. These fears were not ungrounded. While the New Dawn's crew was partying, a massive spike in energy was detected in Segmentum Exterioris by their ship, of magnitude attainable only by one source. With horror, the heroes of Karnagtah realised: their victory over the Gros was but a minor setback for their true enemy, the Brotherhood. Their diabolical magnum opus, project Adaru, had been complete.

To make things worse, the crestfallen crew was soon contacted once again by Chancellor Vesperon Maltris. Previously disobeyed on Karnagtah, the vengeful Draconis fiercely admonished captain Arnas Volkamen for abandoning Adaru, blaming her for the devastation wrought upon the Segmentum; the rest of the galaxy, the chancellor said, could soon follow. After ordering the New Dawn to seek Adaru, the chancellor cut off the transmission, leaving the crew infuriated and annoyed. Still, worse was yet to come. As Arnas and the others began discussing Maltris and their plan of action, Quendor's wrist computer suddenly malfunctioned, for no logical reason, and exploded in a shockwave of Inheritance energy, completely ruining the celebration. After a short discussion, it was decided that the computer should be taken into Engineering.

There, more revelations awaited. As Geroniel, still horribly distressed because of her participation in Project Adaru's creation, dissected the machine, she found out something that noone could predict - Quendor's wrist computer was in fact a host for an Inheritance AI, transmitted there after the New Dawn's first attack on Adaru during the Liberation of Karnagtah from the Devastator, which was its previous carrier. The AI, which called itself Imperious, told its story. It was revealed to the New Dawn's crew that Khanjar, the leader of the Brotherhood, once struck a deal with the Inheritance; Khanjar, with his army of followers and leadership skills, would recover the Artifacts and reconstruct Project Adaru which would then be used to turn the relics' energy upon themselves, thus hopefully destroying the most dangerous objects in Andromeda once and for all. The Tertamian AIs were way too trusting; Khanjar, maddened and corrupted by the Artifacts' power, soon violently took over the Inheritance, leaving Imperious bodiless and the Brotherhood with an army of robotic warriors, and began his path of conquest.

Broken, hopeless, the disembodied AI begged the New Dawn to succeed where it failed and destroy both Adaru and the Artifacts. With Imperious's information, Tarsus's scientific prowess, Geroniel's engineering skill and Arnas and Quendor's tactical thinking, the crew soon formulated a plan of action...

Safe travels, New Dawn, and good luck. You shall need it, that is for certain.

A few days have passed since the New Dawn's departure from Karnagtah. To say that the team's spirits were raised would be an understatement; they were heroes! Liberators! Yet also with the fall of Karnagtah came a sense of foreboding threat; a dangerous, diabolical force was on loose, and no matter how they tried to forget it, they could still feel the shadow of Adaru looming over them - and the entire galaxy. Sitting at the table in the captain's bridge along with the rest of the crew, Quendor raised a crystalline, organic glass of what we humans would percieve as an alcoholical beverage, staring into the eyes of his compatriots - and friends. Arnas sat in her chair, contemplating while Tarsus had poured himself a glass of Imperial wine. She was just as unsettled about the threat as Quendor was, and it had been keeping her awake recently.

Quendor - I want to say, Arnas... I mean, captain... you did the right thing. There was no way we could let these Gros va'threl live.

Beltharon sat without a cup, bound by his Zazane honour to refuse alcohol in case of emergency. As a substitute, he sat with a bowl of the finest, rawest and most expensive of meats, eating bare-handed.

Arnas - I disobeyed an order from the CHancellor and let loose a terrible weapon of devastation. I feel doubtful. The Talons could have come in and glassed the entire planet while we could have sought to destroy Adaru.
N'rai - Definitely! - N'rai did not need to eat and simply watched the scene, wondering to herself how eating and drinking felt like - The slavers are gone. We did the Galaxy a favour, that is for sure.
Tiny - Gros are gone! Tiny is free! - Tiny beat his chest with a victorious howl with all of his four hands. - Come, big brother! Give Tiny a hug!
Beltharon - Huh? - Tiny launched himself at Beltharon's direction with his arms open. Beltharon screamed as Tiny wrapped his arms around him, knocking over the enhanced Zazane and pinning him to the floor, the bowl of meat flying through the air and causing a mess across the floor. Tarsus looked to the scene and groaned through his breath, looking back at Arnas.
Tarsus - I understand all this need for celebration, but could we have doen it in the mess hall? Or one of the storage rooms?
Tiny - You want to join hug?
Quendor - Arnas, we're thousands of parsecs away from the Commonwealth. We do not have to worry about orders. - Quendor smirked and then suddenly frowned - Huh. Thinking that cost the Divinarium a lot of lives during the war.

Quendor looked at the screens. It felt wonderful - the kaleidoscope of brilliant lights, like pearls in the endless seas of black - it felt enticing and... soothing. No matter how much the galaxy's politics changed, stars would always remain the same - the sky was indeed a lone island of beauty and peace in Andromeda's ever-changing politics.

Or not.

Quendor - Wait, what is that in the sky? There wasn't a nebula there before - or was it?

Tiny got up and stared at it, with Beltharon being held on the Cheurith's second left armpit. Arnas turned her head and looked at the screen with uncertainty, while Tarsus looked up from his glass and perked an eyebrow.

Beltharon - Quendor, what did you do?

Quendor rushed to the screen. A humungous blotch of toxic, evil green was blotting out the stars, cluster after cluster, enveloping it in its malevolent shining. It was demonic, in a sense. Something not out of nature but... darker and more, much more sinister.

Tarsus - I do not recall knowing of any stellar phenomena like that...
Quendor - But that... that does not make sense! There's... there's... lightspeed and that. It could not have changed that fast... unless... unless... - Quendor opened his eyes widely - Adaru.
Tiny - Adaru?
Beltharon - Perfect. Well done, Quendor, look what you've done.
Tarsus - Impossible. That is simply impossible, how could we see the weapon's effects from here!?
Tiny - Yeh, look what Quendor done.
Quendor - The weapon that shatters spacetime itself can do that. - Quendor tried to shake his head, hoping to wake up, to unsee the malevolent wave of green. He could not. It was real - so real, so vivid, that the sight of the devoured stars had remained in his memory from that day on.
Beltharon - Are you gonna keep dancing there or are you actually going to do something?
N'rai - These are all... Gros worlds! The Brotherhood is testing its weaponry on its former allies?
Baka'niju - Entire star systems. Destroyed, devastated, desolated, vitiated...
Vesperon - Do you see it now?

A holographic image of Vesperon appeared on the captain's bridge once again, walking into the conversation without an invitation yet talking with an eerie feeling of familiarity - smoking a cigarette as he walked to the table slowly. Upon hearing the deep, sarcastic voice of the Chancellor, Arnas growled as she slumped, clenched her fists and kept her head away from the hologram. The rest of the crew, too, shared her spite and grumbled slightly, except for the Sankana captain of Emberwing, Theo; he felt relieved, almost inspired by the voice of his mentor.

Beltharon - Serves the damned Gros right.
Tiny - Yeh! Who cares for Gros? They bad, and they dead!
Vesperon - A fairly short-sighted point of view. Once done with, this machine - the demon inside it - will turn on us - on you! Don't you see what you have unleashed?
Beltharon - ...It was Quendor.
Arnas - And you expected to leave the crew behind. You were a soldier, chancellor. You should have known how I would have felt leaving my crew behind.
Vesperon - Hmph. Very well then... - Vesperon inhaled deeply - But let's get this over with. We still have the chance to stop Adaru. Powerful as it is, you saw it unfinished - therefore, there might be flaws in its construction and flaws in its master's schemes. I am counting on you, captain. Do not fail the Commonwealth again.
Arnas - I will not, chancellor.

Vesperon - Excellent. Safe travels, New Dawn, and good luck. You shall need it, that is for certain. - Vesperon's hologram vanished in a flash as he exhaled the last puff of smoke, leaving the New Dawn both annoyed and unnerved.

Safe travels, New Dawn, and good luck. You shall need it, that is for certain.

Arnas - I start to wonder how he gained the position of chancellor.
Tiny - He pretty dumb.
Beltharon - Brr, politics. I'll never understand them. Not that I'd want to.
Theo - The Chancellor must have his reasons! He understands the situation in the ways we do not.
Arnas - Hrmph. Another armchair strategist. I do not care how much clout he has in the Senate.
Arnas - We should have deferred to the judgement of Grandmaster Breek..
Beltharon - Grandmaster who?
Tiny - Grand Master Brick!
Arnas - Quendor's superior, the Zazane highlord?.
N'rai - Yes! Him 'We've been chasing Adaru for years now, and the Chancellor... he is not even our direct superior! Why do we listen to him? Quendor, do you agree? - N'rai turned to the Radeon officer - ...Quendor? -The Radeon officer did not partake in the conversation, nor did he even listen to it; he had other, more important. He was standing a little bit away from the rest of the team, leaning on the wall and watching his wrist computer - thinking.

N'rai - Quendor?
Quendor - Oh, oh! - Quendor quickly turned to the rest of the team - Yeah, yeah, definitely! What were we talking about?
N'rai - What were you doing with the computer?
Arnas - You've been staring at it this entire session?.
Beltharon - Are you looking at censored material Quendor? That can penetrate the ship's exonet security!

Arnas leaned to Theo and muttered in a hushed whisper to him.

Quendor - Oh... no, it's not that! It's just that something has been... strange with it. Ever since Karnagtah. It... glows, it activates at night, it-

As Quendor attempted to fix his computer once more, it suddenly responded with a shockwave of azure, bluish-green energy - Inheritance energy - flashing through the entire room and throwing the entire crew off their feet. as well as staining the wall of the captain's bridge with broken glass and spilled beverages. Arnas slowly rose up, soon followed by the rest of the crew, all of them staring at Quendor - strangely unaffected by the explosion - with a shared moue of confusion.

