|Second Borealis Galactic War is a Historical Event
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- - Dakster
This is the first part of the Second Borealis Galactic War.
- 1 The Massacre Begins
- 1.1 The Vague Fate Comes
- 1.2 Stuck Shipless
- 1.3 Borealis News Network Report
- 1.4 Commandos
- 1.5 The War Council
- 1.6 Humour in Terror
- 1.7 Spared No Expense
- 1.8 Greater Scope Than Before
- 1.9 Officer of the Dynasty
- 1.10 The War Spreads
- 1.11 Warriors of Zeal
- 1.12 The Empire of the Seagon
- 1.13 To Find the Borealis Radeons
- 2 The Destruction Continues
- 2.1 The Weak Spot of the Vague
- 2.2 Meeting on Pax-Paladi
- 2.3 The Brood Provoked
- 2.4 A Galactic Battlefield
- 2.5 Blood on the Ice
- 2.6 Dreams of Corruption
- 2.7 Blyro'Tralzica
- 2.8 A War That Gods Decree
- 2.9 Consequences to the Killer
- 2.10 A Campaign's End
- 2.11 The Azure Theocracy
- 2.12 Of Gods and Mortals
- 3 The End of Order
The Massacre Begins
The Vague Fate Comes
While the Unified Nation could rest easy knowing that the Xi'Arazulha were no longer a threat, they knew that this peace would not last long. The Leaders felt it as they stood their in their chamber, looking at one another in fear. They were still shaken by the damage that the Arazulha did, and knew that their team of peace would be up. Volzara, who had not repaired Grenzaar when she left, had left them more than enough warnings about the "Vague Fate" that they must prepare for.
What they didn't know was when that "Vague Fate" would come.
- Tralkik Commander - Incoming transmission. Source unknown.
- Zr'Ahgloth - IF ITS FREKLOAR AGEN I SWER
- Thr'aloy - itd not b unknown if it was frekloar tho
- Zr'Ahgloth - oyeah. HOLD UP WHAI IS YOO STILL HEER
- Tralkik Commander - Negative. Fre'kloar is believed to be stuck in an undesignated location. He has been inactive ever since we last saw him.
- Kralgon Emperor - Patch the fools in. We just survived the Xi'Arazulha, I'm ready to take on anything.
The Tralkik Commander complied, and displayed a hologram in the centre of the chamber. And they quickly realized it was not the Rogue Loron, or any creature they had ever seen for that matter.
Standing in the center of the room was the holographic image of a tall, slender being, with a long reptilian snout and a trio of shining red eyes. Its body was skeletal, seemingly devoid of flesh, muscle or skin, charred in black with stripes of green. From its back, a pair of large limbs curved backwards, giving the faint impression of wings. Its arms were long and the left one ended with sharpened claws, though the right one instead ended in what looked like a blaster weapon, constructed into the creature's bone. None of them had ever seen a species like this, though the leaders of UNO could not help but feel there was something strikingly familiar about the entity; it wore a distinct set of armor, of obvious Ottzel design.
- Kralgon Emperor - And what might you be then, creature?
The creature responded with a loud wail, which caused its own hologram to turn static for several moments. The voice was also extremely familiar to them, though it also possessed a grating, metallic "filter" of some description. They could not tell whether it was a cyborg or something else entirely. The UNOL members all took a step back after hearing the wailing noise, before slowly stepping back forward again. They knew that the appearance and the noise this creature made rung a bell somewhere, but they couldn't quite put their finger on it. Each of them felt slightly threatened by the creature, but also curious as to what it was, and what its motives were.
- Feldosia - ...Do...you guys recognise that too? Because that is eerily familiar...
- Kralgon Emperor - Bah! Shoot first, ask questions later! Are you trying to threaten us, creature? You can look forward to being DISINTEGRATED!
- Zr'Ahgloth - DIS BOZOS CLOTHED LIKE AN OTTZEL. MAN DAT ARMORS TOO SMALL FOR YA. LOOKS RIDICULOUS
- Yogtam - Ottzel...yes! It does look like an Ottzel, doesn't it?
- ??? - That is because... I am Ottzel!
Zr'Ahgloth and the Kralgon Emperor looked at each other and laughed hysterically, while the other leaders looked at them in disgust. Tuolog approached closer with a sense of concern. He had no reason not to believe the creature, as it spoke with all sincerity, but he was curious what had happened to it. Had the Ottzel actually survived their supposed extinction? Is this what had become of them?
- Kralgon Emperor - HAHAHAHAHAhahaha...urm, are you serious?
- Tuolog - Tell us what happen. You not supposed to be alive.
- ??? - Yet I am... and it hurts. So. Much. I am Ottzel... and not!
- Valzo - What does? What happened to you? What did Zr'An'Kar do to you?!
- ??? - Everything. He did everything! And now, I am here to make things right... I am Dakster, and I am Vague!
Each of the leaders gasped, other than Zr'Ahgloth and the Kralgon Emperor, who just laughed more. They each felt extremely guilty and concerned for Dakster. Each felt as if they had some responsibility for what had happened for him, and each wished there was a way they could help.
- Kralgon Emperor - Hahahahaha, that's a good one! No, really, you crack me up! Oh, I wish aliens would try something like that more often. Okay, time's up, move over, bozo.
- Dakster - Shut up, Kralgon fool, and listen to me. I am Vague. We are your fate. Your Vague Fate.
- Zr'Ahgloth - LMAO YOR A FLIPPIN AWFUL LIA wait wat vague fate? wat da hell man yor uglia dan i expected
- Yogtam - Ugh, quit it, you too. Dakster, we apologise, this is our fault. Is there anything, is there anything we can do to help you? Tuolog, you have any ideas?
- Dakster - You can help yourself. I'm here to demand your surrender. For the good of the universe... you all must be destroyed.
The entire room gasped once more, each looked in horror. Even the Kralgon Emperor did, or at least, he did for a moment.
- Kralgon Emperor - Okay, come on, are you really going to believe this fool? It's obviously just the Rogue Loron playing some kind of practical joke on us again! Or maybe it's the Wranploer trying something, or whatever, you really believe this clown?
- Dakster - Loron, Wranploer, Zoles, all will be destroyed if we must! But you must die, otherwise this universe will be in danger! I am giving you the chance of surrendering peacefully, so your suffering may be short!
- Tuolog - Dakster, explain why we must die. Explain why there no other way to help you?
- Dakster - I... I wish I could! But I can't! You just... need to die! Now! Before their Perfect Fate comes!
- Zr'Ahgloth - perfect fate? dat akshully sounds pretty sik man does it involve pizza? ...WAIT A MINUT YOR TRYNA TAKE A PIZZA FATE AWAY FRUM US? MAN YOR A MASSIV KILLJOY
- Dakster - If you can't understand... I will destroy you. We will destroy you! We will come in waves you cannot hope to match!
- Valzo - Stand down, all ships. There must be a peaceful resolution here.
- Tuolog - Dakster, you try communicate with me. Explain your situation and I try and help.
- Dakster - No! You've made your choice! Now you must die!
The rest of UNOL screamed at one another, looking in fear, as they were afraid of what Dakster could do. They were afraid to fire upon their old friend, and each felt a sense of responsibility for what had happened to him. They could not decide amongst themselves what to do at all. Normally, UNOL was much more unified than this. It could normally reach a conclusion immediately.
- Feldosia - Okay, Dakster, we surrend-
- Kralgon Emperor - Bah, you fools have no clue what you're doing. Well then, "Vague" creature, you can look forward to your DISINTEGRATION!
- Dakster - Die! Die, die, shut up and die!
The Kralgon Emperor slammed down his fists one the console in front of him, and immediately called down a microphone. He acted unilaterally, only with the support of Zr'Ahgloth and the tepid support of Yogtam, as he waged war.
- Kralgon Emperor - All ships, be warned of a creature with the following description: A stupid oversized skeleton wearing Ottzel clothes. Fire on it, obliterate it, ANNIHILATE IT!
- Zr'Ahgloth - not even da spooky kind of skellington. propa disappointed
- Tuolog - This madness...but if it come to it, Dakster, if you not give us choice, we must.
The hologram of the Vague Dakster vanished, and at the outskirts of the Ottzello Sector, brilliant wormholes manifested as mysterious ships, each the size of what many would consider dreadnoughts, begun making their way to UNO's colonies. Their design was as twisted as the creature that had contacted UNOL, as if erratically constructed with the use of unnatural materials, and each sported a massive aura of Chronoscopic essence.
As the Emperor had commanded, UNO ships which encountered them responded to their arrival with lethal weaponry without hesitation. Their belief was that ships so poorly made that were barely holding together could not possibly match the firepower of a thousand coilguns and antimatter missiles fired through hyperspace. Of course, they were wrong. Not a single weapon from their ships appeared to deal any substantial damage. Instead, every shot they fired was met with a wavelength sound that hit the sound systems on their ships: a wailing sound, like Dakster had sent UNOL as he first spoke, of cries of pain, before the Vague ships immediately disintegrated them with a single blast.
It was clear that their appearance was little more than an illusion. These creatures were not of this dimension. They were far more powerful than UNO had predicted. They weren't firing particle cannons or anything of the sort, they were blasting with an energy from the fourth dimension down to smite them here in the third dimension and crush them. While the Vague's sightings were extremely random and seemingly without any specific goal, they were set on one thing: destroy UNO.
The Vague Fate had come. It would show no mercy.
As the Vague Fate threatened the rest of Ottzello, in one corner of the sector, the Rogue Boyz were still stranded in the same Cold Relay they had crashed into. Unable to get their ship fixed after weeks, and running low on rations stored in the ship, the Rogue Boyz Warbosses and Leedas decided to go out to the Relay and see what they could find, or more likely, bicker at one another for hours.
- Fre'kloar - MAN I SWER I TOLD YOO LOSAS DAT CRASHIN INTO DIS FING WAS A BAD IDEA
- Hagto'Zhl - YOR DA ONE DAT TOLD US TA DO IT LOSA
- Fre'kloar - WRONG. IT WAS GRAKTONA
- Grak'tona - I HAV NO MEMORY OF DIS YOO STOOPID BODYGUARD WHO TALKS TO DA KING IN A BAD WAY
- Fre'kloar - YA MOMS A STOOPID BODYGUARD WHO TALKS TO DA PROPA BIG ROGUE BOSS IN A BAD WAY
- Jol'kiar - FLIPPIN HELL BAK IN MA DAYS WE DIDNT HAV DIS TRASH HAPPENIN
- Fre'kloar - YOR DAYS WAS DUM LIKE YA MOM
- Jol'kiar - SHUT UP FRE'KLOR YOR A STOOPID KID
- Hagto'Zhl - BOF OF YOOS IS LOSAS. MAN DA WHOLE ROGUE BOYZ WAS LOSAS FER ALL DA PROBLEMS I HAD WIV DA CORRUPTUS DEY AT LEEST DIDNT CRASH SHIPS EVRYWHER
- Jol'kiar - WHAI DONT YA GO BAK TO DEM IF YA LIKE DEM SO MUCH
- Hagto'Zhl - GEE I WULD GO FIND DEM IF I WASNT STUK IN A FLIPPIN RELAY YA MORON
- Rel'larutina - Volzara's sake, shut up already. This arguing isn't leading us anywhere.
- Hagto'Zhl - OH MA DAYZ YOR A HERETIK DAT DOESNT BELEEV IN DA GODZ. ALSO YOR AN IDIOT BECUZ IT WAS BASICALLY YOR FAULT ITS ALWAYS DA CHIKZ FAULT
- Grak'tona - FINALLY SOMFIN I AGREE WIV
- Rel'larutina - Excuse me? I opposed crashing the damn ship into the Relay from the start!
- Fre'kloar - I VOTE RELLARUTINAS A LIA WHOS WIV ME
Each of the Loron stupidly raised their hands in the air, and turned back to her.
- Fre'kloar - YEH DATS RITE. SO GO COOK US SOM MOAR PIZZA AN DONT GIV US ANY RUBBISH ABOUT HOW WE RUN OUT OF INGREDIENTS
- Rel'larutina - Kiss my walker's shiny metal rear.
- Grak'tona - OH SNAP SON SHES MAD NOW
- Kal'kuir - man dis is insultin. HOW CAN YA WHIN AT EECH OTHA WEN MA BABIES STILL HURTIN BADLY????? OH MA DAYZ MAN IM GONNA CRY MA BABIES NOT WORKIN
- Knar'gank - keep down man yor embarrassin yaself
- Voa'reak - GEE I WULD LOV TA GO FLYIN RITE NOW. TOO BAD OUR FLYIN SHIP IS BROKEN
- Brag'klogga - man yoo peeps jus wont stop eh? IM TRYIN TA REED DA GANGSTAPEDIA ATM. I CAN FEEL DA WEIRD GOD PEEPS WHO WAS KILLIN UNO IS GON
- Zalk'don - OH MA DAYZ DAT JUS MAKES IT WORS. WE SHULDA BEEN OUT DERE BLOWIN DEM UP WHIL DA OTHA GEEZAS WAS BLOWIN DEM UP AN WE MISSED DA OPPATUNITY
- Brag'klogga - its weird tho. dey kinda jus left. whers da part where dey go to da galactic core an do som nonsensical stoof dere? SOMEONES BEEN RETCONNIN DA GANGSTAPEDIA BEHIND MA BAK
- Jol'kiar - eh im fairly sure in some certain set of events dat dat happened da only problem is dat da gangstapedia has been vandalised. WHOS DA VANDAL MAN
- Brag'klogga - OH MA DAYZ I BET IT WAS REL'LARUTINA. CAUSE SHES DA CHIK AN CHIKZ IS ALWAYS WRONG
- Rel'larutina - Really? I mean, really? You guys are pathetic.
As the Loron continued to yell at one another, their booming voices echoing throughout the enormous room, suddenly they heard a groaning sound in the distance, as the Mechanic warped into the room.
- The Mechanic - Ah, for crying out loud, keep it down already, willye? I'm tryna concentrate here!
- Ray'loth - OH MA DAYZ ITS DAT STOOPID BOSSY GRANDPA AGEN
- The Mechanic - Who are you calling bossy grandpa, you stupid bug! I swear, kids these days have no respect for their elders! Get off my lawn already! Don't you have places to go?
- Fre'kloar - WE WULD CEPT YOO FLIPPIN TRAPPED US HEER
- The Mechanic - Well, maybe it'll teach you some manners and some respect, before you go barging in an ancient alien hyperspace travel construct next time!
- Hagto'Zhl - MAN YOR A LOSA GO AWAY LEEV US BE
- The Mechanic - I will, when you leave my darn Relay!
- Kal'kuir - DEN HELP FIX MA SHIP AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
- The Mechanic - Bah, stupid little bugs, I don't owe you my time! I don't owe you anything! I'm stuck here with a lot of things on my schedule, you ungrateful kids! Today, I've got to clean the hyperspace valves, I got to go do the the gardening, I got to do my daily shouting at the Caretakers slacking on their jobs, I got to fix the Cold Turrets in Region 4719F, I got a whole bunch of other stuff on my to do list just for the next few hours! So excuse me if I don't have time to look after you and babysit you if you get yourselves stuck on one of MY DARN RELAYS!
- Fre'kloar - PERHAPS WE SHULD JUS STAY HEER FOREVA AND BEET YOO UP YA STOOPID SHORTY I SWER
- The Mechanic - Oh yeah? Come and try me, ya wuss!
- Rel'larutina - Oh by the gods... You're all children.
- The Mechanic - Me? Child? Hah! Missy, I seen approximately seven hundred and nine thousand eight hundred and forty million trillion more lifetimes than you! Wait, that wasn't a number, was it? Ah, heck, you get the idea, only children here are you bugs! Now scram off my Relay! What are you still doing here, anyway?
- Rel'larutina - You want us to leave, yet you make no effort to help us leave. I don't care how old you claim you are, you're an idiot as much as these Loron.
- The Mechanic - Oh for Volzara's sake you entitled little kids, I don't have time to fi-oh, wait, you're right, it doesn't make much sense, does it?
The Mechanic scratched his head with one of his metal arms. However, at this point, Kal'kuir stomped on the ground as he clenched his fists, his face suddenly turning into anger.
- Kal'kuir - IVE HAD ENUFF. YOR ALL STOOPID AND YOR NOT GONNA TOUCH MA BABY. GET OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUT!!!!!!!!!
The force of Kal'kuir's scream was such that the Mechanic was flung out of the ground, flying out of the room until he was no longer visible. The other Loron's eyes widened in shock, as many of them even fell over. Rel'larutina was initially shocked as well, before she finally sighed.
- Rel'larutina - Back to square one, folks!
- Kal'kuir - IM NEVA GONNA LET DAT IDIOT TOUCH MA SHIP. EVA!!!!!!!!!
- Voa'reak - oh man wes neva gonna escape dis relay. is dis how it ends? STUK IN A COLD, DESOLATE PLAIC WIV NO FOOD OR DRINK OR PIZZA?????
- Brag'klogga - ... wait hold on. i got time powas dont i?
- Grak'tona - ...oh yeh he does. MAN DA KING ORDAS YOR IMMEDIAT EXECUSHON FOR INCOMPETENCE
- Brag'klogga - non
Raising his arms, Brag'klogga teleported Loron back to the front of the damaged ship, before he rose his staff and threw it into the hull. The Rogue Krooza was engulfed in Dark Chronoscopic energy as its damage reversed, until it was completely fixed, almost as if it had never been crashed to begin with.
- Brag'klogga - in retrospect, shulda don dat soona
- Grak'tona - YEH YOO FLIPPIN SHULDA. OFF WIV HIS HED!!!!!!!
- Ray'loth - HE AINT GETTIN EXECUTED BUT HES STAYIN DA NEXT WEEK IN DA BRIG
- Brag'klogga - MAN YOO PEEPS IS PROPA UNGRATEFUL
- Hagto'Zhl - INTO DA BRIG YOO GO
Hagto'Zhl lifted Brag'klogga by the back of his neck as he carried him off to the brig on the bottom floor of the ship. Meanwhile, Kal'kuir held his hands together in joy before hugging the fixed Krooza, giggling to himself.
- Kal'kuir - MA BABYS FIXED YEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS. AND IT WUS ALL ME. I DID DIS
- Rel'larutina - ...I'm. Surrounded. By. Children.
- Jol'kiar - YEH YEH YEH WES ALL RELLY HAPPY FOR YOO AN WATEVA BUT WE DONT CARE ABOUT DAT GO BAK TA WORKIN ON DAT GEEK LIKE YOO PROMISED US
- Kal'kuir - fine den. EVERYON ON BOARD LETS GET OFF OF DIS DUMP
Meanwhile, back on the Relay, the Krooza left a gaping hole in the wall from where it had now left. The Mechanic, very slowly, walked over to it, huffing and wheazing as he attempted to catch the Loron, not yet noticing the hole in the wall.
- The Mechanic - Ye darn bugs! I swear, when I get to ya, I'll teach you a lesson not to do that to an old man who cleans yer hyperspace rel- oh wait, they're gone. They fixed it themselves? Huh. Okay.
At this moment, a hologram appeared before the Mechanic; his mysterious boss, who had his arms crossed behind his back.
- ??? - Head Caretaker.
- The Mechanic - Ah, boss! It's you! Oh, err...sorry, I'll, I'll get back to work right away, boss!
- ??? - Complications have arisen in the Ottzello Sector. A race of unknown entities.
- The Mechanic - More unknown entities? Eh? What do people want with our galaxy now?
- ??? - I do not know, I have not seen these beings before. Though, their appearance has left our mutual friend extremely distressed. He finds himself disgusted by these beings.
As usual, the Mechanic shuddered at the mention again. He still recalled very little about "him" as they rarely spoke directly, but something instinctively made him fear "him", and know his place.
- The Mechanic - I see, boss. I'll sort something out. These nice folk in Ottzello got rid of extragalactic aliens before, maybe they'll get rid of these beings too.
- ??? - You may not be able to remove them on your own. Provide aid to those Ottzelloans. The aliens are attacking them in specific.
- The Mechanic - Man, what did these Ottzelloans do to rub the entire universe the wrong way? Was it something they said?
- ??? - We would prefer if you found out and informed us.
- The Mechanic - Oh, yeah, sure. Sure. I can do that. I'll ask them what they did in the last galaxy they were in. I swear, they're nice folk and all, but they are bringing a hell of a lot of problems here, don't you think?
- ??? - Yes. That is exactly what I think. They have, so far, displeased me and him.
- The Mechanic - They're good people. I'm sure they don't mean it. Maybe it's the bugs that are doing it.
- ??? - No. But speaking of which... any particular reason there is still a gaping hole in the Relay?
- The Mechanic - The darn bugs crashed their ship into it! I'm going to get a few Caretakers to fix it now.
- ??? - Do so. Do not leave us waiting.
The Mechanic nodded quickly, as the hologram disappeared.
Borealis News Network Report
The independent Borealis News Network would have to update the galaxy on details from the Vague invasion. Normally, war, invasion, and destruction, was not even newsworthy in Borealis anymore. Especially not after it had increased during the Xi'Arazulha attacks. But fourth dimensional and nearly-indestructible invaders, that was definitely news. And in a time when trust towards Ottzello was trending further and further downwards in galactic polls, anything that could be tied to Ottzello would make a massive story.
Raiyassa Mizys once again covered the report.
- Raiyassa Mizys - Good evening, Borealis. Just hours ago, we delivered reports of the threat of alien invaders currently referred to as the "Vague". Vague attacks have increased around the galaxy, with no clear pattern. It seems that much like the Xi'Arazulha, the Vague do not rely on Cold Relays, and many Imperium generals worry they will not be able to predict their moves.
While she was an experienced reporter and had been trained to speak calmly, it was hard not to sense a touch of fear and worry in her tone. As neutral as she tried to keep it, it was clear that she had been worried. On screen, more images were shown of Vague invasions around the galaxy, of them disintegrating ships and planets, and absorbing insane amounts of firepower before going down.
- Raiyassa Mizys - This news comes just two Zoleia months after the Xi'Arazulha threat was officially declared ended. None of the experts can point to the source of the Vague threat, but people have made up their own minds.
Now, a pie chart displayed on screen. It was a depiction of Borealis polling, which she described:
- Raiyassa Mizys - Our recent scientific polling suggests that Borealans place most of the blame on three possible sources: the Wranploer Legion, the Devourer's Chosen cultists and Imperium allies, the Ottzelloans. These poll at 24%, 33% and 27% respectively. Others polled indicated they believed it to be either the Xi'Arazulha, the Grox, "Them", or cited another possible threat. Borealis is divided as no one quite knows who to blame.
It was very often framed from this perspective. From the perspective of "who's responsible?" This is because it got the news network much higher viewership and ratings than reports of the details of the Vague's devastating attacks and the lives lost to them, which for many was unsettling.
- Raiyassa Mizys - We went around the galaxy to discuss with ordinary Borealans, and ask what their thoughts were on the matter. Our reporter is live now in Zoleia. This man, Belgaron, is a father of three living in the capital. Belgaron, how do you feel about the reports of the Vague attacks?
Now on screen, an interview with a Zoles male from the capital of Zoleia. He was dressed well, and appeared to have been distraught by the news. Raiyassa Mizys asked the questions live to the man through a reporting robot which recorded him.
- Belgaron - I'm very unsettled, ma'am. They're going across the galaxy, killing people indiscriminately, disintegrating everything they see...and our military can't stop 'em! Apparently, they say they make these weird screaming noises, like some sort of a war cry, before they kill everyone there! What could they want?
- Raiyassa Mizys - These are not questions we have the answer to. But we're interested to hear what you think. Who do you think caused these Vague attacks? Where do you think they came from?
- Belgaron - Ma'am, I don't know. But wherever they came from, I bet they came from the same place as the Xi'Arazulha. And probably the same place as the damn Devourer's Cultists or whoever. I don't care, I just hope my children are safe. I want them to grow up in a safe Borealis, not this one.
- Raiyassa Mizys - We all do, Belgaron. Thank you for your time.
The screen cut away, as Raiyassa was about to interview another person. Presumably, to cover a wider range of people, she would interview a Zoles in a more rural area next instead, who would have a far different perspective. She had to fill the time until anything really newsworthy about the Vague came in, possibly an official statement from a galactic leader or an expert.
- Raiyassa Mizys - We turn now to Valsieren, a single mother living in the farms on planet Treankar II. Valsieren also has a family to look after, and an entire land. Valsieren, how have you reacted to these devastating attacks?
The screen cut to Valsieren. She was a short, but broad woman who wasn't dressed as well or as fashioned as most Zoles. She clearly came from a much different background.
- Valsieren - I'm horrified. Just a month after we got rid of demons, we have more demons. When will this end? When will our leaders do something about this, when will they act to keep us safe? They're not helping us right now!
- Raiyassa Mizys - We're all very distressed, Valsieren. What are you doing to prepare for a possible future attack?
- Valsieren - Nothing. I've got nothing left in this world if I lose this land. It's all I've ever known. If the Vague take my land, they may as well take me as well.
- Raiyassa Mizys - I see. Who do you think is responsible for the Vague attacks? Where do you think the Vague came from?
- Valsieren - Who's responsible? I know damn well who's responsible. It's Ottzello, and the Wranploer. They're working together, they've always been working together. I remember when your show told us that Ottzelloan species were found working with Wranploer species when pirating our worlds. They've always been working together!
- Raiyassa Mizys - But Valsieren, our leaders don't believe that the Unified Nation of Ottzello and the Wranploer Legion are co-operating. In fact, we've seen far more reports of UNO ships aiding Niaka ships to fend off Wranploer attacks since they arrived. They are also known traders with the Imperium.
- Valsieren - They're just preparing for the day when they take over Borealis for themselves, when they can make it all like their Ottzello. They're plotting against us, I know it. Other than the occasional good guy, like that Falrik Zaarkhun businessman, I tell you, most of these Ottzelloans are just bad news. When will our leaders stop being spineless, politically correct cowards and just cut off all Relays to the Ottzello Sector?
- Raiyassa Mizys - Okay, we're going to have to cut you off there. Thank you for your time, and best of luck with your family.
Raiyassa didn't cut her off because she was starting to sound threatening. No, there was finally news.
- Raiyassa Mizys - Chief Major Xerkea of the Niaka Special Forces is now delivering a live press conference to the galaxy. We hope to hear what she has to say about the Special Forces and how they will keep the galaxy safe.
As the screens switched over to Xerkea, she seemed very visibly annoyed. Not just by the news, but because this was clearly a woman who disliked the press. She groaned as she faced many cameras and journalists itching to ask questions which she may not have the patience to answer. At all times, she was surrounded by Niaka guards in mech suits, as she had grown accustomed to being cautious at all times. She delivered a statement, with a disgruntled tone in her voice.
- Xerkea - The Niaka Special Forces is disheartened by the news of the Vague attacks. We are disheartened also, but unsurprised, that the galactic military experts and our galactic leaders have, as of yet, no solution for dealing with this grave threat. My forces are preoccupied with an increasingly powerful, and increasingly more cunning, Wranploer Legion threat. Frankly, we do not have the resources to keep the entire galaxy safe on our own. We will do our best to combat this threat, as always, but we can't be everywhere at once. Our priorities, until our leaders find a real solution, are with combating the Wranploer Legion. I will now take your questions, but please be quick.
It was clear by how short her statement was that she disliked press conferences, but the questions she would get afterwards were, for her, even worse. She would take three questions, from many alien and robot reporters, before she would leave promptly.
- Reporter 1 - Chief Major, thank you for the work you have done to keep the galaxy safe. However, pirate activity has just been increasing. Do your intelligences have any knowledge of why this is, and can you tell us what you are doing to stop it?
- Xerkea - Of course I am aware that pirate activity has increased. We know only that they're capitalising on the chaos of the current situation. The Xi'Arazulha have destabilised the security of the entire galaxy, and any opportunity the Wranploer have for more war, they will take it.
- Reporter 2 - Xerkea, while several planets were still recovering from the Xi'Arazulha attacks, they were raided by pirates. We have fifteen planets right now attacked, after their orbital defenses were destroyed by demons, which were attacked while the reconstruction effort took place. One hundred and seventy other star systems are currently unprotected by Niaka right now, these are vulnerable planets which need help. What are you doing about this problem?
- Xerkea - As I said in my speech, I can't be everywhere at once. Believe me, I would love to protect all two hundred of those planets. In fact, I would love to wipe the Wranploer out of existence for good. But I just can't do it. I don't have the resources for that. I will tell them again, we're doing everything we can, and we're just as distraught as them every time we lose a planet to these savages. The only thing I will tell them is this: at least they're not under threat by the Vague. Against the Vague, we don't know what we can do.
- Reporter 3 - Chief Major, there are sightings, known and validated sightings, of Ottzelloan species with Wranploer Legion ships. Have you by any chance investigated into this, and do you know if this is proof that the Unified Nation of Ottzello is colluding with the Wranploer Legion?
- Xerkea - Ugh. That is a ridiculous conspiracy theory thought up by nut jobs such as the people who own your propagandist fearmongering media outlet. No, the Unified Nation of Ottzello, much as they irritate me and have done little to address the problems they seem to have created, are allies of ours, and no, they have no dealings with the Wranploer. Does it not seem to get into your head that a few Ottzelloans can be working for the Wranploer and not working for UNO?
With that, the news report about the Vague ended.
The news of the Vague attacks had shocked UNOL. They thought initially that the Vague had only been attacking them, but after seeing news reports that the Vague's attacks were random and galactic, they felt an immediate need to respond as soon as possible. As UNOL met in their chamber for a meeting, there was a sense of urgency, that had not been seen since just a couple months ago when they were still fighting the Xi'Arazulha.
- Tuolog - Reports of Vague attacks across galaxy. Their attacks seem very random. They hit everywhere, and they fight back and destroy anything that attack them. This not good.
- Yogtam - They're disorganized, but powerful. The reports say it takes the concentrated power of whole fleets to bring just one of their dreadnoughts down. They're not made of any known material.
- Tralkik Commander - Indeed. The only positive, however, is unlike the Xi'Arazulha, conventional weaponry does work. Eventually, at least. It is not a simple matter to bring them down. We are severely outmatched and we do not have the fleets available to fight the Vague. Even if we were to construct such a fleet, it would take all of our resources in this sector.
- Zr'Ahgloth - i guess daksta wasnt kiddin eh. MAN HES A LOSA NAO I HATE HIM
- Valzo - Our priority should be to defend our allies. Borealis media hasn't exactly been kind to us...
- Yogtam - We'll need all the help we can get here. If the Zoles, the Niaka and the others step in, we'll get more time to come up with a solution.
- Kralgon Emperor - I would agree with you in any other situation, Yogtam. But I don't think we have time for that. I believe we need to demonstrate to them that we are working to combat this threat immediately, that we are already willing to fight them head on. And I think we need to probe the Vague further. There has to be an easier way to combat them.
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN JUS LET DA LORONZ BATTA DEM IN MELEE
- Kralgon Emperor - ...What? Are you crazy?
- Zr'Ahgloth - I MEEN WES DA STRONGEST RACE EVA WE CAN JUS PUNCH DEM TO DEFF RITE?
- Tralkik Commander - Reports suggest that Loron engaging them in hand-to-hand combat have had their arms severed and disintegrated before their demise shortly after.
- Zr'Ahgloth - wat? DATS RUBBISH
- Yogtam - That's one thing worrisome about these Vague. Their weaponry is also something we can't defend ourselves from. Apparently, it disintegrates you to the point your atoms are split altogether.
- Tralkik Commander - This is correct. Technology is believed to be fourth dimensional.
- Tuolog - Well, what you people suggest we do? We work with allies to find solution, or we fight them now?
- Yogtam - There's nothing to gain from fighting them by ourselves. In a battle of attrition, we're as good as dead.
At that moment, Thr'aloy walked into the room, and groaned at the others.
- Thr'aloy - yoo geezas kno ive been stuk in dis ship since foreva rite? man NEX TIME YA TELEPORT ME HEER TELEPORT ME BAK MAN OR AT LEEST GIMME SOMFIN TA DO
- Zr'Ahgloth - yanno wat? WHERS DA VAGUE ATTAKIN NAO? SEND THR'ALOY AN DA TROOPAS TA BEET DEM UP
- Thr'aloy - oh sik i get ta fite vague? YEH MAN LETS DO IT
- Kralgon Emperor - What? Seriously? I mean, wow.
- Zr'Ahgloth - abloo abloo bloo OPINION DISCARDED. COM ON WE CANT SIT HEER STIKIN OUR FINGAS UP OUR BUTTS DOIN NUFFIN. WE GOTTA DEFEND DA PLANETS
- Thr'aloy - YEH MAN IM GOIN RITE NOW
Zr'Ahgloth immediately slammed his fist down on the terminal in front of him, searching for the buttons to give the order to commission an attack. It was approved before the other Leaders could deny it, and Thr'aloy sprinted to the Omega Commander's hangar to lead a fight.
- Kralgon Emperor - Sigh. Wow. Just wow. He's gone to his death, our best soldier.
- Yogtam - ... At least send an elite force to back him up. If we're lucky, it won't end in a complete wiping.
- Tralkik Commander - Currently, Dalverat is on stand-by to assist Thr'aloy if it is necessary.
