- 1 The Kidnapping
- 2 The Hybrid Emperor
- 3 The Call
- 4 Pre-Mission Banquet
- 5 Judgement Before Divines
- 6 Operation: Trojan
- 7 Cargohold D8
- 8 The Freighter
- 9 The Eternal Palace
- 10 Change Of Plan
- 11 Things get Complicated
- 12 Amesai
- 13 Things Get Worse
- 14 Playing Games
- 15 Wrath of the Emperor
- 16 Zr'An'Kar's Displeasure
- 17 Navigation
Vetarion was looking at a screen showing the Brood Fleet. In the centre whas the Ghost of the Warrior Tyraz's personal flagship. Vetarion himself was observing the fleet answering reports mentioning unidentified vessels, information provided by The New Dawn. Paranoid that such reports were related to Volkarus, Tyraz had personalyl travelled to Segmentum Exterioris himself, unaware of the magnitude of what he was hurtling into.
Vetarion stood with a smile and with his arms folded. Smugly chucking as though this was all a game to him. He was standing within a throne chamber fitted into a ship he was using for the Onuris invasion. Kragh was also within Vetarion's throne room, watching the screen from a distance while sharpening Anarchy with his bare claws. Vetarion tilted himself to lean his head in Kragh's direction, with still some focus on the screen.
Vetarion - So this Tyraz fellow, do you think he'll be any challenge? According to our spies, he's supposed to be a descendant of Zagdala.
Kragh - He's supposed to be one of the strongest Zazane. He had better be a challenge. Do you believe he is a descendant of a false god?
Vetarion - Makes for a better ancestry than most. I say during our attack we warp over there and nab him, smack him out cold.
Kragh chuckled to himself and placed Anarchy back in its sheath. Vetarion was not above dirty tactics, but all Kragh was really interested in was seeing of Tyraz really was a challenge.
Kragh - Dishonourable tactics.
Vetarion - You want him dead? I did make a promise to bring him back to our father. besides, you know me.
Kragh - Beat him into submission. If he is a challenge, may as well find out now.
Vetarion strolled to a rack at the back of the room. he picked up his corrupted scythe up his scythe andturned ot his brother with a devious smile spread across his face. he was eager for action, and the time to stroke was quickly approaching. Kragh stood up in anticipation and rolled his shoulders back.
Vetarion - Ready to see what this man is capable of?
Kragh - Hah, I hope this man is enough to prove what I am capable of.
With a smirk Vetarion gave the call. Out of nowhere a Draconizane Dominion battlefleet emerged out of cloak on an intercept course with the Brood fleet. Kragh's fleet, known as the Shatterfleet, materialized alongside Vetarion's own fleet. They were packed with weaponry and armour and were leading the assault. The Brood ships were taken off guard as the Shatterfleet fired an infernal volley. Aboard the dommand deck of the Ghost of the Warrior, Tyraz looked to a radar screen and saw the new signatures detected. His eyes widened in surprise that two fleets had emerged out of nowhere and began decimating the Brood fleet. The ship rocked from Shidium gunfire. The coomand was alive with panicked shouting as the deck's crew attempted o regain control of the situation.
Tyraz - W-What...? Khaxvis have managed to develope cloaking technology...more efficient than Brood radars?
Amidst the itense firefight, Vetarion teleported a few doors down from Tyraz's location. Vetarion caught a squad of Zazane by surprise as he materialised in a flash of black vapour. Before they had much chance to fire back, he swung his scythe elegantly. The corrupted energies of the scythe's edge sliced nto just as surface flesh, but cut deep within their bodies, as though the sharpness of the blade extended to the air around it, causing blood vessel ruptures in the Brood soldiers surrounding him. Brood soldiers collapsed near-silently as blood burst from their bodies. Kragh's own aura melted armour and weaponry, smirking devilishly as he swung his sword with little force, causing a tremour across the ship. Screams of pain echoed down the halls as the soldiers could feel the molten armour burning into their skins. The bulkheads began to glow orange from the heat as Kragh's sowrd cut the ship apart.
CLoser to the command deck, Vetarion tore his way into the hall. he slowly walked down it, brushing his hands against the bulkhead and sending a surge of electricity across the corridor. Any Zazane caught wthin spasmed out. collpasing to the floor with jittering noises escaping fro mtheir mouths. Vetarion simply watched with a sadicstically gleeful smile plastered across his snout.
Kragh - <<Vetarion, be careful when you reach the door. Don't want a replay of last time.>>
Vetarion - <<I'm not like I was twenty thousand years ago.>>
Vetarion walked down the hall and stood at the door to the command chamber. As he approached, the door flung off its hinges, bashing into Vetarion. Out of a hasty form of self defence, Vetarion raised his arm but was knocked ot the fllor by the flying door. Tyraz Breek, his aura flaring a demonic red, stepped out of the door way and stared at the invaders. Vetarion looked down his torso and was surprised at jsut how small his attacker was. Tyraz stared at the invader and growled as he saw what vile amalgamation he was of Zazane and Draconis.
Vetarion - Wll... Youre not what I expected.
Tyraz - ...What in the name of Shyrak are you?
Vetarion - Wait, Isn't it obvious? We are your successors.
Tyraz - You look like something from a children's book.
Vetarion - Umm, excuse me?
Vetarion pulled himself to his feet and stood towering over Tyraz.
Tyraz - You're not the biggest enemy I've faced. I demand you identify yourselves by name and empire of origin. Vetarion - Where are my manners. I am Vetarion Virios, prince of Kordan Rex of the Draconizane Dominion.
Tyraz raised an eyebrow and leaned forward slightly.
Tyraz - ...Draconizane...Dominion? Am I hearing this right?
Vetarion - Usually people bow right about now...
Tyraz - I'm not one of your female escorts.
Vetarion leaned downward with a disturbing smile on his face.
Vetarion - Male, female, usually it doesn't matter. But yes, you heard me correctly. Now, I've been asked if you could join us back home.
Tyraz - Hmph, why should I?
Tyraz grunted and stepped forward. However, he looked upon Kragh, who shoved past Vetarion, and Tyraz instantly stepped back, very concerned at the look of the two abominations that stood in front of him.
Vetarion - Y'know, I almsot had him!
Tyraz - What sort of abominations are you...?
Vetarion - I tried telling you.
Kragh - Demigod Prince Kragh Virios of the Draconizane Dominion, son of the Emperor Eternal Kordan Rex!
After his brief show of ego, Kragh stepped forward. Tyraz merely growled and drew his Firesword. However, Kragh swung Anarchy, knocking Tyraz back into his throne room, against a wall. TYraz slammed into the wall with a grunt as Kragh paced into the room ,Anarchy burning fiercely as he had a look of disdain on his face.
Kragh - ...So this is all this Universe has to offer...Such a shame, I was looking forward to a challenge for once.
Vetarion - Well I tried diplomacy.
Vetarion unsheathed his scythe and in a blink he stood right in front of him. As the scythe came down on Tyraz, he looked up at Vetarion and grabbed the scythe by its blade as it came down on him. Tyraz grunted and began to sweat under the pressure. Vetarion looked at Tyraz's efforts and found them entertaining he flicked his scythe vigorously to throw Tyraz off, who unfortunately managed to turn the tides somewhat and threw Vetarion away, although not hard enough for him to land into a wall. Kragh responded by slamming Tyraz's head into the ground. Vetarion stumbled as he hit the floor merely a few metres from Kragh and Tyraz. He grunted as he stood up, somewaht irritated. Kragh kept Tyraz against the ground before throwing him to Vetarion.
Kragh - Hit him, don't lose your focus!
Vetarion swung his arm and smacked Tyraz to the side with the back of his fist hitting Tyraz squarely in the cheek. Before he realised what was going on, Tyraz found himself flying into another wall but before he impacted it, Vetarion materialised in front of him and threw a strong knee-jerk at his chin, Sending him upwards. Tyraz hit the ceiling and found himself stuck into it, as shards fell to the ground and cracks appeared all over the ceiling.
Tyraz was bleeding copious amounts of blood from his crest and face. Panting as Vetarion looked up at him, a boastful laugh escaping his jaws.
Vetarion - Had enough yet, pipsqueak?
With spite, Tyraz spat out some blood onto Vetarion's crest. With a growl he attempted to initiate his Demon Form as he became peeled off and fell from the ceiling. However, before his transformation could complete, Kragh ran up and slammed an armoured, spiked fist into Tyraz's stomach, sending him into the nearest ornament. The impact almost destroyed the ornament and Tyraz was knocked unconscious from the awkaward impact with the ornament's decoration. He hit the ground breathing and bleeding heavily. In his hand, Vetarion summoned a large sack big enough to fit Tyraz inside and hewalked over to the injured Zazane.
Kragh - Hmph, I am severely disappointed. But else what can you expect from scum?
Vetarion pulled him out from the rubble and dropped him unceremoniously inside the sack, feeling stasfied with thimself as he tightened the string.
Vetarion - So true. Imagine the nerve he had when he talked back to me like that.
Kragh - Hmph, perfect hunting. Aside from the fact he managed to get the better of you several times.
Vetarion - At least I got to re-arrange his face a bit. That'll teach the git I think.
Kragh - Hmph, come on. Don't want to keep the old man waiting, otherwise he'll start complaining as always.
Vetarion looked about the smashed remains of the throne room. His eyes daring about with curiosity and wondering waht to do with their new trophy.
Vetarion - What should we do with this? A spoil of war perhaps?
Kragh - Hmph, melt it down into spare parts later on, I say. Unless the old man wants to do something else with this...relic.
Vetarion - He might keep it as a trophy. But yes, we should contact him.
The two of them returned to Vetarion's dreadnought and placed Tyraz in a secure storage unit. Before leaving the sector the Dominion fleet decimated the Brood fleet and used tractor beams to tether the Ghost Of The Warrior to the fleet. Scavenger ships collected the rermains of the fleet to take back to their own universe. In the ensuing battle many soldiers had takien Zaane body parts as trophies. But in a flash they were gone, all that remained of the onslaught was a naval graveyard in deep space.
The Hybrid Emperor
Tyraz was roused to consciousness by the jostiling from being carried to Kordan's throne. He looked around to see both Kragh and Vetarion and the enormous baroque hallway. He attempted to struggle, but his movements were not felt by Kragh. He did not know Tyraz had awoken, nor did he really care. Kragh laughed as he walked with Vetarion, amused by some manner that Tyraz was not aware of.
Vetarion - Father is going to be so pleased with our accomplishment! A descendent of Zagdala at his very feet.
Kragh - I still do not believe these tales of "Zagdala".
Vetarion - Well acording to whatever passes for genealogy among Zazane, he's real.
Kragh - Hmph, whatever. I do not think he is as strong as people say he was. Otherwise, he would still be alive!
Vetarion leaned towards Tyraz as the latter grunted and growled, still drowsy from the beating he had received on the Ghost of the Warrior
Vetarion - Oh, I think our father's prize is rousing.
Tyraz - Urgh...I feel like shyrak...you look like it...
A draconis servant stood in front of the door to Kordan's throne room. He looked somewhat timidly at the two princes who stood towering over him. Tyraz felt something heavy wrapped around his limbs and body - chains. He was tied up, immobile. Though strange means, either the material used or the power wielded by his captors, he was unable to snap them. Being groggy, he was not at his full strength.
Draconis - M-masters, welcoem home.
The draconis hesitantly altered the focus of his gaze and looked towards Tyraz with curiosity.
Draconis - A new slave for the house, my lords?
Tyraz's eyes widened at the sound of the word "slave".
Tyraz - Urgh! You shall reduce me to no such thing, mongrels!
Vetarion - Perhaps, we shall see what the Eternal Emperor says. Is he occupied?
Draconis - No, he is waiting for you my lords.
Vetarion nodded and walked on past the servant. As they passed through a set of large heavy doors Tyraz caught sight of the Draconis' a weak and lean creature with stubby, vestigial wings and pallid scales. It was as though everything that made Draconis warriors had been bred out, reducing what was left to something weak and feeble. Tyraz tried to shuffle in Kragh's grip, but the violent prince kept him held tight. At the end of the room, sitting in an enormous throne that put the Uriel's own to shame was Kordan. Eagerly awaiting the return of his two sons.
Kragh - Bahaha! What's the matter, Zazane...? Are the Draconis you see not so big and tough as you know them? Bah! That is the fate of all scum!
Tyraz - What have you done...w-who are you...
Vetarion - Must we expalin this again, Zazane?
Tyraz - P-Piece of Shyrak...I'm having a n-nightmare...
Vetarion - Oh? I can always pinch you if you like.
Tyraz - I'd rather your whore mother pinched me than you...
Vetarion moved closer to Tyraz and firmly pressed one of Tyraz's fingers between two of his own, draining it of circulation and numbing it, possibly fracturing the bone as well. Kragh chuckled and kept walking towards Kordan's throne. When they arrived Kordan smiled.
Kragh - Old man! Look what we have brought!
Kordan - Surprise me. Who have you brought before my throne?
Kragh chuckled and threw Tyraz off his shoulder, sending Tyraz tumbling downwards and slamming him into the ground in front of Kordan. Kordan looked directly downward with a suspicious look, Tyraz appearing as an ant before his titanic frame. Tyraz struggled to stand as he was chained. While on any other occasion he could break free, he was too weak to shatter the bonds.
Kordan - Is this--?
Kragh - Yes. The so-called "Great" Tyraz Breek.
Kordan - For someone who angered the great Zr'An'Kar so much I expected someone more... imposing.
Tyraz looked up defiantly into Kordan's eyes.
Tyraz - And who the hell are you?!
Kordan glared down at Tyraz and pickd him up by the horns, lifting him up a height several times that of Tyraz's own before he left the demonic Zazane warlord to dangle in front of a mouth large enough to engulf him whole. The burning crimson eyes of the emperor looked deep into the warlord as he smiled confidently.
Kordan - I am Kordan Rex. Herald of Zr'An'Kar and master of the holy Draconizane Dominion.
Tyraz - Ugh, all bark and no answers!
Kordan - Is that not enough for you?
Tyraz - For starters, you cannot exist! Such amalgamation between Zazane and Draconis is...grotesque!
Kordan - I admit I am somewhat confused myself, but such is the way of gods to perform miracles. But I suppose the answer you are looking for is this: This timeline is different from yours. In this universe, I was born from a... rather foul act between your kind and Draconis. The result though is something magnificent!
Tyraz - Something hideous, more like! You are nothing but mere mutants!
Kordan - I do not know what Alcanti is fully like in your universe, but in this one we are standing in the south of the continent.
Tyraz - You are spawned from foul, twisted hellfire! Not even good enough to be a joke!
Kordan - Now. What to do with you. I don't know much of yuor exploits, but you have made the being we worship VERY angry.
Tyraz - Hmph, and what of your being? There are no gods, only ultraterrestrials who influence the lesser races such as yourselves!
Kordan - Call him waht you want. Zr'An'Kar made us, he guided us and thanks to him this universe and one verion of your universe... are ours.
Tyraz - Hmph, such a zealous and pathetic race of abominations. A superiority complex greater than our known universe.
Kordan's eyes flared to show the energy in his body. Tyraz could feel himself choking from the sudden burst, despite not actually being strangled. It was if the level of Essence from Kordan's body was effecting him somehow, a force so great that it was gradually killing him. Kordan appeared oblivious however
Kordan - Is that what you think?
Tyraz - You don't scare me...
Kordan appeared confident as he held Tyraz aloft with his legs dangling. Satisfied with the condition of his captive, Kordan threw Tyraz to the floor and rested his foot on Tyraz's back, the pressure great enough for Tyraz to feel his ribs cracking under the immense weight. He grunted loudly and tried to resist, but the pressure was too much. He couldn't even get on his fours, trapped helplessly under the gigantic foot.
Kordan - Do you know waht I see Tyraz? I see a pathetic Zazane too scared to even breathe before my presence! Weak. Pathetic. Just like your ancestors.
Tyraz - And I see a man who thinks he's the servant of a false god who merely manipulated his birth and race!
Kordan - Zr'An'Kar cares for each of my kin! You will live, for now. But only until I decide on a suitable punishment for your crimes.
Tyraz - You shant break my soul nor spirit! You are but the spawn of foul parents! A failed abortion!
Kordan - Vetarion! Show our guest to suitable accommodation.
Vetarion - As you wish father.
Kordan lifted his foot off Tyraz. Before he returned ot his theone he gave a firm kick into Tyraz's side in Vetarion's direction. The kick rolled Tyraz to Vetarion's feet, who picked him up by the tail and slung him over shis shoulder. Tyraz glared and spat into Kordan's face as Vetarion began to walk away, humiliated at how these beings were tossing him and crushing him like a ragdoll, a mere breakable toy in their eyes, despite the great feats this Zazane had acheived in life, it all counted for nothing here.
Tyraz - Mutant!
Vetarion - Don't make me squeeze your fingers again!
Tyraz - I shall not squeal for you, stillborn!
Vetarion - Yeah, whatever.
Vetarion carried him away and placed him in a large cell block deep beneath the palace. A taskmaster was positioned to watch over Tyraz due to his descension, making it clear from his presence that these aliens spared no expense to make sure Tyraz would never escape this new and strange place. Tyraz looked upon the Taskmaster as he stood up and glared. Before he was cast inside the cell he had been stripped of his armour and given an outfit that while providing modesty, did nothing to his pride, silently murdering it as it offered not a single piece of protection for him.
Vetarion - Welcoem to your new home, I felt you deserved it.
Tyraz - And what of my ship...?
Vetarion - Still not sure yet. my brother proposed melting it down but the history... it wwould amke an exquisite trophy don't you think?
Tyraz - I would rather wash it five times over after your filthy hands have defiled it.
Vetarion - I don't think you're going to get it back anytime soon.
Vetarion chuckled to himself as he activated the cell's security field. Tyraz growled and sat patiently, his head looking downwards, bloodied and bruised from his ordeal as Vetarion walked away with a mocking laughter.
Uriel was in his study reading an old journal when Davius walked in with a nod. Uriel nodded back in response, looking up from the journal which documented one of his former expeditions. As he nodded, his computer indicated an incoming transmission - with the signal imprint indicating it was coming from from Tyraz. Uriel sat up and leaned forward with a curious eye.
Uriel - I was not expecting a call from him today...
Uriel swivelled in his office chair and accepted the transmission. TUrning it around to dedicate one of the office windows to displaying the transmission. However, on the screen wasn't Tyraz. It was a black Zazane with yellow markings and bionic implants, one Uriel hadn't seen before but the alien still bore similar bloodshot-red eyes. Not as stained with crimson as TYraz's own or displaying the same energy, but still red. Uriel looked at the screen with confusion, leaning back slightly with concern to this unexpected caller. Davius stood squarely and sternly. Keeping his hands in front of him.
Uriel - You are not Tyraz.
Crispy - I am afraid your puppetmaster isn't here today, Paragon.
Uriel - Puppet-- You're "Crispy" aren't you?
Crispy - Good observation, Uriel. Maybe you're not so blind after all.
Uriel - I don't care what you or Taremanon say. I am not some thrall of Tyraz Breek!
Crispy - You are quick to jump to conclusions Uriel. Have you not noticed I am calling from Tyraz's frequency?
Uriel - Yes, what deception are you trying to pull from this?
Crispy - There is no deception here. I am calling to inform you that Tyraz is officially missing from his post.
Uriel - Missing? What happened exactly.
Crispy - Well, the New Dawn visited a sector earlier this month and found themselves at the mercy of...well, I'm not sure. However, Tyraz took his fleet and himself to go find it on the belief of Khaxvis.
Uriel - And now he has dissapeared. Can you elaborate as to who may have taken him?
Crispy - How would you expect me to know, Paragon? I am but a mere politician.
Uriel - A well informed one from what I have heard. You unveiled secrets about him that no-one else could have known.
Crispy - All I can reveal to you that has been disclosed is that they use Shidium weaponry. But they were NOT Zazane. They were...something else.
Uriel - But as far as we both know, only Zazane have access to such technology, which raises the question as to who is repsonsible.
Davius stepped forward and cleared his throat, glaring at the screen with his helmet resting under his arm.
Davius - You're being decidedly vague in your descriptions Crispy. Is this from your own lack of knowledge or are you hiding something?
Crispy - What does your heart tell you, Paragon? I am a fair man.
Uriel paused for a few minutes and looked deeply into Crispy's eyes, contemplating for a few moments before words escaped his mouth.
Uriel - You are sincere...You really unsure sure who the perpetrators are.
Crispy - They are just as much a threat to me as they are to you and the Clericarch.
Uriel stepped away from the screen and walked towards the door.
Uriel - We need to get Tyra--
Uriel was interrputed when Davius rushed over and pressed his hand against Uriel's chest and stood in front of the door, blocking him from leaving.
Davius - Paragon, it's too dangerous!
Uriel - Davius I am no stanger to warfare, let me prepare my--.
Davius - Most of your veterency comes from before becoming Paragon. Sir.
Crispy - The Blood Dragon is right, Paragon. If they have claimed Tyraz, what makes you think you're going to make any difference on your own?
Uriel looked back at the screen and gave a heavy sigh.
Uriel - It was a moment of compulsion. It will take several of us, an army is too dangerous.
Crispy - I understand you are a...close acquintance of Tyraz. And I have a feeling you understand I am his political rival.
Uriel - From your causal slander of him, I guessed. But Tyraz is more than an aqquaintance.
Crispy - Your relationship to him matters not to me. All that matters to me is that he is returned in one piece back to Brood territory.
Uriel - if you are his rival, why would you care?
At that, there was a knock at the door. When Uriel opened it, he was surprised to find Sarec waiting patiently.
Sarec - Am I interrupting your disscussion, sirs?
Uriel - Well... what is it?
Crispy looked to Sarec and smiled. He placed his hands together with interest and a hint of exitement.
Sarec - Pardon me but I can shed light on where Tyraz was taken.
Crispy - Former Inquisitor Sarec Thula--Ahem, I mean, I assume?
Sarec - I hope you haven't had contacts snooping in inquisition archives Crispy.
Crispy - Why would Inquisition archives be of any use to me whatsoever?
Sarec - You'd be surprised how many hackers try to break the firewalls on a regular basis.
Crispy - You take too much pride in your job. Anyway, shed whatever light you have on the situation.
Sarec held up
Sarec - I am aware of who took Tyraz and where. Unfortunately accoding to sources they were.... descended.
Crispy - That matters not to me. Any identification on who they were?
Sarec - Yes and no.
Uriel - And that means?
Sarec - Well... Tyraz traveled to Exterioris looking for news of draconis-zazane hybrids in Exterioris. He found them.
Crispy had a look of disgust on his face.
Crispy - ...What did you say?
Sarec - You heard me correctly.
Crispy - Draconis-Zazane hybrids? What foul practice is this?
Uriel looked as though he was about to vomit at such a thought
Sarec - That is what Tyraz wanted to discover.
Crispy - Sounds about right, I expected Tyraz to be involved with some sort of hybridization.
Sarec - You are mistaken Crispy. He wanted to destroy them. However they managed to overpower him. Find the Ghost of the Warrior and we find Tyraz.
Crispy - Yes but there is only three of us. Even if we do find the Ghost, how can we be sure that we'll even get to it or Tyraz?
Sarec - I've been in worse predicaments on my own.
Crispy - They managed to overpower Tyraz. I doubt you even know half of the situation we're dealing with.
Uriel - We call on what allies of his we can. They overpowered him through an ambush, we can do the same on them.
'Crispy - Yes, let us bring in more of Tyraz's puppets.
Uriel glared at Crispy.
Uriel - At least 'they' can be relied upon.
Davius - My lord...
Crispy - I'm sorry Paragon, what was this about half of the royal Houses complaining about your rule?
Uriel - Are you trying to aggrevate me? I know you were the one who spurred them.
Sarec cleared his throat in an attempt to bring control over the situation.
Crispy - Clever Paragon. You learn something new everyday and yet you're still blind to the truth.
Sarec - Gentlemen please. The more we bicker the less certain Tyraz's fate becomes.
Crispy - Exactly. I'm sure the Paragon would feel very bad for being responsible for holding up progress.
Uriel - If you want to help then I would like to ask that you remain successful.
Crispy - I would ask the same of you, Paragon, but I know that you won't be able to hold that promise for much longer.
Uriel folded his arms and scowled, offended by the Zazane's remarks. Crispy smiled and looked back to Sarec.
Crispy - Former Inquisitor, perhaps we could call upon another of Tyraz's contacts to assist our need. A certain woman he has grown fond of.
Sarec - I have considered her, yes.
She might not have a great deal of respect for me but for Tyraz it is a different matter.
Crispy - Indeed, I know that some people would go through radical measures to save the ones they love.
Uriel - Then we are agreed. We contact who we can and meet that the coordiantes Sarec provides.
Crispy - Which reminds me, I know a man who happens to still have his free will who is a friend of the late Tyraz.
Uriel - "still have his free will?"
Crispy - A man known as Koluap Cardori, of the Spinker Empire and Indoctrinate Collective.
Uriel - I know the man, I attended his wedding with Alessa and Tyraz a few years ago.
Crispy - I hppen to know the man doesn't get out so often, so I have had the kind and generous thought of inviting him along.
Somewhere aboard a capital vessel of respectable size, which found itself guarded by a vast armada of ships and mobile combat platforms, sat a figure dressed in semi-formal clothing at a lengthy table that was adorned with plates and cups of materials; food and drink. The figure himself had a plate of meat sat in front of him, although he had not started. He was waiting, a patient expression on his face. Crispy; a Zazane insurrectionist, he had become popular as of recent. His tongue of silver had assisted in his influential debut, although this occasion was not designed to amplify his status and power. It was formal, yet not too formal. Friendly.
Passing though the ornate doors were six proud-looking Draconis. One of them wore a stately coat that rested over a fine shirt and waistcoat ensemble with a decorate sword attached to the fabric of his trousers. It was obvious this man, this stately man was a man of power and prestige, for he was Uriel Ultanos, Paragon of the Draconid Imperium. He walked in to admire the fine decorations around him. Following Uriel were four Draconis decorated in gold-edged armour of a very advanced quality, their heads obscured by masks that would have been slabs of jet-black were it not for the details of a dragon-like head that adorned the helmet. The four walked in silently, keeping close as Uriel sat down. The other Draconis came in wearing a glittering formal ensemble, with fabric tinted a deep and dark violet accompanied by a jet-black shirt. The suit's colour accompanied his indigo scales. Beside him however was a companion of his. The companion that stood at the indigo dragon's side was mammalian, different from the rest of the group, and was by far the smallest out of all of them. Rabbit-like in appearance, he appeared male with feminine traits such as curvy hips and slim figure. It was Hachi; the saviour of Borealis.
Through another corridor arrived a gruffed Spinker warrior who walked as if he was trying to not get attention to himself. He looked around, as if he was thinking he had relaly made a good decision by coming to this place. Crispy glanced towards his guests and smiled a warm smile, standing with his arms spread as if to embrace them from afar.
Crispy - Welcome, my accomplices.
Koluap - Hello I suppose.
Uriel - Salutations Crispy. You are a hospitable man offering us a fine banquet such as this.
Crispy - And you are as hospitable for accepting my invitation. Please, take a seat and enjoy yourselves. I have studied your cultures and your physiologies, I hoped my chefs have managed to capture the taste of the delicacies you're familiar with.
Koluap - This better be worth of me being here, I have a newborn son at home I need to take care of.
Uriel nodded and looked around, he appraoched a chair of appropriate size for him and gently sat down, making himself comfortable as two of the bodyguards stood either side of him while the other two took more distant positions behind them. Hachi sat down eagerly, his tail wagging as he looked upon the plate of food that was set in front of him. He took a moment to compose himself and looked towards Crispy with a thankful, hungry expression. Sarec sat down at another seat, making sure he was next to Hachi. ROlling his shoulders back in comfort as he looked at the banquet table. Koluap sat down with away from the others, staring at the food with an aprehensive expression.
Crispy - Of course, I have heard of the news. Congratulations, I'm sure he shall take after his courageous father. Mrs. Spinkarius truly is a lucky woman.
Uriel - I give my blessings as well Koluap. With a mother such as your mate, I am sure he will go far.
Koluap looked at Uriel while he talked, making no comment.
Uriel - Oh my manners, I apologise Koluap; In Draconis culture infants are normally imprinted by their mothers. For the first ten years the mother is the most important influence they have.
Koluap - No offense taken.
Uriel - A combination of the malleability of the infant's mind and the tradition that the first decade of a child's life is spent only with the mother.
Hachi could wait no longer and he began to consume what was in front of him with no concern for the others, instead intent on feeding his own stomach. The food was safe, seemingly. Sarec looked at Hachi with shock and took a hand to the fur on Hachi's back and gently pulled pulling him away from the plate of food.
Sarec - Not until the host starts.
Crispy - It is fine, let him eat. He shall be needing it after all, as will all of you.
Crispy sat down and also took several bites from the food set in front of him before taking a swig of his drink and proceeding onward with the conversation. Koluap looked at Hachi before taking a bite out of his own plate. Sarec let go of Hachi's fur and took a gentle bite from one of the food articles in front of him. Uriel nodded and picked up a leg joint from his plate, clamping his jaws on a section of meat and tearing it off before satisfyingly swallowing it. Koluap ate very slowly, displaying not nearly as much enthusiasm as the others.
Crispy - You may be wondering why I have invited you here today. There have been reports recently, both detected by my own sources and intercepted by my agents implanted within Brood territories, that a fleet of unknown origin has attacked a group of vital, significant Brood vessels.
Uriel - We spoke earlier on this. You say that Tyraz has disappeared.
Crispy - Yes. Tyraz had disappeared either during or shortly after the assault upon his own vessel, the Ghost of the Warrior. But there is... other news.
Crispy - The hostile fleet displayed architectural and structural designs reminescent of those of the Draconid Imperium's own combat vessels.
Uriel - Remeniscent as in you are suggesting the designs do not completely mimic Itn designs.
Crispy - Precisely. The fleet also displayed traces of Shidium-derived materials alongside certain architectural aspects seen within Zazane vessels, including weaponry.
Sarec - So whoever took Tyraz is using a hybrid design from both Imperial and Zazane engineering.
Koluap - That's bad I guess.
Sarec - We are facing a power that could rival the Draconid Imperium. Surpass it? Perhaps.
Uriel - I am curious as to how Tyaz was kidnapped given his reputation and power.
Koluap - Moron can't take care of himself.
Uriel - A rather harsh statement.
Koluap - That's the nicest thing I'd say if Tyraz was in front of me right now.
Koluap - Don't compare me to him.
Uriel glared angrily at Koluap's statement as he took a harsher bite out of his leg joint.
Hachi - Are you feeling okay, Koluap?
Uriel - I happen to hold Tyraz in extremely high regard, even if you disapprove.
Koluap - I have no reason to be here. I'm not Tyraz's babysitter.
Crispy - Ah, but you do you have reason to be here.
Koluap - If my empire's colonies are under possible threat then I have to investigate.
