|Second Borealis Galactic War is a Historical Event
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“The time has come for a new age. An age in which all people are free from authority. In which everyone makes their own way, and follows their own rules, with the only rules dictating their lives being the rules of nature!”
This is the second part of the Second Borealis Galactic War. It saw the rise in the period known as the "War Economy", in which private military companies fought proxy wars around the galaxy and in which many planets began to abandon the concept of a nation state. This was mostly orchestrated by Falrik Zaarkhun and General Volim of the Borealis Consortium Network for their own gains, while the Zoles Imperium and Niaka Special Forces attempted to combat it. However, the Unified Nation of Ottzello, under spacetime quarantine, were unable to combat them.
- 1 A New Order Begins
- 2 Lords of Crime
- 3 Fighters for "Liberty"
- 4 March of Liberty
A New Order Begins
The First Uprisings
As war was being felt throughout Borealis, so was a growing feeling of anger and fear. Feelings that boiled up amongst the people, who could no longer trust their governments to protect them from the extradimensionals. They no longer trusted the elites of their society to look after the starving refugees fleeing worlds torn apart by pirates and aliens. All it took was a little propaganda to tap into these feelings, to add enough fuel to the fire, and finally, these feelings that had boiled up into one molotov cocktail of rage amongst the people. And they couldn't wait to throw it straight at the elite class that had, in their eyes, held them back.
The first uprising began on planet Erahlof, in the Eastern Arm. It was not too far off Wranploer Legion territory, meaning not only did its democratically elected government suffer from Wranploer raids, but it was close enough to the private military companies and the Consortium Network's propaganda arms that it was easy to convince. This world was ripe for the picking for Zaarkhun, and it was not long before a military coup, coupled with mercenaries and militia, turned on their own government. This revolution wasn't just about wanting a new government in charge, they wanted no government in charge.
And soon, Erahlof became the first world to abandon the concept of a nation state. To abandon the concept of borders, to abandon the concept of a society governed by laws, and to unite people not through culture, but through trade alone. The only law now governing Erahlof was survival of the fittest. Each of its people had to make their own way in life, working with the right people in the right business to survive. This lawless world, at first, appeared to be a utopia. No one told them what to do. No need to be protected by any state-backed military when they could all protect themselves, with no consequences for purchasing heavy weaponry. No one to collect taxes or police them.
Erahlof was now the capital planet of a new form of change across Borealis. It was not long before so many other worlds followed suit. Throwing their own peoples' molotov cocktail of rage at their own governments, overthrowing monarchs, republics and all forms of nation states that they felt had been letting them down. All to move towards a society of anarchy, where the rule of survival of the fittest governed the galaxy.
And as it spread planet-by-planet, gaining momentum, it coincided with the rise in private military companies, which fought proxy wars against those governments that wanted to resist this new anti-government uprising, or simply wars over resources. Many of those who were unable to fit in with the new lawless society otherwise, unable to defend themselves or make a living any other way, and with no welfare state to fall back on, began to sign up to these private military companies to avoid the other alternative: death by starvation. And these private military companies would, in many cases, drug these new employees to make them thrive on war, and turn them into killing machines. All for profit.
But to Falrik Zaarkhun and Volim Thrava, who had engineered this reality, this was beautiful to watch. It was a new order of liberty for Zaarkhun, and would usher in a much more prosperous age. To Volim, this was about a rise in power, as he was able to enrich and empower the Wranploer further, and watch as many of the aliens who had once reviled him now longed to be liberated by him instead.
Thugz Fer Dosh
After seeing the success of the uprisings around the galaxy, the growth of private military companies and the surge in war, Da Rogue Boyz were both extremely excited and very disappointed. Each of them felt very left out of this revolution that Zaarkhun was starting. So Fre'kloar called a group meeting to discuss the ways to move the Loron forward while they were unable to fight the quarantined UNO.
- Fre'kloar - yanno on da one hand its funny ta see da salty tears of uno as dey got locked away but on da otha hand its...kinda borin wivout dem
- Hagto'Zhl - MAN WE NEED NOO PEEPZ TA SHANK
- Fre'kloar - yeh an DERES SO MANY PEEPZ TA SHANK but zaarkhun neva sends us places anymoar he just sends da mercs
- Grak'tona - whai shuld we do wat he sez? IM DA KING. I CAN CHOOS WHOEVA I WANT TA KILL
- Rel'larutina - Oh yeah? Then who should we kill, "king"?
- Grak'tona - DA ZOLES... NO WAIT DA NIAKA... NO WAIT DA PALADIANS... URM SO MANY TA CHOOS FROM
- Rel'larutina - You're just full of ideas, aren't you.
- Grak'tona - yeh well I DONT SEE YOO CONTRIBUTIN YA LOSA
- Rel'larutina - It's almost like last time I contributed to one of these discussions you all told me, in your own words, "stfu stoopid chik no one wants yor input", or something.
- Jol'kiar - man yoo kidz is stoopid. bak in ma dayz we jus shanked whoeva showed up in front of us. none of dis choosin trash
- Fre'kloar - yeh well yor days SUKED MAN I SWER YOO DIDNT EVEN HAV MASSIV SHIPS LIKE DIS ONE
- Kal'kuir - yeh bcuz i wasnt born yet hur
- Jol'kiar - SHUT UP MAN YOR A LIL BRAT WHO DONT KNO TROO LORON SHANKINESS. IF YA DAYZ SO MUCH BETTA DEN SOLVE DIS PROBLEM
- Kal'kuir - BY ALL MEENS I WILL
Kal'kuir cleared his throat, and then threw together a projector, which projected an image of a crayon-drawn storyboard of Loron and images of money that could not be understood by any of the others, but the way his eyes lit up as he outlined it to the others suggested he thought it was genius.
- Kal'kuir - so i depicted da plan in dis AMAZIN drawin of wat wes gonna do. yanno how deres all dese mercenaries out dere dat get money fer killin peepz, like how a prostitute gets money fer doin kinky stoof wiv peepz? yeh so whai dont we be like mercenaries. i call dem da "War Prostitutes" but dat name sounded dum so i scribbled it out an changed it ta "Thugz Fer Dosh". so basically da loronz is da best fightas eva, wes da most committed by far an wes som of da only peepz dat ya dont need ta give drugs to ta get us excited fer war. so whai dont we make our own mercenary groop an get tons of cash an evryon hires us ta kill stoof?? sik idea ennit??
- Ray'loth - MATE I CANT UNDASTAND WAT DA HEK DAT DRAWIN MEENS
- Voa'reak - i fink its a groodrub chimp rollin around in a pile of dirt
- Brag'klogga - my foresite suggests dat its a drawin of da godz except da godz spat on it an now it looks like trash
- Rel'larutina - Most importantly. It's a projection of a drawing, while he could've just shown us the drawing itself.
- Kal'kuir - MAN YOR ALL JUS SUPA JELUS OF MA SIK ARTISTIC SKILLZ
- Jol'kiar - thugz fer dosh eh? ... eeeeehh whil i can see wher yor goin wiv it im a bit skeptical. WES DA ROGUE BOYZ. WE DONT WORK FER NO ONE. DATS KINDA DA POINT
- Zalk'don - yeh man dis idea is SO FLIPPIN BAD I WANNA BLOW UP PEEPZ FER DA BOSSES NOT FER SOM GEEZA PAYIN US
- Naktor'zak - I VOTE NO TA DIS DUM IDEA
Fre'kloar growled, as he stomped on Kal'kuir's projector and kicked him aside. He then cleared his throat as Kal'kuir had done earlier, and spoke.
- Fre'kloar - MAN KALKUIRS IDEAS IS ALL PROPA STOOPID. but its ok, i yor amazin boss, hav an idea. so basically deres all dese mercenaries in da galaxy, dey get paid ta kill peepz yeh? like how yoo hav chikz paid ta do kinky stoof called prostitutes? so we copy dem. an we make ourselves da War Prostitutes. alrite nevamind dats a dum name, so we can be da "Thugz Fer Dosh" insted. basically peepz across da galaxy pay us ta kill geezas an den we get lotsa cash. sik idea ennit???
- Jol'kiar - FREKLOAR YOO IDIOT YOO JUS REPEETED EVERYFIN KALKUIR SED
- Fre'kloar - SHUT UP MAN DAT WAS ALL MA OWN IDEA
- Hagto'Zhl - well i dunno about yoo lot but i fink frekloars idea is pretty good
- Jol'kiar - i can work wiv it JUS AS LONG AS WE REMAIN ROGUE
- Fre'kloar - yeh wes not gonna rename da whol of da rogue boyz man dats a stoopid idea who wuld do dat
- Brag'klogga - urm yoo did in anotha canon mate
- Fre'kloar - IF YOO DONT SHUT UP IMMA BLAST A CANNON IN YA FACE
- Kal'kuir - MAN... WISH I HAD DAT IDEA. LETS DO IT
- Rel'larutina - I...I don't believe this...but alright. Let's found our "Thugz Fer Dosh". Lemme guess, I do all the work?
- Grak'tona - I DECLARE MASELF DA KING OF DA THUGZ
- Fre'kloar - LMAO NO. YOR AN UNSTABLE PIECE OF TRASH DAT WULD JUS SCREEM AT DA EMPLOYA AN DEN WED NEVA GET ANY WORK. FORGET DAT MAN WE GOTTA HIRE SOMEON NEW SPECIFICALLY FER DIS
Knar'gank raised his hand to get their attention.
- Knar'gank - i kno someon. a cousin of mine.
- Fre'kloar - oh? lets heer about dis guy den
- Knar'gank - names Gol'thabex. hes alredi a mercenary so he wuld probs kno wat ta do in a pmc. pretty tuff geeza
- Fre'kloar - hmm. oi kalkuir bring up da numbas on dis geeza
Kal'kuir nodded, as he ran to the terminal on the Krooza and began to research Gol'thabex. Soon, images of Gol'thabex appeared on the screen. He was a large Loron that appeared easily as tough as one of the Warbosses in the room if not tougher, with two large tomahawk axes which he threw with insane precision. The other Loron were visibly impressed.
- Jol'kiar - so...why didnt we make dis guy a warboss agen?
- Knar'gank - hes got dis independant hardass attitude so dats probs whai ya neva herd of him
- Jol'kiar - bak in ma dayz all da loronz was loud. dis bothas me
- Ray'loth - WELL WE GOTTA BRING DIS BOZO INTO DA KROOZA
- Brag'klogga - I CAN HANDLE DAT
Brag'klogga, on a whim, decided to teleport Gol'thabex into the room. As Gol'thabex landed, he swung his axe down and broke the table in front of the Loron around which they were gathered in half, then looked around, highly confused.
- Gol'thabex - urm...i was in da middle of killin peepz. since when was i heer
- Fre'kloar - SINCE NAO
- Knar'gank - ey cuzzy bro
- Gol'thabex - yo da leedas is all heer?? oi sup knargank man how yoo been
- Hagto'Zhl - SO APPARENTLY YOR REELY TUFF. WELL WE GOT A PROPOSISHON FER YAS. WES GONNA MAKE DA ROGUE BOYZS OWN PMC AN YOO MITE BE JUS WAT WE NEED FER A LEEDA FER DAT
- Gol'thabex - eh...pmc? yoo meen like prostitutes dat kill peepz?
- Rel'larutina - Zr'An'Kar's sake, you people. How did you even come up with that?
- Hagto'Zhl - NO AS IN YOO GET PAID BY ALIENS TA KILL OTHA ALIENS AN IF DEY DONT PAY YOO YOO BEET DEM UP
- Gol'thabex - oh. so dats like wat i alredi do anywayz but on a bigga scale. hur sure man sign me up
- Fre'kloar - ITS SETTLED DEN. THUGZ FER DOSH IS OPEN FER BUSINESS
- Kal'kuir - I VOTE DAT I GET TA KEEP ALL DA CASH WE MAKE AN USE IT TA BUILD BIGGA GUNZ
- Fre'kloar - COURS NOT YA GEEK IM DA BOSS SO I GET ALL DA BLING
- Grak'tona - IM DA KING SO I COLLECT DA ROYAL TAXES
- Hagto'Zhl - IM KOLOSSUS SON SO I GET ALL DA CASH
- Jol'kiar - BAK IN MA DAYZ WE NEVA HAD DIS ARGUMENT OVA CASH WE SHARED IT OUT BUT STILL IM DA OLDEST AN DA WISEST HEER SO I GET ALL DA CASH
- Rel'larutina - I'm gonna say it just for the sake of it. I get the money so I can actually invest it instead of throwing it all into the ship's engine.
- Fre'kloar - LOL I VOTE RELLARUTINA GETS NO CASH WHOS WIV ME
All of the Loron raised their hands gleefully in the air and then laughed at her.
- Rel'larutina - Of course. You're the same people who think Loron prostitutes are a thing that exist.
- Brag'klogga - deres somfin in da holy books about dat but dats a story fer anotha time. da holy books say pretty nice stoof about da thugz fer dosh so dis is gonna be sik
- Jol'kiar - we shuld decide on who gets da cash (me btw) lata. frekloar as boss yoo gotta go an giv all da boyz an announcement
- Fre'kloar - yeh sure man im gonna com up wiv a speech or somfin now somone giv me a papa
Fre'kloar turned to Kal'kuir, who passed him crayons. He then proceded to take a piece of paper and write out his speech. A few minutes later, he had finished it, and took the Krooza's microphone to send a message throughout Rogue Boyz territory to every ship and planet.
- Fre'kloar - Yo, yo, yo, attenshon all Rogue Boyz peepz out dere. Yoov all made me proud but now its a noo moment fer da Loronz. Evry one of yoo is now an employee of Thugz Fer Dosh. Dis is a noo PMC fingy dat basically meens we take money frum alienz ta go kill peepz for dem. Dis is a sik moovment but if yoo dont like it den yoo can form a line behind me an kiss my ass. Hope yoo all hav a good day.
Fre'kloar then stepped away from the microphone, to the applause of the other Loron.
- Fre'kloar - dat was sik ennit?
- Jol'kiar - dat works
- Hagto'Zhl - PIZZA PARTY TA COMMEMORATE
- Fre'kloar - YEH MAN LETS DO IT
Borealis News Network Report
Raiyassa Mizys, the Zoles reporter who frequently delivered news reports, seemed much less calm than usual. It was a time of great uncertainty, not simply because of the war, but because of the unpredictability of the entire Eastern Arm. The Eastern Arm was already seen as somewhat of an untamed wild, but not to the extent that even the more civilised worlds more aligned with the Zoles and the Niaka began to turn their backs on those who were doing their best to protect them in these dire times.
- Raiyassa Mizys - Good evening, Borealis. Just minutes ago we saw the fall of another nation, the Rewlod Republic, in the Friura Sector of the Eastern Arm. Formerly thought to be much more safe from pirates due to Niaka presence, the sector is slowly moving to become as lawless as the Demolidus Sector. Experts predict the few remaining nation states in the Arm to fall within the coming weeks.
The next paragraph she read out, she did so much more solemnly, with a great sense of woe in her voice.
- Raiyassa Mizys - But the phenomenon is no longer unique to the Eastern Arm. Two nation states, one in the Mirianis Sector and the other a younger species in the Sovaikai Sector, have launched successful coups against their governments and now join the Eastern Arm in a state of total anarchy. These regions are no longer deemed safe, as they are populated by pirates and mercenaries, which in many cases are warring factions fighting one another to obtain the resources from these now lawless worlds.
Raiyassa hesitated once again before delivering the next line. It was hard to maintain her professional tone, as she was worried not only about the news itself, but disgusted by the script she had to read.
- Raiyassa Mizys - Entrepreneurs and businessmen around the galaxy have been quick to take advantage of the situation as they have moved to set up shop in these worlds, mining their resources, trading in tax-free marketplaces and employing thousands of war refugees.
Having delivered the line, she could finally read out parts of the script she was much more comfortable delivering, no longer having to normalise or glorify these revolts.
- Raiyassa Mizys - But many experts worry that the people in these new lawless societies will not take too kindly to their newfound freedom. While they are no longer taxed or policed, they are also no longer protected from harm. This has already seen a rise in many of the youth turning to piracy, and some desperate people joining mercenary groups when finding themselves unable to join another workforce. Proponents of the anti-government sentiment argue that this is about taking control of their own lives and fending for themselves, but in many cases, this has been shown to give people much less social mobility, and much higher risk of death.
Normally, Raiyassa would have prepared an interview for the occasion, or be able to broadcast a press conference from one of the galaxy's leaders. But her update was much shorter today. There were very few leaders who wished to address the issue publicly or provide reassuring words when there was little to say that would help people feel safer. And the Borealis News Network's viewership was dropping, with more people preferring to either tune into their own nation's news corporations, or worse - propaganda outlets created by the Borealis Consortium Network to sow anti-government messages.
- Raiyassa Mizys - It is a very divided galaxy, as people must make a choice: can they still trust their leaders to protect them from the extradimensional threats? Tune in after commercials for more.
And with that, the report ended, and commercials began. And ironically, the first two advertisements were for Imalmah Products, a megacorporation selling for advanced weaponry, and Ultralite Squads, a private military company advertising offering potential employers protection.
The Broken King
As the two watched their new order spread around the galaxy like wildfire, Zaarkhun and Volim could only sit back in their throne giddy with excitement. They almost couldn't believe their plans were coming into fruition. As they continued to grow richer by the minute, and as governments around the galaxy continued to fall, turning to them as a solution, it filled them with an immense satisfaction. Zaarkhun felt that his dreams of true liberty were finally coming true, as he could now free the galaxy from the burdens of a corrupt authority holding them back.
In Volim's case, the satisfaction was much more sadistic. He was gleeful not because he saw himself as the galaxy's saviour, but because he saw himself as the galaxy's ruler. He was gleeful because they were cheering for him, not because he was championing them. To him, there was only one thing that matched the satisfaction of seeing the entire galaxy abandon their old ideals in favour of those more similar to the Legion's; the satisfaction of seeing the king of his mortal enemies locked in a cage.
King Rebaris, a battered and bruised man stripped of his royal clothing in favour of prison garments to humiliate him, lay bitter and hungry in his cage. He served as a reminder of how far they had come. And as usual, it was time for Volim to taunt him once more.
- Volim - You've been quiet, Zoles. Not feeling like insulting me and my grandfathers anymore?
- Rebaris - Hmpf...
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The difference between the two of you is clear: one of you will have heirs and a future. The other will not.
- Volim - Heirs? ... My sons died long ago. The Wranploer won't need heirs, because I intend to live forever.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Well, that makes little difference. One of you has a future. The other will be a blight in history. Remembered as the man who led the people who tried to keep Borealans from achieving their true potential.
- Sollow - Why are we keeping this old mold here? Let me cut him up... Let him kill him!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Patience, Sollow. You never understood one key thing about the living. Physical torture is far less severe than psychological torture. Breaking ones' body is easy, but the pain does not compare to that of breaking ones' spirit. It does not compare to seeing everything you have built be destroyed before your eyes, and all of your loved ones whom you are failing.
- Volim - You have fun doing that. I'm already bored of Rebaris. Telarian was a far more interesting enemy than him.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You see, the Zoles Imperium represents everything I revile. It represents the class of people who dare to tell everyone how they should live their lives. I know that Borealis will embrace a better future. A future I have chosen for them, in which they can choose their own path in life. Without your kind telling them what to do.
- Sollow - Choose? I don't think they're gonna have a lot of freedom to do that...
- Falrik Zaarkhun - No, the Zoles themselves will have no choice. They made their choice long ago to strip liberty from this galaxy, so I will strip liberty and life from them.
- Genrai Nal - We have more to do. The Vague will present a problem for us if we do not eliminate them quickly. They are still very active in this galaxy, if aimless due to the quarantine.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Ah, the Vague. The vengeful extradimensionals who know only how to destroy, and nothing else. I shall not let them stand in my way. Continue your search for a..."solution" to them. Should I need you to help topple any more governments, I shall recall you.
- Genrai Nal - As you wish.
Volim's eyes were narrowed as he looked down at Zaarkhun, though he remained quiet. At this moment, another figure would enter the chamber, passing his hands over his clothes as to clean himself; Warlord Torrent, recently returned from the war front.
- Torrent - Volim. Volim's little friend.
- Volim - Ah, Torrent. Paying a visit, hm?
- Torrent - The situation is under control now that the Ottzelloans were quarantined. The Zoles and Paladians' fleets will not be able to hold on for much longer at the west... But your little "anti-government" act is not doing much to them.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - In what sense?
- Torrent - You can sway and fool the smaller and more defenseless races with your lies, but the great empires of this galaxy will not be broken by words alone. Our enemies are as militant as we are. War will only bring a greater wish to serve the nation.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - This surprises me little. I did not expect such propaganda to be effective amongst the more established and more powerful nations such as theirs. They turn to nationalism rather than to a distaste for their own. But is it more effective amongst their allies? Can we get some of the aliens' colonies to turn against their galaxy?
- Torrent - I doubt your words will affect the outsiders. They present a problem. The good news, however, is that Kantraun, the current lord of Vocrillon Mine has thoroughly pledged his support to the Legion's interests.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Ah, excellent. I shall continue to provide you with arms for as long as you continue to provide me with results.
- Torrent - I will provide you with results if you provide me Commandant Vekaron's location. My trail on him has gone cold again.
The warlord was famed for his rivalry with Vekaron. For centuries the two had fought one another, unable to defeat the other for good. Zaarkhun immediately recalled reading about this in Torrent's record, and smiled a little. With how much influence Vekaron had, he would be a perfect target. He turned to Sollow.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Sollow, you may seek Vekaron's location, but you may not kill him.
- Sollow - Who says I may not...
- Torrent - Yes, get your clown to do something other than stand around scratching his rear.
- Sollow - Excuse me! I am the most important person on this ship!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Yes, I suppose...you may believe that. And that is why you are tasked with this important mission while Genrai is busy. Search throughout the galaxy for his starship and his location. You know what arms to twist to get there. See if it is possible to confront him. When you have the co-ordinates, you are to pass them on to Torrent.
- Sollow - Fine, fine... I'll try and resist the temptation...
- Torrent - Good. Vekaron is my kill and no one else's. You may contend yourself with the other Grand-Commandants, I couldn't care less for them.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Indeed. Sollow, if you can't contain yourself, find the location of another Grand-Commandant and kill them. Perhaps even find Vekaron's location through that Grand-Commandant before slitting their throat.
Sollow nodded before making his leave, but as he passed by Torrent, he would let out a hiss at his direction, which the Kvargo responded by raising a clenched fist. It was clear they disliked each other's presences.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You get used to him once you see the corpses he leaves behind his trail.
- Volim - At least he comes with the perk of allowing me to punch his jaw broken multiple times.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - It is a useful perk indeed. He serves as a fine meat shield too.
- Torrent - I don't like what whatever-the-hell-he-is. But whatever suits your fancy, Volim. I'm out.
- Volim - Leave me informed.
With a small bow, Torrent would leave back through the same entrance he had arrived from.
- Genrai Nal - Falrik, before I leave: I was unable to locate any weaponry through your Lamelota contracts. However, they would very much like you to uphold your end of the bargain with them, as they are current suffering attacks from the Devourer's Chosen.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I see. Leave that to me. It has been a very profitable business venture.
- Volim - Feh. Lamelota. Their kind is scum. I'd have destroyed them long ago.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Their kind is very useful and manipulative scum, however.
- Volim - If you say so.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Soon, it will be time to bring one final blow to those who continue to remain resistant to our revolution. When that happens, Volim, I am sure you will look forward to leading your Legion into war once again.
- Volim - Yes. Yes, I will.
Stuck in Quarantine
As the galaxy went through the turmoil of the months that followed, the Leaders of the Unified Nation of Ottzello remained trapped within their spacetime quarantine. Aboard the UNO Omega Commander in the command chamber, each of the leaders met for their (much less frequent) daily meetings to discuss a way forward. It was largely a sense of defeat, but also fatigue.
- Yogtam - Still found no way outside the quarantine?
- Tuolog - Unfortunately not. But there not many timelines in which we remain trapped permanently.
- Feldosia - Oh great, so there are timelines in which we're trapped here forever as the galaxy around us implodes?
- Tralkik Commander - Our territory is relatively safe within this quarantine. There are benefits to this arrangement.
- Yogtam - Commander, what appears to be happening?
- Tralkik Commander - Our Tralkik scouts not trapped in the quarantine have been paying attention to the current affairs of the galaxy. It is currently in turmoil, but not because of the Vague. Because of a rise in anti-government uprisings, and of private military corporations spreading war much further. Those governments not toppled by a revolt of their own people are instead toppled by a proxy war they cannot afford against much more powerful mercenaries.
- Kralgon Emperor - Call me crazy, but seeing the rest of the galaxy suffer without us is almost justice for what they did to us.
- Zr'Ahgloth - YEH SCROO DOSE LOSAS MAN. ITS DEIR FAULT
The leaders sighed. Normally, they would scold the Emperor and Zr'Ahgloth for this sentiment, but this time, they couldn't. They were both partially right, by quarantining UNO, they had inflicted an act of self-harm.
- Valzo - Well, I have nothing to report. I have stopped attempting to reach out to representatives from the Zoles Imperium. They do not respond to me.
- Tuolog - Do not worry, Valzo. It not your fault. They have own problems. They respond in time.
- Feldosia - Meanwhile, the recovery of our infrastructure and our military is going as usual. But it's a lot harder with no one to trade with.
- Kralgon Emperor - If we have little to discuss further, then I advocate we close this meeting here.
The leaders nodded, as they left one by one. Tuolog retreated to his own chamber to meditate. Yogtam and the Kralgon Emperor both left to oversee the production of new weaponry within UNO. The Tralkik Commander switched off, while Zr'Ahgloth simply fell asleep at his seat.