Arnas - What in the void was that?.
Tiny - Ouch.
Quendor - Threl'n... first it was glowing, then, whispering to me, and now... that?! Ever since that Adaru incident, that Spode-damned piece of machinery had not been the same.
Tarsus - The computers have primitive virtual intelligence. But judging by your demeanor it is acting outside of its programming. They are not designed to speak to the owner during their sleep patterns... and they are definitely not designed to explode.
Quendor - Can we check its functioning then? - Quendor's voice was weary, tired, as if he had just ran a marathon - ...I can't sleep with all these ramblings about the Artifacts.
Tarsus - I can have it examined in Engineering, yes.

Quendor, Tarsus, Arnas, Beltharon, N'rai and Tiny walked down into the New Dawn's engineering bay (Theo, for some reason, decided to rest instead), intending to examine the broken computer's functioning further. It was hardly a pleasant sight; even though the aesthetic that AGC ships followed posited that elegance was as important in vessel design as functionality, the bay still exuded a disquieting, threatening aura; the sight of machines working, of exposed engines glowing like fiery ovens was quite unnerving. Right in the middle of the bay, Geroniel was working, checking the status of ship machinery. Strangely, she did not seem to be affected by the atmosphere of the engine room at all, remaining upbeat and energetic. Stranger yet, she was also distressed because of something else; behind her positive personality lied sorrow, depression. It was obvious that there was something in her heart that gnawed her conscience.

Beltharon - Damn, this place is depressing.
Tarsus was the first to approach Genoriel and let out a cough to call her attention, holding a clenched hand towards his snout.
'Geroniel - Oh? - Geroniel noticed Tarsus entering the bay and attempted to force a smile on her saddened face - ...Hello! What happened?

Beltharon approached Geroniel and looked towards her, noticing the attempts at hiding her distraught emotions behind her lying smile; it was simple for him, Zazane were capable of reading emotions like books. As such, he stepped forward beside Tarsus and examined Geroniel from afar.

Tarsus - Commander Telhao claims something is off with his wrist device. Would you mind assisting me in examining it?

Tiny picked his teeth with one of his claws, showing no sight of even noticing Genoriel's state.

Geroniel - Y-yes, of course. - Geroniel walked towards Tarsus with an uneven gait, her hands shaking tremorously - Where is it?
Tarsus - Here. - Tarsus had the device in his hand and lifted it up to show her, as he looked more closely at her he began to look concerned, tilting his head slightly - Is everything all right? You appear distressed.
Beltharon - Aye. You appear distraught. I can observe the muscular movements of your skull and tissues; you are not well.
Tiny - Now big brother also speaks of dumb things.
Tarsus -Well that is one way to describe how you noticed.
Geroniel - Oh... no, I mean, yes, everything is fine. - Geroniel took the device from Tarsus's hand and placed it on the table she was working, activating numerous nanomechanical and holographic systems that were built in the bay. - I can dissect this machine just fine...
Beltharon - Will you be requiring assistance, Miss Vaenai?
Geroniel - No, no, no. This is not that serious, I mean... I won't destroy half of the galaxy with it... not again at least like with Adaru- - Geroniel stopped speaking abruptly. A small tear escaped her right eye as her false smile disappeared from her face - ...I just said that out loud, didn't I?

Beltharon stepped forward, approaching Geroniel further. He saw the tear form upon her face and he groaned quietly, in an almost mechanical fashion.

Tarsus - You feel guilty that Adaru is on the rampage because of your efforts.
Geroniel - ...Not just my efforts. - Geroniel sobbed - I was the head scientist of the project! With my very eyes, I constructed this monster, I watched gear after gear enter its unholy form, a machine built to destroy, to violate and vitiate and conquer! How, how could he convince me... I still do not understand.
Arnas - Ms. Vaenai. I understand if you feel like you are at fault. Or that you may feel like none of this would have happened had you not cooperated. What is done is done. But it can still be fixed.
Tiny - Is good start though.
Beltharon - There is no point in crying, Radeon. Crying does not fix our mistakes. Neither does apologies, or begging. -Beltharon drew his pistol and clenched it in his palm, before placing his hand upon the center of his chest while holding the gun in an orderly stance akin to an honoured salute. He stamped the floor with his foot, causing the room to shake, and stood upright. - Instead it is action that fixes our mistakes! Action and contribution.

Tiny looked at Beltharon and chuckled.

Tiny - Big brother looks goofy like that.
Arnas - Agreed. We must set right what has come to pass. And you can help us right your wrongs.
Beltharon - If I look goofy, then I look goofy for the sake of this galaxy, this ship, this crew, and their safety. I don't care for crying or sobbing or begging; I care for setting things straight!
Tiny - Still goofy.
Geroniel - Yes. You are right. Definitely. Adaru can still be stopped. - the Radeon engineer exhaled deeply and brushed the sweat from her brow - Thank you, Beltharon. There might still be hope. For me. For us.

Beltharon's expression changed to a more confused state and his eyes darted across the room uncomfortably.

Beltharon - ...A-As in you and me specifically, or...?
Tarsus - I feel certain she means the crew, Beltharon.
Tiny - ...Tiny don't get it.
Beltharon - O-Of course! Yes, of course that is what she meant. That is definitely what Miss Vaenai meant. Yes. Certainly.
Quendor - ...Beltharon! Threl'a'sa!
Beltharon - Don't you scream obscenities at me, young man-- I mean, Commander!
Arnas - Enough. Perhaps we should leave the two engineers to solve this issue?
Geroniel - No, no, it's okay. Beltharon can stay by my side, you don't distract me...

Beltharon nodded and placed his pistol back in its lock-holster, wearing a noble and firm expression on his face - which made a change to his usual glare of authority and paranoia. He had always glanced upon the crew with a certain atmosphere of worry and expectation for the worst; for now, he appeared comfortable. Geroniel appreciated the protection and turned her attention towards the broken device, her cybernetic eye prying deep into its complicated machinery. Controlled purely by her force of will, small, barely visible radiant machines emerged from beneath her clothes like ghostly whisps, dissecting the device's robotic insides.

As they went deeper, cyan light shone from inside the machine, glowing with intensity so hard that Geroniel was barely able to look at it - and yet she continued neverthless. Not only did it glow - the light was accompanied by sound, the whispers Quendor spoke of. Tarsus stepped closer and flicked his eye device down over his vision and looked at Genoriel working, while at the same studying the device silently. His eyes widened when they began hering the whispers.

Tarsus - There. Quendor was correct.
??? - Malevolence... - a cybernetic voice shrieked from the inside of the machine - Legacy...
Tiny - Eugh! Thing speaks!
Beltharon - So it was not just a monster under the bed. Quendor was sleeping with it.
Tarsus - Legacy? Malevolence? Perhaps it is truly linked with Adaru-

Suddenly, the computer dissolved completely, turning into a puddle of white, silvery liquid - its shimmering surface reminiscent of the Inheritance monster the New Dawn had to strike down years ago. Then it began to reform. Slowly, lazily, like a glob of tar, it was taking shape of a strange, centauroid creature - not unlike the Tertamians of yore.

??? - I can... think... again... - The miniature creature looked at Geroniel with a curious smile, yet it was like it was familiar with her - I am alive.

Safe travels, New Dawn, and good luck. You shall need it, that is for certain.

Beltharon drew his pistol and aimed it almost instantaneously towards the reforming pseudoconstruct, his eyes narrowing and his teeth bared to appear as intimidating as possible. He stepped closer, shoving Tarsus and Geroniel out of the way while he prepared to fire. Seeing his friend ready his weapon, Tiny shouted and covered his face.

Beltharon - Halt or I'll fire!
??? - I remember you. You are not with Khanjar anymore. That is good. - the creature's gravely, warped voice was monotonous, robotic, with strange, unnatural inflection and tone - and it felt like the machine felt physical pain when speaking - Adaru is still on loose. That is bad.

Tarsus gaped in shock before he was knocked aside by Beltharon, stumbling sideways and almost losing his footing ,watching as Beltharon reacted aggresively to the centauroid construct. He clenched his fists, remembering the first encounter with an Inheritant in the lab.

Imperious - My designation was... Imperious, the first of the Inheritance. In the times of the Ancients, I was created to protect the Artifacts. So that creatures such as Adaru would never come into... being.
Beltharon - Then you have failed your task!
Quendor - So... you were the one who made Devastator attack Khanjar?
Imperious - It is hardly the sum of the story. Let me explain.
Tarsus - Beltharon, do not fire. Keep alert but do not shoot it. Let it speak!

Beltharon grunted furiously and stepped back, still pointing his pistol at the construct, but giving it some room. The twisted machine, having apparntly appreciated its newfound safety, restored its form, trasnforming into a silvery Tertamian; its voice, too, became more humane, yet still retained a certain aura of mechanical coldness that was so common among Tertamian machines.

Imperious - Our alliance with Khanjar was reciprocal. We saw younger species squabbling over the Artifacts, saw that they were too dangerous to exist - it was then where our pact was struck. A young organic came to us, claiming to have seen the visions of Creator Mennefer and Adaru bestowed upon him by the relics. He suggested an alliance; with his aid, he would recreate the machine of the ancients and then turn it upon itself, destroying the Artifacts once and for all. Our plan seemed flawless... but it was too late when we realised that our ally was not what he appeared to be.