Crispy - So we see eye to eye. Excellent! Knowledge is power, after all. The more we know of this unknown force, the sooner we can prepare for future assaults, assuming there will be future assaults.
Sarec - Crispy is right. Tyraz may be unpopular to some, but he happens to posess a power greater than most of us here. His mind is incredible, not so bound by the limitations of physics. If someone like him can be captured, what does that indicate for the rest of us?
Hachi - I don't see how you and Tyraz are so different. You're both quite angry.
Koluap - D-don't compare me to him!
Hachi - You remind me a little of Kezoreg now, going on about not being compared to Tyraz.
Koluap - Now you're just trying to make me sad.
Hachi - I didn't have to try to see you're upset about the incident with Tyraz back at the chambers.
Koluap covered his face and put it against the table.
Koluap - I'm not here because I like him or anything. I'm just investigating stuff.
Sarec inhaled and stood up from his chair resting his hands on the table and alarming Uriel's guards as Sarec glared at Koluap.
Sarec - This is counterproductive. Whatever happened in the Seat of Light should be put behind you because right now Tyraz Breek, your former friend, could be in mortal danger!
Crispy - Beyond mortal danger.
Koluap - ...Just go on with it.
Sarec grunted and sat back down, breathing heavily. He closed his eyes while Uriel looked at him with uncertainty. Uriel's bodyguards settled down once Sarec began calming down. Hachi looked around the room with an awkward expression and slowly began eating again, while Crispy let out a brief cough to clear his throat.
Crispy - Well, I have had a plan established gratefully by my associates concerning the retrieval of Tyraz. And the investigation of the enemy.
Uriel - This is good news. What do you have in mind?
Crispy - Patrol ships, or at least what we can assume are patrol ships, have been sighted near the borders of Brood territory. Employing stealth methods, we shall hide ourselves upon a cruiser that systematically appears and disappears twice a day. We can assume that it is transporting between spaces, possibly wormholes. Possibly something else, as we have no idea of where the cruiser goes after it has disappeared. Given the nature of previous opposition to the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth, we have various conclusions. Chameleon cloak technology, ghost phasing, extragalactic traversal. Extradimensional and extrauniversal traversal.
Sarec - The Arcadium can be used to get us close to this transport. I have it fitted with a cloak device that can both render it inviisble an dpass it off as another vessel.
Hachi - So... possibly from another universe?
Crispy - Not just possibly. Likely, given that the vessels share designs from both Imperial and Zazane vessel philosophy. Alternate universes, the Unobserved Koda Theory and the likes.
Koluap - Ngh...more interuniversal travel...
Sarec - Seeing other universes is intriguing for me. Even if the locals can sometimes be a little hostile.
Crispy - But is it not an exciting prospect? To be able to travel between not just the stars but the very fabrics of existence itself. They could be resourceful in future, should any of you either suggest expansion beyond this plane.
Koluap - Considering all the alternate dimensions I've been through lately, I don't think it's a good idea.
Uriel - An interuniversal commonwealth. Hm. Now that is an exiting prospect.
Crispy - I never said this was a good idea. On the contrary, this mission is, for all intents and purposes, suicidal at best.
Koluap - Urk...*muttering* the Xhodocto War was supposed to be my last mission...I was supposed to be retired by now...
Blood Dragon - And yet you approve of the Parag'avatus taking part in this endeavour?
Crispy - Of course I approve. I'm going by my own will. I am not oblivious to the fact I may die, I know this mission is dangerous.
Uriel - This choice was my own. I would risk my life for him, for all he is done both for myself, my family and for this galaxy.
At this moment, a Dracogonarious and a Bonio who radiated a faint white aura arrived into the room. As he heard them arriving, Koluap's eyes widened. Crispy smiled as they burst in. Uriel and Sarec turned with curious eyes to see the two of them.
Crispy - Ah, there you are. I was wondering when you would arrive.
Jerkon - I am sorry we are late, but we have arrived.
Herquie - Someone hijacked our ship.
Herquie walked up to where Koluap was sitting and turned the seat, revealing him. He put his finger against Koluap's forehead and narrowed his eyes.
Herquie - "Someone".
Koluap - H-h-hey guys! What took you so long? Eheh...
Jerkon - When Crispy contacted us, you kept talking on how you could not care less of Tyraz's fate. Yet you hijacked our ship and arrived to this meeting before us, as if you were trying to take our place.
Hachi - Grand theft spaceship.
Herquie - Are you "that" worried for Tyraz, Koluap?
Koluap - I-I-I'm not worried!
Crispy - Oh dear. That is unfortunate. But there is a bright side to everything! The more the merrier, after all! Now, Herquie, Jerkon. Please, take a seat. I'll have something prepared for you later on.
Jerkon - Thank you. It is a pleasure to meet you all, except for Hachiman, who I have already met.
Herquie - I'm gonna have a few words with you later, Koluap.
Hachi - Hi Jerk!
Uriel - Given the odds, we had better all contact those we hold dear...Perhaps it would be appropriate for me to inform Alessa of what is in store for her.
Koluap appeared extremely embarassed and covered his face with his wings while Herquie casually took the leg joint he was eating for himself, enveloping a chunk of it in his beak before tearing the piece off.
Crispy - Absolutely.
Hachi - But... I don't have access to the p-people who are special to m-me...L-Like Kalcedia, Tau...
Crispy - This vessel is equipped with unfiltered exonet.
Hachi - Oh boy!
Sarec - Oh no.
Herquie - Who's Kalcedia?
Sarec - Best not to ask
Crispy - A delightful woman.
Crispy's eyes momentarily widened and he coughed again to hide the blush on his cheeks, beginning to eat from his plate again.
Herquie - Hey Hachi. Thea told me to ask you if you've been washing yourself properly.
Hachi - I've been washing myself, honest! I give my down-belows extra-- How do you know Teacher?
Herquie - She lives in the Collective's capital, you dingus. Did you forget that already?
Hachi - ...Oh yeah. Gah it's been a while.
Jerkon - I believe that is irrelevant as of now. We should concentrate in Tyraz's rescue.
Crispy - Tyraz' rescue and the investigation of enemy territory and technology. As per Koluap's insistence.
Jerkon - Koluap's what? He did not even know we had territory in Andromeda until recently.
Koluap - Nnnngh!
Crispy - Well, you'll be sure to remember that and any other details we come across on our journey. The nanomachines will make sure of that. Uriel - What nanomachines?
Crispy - The ones you're ingesting of course!
Koluap screeched while Herquie looked at his leg joint with a surprised expression. Uriel coughed and spluttered, the Blood Dragons at his side rushed to his attention while the ones at the back gripped their weapons tightly. Koluap began coughing in panic, while the leg joint on Herquie's hand combusted in a blue flame.
Herquie - Excuse me?
Jerkon - There are nanomachines on the food? But for what purpose?
Koluap - It's a trap!
Crispy - Nanomachines, I have implanted them into your food and drink. They shall be of significant assistance on our journey. They shall provide amplified sensitivity of the primary and secondary biological senses, enahnced regernation and sterilization of infection, prevention of exhaustion and tiring, amongst other benefits.
Uriel - You let me ingest nanotechnology!?
Jerkon - Ah, that is delightful!
Jerkon happily took some food and began eating. Sarec sat indifferent but looked around at everyone's panic with interest.
Crispy - I could not have risked refusal. My sincere apologies, dear Paragon. The nanomachines are only a temporary asset however, they last for 48 hours, after which they will exit your body through various means. Breath, defecation, urination.
Hachi - Well, nanomachines sure do taste nice.
Koluap - Bullshit, it's a trap!
Crispy - If it was a trap, sir Koluap, I'd have implanted nanomachines into the air ventilation systems and have you host them upon entry. Besides, I have already ingested them beforehand. My food is implanted with them, just as yours is.
Herquie - Not the best way to get me to trust you, yellow Zazane.
Crispy - I do not need your trust, mercenary, I need you alive. You have all been specifically selected for what you can offer so that we can hold an advantage against our enemy, co-operation is vital while trust is optional.
Uriel - Urgh. Fine, I will tolerate this. I forgive you if you are unaware of my history with nanotechnology since such occured before you were born.
Herquie - I'm not a mercenary. Keep that in mind or I'll have to teach it to you.
Jerkon - I really do not see the issue here.
Crispy - Without these nanomachines, you could die instantly from modified airborne plagues specifically designed to kill alien presence. You could bleed out from shot wounds, have your bones broken and rendered a liability. We do not know our enemy, but I have prepared you for them. And to ensure that your chances of survival remain constant, I will be supplying you with food packets to ingest to keep the benefits of the nanomachines constant.
Uriel - Without these machines our chances of survival would be minimal. Urgh. Understood...
Crispy - No. With these nanomachines, our chances of survival are minimal. Without them, they're nonexistent.
Jerkon - A little is better than none.
Sarec - Interesting odds regardless.
Crispy proceeded to stand, a smile on his face as he looked over the group and clasped his hands together.
Crispy - Now; rewards. Your rewards are... your choice.
Sarec - Rewards for what exactly, may I ask?
Crispy - Your services. What, do you believe that I would invite you to accomplish a suicide mission without some incentive? Jerkon - I require no incentive other than Tyraz's safety, for he is a valuable ally of mine.
Herquie - Would feel bad to ask something in return to this.
Uriel - I need no reward for risking my life for Tyraz other than assurance of his safety.
Hachi - VIP access to all Andromedan strip clubs!
Crispy - Granted.
Herquie - But I can accept that too.
Sarec - I suppose I could always indulge in a guilty pleasure should we survive.
Jerkon - I cannot understand any of you.
Crispy - Alright, I believe that covers just about everything. Oh, and we'll be heading out tomorrow. I suggest you all get some sleep; sleep prolongs your nanomachine's lifespan a little longer.
Uriel - Sleep and some last few moments with those we hold dear.
Crispy - Of course. There are facilities across the vessel should you need them, alongside free, unlimited exonet access. Uncensored, unfiltered, unobserved. All private.
Jerkon - I will be on my way.
Herquie - Eheheheh.
Sarec looked at Hachi with a knowing smile and a slight chuckle, paying close attention to the boy's face and expressions. Hachi wore a wide grin across his face as he clasped his own hands together and moved them towards his crotch. Crispy sat back down and leaned back in his seat, as if to rest somewhat, and allow his dinner to be digested accordingly. Uriel finished his meal with uneasiness, knowing what was inside and convulsed as a belch rose up and out of his mouth. He appeared slightly happy afterwards
Uriel - Machines aside, it was delicious.
Crispy - I can tell.
Uriel - You know Draconid table customs?
Crispy - I have dined with Draconis before, I had studied their customs and traditions. It is... interesting.
Uriel - I heave heard rumours you have met with a few of the Imperium's patricaes. Uriel - But I suppose that is a story for another time.
Uriel let his food settle before he pushed himself away from the table and bowed to Crispy.
Uriel - If you will it, I shall retire for the night.
Crispy - Indeed. For now, I would recommend spending what time you can with your friends and families. All of you. If luck is on our side, we might just get out alive with minimal casualties.
Uriel nodded and gracefully walked though the doors and out of the room, followed sterny by the four bodyguards who had attended to him this evening.
Hachi - This is going to be exciting... Tonight, I mean. Not tomorrow. I have so much stuff to browse.
Judgement Before Divines
Deep in the bowels of Kordan's colossal fortress and home, Tyraz Breek was sitting in his cell, counting the days until soem supposed judgement or until someone decided to release him. As a precaution he was forever watched by a Draconizane warrior with corrupted scales and vicious reddened eyes, who would stand for days without sleep. But these yes were not bloodshot, they were stained with a taint and Tyraz could feel it, his prison guard was no ordinary being.
It had been several days since he had been tossed into a prison cell. On one day however, he was approached by Kordan and flanked by high-ranking Taskamsters. Including Indricas himself. The man who had cast this purgatory upon him had either the gall or the courtesy to see him depending how one could perceive such a visit. But it became clear very quickly that Kordan's visit was not of a benevolent nature. He approached the cell and kneeled down to closely inspect Tyraz, smiling wickedly. Humouring him, Tyraz stood up from his corner and paced over briskly, clenching his fists and letting out an irritated growl.
Tyraz - Eugh...what do you require of me now? Breath freshener? Toothpaste?
Indricas - Now, now. I expected the Apostate to possess more manners than this, especially in front of his greatest nemesis.
Kordan - Your time for judgement has come, Apostate. I suggest you savour your last moments before you are judged before Him.
Tyraz - You can trust that I shall savour my last moments, but I have a long way to go before I reach them.
Kordan - Correction. These are your last moments.
Kordan stood up and deactivated the barrier.
Tyraz - Correction. You speak Shyrak and you know it.
Kordan stepped back and allowed room for Indricas. He gave a quick turn of his head, a signal to Indricas who approached and passed his lege and stepped behind Tyraz, who was too weak to resist. Indricas carefully placed Tyraz's wrists and ankles within cuff-like devices that seemed somewhat complex in appearance.
Indricas - Correction....I just wanted to say it. Anyway, proceed forward with the ritual!
Kordan nodded and stood up with an eager grin upon his snout. He led Indricas and the bound Tyraz deeper below the palace, the baroque and darkly ornate decoration giving way to old and less decorative tunnels and to the doors of a chamber deep undergorund. The doors stood as tall as a large building it was difficult to see the ceiling. The air was dark and heavy as they reached the enormous metal doors that were intricately engraved in darkened metal, which glistened in the small amount of light that glimmered within these tunnels. But there was more, an ominous distant and heavy panting. Faint, but there.
Kordan - You should feel blessed Apostate. Virtually no-one has been into this room.
Kordan pushed open the doors and led the two of them insde. Despite the immennse scale, Kordan was able to open them without any visible effort and guided the escort inside. All of them walked down an enormous underground hallway, suddenly more grand than the tunnels outside. Grand enough certainly for an emperor.Or a diety.
Reaching the end of the hallway, Tyraz was placed on top of an altar. Loud breathing could be heard across the room and coming from something at the very end.
Indricas - Sit tight.
Tyraz - Eat shyrak, mutant scum.
Tyraz was placed down,, Kordan knelt between the altar and something at the back of the chamber. In front of the altar was a gigantic throne, where a pitch black sillhoette of a massive Draconizane rested. It opened its eyes, which shined in red, and lowered its head to look upon Tyraz. Tyraz looked up towards the Draconizane and his eyes widened, his mouth gaping open, immediately realising who this figure was. While it might have been unrecognisable to most, the scars, visage and complexion were completely evident. With his arms and legs pinned to the altar, Tyraz shook his head with widened, almost tearful as he looked upon the giant, desperately wishing this was some nightmare he was due to wake up from.
??? - You brought him like I tasked you to. Excellent.
Kordan - I did not forget my lord. My task has een long, but we have brought you what you desired all these years.
??? - Yes. Years. Time flies.
The giant's eyes shined again and its formed changed. It became one that Tyraz could identify.
Kolossus - It feels like it was yesterday...because for me, it was!
Tyraz - No! N-No! No!
Tyraz began to trmeble and he attempted to shake himself free of his bonds, but to no avail. He had an expression of fear written upon his face, petrified by the sight of Kolossus sitting here and glaring down, a devilish king and his court. Tyraz found all this impossible to believe.
Tyraz - Y-You're dead! I killed you!
Kolossus' - And I am dead! Look what you've done to me!
Kolossus' scars were clearly visible to Kordan and Indricas, the horrid marks inflicted upon him, tell-tale signs of his failures and his current weakness. Kordan looked up, He clenched his fists and dark energy seeped from them as he saw the scarring Kolossus had endured along with his broken wings. Indricas looked up and observed, mouth open in horror.
Indricas - Oh...my...G-God.
Tyraz leaned forward weakly in anger, roaring at Kolossus as he struggled to free himself.
Tyraz - Why do you constantly persist to torment me?!
Kolossus - Broken. Scarred. Reduced to...sub-immortal. Denied of my place among the Xh-...
Kolossus turned its sight to Kordan for a moment and immediately stopped talking. Kordan stood up, black energy leaking from his entire body. Furious at the offences that had been committed, he walked up to the altar and slammed his foot down on Tyraz, breaking the altar in half and causing an audible and rather disturbing "crack" to screech out from the impact. Kolossus merely let out a smirk from Kordan's attack, enjoying the spectacle.
Kolossus - Gaze your eyes on your species' true successor, Tyraz. Before you is the greatest specimen.
Tyraz - Aaargh! They're just as hideous as you are!
Tyraz sat up and spat in Kolossus's direction. Kordan pressed his foot down on Tyraz's chest, visibly angry and eviently trying to make him suffer as much as possible.
Kolossus - You meddled with me enough. I will not give you the pleasure of a quick death...I will not give you the pleasure of death at all.
Tyraz - At least I tried killing you!
Kolossus - You succeeded, and now you will pay the price for it. Remember Volim of the Wranploer? Your fate will be worse than his!
Tyraz - Just you try it! Imprisoning me shall not get you anymore praise from your masters than you already receive! None!
Upon hearing "masters", Kolossus' eyes widened and and he jumped up from his throne. Kordan instantly backed away, vanishing from above Tyraz in an instant as a itanic fist came crashing down upon Tyraz's body. Tyraz screamed out in pain and anger, his body being separated in half from the immense pressure of Kolossus' punch, his organs flying across the room.
Kolossus - Silence, vermin!
Kordan - As of present my sons Kragh and Vetarion prepare to scour your miserable home of your species' existence. Just as Zagdala's blood was spilled in His name, so shall your peoples' blood be spilled.
Kolossus - Kordan...I want your greatest scientists to work on the most vile, most painful, most cruel torture mechanism they can think of. I want this insect to be placed in this mechanism every day. I want him alive, so he can feel the pain for the rest of his life.
Kordan - As you wish my--
Kordan stopped abruptly and looked towards the door, furrowing his brow and performing a suspicious glare.
Kordan - Indricas. Can you check the door?
Indricas walked away towards the door with haste while Tyraz lay screaming as his body slowly regenerated from being crushed in a painful and agonizing manner. As he was halfway across, Kolossus settled himself and continued, standing over Tyraz who lay within the pulverised fragments of the black marble altar. He turned around and took several steps back to sit back down upon the throne that reflected his dark heart.
Kolossus - You do not get to die, because I do not allow you to! And worry not for your wife and son...I have my own things in mind for them both.
Tyraz - Go crawl up Angazhar's rectum once more, Kolossus!
Indricas approached the door and checked outside with a smile, seeing a familiar face become startled and step back. It was Mithra. She was dressed in a silken dressing gown with a novelty toy Koda tightly pressed against her body by her arms. WHen startled, she hugged the toy with greater force, some of the stuffing shifting towards the head and tail as the strength of her grasp was applied to the abdomen. Kolossus growled at shook on his throne as he was clearly irritated by the eavesdropper.
Kolossus - This is a private meeting! Do you not understand that?
Indricas - Oh, hello there! I'm afraid we're a little busy right now, Princess Mithra. Your father is doing important work with Zr'An'Kar.
Kolossus - Hmpf...she's already seen enough. Let her in.
Indricas nodded and allowed Mithra to step inside. She was curious and inquisitive yet visibly scared and afraid of what she was seeing, especially at Zr'An'Kar. She had not seen him for a long while and yet he still appeared just as godly and frightening as when she had first seen him over a century ago.
Mithra - I-I...I-I'm s-sorry...I-I heard n-noises...
Kordan - My most sincere apologies my lord. I have raised her as a free spirit and well, she can be curious at times.
Kolossus - As long as the entire dominion doesn't come to the door trying to peek inside too.
Kordan nodded understandably as Mithra was guided by Indricas to her father's presence. Kordan settled and cleared hsi throat as he relaxed, leaning back to rest on the large padded backrest of his throne.
Kolossus - Kordan, there is one thing I forgot to warn you about the invasion.
Kordan - My lord?
Kolossus - There is a civilization in that universe known as the Dominion of the Xhodocto...you are "not" to attack them. You are not to approach them at all.
Tyraz - The X-Xhodocto...! Haha! Do your c-children not know of t-the ones y-you s-ser--
Kolossus reappeared and pressed his fist against Tyraz again. Instantly preventing him from completing his sentence as Kordan looked at Tyraz with a scowl before taking Mithra's hand to comfort her.
Kolossus - Let's just say we have a...partnership of a sorts. But it's for the best if there are no interactions between your people and them.
Kordan - I will relay it to the fleets my lord. THe Dominion shall be left alone as you desire.
Mithra - W-Who are they? T-The D-Dominion of the X-Xhodocto, I mean...m-my Lord...
Kolossus - Allies. That's all you need to know. Now, you may leave. Take the Zazane for torture. And remember, he is to live. The dead don't feel pain.
Tyraz - Y-You must be the l-largest exception t-to that rule!
Kolossus hissed at Tyraz, but did not attack him. He simply returned to his throne and made himself comfortable once again. Kordan bowed and took Mithra out, signalling for Indricas to carry Tyraz out from Kolossus's presence. Indricas approached Tyraz and threw him over his shoulder, resting him there as he proceeded to walk out with the Zazane. As Tyraz's waist disconnected from his torso, Indricas grabbed his tail and proceeded to carry on walking with the upper half of Tyraz over his shoulder and the lower half dangling from Indricas' hand, which was firmly wrapped around the Zazane's tail, a string of intenstines connecting the two halves. Mithra inched closer, hugging against her father's leg as they walked out.
Tyraz - M-Mark my words, K-Kolossus...I-I shall k-kill you over a-and over!
Kolossus - My rage is too much for Hell to contain...
Kordan - Now Mithra, what have I told you before about eavesdropping on Daddy's private meetings?
Mithra - I-I'm sorry, Daddy...I-I heard n-noises and I g-got scared for you.
Kolossus - Actually, wait! I got one more thing to say to the vermin before you take him away.
Indricas looked to his god and nodded, dropping Tyraz flat against the floor, who grunted in disdain and agitation. Kordan turned around with a curious eye and a slight, interested smile that crept across his face.
Kolossus - I was going to make it a secret for later, but I'm just too eager, I can't keep it hidden anymore.
Tyraz - Slit your throat...a-and choke!
Kolossus - You shouldn't be so bad-mouthed in a room full of kids, you're going to give them a bad example.
Tyraz - C-Choke on s-shyrak! I'll... I'll k-kill every damned o-one of these a-abominations!
Kordan - My daughter does not deserve to hear your foul and crude words, Apostate.
Kolossus - I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about these!
Kolossus put one of his hands behind the throne he was sitting and grabbed a large spherical object. It appeared as a glass dome with a bed inside. On its interior, two small entities slept.
Kolossus - I've always been interested in hybrids, you see. How they are formed, how they grow, how they survive the harshness of life. The Draconizane are all hybrids, but I can never have enough. Gaze upon this dome, Tyraz. Look what I have inside it.
Tyraz glared, his blurred vision allowing him to make out partial outlines of the demonic deity and the object it held within its hand. However, as if by some inconvenience, his vision began to clear, he began to make out the details of the beings inside the sphere held within Kolossus' hands. It was then that he made a desparate, yet useless, lunge forward, throwing himself across the ground and writhing, wiggling his body all he could to motion towards Kolossus. Kordan reached down and lifted Mithra up into his arms. Either to show his affection, comfort her or allow her to see.
Tyraz - T-TOUCH THEM...A-AND YOU D-DIE!
Kolossus - Now, how did you and your stinking rat wife called them again? Kamavera and Naziri? I wonder how it looked like, at birth. Was she ripped apart by it? Radeons are frail creatures after all.
Kordan - You have no power in this realm Apostate. All that you are shall be stripped, your life made nothing, you will lose everything but your sense of existence.
Tyraz - You...Any of you... l-lay a m-mere claw u-upon... upon m-my spawn...
Kolossus - You're a bad parent, Tyraz! You couldn't take care of your firstborn, and you made even more after! It's a shame I couldn't get him to join his siblings. Several factors were on the way. Now, imagine this. These two...
Kolossus put the dome close to his head and glared at it.
Kolossus - ...Champions of Zr'An'Kar.
Tyraz' eyes widened, and he threw his devastate torso upwards to glare Kolossus deep within his eyes, blood pouring from his wounds and his innards drooping out of his mouth from where Kolossus had damaged him.
Tyraz - Y-You wouldn't... d-dare!
Kolossus began cackling, causing the room to rumble. He gently put the dome with the two children away, and looked back to Tyraz with a grin.
Kolossus - Here's something for you to reflect on your torture. Take him away!
Tyraz - I'll... I-I'll... I'll tear you APART!
Kolossus - You can thank me later, mortal!
Indricas pressed his foot against Tyraz' snout and slammed him against the floor. Throwing him over his shoulder once more, Indricas turned towards the door and began walking, continuing to drag the lower half of Tyraz' bifcurated torso by its tail, dragging his innards and blood across the floor. Kordan, meanwhile, laughed at the insult and led Indricas out of the room, with Mithra resting in his arms, he led Indricas out and towards the prison cellsIndricas - I've definitely got to open more doors for people.
The Arcadium - with Sarec, Hachi, Uriel, Davius, Herquie, Crispy and Jerkon on board - exited hyperspace at coordiantes Crispy had provided. They were somewhere within Northern Draco, a region of Andromeda where there was less significant presence of the Draconid Imperium. although the state had been increasing its hold ever since the fall of Invictus. Coming up on the ship's scanners was a vessel signature the size of a large freighter. ADIA, the Arcadium's AI computer, materialised into view. As they approached, ADIA - the Arcadium's resident AI - called the passengers to a comfortable briefing room, materialising as a Drallivian female wearing an advanced flightsuit.
ADIA - An unknown vessel has been detected Sarec, preliminary scans indicate technlological and engineering qualities comparable to the Highlord Nations. I have activated our stealth systems as you requested.
Hachi - Hopefully we should be able to get in close. Can't afford getting detected by that thing, nu-uh. No sir.
Herquie - Shouldn't be that hard.
Crispy - Well, you say that. And then you realize the possibility that this society has stealth-detection hardware and software comparable or greater than that of Imperial vessels.
ADIA - I have deteched Shidium energy signatures thoughout the ship. It is indeed carrying quantities of both fuel-grade and weapons-grade Shidium. Sarec - How much?
ADIA - I estimate no less than 42,725 cubic metres of Shidium in storage.
Jerkon - That is bothersome to say the least.
Crispy - It'll be more than bothersome if that stuff gets on your flesh. Burns straight through.
Jerkon - I am perfectly aware of what Shidium can do.
Uriel - That volume is enough for a small army.
Crispy - And this is only a freighter.
Koluap - Let's hurry up then.
ADIA - My sensors are not sophisticated enough to differentiate between cargo and crew equipment.
Hachi - Dammit ADIA, why is your programming so blonde?
ADIA - My programming is not at fault. There is considerable interference from scanner resistance technologies withi nthe vessel.
Jerkon - Hair colour does not affect intelligence.
Sarec - ADIA uses the most advanced equipment the Inquisition has access to. If she is getting blocked, this is a suitable indicator of their technological prowess.
Crispy - As soon as we get in there, we'll be unable to call for backup if that's the case. I'm sure they'll have external-internal communications intereference technology for anything that doesn't register as their equipment.
Jerkon - We can use the opportunity to analyse their technology.
Crispy raised his finger upwards at Jerkin, indiciating he desired ot interrupt him with his own comments.
Crispy - If we survive long enough to take notes. But I'm sure we all will, what's the worst that can happen?
Davius - This comes form the man who claimed survival is impossible without nanotechnology.
Crispy - I said nanotechnology would raise our chances. Not by much, but there is a raise.
ADIA - My translocation systems are able to transfer everyone once we are within four-thousand metres.
Herquie - Shall we get going? All this talk isn't gonna take us anywhere.
Sarec - Four thousand? That's shockingly close. Very well, ADIA you maneuvre the vessel into position, everyone follow me to the teleportation room. Hachi - Now I don't know about scale but... that's kinda suicidal.
Crispy - I did say.
Koluap waved his hand in dismissal of the danger, instead of worry he had a rather eager smirk across his snout.
Koluap - We've been through worse a few years back, human. This is a piece of cake in comparasion.
Hachi - Yeah and even after all these years you still won't call me by my name, shark-lizard thingy.
Koluap - I've grown used to say "human". Also your name sounds...girly.
With the meeting over and preparations beginning, Sarec guided everyone to the teleportation room on board ship as ADIA steered the ship close to the freighter. By the time they reached the bay, everyone was ready - suited up, supplies packed and weapons charged. As the Arcadium got close enough however, alarms began blaring.
Crispy - That's not good.
ADIA - I'm sorry but we have been detected!
Jerkon - Most problematic.
Sarec - Everyone onto the pads. Now.
Herquie - No need to tell me twice!
Hachi - Sarec I think the last thing we need to worry about are pads! We need to teleport!
Sarec rolled his eyes and wrapped his hand around Hachi's forearm. He dragged him onto one of the teleporation pads and waited for the others. ADIA activated the teleportation sequence once everyone was in position.
Crispy - I wonder if the ship is capable enough to perform a multi-user teleportation without recombinating the wrong atoms.
Jerkon - The Imperium should not have such problems. If it did, I would seriously question its technological capacities.
After a bright white flash, vision returned to everyone and they found themselves inside a large chamber filled with shipping crates and illuminated from lights high above. The room itself was enormous, packed with dark metal reinforced shipping containers stacked in threes and restrained by posts and bolts that secured them into racks. Some of the crew materialised in the open, others found themselves in confined spaces filled with rather large piecies of equipment depending on the space; guns, armour, power packs, food supplies, some even contained dead or even living animals.
Crispy checked himself over, examining himself for a few moments before releasing a sigh of relief. Koluap had his face on the floor while Jerkon looked around with interest, Sarec appeared next to him with a sigh of relief. Herquie's eyes narrowed and large metallic claws appeared from his gauntlet. Davius had materialised with the others while Uriel was nowhere to be seen. Hachi was sat on his rear, rubbing his eyes as he had kept them open for the teleportation sequence. As his eyes adjusted, all he saw was a dark room; he heard agitated, heavy breathing. He kept quiet - he had materialized inside one of the crates. Crispy had materialized in the open, counting the crew as they materialized. Jerkon looked around his own container, seeing it densely packed with tightly-wrapped corpses.
Herquie - Where's the others?
Sarec - We...appear to be missing a a few.
Crispy - Cargo storage it appears, wonder what level. If we're assuming Zazane architecture, it's more likely to be within the depths of the ship. Lower sublevels.
Koluap - Where's Jerkon? And Uriel? And the hu-...Ha-chee.
There was a bang from one of the nearby containers, as if something was hitting the end of one repeatedly. A muffled "Where is everyone?" coming from it. Herquie turned to the source of the sound and moved into its direction, using the crates as cover.
Davius - That...that. Sounds like Uriel.
Crispy - Indeed it does. Perhaps we should help him.
Davius nodded and walked towards the source of the noise. He listened for the bangs before fixating on one crate.
Crispy - The material makes it difficult for us to penetrate. Explosives should work, but then we'd risk damaging the interior contents. ...Oh and the Paragon as well.
Herquie - Hm. Koluap, use that fire axe of yours to cut this.