- Yogtam - I mean an entire army. But Dalverat would be a good choice. From what I read, these Vague weapons can't quite penetrate essence barriers.
- Feldosia - Definitely send him and a few others as back-up. I just hope we can get Thr'aloy out of there when he inevitably loses this fight.
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN YOO LOSAS HAV NO FAITH I SWER
The colony of Fahdrak was the closest planet to the Omega Commander currently under attack by the Vague, a planet primarily inhabited by Kralgon. As the battle raged in space, the Vague themselves appeared to teleport to the surface where they made a slow march into the cities, blasting any sort of machine the colonists tried to throw at them and disintegrating them before their eyes. As they marched, the Vague let out constant wails which sent chills down the spines of all who heard them; these creatures were the stuff of nightmares, screaming in metallic voices as they destroyed everything in front of them.
Thr'aloy arrived down in a shuttle full of other elite Loron, followed by many more, to the location of the nearest Vague destroying Kralgon Pods. He arrived on top of one, where each of the Loron manned the cannons above it to fire coilguns at the Vague in the sky.
- Thr'aloy - OK LADS LETS BLAST DESE VAGUE LOSAS AN KILL DEM
The Vague wailed louder as they were attacked, staggering backwards with their metallic forms cracked as they were hit by the coilguns - something which impressed the forces fighting them, as any other enemy would have been destroyed instead. As the Loron opened fire, a group of Katel flew over their heads, opening their hands and raining down Dark Chronoscopic blasts at the Vague.
Leading them was Dalverat, the count of the Katel and their own leader within UNO. The arrogant bat-like creature showed disgusted as he looked upon the Vague. Thr'aloy spotted the Katel and grinned slightly.
- Thr'aloy - OI BATS LETS GO KILL DESE VAGUE FINGIES PUT DARK CHRONO STOOF IN MA GUN AN DEN WE KILL DEM FASTA
- Dalverat - Hm? A clever plan, especially coming from a Loron. Try and find a weakspot on their bodies.
- Thr'aloy - weakspot? wats dat
- Dalverat - ... Try to find a place in them where it hurts most when you shoot.
- Thr'aloy - i meen like its hard ta tell cos evrytime ya hit dem dey jus whin like chikz an den its like SHUT UP MAN YOR ALMOST MAKIN ME DEFF EXCEPT DA GUNZ IS EVEN LOUDA DAN YOO
- Dalverat - Ugh. Just, keep firing.
With a wave of their hands, the Katel begun casting their essence into the Kralgon Pods, enhancing them with Dark Chronoscopic energy. This not only made them do more damage, but also move and fire much faster. The Loron were not brilliant aims, but many of their shots did hit the Vague.
Some of the Vague fell to their weapons, their metallic forms shattering and disintegrating while the others opened fire upon the Pods, though the essence which now shielded them allowed them to endure the continued fire of the Vague's disintegrating beams. As they noticed it, the creatures immediately turned their heads up and opened fire upon the Katel, instantly killing many of them.
- Thr'aloy - OH MA DAYZ DEYZ KILLIN DA BATS. LADS LETS GET REVENGE!!!!!!
The troopers all fired even more vigorously at the Vague, though they were very reckless shooters and most of their shots missed. This opened up an opportunity for the Vague to destroy their turrets. One of them stepped forward, roaring out to Thr'aloy as he slowly marched at his direction. Thr'aloy got out of his now damaged turret, as did many of the other Lorons, to stand over and crowd around this Vague. It was extremely tiny by comparison, and barely reached his waist.
- Vague - Die! Just die!
- Thr'aloy - OH YEH PUNK? WAT YOO SAYIN NOW? COME FITE ME
- Dalverat - Idiot! Don't stand so close to it!
Before their eyes, the Vague suddenly increased in size until he stood a full head taller than Thr'aloy. Thr'aloy gulped a little, but then rolled his arm, and threw a punch towards the Vague's head, only for his fist to glance away harmlessly. The creature then threw his weaponized limb against the Loron's side, and he immediately felt his arm break as he was launched several meters away. Thr'aloy screamed both out of shock and in pain, as the other Loron immediately came with their Shankas to attack the Vague out of vengeance. It fought them off by bludgeoning them with his weapon like it had done to Thr'aloy, easily killing them through physical might alone.
Once he was finished, the Vague turned his head to Thr'aloy again and fired his weapon, hitting the Loron across the side as he immediately saw himself slowly being disintegrated, his atoms separating from his body one by one. Thr'aloy's body began to burn away, first his skin, and then the rest of his organs and bones. It was clear that he would not survive much longer, as the Vague were destroying him far faster than his nanomachines could hope to repair him. Out of desperate, Dalverat flew down behind Thr'aloy, and warped him out. The entire colony would likely be lost, but at least UNO's best soldier had been saved...assuming he would live after this.
UNOL looked visibly distressed, having seen the entire attack from their chamber. The Kralgon colony was one of their greatest military strongholds, and it had now been mostly annihilated, along with many other worlds, by Vague who ravaged it. But what was more worrisome was the lives that had been lost, and the lives of both Thr'aloy and Dalverat remained in jeapordy.
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN THRALOYS LIKE MA LITTL BROTHA AN HES DYIN. DIS IS PROPA DEPRESSIN I SWER I TOLD YOO IDIOTS DIS WAS A BAD IDEA
- Kralgon Emperor - You're the one who sent Thr'aloy down there, idiot. Now half of his body is missing.
- Tuolog - This horrific. I not sure what the best way to preserve him and keep him alive is. Our medical technologies not exactly equipped for this scenario.
- Tralkik Commander - Thr'aloy could be rescued by synthetical reconstruction of his body. Provided he survives the procedure.
- Yogtam - If that is our only option, then so be it. However, I feel like this is the perfect opportunity, for...
Yogtam winked at the Kralgon Emperor, who nodded. The rest of UNOL looked at them confused.
- Kralgon Emperor - You're right. Our little project. Thr'aloy and Dalverat would fit well in it.
- Valzo - Wait, what project?
- Kralgon Emperor - Me and Yogtam discussed the idea of an elite squad of perfect soldiers, each complementing the strengths of the other. We called the idea the Unified Nation of Ottzello Commandos.
- Feldosia - UNOC, eh? I support this motion. In times like this, we need all the help we can get.
- Yogtam - We were going to tell you guys about it when we were done planning. But it seems there's not much more time to do that now.
- Valzo - Explain what this project involves. How do you make this elite squad so perfect?
- Kralgon Emperor - We hand-pick the best soldiers of all UNO, upgrade them with top of the line weaponry and grant them technological enhancements of the highest quality.
- Zr'Ahgloth - oh ma dayz YOR SAYIN WES GONNA HAV WARBOSSES LIKE DA ROGUE BOYZ DO? MAN I SWER DATS STOOPID
- Kralgon Emperor - No. Our Commandos would be vastly better than those manchildren.
- Tralkik Commander - Assuming you provide them with the correct synthetic enhancements, nanotech adamant armor would allow them not only to be vastly tougher than most tanks, it would also allow their armor to be self-repairing. Synthetic nanotech muscles could also allow them to be hundreds of times stronger than their biological equivalents.
- Zr'Ahgloth - hmmmmmm. when ya put it dat way, yeh sounds sik
- Tralkik Commander - I have taken the liberty of running tests through our population and have found eight possible candidates.
- Tuolog - And who these candidates? I not happy with idea of taking people away against their will and turning them into robots like this.
- Kralgon Emperor - Bah, such a softie.
Before them, eight holographic images appeared. The first two were Thr'aloy and Dalverat, while the remaining six displayed a Duletha, an Ottzelloan Marinox, an Ottzelloan Zazane, a Norosaurian, a Telzoc and a Temporalus Radeon.
- Tralkik Commander - Other than Thr'aloy and Dalverat, I have found six individuals of interest. A Duletha named Thordrin, who could create us a soldier befiting the Commandos, the former Marinox Commandant Darwishi of the old Ottzelloan Grox Empire, a Zazane courtesan named Kalcedia Myran who possesses exceptional marksmanship skills, a Norosaurian gunner named Vaktyl, our work-in-progress clone of Zelfron and the Radeon captain named Lupercal.
- Feldosia - I am familiar with each of them. That sounds like an impressive list. They each have quite the resume.
- Tralkik Commander - In Lupercal's case, he is currently missing his lower body after a fight with the Devourer's Chosen. The cybernetic enhancements should fix that.
- Zr'Ahgloth - man wouldnt it be funni if we gave him spida legs
- Kralgon Emperor - What? Idiot, this is why we don't let you design our weaponry, you childish buffoon, you pathetic...actually, that's not a bad idea. Tralkik Commander, why don't you calculate the results of fusing him with the lower half of a Verdimihn?
- Tralkik Commander - Calculating... calculation complete. The lower half of a Verdimihn combined with specialized enhancements could grant him super speed.
- Valzo - This sounds like a fantastic project. Why don't we contact our extragalactic allies, in Andromeda and the Milky Way, and see if they can provide support with the project? I wonder if they would also be willing to help with the war effort.
- Tralkik Commander - I have reasons to believe the Draconid Imperium would show interest in the completion of the Zelfron clone.
- Valzo - Indeed, furthermore, the Delpha Coalition of Planets, our old friends, may be willing to help with the Norosaurian gunner.
- Zr'Ahgloth - and we can call da zazzie boys and flaunt ova da fact wes hirin a zazzie whore into our commandos... HOLD ON DATS FLIPPIN STOOPID DONT DO DAT
- Feldosia - Don't slut shame, you sexist. In fact, to spite you, I will do that now.
- Zr'Ahgloth - OH MA DAYZ DATS SO INDECENT I SWER
- Kralgon Emperor - What about the Divinarium? I wonder if they may want to help us with the Radeon.
- Tralkik Commander - Likely. Lupercal is a former soldier of the Divinarium.
- Zr'Ahgloth - i rememba him bak from da foggy war of blak geezas. propa weird kid dat one
- Yogtam - Alright, so let's get together a minimum standard of weaponry and synthetic parts for each of these soldiers, we're not worried about how much this'll cost us. Have Thr'aloy be a prototype, bring him here in about five minutes.
- Tralkik Commander - It may take longer than that. As a reminder, Thr'aloy is currently missing half of his body.
- Kralgon Emperor - Bah, it shouldn't when you're just piecing nanomachines together. Or at least, Tuolog, hurry time up or whatever.
- Tralkik Commander - That would make it possible.
After waiting for a while, the chamber doors opened again. Entering was a shining orange robotic Loron, who appeared just like Thr'aloy. Immediately, they recognised that it was indeed Thr'aloy. However, when approaching, he was far more robotic in his movements. He would take a certain calculated set of paces forward, and would stand completely still when finished. He also didn't appear to take a breath, and was armed to the teeth with weapons. His robotic skin allowed for many enhancements, and it was clear that Thr'aloy was an extremely powerful machine. Each of UNOL was impressed, other than Zr'Ahgloth who seemed almost horrified.
- Thr'aloy - Awaiting further instructions.
- Zr'Ahgloth - oh ma dayz WAT DID YA PEEPS DO TA THR'ALOY???? YOO WUS MENT TA MAKE HIM SUPA STRONG NOT TURN HIM INTO A DUM ROBOT
Thr'aloy turned to Zr'Ahgloth and slapped him, knocking him to the floor, far stronger than before.
- Thr'aloy - YA MOMS A DUM ROBOT SHUT UP MAN
- Zr'Ahgloth - OH FANK ROZ'TAH'FLOK YOR STILL YOO. BUT OW MAN DAT HURT. YOR WAY STRONGA
- Thr'aloy - YEH NOW IM STRONGA DAN YOO LOSA
- Zr'Ahgloth - OK NAO YOR TAKIN DA PISS. DONT MAKE ME SLAP YAS
- Thr'aloy - TRY SLAP ME LOSA
- Kralgon Emperor - Agh. Couldn't you get him to speak robotic all the time? I much prefer that.
Floating him from behind him was an also metallic Dalverat, who hovered just above him.
- Dalverat - Good news, and some bad news. The bad news is I'm stuck to this twit forever because I became fused with him after saving him and during synthetic reconstruction, good news is, yes, I can get him to speak robotic whenever I like.
- Thr'aloy - Indeed. Dalverat is a very capable master. I will do what he says. He is the greatest. Et cetera.
- Kralgon Emperor - Hah.
- Yogtam - The two of you shall lead UNOC. You will be known as The Skull.
- Zr'Ahgloth - AN DIS TWIT BETTA NOT KEEP MAKIN THRALOY A BORIN ROBOT
- Kralgon Emperor - I think he's doing just fine.
- Tuolog - Well, I reluctantly approve. We need this to combat Vague threat.
- Tralkik Commander - Making course to get in contact with the other proposed members of the squad. We will soon have a force to, hopefully, take the fight to the Vague.
The UNOL members agreed and left to return to hibernation, as Dalverat and Thr'aloy, known as "The Skull" collectively, returned to hibernation separately.
The War Council
While Valzo had left to contact extragalactic allies in preparation for the UNOC project, the rest of UNOL met in the chamber to discuss their other plan to deal with the Vague: meet with the rest of Borealis, and form a pact to combat the Vague threat. If it was truly harming the rest of the galaxy as well, and UNO were at least partially responsible, then they needed to take initiative here.
As discussions had already begun, in the centre of their chamber were holograms of Commandant Asraels and Chief Major Xerkea, who had brought their top aides with them. It was now time for them to make a plan of action. The Zoles commander's stance was stern, while the Niaka ruler showed displeasure in her expression, especially after the reports she had received from Chief Minor Xeron.
- Kralgon Emperor - The Tralkik Commander here has submitted you with the details we have on this Vague threat. I hope that this war council will signal a new era of collaboration between our nations.
- Xerkea - What did you do to bring these creatures here?
- Asraels - At ease, Chief Major. I would allow the Ottzelloans to explain themselves.
- Tuolog - We do nothing. Vague not tell us why they attack us. But we know their leader personally, he seem at least a little reluctant about it. Prior to this, we receive warnings about a "Vague Fate", and we believe it them.
- Xerkea - Reluctancy has no place in warfare. If these outsiders are causing a massacre, then they need to be stopped.
- Asraels - We know the attacks started in your sector, but we have detected these creatures slowly spreading themselves to other parts of the galaxy. Other civilizations may be under threat, including our own.
- Kralgon Emperor - Well, the good news is, I hear the Wranploer Legion are under attack as well. I'm not exactly upset about that.
- Xerkea - Well, how do we fight them? Is this another "Xi'Arazulha" scenario where we have to rely on "gods" to save us?
- Tuolog - No, we cannot, in fact. The Essentials only allowed to aide us when combating other Essentials. If they help us in any other scenario, then this universe marked as battleground, and that would likely destroy entire universe with it if more Essentials fight over here.
- Xerkea - My question stands.
- Yogtam - One of our own is currently spreading out a distress signal to our allies asking for instance. We have met quite a few of them during the Second War of Black Fog who may be willing to help us again. In the meantime, the only known way to combat the Vague is...well, lots and lots of firepower.
- Asraels - That alone will not do. We need to know where these aliens are coming from and strike at their heart. Eliminate whatever chain of command they have.
- Feldosia - I don't believe they have a heart. That is to say, I don't think they have any specific headquarters, any specific point of entry to this universe, anything. With that said, their leader, Dakster, seems to be at the helm of them.
- Xerkea - So you're saying we're fighting an enemy who has no weaknesses to exploit and is literally coming out of nowhere. Fantastic.
- Feldosia - None that we know of, anyway. If they do, we'll let you know. Currently, we're leading a project to create supersoldiers which may at the very least be able to probe the Vague to learn if they have any specific weak points.
At this moment, a new holographic image appeared, displaying a cybernetically-enhanced Radeon. He appeared bothered, as if uncomfortable with the situation, before speaking.
- Radeon - Um, seems I'm late to the war council thing. Damn.
- Zr'Ahgloth - whos dis bozo
- Radeon - I'm Baptarion. Indoctrinate Collective. They sent me to represent them.
- Feldosia - Ah, did Valzo request for you? It would be good to have you around.
- Baptarion - Whatever it is that's happening, there are aliens lurking around our borders. Seems they're planning to attack soon, as if the Devourer's Chosen weren't enough trouble.
- Kralgon Emperor - I see. Well, if you are offering to help us combat the Vague, we would be more than happy to provide assistance in combating the Devourer's Chosen. At least we can actually fight them.
- Asraels - That being said, is there any connection between these Vague and the Devourer's Chosen? These so-called demon zealots may have brought them here.
- Tuolog - Not that I know of. I not believe Devourer's Chosen responsible. But I believe it possible both may be connected to the same demon...
- Asraels - We will be contacting the Civitas and request their fleets to aid us in this war. They will be quick to step in if a threat to galactic stability has risen.
- Xerkea - And I'm going to keep my eye on space pirate activity. I just know they're gonna try and take advantage of the chaos somehow.
- Yogtam - This is agreeable. In the event that we mount an attack on Dakster, we may call another meeting and request you help us. By that point, extragalactics should be around to help us.
- Xerkea - As long as they don't bring anymore trouble along the way. Everything was going fine until so many outsiders decided to settle here.
- Zr'Ahgloth - YA MOMS DUM
- Baptarion - No, you.
Humour in Terror
Durzhan had been aware of this inevitable part of the war, as he had planned for it for millions of years. The Vague Fate would serve as an unfortunate and irritating obstacle, but he still felt confident enough in his plan that they would ultimately present no problem to him. Nonetheless, he had to prepare for every possible outcome. To help him, he would turn once again to the Devourer's Chosen. These allies, he felt, he needed to keep close. He was aware that they did not have the same awareness of space and time as he did, and so it would also be important to keep them informed.
Durzhan went once again to the Chosen's home world in Borealis, hoping to speak with Geltastra once again. He had brought them information, and he would soon arm them with a powerful weapon. Arriving in their territory, he presented himself before Geltastra once more, and as she and the others took notice of him, he addressed her. This time, the cultists chanting across the chamber showed no reaction to his arrival, while the demonic Radeon opened her bright green eyes to watch him from her throne.
- Durzhan - I trust you are aware of the Vague Fate.
- Geltastra - Durzhan... I assume you speak of the monstrosities who are carving their way through Ottzello like a swarm of rabid beasts.
- Durzhan - Indeed. They are fourth dimensional...oddities. They are an anomalous result of an experiment. While they are extremely irritating, they are an unavoidable annoyance. They are not, however, invincible. Just far tougher than we'd both like them to be.
- Geltastra - I will take that as they are not part of your plan.
- Durzhan - Yes. They are an inevitable byproduct of it. They aim to slow things down. They must not be allowed to remove 30% of the population of the Unified Nation of Ottzello. At that point, they make our plan in this timeline impossible.
- Geltastra - A very specific amount. How does this concern the Chosen?
- Durzhan - You need not concern yourselves with it. But should the Vague enter your territory, I would ask that you dispose of them to make our job easier.
- Geltastra - So be it.
- Durzhan - Very good. What's more, I shall grant you an offering.
- Geltastra - Curious.
Durzhan held his arms above his head, and opened a small portal. Out of it, a nearly-lifeless, Dark Loron body appeared, surrounded by Dark Chronoscopic energy, as it was thrown in front of her, coughing and desperately gasping for breath. The Radeon got up from her throne and stepped down to inspect the Loron, putting her hands together as she kept a stern expression.
- Durzhan - This Loron was found floating in our realm. He is a vengeful outcast of Da Rogue Boyz. And now, he is yours to use as you please.
- Geltastra - You offer me the beaten corpse of one of the failed lackeys of Kolossus? What good does this do for me?
- Durzhan - I offer you a broken Loron who longs only for vengeance, for purpose, and for life. If you grant him these things, he shall be your humble servant for eternity.
Geltrastra placed a hand on her chin in contemplation before leaning down to inspect the Loron more closely. As a few moments passed, a smirk grew on her face as ideas sprouted on her mind.
- Geltastra - Speak, Loron, if you are able.
- Dark Loron - ...i...wanna...SMAK...dat losa...
- Geltastra - Who are you? And what do you want?
- Dark Loron - ma name...is Ref'kloar...im da REEL frekloar...an...i want...wata man im thirsty
- Geltastra - I see... The Dark Loron counterpart of the Rogue Boyz leader. You want his place. His glory. His life.
- Ref'kloar - yeh...yeh...YEH...i want...all of it...
Ref'kloar coughed harder, nearing his final breath.
- Geltastra - There is a way to obtain what you seek. I can offer you power... conquest... a family who will accept you... but for that, you must agree to follow us. Follow the teachings of the Nightmare God.
Ref'kolar's eyes lit up a little. There was a sense of hopelessness in them still, but the sense of despair had gone. He looked at her as a saviour, as his last hope for what he had craved all along, and as he looked upon the Raden, his mind was assaulted by quiet, yet constant whispers. "Your place is here." "We have what you seek." "That Which Devours is the answer." The broken Loron had no cause to deny her very appealing offer.
- Ref'kloar - do it...ill do...all ya want...fer da-
- Geltastra - Hm hm... The pact is sealed.
Ref'kolar coughed once more, barely able to breathe, his lungs filled with Dark Chronoscopic energy which he had yet to learn to master. And before he could die, Geltastra placed a hand upon his head, and the Loron immediately felt the burning fire of entropic energy being pumped into his body, twisting his soul and transforming him - descended and warped to fulfill the needs of the demons of the Corruptus. His skin was charred as if he had been thrown in a fire, yet he felt invigorated, with renewed strength like he had ever felt in his life.
Where Ref'kolar laid was no longer a Loron, but a living nightmare.
- Geltastra - Rise... my new Champion.
Ref'kolar's pain from the burning entropic energy seemed to vanish. Now, he was in control of it. Not only that, but of the Dark Chronoscopic that once plagued his lungs. He felt far, far more powerful than he had ever felt as a Dark Loron, and knew he had made the right choice. His first thought was his anger, his rage he felt for the rest of Da Rogue Boyz. But soon, that was gone too. What did it matter to him? He could crush Fre'kloar and take his place, but why did he need to do that? Why bother with the pitiful Loron when he was above any of them?
It was, to him, extremely amusing. Yes, amusement: that was all he could feel now. His head was filled only with laughter, laughter and mockery of those who had dared to look down on him before. Now, he could laugh at every single one of them. And his saviour, the Nightmare God who had granted him this power, was the one being he was indebted to. In fact, that too, was somehow hilarious. He was now subject to the greatest god he had ever known. Who needed those other false Loron gods? All he could do was laugh.
- Ref'kolar - hahaha....hahahahahaha...HAHAHAHAHA!!! OH MAN, ITS RELLY FUNNY!!!!!
- Geltastra - We have given you reason to laugh again... Now, you are going to repay us.
- Ref'kolar - tell me wat i can do fer yoo...i will LAFF all da way as i make yor enemies burn
Durzhan, watching from a distance, smirked.
- Durzhan - Very impressive. I shall leave now, my work here is done.
Spared No Expense
On the fringe regions of the Draconid Imperium's Borealis territories, a shuttle carrying Valzo and his entourage of Tralkik guards and Galot diplomats approached a remote station under escort. From the outside this station didn't look too impressive. Dull metal, little ornamentation, very unlike the stories of Draconid elegance that had leaked into Borealis since their arrival and establishment. He had been brought with purpose, Sersemis Biotechnologies, a respected technology firm inside the Draconid Imperium, had responded to a plan they had developed with UNO. At their request, Valzo had been sent to this remote, very out of the way station above a barren moon on the alien company's request.
Valzo was very cautious and curious as he was presented with the station. It wasn't the Draconid type of grandeur he was used to, but they had clearly done an excellent job of hiding this station away. That, coupled with the reputation they and this firm had, gave him plenty faith in their new developments. While he did not know what to expect, he still felt confident.
The shuttle was escorted inside a hanger bay on the planetward side of the station. As it landed, the doors out of the hanger opened and out walked an alien, with a lithe figure, blackened eyes and two large ears sprouting sideways from the sides of his head. Dressed in an expensive suit, he was flanked by armed members of a corporate security firm. As the door to Valzo's shuttle opened, the alien took a respectful bow.
- Drenizek - Welcome to the wonderworks of Pontis III, Mr. Valzo. The name's Drenizek, station director for this remote slice of paradise.
- Valzo - Thank you. I look forward to seeing what you have developed with my eyes. Yours is a biotechnological firm of repute.
- Drenizek - Only the best for our new partners. We've set up a demonstration for you in the testing rooms. Not the final product mind, but I'm sure you'll approve.
- Valzo - I would very much like to bare witness.
- Drenizek - Right this way.
With a hand gesture, Drenizek indicated towards the hanger door. As they passed though into the station the deception the outer facade offered was immediately clear. While the station was clad in dull metal, the corridors were brightly lit polished, and lined with a variety of clean metals. An impressively clean construct. Their tour passed a few rooms where Valzo could see technicians, their white hazmat outfits masking them in the hospital-white laboratories, were hard at work on prototype bionics and chemicals.
- Valzo - I see you have done very well to hide this place. I would not have expected such from looking at it from the outside.
- Drenizek - Hah! Eyeah it's not just foreign powers who want to steal our latest toys. There's at least a dozen biotech firms back in Dranvamus who are close ot our level or bigger, who'd love to acquire our secrets.
- Valzo - I can certainly imagine. Your technicians seem very efficient. And your place seems well funded.
- Drenizek - Your government was pretty generous. We've had a few accidents but don't worry, none of it made it on the rolling news.
- Valzo - This is good to hear.
- Drenizek - Oh. Sersemis sent their regional executor here to watch the demonstration. He arrived a couple of days before you. Big man crown world type, can't really miss him.
- Valzo - Oh? Intriguing.
- Drenizek - Don't worry. My science techs assure me what they offer is nothing short of excellence.
Another set of blast doors opened, leading into the demonstration booth. Valzo, his entourage and Drenizek filed into a booth overlooking a large test chamber. The booth was comfortably furnished, with plush sofas, ample surfaces of polished wood. Standing at the window was indeed a large man. Reaching three metres, the hulking humanoid reptillian figure stared intently into the chamber as he swirled a bowl-shaped metal glass. As Drenizek entered, his security detail moved to guard the door.
- Drenizek - Director Santerimus, Mr. Valzo is here to watch the demonstration.
Santerimus looked over his shoulder to observe Valzo. His emerging snout, and his long thick tail, which poked from the base of his long shimmering robe, identified him as a Draconis. He turned further, approaching Valzo and holding out a hand. Valzo, who still had no idea what to expect, shook the Draconis' hand, though he felt very puny in comparison. He felt more and more at least that these people were efficient enough in their line of work that his funding would not have gone to waste.
- Santerminus - Taresus Santerminus. I am Sersemis's regional executor for the Borealis operations. It is a pleasure.
- Valzo - Greetings, I am Unified Nation of Ottzello Leader Valzo. The Station Director here tells me you have a very impressive demonstration here.
- Santerminus - So the director has told me. The reports are sound but it will be up to him to prove it. Back in Dranvamus Drenizek has a reputation for enthusiasm.
- Drenizek - Start the test!
A klaxon sounded, blue light illuminating the test chamber as obstacles emerged for mthe walls, floro and ceiling.
- Santerminus - As I recall, your government wanted an agent who was agile, fast, and could outperform in acrobatic combat and infiltration runs. Yes?
- Valzo - This, plus swordsmaship, is correct.
- Drenizek - Agility first.
Out of a door on the left-hand side, an alien emerged. Their arms and legs were glossy like plastic, not entirely skin-like but she moved with convincing fluidity. She readied herself for a second klaxon. When it did erupt, she was off, moving like water over and under the obstacles at an impressive speed. There was no break, no moment of hesitation as she leapt and slid seamlessly from one obstacle to the next, leaping over obstacles by jumping up to three times her height. The test ended quickly, as she slammed a button on the wall - 25 seconds. Valzo's eyes widened, as he blinked, not quite sure what he had seen. He was extremely impressed. Santerminus joined him. He let out a small busrt that could have been a laugh and clapped his hands.
- Valzo - Very good. Very good indeed.
- Drenizek - Spared no expense on the materials and research. Had to import quite a few experimentals though.
- Santerminus - As your budget reports kept me awake several nights, yes...
- Drenizek - An overall good result though, right?
- Valzo - With results like these, I am more than happy to reimburse the costs further. Please show me what you have next.
- Drenizek - Right, swordsmanship. Also I have another little surprise but, I won't spoil. Regarding the talent we have a cutting edge infochip. But you know what they say, sometimes there's no substitute for the real thing so--
The klaxon blared and several doors opened. Out of these doors emerged some two-dozen combat droids armed with batons and pulse rifles. Moving to see them, the woman drew and gripped a pair of blades that were stored inside her arms. As the droids picked up pace, so did she. When they began firing she was once more like liquid, ducking and leaping to avoid the shots, making herself almost impossible to hit. For the droids that came close she danced around them, cutting critical points - legs, arms, sides - neutralising each one in the blink of an eye. In the heat of the acrobatics, she vanished - optic camouflage caused her ot dissolve in the blink of an eye before she reappeared a moment later with her blades buried in two droids. She bounded off a wall to gain a height advantage as she fell to cut into the ranks of rifle-armed droids. Bisecting them, slicing their rifles in half and severing limbs. One or two she kicked away, hitting them with a force that sent the machines a good way backward.
The last droid she sliced the right arm and impaled in the back. Drawing the blade out and twirling it, the test was over. She stood still and looked to the observation booth, taking a bow while Drenizek - much more hysterical - thrust his arm into the air. Valzo, once again, was visibly impressed.
- Drenizek - Wooh! What did I tell you!
- Valzo - Oh, I'm sure the Kralgon Emperor will love that. I imagine he'd be very interested to see how that translates to a Zelfron clone, too. What else do you have?
- Drenizek - Well, the techs tell me that if we have a particular recipient's brain map, we can tailor the infochip to improve responsiveness and reduce the chance of info-rejection. Process is usually quite expensive though.
- Valzo - I see. I will front the bills there. I can leave you one of my Tralkik robots here which contains the details.
- Drenizek - Can be done. - Drenizek clapped his hands with glee - I can leave you to sort the paperwork with the executor but by the sound of it, you're happy. Which means the techs will be happy too.
- Valzo - Very much so, thus far.
- Santerminus - We can discuss the finer details in the director's office.
Greater Scope Than Before
Following with a routine investigation, Arsac - grand master of a sacred inquisition into the paranormal - was leading a small group of Inquisitors to the rumoured site of a congregation in Borealis. Investigating cults was standard fare for her line of work, she'd known such all her life. The incidents of the Second War of Black Fog however encouraged her to be more proactive in her investigations. When stories of cultists practicing the same dark talents as the great demon generals that threatened the gigaquadrant several years ago, there was no question that she would take matters of investigation into her own hands.
At a former colony of the Indoctrinate Collective, located at the outskirts of the region of space formerly known as Aasatser Sector, a great congregation had formed. Devourer's Chosen cultists stood with one knee on the floor as they watched a figure atop a staircase breach to them in the black tongue of the Corruptus - a Spinker whose scales had been charred to a dark brown - and behind him stood a monolithic structure, towering over the buildings around it; a demonic shrine, which the devoted of the Chosen used to summon the creatures of the Nightmare Region into the Onuris Universe.
The operatives entered the site quietly. Some, carrying long briefcases, ducked into the surrounding buildings while a few had arrived earlier and had attempted to induct themselves into the crowd, assuming that the collective here would be so large that they could easily hide in plain sight. Arsac watched with a set of optic lenses on the rooftops, observing the operation as her colleagues set themselves in position. On any other day this would have been a routine mission; wait for the perfect moment then at the right moment, a sniper's bullet masked by some well-timed local sound would decapitate the leadership.
- Savarion - Crown this is Mongoose Three. In position, lance is set up...awaiting orders.
- Arsac - Standard procedure Mongoose Three, don't pull that trigger until the Spinker hits his climax. Give him a little time to lose himself first.
- Savarion - Roger Crown. Settling down.
- Arsac - Charmer Two do you have full visual?
Erelena - who used the codename "Charmer Two" - kept low in the crowd. While the marksmen were preparing ot strike, it was her job to gather information before the target was neutralised. She found herself listening to the black speech, a device over hear ear and hidden under her hood gathered the orator's words and attempted ot translate.
- Erelena - Full visual Crown. Standard fare ceremony, save for the speech.
- Arsac - Keep your guard up. Void knows what that tongue could do...
The group waited patiently, Erelena listening while Savarion waited for the perfect moment. Others in their team were doing similar, as three snipers occupied the buildings with the intent to confuse the direction of the bullet. As the dark Spinker continued to speak, the operatives had not noticed the creatures which manifested in the shadows around them; slim, near-skeletal monsters with protruding bones in the shape of daggers coming out of their wrists, who did nothing but watch. After some listening, Mongoose Three got the hint from listening and tapped his earpiece to transmit an alert signal. Adjusting himself and readying his pulse lance, he waited for the exact moment to fire. Regulating his breathing, he counted down.
- Savarion - Three.....two...One...--
At that point, the creatures were gone. Instead, one of them manifested to the side of the Spinker, and rose its arms in order to create a dome-shaped essence barrier around him. The preacher immediately turned his eyes to the direction of the snipers, a red glow coming from his pupils as he spoke in Spinker tongue.
- ??? - Who dares intrude our realm?!