Only Valzo and Feldosia remained awake in the room. Feldosia appeared to sigh and gaze at the ceiling, while Valzo approached her. He cleared his throat before approaching her, and spoke to her over the loud snores of Zr'Ahgloth.
- Valzo - You're staying here?
- Feldosia - Indeed. I have nowhere else to return to.
- Valzo - Nor do I. Hard to meet co-ordinate foreign policy when there are so few foreign factions anymore, heh.
Feldosia smiled, and there were a few more moments of silence, before the shy Valzo spoke again.
- Valzo - Hey, Fel...
- Feldosia - What's up?
- Valzo - So, there's this thing, that I really should've told you about earlier. Urm...
- Feldosia - Yes?
- Valzo - Tell you what. If we're both free right now, why don't we go off to dinner by the nebula space resort? I'm told the food there is lovely.
- Feldosia - Oh. Sure.
With that, the two retreated to the resort, leaving only the sleeping Zr'Ahgloth and the deactivated Tralkik Commander in the room.
The Hedgar Revolution
As the war spread across Borealis, the formidable race of humanoids known as the Murgur were second only to the Loron as mercenaries for hire. Their warbands were feared across the galaxy, each for a different reason; Kraknor, the Red Warband, marched wanting only the complete slaughter of all who opposed them. Muganda, the Blue Warband, sold themselves to the highest bidder, and those who held their sway would surely have the advantage. Vorazius, the Golden Warband, thrashed and looted anyone who wronged them, their technophobia putting them at odds with most civilized nations. But there was a fourth, unknown warband which the others did not speak of. The Black Warband, its name spoken with disgust by the other Murgur due to past crimes. It would make itself known again... with the aid of unexpected supporters.
The Vague Threat
Vocrillon Mine, which was now sympathetic to Zaarkhun's cause, was like a lawless, uncivilized, unsafe hell for most aliens. But to pirates around the galaxy and to the new supporters of Zaarkhun's anarchist movement, it represented a haven from oppressive regimes and a bastion of liberty. The Lord's Haven, which was by far the nicest part of the station, was forever crowded with people, often either pirates, gang members, thugs, or simply rich people with tougher bodyguards.
To walk through Vocrillon Mine and to look vulnerable at all was a death wish. To avoid this, the right body language in the way one walked through the station alone could be enough to deter immediate attention, by maintaining confident posture or by blending in with the crowd and being hard to spot. A much safer bet, however, was to look well-prepared for combat, either through physical appearance, armament, or through keeping the right company. This could easily backfire, of course, as those who could easily be identified as important people were often the prime targets of bounty hunters and assassins looking to earn a fortune with little fear of surveillance, or simply thugs looking to make a name for themselves.
Falrik Zaarkhun knew this all too well, and so every time he visited the station to speak to his agents in person, he always navigated through the crowds with a hood on, and walked with a very clear purpose while keeping both his pistols close. No one other than his closest associates could possibly recognise him, and anyone else would believe him too dirt poor to be worth mugging (while those who attempted to mug him anyway would not last long). Zaarkhun based much of his spy network in Vocrillon Mine, firstly as no one would expect it to be located outside of Borealis Consortium Network territory, and secondly as it was by far the easiest place to eavesdrop on the right conversations or bribe the right individuals to learn more. And this time, his agenda was to learn about how to combat the Vague.
Zaarkhun made his way through the Lord's Haven to one of the bars, but to order food, not a drink. He felt it unsafe to send holograms to a place so full of either crimelords looking to steal his thunder, or undercover Niaka police agents looking to sabotage his operations. So he approached the bar alone, staying hooded completely, until a large, obese Wranploer butcher approached him to serve him.
- Wranploer - Huh, you best 'ave some money on ya. We don't serve people that don't got any money, 'ey? Don't you belong down in the Living Warrens?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - It's me, Billig. I thought you'd recognise me by now.
This Wranploer was Billig Oltauris, one of Zaarkhun's closest agents. Billig was a Wranploer who Volim may have left for dead, but whom Zaarkhun saw great potential in and elevated to a much higher position within the Consortium Network. He was currently positioned on Vocrillon Mine in order to make reports.
- Billig - Ah, sorry mate. I'll bring yer somethin', then we can sit down on the table over there.
Billig pointed to a table at the far corner of the bar, away from most people. Zaarkhun nodded, as he made his way there and sat down. Billig later arrived with two drinks and some steak.
- Billig - It's Wranploer steak, 'ey? Tastes delicious, but it's super expensive.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - How'd you get it?
- Billig - Killed a guy who looked at me funny, 'ey? No one would wanna eat it, so I'll 'ave it fer meself.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I see. You have anything to report?
- Billig - As a matter of fact, I do.
Billig filled Zaarkhun in with all the hearsay he'd heard by monitoring individuals at the bar. He had been placed in charge of many agents, a lot of whom were Loktan, who would gather information about important figures visiting Vocrillon Mine through eavesdropping, or through bribing the right people. Normally, this only served to blackmail business rivals to gain more favourable deals, but it could be very useful to take down competitors and to seek out potential allies. Of course, Billig's Loktan agents would also attempt to seek out any other machines or creatures that attempted to eavesdrop on Zaarkhun's conversations with him, ensuring no competitor could do the same thing.
- Billig - Aside from that, my agents elsewhere got some more news. Many governments around the Western Arm are tryna "combat fake news". They say they're doin' their best to place criminal charges against those who publish false stories or propaganda. Might hurt our cause there.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Or it might help it severely. We can portray this to the people as a direct attack on their freedom of speech and a push for a more authoritarian, oppressive regime. Makes them much more likely to topple that government. We can either move quickly before the laws are in place and use the threat of the laws to accelerate our efforts, or allow some governments to put the restrictions in place and then watch the backlash, perhaps feeding into it and making it worse with illegal propaganda. What else have you to report?
- Billig - Two final things, both about the Ottzelloans. Super important.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Is it related to the Vague?
- Billig - Directly. The Vague's attacks continue to slow around the galaxy, 'ey? But no one wants to take the Ottzelloan refugees left outside the quarantine and chased out of other parts of the galaxy, because they fear Vague attacks. So many of 'em 'ave taken refuge 'ere.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - In the Living Warrens down below, I assume? And this station has not come under Vague attack?
- Billig - No, and I figured out why. The weapon you're sending Genrai to look for? It already exists. An' it's 'ere on this station. There's a Kralgon scientist who developed it, I think she's usin' Chronoscopic Energy of some sort, 'ey? It's enough to channel the energy keep the Vague out.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Hmm. If this is the case, I shall send Genrai to form a PMC instead, or perhaps to assist Torrent. Do you have a name of this scientist? A lead?
- Billig - Plenty of leads, name "Lyrisa". More specifically, she's in trouble with a few gangs 'ere who 'e promised weapons to and never followed up on. Few of 'em been tryna collect their money back from her afta she scammed 'em. I believe, though, that she's only selling this weapon to lord of the station, Kantraun.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Interesting. I will have to look into it while I'm here. I could threaten to take the weapon away from Kantraun, but I think that's someone we want on our side. As for the Ottzelloans in the Living Warrens, what is the current mood amongst them?
- Billig - Most of 'em are starvin', 'ey? Vocrillon Mine ain't a compassionate society. Most of 'em unemployed, starvin', many tryna save up fer a trip to the BCN to see if it has any work for 'em.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Sounds like they'd be perfect fit for a PMC or two to hire them from here. In fact, I'm sure a few PMCs could recruit many people from the Warrens.
- Billig - Right. I'm on it.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Being able to overcome the Vague will be a massive advantage to us. If we show the galaxy that the private sector overcame the Vague without any government to help them, they'll be far quicker to abandon their own governments in favour of our movement. Plus, if we get our hands on that weapon, we'll be rich.
- Billig - Could also make a few fake stories about that. "Government Hidin' Secret to Vague All Along". Translate that into a few languages and run with it, 'ey?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Good thinking. Perhaps you can help stir those rumours here once I've acquired it. I shall leave now, see to it that the PMCs start up. You'll be getting a pay rise this week.
- Billig - Nice.
With that, Zaarkhun left, giving out the right orders as he made his way down to the Living Warrens to check up on this Kralgon anti-Vague scientist.
To Find the King
The forces of Order had not merely stood idle to the threat of the Wranploer and their 'ideologies'. The Zoles Imperium, the Niaka Special Forces and the Civitas had all reinforced their borders in order to keep the anti-government radicalism from entering their nations, and even if it did, it met overwhelming opposition by the population; like reported, these great nations were far too stable to fall for Zaarkhun's propaganda, and the deterioration of the Eastern Arm merely gave them more reason to oppose the War Economy trend. The disappearance of King Rebaris, however, still served as a heavy blow to the Zoles' morale, but since the quarantine, Queen Aldaren had informed the truth to her closer confidants, including the Prime Ministers of the Imperium as well as its Grand-Commandants. Rebaris was not kidnapped by the Ottzelloans, and was still out there.
While Grand-Commandant Asraels secured the Zoles Imperium's territories, Vekaron and the 1st Fleet scoured the regions of space surrounding the quarantined Ottzello, looking for leads to Rebaris' location. Days would pass with him encountering nothing but Loron pirates and Vague starships - which appeared to ignore his presence altogether -, though it did not discourage him and his men.
However, after two weeks of search, the 1st Fleet was attacked as Wranploer Legion vessels poured out of the closest Cold Relay. Spearheading the attack was Warlord Torrent, who grinned as he finally found his rival. With his pet bird over his shoulder, he pointed a hand onward to Vekaron's ship, ordering his crew to open fire.
- Torrent - He's not escaping me anymore. Death to the Zoles!
- Vekaron - Wranploer attacks! 1st Fleet, retaliate!
The two fleets clashed, blasts of energy and explosive ammunation traveling through the vacuum before reaching their targets, causing great destruction. Each wrecked Imperial ship filled the Wranploer with satisfaction, and they could stand their ground well ever since their own navy was upgraded with the Consortium Network's profits. However, Torrent had underestimated Vekaron's escort; the 1st Fleet was the greatest of the Imperium, and even his ships would not last long against them. When the battle took a turn to the worst for the Wranploer, Torrent growled in anger before ordering his ships to retreat, and it was at this point that Vekaron realized this was the perfect opportunity for him.
- Vekaron - ... Follow these pirates! They may lead us to the King!
As the Wranploer ships poured back into the Relay, the 1st Fleet gave chase. Torrent would not lead Vekaron directly into Rebaris, but the warlord's attempt to his life would prove to be a mistake.
Falrik Zaarkhun intended to remain on Vocrillon Mine for at least a week, allowing Volim full control of the Iron Fist for the war effort against the Zoles. Aboard the station, Zaarkhun had quite a busy schedule, with several things to take care of before he left. Finding this scientist was the first, but to search the Living Warrens alone would be wasteful. Instead, he sent his Loktan agents below to scout the houses and to listen in on their conversations, hoping to pick up a trail.
Not one to let his mind wonder or to waste time\ while waiting to hear back from them, Zaarkhun returned to a privately rented hotel room, from which he would use the holographic communicators to arrange several business meetings. By holding these meetings aboard Vocrillon Mine, he was much harder to track than he was when aboard the Iron Fist, due to how difficult it was to lock onto a frequency with so many communications coming from one station. Plus, he would much rather be tracked to a hotel room aboard a space station than to his space ship.
First up, Zaarkhun would contact the Lamelota. Appearing to him was the holographic image of Markanva, lord-baron of the Lamelota Empire and ruler of their homeworld of Lonlur. It was clear by his expression that he was under a great amount of stress; the Alvino Brood had been attacking his nation for several months, and he had made deals with Zaarkhun in an attempt to gain weapons powerful enough to fight them. It did not work.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Ah, greetings, Markanva. Thank you for your work with the Lamelota Megacorporation. It has been most suitable for many of my business ventures.
- Markanva - Zaarkhun... Where are the weapons we agreed on?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Weapons?...Ah, yes, that was part of the contract, wasn't it?
- Markanva - The Alvino are breathing behind my neck! I need your support or they'll devour my homeworld!
At that point, Zaarkhun went over in his head the possible benefits and drawbacks of lending his support to the Lamelota. On another screen, he brought up several different statistics: the gross domestic product of the Lamelota, the profits of the Lamelota Megacorporation, the potential benefits that their technology and their kind brought to the Consortium Network, and also how costly the effort to redeem the Lamelota would be. One factor he also weighed in was the Lamelota's history. They were known as a race of mercenaries who were not broadly trusted by the rest of the galaxy, and had a history of backstabbing people.
Zaarkhun knew this kind of negotiation tactic all too well, for it was one he had employed on many occasions. He knew this kind of business dealing. The Lamelota had far more to gain from this than he did.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - And if I don't lend you my support?
- Markanva - ... What do you mean "if"? The survival of my race is under stake!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - What more does your race have to offer me than any other two-bit mercenaries out there? And believe me, they're growing in number now. You don't get points just because you beat a lot of them to it.
- Markanva - I fulfilled my part of the contract when the Megacorporation was founded under your name. It's time for you to fulfill yours!
Zaarkhun smirked a little.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - And to what authority will you turn to should I fail to fulfill it? What legal challenges could I face? Are you going to turn to the Niaka? To the Paladians? I regret to be the bearer of bad news to you, but if that is what you plan on doing, well...let's just say I'm far, far more powerful than they are right now. Markanva, you offer me too little worth.
The Lamelota leader's face showed astonishment over Zaarkhun's words. As distrusted as they were, his race never went through such lengths to humiliate their enemies.
- Markanva - You'd let entire races be extinct... because they can't pay you enough coins?!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Survival of the fittest. Don't try to make me pity you. I know that negotiation tactic all too well, and I have become immune to it.
- Markanva - ... From the start, I knew this couldn't end well. You filthy Wranploer slave! I hope the Alvino tear through your masters next!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I rather hope whatever PMC looks into the downfall of your species finds a solution to this little Alvino problem. Farewell, Markanva, you have little time left, so I suggest you spend the rest of it defending your people. To no avail, of course.
- Markanva - Burn in-
Before his sentence could be finished, all communication with Lonlur was lost, turning the hologram into static. The Brood had hit the planet as they spoke.
Zaarkhun's facial expression changed little. He knew not to show any sign of weakness during a business meeting, as it was always something that any good negotiator would take advantage of. However, in the back of his mind, he was concerned greatly by the threat that the Alvino Brood posed. He would need to monitor closely the situation on Lonlur later, to make threat assessments, and would need to pressure PMCs to develop weapons. Luckily for him, the private sector moved very quickly in producing solutions to said problems even without his own intervention.
His mind focused on at least five different problems and searching for solutions to each of them at once, Zaarkhun next decided to contact two other potential allies. First up was contacting one of the Murgur warlords. The hologram changed to display the image of Kraknor Tismahgo, warmaster of the Red Warband, who looked at Zaakhun's much smaller form with mild disdain as he kept his arms crossed. While the hologram was not made to display creatures in their true height, it was clear this Murgur was nearly thrice his size.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Kraknor Tismahgo. You have quite the reputation. I do not believe we have met before, but I am Falrik Zaarkhun, CEO of the Borealis Consortium Network.
- Tismahgo - No, we have not met. Be thankful of that. Your name is vaguely familiar and I know of your network. Why do you contact me?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Your name, on the other hand, is very familiar among the right circles. You are known as a very capable fighter with a strong warband, and this is why I believe you would make a suitable partner for our efforts against the pesky Zoles and the Niaka.
- Tismahgo - Kraknor only works to those who deserve it. Why would I work alongside you?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - We have a common enemy, and more importantly, because I'll leave the best opponents to you. Only those who deserve it work with you, and likewise, only those who deserve it will face you in battle. You leave the runts to us, and we'll direct you to the right Zoles fighters and provide cover fire for your men.
- Tismahgo - That so? And what would you gain from this? If you believe me to be a meat shield, then you waste my time.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I gain the satisfaction in the defeat of a common threat. There are many PMCs right now which would love to be assigned to defeat the right Zoles targets, but I do not trust them. You, on the other hand, and your warband, have much greater conviction than them. Our mercenaries will get you to the targeted planets, and you will take them out.
- Tismahgo - Hmpf... Very well, alien. But not for free. Just support troops are not enough to convince me. I want credits.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You shall have them. The bounties on many of the targets I refer to are increasingly high, so much so that most PMCs believe they may receive a better offer later and thus hold off. I shall pay you twice the bounties on each of the targets and allow you to retain control of the colonies that you take over.
- Tismahgo - Hmmm... That is acceptable. Kraknor will fight by your side, for the time being.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Most appreciated. Oh, and if any of the other warbands give you trouble, let us know. They are probably a common threat to us as well, and we wouldn't mind starting a proxy war with them to weaken them.
- Tismahgo - "Proxy". Bah. Leave my problems to me. I will solve them the Murgur way.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Understood. I shall return to you later with your first target and deliver half of the payment in advance.
- Tismahgo - Very well.
Tismahgo left the communications. Of course, Zaarkhun didn't really intend to pay twice of what the bounties were. While he would pay them more than what the bounties were going for, he would only add at least 20% to the payments, and claim that the price had risen after the initial payment should they call him out on it. Nonetheless, this would be a profitable business, as Zaarkhun did want to get as many of the Murgur Warbands as he could on his side, or at least to reduce their threat level to his ultimate goal. Regardless of what Tismahgo said, Zaarkhun would be very likely to start proxy wars with the warbands that were not compliant. War with the Murgur was very profitable, and as the PMCs acted alone, Zaarkhun could simply claim no involvement should Tismahgo take issue.
Zaarkhun continued to wait for his Loktan scouts to find him some information, and continued to think through each of the threats to his goal and who could serve as a potential ally. One that he focused on was the Niaka Special Forces. They were his biggest obstacle in the Eastern Arm, and put up a great fight against the Wranploer Legion and many of the new PMCs forming, as well as a great fight against those rebelling against their governments. It would normally be easy to send several PMCs to engage with them in a proxy war, or to ask Volim to increase his efforts against them, but Zaarkhun knew two things. Firstly, the Legion and their allies, even though their power was only growing exponentially, were being spread thin amongst so many enemies being fought at once. Secondly, that any PMC which wished to take on the Niaka Special Forces and take the fight straight to them would probably demand a high price for such a proxy war, as very few PMCs had chosen to engage them on their own.
So Zaarkhun instead arrived at another conclusion. One old ally of the Wranploer Legion, and very old enemy of the Niaka Special Forces, that had great interest in seeing off the Special Forces due to an old grudge. Those within the Niaka species that had not joined the Special Forces would make very solid allies against them, and unlike most PMCs, would not demand too high a price in the effort against them. Zaarkhun would likely have to fund much of their weaponry in order to compete with the Special Forces, but they would not need any further monetary incentive, and would not be fighting for profit.
Zaarkhun called the leader of the Old Niaka Order, who appeared in the hologram. Captain-Lord Xoraika, as he was named, clicked his mandibles in curiosity as he looked at Zaarkhun.
- Xoraika - Who's this? You don't look like any of my employees.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Xoraika. Good to see you. If you don't remember me, I'm Falrik Zaarkhun, CEO of the Borealis Consortium Network. I believe we last met briefly while you were discussing something with Volim.
- Xoraika - Falrik... Oh, yes. Volim's new pet butler. Does the General have a message for me?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - No, I do. I don't suppose you've kept up with galactic affairs much lately?
- Xoraika - What do you take me for? Of course I have. The arm is a mess and everyone's killing each other. Which's good, it makes them vulnerable for raiding.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - There's just one problem, though...there are those who believe that everyone shouldn't be killing each other, and are actively trying to stop it. You should be very familiar with them, for they split off from your government after the civil war.
- Xoraika - Little Xerkea is giving you trouble, eh? And I suppose you and the General want the Order to lend you a hand.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - More specifically, we want to lend the Order a hand, only on the condition that they help us take Xerkea out. We have much more powerful weapons now than we used to, thanks to the booming weapons market that we are largely in control of. We will happily supply you with many of these weapons, and some ship support, for free, should you be willing to take the fight straight to them.
- Xoraika - Well, that's new. It always felt like the General stopped taking us seriously in the last few years. Been hanging around too much with those fetid fish-on-two-legs, I say.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - We despise the Special Forces, and would be more than willing to help your species return to its former glory. It is time the Niaka remember what they truly were. We are creating a new order without any pesky governments telling the people what to do, where space pirates can roam free. The Special Forces are an obstacle and their ideology is detestable, and we have great interest in seeing them removed.
- Xoraika - Well, well. I believe we'll get along just fine, Zaarkhun.
Very satisfied with the meeting, Zaarkhun closed the transmission. Of course, he would need to go over in his head which specific weaponry should be sent to Xoraika to help their efforts against the Niaka, but he was confident that they could at the very least weaken the Niaka enough for them to no longer serve a sufficient threat. This would practically put the entire Eastern Arm under his control. The Western Arm would be much more difficult, but he was already making headways there.
While the promise of his enemies' defeat were in his mind, it would be time for Zaarkhun to be reminded of something else again. Without warning, the hologram changed into that of Volim himself in his throne, his expression showing anger as he bashed one of the arms of his seat.
- Volim - Zaarkhun! Why are you still in that rock?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Ah, Volim. I have made great progress so far. I have a lot to report.
- Volim - Not now. I am being bombarded with messages from primitive aliens across the Arm, all directed to you.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Oh? Hm, I must've forgotten to have them redirected to this hotel room...what do these messages ask?
Rather than saying anything, Volim pressed several keys on the arm of his throne, and Zaarkhun's screens changed into various images; many worlds which had dethroned their governments were now battlefields against hordes of angered Alvino, while others had their skies gone dark and their people transformed into abominations by the Devourer's Chosen. And it was not merely these aliens either, as he could tell many of these were Wranploer worlds.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - What do they wish me to do about each of these? As we have discussed, the private sector will come up with its own solutions to these problems.
- Volim - Your private sectors are failing, Zaarkhun! The Alvino and the cultists are cutting their way through my worlds as we speak! These aliens are begging me to save them, and even if I had any intention to, I've already got a lot to deal with.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You and I both know we have no obligation to save these worlds, of course. But I imagine you're not concerned about them, you're concerned about the Alvino and the cultists threatening us in particular. Assuming that the markets have not come up with their own solutions to these threats, I could place bounties on worlds currently controlled by Alvino or cultists and pressure them to.
- Volim - Do something about all this. These anarchists are looking up to you as their salvation. If they don't receive it, they are going to revolt against me. My rule must not be opposed by slaves.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - ...This is true. There's only so much that I can blame it on the markets being slow before people start to think that my ideas don't work. Well, I need to make them work to maintain the peoples' trust while it is still necessary. Alright, I will apply more pressure to the right people to combat these forces, and I will send people to defend one of these worlds. A few successful battles against them should turn the tides more in our favour and more importantly lead to many more victories later on.
- Volim - Be quick about it. If I'm forced to stop the war offensive to defend my worlds then the "Order" will have time to recover. This can't be allowed to happen.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - No one on this station seems to refer to them collectively as that, but they do use some...less flattering terms. Anyway, I will have a report for you regarding my progress today ready before the end of the night, and I shall return to the ship within a few days.
- Volim - Good. Vocrillon Mine might be neutral ground, but it is dangerous. I would rather you not die by falling down into the Varkorus district. That would be embarrassing.
The comms closed. Zaarkhun immediately went over each of the threats that the Alvino Brood and the Devourer's Chosen posed, and which PMCs were best positioned to develop weaponry against them, and to defend worlds against them immediately. Then, he would need to develop solutions to each of his other problems while awaiting word from the scouts.
A few hours later, after submitting his report to Volim on the progress he'd made, he heard back from his scouts. They'd found the scientist they were looking for, and Zaarkhun made his way there. He had yet to go through in his head every answer to his problems that day, so while he made his way there, he would continue to make calls and to give orders as he calculated the most efficient ways to deal with each of the enemies to his cause. But he knew that soon, by any means necessary, the galaxy would finally embrace his dream of godless anarchy.
Lords of Crime
Warlord Torrent's attempt to ambush Vekaron led the First Fleet of the Zoles Imperium to chase them down to the Friura Sector, where their trail would eventually run cold. As he pondered about what his next step would be, thoughts crossed the Grand-Commandant's minds; perhaps he could attempt to siege Vocrillon Mine for answers, though he immediately dismissed it as a waste of time. That space station had been incredibly reinforced since the introduction of the War Economy, and throwing ships at it would merely lead to unnecessary losses.
It was at this point, however, that one of his helm officers noted how close they were to Lanatiz space. The Lanatiz, a mysterious race of tall and very advanced creatures, were members of the fabled Polar Crystal Alliance of old, he knew, though they faded into obscurity following the First Great War against the Wranploer. Contact with them had been lost for hundreds of years, and attempts to enter their worlds failed due to the defenses they had erected around their Cold Relays, enough to keep even Zoles cruisers at bay. Vekaron believed, however, that given their technological prowess, it would be easy for the Lanatiz to find the Zoles King. It was a time of war and strife, and neutrality was no longer an option. They had to rejoin the Zoles' side.
The Imperial fleets had been greatly upgraded ever since their last attempt to contact the Lanatiz. The First Fleet in particular was the most formidable of the entire Zoles race, and as they ventured into the Cold Relays of the Lanatiz, the old, evidently abandoned defenses were cut down like flies. However, it would not be the Lanatiz who would greet the Zoles when they arrived. A robotic voice rung through the Grand-Commandant's communications channel without his prompt, causing many across the ship's bridge to be startled.
- ??? - Zoles. You may not proceed.
- Vekaron - Lanatiz? I wish to speak to your leader. We require the aid of your-
- ??? - You may not proceed. Turn back or you will be annihilated.