As Herquie looked over to Koluap he had a rather deadpan expression on his face. It was a rare sight, he wasn't smiling, he wasn't jovial, he wasn't grumpy. His face was completely neutral, he shrugged to answer Herquie's question.
Koluap - I don't have it anymore.
Herquie - ...What?
Koluap - A demon stole it years ago. And besides, I'd never use that damned thing again even if I still had it.
Meanwhile, in the container Jerkon was inside, he coughed and tried to keep himself away from the dead animals in the crate he was on, making disgusted expressions as he came in contact with them. The tight spacing meant that his steel claws had accidentally cut open the wrapping, releasing the smell of hot, dead meat that mixed with the chemical smell of plastic. The insulated container however, meant that his squirms and choking went unheard.
Crispy - Sarec, is it possible you are able to warp the material structure? You could potentially make an exit-entry point.
Sarec nodded and pressed his hand against the door. After a few moments the material began to creak and weaken, it dissolved into ash and everyone saw Uriel standing and breathing a sigh of relief. Behind him however, were racks where small, feeble-looking Draconis were harnessed within. Their wings were stubby and they appeared asleep. Everyone suddenly became mroe interested in the contents of the container than Uriel's well-being. Crispy walked past Uriel, patting him on the shoulder. He observed the malnourished Draconis inside, examining them closely. He knelt down to one, giving it a thorough observation.
Herquie - Are these starving children or what?
Sarec - At this size they should be adolescents...
Koluap - Any reason they were being kept in a crate?
Crispy - Small, suffers from evident skin loss, thin scale structure, wings incapable of aerial traversal, teeth designed for soft materials. Significantly scarred, clipped horns, removed claws and nails...
Crispy stood, looking down at the Draconis as it slept. He folded his arms, looking towards the rest of the residents harnessed within the crates. Uriel turned around and looked at the Draconis with horror, memories flooding back.
Sarec - Too large to be children, more akin to adolescents.
Crispy - Not adolescents. Adults. They descend from Draconis, definitely. But they're... different. They appear to have evolutionarily degenerated over the course of time, perhaps many millennia.
Koluap - Woah...that's pretty nasty.
Uriel - ...It...it is almost like what Medusa did to my daughter...
As Herquie spoke, there was a tremendous, crashing noise as if something had just been damaged and destroyed. It was shortly followed by a terrifying alien roar and heavy footsteps, with the sound of metal churning; Hachi was thrown across the room and against one of the containers as a colossal Koda broke free from its prison. Everyone was startled both by the noise and the now-rampaging beast that was loose. Uriel stepped back in shock fro mthe titanic creature, his seys wide as he pulled the folded-up rifle from his back.
Herquie - Woah there.
Koluap - Gorilla!
Koluap grabbed his shotgun but before he could fire it Crispy quickly placed his hand on Koluap's gun and lowered it, whispering as he spoke;
Crispy - Don't shoot.
Koluap - Why not?
Crispy - Because your bullets can't penetrate its hide. It is better to hide and plan rather than full-out attack. Quick, behind the containers.
Koluap - Bullcrap. But fine.
Koluap lowered his gun further looking very upset, a huff had escaped his breath as he conceded to Crispy's word. Uriel and Sarec nodded and ran for cover as the beast ranpaged thoughout the hall while Koluap and Herquie followed closely. Crispy gathered the team behind cover, encouraging the team to crouch and stay quiet by making several gestures with his hands.
Crispy - ...Have any of you got a plan?
Herquie - I could slash at its neck if you distracted it.
Crispy - In that case, we're going to need bait. ...Dear Paragon.
Uriel and Davius looked at Crispy in shock at his suggestion, Uriel speaking first with Davius saying the exact same thing a milisecond after Uriel did. Both of them looked at Crispy as if he had come up with some insane plan, which it probably was given the beast's ferocity as it smashed containers in a flying rage.
Uriel and Davius - What!?
Crispy - You're Draconis. Where the Koda comes from, it is more than likely to have been trained to hunt and kill them. You make the perfect bait.
Davius - You wish to use the Praagavatus as bait. Are you insane?
Crispy - Do you have any better ideas? Perhaps you would enjoy using yourself?
Davius - My life is not as important as his. Zazane.
Crispy - Alright, Davius. You can be the bait.
Davius stood up and brandished his axe he walked out from the crates and aimed a fusion pistol, firing it in order to draw the Koda's attention. Herquie moved quickly and darted between the crates to position himself behind the Koda while Davius fired at it. The Koda continued to roar and strike out towards the containers, devastating their contents and materials before it looked towards Davius as it felt the heat of Davius' pistol's round rush past its head. Glancing for a moment, the Koda charged, bounding across the room at a horrifyingly fast pace, picking up debris from beneath its feet as it ran. Davius readied himself and as the Koda approached he jumped out of the way just as the goliath creature charged past. He fired another fusion pistol round to draw its attention back. As he rushed forward, Herquie was surrounded by a radiant white aura and began running after the Koda, with his bladed gauntlets prepared. The Koda roared and continued to run towards Davius, leaping off the walls of the hall and bounding towards him, salivating with Shidium-enriched drool as it snapped and screeched. As this happened, Crispy ran out and picked up the unconscious Hachi, dragging him back towards cover.
Herquie had kept behind the beast the entire time, he lunged upwards into the Koda's direction. He spun in midair and delivered a precise slash at the back of the colossal creature's head. The Koda screeched as the rear of its head exploded into blood and gore. It crashed forwards, rolling for several moments before colliding with another crate, knocking it over and causing its contents - munitions and equipment - to fall onto the floor. Herquie landed and looked at his blades, now stained in blood. Davius panted as he stood back up, looking around at the mess.Herquie - You Zazane all have this weakness, hm?
??? - What in the Emperor's name was that?
Everyone heard it, a baritone voice a voice form down a nearby corridor. Herquie's eyes widened and he immediately hid behind some crates. Crispy, who had stored Hachi somewhere safe ot rest, peaked from behind cover. Uriel, Davius and Sarec darted for cover as two vaguely Zazane-like shadows cast themselves against a wall, heading towards the sound of the calamity.
??? - I swear there was a noise down here....THe Lord of Ruin isn't here is he?
??? - No, he couldn't be. Last time I saw him he was retrieving the Apostate.
??? - Lucky. Or unlucky and-- Oh Shyrak!
??? - What? What is it?
Emerginf into view were two large aliens, standing a little under under four metres tall and wearing advanced armour. From a distance they appeared to be an odd blend of Draconis and Zazane, standing like Zazane did with a humanoid posture long swaying tails, but their wings were much larger in proportion to their bodies, their heads were more square and their entire body plan favoured mass, particularly around the hips and legs to give them a weightlifter's build. The team looked at these odd aliens with a mixture of curiosity, interest and in some cases, disgust.
Crispy - ...Bizarre.
Koluap - Ew.
Uriel - I feel nauseated...
Herquie - ...Let's hope their necks are also a weakness.
Soldier - One of the Koda must have forced itself out of its restraints. No way am I telling the captain this happened!
The soldier's partner's eyes widened as he looked upon the damage dealt, however he almost entered a fit of panic as he saw the colossal beast splayed across the floor in a bloody mess, lifeless.
Partner - What in the Emperor's name?!
Soldier - I think we just lost four squads' worth of equipment and supples and-- - he turned his head ot see the Headless Koda lying limp o nthe floor with blood spreading from the corpse - Uhh...
Soldier - Do you think the Koda collided with something so hard its head exploded?
Partner - I... What are we going to tell the c-captain? How are we going to explain this?!
Soldier - Calm down, maybe...maybe someone from 17th company decided to loosen its restraints as a joke. Yeah. THat'll work right?
Partner - You call releasing an aberrant Koda a JOKE?!
Soldier - On the same level as daring someone to steal the Lord of Ruin's clothes while he's in the shower, sure.
Partner - Why would somebody even...?!
Soldier - Ever been hazed before?
The soldier paced forward and past the group, making heavy pounding steps, passing the group and inspecting the crate Sarec had dissolved the door off of. He looked at the marks curiously as he leaned forward for inspection. His partner followed behind, observing the same spot. He placed a hand against the warped material before quickly drawing back.
Soldier - Well this slave shipment appears shaken but fine, save for a missing door.
Partner - It's hot.
Soldier - Hot? What kind of abberations did the restrained Koda have exactly?
The soldier waked towards the remains of the Koda's crate and accessed a panel that had barely survived being torn off, looking at the shipping manifest and the crate's contants after accessing the manifest with the registery of his palm.
Soldier - Okay, according to the logs, nothing special about this Koda part from being above-average size. So I have no clue what melted the door.
Partner - ...Do you smell that?
The soldier sniffed the air and furrowed his brow.
Soldier - Seared metal and fresh rotting Koda meat. Wait.
he soldier continued sniffing the air, slowly pacing towards the group's location.
Soldier - I smell Draconis. Is that what you mean?
The soldier's partner raised his gun and looked around cautiously, beginning to walk with heavy footsteps.
Partner - Seared metal, rotting Koda meat... and Zazane. And Draconis. And... wet vermin.
Hachi - *whispering* Oh come on!
Koluap - *whispering* Make us disappear!
Soldier - Did you say something else?
Partner - No. I heard that too.
Jerkon, growing desperate from being trapped for so long, began kicking the crate's walls from the inside. The soldier held up his hand after hearing the banging, drawing the attention of his partner.
Jerkon - Release me already! I cannot breathe well in here!
Soldier - Wait-- Food crate 37.
Partner - ...No, I'm not going there.
The soldier walked over to the crate Jerkon was rtapped inside and tapped into the manifest. His partner stayed behind, suddenly becoming very apprehensive.
Partner - Food crate. Dead animals. Talking. You know what that all means? ...Zombies.
Soldier - Maybe it's just a stowaway.
Partner - Zooo-ooo-ooombies.
Soldier - ...Or maybe Vetarion's worshippers have been trying a bit of necromancy.
Meanwhile, the group looked on, felling helpless. They whispered amongst each other, trying ot formulate a plan hopefully before they lost Jerkon to the mutants.
Herquie - We gotta do something right now.
Crispy - Give me a moment.
Jerkon - Who is that? Is that you, Koluap? If this is a sick joke, it is a terrible one. Get me out!
Partner - Vetarion's worshippers need a pike up their cloacas! They're resurrecting our livestock! Well... dead-stock.
Soldier - Aren't zombies supposed to be, well, brain-damaged?
Partner - It thinks it's still alive! That's brain-damaged enough!
Jerkon - I heard that and I am severely insulted!
Partner - See?
Soldier - It also happens to be talking same as anything that's alive. Either those hedonists have created the multiverse's smartest zombies or whoever is shouting isn't dead.
Jerkon, realizing he was not talking to Koluap after all, changed his tone.
Jerkon - Erm...Uuuuurrgh...braaaains.
Partner - ...I wouldn't say the smartest zombie. Why would a zombie pretend to be a zombie?
Soldier - It's a living alien then.
Partner - Or... it's a chameleon zombie!
Jerkon - Eeeeat yoooour fleeesh...heeeil Moooxiiiix.
Meanwhile Koluap forced himself not to giggle at the situation.
Partner - Who in the Emperor's name is this "Mocks-icks" guy? Sounds like something a kranndung parent would come up with.
Soldier - We can always find out by beating the living shyrak out of it. Or. Unliving shyrak, whatever.
Jerkon - *whispering* This is embarassing, humiliating and extremely nerve-wrecking. - Jerokn then returned to his charade - Nooo! Touch zooombie...becoooooome zooombie!
Soldier - it sounds like there's only one, we open the door and blast it to pieces, okay?
Partner - I heard that! I know you know fear! And know no fear to fear because we do not fear fear... Open the damned door!
Herquie - Crispy!
The soldier opened the door using the console on its side and stepped back ready to fire as the doors opened, having his finger ready on his rifle's trigger. Crispy emerged from his position and approached the Draconizane. As they opened the door, he whistled towards them, approaching them with a casual and calm manner.
Crispy - Evening, fellows. Or morning. Whichever you prefer.
THe soldier darted his eye to look at Crispy for a moment before looking back for his eyes to fixate on Jerkon as the doors exposed him, gollowed by the rancid stink of dead meat. Rather than fire, the soldier lowered his gun. The soldier looked at Jerkon with disgust and confusion, not having seen something like him before. The Dracogonarious had his teeth bared and one of his eyes twitched from the smell he was exposed to. The soldier's partner turned and aimed his gun towards Crispy. However before he could fire or enter a stance, Crispy engaged him, pounding his armour and body with quick strikes that sounded as if they broke bone. The partner was quickly subdued, his weapon taken by Crispy who proceeded to point it towards the Draconizane. The soldier turned around and laughed at Crispy's attempt to intimidate him and as the soldier turned, Jerkon grabbed his own rifle and aimed at the Draconizane's head.
Soldier - Go on Zazane, shoot me! I dare you.Crispy examined the soldier and nodded. The Draconizane soldier felt an immense amount of force strike the front of his face as Crispy slammed the bulk of the gun against him, combined with his already impressive amount of strength. The soldier felt the collision and staggered back, falling onto his backside with a heavy thud and struggling to hold his head up from the dizzying impact. Crispy leaped onto the soldier's chest and began pummeling the butt of the gun into the soldier's face over and over with increasing ferocity each time. Soon there was blood spurting from where he was striking, refusing to stop as he heard the soldier's cries and please of agony.
Uriel and Sarec ran forward, watching as Crispy brutally murdered the soldier, who with constant pleas eventually stopped seconds before lying still, his skull horribly beaten and deformed fro mthe constant impacts. Crispy continued to pound the Draconizane's head with the gun, refusing to give in even after he acknowledged his unconscious. Blood spurted over Crispy's hands, face and body, continuing to beat the soldier's skull into such an unrecognizeable state that it perhaps couldn't even be called a skull anymore. Jerkon sprinted off the crate, running on all fours around the room and shaking himself.
Uriel - Jerkon how do you feel?
Jerkon - I am distressed!
Crispy continued to smash the pulp that was the Draconizane's face for several more seconds until he threw the gun away and stepped off of the lifeless corpse. He was drenched in Draconizane blood, sighing as he laxed his shoulders casually.
Sarec - We would have rescued you sooner, but hachi apparently managed to wake up a rather large Koda.
Hachi - It was ADIA's fault for teleporting me there!
Koluap - Hey, that zombie act was great, though! You should do it again! Heh!
Jerkon walked up to Koluap and slapped him across the face, knocking him into the floor. Davius walked up to Crispy and gave him an aknowledging smile.
Jerkon - I need...a bath...urgently.
Crispy - Don't worry. The nanomachines inside you will stop you from becoming contaminated by illness or negative bacteria.
Davius - You exerted a considerable degree of rage just now, Crispy. I am impressed.
Jerkon - I still stink like a deceased beast.
Herquie - Eh. Putting rage in your fight does nothing but hinder you.
Crispy - Rage? That wasn't rage, that was necessity. I needed to know he was going to stay down.
Uriel - You appeared rather fixated on erasing the alien's skull.
Crispy - Well he's not going to get up again. Now, where were we?
Davius - The group is fully assembled, but perhaps we should move to a less conspicuous area of the ship. One of the soldiers compared this damage to some..."Lord of Ruin"
Jerkon - My being is certainly in a state of utter ruin at the moment.
Crispy - Indeed, not good. Hey, look over there.
Crispy pointed across the room. On the farside was an upturned anti-grav table, built to carry weight and heavy cargo. The sled had presumably been overturned during the Koda's rampage. Uriel looked over to the anti-grav sled with interest.
Crispy - Jerkon, take off your clothes.
Jerkon looked at Crispy with an eyebow raised.
Crispy - Sarec, fetch the sled. Uriel, Davius, Hachiman, Koluap. When Sarec brings the sled load the corpses onto it. Herquie, ask the malnourished Draconis for their binds and clothes.
Herquie - Eh. Right.
Koluap - What are we doing again?
Crispy - The opposite of arousing suspicion.
It was several minutes before everything had been prepared among the team; Crispy, Hachi, Sarec, Uriel, Davius, Koluap and Herquie were now dressed in tattered rags and binds, while Jerkon and their equipment was hidden among a pile of dead animal corpses that they had gathered onto the anti-grav sled which in turn was being pushed and managed by both the disguised team and some of the malnourished Draconis slaves they had come across, who they managed to wake up and release from their container. After hiding the bodies of the two Draconizane soldiers they had either killed or incapacitated, they prepared to make their leave, waiting for another member of ship personnel to come and find them in order to direct them.
After some time waiting in the halls of the ship, they were passed by a Draconizane in uniform who turned and glared at them, folding his arms. Crispy looked up at him and feigned a sense fo intimidation and worry that he was about to be punish. All a ploy to make themselves look convincing.
Crewman - You, lot, stop standing about and get that meat to the ship's kitchen before the captain finds out!
Crispy - W-Where w-would that... t-that b-be, s-sir?
Crewman - 30th deck, section five. Use the service elevator down this hall. Now MOVE!
Crispy nodded and the group managed the heavy anti-grav sled, pushing it in the way that the Draconizane crewman had directed. It was heavy due to the weight added by the meat, Jerkon and their armour and weaponry. As soon as they were outside of hearing distance from the crewman, Crispy spoke with a sense of eagerness and a smile creeping across his snout.
Crispy - Isn't this exciting?
Jerkon - No it is not.
Sarec - Hachiman was almost killed by a Koda. We are lucky he was not instantly swallowed.
Hachi - Why is everything always bigger than me...
Sarec moved close to hug Hachi as they were walking in order to comfort him.
Herquie - At least killing it was thrilling.
Uriel - I was rather worried those...aberrants, would have discovered the rest of us.
Crispy - Curious, isn't it? I do wonder how such creatures had come into being and how long they've maintained a stable empire... So much to learn and discover. Do you not agree, Jerkon?
Jerkon - I am naked and surrounded by corpses.
Uriel - Remind me why did we have to strip Jerkon?
Crispy - I didn't want him next to me nor any of us, do you know how much he stinks?
Jerkon growled in overhearing this while Koluap giggled. Arriving at the door to the service elevator, Sarec activated it and keyed in for the elevator to head to the level where the kitchens were located. They had to wait a few seconds for the elevator to arrive.
Uriel - Perhaps there are washing facilities in these kitchens?
Hachi - Why would a kitchen have a washing facility? What, we're going to clean Jerkon like Sarec cleans dishes?
Herquie - That's downright awkward.
Sarec - Hand washing stations Hachi.
Hachi - You're going to give Jerkon a hand wash?
Crispy - Somebody has to clean the meat off Jerkon if he's not willing to do it himself.
Jerkon - Now you are making these comments on purpose to annoy me.
The elevator produced an audiable sound to indicate the elevator cab had arrived on their floor and the doors opened up. Uriel smiled as he, Sarec and Davius entered the elevator first. The group pushed the anti-grav sled into the elevator and waited for the doors to close, which took several moments as some of the slaves stood between the doorway and didn't understand that it was stopping the doors from closing. After a few minutes, the doors shut and the elevator began to go upwards, leaving the team to their own devices for the meantime.
Davius - Being outside of my armour and body-glove feels distressing.
Hachi - ...Body-glove? ...A-As in...
Uriel - A item of clothing owrn by all wearers of Imperial power armour to support the harness. Think of it as a tight-fitting boiler suit.
Hachi - Oh! Right, right, I thought it was that thing you wore when you don't want babies.
Davius - Made out of synthetic muscle rather than fabric.
Crispy - So Herquie, tell me. What did you do back there, with the Koda?
Herquie - Cut the nape of its neck. Zazane all got that weakness. I figured out Koda would have it too.
Crispy - I know about Zazane biology. I was referring to the energy you used.
Uriel - Whatever it did, the Koda's body did not appear to react to it like a natural deep cut.
Hachi, upon hearing this, turned his head to Herquie in curiosity. Pointing at Herquie by raising his forearm to jsut above his hip.
Hachi - ...Wait a minute, can you use it too?
Herquie - That was Dream Energy. And yeah, I can use it too.
Hachi - ...Teacher made an odd choice.
Herquie - Thea'Nhirara didn't give me my Essence. I inherited it. She did teach me a few tricks though.
Hachi - Inherited it? But... But... That's unfair!
Sarec - Now Hachi, don't be jealous.
Herquie - That's a horrible attitude for Thea'Nhirara's student. She always speaks so good of you.
Hachi - ...You're right, I'm sorry. It's just the situation's so stressful and it's like I can never catch a break, there's always something that needs doing that happens to put my life at risk.
Sarec - I understand what it is like to be gifted in such a way. Among Inquisitors I was considered a natural with the energies of the universe.
Herquie - My case was a bit weird because I'm the first Bonio to show this pwoer. Studies later showed all Bonio have Dream Energy. Not as much as I do though.
Crispy - Huh, wonder why that is.
Herquie - Oh, and Thea'Nhirara really misses you. You should visit her once in a while.
Hachi - S-She misses me?
Herquie - She does. She speak of you as if she spoke of a son.
Sarec - You are lucky to have such a parent figure Hachi.
Herquie - I can detail my race's power in another time. Right now it's really not the best moment.
Hachi looked down and smiled, blushing slightly as his ears perked. Crispy passed a slight grin before he became focussed once more, watching as the elevator almost reached its destination.
Koluap - Well I'm glad I didn't get any Essence. I've come to the conclusion it's too much of a dangerous thing for your health.
Sarec - It depends on how it is used and the kinds that are used.
Koluap - I expect you to spontaneously explode at any moment.
Sarec - I would not be here if higher powers did not consider me ready for them.
Crispy - You're referring to Tyraz again?
Koluap - Not necessarily to Tyraz. During the Xhodocto War I've had my own experience with Essence...it wasn't pleasant.
Crispy - Ah the Xhodocto War. I heard you caused quite a stir in the Highlords' halls.
Uriel huffed and looked away.
Koluap - Yeah, Tyraz couldn't get over the fact Arsac turned traitor and yelled at me. Me!
Sarec - Tyraz lost the trust of a few people that day.
Koluap - I'm here just so I can slap him in the face when we save him.
Crispy - I don't blame them. If I recall my sources within the AGC claimed that he had murdered quite a few people in a fit that day, burning them to ashes. Just as he would his enemies. And I don't hear good things about people who are claimed by that sword.
Koluap - That sword should be sealed away at the depths of a high security facility.
Crispy - You're starting to sound like Arsac now that you mention it. No wonder Tyraz liked you.
Koluap - Don't compare me to that wicked witch woman!
Uriel - Tyraz is a man constantly on the brink. I dread to think what he would be if he did not have those like Arsac, Iovera, Myself and you, Koluap.
Koluap - Well, for one, without me, Kolossus would have killed him over a decade ago.
Hachi - Suuure.
Koluap - Did Thea'Nhirara never tell you about the Corruptus war over 10 years ago?
Hachi - She told me about it, I just find it a little difficult you saved him.
Jerkon - Me, Koluap, Herquie, Kithworto, Agent Mu, among others, saved the entire Ottzello Galaxy from being destroyed by Kolossus. During that war, the Zazane inhabited Ottzello.
Herquie - I'm getting some heavy nostalgia.
The doors opened up and the smell of meat, herbs, spices and sweat were suddenly blasted at them along with a rush of heat. After the initial burst they set eyes upon a room full of slaves working with knives against chunks of meat, Working around ovens, all diligantly watched by a Horder wearing a crewman's uniform. Unlike the Draconizane the team had met, and like every Horder they had already met before, this Horder appeared laid-back and had an unconcerned expression. THere was noise and smell, much different fro mthe almost-sterile corridor they had walked though earlier.
Crispy - A Horder. Perfect.
Koluap - They got Horders too? These copycats.
The group pushed the anti-grav sled into the kitchen, with the slaves following. Crispy examined the equipment and the food, while Hachi could barely pay attention to anything aside from the smell, causing him to almost let go of the sled in order to grab some nearby meat. The slaves worked tirelessly, some of them coming to lift carcasses off the sled and mount them onto chopping tables and cut them into chunks of meat.
Horder - Everyone is doing their things fine. As long as it stays like that, I'm sure I can get you all some snacks when the captain's not around.
As Hachi stared at the food one of the slaves was working with, she looked at him curiously before turning back to her job.
Hachi - Wow, look at all this food! It smells so good!
Crispy - Let us leave the sled somewhere where the slaves can find it so we can regroup and plan from here-out.
Jerkon - What about me? Are you going to leave me for the slaves?
Crispy - I forgot about you. You can come out now.
Jerkon - You ingrate.
Jerkon drew a heavy sight through his teeth and attempted to pull himself out of the pile of corpses he was packed under. The commotion attracted the attention of the Hoarder taskmaster who looked towards the group. Due to the nature of his kind however, despite a slight irritance he still sounded calm and relaxed about the whole situation.
Horder - What are you all chit-chatting about?
Uriel - What now?
Crispy - Sssh, keep in character.
Horder - I heard you chit-chatting among yourselves! Don't you know it's work time?
Hachi - Umm... O-Of course, s-sir. O-Our a-apologies.
Horder - Well go back to work then. We don't want the captain hearing about slackers on his kitchen.
Uriel - A-Apologies sir, we shall return to work.
Horder - Good! Now hush! It's almost dinner time.
The group pushed the sled to a corner of the room and waited for the Horder to return to its post, beginning to whisper among themselves once more so as to ensure that the kitchen director wouldn't overhear them.
Crispy - I have an idea.
Herquie - And what's that?
Crispy - When the ship makes its jump, we start a riot. It shall cause a distraction that will allow us to grab our equipment and head for the captain's quarters. From there we can observe coordinates and other necessary data.
Koluap - Sounds fun.
Hachi - What about the big cow thing?
Crispy - I have the perfect idea for him.
Jerkon - Elaborate.
Crispy - What do you know about Horder?
Jerkon - Gentle creatures. Physical strength almost comparable to Loron.
Crispy - Do you know what happens when you set one off?
Jerkon - Yes. They go berserk. Can cause tremendous damage.
Koluap - Ooooh, you wanna tick that Horder guy off!
Uriel - An ideal distraction, if rather questionable.
Davius - How exactly do we engrage one of the most relaxed alien species in Dranvamus?
Jerkon - It will not be easy. It is very difficult to anger a Horder. I must also add this plan is extremely dangerous for we will be in danger.
Crispy - Then I suggest everybody should back away as I am doing so. I may require assistance. Any volunteers?
Jerkon - No.
Sarec - I am perhaps one of the most durable of us. It may be best if I support you.
Crispy - It is not a case of durability. It is a case of how far you are willing to go to anger such a gentle creature.'
Sarec stood in thought for a few minutes. Closing his eyes in thought
Hachi - Can't be that hard, can it?
Crispy - During the days of the Zazane Empire, underground Horder colosseums and arena pits were established for entertainment of the Zazane audience. They used... cruel methods to achieve angering Horder in order to get them to fight one another.
Jerkon - ...Disgusting.
Hachi - ...This is sick. I don't want to see this.
Sarec - I...Am willing. Hachi, do not think less of me because of this.
Crispy - We shall await for the hyperspace jump. Until then, we shall blend in, camouflaged among the slaves. Upon my signal, we shall cause a riot, arouse the slaves. Afterwards, me and Sarec will accomplish the deed. You had better have grabbed your equipment and be gone by that point.
Herquie - Very well.
Crispy - Uriel, where is the captain's quarters most likely to be located based on Imperial philosophy?
Uriel - Near the command deck, right in the very centre of the ship.
Crispy - Then you shall all head there while me and Sarec torture... agitate the Horder.
The team had managed to camouflage themselves among the enslaved workforce, performing various menial tasks that were both nauseating and difficult - slicing meats, gutting corpses, stewing and boiling dismembered limbs and organs, killing and processing various smaller animals. The heat within the room was astonishing, it was hotter than what one would expect such to be. Many of the labourers had removed their rags, working naked as they could not bear the heat. Herquie looked around with an annoyed expression. In their slave garments, Uriel and Davius panted, their scales began to rise up in a desperate attempt to vent heat from their bodies, revealing their soft reddish skin underneath. Davius however, being one of the Crimson Draconis, had a deeper red to his skin than Uriel. Koluap had a smile on his face, as he enjoyed the heat. Crispy had removed most of his rags as he was found processing various crustacean species, killing them with the assigned equipment and passing their lifeless bodies onto the next slave for their turn in the process. Hachi had, fortunately for himself, managed to secure a workplace among female company. He did not smile as much as he frowned as he saw their emaciated, abused bodies. Sarec appeared largely uninterested in the heat, but nonetheless made it look as though he was poorly enduring the intense heat of the kitchens.
Jerkon - For such an advanced civilization, these hybrids have extremely poor work conditions.
Uriel - I suppose it depends on what they desire for these...sapiens. The head chef of the palace's kitchens would hardly endure conditions such as these.
Jerkon - Slavery. A primitive and counter-productive concept. Having a poor and mistreated workforce does not bring positive results. Drones would make this entire job much more efficient.
Crispy - This isn't any standard kitchen, I am assuming. This one is probably separate to that which feeds the grunts and soldiers. No, the food prepared here is most likely for the superiors and higher-ups, based purely on the Imperial noble system. They're probably above eating drone-produced meals.
Jerkon - Which is illogical. Slaves make mistakes, drones do not.
Koluap - It's pointless to get mad at it.
Jerkon - Hmpf. That is correct.
Davius - I remember him complaining of some Zazane boy who forced his way into the kitchen at least once demanding a plate of mincemeat.
Uriel - Zazane boy? How exactly did the confronation go?
Davius - If I recall, I had to send a pair of Dragons after reprots that the child shattered the chef's shin as he tried to shoo the boy off.
Crispy - What was a Zazane boy doing in the palace's kitchen?
Herquie - heh. If it was the Collective, the boy would've been shot down the moment he entered the kitchen.
Uriel - If its who I think it was...the boy would have been Tyraz's son.
Crispy - ...That explains a lot.
Koluap - Oh. That ugly bastard.
Davius - The man's injuries could have been worse without the Dragons' intervention.
Hachi looked about, unnerved by the look of the women working in the kitchen. He felt sorry for all of them, working in these conditions and under the lash. Seeing them like this brought a sense of pain into his stomach, it was all the same though - withered bodies, weakness, these poor creatures were forced to work in unbearable conditions and all to slake of the desires of a few priveliged individuals they may never get to see or have empathy for. Seeing this cruelty drove Hachi to turn away, his face scrunched up in despair.
Hachi - This... This is disgusting. How can anybody treat another living person like this, let alone a mass of people? I mean, the women... the girls...
Crispy - It is things like this that drive the Insurrection to a better future.
Herquie - You're saying the Brood of War does this?
Crispy - They call it manual employment and societal contribution rather than slavery. Work in labour or in military or else you deserve no right to residence.
Koluap - At this point I'm not sure what to think anymore.
Uriel - I doubt we can change the circumstances of this particular empire overnight.
Jerkon - They deserve destruction as far as I am concerned.
Crispy - Do not be so irrational, Jerkon. Blame the leaders for such circumstances, not the people.
As the group talked there was a tone caused by a broadcast sysem that echoed in the kitchen.