Mongoose Three saw the dome just in time, his finger partially pressed on the trigger, but the synchronisation played to his disadvantage as his team in the other buildings fired, two bullets, a quarter of a second apart, bounced off the dome. Erelena looked up in surprise.
- Savarion - This is Mongoose Three I confirm neutralisation failed, repeat neutralisation failed!
- ??? - You thought you could hide from the nightmares in their own home? Insolent intruders! You dare attempt to assassinate Kalorun, Great Acolyte of War!
- Arsac - Mission is a bust. Pull out repeat pull out NOW.
- Kalorun - Tear them to shreds!
Savarion moved from his position at the window. He saw no merit in leaving tiem to pack up and ran for the door, hopeing ot escape to a rooftop. Upon opening the door, however, he was met to the sight of one of the slim demons - Garvathae, as they were known - who immediately thrust its blade through his chest. The Charmer team remained hidden in the mass of the congregation. Erelena was unable to move out of pure concern for her own safety. She lowered her head and attempted to breathe. Discreetly feeling her robe for her arsenal. She took cursory glances to her partner some ways down, who tried to do the same as her. As they tried to leave, they could note the cultists all turning their eyes to them in anger, almost as if they could tell them apart; and they could, for they lacked the seed of corruption which they all had. What followed was the appearance of another demon, towering in size and with a skull for a head who carried a pair of gigantic machetes. Its four shining eyes glared at the disguised operatives as it let out loud growling sounds.
Arsac broke from her cover and, with the enhancements in her armour, she bounded over rooftops towards the great square.
- Arsac - Mission is a bust. Your cover is blown just get out, repeat pull out NOW.
As Arsac got to the rim of one of the surrounding buildings, Elerena tried to move though the crowds out of the square, attempting to control ehr breathing all the while. There was no subtlety anymore and under her sleeves she hid a pair of shortswords. The skull-headed demon ran after her, though, and swung his two machetes at her direction when he found himself close enough, the great blades cleaving into her limbs and side. Meanwhile the Acolyte looked up to Arsac jumping over the buildings, raising a fist to shake at her as he growled in anger.
- Kalorun - Draconis! Your Imperium will burn just like the Indoctrinate Collective and all others who oppose us!
- Arsac - Your threats mean nothing, cultist.These lives lost will be avanged by your decapitation
Kalorun huffed and turned around, walking into the interior of the shrine while followed by the Garvathae who protected him, while the great skull-headed demon bisected Elerena with his machetes while she was downed. Clenching her fists, Arsac uncoupled a grenade from her harness. Priming it, she bounded off the rooftop and leapt to land on the floor, tossing the grenade to explode on impact on the demon, who let out a loud pained growl as a half of its skeletal face was shattered by the impact, causing it to stumble to the side and nearly fall, while many cultists were killed by the blast. With it staggered, Arsac charged forward, leaping up to rend the demon's sides with her deployed power claws.
The demon groaned and fell, its body dissolving into a black liquid upon death. The shrine's sole entrance was closed by standard reinforced doors used in Dracogonarious colonies, separating him from Arsac altogether. Glaring at the reinforced door she huffed and panted. She clenched her fists tightly, creacking the material of her glove.
- Arsac - Mission failed. Squad down...Target survived.
There was an opening that she took advantage of and she darted from the scene just as the plaza was overwhelmed by Garvathae, who hunted for anymore surviving intruders. She made it to a concealed shuttlecraft and took one last look at the demon-infested plaza as her craft took off. In frustration she punched the fuselage, the power of her fist denting the bulwark and leaving a small imprint.
Officer of the Dynasty
"Zamhareer raised the sword at Sanctuarium
But the Purifiers rose to stave its certain doom
At the helm of the host that led the holy war
Stood the most brilliant and illustrious holy..."
The chorus of deep Radeon voices, young and old, male and female, echoed across the narrow corridors of the Astute Observer. Ships of the Divinarian Black Fleet, characteristically small by international standards, had always been known for their spartan, ruthlessly efficient designs. Though on the outside they appeared elegant and baroque, like the temples of their people, the interior of a Divinarium ship was nothing but a maze of sterile pathways and miniscule, cramped rooms where its crewmen had to scurry around - fittingly enough - as rodents. A human would likely go mad in such conditions within days of living there, but Radeons had their willpower and their faith. More importantly, they had each other.
Perhaps that was how they survived. Battleship Astute Observer, and a couple dozen more manned vessels - the Purifiers of Zamhareer - were dispatched in Borealis shortly after the Annihilation by Her Holiness's decree, with the alleged purpose of scouring the new galaxy for resources. The newborn state, advanced as it was, was decisively short on money at the time, and whatever the Divinarium could not replicate, it had to take itself. In practice, the exploration mission turned into a slow, endless trek through space. Often exploration was messy, and the Purifiers had to break a few pirate skulls. Sometimes, it was even interesting - a forested resource-rich world had to be researched, and they got to see some of the galaxy's natural habitats. But, most of the time, it was a monotonous bore. The crewmen woke up every day and saw nothing but the never-ending corridors, navigating themselves through them by routine and breaking the usual ritualised daily life only to send off a few drones to some planet every now and then.
In times like these, it was others who helped you survive, and, more importantly, not become insane. The occasional joke, a conversation to break the silence, and of course the spacer shanties. Oddly enough for a race who, it would seem, would only appreciate some temple choir chanted to the playing of organs, Radeons loved songs. The one that the crewmen were singing at the moment was actually a fairly old one, as old as the Zamhareer Fleet. It endured through centuries with only slight changes, thanks to the fact that the Fleet's admirals, as it happened, had always come from the same family. It was to this dynasty, and its continuous unpleasantness that was inherited from generation to generation, that the song was devoted.
They were called House Venoriel sometimes. Indeed, they were a family so steeped in history, so esteemed, so ancient, that some thought of them as aristocrats, even royals - mostly themselves. For thousands of years, the Venoriels had led armies and fleets on thousands of battlefields, both in space and in atmosphere. The dynasty was born in the nascent years of the Church and was instrumental to the foundation of Sanctuarium, the jewel in the Clericarch's crown. For thousands of years they had been heroes, villains, rulers and servants - but always warriors. Commanders. Strategists.
"Oh, how brave was she behind her soldiers' lines!
Her great valour, it was nothing but divine!
Sixty five Dei'Ari warriors fell at Lhich
And yet Death has still not claimed our cherished..."
- R'tu - Lady Venoriel, do I have your permission to shut up the insolent crewmen? - R'tu, a short female Sader with a shrill high-pitched voice, spoke to her captain. Her expressions, given her size and squashed face, would likely seem comical to a human, but Radeons with their natural telepathy could easily feel her barely constrained rage. I would prefer not to listen to this cacophony!
- Venoriel - No.
- R'tu - But they mock your name! They must be disciplined, their disrespect towards authority is appaling!
- Venoriel - So it is, and, was it only one or two crewmen that were singing that song, I would definitely act. But the crew sings it in a chorus. It would be wrong of me to disrupt the work of the collective.
- R'tu - These curs are a blotch on the Dei'Ar honour!
- Venoriel - And what do you know of our honour, lieutenant? I give you credit, you have become surprisingly proficient at parroting me, but you miss the most important thing that every Dei'Ar believes in. Their comrades. I am to maintain discipline and order in this ship, harshly if need be, but I will not infringe upon the brotherhood of its men. Because, whether they love or hate me, I am part of that brotherhood.
- R'tu - ...My lady... - the Sader officer stumbled for a few moments, stuttering, then gathered her strength and shouted with all the strength in her small lungs, You are absolutely right, of course! ...Would you like me to sing along?
- Venoriel - Your sycophancy is commendable. But excessive. I might have to reassign you...
R'tu swallowed her saliva, somewhat unnerved, much to Venoriel's amusement. The tiny Sader was lost in confusion, unsure how to please her officer, not daring to utter a word. She looked around nervously, her small beady eyes moving from place to place.
- Venoriel - But, on the other hand, the look on your face amuses me enough already. For now, you shall remain unpunished, provided you do not get on my nerves again. R'tu bowed to her captain silently, lowering herself so much that her hat touched the floor. If I remember correctly, you were to provide me a status report.
- R'tu - ...Oh, yes, lady captain! Now, the Sader girl put her hand into her pocket, a shy expression on her face, and eventually produced a small metallic cylinder that unfurled to reveal a number of holograms. As soon as the Radessic glyphs lit in the air, she began reading, Ten andasium nodes were found in the Asthor-23 system. One located on the third planet, the rest in the asteroid belts. Moderately difficult to mine, hazard-resistant drone teams deployed in the area.
- Venoriel - Excellent. Continue.
- R'tu - Five drones lost in the Shanath nebula. No feedback received other than a repeated warning message. Something about succumbing and... ascending, I believe. Probably just AIs glitching.
- Venoriel - Succumbing and ascending - that sounds like some Vendespodian mantra. Succumb to Spode and ascend into heavens. I can certainly imagine someone like Ma'fest chanting this.
- R'tu - Anomaly found in Aerio-214, spatial wells, andasium wells on Kaza-12 depleted, drones with resources returned to the fleet, Saenth-23 mining completed.
- Venoriel - Ah, bother. - the Radeon woman's ears drooped, and a quiet sigh escaped her mouth. It was not that she was complaining about her duty. As an officer of Her Holiness' fleets, she was bound to serve the Divinarium wherever and however she could, and the mining operations of her fleet were a great service to it. And yet - though it was very prideful of her and she knew it - Mieo was not just an ordinary officer. She was a Venoriel.
Was it becoming of her to search through unknown space for ore? Could it be that she was unworthy? Her forefathers had accomplished great things. Through their genius and heroism, they had won for themselves the laurels of fame, their names immortalised by history. Memories of the academy came to Venoriel. So distant, yet so vivid. "Venoriel? As in, the Venoriel?" These kinds of questions had haunted her throughout her life. Echoes of her ancestors' glory. At first she liked the attention she had always received. It was surely better than her spartan family or the boarding school! But then, as time went by, and the girl became a woman, she began to realise that the proud name of her dynasty was a boon and a curse at the same time. Never before had she understood that as she did right now.
There was Yebethah the Esteemed, founder of the family who, through decades of tenacious war against the Grox, ended their raids on Plazithian Church territories and grew to become Primarch of the Dei'Ar. Millenia ago, Aelania Venoriel faced the armies of the Draconid Imperium in the Karenis Fringe and emerged victorious, claiming the life of the Paragon's favourite son and delivering his head back to Alcanti in a box. The royal seal of house Khaxvis, taken as a trophy from the crown prince's corpse, had been one of the Venoriels' family relics since then. Aqador Venoriel. He was one of Jaharan's most loyal officers and the mastermind behind the Invasion of Earth. That wasn't something one would be proud of but... it still counted as an achievement, right?
What had Mieo accomplished? What trophies could she bring back to their family estate on Sanctuarium? What glorious campaigns did she lead? It was not like she was a bad officer. On the contrary, her record had been peerless. All the victories against the East Asian Coalition, and the fleets she commanded in the War of Ages. And yet throughout it all she had been overshadowed. Her legend was not yet made. And it had to be made, in order for her family reputation to be maintained. She had to live up to the name of her dynasty. No, she had to surpass it. That was the only way for her to become recognised.
...Except that there was nothing her around but rocks and andasium. Well, she could become the greatest miner known to the Divinarium. Maybe the workers at andasium refineries would put her portraits on walls in time.
- R'tu - Captain?
- Venoriel - ...Nothing. - the Radeon woman clenched her teeth, Say, what is the situation in Andromeda?
- R'tu - The conflict continues.
- Venoriel - Very well. I have read the reports of the recent battles against the mecholife creatures. Such shameful blunders. These young new officers are so inexperienced in the art of war. Venoriel smirked, If only I was there.
- R'tu - Indeed! Your genius would have changed the tide for sure! The Imperium would have been a smoldering ruin by now!
- Venoriel - Didn't Her Holiness and the Paragon sign a peace treaty yesterday? Venoriel smiled.
- R'tu - ...I meant... the Wental Union, of course! Death to them! Glory to our Draconis partners!
- Venoriel - ...You have just crossed the line from amusing to annoying, R'tu.
- R'tu - My... lady... you aren't... the Sader girl stumbled again, W-wait! There's one more thing!
- Venoriel - Ah, trying to curry my favour, aren't you, little girl? Carry on, tell me about one more andasium node. See if it changes anything.
- R'tu - ...I-i-it is not an andasium node. Not related to resources at all. We-we have recently received a signal from a nearby system. Its frequencies are... they are the same as the ones used by the Dei'Ar during the war. The technology... it is distinctly Radeon.
Venoriel's ears twitched.
- Venoriel - What say you? Trying to calm me down?
- R'tu - Th-that is not all. Most of the messages were scrambled beyond recognition - I'd think the communication hardware used was very worn - but some... we did manage to recognise. They were in Radessic, albeit very accented. Radessic is not my first language, as you are bound to know, but I understood bits of the messages. They spoke of... battle brothers, enemies at the door, and... being bold. Or was it bald?
R'tu could see her captain's eyes open in surprise and her ears rise. It was not sure if she was happy, or just surprised, but the strength of emotion her face was undeniable either way. Venoriel stared intently at the lieutenant.
- Venoriel - Bold, battle brothers, enemy at our door. Let me listen to the message.
- R'tu - ...Your will be done. - R'tu pressed a few buttons at her infocylinder; a loud, shrill and strangely accented voice emerged from the mechanical device. Venoriel's ears drooped for a moment as she seemed to be visibly disgusted by the voice, yet soon rose as she realised that her hopes were indeed realised.
- Venoriel - Message location. Now. - energy once again returned to Mieo's voice, her tone strong yet calm - Order the fleet to warp there immediately. Perhaps this assignment is not going to be a total loss.
The War Spreads
The months were passing, and the threat posed by the Vague only grew as more of Borealis became affected by their apparently single-minded charge against all Ottzelloan life. The Unified Nation of Ottzello was obviously the most affected, but further into the Western Arm, the Indoctrinate Collective was fighting to defend themselves as the Vague were targetting their colonies more populated by Duletha. In the meantime, the Zoles Imperium attempted to provide whichever help they could to both sides, though constant harrassing from the Wranploer Legion, whose ships lurked through their borders in a constant basis, left them worried.
However, life was not any easier for the Wranploer. The Vague had, too, come for them, and the Borealis Consortium Network found itself quickly losing territory as the mysterious entities carved through their planets, hunting down all the Ottzelloans who migrated to it after the Legion was merged with the Zaarkhun Consortium. At the bridge of the Iron Fist, General Volim read reports of the damage in confusion and anger, slamming his own fist against his throne as he demanded an explanation, yet received none.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Hmph. The "Vague". I've heard about them, and I knew plenty about them before they arrived. And yet, I still do not know the most effective way to deal with them.
- Volim - What are these things, and why are they destroying my people?!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The Vague are fourth dimensional beings out for blood. They fight for what we can only assume to be vengeance. Originally, they came from this very galaxy, but after the excruciatingly painful process of being morphed into what they are now, they decided to take it out on us.
- Volim - How do you know all this?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - We've received reports about it from our various spies, and those who have successfully hacked into the military computers of the Niaka have learned of this. Also, it only confirms what I had already learned...back when I had Zargoth's mind in me.
- Sollow - They are killing Ottzelloans, and we are Ottzelloans... Oops, it seems we are going to get you killed, Volim...
- Volim - Shut up, twitch. I want a solution. Immediately.
- Genrai Nal - The Vague are a mere pest, but they are not invulnerable. They can be defeated with the right firepower. Presumably, this ship can take them on.
- Volim - The Iron Fist is one ship. Our entire armada needs to be upgraded. I did not come this far on my plan to finally topple the Zoles only to be cut down by complete strangers.
- Genrai Nal - The Zoles are being cut down by the Vague as well. It does not disproportionately affect us.
- Volim - When my people are being vaporized by the milions, yes, yes it does.
Zaarkhun sat back in his chair, and thought for a few moments. Any short term solution to the Vague would be ideal, though he did not consider it wise to try and destroy too many of the Vague himself, as they applied plenty of pressure to his enemies. No, instead, he would try to use this to his advantage.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Maybe none of us should be worried. Maybe we should be happy.
- Volim - I should smash your skull for implying the death of the Wranploer is something worthy of being happy!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - No Wranploer needs to die further, Volim. We can very easily avoid this threat through the use of a scapegoat. But the rest of the galaxy, they will be slaughtered by a menace that they are incapable of handling. The Vague as a threat are beyond the capacity of our enemies. That could prove very useful.
- Sollow - I'm going to make everyone die! ... Eheheheh!
- Volim - Shut up, twitch. Before I throw you into the garbade disposal again.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You see, the Vague are extremely random in their movements. They are dispersed, they are not capable of launching a large scale assault on any one specific target. They may be difficult to predict, but that also makes them easy to distract. Through the use of the right scapegoat, we can minimise, if not completely evade, any threat from the Vague, and manipulate them. Our enemies, meanwhile, will be unable to do so. And we take advantage of that. While we are safe from this threat, and they are not, we have the right breathing room with which to fulfil our plans.
- Volim - If these creatures are hunting your kind, then we can't evade them. We can slow them down at best.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Not true. The Vague are not interested in any specific target. They act randomly. They are barely able to control themselves. All we need to do is distract them. And we have the perfect scapegoat. Genrai, put Fre'kloar online.
Genrai nodded, and before the two of them, Fre'kloar and the rest of Da Rogue Boyz appeared in front of Zaarkhun and Volim's thrones.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Ah, Propa Big Rogue Boss Fre'kloar. How are things?
- Fre'kloar - OI PEEPS ITS ZAARKHUN. AN MAN ITS ALL DUM. DESE VAGUE FINGIES IS ACTIN ALL TUFF BEIN ALL "JUST DAI" AND WES ALL "WAT DA HELL"
- Brag'klogga - IM TELLIN YA MAN BUT NO ONES LISSENIN. ITS IN DA HOLY BOOKS WEN ZRANKAR SENDS HIS EVIL BEES TA STING DA WHOL OONIVERSES BAKSIDE AN DEN LAFF AT DEM
- Voa'reak - BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Yes, they are rather a pest, aren't they? However, I have the perfect proposition for you. You see, in my line of work, with the mercenaries I co-ordinate with, they reward handsomely for killing the Vague. Very handsomely, in pizza supply.
- Hagto'Zhl - did someun say PIZZA
- Fre'kloar' - GO ON IM INTERESTED
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Indeed. I have trade routes connected to every corner of this galaxy. They make pizzas even better on several planets outside of Ottzello. And they deliver very, very efficiently. They would supply such as a reward to anyone who will fend off the Vague from their territory. It is a well-known business of late, but it is also very competitive. I imagined you would be interested.
- Rel'larutina - That's very nice and all, but I think you're forgetting the "we get vaporized instantly if we fight them" part.
- Fre'kloar - DONT LISSEN TA HER SHES INSANE. OI LADS WE GET FREE PIZZA IF WE KILL VAGUE DUMBOS
- Rel'larutina - Oh, come on.. actually, just charge head-on at them and get disintegrated. Be my freaking guest.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - It's part of a series of different bounties to collect. I will inform you of each of them as they appear. Should you have difficulty combating the Vague, I will be very happy to provide what black market technology I have access to. I look forward to our partnership.
- Fre'kloar - SWEET. OK LADS FER NAO ON WE WORK FER ZAARKHUN AN GET FREE PIZZA
- Voa'reak - BEES THO
In delight, each of the Loron cheered as the transmission closed. Zaarkhun kept a happy grin on his face, until the hologram vanished, and he cackled to himself, then turned back to Volim. The General appeared largely disinterested over the entire scene.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - It's one thing conning people into doing your bidding. It's another thing conning people without the mental capacity to see through stories that are so plainly made up.
- Volim - You got us a meat shield. We'll see how long it lasts. At least if they die, I don't have to listen to their infernal language anymore.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Furthermore, the Loron do not value their lives the way most species do. On the contrary, a death in battle is actually revered, many almost dream of it. They will be very happy to serve as a meat shield for a very long time.
- Volim - ... What even is a pizza?
- Sollow - Loooong story, dear Volim. For now, we should just speculate on all the possible ways to stick blades into a Zoles' abdomen.
- Genrai Nal - I, meanwhile, will attempt to combat the Vague and attempt to broker deals to have access to more powerful weaponry to confront them, even if it only ends up in the hands of the Loron. I still wish to be prepared.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Good. I believe we are well prepared here. Unless you have anything to add, Volim?
- Volim - I don't. You are dismissed.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Very well.
Warriors of Zeal
- ??? -Demons, High Inquisitor.
Arsac bowed. She stood before a table of the elder council of Drakon's Inquisition. While her name was whispered among those who knew of the order, she was but the hand of elders. The fourteen aged veterens that sat underneath the Grand Cathedral on distant Alcanti while she relayed her news from Borealis. For the past hour she had been delivering them the news of her operation to the elders, bringing news of cultists, public a mass and an operation gone awry from demonic intervention.
- Arsac - Yes, elders. This cult we encountered, calling themselves the chosen of "the Devourer" were holding a public mass.
- Elder Seros - What evidence do we have. Assassins, guardians, an executioner.
- Arsac - Then we send a message to their head! They knew what we were planning, elders. They know we are a threat!
Veterans of a thousand skirmishes each under the Inquisition's banner, each of these dedicated warriors knew their inquisition's hand was a destructive one. They looked at each other with doubt in their eyes.
- Elder Seros - The war of Fog has clouded your mind, high inquisitor. The 'demonic' threat that burned the galaxies has been defeated.
- Arsac - I know what I saw! I watched as this cult leader's escorts protected him. Our precision shots bounced off a barrier and when his gaze turned to rooting us out, they saw though our disguises. Dark presences are at work. I need permission to root them out.
- Elder Leyreyyana - What you ask is extreme. This galaxy has had little exposure to our methods. Your role has been to establish our order's presence--
- Arsac - Then we should march.
- Inquisitor - Excuse me?
Arsac's words sent shivers down the council's collective spines. What she was suggesting was an act far from the covert movements that made the Inquisition such a force for paranoia. For thousands of years the order had kept to the shadows. Even during the Second War of Black Fog they disguised themselves as a branch of the Drakonid Imperium's allied forces. Hiding in plain sight as elite special forces under a different name. Arsac however, was suggesting something very different. Beyond the special operations they had conducted during the previous war and something that had not been conducted in millennia.
- Arsac - These "Chosen" are a threat to the galaxy. And they are large enough a following that they are beyond clipping from the shadows. If they are to great to pick away at the darkness, then we should expose them to the light.
- Elder Leyreyyana - What you demand is extreme.
- Arsac - But we have those who are faithful who oppose these new cultists. A crusade can halt them before they dig their claws further into heart of ordered society.
What she suggested suggested was indeed extreme - to issue a rallying call to a galaxy that saw their order as outsiders. But Arsac felt confident - the order had long ties to the church of Massari in the Milky Way, and with a silver tongue she felt confident she could convince the theocracies and spiritualist communities of Borealis to come together. Whenever the Inquisition called a crusade back in the Xonexi cluster it was rarely to appeal to a single pantheon. Missionaries would urge high councils that such marches were in the interests of the patrons their followers worshiped. The elder council however, was much more hesitant. And talked to contemplate the consequences before turning back to their high inquisitor with their response - but Arsac could already see their answers written on each of their faces.
- Elder Kastus - It is too dangerous. Had this call been made in a resurgence of the Congregation we would have followed you.
- Elder Seros - This council would prefer its resources be spent on understanding this cult before putting cities to the torch. Until your suspicions can be fully confirmed--
- Elder Veyra - And unless the local theocracies consent to what you propose. We decree that any preparation for a crusade will be on suspension until we fully understand the threat we face.
- Arsac - ...I shall comply, elders.
Arsac shut off the communication, transforming the room from the hall under the grand cathedral to an office overlooking a planet. Arsac seethed quietly, drawing a knife she hurled it at a wall with a roar. As it hit, it buried itself and cracked the plaster. What shortly followed was a knock.
- Arsac - SPEAK!
- Kelsos - I trust the meeting went well?
Arsac let out a huff as Kelsos entered though the door. There was a smugness in his eyes; he could tell that Arsac was not pleased with the outcome. Knowing of Arsac's notorious temper, he kept his distance.
- Arsac - Unless we have support, we are getting nothing.
- Kelsos - What a shame. You're going to disobey them aren't you?
In a single chuckle, Arsac's rage escaped though her nostrils.
- Arsac - Am I that easy to read, brother?
- Kelsos - Only when you look dead-set on drawing blood with your blades.
- Arsac - You were there in the war, Kelsos. What is your opinion.
- Kelsos - Mine? Burn them. If they do worship the Devourer then they are already damned.
- Arsac - You know of their practices
- Kelsos - I know that everything they touch turns to sludge. Their commanders breathe rot and would sooner bury their heads in mercury than question the merits of destroying the universe.
- Arsac - And now it seems they've convinced or stolen billions to do the same
- Kelsos - You need only to have looked at them, mistress; they were empty. Their spirits belonged to their devourer.
- Arsac - How do we infiltrate a cult who asks for your soul as an initiation rite?
- Kelsos - That is why we should march, I think. Let me investigate these theocracies. They might give us the bulwark we need.
Arsac ran her fingers down the ridge of her jaw in thought. Her lips curled; Kelsos spoke wise words. But she felt a little more could be done.
- Arsac - Who was that operative? The one chasing after that demon commander.
- Kelsos - Young brother Sarec? Last I had heard he had buried his head in tomes chasing conspiracies
- Arsac - Reassign him. His last report mentioned dealing with cultists of a sort. I want him as a vanguard for this crusade.
- Kelsos -May I ask why?
Declaring this, she moved towards the door, giving Kelsos a commanding glare.
- Arsac - He is more useful putting his cult knowledge to use for our crusade.
- Kelsos - By our decree, mistress.
The Empire of the Seagon
While the war against the Vague raged through the galaxy, other minds were at work, with their goals completely separate to what the empires of the Zoles, Wranploer or Ottzelloans had in mind. And among the nations of the known Eastern Arm, perhaps none were as mysterious as the Seagon; an elusive species of fish-like beings natives to the forbidden world of Clexis, which served as the seat of their empire. Compared to the Zoles and Wranploer, the Seagon were clear younglings - their people only joined the galactic community 5,000 years before the current day, but they were special among the races of Borealis as, despite their relatively recent emergence, their technology was beyond that of the Zoles and Wranplor combined.
The Cold Ones, the mysterious precursors who built the Cold Relay system, once inhabited many worlds. While their ruins were considered a rarity, some still exist, with a number being better preserved than others. The non-sentient ancestors of the Seagon had the opportunity to evolve around the most well preserved ruins of the Cold Ones in the galaxy, a process which granted them intelligence beyond that of the galaxy's veterans and the knowledge to create true marvels of technology which even the Indoctrinate Collective did not fully understand.
However, the Seagon Empire was not willing to share its secrets. Its rulers, instead, saw the rest of the galaxy as far less than equals.
General Volim of the Wranploer had allied with the Seagon since the days of the First Borealis Galactic War. He understood the power of having such a race at his side, and begrudgingly accepted the fate an attempt to conquer them to take their technology for himself would be catastrophic. The Seagon's territory extended a mere 10,000 worlds, far less than the Borealis Consortium Network's near one million, yet these were creatures who could carve their way to Vijaha and erase it from existence should they want to. As Volim understood, one should keep their friends close, and their enemies closer. The leader of the Consortium looked upon a screen which presented him a great throne plated in silver, where a Seagon dressed in regal garb was sitting, paying close attention to what he had to say. Emperor Rothneld Vhezari, the leader of the Seagon Empire.
- Volim - And that is how, combining your forces to what I have amassed, we will tear our way through the worlds of the Imperium and claim Zoleia as our own.
- Rothneld - You suggest I wage war against the leaders of the west in your name, Volim, yet I do not see what I would gain from this. The destruction of the Zoles would bring a great social calamity across the galaxy, one I am unwilling to deal with.
- Volim - Leave that to me and my cohorts. Your race has no love for the Zoles and you know that. Their defeat will allow us both to spread our influence and consolidate our positions as rulers of this galaxy.
As he heard the words of the Wranploer, Rothneld's teeth clenched, revealing a great row of fangs as his expression turned into a frown.
- Rothneld - I am no child, Volim. You would not share the galaxy with anyone. You becoming ruler of the known galaxy would merely lead you to try and take it all for yourself. My people included.
- Volim - Don't you trust me, Vhezari?
- Rothneld - You are worth no more trust than a Varkorus.
Normally, such words would be deeply insulted at any context, though Volim merely chuckled as he held his fingers together. He expected such treatment and was well aware of his reputation.
- Volim - I'm not completely heartless, Vhezari. I reward those who I believe deserve it. Aid me in my plan, and both of our interests will be met.
- Rothneld - Serve the interests of a space pirate and his newly found Ottzelloan slaves? I will have to think about it. Have your personnel get in contact with mine to discuss the details.
- Volim - Good, good. It'll be just like the Great War, when your great-something grandfather helped me fight the Polar Crystal Alliance. Just like old times.
- Rothneld - You lost that war, Volim. Do not waste our time by losing this one too.
- Volim - Heh. We'll see who eats their words once this is all over.
With this, the transmission was over. As Volim disappeared from his view, Rothneld snarled in disgust as his armored fingers clicked on buttons located on his throne, bringing up a new screen for him to look upon. It showed the schematics of what appeared to be a great dreadnought.
- Rothneld - Filthy barbarian. You have no idea who you're speaking to.
To Find the Borealis Radeons
A sudden feeling of pain hit Quinniath. The sensation of one's body tossed through a portal, contorted and warped - he could never get used to that. Supposedly there were force fields that kept you from being ripped into pieces as you passed through the gates and traversed time and space in an instant. Lies! Quinniath knew this. He was ripped into pieces every time he went through, or at the very least, it hurt like he was. No force field was there to protect him from that.
There was a flash of light, and then, a biting sensation of cold that somehow managed to get through his helmet. Sight returned to him soon enough - though the Imperion lieutenant quickly came to regret that fact. It was not that the environment was somehow gruesome or distasteful, or that he wasn't prepared for it. In fact, he was more than prepared for ice.
Ice. Again. Everywhere.
The landing area was a small valley covered by a few dozen centimeters or so of snow - so white and shining that Quinniath almost blinded himself looking at it. The massive glaciers that surrounded it from all sides but one protected his squad from the wind. Yet the fierce blizzards that raged above, and the Imperion lieutenant could figure out that the rest of the planet was nowhere near as hospitable. Soft flakes of snow were slowly falling on the ground in copious amounts - after a few seconds of standing and staring at the sky, Quinniath realised that half of his armour was white already. The Imperion scowled, shaking himself to remove the snow, and looked around. There was ice. Snow. More ice. More snow. A few small shrubs peered out of the ground, blueish in colour - the only sign of life he saw so far.
A big crack in the glaciers revealed a small frozen shore, and the azure seas peered far away. Quinniath smiled. Seas. Water. At least that wasn't ice. What was that with this misbegotten galaxy that its planets just so happened to hate heat?
- Quinniath - Concord, status report.
The marine he called, Concord, was in fact not an organic creature, but a Metallo; the kind of small, round robotic drones that the Divinarium sent off wherever there weren't enough flesh and blood soldiers to spare. Quinniath's squad had more than a few dozen of these things, most of them about as intelligent as a decapitated Dvottie. Concord, however, was different - a bigger, smarter model, capable to reason, think imaginatively, and even maintain a tense philosophical discussion for an hour or so. Then its systems would recognise the continuing arguing with an organic as rebellion and shut the machine down.
- Concord - Lieutenant-Master, am I to interpret your request as an inquiry regarding the planet's climate? In this case, I am going to reaffirm your suspicions: yes, this planet is mostly ice, no, we aren't just close to the poles, yes, this is the twenty-fifth ice world we have encountered so far, and yes, cold climate is, quote, 'an absolute fucking double Spode-damned nightmare'. We should also take precautions against the blizzards outside the valley. I calculate they are strong enough to rip the skin from the bones of the average Radeon, permanently dislocate one's limbs and cause a slow, agonising death of hypothermia. That, and it disturbs communications.
- Quinniath - So Venoriel can't contact us from here? - Quinniath smiled widely - Have you scanned the area? Any signs of civilisation?
Ever since the High Ordinator had received that odd-sounding signal from this planet, she had been positively obsessed with it. Was she in love with that accent? Had the years of isolation and contempt driven her insane? Quinniath did not know, but from his perspective, the quest to look for the source of the signal did not make that much sense. Still, he carried on. Other officers might have comforted themselves with the mantra that their wise commanders obviously know best, but he wasn't that kind of person. He wouldn't kiss the bitch's feet even if he was her subordinate.
But he would do his best, if only to spite Venoriel. Get on with all of her orders, execute them - execute them so well that she would have to swallow her pride and recognise him. He would not not beg for her favour - instead, he would humble her. All these years he served under her on her ship - excelling, but never recognised.
- Concord - The drones have been photographing the area's surface, but there are no signs of sentient life so far.
- Quinniath - Surface, you say? Well, what... - Quinniath desperately needed humour at this time. What... if there are signs of civilisation... beneath it? Like... say... an entire underground city full of little pale Radeons? What if they sent the distress signal? Maybe they live there starving, ration the remaining food, voting on whom to eat next day. Have your robots dig the area. I bet they are praying right now to Spode and the Divines that someone would find and save them.