- Vekaron - ... What?! You are no Lanatiz... Reveal yourself!
A better look at Minzevo, the homeworld of the Lanatiz, revealed the planet had been reduced to a cold, lifeless rock, stripped clean of all valuable resources and left completely abandoned. Approaching the First Fleet was a swarm of ships Vekaron had never witnessed before, their design sleek and devoid of colour, which were followed by what appeared to be hundreds of small, circular drones. On his screen, the image of an entity was shown, and it was clear by its appearance that it was not a Lanatiz at all; Vekaron knew the Lanatiz were tall, humanoid primatoids from his history classes, yet the entity before him appeared to be a robot, vaguely shaped like a Lanatiz, devoid of any visible eyes and with a pair of metallic horns upon its head, where a normal Lanatiz's own horns would normally be located. It continued to speak in a heavy, robotic voice as it addressed Vekaron.
- ??? - Lanatiz is no more. We are Lanatharch.
- Vekaron - Lanatharch...? What have you done to the Lanatiz race?! What happened to their homeworld?
- Lanatharch - We have no reason to answer your questions. You may not proceed.
With this, the drones attacked the First Fleet, launching laser blasts from their centers at the ships as the larger Lanatharch battleships slowly approached. Protocol for encountering a completely unknown and hostile race in the Imperium was immediate retreat in order to devise a strategy on how to combat it. With an order, Vekaron and the Zoles ships went back into the Relay they arrived from, but not before one of the Imperial battleships used its tractor beam to capture one of the Lanatharch drones, disabling it and bringing it on-board.
The situation got more complicated, Vekaron thought, though he could not help but feel these "Lanatharch" and the disappearance of King Rebaris were somehow linked. He would wait until his on-board science team studied the captured drone before making his next move.
The Fall of Gotla
Jotal was a young adult Krektal. He was an office worker, with some combat experience, running a dayjob on the planet Gotla. He had a wife and 3 kids; his wife was expecting a new this day, but he couldn't visit her until work was over. He couldn't wait to introduce a fourth child to the family. He had two beautiful daughters taking up schooling and a son, who was a proud warrior wishing to grow up and be the first to really explore space and visit another planet. The first to understand the Cold Ones, he dreamed! Jotal smiled whenever he thought of what his son would tell him.
The people of Gotla owned a rather small empire, with pretty low technology. They were barely spacefaring. The mostly plains environment of the world was full of wildlife to chase down and hunt, and the rest of the environment was either a jungle, a barren desert or a cold, mountainous zone. The indigenous population, the Kretkal, mostly lived in villages and camps out in the desert, although huge, bustling cities and massive armed forces weren't uncommon. The people had begun mining the moons and other worlds in the solar system, and only just discovered the existence of the Cold Relays. The Kretkal weren't a very hostile people; hostility in a galaxy with the technology to blow you up in seconds was difficult. The Niaka had set up an embassy on the world, trying to ensure peace between them.
And Planet Gotla was now under heavy siege.
The peaceful world was under attack. Well-armoured soldiers, armed to the teeth with machine coilguns, plasma grenades and accompanied by mechanized walkers and tanks. The soldiers, of various races - most of them hailing from the Wranploer Legion - who were made almost indistinguishable due to their incredibly thick armour, attacked in huge numbers with powerful vehicles behind them. Their weapons tore apart the Krektal warriors, who had assault rifles firing poisoned arrows. The arrows, of course, didn't dent the metal armour of the approaching soldiers. The weapons didn't compare to the machine coilguns ripping them apart in seconds and killing in so few shots. Those who hid in buildings had the stone fall on them when the machine colguns ripped the building apart. Or were blown up by plasma grenades, or plasma shells from the tank. Villages, camps, and soon cities, were torn apart. The armed soldiers attacking incredibly aggressively; they were mad, and they showed it in their aggressive attacks, and their facial expressions. The Krektal were now also mad; they were outraged by this attack, and were angry at their children being killed.
Jotal hid. He saw the massive explosions occurring outside, and checked his phone. Several friends were being shot and killed. He checked up on his daughters; assumed dead, as the school was destroyed. His son? Surely his son was alive! Yes! Or no...as soon as he looked, he saw his son murdered by a single shot from the machine coilgun of the angry soldiers. Jotal was now frightened. There was one person left he hadn't checked up on. He finally checked his wife. She was giving birth! Surely she couldn't die!
And the hospital a was blown up. Jotal curled up and cried. He didn't care if these angry soldiers destroyed him anymore. Everything around him was blown up. He would die soon. And then, at that moment, an explosion. Good. He was out of this hellish life. The planet had been ravaged.
But beneath the rubble, Jotal heard a message, after the fighting was over. He was a loud, female voice displayed on speakerphone, accompanied by the sort of music one would associate with a television advert.
"Acting under contract, SAM - Soltako Armed Military - has recently defeated the Krektal in war, and restored tranquility to this world, as the Krektal continued with their threats to invade others."
Lies! The Krektal were a peaceful people! And when he looked around, all those angry soldiers were now laughing.
"Utilising the latest in technology from highly recognised brands such as the Borealis Consortium Network Military Supplies, as well as the latest advances in drug sciences - including a rage-inducing drug to cause the soldiers to feel anger to their foes, and thus boost their performance - we hope you will continue to support SAM for your combat needs, as we continue to deliver the swiftest and most effect fight to the enemy."
Jotal didn't know what to say. The invaders were fighting for business? What good does a proxy war have in business? Against innocent people? At the distance, he could see his people's beloved Captain-Commander fall to the ground, as a massive alien loomed over him, laughing at his defeat... If he could not stop these fiends, who could?
- Captain-Commander - ... W-We'll meet again! You hear me? We will continue to resist! And you will n-not live the next time w-we meet!
- Alien - Bah. What a waste of my time.
The Weapons Scientist Scam
The Kralgon weapon scientist Lyaris resided in the Living Warrens of Vocrillon Mine. She was a middle-aged rogue with a mostly cybernetic body designed by herself, which was deceptively well armed. To those who glanced at her from a distance, she appeared frail and harmless, but those close to her told stories of those foolish enough to fall for her harmless exterior and who were quickly eviscerated by her plasma cannons for attempting to threaten her to achieve a better offer.
Lyaris' residence, like herself, appeared to be mostly broken and run-down from the outside as any of the other slums did. However, she hid most of her labs and her living quarters in the lower floors, which were also surrounded by robotic guards. This was where she tested her weapons and showcased them to her clients. By leading them down here, she could very easily impress her clients with the high-tech interior while threatening them with the robotic guards if necessary, allowing her to ask for the highest prices, and often to pull off the most successful fraudulent sales.
A hooded Heeyorian had arrived on her doorstep, and had been escorted down to the large lab underneath her home. She believed he could be here either to collect a weapon from the the Wranploer pirate Vorkun's gang, or to inspect the Vague weapon that the Lord of Vocrillon Mine, Kantraun, had made a deal to purchase. The Heeyorian hadn't stated his purpose, though she was armed well enough to not fear him.
As the Heeyorian descended to the large lab, he was surrounded by guards, and several ongoing weapons tests. There was a huge distance between him and Lyrisa.
- Lyrisa - I suppose you're here to pick up a weapon, or to use one?
The Heeyorian didn't respond, but simply approached closer. She took it as a yes. She didn't move, but was confident enough she'd appear vulnerable to this client. The Heeyorian spoke, in a fairly gruff voice, sounding like a member of a smuggler gang.
- Heeyorian - I'm here for the Vague weapon.
- Lyrisa - Right this way. I don't need to give you a demonstration; that the Vague have not attacked this station is proof in itself. If you have the credits promised, you shall leave this station with the weapon ready to deliver to Kantraun - and should she wish, manufacture with me earning 20% of the profits on all purchases.
- Heeyorian - I'm not here to buy it from you for Kantraun.
Lyrisa's facial expression changed. The Heeyorian approached closer until he was merely a few feet away from her. Several of her robotic guards had locked their weapons on his head, ready to fire when she gave the order. She was far shorter than him, but he did not bear any arms, so she could not feel threatened by him.
- Lyrisa - Then you are making a mistake. Should you choose to attack me, I shall destroy this weapon, and the entire station will go down with it. Should you choose to walk away, you will find no equivalent of this weapon elsewhere, on a legal market, on the black market, anywhere. Face it; you need me to keep this station afloat, or the Vague would have destroyed it long ago.
The Heeyorian smiled, and threw off his cloak. Lyrisa looked stunned. She recognised his face easily: it was Falrik Zaarkhun.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - As I said, I'm not here to buy it for Kantraun. I'm here to take it for the Borealis Consortium Network.
- Lyrisa - Z-Zaarkhun?! What are you doing here? Aren't you...preoccupied with running the biggest megacorporation in the galaxy??
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You really think a scientist who had developed the solution to our Vague problem would be beneath my notice? Lyrisa, hand over the weapon.
Lyrisa gulped a little, as she lowered her tone to speak to him.
- Lyrisa - I-I'm sorry, Zaarkhun, I can't do that. Kantraun already paid me half in advance. I can't betray the trust of my clients.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - No?
- Lyrisa - No. It's vital to keeping my business afloat. I hope you understand.
Zaarkhun paused for a moment, then chuckled a little. After that, he laughed loudly, echoing across the large room, before turning to her again.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You have a very, very long history of betraying the trust of your clients. You're on the hitlist of not one by 20 crimelords in this sector alone, for knowingly selling them weapons that exploded in their faces, as a quick way to get rich.
Lyrisa looked stunned. She was a relatively unknown weaponsmith, who dealt with low profile criminals, and had until now done everything she could to hide her record under the radar. How could Zaarkhun know this much about her? Were the rumours true that he really did have eyes and ears everywhere?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Perhaps it was because you could not meet their deadlines, or because you simply took pride in scamming them. But many of them want you dead. Right now, the Wranploer gang leader Vorkun has placed a very large bounty on your head. The only reason you're still breathing is your deal with Kantraun. Kantraun's doing everything he can to keep everyone on this station off your back and hide your record, on condition you keep your Vague weapon protecting this station, and allow him to exploit the new Ottzelloan immigrant labour that are able to live here because of it.
Lyrisa gulped, as Zaarkhun took a few steps closer until he was standing right over her. He looked her squarely in the eyes, as her eyes pleaded with his.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - But he has grown tired of it. He wants to purchase the weapon from you. And you hope that the purchase gets you rich enough to pay off your debts, or at least pay off a PMC to protect you from Vorkun. After all, you're retiring after this. This job is far too stressful, and no one left in the galaxy will trust you.
- Lyrisa - Well, you've sure done your research...
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I always do. And believe me, I'm much better connected than Kantraun. Much more powerful, also. Hand me the Vague weapon. I will pay whatever Kantraun was asking for it, and then I will sell it to Kantraun.
Lyrisa sighed. She knew that there was no useful way out of this situation. She turned around, and entered a few buttons on her terminal. A conveyor belt above them carried out a metallic pylon with a golden interior. It dropped behind Zaarkhun, and he picked it up. It was light enough to carry.
- Lyrisa - This is a prototype for the Vague weapon. These pylons, when deployed, send out wavelengths of targeted Chronoscopic energy that ward off the Vague attackers. They can also be weaponised to destroy the Vague. Ideal to set up on planets, or in starfleets. The one you're carrying is the smaller pylon, which is for starfleet use.
Zaarkhun smiled at her.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Thank you, Lyrisa. You've been most helpful.
He then pulled out his pistol, and aimed it between her forehead.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - But you're no longer useful to me.
Immediately, every robot guard in the facility unloaded their coilguns at Zaarkhun's head. Bullets and laser blasts spewed across the room for several moments. Lyrisa was certain they would destroy him, but to her dismay, nothing hit him. Every single blast, despite being squarely aimed, appeared to be moving around him, before hitting him. It was as if he was dodging them all, but he wasn't moving. They were moving off course. She gasped.
- Lyrisa - ...What...why...why is none of it hitting you?! What kind of contraption is protecting you from that firepower?!
Zaarkhun merely grinned, as he pulled his trigger and killed her. He then turned around, pulled out the second pistol in his pocket, and fired rounds at all the robot guards. Each of the shots, though he took nanoseconds to aim them, were headshots. On contact, they exploded their heads. Lyrisa wasn't the only one deceptively well armed. Zaarkhun left the room, and cloaked himself once more.
As he returned to the Iron Fist, Zaarkhun sent out a call to Billig.
- Billig - So, success?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Lyrisa is dead. Tell Kantraun she cut a little deal with me, I'll be selling the weapon to him, and for cheaper than Lyrisa originally promised. And that Vorkun's gang won't be a problem anymore.
- Billig - Not sure how 'e'll take that...
- Falrik Zaarkhun - It matters not for now. The Vague won't be a problem anymore - and soon, with this weapon, we'll be filthy rich. Keep me informed.
Zaarkhun ended the call. Before he took his shuttle back to the Iron Fist, he made another few calls, including one to Vorkun informing him that Lyrisa was dealt with but that he wouldn't be requiring any bounty. Things had gone very well for him.
The Unified Nation of Ottzello, still trapped in quarantine, was in a mess. Despite the relative safety of the quarantine allowing them to easily repair their greatly damaged worlds in peace, and to recover from the endless conflict that had left thousands dead, it was all meaningless. It didn't matter how well they could recover or rebuild their fleet if they could not use it to help the galaxy. Many, in fact, wondered if they should bother helping the galaxy at all. What had it ever done for them? After it had allowed them to settle, it had done nothing but spread fear about them and had only reluctantly offered to help with the Vague.
Tensions were very high, as none of UNOL could really agree on anything anymore. They were either bitter at someone in Borealis, or bitter at one another.
- Kralgon Emperor - I suppose you can continue to place orders on building more starships, but I do not intend to send them to protect Zoles worlds. No, we will use them to fight the pirates and to fight the Vague and nothing more. To hell with them!
- Zr'Ahgloth - i meen its not like yoo can help da zoles sinc deir all on DA OTHA SIDE OF DA FLIPPIN QUARANTINE YA IDIOT
- Yogtam - You people are so petty sometimes. Who was it who sent their fleets to defend us when we were under attack from the Vague? It wasn't Apalos. It wasn't the DCP. It was the Zoles Imperium. And you remember what happened as soon as they realised that the Xi'Arazulha were a real threat, and who came to help us.
- Kralgon Emperor - And then they threw us in a damned quarantine! They only helped us because we traded andasium with the galaxy. If it were not for that, the galaxy would deem us worthless and quarantine us earlier.
- Valzo - Does it matter at this point? We're stuck, and that's what we should be focusing on. Finding ways to get out of here.
- Kralgon Emperor - Why? So the Vague can come at us again? So we can go solve this galaxy's pirate problem and have them find a way to blame it on us again? Bah!
- Zr'Ahgloth - I DON WANNA STAY DA REST OF MA LIFE ON A STOOPID BUBBLE I WANNA GO OFF AN KILL ROGUE BOYZ AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
- Yogtam - Finding ways to get out of here seems like a good idea in theory, except we're woefully unprepared. No, we need to continue the recovery. No use being free of the quarantine until we have the fleet ready.
- Tuolog - We need be patient anyway. I sure that the galaxy will release us soon once they see error of their ways.
- Kralgon Emperor - It just occurred to me. You can see the future. Why didn't you do anything to stop this from happening?!
- Tuolog - Firstly, I see many possible futures, and I not always able to predict which exact future will happen to us. Secondly, because this so far is the best outcome. Many other timelines involved us going to war with the whole galaxy.
- Zr'Ahgloth - i seen plenty of bests in ma life. dis isnt a best at all
- Tuolog - Not for us, and not for rest of the galaxy, no. In fact, I hear our friend Xerkea from Niaka Special Forces is now once again in conflict with her old foe, the Old Niaka Order. With them preoccupied, they not able to help galaxy with its pirate problem.
- Zr'Ahgloth - NIAKA FITIN OTHA NIAKA DONT MAKE ANY SENSE
- Feldosia - Actually, the Old Order has always been there. They outnumber the Special Forces by, like, 4 to 1.
- Zr'Ahgloth - I NEVA HEARD OF DIS
- Feldosia - You got to pay attention...hold up. I'll be back in a minute, I'm super hungry.
- Kralgon Emperor - You've just eaten an hour ago?
Feldosia left the room. She appeared to be very sincere, but as they had all noticed, she'd been growing hungry far more regularly than normal. However, they soon paid it no mind, as the Tralkik Commander interrupted.
- Tralkik Commander - Currently, the Unified Nation's fleet and much of its planets have recovered to pre-Vague levels. We are not able to recover to our position before the Xi'Arazulha attack, but due to few resources being spent on Rogue Boyz and Vague attacks, we have been recovering well. If you all cannot decide what kind of fleet we will need upon the quarantine ending, however, recovery will begin to stall, as we will be unable to allocate resources properly.
- Zr'Ahgloth - invest it all on pizza
- Kralgon Emperor - Shut up, you stupid twit.
- Zr'Ahgloth - WATS YA GEENIUS SUGGESTION DEN
- Kralgon Emperor - I told you. We build the biggest fleet in the galaxy, complete with Warships and Blastships. And we destroy the pirates once and for all. And we make the Zoles beg us for our forgiveness, and we do not offer it. We will go alone.
- Valzo - Well, that sounds... kind of pointless in the end.
- Yogtam - It also sounds senseless, and extremely pathetic. You're being even more petty than usual. "To hell with the galaxy", like anyone else will want us. No, we need to bolster our defensive fleet and we need to be ready to become a trading partner with the universe again.
- Kralgon Emperor - ...Fine. Have it your way. But don't bring me along when you try to make peace with the galaxy for locking us away and throwing away the key.
- Tralkik Commander - Assuming we have little more to discuss, I will take it we are going with Yogtam's plan and conclude the meeting here.
- Zr'Ahgloth - GUD. I NEED A SNAK MASELF
- Valzo - I'm going with you. I need to check up on Fel.
- Zr'Ahgloth - WAVETA, JUS DONT TOUCH MA PIZZA
Around the room, there was a general silence, as most people simply nodded in agreement with the Commander, and the meeting was dismissed. Valzo and Zr'Ahgloth left together, while the others returned to their chambers. It was much easier for them to sleep at night with no ongoing war, other than for Tuolog, who could not bear to watch the rest of Borealis suffer Zaarkhun's future without them to help.
The Gigaquadrant's Response
A Dragon Moves A Hand
From the diamond thrones of the Draconid Imperium, the change in Borealis was met with interest. As PMCs and private services began to rise, representatives of a thousand corporations, the economic soul of the Imperium began brokering deals. Security, business, and protection. Rumours began to spread of mass-produced hand weapons of Andromedan origin seeping into the galactic arms markets. Maximising opportunities, firms from Andromeda began to seek work in Borealis. These foreign firms advertised with principle however, as if to convey a more positive image than the Borealis PMCs that would attack any target for the right sum. Many Andromedan PMCs on the other hand, offered a different angle. Rather than accepting raiding contracts, many of these contractors (many of which insisted they were not private military contractors but instead private security providers) sold security and defense services.
One final group followed, diplomats and envoys were sent to many smaller rand more vulnerable cultures and nations, some of whom were left unprotected as the forces of Order stretched themselves thin. These outsider groups negotiated from various positions with concessions varying from world to world but all of them offering one core principle: Offering protection by the Aetheral Talon Body, the hammer of the sublime Draconid Imperium, in exchange for negotiations that resulted in numerous small spacefaring nations adopting the principle of "Pax Draconica"; the great philosophy of the Imperium that promised protection both from outside threats and from government pressure to adopt foreign ideas, and granted representation inside this intergalactic entity so long as they provided the Imperium with resources and tithes. And that above all presidents and kings was the parag'avatus; the master-king.
As the number of smaller nations who agreed to the envoys' offers swelled, the PMCs of Borealis found their hunting grounds limited as with conformation came the warships of the paragon, that met raiding parties cannon-to-cannon and rifle-to-rifle. Spreading though the underworld more and more planets declared what appeared to be an ultimatum.
"You have been warned.”
Night Always Rises
The highest echelons of the Divinarium hardly registered the new happenings in Borealis as something worth noting. Many bureaucrats and Theosophians on Crepusculum and Sanctuarium looked down at the inhabitants of the faraway galaxy with condescension, if not outright contempt; meanwhile, the military elites and the Surveillant caste were far more concerned with curtailing the chaos of the Andromeda War and preserving their nascent state. Either way, the young Holy Empire hardly had the resources or the manpower to flex its muscles like the Draconis did. For the government of the Divine Throne, only two things truly mattered in Borealis: the steady flow of resources extracted from its worlds, and the security of the their wayward brethren. These needed to be secured. But what else did? Who cared if something happened with the heathens, unenlightened and uncivilised?
That was the initial consensus of the Conclave and the Synedrion, at least. The ultimate ruler of the Divinarium, the Clericarch herself, remained silent for the first week or two since the "War Economy" was announced; she was, after all, off with the Black Fleet aboard her personal vessel, to personally supervise and inspire the Dei'Ar hosts marching to war. In her absence, the second most powerful person in the Holy Empire, the xenophobic Laurinn Ma'fest, proposed that the Holy Empire leave the galaxy altogehter. With pirates and PMCs on the rise and the native empires failing to maintain order in their own spheres of influence, the Borealis colonisation project was simply too costly to maintain.
However, before Ma'fest could invoke his right as Lord Exarch to initiate voting in the Conclave on the proposition, the Clericarch's edict was broadcasted in the Divine Palce without warning; Iovera had responded to the news of the War Economy at last. The same edict was relayed also to the Dei'Ar High Command and the Surveillant Presidium:
Yes, it is true: Borealis had been an endeavour from the moment our vessels entered its gravity well. An untamed territory, thus free for exploitation for the greater benefit of the Holy Empire itself. Our men bravely entered this uncharted frontier, knowing not what would await us there, and reaped well in the recent months. For as long as they did, you hailed the campaign as a brilliant show of our resurgent empire's strength. Yet now as savage hordes of this galaxy rise to fight amongst themselves, you show an almost superstitious fear of the heathens. Why, must I ask you? Is it the Radeon way, the Masaari way, to yield at the first sign of danger? Did our ancestors flee at the sight of hostile natives in Milky Way too? Have you forgotten how only a few years ago we quelled the Artharon savages?
Perhaps the memory of the War still lingers in your minds, esteemed subjects. Let me remind you. It took the greatest threat known to the civilised universe, which defied the laws of existence themselves, to crush our empire at its weakestmost point. And yet we rose again. What hope could the heathens have against us now? We will remain in Borealis. There is still potential in this uncharted galaxy, potential that we, the enlightened ones, will utilise to its fullest. There are things there, things that the Divinarium will benefit, no, require in the years to come. Perhaps you do not understand it now, but you will in due time.
For now, we shall observe and infiltrate. Let our Surveillants and assassins come into the galaxy and conceal themselves amongst the ranks of heathen rabble. Let them turn them upon one another so that our interests would remain secure. We shall not only endure this storm that engulfs the savage galaxy, but gain from it. Let the self-centered unbelievers worship their golden idol of profit. Blind and led by the blind, they will fail to realise that they walk into the abyss.
All is one, one is all. The merciless sun always sets, and the night always rises, resurgent and brilliant.”
As the War Economy had taken control over much of Borealis, one outside force looked to reach in via the very means that would strive to keep extragalactic interference out: a private military company. To succeed, their company would need a unique selling point, something to set them apart from the dozens of PMCs that already had great presence and influence. Even better, they could provide a service that other PMCs would buy from them. That they possessed technology absent in most of Borealis was advantageous on both counts. Rather than becoming either a private military contractor, hiring out soldiers, or a corporation supplying materiel, their company would be both at once, selling and renting polymorphic synthetic drones.
They then needed an excuse to explain the company's access to this technology. This, too, was available. Ottzelloans had spread stories about the "Tokzhalan Empire" who fought alongside the Kralgon during the Second Ottzello Galactic War. The story, therefore, was that people on one remote outpost of the Kindred Coalition were able to retrieve a Tokzhalan drone that had been shot down by the DCP, and evaded the oppressive regulation of their home nation by fleeing to Borealis and its new utopian anarchy.
Tokzhalan Technology was to be the name of the company. So as to provide it with a friendly appearance, most sections of Tokzhalan Technology were kept independent from the military side of operations, which were fully under the domain of its largest subsidiary, Tokzhalan Military Industries. Then it was time for them to make an entrance onto the market.
Clash of the Brutes
For Zaarkhun, many of the Murgur warbands that he could not control presented themselves as a threat. In order to combat them, he would start a proxy war with them, as war contractors would hire PMCs to deal with them. It wasn't long before the perfect PMC for the job signed up: the Thugz Fer Dosh. If the description they'd seen was right, they'd finally met something close to their match.
Loron were larger and taller than the Murgur, but they weren't nearly as bright. The races which composed the warbands of the Murgur were nearly as massive and strong as the average Loron boy, and carried weapons made specifically to murder creatures as powerful as they were. This meant that the match of the two brutish warmongering races was much more even than most. Gol'thabex, thrilled about his first job, took his Thugz to fight on a Murgur world controlled by Vorazius' warband. The planet, named Korgosh, was a desert world located at the edges of Murgur territory, where it bordered with space now infested with the Devourer's Chosen. Vorazius' technophobic nature meant the Thugz met weak resistance in space, but the true battle waited for them on the surface.
Gol'thabex landed in a shuttle with his most elite Thugz, as many of the rest poured in from behind. Unlike most Loron groups, the Thugz Fer Dosh were typically packed with fewer soldiers, but they were the veterans, the elites who had seen combat before and now only stayed in to reap the sweet cash rewards.