Announcer - Attention: Universal translocation immenent.
Sarec - Let us prepare...
Crispy - This is our chance. Prepare yourselves, once the vessel makes the jump I want you to do as much as you can to start a riot. Shove people, refuse work, stop people from working. Cause arguements, whatever you can.
Herquie - That'll be a piece of cake. Causing havoc is one of my specialties.
Uriel and Davius looked at each other and then back at Crispy, nodding in aknowledgment. Sarec, still under the guise of his assigned task, nodded himself.
Hachi - What about... What happens to the slaves once you set the Horder off?
Herquie - They better not be under the Horder's path.
Uriel - Perhaps....perhaps the end is a mercy for these people.
Crispy - ...It is likely many of these people won't escape the bloodbath.
Jerkon - Thinking about it will only slows us down. We must proceed.
Announcer - Universal transferrence is now in progress. All hands prepare for inter-universal jump.
Crispy - This shouldn't take long; jumping is usually a short process. I have never crossed between universes however, it's purely an assumption.
Koluap - Oh boy, here we go.
The ship's interior began ot groan under the effect of the transition, a low groan that permeated though the ship and reverberated within the bodies of everyone aboard. Many of the kitchen slaves felt a shiver down their spines as though something ominous suddenly took ahold in their minds. This feeling existed for a moment before passing.
Sarec - We are here.
Crispy - Then we must proceed with the second phase.
Out of nowhere, Crispy picked up a vulnerable crustacean-like creature that had been branded with numerals on the side of its shell and threw it across the kitchen into another slave. Koluap screamed and began throwing utensils around at random directions. He ran across the kitchen, bumping, shoving and poking slaves as he did. Uriel and Sarec parted. Davius began toppling trollies, shelves of food and slamming his fists into partially-prepared meals while Uriel was pulling slaves from their workstations. He began arguing with another salve. Sarec meanwhile threw a slab of meat in his hand at a slave behind him. Sarec unerestimated himself however and the slab of meat hit the slave in the face and threw them backwards into a metal cabinet. Hachi sighed and then proceeded to clasp his hands around the rear cheeks of a mammalian and a synapsid humanoid that stood either side of him, causing them to screech and react in a rather hostile manner; throwing utensils and equipment at him, unintentionally striking other slaves and causing them to retaliate.
Herquie's hands glowed a faint white and he began throwing small, needle-shaped blasts of Dream Energy at the backs of several slaves. Jerkon, meanwhile, opened his wings around a group of slaves, throwing them around. Slaves started throwing food and utensils back, one responded to crispy's aggresion in kind by throwing a half-skinned rodent-shaped bundle at him, the other half of it being coated in light tan fur which was very long. Koluap groaned and spit his natural venom at the eyes of several slaves, blinding them and causing them to attack aimlessly, hitting each other. One slave ran up to Davius wirlding a ladle. As she approached, Davius reared back and slammed his crest against her forehead, sending her collapsing backwards. Crispy clasped ahold of the rodent and threw it at a nearby ventilation system, causing it to explode and its blood and guts being flung across the room, coating disgusted slaves and shocking them, causing them to lash out against one another.
The kitchen's din was replaced in moments from the clatter of utensils and carved meat to the angry and panicked shouts of a crowd suddenly going berserk and attacking each other either from disorientation or frustration. Crispy proceeded to throw himself against a workstation, weighed down by many forms of technology and equipment, and proceeded to topple it, knocking many credits worth of assets and materials across the floor, with slaves caught beneath it before he was struck again by a mob of agitated and highly aggressive labourers.
Sarec merely paced about the crowd, pushing or shoving kitchend owrkers and trollies asside or smacking them away with his tail. Hachi scurried across the room, knocking over slaves and taking the opportunity to sneakily grasp ahold of the breasts or rears of any females he could find, causing them to become frightened and highly reactive, lashing out at anything and everything. Uriel however was suddenly set upon by four slaves who jumped on him and sent him crashing to the floor, forcing his head against the grease and food-stained floor that had rapidly lost its clenliness ever since the fight began.
Koluap - I'm trying to no longer be crazy but I'd lie if I said I'm not finding this extremely entertaining.
Grasping ahold of a dead crustacean, Crispy scraped its shell hastily across a surface and caused it to spark with flames, which reacted with some of the puddles of grease and fat on the floor. Soon fires were beginning to break out among the chaos. At this moment, the Horder guard entered the kitchen. He carried what looked like a highly advanced stunstick and looked at the chaos with his teeth barred.
Horder - What in the name of Zr'An'Kar is going on here?!
Sarec and Davius looked behind themselves to see the Horder standing above the chaos and racket. Uriel however still had his face force against the floor. Crispy looked towards the Horder and grinned, running up to Sarec and positioning himself near him, grasping his shoulder. Hachi watched as Uriel found himself dominated and rushed to his aid, punching out slaves who had managed to topple the Draconis. Davius ran to help Uriel and effectively tossed one of the smaller slaves with such force he flew a few feet backwards.
The Horder began hitting the slaves with his weapon, killing them and throwing them across the room.
Horder - You stop this racket before I'm forced to put you all down!
Crispy - Sarec, on my mark, you go for his legs. I'll go for his face and we'll topple him.
Sarec nodded and stood close to Crispy. Rolling his shoulders back and tilting his head up in preparation. He nodded as he finished his exercises and stood in a ready position. With Hachi's help, Uriel was finally clear of the mass of bodies and Davius helped him stand up, as he rose to his feet Uriel passed his gaze by Hachi.
Uriel - I thank you for that.
Hachi - Think nothing of it... Come on, we need to go get our equipment back, it looks like Sarec and the Zazane guy are about to do their stuff.
Koluap - Do it quick! He's got a stick!
Crispy patted Sarec's shoulder and roared outwards towards the Horder, a sign that now was the time to strike. Uriel nodded and ran alongside Davius to the pile of bodies that their equipment was hidden under, surprisingly despite the hectic atmosphere of when they entered there were still enough bodies ot cover their equipment up. Sarec snorted and charged forward, spreading out his arms intending to catch the Horder's legs and lift them up in one swift motion. The Horder looked at Crispy's direction and, before he could do anything, found himself grabbed by Sarec. As Sarec grasped ahold of the Horder, Crispy ran a few steps behind before leaping into the air and clenching his fist, aiming to strike the enemy's face with all of his strength packed into his arm.
Sarec bared his teeth and pushed forward, displaying abonormal strength in order to off-balance the Horder who was hit and sent backwards, falling to the floor and causing a loud thud.
Horder - Agh! What is this?!
Crispy - Sarec! Keep his arms restrained behind his back!
Sarec nodded and vanished from the Horder's legs, repappearing behind and holding out his arms, drawing the Horder's colossal upper limbs towards himself though invisible forces.
Horder - What's going on? Get your hands off me!
Crispy launched himself forward and impacted against the chest of the Horder, sitting atop of it as he stared into the creature's eyes. He leaned forward, baring his teeth.
Crispy - Name! What is your name?!
Horder - Watch your tone, slave!
Sarec closed his eyes and from the Horder's perspective, burts of flame suddenly erupted from Crispy's eyes The Horder's eyes widened at the sight of the flames. Crispy lashed out, pounding his fist against the Horder's cheek with tremendous force. He roared and yelled again, growling louder.
Crispy - Name!? Give me your name!
Horder - Sulage! My name is Sulage!
Crispy - Sulage! Do you have family, Sulage? Answer me!
Sulage - Ngh! I do! Stop staring at me like that, whatever you are!
Crispy - How much family, Sulage?! How many?! Children? Siblings? Lovers, what?!
Sulage - Why are you asking me this? Who the hell are you?
Sarec - I advise you answer his questions
. Crispy - Remove one of his nails!
Sulage - Fine, fine! A spouse and three children!
Crispy - A spouse and three children? Take out four of his nails!
Sulage - What?! Why?
Sarec then clenched a fist and took a deep breath. The Horder could suddenly feel immense pain from his fingertips as four of his fingernails were being slowly pulled out. Sulage thrashed in place. He waved his tail around, hitting a nearby slave and decapitating him in the process. Sarec kept a hand held out as he walked atound to one of the Horder's hands. Slamming his foot on the back of it and pinning it to the ground. The Horder let out a pained howl. From the weapons pile, Herquie watched with his arms crossed, while Jerkon and Koluap had their backs turned, refusing to watch the torture. Uriel and Davius, recalling what they had agreed, Uriel and Davius made silent festures ot the rest of the group to retreat from the kitchen and head towards the captain's quarters. COnsidering the danger they ewould have been in if they stayed, the rest agreed and moved. Crispy continued to glare at Sulage this entire time.
Crispy - Because, Sulage, you are a damned, pitiful cretin! Your family as well, for loving you! For your spouse allowing you to father her children! And you know what? You're never going to see them again!
Sulage - Ghrrr...Zr'An'Kar curse you all!
Sarec - Your false god's swords mean nothing to us, abomination.
Crispy - Your children will never watch their "daddy", a mentally deficient waste of space, walk through the door to greet them home again! Want to know why? Sarec, remove another of his nails!
Crispy and Sarec could see Sulage's muscles becoming gradually larger and more defined. The Horder began growling and barred his teeth. Sarec flicked his finger and accidentally pulled a fingerbone from one of the Horder's other hands
Sulage - You...take that back. Now.
Crispy - And what about your spouse? Imagine the look of glee on her stupid, ugly retarded face when she hears her mentally deficient shyrak-eating vermin of a lover is never coming back! And nobody will care! Not her friends, not your children's friends, not your friends! Oh wait, what friends?! You don't have friends, just the people who pity you, you ugly, stupid, fat lazy bastard!
Sulage thrashed more, his eyes began rolling to the back of his head.
Crispy - Your parents should have been executed for ever concieving you, Sulage! For ever giving you life! And you know what? I hope your death drives your lover and your children insane, and I hope that they get so angry that they trample and gore each other so they don't have to carry on your pitiful excuse for a gene pool!
Sulage let out a howl and launched his body up, sending both Crispy and Sarec to the ceiling at high speeds. He got up and the two of them team could have see his physical frame had erupted, veins visible on his muscles and his eyes blank. Sarec impacted the ceiling and left a perfect indentation of himself within the material. With rage like an erupting volcano, Sulage immediately began mauling nearby slaves. Crispy coughed and spluttered as he fell from the ceiling, a perfect outline of himself left within it. When he managed to sit up and watch as Sulage began his rampage, he turned to Sarec and spluttered with difficulty.
Crispy - The aberrant soldiers will be here soon, we can sneak past then.
Sarec - Indeed. Definitely no longer safe here.
Sulage glared at Crispy, grabbing a nearby slave, crushing it on his grasp and then throwing it at the Zazane's direction.Crispy - ...Shyrak.
As Sarec and Crispy distracted the Horder in the kitchen, Uriel led the group - which consisted of himself, Davius, Hachi, Koluap, Herquie and Jerkon - though though the ship, avoiding certain corridors as marines went charging towards the kitchen or some other location, sirens on the lower levels blaring to draw attention to the mergency unfolding in the lower levels. It was rather clear which door's was the captains as it had been decorated with a silver-coloured material and gold hilights.
Jerkon - I will have nightmares tonight.
Hachi - That was... I-I don't even know what that was... I was having fun then all of a sudden, that.
Herquie - I could see you having fun passing your hand through the girls, you sly little kid.
Davius - A lot of tension, a lot of oppertunity for chaos.
Koluap - Guys. Was I the only one who heard that Horder mention the name Zr'An'Kar? Isn't that Kolossus?
Uriel moved close to the door and pressed the side if his head against it, shifting one of his locks aside and furrowing his brow in concentration in an attempt to hear what was going on inside.
Hachi - ...The actual fuck? That makes no sense, you must have misheard.
Uriel - Kolossus? Surely not...
Jerkon - No. I heard it as well. But it is not possible. We destroyed Kolossus decades ago, during the Corruptus War.
Uriel - He returned during the war for Borealis.
Jerkon - ...I was not informed.
Uriel suddenly lifted his head away from the door and blinked for a few minutes. There was a flah in his mind and he suddenly realised that the creatures they were encountering thoughotu this ship had been effectively prophesised, a goading hint in Kolossus' realm at the Second Borealis Galactic War's climax as if to taunt Uriel and Tyraz further.
Uriel - The carvings...Lifefather preserve us!
Herquie - Carvings?
Hachi - No, no you're all mad. Kolossus is dead, he's gone. Outed, met his demise, asploded.
Uriel - Hachiman, Sarec and I were part of a group that assaulted him some years back. I remember carvings of Draconis...at least I thought they were Draconis.
Davius - Perhaps this civilization is unaware he is dead?
Jerkon - So Kolossus is worshipped by these hybrids...is he their creator?
Uriel - I recall Tyraz mentioning he and Kolossus have a history.
Koluap - They do. Kolossus had a vendetta with him...that's it! That's why Tyraz was kidnapped!
Hachi - ...Koluap you are just blowing my fucking MIND!
Herquie - So we got a demon god in charge of these hybrids. This whole thing just got a lot more interesting.
Koluap - And weird! He made Zazane and Draconis have babies together!
Davius - I would rather not have that image.
Uriel made hand signals as if to tel lthe group to keep quiet, he pressed the side of his head against the door once again, furrowing his brow in concentration.
Uriel - I can hear...something though the door. We can either sneak inside or force our way in.
Hachi - I say force our way in.
Herquie - Sneaking might be better. A swift attack on the unaware is the best way to end fights quickly.
Davius - Now something bothers me. If these hybrids are a combination of Draconiz and Zazane, what makes them taller than both species?
Jerkon - Evolution? We do not know how old this empire is.
Hachi - ...Actually yeah let's sneak in. Forgot these guys were bigger than us.
Uriel looked around for a possible way to enter the room. After looking around his eyes caught sight of a vent grate close to the ceiling. he smiled slightly as he had an idea.
Uriel - that ventilation opening is too small for some of us, Hachiman, you might be able to fit.
Hachi - Wha-- W-Why me? What am I supposed to do?
Herquie - If it weren't for my wings, I could enter that easily.
Uriel - You might be able to open the door from the inside. We can pull the grate off, then you appraise the situation inside and open the door for us.
Hachi - ...Dangit, I hate it when you guys are right.
Hachi grunted and prepared himself, rolling his shoulders back and forth as he tried to clear his mind. In order to comfort him, Uriel patted Hachi on the back as he and Davius moved towards the grate. Davius opened his wings and jumped up to grab the grate with his hand, using the enhanced strength his armour offered him to pull it off, as well as leaping high enough to reach it. After doing so, he beckoned Hachi over, who approached, nervous and quivering slightly as he did not know what to expect on the other side.
Hachi - If I don't land in a girl's bosom when I get out the other side I'm not going to be a happy bunny.
Davius stepped up and grabbed him gently, moving over to underneath the grate he gave Hachi a light toss, making him airborne for a moment as he approached the opened vent. As he reached a height on par with the vent's ledge, Hachi grasped ahold of the vent and climbed inside with some struggle, almost falling out initially. He turned round and looked at the team below him, before perking a smile and giggling.
Hachi - Ceiling Hachi is watching you.
Herquie - Get going, kid.
Reaching the other side Hachi was able to peer inside the Captain's quarters; a large comfortable room decorated with high quality materials and lit with a dim and comforting tone. THe quarters appeared to be fit for a person of reasonable status with two rooms; a main living room and a bedroom all decorated with exotic finery. On a wall at the far end of where he had emerged there was a desk with an advanced personal computer. it was clear from the offset that everything in this room was tailored for a Draconizane, given the sizes of the furniture. Hachi wandered around, staring at the finely-decorated furnishings felling impressed at the level of comfort the room's resident was priveliged with.
The controls for the door were right to its left, however positioned at least two metres up from the floor and against the wall. Hachi emerged from the vent and set himself onto the floor. Taking a shifty look around the quarters, impressed by the scenery, he attempted to move in a stealthy manner even if such was unnecessary as of the moment. As he did, he began to hum. He approached the control panel for the door and cussed to himself, as they were positioned above his height. He tried reaching up, gaining a few inches but not enough to touch.
Hachi - Piss.
Davius tapped his foot impatiently as he watied for the door to open, Uriel began pacing about a little, not out of patience but for concern for Hachi's well-being while Koluap, out og boredom had stolen played about with ulage's stunstick, which he had picked up after the Horder had been sent crashing to the ground. He was waving it about with both of his hands as it was clearly too large ot be comfortably used by a Spinker.
Uriel - Is everything alright in there?
Hachi - I-I can't reach! Too far above! ...I'll try and find something to stand on! Give me a few moments!
Hachi snuck around the quarters, taking his time to enjoy the surroundings. He was trying to find stuff like books or piles of magazines that could have supported his weight, although he found no such luck. Instead, he resorted to having to push a fancy drawer, made or dark, rare wood, across the room. Everyone on the other side of the door could hear the sounds of the drawer scraping across the floor. Davius and Uriel resorted to closing their eyes as the scraping sound began to hurt their ears. Jerkon grunted in annoyance, while Herquie sighed.
Herquie - Hurry up, will you?
Hachi - Just hold on!
Uriel - Let us hope this noise does not draw undue attention.
Shoving the drawer against the wall, Hachi climbed it and sat atop of it now that he could finally reach the door. Observing the buttons, of which there were a considerable few, Hachi began to press random ones; turning off and on the lights in the room, activating and deactivating holographic environments, until finally the door opened. Uriel breathed a sigh of relief and moved towards the open room, heading though the threshold joined by Davius. He briefly stopped, partially intrigued by the size of the furniture as well as its decoration. Jerkon, Koluap and Herquie followed inside.
Hachi - See if you can find anything, like data files or holodocuments or whatever, to see where we are and where we're going. If the captain's a slouch, they would have left it lying around somewhere.
Uriel - Let us hope.
Davius moved further into the room, lookinc closely and observing every article in the living room. Uriel was still looking around.
Davius moved towards the computer that was at one end of the room and climbed up onto the chair. Meanwhile, Hachi began opening the extensions of the drawer he had pushed and began looking through them. All he found were clothes and jewellery, some of which he took out and admired for a moment. When he came across what appeared to be bra section of the drawer, he took a minute to observe and smell them, groaning delightfully as he did.
Davius - This language...it is as though someone butchered High Dracid!
Koluap - Can you still read it?
Davius - Wait...there are fragments of Zan'tai...give me a moment. I need to let my translator acclimatise. Let me see...Coordinates...1-0,0,0. Looking at a star chart...Kranndung that's impossible.
Hachi - Yeah, I know! The captain must have massive ti-- Oh wait, what did you find?
Davius - Everyone had better look at this map.
Jerkon, Koluap and Herquie all turned their attention to the map, walking around to Davius' angle to see a star map on screen. In order ot help them, Davius moved the screen and the image was plain as day - the location on the galaxy was identical to Alcanti. Hachi, still over by the drawer, tilted his head in looking at the map.
Hachi - ...I can't read coordinates, hah.
Jerkon - Most disturbing.
Uriel - They centered their empire around Alcanti?
Hachi - That can't be right, surely. Maybe you mistranslated?
Davius - The location is slightly off but...it does appear to be the Aldra system.
Uriel - Presumably, that's where they are keeping Tyraz.
??? - Yes, indeed it is.
Uriel - That is good news.
Behind the team, the captain of the vessel had appeared, armed with a weapon firmly in her hands. She wore basic armour across a skintight uniform and had her gun aimed towards Davius, before pointing it towards Hachi as he continued smelling and looking through her bras. Herquie turned and prepared his bladed knuckles, while Jerkon aimed his rifle and Koluap struggled to keep his grasp of the stunstick. Davius turned to look at the Draconizane captain and drew his axe form his back, pressing a mechanism to extend the shaft and the heads.
??? - Who in Zr'An'Kar's name are you and what do you think you're doing on my ship, snooping through my files and sniffing my clothing?!
Koluap - I was hoping the Horder had killed the boss for us.
Uriel - Hachiman perhaps now would be a good time to stop inspecting the good captain's underclothes.
Hachi - B-But they're so good!
Jerkon - This perplexes and confuses me.
Uriel - You migt wish to look behind yourself.
??? - So, you were the ones who upset Sulage! A good overseer, you have no idea how hard it is to find a Horder with the competence to maintain slaves! Grr... How the hell did you get here? Did I leave the door open for slaves to get in?
Koluap - We ain't slaves, pal!
Hachi slowly turned and looked upon the Draconizane captain. When he looked towards her chest his face lit up red and a large, wide smile perked across his face. The Draconizane captain growled loudly and kept her combat stance.
Davius - We made our own way inside.
??? - What do you want? Tell me the truth and you'll be fortunate enough to only have to endure twenty lashes of the whip!
Herquie - Stand down, demonspawn, before I lose my patience with you.
??? - You mentioned the name of the Apostate. Tyraz. You are his servants? His... friends?
Koluap - Not me. Nuh-huh.
Uriel - We never said his name.
??? - Heh, you don't know how much I overheard.
Koluap - Well you're a stalker.
??? - I'm a stalker? You're the ones invading my privacy! ...Get out of my drawers!
Hachi squeaked loudly and backed away with a disconnected expression on his face, staring at the Draconizane's chest. Davius hopped from the woman's office chair and tightly gripped the shaft of his battleaxe while glaring intently from under his helmet.
Davius - You are outnumbered. We hold the advantage.
Herquie - One wrong movement and your legs will disconnect from your body, among other body parts.
??? - Urgh... What do you want? Why go through MY stuff and then threaten ME? You're clearly not with the slaves, too well-equipped... Deicide, perhaps? Are you Deicidists?
Koluap - Don't call me names!
Davius - Tyraz Breek.
??? - The Apostate isn't on-board my ship! You shall not find him here!
Jerkon - Then this ship will take us to him.
Uriel - Then where is he? We demand to know.
??? - Hmph. The Eternal Emperor would have my head if he knew I willingly collaberated with traitors!
Herquie - We'll have your head if you don't cooperate.
Davius - Make your choice wisely captain...
The captain kept her weapon primed and aimed, her eyes narrowed. She stood there for a moment, her wings spread and her breathing heavy. She was steady but the team could tell she was feeling tinges of fear. Koluap and Jerkon kept their own weapons aimed at her, while Herquie posed with his bladed knuckles. His expression was devoid of emotion and he looked at the captain with an empty gaze. After several minutes she lowered her weapon with a sharp and frustrated exhalation.
??? - ...The Heartworlds. Don't ask me for anything more specific, I gave you your answer. The ship's on an automated course. Allow me to warn you all that you are stepping into a pool of boiling water as soon as we dock, the Eternal Emperor is not blind to intrusion.
Koluap - We've been through worse.
Davius - That is a risk we fully understand and aknowledge. We will deal with that issue when we arrive.
??? - Hehehe, you honestly believe you can simply 'deal' with the Eternal Emperor? He is beyond you all, and you are all leading a suicidal mission.
Herquie - I take you're gonna say he's a "god" next. Yeah, I've been through this already and you should just shut up now.
??? - The Eternal Emperor? No, he is not a god... but he serves Him. Zr'An'Kar.
Koluap - Tell your Emperor Kolossus is already dead, gal. We kiled him ages ago.
??? - Kolossus? His name is Zr'An'Kar, blasphemer. And you are the mistaken ones - simply because you do not believe in Him or you have killed His prophets, He is not dead! He is alive and He is well!
Koluap - Nah, I've watched Tyraz stab him in the eye.
??? - Liars! The Apostate is far lesser, far more inferior to Zr'An'Kar! Just you await, villains, His will shall be done!
As the captain lowered her weapon further, she was knocked onto her knees from behind. She opened her jaws wide to scream and bellow, before the team watched as a clawed hand drove itself through the back of her head and into her mouth. Blood poured forth, with the hand grasping ahold of the captain's tongue and yanking it back, destroying what remained of the back of her head as she fell forward and lay dead upon the ground, bleeding and salivating uncontrollably.
Crispy stood behind her, bruised, wounded, and covered in blood. Most of the team appared disgusted fro mthe ordeal, stepping back but a sense of relief washed over them as Crispy had revealed himself. He panted, stepping forward. The group could see several deep gore wounds across the front and side of his torso, his flesh beaten and bruised. Sarec moved around from behind Crispy, his armour damaged and a few of his scales battered, he looked worn-out and nodded as he moved to stand next to Crispy.
Crispy - ...What information... could you extract?
Jerkon - Tyraz is at the "Heartworlds" and this ship is on its way to Alcanti.
Koluap - That Horder gave you a beating, eh.
Crispy - The Horder... The rioters... The guards... The wild animals... That's not important.
Uriel - Whoever this "Eternal Emperor" is, we should make sure to avoid him.
Hachi - ...C-Can I keep the bras? And the underwear?
Uriel - Are they not rather large for you?
Jerkon - That seems inappropriate.
Hachi - N-Not for me to wear! Just.. well, she isn't going to be using them.
Jerkon - ...That seems even more inappropriate.
Crispy approached the team and breathed heavily, collapsing onto one knee while he tried to maintain his composure. His eyes appeared frenzy, almost terrifyingly so as he glared towards the group.
'Crispy - We... We-we'll need to get off the ship... w-when we next dock. T-They... T-They're murdering the s-slaves... A-Anybody have any... any ideas on h-how to escape once we dock?
Sarec - I can extract us from the ship when we dock. I am familiar with Alcanti so hopefully I can translocate us somewhere safe.
Jerkon - If this Alcanti is like our universe's.
Crispy - "Safe"... isn't where we n-need to be.
Crispy lifted himself up, his muscles twitching and aching from where he had been injured by the previous conflict.
Crispy - W-We'll need... directions. A m-map. Or s-somebody to g-guide us... in o-order to find T-Tyraz.
Sarec - Recon.
Uriel - We get down to the planet, then try and find a way to guide us to Tyraz.
Hachi - Can't you turn invisible Sarec?
Sarec - Hmm. I might be able to discern his location by his aura and translocate us close to it. And yes, I can make us invisible.
Koluap - Yeah, that saved us a few times in the past.
Crispy - ...T-Then do both. F-For now... w-we wait u-until docking. Agh...
Crispy slipped and fell to the floor, his eyes flickered frantically. His breathing was panicked and stuttering, his wounds continued to bleed even with the enhanced regeneration prone to his race and the additional assistance of his nanomachines. His eyes rolled into the back of his head before his eyelids closed over; he was unconscious. Seeing him fall, Sarec rushed to Crispy's side with his eyes wide and rested his hand on the Zazane's chest.
Hachi - W-What's wrong with him?!
Jerkon - He is heavily wounded. Herquie, can you not use your essnce to heal him?
Herquie - No. It'd hurt him even more.
Sarec - He's fallen unconscious...something prevented him from regenerating and he's blacked out. He is still alive however.
Hachi - ...Where do we leave him? W-We can't take him with us... can we?
Sarec - We have no choice.
Hachi - But an injured guy is gonna slow us down!
Herquie - Are you seriously suggesting that? Didn't you learn anything from Thea?
Hachi - ...Gah, what am I thinking? Right, right. Let's just wait this out and, like Crispy said, wait for the ship to dock. Then we'll make our move and plan from there.
The Eternal Palace
Sarec sat up from where he was sitting in a meditative position. he opened his eyes which glistened a bright indigo before turning to everyone else, who had been using the captain's quarters to keep safe from the incidents outside. Hachi was close by, looking at Sarec apprehensively as he had meditated and gulped as he saw the meaning of Sarec's next words in his eyes.
Sarec' - We have arrived. Hachi' - Sarec, I feel nervous. Herquie' - Let's get moving. Sarec' - We are preparing to tread into a dangerous realm, the heart of an enemy empire. Hachi' - I haven't even had my last fap yet.
Sarec nodded and stood up, walking over to where he had laid Crispy down; the bed that would have been used by the former captain, were she not lacking her tongue, skull, brains and sense of existence. A large, plush thing much larger than Crispy himself. Resting on the bed the Zazane breathed sparingly, his eyes closed and his wounds deep, although based on the improvisations at hand the group had managed to stop his bleeding.
Sarec - Even in orbit I can feel him and...something else.
Sarec turned to the group and beckoned them over to him, Uriel and Sarec nodded and paced over, adjusting their armour sets with Jerkon, Koluap and Herquie following close behind. Hachi approached last, grasping his sword pre-emptively.
Sarec - Everyone ready. I will get us as close as I can, but...I make no guarentees.
Davius - Can you clarify?
Sarec - There are...Individuals down there that make locating him difficult. But the way they treat him, it would not surprise me if he was in the prison cells.
Jerkon - That is fair enough.
Hachi - I remember the last time I was in a prison cell. I was being overwatched by beautiful women, wearing skintight uniforms. ...I was dreaming of course but you know.
Sarec held out his arms and took in a deep inhalation, the room oscillated around them, twisting and straining before dissolving, replaced with what appeared to be a small dark room with a high ceiling, the join between the wall and the ceiling decorated with supports of a dark and ornate metal. Surrounding them appeared to be numerous advanced utensils designed for landwork; hoes, large forks, trimming devices and buckets.
Hachi - ...And this is, where?
Davius - A storage unit perhaps?
Sarec - This is as close as I can get us without arousing supicion.
Hachi - Well, you're right; this isn't arousing at all.
Koluap - Weird choice of words. Let's get moving now.
Uriel nodded and pressed his hand against the door, triggering an automatic response that caused it to slide open, revealing to the group an enormous courtyard to an even larger gothic palace, walls of black stone and metal that stretched high into the sky. Uriel looked upwards at the collosal spires with awe and a feeling of intimidation.
Uriel - I have never seen such a place on the Homeworld...Where are we?
Hachi - I thought you'd have known!
Jerkon - This is an alternate universe. The fact this planet exists by itself is already a coincidence.
Uriel - Alternate...Yes. It makes sense this building would be unrecognisable.
Out in the courtyard were slaves, like the small emanciated Draconis that were in the shipping crate, there were similar deformed species, but plenty of Draconis and Zazane. The slaves worked the gardens, tending to rows of plants, climbing ivies and kept the stonework and ornaments clean, there were statues of these Draconizane hybrids everywhere. The centrepiece of this garden was an enormous tree with ash-black bark and leaves as red as an evening sunset that glistened with dew or possibly something else in the twilight hours of the day. While everyone else looked at the slaves with concern or perhaps horror, Jerkon looked at them looking dissapointed.
Hachi - Whoa... I've never seen Zazane look so... unhealthy.
Jerkon - Again, droids would be much more efficient.
Sarec - Infiltration will be difficult.
Hachi - What would Crispy suggest?
Uriel - I doubt that slaves would be allowed in the prison cells unless under escort.
Koluap - Can't Sarec disguise us or something?
Sarec - I can, yes.
??? - Tragic to see life go to waste like that. Dei'Nar'aechin'ei vena'shenthae'ae sai'a...