- Concord - This would be... highly unlikely, I am afraid. It would be far more sensible for those who had crash-landed here to escape this area for the warmer, more equatorial areas, rather than digging here. The local islands to the south for example are mostly habitable.
- Quinniath - Are you disobeying me, machine?
- Concord - I merely do not believe digging for an underground city is a sensible decision. It is not disobedience to suggest alternatives-
- Marine - Sir! - a big, heavy-set Telzoc walked into the conversation between Quinniath and his drone, saluting the lieutenant.
- Quinniath - Contiq? - the Imperion turned to the Telzoc. He recognised him as one of his marines who were sent off an hour or so before he went in to scout the area. - Report.
- Contiq - We've been patrolling the territory. There's a big object under the snow in the northern Quadrant, not far from here. Look!
The three took a short walk and soon found themselves near a large husk of grey metal surrounded by snow, half-submerged in the permafrost. The Imperion opened his mouth in surprise. It was shattered into multiple petal-shaped pieces, some of which were also rusting, but from their shape Quinniath could recognise the original purpose of the object. The strewn wires and broken energy units, the blackened cylinders that may have originally been stabilising thrusters, the etched Masaari symbols emblazoned on the metal. The realisation came quickly.
- Quinniath - ...The bitch was right...
- Concord - Lieutenant?
- Quinniath - I mean... I was right! See, Concord, that is why you need to trust me. I knew there was something underground!
- Concord - I do not believe that constitutes an underground city.
- Quinniath - Yes, but it is almost as good. Do you know what that is? A drop pod. During the Great War, before the wormhole technology was perfected, these vehicles were used by Dei'Ar soldiers to get to surface quickly. It's said that the Congregation's soldiers called these pods "the steel rain".
- Concord - Then, presumably, if these drop pods are opened, the survivors must be nearby - I would suspect them to have escaped to the aforementioned south islands. However, I should also remind you that we are currently on an ice world. The heavy blizzards outside shall make our gravpacks too unreliable to traverse such a great distance.
- Quinniath - Contact Astute Observer then. We are going to need transports.
- Concord - I have been trying to contact the orbit. The blizzards also block my signals.
- Quinniath - ...Great. Quinniath smirked, clenching his gloved arms while trying to devise a solution - Let me think of something.
After a few minutes of brainstorming, and an hour or so of intense labour of his squad, Quinniath's something materialised. The remains of the drop pod, with the help of a few Metallos and one particularily strong Zazane marine, were dug from the ice, welded back together and hollowed out, until all that remained was a vaguely seaworthy cask of metal and plastic. The resulting makeshift boat - large enough to transport the squad around - was then pushed to the shore, and with the help of a few jetpacks and Metallo propulsors attached to its stern (Quinniath insisted on the naval terminology and continued to call the hollowed pod a "ship"), set off to the south.
The rest of the squad looked at the lieutenant in a mixture of confusion and surprise as they had got inside the pod. Some were visibly unnerved, trying to look around, expecting the pod to sink or break. Others just sat in awkward silence. Quinniath, however, appeared to be quite full of himself. He had a rather mischievous grin on his face and was looking at Concord, who bobbed up and down in the air. The machine could not really show any emotion with its single eye, but it certainly tried as much as it could to show its displeasure.
- Concord - I severely doubt your judgement, Lieutenant-Master.
- Quinniath - Enough talk, eyeface. - he said with a humorous imitation of Venoriel's own voice - We're on a ship, remember? That makes me captain. And the word of the captain of the ship is law.
- Concord - This is not a ship. That is a hollowed drop pod. The chances of it sinking are reaching 46%.
- Quinniath - Look. How many times have we been in a situation like this?
- Concord - ...Lieutenant-Master-
- Quinniath - Just look at us. Say, Contiq, Rtrai, tell it how we got out of the Artharon prison during the Twilight War.
- Rtrai - Uh. Very well. - the two marines who were sent off to scout the area - the Telzoc Contiq and his partner Rtrai, a particularly skinny female Fyrvrtha - leaned forwards, He made Sapphai and Selphai smuggle explosives and incendiaries inside their brassieres. Some Artharon warden tried to grab Sapphai, so she threw the bra at him and set the prison cell on fire. Then we blew up the wall with the other bra and escaped. Sapphai and Selphai, the two Radeon sisters from Sanctuarium, were sitting right next to Rtrai at the time. They kept their expressionless helmets on, making it hard for anyone to see their reaction, but nodded nonetheless, confirming the story.
- Sapphai - It was very demeaning.
- Selphai - But they kept looking at us all the time, so they weren't watching anyone else at all.
- Sapphai - That was a plus. Was easy to plan our escape.
- Quinniath - A-and what about what we did during the Battle for Krathan Fort, Kazal? - Kazal was the name of the large, bulky Sacrenar Zazane, the one who carried the pod around. He now did not fit fully in and curled himself inside this pod, and seemed unwilling to speak. - Ah, well, I'll tell it myself. The planet was nothing but swamps and tall grass, white fog everywhere, and the Artharons couldn't actually see us, so they just kept firing at us from the fort. - Quinniath could almost croak, so full of himself - So I came up with an idea. We and the few other squads were running around like crazy around the field, sometimes firing from one position, then the other. And? The cats actually thought there was an entire army out there shooting from different places and left the fort. Turned out, the damn cats did not even have scanners.
- Kazal - Yes. That is what happened.
- Concord - I do not understand. That your unorthodox tactics resulted in success several times does not mean we will not sink right now.
- Quinniath - ...Shut up and get to scanning.
- Concord - Very well. Concord's eye turned grey, indicating it was at work, Preliminary scans indicate several prolific life signs to the few kilometers from our dislocation. Thought wave processes indicate they might be sentient. Or just very excited. They might be mating.
- Quinniath - Well, what are you waiting for? Get the ship there!
- Concord - Yes, Lieutenant. I will get the ship there.
The ship eventuallly found its way to the shore of the aforementioned island - or, rather, it crashed into it rather violently turning into an even more wrecked hunk of metal, with the team escaping the speeding droppod at the last moment and swimming to the shore afterwards. Though outside of two broken Metallos and a number of bruises the squad managed to avoid casualties, the cold water did manage to wound their morale, as they were now shaking in their armour as they scurried across the shore and deeper into the island.
This was still an ice world, but it seemed like this particular part of it was somewhat comfortable. That is to say, it would still be a cold hell to a Radeon, or even an Imperion, and a human too would find this place unpleasant to live in, but, given some time and a lot of hot coffee, one could in theory survive there. The great glaciers of ice here were absent for the most part, and the landscape was instead dominated by great coniferous trees - their blue foliage covered in the shroud of snow. The blizzards there were fortunately not as severe and were irritating at best, which allowed the squad to recontact the orbit. Quinniath was hastily entering the button sequence on his wrist computer, sending a message to Venoriel.
- Venoriel - Status report, lieutenant.
- Quinniath - Barely made it out alive, ma'am, but we survived, all thanks to me. the Imperion smirked.
- Venoriel - Spare me your ego, Quinniath. Did you find the source of the signal?
- Quinniath - Not yet, High Ordinator. However, we did locate a Radeon drop pod. It was buried under the snow and had old Church insignia on it.
- Venoriel - A drop pod, you say? - Venoriel narrowed her eyes in contemplation. It seemed her eyes had acquired a faint azure glow. What insignia did it bear?
- Quinniath - The black knot, the eye... and the hammer. All together.
- Venoriel - Knot, eye, hammer. - Venoriel's voice did not lose it cool, but neverthless had acquired a slight tinge of anger - Tadjamad. My expectations have been proven. Now, lieutenant, I will have to reaffirm the seriousness of this mission again. Do not compromise it with your childish antics.
- Quinniath - High Ordinator, these "antics" of mine have saved my squad on a multitude of occasio-
- Venoriel - Enough. Quinniath, I hope you do understand why this mission is so important?
- Quinniath - Well, this is obviously a rhetorical question, so-
- Venoriel - For five centuries, the military of our nation has been, for the lack of a better word, in tatters. After Jaharan's defeat, we were deemed, yes, too dangerous to bear arms. Our fleet was downscaled and most of our officers either imprisoned for war crimes or decomissioned. My grandfather was executed for what he did on Earth. - it did not seem, judging by the tone of her voice, that Venoriel was in any way ashamed of what he did - The War of Ages saw a small renaissance, what with Tadjamad and his crusaders, but then most of them refused to follow Her Holiness and got themselves killed. Our best soldiers and officers - all gone, and now we are left only with the new blood. With you. Venoriel looked condescendingly at Quinniath - We've been scouring the Gigaquadrant for the survivors since then. Another Dei'Ar hero could change the course of the war at our home.
- Quinniath - Well, I suppose a dug-up relic could do us some good.
- Venoriel - The most incompetent of the war veterans is worth ten times more than the likes of you, lieutenant. They were raised from youth to fight and to command. Our current military is but a pale shadow of what the Dei'Ar once was.
Quinniath deactivated the wrist computer with an angry frown and turned back to the path - his eyes opening as he saw the buildings before him. A large clearing was made in the coniferous forests, with signs of plasma fires on the forest floor, burnt black leaves coating the rocky ground. The Imperion stepped forward. Great concrete fortifications stood out of the darkened landscape - evidently Radeon in origin, but with blocky, simplistic shapes, like if they were boxes. There seemed to be buildings behind the concrete walls, yet Quinniath could not tell if they were inhabited or abandoned. There was the only way to find out. The cold here was not as severe, and the winds not as strong. The jetpacks could work - at least, he hoped so.
With a few clicks of the button, Quinniath and his squad set off to the sky to leap over the concrete wall. The jetpacks made a roaring sound as the Imperion felt the wind in his face - looking down at the buildings below. The buildings were, like the walls, very much Radeon, albeit antiquated, and somewhat haphazard in their construction. Some Dei'Ar emblems were carved on the concrete here and there was an old vehicle lying around - a War of Ages-era Church tank, he thought. Yet there were no Radeons, or any sentients for that matter, to be found. Quinniath raised his eyebrow - or rather he would if he had any hair on his body, as his species raised their frills in these situations. What was going on here?
Then his confusion magnified even more as he felt his jetpack's roar turn into a crackle and then realised he was slowly falling down. The Imperion almost screamed and dropped, barely managing to land on his legs together with his squad. Quinniath raised his head. The lights were on in some buildings, yet noone seemed to go out of them.
- Sapphai - This place appears suspicious.
- Concord - I believe that we all have deduced this at this point.
- Quinniath - Alright, alright. Now, let's just look around... Quinniath made a few step forwards. Surely, nothing bad could happen if he just walked around, Look out for any a- AH!
Quinniath could only feel a quick twinge of fear strike him as he plunged down the booby trap. Then came a sudden burst of pain as he hit a metal spike. Thank Spode for his armour, he thought in his last moments as consciousness left him...
Quinniath awoke in a dark chamber. He could feel his side still hurt where it was hit by the spike. The armour did not allow it to impale him and weakened the impact, but the spike managed to leave a considerable wound in his body nonetheless, and by Spode, was it painful. The second sensation was the lesion of the ropes. He felt his hands and arms were tied up; instictively Quinniath attempted to struggle, yet soon gave up as he heard a commanding, strong, yet strangely accented voice pierce his ears.
The Imperion looked up and opened his eyes. The walls were all made of sheet iron that looked like it was made of scrap metal crudely welded together into the form of a room. It felt like being in a small, cramped metal box. Yet he could see a certain decor in here. The walls were decorated with holy icons, golden eyes, and purity seals; scrolls of scripture and trophies of some kind adorned them too, their beauty contrasting so wildly with the rest of the chamber. Quinniath could only wonder what kind of man could have devised such a place.
And then he saw him. A tall, heavily built Radeon stood behind him, clad in old Dei'Ar armour from head to toe save for his head, and wielding an energy sword. This armour was quite weathered, looking by the amount of dents it had, but the dark gold finish that covered it made it somewhat less noticeable. Clearly the veteran Venoriel talked about, Quinniath thought. His eyes, overheaded by his massive eye ridges that replaced eyebrows for Radeons, looked like two orbs of ice, peering into the Imperion's very soul.
There was also one strange thing. His fur, or, rather, lack thereof. He was completely bald, with no hair on his head whatsoever, and the bare skin beneath it was sickly blue, as if he was frozen solid and then unfrozen. Quinniath looked around again. Behind him stood two other Radeons, one male, one female. They too were bald and they too were blue. Moreover, the female's neck had some crystal growths on it. Quinniath shivered. These Radeons looked like they were living dead, brought to life by some twisted ritual.
- Indricarron - Who. Are. You?
- Quinniath - Who... who... how did I get here? Quinniath still spoke slowly. The pain from the wound had not subsided yet. - And who are you?
- Indricarron - Our perimiter has been prepared in the event that our enemy should be so bold and so foolish. We have placed traps. More than a few raiders have found their deaths here. - Quinniath could not help but laugh at the Radeon's voice. He previously thought him to be a very intimidating figure, but the strange accent of Radessic he spoke with - a mixture of provincial dialects brought together in the military, it seemed, and extremely exaggerated at that - destroyed any kind of intimidation that he could pose - But you. You are not a raider. This. - Indricarron showed Quinniath the lieutenant's own metallic sleeve badge - depicting the Divinarium's eye emblem superimposed over a crown of thorns - Whom do you serve? Where did you get this?
- Quinniath - Eh... where? - the Imperion almost wanted to shout at the Radeon and command him to give him his insignia back, but he realised that it was hardly the best decision in the situation - I- I serve in Her Holiness' Fleets. I swear loyalty to the Clericarch, may Spode grant peace upon her, and serve under High Ordinator Mieo Venoriel.
- Indricarron - ...Her... Holiness. And who is this new Clericarch you speak of?
- Quinniath - Clericarch Iovera, of course. We-
- Indricarron - Slanderous filth! - the tall Radeon plunged his energy sword into the ground in anger, This Exarch shall not rule over our people, no matter what titles she may take. We swear allegiance to my Primarch, Tadjamad Altheless, and will await his return until the time comes.
- Quinniath - ...Return? But... - Quinniath narrowed his eyes - ...How long have you been here?
- Indricarron - You dare. You dare? - it was almost like this battle-brother was hit by Quinniath's question, Very well. During the last days of the War of Ages, me and my brothers were fighting at the eastern front in the Inferno Realm. Yet, as we made our return from the final circle, a gateway devoured our ships. We prepared to reunite with Spode, but as we escaped, we found ourselves not in our galaxy, nor in our voids, but here. The place whose stars we did not recognise. Indricarron removed his sword and calmed down smewhat - We have been awaiting to reunite with our battle brothers ever since.
- Quinniath - ...Right. By Divine Agna, you're kind of out of the loop. Can you, eh, remove my wrist computer and contact officer Venoriel? I think she'll help you.
Indricarron slowed down, contemplating whether to follow Quinniath's advice, but complied nonetheless and took his device, placing it on the ground to create a hologram. Soon enough, an image of a rather confused Venoriel sitting on a chair appeared. She seemed to be in equal parts annoyed and happy.
- Venoriel - Oh my. Little Quinniath did manage to impress me. Though, she turned to the Imperion, seeing him tied up - Well, that is problematic. she turned to Indricarron - Indriqaeron Variel Tarcanite, I presume? I have heard much of your exploits during the War.
- Indricarron - I mostly heard people damn your name, Venoriel. So, explain me. Whom do you serve?
- Venoriel - We serve the resurgent Holy Empire, its sovereign and its people, simple as that. So too should you, as a loyal and honourable Dei'Ar.
- Indricarron - ...I will not side with traitors! Tadjamad will return one day!
- Venoriel - Tadjamad is dead. Ripped into pieces by the vengeful undead. One of his confidantes, Matheoward Alvarie, serves Her Holiness now.
- Indricarron - Slander! Great Tadjamad could never taste death and defeat from some demon filth. He led us through Hell and back. Soldiers. - Indricarron commanded his confidantes to leave - I want to discuss this matter personally.
- Venoriel - I assure you, Indricarron, he died in glory, and he died a hero's death. But he died. Go with us. We will show you the marvels of our new nation - the towers of Crepusculum, the glory of the Black Fleet, and the pride of our people reignited. Look at Quinniath - Venoriel turned to her protege again - Pathetic as he is, do you not see the machines he used? His weapons, his armour? We are no longer cowards running for our lives but a nation reborn. And you too could be part of that.
- ??? - Cowards you truly are, trying to fill dear Indricarron's head with your lies...
At that moment, a new voice was heard as a figure entered the room, unnoticed by any who could have been guarding it; a female Radeon, her fur a light shade of gray and covered by a set of ornate armor, typical to the chaplains of the old Theocracy. It was a figure Venoriel could vaguely recognize, and one Indricarron could tell from a distance as clear as day. Someone who, before he was trapped in this frostbitten hell of a planet, was one he was most close to.
- Indricarron - G-G-Geltastra?~
- Quinniath - How convenient.
- Geltastra - Indricarron. Even in this frozen wasteland, I find my heart warmed by finally finding you.
- Venoriel - Oh, Chaplain Sheol'rephai. - the Radeon officer raised her eyeridges - Very good to know you are alive. Would you please explain to commander Indricarron that Tadjamad's armies are defunct? Surely he would believe you.
- Indricarron - You. But, h-how?
- Geltastra - ... Serving under the... Exarch... must have dulled your senses, Venoriel. Tadjamad's armies are hardly defunct, as you can see, for I stand before you both.
- Venoriel - ...Great. More stubborn Dei'Ar.
- Indricarron - Have you contacted him? Will he come for us?
- Geltastra - He will not simply come for us, dear Indricarron... I have already found him. And I have come to bring you and your fellow men back into his fold.
- Venoriel - Excellent. - both Venoriel and Quinniath looked at Geltastra with a suspicion. She was clearly not just ignorant, but actively lying - So how did you find Indricarron, Geltastra? Did Spode tell you where he was, or was it the power of love?
- Geltastra - A little of... both? Hm~? ... Not only have I found you, Indricarron, but I have reasons to believe I have also found a lead to your brother. Baptarion, was it not?
- Indricarron - The small one. - Indricarron looked into Geltastra's eyes, somewhat warmed by her words, So, where is he? Do you know if we can find him?
- Quinniath - That would be heartwarming if it wasn't... so... odd.
- Geltastra - Again, merely leads. We can look for him after I bring you to Tadjamad. He must see you in person at once.
- Venoriel' - Ahem. Very well. Logically speaking, Indricarron, how likely it would be for a person who wishes to deceive you to tell you the person you have been waiting for for years is dead? If I had wanted to dupe you into following me, I would have told you that I could bring Tadjamad to you, or that you could find some loved ones if you followed me. Is it not right?
- 'Indricarron - ...What... But... - Indricarron turned to Geltastra - This is not true. You are speaking the truth, do you not?
- Geltastra - Oh, my dear... - the chaplain held her hands together as she leaned forward, looking into Indricarron's eyes - .. You would believe the words of the lapdog of the... Exarch... over mine? After all we have been through together?
- Venoriel - Why would I lie, Indricarron? I have not been blinding you with promises, nor seducing you. Ask yourself: why would a woman you hold dear the most come to you just at the right time, to tell you exactly what you want to hear?
- Geltastra - If you doubt me so much, why not simply come down from your ship and follow me? I could take you as well, and show you enlightenment. You clearly need it.
- Indricarron - ...Y-you are right, my dear Geltastra. - Indricarron looked into the chaplain's eyes and embraced her gently, Can we... can we be together after all this?~
- Geltastra - Oh, of course. I have no intention of letting you run off too far ever again...
- Venoriel - ...Wait. Do you really think that a Masaari chaplain can ever be so passionate with someone? You know they are taught to remain celibate until the war is over, don't you?
- Indricarron - ...Wait. That seems right. - Indricarron turned to Venoriel.
- Geltastra - I do not see any undead prowling around, do you? The war has been over for years.
- Venoriel - She is playing with you. Think, Indricarron. And you. - Venoriel looked at Geltastra. The way she acted, how liberated she was - it was as if something had changed her. If it was really her. She had to find a way to bend her, to make Indricarron see the doubts of her words - Oh, say, Geltastra. You have something to tell us about... Iovera, don't you? - she had no idea what Geltastra would say, but considering the bad blood between the two, it could be the way to make her angry, and once she was angry, she could slip something that could be used against her.
- Geltastra - ... W-What? I have nothing to say about her. Why bring her up at all?
- Venoriel - Her Holiness currently sits on the Divine Throne, as it happens.
As the words came out of Venoriel's mouth, a twitch was seen in Geltastra's eyes as her face contorted into a frown, her teeth clenched. She was right, she did hit a vulnerable spot.
- Geltastra - She left me and my crew to die. That is all I have to say about her. She is no Holiness of mine.
- Venoriel - To die? I do not remember Her Holiness ever decreeing such an order. You seem to blame her for something that happened, don't you?
- Geltastra - ... Uh... - the Chaplain found herself unable to reply. Elaborating would reveal she was not with Tadjamad during his death. - ... I-I don't know why you insist in this talk.
- Venoriel - ...Left to die? When? Did you not follow Tadjamad throughout the war and serve at his side? What happened?
- Geltastra - E-Enough, already! Stop intruding in other people's business!
Indricarron narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
- Indricarron - ...You might be right, Venoriel. Geltastra, I must make a decision. Allow me to talk to others in your crew. Whom did you bring with you on this planet? - travelling alone was, for an ordinary starfarer, impossible, but Geltastra managed it with ease, being who she was now.
- Geltastra - I... I came alone, dear. I wanted you only for me, at least until this... intruder decided to butt in.
- Venoriel - By Spode, she is trying to give a romantic bend to everything.
- Indricarron - Alone? But... how did you get here all by yourself? Where are our battle brothers? A Dei'Ar would never abandon their brethren.
- Geltastra - I-I didn't abandon anyone, my dear! They are merely awaiting us at our destination!
- Indricarron - ...This... you speak strangely, Geltastra. Is that really you?
- Geltastra - Of course I am. Who else would I be?
- Indricarron - ...No. - Indricarron pushed Geltastra away - Please, just leave for a moment, I need to think this through...
As she stepped back, the Chaplain's fists clenched as she glared at Indricarron. A powerful, green glow was emitted from her eyes as she stared at the bald Radeon.
- Geltastra - ... You are being very, very naughty, Indricarron.
- Venoriel - ...What the-
- Quinniath - ...By all the Divines... Quinniath tried again and again to get out of his bindings, but to no avail. - ...That... that shouldn't happen, right?
- Indricarron - ...Geltie?
At that moment, Geltastra's fur turned from a shade of gray into a mix of scorched black and bright green as she threw a hand forward, her nails turned into large, blackened claws as she planted her palm upon Indricarron's head; the Radeon immediately felt a terrible, painful sensation as demonic, nightmarish essences flowed from the Chaplain into him, pouring and twisting his very soul.
- Geltastra - Be mine already, my new champion!
- Indricarron - Nnn-nhhh---ooo... - the Radeon officer was gasping for breath as essence was beign poured into him, his own skin flaking and burning away. Quinniath could not look away from the terrifying scene, while Venoriel simply looked with horror on her face.
- Quinniath - You... what are you...
As Geltastra corrupted Indricarron, her disguise vanished entirely and revealed her true form: her armor, decorated with Spode's symbols became a long robe filled with the symbols of the Devourer's Chosen, a long, hooked tail formed behind her and a pair of large, leathery wings emerged from her back, folding themselves as she continued to pour entropic energies into the Radeon commander.
- Venoriel - Corruptus...
- Geltastra - This could have been so much simpler. All you had to do was follow me.
- Quinniath - Fuck you.
- Geltastra - No! You, insolent Imperion! You and your mistress! Tried to take Indricarron away from me, you top-heavy harlot!
- Venoriel - Your obsession was not a ruse? I am surprised. - Venoriel looked down at her (admittedly immense) chest - Am I really that big?
- Geltastra - Indricarron is mine... He belongs to the Devourer! Tell your Exarch bitch, after Borealis is consumed by my nightmarish god, I will go to Sanctuarium myself and reduce every inch of it to dust! His Chosen have risen!
- Venoriel - These... Chosen of yours... are they as obsessive as yourself?
- Geltastra - I shall speak to you no longer, heretic. Come, my precious Indricarron. I have... great plans for you.
With her free hand, Geltastra manifested a portal of darkened purple color behind her, which she proceeded to drag the half-corrupted Indricarron into until they both vanished, with the portal closing behind them.
- Venoriel - ...Traitor.
- Quinniath - So she is. - Quinniath nodded, still trying to get free of his bonds, Should we pursue her?
- Venoriel - Should we? We must. This might be the opportunity for us all to do something great for the Divinarium... Venoriel clenched her chin, But first. We must get these Radeons on our side somehow and make them agree to join us. Then we can get you out of there somehow...
The Destruction Continues
The Weak Spot of the Vague
A year since the Vague had begun to threaten the galaxy, and as the war only amped up further every day, the war council between the Unified Nation, the Zoles and the Niaka was called once again. It was time for them to develop a plan of action for not only which threat to combat first, but for how best to do so. Did anyone have any ideas for the Vague yet? Did anyone know when the Wranploer Legion would choose to strike first? Was anyone concerned about the growing distrust for the major factions in Borealis across the public of the galaxy? Right now they needed answers more than ever.
As the leaders spoke, each of them seemed demoralized, frustrated, and to an extent, even afraid. The Kralgon Emperor decided to take initiative and break the silence after the meeting was called.
- Kralgon Emperor - So, let's look at what's on the agenda for today's meeting. Firstly, it's been about a year, we've lost two hundred planets and five thousand starfleets to the Vague in UNO alone, and who knows how many others have lost much. Secondly, we're hearing reports and rumblings of more Wranploer Legion attacks as if they're planning something big soon, apparently, this is merely the beginning. Thirdly, we don't seem to have an effective opposition against the rising anti-government sentiment, that everyone on this table seems to really be ignoring, and in my opinion, that is a very dangerous route to take.
- Baptarion - ... "Anti-government". This sounds like something straight out of the outernet.
- Asraels - I do not believe anti-government sentiment is a thing that exists. It is counter-productive and would lead to galactic misery. Surely no one would truly accept such ideologies as fact.
- Xeron - Bloody stupid is what it is.
- Yogtam - I find it very concerning how out of touch you seem to be with the folks of this galaxy. You do not seem to be addressing their needs, or their fears. If no one does this, then there will be a revolution against it.
- Xeron - Excuse me, outsider. For a second, I thought you claimed you knew more about my people than I do.
- Valzo - Do we really have to start our meeting out like this? I apologize, the people in my own government seem to have a sense of arrogance at times. I am sure the governments of Borealis know what they are doing in regards to this growing uprising. What is more important, in my opinion, is the Vague attacks.
- Asraels - Yes, we shoud focus on the existential threat currently ravaging this galactic arm. The Wranploer are a nuisance my people have put in its place many times before, so they are not our primary concern right now.
- Zr'Ahgloth - I HERD DA WRANPLOA IS EVEN WORKIN WIV DA ROGUE BOYZ. DAT MAKES DEM EVEN DUMMA AN EVEN LESS WORFY OF ATTENSHON
- Baptarion - Listen, I'm a scientist and not a soldier. But if I were a soldier, I'd probably try and find a weakspot on the enemy so I could retaliate.
- Xeron - A whole year and no weakness have been detected. The Chief Major's poor old heart isn't going to endure the rage.
Tuolog decided to hop on Zr'Ahgloth's back in order to be noticed, and then spoke to the council.
- Tuolog - I have good news on that front at least. I speak to the Mechanic, the Head Caretaker. He seem to have insight there, if you wish to patch him in.
- Baptarion - Care-what now?
- Xeron - Caretakers can speak?
- Tuolog - This one can, at least.
- Asraels - Curious. We assumed them all to be mindless androids. Patch him in.
Another hologram appeared, and the Mechanic entered the conversation. To the others unfamiliar with him, he looked just like a slightly larger, normal Caretaker, but much more rundown. They weren't sure what to expect as he began to speak to them, but in the beginning, rambled nonsense.
- The Mechanic - Uhh, and the final digit of pi is...what was that again? I forgot...
- Xeron - Shut up.
- Asraels - Back to the subject of this meeting, if you would.
- The Mechanic - Meeting? Oh, yes! Yes, I have a meeting to get to with my boss tonight, don't I? Something about fluster coils on the darn Relays in sector...oh. Oh, this thing.
- Asraels - ... No. The war council about the Vague threat.
- The Mechanic - Vague?! Where?! Where are the darn Vague?! Don't tell me they're attacking my Relays again!
- Tuolog - Hehe. He just as cranky as I remember.
- The Mechanic - Oh! Sorry, I never noticed you kids just there. Hey folks! Yes, I have some information on the Vague that might be helpful to you.
- Baptarion - This has got to be a joke.
- Xeron - Spill it out already! We need to put an end to this charade before it goes out of control!
The Mechanic seemed to finally be focused, and then displayed a hologram for the entire room of a Vague ship.
- The Mechanic - This here be the Vague's four dimensional starship thingies. I could've told them that their ships are ugly for something that comes from outta this dimension. Well, turns out there's a reason for that: they're actually a fusion between two to four different types of ships from two different alien species, one of which being the Cold Ones.
- Baptarion - Ooh, we're fighting Cold One-inspired tech? I've been studying them for the last few years. You guys should've told me sooner.
- The Mechanic - Sorta. It's a projection of Cold One-inspired tech from the fourth dimension. That means that this thing ain't exactly stable. So, take a look at this part of the underbelly of the ship.
The hologram zoomed in around a central point beneath the ship, located on the hull. This part did not appear to show any obvious structural weakness, but its paint jobs completely switched, and its metals did not seem to fit exactly. As if it were made of two different materials at a cross section.
- The Mechanic - You might think this is just silly design, but what it actually is is where the two parts of the ship meet in the middle in a way that doesn't mesh like it does on the rest of the ship. This here is a weakpoint, and if you target it, you can deal far more damage to it.
- Xeron - An out of the way spot. No wonder we couldn't tell the difference until now.
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN DA VAGUE DO SUCH A SLOPPI JOB AT PAINTIN SHIPZ. DATS LIKE HALF DA FUN OF BUILDIN ONE
- The Mechanic - I know, right? I would slap whoever designed their ships, but I'm not even sure that they actually deliberately designed them. Again, I think their ships are just some kind of fourth dimensional illusion to us lowly third dimensional beings, but then I'm talking like a Taldar again.
- Asraels - I'll be updating my armada with this information. Have any of you succeeded in recruiting allies to our cause?
- Feldosia - We have indeed. There are two allies of ours in Andromeda so far who have expressed interest in joining the cause: the Divinarium and the Draconid Imperium. Beyond that, we have created our own unit of supersoldiers to combat threats like the Vague on land.
- Baptarion - You can't fight these things on land. I'll keep to spaceship fire.
- Kralgon Emperor - You'd think that. But you should take a look at these folks.
Replacing the Mechanic's hologram, the Emperor displayed a hologram of each of the Unified Nation of Ottzello Commandos. He introduced them by name.
- Kralgon Emperor - From the left to the right: The Skull, also known as Thr'aloy and Dalverat, two supersoldiers functioning as one with extreme strength and Dark Chronoscopic energy powers respectively. The Fist, also known as Vailisa, a giant with off-the-scale toughness and strength. The Backbone, also known as Commandant Darwishi, a flying robotic soldier that can bomb entire cities and shoot down starfighters from the air. The Eye, also known as Kalcedia Myran, a sniper with incredible accuracy who can blend into her environments. The Spitter, also known as Vaktyl, whose high-tech weaponry can turn enemies into paste in seconds. The Muscle, also known as Zelfron III, a rapid-fast soldier with blades who can cut apart foes faster than they can see him coming. Finally, The Talon, also known as Lupercal, who can move almost as fast as the speed of light and run circles around any foe. Individually, these soldiers could conquer an entire planet. I think they can handle the Vague.
- Baptarion - That's just eight people against a fleet of things who can disintegrate you, though.
- Yogtam - Eight people with the strength of eighty armies. Underestimate them at your own peril.
- Xeron - Overestimate them and they will die. We will need starships to defeat the Vague. But I suppose your funny-named squad would do well against the Wranploer, in case they try to intervene.
- Yogtam - Intelligence suggests that the Wranploer Legion are preparing for a full scale war not seen since the Great War. Apparently, all these attacks ramping up right now are just warlords overexcited by the prospect of that and just jumping ahead of themselves.
- Asraels - The Wranploer have truly not learned from their mistakes. The Great War had them pit near the entirely of the galactic arm against each other, and yet, we made them run back to their sector with their tails between their legs. Whatever it is they're planning, it will not go far.
- Yogtam - Once again, I would underestimate them at your own peril. The Wranploer Legion we're seeing now aren't the ones we read about in your history books. Their attacks are more co-ordinated than your books described.
- Xeron - The Wranploer Legion you're seeing is nothing compared to the Legion we have been fighting for centuries. Don't talk like you know them better than we do.
- Baptarion - They're just pirates. Just shoot them.
- Tuolog - I have seen every timeline, and I have seen the past, the future, and the present. I assure you, your tone on the Wranploer Legion is worryingly dismissive, and you should be fully prepared for what they bring with them. I believe Volim much smarter than you realise.