- Gol'thabex - yo dese murgur best not suk like most dem alienz so far
- Thug - hurhur ill be surprised if dey put up much of a fite man most dese contractas basically send us ta pik on weeklings
As they landed, the Thugz' guns blazed. The Murgur had heard stories of the Loron's recklessness with their weapons, but the Thugz were far more accurate fires than one would expect, and while they rarely scored a headshot, more of their bullets actually landed. They were met with heavy resistance in the form of hordes of Varkorus and Murgur, who were armed with massive bladed knuckles and shotguns for close-ranged combat.
The Thugz, as they clashed with the Murgur, were pleasantly surprised with how they put up a fight. The Thugz could eventually overcome them in a brawl, but their knuckles packed a punch. Many of the cockier Thugz charged straight towards the enemy only to have their heads blasted off by a shotgun, while those who had bothered to bring body armor would more often survive. As the fight went on, though, the Thugz began to win the upper hand.
- Gol'thabex - deez geezas is stronga dan wat were used to...dats good
- Thug - YO MAN DEEZ LOSAS AR WANNABES DAT WISH DEY WAS LORON
- Murgur - You picked the wrong world to get lost in, friend!
The commander of the Vorazius forces, armed with a shotgun of his own, arrived alongside his bodyguards and opened fire at Gol'thabex. Those Thugz close to Gol'thabex immediately turned to him, but Gol'thabex handwaved them away.
- Gol'thabex - yo hold up. i got dis guy.
The others nodded, as the returned to fight the others. Gol'thabex then turned towards the commander, and tossed a tomahawk axe straight at him. The ineffective armor of the commander did little to help him against it, and the Murgur roared in pain as he was hit straight in the chest. This caused the bodyguards to become enraged, aiming all of their fire at Gol'thabex in specific as they tried to protect their leader. Noticing this, Gol'thabex took his other axe in his hand, and attempted to hack each of them down as he ran at them. His armor was enough to protect against their fire for a little, though eventually a bodyguard managed to pierce through his weaker leg armor and hit him. Gol'thabex growled, before then leaping towards the guard and hacking him down to the ground. He stood up and turned to the Murgur commander.
- Gol'thabex - its been a propa long time since i fought an akshully tuff guy. yoo best be sik
- Commander - I spit on you!
The commander, tearing the tomahawk from his chest, proceeded to swing it back at Gol'thabex, intending to hack the Loron with his own weapon. Instead, Gol'thabex grabbed it mid-air as it flew towards him, and took both in his hands. He smiled, and then leapt towards the commander, and swung both the axes down. The commander roared again as he fell to the ground, while the bodyguards who had survived to this point were picked off by the remaining Thugz. The lesser servants of the Murgur, seeing their commander down, immediately begun panicking and fleeing the scene. Gol'thabex kicked the down commander, and then sliced off his head, and picked it up. He considered keeping it as a trophy, before tossing it aside.
- Gol'thabex - disappointin
As he then turned towards the rest of his men, he saw that the Thugz clearly had the upper hand. However, in spite of the relatively quick fight, he'd enjoyed fighting his new enemy. This was one job he was going to take great pride in.
An Answer Must Be Found
Through the Friura Sector, PMCs found a vicious enemy in the form of the Azure Theocracy; the Eaglartin, insulted by the "greed-fueled heathers", waged full-on war against the War Economy, which kept their influence from spreading into their territory. Meanwhile, nations such as the Adrahira Tribes, the Minga Theocracy and the Egelielano Guilds, weak as they were from the pressure caused by the PMC rampages, were now under heavy threat by the destructive path of blood carved by the Eaglartin. If they were not stopped, they would cause potentially irreversible damage to these innocent people. At her seat in the Niaka homeworld of Ikkiz, Chief Major Xerkea's mandibles clenched as she decided something needed to be done about it all.
Meanwhile, at the other side of the Friura Sector, the Lanatharch drone captured by Vekaron's fleet continued to be studied by on-board science teams. It had been many weeks since he first encountered the mysterious but certainly hostile race of machines, worry growing in him due to the lack of updates on their situation and how long it had been since the King had disappeared. The situation would finally take a turn, however, when the Grand-Commandant was called to the laboratories studying the drone - his science team found something.
- Scientist - We have deciphered the drone's data at last. It confirms our suspicious that these "Lanatharch" are the Lanatiz of old, transformed into a race of machines.
- Vekaron - We're not getting their help, then. These new creatures are openly hostile to our presence.
- Scientist - That's not all. They appear to be centered around a great installation of some sort. The drone's database calls it... "Vida'Rranlora".
- Vekaron - Vida-what now? ... The name sounds vaguely familiar, but I can't put my finger on it.
At this moment, one trooper rose a hand to speak.
- Trooper - I know the name, sir. The Ottzelloans possessed a database with "Vida'Rranlora" on it. Apparently, they are a race of primeval artificial intelligences, tasked to cataloguing galactic events.
- Scientist - ... They might just give us the answers we need. They might know where the King is, among other things.
- Vekaron - Contact Imperial Command, and request reinforcements. If the Lanatharch have access to this information, then we will have to cut our way through them to reach this database.
The Zoles commander walked over to the side of the room, where a screen gave him a window-like view of outer space.
- Vekaron - I just hope we're not too late.
Fighters for "Liberty"
According to Plan
So far, the War Economy was going very successfully for Zaarkhun. More and more worlds were falling to anarchy, as they began to either abandon and overthrow their governments, or a PMC overthrew their governments for them. War was an extremely profitable business, as more weapons manufacturers rushed to cash in on this new phenomenon, more mercenaries recruited the extremely large pool of new recruits available to them, and more contractors sought to profit from gaining valuable resources. It would seem to be going perfectly.
Of course, Zaarkhun knew that this wouldn't last. He was very quickly running out of planets that were just straight up impossible for him to convince to turn to anarchy, and far too costly to convince any contractor to put a price on picking it off. If the War Economy which had kept this state of anarchy going strong began to collapse, then hundreds of billions of people who had turned away from their state in pursuit of new opportunities in a liberated world would become jobless and betrayed.
In order to keep the momentum going, Zaarkhun looked at his options. There were several key enemies remaining: the Devourer's Chosen and their demonic spawn, the Borealis Grox, the Alvino Brood, and the Zoles Imperium and their allies. While many businesses had found the war against the Devourer's Chosen to be slowly becoming more profitable, he knew a fight against them would fail to inspire many people. The Borealis Grox as a larger and more widely feared threat, right now, were far too powerful a threat, and until the private sector produced far more powerful armament than what was currently available, he had no hope of overcoming them. While not quite as strong as the Borealis Grox, the Alvino Brood were much too great a threat, and likewise, could not inspire many people to rally against it.
That left the Zoles Imperium and their allies. As time went on, several PMCs would only become more powerful. And their strength would very soon match that of the Zoles...only if they were combined together as one force. The combined might of every mercenary group, pirate gang and large PMC, against the Zoles Imperium who represented everything they despised, could lead to an extremely successful siege. He would be able to rally his forces behind it and many of them would not even need a monetary incentive. One single attack that overwhelmed them, with all the groups combined, would keep his momentum going for a long time. The morale boost it would provide his people would buy him months, if not years, of time to keep the War Economy flourishing. Not to mention, it'd make the last remaining states of the galaxy much quicker to fall without Zoles protection.
Yes, the time was now. Before then, he would have no hope of conquering the rest of the galaxy. But with the Zoles out of the picture, Zaarkhun could propel the War Economy to new heights, and the very profitable business of war would allow the galaxy to be conquered by him practically on its own.
With glee on his face as he made the preparations, just to check that now was the right time, Zaarkhun turned to Volim in his throne. Unlike him, the Wranploer lord had a scowl on his expression, which was arguably typical.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Volim, I've been thinking...it's now time. It is time to take the fight to the Zoles Imperium.
- Volim - Hmpf? ... Oh. You want to throw your corporations at them now?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Every one of them. Every pirate gang, every megacorporation, every small mercenary band, all one united front against the Zoles and everything they stand for. One massive fleet that will overcome them.
- Volim - And you're confident this will work.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I will make a few adjustments of course. And I'll look for spots to weaken their fleets before I begin the attack. And after that? Yes. It will work.
- Volim - I still get reports of cultists and demons in my territory. Your "Economy" better not disappoint me, Zaarkhun.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You will be able to lead the fleet yourself, and watch your enemy burn before your eyes. Oh, and as for you...
Zaarkhun turned back to the caged Rebaris.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You will watch every single one of them fall, one by one, before we kill you last.
The Zoles King refused to reply, his arms crossed as he turned his body away from them. Volim responded by making a dismissive gesture with his hand.
- Volim - We throw him out the airlock over Zoleia. Let him crash land down back home.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Genrai, have you gathered a team yet?
- Genrai Nal - I am working on it. The "Guild of Shadows", I call them. Once prepared, they will be very ready to weaken the Zoles any way they can to prepare for the attack.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Good. We have exactly a week to prepare before we begin the attack. It will be a day long remembered, the day the galaxy won its freedom.
- Volim - "Freedom".
As Zaarkhun and Volim made their plans, there was another Ottzelloan in the galaxy who was closely watching the War Economy unfold, and enjoying it. Durzhan, while speaking to Kolossus and Antagonar, took great interest in Zaarkhun's plan as he had plans of his own. He turned to them both, with a mostly emotionless look, but struggled to hide the sense of amusement in his face.
- Durzhan - It is quite cute that little plan of theirs. I'm glad that their War Economy is going so well, though they give themselves too much credit for it. They don't know how much I helped them.
- Kolossus - The way he underestimates those greater than him is both amusing and deeply disgusting. I will enjoy the time where he is forced to kneel before us.
- Durzhan - May that time come very soon. I know just how to spoil their plans of becoming galactic rulers, not that they won't inevitably try and spoil one another's plans anyway.
- Antagonar - I look forward to seeing this, Durzhan. If we get results from you, then I will take great pleasure in the combat that follows. I haven't looked forward to a fight against mortals this much before.
- Kolossus - Worry not, you will have your fight soon. The real threat worthy of acknowledgement awaits at the galactic core. Zaarkhun is just one pawn in the board.
- Antagonar - Ah, of course. And I doubt any of those mortals will have any hope of fighting him head on. I don't suppose your plans against him involve us, Durzhan?
- Durzhan - They do not. Let us not waste demons on him, let them waste their own lives.
- Kolossus - Regardless. Now that Zaarkhun's little rebellion is about to commence, and Antagonar has distracted the Taldar away from all this, I am led to believe the master will make his arrival soon.
- Durzhan - Excellent. I hope that he will be pleased with our progress. You have told him the exact date and time for which I expect he will need to intervene?
- Kolossus - I have no need to tell him anything. He already knows.
- Durzhan - Splendid. Then, gentlemen, I believe I shall see you both then. When the fun begins.
Battle of Fanaticus
Taking matters on her own hands, Chief Major Xerkea of the Niaka Special Forces had come to contact nations who were under threat by the Eaglartin; the Adrahira, long-time friends of the Niaka and Zoles races, were quick to pledge their support, while the religious Minga were far more skeptical with the idea of working with the likes of others. The Egelielano, a race who did not even have a single empire but rather lived in fleet guilds, was the most difficult to approach, though they would eventually comply after the Niaka leader got in the contact with the Ailhon Guild, the largest and most influential of them all. Her intention was rallying these aliens into one force and siege the Eaglartin homeworld once and for all.
Fanatics and aggressive as they were, the mere idea of collaborating with other races was alien to the Eaglartin. And because of it, they found themselves caught off-guard when the fleets of the Niaka Special Forces begun hammering down on their colonies, followed by the Adrahira, Minga and Egelielano. "The heretics were working as one!", they thought, though they could do very little about it. The Azure Theocracy was outnumbered and outgunned.
After cutting a way through their Cold Relays, surrendering Eaglartin worlds on the way, the Niaka finally arrived to Fanaticus itself, where the mecha-suits of the Special Forces were deployed into the surface while the ships of the allied alien empires gave them aerial support. Chief Major Xerkea herself would march into the Eaglartin capital of Lud'navarah, gunning down squads of defenders until the entire area was under Niaka occupation. Defeated, Leader Jaharala was forced to leave his capital temple and face the Major, where he would wait for his execution. That is, Xerkea planned to stomp the head of the fanatical lord under her suit's foot, until she found herself stopped by the Adrahira.
The Adrahira were a peaceful people by nature, so it should not be too much of a surprise when they asked Xerkea to spare Jaharala. Even the Eaglartin ruler himself was astonished that the heathens would even consider it, initially believing it to be a form of punishment until they explained their reasons; they believed the Eaglartin to be merely misguided and worthy of a second chance, and in the face of the galaxy's current state, further waste of life was not the option to take. The Egelielano, who deeply respected the customs of the Adrahira, quickly agreed, while the Minga Theocracy would dismiss the words of the Adrahira and claim to only allow the Eaglartin zealots to survive if they were placed under surveillance. The Chief Major would come to oblige.
While Xerkea did not annex the Azure Theocracy, she spared the life of Leader Jaharala at the cost of Fanaticus being under constant watch of Niaka policemen, who would ensure another incident such as this would never happen again. As the aliens departed and the Eaglartin were left to their own devices again, Jaharala found himself unable to not swallow his pride; their words had broken him. He could not contest them. It appeared his people did not serve the cause of Lud'nev as well as him and his people hoped.
As War Waged On
It was so easy for Falrik Zaarkhun and General Volim to trivialise the war that they were bringing throughout the galaxy.
With each war that PMCs brought to new planets, they brought with them destruction, and left only suffering behind. They used weapons that would massacre hundreds of civillians, and leave the survivors wounded and without limbs, gasping for their lives, or even to bleed to death. As PMC soldiers walked the planet armed to the teeth with guns, they proceeded to slaughter not only the resisting militia fighting for their homes, but the children. When they didn't kill people, they tore apart landmarks, unique architecture that had become very much apart of the culture of the aliens whom they were annihilating, turning beautiful cities into shells of what they were. These wars tore apart families, destroyed homes, murdered millions.
To the militia defending their homes from PMC attacks, they had more than just their homes and family taken from them. As they suffered from PMCs, they had indeed lost their sanity, their entire identity. Many more had lost limbs, eyes or ears, and would be disabled for years. Some would rely on cybernetics or life support for the rest of their lives, support which would not even be provided to them by the time the PMCs had finished with their worlds. Their lives would have been torn apart by a war they had no say in. All for profit.
To Zaarkhun, to the businessmen and women who contracted or led these PMCs, and profited from these wars, they would see none of this. All the death and destruction that they left behind them, they only saw as a few statistics. To the PMC soldiers, they had been given so many drugs and cybernetics already that they were distorted from reality, and would never leave these battles mortally wounded or insane. They would only leave looking for their next contract.
Zaarkhun was relishing in a reality that was twisted and insane, one that he profited from. To him and Volim, this suffering and war was what they were used to. They had traversed, sometimes even lived, in war zones, and to surround the galaxy with them was no big deal. But to be a civillian living on a world whose only crime was not co-operating with the Borealis Consortium Network's agenda, to be wrapped up in an anti-government coup that had been manipulated by outside forces, who now had to live every day of their life in fear of a bomb mortally wounding them, or in fear of being the next target, they had no idea what it was like.
PMCs spread across the galaxy even further. Many new PMCs popped up to capitalise on this huge market for war. As they profited from the great sales of weapons, or the exploitation of resources, they were loving this new unregulated world ruled by warlords and businesses. But to the civillians who had been thrown into these warzones that they had created, it wasn't a glorious win for "freedom". It was a loss for peace.
Children in a War
As the situation across Borealis deteriorated, the Indoctrinate Collective was focused on combating the Devourer's Chosen. The worshippers of the Corruptus had greatly profited from the War Economy; not with money, but with conquest. Poor, anarchist worlds were easy prey for corruption or consumption, and no matter how much they tried, the PMCs were unable to overpowered the might of the demons of nightmare. Conventional weaponry would never win this war, and the Chosen were spreading at a frightening rate.
As he analyzed the situation, Royal Admiral Vyutrin had a displeased look upon his face as he barked orders to his men. Watching these fanatical madmen spread uncontrolled across the galaxy while no one but the Zoles, Niaka and Paladians contributed to his efforts angered him. The dominant races of the Eastern Arm were all worthless scum, he thought; they would rather slaughter each other for no reason but to fight the evil taking every chance to feed upon them.
Baptarion was displeased too, though not for the same reasons; rather, he was displeased for being stuck in Vyutrin's battleship, as he would rather be at home analyzing pieces of Cold One technology. The young child at his side glanced around inquisitively, astounded by the interior aesthetics of the battleship and the armed soldiers and warriors that walked past them. Hachiman did not seem to mind being away from Baptarion's laboratory too much, even if he did happen to stray close to the Radeon's side.
As the Spinker Royal Admiral turned away from his commanders, he walked to the direction of the two, his arms crossed as he looked upon them; they could not see his face, as it was obscured by his helm, though his tone was clear enough.
- Vyutrin - Remind me, Radeon. Why do I have to bring this infant into my care?
- Baptarion - I told you already. The higher-ups from New Draka say he needs to stay with me, because he's got some Essence powers or other that need training.
- Vyutrin - Nonsense. We can already simulate Essence with our Pseudothoi technology. Children don't belong in a battlefield, they're inefficient compared to able-bodied adults.
- Hachiman - H-Hey, you're ineff... i-ineffy...
Hachiman, stuck on the word, proceeded to instead settle for blowing a raspberry in the commander's direction.
- Vyutrin - He can't even speak properly yet!
- Baptarion - Hey, I can't do anything about it. I'm stuck with him as much as you are.
- Vyutrin - I don't understand. What are they thinking; should I throw this child at the Malcaeum so he can be their new chewtoy while the rest of the men run to safety?
- Hachiman - I'm still here, ya know! I can do things too! Teacher wouldn't send me if she didn't think I'd be able to help you, so maybe you should gimme a little more credit around here!
- Vyutrin - What can you do, child, that my army cannot?
The child glared up towards Vyutrin, narrowing his eyes, before reaching for the sword at his hip. With a swift motion the blade found itself drawn, its hilt clasped between Hachiman's palms, and he proceeded to perform various, wide swings with its edge, each attack he made into the air followed by a yell; hy-aah! While the two adults in his presence seemed unimpressed, Hachiman looked back towards Vyutrin with a confident smile perked on his face.
- Hachiman - There, that's what I can do. I can use... a really cool sword.
The Spinker Royal Admiral clenched his numerous shark-like teeth as he reached a hand to his waist, revealing a blade of his own; it was a standard Collective combat knife, somewhat shorter in length than Hachiman's blade which he took on his hand and pointed at the boy's direction.
- Vyutrin - Every soldier in my army is trained in melee combat. Every one of them has a blade of their own.
- Hachiman - Yeah... But they don't have a cool sword like mine.
- Vyutrin - You think the enemy is interested in how "cool" your sword is? You think they'll care as they open fire to gun you down? You are too young to understand the horrors of war, child... No child deserves to.
Hachiman cast a glance downwards for a moment, rather taken back by Vyutrin's words, before he peered back towards him. Gritting his own teeth, Hachiman took a step back and raised his katana in both arms, and to Vyutrin's surprise, he watched as the sharp edge of the vibro-blade ignited with an ethereal energy of white and gold - an essence resembling that produced by their Pseudothoi technology, yet seemingly far more intense and without the need for technology. Vyutrin watched it all unfold before letting out a sigh, bringing a hand to his face as he passed his palm through it.
- Vyutrin - Is this what you want, child? To go out into the battlefield, so you may kill and die for the Collective?
- Hachiman - Teacher told me that it's my purpose to defend people! I can't defend people if I don't go out and fight the bad guys; they're the reason why I'm here! Why she took me in! If I don't go and fight them now, then I'll never be able to do that purpose she told me about and I can't save people!
- Vyutrin - Then prove me you have a place in this army!
Raising his combat knife over his head, Vyutrin proceeded to swing it down at Hachiman's direction, much to the surprise of Baptarion and other Collective officers at their vicinity. There was a clash of metal as the knife's edge made contact with Hachiman's katana, the child assuming a stance as he struggled to match Vyutrin's strength. He groaned for a moment and, while their blades locked, removed an arm to send it towards the commander; a small thrust of energy burst from his palm and towards Vyutrin's armoured uniform, which caused him to stumble back, taken off-guard as he nearly lost his footing. With a growl, he attempted to strike at the boy again, this time going for a thrust as he stepped forward again.
Hachiman bounced, the boy using his powerful legs to throw himself to the side and perform a quick, balanced landing to evade the thrust. In retaliation, he bounced once again, his dense leg muscles allowing him to leap at Vyutrin and close the distance between them in an instant. He made a diagonal swing, striking the commander across the helmet with his Essence-empowered blade, before following through with another energy burst from an open palm towards Vyutrin's face. The officers watching the fight gasped as they noticed a dent forming across the Royal Admiral's helm, while Baptarion clenched his teeth in apprehension; surely Hachiman had gotten him in deep trouble now.
However, Vyutrin did not retaliate. Instead, he stood on his feet after recovering from the energy burst and placed his combat knife back where it belonged, taking off his helm to reveal his face; he had a mild, amused smile.
- Vyutrin - Perhaps you do belong in this army after all, kid.
- Hachiman - I... Y-You're not mad?
- Vyutrin - Mad? Hardly. This is how we Spinkers check whether our soldiers are in good shape, with a surprise attack. If you can strike back at me, it means you're no ordinary child.
- Baptarion - Oh, thank Spode. I thought you had gotten us into trouble, you scamp.
- Hachiman - ... Yay! I can be a soldier, I can be a soldier~! Haha!
- Vyutrin - Refrain from ever raising your blade towards me again, however, or I will cut you in half.
- Hachiman - O-Oh... Sorry, mister.
- Vyutrin - Well then... You should get yourself prepared, "Hachiman". You'll be out in the field the next time we're fighting the enemy. You'll have to kill others - end lives and spill blood - to survive. I hope you're aware of this.
The kid looked at his blade as the energy faded from it, before reluctantly placing it back into its sheath on his hip. After a few moments of contemplation, Hachiman sighed, standing as tall as he could with his hands behind his upright back before nodding in Vyutrin's direction.
- Hachiman - Anything to save people, s-sir. Teacher said I had a purpose... I can't back down from it now. Y-You can count on me.
- Baptarion - You'll go back to your teacher either as a broken person or in a coffin. Just saying.
- Vyutrin - We shall see.
The Eye Sees All
The forested world of Kasaru IV, located on the outskirts of the Zoles Imperium was, for most of its history, a pristine garden. Though lacking in natural resources, its ecosystem, unique in its sheer diversity, was a treasure in itself, rumoured to have had unnatural origins. For generations Kasaru had been a place of solace, where the Imperium's greatest heroes, when their scales would turn pale over centuries of service, lived out their sunset days after receiving their laurels in the capital. The only other inhabitants of the planet were its natives, known as the Daisarvi: while some of these primitive cervines were employed to service those legendary ancients, most of them were content to remain in their own secluded communities, spread across the planet's woodlands. Their way of life, and the entire planet with it, had remained unchanged for millenia: the skies above Kasaru may have been turbulent, but once one stepped on its surface, one was free from the chaos of the outside world.
Only once there was something of a scandal on the planet - Zoles biologists would discover that Daisarvi bone marrow and antler tissue contained a psychoactive chemical which could induce a very powerful high and even give one some degree of clairvoyance which the scientists could not explain. The Imperium would then reinforce the garrison on Kasaru so as to protect its garden world from pirates - but only slightly. After all, barbaric as they were, not even the criminals of Borealis could stoop so low so as to harvest sapient beings for narcotics. The Zoles were proven wrong.
As the War Economy progressed and the galaxy descended further and further into anarchy, the garrison on Kasaru dwindled, and eventually, after a particularily large attack on one of the Imperium's core worlds, was relocated to reinforce the defenses of Zoleia. Eager to profit off the Daisarvi's lives, two large Borealis businesses, the Qlan-Behema Company and Timurzume West, would lay claim on Kasaru and its native population. Soon enough, corporate emissaries offered the natives the wonders of Borealis technology, investing in their communities in exchange for land and workforce. In mere months, former Kasaru city-states would become small metropoleis, almost like miniature versions of Grenzaar's slums - forests cut down and lakes drained in order to construct new dormitories, mines and factories, manned by Daisarvi indentured servants.
Few of the natives actually understood what exactly they were working on and what these strange foundries produced. But some noticed that many of their friends and relatives started to disappear without a trace - especially females of childbearing age. Terrible rumours began to spread across the Daisarvi.
Both Qlan-Behema and Timurzume were, one way or another, connected with the Borealis Consortium Network, but that did not mean they could not compete with one another over the planet's "resources". At first this rivalry was held within the bounds of reason, and did not get violent, but in time the higher-ups in both companies realised that they could actually profit off the bloodshed - controlled bloodshed, of course. Thus began the conflicts on the streets of Kasaru's cities, as PMCs hired by the two rival businesses would settle their employers' disputes with blood, fighting for both the planet's territory and its population. Sometimes one city would fall to one company, sometimes to another, but the truth was that neither truly cared for victory - they cared for deaths. After all, the natives caught in the crossfire could always be harvested by the winners.
This day the fate of yet another Daisarvi city was decided - the oldest of them all, Tuuli, said to have been constructed in times immemorial by the blue-skinned dwarf-gods which came from the sky. Just a few days ago, intense street fights took more than half of the city's Daisarvi population, including their old chief, Morjätar. With their leader gone, her younger sister Ophellatar, carefree and absent-minded, became the formal ruler of Tuuli, and was thus summoned by the two companies to sign the new contracts that would determine the city's fate. She now stood inside the pristine white headquarters of Timurzume West, clad in traditional Daisarvi green dress, surrounded by tall Levarcor bodyguards. She looked up at the corpulent Boglot in a white suit who lounged in his high chair and gazed condescendingly, even lewdly, at the young chief - the CEO of the corporation.