Koluap groaned as he heard the voice, while Jerkon and Herquie turned with their weapons in hand. Uriel turned his head rapidly towards the voice, finding immense familiarity within it. Surprise and relief spread across his snout. Outside, A robed feminine figure passed through the garden, her face covered by a cowl; she walked softly, with strange calmness in her voice as if her soul was detatched from her body. As she entered the cupboard almost ghost-like in grace, she lifted her hood back a little to reveal her rodent-like facial features, her nose twitching and her eyes glinting with an interior light as she looked upon the group with a hidden sense of joy. Hachi looked upon Iovera and was overcome with a feeling of awkwardness, blushing and looking at his feet as he saw her, scratching the back of his head.
Uriel - Iovera...
Sarec - Forgive me, Iovera. I should have informed you of this mission.
Herquie - Who's this gal?
Iovera - Worry not. I do not need others to know that my love is in danger, Sarec.
Hachi - Glad that you can join us, miss Eo-- Iovera.
Herquie - I repeat, who is this woman?
Hachi - Tyraz' wife.
Uriel - Highlord Iovera Menoriam of the Divinarium, Herquie.
Herquie - Right. She's an ally then I guess.
Herquie looked at Hachi with a raised eyebrow.
Herquie - ...I shouldn't ask, should I?
'Hachi - It's best not to, no.
'Sarec - I may be able to make us appear to resemble the guards. But it will take some concentration. We need a reason to ender the prison cells however.
Sarec took a glance towards Uriel as he spoke, causing the latter to frown defensively.
Uriel - You want to use me for the masquerade.
Sarec - There is no one closer to him other than his consort.
Jerkon - We must do whatever it takes to get Tyraz back. You should understand this risk.
Hachi - Well, I wouldn't mind seeing Iovera in cuffs-- I mean yes, Uriel's our best option.
'Iovera - Eolania Iovera Menoraim. That is my first name, yes.
Iovera bowed nobly to Hachi, noticing a strange impression in Hachi's face. As she was drawn to Hachi's features, Sarec took a glympse outside to observe the guards that were in the courtyard, observign every detail before turnoing back towards the group.
Iovera - Why are you staring at me that way?
Hachi - Y-You have plentiful... r-robes. Yes, robes. Very plentiful robes.
Iovera raised her eyebrow.
Sarec - I am ready. Koluap, Herquie, Davius. You may feel some discomfort from this.
Koluap - I've been disguised before, I can take it.
Herquie - Hm?
Sarec rolled back his shoulders and closed his eyes, wisps of light flowing from them as Koluap, Herquie and Davius felt themselves transforming, becoming like the guards outside, all three experiencing a twisting transformation that lasted but a moment. It was a very uncomfortable moment however, as their vision lines rose to almost four metres off the ground, their spines shifting and their skulls moulding themselves. Strangely it was not a painful experience, but it was definitely unsettling.
Sarec - Jerkon, Hachi, Lady Menorian and I can keep you hidden from sight while these three, along with Uriel look for the prison cells. Do not worry, we will be close by.
Herquie - Urk. This is like that time on the Vida'Rranlora database.
Koluap - You'll get used to it.
Hachi - Don't spend too long or you'll arouse suspicion.
Sarec - We will travel briskly.
Sarec levitated and his form transformed into a Draconizane with more high-quality armour than the others, indicating him as an officer. After transofrming, Sarec waved his hand and a pair of handcuffs materialised over Uriel's wrists, prompting him to quietly growl.
Sarec - Follow my lead.Koluap and Herquie walked alongside Sarec. as they walked out of the storage cupboard while Savius walked behind Uriel. Hachi travelled close to Iovera while keeping an eye out on Sarec and Uriel, feeling a little doubt inside although he kept a strong, confident pace. As they all left the storage cupboard, Hachi, Iovera and Crispy vanished from outsiders' view.
Tyraz rested against a wall, weak from the strain the horrific torture machine had put on his body. He sat with his legs close and his head buried into his knees, trying to shut out the nightmaric enviroment he had not choice but to endure, all the while now wishing he had someone he could share his pain with. His captors had provided no bed, no soft material, no comfort whatsoever. But sitting insultingly in a corner on the other side of the room was a dark metal bucket. The only comfort he had and obviously placed there as a brutal reminder of how they saw him. Not that he needed it. Standing near the entrance to the terrifyingly dark chamber was a veteran Taskmaster, equipped with hi-tech weaponry and various cybernetic implants. He paid no attention to Tyraz, although something did catch his idle eye; a figure appeared, dressed in majestic, royal attire, approached. She wore jewellery across her hands and horns, a method of recognizeability.
??? - Allow me passage, veteran.
Taskmaster - For what reason, Your Royalty? The Apostate is secure, incapable of--
??? - I demand entrance. I must see him for myself. I am gathering intelligence for my father, he would not be pleased to hear that you are proving an object.
The Taskmaster stepped back and grunted, a twinge of nerve causing his eye to twitch. He bared his jaws but he did not react, instead pressing a hand across a holopanel beside the entrance and lifting the thick, heavy doors.
As the doors opened, Tyraz lifted his head slightly, those infernal eyes, presently trickling black tears took a slight peek towards the opening door, quickly burying his head back and once again wishing he was no longer here as the figure entered. The Taskmaster shut the door behind her, submerging her in complete darkness aside from the light which lit Tyraz' prison. She appeared familiar to Tyraz, he could somewhat recognize her innocent, unharmed face. She approached his cell, stepping into whatever light there was and observed the Zazane, staring at him with lamb-like eyes, examining him from afar with keen interest and curiosity. Tyraz lifted his head up and looked towards her with an aggressive scowl. His every demeanor implying that he did not appreciate her company.
Tyraz - What do you want.
??? - ... I... I-I wanted t-to apologize, A-Apostate-sir... f-for what m-my father d-did.
Tyraz - Excuse me?
??? - A-An apology, o-on his... umm, unknowing behalf.
Tyraz - What makes you think I would accept him being sorry for what he did to me?
??? - B-Because it's n-not like he wanted to do it! Z-Zr'An'Kar t-told him to! He doesn't have choice... A-Apostate-sir.
Tyraz - Then you do not see your father the way I do.
The figure pressed herself slightly against the barrier that separated them, placing her hands against it and looking moreover Tyraz with curious eyes. He could now make out her features; soft-looking scales, undamaged horns, clean teeth that seemed to sparkle. Her name escaped him but she bore a few traits similar to Kordan.
Mithra - I-If that was me, I-I wouldn't have h-hurt you u-unless Zr'An'Kar told me t-to. Father's a good person, he is. He cares a-about his people.
Tyraz - You...you disagree with your father?
Mithra - I... I h-have different views, but I love him because h-he's my father! And he does what he n-needs to do, you just c-can't see that.
Tyraz - Every one of your kind has treated me like Shyrak: Those two who captured me, your father, his bootlicks, how do I know you could any different!
Mithra - Because I'm taking my time to listen to you.
Tyraz huffed and turned his head away from her. The woman sighed and looked across the chamber, seeing another panel beside Tyraz' cell; she reached out and pressed a hand against it, allowing it to register her DNA and overriding preset commands. The barrier slowly began to fade and dematerialize. ONce it was no more she stood in full view and with a sympathetic expression. Tyraz slowly turned his head, still giving her a defensive glare from those blood-red eyes. His vision drifted to lock onto her own.
Mithra - Now will you talk to me?
Tyraz - I have nothing to say.
Mithra - Don't sulk! Sulking is for babies and you're not a baby... I think, I don't know much about Zazane.
Tyraz's eyes flashed an intense red for a moment before settling down.
Tyraz - Was that remark intentional?
Mithra - Well, you're not a baby, are you? So don't sulk!
Tyraz - I have been pulled from my home, forced to live in darkness, consatantly abused and insulted, made fun of, my children are now your "diety"s personal posessions and you think I have no reason to feel like this?
The figure approached closer and sat down, sitting on her knees yet somehow she still managed to remain taller than Tyraz. She sighed and looked down, a saddened expression on her face.
Mithra - Please, don't be angry. It's not m-my fault or f-father's fault.
Tyraz - Hrmph, You all worship a monster and an abomination. He constantly desires to see me suffer and you all played along.
Mithra - I don't play along! ...M-My dad does all the w-work, but he has his r-reasons!
Tyraz - He appeared very convinced my suffering was justified. What reasons could he have besides kissing Zr'An'Kar's feet?
Mithra - Protecting his family! And maintaining the respect of his people! ...Surely, you must know what that's like.
Tyraz - Zr'An'Kar has taken me from the family I have. And my people have always reviled me for...my heritage.
Mithra - I don't revile you for your heritage.
Tyraz - What do you know of the Breek Line?
Mithra - Breek? W-Well... Father has a skull somewhere that belonged to some guy called... Zigdola or something like that.
Tyraz looked up into Mithra's eyes and opened his jaw wide, suddenly looking horrified. Unaware of his history, the Draconizane lady looked at Tyraz with utter ocnfusion as to what Tyraz had to say about this. With a hint of curiosity as well, she remembered fondly the stories her father told her of the battle he had, and how Zr'An'Kar had empowered him despite the odds of facing down and emerging victorious against such a being.
Tyraz - Z-Zagdala?
Tyraz was speechless for a few minutes, dread flooding his mind as he became doubtful.
Tyraz - Impossible! What you are telling me is impossible!
Mithra - H-How is it?
Tyraz - Z-zagdala was th-the the strongest user of Descension energy that has ever l-lived!
Mithra - He was... before father killed him. Tyraz - You lie. That's impossible.
Mithra - I suppose you're telling me that my whole species is impossible, too...
Tyraz - Where I come from, Zazane and Draconis never knew of each others' existence until the last two decades.
Mithra - Whoa... M-Mithra. My name is Mithra.
Tyraz looked up to Mithra and sighed.
Tyraz - What made you coem down here Mithra, why come and see me? You said you didn't like what your gather was doing to me but...why?
Mithra - I... I don't want to see y-you suffer for things you h-haven't done... Y-You don't deserve this.
Tyraz relaxed himself and sighed, stretching his legs out and feeling a little more comfortable.
Tyraz - You-- You agree I don't deserve this.
Mithra nodded and approached closer, crawling on her knees slightly as she shuffled towards him. Her eyes glistened in the light and she perked a slight smile. Tyraz looked towards her and stared at her face, observing every detail, his eyes fixating on those large, innocent-looking eyes that were surounded by delicate scales.
Tyraz - Well...You could always convince someone to let me out.
Mithra - Well... in order to get out, you're going t-to have t-to... umm.. t-to have to... t-to...
Tyraz - What?
Mithra - ...T-Take off your c-clothes. E-Except your u-underwear... i-if you're wearing a-any.
Tyraz blinked in shock at Mithra's request, speechless for a few minutes. He suddenly found it difficult to say anything but eventually words did come out. He sighed and gave a concerned look to Mithra, worried at what she was thinking.
Tyraz - If you inist but...can you not look?
Mithra - I-I need you t-to remove your c-clothes so that... I-I can s-smuggle you around w-without attracting attention.
Tyraz - I dread this but if I can escape, I may as well. Please do not look though
Mithra - I'll try not to-- I-I mean, I won't...
Tyraz shook his head and moved to another corner. Taking one last glympse of her he gradually began to remove what he was wearing, piece by piece. He did not like the feeling at all but he decided that he had to put up with this if he wanted any hope of escape. Mithra however clearly had not kept to her promise; while she moved her head to an angle so he was partially out of her view, her eyeball occasionally took a glance at his muscular body. He supported strong, masculine muscles for such a miniscule form whichm judging fro mthe look in her eyes, imrpessed her. For the most part, Tyraz was too busy removing his outfit, but then his hand passed over a brace he had over his left bicep. Rather than taking it off, he clutched it tightly.
Tyraz - Can I keep at least one item aside from my underwear? Other than this, I am ready.
Mithra - I-I suppose you c-can... whoa...
Mithra examined Tyraz' muscular body, her eyes drawn to his biceps, triceps and his large, scarred pecs. She began to stare, her eyes wide and her mouth agape. Tyraz unclipped the brace and held it in his hand. While she was staring with awe at his physique, he lifted it up to her level of vision. The brace was an engraved silver thing, forged to fit Tyraz's arm quite easily. Set into one large section and surrounded by delicate patterns was a trio of amber scales, set into the metalwork and varnished.
Tyraz - I do not want to leave this behind, no matter what.
Mithra observed the scales and leaned in, having caught attention in them. She reached out to try and touch them, interested in their amber shine as well as the shapely form and engraved material of the brace. She also took a brief opportunity to glance towards Tyraz' underwear.
Tyraz - I do not want to leave this behind. Under no circumstance.
Mithra - T-Then... y-you can keep it.
Tyraz - Thank you... So, you said you were going to smuggle me out. How do you plan to do that?
Mithra smiled cheekily and pulled out a pair of sufficiently advanced handcuffs, attached to one another by an energy chain.
Mithra - Well, slaves are a common sight here.
Tyraz - You wish to smuggle me out as a slave. Hrmm, are there any alternatives?
Mithra - I could hide you under my dress. You're small enough.
Tyraz folded his arms and closed his eyes in thought, a little irritated by Mithra's closing comment with this feeling expressed in his sharpening features.
Tyraz - I would prefer the slave idea.
Mithra - Aww... Umm, I-I mean, sure, l-let's go with that. It's far easier, anyway.
Tyraz held out his arms, ready to accept the restraints. Shyly, Mithra reached forward and strapped the restraints to his wrists, placing his hands close together. She let out a sly grin as she did, although she quickly reverted to her innocent appeal and looked over Tyraz, glancing at his muscles.
Mithra - There, you look just about convincing enough.
Tyraz - And you are sure your father's Soldiers won't spot i'm supposed ot be in this holding cell.
Mithra - Don't worry, I'll make sure of it.
Tyraz - Very well. The sooner I am out of this prison and a away from here the better...where do you plan on taking me anyway?
Mithra - Away from here, my realm. Amesai.
Tyraz - Your father trusts you with your own domain?
Mithra - Why wouldn't he? I'm old enough, and my siblings have their own territories.
As they travelled though enormous baroque corridors that seemed to stretch on endlessly, Sarec called for the team to halt as they neared a hallway towards an opening, a Draconizane woman, larger than others they had see nand dressed in ornate armour looked rather stern as she was addressing some soldiers. Hachi peered from behind Sarec and bulged his eye, unnerved at the monstrous proprtions.
Yarda - What do you all mean the recent transport from the Apostate's universe was "in shambles". I want to speak with the captain. Now!
Hachi - Oh wow, look at the size of her.
Herquie - These hybrids are the ugliest things.
Sarec - Everyone stay vigilant. There is somethnig disturbing about her.
Several of the soldiers stepped forward with nervous expressions on their faces, their eyes conveying an imminent sense of dread. Yarda folded her arms expectantly and guffed, her mere slight action sent jagged chills down their spines, visible in their wings folding more tightly.
Soldier 1 - T-The captain... isn't present as of now. We found her in her quarters; her tongue was rended out of the back of her skull, which was all over the place.
Yarda blinked several times, before straighening her back but with her arms still folded. She looked at the soldiers as if she could not believe what they were trying to tell her.
Yarda - ...What?
Soldier 2 - He speaks truth, Your Highness. The captain was found murdered in her quarters by an unknown assailant. We're assuming the damage could be Horder-induced, but the only other Horder we could find who had undergone such a murderous streak was in the kitchens.
Yarda - I want that ship combed for evidence. i want to know who would have the audacity and if you report to me that you can't find anything - Yarda chuckled slyly - Perhaps a few of you would enjoy taking part in the demigod-grade tournaments aboard the Spinebreaker.
All of the soldiers gulped at her words, nodding in acknowledgement of her command. They prepared their weapons and stood upright, saluting to her and barking aknowledgement. Yarda nodded and paced down the corridor towards the group with pounding footsteps. Unfortunately the group was right in front of her and she stopped as she reached the group. She looked down, standing at least a head taller than the disguised team members with a rather commanding scowl across her face. She tilted her head slightly to the side, noticing Uriel in cuffs behind the trio up front.
Yarda - What is this, soldiers.
Sarec - Prisoner for the cells, ma'am. An ally of the Apostate.
Yarda's scowl became a smile and she tilted her chin up.
Yarda - Good. I am glad that there are soldiers performing competently today. End of this hall, take the left entrance.
Sarec saluted in respect and aknowledgement to her. After Yarda grunted she paced past, accidentally budging Koluap as she made her way down the corridor. Sarec followed her orders and continued towards the cells. Koluap barred his teeth and gave a murderous glare toward Yarda as she headed down the hall.
Koluap - I'll cut her tail off.
Hachi - Perhaps you'll get extra loot if you do.
Iovera gave a polite, but threatening gesture to Koluap.
Iovera - Do not do that.
Koluap - Don't tell me what to do.
Sarec - They know we are here.
Uriel - This reduces our chance o returning home.
Sarec - I do not know if conventional weapons could damage it.
Herquie - I certianly hope I'm not the only one here with non-conventional weapons, then.
As the team walked down the corridors, they saw yet another Draconizane up ahead, but this one appeared somewhat different to the others; instead of wearing armour, she wore more casual clothing intended for royalty. She was smaller than the previous Draconizane and didn't possess any bizarre Essence signatures regarding her person. In front of her was a Zazane, who looked somewhat more healthy, who was close to being stark-naked, wearing only a shoulder pad. He was kept in energy cuffs and forced to move forward by the Draconizane woman, keeping his face looking to the ground although it was clear he was stout and grotesque like the rest of the slaves within the establishment.
Sarec - Another one. Everyone prepare yourselves.
As Sarec approached he saluted respectfully to her when he got close enough. The Draconizane woman looked at the disguised Sarec and nodded, acknowledging the words and presence he offered.
Sarec - Good evening ma'am.
Mithra - Evening, sir. Umm... anything to report?
Sarec - The ships from the Apostate's universe have another prisoner for the cells we are delivering. An ally of his apparently.
Behind her, the Zazane peered at the group and widened his eyes to see Uriel in handcuffs, opening his jaw slightly and catching a gulp.
Mithra - An ally of the Apostate? Dear goodness, he needs locking up right away! Can't have people like that roaming about, nuh-uh! Err... I'm just transporting this slave to an Amesai-destined cargo vessel. Amesai has the best slaves, after all!
Sarec - As you wish ma'am. I am not stopping you.
Sarec stood to thw side and gestured for the rest of his team to do so in order to let Mithra past. She nodded to every member of the disguised team before walking past them, encouraging the slave somewhat with a slight tug of the electrical chain as she walked past. She kept eye contact minimal but made an effort to acknowledge them all. As she walked past, Hachi smiled cheerfully, even though she was unaware of him and thus did not aknowledge her. The Zazane behind her followed, but looked back towards the group with a saddened expression.
Hachi - Well, she was nice.
Davius - I suppose not all of them are deserving of scorn.
Change Of Plan
The group continued, guided by Sarec's intuition. More dark and grandiose hallways that reached high above them. After some travelling they arrived at the entrance to the dungeons where Sarec informed the guard he was bringing Uriel to be detained. The Draconizane accepted with a quiet nod and let them through.
The passage down was dark and there was a distinct lack of any clear light source, Sarec kept at the front, guiding the group as they neared a location where there was light, flowing out of a prison cell. Sarec key vifilant for other guards, some of which had passed the group patrolling the cramped and lightless halls. It was evident that Tyraz was not alone down here; political prisoners of all creeds waited out long sentences, perhaps enemies of the royal family. Each of them was kept behind a barrier consisting of a solid transparent material. As the group walked past, a few prisoners raced up and pressed themselves against the barriers, begging or shouting depending on the person. Looking at the prisoners Jerkon's contemtpt for the Draconizane continued to grow, visible as he furrowed his scaly brows.
After some searching sarec stopped the group outside an empty cell, looking dissapointed as he stared inside. The others gathered around him and looked inside, staring into a cell that was empty save for a poor-quality bucket sitting in one far corner.
Koluap - Nope. Don't see anything. Next cell?
Sarec - There is no need.
Koluap narrowed his eyes.
Koluap - You sure...
Sarec - This is Tyraz's prison cell.
Hachi - But he's not in here Sarec. Maybe he's somewhere else.
Sarec - His presence was recent.
Uriel - You are sure.
Sarec - This is unfortunate...
Iovera - Do you believe so, Ferzin?
Sarec nodded and stepped forward. A white light emerged fro mwithin his pupils as he looked inside, he and Iovera could see a ghost of Tyraz with a large Draconizane woman kneeling over him. Sarec twitched as he could feel a sense of distrust and hostility from Tyraz. The woman had her back turned and it was only in a later frame did he recognise the face of the alien. When Iovera watched, her face twisted in grimace to what she saw, persisting for a moment before it returned to her usual calm expression.
As the group talked over what was goinf on, Herquie noticed a pair of shadows moving from the far end of the corridor. He turned around and tapped Koluap on the shoulder, whos reaction drew the attention of everyone else.
Herquie - Get to cover.
Koluap - Again?
Herquie - Yes again. Move.
The group darted into open cell units and kept close to the near walls, out of sight of the approaching Draconizane. When the two arrived they looked inside the cell and one of them, dresed in the dark, silver-trimmed attire of one of the palace's heralds. THe other one wore an advanced set of armour detailed in silver and brass. He differed fro mthe attendant by his larger size, greater bulk and the intense red eyes within the darkened sockets within his head.
Guard - I have no idea where the prisoner went. I kept vigil on him for days.
Attendant - Well he's gone somewhere, he couldn't have jsut fanished out of his cell, not with the devices installed.
Guard - I'm not an idiot.
Attendant - Well what happened then?
Herquie - I've seen the eyes of that one. We're up to some trouble here.
Sarec - Herquie is correct. One of them is...tainted.
There was a thump as the attendant went crashing into the wall, barely containing a laughter.
Attendant - I'm sorry I'm sorry. Maybe if we tell the emperor that, he'll laugh so much he'll pass out? Maybe he'll forget?
Guard - This isn't funny!
Koluap - Is it just me or are they saying the prisoner escaped?
Attendant - You have to admit its pretty ridiculous.
The attendant tapped the device and smiled rather cheekily as he came up with excuses. At some point he began mimicing the sound of static, telling the person on the other end that he was losing the signal before hastily turning his earpiece off. He then smiled sheepishly at the guard, who merely looked at him as if he had just done something plainly stupid. Iovera giggled silently, her icy facade breaking for a short while. Herquie looked at the scene with a deadpan expression, which Hachi giggled behind Iovera. Uriel and Davius smiled devilishly as they looked on, both of them lowering their heads.
Attendant - I think he bought it.
Guard - You know he will find out quickly.
Attendant - I could arrange a last-minute vacation to Amesai. Want to come?
Guard - Are you insane?
The two Draconizane walked on, talking to themselves, with the guard appearing disturbed by what the attendant was suggesting. After they left, the grou pwaked out and looked back towards the prison cell the Draconizane were concerned for.
Koluap - Okay, so we know now, Tyraz ain't here anymore.
Iovera - That is good. The question still remains, though. Where is he now?
Uriel - Perhaps this woman they spoke of knows.
Koluap - Heheheh. I can imagine Kolossus being really angry now. Wish we could see his face.
Davius - We do not even know who she is.
Jerkon - Beasts to slaughter.
Hachi - Sheesh, Jerkon, calm down there.
Uriel - I did not expect you to say something such as that Jerkon.
Jerkon - We would clearly be better if they were all buried beneath the earth. A race of demons, servants of a demon, who serve no purpose but antagonize my allies? Beasts to slaughter.
Davius - Are we past the interest of study then?
Jerkon - I know enough of demons to know they are not meant to be studied. They are meant to be destroyed.
Iovera - These are not demons... not all of them, at least. Perhaps once this is over, some of them could redeem themselves?
Jerkon - You fool yourself with such assumptions.
Sarec - The attendant was as mortal as most of you.
Jerkon - He is no better than his demon god.
Koluap - Heck, shut up, we gotta find Tyraz.
Sarec turned around to the group.
Sarec - That woman...The woman with the Zazane slave, she was here earlier. If the conversation we had with her is true, then Tyraz will be in "Amesai".
Uriel - She mentioned a place, "Amesai", indeed. And so did those creatures.
Hachi - To Asemai it is! Wherever that is!
Sarec - We should go, I have seen all that is important.
Koluap - Well okay, if you say so.
Sarec - I have an idea before we leave. Everyone wait near to the entrance. Koluap, stay close.
Outside the guard still stood. Sarec neared the entrance with Koluap and stopped him just before passing it.
Sarec - We need access to some sort of archive. That guard outside most likely has a PDA on him.
Koluap - And you want me to get it?
Sarec - I also need the knowledge in his head. You distract him while I ambush him from behind.
Koluap - Distract, eh? I can do that, even though it's not gonna be healthy for my psycho-treatment.
Sarec - I need but a moment. Cross the door when you are ready.
Koluap - Do I do this with the disguise still on?
Sarec - He would still think you are one of my soldiers. As opposed ot an alien who probably shouldn't even be on this planet.
Koluap - An alien would be pretty distracting.
Sarec - Do you mind getting shot?
Koluap - Good point.
Sarec nodded. The guard was just outside, checking his weaponry. Koluap took a deep breath and crossed the door with a creeping smile across his face. As he walked ast the guard's front, he made himself trip on purpose, falling on his face. The guard looked down at Koluap and shook his head with a growl. As he lay on the lfoor, Koluap continued smiling and began shouting at the top of his lungs.
Koluap - Wee, how TERRIBLY CLUMSY OF MY PART!
Guard - Are you on medication?
Koluap - What you saying?
Koluap got up and turned to the guard.
Guard - you did not need to yell at the top of your lungs to tell me that you are a clumsy oaf!
Koluap - I saw you looking at me wierd! Don't look at me wierd, woman!
Guard - And how am I supposed ot respond to a soldier falling flat on gis face?
Koluap - You know what I do to people who look at me wierd? You don't want to know what I do to people who look at me weird!
As the two of them talked, Sarec moved behind the guard, stealthily and quietly as a shadow, extending his arms as he was almost breathing down the guard's neck. Koluap stood in a rather goofy pose while the guard himself smirked and leaned forward.
Guard - Try me.
Koluap - I'll let you know I'm a master in all Spink-ahem....Draconizane martial arts including slap to the face and slap to the crotch!
Guard - Is that supposed ot be intimi--
The guard was cut short when his torso was wrapped in Sarec's arms and pulled through the wall without leaving so much as a speck of blood, one of his hands clamping her mouth shut as she dissapeared though the wall. Sarec had hidden him inside a small room and pressed his hand against the top of her crest, he struggled but after but a minute he drifted off to sleep. After a moment, Sarec came out typing into his PDA, looking satisfied.
Sarec - Nice work.
Koluap - I didn't even put my pants down like I was planning to.
Sarec - Let's hope this PDA has the information we need.
Koluap - Yeah, cause I don't wanna do that again.
Sarec - He is merely sleeping however. So we had best move. And next time, keep aware that females of this species appear to have breasts, those lumps on their torsos.
Koluap - They must have gotten those from Zazane. I particularly find them grotesque, but don't tell the rat gal I said that, since she got big ones.
Sarec - I swear.
Koluap - I mean...rather big ones too. I see Hachi staring at them all the time and I can see his pants going up more than they should.
Sarec - I get the idea Koluap.
Koluap - It grosses me out.
Mithra led Tyraz deeper into the gothic fortress, its carved walls and ceiling posessing a haunted beauty that intimidated as well as awed. Tyraz had kept quiet but he was now worried, he saw the Draconizane with Uriel and now feared for the paragon's safety. He was secretly running though his mind; how did they capture him, what is he doing here, what will become of him. One thought in the corner of his mind; given Uriel's connection to him and given that Uriel once helped to thward Kolossus' plans, would he also end up i nthat brutal torture machine the Dominion created specifically for him? As she got further to the vault, some of the guards noticed her presence and stood up straight, but also felt Tyraz's presence as well, confusing them a little.
Tyraz looked around and up at the guards, noting their confusion but heeding Mithra's advice. The best way to not draw attention was ot keep silent and continue walking like some dog on a lead.
Arriving at a large metal door. Mithra walked up the guards confidently and took a deep breath. However, when she spoke, she still sounded like her modest self. She was never too good at lying and it was clear that she was doing her best to hide her deception.
Mithra - ...H-Hello there. I was just coming here s-so I could retrieve something f-for my brother.
Guard 1 - Mistress Mithra, it is a pleasure to see you again. Unfortunately, we have been instructed not to allow any visitors inside the vault today.
Mithra - B-But it's for my brother...you know, Kragh.
The guards blinked and then looked to each other with a somewhat nervous expression at the mere mention of Kragh's name. They felt unsure about all this, but in the end they didn't want to end up on Kragh's bad side if she was telling the truth. They had no reason not to believe her either. MIthra was never too good at lying, the best she could do was misdirect or avoid. But that was because she was so honest and trusting. If she was lying, this was uncommon of her. If she was telling the truth, it would have been suicidal to defy her. The guard relented, and nodded in agreement.
Guard - Alright, feel free to take what you please.
With that, one of the guards typed a code into the holo-panel, allowing the metal door which seperated them from the vault's contents to open. Mithra looked inside before stepping in. She handed the gauntlet that chained Tyraz to one of the guards as she stepped in. As she did, bent she whispered "safety procedure". Her voice was barely audiable but somehow Tyraz quickly knew what she was trying to say. Tyraz nodded in compliance and looked up at the guard holding the device. As she entered, the guards expressions changed from cold disciplined professionalism to mocking looks.
Guard - Well, aren't you a tough-looking one. Look at this, boys. He's actually got some meat on his bones.
Tyraz smirked as they talked about him. Keepig restrained by pictuing ways he could have hurt them. Fortunatelly this plan worked as Mithra came out a short time later with the Firesword, although even though it was a roughly the same size as her from bladetip to pommel, she was having a little trouble carrying it. She took the gauntlet off the guard and nodded back to them, letting them know she was done with the vault. The guards looked at the Firesword with intrigued eyes and everything became absolutely clear to them.
Guard - Ah, so that is what Lord Kragh wanted? It does not surprise me, it looks like a weapon he would use.
Mithra - Y-Yeah...he does like his weapons, thank you for being so kind!
Mithra concluded with a cheery smile directed at the vault guards and following that she proceeded to walk away from the vault, sighing to herself in relief as she looked down at Tyraz, placing her gauntlet back on her wrist and carrying the sword under her arm. As they walked towards the upper levels, Tyraz looked a little unsettled.
Tyraz - Your guards don't half like to mock the slave ranks.
Mithra - Sorry about that, a m-majority of my kind don't like Zazane or Draconis...
Tyraz - I feel sorry for them, the servants I have seen about...
Mithra - You feel bad for them too? I think it's unfair as well. They're people, like us. And the stories father tells say they created us, I don't see why we should keep them as slaves...
Tyraz - Do you have any way off this planet?
Mithra - I have a ship in the docking station. I can get us to my territory, then I can let you out of that coller...It looks painful around your neck.
Tyraz - You think?
Mithra - If you want, I can put some cream on it later! The people of Amesai are expert healers and medics, something we're proud of instead of violent warriors like Kragh's people...And I like the feel of cream.