You see... the Artifacts' power... is corruptive. Whenever a person comes in contact with it, insanity and madness will soon follow. Khanjar wanted peace at first, yes; but then the Artifacts took him, and he grew to crave Adaru. We attempted to stop his madness, but it was too late. We still do not know what happened - was it a virus or some power the things gave him - but somehow, he took over our artificial intelligence systems, one by one - until he alone controlled us. We became slaves to his power. All of the Inheritance.

I witnessed the very same events that destroyed my creators come into pass once more, a mere shadow in the younger races' AI network... and I changed my protocols. From that day on, I ceased to be the Protectof of the Artifacts - instead, I would be their Destroyer. I planned, I planned much - but failed, and failed, and failed. I tried freeing my fellow Inheritants. I tried changing Khanjar's mind. I tried taking over one of Khanjar's minions - the one you call Devastator - to assassinate him. None of my plans succeeded. Now I am here. Nothing more but an AI without a body. Ultimately, you are the only hope left for me. For my creators. Adaru must be stopped.

Tarsus - And how do you reccomend we do this? Surely you know a weakness. Geroniel?
Imperious - Khanjar left my memories scourged. I can scarcely remember the Ark of Damnation's destruction.
Geroniel - I think there is a possibility. This version of Adaru relies not on the AI, but on a transplanted mind. If we sever the connection before it fully joins in the ship... then we might still have hope to destroy it.
Tarsus - So...If we can attack before Khanjar fully installs himself, we have a chance?
Beltharon - And what about you, tiny-tots! What can you do? - Beltharon glared at the machine and knelt down towards it, growling.
Imperious - I can provide you the information. Its coordinates are still in my memory..
Beltharon - Can you fire a gun?
N'rai - Can you think about anything else than firing, Beltharon?
Tarsus - Geroniel oversaw most of its construction. The two can work together to aid us.
Beltharon - No, N'rai, because chatting your enemies to death isn't effective. If you want to get somewhere, you need a gun. Or a blade. Or whatever.
Tarsus - Or the AI could attempt to override some of the ship's systems without directly transplanting itself.
Quendor - We have the plan then. The robot provides the schematics and overrides the system, we get in, Geroniel severes the connection between Khanjar and Adaru... and?
Imperious - And then we shall turn the Artifacts's power unto themselves and destroy them. Once and for all.
Tarsus - Plausible.
Beltharon - Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I may survive this assignment yet.
Quendor - We need something to weaken the ship's defenses, though. The ship is huge - to destroy it would require something as large as- - a sudden idea came to Quendor as his mouth opened widely - Yes, of course! The Leviathan!
Tarsus - We shall relay our plan to the captain then. Let's hope she agrees.

N'rai - Well, Beltharon, - N'rai turned to the Zazane officer with a sly smile - What did you say about chatting the enemy to death? We shall do just that.

The Last Hope

We march into the belly of the beast.

There was silence aboard the New Dawn. All of its crewmembers waited patiently, staring hopefully into the starry sky. Most of them were driven mostly by duty and desperation. Few actually believed that the Leviathan would respond to the New Dawn's call; it was an ancient, alien being which had long since forsaken its flesh and mortality, one that would not care for the plight of lesser beings. They were wrong; it did. As Arnas was watching the darkness, the silence in the void was pierced by the fearsome cybernetic howl of a massive cybernetic beast; first the head, then the long, serpentine body, then the tail. Tarsus folded his arms and smiled as the beast reared into view, feeling somewhat satisfied inside. Its vocalisations, mechanical and yet not devoid of emotion, were those of joy; at very long last, its tormented soul could at least find peace and avenge the the fall of the Tertamian Alliance it had once protected as a mortal. Imperious, too a being from the times of the Four, greeted the Leviathan like an old friend.

After formulating a (fairly straightforward) plan of action using Imperious's and Geroniel's extensive knowledge of Adaru's insides, the Leviathan's wisdom and experience and the New Dawn's weaponry, the Commonwealth vessel, the ancient Tertamian and its Q'rda followers launched a decisive attack at the Brotherhood fleet and the dark machine it protected. After a long, fierce battle that left both sides decimated, the New Dawn breached inside Adaru, protected by Imperious's AI that managed to subvert some of the ancient ship's defenses. Within it, more terrors awaited the crew. Adaru was a malevolent, demonic creation on the inside as well as on the outside; its very being, half machine and half beast, radiated fear.

What was even worse, however, was that there was one more force inside Adaru, one unrelated to the Brotherhood or the ancient precursors of Andromeda; the ever-deceitful Corruptus. As the New Dawn crew left their ship to investigate the interior of the Tertamian superweapon, they were met by two of its demons slaughtering Brotherhood scientists, vengeful for foiling their plans for the Gros: Shu'wokerama's ravenous Zazane minion, prince Varugr Kriese, and the now-corrupted commander of the fallen Stratocracy. Faced with a common enemy, the Commonwealth marines and Varugr were forced into an uneasy alliance and fought their way into Adaru's AI chamber; what awaited them there, however, was all more terrifying...

We march into the belly of the beast.

Geroniel - Did the Leviathan respond?
Tarsus - It did. The ship and its inhabitans were brought it up to speed, and by the sound of its reactions, it would be eager to aid us in destroying Adaru.
N'rai - Now we only need for it to return from-

All of a sudden, the silence in the void was pierced by the fearsome cybernetic howl of a massive cybernetic beast; first the head, then the long, serpentine body, then the tail. Tarsus folded his arms and smiled as the beast reared into view, feeling somewhat satisfied inside. Its vocalisations, mechanical and yet not devoid of emotion, were those of joy.

Beltharon - Somebody's happy.
Imperious - The Ark of the Ancients. It lives.
Tiny - Tiny remembers that. Still ugly.
Arnas - It is good to see you once more, Leviathan.
Leviathan - You told me Adaru is on loose once more... - the ship spoke directly into the minds of the crew - ...And as a captain of the Alliance, my duty is to do everything I can to stop its fury. The Alliance may have been destroyed by him, but I still live.
Beltharon - See? That guy can hold a gun!
Tiny - Well, Tiny can hold four guns!
Beltharon - You have no need for guns; you just punch and eat people!
Tiny - Is true.
Imperious - Join me, brother. We shall succeed where the Ancients could not.
Leviathan - I will, Inheritor.
Arnas - We have the estimated coordinates for Adaru's location. Everyone to your stations and prepare for wormhole jump!
Tiny - We kill Adaru!
Beltharon - Heh, alright! Let us besmear this demon machine with our angered blood!
Baka'niju - Our blades shall pierce the heavens tonight! Kija'za zhada'zen!

The bridge crew rushed about as the ship prepared to make the wormhole jump. Arnas sat patiently tapping the rim of the panel that activated the New Dawn's wormhole drive, waiting patiently for the right moment with a slight smile on her face. The Leviathan and all of the New Dawn's cheered equivocally, relishing in the victory - or a glorious defeat, at last - that was about to come - together. All but one.


Theo - Yes, I understand. - as the rest of the team was preparing for the jump, the Sankana Guardian of Light - and his squad - were down in the engineering bay, talking to someone in complete privacy - Of course, we shall do it.

We march into the belly of the beast.

The New Dawn had reached its final destination.

The crew could see Adaru clearly now - they could see it constructed, completed, in all its dark glory. Its pitch black sillhouette was shining from the inside, a gleaming diamond of pure malevolence set against the darkness of space: it radiated pure, unconstrained might. It was both awe-inspiring and terrible to behold - worse yet, it felt... alive, more alive than any living thing, than any mortal. The will of the thinking machine - or was it the man inside it? - the will to dominate, to destroy, to bend and to burn - was almost tangible; it shrieked into the minds of those who gazed upon it, like a subtle melody. Around the ship, like moths around a flame, Brotherhood ships were flying. Arnas straightened herself in her chair as Adaru came into view, a chill rushing down her spine and through her body. She adjusted herself slightly, taking a calming breath to relieve the tension.

Beltharon - An unholy god machine stands before us. We'll make it fall.
Tiny - Tiny breaks machine!
Arnas - Engines running nominally. Armaments are in position, I... - Arnas gasped, pressing her hand against her snout - If we fail....
Geroniel - We shall not. I gave it life, and so shall I take it! - the Radeon sighed, remaining calm despite the turbulent storm that raged inside her heart, confident that the New Dawn was not alone at this hour of darkness - Spode is on our side, and it shall protect us.
Arnas - Spode, Drakon, whatever spirits are out there, may they guide us to victory.
Beltharon - Hah! Gods, spirits?! You truly rely on them for victory? No, it is not they who shall defeat this monster; it shall be us!
Tiny - Tiny's fists!
Leviathan - Tertamian officers never relinquish their missions. Not even if six billion years pass.'
Arnas - All stations, prepare to fire. Target the weakspots highlighted by out allies. Do not relent, do not hesitate. Bring down the fury of the righteous!
Leviathan - Drazhan'ask, Ketarman'ask!' - roaring a terrifying cybernetic battlecry - screechy like gears grating against each other and ancient like solar wind - the serpentine metal beast charged at the diabolical machine and struck at it, with blades and talons like a primal beast, with ancient weapons that had long been lost to the galaxy.

Under Arnas's orders, the New Dawn began its approach, releasing volleys from its broadside weapons as it made its cautious approach, weapons that had been crafted by the Andromedan powers and refined on this five-year mission to face a power none had seen in this region of space. All bearing down on this ancient construct. Protecting the small Commonwealth vessel was the Leviathan; coiling around Adaru like a snake it so resembled, it was slowly but steadily wearing down its defenses and breaking its black hull with its sheer mass. Meanwhile, Q'rda ships, flying away from the Leviathan's skin, tackled Brotherhood fighters in fierce dogfights; their names unknown to the world, they neverthless fought with valiance worthy of heroes, unsung and unremembered. It was truly a battle to be remembered: the very fundamental forces of the universe were clashing among the stars, igniting the very blackness of space in flames. Eventually, the dark construct's shields began to flicker, tears forming in its impervious hide. In these breaches, Arnas saw opportunity.