- Timurzume - On behalf of our company, I offer my condolences on the death of your sister and the deaths of your people. This violence which has engulfed this beautiful planet is detestable indeed.
- Ophellatar - It very kind of you, Mister Timurzume. - the young chief and the Boglot businessmen conversed in Zoleish, though the Daisarvi's speech was heavily accented, Will you prevent more conflicts?
- Timurzume - Why of course, illustrious chief. Once the agreement is signed, our private military contractors will ensure the continuous protection of your people and your throne, and you and your court will receive a share of the profits - and our many gifts. Platinum jewelery, Karza-silk dresses, whatever your heart desires shall be yours.
- Ophellatar - I very pleased with this, Mister Timurzume. But what we give?
- Timurzume - Merely a few trade concessions. We need your permission to settle the land around Tuuli with our workers, construct our facilities near the Grand Temple and-...
- Heeyorian - Mister Timurzume!
A shrill voice, speaking in Ottzelloan, suddenly rang out from the holophone behind the Boglot, who then turned - slowly - to face the holographic image. It was a rather small Heeyorian, dressed in a white labsuit and wearing green goggles, whose hands were replaced with spindly mechanical implants. He breathed heavily as he spoke.
- Timurzume - What is it? - the Boglot appeared infuriated for a moment, until a sudden revelation struck him and he immediately switched to Ottzelloan - Ah... So Project Iota is complete then?
- Heeyorian - Indeed. We have not yet perfected the process, but the physiological changes have been succesfully introduced. Altered Daisarvi females will now be able to bear fully grown children within days, the children in turn being capable of forming the chemical in only a few hours after birth. Once injected with the carcinogenic agent, naturally.
- Timurzume - Now, isn't that this excellent? - the Boglot let out a deep, guttural laughter - jolly and sinister at the same time We must not let Behema learn about the process. Let them harvest the natives in the wild: we shall now produce the chemical on an industrial scale. I am sure the Tuuli chief could provide us with breeding material.
- Heeyorian - One problem remains, however.
- Timurzume - And what would that be?
- Heeyorian - We have not yet been able to succesfully inhibit the cognitive functions of our subject females. In fact, it appears they must remain cognizant for the chemical to be produced, as if its effects are tied to their brain functions. There have been cases where our altered subjects attempted to flee, even in their... corpulent state.
- Timurzume - Ah. And here I was afraid it was something serious. Just amputate their limbs or something. - the Boglot now turned to the Daisarvi chief again, taking on his trademark white smile. Once again he switched to Zoleish, Now, where was I? Ah, yes. We have also been thinking of providing a special... tour of honour for you and your royal sisters. Have you ever been interested in seeing the outside world, beyond Kasaru?
- Ophellatar - Oh, I very interested in that! In fact, I meet very interesting person from off world once!
- Timurzume - And, and who would that be, illustrious chief?
Suddenly, the young chief's friendly demeanor all but disappeared. Her wide friendly smile turned into a frown, and her brilliant green eyes narrowed; she rose up, her waifish figure almost glowing with inner strength far beyond her fragile frame. Though she was still clad in a skimpy floral dress, and still had a crown of flowers on her head, she now looked less like a simple tribal chief and more like a powerful queen. The Boglot raised his eyes. There was clearly something more to this Daisarvi than met the eye. Then she spoke. Not in broken Zoleish, but in clear (though still somewhat accented) Ottzelloan. Now Mister Timurzume was completely dumbfounded.
- Ophellatar - Just a nobody. A good friend who told me a few secrets on what you outsiders were really doing. I did not believe her at first, but then I saw the corpses, the marrow factories where you gutted our infants... and now, I have heard this. the Daisarvi stepped forward - Your industry of death will stop now.
- Timurzume - Ah, I am so terrified. Whatever shall I do now. the Boglot cackled, "ards! Apprehend her! We may still have use of this little savage.
For a moment, Timurzume's entire face transformed subtly. He still remained the same fat old Boglot; his features suddenly became dark and threatening: he continued smiling, but something in his stare, in the movement of muscles on his face, that gave this smile a terrifying overtone. His reddish eyes glew with now-unconcealed anger, his cheekbones jutting from the layers of fat; the mask of courtesy which he had worn was now gone, and deprived of that mask, the corporate overlord now looked the way he was on the inside - a ravenous, heartless beast. He clasped his hands, probably fantasising about the things he could do with the young chief.
But before Levarcor guards could raise their guns, there came a flash. The air in the room glew colder for a moment; it rippled and oscillated around the Boglot, miniscule scintillations glimmering brighter and brighter, until at last they coalesced into a sillhouette. It was a strange creature that none of the Consortium had ever seen before: bizzare in appearance and not adhering to the humanoid form, it resembled a massive cephalopod with six stilt-like tentacles, but with a fish-like, frilled head that eneded in a toothy probcosis. From this head sprouted four more tentacles, smaller but much more flexible, which quivered as if probing for the air - its six blood red eyes twitching and turning. The creature was obviously not a friend, or at least not to the Consortium.
The Boglot was, for a moment, overwhelmed by fear, but used as he was to assassination attempts, he was quick to regain composure. An assassin? Who could send it after him? Behema would not dare upset the balance between the two, and for the Zoles and other law-loving tyrants of the Western Arm, such methods were too dishonourable. Zaarkhun himself, then? Timurzume took a closer look at the strange creature. Its eyes. Clearly artificial in origin. Silvery, like if one melded plastic and metal together. Like Ottzelloan nanometal - but not quite. Must be something extragalactic. The same material - it was not just on the eyes, too. There were bionic plates on this creature - a cyborg, perhaps? But if it was one, then who could be its maker? Emblems. There had to some sort of logo on it... there was it! On its back. A purple star with an eye...
It took the Boglot, with his already keen mind enhanced by his own cybernetics, only a few moments to realise the identity of the assassin. But it was faster. Before Timurzume could react to the appearance of the Fyrvrtha, it had already struck. The implants on the sides of its head extended, revealing two miniature cannons which then fired in the direction of the Boglot's two Levarcor guards: but instead of bolts of plasma, they fired two orbs of silver nanoliquid. The liquid splattered over the Levarcor's snouts and then started moving of its own volition, spreading to envelop their noses, mouths and eyes and then sealing them shut. In a matter of seconds, the two beasts suffocated and collapsed on the ground, lifeless.
Meanwhile, the Fyrvrtha leaped at Timurzume's chair and plunged its two front tentacles into the Boglot's massive stomach, before removing them again. It leaned its head closer to the Consortium boss, and started to speak in the smooth artificial voice of a female Radeon.
- Ayn-3S - The Holy Empire of the Divinarium sends its regards, mister Timurzume.
- Timurzume - Wh-who are you?! Why can't I move my body?
- Ayn-3S - Our toxins have made sure of it. Your mind is intact. You can think, you can speak, you can tell us all your secrets once we need them. But your body is no longer your own. It is dead. You can no longer control anything that is not your head.
- Timurzume - You son of a bitch!
- Ayn-3S - Did you just assume my gender, my friend? I will have you know I am a beautiful woman for whom many males of my kind fell. - even her unemotive robotic voice could not hide the venom in her words - The Borealis Consortium Network has come too close to the Divinarium's interests. It will not tolerate your further expansion in this region, nor will it tolerate the appaling acts of cruelty committed by your company on this planet, for the sake of profit.
- Timurzume - Damnable rats! Mind your own fucking business!
- Ayn-3S - We are aware of all of your secrets and plans. We know that your company was behind the recent raids on Shaechemas III, and that you were planning to plunder our worlds again after entrenching yourselves there. Your conduct is unexcusable.
- Timurzume - And what are you going to do with me now? Interrogate me? Send me off to some prison in Andromeda?
- Ayn-3S - I would personally find great pleasure in leaving you to die, slowly and painfully. But it would serve no practical purpose to the Divinarium, and a servant of the Divine Throne must find no pleasure in petty cruelties. That is the lot of unbelievers. No. I am going to give you a quick death. Though it won't be painless.
Ayn's head and body tentacles suddenly coated themselves in silver nanometal, forming twelve spike-like protrusions, sharpened to a monomolecular edge. The Fyrvrtha then plunged them again - this time, all of them - into the Boglot's fat hide. Two in the eyes. Two in the ears. Two in the mouth. Two in the chest. And four in the Boglot's massive belly. As the Fyrvrtha removed her blades, now coated in blood and fat, and made them dissolve from her body, Timurzume's corpse fell limply on the floor with a loud thud. Ayn then turned around to face Ophellatar, who hid herself behind a table. She was impressed and terrified by the Divinarium spy's display of cruelty at the same time.
- Ayn-3S - Worry not. Your people shall no longer suffer Consortium oppression, as long as you hold to your part of the bargain. We do not demand your people, of course. We only ask so that our scientists be allowed to study these... temples of yours. Our scientists believe they may reveal connections between our galaxy and yours. Admiral Venoriel will enjoy this news...
Challenge to Lordship
As the capital of unlawful conduct across the galaxy, Vocrillon Mine was the greatest player of the War Economy after the Borealis Consortium Network. Kantraun, the current Lord, was a member of Kaiolger race - immense, formidable reptilians who had lived alongside the Wranploer for thousands of years, and as such were hardened by conflict. He had made millions of credits by playing along with the Economy atop his palace, surrounded by Kaiolger guards fearsome enough to make even the hardest Murgur or Wranploer think twice about trying anything funny at his presence.
However, he had an unusual visitor this day. It was a Heeyorian, a race who normaly avoided the Kaiolger, and he walked into the palace, which was a great construct filled with bars, clubs, shops and everything in-between while wearing nothing but pants and shoes, revealing his defined chest and abdominals.
It was no mere Heeyorian, though; it was Sollow. A smug grin dominated his expression as he approached the chamber of the Lord, where he was immediately stopped by the guards, who aimed their energy rifles at him. As he noticed the arrival of the Heeyorian, Kantraun rose from his seat, carrying a glass of alcohol on his fingers as he looked down at him, somewhat puzzled by his presence.
- Kantraun - You're from the Consortium. Why are you here? I already told Zaarkhun he's getting his cut of the profit at the end of the galactic month.
- Sollow - Ah, see... I've a message from him to you. A very important one. Now, if you could just let me in-
As he stepped one foot forward, Sollow found the barrel of one guard's gun pressed against his forehead. The Heeyorian reacted with a smile.
- Sollow - Well, that's not a very nice way of treating your guests...
- Kantraun - Say what you have to say and begone. I've things to attend to and people to meet with. If Zaarkhun wants a proper meeting, tell him to schedule it.
- Sollow - Zaarkhun... doesn't want to talk to you anymore.
- Kantraun - ... Excuse me?
- Sollow - You're a liability, lizard man. It's time for the Consortium to gain full control of operations around here.
- Kantraun - Blow the manlet's head from his shoulders!
Without hesitation, the guard opened fire; a significant chunk of Sollow's head was blown apart, leaving a large, gaping hole. Kantraun's eyes widened, however, when he realized what his insides were; there were no bones, organs or flesh, but a great gray mass which rapidly begun expanding, and before their eyes, Sollow's head grew back to normal as if nothing had happened. He was not a Heeyorian as much as he was a walking mass of self-replicating nanomachines.
- Sollow - Well, that hurt... Good... I like pain... But I much more like causing it than suffering it!
The monstrous Heeyorian swung his arm in an arc, and from his wrist, numerous vibroknives were launched at the guards, perfectly aimed to stab each of them in the throat; immobilizing and killing them all virtually instantly. Kantraun stepped back as Sollow, who was easily half his size, stepped closer; a knife grew out of his wrist, and the assassin proceeded to pass his long, forked tongue through its surface.
- Kantraun - I... I can serve the Consortium! I am more useful to you alive!
- Sollow - After shooting me in the face? ... Nuh-huh, you aren't!
With frightening speed, Sollow jumped at Kantraun and slit his throat with the knife, causing the Lord's eyes to widen as he begun gagging on his own blood, falling into his knees before falling to the side, lifeless. Sollow would lick the blood from the blade before bringing a hand to his ear;
- Sollow - Fattie boy... Job's done up here. Send a report to Falrik.
- Billig - That quick, eh? I'll be sendin' the replacement on the way then. Ye should get outta there now, to not complicate things.
- Sollow - Why should I... I should take the glory to myself instead of giving it to some pawn... I could be the Lord of Vocrillon Mine...
- Billig - Ye, how 'bout no, eh? Complain to Zaarkhun if ye must.
With a huff, Sollow turned off communications as he made his way out, still pressing his tongue against his knife, at least until he jumped on his spot and rolled it back into his mouth, wincing.
- Sollow - Hmpf! Pricked my tongue against the blade... Hate it when that happens.
A squad led by Venoriel infiltrates a Devourer's Chosen base, leading them to encounter Acolyte Finkaron, who has turned Indricarron into a demonic cyborg. Venoriel and her squad retreat when they are unable to fight Indricarron.
Pinnacle of Loron Weaponry
While Gol'thabex and the rest of the Thugz kept themselves very busy fighting several Murgur warbands, the Leedas aboard the Krooza had very little to do other than chase enemies to fight. This was something that Falrik Zaarkhun could now exploit.
His plans to topple the greatest ideological threat to his order, the Zoles, were coming along. The only problem was, he needed better samples of what he was up against, particularly with regards to the inner Zoles worlds. It was said that Zoleia, his prime target, would have much greater defenses in store than most typical Zoles fleets, and he would need to be prepared. Or more specifically, he would need to contract weapons dealers to be prepared.
However, a mission to a PMC to scout inner Zoles worlds was extremely expensive. Due to the high risk and low reward on the part of the PMC, there were very few willing to risk it, meaning they charged extortionate amounts. But Zaarkhun knew that the Loron would be far more willing, and far more easily persuaded, to partake in such a suicide mission as to rush straight into Zoleia's orbital defenses. He contacted Fre'kloar.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Fre'kloar! How's it going?
- Fre'kloar - FLIPPIN BORED MAN. NUFFIN TA DO
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Ah, perfect. I had a job for you and the other Leedas and Warbosses that I think would be perfect. Not mercenary work, but a test of your skills.
- Jol'kiar - shoot lil man
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I need you to take a small fleet, led by your Krooza, directly to the Zoles Imperium capital of Zoleia. After that, I need you to provoke one of their fleets, get into a scrap, and warp out. You will need to send a few Warbosses also into a nearby space station to test their ground defenses. Come back afterwards and give me a report of your findings.
- Hagto'Zhl - DIS SOUNDS BORIN. WE JUS GO DERE AN DUNT EVEN KILL ANYUN
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You can kill people, just not too many. When the big attack comes, you will have far more Zoles to kill, I just need to do this first.
- Fre'kloar - ehhhhh wats in fer us eh? WE DUNT WORK FER FREE MAN
- Falrik Zaarkhun - It's a worthy test of your skills. The entire galaxy will fear you after you make it out, and no one will ever doubt your strength again.
- Jol'kiar - DIS IS WRONG MAN. WES LORONZ. WES DA BEST. WE DONT NEED TA PROOV NOFFIN TA NO ONE
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Well, alright. I suppose I'll just find someone else to reclaim the Zoles throne...
Zaarkhun logged out and his hologram disappeared. Grak'tona, who was asleep, suddenly woke up.
- Grak'tona - woah wats dis bout thrones
- Drizz'pyrokirk - ho boy heer we go
- Grak'tona - DID SOMEONE SAY ZOLES THRONE???? IM SUPPOSED TA BE DA ONLY ONE WIV A THRONE HEER
- Hagto'Zhl - who cares tho
- Grak'tona - PUT ZAARKHUN ON DA LINE NOW MAN
While the others objected, the Krooza did indeed display Zaarkhun's hologram before Grak'tona.
- Grak'tona - I WANNA SMASH DIS ZOLES THRONE AN RECLAIM MA RITEFUL PLACE AS DA KING OF EVRYFIN
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Oh, you do? Excellent. I'll send you co-ordinates to Zoleia and instructions now. You'd best prepare. No need to hurry, but someone may beat you to it. Your co-operation is much appreciated.
- Kal'kuir - by ma calculashons deres a 78% chance we just been bamboozled. somfin smells fishy heer
- Voa'reak - nah man dats just dis pizza im eetin, has fish in it
- Kal'kuir - oh okay GUESS WE GOIN DEN
Grak'tona ran over to the ship's console, and kicked Kal'kuir away to steer the ship to reach the Cold Relay.
- Grak'tona - ...urm how do ya steer agen
- Kal'kuir - I PILOT DA KROOZA GET OFF
- Grak'tona - DA KING DECLARES YOR NOT WORFY OF PILOTIN DA ROYAL KROOZA ANYMOAR
- Kal'kuir - DERES A 100% CHANCE YOR A LOSA MATE
As Grak'tona reached to strangle Kal'kuir, Jol'kiar picked him up and tossed him aside, then nodded to Kal'kuir, who directed the ship towards the Cold Relay. As they emerged at the other side, arriving into the home star system of the Zoles Imperium, the Loron immediately found themselves detected by countless drones guarding the Relay, who begun signalling the orbital defenses of the homeworld of an invasion. As they approached Zoleia, fleets of battleships begun opening fire at them.
Immediately, many of the Loron ships were destroyed by the cannon fire. Da Krooza and many of the larger ships made it through, but the rest of the fleet came under heavy fire that it could not sustain. While Loron Fightas and Bommas tried to attack the Zoles defenses, they found themselves swarmed by masses of Zoles starfighters.
- Grak'tona - OI GET CLOSA TO ONE OF DA SPACE STASHONS AN LAND RAYLOTH IN IT MAN WES SUPPOSED TO DO DAT TA RECLAIM MA THRONE
- Hagto'Zhl - MAN PUT RAYLOTH OUT DERE AN HES GONNA GET VAPORIZED
- Ray'loth - wow yoo dunt trust me enuff
- Grak'tona - I BELEEV IN MA ROYAL SUBJECTS. I ONLY APPOINT DA BES. DATS WHAI I BELEEV RAYLOTH IS GONNA DO JUS FINE. YO BRAG CAN YOO WARP RAYLOTH TO DA SPACE STASHON
Brag'klogga, who was levitating upside down up to that moment, suddenly screamed and coughed at Ray'loth's direction, causing him to blink away and land at a nearby Imperial space station with his own men. Ray'loth was surrounded by Zoles marines and droids, though he was better prepared for them than many of his men. However, while he himself was perfectly fine in combat, he quickly lost several of the soldiers around him who found themselves overwhelmed not by the number of Zoles, but by their weaponry. The droids also took far more damage before going down than any of them expected. It was clear that they wouldn't last long, so Ray'loth was teleported back in an instant by Brag'klogga screaming and coughing out again, except the sound was backwards.
- Grak'tona - MAN WAT AR YA DOIN HE WAS DOIN FINE MAN I SWER IF YOO DO DAT AGEN ITS OFF WIV YA HED
- Knar'gank - his boyz all died and so wuld he
- Grak'tona - YEH COZ DEYZ NOT WORFY, ONLY WORFY PEEPZ CAN GO DO IT, RAYLOTH WULDVE DONE FINE
- Ray'loth - i meen probs but it was gettin a bit borin dere bein all alone
- Kal'kuir - URM. I DONT KNO IF YOO IDIOTS NOTICED BUT OUR SHIELDS IS BROKEN AN OUR BARRIERS IS COMIN DOWN
- Fre'kloar - MAN PRETTY SURE WEN HE ASKED US TA DO DIS JOB HE MENT WE BES PREPAR FIRST NOT "HURDUR LETS RUSH IN BECUZ GRAKTONA IS AN INSECURE LIL TRASH WHO WISHES HE WAS HALF DA KING HE FINKS HE IS IN SOM IMAGINARY FANTASY" OH MA DAYZ IF WE DIE HEER I SWER IMMA KNOK YOO ALL OUT IN DA AFTALIFE
- Hagto'Zhl - MAN WAT IS YA WAITIN FOR GO BAK TO DA RELAY AN LEG IT
- Kal'kuir - I CANT MAN WES SURROUNDED
- Grak'tona - ...ya...ya meen...I CANT RECLAIM DA THRONE???? WAT DA HELL MAN YOR ALL GETTIN EXECUTED AFTA WE GET OUT urm how do we get out
- Fre'kloar - OFFA GRAK'TONA TO DA ZOLES MAYBE DATLL MAKE DEM LESS PISSED OFF. OI OPEN DA AIRLOK MAN
- Knar'gank - dat eint gonna work man. nuffin is. wes gonna dai an its all graktonas fault
- Rel'larutina - Yeah, there's a reason why I just said nothing here. I knew this would happen. Well done, boys, hopefully I don't end up in the same afterlife as you.
All the Loron begun to panic, until Kal'kuir stopped screaming in terror and begun thinking. He had remembered something.
- Kal'kuir - ... oi. i got an idea
- Jol'kiar - lets heer it man it cant be worse dan wat wez doin now
- Kal'kuir - I INSTALLED A NOO WEPON IN DA KROOZA RECENTLY BUT NEVA HAD DA CHANCE TA TEST IT. IT MITE BE OUR SALVASHUN
- Rel'larutina - Or it might rip us to shreds. However, it's not like we have another option right now.
Kal'kuir begun searching around the ship's controls and eventually found a big red button labelled "DO NOT PRESS IDIOT", which he would proceed to press anyway. At once, the entire ship's lights went out, before the emergency power came on and the lights activated again. Whatever weapon Kal'kuir had switched, it drained the power of the entire ship. If it weren't for the fact their shields were already down, he would've just made the ship extremely vulnerable.
After this, the entire ship began to shake violently. Each of the Loron held one another in fear, as the ship shook further, alarms began to sound, and they felt everything heat up in the room. It seemed that the ship would overheat.
- Drizz'pyrokirk - I KNO HEET WEN I FEEL IT, AN DIS IS HEET, MAN DA SHIPS GONNA BLOW UP AT DIS RATE
- Voa'reak - AW MAN MA PIZZA IS ALL MELTED UP NAO
- Zalk'don - EVERYFIN SMELLS OF FISH NAO AGH
Rel'larutina rushed to turn on any emergency cooling, and her eye pleaded with Kal'kuir's that his weapon wouldn't set the ship alight. It began to rock even more violently, causing them to clutch onto the sides.
Eventually, the ship stopped, and began to cool down. But as far as they could tell, nothing happened. They each rushed to the windows of the ship to look outside, and they saw that from the main cannon, a small banana had fired out from it, heading straight towards the Zoles fleet, who had stopped firing due to believing the enemy had been disabled. The Loron all watched in disbelief.
- Fre'kloar - excuse me wat da hell
- Hagto'Zhl - ...AR YOO FLIPPIN STOOPID???
- Jol'kiar - did... DID YOO JUS FIRE A BANANA AT DA ZOLES WAT
However, just before the rest of the Loron throttled Kal'kuir, the banana suddenly exploded. But it wasn't a typical bomb, it was an entire ripple in spacetime. In fact, it appeared the banana was in fact a space-time warped gridfire device, that tore apart the fabric of space around it. Every Zoles ship in the near vacinity to it immediately collapsed or exploded, completely wiping out hundreds of ships at once. The Loron were all blinded and knocked off their feet by the sheer power of the explosion, barely being able to tell what had just happened.
- Fre'kloar - HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Zalk'don - DAT...DAT MITE BE DA SIKKEST BOOMZ IVE SEEN IN YEERS!!!!!!!
- Hagto'Zhl - EXPLAIN. EXPLAIN!!!
- Kal'kuir - ...URM...URM WELL BY MA CALCULASHONS DAT WAS A SPACETIME MORPHOGUN DAT CAUSED A GRIDFIYA BOM TA APPEER AN WIPE OUT DA ZOLES LOSAS BY CRUSHIN DEM AN BASICALLY BURNIN DEIR SHIPZ TA BITS BECUZ THEY WAS MORPHED OR WATEVA
- Rel'larutina - You... invented a space-time defect... in the form of a banana?
- Kal'kuir - YEH DATS EXACTLY WAT I DID HUR I DIDNT KNO WAT ELSE TA SHAPE IT AFTA
- Ray'loth - well i was gonna thro ya into da brig but NOT ANYMOR I GUESS
- Grak'tona - YOO AR OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED AS A ROYAL TRESUR
- Kal'kuir - AW SHUKS. ... URM WE SHULD PROBABLY RUN NAO CUS ITS GONNA TAKE AGES TA RELOAD DAT WEPON
- Fre'kloar - YEH HES RITE. WE PROBS GOT WAT ZAARKHUN WANTED ANYWAYS. KALKUIR AN GRAKTONA, I WANT A WORD WIV BOF OF YOO AFTA DIS, AN GRAKTONA AFTA DAT WORD YOR GONNA WIPE MA BATHROOM CLEEN
- Grak'tona - WAT DA HELL DA KING WIPES NO ONES BAFFROOM
The Loron turned their ship around and went through the Relay back to their own territory. After the journey, they put Zaarkhun on the line once again, who responded back to them before they could start speaking.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Fantastic work. I was going to send some people in to pull you out of danger, but that weapon...that could prove very useful. Your information you provided us with while we hacked your ship is also invaluable.
- Kal'kuir - DONT HAKK MA SHIP OK
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Kal'kuir, your ship is extremely vulnerable to cybercrime. The only reason your ship is not hacked more often is because it has nothing of value to basically any empire.
- Kal'kuir - OK DATS JUS RUDE AN NONCONSENSUAL. DONT DO DAT MAN DATS WEIRD
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Alright, alright, I won't. Well done, boys. I'll find a way to repay you after the big fight. You should look forward to it. The Zoles, if they did not view you as a threat before, will definitely see you as one now. Zaarkhun out.