Tyraz blinked at Mithra's suggestion. She was silent for a moment, slightly embarrased about what slipped out, her cheeks blushing black as she swiftly turned her head back around.Mithra - Err...right, docking station.
Tyraz and Mithra had taken a teleportation pad fro mthe palace to a docking station in orbit. Tyraz was no stranger to the knoweldge that ALcanti saw billions come and go every single day, and even in a different universe this version of Alcanti was no different. However the docking station they had materialised in was more private, designed for the divine family and official Taskmaster business only. There was a bulky lower level that TYraz could see no way down to. Something tugged at his mind as he walked across a gantry, a niggling feeling that was quickly answered out of one of the large windoes.
The Ghost of the Warrior, the ship that had served Tyraz without fail was placed in the same docking station as Mithra's ship, although it had been vandalized and looted by Draconizane soldiers a few hours ago. It was evident by large burn marks from explosions that marked the ship in various places. Branded in scorch-marks across the side of the hull were crude amalgams of Dracid amd Zan'tai characters. It took a few moments but Tyraz came to realise these were derogatory terms, intended to be crude insults and put-downs to the former owners of this once-mightly flagship.
Tyraz ran to the window in order to get as close as he could to his ship. His sudden change of course was noticed by Mithra who turned around ot see him with his crest pressed against the reinforced glass. As if to console with him, she walked up behind him, not yet noticing the tears that began to stream down his cheeks.
Mithra - Tyraz...? What's wrong?
Tyraz - Its my ship... after all these years... after all it has been through.
Mithra - Oh...don't worry, when we get to my place, I'll find you a new ship. That one looks pretty old.
Tyraz - It is...
Mithra - Ah well, maybe now is a chance to have a new ship.
Tyraz pressed his crest further against the window, tears began to form from his eyes. It was them thar Mithra noticed him crying and she gasped quietly and looked to her side, feeling a little upset herself. She felt guilty enough that it took her a moment to realise why Tyraz was upset, but her remarks that Tyraz could now get a new ship were downright cold in hindsight. Her features scrunched up as Tyraz turned his gaze away fro mthe Ghost of the Warrior slightly in order to draw his mind away from this misery, now drawn to Mithra's unsettled features.
Tyraz - Is something wrong?
Mithra - I'm sorry, Tyraz...I didn't k-know how much it meant to you...If I had known I would've t-tried to stop it, but Kragh and Vetarion...
Mithra began to tear up a little and wiped her sad eyes, upset with herself that she did nothing to try and stop the Ghost from being vandalized and looted. She felt incredibly sad knowing there was perhaps some window from which she may have had a chance to stop it. Tyraz looked over to her, now concerned for her emotional state. He walked up and rested his hand against her thigh, sighing as he did so. As she wept quietly, her tail swept around to protectively curve itself around her leg, incidentally the same leg Tyraz was caressing.
Tyraz - It is okay...
Mithra - You're probably ashamed of me...
Tyraz - I can see you mean well. But you're right, it was an old ship.
Mithra - I'll try and make it up to you, Tyraz. I don't like seeing you sad.
Tyraz - I'm feeling a little better...
Mithra sighed and looked to Tyraz, putting on a small smile. They then proceeded to walk to the entry port for her vessel, the Flower of Dawn. It was not a war cruiser like the rest of the ships that belonged to her family, instead it was a luxury cruiser. Dancing floral batterns were engraved into the hull, complimented by dancing aliens and iamges of all sorts of plant life arranged into beautiful organic patterns. While the warships that patrolled this universe bore a sinister darkness common amongst ships used by the Imperial Talon Navy and Fleet of Ruin, the Flower of Dawn was more brightly coloured with decorative fins on the dorsal, ventral and rear-lateral sides of the hull.
The moment he stepped aboard, Tyraz was reminded of the times visiting Uriel's own personal cruiser. He smiled as he looked around, noticing that inside it was even more colourful, with bright plaster and wallpaper complimented with bold red wood pillars and streams of silk.
Tyraz - How long will this journey take, do you think?
Mithra - Well, we have capable hyperdrive systems although there is no real rush...I suppose we could spend a little time onboard before reaching my home.
Tyraz - Did you arrange accomodation for me?
Mithra - The ship has many pre-arranged bedrooms and living quarters. We also have a few medical facilities, if you want to go see one.
Tyraz - Speaking of which.
Tyraz tapped the electro-collar around his neck to give a hint to Mithra. She had a jolt of a realisation of what she was talking about and pressed a button on her gauntlet which dissipated the electric chain within seconds. She approached Tyraz and removed his collar before examining the damage on his neck. There were A few burns from where she had tugged him a little too hard and he rubbed his neck instinctively, blushing a little as she looked at his injuries. He turned away, making it looke like so she could get a better look. Mithra looked at the burned scales on his neck, moving her head in a little closer as she did. Tyraz could feel her soft breath on his scales by how close she was.
Mithra - We may want to have those burns treated...
Tyraz - I'm... not exactly keen on doctors.
Mithra - It's hardly an operation, Tyrazzy! Hehe, come on, it just needs a little treatment. Kovarin cream does the job just fine. No need to be scared.
Tyraz furrowed his brow defensively, something Mithra found oddly adorable which kept herpleasant attitude.
Tyraz - Whoever said I was sacred of them?
Mithra - Oh, ahh, sorry. Still, come on, I don't like seeing all those injuries...
Tyraz - Must I?
Mithra - Well would you rather stay burned?
Tyraz - I've lieved though worse without doctors.
Mithra looked at him with large, sad puppy-like eyes while she held his hand gently within hers. Despite his defensivep osture he was not prepared for her behaviour and some part of him felt guilty as he stared into those gigantic, glossy, golden eyes set within a rounded snout covered in fine and small burnt sienna scales. SOme part of him could barely help turning down such a guilt-inducing look but he tried hard, gently brushing her hand.
Tyraz - Do you recall the abilities that your father and brothers posess?
Mithra - Mhmm, yep! They're big and mean, though. Not like you.
Tyraz - My body courses with those very same energies.
Mithra playfully poked Tyraz's neck, despite the palyful intentions the sensetivity of the area caused Tyraz to wince a little from the shock of pain, prompting him to push her hand aside and frown.
Mithra - Then heal those, Ty.
Tyraz - I will in time.
Mithra - But "in time" is a long time! I want to put cream on-- I-I mean, it looks like it really needs treatment...
Tyraz blinked in a sense of reactionary confusion. He chose to dismiss it and sighed, caving in to her request.
Tyraz - Fine, better you than a doctor.Mithra smiled and wrapped her arms around Tyraz, embracing him in a tight hug. After a moment of losing herself in her senses, she then blinked and regained her composure realising what she had jsut done and briskly stood back up, standing back up. Feeling slightly embarrased she began curling strands of her long dark hair out of embarrassment and agreed to bring Tyraz to the FLower of Dawn's medical bay, with him following behind and giving him the chance to see more of her personal vessel.
Hachi - So uhh...how do we get to this Amesai place?
The group were still wandering the halls. Sarec had dropped their disguises and reverted Koluap, Herquie and Davius to their original forms. The group was using the decorative pillars throughout the halls to keep hidden from view. Crispy had recovered for the most part and now joined the group, a little groggy and still not perfectly healed but much better than he originally was. He was looking to Sarec with a mix of thanks and uneasiness, although Sarec did not appear to notice.
Koluap - Sarec could teleport us?
Sarec - I am still working out where on the charts it is.
Koluap - Well work faster before we're busted.
Sarec - Their domain is vast, Amesai is an entire domain within their empire.
Jerkon - This will make things more difficult for us.
Crispy - The nwe should redouble our efforts in owrking out where he has gone.
Hachi - Hey. This lady's a princess right? Maybe she's taken Tyraz to her castle?
Koluap gave Hachi a mistrustful look while Davius lifted his hand to his snout to grunt in shame. Hachi look down at his feet in sadness, feeling ashamed at the idea.
Sarec - It may be a start, but we need to refine the search area as we would be combing an entire empire for him.
Herquie - I would rather not entertain such a--
There was an explosion down the hall followed by shouting and the discharging of energy weapons. This prompted the entire group jumped to cover. Looking down the hall the Taskmasters had engaged in combat with several Draconizane wearing combat fatigues and less covering armour than the well-armoured Taskmasters. Some of the latter demonstrated powers over reality as they tossed soldiers aside with the power of their hands. The group looked on in confusion as Draconizane fought Draconizane. Fortunately, despite a few soldiers falling into the corridor the goup were in, the conflict remained within the wider corridor perpendicular to them.
The group decided to move away from the fighting while still hopping between sets of cover. They looked down a hall to see more of these differently-dressed Draconizane charging forwards. Everyone in the group panicked and ducked but the Draconizane still fired, managing to subdue a pair of Taskmasters who were running up the corridor behind the group. After the smoke settled, the Draconizane remained standing and called out down the hall.
Deicide soldier - Come out aliens! We know you are hiding.
No one dared to say anything. A couple of the Drazonizane grunted and lowered their rifles, other members of the group lowered their weapons as well after a signal from someone who was presumably an officer.
Deicide officer - We are not here to kill slaves so come on out.
Koluap - [low] Hey who is he calling a slave?
Deicide soldier - We're uhh, we're the good guys!
Hachi - I believe him.
Jerkon leaned sideways and shouted out to the soldiers
Jerkon - Prove you are on our side!
Deicide soldier - We shot two taskmasters dead what more are you asking for?
Jerkon - Every one of your kind we have met so far has either tried to kill us or harass us.
After some silent conferring between them, the group resolved to step out from behind the pillars, revealing themselves. The soldiers looked at them all with variations of curiosity, interest, relief and surprise. SOme of the soldiers muttered to themselves.
'Deicide soldier - Damn these servants are big ones.
Koluap - What's that supposed to mean!?
Crispy gathered the group together by beckoning with his hands.
Crispy - Remember the Draconis in those shipping containers?
Koluap - Oooooohhhh.... Yeah we're not servants.
'Deicide soldier - Free Draconis and Zazane? In the Emperor's palace?
Herquie - We're from outside this empire.
Deicide officer - Oh yeah? Where.
Uriel - Perhaps another time. If you are not on their side perhaps you can help us.
Deicide officer - What exactly?
Uriel - We are looking for a woman named Mithra.
The soldiers looked at each other in surprise at the name-drop and several of them looked between each other and back to the group, the officer giving them a quizzical look as the battle behind them began spilling into the corridor.
Deicide officer - Mithra. Mithra of Amesai?
Hachi - Yeah! Can you take us to her?
Deicide officer - Wh-why do you want to find her?
Crispy - She has someone we know in her company.
Deicide officer - You're asking us. To take you to Mithra's palace. Just like that. Hachi - Well...
Sarec - We can explain our connection further. First I ask if you can help us escape this palace?
Things get Complicated
The Flower of Dawn sailed though the vast blackness of space, drifting amongst the stars and galaxies like a silent and graceful leviathan. As it traversed the void, the young princess of at least a century, Mithra, made her way across a hallway onboard her ship, admiring the pictures that adorned her walls. Today however, she was more keen to admire something a little more "in the flesh". Her own destination was set towards one of her larger guest rooms, which came equipped with high-quality wash terminals, a coloured holo-vision set and perhaps a bed that would fit a whole family, constructed of the finest and softest materials. She had assigned this room to Tyraz, her Zazane guest.
That day he was sitting in the middle of this room, legs folded and eyes closed as he was breathing regularly in one of his meditation sessions. The room was designed for Draconizane in mind and so Tyraz looked rather minuscule within the confines. Chairs and tables were higher than he was and the bed, fir for a family, was comparable in size to a small swimming pool. Years in the Alcanti Royal Palace and his many visits to Cyrannus however had desensitised him to being small within a larger being's home.
Mithra stood in front of Tyraz's entrance for a minutes after she arrived, trying not to make a sound as to disturb him. An uneasy look on her face, she reached out and knocked several times on the rather large door. She gasped quietly as she did and took in a deep breath for a boast of confidence. As she knocked, Tyraz lifted his head up slightly. Although there was a large wooden door between him and Mithra, he could still guess she was behind it. Her presence had been cheering him up since the start of the voyage as she was one of the only Draconizane that didn't look at him with contempt and he had grown to accept her presence.
As Mithra contempalted to herself, Tyraz opened his eyes, there was a red glimmer in his eyes for a moment as he opened them, taking in a deep breath he stood up and walked towards the large door. Mithra looked down as she began to daydream, with rather interesting imagery filling her innocent head. She giggled quietly, but she soon stopped as soon as she heard the wooden door open just an inch. She stood in front of entrance and right in front of Tyraz, who looked up at her with a comforting smile and stood within the crack in the door. She tried to hold herself from squealing over Tyraz's rather dashing and striking smile, although in the end she fell forward into the room, landing directly on her face with a grunt. She resided on the floor for several moments, trying to compose herself.
Tyraz stepped back, surprised at what just happened. After he calmed down from the shock that this woman almost rushed him under her weight, he walked over towards Mithra's head and kneeled down to her, clearly concerned as he watched her blink with a slight sense of bewilderment.
Tyraz - Are you okay?
Mithra blinked for a moment before she sat up on her knees, staring at Tyraz with an awkward and nervous expression on her face. It looked as if she was about to drop a tear or two.
Mithra - Ahh...g-good morning, Ty.
Tyraz - Good morning.
Mithra - I...uhh...I-I hope you enjoyed your sleep...S-Sorry about a-almost falling on you.
Tyraz - Are you sure you are all right miss Mithra? Your fall was quite unexpected.
Mithra - I-I'm fine! I-I'm absolutely fine! W-What about y-your fall?
Tyraz - I didn't fall...
Mithra smiled and swung her arm out deviously, knocking Tyraz on his back in an unexpected move, although it didn't seem like a malignant method. It felt more like she was playing. As he fell onto his back, she took the opportunity to lean over him, a rather cute and adorable expression on her face yet it seemed as if she wasn't as controlled as she was a few minutes ago.
Mithra - Well, what about now?
Tyraz - W-well...I-ermm.
Tyraz blushed as Mithra leaned over him, his cheeks colouring black with embarrassment. he could feel the soft breath of hers passing from her lips and over him. Somehow it felt refreshing and his look of shock subtly crept into a smile. Tyraz's jaw quivered. He took a deep breath in an attempt to regain his composure although on the soft carpet he felt like laying down, not wanting to get up. It was several minutes before Mithra realized the positioning of the two of them and she quickly gasped out, standing up and blushing herself, avoiding eye contact as she rose back up to her full height.
Mithra - I-I, uhh...w-we're a-almost there...T-The palace, I-I mean...
Tyraz - Are you sure you cannot return me to my own universe? I have friends there.
Mithra - Umm, I-I...Teeh, i-it's just for a s-short while. B-Besides...I-I'm sure your friends will come looking when they're ready.
Tyraz - Well, you have been very nice to me. More than your brothers or father have been.
Mithra - T-They can be a little r-rough with people. Daddy doesn't mean harm though! A-At least...not much harm. He's following orders, I think.
Tyraz - What's your home like?
Mithra - Huh? M-My home? It's beautiful, Ty! There's trees and animals and floating rocks and shiny metal and birds and trees and animals and rivers and streams and animals and birds!
Tyraz chuckled as Mithra rambled. He pulled himself up and brushed himself down. He somehow missed that she had mentioned that her home contained floating rocks. Possibly distracted by her enthusiasm over explaining about how many animals made her home their own. Looking as best as he could at her youthful features, the wide eyes and the dilated pupils were a strong indicator that she was slipping into her own little world. SO Tyraz steped up and spoke out in an attempt to bring her back, as he did she looked back down at him.
Tyraz - You must love all the wildlife there.
Mithra - Y-Yeah! You should meet my pet, Delicate! She's a bit excitable but she's really nice to people she likes!
Tyraz - Well I don't see the harm in it. Who far away are we?
Mithra - Not far! In fact, we're almost at the landing dock.
Tyraz - And you are sure no one important will know I am there? I would rather not face your father again.
Tyraz turned his head away, shuddering as he remembered what Kordan did to him the day he was thrown to the Draconizane leader's feet. The memories of the torture machine and his presentation before Kolossus still scared his mind. He did not want to return to that, he did not want to return to Kordan's feet and Mithra seemed like his only chance for some calm. At least here he could perhaps relax and not think about how much his own kind back home hated him. Mithra lowered herself to comfort him and reached a hand out, she extended a finger and brushed it along Tyraz's jawline, looking at him with eyes as glossy and bright as amber.
Mithra - Nobody will have a clue! It'll be just you and me...and Delicate!Tyraz was relieved, but also ever-so-slightly worried. He could see that Mithra had clear feelings for him. Seeing the affection in her golden eyes he could not help but think back to Iovera, his eagerness to see Mithra's home almost disappeared from his face as he remembered her and he suddenly felt uneasy. Out of all the people that he was away from, he was separated most from his own wife, the image of his children, sleeping within the orb he saw Kolossus holding came after her. He shook his head vigorously and put on a pleasant look for Mithra as best as he could despite his feelings.
Crispy and the group were detained within a berth within a vessel they had boarded alongside the soldiers. Crispy had recovered more form his wounds and stood patiently close to the door. Koluap and Jerkon were sitting on a bed suspended from the wall while Hachiman sat on the floor close to Iovera who was joining Sarec in meditation. Herquie was busy checking his weapons and equipment.
Jerkon - We should not be here. We should be negotiating with these beasts.
Koluap - Aww come on these ones saved our butts these so these guys aren't so bad.
Jerkon - I will require more proof before making that decision
Hachi - Aww come on Jerkon don't be so mean...
Crispy turned his head around to the group
Crispy - You both have reason. This "Deicide" saved us, yes. But we have yet to find enough evidence to trust them implicitly.
Jerkon - And what if this is all a trap.
Crispy - Let's hope it isn't, but be ready nonetheless.
As Crispy spoke, the door opened and a Draconizane soldier stepped in, saluting.
Deicide Soldier - The commander has agreed to speak with representatives of your group.
Crispy - This is good news. I step forward as a representative.
Jerkon - Someone else join him.
Sarec - I will. Deicide Soldier - Good. I have been instructed to escort you to his chambers.
Sarec stood up from his meditative pose and stepped forward to stand alongside Crispy. Hachi stood up and gave Sarec a hug on his leg. Sarec looked down to him and rested a hand on Hachi's far shoulder, putting on a brave face for him.
Sarec - We should be fine.
Crispy and Sarec nodded to the Deicide soldier who escorted them out of the room and down the hallway.
The two of them were led into a large room at the rear end of the vessel. At the back of it, an officer was talking to the hologram of a tall Draconizane wearing a special patterned combat uniform. When the two of them entered, the hologram looked over to them and chuckled, prompting the commander to turn around. Unlike the escort and the hologram, the commander was an Artharon. His fur was short and bearing patches of faded fur on his cheeks. As the two entered, he folded his arms.
Commander - Ah. You two are of the group of aliens our soldiers found in the palace.
Sarec - You have a keen eye.
Commander - Hm. Now. I am told that you wished to discuss something with me that you could not do with my subordinates.
Sarec - This is true. It regards a figure your people may know as..."the Apostate"?
Deicide soldier - You two have a connection to him?
The commander held up his hand to tell the soldier to stop talking, although his face suggested this order was a minor thing, most likely an indication the conversation was between him and his guests. When the soldier nodded, the commander took a few paces up, clasping his hands behind his back as a stumped tail curled from side to side.
Commander - The Apostate...They say he is one of the greatest enemies of the god Zr'An'Kar. Fortunately I have no love for this being, for if he were kind you would not see me in all my splendour, and the "divine family" - The commander gestured the two words in mock quotation marks with his hands - would not have such ultimate authority.
Crispy - So you have no love for the beings who branded the Apostate as such.
Commander - No. I don't. But what connection do you two have with them?
Sarec - We have come from the universe he calls home with the intention to return him safely. We need help in finding him.
The commander stroked his chin in thought, looking between the two of them with a contemplative look in his eyes.
Commander - The Apostate is one of the only beings to have earned Zr'An'Kar's true ire. He is either stupid beyond possibility, or he has a courage I have never seen in all but Deicide's high command.
Sarec - "Deicide"?
Commander - Oh. My apologies: We are Deicide, our goal in life is to dethrone the immortals' absolute command over us in the Dominion. We are all tired of answering to gods, so what bands us together is to see them all slain.
Crispy took a slight concerned glance at Sarec, who himself did well hiding an immense sense of apprehension in what the two of them had just learned. In an attempt to ease the tension, Crispy cleared his throat and took a step forward towards the Artharon.
Crispy - We have learned that the Apostate may presently be in the company of Mithra, the--
Commander - Emperor's daughter?
Crispy - --Y-yes. You know where she is?
Commander - She is a...patron of ours. She might not agree that we seek her family dead but she does serve as an inspiration that not all divines are selfish and malicious. Yes. We know where to find her.
Sarec - Can you take us to her?
The commander swayed his tail, passing it close to Sarec's snout as he turned around and walked towards a command console at the back of the room, snapping his fingers to activate it as he reached it.
Commander - If you say the Apostate is with her then I can see about bringing you to them...for a price.
Crispy made a slight nod to Sarec and took a step forward, straightening himself while his tail kept still behind him. The commander turned a glancing eye to him as he stepped forward.
Crispy - What do you ask of us?
There was hesitation as the Artheron took in a deep inhalation before speaking, a note of apprehension in his voice.
Commander - Have him help us. If the Apostate has managed to infuriate Zr'An'Kar to the point where the Emperor's two sons were sent to apprehend him then he must be a warrior capable of instilling fear wherever he treads.
Crispy - And what if he refuses?
Commander - Then make him change his mind.
Crispy looked back to Sarec, the latter looked worried by this request. Up until now they had both made their mission clear: Rescue Tyraz, go home. But now things were much more complicated. The two of them exchanged a silent conversation with each other as they each thought over this before Crispy turned to the Artharon commander.
Crispy - We will talk to him. He may be partial to agreeing after what we have heard of his experiences within this dominion.
Commander - See that you do. But..I shall honour my end. Tell your companions we will be in orbit over the Lady of Beauty's throne world soon.
When Crispy and Sarec entered, Uriel looked up from talking with Iovera to see them at the entrance, looking concerned.
Uriel - How did your discussion with the captain go?
Crispy - They will bring us to Mithra and presumably Tyraz, but we kneed to do something in return.
Koluap - Who are these guys anyway?
Crispy - They refer to themselves as "Deicide".
Iovera - Godslayers?
Crispy - As far as we can assume. They want to topple the Descended bloodline ruling this empire.
Jerkon - So we have allies then.
Hachi - Are we helping them?
Crispy inhaled and closed his eyes, preparing to deliver the heavy news of the commander's condition.
Crispy - Our voyage is to be performed as an act of good faith. They will bring us to Tyraz on the condition that he aids them in their efforts to topple the ruling line.
Hachi - So...We're going to hel pthem overthrow this emperor guy?
Jerkon - I would rather spend as little time as possible in this universe.
Sarec - Crispy and I have agreed to honour this request. But there was no specification as to how much Tyraz can help before being given freedom.
Koluap - So we can offer Tyraz to these guys, have him offer a bit of advice then leave?
Iovera - Whatever it takes I suppose
Crispy shrugged, uncertain himself.
Crispy - They gave no indication of how long they wished for his aid.
Sarec - Our first priority however, is to reach Tyraz. We shall then discuss his with him.
While the group were talking, the commander watched on a security camera. Behind him was the same hologram who Crispy and Sarec had caught a glympse of when they first met the Artharon.
??? - You were too optimistic about these outsiders commander.
Commander - Then what do you suggest sir?
The hologram walked up and studied the group before pointing towards the screen.
??? - They all know the Apostate, but some have...closer connections. We could use this.
Commander - ...as you suggest, sir. But which do you advise?
One of the first things Tyraz felt that morning in the shuttle was Mithra's hand around his arm. And one of the first things that hit him after a flash of cyan light was the smell of fresh air unlike any other, perhaps enough to rival the massive gardens on Alcanti in the Paragon's estate. The sun was shining brightly in the sky and the ground was embedded with many brick paths, probably all leading to some part of Mithra's own estate. Tyraz had a pleasant, high quality view of the area; not far away, a palace of golden, curved design and theme, surrounded by masses of ground that appeared to have been suspended in the air around it, as if orbiting the palace. There were great varieties of birds that soared through he sky, both small and large, with many creatures scurrying across the floor, all chrieking and chipring, filling the sky with the bustling yet harmonic tune of birdsong.
After a short way along a central path, Tyraz's mouth was open as he was grinning with exitement. There was an incredible amount of life, as she had said, as he looked around his eyes were transfixed on the floating islands. His eagerness turned to surprise as these clumps of rock defied the pull of gravity, drifting lazily i nthe air as if hanging from some invisble track.
Tyraz - The way you described it was an understatement Miss Mithra.
Mithra blushed as she walked in the company of her guest. Clearly she was also happy to be home.
Mithra - Just a teeny word of warning. If you wanna stay sober, don't drink the gold water. It works kinda like wine. There's a whole sea of it below this island.
Tyraz - ...you mean this entire landmass is floating?
Mithra - Well, they didn't used to. But after we arrived and managed to stabilize these islands in the air...well, the natives weren't too happy.
Tyraz - You make it sound like it was entertaining seeing their reactions.
Mithra - Consider that their eyes bulge out of their heads when they get angry or scared, it was pretty funny.
Tyraz - I'll take your word for it. About the water, I don't get drunk.
Mithra - Oh really? Tell that to Kragh. He's tried time and time again and he always ends up having conversations with the walls.
Tyraz - Really? Even with his nature?
Mithra - Ty, would you believe me if I told you how many times Kragh and Vet woke up in the same bed together after swimming in the water?
Tyraz's eyes widened in shock from this news. Beings such as himself were normally immune to intoxication. He had visited pubs and raided wine cellars with Uriel and he never felt even tipsy.
Tyraz - What the hell is in that water!?
Mithra - That's what Daddy would like to know.
Mithra giggled and led Tyraz forward towards the glimmering palace before them. It was stunning as its edges glimmered with the sun's rays, giving the palace an appearance of illumination or glow. Tyraz continued to he in awe as he saw the material of the palace's walls reflect the sky.
Tyraz - I have seen cities that cover a planet, i've seen palaces made of gold and i've seen estates that stretch beyond what the mortal eye can see. I do not think I have seen anything so magnificent that hasn't been crafted by the omnipotents.
Mithra - Huh? I-It's hardly as g-good as V-Vet's...he h-has one made of entirely of d-diamonds.
Tyraz - Diamonds? The whole thing?
Mithra - Reinforced layers of diamonds after diamonds after diamonds.
Tyraz - Do all of your family have such surreal palaces? Yours shimmers in the sunlight, Vetarion's is made of several layers of diamond and your father's...well I didn't see that much of the outside but the corridors and the hallways made even him look small.
Mithra - Daddy's palace is confusing at times. If I remember correctly...yeah, it's set between two universes at the same time. One half is on a place called Alcanti, the other is on a place called Vollix.
Tyraz - V-vollix?
Mithra - Yeah...it's pretty much a desert. It's where our Zazane come from.
Tyraz stopped for a moment and sighed. Mithra had kept walking for a short whiel but when she realised Tyraz was no longer following her she turned around and looked at him concerned for what may be wrong.
Tyraz - Back in the palace I asked you if you knew of the Breek bloodline.
Mithra - Yeah...and you told me about Zagdala.
Tyraz - It's just...In the universes I have come from, I am Zagdala's descendant. We Zazane do indeed come from Vollix and Zagdala was our first emperor.
Mithra tilted her had, surprised by this news.
Mithra - Huh? F-For serious? If that's t-the case...i-it's no w-wonder father w-wants you dead so much.
Tyraz - you're not frightened by this are you? I can prove I am who I say I am.
Mithra - Why would I be scared? Well. I'm more surprised if anything. I didn't know a descendant of Zagdala could look so adorab--I-I mean, uhh, I-I, err...
Mithra blushed once more and straightened her legs, fumbling her fingers. Tyraz looked down and frowned as Amithra's words brought forth memories he preferred to forget.
Tyraz - I've been bullied alot for that. Do you remember if in the story Zagdala could do anything...special?
Mithra - Well, I heard that at the time he towered over even my father...I heard his strength was almost infinite until Zr'An'Kar killed him.
Tyraz nodded before an idea came to him. He scanned the landscape and noticed a very large boulder nearby. He paced over to it and when he reached it he rolled his shoulders back and threw a descension-fueled punch, the impact shattered the impact site of the boulder and cracked the rock in half. After displaying this feat, he turned around to Mithra and made a hand-gesture to show her what he did. She smiled at the feat, hiding her face away to make sure he couldn't see her blush. She had seen feats of greater quality, but it was enough to make her feel that jolt of attraction.
Tyraz - I can only do that because of this curse.
Mithra - Y-You consider that a curse?
Tyraz - I can't sleep without seeing either nothingness or nightmares and I cannto die. By my kind's standards I am cursed because I will never have a final fight.
Mithra - B-But isn't a final fight a bad thing? I-I mean...my brothers a-achieved so much with their gifts. They're so s-strong...
Tyraz - We were taught to believe there would always be something stronger but look at me. No mortal can kill me no matter how hard they try--
Tyraz was cut short as he soon find himself pounded to the floor and pinned under many tons of large, jet black, angry Koda. As he looked up, he was welcomed with the sight of many layers of ferocious, incredibly sharp jaws baring down at him, with the animal's mouth slime dripping onto his crest, face and chest. There was no mistaking it; this was definitely a Koda of epic proportions. Tyraz was speechless as he was forced to the ground, coughing as the impact had kicked up soil and grass that went everywhere. He whimpered Mithra's name to draw her attention. WHen she saw the Koda standing over him she was shocked and poke in a panicked but not too harsh tone. As she did, the Koda darted its focus to look at her.
Mithra - Delicate! No. Bad girl!
The massive Koda that had pinned Tyraz down looked towards its owner with a saddened expression and moved itself off him slowly with a mere grunt as it crept behind Mithra, nuzzling her cheek affectionately after weaving itself behind her as if it were some sort of cat. It made even Mithra look small. Tyraz slowly pulled himself out of the indentation while the KOda became occupied with cuddling up to Mithra. He turned to look at the sight. Surprised this rather terrifying and mosnterous beast had instantly turneed into some enormous housepet. Tyraz looked at Mithra with a sense of utter confusion. After a moment of attention, Mithra looked at Tyraz with a perky expression expression she had bene presenting many times on this journey.
Mithra - Teehee, this is Delicate! I believe I've told you about her back on the ship. Isn't she a cutie?
Tyraz - Well...Ithi-- has she been Descended?
Mithra - Hmm? Oh, not directly, no. It seems that she was exposed to a bit too much of my father's aura when she was just a cub.
Tyraz - I've seen some powerful koda about but...Did you call it Delicate?
Mithra - Yep! Delicate! It's been her name for around, hmm...70 years.
Tyraz - It looks an impressive specimen in it's prime.
Mithra - Ah, she's just a big softy! Look!