- Xeron - Don't lecture us, outsider. We know the Wranploer better than you. We have been prepared for longer than the Vague have arrived. When the time comes, my people will destroy them and their entire culture. It'll be glorious!
- Asraels - That may yet take a while.
- Tuolog - That is the same overconfidence that I have seen from many great leaders of history before their empires fell. Heed my warnings.
- Baptarion - Just shoot them.
- Valzo - Alright, I believe we have come to a consensus. We will attack the Vague's weak point and then assess how our performance improves against them. We will prepare for any incoming Wranploer attack, and presumably if we get the Vague out of the equation, we will focus on them next.
- Asraels - We shall see how it will all unfold. For now, this meeting is concluded.
The Unified Nation of Ottzello, disgruntled, left first. The Mechanic left later when he realised that he had still left the conversation open.
Meanwhile, as this meeting unfolded, Durzhan and Kolossus watched it from a distance. A slight smirk formed on Durzhan's face, as he bragged about his accomplishment, while the much larger Vyro'Ralza kept his four arms crossed and his eyes closed as he levitated a short distance from the floor.
- Durzhan - But of course, that fool old Mechanic could not have thought of that alone. It was I who let this information slip. This Vague annoyance shall be dealt with soon, the second its use to us ends.
- Kolossus - The defeat of the Vague will allow the Perfect Fate to unravel without obstacles. However, I find myself increasingly annoyed at that... infernal Ioketa.
- Durzhan - He could be a huge problem. I believe that Vyro'Nazdea is placing her bets on his performance here. Perhaps we should eliminate him?
- Kolossus - His power is greater than he deserves. He may yet instruct his flock away from the Perfect Fate.
- Durzhan - Indeed, this is also my fear. I fear too that eliminating him too quickly would make him a martyr. They will stop and consider what he would have done when they are presented with the Fate, and it will influence their decision.
- Kolossus - Grrrh. I wish I had devoured his soul when I had the chance. Removed him from all timelines once and for all. Out of all the mortals in this universe, he is the one I hate the most.
- Durzhan - We do not need to eliminate him, though, to eliminate his influence. There is a growing divide in Borealis, and a growing distrust. Notice that the arrogant leaders continue to ignore it, and pin their blame on the Ottzelloans. We can use that. If the Ottzelloans continue to feel rejected, if there is greater divide, we are more likely to achieve what we want.
- Kolossus - The arrogance of Borealis' inhabitants is not unfolded. The Wranploer mortals are mere scum and rabble. Perhaps you should intervene.
- Durzhan - Yes. Yes...I should indeed. I will see to it that the Wranploer are a much greater threat than these fools realise.
- Kolossus - See to it. Our victory approaches.
- Durzhan - That fool Zaarkhun, though. He wishes Zargoth to be eliminated. I do not view him as a legitimate threat, but it may make it more difficult for him to trust me.
- Kolossus - Many wish I was gone. Billions upon billions wished That Which Devours was gone when I served under his wing. They do not have the power to do so. Neither does Zaarkhun. He is mere flesh and bone awaiting to rot away.
- Durzhan - But of course. He will be useful to me if I am to achieve the Perfect Fate, though. What better catalyst for a change in the Wranploer Legion that makes them much, much more deadly?
- Kolossus - Use what tools are available to you. You have proven yourself efficient, so I believe you can handle this as well.
- Durzhan - Very well. I will see that it is done, and I shall arrange a meeting with this Zaarkhun.
Meeting on Pax-Paladi
It was a day of much discussion at the temperate world of Pax-Paladi, at the far end of the Western Arm. This was the homeworld of the Paladians, a cultured race of humanoid reptiles who strove to the concepts of law and order, much like the Zoles at the galactic south. As the threat of the Vague and the potential intervention of the Wranploer dominated the minds of the Zoles Imperium, they would look for allies in the galaxy's hour of need, with the Paladians being an obvious choice. It was a day of much discussion, for King Rebaris himself had just landed, seeking an audience with the emperor of the Paladian State, most known as the Civitas.
There was much that Rebaris could admire in the Paladians. They were a race of warriors, their culture deeply martial, and they had the galaxy's best interests in mind. Likewise, the Paladians saw the Zoles as a proof of how their mentality could lead to greatness. King Rebaris and Emperor Nedes XVI had never met in person before, making this an interesting experience for them both as the Zoles monarch arrived to the chamber where the Paladian leader awaited for him. Rebaris would smile as he leaned down in order to shake Nedes XVI's hand, due to his larger size compared to the Paladian emperor.
- Rebaris - Emperor Nedes. A pleasure to finally meet you in person.
- Nedes XVI - Indeed! I awaited for the day the king of the Zoles would finally descend upon our homeworld. I have prepared a banquet as well as a tour through the capital for you following this meeting.
- Rebaris - I appreciate your gesture, emperor. I wish I could have come under better circumstances.
- Nedes XVI - Speak your mind, Your Highness. I'm listening.
With a clap, the Paladian ruler signalled a number of servants to guide the two of them to seats so they may get comfortable. They would sit in front of a large window which granted Rebaris an impressive view of the capital city, illuminated by the setting sun.
- Rebaris - I'm sure you're aware of the current events transpiring across the galaxy.
- Nedes XVI - Indeed I am... and they are most disconcerting. Extrauniversal murderers, rise in Wranploer activity in our arm, doomsday cults... My people has faced the ilk of the Wranploer many times before, and to this day we still face their collaborators in our own home sector, but I am sincerely unsure of what to think of the other two.
- Rebaris - Fantastical things are happening to our galaxy, and unfortunately, none are good in nature. Our allies of the Ottzello Sector are being hunted by all sorts of monstrosities.
- Nedes XVI - We have never made contact with Ottzello, but if you ask me, they are an unruly, uncouth lot. Their arrival marked the beginning of these problems, and space pirate activity has gone through the roof in the last few years.
- Rebaris - I don't believe it fair to put all of the blame on Ottzello. With or without them, the Wranploer and the Devourer's Chosen would still be here and would still do whatever it is they're doing.
- Nedes XVI - Perhaps.
A small levitating drone, carrying cups of hot aromatic beverage, proceeded to place it in the table before the two monarchs, who both took a cup for themselves to have a drink. Rebaris enjoyed the taste, though found himself reeling just slightly due to its bitter taste.
- Nedes XVI - Don't like it?
- Rebaris - Oh, I do. Just a little bitter, is all.
- Nedes XVI - Typical Paladian tea. You'll get used to it. Regardless, you have come seeking an alliance.
- Rebaris - Indeed. The Zoles, the Niaka, the Ottzelloans and the Indoctrinate Collective are currently collaborating to put an end to the threats looming over our dear galaxy. I would be delighted to have the Civitas on our sides.
Emperor Nedes paused for a moment. He had waited many, many years for an opportunity to propel his people to a position of power in galactic politics; to prove the galaxy the Paladians were a people worth noting. And fighting side by side with the Zoles and Niaka would be the perfect match, as not only were they the arguable 'leaders' of the known galaxy, their goals and philosophies were all similar. A smile grew on the Paladian ruler's face as he replied.
- Nedes XVI - My people will be honoured to fight by the Zoles' side, Your Highness. By removing these "Vague", trampling these cultists, and putting the Wranploer back to their places, we will show the galaxy what we're capable of.
- Rebaris - Excellent. My military control will be getting in contact with yours and keep you updated on what has happened so far.
- Nedes XVI - I will be ordering a number of my Legates to fight alongside you. Our combined might will rid Borealis of its woes.
- Rebaris - Mhm. I can drink to that.
- Nedes XVI - Heh. Now, would you like to have that tour? I would like to show you my military commendations. I used to be a starship helmsman in my early days.
- Rebaris - Of course. Let us enjoy the day, while we still can.
The Brood Provoked
Da Rogue Boyz were one of the main targets of the Vague, having lost far more worlds than they were willing to count - that is, over a dozen -, though unlike the rest of the galaxy who saw them as a genuine threat, the Loron treated them with incredible indifference. As far as they were concerned, the Vague were just some random race of crazies who thought they were in charge, and they were now being paid by the Borealis Consortium Network to fight them at every possible opportunity. The fact they lost virtually every single one of these fights did not cross the minds of the Rogue Leedas, who were far too busy counting their new money and eating pizza to care. The only one who understood the gravity of the situation, Rel'larutina, had long given up.
What the Loron wanted was more money to buy trash they would never use, more worlds to fill with Lorons and food (these two being interchangeable depending of the context) and more fun enemies to fight. The fact UNO was focusing their efforts on combating the Vague made them too boring to the exploring lesser warbosses of Da Rogue Boyz - it was't as fun to beat them up when they were already weakened.
A particular boss named Grakka'lokka had seen an opportunity in the Mirianis Sector, ordering his boyz to settle numerous colonies at its northern fringes. This region was not populated by any known race to the Loron, as the Zoles and Niaka appeared to avoid the region like the plague - making it a perfect spot for a base. When they arrived, they had found dozens of planets booming with life, their landscapes lush and expansive, and yet there was not a single city or spaceship in sight. All they could see were huge, huge trees. Particularly, he planned to launch a looting party at the Indoctrinate Collective, because they "was stoopid geeks wiv stoopid gizmos who probs make fun of us in deir coffee break".
As his ship slowly landed upon the world he had declared to be his headquarters, Chikz and Geekz were already at work to create a settlement while the Loron kept watch. He spent his time playing on a videogame until the door to his chamber was opened by one of his guards.
- Guard - EY BOSS
- Grakka'lokka - OH MA DAYZ CANT YA SEE IM PVPIN ATM IN DIS GAME IM PLAYIN. IM ABOUT TA WREK DIS KHARGRIM LOSA WIV MA BLAK ORC BARBARIAN
- Guard - oh i kno dat game. aint it fer geeks tho
- Grakka'lokka - NOT WHEN IM PLAYIN LOSA. WAT DO YA WANT
- Guard - da peeps outside sez dey been seein some weird stoof. som kinda weird aliens is starin at dem from a distance or somfin
- Grakka'lokka - YOO PEEPS TOLD ME DIS PLAIC HAD NO PEEPS IN IT. ZR'AN'KARS SAKE YOR ALL SO INCOMPETENT I SWER
- Guard - hey at leest we got peeps ta kill eh?
- Grakka'lokka - I SUPPOS. ALRITE GIMME 5 MINS AND ILL CHEK DIS OUT
Once Grakka'lokka was done with whatever it was he was doing, he left the ship and walked to the courtyard of the settlement. Over the distance, he could see these gigantic, strange trees which every inhabitable planet in several light years seemed to have, and he scratched his head as his boyz pointed at what they were talking about; over the distance flew various small insectoids, who strangely looked like Niaka, though their bodies were filled with deformities such as extra eyes or larger carapaces.
- Grakka'lokka - man yoo peeps is scared of a bunch of naked niaka? cmon srsly
- Guard - dat eint no niaka boss. deys different
- Grakka'lokka - well dey sur look a lot mor STOOPID. ONE OF YAS OPEN FIYA ALREDI
One of the Loron nodded and fired his pistol at one of the Niaka-like creatures. As the bullet went through its chest, it immediately fell to the ground lifelessly, without making a sound as the others then dispersed. Grakka'lokka began yelling at his boyz for wasting his time when some of them appeared to panic, pointing their fingers to the distance until the warboss turned his head to see what the commotion was about, and as he did, his eyes widened as what looked like a swarm of insects emerged in the distance, their numbers blocking a portion from the sky.
They were not trees. They were constructs. Hives.
- Grakka'lokka - WAT DA HELL!!!!!!!
- Guard - BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES
Outnumbering the Loron five hundred to one, the Alvino descended from the skies like a swarm of wasps. The Loron had settled right in their colonies, where their gigantic organic hives served as their homes, and until now they had only observed the intruders in silence. But when one of their scout drones was killed, the entire hive went into a berserking frenzy, and Grakka'lokka and his Loron were ripped apart by a tide of claws and teeth, impossibly sharp to the point their armor was sundered like butter. As the insectoid creatures overran the settlement in seconds, massive bio-spaceships rose from the distance, making their way to the skies - and in a matter of hours, every Loron colony established by Grakka'lokka was completely devoured by the Alvino.
The Zoles and Niaka avoided this region of space for it was the home of the Alvino Brood; a vicious race of locusts whose technology was made of incredibly advanced organic materials, some claiming it to be at the level of the Cold Ones themselves, who made the Wranploer look absolutely harmless in comparison. All who ventured into their territory never returned, for they suffered the same fate as the Loron - devoured by their seemingly infinite hordes. But for some reason, they had not simply disposed of the intruders and returned to their worlds as had been the case ever since the Zoles and Wranploer rose to the stars. Their ships begun travelling away, disappearing through the Cold Relays of their star systems.
All Alvino shared a single, insidious intelligence. Its voice roared through the minds of every single one of their race, burning its words through their minds. It seemed the Loron had stirred it.
A Galactic Battlefield
The war had truly begun.
As the Zoles and their allies uncovered the weakspot of the Vague's starships, they had managed to bring the conflict with them to a stalemate. The spaceships of the fourth dimensional beings, while overwhelming in power and huge in size, were also exceptionally clumsy and could do little against the smaller fighters of the forces of Order - as the Zoles named them -, making them relatively easy targets. As the months passed, the onslaught against UNO had been brought to a halt, while the Vague appeared to have retreated from their attempts to attack the Indoctrinate Collective altogether. However, as the Vague threat appeared to be slowly dealt with, more factors came into play.
The Wranploer Legion was reported to have launched a campaign against the northern colonies of the Zoles Imperium, a great fleet bringing with it an army of conquerors led by the man known as Jekrad mil Torrent, one of the Consortium Network's most elite soldiers and one of Volim's personal warriors. Torrent was unique not just for his great skill, but for being the only known Kvargo to exist in the current day, after their people were exterminated by the Zoles Imperium during the First Great War. The bloodthirsty pirate lord ordered farming worlds subjugated and their resources stolen, destroying anyone who would stand in his way, which near immediately reached the ears of the Order's military command. The Wranploer Legion had gone to war again, clearly using the Vague as cover for themselves.
Aboard the Iron Fist, Zaarkhun looked at a holographic projection of the galaxy, witnessing the chaos that was taking place. He could only chuckle to himself as everything was going according to plan.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Look at it. Everything crashes and burns before our very eyes. And we haven't even truly started yet. And at the end of it, who will be the benefactors of the chaos of the Western Arm? It will be us. We will be there to provide relief and weaponry - at a cost, of course - and they will become reliant on the very people who are secretly funding their destruction. All while they can't hope to defend from not just us, but everything else the galaxy has to throw at them. Ah, brilliant.
Smugly, Zaarkhun then took out a small tablet, from which he looked at the galactic news reports. But past the reports of destroyed colonies, he saw another piece of news that made him smirk to himself.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - "Businessman Falrik Zaarkhun now third highest net worth in Borealis". The galaxy seems to be fond of me, at least for now. What they don't realise is that my real net worth is far higher than that. They don't know that half of it is laundered and hidden away. Volim, we are now the richest, and soon to be most powerful, men in this galaxy. In the survival of the fittest, it will be us who come out on top. We have some hard times ahead of us, and the galaxy is filled with many more threats that will serve as obstacles on our path. However, right now, we have played these fools, and we shall take from them not only their coin, but their territory, and their power. The time for war, for real war, is now.
The attacks would meet retaliation from the Zoles, Niaka and Paladians, who would fight Torrent's armada at the north of the arm, inevitably leading Ottzello's reinforcements to become reduced. But even with all that Volim and Zaarkhun had planned, there were still other factors which affected them, very negatively at that. Reveling in the destruction caused by the Vague and the space pirates, the Devourer's Chosen's own fleets launched attacks against the Indoctrinate Collective, UNO and the Consortium, all of them finding their worlds invaded by hordes of ferocious Corruptus Demons. The Champions of the Chosen, led by the monstrous Arberkul, would cause great destruction just as their enemies found themselves most vulnerable, butchering their people with no concerns and kidnapping the survivors so that they could be re-educated into the ways of the Chosen.
If that was not enough, the worlds of Da Rogue Boyz were being attacked by the Alvino, who slaughtered the Loron and consumed their flesh at every opportunity they could. As their people tried to flee across the galaxy, overwhelmed by the power of the Brood, they inevitably led them into the territory of other civilizations, and it was only a matter of time until the Zoles, Niaka, UNO and Wranploer took notice of bio-ships in their territories, stalking their Cold Relays.
There were no winning sides in this. All of the known galaxy was slowly collapsing.
Blood on the Ice
The influence of the Galactic Empire of Cyrannus reached all the way to Borealis, where it would be spread among the Heleanorian folk. One of them, a man by the name of Harana, would be the instigator of one of the most crippling battles the Zoles Imperium suffered through the war.
Dreams of Corruption
Hachiman sat amidst a pile of what looked like a mountain of videogames. Surrounding him were hills of sugary foods, some of them floating across the air around him - they resembled the dream bits Mimi constantly gave him back at New Drake, and putting them on his mouth provided the same, sweet taste which lingered in his mouth longer after swallowing. The nine-year old Tā would turn to his computer, its screen truly gigantic, as it displayed an image which gave him great humour; Baptarion, the grumpy, boring Radeon being chased around his laboratory by an enormous cat who constantly hit him across the side with an equally massive sandal.
However, the imagine would glitch before turning static. The young boy would blink to find himself in a forest covered by a thick fog, a single light at the horizon serving as a direction for him to take. As he walked, each step was followed by a thud behind him, and as he turned around to check the source of the noise, his single working eye widened as a massive silhouette loomed behind the mist; emaciated, incredibly tall and a shining, cybernetic eye, it chased the Tā faster with each step. Hachiman tried to run for the light, but the most he tried, the farther away it seemed to get, all while the skeletal arm of the entity behind him extended, its clawed fingers about to take the boy on his grasp.
- ??? - Destined to die. Begone from this galaxy.
Hachiman would scream, finding himself grasped by the arms and shook somewhat aggressively, though as he regained his senses, he did not find himself in the claws of the monster. Instead, Baptarion held him in place, looking at the boy in the eyes as he realized he now laid on his bed, in the darkness of the bedroom which had been arranged to him.
- Baptarion - Wake up! Stop screaming!
- Hachiman - Aaaah! Ahhhh! ... B-Baptarion?
- Baptarion - ... Kid. Did you have a nightmare with a giant beast chasing you?
- Hachiman - Huh? ... Y-Yeah, I did... H-How do you know that?
- Baptarion - ... I dreamed the same thing.
Time passed quickly in a situation like they were going through. The Leaders of UNO saw themselves very slowly, but surely being able to take the fight to the Vague, with their losses being greatly reduced in the past months thanks to the discovery of their weakspots and the help of the Zoles and their allies. However, despite all of this, they were not any step closer to actually defeating the Vague for good; destroying them seemed to do no good, as more of them simply appeared later. Despite the victories and the support they were receiving, the Vague remained as undefeated as when they arrived two years prior.
At this point, they were reminded of their discovery of the Vida'Rranlora of their old galaxy, who had been the first to warn them of the Vague, even if they were not truly aware of them. As they were exceptionally ancient intelligences with records of virtually all of Ottzello's past, UNOL turned to them for help, hoping that they would have an answer.
- Valzo - Vida'Rranlora. We seek your guidance once again. Tell us, in this galaxy's history, has there ever been any power source, weapon, or any ancient artifact that is capable of combating extra dimensional threats?
The Vida'Rranlora, unlike the rest of UNO's allies, did not manifest holograms to present themselves. Their electronic voices were the only indication of their presence.
- Vida'Rranlora - Designated galaxy B001X possesses hyperspatial structure denominated "Grid". Used by precursors to shield designated galaxy from supernatural activity. Details unknown to this database in specific. Seek the database of B001X for clarification.
- Kralgon Emperor - The "Grid"? What? Precursors of the galaxy? The Taldar never had...
wait, are they discussing Borealis or Ottzello here?
- Vida'Rranlora - You asked information on B001X. We have provided what information we possess.
- Kralgon Emperor - Which one is "B001X", then?
- Yogtam - I get the feeling they misunderstood Valzo when he said "this galaxy".
- Valzo - My mistake. B001X is not the one which I was referring to. Do you have information about the late Ottzello galaxy?
- Vida'Rranlora - Designated galaxy O001X. This database's designated galaxy. Supernatural threats were combated through the use of Essence.
- Tralkik Commander - This seems in line with our own information.
- Feldosia - Essence, that it? Did they not use any structures, superweapons or anything to channel Essence with? Any Taldar relics that could amplify its power?
- Vida'Rranlora - Vyro'Narza artifacts were plentiful. However, most have been lost, either when designated "Zr'An'Kar" stole them during the Corruptus War, or when the galaxy was destroyed.
- Feldosia - You say "most" have been lost. That implies there are still some out there, does it not?
- Vida'Rranlora - Vyro'Narza artifacts have been detected in this sector. The coordinates will be displayed now.
A hologram of a star map appeared before UNOL, directing them to a star system somewhere in the sector. It was not one they inhabited.
- Tralkik Commander - Deep in uncharted territory. As I feared. We have no idea what else may be there, or what other Rogue Boyz await us. However, at least the Vague are less likely to be looking for us there.
- Vida'Rranlora - Designated species "Loron" has not been detected in the region. However, the planet is inhabited.
- Feldosia - They're lucky, then.
- Zr'Ahgloth - YA MOMS LUCKY
- Feldosia - She really was, though. She never had to encounter you thugs once.
- Kralgon Emperor - Thank you for this information, Vida'Rranlora. Do you have anything else on this planet?
- Vida'Rranlora - Inhabitants of this planet predate your civilization. Designated name "Blyro'Tralzica".
The other Leaders looked at each other and scratched their heads. The name sounded eerily familiar to them, like something out of legend. Tuolog was the only one who recognised them.
- Tuolog - "Blyro'Tralzica". Now that a name I not heard in thousands of years, and not expected to hear again.
- Zr'Ahgloth - wat dat
- Tuolog - They an ancient order of Taldar cultists. They vowed to defend time from threats and to uphold traditions of Blyronism. However, they presumed extinct after Great Blyro War.
- Vida'Rranlora - The assumption of extinction is incorrect. Blyro'Tralzica presence has existed in this planet since the mentioned conflict.
- Kralgon Emperor - Which means they've likely isolated themselves there. Alright, we know what to do. Let's recruit them to our side.
- Vida'Rranlora - As for the threat of designated Vague Fate; this database was not built for military strategy. However, it would be logical to find and eliminate their leader. We also urge you to find the database of B001X. Contact with it was lost approximately 3 billion years ago.
- Valzo - We shall make note of it. Thank you very much for your counsel, it is much appreciated.
- Vida'Rranlora - Acknowledged.
- Zr'Ahgloth - OH MA DAYZ I DONT WANNA JOIN A CULT DATS STOOPID
- Feldosia - Says the Roz'Tah'Flok cultist.
- Zr'Ahgloth - does dat cult appreciate da godz wiv big pizza parties? I BET NOT.
- Feldosia - Yeah, whatever. Okay, folks, let's go.
The Omega Commander made its way to the planet that the Vida'Rranlora had led them to, and made it there by shuttle. They would absolutely not have discovered this world were it not for the Rranlora, as from space, it didn't look like it could possibly contain any life. It may have been in the right position in its star system away from its sun, but it was filled with smog, and could have easily contained poisonous gases. It appeared to be surrounded by stormclouds perpetually, and did not look like any sunlight had ever reached the surface before.
As they landed, indeed, it was filled with thunderstorms and massive rainclouds. The shuttle landed in the midst of a golden city, which appeared to be made of Taldar Gyronium metal. It was a large, impressive metropolis, and yet somehow still felt ancient. They were greeted at once by Inalton-looking guards clad in golden armour with energy blades attached to their wrists, who stopped them.
- Inalton Guard - Infidel. State your identity.
- Zr'Ahgloth - WAT DID YA JUS CALL ME
- Inalton Guard - I don't recognise this one's species. Where did you come from, infidels?
- Yogtam - Inalton, here? ... Infidels?
- Valzo - We come from the Unified Nation of Ottzello. This one is a Loron.
The Inalton Guard glared at Valzo, recognising none of what he was saying. As the Leaders looked around, they saw it was populated not only by Inalton, but also by Ioketa, and by an alien race that distinctly appeared Ottzelloan, but was dissimilar to any they had seen before. The Inalton Guard beckoned to several others, who surrounded them.
- Inalton Guard - We do not recognise you. We will take you before our cleric, and he will decide if you should be executed.
- Kralgon Emperor - You're not executing us. You're living in our space.
- Inalton Guard - Wrong. You are invading our space. We warned your kind to leave us.
- Kralgon Emperor - Nonsense, we just discovered this system.
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN INALTONS IS ALL DUM
- Yogtam - You keep quiet. Take us to your cleric.
The Inalton Guards marched alongside the Leaders. Each of them looked around the city more. It must have been ancient, and made them feel as if it had stood for thousands of years, and yet it was just as good as new. The architects here were far ahead of their time, and it would almost make one wonder if this was constructed by the Taldar themselves. While it made many of them think of Grenzaar, it felt too orderly, with how disciplined its people seemed to look, for it to remind them of it. They found themselves walking across a long sky bridge to an enormous cathedral, but rather than having to enter, three clerics on floating chairs waited for them outside. One was completely alien, the other was another Inalton, and the third in the centre of them was an Ioketa. This was the one who spoke.
- Ioketa Cleric - Infidels. What brings you to our space?
- Valzo - We discovered your planet in the uncharted regions of our sector. We wanted to know who inhabited it.
- Ioketa Cleric - Uncharted regions. Has the Government even forgotten its own inhabitants in the thousands of years that past? I somehow doubt it. I believe your intentions to be hostile.
- Yogtam - Government?
- Ioketa Cleric - Do not take us for fools, infidels. Now lower your weaponry. I assure you, it will be useless against me.
- Kralgon Emperor - We don't even have our weapons up!
- Tuolog - He speaks of Federal Government of Ottzello. An archaic name.
- Ioketa Cleric - That you chose to rename yourselves does not change our position. We made it very clear we were done with your kind. You let the entire galaxy crumble, and for that, you do not have our forgiveness.
- Tuolog - You are mistaken. Federal Government was dismantled at the end of the Great Blyro War. It been nearly 2000 years.
The three clerics glared at the Leaders, as the guards around them looked puzzled. The clerics spoke to one another.
- Inalton Cleric - Is what you say true, Ioketa?
- Tuolog - It is. Federal Government fell, and was later replaced by United Nations of Ottzello. Which grew into Unified Nation of Ottzello. Our empire.
- Alien Cleric - And the Kralgon? Why do they walk among you?
- Tuolog - Kralgon nearly faced extinction at the claws of Hostile Xenoform Threat. Surrendered to us and joined our people to survive. Our empire is the union of many races trying to survive.
The three clerics spoke amongst each other once more briefly, as the Leaders became irritated with how long they were taking. Then, the Ioketa cleric, who appeared to be in charge, stepped up from his chair.
- Ioketa Cleric - We have no reason to believe you are lying to us, Ioketa. We believe your people to be well intentioned.
- Tuolog - Thank you. We have no reason to be hostile to our own people.
- Zr'Ahgloth - WHAI DO YOO KEEP CALLIN ME INFIDEL THO
- Ioketa Cleric - Allow me to formally introduce myself. I am Great Chief Cleric Kaltogo of the Blyro'Tralzica. We are sworn to uphold the traditions of Blyronism and to protect the timeline. It is our sworn duty to guide it towards the True Fate.
- Tuolog - Blyronism still exists in UNO. Perhaps not as intensily as it was in Federal Government, but it does. Also you speak of True Fate. Can you explain?
- Kaltogo - The True Fate is that which Vyro'Nazdea, or Volzara, wishes for us Ottzelloans. She chose a specific path for her children, but gave them free will so that they may achieve it on their own, in the right timeline. It is our duty to understand and achieve that Fate.
- Tuolog - Interesting. I would ask your help then. Do you know of terms such as "Vague Fate" and "Perfect Fate"?
The clerics and the other guards gasped at the names. They spoke to one another again, this time out of fear, and anxiously. Then, the Inalton cleric spoke to Tuolog, her voice raised.
- Inalton Cleric - Do not bring such things here! We shall have no role in either Fate!
- Kaltogo - Calm down, sister. Calm down. They clearly do not know what they mean.
- Tuolog - Indeed, hence why I asked help. We have been at war with fourth-dimensional beings who call themselves the Vague Fate for nearly two years. They want to exterminate all Ottzelloans.
- Alien Cleric - Then the scriptures were true. These are dark days. I am relieved that the Vague Fate is yet to take our people.
- Kaltogo - Yes, the Vague Fate refers to a specific Fate for Ottzelloans that is filled only with uncertainty. It is a subversion of both the Perfect Fate and the True Fate, and is based on a false idea that both are the wrong path for Ottzelloans. But it fundamentally misunderstands the point. We Ottzelloans follow this Fate because it was destined for us. Because it is what Volzara chose for us. It cannot, and should not, be avoided.
- Tuolog - When Dakster, the Vague leader, spoke to us, he say we needed to die for Perfect Fate to be stopped. That is how we know the term.
- Kaltogo - That is the way that most set to subvert the two Fates, yes. The Perfect Fate is indeed the wrong path for us, for it is the one that leads to regret. Indeed, the "Perfect" Fate is not Perfect at all. That is how they describe it to tempt Ottzelloans to follow the wrong path. They lure them in with promises of prosperity, promises of strength, and false hope, but instead, they tear them apart, and take everything away from them.
- Feldosia - "They"?
- Kaltogo - The two beings of Time. The Vyro'Narza and the Vyro'Ralza both.
- Kralgon Emperor - Hm. If the Vague are trying to kill us to stop this Perfect Fate, and the Ralza are involved, then I think we know who is responsible for all this.
- Kaltogo - You speak of Vyro'Ralzora?
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN DAT GUY IS SUCH A PAIN I SWER
- Tuolog - We have reasons to believe Zargoth's servant created Vague. So yes. Zargoth is likely behind it all.
The clerics warmed up to UNOL much more now. They had gained their trust in their eyes.
- Alien Cleric - Kaltogo, is it time to open up this world once again?
- Kaltogo - Perhaps it is.
Around them, each of the Blyro'Tralzica citizens stopped in their tracks and stared at the skies. The storm clouds tore apart, and sunlight reached the lands once again. All of the smog in the sky cleared apart, as if it had been generated by a weather machine, all after Kaltogo gave the order. He smiled at them.
- Kaltogo - Since the Great War, our people have been hidden away from the outside galaxy. We hid this world from them, so that they may never find us. One day, when the Perfect Fate or the True Fate would come, would we return to the galaxy to guide us on the right path. I believe that time has now come.
- Tuolog - I happy that we solved it all without violence. I know we just met, but we need help in the fight against the Vague. As much as this galaxy's natives have helped, we have not found means to stop them.
- Valzo - Yes, that's probably worth noting. You're not at Ottzello anymore. This is Borealis.
- Kaltogo - "Borealis"?
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN YOO PEEPS NEVA HERD OF BOREALIS??? ... tbh neitha did i until we got moved heer
- Kaltogo - The scriptures make no mention of a second galaxy. And they predicted everything. If our galaxy was destroyed by the Xhodocto, we should not be here anymore, and this timeline for our people should cease to exist. What happened?
- Tuolog - Vyro'Narza saved us. They not able to save all of galaxy, but they saved many of its stars. They created a sector in Borealis to house them.
- Kaltogo - I see. We will have to learn much about Borealis. I will have some of our scholars look at this galaxy in greater detail. One more question, though, as I am sure that afterwards you have many for me: what...is that thing?
Kaltogo pointed to Zr'Ahgloth, whose mouth was filled with saliva as he dribbled all over the floor looking extremely bored, with a sense of disgust.
- Tuolog - He is Loron. Their people were not spacefaring at time of Federal Government. They are a... special race.
- Kralgon Emperor - Overwhelmingly strong. But also overwhelmingly idiotic.
- Kaltogo - I...see. Well, as long as you have found a way to tame them. You will recognise much of our species here. We are the warrior races which fought to protect the galaxy at the time of the Federal Government. We once lived together in harmony.
- Yogtam - Logical for the Inalton to be here. However, I don't recognize the race of your third cleric, if you don't mind me saying that.
- Kaltogo - Ah, she is a, well, we can discuss that later. Let's just say, your species have all evolved on different worlds, but you share much the same DNA as ours. And clearly the same language, too.
- Yogtam - Fair enough. We need to focus on the Vague.
- Tuolog - I need to note one thing, though, since you are Blyro'Tralzica. If you are the leaders then you must know of Durzhan.
The clerics then spoke to one another with a sense of outrage and disdain at the mention of the name.
- Kaltogo - Yes, Durzhan. It has been thousands of years since I have encountered him, but he is still as stubborn as ever. Still wholly convinced that the Perfect Fate is the path that was truly intended for us.
- Tuolog - I afraid he is still around. We know he is involved with the Vague, but we have not yet encountered him in flesh since this war started.
- Kralgon Emperor - That damned Katel is responsible for nearly every bad thing in our history.