Zaarkhun closed the transmission, allowing the Loron to talk amongst themselves again.
- Fre'kloar - well dat was eezy BUT HE BEST GIV US SOMFIN SIK FER DAT
- Knar'gank - he shuld giv us a big gold statue of a banana so we can put it in da main room
- Kal'kuir - LET MA NOO SIK WEPON FOREVA BE KNOWN... AS DA BANANA GUN
- Jol'kiar - MAN EVEN BAK IN MY DAYZ, WHICH WAS WAY BETTA DAN YOR BORIN DAYZ, WE NEVA SAW WEPONZ AS GOOD AS DAT
- Rel'larutina - That's the stupidest name ever, but it fits the atmosphere of this place well enough.
- Grak'tona - NAH. LETS RENAME IT..."DA ROYAL GUN OF DA GREAT KING GRAK'TONA".
- Fre'kloar - EXCUSE ME SHULDNT YOO BE WIPIN DA FLOOR OF MA BAFFROOM ATM
- Grak'tona - I GOT DRIZZY TA DO IT
Over the distance, they could hear Drizz'pyrokirk's voice.
- Drizz'pyrokirk - MAN. SMELLS OF FISH IN HEER
Answer of the Vida'Rranlora
Reinforcements from the Zoleia Sector had arrived; armed with the power of the First, Fifth and Sixth Fleets of the Imperium, Vekaron launched a full-on assault to the Lanatharch; he would carve his way through their ranks to reach the Vida'Rranlora database, no matter the cost. They were his only hope of finding King Rebaris and uncovering the truth of it all, but the hostile android lifeforms would not make it easy. Their pre-cybernetic ancestors, the Lanatiz, were once of the most formidable nations of their time, and it was clear the Lanatharch had only become stronger since the times of the First Great Galactic War.
However, so was the Zoles Imperium. Vekaron's strike upon the Lanatharch was overwhelming, leading to a path being made through the defenses of the cybernetic lifeforms before they had the chance to regroup and retaliate. Over the course of three days they would fight, with great casualties in both sides, until the Grand-Commandant finally located his objective; orbiting a white dwarf star was a perfectly circular space station completely white in colouration, its surface almost entirely smooth save for a number of openings into its interior.
As Vekaron made his way inside the planet-sized computer, it was clear the Lanatharch were preparing for a counter-attack, and as such there was little time to waste. Vekaron and a number of Imperial marines landed inside the database to be met with the sight of immense, almost ghostly avian figures; the Vida'Rranlora themselves. The artificial intelligences, older than even the oldest stars of Borealis, reacted to their arrival with indifference, and the Grand-Commandant took a step forward as he spoke;
- Vekaron - Are you the fabled Vida'Rranlora?
- Vida'Rranlora - Arrivals. Zoles. Nilito. Heleanorian. Samilinus. Threat level null.
- Vekaron - ... Well, you certainly know us. We need your help.
- Vida'Rranlora - Request denied.
- Vekaron - ... Huh? Why?!
- Vida'Rranlora - This database is not authorized to interact with species beyond those under the control of the Prime Intelligence of the Galactic Core.
Vekaron's eyes narrowed as he reflected on the Vida'Rranlora's words, while his marines spoke among themselves.
- Vekaron - Galactic core? You mean... you serve the Grox?
- Vida'Rranlora - Grox are the body the Prime Intelligence of the Galactic Core. A body which branches out.
- Marine 1 - What are they even talking about? They sound nearly deranged.
- Marine 2 - ... Wait, what did you say?
- Marine 3 - Huh, what?
- Marine 2 - I thought I heard someone whispering behind my ear.
- Vekaron - ... The back of my head itches somewhat, now that you mention it.
Without warning, the images of the Vida'Rranlora appeared to flicker, while their avatars appeared to almost wince in what resembled pain before returning to normal. It was quickly noticed by the Imperial forces, who primed their weapons in apprehension.
- Vekaron - W-What was that?
- Vida'Rranlora - Prime Intelligence has made an exception to its orders. We are now obliged to hear your request.
- Marine 1 - Man, I'm not liking the sound of all this. Sounds almost like we're being watched.
- Vekaron - ... Listen, our king has disappeared, and it's imperative that we find him, otherwise all of galactic society may be in danger. Rebaris Zulouar IV. I hear you're supposed to catalog all that happens in the galaxy, so you should know where he is.
Almost nonchalantly, the Vida'Rranlora turned their heads to one of the many monitors across the chamber, which appeared to display a map of Borealis.
- Vida'Rranlora - Individual in question is currently at the Vijaha Sector of the Eastern Arm.
- Vekaron - ... The heart of the Wranploer Legion.
- Marine 3 - I thought the Ottzelloans were the ones who did it?
- Vida'Rranlora - Negative. The races of Star Body O001X have no involvement in the individual's current status.
- Marine 2 - So that means... we quarantined Ottzello for nothing...
- Marine 1 - Well, that's not gonna be good for diplomacy.
- Vekaron - The Wranploer kidnapped Rebaris and threw all the blame to UNO so they'd be removed from the way... but for what purpose? Why go to such lengths?
- Vida'Rranlora - Lanatharch forces currently entering star system.
It was at this moment that Vekaron would be warned through communications of the Lanatharch's counter-attack; they had returned with substantial reinforcements, far more than the fleets could hold back for long. They had to leave.
- Vekaron - There's so much I want to ask, but we just don't have the time. When the Wranploer problem is dealt with, I'll speak to my superiors about freeing you of these Lanatharch! That I promise you!
The Vida'Rranlora did not respond to Vekaron as he left, instead merely disappearing. The Lanatharch quickly warded the Zoles out of the star system, which they would reinforce to fight back future invasions. But now Vekaron knew where Rebaris was, and who was truly responsible for it all.
The Next Page of History
Falrik Zaarkhun was finally prepared to strike at the Zoles Imperium to topple their government once and for all. He prepared his chamber for a public holographic broadcast, which would be viewed on thousands of planets, in the forms of both rallies and televised screens. Soon, he and Volim were about to go live with their message aimed at every PMC, every space pirate faction, every rogue nation, everyone who would join with them to take down the Zoles once and for all.
To prepare himself, he made his way over to Rebaris' cell, which would be hidden from the broadcast, and leaned over with a smug grin.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - In a minute, you will watch as I broadcast my message across the entire galaxy. After that, you will watch as your species dies.
The Zoles king did not respond, merely watching Zaarkhun with crossed arms and narrowed eyes. It was clear he was defiant to the end.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You can keep like that right through to the end. But watching your capital burn will break you. I guarantee it.
Zaarkhun stood up straight, and then turned to Volim, who was still sitting down in his throne.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - We go live in a few minutes, Volim. This will be a day long remembered.
- Volim - Let's get this over with already.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Remember, this broadcast is public. No one who doesn't already know we're directly allied should know. Let me do most of the talking, but you will probably be expected to give a rousing speech of your own to rile the people up.
- Volim - I don't think I can rile them, as much as I can threaten them to not fail me.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The best way to win the people over is to know your audience well. Find a message that strikes a chord with them - and if threatening them should they fail you works as a follow-up to my speech, then it will be effective. Morale is important here.
- Volim - The people are mine already, they just don't know it yet. Just say what you have to say, and I may or may not add something to it.
Zaarkhun nodded, and then turned to a projection in front of him. Before him, as it begun, the screen begun with live footage from thousands of planets across the galaxy of enormous crowds waiting with excitement to hear Zaarkhun speak. Many of them were well-armored and bloodthirsty looking for war, while others were families who had so far greatly benefited from being freed from their government. Zaarkhun was a powerful public speaker and a popular figure amongst anarchists, meaning that many had waited hours to hear this speech.
It wasn't just large crowds that greeted Zaarkhun. Screens from pirates sitting at a bar, Loron at pizza parties and other mercenaries who had just been debriefed from their last battle greeted his speech with great enthusiasm. As he begun talking, he heard the roaring applause in hundreds of alien languages greeting his every word.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Brothers and sisters of the Borealis Galaxy! Today, our time has come. Our time for true freedom has been brought upon us, as we turn the page of history to a new era. The era of liberty!
A huge round of applause greeted Zaarkhun's first few words. They had eagerly awaited this day for a while, and patiently waited for him to explain his plan.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The brave men and women among you have all made your voices very clear to thoes who would govern you: you don't need them. No, all along it was they who needed you, as they abused you, as they treated you like tools, as they saw you as something merely to be policed until convenient for them to manipulate for their own agenda. An agenda based around enriching themselves, about protecting their own wealth, their own power, and their own interests. You all loudly and clearly told them that you don't need them!
Another cheer erupted for them crowd. Zaarkhun knew just how to play his audience: big them up. Make his speech seem as inclusive as possible. Get them on his side, rather than talk down to them. He would continue to do so before he would, ironically, be manipulating them for his agenda.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - They told you that you couldn't live in a civilized society with no ruling authority over you. They thought you were stupid, that you would not govern yourselves, that you would not co-operate, that you would not create civilization with no one to police you, to tax you, to rule you. They treated you like sheep, sheep to be followed. And even those governments that introduced a democracy didn't really want you to have a voice in how things were run. They, too, wanted to lie to you every step of the way as they protected their own power. You loudly and clearly said to them: not anymore! You have shown them that you can create far more wealth, far more power, on your own, a far greater society that follows merely the rules of nature! You have shown them that you can fight corruption, poverty and despair by playing by your own rules, as individuals, not by the rules of an oligarch!
They cheered once more, even more loudly, as Zaarkhun continued to big them up. By this point, Zaarkhun sussed that most of the crowd's ego had been inflated enough that he could now convince them of what to do next. The irony of him praising them for not being manipulated by an oligarch while manipulating them was also not lost on him. But in his mind, it was perfectly fine, as they were doing so of their own accord, by their own will, and not because they were being forced to.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You have all made great progress so far. We've toppled thousands of the phony regimes around the galaxy that have oppressed you. But now, there is but one ideological obstacle that stands in the way of liberty for all. It is not the only great threat we face in our great and but lawless society, but it is the one that is holding back our visions. It is the one whose elitism over the years, whose smug attitude as they looked down upon you merely for not bending over backwards and doing as they say, and not allowing them to impose their will upon you, and the one who has ironically destroyed families and torn apart homes to suit their agenda. The one who has monopolized the entire Western Arm, and just a few years ago, banished the Ottzelloans for daring to challenge them. Yes, you know who it is. The Zoles Imperium must die!
Even louder roars came from the crowd of excitement. They were waiting for these words to be spoken since the very beginning of the War Economy. In fact, those who didn't believe in the War Economy and saw it as a means to an end awaited these words patiently. On his throne, Volim signalled with his hand, informing Zaarkhun he had nothing to add; it was better for the roused galactic arm to remain unaware of his involvement. Zaarkhun turned back and nodded slightly. While he had originally intended to have Volim speak, he realised that the crowd were excited enough as it was. It was time for him now to explain his plan: though it was very straightforward.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Yes, in one Vocrillon Mine day, we will all gather at every designated Cold Relay in Zoles Imperium territory. They will be waiting for us there, and they will have all of those whom they have brainwashed into defending their oppressive agenda trying to stop us. They will try one last push to stop our ideas of freedom from spreading across the galaxy. And we will overcome them. Within weeks, we will have conquered every Zoles world and purged their government from the galaxy. Those remaining states will fall after that, once their people realise that the true path to freedom in this day and age is one without a state! We will overwhelm the Zoles, for the private sector has produced far greater weaponry than they could've ever hoped to develop. Because we have the enthusiasm on our side. We have soldiers willing to topple an oppressive regime, not puppets thrown out by a state defending its interests. The Zoles are without their king. We will kill their queen, destroy their government, and claim every last world, including Zoleia, as liberated! They will take their freedom whether they want it or not!
The excitement of the crowd had grown, as they began their war cries and many began raising weapons in the air in excitement. By this point, they were so energized that Zaarkhun realised now was the time to conclude his speech. Genrai Nal and Captain Torrent stood in front of Zaarkhun for his closing words.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Genrai Nal, and Captain Torrent of the Wranploer Legion, shall lead the many front against the Zoles. But this will be a battle fought on many fronts to overwhelm the Zoles. They know we're coming, but they don't know how strong you are. Tomorrow, we begin a new age of freedom and prosperity. This event shall be known as...the March of Liberty!!
Zaarkhun allowed the crowd to cheer, as it largely dissipated and many of the men and women in the crowds went straight to prepare for battle. Whether it was to meet with their PMC, or whichever faction they were fighting with, or merely to join the fight on their own unaffiliated, they were all very interested in seeing the Zoles be wiped from the face of the galaxy. Zaarkhun, gleaming with excitement, turned to the others for approval. While Torrent had a sly grin across his face, mainly for having the chance to deliver great damage to the Zoles, Volim appeared relatively unimpressed. However, from the years spent at his company, Falrik Zaarkhun could easily interpret this as a sign of his approval, or at least, lack of disapproval.
- Genrai Nal - An excellent speech. I look forward to leading the March of Liberty.
- Torrent - Lots of fun ahead of us. I do hope Vekaron is there so he can die too. Can't tell what really happened to him after the last time I escaped him.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I have no doubt that he will be there, and if so, he will likely be there to try to assassinate me to leave the march without a leader and slow it down. When that happens, I will recall you to defend; you wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to destroy him.
- Torrent - Yes, he's my kill and mine only. I pity the poor fool who tries and steal it from me.
- Sollow - Hey... What about me?
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Sollow, you have two jobs. The first is fairly obvious: assassinate Zoles admirals aboard their ships. The second is less obvious. You will need to work with Billig and our network of spies to monitor the other crimelords and pirates during this battle. Remember that there is still a power struggle going on, and many will be working to try and take mine or Volim's place while they think they have the opportunity. You are to kill them if they try.
- Volim - Exterminate any who try and turn their backs away from this campaign. I will not accept traitors and cowards in the aftermath of this battle.
- Sollow - I get fun jobs, at least...
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The only exception, Sollow, is in the event of Vekaron's assassinate attempt. At that point, I will recall you along with Torrent and Genrai. But no kill stealing.
- Sollow - Can't promise anything...
- Torrent - I can break your spine on my knee if it'd change your mind, you twitchy bastard!
- Sollow - Boo-hoo. Cry me a river...
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Aside from that, it is fairly straightforward. I, along with the artificial intelligences, will divise our plan of attack and co-ordinate with all the other factions involved. The main front, led by you two, will be backed mostly by the Wranploer Legion and Da Rogue Boyz, while most other PMCs and unaffiliated space pirates are sent to other worlds, normally led by other Wranploer Legion officials. We plan to overwhelm them. However, though it will take longer to do so, every world must be taken over on the ground: no planetary destruction, otherwise we're not "liberating" the world, and that may turn a few away from the cause.
- Volim - The planets are useless to me if they're destroyed anyway. No way of harvesting resources.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Exactly. I've also gathered schematics for each of the Zoles ships, orbital defenses and ground weaponry, so we know what we're dealing with. It won't be easy, but we have several advantages. As long as Sollow keeps any potential turncoats in line, and as long as we successfully hold the Relays while capturing worlds to prevent any reinforcements going through, we shall be victorious here. Any questions?
- Torrent - None.
- Sollow - I will stab... and I will cut... and I will slash...
- Genrai Nal - I patiently await the thrill of combat. Torrent, we shall make this a battle to remember.
- Torrent - Indeed.
- Volim - Go, and make preparations. I want no delays.
March of Liberty
Rescue of Rebaris
Falrik Zaarkhun's strategy was soon crafted, made perfect down to finest details, and swiftly put into action. The March of Liberty began, one final strike against the Zoles Imperium, a blow to a nation already bereft of its king. As battles erupted around the Cold Relays, and the Zoles were slowly pushed back by the unending tides of pirates and PMC ships, Zaarkhun and Torrent saw that they had everything worked out. Victory was all but guaranteed. The Heeyorian had, of course, not failed to take into account the extragalactic empires whose alien hands clamoured to take pieces of Borealis that were not meant for them. Whether Draconid or Divinarian, he knew outsiders would not be interfering with his progress.
There was, in spite of all this, one foreign force whose capacity for disruption was not properly considered. Tokzhalan Technology had been the epitome of the War Economy: a corporation providing vital military services to many, supplying their goods to all who could afford them, unburdened by moral ideals like so many Draconid security contractors seemed to be. Tokzhalan Omnidrones found their way into the private armies of half the warlords in the galaxy; countless civilians had died with their heads against the muzzle of a Tokzhalan blaster. Of course Tokzhalan Military Industries would throw themselves into the March of Liberty. They stood for everything in the War Economy that the Zoles opposed.
It was with this confidence that Zaarkhun had hired several Tokzhalan fleets to bulk out the main front of the attack, putting one drone flotilla under the control of the Iron Fist itself. And while Zaarkhun and Volim were focused on the battle in front of them, one of the Tokzhalan A-class frigates put into action a plan of its own, given to it by Apalos after it was agreed upon in secret by the nations of the rest of the Gigaquadrant.
First of all, when one of the smaller H-class drones was hit by a Zoles missile, it span off rather overdramatically and exploded against the Fist's shields. This caused no harm to the flagship, but opened up a short-lived hole in the shields which allowed a small drone soldier to beam into the back of the throne room and find Rebaris in his cell, whereupon it sent locating information in a transmission to the frigate. Next, a squadron of drones engaged a wing of Zoles starfighters, allowing one to slip closer to the Iron First and be shot down by the flagship's point-defence guns. It too veered out of control and impacted the shields, opening up a second hole that allowed Rebaris and the drone soldier to be beamed out by the frigate.
Finally, a cluster of plasma pulses was launched from one Zoles vessel at the frigate, which shot some of them down before jumping to hyperspace as the pulses came within a few dozen metres. A small wormhole bomb was left behind for their arrival, covering the frigate's disappearance and its warp trail with what looked like a hypermatter reactor explosion. The frigate made its way out of Zoles territory to a deep space rendezvous point, where it met with Vekaron's ship in secret and returned Rebaris to the forces of his people.
- Volim - ... What happened here? Where is Rebaris?!
A Galactic Revelation
After Rebaris was returned to Vekaron's skip, it was time for him to deliver a broadcast to the galaxy. Now that Rebaris was safe and sound, the Zoles could reveal the truth behind his kidnapping, and it would be secret no longer. Rebaris sent a message to Aldaren first to confirm he was safe, before he broadcast his message to every Zoles planet.
- Rebaris - To all the citizens of Borealis, I speak to you for the first time in years, having escaped my capture. I come before you all to assure you I am safe, and I am in Commandant Vekaron's hands, and very soon, I shall be placed in command of our navy again, and shall direct their defense against the incoming invasion. I feel now before I reassume command of the Imperium that I inform you of what has transpired, as I'm sure you have been wondering.
With death staring them in the face as the fleet came, to hear their king again was a relief for many of the Zoles. They impatiently waited to hear his account.
- Rebaris - On the night I was kidnapped, I was on a diplomatic mission to UNO territory in the hopes of easing relations with them. I was ambushed in their Cold Relay by at-the-time unidentified ships, ships which we now believe belong to a private military corporation that was contracted by my captors: both the Chief Executive Office of the Borealis Consortium Network, and the leader of the Wranploer Legion. In fact, the latter organization no longer exists.
Many of the Zoles watching from their homes or from a screen outside gasped. But they began to piece two and two together quickly. How could they have fallen for Zaarkhun's lies, even after he led the War Economy? How could they not have seen it coming? Perhaps it was because a partnership seemed so unlikely. Volim never had any friends, and the Wranploer Legion was too imperialistic, xenophobic and warlike for many to believe it had ties to an anarchist extra-galactic businessman.
- Rebaris - That is correct. Falrik Zaarkhun and Volim Thrava, as unlikely as it may seem, both lead the Borealis Consortium Network. Zaarkhun pulls the strings, and he co-ordinated the entire War Economy. While I was kidnapped, he made me watch all his actions, and I have seen close-hand how he operates. Many of the PMCs and organizations that sprung up were either direct proxy creations of his, or formed as he allowed it. Meanwhile, Volim keeps the entire Consortium Network in line as the perfect strongman, threatening those who do not do business with Zaarkhun. Volim has much to gain from a War Economy which undermines all his opposition in the galaxy.
The people were shocked to hear. Rebaris would not convince anyone already attacking the Zoles to cease their attack at this point - they would not believe him - but he could at least fill the Zoles and their allies in on what had taken place.
- Rebaris - UNO are responsible for nothing! Zaarkhun orchestrated my kidnapping and spread anti-Ottzello propaganda in order to increase public support for us either going to war with them, or locking them away. This meant we were the only thing standing in the way of Volim and Zaarkhun's desire for a total galactic anarchy and a wipeout of our authority. I implore you, for all their faults, to forgive anything the Ottzelloans have ever done. We need them now more than ever, so we can focus on the true threat, which is Zaarkhun.
It was like a punch in the gut to many of them. Just when their empire was about to fall, they realised that they'd all been played for fools. And that because of it, they may not make it out of this alive. Rebaris delivered some closing words.
- Rebaris - Needless to say, my first order as your king is to lift the quarantine of the Ottzello Sector immediately. Their reinforcements shall be needed in this fight to protect everything we have built, and everything we stand for. To protect galactic civilization from falling apart. It has been truly touching to hear the efforts many of you went through to rescue me, and how I have been missed. But I know that we will make it through this. I know because we have survived so much in this galaxy before, that we will defeat the Wranploer once more. And this time, for good.
Rebaris' speech ended, as his ship set course for the Ottzello Sector.
Meanwhile, aboard the Iron Fist, just as they were about to begin their attack on the first planet, Volim and Zaarkhun watched the speech. Volim was enraged, while Zaarkhun remained expressionless.
- Volim - Damnit! A PMC has gone rogue!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I had Sollow check them all!...Ah, of course. The Tokzhalan drones.
- Volim - This had better not take my victory here away from me.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The first rule of developing any plan is to always have a backup plan. And a backup plan of that. And to consider every single possibility. If we hold the Relays and keep any UNO fleets from getting through, we can treat them as any other reinforcements, and our offense against the Zoles will still be successful. Once the Imperium is destroyed, our next target will be the Ottzello Sector, but it will be much easier with no Imperium to back them up. The plan will proceed as normal. I will send for someone to delay UNO's inevitable arrival to the scene.
With the king back in their custody, their first course of action would be to free the Unified Nation of Ottzello from the space-time quarantine. The First Fleet, under the control of Grand-Commandant Vekaron, made its way to the Ottzello Sector, where they were accompanied by the Mechanic and his Caretakers; he was able to create a breach in the quarantine small enough for the fleet to go through (through means he refused to elaborate on), but to lift it altogether, they would have to venture inside Ottzello and turn off the space-time bubble from the same planet UNO failed to fight the Loron a year earlier.
Much like before, the world's central device, shaped similarly to a Cold Relay, was placed in a large, green field with an open space, that was still ravaged by Naktor'zak's tank and Brag'klogga's Dark Chronoscopic blasts when they had previously arrived. As Vekaron, Rebaris and the Mechanic arrived through the portal created, they were now able to contact and summon UNOL. The Mechanic brought up a hologram with them all to deliver the news.
- The Mechanic - Hey, Tuolog and friends! Got some great news for ya!
- Kralgon Emperor - Oh, you again.
The Zoles king, in his wounded, scarred and starved form, would step forward so he could be seen by them.
- Rebaris - Falrik Zaarkhun did this... He trapped you here... and we are going to get you out.
- Kralgon Emperor - Well it's about time! Grovelling at our feet, are you? Perhaps you real-
- Tuolog - Enough, Kralgon Emperor. You see clearly what he has been through.
Tuolog and Valzo stepped forward, as the Emperor hung his head in shame.
- Tuolog - We know that what Zaarkhun did to both our people was far worse than any misunderstandings between us. We sorry that we allow you to be captured at our Relay and not able to reinforce you. Let me unequivocally say that you are welcome in Ottzello and that we stand with you to protect your people.
- Rebaris - Thank you... It means much to me.
- Vekaron - Right now, we need to worry about getting rid of this quarantine. I imagine the Caretaker can do that.
- The Mechanic - Yup! Assuming those damn bugs didn't damage it...
- Zr'Ahgloth - WAT YOO TRYNA SAY BOUT DA LORONZ IMMA KNOK YOO OUT
- The Mechanic - Ah, shut yer trap, ye oversized bug! You're all the same, dangit! Stupid, ungrateful kids and their inability to comprehend Cold One technology...
The Mechanic continued to grumble as he made his way towards the device, and began to plug one of hys mechanic arms into it. The device made a whirring noise, before it appeared to activate, and fire a beam up into the sky. The spacetime quarantine was being deactivated. However, as he worked on lifting it, the Imperial troopers defending the installation witnessed shadows growing from the ground as the skies over them grew dark, and soon enough, hordes of bloodthirsty Malcaeum begun manifesting. They had been followed.
- Rebaris - What in our ancestors' name?
- Vekaron - Devourer's Chosen attack!
- Yogtam - Shall we send UNOC to back you up?
- Vekaron - Do so, quickly. They're probably trying to stop us!
A few minutes later, each member of UNOC arrived on scene. They were very familiar with this planet from their ventures here before, but they were more prepared.
- Thr'aloy - DIS DUM PLANET AGEN?
- Darwishi - Aw, hell, I'm pumped! Never had a good fight in...how long we been stuck in this quarantine again?
- Vailisa - The Fist smash punks that try to mess with quarantine machine!
- Dalverat - Let's not screw it up this time, alright?
- Kalcedia - Oh, don't worry about it. I don't commit the same "mistake" twice... on purpose...
- Vaktyl - Bring it on! About time my guns saw some use again!
- Vekaron - Take them all down! Protect the Caretaker and the king!