Imperious - Captain, there is a chance. Upload my consciousness into Adaru now; my mind is not enough to overcome its power, but it will be enough, enough to weaken it for you to breach its defenses completely. Then we shall end Adaru.
Arnas - Understood. Tarsus, voordinate with the ship's AI to create a bridge to Adaru's networks.
Tarsus - Underway capta- Hmm, this could take a while, diverting computational capacity to assist in creating a link.
Arnas - Do it quickly!
Beltharon - Dammit Tarsus, what did you do now?!
Tarsus - You try hacking into such a sophisticated system Beltharon!- here! I have an opening. Imperious, now is your chance!
Imperious - At last, my destiny is fulfilled. I could not protect the Artifacts, but I will destroy them.
Arnas - Lifefather's wings carry you, dear intelligence.
Beltharon - Go! Undo what must be undone!

In a flash of blue light that was snuffed out momentarily, the Tertamian machine dissolved - and then was reincarnated once more. Adaru's radiant aura of emerald was overtaken by blotches of cyan - small at first, then growing larger every passing second. At the same moment the surface of Adaru too began to reform, warping and twisting until a massive, gaping hole appeared in it - looking like an eye. Tarsus turned his vision to look at the screen, seeing the gigantic materialising object as Adaru was slowly but surely being twisted and reformed.

Imperious - I... I feel it now. - the voice of the Inheritance AI now too was heard inside the minds of the New Dawn's crew - I am inside Adaru - a shard of its subconsciousness. I will keep the hole in Adaru for as long as possible - now, fly inside it. This is our only hope. Beltharon - Well, we're just about crazy enough to do it.

Arnas nodded and the hemsman altered the course of the New Dawn's path, sending the ship flying towards the hole that the intelligence had formed in order to give the crew that one oppertunity to end everything. The New Dawn's hull shook and trembled as it flew deeper into the maw of the great metallic beast; its surface, once brilliant silver, was now dented and tarnished like an old, used coin. The ship's surviving crew, however, hardly paid any attention to the ever-worsening condition of their ship; the insides of the beast they were in concerned them much, much more.

Arnas remained at the helm and rolled her shoulders back, taking a deep breath as the ship shook as it made its risky traversal. She kept focused on the screen ahead and narrowed her eyes, undusre herself what to expect. It was all black and green, all flesh and metal, all tentacles and claws; closer, in a sense, to the entrails of a beast rather than the interior of a starship. From the walls of the opening, malevolent-looking tendrils with shining emerald eyes protruded, watching the crew with strange curiosity - beyond that of a normal AI system.

Baka'niju - By all that is holy. What is that?!
Tiny - Eyes watch Tiny everywhere!
Imperious - Adaru is a living, breathing thing; the Old Ones created it thus. My will created a wound inside Adaru's structure; that is what its insides look like.
Tarsus - This deels more like a Rades construct based on the presence of eyes. Are you certain the Tertamian alliance built it?
Beltharon - It matters not. All that matters is this...thing is destroyed!
Imperious - It was the pinnacle of the Old Ones' technological prowess. All they knew, they poured into it.'"
Quendor - And the eyes?
Tarsus - I presume that included a few Rades designs?
'Imperious - That is correct. Machine created to imitate life.
Arnas - Wonderful.
Quendor - More like horrible.
Tiny - It creeps Tiny out!
Arnas - We are inside, where is the uplink node?

Suddenly, the mechanical eyestalks on the walls sprang and turned to the ship, their glow becoming fiercer and more intense. Energy gathered around them.

Imperious - We've been spotted.
Arnas - Shields to maximum!

The opening in Adaru's armour was suddenly illuminated with hundreds, thousands of emerald lights, all converging at one single point - the New Dawn. Even its advanced shielding could not withstand such amassed fire, especially since it was powered by the energy of the Artifacts, and the barriers around the Commonwealth ship began to flicker agonisingly as they were drained of energy.

New Dawn Crewmember - Captain, we're suffering a power drain, orders?

Arnas sat back in her chair and suddenly rememebred the enormity of the situation they were in, what they were facing. SHe froze in her chair and clenched her fists, digging into the material of the padded armrest of the chair. She took a deep breath, almost panicky at first, her mind racing as the shields began to fail.

Imperious - I... I cannot hold Adaru's wrath anymore. Its will is too strong, too... powerful... - the ancient AI's voice was slowly becoming more warped and tired as energy left him, as if he was actually wrestling with Adaru over control of the ship.
Arnas - Imperious... the interface node to merge with the ships' AI. Where is it...
Imperious - It is... deeper inside... I... cannot... You must stop him before my programs are consumed by him!
Tarsus - The vessel is massive however--
Arnas - Set a course for the deepest part of the ship. All remaining power to propulsion. NOW!

The crew complied and diverted all power they could to the engines in order to catapult the New Dawn through Adaru's innards. Unsure of where exactly to go, navigators silently agreed on a sensor-assisted course to head to the deepest part of the interior, hoping that there would be something there. The starship's engines ignited with a loud roar as it coursed deeper into darkness. For a second, it looked like the vessel had become something else; it resembled an angel of a ship, a bright star in complete darkness. Awaiting for them was the heart of the Brotherhood.

Arnas - Imperious. Fight on, we are on our way.

Onward the ship continued, deeper and deeper, its energy banks slowly being sapped as the innards attacked its reactor and power cells like some vampyric entity. Some of the ship's systems began to flicker, failing as they were running out of energy. Less critical locations on the ship had to be shut down in the hopes of preserving what power supplies were left.

Imperious - I shall keep the way safe from Brotherhood. It is possible... possible... possible...
Tarsus - The intelligence is gradually failing. We have to increase the pace!
Geelum - I can't change the laws of physics professor! The ship has limits, and-

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a shining bolt of energy struck - the final blow for the New Dawn's weathered hull - and with it were gone the Commonwealth ship's very last energy reserves. Light went out aboard the New Dawn as it fell deep into darkness...

They dared attacking my perfect form. For that, I will rend this spaceship to pieces and eat their leader's eyes from his sockets.

Quendor - Where are we?

Quendor stood up. It was cold and dark and moist and... he could not really describe it, but it felt dreadful. Literally. The place reeked of eldritch, demonic fear; it oozed from every wall, from above and from below... yet it seemed that inside this house of horror there was something else. Not necessarily better, just... different.

Tarsus - I...I...I believe life support is still active...at least I hope it is.
Tiny - Tiny's head hurts...
Arnas - Need-- we need light
Geroniel - Allow me. - Geroniel entered the wreckage of the ship with a small, yet very bright lamp in her hand that radiated a soothing glow - What happened?
Quendor - We're... somewhere. Somewhere inside Adaru. - Quendor inhaled deeply. His armour was battered from the impact, covered with small yet numerous dents on its surface; his white hair too was notably disheveled and messy - Alright. Don't panic. We just need to get out somehow...
Beltharon - This is all going into my security report. - Beltharon had been thrown about by the impact and laid near a damaged console that he had quite clearly collided with. He growled, holding his head as he slowly stood up.
Arnas - Commander Telnhao is correct. The more we wait, the more likely we reach Khanjar too late to stop him.
Tarsus - And once we do, what then? The ship is heavily damaged and could take hours to get to at the least a barely operational capacity. Restoring further systems could even take days.
Arnas - Noted. Still, we need to stop Khanjar as soon as we can!
Geroniel - I could stay here, but I believe that my skills are needed elsewhere. Chief engineer?
Geelum - I could use all the help I can get down here! The more hands the better because whatever those siphons id, the power flow regulators are a little worse-for-war
Arnas - Geroniel, you ultimately designed Adaru. Watched every step of its construction. Your knowledge would be vital in destroying it. Tarsus can hel pthe chief engineer fix the ship.
Geroniel - I... I will try.
Beltharon - I...I insist that I accompany lady Geroniel during the traversal. I do not wish to see her injure herself out of accident.
Geroniel - It is... unnecessary. - Geroniel blushed slightly, covering her face. - I can fend for myself.
Beltharon - But-- As head security officer I insist!
Quendor - Mother... - Quendor looked at Geroniel, then turned to Beltharon with a slight smile on his face, amused somewhat by his rival's apparent infatuation - Let him go.
Arnas - I defer to your judgement, lady Geroniel.

The Radeon engineer nodded reluctantly. Inside her gaze - it was so intense, her feelings so strong that it was almost painful to look into her eyes - there was sadness. She was afraid.

Geroniel - So be it. I just don't want people to die needlessly if anything goes awry.

Beltharon nodded and walked over to stand by Geroniel's side, folding his arms confidently and straightening his back. When he was close, he muttered something to her, hoping only she would hear.

Beltharon - You are too delicate for me to simply stand by and ignore, dear lady.
Arnas - I will join the expedition. Baka'niju, we shall leave you with a small garrison of marines as well as the medical and engineering staff. You are to protect the mall with your life until we return.
Baka'niju - Sir, yes, sir. - Baka'niju saluted his captain and bowed to her respectfully, watching as Geroniel opened the ship hatches and the crew of the New Dawn began to leave the vessel. Arnas took in a deep breath, having kitted herself out in a suit of military power armour to protect herself on this expedition, while Beltharon kept close to Geroniel; both Arnas and he were armed with battle rifles acquired from the New Dawn's armouries. Quendor unsheathed his sword, preparing for battle. N'rai, not a warrior unlike the rest of the crew, followed Quendor fearfully, clenching a small NTA pistol in her tentacle-arm. Captain Theo and his Guardians of Light, the last to leave, appeared seemingly out of nowhere, guarding the squad's rear.