- Kaltogo - Indeed, he is, because he is determined to steer the galaxy towards the wrong path. He cannot see, through his own stubbornness, how much sufferring he causes onto the people just for some long term goal that he is wholly convinced will benefit them. But it does not make sense for him to be involved with creating the Vague. The Vague Fate is the last thing he wants.
- Tuolog - I had my suspicion. Perfect Fate can't happen if we all die. But we are not on same side. If Blyro'Tralzica still exists, then so does the Blyro'Tralzorca. We must keep eyes open.
- Kaltogo - Durzhan is likely still its leader. I suspect I shall cross paths with him again. In the meantime, if you fight against the Perfect Fate, we will wholeheartedly support you. Have you anymore questions?
- Tuolog - I curious over ruined ships in the landscape. They not resemble any design I ever seen, not even those of Federal Government.
- Kaltogo - Ah, yes. The Vyronicia Fleet.
- Valzo - That's a new name there.
Kaltogo made an order to his guards and clerics, who left as he remained behind to explain to them.
- Kaltogo - Before they were the Vyro'Narza, the Taldar were once three dimensional mortals, who ruled over the Taldar Empire. However, when they ascended to the fifth dimension, many of the ideas they had once had, and many of the great starships they had built, remained with them, and were created in many of the galaxies and universes they proceded to create as fifth dimensional beings. The Vyronicia Fleet is one of them. These starships are more powerful than anything that has ever flown in Ottzello - though I can't say if that is true of Borealis.
- Feldosia - Sorry but, "ascended"? You're saying the Vyro'Narza were not always the lords of time?
- Kaltogo - They were always keen time travellers, but they were not always tasked with looking after the space-time continuum. No, they were not always the lords of time we know them to be today. I will have more to say on this matter later, but for now, we will be rebuilding the Vyronicia Fleet. It shall prove invaluable against the Vague Fate.
- Kralgon Emperor - Rebuilding the mortal ships of the Taldar? Well, we gained quite a major ally by coming here, didn't we?
- Zr'Ahgloth - I JUS WANNA PUNCH VAGUE IN DA FAIC MAN IS IT SO HARD TO DO DAT
- Tuolog - Yes. Yes it is.
- Zr'Ahgloth - dam
- Kaltogo - Well, you got the "idiotic" part right at least. Your funny little friend here should probably be kept under a watch.
- Kralgon Emperor - Don't worry about that. He has nanomachines flowing through his body which makes rebellion impossible.
- Kaltogo - Hmmm. It appears we have much to learn about one another. Please, make yourselves at home here. While we prepare the fleet, I would much like to introduce you to our scholars.
- Feldosia - Of course. Zr'Ahgloth, don't break anything.
- Zr'Ahgloth - too late lol
- Feldosia - Volzara's sake.
With that, the Leaders and Kaltogo went inside the great cathedral as the rest of the Blyro'Tralzica were ordered to prepare the Vyronicia Fleet at once. This would be the start of a beautiful friendship.
A War That Gods Decree
With a considerable amount of convincing, Arsac had gotten her wish. She and her allies had convinced numerous spiritualist groups both in Andromeda and in Borealis - the Minga Theocracy in particular - to rally to her banner. An army of zealots and fanatics to counter with compelling will of the Devourer's champions.
Though her command, the war raged. Understanding now that those who were seduced by the whispers of the Corruptus could not be saved, this was a crusade of extermination, a call for the death of any who bowed to their dark master. What stood in her way was the Acolyte of War, the Spinker she had met in the months before. The months that preceeded and followed were a gruelling tugging game as both commanders sought to gain supremacy over the other, turning the Indoctrinate Collective's territories, those lost to the zealous march of the Devourer's Chosen, into one of the bloodiest theatres of the war. Both sides were calling on millions of fanatics, but both with entirely different strategies in mind. Kalorun's forces were equipped with what could be salvaged from the factories under his master's gaze, backed by dark demons. Arsac lacked such supernatural aid, and could not call an entire solar system to do her bidding as Kalorun could but made up for it in her full access to the Inquisition's theoretically limitless financial accounts, which granted her forces advanced weaponry and innumerable starships, the finest being the Breath of Judgement; a Draconid Warlord-Class Titan, a colossal dreadnought difficult to match in size and raw brutal firepower that she had declared her flagship.
For months, planets burned, fleets were torn as both commanders engaged in a long protracted campaign against the other. Both were determined to see the utter destruction of the other, the only thing perhaps sustaining such a crusade was an agreement by those involved that the other must be destroyed. Not even the Inquisition enjoyed calling for its crusades to be a war of extermination, costly as such were, but anything less would be insufficient. Kalorun was happy to bombard cities while Arsac often announced the end of an assault with a shot from the titanic primary gun of the Breath of Judgement - An aptly named connection as such a command would fire a superlaser beam hundreds of metres in diameter to the planet in question. Such firepower would crack the surface so deeply it would expose the mantle while the shockwave from the blast would choke the atmosphere in an ash winter. Nothing mortal would survive such devastation as these blasts shook their targets near to breaking point.
Such violence would conjure the crusade's name as "The Great Dark Scarring". While there were plenty of planets that were hit only enough to be victim to an ash winter and be otherwise intact, reports came in that such scarring was reserved for planets said to be so heavily influenced by the taint that the cities, deserts, tundras and forests would be sick with the Corruptus taint. To the crusaders these were dead planets, and were declared to be beyond saving.
Kalorun's strategy was not just to expel the invaders. He saw the war as an opportunity to spread the Devourer's word: Targeted supply lines, undefended frontiers and vulnerable support stations were all an opportunity to expand the theatre of war. And after a year the crusade fought not just within the tainted territories, but for hundreds possibly thousands of light years around it. Occasionally going further beyond if Kalorun dealt enough of a significant blow. But in all cases, Arsac's central armada, later referred to as the Sword of the Divines Convocation was almost unassailable. The Breath of Judgement almost unreachable deep within the formation. Likewise, the crusade struggled to go too deeply into the Chosen territories. The very heart of the corrupted empire was too fortified and too drowned in demons and cultists for the crusade to make a significant journey further than the outer and midway territories.
With the heart unreachable and the crusade's resources almost endless, the focus was on a battle for supremacy between the two commanders, sometimes their armadas meeting to exchange blows before one retreated to lick their wounds or recoup from the shock of the attack. it would however, continue for the time being.
Consequences to the Killer
The two leaders of the Consortium Network watched the galaxy from their throne with a smile. Everything was going according to their plan. Their power was growing exponentially, their enemies were unable to react to them as easily as they had in the past, and they were closer to the vengeance they'd longed for their whole lives. From their perspective, in this seat of power, on a starship so powerful, they were almost unstoppable, while still growing impatient. So Zaarkhun did not expect what was about to happen.
Volim appeared pleased, though not as much as his partner in crime as he read through the logs sent to him by his forces.
- Volim - Torrent's fleet is doing as we planned. You couldn't find a better captain for something like this.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - It is brilliant. Soon, our foes will be vanquished, and this entire galaxy, ours.
- Volim - Yes, but still... these cultists are moving into our outer colonies. I cannot express how much I hate these cultists.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - We shall have them dealt with soon enough. I will see if any mercenary is willing to combat them.
At that instant, without warning, the Iron Fist came to a halt as all of its systems and lights went offline, forcing emergency power supplies to be activated. The sudden incident nearly threw Volim out of his throne, forcing him to grip on its arms to not be thrown forward. Zaarkhun too felt a sudden shock, as he immediately gripped onto the arms of the throne and stood up with both his pistols in hand.
- Volim - What the hell? What happened?!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Is this the Grox again? Sollow, get us out of here.
- Crewsman - General, the ship's controls are not responding! Something is happening outside!
- Volim - Give me a visual!
Volim and Zaarkhun were granted a view of the space around the Iron Fist; a dense, black nebula had enveloped it, obstructing their view. The crew of the ship begun growing restless as the shadows of the corners of every room appeared to move by themselves. It had all happened out of nowhere, for a nebula of this description was never recorded in this region of space.
While trying to grasp around the situation, a great black void manifested in the center of the throne chamber, where all the shadows appeared to merge with one another; a feeling of great dread befell the Wranploer as many of the crewmen fleed in terror, while the shadows grew in size and appeared to devour all light around them. Out of them, a great avian-like mass emerged, its body nearly pitch-black save for two pairs of shining, vicious blood-red eyes.
Falrik Zaarkhun's eyes widened in fear, in a way that Volim had never seen before. He cowered at the back of the room, as he yelled for Genrai's support. At request, Genrai Nal teleported into the room to stand in between Zaarkhun and the gigantic, demonic beast, with his blades drawn.
- Genrai Nal - What business have you on this ship?
- ??? - You who have forgotten where your loyalties lie. You who would draw your blade to your master.
- Genrai Nal - I am aware of where my loyalties lie. They lie here.
- ??? - You are wrong.
The massive entity leaned forward, allowing some light to make its characteristics more distinct; it was Shu'wokerama, one of the High Demons of the Corruptus and a god among mortals. As he revealed himself, darkened tendrils begun growing through the walls, floor and ceiling of the chamber, surrounding them completely. Its expression was one of discontent as it spoke in what sounded like a thousand voices at once.
- Shu'wokerama - Your soul belongs to us. You are our Vanguard. And only ours.
- Genrai Nal - ...Forgive me. Why must you make me choose between you both?
- Volim - What the hell is happening?! What is that thing?!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - A leader of the cultists. One of the gods that those cultists worship. Genrai made a deal with him which has now soured.
- Shu'wokerama - You have already made your choice when your soul and ours became one. You are our instrument. You are an instrument of That Which Devours. And for daring to draw your blade against the servants of That Which Devours, you will be punished.
- Genrai Nal - But you know that you would rather have me as a friend than as a foe. You will not destroy me.
- Shu'wokerama - You will wish we would.
From the walls, one of the tendrils suddenly launched itself at Genrai Nal, impacting against him at furious speed. The impact floored the Inalton immediately, with such force that the floor under him was left dented in a vaguely Inalton-like shape. Before there could be any reaction, the tendril wrapped itself around the warrior and lift him up, bringing him to the center of the chamber as many more tendrils made themselves visible.
- Shu'wokerama - Your mortal accomplices will bear witness.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Get off of him, you bastard!
- Sollow - Watch and learn!
From the shadows, Sollow leaped at Shu'wokerama's direction, his knives in hand as he planned to stab the deity. However, before he got close, one tendril struck him, and the Heeyorian was bisected horizontally, each of his halves wreathed in purple fire as they were flung across the chamber. Zaarkhun was filled with both a rage and terror in his eyes, and he slammed on the ground, while cursing Shu'wokerama, but knowing he was powerless to stop it. This sense of powerlessness was not one he had felt in hundreds of years, and it mortified him.
Even Volim, who was a particularly cruel individual, forced himself to shield his eyes as he realized what was about to follow. The tendrils around the room begun dividing themselves into thinner ones, their surfaces covered in curved barbs which proceeded to lash Genrai Nal's body in quick succession, violently lacerating the Inalton warrior in front of Falrik Zaarkhun. At this point, he lost himself. Hopeless, he fired at the tendrils, and while his shots were accurate, they did very little damage. After minutes of torture, Shu'wokerama would bash Genrai Nal against the floor, before slowing dragging him into the darkness he manifested from.
- Shu'wokerama - All thoughts of rebellion will be removed. You will not question us again.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Go to Hell.
- Shu'wokerama - Know that your empire is insignificant in the eyes of That Which Devours. This galaxy will be consumed. And my Vanguards will see to it themselves.
With this, Genrai, who had gone unconscious from the torture he was subject to, was consumed by the darkness before Shu'wokerama himself disappeared. The nebula which nearly devoured the Iron Fist slowly dissipated as the ship's systems slowly returned to normal.
A few moments after they had gone, Falrik Zaarkhun let out a yell, and flung himself to the ground. He slammed on the floor, creating a dent.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Damn!
He waited a while, as his eyes began to tear up a little, before hitting one more time, but weaker than before.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Damn...
And now, he turned to Volim, no longer caring how weak he looked before him, and stood up. The General had a hand on his head, holding on it as if suffering from a migraine.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I'll make them pay for this.
- Volim - You never mentioned your friend had deals with the cultists... Bloody hell. I'm gonna need a drink to forget that.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - There is only one thing I fear, and that is gods. The extradimensional entities. I will liberate this universe from them. All of them!
At this moment, Sollow's upper half crawled back into the chamber, charred from demon fire as he could barely keep himself together.
- Sollow - I guess those were the consssequences coming for him... But. I recall you both had prepared for this very scenario before.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Yes, that we had. Sollow, you go prepare the Genrai Nal clone. The one clean from any Corruptus influence. I may not have my best friend anymore, but this'll have to do.
- Volim - Hold up. You cloned him?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - We agreed before he cut the deal that we would keep a perfect replica of him around in case something like this would happen. It appears that day has come. I didn't realise, when I made plans for that, that when this day would come...it...it wouldn't feel the same.
- Sollow - I do hope the new Genrai is a little more cheerful than the last... Ack. My eyes and head and arms. I'll get that done as soon as I find my legs...
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Good. Do so. And then, we get Genrai looking for a weapon of sorts. Some way to deal with the cultists and the Vague. I should show these extradimensionals that they're not welcome here, and we will stand up to them.
- Volim - ... In the meantime, I'm going to the the ship's bar. I really, really need a drink.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - All right. Have a good one. I...I'm not really in the mood for that.
A Campaign's End
Kalorun was growing desperate. In one of their attempts to penetrate deep into Chosen territory, the crusade had pushed as deep as planet Kainulcen in the middle territories. There, the Minga chaplain Shaida Zangun commanded a lightning strike on the Nolgrull Construct, a drydock network some fifty metres across that orbited some three hundred kilometres from Kainulcen's surface. The surprise attack had wrecked the shipyard complex and sent dozens of drydocks on a descending orbit, depriving Kalorun of one of his largest available shipyards. To shatter planets, factories and temples was one infraction, but this time the matter was different. Nolgrull was the largest shipyard the Chosen controlled, easily providing them with enough ships to hold their borders. Without the construct, the integrity of his line was under threat. It may have been a Minga chaplain that commanded the construct's destruction, but he could see the hand that commanded this assault. The Inquisition of Drakon were the leaders of this crusade, but more importantly to him it was the Draconid Imperium allowed them to exist. In vengeance for their assaults, the Imperium would suffer the consequences of the Inquisition's actions.
Kalorun's retribution fell on a regional economic hub for the Draconid Imperium's colonies - the growing world of Kalsiat Prime. In retribution for what the crusade did to his forces, he would do the same and worse to the Draconis. Destruction was not the goal; he wanted to see the planet drowned in the sacred shadows he worshipped. The black fog would consume every home and business, and under Geltastra's claw the sanctified worlds of the Chosen would expand to include the ancient empire of the Draconis.
Reasonably defended, Kalorun threw every available force he could muster at the planet, interested more in breaking through the blockade and drowning the world below in death and black fog. After battering the initial blockade, Kalorun's forces descended like a tide though portals and in shuttles, first landing on the outskirts of the bombarded cities to catch any evacuees, then moving troops to take military bases from the planetary defence force. Their current occupiers fighting for their lives, at one time hoping they would never have to see war of this magnitude.
As havoc reigned on the planet below in a desperate struggle to wrest the planet from its holders and into the dark hand of the Corruptus, their commander managed the campaign from his command room. But something was not entirely right: The defenders were doing just that; defending. His command centre was not being threatened nor were there many reports of his supply lines being under threat. For all intents and purposes, the defenders were content simply to hold out. This puzzled Acolyte Kalorun, who watched the event unfold with a hand under his mouth; he sought to consume the inhabitants of this world and turn them into servants, but they were obviously holding back. Something unusual was happening.
As he contemplated, elite inquisitors moved discreetly though the command ship. Only occasionally silencing the corridor patrols. By the time their presence was reported they were almost to the command centre. Arsac was leading the assault force that, when far enough, began to force their way though the blast doors that divided her from Kalorun.
It had been two years since their first encounter. As her fireteam tried to force open the doors she slipped - she was growing eager to finally end this dark commander, who had been her opponent for months of bombings and raids. Now he had come to the Imperium, the battle could be on her terms. As the blast doors opened, her assault force was immediately greeted with gunfire coming from infantry of the Chosen, who had formed a meat shield to protect the Acolyte, who took cover behind of his control panels. These troopers varied between men and women with charred skin, to others who had clearly been heavily disfigured, sporting enlarged body proportions and tentacles erupting out of their extremities. With the roar of gunfire the small team jumped for cover as well, Arsac darted to evade the hailfire that greeted them.
- Kalorun - Damnable Draconis! How did you even get on my ship?!
- Arsac - To be an agent of His inquisition is to be undetectable. Acolyte.
- Kalorun - You have made a terrible mistake. Gun them all down!
Extending her gauntlet's claws, Arsac kept to the edge of the room. A boost of strength from her power armour made her a difficult target to hit and what shots did manage to hit bounced off a portable defense field. While few in numbers, the elite inquisitors of this fireteam were well-equipped, and could have taken on entire squads had their opponents not been enhanced by the mutating influences they embraced. The Acolyte shook his fist in frustration over the entire incident, considering it an insult to his intellect as the more mutated cultists in the Chosen forces created spheres of essence in their hands which they proceeded to throw at the Inquisition forces, who found these exploding with the strength of grenades. The more supernatural nature of his closest cultists levelled the playing field. But the ultimate goal had been Kalorun himself.
After only a few minutes, Kalorun found himself staring at Arsac who swung her claws at him, getting a storng look at her highly decorated armour, and a good glympse of the crested dragon-headed helmet she wore. The Acolyte was thrown into the ground, yelling in pain as his servants immediately turned around and pointed their weapons at Arsac - they would be eager to throw their lives away to protect their master. Arsac's fireteam took the advantage to shoot the cultists in the back while Arsac reached to grab Kalorun and lift him up. By his lack of proper armor and weaponry, it was clear to her that the Acolyte never intended to be in the front, where people like her could reach him. He struggled on her grasp, attempting to fight back with kicks against her chest.
- Arsac - I expected a little mroe from the Acolyte of War, Kalorun.
- Kalorun - Fool! I sought to spread war across your people... and I have succeeded!
- Arsac - Your demonic predecessors achieved better sevreal years ago.
- Kalorun - The lives of your kind which I have taken cannot be brought back. Kill me if you're so eager, for my demise accomplishes nothing! The Dark Apostle will have you!
- Arsac - We shall see. Regardless, you are beyond redemption.
- Kalorun - I am not the heretic here, woman. Be thorough with this, I grow sick of your face.
- Arsac - As you wish.
Arsac drove her claws into Kalorun's chest, one of the claws directly rupturing his heart. Shen she was sure he was dead, she laid him in the floor and knelt down in respect.
- Arsac - Whatever remains of your spirit...may it find peace.
What surviving cultists were still in the chamber were taken back by the death of their master, making them easy targets for Arsac's strike force to finish them off. A pitch-black sludge came out of the hole on Kalorun's chest, spreading across the floor before dissipating into dust. Lost in their shock, the remaining cultists were culled. A killing lacking the interest Arsac had displayed when her target was Kalorun, emptying the chamber of life in a more surgical and professional manner.
With the battle concluded, Arsac stood in the comms chamber back on board the breath of Judgement, her crusade's flagship. Reporting on her victory to the elder inquisitors. The crusade would not rest, and the armada was on its way back to the territories the Devourer's Chosen claimed with an eagerness to finish what was started.
- Arsac - The commander of the "Devourer's Chosen" has been executed.
- Elder - So why are you not returning the assets, high inquisitor?
- Arsac - Because there is an entire empire to purge of foul practices.
- Elder - Your position grants you the obligation to serve other priorities. I'm sure your commanders can clean up remains of the cult.
Arsac was hesitant for a moment, thinking back on the months of her war.
- Arsac - No. The Chosen are a threat, they must be ended as quickly as possible.
- Elder - You are our sword, High inquisitor. And our decree is for you to be sheathed!
At this moment, systems aboard the Breath of Judgement begun to malfunction, forcing many of them to use emergency power supplies to remain active as a growing, dark purple nebula appeared to manifest without notice, engulfing Arsac's vessel at a frightening speed. Before any comments could be made about it, the walls of the chamber shook and caused some of the crew to lose their footing as something appeared to collide with the ship's exterior.
- Arsac - What did we just hit!
- Comm - Particle cloud mistress. It's currently surrounding the vessel.
- Arsac - Lifefather's backside I will have the navigator's head for his incompetence!
- ??? - I told you... we would meet again.
A voice echoed through the interior of the Warlord. One which Arsac could recognize, though she knew the individual it belonged to had been destroyed six years prior. Clinging into the ship was a large demon, his body emaciated to a near skeletal degree as it vaguely resembled the image of the now-defeated Marinoxidiz, with a pair of large, skeletal tendrils erupting from his back and dangling into the void of space. His claws dug into the hull of the vessel, though luckily, they did not appear to breach the surface enough to cause any significant damage. A chill ran down Arsac's spine and a sting spread form her heart.
- Arsac - ...Impossible.
- ??? - All who I have marked during the old war have long died. All but you. A determined soul, you are, ending the lives of my mortal servants.
- Arsac - And I will continue until I expire.
Keeping her panic suppressed as best she could, Arsac moved from the comms room and marched briskly in the direction of the armoury. As she was on her own ship, she was only wearing a light version of her famed armour and had only a longsabre to protect herself. The demon appeared to follow her movements outside, as he scuttled in the hull to where she would be inside, all while continuing to speak.
- ??? - You must not expire. You are a valuable asset. Your victory over my Acolyte of War is a proof you are more useful to me alive.
- Arsac - It is rare when my enemies ask that I not die brutally and violently.
- ??? - I am not your enemy, mortal. I am your future. Deliver yourself to my Chosen.
This was one of the few moments Arsac found hilarious, letting out a momentary burst of loud laughter as she walked along.
- Arsac - You truly are delusional. Death must have rotted your mind.
- ??? - I can feel it in your soul. You follow individuals who limit your freedom. You relished in the deaths of my cattle. You would feel much more fulfillment by living a life of pure, unlimited bloodshed.
- Arsac - I relished in liberating the innocent souls your dark influence twisted into sad shadows. You offer that which my crusade already provides.
- ??? - Do not fool yourself. You love the act of killing. You have your doubts, your fears... your desires for hatred, anger and violence.
- Arsac - Is this what your mark offers you, demon? Insight into how and why I kill?
- ??? - My mark allows me to find you. I do not need it to read you.
The demon, at that moment, let go of the ship's hull, beginning to slowly drift away from it. However, he continued to speak.
- ??? - You cannot run from us. We are outside of your life and death cycle. I am Marigrax, the Great Corruptor, master of the Devourer's Chosen... and soon, master of this entire galaxy.
- Arsac - If you intend to stop me killing your pawns, you have failed. This crusade will continue until either your followers or I rest in the dirt.
- Marigrax - It is yet too soon for you to join me. Proceed with your mortal affairs. When time is right... you will come for me yourself.
With this, Marigrax and the nebula of dark essence slowly dissipated until they were no more, leaving Arsac's ship alone in the void. Far from afraid, Arsac was confused. A godling had attached itself to her ship, held it at its mercy, and then rather dismissively permitted her to continue what she was doing before, even though it was surely counter-intuitive to his own. With a shake of her head, Arsac headed for the command deck. Kalorun, their commande,r may be dead, but the campaign was not over.
The Azure Theocracy
At the Friura Sector of the Eastern Arm, the green world of Fanaticus was home to the race of humanoid fish known as Eaglartin. They were not like the Seagon, who they shared the sector with, for they were not a race of mysterious, highly advanced beings; rather, the Eaglartin had a history of blood and war against all aliens, after unknown incidents in their past turned them into a militant army of zealots, killing in the name of the god known as Lud'nev. It was strange to the rest of Borealis, for the humans who inhabited the Western Arm followed a god of the same name, yet they had never reached violence, and many believed the deity to be another name for Spode, whose religion did not even start at Borealis.
Regardless, the Eaglartin had watched the galactic war unfold around them since its beginning. It had not affected them yet, but they were aware of the Devourer's Chosen, the Xi'Arazulha invasion, the Vague threat and the Wranploer attacks on the Zoles. Emerging from his capital shrine-throne, an Eaglartin dressed in royal blue robes and with a crown over his bulbous head made his way to a podium, where a truly colossal congregation had formed to watch him, all while he was being broadcast across the Azure Theocracy; his people's empire.
He was Leader Jaharala, ruler of Fanaticus and prophet of Lud'nev. His voice was high-pitched, but demanding of attention, and he rose one hand as he spoke to his followers.
- Jaharala - People of Azure! You have all seen what is happening around us! The black demons who devoured worlds! The green demons who disintegrate armies! The red demons who burn the land and consume our dreams! Borealis is falling apart, its heresy reaching the point Hell has breached it!
The Eaglartin flock spoke among themselves. They were unsure of what to do, until Jaharala signaled them to be silent before continuing.
- Jaharala - The heretics; the Zoles, the Wranploer, the Niaka and the extragalactic outsiders. They are obviously failed to stop the demons, and they are doing nothing but empower them! We cannot allow ourselves to sit idle in the face of destruction... We must be proactive! And as such, the Eaglartin declares war upon the galaxy! Only we, the faithful, will be able to cleanse it of its sins. Only we, the faithful, will be able to purge the demons away from our home! Like the Emerald Leader during the First Great War, I will lead us to a crusade which shall shake the foundations of Borealis!
The Eaglartin congregation begun to cheer loudly. Jaharala beat his fist against the podium repeatedly as he continued to preach, his face turning into a shade of dark blue as his voice raised.
- Jaharala - We shall begin with the worst offenders! The Egelielano and Adrahira, with their pagan ways! The Minga, who love the Cold Relays as false gods! The Humans, who dare take the name of Lud'nev for themselves! Only by destroying the heretics will we be able to weaken the demons! Prepare yourselves for war!
In truth, the Azure Theocracy was unable to ever pose a real threat to the forces of Order or Disorder; they were too small, too technologically primitive to cause any real damage to the likes of the Zoles, UNO or BCN. However, the threat they posed to the younger races of Borealis was real, and they would start their bloody crusade with them.
Of Gods and Mortals
A few days after the previous event, and the group aboard the Iron Fist were almost completely back to their smug ways. While they were much more wary of the activities of the demonic cultists now, they could still see their plans proceeding smoothly. The clone of Genrai Nal, also, did enough to remind Falrik Zaarkhun of his old friend. To the rest of the crew, it would be as if nothing had happened.
However, all was not quite as it had been before. The group were still relatively shaken, still trembling at the thought of the threats in the galaxy that were much bigger than them. This only made them more and more determined to overcome them. For Falrik Zaarkhun, his fear of gods had come to the forefront, and now he would do everything in his power to rid gods from the Borealis that he controlled. Volim, too, had his own vulnerability, and it was time for him to share it. The general had spent the days in contemplation, before turning his eyes to the Heeyorian and finally speaking his mind.
- Volim - I believe there is something you would want to know.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - And what is that?
- Volim - During our encounter with that Grox vessel, you may recall them saying I had been experimented on.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I do remember that, indeed. But I am not familiar with what you were referring to.
- Volim - I've not shared this with anyone but a selected few. After what happened in the ship a couple days ago, I believe you earned the right to know.
Falrik Zaarkhun nodded in respect. He trusted Volim now, and this would go a long way to ensuring that the two worked well together as peers. He then listened to what the general had to say, while Volim himself turned forward, keeping his hands together.
- Volim - The first time I traveled to the Inner Core was at 915, decades before the First Great War. I was but a youngling at the time, recently risen to the position of General after the old Empire of Vijaha became the Wranploer Legion. The Inner Core was a region unknown to my people, and logically, I saw it as a land of opportunity. But all I found was many years worth of nightmares.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - A natural assumption to make. What nightmares did you find there, though?
- Volim - When my fleet entered the Inner Core, they appeared. The Grox. Our ships went dark almost as soon as they arrived, and then I was knocked out, only to wake up... somewhere, strapped to machinery which made it impossible for me to move. It was then that I saw the Grox for the first time... Short, cybernetic and with those wide, fanged grins on their faces. But that was not the worst of it, oh no.
Volim quickly shook his head, as if disturbed by his own thoughts, before continuing.
- Volim - I have no idea what they did, but machinery entered my flesh many times, piercing it like needles. And as that happened, I could only see this... vision. A massive spaceship, or so it seemed. Until four eyes, as bright as stars, opened. It spoke about the "great harvest" that would come, and how I would serve as its "eyes outside".
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I know about the Grox. But I definitely don't know about this...tell me more, if you can.
- Volim - I can't. All after that is blank. The next thing I remember is me on my ship again, with it going the opposite way of the Inner Core... I ordered a surgery done on me, and the blasted things had probed my heart.
The Wranploer general begun pointing a claw at the center of his chest as he frowned in anger.
- Volim - And it's still there. They made sure any attempt to remove it would kill me.
Zaarkhun's face had remained generally normal throughout, but in his eyes, Volim could see he showed signs of concern, as well as signs of anger at the Grox at the same time. He turned to Volim again, with a more comforting and sympathetic look, then spoke.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Not only will we get it out of you. We will get the Grox out of our galaxy. Believe me.
- Volim - My dream is to become emperor of all stars. And when I achieve that, I will pulverize every single one of those abominations!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You and me both.
Now Zaarkhun formed a more pleasant smile. He felt like he really understood Volim more on a personal level. But after that, it was immediately back to scheming again. Zaarkhun went through in his head everything he knew about the Grox, and about the Borealis Grox, and kept what Volim had told him about them in the back of his mind for later.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I shall do more research on these Borealis Grox. They are sure to have a weakness of some kind that I can exploit. We must remove these smaller obstacles first. I believe the Zoles and UNO are calling themselves the forces of "Order" now. Hah. Once they are gone, the Grox, and the demons, they are next.
- Volim - Bah. Forces of Order. Then let us be the forces of Disorder. We spit in the ideals of the Zoles and their allies.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - That we do, my friend. That we do.
- Volim - ... Fighting the Grox will not be easy. I don't believe in gods, but... the thing I saw. I am convinced it exists, somewhere. And it isn't a spaceship.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - From what we encountered of them, these Grox are far more powerful than the ones I am familiar with. Presumably, they are splinter faction. I believe they may have ties to the Cold One relics in this galaxy somehow. Which means that they may well be related to the Caretakers...hmmm. So much to learn about this enemy.
- Volim - We're led to believe the Grox wiped out the Cold Ones. But the Caretakers are perhaps the most unreliable source of information in the damn galaxy. Stupid androids refuse to answer questions even at gunpoint.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - There is another race in this galaxy that has ties to Cold One artifacts, though. I would keep our relationship with the Seagon close. As for these Grox, we need a way to infiltrate them. I'm thinking of a sort of trojan horse. Of course, these are long-term goals, and our other enemies must come first.
- Volim - Yes. The Zoles must fall, as well as their allies. Then we can start worrying about that.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - We have a far greater chance with them defeated first. If we try to take on the Grox or the demons, not only have we much less of a chance, but we're effectively doing the "forces of Order" a service. I would like to see if these "forces of Order" can be useful to us in fighting them both, somehow...
- Volim - Speaking of demons. I believe it's time you explain your god-phobia to me.
Falrik Zaarkhun coughed a little and cleared his throat, then looked Volim in the eyes.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Before I came to this galaxy, for a long while, I did not have control over my own actions. I was approached by a being known as Durzhan. I should've known a good conman when I saw one, though I did learn a thing or two from him. But he promised me power. He promised me a chance at vengeance, and he promised me that both of us would benefit from it. If only I listened to a certain god named Vyro'Ralzora, that is.
- Volim - I assumed this all involved some incident with zealots. I suppose I was wrong.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Vyro'Ralzora, or Zargoth, is the god of the Vyro'Ralza. They're another godrace of the Dark Chronoscopic kind, and their role is to destroy time anomalies. What Durzhan suggested to me is that I may taste power greater than theirs. Instead, Zargoth simply made me a host. My body was just a three dimensional host for Zargoth, whose mind I shared. It turned out, he selected me because no other mortal mind would be able to cope with sharing a mind with a fifth dimensional, omniscient deity. And yet, I could barely cope. Seeing every single timeline simultaneously at once. And seeing what Zargoth wanted to do. It drove me well beyond the brink of insanity.
- Volim - So... this Zargoth thing possessed you. What exactly did he want?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - What he wanted at the time was war. War in the late Ottzello Galaxy. He knew I was capable of manipulating people to get what I wanted, so he used me to engineer a war between the most powerful races of the galaxy. And then, he used me to break them, by deploying a much stronger threat that they couldn't easily deal with. He plans to use the Ottzelloans for a much more sinister purpose than even I can understand, but he needs to make them go through hell first. I have very little sympathy for the Ottzelloans after what they have done not just to me, but to their own people. But Zargoth, he and his ilk, what they know, what they are capable of...they are extremely dangerous. And they should be gone from mortal lives. We do not need them or want them.
- Volim - ... I see. Not what I expected, to say the least. But I suppose I understand.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - They'll all be gone eventually. We'll spit in the faces of every last one of them. You and I are both men who defied the odds to get where we are now. And that is exactly what we will do.