The Zoles marines and UNOC engaged the Chosen invaders, quickly turning the battlefield red with the blood of demons and butchered Zoles troopers. Their attack was relentless; it was clear they were not there by chance. After minutes of fighting, however, a sound ringed through their ears - it sounded like incessant bawing as an armored Blothnos with charred skin emerged into view, a thick, black aura of nightmarish energies trailing behind him as he appeared to weep in an exaggerated manner.
- Darwishi - Man, who is that UGLY fella?
- Vaktyl - Well, I look forward to wiping him out...
- ??? - The heathens are all here trying to undo the work of the Allied Gods... Disgusting! Revolting!
- Thr'aloy - YA MOMS A HEETHEN FER NOT WORSHIPPIN ROZTAHFLOK
- ??? - I am Stolithik.... Champion of Sorrow... The walking embodiment of the Nightmare God's displeasure with you! I have no eyes and I must cry!
- Lupercal - You will be vanquished!
Lupercal zoomed throughout the battlefield, wiping out many Chosen invaders on his way, and attempted to attack Stolithik head on. The Champion, however, retaliated by letting out a terrible scream, unleashing a shockwave of demonic essence around him; despite his diminutive size, he was clearly the most powerful being the Chosen had brought there. Lupercal was knocked off course. Darwishi immediately flew over to drop bombs on the Champion and attempt to pick Lupercal up, though the explosions were shielded by entropic barriers summoned by Stolithik as he rose his hands over his head.
- Stolithik - UNO stays imprisoned! Imprisoned forever! Let them rot and die for defying That Which Devours!
- Thr'aloy - WEZ NOT GONNA STAY IMPRISONED LOSA COM FITE ME
- Stolthik - I will make you see the error of your ways!
The Blothnos scurried ahead, launching blasts of entropic energy with waves of his hands which struck Zoles marines in his proximity; those hit by the demon's energies found themselves forced to their knees as they appeared to cry against their will. Even the UNOC soldiers would often be forced to at least shed a tear, other than Darwishi, who was practically a robot as it was. He attempted to fly over to his teammates to slap them out of it. However, instead, Vailisa burst out in rage.
- Vailisa - The Fist smash emo bug!
Vailisa made his way towards the Blothnos, and smashed his arm down to try and crush him. Stolithik rose his hands again to create a barrier, though before he had the chance, he found himself struck in the head by a bolt of Dark Chronoscopic essence from Dalverat, allowing the Fist to squash the Champion under his own fist. Stolithik shrieked in pain as he wriggled in place, attempting to get back to his feet while Kalcedia opened fire upon his defenseless form, wiping out a tear of her own.
- Kalcedia - Hmpf, that's today's make-up ruined...
- Vaktyl - Boom, baby!
Vaktyl, too, opened fire, unleashing his chainguns at Stolithik. While many of the shots missed and hit the other Chosen invaders instead, those that hit Stolithik were able to deal significant damage. Vekaron and Rebaris both watched, impressed by UNOC's overwhelming power against a Champion of the Chosen, though it would turn out Stolithik was not the only one who had followed them there. Without warning, a new ship suddenly loomed over the atmosphere of the planet.
It was the Vague mothership. And beaming down into the surface was none other than Dakster, who aimed his desintegrating gun at them.
- Dakster - I will not let you remove the quarantine!
- Vekaron - Oh, you've got to be kidding. First demons, now this?
- Thr'aloy - OH MA DAYZ WHAI DUNT DEY JUS GO AWAY??? This will be a much more significant test of our skills.
- Vaktyl - Damn, not sure I can take that bad boy out...
- Rebaris - The Vague? ... He could disintegrate us all! Or disintegrate the machinery! He needs to be stopped!
- Dakster - The quarantine was the perfect alternative. You could have just stayed trapped here and no more people had to die... You just had to try getting out! Now I have to kill you all!
As each of UNOC prepared to defend while Dakster arrived, they saw a flash of light in front of them, and a gold and green beam fire at the Vague leader, slowing his descent. Tuolog had arrived on scene in person.
- Tuolog - Dakster, you must reconsider your decision. Why you insist that the only way to stop the True Fate is to kill us?
- Dakster - I... I have no choice! You need to be trapped away or die!
- Kalcedia - Well, isn't he the most cheerful little man... At least he has one working hand to make him company.
- Vekaron - How much longer is this gonna take, Caretaker?
- The Mechanic - Can't ya see I'm a little busy here?! Sheesh, no appreciation for the work we do, you younguns have NO appreciation at all!
- Dakster - This doesn't concern you Zoles or Caretakers. But if you stand in my way, I will kill you too!
- Stolithik - You oppose them like we do... You must serve the Allied Gods!
- Dakster - Don't compare me to yourself, you demon filth!
- Tuolog - Dakster, you work with us! We subvert Perfect Fate and True Fate together! You not need destroy us!
- Stolithik - This is all too much... I weep for I will have to leave you to your fate... for now!
As they were distracted by the Vague's arrival, Stolithik and his Malcaeum had the chance to escape, teleporting away from the battlefield. Dakster was clearly confused and enraged by Tuolog's words, almost as if acting against his own will as he begun opening fire at the allied forces, forcing them to dodge to survive; one hit from a Vague's weapon and it was the end for them. Luckily, Lupercal and Darwishi were able to move people out of range quickly enough, while the surprisingly agile Tuolog moved on his own. He fired Chronoscopic blasts at Dakster in an attempt to slow him down, while every chance he got, Vaktyl fired his chainguns and Kalcedia fired her rifle. Vailisa shielded the rest from harm, as it was too risky to attack Dakster in melee range, though despite their efforts, his unnaturally tough hide appeared to shrug off all of their attempts to damage him. Only by Tuolog's essence did he not vaporize all of them.
- Dakster - Stop... resisting! Stop! STOP!
- Tuolog - Do not make us destroy you, Dakster...
- The Mechanic - I've done it!
At that moment, the Mechanic released his cybernetic arm, and the machine began to gear fully into action on its own. The quarantine, at least, was lifted. Suddenly, all of UNO's communicators were able to link to the Zoles Imperium and many of their allies once again.
- The Mechanic - You're free! Woohoohooooo! Free again! Let's celebrate once we kick this slime ball off your planet!
- Dakster - No! You can't destroy me! Nothing can! Stop resisting and die!
- The Mechanic - Geez, you're rude.
The first to arrive to Ottzello space in many Grenzaar years, an Apalos drone came over the planet. They recognized it immediately as a Tokzhalan starship from the Second Ottzello Galactic War, as it sent a holographic transmission as a Tokzhalan.
- Apalos - Good to see that the quarantine has been lifted. I take it you are all aware of the current events unfolding in Imperium space?
- Dalverat - Yes, most unfortunate, but we have a Vague here. Or rather, we have the Vague here.
As Apalos descended on the planet, its Vague-repellent device activated. Dakster's mothership began to retreat, while Dakster himself brought his hands to his face as he appeared to agonize.
- Dakster - Aaah! That infernal weapon! Why do you have that?!
- Apalos - For the same reason most PMCs have it. We acquired it so that you did not interfere with our, in our case covert, War Economy efforts.
- Dakster - Grrr! You're dooming yourselves! Zargoth will have you all! I just wanted to help save the future!
- Apalos - Hmm. "Vague" is a very apt description of you indeed.
- Thr'aloy - lmao burn
Dakster was beamed away from the battlefield as the mothership departed, unable to attack them while the anti-Vague weapon was present. Tuolog watched him go, still with a sense of sorrow in his eyes. While he was unable to reason with Dakster, he knew deep down that Dakster must mean well. He then turned to Rebaris, Vekaron and the Mechanic.
- Tuolog - Thank you very much for freeing us. We make it up to you.
- Vekaron - You can by joining our effort against the Wranploer and their allies. They're tearing us apart out there.
- Tuolog - I foresaw that happening. However, Zaarkhun set many PMCs to guard the Cold Relays to immediately fire on any ship that comes through, if not stop them. He choke reinforcements before they arrive. It very difficult to back you up, but we help you.
- Apalos - You may also want to know you have the backing of the Gigaquadrant community. Aside from us, the Indoctrinate Collective, the Divinarium and the Draconid Imperium have agreed to help our humanitarian efforts here. It is clear that what Falrik Zaarkhun and General Volim have done violates species' rights.
- Dalverat - I know I'll enjoy making them both suffer for every second we've spent trapped here.
- Tuolog - Rebaris, Vekaron. I know there been many misunderstandings between us, but I not need to tell you that now is the time to put them aside. I will make public statements to all Ottzelloans that you are not to blame here. You do the same?
- Rebaris - Already done it. The Western Arm all knows the truth now.
- Tuolog - This is good. We prepare UNO fleets right now.
- Apalos - Our drones have also placed a tracker on Zaarkhun and Volim's ship, the Iron Fist. We believe the best way to stop this attack is to cut it off at the head. If you meet up with our allies, we can lead a joint attack to defeat Zaarkhun and Volim publicly. It will deal a serious blow to the morale of the PMCs, which this attack is reliant on, and many of them will turn away from the War Economy as a failed cause. This might be our best option, since brute force alone does not appear to be a viable strategy.
- Vekaron - We'll do so. We inform everyone and rendezvous to strike at the head of the beast. Volim and Zaarkhun mustn't escape with their lives. This has all gone too far.
- Apalos - Our only caution is that Zaarkhun knows you're coming. He tends to overprepare for things such as this. However, he may not have taken into account how many people will be involved in this assassination attempt, so should you get through to the Iron Fist, you will have a good chance of defeating him in ground combat.
- Vekaron - Let's head out and prepare ourselves. This war will end when we're ready.
The Unstoppable Duo
The Imperial garrison of Vustaoturn held the line against the invading forces serving the Wranploer. Loyal Zoles, Nilito, Samilinus and Heleanorian marines pushed back waves of bandits and mercenaries; the loss of this world would be a heavy blow to the Imperium, for it would allow the PMCs to go closer into the sector and further approach the capital. However, despite their efforts, the Imperium proved itself a far greater foe than they had expected. This was the nation who once subdued the Wranploer Legion before, after all.
Being aware that this world would be heavily fortified and would have come prepared for a Wranploer assault, the main invasion force, led by Genrai Nal and Torrent, consisted not of the typical Wranploer footsoldiers, but of highly trained, and incredibly well-armoured PMC veterans. Each enhanced greatly by drugs, with very expensive armament and highly powered weaponry, the soldiers aimed not to outflank the Zoles as a typical Wranploer Legion force would, but to outgun them. Dropping shuttles with highly advanced soldiers to take the garrison, the PMC force threw all it had to take this world from Imperium control.
It was not an easy battle by any means, but by employing tactics the Zoles were less familiar with, they managed to surprise their opponents at first. Landing alongside several shuttles containing Thugz Fer Dosh soldiers, Genrai Nal and Torrent arrived, with the express purpose of wiping out the chain of command for this planet and allowing it to then be overrun. They landed not in a shuttle, but through a HALO jump, after having dodged the surface-to-air fire, they landed smack in the middle of a platoon of Nilito soldiers, who they cut apart within moments.
- Genrai Nal - Where will the leader of operations on this world be located?
- Torrent - Right... here!
With a swing of his blade, Torrent parried a blow of a Samilinus commander who had attempted to lunge at him. Imperial leaders always fought with their men, that was something he knew after a century of fighting their kind.
- Samilinus - I'll see you all buried in dirt!
Genrai Nal disappeared from sight, meaning the commander could no longer track his movements. The commander wasn't stupid enough to think he had fled, and stayed cautious for his next move. A group of Zoles guards flew over to Torrent by jetpack, but before they could land, Genrai reappeared and jumped up, slicing them all with his blades before landing, and fixing his sight on the commander.
- Genrai Nal - You could just surrender now, and save us the time. But I would prefer you to offer us a challenge.
- Torrent - Nonsense! Imperial scum dies today!
- Samilinus - I will not let you escape this place alive, "Pirate King".
The Samilinus and Torrent exchanged blows, while Zoles gunners opened fire at Genrai Nal. The commander was clearly no rookie, keeping his ground nicely against the Kvargo Admiral; not that he minded, for he enjoyed his enemies much more when they could put up a fight.
Combined, Genrai Nal and Torrent could very likely overwhelm the commander. He realised this, and immediately called for backup to take Genrai Nal out. Believing that Genrai Nal's primary weakness was that he was a close-combat fighter, the commander called forth a battallion of Zoles tanks to follow on from the Zoles gunners that were firing at him. If Genrai attempted to aim for the commander, he would be blasted apart immediately. If he tried to take them all head-on, they would seriously outnumber him and likely shoot him down.
Their first mistake was underestimating the resilience and the speed of Genrai Nal. While each tank was capable of detecting most cloaking devices, they could not detect Genrai's once he disappeared. Within moments of vanishing from sight, he turned up behind one of the tanks and sliced apart its engine, then cut into its hull, and killed the commander. He was gone before he was caught in its explosion. This shocked the battallion, who could not have expected his blades to be nearly this powerful that they could cut through the shields and armour so quickly.
The gunners instead decided to spread their firepower out. If they could not kill Genrai by spotting his cloaking device, then if they fired randomly, at least one shot would hit him. They were right, and before Genrai could reach another tank, his shoulder was hit by the lasers from the gunners. Immediately, the sideguns of the tank and the soldiers fired once his device had disabled and surrounded them, and he sustained damage. But they sorely underestimated his resilience. Instead, he cut through each one of them, jumping from gunner to gunner and outmanouvering them, slicing their limbs apart while dodging their fire, much faster than they could keep up with him. The crew of the remaining tanks could only watch in horror as the blood from his enemies spilled around him, leaving a trail of corpses before he tore apart the final tanks. The rest of the commander's army would be prey to the PMCs, Genrai thought, as he returned to assist Torrent's takedown of the commander.
With a slash of his blade, Torrent tore through the commander's armor and then swung a hand at his throat, clasping into it and raising the Samilinus from the ground, which would be the point he realized his forces had been defeated.
- Torrent - Any last words, vermin?
- Samilinus - ... For the Imperium, terrorist filth.
With an angered growl, Torrent tossed the commander into the ground, near Genrai Nal's feet.
- Genrai Nal - Impressive work. While he was no sluggish opponent, he was no match for you.
- Torrent - Finish him off, will you?
Genrai Nal stomped on the commander, and plunged his arm blade into his heart, then cut his body in half. He did so in one swift and elegant move, as he did not derive pleasure from the deaths of his enemies in the way many of his colleagues do, only from the thrill of battle.
- Genrai Nal - It is done. Our men should be able to take this world. This puts us several steps closer to the conquest of Zoleia, and the defeat of the Zoles Imperium.
- Torrent - Well, that helped stretch out a bit. But the fun is just starting.
Genrai Nal stepped back off the commander's corpse, and nodded to Torrent in respect.
- Genrai Nal - You are a fine fighter, and you battle with a sense of conviction and elegance that I would expect from the Legion's finest. I was not disappointed.
- Torrent - Elegance? ... I wouldn't really call myself elegant. Overwhelming brutality is more like what I aim for.
- Genrai Nal - Overwhelming brutality, when applied correctly, comes off as a solid performance and a very effective way to overcome an opponent, both physically and psychologically.
- Torrent - Well, can't say it doesn't work.
- Genrai Nal - It is a fighting style which you have mastered well. Again, I would expect no less from the Legion's finest.
- Torrent - You're not bad what with your fancy tricks either. But I don't need that kind of junk to kill these dogs.
- Genrai Nal - Fair enough. I have respect for one who chooses to fight without attempting to fool or outsmart his opponents as I do - though it does not work in every situation. I choose my fighting style because it is more adaptible.
- Torrent - Anyway, back to the shuttle so we can take a breather and move out to the next.
At that point, as they both expected, a hologram of Falrik Zaarkhun appeared.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Both of you are required to return to the ship. Gol'thabex can take over this army in your stead.
- Torrent - Why? We've not done yet.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The assassination attack that I've predicted is now taking place. I won't try to prevent them from boarding the Iron Fist, but I'll have you both take care of them and wipe out their leadership.
- Torrent - Well, you're stupid. But alright. We're on the way.
The hologram closed, as another Thugz Fer Dosh shuttle arrived.
- Genrai Nal - I have doubted Falrik Zaarkhun before, but he has very frequently proven me wrong. I imagine this will be the case here as well.
- Torrent - I get the two of you are close or something so I'll just keep quiet.
- Genrai Nal - Falrik is the only person who I can trust. This is a mutual feeling. In this line of work, someone like that, as you know, is extremely valuable.
- Torrent - Well, it'd be a shame if he lost his head because he let the Zoles in his ship then. Let's get moving.
As they made their way to their own shuttle, Gol'thabex and several Thugz hopped out of theirs to assume command.
- Gol'thabex - sup, time ta smak. jus tell me wher da target is.
The two awkwardly looked at each other, and pointed to the Samilinus commanders' corpse behind them. Gol'thabex looked over their shoulder, and shrugged.
- Gol'thabex - huh. typical.
Battle at the Iron Fist
With the extragalactics bolstering the fleets of the Zoles Imperium and the Unified Nation, the Zoles Imperium began to push back against the combined fleets of the PMC factions. This was now the perfect time to strike. Apalos knew exactly where to take the small task force, led by Vekaron, Xeron and Tuolog, to assassinate Zaarkhun and end the battle right there. The three of them, along with UNOC, the Mechanic and the forces they brought with them, teleported directly inside the enormous command bridge of Volim and Zaarkhun.
The gold-plated bridge seemed almost completely empty at first, and could definitely fit the entire task force and Apalos drones. It was easily large enough for almost an entire Zoles army, for Zaarkhun loved to flaunt his wealth, and was almost half a kilometer long. Indeed, at the very end of the room sat Volim and Zaarkhun on their thrones, currently watching a galactic map. The young Hachiman had been brought alongside the Indoctrinate Collective taskforce led by Captain Vyutrin, and he showed enthusiasm in his expression - it was the first time he was brought along for a mission, though he was very quickly distracted by the gold-plated decorations of the bridge.
- Hachiman - Yay, my first mission! ... Wow, this place is nice!
- Vyutrin - Heads up, kid! This is where you either kill or you die. No in-between!
- Xeron - Damn straight! We've come to tear the place apart!
Zaarkhun and Volim were aware of their arrival. Quickly deployed were dozens of Wranploer bodyguards teleporting in ready to fight them off, wearing much tougher armour than a typical infantryman was equipped with. An endless supply of them would burst through the hidden doors on the sides ready to strike at them, perhaps knowing that they would not be able to stop the task force but doing what they could to delay it.
- Volim - You aliens are so predictable. We knew you'd try this kind of thing!
- Vekaron - Put down your weapons and surrender, and there may yet be a chance you'll not die today.
- Xeron - Hah! Good joke! Let's not kid ourselves here, we're going to crush your skulls to paste!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - I know liars when I see them...for I have mastered the art of deception. We're not going to turn into you. Your authority over this galaxy is discredited. You and your elite class of rulers shall no longer have a say over the lives of us in Borealis. Freed from the shackles of your governments, they shall propser far greater than they ever did under your rule. And your greatest fear is that your grip on them is coming to an end!
- Vyutrin - What a load of crap. You're as much of an alien as I am.
- Volim - But unlike you, he is my alien. He speaks for the Wranploer Legion, and we say, your death has come!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Sollow! Genrai! Rip them to shreds!
- Hachiman - What kind of name is "Sorrow"?
- Sollow - Ahem! It's Sollow! I swear, the nerve of these people.
Genrai Nal quickly teleported in front of Vyutrin and swung both of his blades. The Spinker Captain jumped back and fired his rifle to defend himself, followed by the rest of his squad who focused fire on the Inalton. In the meantime, Sollow charged into the fray, throwing arrays of knives at the allied forces as they exchanged fire with the Wranploer squad. With a swing of his metallic fist, Xeron struck one of the Wranploer bodyguards across the head, sending him flying across the chamber and colliding with more of his kind, though more of them emerged from the entrances as sirens flared across the spaceship.
In UNOC, Genrai Nal had finally met his match. The speed and strength of each of their members was something that even he struggled to keep up with, as their moves were much tricker to predict. Nonetheless, Genrai was able to catch and stab Zelfron III and throw Lupercal off guard, and just about able to resist Vailisa's punches, though he was unable to take any of them down, or not easily. Tuolog himself attempted to aid UNOC, though he found himself having to provide more assistence to the soldiers dealing with Sollow. The sheer number of heavily armoured Wranploer overwhelmed much of the task force. While the Zoles fought the Wranploer, Vekaron was taken back as, in the midst of the gunfire, Torrent emerged and clashed blades with him, bringing them both to a stalemate as the vicious warlord glared into the Zoles' eyes.
- Torrent - Why, hello, old friend! It's been a while!
- Vekaron - I was hoping to not come across your bad breath in this operation.
- Torrent - Well, I'm sorry to disappoint. Die!
While the two faced off with one another, the Collective task force turned their fire to Sollow, who endured their gunfire while using thrown knives to incapacitate their ranks; his nanomachine-made body allowed him to regenerate faster than they could destroy him. He would, however, stop on his tracks as he felt the sensation of a blade entering the side of his torso; turning his head, he was met to the sight of Hachiman, who struck him without notice.
- Sollow - ... Oh no, you didn't.
- Hachiman - O-Oh, hi! I thought you were one of those Wranploer guys! N-No need to get mad at me for it, since you can clearly heal and all.
- Sollow - Nice try, but no. I'll tear those ears from your head now.
- Hachiman - Eeep!
Amidst the chaos, several of the Zoles and Niaka forces found themsleves being destroyed by exploding bullets, and unable to track the source of them. It clearly wasn't coming from any of the Wranploer bodyguards, nor from the three usual suspects. When turning around, Apalos and Tuolog noticed that Zaarkhun himself had joined the fray, slowly walking towards the battlefield, and firing his weapons. His shots were devastatingly accurate, many of them perfectly ricocheting off a gold wall designed exactly for them to do so. The soldiers attempted to fire at Zaarkhun, but all of their shots missed. While melee attacks could work on him, none of them were able to reach him without Genrai or Sollow stopping them before they could, or without him firing an exploding bullet straight between their eyes just as they thought they were able to approach. Zaarkhun chuckled as he realised that the entire battle was under his control. Meanwhile, the Wranploer General watched the whole fight with an increasingly angered expression; he was upset the allied forces were lasting as long as they did. With a press of a button on his throne, part of the floor in front of it opened to reveal a weapon; a large minigun-like energy weapon, which he took with both hands and opened fire at the allies, instantly killing many Zoles and Niaka on the first burst of fire.
- Volim - Typical. I have to do everything around here! Get out of my ship, you vermin!
- Vyutrin - Watch out, men! The mouths with legs can actually fire guns!
- Kalcedia - I'll show you the mouth with legs, hm hm.
- Hachiman - ... Oooh, please do!
- Kalcedia - Hmm, now what is this? A young pretty boy in the middle of a fire fight?
- Hachiman - Ooh! She called me pretty, Vyutrin!
- Vyutrin - Do I look like I care!? I'm trying to not die here!
Not only did Volim and Zaarkhun themselves join the fray, but countless more Wranploer bodyguard reinforcements arrived. It was clear that they had been more prepared than had been expected.
- Tuolog - I no longer certain of our odds here...you have thoughts?
- Apalos - It was expected that Zaarkhun would overprepare for this situation, and that Volim would wish to flaunt his power to those who dare to challenge him. Though I agree that we underestimated how much they would pour into their defences here. It might be necessary for us to call reinforcements should the situation become more dire.
The forces soon became almost depleted. Several of the UNOC members were slowing down heavily and had just been unable to catch their main targets, while Xeron and Vekaron were dealing with too many threats at once. The Niaka Chief Minor had now attempted to take out Zaarkhun himself, by throwing his suit's arms in an attempt to choke the Heeyorian businessman with them. Instead, Genrai Nal teleported in front of Zaarkhun, sliced the suits arms off, and kicked it down. Zaarkhun leaned over at the Niaka.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Your kind have no vision at all. You wish to police the people of Borealis and tread on their rights as tyrants, then have the nerve to call us the criminals ruining their lives. You have no business in this galaxy, and I look forward to your end.
- Xeron - You got a lot of nerve trying to make yourself the nice guy when you work with the galaxy's greatest tyrant, outsider!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - The real tyrants are you. You tread on our rights and liberties under the guise of "policing" us, you claim you have the right to determine which of us can live or die! But I am not like you, I believe in second chances. I give you this one chance: join your real kind with Xoraika, or I will fire this bullet straight through your suit and through your skull.
- Xeron - You work with Xoraika too?! I'd spit on you if it weren't for the steel separating me from you.
Before Zaarkhun had his chance, however, the ship immediately shook. A portal opened up above Zaarkhun, whose eyes widened as he stepped back and fell to the ground in horror. Tuolog too had a shocked expression on his face, as out of the Dark Chronoscopic portal created came Durzhan.
- Durzhan - Oh, carry on. The violence here was most pleasing.
- Vekaron - What in the ancestors' name?!
- Vyutrin - ... Demon attack incoming!
From out of the portal, the hissing growls of Shu'olerthae were heard as they began pouring out of it, bringing with them a thick black fog of nightmarish energy which nearly blocked their view. Allied and Wranploer soldiers alike were swarmed by the demonic parasites, and Volim roared in rage as he opened fire, perplexed by the entire situation; demons were invading his ship yet again. However, he would drop his weapon as he was struck from behind, a furious groan behind his ear as Arberkul the Cruel ambushed him, sending the mighty general into the ground.
- Arberkul - I warned you... there would be consequences to your BLASPHEMY!
- Vekaron - What is happening?!
- Apalos - Well, one thing is for certain: we definitely were not prepared for this.