The hall the New Dawn found themselves in was... strange to say the least. Although its surface' metallic sheen and the alien, twisted machinery inside told the crew that they were within an artificial structure, its interior was closer in appearance to a natural cavern than anything that could be built by a sentient being. Its walls, although made of the same black material that comprised the exterior of the ship, were rough and craggy, more like biological or geological growths; it was as if life and death, nature and technology set aside their difference and intertwined together in a loving embrace to create this misbegotten machine. Geroniel shivered upon leaving the ship; an old memory sparked in her mind, a memory she'd rather not reminisce.

Arnas - Everyone be on your guard. Geroniel, We shall keep close.
New Dawn Marine - Reminds me a little of a Ki-Dirrik Hive, only many times more ominous...
Tiny - Tiny not like this place.

The group kept moving, keeping close as Geroniel led on with Beltharon immediately behind, all members of the team alert for any surprises or horros that awaited in this dark and forboding realm of twisted steel and material. But all of them tried to take heart: Khanjar was the only thing that mattered at this point.

Geroniel - I remember engineering this hall. It was one of the engineering bays of Adaru; experiments were conducted here. But where are the scientists...?
New Dawn Marine - Dead, with luck.

Geroniel placed her hand at one of her temples and made several subtle alterations in the functioning of the blue mechanical ocular that replaced her eye; its glow became brighter and less focused, turning into an imprompt flashlight. It then revealed a rather distasteful sight; lying on the floor were the mutilated, blooded corpses of sentient creatures in white clothing - likely Brotherhood scientists. Geroniel's left, biological eye opened widely in surprise, while some of the marines took a step back.

Arnas - What happened here?
Geroniel - That's Maurus. And Nachemi. And Cram. And Nemlis...
Theo - Looks like they picked a fight with something that escaped... an animal perhaps?

As Geroniel turned around, shaking her head trying to cast off the images of the dead from her head, a random flicker of light revealed a lone still living figure standing proudly among the corpses - a mutated, tentacled Gros with burning red eyes.

Kolger - Hm hm hm. I see you.
N'rai - YOU! - N'rai jumped in a combination of fear and surprise, the images of Karnagtah flashing inside her midn, and aimed her pistol at the Gros - You don't have a chance, demon! You're not a titan anymore!
Kolger - If it isn't my "friends" of the New Dawn again...why are you here? I thought you had died with the rest of Karnagtah.

Arnas and Beltharon aimed their rifles at Kolger, along with the rest of the marine squad. Some of them were, deep in their minds, still intimidated by when they saw him last.

Arnas - This ship is the final loose end, Kolger. Once we reduce it to scrap, this entire nightmare ends.
N'rai' - The real question is, what are you doing here? Helping Khanjar?
Kolger - Helping him? Obviously n-
Tiny - GROS!

Tiny lunged forward and sent his fists at Kolger. However, the Gros demon grasped on Tiny's hands and swung him away, knocking him into the floor.

Kolger - ...As I was saying, obviously not. I'm here to destroy him, in the name of Prince Kriese.
Arnas - And then what? In fact, what happened to Kolger?
N'rai' - ...And why's that? And what is this Prince Kriese you are talking about?
Kolger - Kolger does not exist anymore. There is only Prince Kriese. Why not speak to him personally?

Kolger opened his mouth and an emerald-coloured mist came out of his throat, engulfing the area around him. The squad backed away from the Gros, some of the marines beginning to shake in their armour, the entire seen was met with gaping mouths and wide eyes, all hidden underneath ceramic faceplates. The mist took the form of a large, green-skinned, insectoid Zazane who looked at the New Dawn team while licking his lips.

Quendor - Deinaar'aechimin...
Varugr - You appear succulent.
Beltharon - GET. BACK.
Varugr - You, expecially.
N'rai - Grossly indecent!
Kolger - Master, they stand in our way. Shall we destroy them?
Varugr - Hm. No. I can see use in them. I presume they are also here to destroy Adaru.
Arnas - Then, our goals are alike?
Varugr - These terrorists ruined my plans. They dared attacking my perfect form. For that, I will rend this spaceship to pieces and eat their leader's eyes from his sockets.
Theo - Urgh, I feel nauseated...

Varugr's tail mouth barked at Theo's direction, waving its long tentacle-like tongue as it did. The Guardian jumped and aimed their rifle at the tail; inside his suit, he had secretly wet himself.

Quendor - ...Very well, demon. - Quendor squinted his eyes staring relentlessly into Varugr's - But remember. On the day we defeated your lackey, you Corruptus va'threls recieved a grim reminder: do not stand in our way. Any hostile intentions and we shall end you.
Varugr - Likewise. If you do as much as get in my way, I will feast on you as well. You should consider yourself blessed of me not ending you all right now.
Arnas - Noted.
Varugr - Let us proceed then, for my dinner awaits.
Kolger - For Master Kriese and the Devourer! - Varugr turned himself into a green fog and entered Kolger's body once again, causing the Gros to cough and retch.

Beltharon grunted in Varugr's direction and turned to look away form him, visibly disgusted by his look. He followed Geroniel and led the rest of the New Dawn crew deeper inside. The scientist itself, somewhat unnerved by her new allies as well as the ship itself, walked slowly, with an uneven gait. The Zazane officer moved closer to Genoriel and smiled, looking down to her as they walked.

Don't do that.

Geroniel - I think I know where Adaru's chamber is. It's... close.
Arnas - Good. All marines, prepare to secure the room. Prime weapons, Lead us there.
Geroniel - It's on the next floor. We need to secure the elevators first, and they are in this - Geroniel pointed at one of the walls - corridors.

Arnas nodded and signalled for marines rushed down to where Geroniel indicated and looked for a way to open the elevator doors up.

Arnas - You heard her, Secure the elevators. Now.

The marines rushed to the wall's closed bulkhead and blasted through it with every single weapon they had; a hail of plasma, tungsten and Shidium was unleashed upon the wall, promptly turning it into melted metal... or not? The surface of the bulkhead did not yield. Swiftly, as if it was alive, it regenerated and altered its shape, growing tougher and creating spikes on its metallic surface. A demonic-sounding screech rang from somewhere outside the hall, followed by a barely audible mechanical voice that spoke alongside it.

??? - Arrrrgh...
Kolger - What a bother.
Arnas - What was that?
Imperious - You're... still... here? I... won't... last much longer... Khanjar's will... Adaru's will... is indominable...
Arnas - Wait, Khanjar's?
Imperious - The fusion process... has already begun... soon, he shall be able to use the power of Adaru at its full potential...
Arnas - Hold fast, we are almost to you. Everyone, secure these elevators and let's get moving!
Geroniel - ...Can we... can we stop him?
Varugr - So he wishes to merge himself with the spaceship. I suppose that will make things harder.
Imperious - Your time... is short... I cannot hold him any longer- longer- longer-...
Khanjar - Don't do that.

All of a sudden, the wall broke down - or rather, shattered. The jagged, splintered pieces of nanotechnological metal warped, changed and reformed themselves, like Inheritance drones, into... creatures. Strange-looking, twisted and nightmarish to behold, some humanoid, some bestial, made of black metal and with bright green energy burning inside them like lava, they resembled demons more than robots. All of them shared but one cold yet threatening expression on their monstrous, faceless visages and were driven by a single mandate: to kill.

Khanjar - Attack.
Kolger - Bahahaha. This should be interesting.

Widening her eyes, Arnas called for the marines to fire. Beltharon joined in, twisting his leg to push Geroniel behind him as he fired his weapon into the creatures, fiercely baring his teeth. Everyone let fly with Shidium, plasma, tungsten and numerous grenades in the desperate collective wish to annihilate the emergence of this ferocious metal horde. Arnas kept to the rearguard, firing her fusion rifle at the monsters hoping to take them down with various shots to the chest, while Quendor attacked up close and personal, ripping them apart with his blade, supported by Kolger's entropic fire. The cybernetic creatures, too, fought with vicious abandon, themselves mere instruments of their master's will and cold, yet intense, hatred and fury. Striking with metallic talons and spiked tentacles, they forced their enemies into fighting them up close and personal, knowinf instinctively that they would have an advantage in such a vicious melee.

Arnas - I do not think we can hold of a prolonged attack, we need to get past them and into that elevator!
Quendor - Definitely! - Quendor spun with unmatched finnese, ripping the cybernetic creatures with his blade, as Theo and other Guardians of Light around him incinerated them with plasma fire - We should get in!
Tiny - Tiny makes way! - Tiny threw the creatures away of the way to the elevator while Kolger crushed them with his tentacles.
Theo - Allow me first! Everything for the mission!

Arnas nodded and supported Theo's squad. She fired her own particle cannon shots before she herself was drawn into close combat. She drew an officer's power shortsword and proceeded to slash at the drones as she made her way through them towards the elevator. Captain Theo and his Guardians rushed into the opening leaving a trail of dead robotic carcasses behind them, making their way inside. They were soon followed by the surviving marines; Beltharon charged though like a huge black bull, carrying Geroniel under his arm. Quendor, Arnas and N'rai, last to enter the elevator, kept holding back the tide of cybernetic creatures.

N'rai - Now, close it!

Theo nodded and slammed the panel on the elevator, closing the doors tight and sending them towards the main chamber, but not before some of the creatures could have gotten within melee range. The doors closed before any had a chance ot cause any such damage inside the elevator, however.