Mithra proceeded to rub the Koda's side, causing it to calmly fall onto its back with its limbs raised into the air. It did so rather lazily but the impact created a small tremor in the ground tht Tyraz could feel. The sheer mas and scale of this beast meant that it could cause small-scale earthquakes with the simple act of jumping or falling over. Mithra began to rub the beast's belly while its powerful tail swung side to side in a ferocious wagging motion, further pounding the ground. Delicate's tongue fell from the side of her mouth as she panted playfully.
Observing the creature, Tyraz cautiously walked up to Mithra and knelt with her beside the massive Koda. He gave an inquisitive look to Mithra, wondering if Delicate would mind him touching her. She nodded eagerly and continued to pet the behemoth before them. Delicate was definitely different to most Koda, for her Descension-based traits caused her to grow larger and more powerful than most other Koda within their prime. Perhaps one terrifying aspect to such a pet was that it had not reached its growth limit and was, in fact, still capable of growing much, much bigger. As Tyraz looked at the beast, he turned his head to Mithra with a look of curiosity.
Tyraz - Has Delicate ever seen battle?
Mithra - Well, she likes to bring me gifts from time to time. The gifts being the natives down below.
Tyraz reached out and rubed his hand along Delicate's belly. Feeling a little more comfortable as he did so. Something about Delicate's scales made them firm but gentle to the touch, and some trait about them gave them a glossy texture as the star's lunoinus rays illuminated them.
Mithra - She acts like a bodyguard to me...she's never left my side unless I request her. And even then, she always eagerly awaits my return.
Tyraz - At first I wanted to simply return home...but I suppose I could spend a little while here.
Mithra - Huh? Y-You'd do that, really?
Tyraz - To be honest, I don't know how long I would be stuck here. I don't honestly know how your people crossed into my universe let alone found it. Mithra - Well, we had help from Zr'An'Kar.
Tyraz - So I have been hearing. Where I come from "Zr'An'Kar" is an entity of evil and he's been spiting me for years.
Mithra - ...E-Evil? No, Zr'An'Kar isn't an evil being, he cares greatly for all of his children! He h-helped us to where we are, Daddy even speaks to him sometimes!
Tyraz - In my universe, he served some very bad people, they almost tore apart a galaxy. He has caused nothing but ruin and death to everyone around me. Mithra - W-Well...i-it doesn't matter to m-me if he wants you d-dead or not...I don't think you're bad at all.
Tyraz shuffled closer to Mithra and rested his hand on her leg.
Tyraz - Thank you.
Mithra blushed and squeaked at his gesture, trying not to make eye contact in order to keep what composure she had left, although it flew out of the nearest window as she wrapped her large arms around Tyraz's torso and brought him close to her, resting his head upon her bosom as she gently stroked the side of his crest. Delicate only looked up from its rested position on in confusion. Tyraz was now cushioned with his back on Mithra's stomach, his legs on hers and his head within her bosom.
Tyraz - I appreciate the affection Mithra. Although I do still miss my home, my friends....
Mithra - I'm sure s-she'll be happy to know that...y-you're in safe hands.
Tyraz - Well, Delicate looks capable of protecting the palace.
Tyraz was lying in the soft bed within Mithra's palace. It was a room he had been given while under the guise of being held prisoner but this was not Mithra's style. THe room he was in, like the room on board the Flower of Dawn was Draconizane-sized and he lay like an action figure on the massive silken bed. His mind was drifting towards thought of home, of what he was missing and allthe people he had left behind. he stared up at the beautiful ceiling and let out a worn sigh. As Tyraz lay to himself, glaring upwards in contemplation of the events that occured before his technical imprisonment and sparing some thought for the events that may take place within the future, he had lost awareness of his immediate surroundings; he did not contemplate the cold, drenching feel of a massive, rug-sized tongue traversing across his face and crest. He was met with narrowed, blood-tinted eyes and jaws that would make even the largest and most powerful of Terran sharks blush.
As Tyraz daydreamed his senses alerted him to the change in environemnt. In the fantasy he had created he was met with a flood of icy water that jolted him awake, now looking up wide-eyed at Delicate's massive maw. After a few seconds the shock turned into a chuckle.
Tyraz - Hey there, girl.
Delicate's lips rippled as the Koda stared downwards at the ragdoll beneath her. Her tongue was as cold as ice but her breath was filled with a searing heat capable of charring flesh, although it merely came off as an uncomfortable mist for Tyraz. The aberrant had Tyraz pinned beneath her, although this changed shortly as she leaped from the bed, causing the room to shudder as her feet came into contact with the ground. Tyraz sat up as Delicate jumped down and patted her side affectinately. The feeling of her hardened hide was unfamiliar as Tyraz himself was unfamiliar with such powerful creatures as pets. He shuffled to dangle his feet over the bed and sat elbows slumped on his lap. He looked at Delicate with amusement; this enormous abberant beast that appeared as playful as a housecat as she brushed her massive head against Tyraz's chest, almost knocking the Zazane over. The monstrous animal exchanged a peculiar glance towards Tyraz, locking its hellish eyes with Tyraz's for a brief moment before it turned its attention elsewhere with an beastly roar, producing a force strong enough to shake the room, knock possessions over and paintings off walls. Delicate proceeded onward towards the door, it appeared to have desired to gain Tyraz's attention for some reason that was yet to be made clear.
Tyraz jumped down fro mthe bed wit confusion as to what Delicate wanted his attention for. As he did, Delicate gestured its head in a particular direction before proceeding to launch itself that way, leaping out of the room and sitting at the end of the nearest corridor after just a mere pounce. It waited for Tyraz, albeit impatiently. Tyraz peered out from the doorwway, each of the beast's poundings had caused the corridor to shake a little. Hastily he donned some of his armour and followed Delicate at a brisk pace that was also at a rate to to admire the beautiful corridors of Mithra's palace.
As Delicate bounded from corridor to corridor, there were certain passages and exhibits that Tyraz came across which further enhanced the divine appearance and feel of the palace; entire sections of the palace supported impressive ecosystems that required little to no outside maintenance, supporting a vast variety of habitats from expansive aquariums holding excessive amounts of fish, some of which Tyraz knew of from appearance though most of the species were alien to him, to gargantuan forests that functioned as homes for tropical species such as birds, insects and some varieties of mammal. Fro mhis exploration, he discovered the palace to be a mix of stately home and lieform sanctuary. The sounds of exotic and alien animals rang though his ears as he strolled and in one forest he wandered about and off the trail of Delicate and wandered though the woodland undergrowth, suddenly forgetting that the collosal Koda he had been following wanted to show him something.
Despite the wide array of animal life that certainly did not originate from a single world, the ecosystem here was well-balanced and benefited all forms of life equally to prevent any advantage and dominance of species over another aside from the standard prey-predator relationships. Nearby Tyraz's location within this forest, there was a wide, open lake with many creatures taking residence beside it; large hexapedal salamanders, bipedal trunked creatures and large armoured crustaceans which appeared to have adapted to land as well as fresh water. They were tranquil for the most part, but noisy as animals are. He looked at the lake from a distance, an exited smile creeping onto his face. He crouched low but as he moved closer he suddenly remembered Delicate. After another quick look he hurried back on the trail he was at before, sniffing the air and trying to pick up Delicate's demonic scent as he trudged though the wildlife-filled ecosystem.
Before he expected it, Delicate's presence had made itself clear; her titanic claws grasped ahold of his chest plate and she swivelled in a semicircle motion, letting go of Tyraz and launching him into the muddy ground, although he was at least closer to where Delicate had wished to take him. She approached and sniffed at him, her deathly tongue passing itself over Tyraz's muddied face once more before continuing upon the path. Tyraz grunted as he stood up, taken by surprise at Delicate's act. Once he stood up he passed his hand coarsely down his snout to wipe the mud off. He gave a silent nod and continued to follow Delicate, reminding himself to stay with her this time.
There came a point where the ecosystems and organic constructs stopped and the sapient-made structural efforts began, although they merged almost naturally with vines and roots taking residence within some of the walls as well as the floor. Eventually, Tyraz's attention was turned towards the glowing, luminous symbols and etchings upon the tiles of the floor beneath his feet that illuminated with varying shades and colours. Ahead of him were more organic constructs, although it wasn't as wild and natural as the others, being more controlled and maintained like some form of garden. As he stepped into the room which Delicate decided to lay down within, he was met with an astounding image; a room that appeared to be almost infinite in its height with no visible ceiling, allowing the literally golden rays of the sun above to shine in, which was marked with generous patches of flora that crept up the wall or into the water that circled the edges of the room. The doorways connected to this "capital" required footpaths suspended upon the golden water in order to access the main feature; a circular platform of at least 30 meters in diameter that housed a godly floral individual, a tree that stood at a height unimaginable to Tyraz. This particular tree reached towards the sky proudly, decorated with hundreds, if not thousands, of branches and limbs that adorned leaves of many colours, although the bark of the tree appeared to be of gleaming silver with additional veins of illuminated gold being seen amongst the bark.
Tyraz stepped into the room and was almost dazed by its beauty. Accidentally dipping his toes into the icy golden water he came to his senses and jumped out. Seeing the supended footpaths he hopped to each step, carefully watching his footing as he ascended towards the colossal tree. Upon reaching it he felt compelled to touch the silver bark. He had not seen anything so alien and so ancient before in his life. There were plenty of alien worlds but this tree felt almost surreal, as if it did not belong to the natural order. Standing at its base he looked up and almost felt dizzy at its scale. Dropping his head and feeling giddy in doing so as though a rush of blood had flowed into his head.
As he looked up, A gentle, soft hand of colossal size laid itself upon Tyraz's shoulder, indicating no harsh or malignant intent in its touch. Behind Tyraz, she approached and lifted her head towards the tree's ascending path. A smile crossed her face and she slowly peered down towards Tyraz, almost refusing to remove her hand without saying so much as a word.
Mithra - Beautiful, isn't it?
Tyraz - I've not seen anything like it. It...is impressive.
Mithra - Dad once came across a culture that believed trees possessed spiritual significance and that they incubated souls waiting to be reborn into a new life. The Terratrix, if I recall. This tree is the single greatest confirmation of their belief; it was grown from a single seed produced by a similar, far more ancient tree on the Terratrix homeworld.
Mithra stepped forward, reaching out a calm hand and pressed her fingertips against the tree's silver flesh. Her eyelids slowly descended and her smile widened, letting out a brief sigh of relaxation as if she had just been relieved of stress.
Mithra - It speaks to me, they all speak to me.
Tyraz looked puzzled, unsure what she was talking about.
Tyraz - Who? The tree?
Mithra - Not just the tree, silly. The souls inside it; it houses over 100,000 souls within its bark, sap, leaves and branches.
Tyraz looked at Mithra with puzzling eyes, feeling somewhat skeptical about the idea the tree housed thousands of souls. Tyraz may have seen a lot in his comparatively short lifetime, even visiting Hell itself, but a tree that holds souls sounded odd to him. While he was puzzling over this idea, Mithra opened her eyes to a small degree and her pupils focussed on Tyraz, smiling deviously as she gestured her head in such a way as if to indicate that she wanted him to touch the tree as she did.
Tyraz - See for yourself, Ty.
Tyraz shrugged. He rolled his shoulders back and reached out and pressed his palm against the tree bark. This felt a little silly, but it would have been rude to dismiss it when Mithra herself looked so confident. As Tyraz's skin came into contact with the tree's ancient skin hoewver, he was met with a bizarre hybridisation of shock, confusion and surprise as his mind became flooded with voices and sounds, not animalistic but more reminescent to those of sapient beings, speaking in languages Tyraz could not hope to translate. To him, it sounded as if they screamed or shouted angrily in unison toward him, yet Mithra appeared to have a calm and pleased expression as she touched the tree.
Mithra - Don't worry, they don't always do that. They simply don't like newcomers, or most of them don't anyway. Hehe, they'll get used to you, although first impressions are important Ty.
Tyraz - F-first impressions? Who are all these people...
Mithra - They're many people from all across. Natives of this world, Terratrix, some Draconizane, a few...that did not survive birth.
Tyraz looked uncomofrtable as his mind was assaulted by thousands of screaming voices. He held on as best as he could, hoping at least some of them would stop but they kept screaming, it reached a point where he felt he had to pry his hand fro mthe tree. Forcing himself away, Tyraz stumbled backwards, panting in shock and looking at his hand as he stumbled and landed on the floor. Mithra broke fro mehr session of communication and looked towards Tyraz. She approached him in a rush, her figure kneeling down on both knees yet still towering over his figure. Her face expressed concern and worry towards Tyraz, as her voice was overcame with a saddened tone.
Mithra - Tyrie, are you alright?! Are you hurt?!
Tyraz - Urgh, I=I'm fine. I'm just a little shaken from all that.
Mithra - Sorry, t-they do t-take a little w-while to get used t-to somebody n-new...I-I'm sorry i-if you're hurt or u-upset, T-Tyrie...
Tyraz - Mithra it's not you. Back among my kind I am hated, everyone hates me, and now I know that even the dead hate me! All I have is a few people back in the universe you all took me from and your brothers took that away from me!
Mithra looked down with a saddened expression, her eyes closed and tears beginning to roll down her cheeks, joined by a quivering lip as her sadness began to display itself visually. With a weakened sob, she attempted to respond.
Mithra - I-I t-t-thought...I-I t-t-thought t-that y-you w-wanted to b-b-be h-here...I-I d-don't hate y-you. I-I...I-I did n-not want to u-upset or anger y-you, I-I'm s-sorry...
Tyraz now felt incredibly guilty. A pain spread across his chest and he felt as if he had offended her. Hardest as she could, Mithra began breaking int otears. Delicate looked up fro mthe spot she as sleeping on and growled in Tyraz's direction, the power vibrating some of the plants that had been tatefuilly placed. Tyraz heaved himself up and lowered his head. He reached out gently and rested his palm o nthe back of Mithra's hand, taking a moment to compose his thoughts.
Tyraz - I-I do not blame you Mithra. I-in fact, I thank you-- for bringing me here.
Mithra - R-r-r-really? Y-you're not m-m-mad...
Tyraz - Mithra... You made this experiance much more b-bearable.
Mithra continued to sob heavily as Tyraz caressed the back of her hand. She looked down to see Tyraz being affectionate the way he was and this made her feel better. With her other hand reaching behind Tyraz, she tugged at his back and pressed him closer to her presence while her tail coiled around her legs. Her tears of sorrow could potentialyl have been joined by tears of joy. Tyraz however did not feel as comfortable being pressed like this but decided not to struggle. Perhaps it was better to let her have her moment. While she was crying, he looked up to her with a brave face.
Tyraz - C-can you introduce me to those spirits again?
Mithra - Y-y-you mean i-it? Y-you wanna t-talk a-a-again?
Tyraz - Well-- They might like me better once they get to know me.
Mithra - We-we-well... They c-can be very t-talkative. So many s-stories a-and adventures and s-some of them are really funny at times.
Tyraz - Well I could do with the extra conversation.
The vessel arrived in orbit over a verdant world blanketed in thick beach-white clouds that glistened in the light from the system's parent star. The team were able to observe this sight from a screen within their assigned room although the reception of this view was mixed amongst the group; some were fascinated, some were passively intrigued and one or two saw it as another planet infested with some dark taint. Upon arrival, the Artharon commander walked in under escort with his arms behind his back.
Koluap - Oh hello!
Commander - I have talked with my superiors and...we may need to make a slight change to our agreement.
Jerkon - What change.
Commander - Command requires a little more. Leverage. The Draconis, the amber one.
Uriel - Excuse me!?
Commander - Command understands you share a particular bond with the Apostate.
Koluap pulled hsi shotgun from his holster and marched up to stand next to Uriel, staring at the commander.
Koluap - You're not having him.
Jerkon - I expected this.
Commander - All that will happen is we will detain him in one of our compounds until you bring us the Apostate. Once he agrees to help our cause, your companion will be returned to you safe and sound.
Koluap - And how do we know you'll keep your promise.
Commander - Deicide are not like the divine family. We do not dispose of a living being for "outliving their usefulness."
Jerkon - We know nothing of your group, you could be as selfish as those servants of a demon.
Commander - On my honour, the Draconis will be kept safe.
Koluap - Sorry but that means nothing to me--
Koluap was interrupted when Uriel reached out an arm and took a hold of the barrel of Koluap's shotgun, pushing the muzzle downward and looking towards Koluap.
Uriel - Most Artharon warriors would rather die than forsake their personal codes of honour.
Jerkon - We do not know what Artharons are like in this timeline.
Commander - The alien is right, the Artharon Empire was occupied by the Dominion many millennia ago. But that does not mean I am ignorant of my heritage. I will honour my word.
Uriel - Then I will concede.
Sarec - You are sure?
Sarec materialised the group on the grounds of Mithra's palace. They all looked around in awe as their eyes took in the surreal scenery such as the reflective alls, the orbiting landmasses and the streams of golden water trickling down hillsides. Koluap, who had materialised in ready to shoot something lowered his rifle and stammered in surprise. Hachiman shared Koluap's shock and looked towards Sarec.
Koluap - That's...a big place.
Hachi - Hey Sarec...How are we supposed to find Tyraz in all that?
Sarec - Intuition.
Koluap - Uhh how does that help when we've never been here?
Sarec - Keep close. I can sense his location better in this place.
Koluap - That's lucky.
Sarec nodded and performed a hand gesture for the group to follow him. The team used trees and rocky outcrops to conceal themselves on an approach to the palace, some of the group squinted as the star's light shone on the palace's walls, acting as enormous mirrors that glinted luminously in the light.
Entering the palace the team passed through gardens and greenhouses which made up interconnected pathways within the palace. Jerkon had once again gained that spark of curiosity as he noticed all the exotic wildlife within the corridors and rooms and how despite many of them being non-native appeared to coexist in ways that were strong indicators of a balanced ecosystem. Walking though, Crispy tugged some of the group aside as tremors began to be felt in the floor. The group darted into an alcove and watched as a Koda of terrifying proportions stomped down the hall. Hachi let out a very quiet squeak as he remembered the larger-than-normal Koda from the freighter, with this one making even it look small.
It was about to pass the alcove fully before it stopped and looked about, sucking great pockets of air into its nostrils as it analysed the air around it. Sarec did his best to hide the group's presence, concentrating significantly as the creature snorted in gallon after gallon of air before plodding on. After some distance, everyone gasped with relief. Hachi's cheeks had swollen as he had been holding his breath the entire time, gasping out after he released the air in his mouth, looking frightened.
Jerkon - That koda was monstrous.
Hachi - I don't wanna know what it would have done if it found us!
Crispy - I agree. Its body was... tainted.
Jerkon - You mean it was Descended?
Koluap - I thought Descension only affected people.
Crispy - Sin is like a plague. It infects and corrupts anything it touches; sapiens, animals, even plant life theoretically.
Koluap - So how come I've never met a Descended animal until now?
Crispy - If memory serves, someone like Tyraz could only corrupt their environment in the as the Kudalikra; the Demon form.
Herquie - So a creature like that would more likely have been corrupted by this "divine family"?
Crispy - That is what I assume, yes.
Sarec - We should keep out of its way regardless.
Everyoen nodded and after waiting a safe amount of time for the beast to leave they stepped out of the alcove.
Everyone walked on, dodging attendants as they were drawn towards a central chamber. They ended up stumbling across the very room where Tyraz discovered the ancient silver tree that was a centrepiece in Mithra's home. Everyone looked around, noticing golden waterfalls and large paving stones suspended above the water. At the foot of the tree was Mithra, with Delicate, the same beast the team had encountered in the corridor. Delicate was sleeping behind her as she pressed her hand against the ancient being's hard silvery skin. Next to her was a creature less than half her size, caressing the tree's surface with her. Sarec signalled to the team to get behind trees, bushes and rocks.
As Hachi moved to get behind a lush rosebush, his foot landed on a snail, crushing its fragile shell underfoot as he hid behind. This slight noise jolted Delicate from her resting position and looked up in surprise before twisting her features into a snarl as she stood up and stalked towards the bush Hachi was behind. Sarec became alarmed seeing this but kept to his hiding spot, worrying what might happen if more than one person was discovered. As she neared, the dread dawned on hin of what was going on and he began to get gradually more and more scared.
Mithra - Delicate?
Mithra had broken from her trance and was now looking in Delicate's direction. The beast had turned around and looked at its master submissively, jerking its head to indicate towards the rosebush. The Zazane had broken his concentration and revealed his face: Draped in fine silk combined with decorated armour plates was Tyraz, who himself was curious but also worried. Mithra knelt down and rested a hand on his cheek, causing Iovera's eyes to momentarily shift to red before she slowly made her way towards the bush. The beast had stopped, but now this hybrid giantess was making her way over, prompting Hachi to feel frightened once more.
Mithra - Oh hello! I've never seen a creature like you before
Hachi looked up to see Mithra looking down at him as she passed her hand though the leaves of the rosebush. Oddly, she appeared quite cheerful, her gigantic aber eyes glinting in the light from above. Rather than being surprised or shocked, she was genuinely curious. Hachi had curled up hoping to calm himself down but as he looked up the look in her eyes calmed him down enough to speak.
Hachi - Wh-wh wha...?
Mithra crouched down to get herself closer to him, an adorable look of curiosity spread across her snout. She was generally enthralled in him.
Mithra - My name is Mithra. Its okay, I won't hurt you...do you have a name?
Hachi - I-I th's uhh...Ha-hachi mi-miss.
Mithra - That's a cute name. How did you get here?
Hichi's eyes trailed downward from her eyes and he begam claming down further as his eyes were set upon the generous bosom her chest was endowed with. His frightened features crept into an entranced smile. Delicate plodded forward once again in a stalking stance. it was ten metres from the bush when Mithra signalled with her hand for it to stop. She turned to Delicate and gave it a look with her eyes that what she had found was no threat at all.
Mithra - Its okay, I won't tell anyone.
Hachi - I'm u-uh...Here with friends.
Mithra - Are you admirers?
Hachi - N-no we-- we came for another friend.
Tyraz - Mithra who is it?
Mithra - He calls himself "Hachi", Ty. Do you know him?
Tyraz - "Hachi?"
Hachi - Wait, Ty?
Tyraz stood up and briskly paced over to Mithra, eager to see how the rianth was here by some random chance. He was puzzled, bewildered, shocked, as he approached he wondered if his eyes were decieving him, for there, curled up on the floor, a dark stain on the crotch area of his trousers was Hachi, who's features lit up when he saw Tyraz standing there. Tyraz however, was less pleased.
Tyraz - How did you get here boy.
Hachi - W-with Sarec and Koluap and Jerkon and Uriel--
Tyraz - Uriel? Is he okay?
Hachi - I think so, why?
Tyraz scowled and helped Hachi to his feet with a pericing glare in his eyes.
Tyraz - I saw Uriel being taken to a prison cell on Alcanti by these hybrids! He could be suffering in torture the same way I was
Hachi - Oh that. Yeah it was all a scheme by Sarec. He was never locked up.
Tyraz - That reminds me where is everyone else.
Hachi - Uhh.
Traz leaned forward and glared into Hachi's eyes, this was one of the few times where Tyraz in his normal state was taller than the person he was trying to intimidate. Having remembered fighting Tyraz before, Hachi wasn't as scared as he would have been and instead leaned back and shouted at the top of his lings.
Hachi - GUYS, EVERYTHING'S COOL YOU CAN COME OUT NOW!'
Tyraz turned his gaze to where Hachi was shouting to see Sarec, Jerkon, Herquie, Koluap, Iovera and Crispy emerge from their hiding spots. The sight made Tyraz smile in a way he had never had done at any point in his time in the DOminion. He walked up to everyone with arms wide. He shook hands with Sarec, Herquie and Jerkon, gave a brief man hug to Koluap before pacing up to Iovera to wrap his arms around her hips, burying his head into her stomach. While everyone looked pleased, Mithra noticed the affection Tyraz was displaying to Iovera and her eyes began to water, her lips quivered but she looked like she did her very best to keep her composure up, tears eventually trickling down her eyes.Tyraz - I thought I would never see you again!
Tyraz was overwhelmed with joy as his head was deeply embedded within Iovera's embrace. As he did so, Mithra watched on, her lips beginning to quiver as the evidence dawned on her. She took a few steps back and fell backwards, Delicate bounded around her and curved its body to act as a cushion for has back as she landed. As the two settled Delicate nuzzled Mithra, who reciprocated by gently caressing the beast's shoulder as she finally broke down into tears. As she wept the light dimmed, the luminous sunlight retreated as she wept into Delicate's hide.
Tyraz pulled his head from Iovera's chest and turned around to see Delicate curling herself around Mithra as she cried. He took gentle, careful steps towards the two while Hachi followed behind, feeling sorry although he did not know why. Koluap was drawn more to the water that was flowing within the grounds. As Tyraz approached, Delicate looked up and growled visbiously. He understood the message and stopped while Hachi squeaked and jumped behind Tyraz. Through her tear-stained eyes, Mithra looked up, she saw Tyraz but looking upon him now only brought a feeling of pain and she buried her head back within Delicate's hide, the sky darkening a shade as she did.
Tyraz - Mithra...?
With a nudging from Delicate, Mithra inched her head away, still weeping.but now looking at Tyraz. Now that she knew he was married and that he had kept it from her, he wasn't charming any more. She saw a liar and it pained her to even look at him. As she stared, the sky turned a haze of red as a colossal black cloud formed formed right in front of the tree. Koluap was investigating the water when he spotted the clout. He yelped and alerted everyone else, drawing everyone's attention to the cloud that was forming.
Emerging from the cloud and towering over everyone was Kordan Rex. Hachi looked over and gulped, Sarec and Iovera looked towards him and shuddered. Emerging with him was Lord-Taskmaster Indricas, fulyl adorned in his Taskmaster armour, a thick black cloak trailing across the ground. He followed Kordan as the latter stomped towards the group, his fists clenched and his eyes luminous. as he glared down at them. His had then turned to see Delicate curled around Mithra as she cried and his eyes nly glowed more intensely, the lush bright-green grass around him began to wilt as a low brumble echoed thoughout the chamber.
Kordan - What have you done Apostate.
Tyraz - I-I did noth--
Kordan - YOU LIE APOSTATE! What did you do to reduce my daughter to tears.
Kordan - That's her dad?
Crispy - This is an unsettling development
Hachiman - Are we gonna die?
Kordan glared at Tyraz, some force yanking him form where he stood to hover in front of the Draconizane colossus. Tyraz struggled as best he could and everyone retaliated by drawing weapons and preparing for combat. As they did, Indricas stepped forward and between the pairings, sending his fist into the ground and creating a shockwave that threw everyone off their feet.
Tyraz - They're not here for you let me go!
Kordan - My concern is not for them. Indricas! I entrust your beloved with his safety.
Indreicas - f course, my emperor!
Tyraz - My friends will not stop, Shyrak-eater! They will--
Kordan - Enough! Mithra... I will speak with you later.
Mithra nodded distressingly and with that, Kordan and Tyraz vanished in a flash of menacing red light, leaving the group with the lord-taskmaster as he stood back up. Delicate nudged Mithra, prompting the two to stand up. She climbed onto the beast and it bounded away down one of the passageways. Indricas took a moment to see that Mithra left safely before he returned his focus to the group.
Indricas - I will give you all a chance to leave the Dominion. The Eternal Emperor will not know.
Sarec - We're not leaving here without Tyraz!
Indricas - So you would all risk everything for him. I see.
Herquie - We would yes.
Sarec - Some of us would go to the ends of the universe for him.
Indricas - I see. Then it would be logical that you would fight to the death for his safety.
Koluap - Yeah.
Indricas - Excellent. Then you shall not hold back.
Indricas puffed up his chest and blasted a jet of flame from his mouth. Everyone managed to move out of the way as the jet as it scorched the grass. A double-ended blade materialised in his hand and he charged, swinging it horizontally as he approached Herquie, who drew his own blade and parried one blade, his stoic expression remaining unbroken as Indricas tilted his weapon to cut Herquie in the side. The blade cut vertically into Herquie's arm, an impact not deep enough to dismember. In retaliation, Koluap managed to flank Indricas and fired his shotgun at the taskmaster's hip. Koluap snarled however when the shots bounced off and Indricas remained unaffected.
Koluap - Flaming demons! I hate 'em all!
In his rage, Koluap failed to notice Indricas' tail swinging about and was smacked aside, sent screaming several metres sideways. Crispy jumped for cover and rummaged though his supplies. Hachi nodded when he overheard Koluap and channeled Dream Energy though his arms, running forward with his katana clasped in both hands. Indricas saw him coming and swung his weapon but Hachi jumped to avoid it and performed a second hop using Indricas' forearm as a platform, managing to cut into Indricas' cheek before being slapped aside with a squeak.
Crispy - Koluap! Here!
Crispy tossed a shotgun magazine in Koluap's direction. He took a moment to observe what he was given, unsure why he was given spare ammunition.
Koluap - What's this?
Crispy - Acquired from the Commonwealth. it should have an effect on demons.
Koluap - ...You sure?
Jerkon - Whatever works!
Koluap shrugged and replaced the magazine already loaded into his shotgun. Thankfully, Crispy had provided him with cartridges that were compatible with his weapon and he fired another hip-shot, this time Indricas felt it and he took a couple of steps to the side. Crispy had handed Jerkon some similar ammunition for his weapons which had a similar effect. Sarec and Hachi continued to assail him with the power flowing though their bodies. Indricas was a master combatant, an expert almost five hundred years combat experience, he was still outnumbered by the group who slowly but gradually wore him down but not without sustaining injuries amongst themselves. Sword cuts, bruises and broken bones were endured.
Indricas was able to hold his own before he was stopped by a yell. He ignored this and prepared to swing again. As he did however, something stopped his arm, he felt the soft grip of a hand on his wrist and he turned around to see Mithra, cheeks stained and watering by dark tears.
Indricas - My lady what are you doing?
Mithra - Indricas p-please. Don't!
Indricas - Your father gave me my orders.
Mithra - Th-they're Tyraz's f-friends. They're o-only here to protect him.
Indricas - Lady Mithra he upset you. Your father and I arrived to see you distressed.
Mithra - I know bu-but...I don't want th-them hurt because of this. T-Tyraz upset me not them. L-let them go!
Indricas pulled his arm forward, swinging her around and planting her against his front. He looked into her eyes with a concerned expression.
Indricas - You have caused the Emperor enough distress already my lady. I am doing this for your safety.
Koluap - Sarec!
Things Get Worse
Their return was far from comforting or reassuring however. Upon rematerialising the group arrived to discover that the crusier Deicide had brough tthem on had been ravaged by unknown forces, riddled with signs of scarring and battle damage while the bodies of aliens were scattered across the decks. The commander's body was nowhere in sight however, not even bloodstains marked his presence. The group looked about with shock at the damage around them.
Hachi - ...Wh-what happened?
Koluap - A battle. And it looks like those "Deicide" guys lost badly.
Sarec - Suddenly Deicide is not our primary concern.
Koluap - What do you mean?
Crispy - I see no sign of Uriel anywhere.
Koluap - Ahh crap we've lost him too?