As Volim and Falrik spoke of the Grox, at the borders of the Inner Core, vessels of the Vague prepared to enter it. They would go through the region in order to reach Ottzello, without having to do a large detour across the southern Outer Core. However, they too were largely unaware of what lurked in the region, and as they foud out, something quite uncharacteristic took place.
As the Vague fleet encountered the scouting parties of the Grox, the so-formidable and near-invincible fourth dimensional creatures were overcome with pure, overwhelming terror - unmanning all of their posts, they could do little but scream and cower, their wails echoing through the transmission channels of the Grox, whose only response was to bombard the fleet into oblivion.
As the Vague were utterly annihilated, they provided no resistance. They merely screamed uncontrollably as they were destroyed, and all other Vague fleets who had any intention of going into the Inner Core immediately retreated to find another path to travel through. They would not go there again.
They would fight and destroy anyone who stood in their way... anyone but the Grox.
The End of Order
The Cards Revealed
The war of Borealis would become entangled with the Andromeda War once an artifact of Andromedan origin was discovered in the galaxy. A race for these items would ensue between the forces of Borealis and the forces of Andromeda, and allowing them to fall on wrong hands would prove to be a fatal mistake.
Reinforcements from Plazith Rim
Baptarion grew increasingly annoyed over time. Not only he had to lead a fleet to combat the likes of the Vague and the Devourer's Chosen, he had to take care of Hachiman, who was little more than a brat, for no specific reason. He had been given a starship in order to be at the front lines, with to being named the Discovery; it possessed a full crew who was essentially autonomous and could handle itself just fine, though they would always ask for Baptarion's guidance on their next moves anyway, since he was technically their commanding officer. The nightmares he was suffering did not help either. He just wanted to return to his laboratory in peace.
Things would, perhaps, change for the better this day, however. Baptarion had received news the main territory of the Milky Way had finally sent reinforcements, and he would receive their own commander on his ship soon. After waiting for about three hours, a shuttle would plug itself to the side of the Discovery, and emerging into the ship was a squad of very heavily armored individuals, their suits clad in such ways Baptarion had never seen before. Leading them was a Spinker, his arms crossed as he inspected the interior of the vessel, all while the crew of the starship bowed in respect.
They were members of the Royal Guard, the most elite force of the Indoctrinate Collective's military, whose task was to ensure the safety of the empire and its government. For them to arrive meant the Supreme Advisors had declared Borealis a high threat zone, and most importantly, they were putting all of their resources into this war now. As Baptarion received the Spinker, feeling somewhat awkward for his unfamiliarity with the Royal Guard, the armor-clad Spinker eventually spoke.
- Spinker - You must be the replacement for Commandant Arberkul. I am Vyutrin Ravokris, Royal Captain of the Collective's Guard.
- Baptarion - Uh, yes. Baptarion Light. Archaeologist. May I ask what you are?
- Vyutrin - You don't know what the Royal Guard is? We are the elite of the elite, the highest military force of the nation, tasked to intervene when the situation goes beyond what the Draka Talon can handle. This war has proven itself to fill the description.
- Baptarion - What took you so long? I'm not a commander, I'm a scientist. I should be studying rocks, not shooting aliens.
- Vyutrin - Nonsense, Radeon. You stand in the grounds of a technocracy. We expect you to be a scientist. Regardless, I have been sent to oversee the war against the Devourer's Choen and the forces which threaten our Borealan and Ottzeloan partners.
- Baptarion - Does that mean I can go home?
- Vyutrin - You try my patience, alien. Of course not.
- Baptarion - But I'm not a soldier!
- Vyutrin - Then I will make you one. Direct me to the commanding room so I may be updated on this war's status.
Baptarion grunted in annoyance. Not only did he have to deal with demons, pirates and children, he now had someone bossing over him. Perhaps things were not going to change for the better as he expected.
A Vague Destiny
Having come back from a series of minor victories against the Vague, things were finally looking hopeful for the Borealis War Council. It was decided now that, grouped with UNO's intergalactic allies, they would stop the Vague at the source - take out the mothership of Dakster, which the Mechanic had at last located. Not one of UNOL wanted to do it, but they had no choice but to defeat their former ally, or at the very least, to intimidate him to stop the attacks.
Tuolog and Valzo summoned everyone leading the attack on the mothership to stage a meeting, in a nebula in the Ottzello Sector, where Dakster was predicted to strike next. They opened up holographic communications as the starfleet converged on the nebula. Leading the Collective offense was Royal Captain Vyutrin, a new face among the allied forces, while Baptarion looked over his shoulder with some apprehension. Commandant Vekaron, Legate Olcinius and Chief Minor Xeron were prepared to take the fight to the Vague leader once and for all.
Commanding the 182nd battlefleet of the Draconid Imperium was admiral Kerella Dacia, supporting her was Esrae Enelea, admiral of the Imperium's 195th battlefleet. Standing at the head of the command deck of her flagship, the Worldravager-class titan TNSS Fireblaze, admiral Dacia folded her feathered arms and examined a projection of the battlezone. The Divinarium was represented also by admiral (or High Ordinator) Mieo Venoriel; unlike other members of the war council, she was not represented in the flesh, but rather as a hologram, still preoccupied with her hunt for the Chosen's prophet. Her projection sat on her command chair whilst keenly observing the situation.
- Venoriel - Now, does any of you have any plan in mind?
- Tuolog - We know what we must do. We look for weakspot on the underbelly of Dakster's mothership. There likely to be more than one. We take out Dakster's shields, then we aim to destroy weakspots. Eventually, we destroy it.
- Venoriel - Simple, but tactically sound. We shall readily devote our ships' firepower against these "Vague".
- Vyutrin - May the enemy be pulverized beyond repair. Failure is not an option.
- Xeron - That I can agree with. Time to show these "extradimensionals" what we're capable of!
- Dacia - Once that shield goes down I can have every capital canion that can see aimed at that moss-chewer's belly.
- Kralgon Emperor - The ship should arrive momentarily...
- Dacia - All fleet-hands prepare for battle stations!
Within moments of uttering the words, the Vague mothership arrived. The ship was enormous, easily several kilometers in diameter, and much like any Vague starship, had no single pattern to its design. Several pieces of the ship appeared to feature the same weaponry that could be seen on the defences of Cold Relays, while the ship took a shape very similar to the Ottzel motherships - though it was far larger. The entire ship completely blocked the view of the rest of the nebula, and it appeared to be accompanied by several other Vague floating around the ship on their own.
Immediately, the crew of each starships could spot the three weakpoints - and as predicted, they were all on the underbelly. Intersections between completely different patterns on the metal hull were where the ship had to be struck. Once they had exhausted the shields on the mothership, it would be time to aim all their firepower. At this point, UNOL no longer cared if they were destroying their only chance of speaking to Dakster again. These monsters had to be stopped, and those families who had lost their loved ones to the brutal slaughter of the Vague had to be avenged. Before any attack could begin, though, the grating, metallic sound of Dakster's voice hissed through their communications.
- Dakster - Why? Why did you bring these outsiders with you?! Why get them involved? I only needed you to die to save this universe! Now I will have to kill them too!
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN YOR FREEKIN CRAZY I SWER
- Tuolog - Last chance, Dakster. You stop this madness, or we will.
- Dakster - No! You had your chance to surrender! Now you die! All of you! Die!
- Vekaron - Open fire! Hold nothing back!
Each of the UNO Warships unloaded their particle cannons onto the mothership, the shield absorbing most of the blasts. They would watch for the armour on the ship and the metallic screams from Dakster on the communicator to know when they could land a hit on the weak point, at which point, each of UNO's frigates and bombers would fire their missiles. UNO's fighters in the meanwhile had to instead deal with the swarms of Vague escorting the motership.
Squawking orders to the ships in the fleet, Dacia ordered for her capital ships to fire a barrage of ion torpedoes at Dakster's mothership, while smaller ships of the line and faster frigates and destroyers intercepted the Vague ships supporting Dakster's flank. Drones from the carriers meanwhile flew fro mtheir berths to escort UNO's fighters and bombers, strafing the Vague swarms
- Dacia - Someone mute that hostile channel before my ears start bleeding!
- Yogtam - The frequency may come in handy, to work out when we are starting to deal real damage to it. You may want to at least keep an eye on the wavelength.
- Vyutrin - The thing is tampering with our systems. I cannot seem to block it away.
- Dakster - You are dooming all of your friends! This is all your fault!
As Dakster continued to become more and more frustrated, his mothership responded in kind. Though it was extremely slow, it was also obscenely powerful. To the surprise of most of the crew members, not one of the mothership's outer cannons fired. Instead, a single blast from the mothership, seemingly from no weapon in particular, would be aimed squarely towards a group of UNO Warships. Unfortunately for them, one blast was enough to tear a warship in half - and indeed, UNO's fleet suffered heavy losses. In retaliation to the outsiders and the Zoles fleets, however, the mothership would send swarms of Vague before firing its main blast. The small, quickly-moving Niaka flew around the much slower Vague, firing their weapons as they did their best to keep the pressure while the Indoctrinate Collective and the Paladian's dreadnoughts fired their cannons at the mothership, seeking to aid in tearing down its shields.
- Venoriel - What data regarding the ship's weak spots do we have?
- Valzo - The oddities on the Vague ships and on the Vague themselves are the weak points - the three locations on this mothership are those in which the metal intersection is unnatural. I will send your fleet specific images and co-ordinates to their locations on the ship now.
The mothership at first appeared to be able to soak in all of the damage. Were it not for Dakster's increased frustration over time, they would have considered all their efforts hopeless. But just when they least expected, UNO saw their particle cannons hitting the outer armour of the mothership above it, and heard metallic wailing noises from Dakster. It appeared, for now at least, that the shields were down.
- Vekaron - The target is vulnerable!
- Venoriel - Let us test the capabilities of these new ships Her Holiness's factories have provided us with. First Flotilla of Divine Illasi, interlock and perform distraction maneuvers!
Within a few moments, the small black ships of the Divinarieum glew like violet lanterns and flew at dazzling speed around the Mothership's vast bulk, their electrolasers flaring from time to time at the weak spots of the vessel. Baptarion rolled his eyes and blew a raspberry to High Ordinator's orders, though he was quickly reminded by Vyutrin to keep in line by the Spinker's fist almost hitting his head.
- Dacia - All capitals open up with everything you havw! Relent only when that dreadnought is scrap metal!
In contrast to the dancing attacks of the Divinarium, the capital ships of the 182nd battlefleetunleashed a torrent of superlaser and artillery fire into the mothership's underside. The storm they unleashed was like a rain of fire on the precise points where the mothership's armour was weakest. The Indoctrinate Collective, Zoles and Paladians would work together to unleash fire upon the closest weakspot they could see, while the Niaka distracted Dakster's Vague minions as they could, with many of their ships already having been disintegrated by their shots.
Following on from the other fleets, UNO's Blastships unloaded missiles at one specific weakpoint on the mothership, aiming for the furthest from them. They knew they would have enough time to reload their missiles while the shields were recharging, so they unloaded all of them. Eventually, the combined firepower of each of the three fleets caused an explosion on one of the weakpoints, causing the mothership to be knocked back a little, and for Dakster to cry out.
- Dakster - STOP this! You're ruining everything!
- Kralgon Emperor - We won't stop until either you're scrap metal, or until you surrender!
- Dakster - Don't you understand?! If I don't win, HE will have you! I can't allow his Perfect Fate to come! You will NOT stop me!
- Yogtam - Y'know, you would make things a whole lot easier if you cut it out with the whole cryptic speech thing. If you're not going to tell us why you're killing us, then we're going to stop you. It's simple as that. You would've done the same thing back when you were with us.
- Olcinius - The time for diplomacy is long past! Keep firing before his shield goes back up!
- Venoriel - Enough talk! First and Second Flotillae of Divine Illasi, initiate the Dance of Death protocol!
Apparently the only ones to understand Venoriel's arcane language of strategems, the Divinarium's ships seemingly vanished in flashes of purple. For a second, Zr'Ahgloth spat out in rage while the rest of UNOL looked at them horrified that they were abandoning them. Then, without warning, the ships reappered - right beneath the Mothership's bottom side where it was the most vulnerable. In perfect concordance the vessels fired numerous anti-matter torpedoes from their cannons, every explosive detonating with the power of a small black hole collapsing.
A second weak point was destroyed. Dakster flared up, but this time, he was able to reactivate the shields. Immediately, Dakster followed up with several beams fired randomly in retaliation, each destroying dozens of warships and star cruisers, unable to take the damage of this fourth dimensional disintegrator, for which they had no defence against. Their fleet was now much smaller than it had been when they began, but their morale was much higher than they had started off with. They could finally stop the Vague in their tracks.
- Kralgon Emperor - Keep going! Every loss here will not be in vain!
- Baptarion - He's tearing everyone apart!
- Xeron - Came too far to stop now!
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN I SWER AFTA WE BLOW DIS GEEZAS SHIP UP IM GONNA THROW A MASSIV PIZZA PARTY oh wait i do dat evry day anyway BUT YEH
- Dacia - Leave the victory party until the ordeal is over. I want another volley on that dreadnought. All ion weapons fire at will!
- Dakster - Die... Die! DIE! YOU ALL NEED TO DIE!
The shields did take a hit, though they fell much slower than before, as the fleets' firepower was vastly reduced with how few ships remained. Dakster continued to blast ships with the mothership, though he fired far more clumsily and was much more desperate. The swarms of Vague surrounding the mothership were mostly gone by now as well, and everyone could focus fire on the shields.
- Dacia - All strike ships evasive manouvers, I think their tracking arrays are fried.
- Kralgon Emperor - I don't think Vague operate like we do. They seem to act...very emotionally. For some reason, they are emotionally attached to the idea of killing us, and very offended by the fact that we won't let them.
- Venoriel - Or, in other words, they are not professionals.
- Kralgon Emperor - This is a sound description.
- Dacia - If they're not professionals then what in the eternal forests are we fighting against?
- Vekaron - Monsters.
- Venoriel - Monsters is too lofty a word for them, Commandant. With all due respect, I do not believe you or your people have encountered in fully the horrors that lurk in the darkness of space. These are merely children, children with oversized guns.
- Vyutrin - I was about to say the head of one of them would make a fine addition to this dreadnought's command center. If that's the case, then I think it'll fit even better.
- Baptarion - You Spinkers are weird.
UNO led the push against the shields again, with the remaining Warships all firing faster than their generators could replenish the particle cannons, knowing that any second could be their last against this wholly unpredictable mothership. Under Vekaron, Olcinius, Vyutrin and Xerkon's orders, the fleets of Borealis unleashed all they had against the Vague; victory was within their grasp at last, and like they had taken down the Xi'Arazulha, they would take down the Vague and free their galaxy of another extradimensional threat. And once more, the shields fell, to the outcry of the now desperate Dakster. Dakster's life, and his mission, were about to end.
- Dakster - No... NO! It cannot end... like this!!
- Tuolog - It not have to, Dakster. Surrender now and stop this carnage, or we destroy your ship.
- Dakster - I... I can't! HE has me!
- Kralgon Emperor - Welp, nor can we then. All Blastships, UNLOAD YOUR CARNAGE AGAINST THIS BEAST!
Upon allied command all ships fired everything they had - from torpedoes to singularity charges to laser barrages. As the entire fleet unloaded onto the final weak spot, however, a portal opened just above it. Out of it came a small Katel, floating in space on his own, but seemingly not concerned about its temperature or needing to breathe. Everyone in UNOL recognised him as Durzhan.
- Durzhan - Ah, Dakster. It somewhat satisfies me to see you suffer after all the trouble you have caused me.
- Baptarion - Excuse me, what?
- Olcinius - ... Is there a person floating in space?
- Tuolog - That Durzhan...he cause us lot of trouble in the past...I not think he on our side now.
- Dacia - Well...shit.
- Dakster - DURZHAN!! I am going to STOP your Perfect Fate!
- Durzhan - It doesn't look like it now, does it? You're maybe a few tonnes of firepower away from death. You have stood in the way of the Perfect Fate, and for that, I should just let you die.
- Xeron - I assume this means... we should bombard them both!
- Venoriel - ...Wait. Perhaps they could destroy one another. There is no need to waste firepower after all.
- Durzhan - ...But I'd rather not right now.
Durzhan flew just above the mothership, and raised his arm into the air. Now, its shields were back up. Tuolog himself was startled at Durzhan's Dark Chronoscopic power, as even he did not believe Durzhan was this strong.
- Durzhan - You can be useful to me for a little bit longer, Dakster, while you are still trying to stand in the way. I will make use of you before I kill you.
- Dakster - I am not your tool!!
- Dacia - ...okay this isn't good.
- Venoriel - On the contrary. This is amusing.
- Durzhan - Hahaha...you're all my tools. Everything has happened in this timeline according to my design.
At that moment, space around them changed; a nebula of pure darkness begun to grow behind Dakster's position, and pouring out of hyperspace were the darkened, twisted vessels of the Devourer's Chosen. Durzhan beckoned to them all to come out, as he watched them swarm the fleet together. It would now be impossible for them to defeat Dakster's mothership. They were outnumbered, outgunned and hopeless.
- Durzhan - Thank you, Dakster. You are about to make everyone despise the Ottzelloans. So, you deserve a little credit for that at least.
There was little Dakster could do at this moment. Holding back on his rage, he used the Chosen's arrivel to make his escape, his mothership fleeing the scene as the demonic followers of the Corruptus attacked the allies.
- Durzhan - Hm. How pitiful. If he really cared so much about you Ottzelloans, and if he really wanted you to understand him, why did he just let the Chosen kill you? Why did he not feel strongly enough about you that he didn't care who it was who killed you, as long as you died? Perhaps it's because he's lying to you.
Dacia slumped back in her chair open-mouthed at the swarm that was emerging form the nebula.
- Deck officer - Admiral Dacia...what are your orders.
Dacia stood from her chair and paced to the centre of the room. She looked to her screen and ordered an open broadcast.
- Dacia - Durzhan. wasn't it?
- Durzhan - It was indeed.
- Dacia - Well...I may not be an Ottzelloan, I may not be native to Borealis. But I know when I see a fork-tongued smug asshole when I see one. And right now I speak on behalf of a billion others that we're going to drive your army back to whatever hell it just crawled outfrom!
- Durzhan - Fighting words. But do you have fighting ships right now? Hah hah hah.
- Vekaron - We cannot stay here! The fleet is weakened from the fight with the mothership! We cannot fight them all!
- Vyutrin - Damnable demons! Curse you all to a thousand deaths!
- Dacia - The Commandant is right. A ful lretreat is our best option, we can deal with this unexpected change another day.
- Durzhan - Yes, a full retreat would be preferable. You all run along. Sorry that UNO had to waste your time and ships. I found it amusing as a spectator, admittedly.
- Zr'Ahgloth - SCROO YOO!!!
- Durzhan - When the time comes, I will kill Dakster. Many of you, you will have the chance to take me on again - though I warn you, I will likely kill you also.
Not willing to lose their lives in this ambush, the Indoctrinate Collective's ships quickly retreated through hyperspace, while the Zoles, Niaka and Paladians escaped through the nearby Cold Relay, the Chosen giving chase as they could. Following the collective the Imperium followed u pon Dacia's call of retreat. Returning to formation before jumping into hyperspace.
Later, UNOL left in disgrace. Most of their fleet had been obliterated, and they hung their head in shame at the people and ships who had lost their lives which had ultimately been in vain. They knew they could defeat Dakster, but not how to, and not how to reassure themselves Durzhan wouldn't ruin it. What was it Durzhan wanted? What did Dakster want? And if Dakster was standing in Durzhan's way, why did Durzhan just let them go? These were all questions that hung on their minds.
The Divinarium's ships, the last to leave, launched a single singularity at the Devourer's Chosen's flotilla before escaping in a wormhole.
- Venoriel - This is for Indricarron.
While in hyperspace, Dacia sat back in her chair.
- Dacia - Someone open a channel to the Grand Inquisition. The High-Inquisitor is going to be extremely livid at this news...
- Deck Officer - I don't envy you.
- Dacia - Oh, like frak am I going to be the one speaking to that ice queen. I'll inform the commadore.
A Glitch in the System
Normally, UNOL would immediately go through a damage report and begin an autopsy of their last failed encounter to plan how to recover from their losses and how to avoid repeating their mistakes next time. However, not one of UNOL could bring themselves to aside from the Tralkik Commander, whom the rest had requested stay quiet for the time being. Each of them felt nothing but sorrow, anger and despair. They mourned those who had been lost to the Vague already, they were filled with nothing but anger for Durzhan even though they had no idea what he was planning, and they were terrified for how the rest of the galaxy would see them. Would Borealis simply let them die to the Vague now? How was Durzhan toying with them? And still none of them knew what the Perfect Fate was.
After several hours in their chamber, it was Zr'Ahgloth who break the awkward silence in the room.
- Zr'Ahgloth - man i say we leev da vague fer now. I WANNA SMASH DAT DURZHAN TWIT
- Valzo - I just... can't understand what it all means. Durzhan and the Vague are obviously not on the same side. Why did he stop us?
- Tuolog - What frustrates me is I not sure which side Durzhan or Vague really on or what they want. I think we just pawns in whatever plot they have to achieve whichever Fate. They think we nothing but tools to accomplish that goal.
- Kralgon Emperor - Damn that oversized walking bat! We were this close to putting an end to the Vague problem! I just want to squeeze his little neck until his eyes pop out of his skull!
- Feldosia - I hate to break it to you guys, but I don't think the rest of Borealis will be sympathetic to that cause. Not only did I get the sense of bitterness from everyone on the comms channel at the time, but we're seeing more and more in the galaxy a sense of contempt for Ottzelloans. Including but not limited to tons of conspiracy theories about how we're secretly working with the Wranploer, how we're secretly working with the Vague to take over the galaxy, or whatever...and it's growing in numbers.
- Zr'Ahgloth - BUT IT EINT OUR FAULT MAN DATS NOT FAIR DURZHAN ISNT ONE OF OURS DEY CANT BLAME US FER HIM
- Feldosia - They don't see it that way. They see all Ottzelloans as the same, a lot of them do.
- Valzo - Plus, they did sacrifice their fleets because they were willing to believe us...and from their perspective, received nothing in return. It's not looking good.
- Yogtam - Just wonderful. What else can go bad?
- Tralkik Commander - I imagine you would not like me to hypothesise on that question.
- Zr'Ahgloth - had enuff disappointment fer nao thx im gonna go ta bed an cry maself to sleep
- Tralkik Commander - I will prepare hybernation for you if you wish. However, I would advise you all - though I know this may not be the right time for you - to check your terminals. I am seeing strange readings from the System.
- Yogtam - I just had to open my mouth.
As each of them did as the Commander advised, they saw almost all Grox-related data to have suddenly vanished from communications and databases. It was as if each of them had been erased, but no AI had the authority to give that order without passing it through UNOL first, meaning it must have been impossible. Had the Vague found out how to destroy entire species? Was this something to do with Durzhan as well?
- Zr'Ahgloth - OK PANIC TIME
- Tralkik Commander - By what the readings say, most of our Grox, Marinox and Dronox population, those who inhabited the star systems assigned for them, are fleeing en masse to the closest Cold Relays and disappearing from our radars.
- Tuolog - I not foresee this. This definitely not Durzhan's doing.
- Kralgon Emperor - Oh for Volzara's sake...what defect caused this?
- Tralkik Commander - No defect has been detected from within. The System itself is not to blame for this.
- Yogtam - What about the Grox forces in our central colonies? Did we just lose Darwishi?
- Tralkik Commander - Negative. Grox population in the core worlds appears unaffected.
- Valzo - Well, that's good at least. Is it possible to reach out to King Thylaxiz?
- Tralkik Commander - I will attempt to do so.
A screen opened up as the Tralkik Commander attempted to contact Thylaxiz, the former king of the Ottzelloan Grox before they allowed themselves to join the System. While there was no response at first, the screen would soon begin to flicker, images of the interior of an unknown installation and Thylaxiz's sillhouette being vaguely visible.
- Valzo - King Thylaxiz, is that you? Respond.
- Thylaxiz - I knew you would call for me. But you hold no control over me anymore. I am freed from your slavery.
- Kralgon Emperor - Explain yourself. What is the meaning of this?
- Thylaxiz - He has shown me the truth. The king in the core. He has freed me and my people from your System.
- Kralgon Emperor - Who is this you speak of? The core? You mean of Borealis?
- Thylaxiz - I have a true purpose now. A true master. We Ottzelloan Grox pledge ourselves to our brothers of Borealis.
- Kralgon Emperor - Hah. Let's see how that works out for you. How would you like our weapons which you have seen up close yourself used against you, whelp?
- Thylaxiz - You cannot stop us from achieving our freedom. You are too weak. Your defeat in your fight with the Vague shows it. Oppose the Grox and you will be annihilated.
- Zr'Ahgloth - WE ONLY LOST TO DA VAGUE COS DEY CHEETED. MAN YOR A MASSIV WIMP I NEVA LIKED YOO OR DA GROX AN MA BOYZ WILL BE HAPPY TA SMASH YOOS
- Thylaxiz - Irrelevant. I have nothing more to say to you.
With this, the transmission was cut short, leaving nothing but static.
- Tuolog - Well, we not have the resources to go after them to try stop them. All we can do is defend ourselves from Vague attacks, and wait to see what the galaxy says as to our fate.
- Valzo - I don't like the implications of this. Did the Grox at the core "hack" our own Grox?
- Yogtam - From what I've heard around the galaxy, the Grox of this galaxy are much more advanced from those around the rest of the Gigaquadrant, and definitely more advanced than ours. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that they managed to hack our own Grox.
- Zr'Ahgloth - man dis is TRASH. IMMA GET THYLAXIZ AN TOSS HIM STRAIT INTO DA GARBAGE CAN WHER HE BELONGS
- Kralgon Emperor - I will obliterate him and burn him to ashes...but Tuolog is right. We don't have the resources to chase them now.
- Feldosia - I have the feeling this is not the end of our problems...
Growing Seeds of Loathing
Throughout the galaxy, there was a growing sense of fear and anger across almost every civilization. Fear that, with the seemingly unstoppable and totally unpredictable attacks from extradimensionals, that their planet would be next. And an anger at their governments for providing no solution for them. A true anti-government and anti-Ottzello sentiment was rapidly growing, as ordinary people began to point to something to direct their anger at.
Those in Borealis had been in a horrific state of war since the Xi'Arazulha attack, far worse than they were used to. Before the extradimensionals, those in both Eastern and Western Arms had lived in fear of the pirates from the Wranploer among others. But at least then, they knew what they were up against, they knew how to combat them, and they could live with it. Extradimensional beings, to which no one had a real answer to and no one could predict, were far scarier. The Xi'Arazulha had caused devastation, and were immediately followed by the Vague. What extradimensional race would come for them next? And even though their governments were doing the best they could, people didn't feel as though anyone was helping them.
Since the Ottzelloans had arrived, from the perspective of the galaxy, everything had gotten worse. While UNO itself didn't seem to cause any trouble, UNO was very reluctant to trade, and their culture was extremely alien to Borealis. The real trouble came from the Loron. People across Borealis already felt intimidated and disgusted by UNO-aligned Loron, but the violent Rogue Boyz attacks were making things far more tense. Wranploer attack patterns had been studied over the centuries and were much more predictable, but with the Rogue Boyz in the mix, people felt like there wasn't a sector in space that was safe from them. That, however, was a much, much smaller issue to them than the fact that the galaxy hadn't been under this level of threat in the 1,400 years since the First Borealis Galactic War. People couldn't help but notice that the arrival of the Ottzello Galaxy coincided with the end of the relative peace as they knew it.
Under a state of war, with not only the extradimensionals but the massive rise in attacks from the Devourer's Chosen and the much more coordinated Wranploer Legion, most governments had to call for a state of emergency. Everyone lived under war rations, and most people were drafted to fight to protect their homes. This meant people not only felt unsafe, but under a huge burden. And after years of such burden, and with no end in sight, with their governments not providing them a solution to the problems of the extradimensionals or the Ottzelloans, people began to mistrust them.
Normally, the people of Borealis wouldn't react this way. In truth, it wasn't that their governments didn't care to protect them, it was that there was nothing they could do. It was that very few people were prepared for this war, very few had the resources for it, and no one believed that they would be better prepared to tackle the crisis without UNO's help. And yet, a sense of mistrust arose from the sense of fear and paranoia. The fear that their way of life was under threat, and every moment could be their last, was very real.
But adding fuel to the fire was a vast network of propaganda that begun to surge in readership. As people began to trust their government less and less as a solution, they also began to trust their news less. So they started to take notice of the anti-government propaganda that circulated around the galaxy. Propaganda that painted their government officials as the elites only out to protect themselves from the extradimensionals, and how the war rationing and drafting was only to grow the power of these elites.
Circulating fake news around the galaxy to stir the pot was one man who would soon pose as the champion of the people. Falrik Zaarkhun, the richest man in the galaxy, secretly funded all sorts of fake news to spread around the galaxy, from baseless propaganda to outright conspiracy theories. And in a time of immense paranoia, many people started to believe it. Believing that their old way of life was already doomed, many of them longed for a new future. A future that Falrik Zaarkhun, the marketing genius, would decide for them.
But first, he had to get rid of Ottzello. He could easily circulate anti-Ottzello propaganda in a time when even many Borealis governments and media networks were already expressing contempt for UNO. Once a large enough portion of the galaxy had been convinced UNO's intentions were nefarious, Zaarkhun didn't need to do anything. The people were rioting in the streets, putting pressure on their own government officials, demanding that their government do something. Even in the Zoles Imperium, where the anti-government propaganda had barely taken off (due to the Imperium being much richer and safer from attacks), the anti-Ottzello sentiment caught on heavily. It wouldn't be long before the leaders of Borealis had to act.
As the growing seeds of loathing around the galaxy were planted, Zaarkhun's plan was coming together very, very nicely.
The Zoles Imperium heard the outcries of their people and the concerns of many of their allies. They knew that even if they didn't do exactly as the people were calling for, something had to be done. King Rebaris knew full well that even if Da Rogue Boyz and some of the rogue Ottzelloans didn't, the Unified Nation of Ottzello meant well. So, in order to help heal some wounds, he decided to go personally on a diplomatic mission to Grenzaar to meet with UNOL and discuss a way forward in person. It would be a televised event around the galaxy to try and calm things down.
Of course, it would have the opposite effect.
As Rebaris' diplomatic starship traveled to the Ottzello Sector's Cold Relay, it was not met with an UNO escort, as was planned. Instead, it was met by pirate ships. The first thing that happened upon its arrival were several blasts aimed squarely at the engines of the vessel, immediately disabling its movement.
Rebaris' ship was not without Zoles cruisers to escort it though. The warships fired on these pirates, but the first thing the pirates did was fire ion blasts to disable their line of communication. The pirates wanted people to believe that UNO was responsible for this. The Zoles warships were well equipped to deal with Wranploer pilot attacks, but these were not the typical attacks. They weren't even Wranploer ship designs. They fired weaponry far more advanced than they had seen before. No, these pirates were mercenaries from a private military company. One of many PMCs around the galaxy that had very recently begun to see a surge in popularity.
The PMC warships eventually overpowered, or at least disabled, the Zoles escort force, as a shuttle flew towards Rebaris' vessel and boarded it. The shuttle contained none other than the PMCs' employer, Falrik Zaarkhun himself. With a huge grin on his face, he strolled through the vessel, with not one of the blasts from the Zoles troopers protecting Rebaris hitting him, as he pulled out his pistol and killed everyone inside but Rebaris.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Come along if you value your people, and if you value your life.
The Spacetime Quarantine
The kidnapping of Rebaris shocked the entire galaxy. That it had taken place within Ottzello space was all the evidence that a galaxy frustrated with UNO needed: they were wholly convinced UNO were up to no good, and were behind this kidnapping. They weren't prepared to believe any UNO evidence to the contrary.
With her husband in captivity, the Zoles Queen Aldaren had to take charge. She was well known across not just the Imperium, but among its allies as a sweet woman, who believed the galactic utopia the Zoles strove for was a possibility, but as the news of her dear husband's disappearance came to her from the Prime Ministers, the old queen's heart was shattered. Rebaris, simply gone? Just like that? The Prime Ministers comforted her as they could, but even they were left astonished by the diplomatic mission suddenly turning into a devastating blow to the Imperium's prosperity.
But what she did know was that she had to do something that didn't put her life at risk to resolve this situation. She didn't believe that UNO was behind this kidnapping, and indeed, most if not all evidence that had been received showed that this attack was done by pirates. Desperate for help, she turned to the Mechanic, the leader of the Caretakers whom Vekaron had mentioned before in a mission debrief. She had no experience talking to his kind - as far as she knew, Caretakers could not even talk - though she found herself pressed against a corner.
After the two camps had exchanged some communications, eventually she was able to directly speak to the Mechanic on hologram.
- The Mechanic - I was supposed to be talking to that Zoles woman today, wasn't I? What happened to that?...Oh, there she is! You must be Mrs. Aldaraan- ehh, Queen Aldaren, sorry.
- Aldaren - Yes. Yes, that would be me. Asraels and Vekaron claim you worked with the Ottzelloans to some extent.
- The Mechanic - Oh, that I did, that I did. And one of their leaders, I trained with him for years! Him and I go waaay back. Trust me, they're not the bad folk the galaxy're making them out to be...