Theo - At last... - Theo sighed - A moment's peace. - The New Dawn's crew breathed heavily, sweat pouring off their heads. Arnas slumped against the elevator wall, panting with relief while Beltharon gently set Geroniel down, leaning close for a moment before standing back up.
Kolger - An entertaining fight, but my master will not feast on machines. He requires flesh.
Quendor - Wait. Are we really safe here? Wouldn't Khanjar just turn the gate into more of these things? He is the ship now.
Tiny - No give bad man ideas!
Beltharon - I agree with Tiny. He CAN hear us now!
Geroniel - He is not yet fully capable of controlling... himself. Imperious is still somewhere inside, and the fusion process is not yet complete... which is why he can't destroy entire galactic sectors yet.
Arnas - How....how much further?
Kolger - Hmpf. We must hurry. He is laying waste on Gros worlds, and my master needs them alive.
Geroniel - ...Now.

With a loud mechanical noise, the elevator gates opened widely; a smooth and eerily cold feminine voice announced their arrival as the crew made their way out. Awaiting them was an entire batallion of Brotherhood militants in power armour.

Arnas - Kranndung...

Kolger grinned while his stomach contorted itself.


I told him. I told Vesperon I was one step ahead of him. And I was right. There is nothing you can do.

Having escaped the robotic warriors sent at them by Khanjar, the New Dawn's crew had finally reached the elevator that led into Adaru's AI chamber, determined to end the Brotherhood campaign of destruction once and for all. The marines panted heavily, yet had smiles on their faces; to say that they were relieved that their unexpected misadventures - far beyond what was expected from a research mission - were about to end would be a great understatement. There was still one thing that remained between them and Khanjar, though; the entrance to the AI chamber was guarded by Althron and his militants.

The New Dawn and the Brotherhood faced off one last time (or so it seemed), both sides fighting with brutality and ferocity that was almost bestial, the latter driven by fanaticism and loyalty and the former by a desperate desire to make the five years of nightmare end at last. Tiny ripped Brotherhood warriors like if they were made of paper while Arnas and N'rai provided fire support from afar; their demonic allies, on the other hand, had no concept of honour and simply slaughtered the militants, devouring their bodies. Still, even with so many of his comrades fallen, Althron did not back off. Enraged because of the New Dawn's crew's alliance with the Corruptus, he continued the fight and in fact dominated the battlefield. When the Radeon terrorist cornered and attacked Geroniel, however, the tides of battle turned; Quendor and Beltharon, infuriated by Althron's cruelty, regained their battle spirits and struck together, overpowering him swiftly. Beaten and mortally wounded, the Radeon begged his enemies for a warrior's death, but was denied it; left crippled and helpless, he was left to live in shame.

Khanjar awaited them now. Wired to machinery inside a huge hall that lied in the deepest corners of the massive ship, his body lied motionlessly; his face concealed by a mask, he appeared inanimate, almost dead, yet it was clear from a subtle smirk he had on his face that he was well aware of his new visitors that had arrived to him on a small metallic platform. Confident in his success, he dismissed the New Dawn crew's insults and questions with disdain and unleashed Adaru's defense systems upon them, warping the very walls of the room into a twisted, gigantic facsimile of his own self. The final battle of the secret war with the Brotherhood continued for minutes; although the Commonwealth marines and their Corruptus allies unleashed everything in their arsenal at Khanjar's golem, it still remained standing, protecting its creator with its massive metallic body. Realising that conventional weaponry would be of no use in the Brotherhood's Artifact-powered sanctum sanctorum, the New Dawn's crew understood: only like can beat like. Arnas decided to outsmart her enemy; attracting Khanjar's robotic replica's attention, she soared into the air, tricking the Brotherhood leader into drawing his golem's fire at the very wires that connected him to Adaru's systems. Stunned from the impact and no longer in control of Adaru, Khanjar fell down to the bottom of the AI chamber. The New Dawn and Varugr cheered as Geroniel stepped up and began programming Adaru to self-destruct... that is, until Theo and his Guardians of Light aimed their weapons at her, threatening to shoot her should she not comply to their orders.

Ahem. Madam. You may want to change your plans. Chancellor Vesperon's orders.

Quendor and the rest of the New Dawn's crew stood utterly dumbstruck and confused as Vesperon's hologram once again appeared among the chaos. Calm and collected as always, he explained the plan that he - and Theo, as his collaborator - had had in mind for years, ever since he first discovered the existence of the Artifacts on the Keyworld, back when Khanjar and he were brothers in arms. The power the Artifacts (and thus, Adaru) possessed, he argued, was too great to be wasted, and the ever-growing tensions in the universe meant that the Commonwealth had to use every resource at hand to protect itself - and subjugate others, if need be. Arnas, realising the danger that the ancient machine possessed and the chancellor's somewhat megalomaniac tendencies, refused to comply with his orders and attempted to convince him that Andromeda was not yet ready to wield such power, citing the corruptive influence it had on those that used it. Vesperon did not care, nor did his lieutenant; Theo fired, and Geroniel's body fell on the ground, bloodied. Quendor and Beltharon rushed to her, seeing her die in their hands; coughing blood, she said to them only that she would at last die in peace for what she had done. The vitriolic duo attacked, charging at Theo and his Guardians, but it was too late... both for Geroniel and for Andromeda.

Then, something unexpected happened; Khanjar, battered and blooded, crawled out of the depths of the AI chamber and latched at the platform, still willing to live despite having fallen from a height that would instantly kill one of his species. Grinning madly - his facade of emotionless had been broken at last - he laughed at Vesperon, laughed at the New Dawn, rambling with a whispery, raspy voice further twisted by cybernetic implants that marred his body. Adaru's systems, he explained, were programmed by him to release all of the Artifacts' energy violently if they were ever to be tampered with - destroying the Galaxy in process. As Khanjar slowly died, victorious even in defeat, the New Dawn's crew fled in terror, preparing for the Shattering that was about to ensue...

You claim you fight for peace, for order, yet you leave desert behind you. We shall bring you to justice.

Militant - Intruders in our commander's sanctum! Defend the inner chamber at all cost!
Arnas - Can we fight all of them?
Kolger - I most certainly can.
Tiny - Tiny destroy bad men!
Althron - Enough of this. - out of the militant ranks, an all too familiar Radeon figure stepped forward with two blades clenched in his hands, carrying his trademark sardonic smile on his distorted, yet strangely androgynous face - You have come too far. Leave this place in peace or die.
Varugr - We meet again, wench. How does it feel like to learn you have failed to destroy me?
Beltharon - I will enjoy tearing your spine out, woman!
Althron - ...You?! You?! - Althron's eyes opened widely. For the first time, it seemed as if the Radeon terrorist felt fear; Althron stepped back slightly. - You... consort with demons?!
Varugr - They do not consort with demons. Mortals consort with me.

Althron rushed right into the ranks of the remaining New Dawn marines, spinning around with serrated blades in his hands; he was soon followed by the fire of his Brotherhood followers. Beltharon roared with satisfaction and drew a Shidium katana, swinging it to cut into the Bortherhood's ranks and specifically aiming to slice at the Radeon. Tiny sent his fists at the followers while Kolger let out a horrendous roar, his mouth opening thrice more than a Gros' mouth naturally can open. His arms turned into tentacles and he launched them at Althron and the militants in vile fury.

Althron - You. All of you, hypocrites and slavers. - Althron dodged Kolger's attacks while speaking - Countless worlds you have devastated, countless species subjugated... you claim you fight for peace, for order, yet you leave desert behind you. We shall bring you to justice.
Kolger - Destroying a galaxy is not justice, filthy primitive. Now stand still!
Arnas - Is that how Khanjar sees it? Are you sure creating a blank slate is all he wants to do?
Althron - You do not know. Your rulers lie and mislead you! The Paragon, the Lord-Councillor, the Clericarch... the... Chancellor'...
Quendor - What did you say about Her Holiness?
Arnas - House Ultanos does not raise tyrants.
Tiny - Tiny has no idea what that means. What matters is that you are bad man who hurts people!

Kolger opened his mouth and out of it appeared Varugr's tail, which extended much like a tongue. The Gros launched the tail at one of Althron's followers and it immediately enveloped him. As it did, Kolger pulled it back, devouring the militant whole.

Althron - ...Hmph... - the Radeon terrorist kept fighting, dodging the attacks aimed at him and ripping the heads of remaining New Dawn marines - Like it or not, you helped us. You aided us in locating the Strakh homeworld. You made us find Leviathan mind fusion technology. The Brotherhood has always been always one step ahead of you.
Arnas - And that entitles you to be the victor? - with the marines being cut down, Althron's blade eventually collided with a blade wielded by Arnas. Behind her helmet she scowled at Altron, narrowing her eyes.
Althron - Well... - Althron stared into Arnas's eyes with a devilish smile - That was valiant. What made you do it, captain Volkamen? What made you, made you all join the Navy? Loyalty, honour, dignity... or simple fear, fear of being different from the other, fear of incomformity? I saw worlds enslaved and devastated in your wake - destroyed in the name of peace and order! Is that what your Commonwealth truly is?!
Varugr - Like you are doing right now to my servants and plans to do with them next? You truly are a hypocrite, wench.
Althron - You were slavers. You deserved nothing less.
Kolger - Gah, stand still and be devoured, scum!

Althron raised his hand and threw one of his scimitars right at Kolger, igniting it in energy; the blade penetrated its skin. However, the corrupted Gros ignored it and launched himself at the terrorist in retaliation, retracting his claws and opening his mouth in a wicked smile. At the same time, Arnas lowered her body and charged, her forehead rushing to collide with the Radeon's body with the intent to stumble him or perhaps send him backwards. Stumbled by the impact of two attackers, Althron was thrown backwards and fell on the ground with an audible thump, leaving beneath him a small crater created by his armour's power fields. There was a maelstorm of thoughts in his brain - fury, hatred, sorrow, pain, terror - and for a second, Althron lost his consciousness.