- Tuolog - Durzhan! What you intend to do?!
Durzhan turned towards Tuolog and grinned a little.
- Durzhan - Ahh...just like your do-gooder father. So naive in fighting against what you know would benefit you.
- Tuolog - Father?...What you talking about? What you plan to do here?!
- Durzhan - Bring along the other Leaders. We wish to speak with them. And get this squirming Heeyorian out of my sight.
True to his word, Zaarkhun lay their in terror. He believed he had protected his ship against further invasion from extradimensional gods - the one thing he feared - but Durzhan was able to infiltrate with ease. He knew then his plans were ruined, but it was not what his mind was focusing on. He would have to think fast to fight to survive here.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - You can't take me...I won't cooperate! And if you try and kill me, then I unleash the Secre-
- Durzhan - I don't want to kill you. In fact I don't want to kill anyone. Not unless they interfere with my plan. Tuolog, warp in the rest of UNOL and I will let Xeron and Vekaron live.
- Hachiman - W-What about me, huh?!
- Vyutrin - You live to serve, and you serve to your death.
- Hachiman - I didn't sign up for this!
Tuolog paused for a moment, but ultimately did not want to risk the lives of anyone on the ship. He nodded slowly, teleported UNOC away, but warped the rest of UNOL inside.
- Zr'Ahgloth - man WAT DID YA DO DAT FOR??? oh ma dayz dis ship is UGLI AS SIN
- Volim - You have your aliens, now get your damned demons out of my ship!
- Arberkul - You'll watch like the limp, bleeding dog you are!
- Kralgon Emperor - Tuolog, is that...is that the one you warned us about? Explain.
- Durzhan - It will all be explained in time.
Now, the portal above them began to pull the rest of them into it, functioning almost like a black hole.
- Arberkul - Heretics! Today, you shall meet... your maker! To Sequencium with you all!
The entirety of UNOL, along with Vekaron, Xeron, Apalos, the Indoctrinate Collective and indeed the leadership of the BCN, had been thrust into Sequencium. None of them were able to move, they were each suspended in time. There was nothing there. The entire "room" was completely pitch black and devoid of light at first. They could not even hear or see Durzhan. The allies looked around in confusion for as much as they were able; trapped in place, there was nothing they could do. Thankfully, at least, it appeared there was no sight of the Corruptus anymore.
- Hachiman - I'll tell you, this isn't what I expected my first mission to be.
- Tuolog - Any of you can move?
- Vuytrin - Negative. Can't even feel my legs.
- Xeron - Is this the afterlife? If it is, then yickes, it's garbage.
- Tuolog - This not afterlife. But it is a fifth dimensional realm.
- ??? - Correct.
From nowhere, a deep, booming, but pitchless voice could be heard filling the entire room. The pitch black now lit up, instead becoming totally pitch white. However, it still did not feel as if anything to them should be there. They still did not have any perceivable floor or ceiling, and the area extended endlessly. But they could now see one another, and could begin to make out the shape of Zargoth, along with Durzhan in front of him.
- Zargoth - Welcome to mine and Volzara's realm of Sequencium. Here, you follow our rules.
- Vekaron - ... Who in the galaxy is that?
- ??? - You speak to Vyro'Ralzora, lord of time. Show some respect, mortal wretch.
From behind them emerged the shape of Zr'An'Kar - Kolossus. Unlike the rest of the realm around them, a visible aura of darkness surrounded his being as he looked down upon them.
- Zargoth - I am sure you will familiarise yourself with my rules soon enough, but these are far different rules you obey than the rules which govern your third dimensional realm. And here, they are determined by me. Ottzelloans who are members of the Unified Nation of Ottzello Leaders, you may now control your mortal bodies.
As he spoke, each of UNOL fell on a "floor", and then stood up. True to Zargoth's word, they were able to move around as if they were standing on a solid surface, and had proper control over themselves.
- Zargoth - Durzhan has brought each of you here so that we can formally make our offer to you.
- Zr'Ahgloth - DIS BETTA INVOLVE SUM PIZZA I CANT DEEL WIT DIS ATM
- Kolossus - You be quiet.
- Zr'Ahgloth - OH MA DAYZ DA LOSA GOD MAN WHAI IS YOO HEER I DONT LIKE YOO NO MORE GET A LIFE
- Kolossus - Ahahaha! You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to bring Hagto'Zhl here now. Just to spite you.
- Zr'Ahgloth - ... ya cant be serious
- Hachiman - Baptarion calls me "petty" a lot. I don't know what that means, but I'm pretty sure you're more of that than me.
With a wave of his hand, a black mist manifested in the "room" a short distance away from UNOL, and from it, the leaders of Da Rogue Boyz appeared; they were all frozen in place like the others, save for their heads, and they looked around in great confusion as they were teleported in.
- Fre'kloar - ... WOAH WAT DA HELL?????????????????????
- Hagto'Zhl - DA HELL IS DIS? SOM SORTA FEVA DREEM? ... OH MA DAYZ COPYCAT DUMBO YOR EVEN IN MA FEVA DREEMS NAO
- Zr'Ahgloth - MAN DIS IS LITERALLY HELL
- Kolossus - Close, but we'll get there soon.
- Tuolog - It...not Hell at all. You so silly sometimes.
- Hagto'Zhl - LMAO YOO GOT PWNED BY YA LIL GREEN FREND GEEZA
- Kolossus - Now shut up. The master wishes to speak.
Zargoth awaited their collective silence, and once they complied, he spoke.
- Zargoth - The time has now come for you each to hear my offer, which you cannot possibly refuse. But first, I will get you reacquainted with the one who wanted to see your demise so as to deny you of this gift.
Warped right in front of Zargoth, Dakster appeared, broken and shaken from being thrust into the realm, and screeching in agony as usual. He appeared far weaker here, as if he had no power. Durzhan immediately flew over to spite him.
- Vekaron - The Vague leader!
- Xeron - Well, looks like these whatever-they-are's aren't a big fan of him either.
- Dakster - Let... go of me... fiend!
- Durzhan - You. You wanted to stop the Perfect Fate. Once we are done here, I ensure that your final days here will be almost as painful as your days now.
- Dakster - You couldn't... possibly make this suffering... worse.
- Kolossus - You forget who you speak to, "Vague". You speak to your makers.
- Zargoth - Yes, you speak with those who gave you life.
- Tuolog - I knew it! Vague come from Vyro'Ralza!
- Zargoth - And who have, up until this point, tolerated your continued existence against our will. Indeed, the Vague complied with our offer up until the very final minute, at which point they became a failed experiment. Allow me to explain.
In front of Zargoth appeared the corpses of a Vague, which split into the corpse of an ancient creature they had not seen before and that of an Ottzel.
- Zargoth - The Vague are the fusion of two species which were the dominant kings of their galaxy: the Ottzel and what you call "Cold Ones". The goal was to create a fifth dimensional creature that would serve a vital purpose to the spacetime continuum. Alas, as they refused to cooperate in the final test, they were left to the fourth dimension as the abomination that they are today. Seeking vengeance against us, they take their wrath out on the defenceless Ottzelloans.
- Durzhan - Yes, the Ottzelloans, who had done nothing to deserve oppression from the Vague, were who they lashed out at first!
- Dakster - You gave me no choice! ... Every time I tried to explain myself, I-
- Kolossus - Suffered an unimaginable surge of pain and agony across your body and soul? I do wonder where that came from.
- Dakster - I hate you... You gave me no alternative... but to spare them the suffering by killing them...
- Durzhan - Suffering? You would have them believe that the offer we are giving them is suffering? Who exactly are you to decide whether they should take up our offer or not? Ottzelloans, do you really believe your persecuter here? You believe the one who has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of your families, stripped entire planets of lives, all out of spite against our makers!
- Dakster - I did it because he wants to turn you into demons!
Tuolog and the rest of UNOL scratched their heads in confusion. The rest of the onlookers watched these gods bicker amongst themselves unable to work out what they were referring to. However, eventually a few of them managed to connect some dots in their heads.
- Xeron - Any idea what's going on?
- Vuytrin - None whatsoever.
- Apalos - Hmmm. I...might just know what they are referring to.
- Hachiman - I hope they're done with it soon. I really gotta go to the bathroom.
- Fre'kloar - SHUT YA TRAP YA STOOPID RABBIT FINGIE, MAN I WISH I CULD EET YAS
- Brag'klogga - YEH HERETIKS!!! YOO CANT UNDASTANDA DA WORK OF DA GODZ
- Knar'gank - yoo dont kno wats goin on eitha
- Brag'klogga - WELL yoo mite be rite BUT WES WAY BETTA THAN DEM, AT LEEST
- Hagto'Zhl - YO DAD, YOO GOT AN OFFA FER US AFTA UNO?
Kolossus' eyes narrowed as he looked down at the Rogue Leedas; while they and their people looked up to him as a god, he saw them as an even greater failed experiment than the Vague, though he faked a smile as he spoke.
- Kolossus - Of course, at some point. As long as you stay quiet.
The Loron looked at one another gleefully, as Zargoth awaited silence.
- Zargoth - Ottzelloans of the Unified Nation, I offer you the opportunity to truly become the success that the Vague could not become. I offer you the opportunity to morph into a deific being, combining the strengths of all of your diverse species into one mighty extradimensional form with the powers of manipulation of space and time greater than that of the Vyro'Narza themselves. You have met these beings before.
- Dakster - He wants... to turn you into the first generation of Vyro'Ralza! That's the Perfect Fate!
- Durzhan - Yes, the Vyro'Ralza are the Ottzelloans from the timeline in which they accepted this offer. And now, you have the opportunity to become that timeline. Become greater than anything you could have ever imagined. You will no longer suffer as your third dimensional mortal selves have done for years, in a universe that has not wanted you.
Durzhan looked towards Vekaron and Xeron, and spited them.
- Durzhan - No longer will you reside in a galaxy that wishes to banish you to an eternity of quarantine,
He then looked towards Zaarkhun,
- Durzhan - To exterminate you or to corrupt your organisations for power and greed,
And finally, he turned towards the Rogue Boyz:
- Durzhan - Or to devour you as part of a cynical game to prove who is superior. No, you for once will become the ultimate masters of your destiny as you transcend your mortal selves! This is an offer that you cannot refuse. Abandon your past lives and become deifacted, or return to them, and continue to suffer at their hands.
The onlookers appeared surprised and confused by the offer, though not as much as the Ottzelloans themselves; for all of their history, Zargoth and the Traffphyds had done nothing but attempt against their lives, and yet now they were being offered a chance to become the very beings they spent so many years combating.
- Hachiman - Oh damn!
- Xeron - This makes no sense!
- Vekaron - ... Deific?
- Vuytrin - Bah. Demon lies. You are just like the Corruptus.
- Zr'Ahgloth - YOR SAYIN... WE CAN BECOM AS GODS???
- Hagto'Zhl - MAN I CANT WAIT TO SEE OUR OFFA. BUT ANYWAYZ DIS SOUNDS SIK BUT KNOWIN UNO DEYZ PROBZ GONNA GIV UP DIS OPPORTUNITY LMAO WAT MORONZ
- Kralgon Emperor - ... After an entire life of suffering, you say it was all a test, and that our destiny is... to become gods of the fifth dimension?
Each of UNOL looked towards Tuolog as if he knew something they didn't, but he did not. They then looked back towards Zargoth.
- Zargoth - It is not only I who intended this destiny for you, but Volzara herself, and the Taldar. They too wished for you to ascend to the fifth dimension, just as they themselves ascended from their mortal forms to become Vyro'Narza. This is the fate they intended for you.
- Feldosia - ... Could it be true? Is this truly our fate?
- Kralgon Emperor - I could have the power to undo an entire galaxy at will...
- Yogtam - Such power...I do not know if we are fit for it...
- Tuolog - I...I very wary of such an offer...but I have no reason to believe they lying to us...the Taldar did intend a fate similar to this for us...
- Kolossus - They intended this fate. Your Perfect Fate. Become Perfect!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Bah...I know a good salesman when I see one, Zargoth...
- Zargoth - Ah, Zaarkhun. How I have missed controlling you. I admit, I laugh when I watch you scheme in much the same way as I once did. You learnt many things from me, but you are far from a threat to me still.
Everyone seemed horrified that UNO was very close towards making this decision, and baffled still that they would place their trust in Durzhan after all he had done. But the power strongly tempted them, and those who had been through the dystopian fate that Ottzello had seen would be very willing to let it all go. Before they could make any decision, however, they heard Dakster as he continued to struggle.
- Dakster - Don't listen to them! Don't forget all they made you go through your entire lives! This is nothing but a ploy; Zargoth serves the Xhodocto and can never be trusted!
- Durzhan - As opposed to what Dakster made you go through? He was once one of you, yet the second he became a fourth dimensional being he worked to exterminate you all?
- Dakster - You made me do it! I was forced! Whenever I tried dialog, you would torture me and all those other Vague you created!
- Durzhan - Come on, Ottzelloans, you cannot believe this traitor to your kind, can you? He would exterminate you, and why? Because he does not trust you to make the right decision here! He has no faith in your ability to make your own choices! He wants to determine your fate for you! At least we gave you a choice.
- Dakster - There is no right decision because this is a scam! Becoming Vyro'Ralza is not the fate the Taldar had in mind for any of us! We're not meant to become the pawns of demons!
- Durzhan - Pawns of demons? You want them to stay trapped in their third dimensional mortal bodies, doomed to have a set date in which time determines when their life begins and ends? As opposed to becoming masters of their own destiny?
- Dakster - At least they'll have lives! The Vyro'Ralza are but empty, emotionless husks... As are you, Durzhan! When was the last time you've felt actual happiness in your life?!
- Durzhan - You would smear me, you failed experiment? You have no respect for your former peers, who you slaughtered endlessly out of mistrust, and none for your makers either.
- Voa'reak - man i hav NO idea wats goin on but im LOVIN it. did any of yoo blokes bring popcorn?
- Zalk'don - in case ya forgot WES STUK IN PLACE MAN
- Voa'reak - man we gotta becom overly prepared like zaarkhun. i bet he has pocorn wi him
- Grak'tona - dunno bout yoo but da king is BORED OF DIS. LIKE SERIUSLY DIS ISNT DAT ENTERTAININ. MA ROYAL ENTERTAINMENT DEMANDS BETTA. OI GOD BOI MAKE STOOF HAPPEN
- Kolossus - Silence, vermin, before I unmake you molecule by molecule!
As usual, Zargoth awaited the collective silence of the room. He was a timeless being, and had no concept of patience or lack thereof. To him, UNOL could take as long to decide as he wanted. The same could not be said about Kolossus, however, who grew increasingly annoyed by Dakster's interference. However, Zargoth wanted to give them a few final words.
- Zargoth - The important factor in determining whether the Vague would succeed or not was that of consent. They did not consent when the process began, and thus, we failed just as we reached the final stages. That is why, Ottzelloans, we are giving you full autonomy, full choice in choosing your fate here. Should you accept my offer, you will become more powerful and become free of the shackles of your third dimensional body. Should you reject, you will return to your past life.
- Dakster - I am a testament of what happens when you don't do as he wishes... He'd turn you into his slaves!
- Kolossus - I've had enough of you.
Stretching his massive arm, Kolossus forcefully took Dakster from Zargoth's grasp and begun crushing the Vague in his grasp, causing him to scream in agony as the Vyro'Ralza burned in anger. Zargoth awaited the silence once more, and allowed UNOL to move again. They spoke to themselves quietly. They thought back, and could trust neither side here fully. They could certainly not trust Durzhan, given his long history of interferance in the galaxy, but his actions made far more sense now. They definitely could not trust Dakster either, given what the Vague had been doing to the Ottzello Sector and how they were largely responsible for their imprisonment, but his actions, too, made much more sense to them.
Eventually, Tuolog stepped forward. For the first time ever, a small grin formed on Zargoth's face. Was he starting to...feel emotion? Tuolog cleared his throat, as all of the onlookers' hearts beated rapidly, awaiting his word.
- Tuolog - We have considered your offer, and we reject it. We shall live our lives in control of our own fate, but as third dimensional beings.
Vekaron, Xeron, Vuytrin and Hachiman all looked at the Unified Nation Leaders with uncertainly as they gave their answer, while the Rogue Leedas all begun to boo them in unison. Kolossus' eyes narrowed as his demonic aura flared, a great rage building into the mighty demon as, with one thug of his fingers, he snakked Dakster's body in half, angrily throwing him into the 'floor' as the Vague passed out from pain. Durzhan, meanwhile, looked both dismayed at his own failure, and horrified about what Zargoth would do. He turned towards Zargoth, whose grin had been replaced with an expressionless face.
- Zargoth - Durzhan, you assured me that this timeline was Perfect.
- Durzhan - I...I don't know what went wrong! What could have happened???
- Zargoth - Hmph. I have no need for you, or for this timeline. Zr'An'Kar, I leave you to determine what becomes of it now. We shall use it for the True Fate instead.
- Kolossus - Destruction! Utter annihilation!
- Zargoth - So be it. We will allow them to return to their dimension, and there we shall ruin it.
- Kolossus - Let them. I want them to watch their galaxy be consumed by the consequences of their defiance! You will pay for this, mortal scum!
- Hachiman - Aw, guys, you blew it!
Zargoth and Kolossus then vanished, leaving behind a portal back to the third dimension. Everyone was now able to move, and made a dash to go through the portal, but quickly it was again sealed. Durzhan levitated in front of it, and they could see his expression had turned into pure anger.
- Durzhan - No! I have not planned so much, waited for so long, just for you to ruin everything! You will become Vyro'Ralza whether you want it or not!
- Tuolog - We not let you decide our fate! You have done enough damage to our people for us to let you do more!
Tuolog readied his staff, as each of UNOL fired their weapons at him. With a swing of his hand, a dark shield materialized to protect him as Durzhan fired a stream of Dark Chronoscopic essence from his fingers; upon impacting with the floor, the entire realm around them shimmered and shook as great golden boulders of solid Chronoscopic energy were launched through the area; a glimpse of the realm's true form, turned into debris by the fight.
Even the BCN leadership and Da Rogue Boyz turned on Durzhan, attempting to hit him with their own weapons. Zaarkhun's shots were far less precise than usual, his fear of extradimensionals directly impacting his combat abilities, but he was nonetheless fueled by rage against them. The Loron each fired their weapons.
- Durzhan - You have nerve turning your weapons at me, Loron!
- Hagto'Zhl - TBH MAN WE JUS LIKE FITIN AND WE WANNT FITE YOO NAO LMAO
- Brag'klogga - DA HOLY BOOKS NEVA SED ANYFIN BOUT WORSHIPPIN YOO, YOR JUS AN IMPOSTA
- Durzhan - And you, Zaarkhun... You are nothing but a pawn. My pawn! All you have achieved is my design!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Damn you gods...you're all the same, thinking you can control us! But you underestimate what we are capable of!
- Vekaron - You're not alone in this. We'll provide what help we can.
- Vyutrin - Take that cultist down! With extreme prejudice!
- Xeron - Oh, my favorite type of prejudice!
Tuolog fired his most powerful Chronoscopic blasts that he could at the demon, while boosting the powers of UNOL. Zr'Ahgloth charged head first towards Durzhan and swung his fist, his empowered strength shattering his Dark Chronoscopic shield and sending him flying backwards. Durzhan had no time to regain his composure as he was shot across the torso by Vekaron, Xeron and Vyutrin, causing him to grunt in pain as he sent another beam of essence at their direction.
- Durzhan - Stay out of this!
- Fre'kloar - WOW GEE MAYBE DEYD STAY OUT OF IT IF YOU LET DEM LEEVE DA RELM YA FREEKIN MORON
- Zr'Ahgloth - FER ONCE I AGREE WIV FREKLOAR MAN YOR A FLIPPIN IDIOT
- Fre'kloar - YEH...wait wat? i agree wiv Zr'Ahgloth? OH MA DAYZ YOO MADE ME AGREE WIV ZRAHGLOGHT NAO IM MOAR MAD AT YOO AAAAAAAH
Charging energy into himself, the Katel warlord was engulfed in darkness; the realm shook more around them as he channeled its energies, preparing a mighty blast at them.
- Durzhan - You'll become Vyro'Ralza even if you must be charred, burnt corpses-Aaaaaaaaaaagh!!
Before he had the chance to attack, a beam of bright, green energy struck Durzhan from behind, causing the Katel to shriek in agony as his body begun to disintegrate from waist down; behind him was Dakster, his two halves slowly connecting again by what looked like liquid, metallic blood joining the two together, firing his disintegrating beam at Durzhan with a fierce look upon his tortured face. As his legs vanished from sight, the Katel clenched his fists in rage as he was forced to retreat, teleporting away from the realm before Dakster had the chance to completely disintegrate him.
Tuolog and the others lowered their weapons and turned towards Dakster. As Dakster did not immediately fire upon them, and did not seem to have any reason to target them any further, he assumed that Dakster would now be on their side.
- Tuolog - Your actions make sense to us. We still not happy about all of what you did, but we believe that you may not have been given a choice.
- Zr'Ahgloth - HAO IS YOO ALIVE MAN KOLOSSUS SNAPPED YAS IN HALF
- Dakster - We Vague... are tougher than we look...
- Tuolog - Our galaxy likely now under threat from the real Vyro'Ralza. Kolossus want to exact vengeance upon it. You help us?
- Dakster - He has tortured you... and all the beings he used to create the Vague... I swear to you, we will hunt Zargoth down... to the ends of reality if we must!
- Tuolog - In that case, we forgive you. And we happy to accept you as an ally.
Dakster then reopened the portal, but just as he did, the group noticed Fre'kloar and the other Rogue Boyz coalesce around one of the Chronoscopic boulders that had fallen from earlier.
- Fre'kloar - ooooooh...shiny...lets take it as a souvenir yeh?
- Jol'kiar - WOAH MAN DIS IS DA LARGEST GOLD NUGGET I EVA SEEN. FOR SUR
- Grak'tona - AS KING I DECLARE DIS TA BE MA PROPERTY
- Hagto'Zhl - YEH WATEVA JUS START CARRYIN. HEAVE-HO
The Loron picked it up, and then ran for it. The rest of the group noticed quickly and looked shocked.
- Tuolog - They take that shard with them?! But it would have untold power if used in third dimension...we must stop them!
- Hachiman - Urm, what was that rock?
- Dakster - It's not really a rock per se... more like a chunk of solid, pure Chronoscopic essence.
- Kralgon Emperor - What did these idiots do?!
Before they could catch up to them, the Loron had already fled, to their annoyance. They then turned to the BCN leadership. Zaarkhun, Volim, Genrai, Sollow and Torrent made a dash for the portal, unwilling to stay with the heroes any longer.
- Tuolog - No, do not let them get away too!
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Catch us if you can!
- Volim - Damnit it all, I don't know who to blame for all this, but once I'm back to my ship, you can be sure I'm going to blame someone for this entire incident!
The allied group were far more prepared this time, with many charging towards the portal to take them out. Zaarkhun, Genrai and Sollow attempted to stall for time, with Zaarkhun firing his bullets and Sollow throwing knives to try and knock them off course. However, eventually Zr'Ahgloth was able to catch Genrai, while Xeron, Vekaron and the rest of UNOL were able to subdue the weakened Sollow and Falrik. Volim and Torrent, however, had successfully made it out alive; the General left without as much of a word, while Torrent took his time to look back at the captured Zaarkhun and let out a sharp chuckle as they escaped.
- Kralgon Emperor - Good! Kill them right here!
- Yogtam - No...we need them alive. They will have valuable information about the Consortium Network that we will need if we are to stop them completely.
- Tuolog - Yes. Keep them alive, but imprison them.
- Vyutrin - You could hand over the scum to us. The Indoctrinate Collective has... special ways of dealing with terrorists.
- Tuolog - That is possible.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Typical statists imprisoning opponents who wish to fight for their liberty...bah. You are foolish, for Volim and Torrent have escaped.
- Vyutrin - How much do you value this one's body? Because I could see him working as one of the Punished...
- Vekaron - With all due respect, let the Unified Nation imprison them. I've heard of what the Collective does to its undesirables... and it's a little too much.
- Vyutrin - Bah! And I thought you Zoles had a strong composure.
- Tuolog - Indeed, we shall imprison them in a private prison held in deep space. Should they escape the solitary confinement, they will have nowhere to go but to choke or freeze to death in space.
- Xeron - I'd rather crush his head under my mecha's foot, but that's good enough, I guess. The Chief Major is going to be pleased! ... Well, with this, at least. She'll probably be angry at the whole "angry time god" part of my report.
- Hachiman - I still have no idea what happened, and I still need to go to the bathroom!
- Vyutrin - Let's make our leave. I don't want to spend anymore time here than I have to.
- Falrik Zaarkhun - Heh. Good luck...you know that what will happen next to this galaxy is far worse than anything I could have done to it. You will need my help if you are to survive what comes next from the time gods.
- Tuolog - Let us be on our way for now. We can discuss our next course of action when we are out of this realm.
After chaining Zaarkhun, Sollow and Genrai Nal together and injecting them with nanomachines that prevented them from moving, the group all left through the portal, from which Dakster was able to return them to their ships.
The invasion of the Zoles Imperium had mostly halted for now, with Zaarkhun imprisoned and with the PMC fleet heavily damaged. However, this meant that with the damage the Zoles Imperium had sustained from the PMC and BCN forces, and the damage UNO had sustained from the Vague before, both of the largest allied factions in Borealis had been heavily weakened, and now an unpredictable god was on the loose to destroy their galaxy for his own cynical purposes. It was clear they would need one another's help more than ever, and would possibly need great help from the extragalactic forces as well.
Zaarkhun's dream of a galaxy of anarchy had so far been crushed, but there were far more dangers to the galaxy coming next...