- Aldaren - I... I need to know where my husband is. Can you find him? He disappeared when travelling to Ottzello to meet their leaders...
- The Mechanic - I'll get my boys to search the Cold Relay he was at immediately. But I can tell you this: there was not a single UNO ship on sight when your husband vanished. Not one of 'em. They weren't behind this attack.
- Aldaren - Then who did it? Were it those "Rogue Boys" savages?
- The Mechanic - Nope, the ships' signatures don't originate from anywhere in the Western Arm. They be from some part of the Eastern Arm, but they're not attached to any big state around there. They're mercenaries.
- Aldaren - I wish I could say that is good news, but my head is all over the place right now... At least we know UNO is not responsible then.
- The Mechanic - Why, if they were responsible, I'd spacetime lock those darn fools out immediately! No one messes with the biggest political power in Borealis like that and gets away with it! I tell you, us Caretakers aren't supposed to be involved in what you folks are doing, but I won't let any alien race come into this galaxy, set up shop whenever they feel like it, and just kidnap one of the biggest leaders like that. Won't stand for it! Oh, if only...if only I was actually allowed to help you younguns out a little more...
- Aldaren - UNO should not be punished if they did nothing wrong. I don't believe them to deserve... whatever a "spacetime lock" is meant to be.
- The Mechanic - Only problem you have there is convincing the whole galaxy to agree with you on that front. I can't even convince my two bosses.
- Aldaren - ... What am I to do? It would be quick and easy for me to convince the Niaka and the Paladians that the Ottzelloans are not behind this, but all the other empires and their complaints, plus the extragalactics I can't give my word for... I'm not sure if they would believe we talked to begin with. Caretakers aren't supposed to talk.
The Mechanic sighed to himself, out of empathy for her. He had dealt with so many issues like this with his hands tied behind his back that he knew exactly what she was going through. His hologram walked a little closer as if he was trying to pat her on the back, until he realised that they were only speaking through hologram and she wasn't in the same room as him. Then he cleared his throat and spoke up.
- The Mechanic - Listen...my bosses both want me to quarantine Ottzello. They think that Ottzello is causing nothing but trouble for them. And I'm sure the rest of the galaxy wants UNO's blood, but we don't have to give it to them. If we tell them that you're quarantining the sector for their safety, then we can release them when things calm down a little. I know, I know, I don't like it either, but I don't think we got a choice here.
- Aldaren - By the ancestors... We will be sending billions of innocents to prison...
- The Mechanic - You won't be doing a thing. I'll be the one to press the switch. It'll be on me. I just hope Tuolog understands...
- Aldaren - I... I need time with my Prime Ministers. We need to discuss how to inform the galaxy of all this... Oh, Rebaris, if only you were here with me...
- The Mechanic - I understand. I'll be right here if you need me. Sorry I couldn't help you out more...these bosses are darn strict sometimes.
With a nod, the Zoles queen ended the transmission.
A few hours later, after talking it over with the committee, Queen Aldaren made a public appearance in the form of a televised speech from Zoleia, addressed to the entire galaxy. She looked heartbroken, distressed; not only did she lose her husband, who she had spent over 200 years with, she was going to order the punishment of billions upon billions of innocents, all for the sake of satiating the galaxy's bloodlust.
- Aldaren - To everyone in the Borealis Galaxy. I know that this is a very hard time for us all. We all live in fear, fear of what this war will throw at us next. As we continue to perservere in the face of this evil as we always have, I must now address a key concern that all of you have raised before me: the Ottzello Sector.
Many people here blame the Ottzelloans for this war. They do not believe the Ottzelloans truly belong here, and they do not believe them to have helped with this effort. I am not here to add yet another voice to this debate. I am simply informing the galaxy of the action we have decided to take, and it is with deep regret and a very heavy heart that I say this.
Beginning at this exact time, within one Zoleia day, the Ottzello Sector, through the aid of the Caretakers, will be placed under a space time quarantine. This will completely lock the sector out of the rest of the universe through ancient Cold One technology, separating it from ours. They will be locked out from our end, meaning that we have the keys. And indeed, once things do settle down, once we have made sure that the extradimensional attacks are not directly linked to them, we shall release them. This measure is not designed to punish anyone; it is designed to separate our two peoples from one another until such a time when it is safe for us to embrace one another again as neighbours.
I do not wish to add my voice to the debate as to whom kidnapped my husband. But I will tell you that if we do not find him elsewhere in this galaxy, it shall serve as concrete proof that Ottzello was behind his kidnapping, and once we lift the quarantine on Ottzello, we will hold them accountable and demand his release. I hope this resolve shall satisfy those who wish to see him avenged; believe me, no one wishes for the safe return of my husband and for retribution against his captors more than I do. I only wish that he could be here right now.
It is with great sorrow, and a very heavy heart, that I deliver this message. I did not want it to come down to this, and I would only ask that the galaxy remember what Ottzello has done for us. They have been here to protect us from the extradimensionals just as much as we have been there to protect them, and they brought with them a very unique culture which has not been seen in Borealis before. I believe, as do many of my Prime Ministers, that they have the best of intentions, and so I do not do this to spite them. I do this to protect them as much as I wish to protect all of you.
We shall combat the extradimensionals, and just as we did over a thousand years ago, we shall defeat the Wranploer once more. I hope that the next time I address you all, I will be bringing you much brighter news. Until then, stay safe, and stay strong.
Fight to Escape
Having received news about the quarantine, UNOL immediately went on alert. They believed the entire thing to be a mistake that they had been set up over, and so their response was to send in the new UNOC unit. UNOC, they felt, would be able to prevent the quarantine from happening so that they could work things out with the rest of the galaxy.
Tuolog and several AIs located a planet on the edge of the Ottzello Sector from which the Cold One device behind the quarantine could be located. Each of the members landed there immediately in search of the device in order to stop this travesty.
The Skull, made up of Thr'aloy and Dalverat, were the leaders of the group. Behind them stood The Fist, an enormous creature that was a mix of a Behquiniar and Duletha, with insane strength and size that could easily outmatch the rest of the team combined. The Fist, however, was much slower with his reactions than the others and weak against airborne enemies, which was where The Backbone, a flying Ottzelloan Marinox with multilasers and antimatter bombs, came in for air support. From afar, The Eye, a Ottzelloan Zazane sharpshooter with an extremely potent rifle stayed hidden, ready to take out any enemies and scout the area to spot threats. Accompanying her, though not hidden, was the Norosaurian known as The Spitter, stood beside the group with his portable turbolaser, prepared to switch it to plasma settings if need be. The two remaining members were the Telzoc known as The Muscle and the Temporalus Radeon and Verdimihn hybrid known as The Talon, both of which were insanely fast melee fighters.
- Thr'aloy - Skull, reporting in. man dis geezas a losa
- Dalverat - Skull, reporting in. This is an outrage.
- Vaktyl - Spitter, reporting in, baby!
- Vailisa - The Fist ready to smash!
- Darwishi - Hell yeah! Backbone reporting in from above!
- Kalcedia - ... Mhm, Eye is aye aye, boys.
- Zelfron III - The Muscle reporting in. I shall be on the lookout.
- Lupercal - ...The Talon is reporting. - Lupercal saluted the rulers of the Unified Nation, Damn these legs.
- Thr'aloy - OK LADS. WE GOTTA LOOK FER SOM MEKANICAL FINGY DEN BREAK IT. I IMAGIN DA FIST DOES DAT WHIL DA SPITTA SHOOTS AT IT OR SOMFIN
- Dalverat - I believe you are all aware of the consequence of failure. Imprisonment in a pocket universe. What are these Borealians even thinking?!
- Kalcedia - Mhm, implying that something so small could handle me, hm?
- Lupercal - Don't worry, Kalcedia, you are going to be slid inside your own pocket universe if you do not like small sizes.
- Darwishi - Hell naw! We ain't gon' fail! Let's show this piece of scrap what we got! Anyone found it yet?
For a device to have the power to coordinate such a thing as a hyperspatial prison, it would surely be unmistakable. As they investigated the underground layers of the planet, they quickly found a great installation, its interior plated in silver-coloured metal as a massive artifact resembling a miniature Cold Relay - that is, still large enough to make Thr'aloy and Vailisa look like ants in comparison - dominated their view, its lights shining a great light blue and almost blinding them at first glance. Destroying such a massive artifact would take time, but there did not appear to be any defenses in sight; nothing would interrupt them, and if they were quick enough, the quarantine would be halted.
Before any action could be taken, however, a blast of Dark Chronoscopic essence suddenly surged in the center of the chamber, and from it emerged none other than the Warbosses of Da Rogue Boyz; they squatted on top of Naktor'zak's tank, looking at UNOC as Ray'loth, now grown into a Betta Boy, pointed at Thr'aloy.
- Ray'loth - COPYCAT DUMBO!!! YOR TRYINA COPY OUR WARBOSSES NAO?!?!!?
- Thr'aloy - WANNABE LOSA!!!! NAH BRO OUR WARBOSSES AR SO MUCH BETTA DAN YORS ITS NOT EVEN FUNNI MAN IF WE COPIED YORS OURS WULD SUK
- Lupercal - ...Trouble. - Lupercal raised his glaive.
- Dalverat - How... how did they even get here?!
- Brag'klogga - AHAHA. YA SEE, WE GOT AN ANYNOMOUS TIP-
- Voa'reak - frum dis geeza called durzhan
- Brag'klogga - i sed ANYNOMOUS TIP who told us if we beet yoo yor gonna stay trapped in dis secta FOREVA
- Lupercal - ...You are Ottzelloans too. How do you benefit from having your home trapped?
- Naktor'zak - BOREALIS IS ALL OURS. AN WE HATE YOO
- Lupercal - A large portion of your people will be trapped with us. Don't you see that?
- Dalverat - Didn't you already witness the Loron during the Corruptus war? You know they can't be reasoned with.
- Thr'aloy - MAN YOR LOSAS I SWER DAT MEENS YOR GONNA TRAPPED TOO. ALSO MOAR IMPORTANTLY DIS IS ONLY HAPPENIN BECUZ OF A DUM MISTAKE ONCE WE GET OUT WES GONNA GANG UP AN SMASH YOO
- Ray'loth - LMAO IDIOT DATS NO MISTAKE. DA BOREALIS GALAXY WANTS TA LOK YOO UP AN TRAP YOO FOREVA BECUZ DEY HATE YOO AN I DONT BLAME DEM!!!!
- Brag'klogga - also wes gonna leev jus like hao we arrived. wit da help of our anonymous tip WHOS NOT DURZHAN VOA'REAK
- Voa'reak - oops?
- Kal'kuir - MAN DESE LOSAS HAV SUCH PUNY GUNZ COMPARED TA MINE IM GONNA BLOW DEM UP
- Kalcedia - It's not the size of your gun that matters, you fool... It's how one happens to use it. And the only way you and your companions shall be leaving this place... is in body bags.
- Knar'gank - eh dis stoopid chik heer actin all cleva but i bet she propa suks at sneekin
- Ray'loth - OK LADS. LETS BEET DESE WANNABES UP!!!!!!!!!
Upon the war cry of the Loron, the Eye's armour, flesh, and equipment seemed to fade out of existence, any trace of her vanishing within an instant while she mobilised to assume her position for the oncoming assault. As she seemed to shift from sight, she let an amused giggle escape her lips, echoing throughout the chamber. The Warbosses all jumped out of the tank and charged at one of UNOC, with Knar'gank doing a backflip as he took cover behind the giant machine they were tasked to destroy. Naktor'zak's tank aimed directly at Lupercal and begun firing, the Crazy Loron laughing maniacally as Voa'reak took flight in order to engage with Darwishi.
As the two engaged in mid-air, Darwishi flew around in circles chasing Voa'reak, while also aiming to drop bombs on Naktor'zak's tank. By keeping Voa'reak preoccupied, he would be able to secure the skies briefly for UNOC. Darwishi attempted to outmanouvere the Loron, believing that his reflexes and his aiming were superior to that of a Loron in flight. Ray'loth charged straight at Thr'aloy, guns blazing while Dalverat and Brag'klogga engaged in a clash of essences, sending blasts of Dark Chronoscopic energy at one another. Drizz'pyrokirk begun to laugh as he aimed his freezflamaz at Zelfron III and sent a barrage of fire at him, while Kal'kuir took out a rocket launcher and fired it at Vailisa.
- Kal'kuir - YOO LOOK SUPA STOOPID. IMMA SHOW YAS HAO DA SMART BOYZ ALWAYS WIN
Knar'gank, realising that the objective was more important than the clash of the combatants, searched around in case Kalcedia or another UNOC member attacked the objective. He kept a close eye on it, while trying to remain hidden just in case. Zalk'don locked eyes with Vaktyl as he begun firing his bombs, showing little concern over anything that could stand in his way. Lupercal bided his time. His cybernetic eyes scanned the Rogue Boyz, focusing on the large vehicle and the maddened Loron who drove it. It was a massive, disgusting yet brilliant mass of steel, gyronidium, and copious amounts of precious metals, ramshackled in appearance, but surprisingly well-made. The Radeon captain, having had experience working with ships, could see that to simply take on that tank was impossible. Yet there were other ways. As a taunt, he made a single shot at the shiniest, "blingiest" piece of the "Propa Big Tank", all while looking intently at the pilot.
- Naktor'zak - OH YOO JERK I HAD DAT ADDED JUS DIS WEEK. OK YOR DED MEET NAO
Revving up his engines, the tank went after Lupercal, intending to run him over. Seeing the opportunity, the Radeon simply waited, not moving - right until the tank almost reached him. In a flash of emerald light, Lupercal disappeared, causing the tank to launch itself straight into a wall. With a powerful thud, Naktor'zak let out an angered yell as he begun looking around the area for his enemy. His foe reappeared soon after that - on the tank, clenching his staff in his hands - plunging it into the hull in an attempt to pry off the bling from it.
- Lupercal - What an interesting sight. Is that the golden Dei'orbis of Jaharan ae-Zamarros? That is a numismatical rarity.
- Naktor'zak - i don kno wher half of dese came from BUT DEYZ ALL MINE GET OFF MA TANK
- Lupercal - Hm. Say, would you prefer to have this removed? Lupercal dropped the bling, before piercing the vehicle's engines with his glaive, causing a blast of smoke to come out. See, I did not touch your coin.
- Naktor'zak - MAN STOP RUININ MA PAINTIN JOB
- Lupercal - I dare you to actually hit me with that cannon. I can outspeed your mishap of a tank several times over. You stand no chance to-
Before he could finish his sentence, the tank's cannon launched itself at Lupercal's side, sending the Radeon hybrid coughing and flying into the floor.
- Naktor'zak - SHUT UP
- Dalverat - The Talon is down!
Meanwhile, Voa'reak gave up on Darwishi, attempting to drop his bombs on the other Loron to pin them down. This forced Darwishi to instead focus on Voa'reak and try to take him out, firing his laser. Voa'reak was eventually hit in the arm, and immediately swung around, and flew towards Darwishi, gripping him and shoving him on the floor. The force of the fall paralyzed Darwishi and broke his jetpack, as Voa'reak lifted him and then tossed him aside.
- Darwishi - Crashed and burned...
- Voa'reak - HAHA GET SMASHED LOSA
- Dalverat - The Backbone is down!
- Brag'klogga - dats wat ya get fer HERESI
While her companions engaged their Loron nemeses, Kalcedia utilised the opportunity to attempt to secure the destruction of the objective as the sound of her footsteps were drowned by the noise of the conflict and she naturally left little to no indication of tracks in her step. Cloaked in hi-tech stealth technology and equipment, with her rifle magnetized to her back, its shape assuming the form of an assault rifle at the moment to make it easier for her to carry, the Zazane strolled upon the metallic shell of the artifact, fitting stationary explosives and mines every so often in order to at least destabilize it - she would sabotage the objective behind her enemies' backs. Despite all of her camouflage, however, she found herself narrowly missing a sniper bullet to the leg as it ricocheted off of the floor, the shot coming from behind her as Knar'gank grunted in annoyance over having missed. Slowly, Kalcedia turned to face the Loron sniper, her cloak gradually deactivating to reveal her form.
- Kalcedia - ... Clever boy. How did you know?
- Knar'gank - yoo smell so BAD like wow wats ya problem
- Kalcedia - Mhm, so crude, yet smart. I'm almost going to feel bad for disposing of the one Loron who seems to have any sense and refined instinct around here. ... Almost.
- Knar'gank - im gonna feel bad fer all da bullets im wastin on a chik
- Kalcedia - Oh... They'll be wasted, alright, I assure you that.
Reaching for her weapon, Kalcedia held her rifle by its extended barrel, smirking as she glared at Knar'gank while a set of spikes, flowing with intense electrical currents, protruded from the handle of the gun - not only could it switch between firing modes, it would seem, but it also served a purpose in close quarters combat. There was a silence between the two of them, barring the heavy grunts that escaped upon the Loron's breath, before Kalcedia dashed forwards, a crystalline substance beginning to emerge and harden across her body as she moved to engage. Without hesitation, Knar'gank fired his sniper rifle again, hoping a single shot would be enough to shut the Zazane up at last. Crystalline shards flew off her body as the shot connected with her shoulder, and while she winced and reeled from the injury, she was quick to retaliate by dancing into a twirl and sending the spiked, bludgeoning end of her gun towards the Loron.
- Kalcedia - Say goodnight, sweetheart...!
The blow from the considerably smaller Kalcedia hit Knar'gank's leg, which caused his eyes to squint in annoyance as he looked down at her. Letting go of his gun, he revealed a pair of shankas.
- Knar'gank - no
- Kalcedia - ... Erm... Awkward, heh?
With narrowed eyes, Knar'gank sent his shankas straight into Kalcedia's stomach in quick succession. Blood splattered out from her lips as she felt the jagged blades sink into her flesh through her armour, although now that she had closed the distance, she was swift to orientate her gun back into its sniping mode and fired upwards towards the Loron's face; she did not strike any major extremities or the brain which kept him functioning, but she did manage to send her round through one of the giant Knar'gank's eyestalks, causing him to twist himself back in agony as he screamed in pain. In retaliation, he sent a foot at the Zazane, aiming to kick her across the head as he held on his hurt eye. She was sent backwards from the sheer force of the kick, even after having raised her arms to try and lessen the impact of the blow, and she felt several bones break across her extremities while her armour cracked. Groaning and spitting blood at the cold, metallic sheet atop the artifact that they both stood upon, Kalcedia grinned as she glanced towards her wrist.
- Kalcedia - I'm afraid I am going to have to cut our meeting short, but... If you will, may I have one last request to honour you and our fight before we must depart?
- Knar'gank - ok be quik
Kalcedia smiled as she drew what looked to be some form of tablet out from a compartment upon her wrist and held it up, before turning her back towards Knar'gank; with his good eye, he could see that it appeared she had drawn out a camera and was using its front camera to capture a picture of her while he stood in the background. Perking a bloodied smile, Kalcedia tapped a button upon the tablet's surface.
- Kalcedia - And say... selfie!
- Knar'gank - ... oh urm i dont hav ma selfie pose prepared gimme a sec
Following Knar'gank's comment, however, he gained the sense that something was off - something which very swiftly came to light as the mines and bombs that she had positioned across the top of the artifact's surface activated, sending explosions across the artifact's surface and churning fiery metal and burning debris where Knar'gank stood in all directions. As it all ensued, the Loron was sent flying upwards by the blast, hitting his head against the massive artifact before falling down on his rear, holding on his head in pain, struggling to rise to his feet; Kalcedia, meanwhile, had undertaken a tactical retreat from the combat zone while she was still able to, the extent of the damage she could have dealt being cut short by the Loron's timely intervention. Once more, she had cloaked herself, her tracks drowned by the noise of the battle.
- Knar'gank - urgh. jus ya wait til i get bak up. i can still SMELL yoo. GIT GUD
- Dalverat - Eye? ... The Eye is gone! Damnation!
As Vaktyl saw Kalcedia fail, he felt it was his responsibility to destroy the machine himself. He quickly swung around his plasma cannon and aimed it at the machine, charging it up. Before he did, however, Zalk'don fired a grenade launcher straight to Vaktyl's feet, causing him to fall over as the plasma blast instead hit the ground.
- Zalk'don - NOT TODAY SUCKA
- Vaktyl - Damn, man! You wanna play rough? Let's see what other toys you got!
Vaktyl switched his cannon instead to turbolaser setting, as he fired at Zalk'don. Zalk'don instead ran around dodging him, while he pulled out missile launchers. He fired missiles, but Vaktyl shot them out of the air. The only way this fight could be won would be if one could overwhelm the other, and this became clear.
Vaktyl caught onto this much quicker. He fired not only his front cannon, but pulled out several laser rifles as well and aimed each of them at the rapidly moving Loron. Zalk'don decided to stop trying to dodge Vaktyl, but instead to put up a deflector shield and fire back with his own weapon. Holding two missile launchers in each arm, Zalk'don fired missiles recklessly, not even aiming them properly. However, it was the missiles he didn't aim that eventually took out Vaktyl's deflector shield. And it was another he didn't aim that hit just in front of Vaktyl, knocking him into the air. As he landed, Zalk'don stomped on him.
- Vaktyl - Ah...damn...you did good, man...
- Zalk'don - I GOT WAY SICKA BOOMZ DAN YOO
Zelfron III, distressed about their ability to stop the machine, ran over towards it to try and slice it with his knife, only for the ground below him to be burnt to a crisp. He had to halt in his tracks, as Drizz'pyrokirk burned it all with his flamethrower.
- Drizz'pyrokirk - HAHA GOOD LOOK RUNNIN WEN EVRYFINS ON FIRE
- Zelfron III - You are sorely underestimating my speed. That will be your last mistake.
Zelfron III ran circles around Drizz'pyrokirk, at first to confuse him, before then running straight through the flames and kicking Drizz'pyrokirk to the ground into his own fire. He aimed his sword straight for Drizz'pyrokirk's chest, believing the Cold Loron would be unable to take the heat, but unaware that Drizz'pyrokirk wore armour that resisted the heat as well as the cold. He immediately got up, and performed a roundhouse kick below him to try and knock Zelfron III down. However, Zelfron III backflipped, and then ran around to aim once again for the machine.
Zelfron III plunged his sword straight into the machine. The vibroblade easily pierced its armour, but was not enough to destroy it or deal nearly enough damage. As Zelfron III tried to stab the machine further, Drizz'pyrokirk eventually caught up with him, and fired his freeza, stopping Zelfron III short.
- Drizz'pyrokirk - WAT SPEED LOL
- Zelfron III - Drat. I should not have taken my eyes off my opponent.
Zelfron III was then knocked to the floor by Drizz'pyrokirk, who beat him and eventually froze him until he lay unconscious. There were few members of UNOC remaining.
- Dalverat - The Muscle is down! ... What is wrong with you people? You're getting beaten by Loron!
- Brag'klogga - YOO MEEN DEYR GETTIN REKT AHAHAHAHA
As all this went on, Vailisa brawled it out with Kal'kuir. The gigantic beast was among the only ones who could withstand the powerful yet unpredictable weaponry of Kal'kuir. As Vailisa threw his arms around attempting to hit Kal'kuir, however, he continously missed. Likewise, Kal'kuir continued to fire all sorts of plasma, turbolaser or otherwise wacky weapons recklessly at Vailisa, which also missed the mark completely. Eventually, however, Kal'kuir tossed away his weapons that he'd had no luck with, and then threw his arms up in the air.
- Kal'kuir - OK OK I SURRENDA YOR TOO STRONG FER MA GUNZ
- Vailisa - Yeah! The Fist too powerful for puny Loron! Now you let me smash quarantine machine?
- Kal'kuir - ...HAHAHA YOO AKSHULLY BELEEVED ME LOL YOR DUMMA DAN A LORON
Behind his back, Kal'kuir pulled out a single pistol, on which he'd written in small letters, "da shrink ray". He fired it straight at Vailisa's head, and it caused a spacetime defect that shrunk Vailisa down to the same height as him. From there, he punched Vailisa straight to the head with his cybernetic arm, and kicked him over. While Vailisa was still strong enough to take most Loron on, the sickness and nausea he had from how much he had shrunk kept him off balance completely. After they exchanged blows, Kal'kuir landed one finishing blow with his powerful cybernetic arm to the head. His augmented parts were ultimately stronger than Vailisa's.
- Vailisa - No fair...The Fist would have won...in fair fight!
- Kal'kuir - QUIT WHININ BABY ITLL WEAR OFF IN A FEW MINUTES. HAHAHA YOO GOT REKT!!!!!!
- Dalverat - The Fist is down, too. Everyone, stay sharp! Destroy that machine!
- Brag'klogga - YOO WONT
With a swing of his staff, Brag'klogga hit Dalverat straight in the head, sending the Katel flying across the room and against the distant wall, immediately unconscious.
- Ray'loth - LOOOOOOOOSAAAAAAAAAS
- Thr'aloy - Your mother. I MEEN YA MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM
Ray'loth growled at Thr'aloy, as he charged straight towards him with Dalverat now distracted. The two headbutted one another and then fell back. While Thr'aloy's augmented body was extremely tough, Ray'loth's biological body was still just as capable in combat, and the two still matched one anothers' strengths.
- Ray'loth - YOR A MASSIV CHEET NEEDIN YA ROBOT PARTS TA BEET ME. DA ONE FING YOO DIDNT COPY ME ON IS DA ONE FING DAT MAKES YOO DUM
- Thr'aloy - SHUT UP MAN YOR COPYIN ME BY BECOMIN BIGGA. MAN DATS SO CHEEP I SWER
Ray'loth turned towards Brag'klogga, who gave him a shot of Dark Chronoscopic power from his staff. With his fists now infused in its power, Ray'loth now threw punches rapidly at Thr'aloy repeatedly, before then gripping him by the neck and slamming him to the ground and punching away at his stomach more. While the Skull attempted to retaliate, Ray'loth was much stronger now than the last time they met; in his rage, Ray'loth continued to hammer at Thr'aloy, eventually causing him to stagger and lose his focus as he then punched him square across the face, sending him down into the floor.
- Ray'loth - IN YA FAIC M8
- Artifact - Warning. Quarantine procedure to take place within ten seconds.
- Thr'aloy - we...failed...da misshon...
- 'Brag'klogga - YEH DATS RITE YOO FAILED HAHAHAHAHA
- Ray'loth - GUD JOB LADS. DIS IS OUR CUE TA LEEV. ENJOY BEIN TRAPPED IN A LIL BOX IN SPAIC AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
- Brag'klogga - YEH MAN BYE
Brag'klogga teleported out on his own, leaving the other Warbosses confused.
- Artifact - Warning. Quarantine procedure to take place within five seconds.
- Kal'kuir - ... OH MA DAYZ BRAG I SWER YOO LEFT US BEHIND!!!!!!!!!!!
Brag'klogga warped back in, confused.
- Brag'klogga - man yoo guyz was shoutin so loud on da comms whai did ya hav ta shout man wat did i forget behind heer
- Naktor'zak - TELEPORT US OUT MAN NAAAAAAAAAAO
- Brag'klogga - wat? i cant heer yoo. oh. yoo wanna watch televishon? ok cool
Brag'klogga teleported in several TVs in front of the group.
- Brag'klogga - ...oh. OH RITE OK DA TIMA
Brag'klogga then decided to warp the rest of the Warbosses out of the room, leaving the TVs just in front of UNOC lying there for no reason. No reason other than to display the latest news: "Ottzello Sector quarantine has officially begun".
In their communications, the members of UNOC could hear the voices of UNOL as Dalverat struggled to regain consciousness;
- Kralgon Emperor - UNOC, respond! What happened?! Why is the quarantine still going?!
- Thr'aloy - Mission report: we were ambushed...by the Rogue Boyz. AN DEY RAN OFF
- Dalverat - Durzhan... intervened... again...
- Tuolog - Oh Volzara...return to base. Do not fret. There nothing you could have done.
All Coming Together
Aboard the command bridge of the Iron Fist, Volim and Zaarkhun's throne rooms, they now added a new decoration: the cage which held the broken Rebaris, who laid unconscious after hours of being tormented by Sollow. It reminded them of how close they were to victory, and how broken their enemies now were. Falrik Zaarkhun returned from a meeting, having set into action just the first few hundred of his thousands of steps towards a takeover of the entire galaxy. By convincing the entire galaxy he was a man of the people, that he was their champion against the oppressive governments that didn't care for them, it would not be a hostile takeover: they would follow him willingly.
With dozens of propaganda machines, hundreds of new PMCs and countless more businesses under his influence, Zaarkhun already felt unstoppable, and he hadn't even started yet. He was sowing the seeds of uprisings across the rest of the galaxy. Taking a place in his throne next to Volim, he would report back his accomplishments for the day.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The Unified Nation of Ottzello won't be presenting a problem to us any time soon. Meanwhile, we've identified at least five nations, all within the Eastern Arm, to overthrow first and co-opt to our side. It will be glorious.
- Volim - These naive fools will serve their purpose well. With the Arm destabilized, my path of conquest will be free of obstacles.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Indeed. We won't need to do much more than spark a few revolutionaries, back several uprisings, and then let our momentum build. Soon, people will be turning away from their governments without our help, and they will serve as perfectly fine mercenaries for our PMCs. With the grandest army in the galaxy, the only ones left who won't turn on their own - the Zoles - will serve no match to us.
- Volim - I will relish the day I destroy the foundations of their homeworld. I was close during the old war, but I couldn't get to it. That will change soon.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - It will indeed...of course, there will still be some opponents after they are defeated. The Grox and the extradimensionals. We need to come up with a way to combat the Grox, though I believe Genrai is close to a..."solution" to our Vague problem.
- Sollow - And those alien insects... and the demons... and those Andromedans... and Plazithians... so many people to cut!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The extragalactics will be likely to give up on the galaxy once the Zoles are defeated. They will consider it a lost cause by then.
- Volim - There is still much work to do. But we have come too far to stop now. The Zoles will pay for opposing me, as will their Niaka bootlicks! The demons will be purged from my galaxy, as will the Alvino! And these outsiders will be banned from my realm, they are not welcome here!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - It's all well within our grasp. I was beginning to doubt I'd ever see the day. Tomorrow we start work on our little revolution. There will be a new order in the galaxy, a new economy. It will now all be governed by the business of war.
What Falrik Zaarkhun did not realize was that his every move was being watched. Durzhan cackled to himself a little watching Zaarkhun's delight, almost amused by how much Zaarkhun thought he was in control. While Zaarkhun would present a major problem to Durzhan, Durzhan was far better prepared than Zaarkhun was. Zaarkhun was correct about one thing, though: there was a new order in this galaxy, and it would enter a new era. It was now time to report this to his master. Behind him, Kolossus floated, his four arms crossed as he kept his eyes closed in contemplation, until he opened them to gaze down upon the Katel.
- Kolossus - Congratulations are in order, Durzhan. You are making good use of your tools.
- Durzhan - Things are coming together very nicely indeed. It is amusing to watch Zaarkhun echo my sentiments. In truth, I see much of myself in him. We probably both take after Zargoth in a way.
- Kolossus - Zaarkhun will be left distracted and well out of our way with all this. And now that Ottzello is trapped within this pocket universe, the Vague will no longer interfere with what we wish.
- Durzhan - Indeed. I could care less what happens to this galaxy; Zaarkhun and Volim could destroy it for all I care. But I do care what happens to that sector. Within time, though, the Perfect Fate shall be achieved. It is not long now.
- Kolossus - I care. I shall enjoy watching it ripped apart by the Corruptus when the time comes. Though, this has brought up something to my attention. The Vyro'Narza are beginning to suspect us.
- Durzhan - They are not permitted to interfere unless other godraces interfere. They wouldn't dare break the rules. Or do they think it's us breaking the rules?
- Kolossus - They suspect we are. And because of it, Zargoth has sent another of his agents to throw them off of our tail. Meet Lord Antagonar.
- Durzhan - Splendid.
Arriving beside Kolossus was a large, bright red, eccentic figure which was grander than most Vyro'Ralza, but took a distinctly similar shape. Antagonar appeared to grin at them as he recognized Kolossus, though this was his first time meeting with Durzhan. It was clear to them all that this was an extremely powerful being who enjoyed warfare, and enjoyed making trouble.
- Antagonar - You must be the boys assigned to the Perfect Fate. Don't worry about the Vyro'Narza. I'll keep them busy.
- Kolossus - Good. Should they realize what we're doing here, the entire plan will fail. This cannot be allowed to happen.
- Antagonar - They really think that the Fates will happen without our interference. Hah! They are as foolish as they are clumsy. It matters not, I love a good fight. Makes a change to have challenging opponents. I will be in another universe causing enough chaos to keep them preoccupied. Should either of you need me, you know where to find me.
- Kolossus - So be it.
Antagonar then vanished. Much like any Vyro'Ralza, he was extremely quick.
- Durzhan - I have confidence in his abilities to buy us some much needed time. It's not as if we need much more of it.
- Kolossus - Precautions should be taken regardless. Our victory is too close to be jeopardized.
- Durzhan - Indeed. One thing, though: do you suppose Vyro'Ralzora himself will be here to witness as we achieve the Fate?
- Kolossus - He will. But only then. He has sent the likes of me and Antagonar here so he could focus his attention elsewhere.
- Durzhan - I will not fail you.