Then something snapped in him, was it anger or maybe the ship's energy that affected him, and strength returned to him - and as he stood up, his sarcastic smile turned into a diabolical snarl of pure, unrestrained malice. Reinvigorated, the Radeon surrounded himself with a silvery aura of psychic energy as his eyes shone brightly.

N'rai - What is happening with him? Tiny - Why everyone shiny? - Tiny looked at the scene with confusion.

Arnas gripped her balde tightly and charged, her sword ready to plunge itself into Altron's body as she stampeded forward.

Quendor - Yeah, extreme pain can provoke a psychic energy increase in a Radeon. Crap.
Tiny - Not stronger than Tiny!

With but a glance, N'rai was thrown against the wall. With a wave of hand, Tiny fell down at the floor, held by an invisible force. Every movement, every gesture Althron now made was accompanied by lethal psychic force - he was truly a power not to be trifled with now. Surrounded by bodies, he walked slowly towards Arnas, Quendor and Geroniel. The captain scowled at Althron and drew her rifle from her back, firing several particle cannon blasts in his direction; Beltharon stood in front of Geroniel and growled, clenching his fists in a defensive mabber and bearing his teeth through his helmet.

Althron - I am not afraid. - Althron remained unflinching as his armour deflected the energy thrown at it. He was strangely calm, a bit too calm for the situation. - It shall be over now. You shall all die by my hand, va'threls. There is no escape. Khanjar will end you, he will end you all! - Althron slammed Arnas's snout with his fist, then did it again, and again, and again. The Draconis captain attempted to slam the terrorist away from her, each impact began to crack her helmet as she slowly and gradually became disoriented.
Quendor - ...Captain!
Althron - Your mother shall be next, traitor. - the Radeon looked at Quendor - then at Geroniel - We gave you so much, and you... and you left us like that? Suffer then. Suffer like noone did. - Althron pushed Geroniel down and fell her on the floor, then kicked her lying body with his metallic boot, making her writhe in agony. Arnas resorted to opening her wings, hoping the ensuing current would blow him back from her and Geroniel... yet Althron did not back off. He just kept, kept beating Arnas, then Geroniel, Arnas, then Geroniel.

Beltharon stared at what Althron was doing, wide-eyes and growled savagely. Without warning he swung his arm downward, directed at Althron's head. His fist was clenched and descended with extreme speed, any other material that would get in its way would surely be dented or perhaps punctured.

Althron - What?! - Althron was suddenly thrown off balance by the sudden strike and snarled, allowing Quendor who was previously kept down by his Essence to stand up - and attack.
Quendor - Enough! - a wave of Essence escaped Quendor's hand further disorienting Althron. Now, it was up to the Radeon officer to beat down his opponent - and indeed, his wrath was something to be feared! Althron felt it every second, the agonising pain from both Beltharon and Quendor - it felt like an eternity to him. Still, even when he was at his lowest, he did not yield, did not show that he felt so much as a flicker of pain. Varugr materialized out of Kolger and stood next to him, and both watched as Althron was attacked with great amusement.

Althron - Do what you want to me. I am defeated. Just allow me a warrior's death.
Varugr - I will allow you my Beloved's digestive tracks.

Beltharon nodded calmly and stepped forward.

Beltharon - Quendor...Do it. End him.
Quendor - Not so fast.
Beltharon - What?

Quendor smiled as he raised his sword above his head, preparing for a powerful strike. Yet he did not intend to behead him no - instead, he aimed for his limbs. Althron screamed in pain, his discipline broken at last, as his right arm was taken. Then his left arm. Then his right leg. Then his left leg. One limb at a time.

Quendor - Live. In shame.

Kolger and Varugr both cackled at the scene.

Arnas - Spare him Varugr. He will suffer more living in humiliation than he will ever feel being devoured.
Varugr - I am amused, so I will do so.
Althron - Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen. Go now! Go and face Khanjar! - Althron cackled, even in defeat, sending hateful glares at his enemies - What will you do with Adaru then, conquer Cyrannus and Milky Way with it?! Heroes! Hah! I spit on you!
Arnas - Death is sometimes too good for men like him.

Kolger walked up to the dismembered Althron and kicked him in the stomach.

Kolger - This is for Karnagtah!

I told him. I told Vesperon I was one step ahead of him. And I was right. There is nothing you can do.

Quendor - Open the gates, mother. It's the only way this madness would stop.
Geroniel - Yes. It is.

Geroniel inhaled deeply and walked towards the last gateway. Her hands moved like spiders, shivering and shaking as she hacked its systems. Finally, the gate's defenses were overridden; emerald light poured out of it, blinding the crew for a split second, and a massive, circular chamber appeared before the crew's eyes. Arnas looked back and her moth dropped in shock at the light. She was not like Geroniel, Varugr or Quendor, unconnected to the ethereal relms beyond as they were. But yet she could still feel the malevolence, the dread and the overwhelming sense of power pouring out of the circular chamber. It was both intimidating and horrifying, sending a chill down her very spine. Its greyish-black, geometrical round walls over whose cold, iron surface were scattered thousands of intricate miniature mechanisms and emerald lights, exuded terror, feeling disturbingly close despite the room's size. In the center of the room, suspended in the air with several flexible metallic tubes was Khanjar's warped body; his face concealed by a mask, he appeared inanimate, almost dead, yet it was clear from a subtle smirk he had on his face that he was well aware of his new visitors.

Arnas - Khanjar...
Khanjar - I told him. I told Vesperon I was one step ahead of him. And I was right. There is nothing you can do.
Beltharon - ABBERANT! - Beltharon looked up to see Khanjar's body and widened his eyes in horror to what he was seeing - that horrific merging of device and flesh, empowering him and feeding Adaru's intellect. He knew what it was the instant he looked upon it - an abomination and a crime against the natural order. Shyrak-eating sin against nature!
Khanjar - No more of his schemes.
Varugr - What a grotesque, filthy sight.
Kolger - Indeed, Prince Kriese. How dare him taint your view.
Tiny - Bad man! Tiny kill you!
Arnas - What is it with you and your disdain for the chancellor! Are you jealous of his power? Did he offend you? What. Did he do!

Khanjar said nothing - merely looked at Arnas with a smile, then a frown. Then, in less than a second, the walls around Khanjar began to reform. Flying like microscopic silvery flies and coaelscing in black mist in the center of the room, they took shape - like himself, but many times larger in stature and composed of the same ungodly machinery that the rest of Adaru was made from.like himself. With a roar, so loud the walls shook, the metal titan marched. Arnas staggered back, horrified at what Khanjar had become, she held her rifle tightly in her hand and pointed it upwards, trying to hide her fear.

Khanjar - Did he not tell you? - Arnas timidly shook her head.
Beltharon - You're going to LISTEN to him!?
Kolger - What a bother, I say.
Arnas - Crimi-- Criminal--- Or not...He bears the right--- To-- To jus-ify himself...

Khanjar's golem slammed the floor, sending a powerful shockwave, then proceeded to charge. Arnas, Quendor. and Beltharon were thrown backwards by the blast, Arnas opening her wings to try and slow herself down but she hit the wall regardless. Tiny, on the other hand, remained standing. He roared and charged at the golem himself, while Kolger launched his tentacles at him... All for nothing. As the creature was hit, its metallic skin regrew once again, tougher than before. The real Khanjar smiled once again.

Arnas bared her teeth as she stumbled up.She held up her rifle and fired a few particle cannon shots at Khanjar's real body, half-heatedly hoping that it would cause at least a tiny bit of damage. But she was frightened, and some of her shots undoutably missed, heading also towards the cables.

Khanjar - ...

Khanjar's double turned towards Arnas, emerald fire burning in his cold robotic insides, and suddenly inhaled deeply. Then followed a massive, unstoppable of wave - half sound, half energy, half fire and half light, it was an unstoppable tide of destruction that took with it all in its wake. Arnas hunkered herself down and braced herself as her armour cracked against the force of the blast. Her HUD went haywire and her armour locked itself, she could not move, her shielding cranked up to its maximum, but all this was not enough to weather such immense power. Beltharon did similar, slamming his clawed hand against the ground he stumbled back, but used whatever strength he had to jump out of the way, bounding sideaways but crashing to the floor in a roll. Varugr casually opened his arms and unleashed a wave of entropic blasts at the mechanical golem. Beltharon, narrowly missing the blast ran in an attempt to flank the golem, firing from his weapon as he ran before leaping up to latch onto the golem's thigh.

N'rai' - There must be a way! Try attacking the man itself!

Arnas looked to N'rai and nodded. using what power she could muster, she leaped into the air and opened her wings, the blasts sending her backwards and hitting a wall. Rather than slamming into it, she prapred herself and bounced off, gliding around and uding a downward motion from her wings to get closer to Khanjar's real body. Drawing her power sword, she tried to slice through any cables she flew close to in the vague hope they would do something.

Khanjar - Cease!

Arnas ignored Khanjar, responding with a heavy flap of her wings; she flew past another cable and sliced it clean though the middle. Khanjar hissed, apparently in pain, yet did not seem to grow weaker. The mechanical creation he was controlling grew stronger, shaking off Varugr's attacks, while the remaining cables grew thicker and covered in the same black metal that composed the rest of the ship. N'rai watched the scene terrified, yet also with a spark of hope in her heart; she just came up with a plan.

N'rai - Arnas... - N'rai whispered into comlink, fearful of Khanjar overhearing her - Same beats same.
Arnas - Right.

Arnas somersaulted and drew her particle rifle, firing several shots at the Golem's head.

Arnas - I will cease when I draw my last breath!
Khanjar - Hah.

Arnas smirked and kept firing, hoping to draw Khanjar's focus - and she did. The golem turned. From its blackened right claw, a laser beam came out, cutting down metal and flesh alike; slowly, it moved towards Arnas. The Draconis captain saw the ray coming and with a boosting flap of her wings, flew into and around the mass of cables. Beltharon smirked as he realised what Arnas we doing, she continued to fly around, hoping the laser would burn through the cables and sever his connection in an attempt to hit her.

Khanjar - ...What? -

For a second, Khanjar's face had an expression of dread on it. Like a knife through butter, the emerald beam cut through each cable that connected his mind to Adaru's vast consciousness. Every single cut, every single broken tube sent Khanjar a little bit closer to the abyss, his control over the situation slipping before his eyes. As the last chain was cut, Khanjar fell into the ground, disappearing in the dark pit that laid below...

Quendor - It... worked?
Varugr - I could not even feast on him. Ridiculous.

Arnas breathed a sigh of relief and glided to the floor. Her wings fully open as she softly touched down and looked towards the centre of the room.

Arnas - is...Is it over?
Geroniel - Good. Since the connection is severed, Adaru must be in its dormant mode once again. Now, I shall finish what needs to be done.
Kolger - Our work here is done, Prince Kriese. Shall we begin the exodus of the surviving Gros?
Varugr - Hm hm hm. "Exodus". An amusing choice of words, Kolger.
Theo - Go. - Theo stared af Varugr with a gaze full of malevolence. Varugr's tail extended its tongue and barked at Theo's direction, while Varugr laughed.
Varugr - Do not order me around, mortal. I will leave when I please.
Arnas - Have you any other reason to be here?
Varugr - I wish to see this infernal contraption in ruins.
Arnas - Geroniel?
Geroniel - We have something in common then. - with a slight gesture, Geroniel summoned a small, green computer console and began typing feverishly - Resetting the weapon systems, turning all this energy into the Artifacts will cause an overload and destroy them and the ship...
Tiny - Make bad place go boom!
Arnas - Then perhaps it is safer if we return to the new Dawn before the destruction commences?

Theo - Ahem. Madam. - suddenly, a strange smirk appeared on the Sankana Guardian of Light's face as he pointed his gun at Geroniel - You may want to change your plans. Chancellor Vesperon's orders.

Ahem. Madam. You may want to change your plans. Chancellor Vesperon's orders.

Geroniel - What?!
Arnas - The Chancellor ordered this location destroyed commander.
Tiny - What you think you doing.
Vesperon - Allow me to explain it, - Vesperon's hologram suddenly appeared out of nowhere, apparently created by Theo's armour - I hope you understand. I apologise for not explaining the entirety of your mission, but... it had to be done. Your feelings could have compromised the security of the galaxy.

Arnas stood blankly, her jaw open in horror.

Vesperon - Is way, way too powerful and way too valuable to be discarded. The Commonwealth needs Adaru, captain. I hope you understand.
Arnas - I-- I-- Sir...Th-the devastation...
Vesperon - ...Will prove most useful in the modern Gigaquadrant.
Varugr - I said I desire the contraption in ruins. - Varugr stepped forward, with a frown on his face - You will not deny me of my wish.

Arnas took a step black and lowered her head, closing her eyes shut and taking a deep nervous breath.

Beltharion - Madness! You want to keep on destroying with this thing!?
Vesperon - Look upon the Gigaquadrant! - Vesperon's voice, strangely, remained cold as always, and his ashen snout retained a stoic expression on it - In Cyrannus, imperialists gather. In Borealis, criminals and monstrosities gain more power every day. In our own galaxy, demons form their armies! Do you honestly believe Andromeda will survive all that without a weapon to protect it? Without a man willing to wield that weapon, willing to sacrifice his mortal form for it? I do not think so.
Varugr - You are an idiot, revealing your scheme right in front of me. This only gives me more reasons to destroy this spaceship.
Quendor - And that warrior would be... you. - Quendor laughed sarcastically - I saw the visions. I know what happened with those who wielded such power. Are you any different?
Arnas - I am a captain of his majesty's Imperial Talon Navy. I answer to the Paragavatus and to the Parlaelmiladrus (lord-admiral). I do not answer to you. And neither will my crew.
Vesperon - So did I! I too gazed into the Artifacts, and they gazed into me, on the Keyworld. I saw Adaru. I saw power - power that could be used to serve order, and justice! That could serve Andromeda! The Imperium! - Vesperon looked into Arnas's eyes, his gaze full of malevolence - Captain Theo understands. He knows what needs to be done in order to protect our people.
Theo - This is the only way, captain Volkamen. Please, step down, or else my men will have to act.

Arnas looked to Theo with a concerned look before looking to others: Geroniel, Beltharon, Quendor, N'rai, the other marines. She then slowly turned back to Vesperon, looking like she was deep in thought.

Arnas - Chancellor, when the Imperium gained the capacity to develop hyperspace weaponry, they say there was outcry in the senate. That such weapons were too dangerous to both us, reality and our enemies. What if they were right? What if we are not ready?
Vesperon - Captain Arnas Volkamen of ARV New Dawn... - Vesperon gazed deep inside the Draconis captain's eyes, as if he was begging for understanding - ...You are right. We are not ready... But our enemies will not wait for us! Captain, fire!
Arnas - Captain please, do not follow his order! I urge you!
Theo - Affirmative. - without further hesitation, the Sankana captain aimed his gun and fired. There was a thud of a firing gun. Then, a female Radeon scream. Then, once again, a thud - of a falling body. Arnas' head swiftly turned to the source of the noise, her heart racing.
Tiny - Friend!
Beltharon - GERONIEL!
Quendor - MOTHER! - Quendor leaped to Geroniel, giving her a tender embrace while clenching her bloodied body - Don't worry, everything will be alright... alright...
Arnas - The Grand-Senate will hear of this, Chancellor! You are a cold. Blooded. Murderer!
Tiny - Tiny kills stupid traitor for hurting friend!
Geroniel - It will, son. - Geroniel placed her hand on Quendor's brow, smiling despite the agonising pain her body was filled with - I am. I have set the ship to self-destruct. My soul is... is... cleansed. - Geroniel closed her eyes and fell on the floor.

Beltharon looked down at Geroniel as she slowly died, then looked back towards Theo as his lips rippled to reveal his brutal-looking teeth. Clenching his fists he paced over, becoming a powerwalk, then becoming a sprint before grabbing one of the Guardians by the arms and lifting him high into the air. With a visible growl, Beltharon spread his hands out, still gripping the Guardian in his hand, tearing the poor soul in half almost effortlessly before throwing the remains away rather uncaringly. Tiny too roared in rage and sent his four fists crashing into one of Theo's men, crushing him instantly like an insect. Arnas held up her rifle and fired at those of the marines that were part of Theo's team.

Quendor - HOW?! - Quendor ran to Theo, their swords clashing - You were a Guardian of Light! How could you slay her... like that?
Theo - Quickly, sedate the beast and eliminate the rest! - Theo shook his head nervously, not realising that someone was laughing behind his back - or, rather, beneath him
Varugr - I see the outcome of this is your own death, and I see you are all having much fun already. I will not stay here no longer. I have better things to do.
Kolger - Eheheheh. Goodbye, "New Dawn". - in complete apathy for the crew's situation, Varugr and Kolger disappeared in a black fog.
Khanjar - ...Funny... Isn't it?... - out of the pit, crawling, a twisted mockery of a Rapidox moved towards the New Dawn's crew, a strange snarl on his face - he was laughing - What did you tell them, Vesperon. What lies did you tell them?!
Theo - Him?! - both Theo's Guardians and the New Dawn's crew stopped their fighting for a short while and stared at the Rapidox - But how did you-
Khanjar - I survived worse, you. Tell them, Vesperon. Tell them how fascinated you were with the Artifacts, how you mumbled of unstoppable power when you first saw them. The visions - I saw them, you saw them! The Artifacts changed us both, except that you became a conqueror - or were you always that way? - and I... and I...
Vesperon - I protected the Imperium, Genderr! You are just a madman!
Arnas - Chancellor...How long has this been going on for?
Khanjar - Years, girl. Years. We have been playing this little game of ours for a long time, and ultimately... ahaha... I have always been step ahead! Even now! Even NOW!
Arnas - The first artifact...were you part of the expedition?
Khanjar - Yes... yes... I was here, and it was then when we and Vesperon gazed into it. He has always been fascinated by order, you see. He always loved machines of war - to keep peace, of course. Peace! Ha! Peace!
Vesperon - I saw it, yes. I saw Adaru. And in it, I saw opportunity!
Khanjar - Say your opportunity... adieu then. I am always one step ahead, don't you remember? There's a security system in the ship. Should my connection to Adaru get severed and the ship set to dormant mode, it will release all of its Artifact energy.
Vesperon - What... but...

Arnas looked horrified at Khanjar, only having a rough estimate as to the potential of the destructive power.

Tiny - That bad...right?
Khanjar - My death... means nothing... - Khanjar coughed blood as he slowly died - I won't let you have Andromeda, Vesperon! The galaxy may shatter, may writhe in agony... but it will not be yours! - Khanjar finally fell on the ground - Prepare yourselves...

Horrified, the remaining members of the New Dawn's crew as well as Theo's Guardians fled in horror, preparing in their hearts for the great Shattering that was about to ensue...