Jerkon - Despite our efforts Tyraz is once again lost and we have lost Uriel in the process.
Hachi - This mission isn't going very well...
Sarec sighed and sat in a meditative position, cross-legged and eyes closed. Hachi sat near to Iovera feeling guilty while Jerkon attempted to probe what remained of the ship's consoles.
Iovera - Both are missing and we are once again forced to search unfamiliar realms.
Crispy - The Emperor mentioned that he entrusted Tyraz's imprisonment to that warrior's "beloved"
Jerkon - And do we know who she is?
Sarec - I do.
Sarec opened his eyes and stood up, he revealed the PDA he had taken from the guard back on Alcanti. He showed the display to the group, as while they were discussing he had caught the name "Indricas" and did some research, revealing that the warrior's spouse was one of the Divine Family. This prompted surprise and concern from the group due to the magnitude this kind of information implied. The information displayed also revealed Yarda's capital as well as a distant image of her castle. There was some grumbling amongst the group as they remembered meeting her on Alcanti.
Iovera - So we are agreed with rescuing Tyraz first
Crispy - We came for Tyraz and Uriel was let out of our protection.
Jerkon - Perhaps these soldiers are not as trusted as we thought.
Hachi - Wait...if they took Uriel, why would they kill their own guys to take him?
Crispy - Precicely. We can still trust Deicide.
Koluap - Because they don't kill their own guys?
Crispy - Precisely.
As they talked, Herquie entered the room with Davius being carried underarm. Davius was bleading, his limbs broken and he had trouble standing. Crispy was the first to notice and walked over to Herquie to help him with Davius, looking over the Draconis' wounds.
Crispy - What happened?
Davius - Warriors...Came on board not long after...you all left. Cut us down...could not hold them all...captured Uriel.
Sarec - Warriors?
Davius - More hybrids. Hard...hard to contain.
Koluap - Okay now this is getting annoying.
Jerkon - Then what do we do next?
Sarec - Alensia would never forgive us if we leave Uriel to die. But we came for Tyraz.
Davius - He's...too valuable...to execute.
Herquie - So who has him?
There was an air of uncertainty as everyone looked ot each other warily. No one had a clear answer, and from the information they had gathered, their search area was intimidatingly large. Sarec, looking to ease nerves, stepped forward and cleared his throat.
Sarec - Iovera and I shall look into where he might be. For now, we set a couse for Somrillia.
Koluap - You sure?
Davius - He has seen much...I am...confident.
Crispy - Someone get Davius some medical attention. We leave no one behind.
Crispy walked in working a communicator he had found. The others had settled in as the ship made its way to Somirilla, the throne world of the domain of Yarda Virios. The air was tense: Davius was bedridden, no one knew what to expect next, no one knew what torment Tyraz may be undergoing, no one knew where Uriel was. But Crispy had been doing some searching and had come to a discovery. As he walked in, Koluap and Hachi looked up with glum faces and perked eyebrows as they noticed Crispy appeared more confident.
Koluap - Why are you suddenly so happy?
Crispy placed the tablet device on the table in the middle of the dormitory the group were using and they all stood up to peek over. On the screen was an encyclopaedic entry of Yarda, while on other tabs were articles on Indricas, Somrillia itself and the Taskmasters, who thanks to the divinations provided by Sarec and Iovera, they had learned were the vessel's mysterious attackers.
Koluap - Hey I remember her!
Jerkon - Yes she was assigned as Tyraz's jailer by that monster.
Koluap - NoI mean I remmeber her fro mwhen we first arrived, y'know, that really grumpy one.
Herquie - Narrow it down.
Koluap - Okay, the one shouting at the soldiers over what we did on that freighter.
Hachi - She wasnt' very nice no.
Crispy - I did some browsing to find out what would match the soldiers Davius described. From what I can gather, they act as some for mof elite force that answer directly to the emperor and his family.
Jerkon - IHow many of these offspring do you estimate this "Eternal Emperor" to have?
Crispy - hard to say. But given the circumstantial evidence we have of where Uriel has gone. We should focus on rescuing Tyraz.
Sarec - Tyraz has been imprisoned by the Dominion for days now. It would be unfair to leave him as we drop everything to rescue Uriel.
Koluap - If we leave Uriel to die I'll never hear the end of it from his wife.
Iovera let out a cough while she sat on one of the bunks. Hearing this, Koluap rolled his eyes.
Koluap - Urgh and Tyraz... and his wife too.
Sarec - Uriel is a survivor. It will take more than demigods to break him to break him.
Koluap - If you're wrong, you break it to Tyraz when he find him.
Sarec - Very well.
Iovera stood up and stepped forward. She ked been quiet ever since she watched as Tyraz was taken from her before her eyes. Until now she had kept to herself, keeping to separate rooms. The uneasiness and the stress of the situation appeared to begin taking its toll on her speech, evident by her fur as it had lost its lustre ever since they first arrived on the alternate Alcanti. Once an iron-grey, it had thinned into a dull wispy grey. The sparkle in her eyes had also been lost.
Iovera - I could not bear to witness the loss of either one. Is their any other solution we can explore?
Jerkon - We have no idea where he is though.
Sarec straightened himself up and looked to the others.
Sarec - Fortunately I have a theory. It turns out this "Indricas" is the consort of Yarda, which given the treatment of the family, gives her a lot of authority over the Taskamsters.
Crispy - So what you suggest is that she may have placed Uriel in her own custody.
Sarec - Potentially. As Davius mentioned, Uriel is a survivor, and Indricas may be there. It's a risk as her psychic presence is like a star, but SOmrillia may be our best bet as to where Uriel is. Hachi - Waitwaitwait aren't most of Davius' bones all broken?
Crispy - Do you remember that body glove Davius talked about on the freighter?
Hachi - Yeah?
Crispy - He wears an armour that can support his body in the event of injury.
Koluap - is it still intact?
Jerkon - Crispy asked if I could perform repairs on it. The battle he endured caused some serious damage but there were spare components in this vessel's armoury that with a few modifications.
Hachi - Is it right for us to send him back out there in his condition?
Koluap - If I know him, he'd risk whatever nasty disfigurement is possible to protect Uriel. He'd give us all an earful if we left him behind.
Crispy - Good. Now. Transportation.
Herquie stepped up and held a set of keys in his hand, showing the set for everyone to see.
Herquie - I found a long-range corvette in a berth within the lower decks. It should allow us to mroe easily reach planetside.
Crispy - Excellent idea!
Koluap's hand shot up into the air almost immediately while he beamed with exitement.
Koluap - I call dibs on the pilot seat!
Jerkon - Perhaps someone more level-headed.
Koluap - I don't think the Clericarch knows how to fly.
Jerkon - I meant me you dumbass.
Koluap let out a long-drawn sound of realisation, followed by an expression of disappointment.
Koluap - Alright, fine. But I call shotgun.
Jerkon - Fine.
Sarec - Herquie, while we are travelling I wish for your assistance.
Herquie - Understood.
Hachi - Whatever you want him for can I help too?
Sarec - The more essence users taking part, the better.
Hachi - Uhh...okay. Sure.
The team had arrived without much incident on the surface of Somrillia. The information they had gathered allowed them to move promptly and without much attention. Finding an old building near to the walls of Yarda's castle, the team ascended the staircase to the rooftop, where they could plan their next move while getting an overlook of the palace's layout.
Emerging fro mthe fire-escape it came as something of a relief that the roof was empty of life, save for a few tiny flying creatures vaguely resembling long-nosed bats, who were startled by the group's sudden emergence on the rooftops and flew away screeching. Upon stepping on the gravel rooftop, Sarec paced over to the ledge to take in the landscape around him, while Davius kept close to the fire escape. Iovera was following the captain, keeping her hood on while looking out for potential threats. Herquie inspected his surroundings, his face locked in a frown while Koluap and Jerkon remained close, their weapons in hand just in case. Crispy stood near the rear of the group, his eyes glancing left to right while he strolled behind his colleagues, his tail swaying to its sides while he took the opportunity to admire the surrounding scenery, while Hachiman followed near the center of the group, a hand laid lazily upon the sheath of his blade.
- Crispy - Calm. I like calm.
- Sarec - Admittedly, It is indeed pleasant to take a breather. Hopefully here we can keep out of sight
- Davius - The longer we wait, the more uncertain the fate of the two highlords becomes.
- Koluap - I've zoned out and forgot why we were here a long time ago, so I'll just keep close and follow you guys since you seem to know what you're doing.
- Herquie - And I thought you were meant to be less of a nut.
Sarec squinted as he looked down at the castle's grounds, and beckoned Cripspy over.
- Sarec - Something is off about this place's defences. No guards, no traps, no chokepoints, just...grass.
- Crispy - The best defences are those which escape the mind and sight of the attacker. Indeed, either we have strayed afar into a trap, or those within the fortress are confident they do not require exterior protection.
- Koluap - Shame we got no flamethrowers with us.
- Sarec - Normally I would agree with you, Crispy. Yet whatever defences there must be, they elude even my perception.
- Iovera - There are mental imprints of the prison's creators here, but I can't sense any certainties. Too much negative emotions, too many voices.
- Davius - Voices, lady Menoriam?
- Iovera - Echoes. Thoughts of those who built these walls and those who walked among them... especially those who died there. I could try to concentrate and get some information from them, but only so much.
- Sarec - It is better than going in completely blind. See what you can uncover.
As Iovera consentrated her mind was flooded with the negativity she felt, racing though her mind were hundreds of panicked thoughts and sights: Darkness, falling, screaming, roaring, otherworldly monsters silenced their victims in the clink of an eye. Other imprints revealked something different; more screaming, arms flailing and suffocation, all of it rushing though her mind as she probed the world beyond common sight that rested layered underneath the physical.
- Iovera - ...They... they are here. Here! Everywhere, around us, between walls, in walls, in us, in our dreams, they are!- - Iovera began to faint, breathing heavily - Everywhere death pain nothing the world beneath the world around us-
- Koluap - Yet you get all mad when we suggest killing all of these damned things.
- Iovera - ...I... kill... no... - Iovera slowly regained her senses - ...Forgive me, captain. This place is darker than I expected. Even for a demon-infested labyrinth, it reeks of evil.
- Crispy - ... We shan't compromise ourselves by assaulting with guns ablaze and swords drawn. Our time must be bided 'fore we send the abominations back into the dark from whence they stem.
- Koluap - You don't need to talk so pompously, okay?
- Crispy - It would not hurt one's self to expand their own vocabulary.
- Koluap - It's like you're literally trying to waste our time.
- Iovera - The Zazane predilection for archaic and needlessly convoluted speech is known, but it's not the main problem at hand. Once the things... beneath us get to you, you'll be dying to hear it instead of the howls of the damned.
- Koluap - Why are you all so damn melodramatic?!
- Jerkon - Regardless. Let us move on.
- Crispy - ... Sarec, where now? The further we stand here, the more time upon our side is expired. We need direction.
- Sarec - We brave the darkness. As horrifying as it may be, I see it as the only way to reach Tyraz.
- Koluap - We've all been through worse, stop being such ladies... well. Except the actual lady. She should stay like that.
- Davius - At least we go in knowing what awaits us, I presume only half of these ghosts realised the truth only moments before their demise.
- Crispy - How fortunate for them; they were unable to dwell upon the consequences of their end long enough to be dissatisfied with them.
- Sarec - These walls were built to resist artillery. We can bypass the walls easily with a zipline.
- Iovera - What exactly do you suggest?
- Sarec - The rest of the way, same as always: Keep to the shadows, keep out of sight, avoid attention
Davius stepped forward for mhis sentry and opened a compartment on his waist, revealing a grapple gun, which he showed to the group.
- Herquie - Less chit-chat, more moving on, people.
Davius nodded and aimed the grapple-gun at a distant wall. With the spit of a compressed gas launch mechanism the grapple shot out away from him and towards the wall, slamming into the dark steel skin. Davius then moved towards the lefge, opened the back and fired another grapple the opposite direction into the building's face. Opening the top, he released the gun fro mthe grapple line and holstered it against his waist.
- Davius - The line is capable of supporting five tons of mass.
- Hachiman - That's good and all but you Draconis guys weigh about a hundred.
- Davius - Why would I be carrying such a thing if it did not work for me?
- Herquie - You open your mouth to call them fat. Nice job, kid, your teacher should be proud.
- Hachiman - ... Sorry.
- Davius - Apology accepted.
At that, Davius leapt from the ledge. He opened his wings to their fullest and proceeded to glide near to the zipline towards the palace grounds. Sarec joined him, swan-diving off the ledge and soaring behind him and over the parapets. Hachiman looked towards his mechanical limb and grasped ahold of the line with his artificial fingers, proceeding to slide down the zipline while metallic sparks flew from the materials of his mechanical prosphetic. Crispy urged himself towards the front and followed suite, travelling down the zipline towards the ground in quick approach of Hachiman. Koluap, Jerkon and Herquie all used their wings to glide, following Davius and Sarec, while Iovera levitated gracefully.
Arriving in the grounds they must have passed though some strange membrane as flat lawn gave way to towering narrow passageway i nthe blink of an eye, all made from some black metal. Sarec and Davius looked around confused as a fog gradually began to sewll after the last of the group arrived within this new and strange location.
As the fog swelled, Sarec began to feel drowsy, fluttering his eyelids as he hunched over. With a gaping yawn and a slumping posture, Sarec fell forward, slamming int othe ground. Davius felt similar, feeling drowsy, but while others fell to the floor, protective subroutines in his armour kept Davis standing as he fell into a state of standing unconsiousness, muttering to himself as he slipped out of his wakefulness. Herquie groaned and held on his head as Koluap let out a sharp yell and fell head first into the floor, while Jerkon looked around in confusion as he slowly lost his senses. Crispy fell to his hands and knees, his eyes watering before he managed to orientate himself into a sitting position with legs folded, his eyelids fluttering to a close while his torso leaned forward. Hachiman looked at the group as they were rendered unconscious in shock.
- Hachiman - W-What the... W-What the hell happened to you g-guys...! ...
Darkness still clouded Crispy's vision as he felt cold stone scraping against his legs. He was still disoriented by his sudden narcolepsy, but even in this state he could still make out the shapes of the giants that were moving alongside him, that abberant yet curious amalgamation of Draconis and Zazane that appeared to dominate this strange yet vaguely familiar universe.
With the sound of scraping metal, the corridor gave way to a massive and ornate chamber. The cold stone changed to scarlet velvet carpet. In balconies above him were alien figures who murmoured his arrival between themselves, and before him was a large ornate throne on a raised platform, surrounded below by chairs and stools occupied with yet more aliens, but not ones as varied as those who stood and sat within the balconies protruding from the walls. Sitting casually on this throne was Yarda Virios, one of the divine offspring of the eternal emperor, Kordan Rex. She was dressed in ornate armour over a long rust-red tunic trimmed with gold, and adorning an intimidating set of horns were numerous golden rings. Some of the occupants of the chairs below her resembled her, the smell of them was similar to her and they all looked down with derision at Crispy, who was left to stand on his own two feet once he was four metres from them all.
The blackened Zazane gave himself a quick analysis of his surroundings and the figures within them, barely even turning his head either side as he registered the current goings-on and the situation he had been cast into by these aliens, yet even in the presence of such gargantuan fiends, his actions were dictated by a notable calm - he did not panic nor acted with paranoia, instead rising to his feet and dusting himself off at the first opportunity to glance upon Yarda's almost demonic majesty. Instead of his iconic smile of confidence, he wore a glare.
- Crispy - Ah. Once more do we meet in flesh. ... It appears that one has singled me out from the rest of the company that had been brought into this world of yours. I must wonder why.
Yarda adjusted herself in her seat, leaning forward as she studied the Zazane's appearence.
- Yarda - You intrigue me, Zazane. After all, you were the one providing our Dominion with your location, were you not? Was it not you who informed us that your little company was sneaking around the domain of my father?
- Crispy - ... Ah, so it was. One must excuse my error, the nerve gas that your... goons assaulted me with afflicted my senses somewhat, although a convincing guise to allow passage to you without arousing suspicions from the rest of my company. ... Hmph, it appears I am not even allowed the luxury of a seat to sit myself upon.
Shifting to the side of the Draconizane demigoddess was another large figure, adorned with an armour that highly resembled that worn by the agents and operatives of the Taskmasters of the Dominion, and yet it was decorated and engraved with passages and iconography, a majestic cape flowing from the shoulder blades: the Lord Taskmaster and the Witness of the Emperor, Indricas Azazenius III.
- Indricas - No outsider that pledges not their word and life to the Dominion shall bare the right to not have to stand before those of the Emperor's blood.
Yarda - The least I can do is act a little hospitable. I will not permit you a seat but I am sure you could do with some refreshment after your ordeal, Zazane. A drink perhaps? Crispy - ... Of course, why would I ever refuse?
Turning to his side, the Zazane pointed at one of the elite Taskmaster operatives that had accompanied him to Yarda's halls and snapped his fingers loudly to grasp ahold of their attention, showing zero hesitation in his confident actions even before the eyes of many giants far stronger than himself. This act however, drew several frowns and a few open jaws towards his direction.
- Crispy - Fetch me the finest ale this realm of your mistress has to offer an outsider, grunt.
Crispy's forearm suddenly felt immense pressure as one of them grabbed firmly of his wrist. He could have sworn he almost heard a faint crack of his bones as the Taskmaster snorted aggressively, before Yarda stood up from her throne and commanded loudly in their direction.
- Yarda - Stop! That is no way to treat our guest.
As she settled, a servant walked in with a tray, on which a bottle of wine and an appropriate glass were carried. As the servant approached, the Taskmaster let go with a displeasing roughness. The servant, dressed in a smart, navy-blue suit, bowed to him and removed the cork. Balancing the tray with one hand they poured a golden liquid into the glass before pushing the cap back on and moving the tray closer to him, gesturing for him to accept the drink. The Zazane clasped the glass gently between his clawed fingertips and took a fine sip from the glass, taking a moment to swill its contents back and forth, left and right within his maw to savour its taste, before swallowing and glancing back towards the host of this meeting and her partner which stood at her side. Said host had by now sat down and was making herself comfortable, comforting Indrias by caressing his arm and playfully touching his fingers as she sat down.
- Crispy - My thanks are yours. Now, allow me to grasp for a guess: you and your court are kept in wonder as to why I - an outsider, a denizen of a universe beyond yours, an ally of the invading party - has decided to grace you with intel upon our and my own whereabouts up until this point, is that not correct?
- Yarda - We are, but I see it in your eyes that you are not as loyal to the apostate as your cohorts.
- Crispy - Indeed. By contrast, I serve-- no, command forces that work to oppose his establishment within the realm we know as home. His nemesis and the general of hundreds of worlds that seek his end.
- Yarda - And yet when we finally meet, you were in the company of several poor fools who came all this way to rescue him. I presume you only came here for me but as you can see, he is perfectly helpless within these realms. No threat to you or your subordinates.
- Crispy - Hah. No, I came to your realm with the full intention of bringing Tyraz back to the world from which you plucked him from and I shan't leave lest he is allowed exit from your dominion. Our meeting here, however... is for matters beyond the simple ownership of the Lord-Councillor.
Yarda's warm visage momentarily disappeared as she glared once again, assuming a more aggressive position within her throne.
- Yarda - The Apostate's condemnation here is by divine mandate. He was brought to me to suffer eternally for his infractions against our creator. You want him dead but you also do not want him under our custody. What does it matter where he expires?
- Crispy - ... It is all well and good to hold a tyrant within a cell far beyond his home, to isolate him from the life he once knew til expiration. However, I cannot allow this fate for dear Tyraz; he may be executed behind your bars, but he shall be destroyed within his office once I assure of his return as he witnesses that which he has built crumble and shatter before his eyes as his own demise comes to face him - a fate far more deserved, subjectively of course. ... And no matter what strength you hold, I have already seen you are not strong enough to crush his home-domain.
- Yarda - You underestimate me, Zazane. You underestimate what the Dominion has accomplished.
Yarda stood up from her throne and alked forward, swaying her hips as she closed in on him. She bent forward, exposing a lege set of intimidating, jagged teeth and smiled a most devious grin.
- Yarda - You want me to undermine my father, the Eternal Emperor and herald of Zr'An'Kar, but what can I gain from letting you walk away with that most damned of prisoner to make him suffer and expire under your terms?
- Crispy - ... An assured foothold within the world we stem from, from which your forces may deploy and establish colonies and territory. There are many forces prevalent and active where one such as I and Tyraz stem from, dear Yarda... and one such as you nor your Eternal Emperor hold the strength to bare their wrath alone.
Yarda straightened herself and rubbded her chin in contemplation, een with her towering above him, Crispy could see the ambition gleamig in her golden eyes. After a moment, she bared her teeth once again and looked down to Crispy.
- Yarda - Such a compelling offer, and considering a recent aquisition, it sounds like an effective deal...if you can uphold your honour.
- Crispy - Oh, but that is not all I ask of one, dear Yarda. No, I have come to understand that you - not the Emperor, you - hold something else that pertains relevance to my interests.
- Yarda - What?
- Crispy - I ask not only for custody of the Apostate, but also that of the Draconis Paragon that one's forces acquired from the Deicide fleet in orbit of Amesai.
- Yarda - You want him to watch as well, don't you?
- Crispy - Mayhaps, mayhaps not. Of course, I cannot expect such a prideful, elegant creature such as one's self to merely hand me two prized captives for mere ground and some sense of security. Oh no... I would enjoy to wager upon a game, if you will. Would you like a drink?
At that, Crispy held out the glass of ale that the servant had given him near the start of the meeting and directed it towards Yarda, a smile overcoming his black, draconic face while his tail swayed left and right in confidence. Yarda raised an eyebrow in interest at Crispy's proposal. She spent a moment thinking.
- Yarda - When you arrived you discovreed my fortress grounds to be a labyrinth. I suppose we could use that as grounds for a little competition. Your cohorts can be the pieces of our game and the wager...if they win, I will hand Tyraz to you, if they lose, I keep him. The status of the Draconis will be dependant on his ability to survive my labyrinth; if he survives, he can return with you, if he falls, he remains my trophy.
- Crispy - A sound proposal. However, should you lose and return Tyraz to my custody, the offer for the foothold within my home realm persists to stand, along with the coordinates of every access-point you retain that leads to it so I may enforce and secure them for your arrival. Should I fail... well, you may keep your Apostate.
- Yarda - Agreed, but your cohorts may suspect things if you are with me while the game plays so perhaps we up the ante with our deal: If you fail the labarynth, you pledge your loyalty to me. How does that sound?
- Crispy - ... Done.
Yarda lowered herself and reached out to shake Crispy's hand. The Zazane extended his own and placed his hand within her palm to instigate the shake, the smile upon his face faint as he dealt with the towering giant and her methodical approach.
- Crispy - It has been an honour of mine to speak with one as cunning and beautiful as yourself, although I must request one final offer that pertains little to our wager.
- Yarda - I'm listening.
- Crispy - The grunt that moved to wrestle with me when I had requested a drink... Discipline him, or our wager and offer stands not.
- Yarda - For almost breaking your arm, I shall. Know that my taskmasters are my guard, my finest soldiers. They are not mere serving staff that I can command the most trivial tasks because I feel like it.
As she said this, she looked behind her to give a smile to Indricas. The Lord Taskmaster, whom had dozed off into day-dreaming while standing, swiftly stood to attention and returned a smile to his wife, almost stumbling from where he had been leaning against the back of Yarda's throne.
- Yarda - If there is nothing else, I advise you prepare for our deal.
- Crispy - Then I shall for I find we have concluded business here. For now.
Yarda nodded and waved her hand, signifying Crispy's dismissal. The Elite Taskamsters that brought him in nudged him forward and escorted him out of the elaborate hall. As he left, Yarda turned around and gracefully walked up the steps of her throne and approached Indricas gracefully.
- Yarda - I apologise, my love. But if that Zazane does indeed fail my labarynth, perhaps the Taskmaster he wanted disciplined is rewarded?
- Indricas - Hah, of course, my sun-and-stars. I shall ensure that Kerethrex is allowed the authority to handle that damned Zazane smartass when he falls short of his confidence with his ability to succeed.
- Yarda - I honour my word, my dear Indricas. But don't discipline him too harshly, I hate playing games when you're feeling sour.
- Indricas - ... I had hoped to congratulate Kerethrex upon his actions against the pompous outsider, but if it means to uphold your entertainment, then I shall find an appropriate punishment that should not warrant any significant harm.
- Yarda - My displeasure was in how he almost shattered the poor whelp's arm. But...do let Kerethrex know that I respected his decision to remind the whelp that my Taskmasters are not mere krann.
Tyraz hung from the ceiling in one of the large dungeon-like chambers of Yarda's fortress. His hands and feet were manacled and connected to the ceiling and floor by chains. He was encased in a framework sphere that buzzed with electricity, the faint hum of a phasic shield intersected the framework, in a sense, here Tyraz was in a reinforced bubble with only his thoughts. Thoughts interrupted by the arrival of a woman he did not enjoy seeing.
Strutting in, her torso, hips and shoulders clad in ornate, dark, ruby-studded armour and obscured by a thick fur-trimmed coat that she wore over her shoulders was Yarda, twin sister to Kragh. She was not as tall or as heavily muscledbound as her twin brother, nor was she as short or apathetic to maintaining her muscle tone as her sister. A merger of both, but she was still a warrior from her demeanour. She strutted in with soft, thumping footsteps, looking upon her captive with a malicious smile spread across her snout. When she was but inches from the wall of Tyraz's prison, he thrusted his chest forward, trying to show he was not happy, and made bodily indications he would happily kill her. Yarda however, merely looked at the attempt to intimidate as if it were almost an adorable act.
- Yarda - Feeling frustrated?
- Tyraz - Eat shyrak. Whore!
Yarda's smile disappeared in an instant, her pleasant demeanour now replaced with one of extreme irritance.
- Yarda - Well. I expected better manners from you. And here I came, all this way hoping to make eternity a little more comfortable for you.
- Tyraz - How?
- Yarda - I like games, Apostate--
- Tyraz - Do stop calling me that.
Yarda glared, her eyelids widened and and raised her finger close to her lips.
- Yarda - Will you not interrupt me! - In almsot an instant she calmed down, returning to the mood she had when she entered - Now, as I was saying. I like games, and just recently I had an idea for one we could both play.
- Tyraz - Are you trying to patronise me?
- Yarda - Not at all. I just felt you were a little bored trapped in these shackles all day with nothing to do.
- Tyraz - Are you forgetting who put me here, shyrak-eater!
- Yarda - Tell you what. If you win, I'll cut a little slack, perhaps add a hint of familiarity to your incarceration.
- Tyraz - And if I lose?
- Yarda - You will lose the privilege of having any kind of visitor, myself included, and I will keep you i na palce os dark you may as well be deep in the interuniversal void.
- Tyraz - So in the end I lose nothing. Fine. I'll play your game.
- Yarda - Excellent.
Yarda turned around and clapped her hands. The orb surrounding Tyraz disengaged its forcefields and he was lowered to the floor, but still manacled up. He staggered as he readjusted to supporting his weight and stumbled over to Yarda who sat down as a large holographic projection materialised within the centre of the room. The projection took the form of a multi-leveled maze of five tiers with four blips scattered about the bottom level. Tyraz stumbled over and sat down in front of the holographic maze.
- Tyraz - What are the rules.
- Yarda - There's a safe zone in the centre of the fifth tier. You must get at least one but as many as four pieces into it to win the game.
- Tyraz - What happens if I lose one or more pieces?
- Yarda - Then your reward will be lessened.
Tyraz released a snarl from between his jaws, digging his claws into his legs.
- Tyraz - I never agreed to that condition.
- Yarda - Would you rather forfeit the game?
- Tyraz - No.
- Yarda - Good. Now, you cannot constantly control the pieces. Instead, they will wonder, you must use points value assigned at the start of the game to direct them and protect them. My task in this game is to eliminate the pieces one by one. I can use my score to override your command if you so wish as well as add traps for the pieces to fall into. You will gain points for the timely avoidance of traps. The more quickly you notice a trap, the more points you will receive.
- Tyraz - And who allocates those points?
- Yarda - The game. I like being respectful to my challenges.
- Tyraz - Fine.
- Yarda - Now, there is a chance you can gain points if a piece notices a trap before you act. However, for obvious reasons, you, can more easily identify a trap than they can and you will gain more points if you notice the trap.
- Tyraz - Is that everything?
- Yarda - Yes. Shall we begin?
A flash of light met everyone as they entered what they thought was an exit portal. Crispy, Koluap, Herquie, Iovera, Sarec and Hachi found themselves in a dark circular room with only one exit door. Koluap screamed in anger as he rolled through the ground, while Herquie appeared bruised though more annoyed than anything. Crispy clasped ahold of his left arm, which appeared limp and dead, bleeding excessively from various points across it while saying nothing, almost ignorant of the other wounds and bruises afflicted across his torso. Hachiman, meanwhile, whined faintly as he aheld his gut and softly touched the bruises upon his face. Sarec then flew out of the light and landed on his side, panting, bruised and exhausted. Iovera stayed, holding on to her staff and looking around once again.
- Sarec - Urmph. Is it gone!? Did I outrun it?
- Koluap - Try and get me now!!... Oh. The spikes are gone.
- Herquie - Hmpf. What a crude dungeon.
- Hachiman - ... Ow...
- Crispy - ... Urgh... The situation... may appear calm now... However... J-Jerkon... Davius and U-Uriel... They are gone...
- Sarec - They...We all knew th-- The risk. They all knew we had...A slim chance.
- Herquie - ... Jerkon can't have died.
- Koluap - If Jerkon is dead, I'm going to get Tyraz and kill him myself!
- Sarec' - For what? This...this Trial was Yarda's engineering surely?
- Koluap - For making us go through all of this. I'm going to get him, and make her EAT him.
- Crispy - ... If you wished not to save Tyraz... to face the trials set ahead of us in that pursuit... w-why come here?
- Koluap - Shut up before I break your other arm.
- Herquie - Enough. Stay optimistic. You know you have an issue when I' have to say this.
- Iovera - Koluap, Jerkon is alive. I know that. Had he, or Uriel, or Davius, died in the dungeons, I would have sensed his agony from miles away.
- Koluap - ... Alright... Sorry about that.
- Iovera - You are forgiven. - Iovera nodded, sending a telepathic message to Sarec - [I can't actually trace their essence. Do you sense them?]
- Sarec - <Yarda's aura...the epicentre is closer than ever, I am afraid it is all I can sense...> - Sarec looked towards the only door out of the room - There is only one way to go. The door.
- Iovera - [Damnation. Are you certain that is the only option left?]
- 'Sarec - [Yes. Surely if we find Yarda, we might find Tyraz.]
- Herquie - Let's get going then. We need to find Jerkon and Davius.
- Hachiman - L-Lemme just... s-sit here a moment and... d-die quietly, I don't w-wanna strain myself too hard...
- Herquie - Heal with your energy, you brat.
- Hachiman - ... I am.
- Sarec' - Focus yourself, child.
Hachiman groaned, standing onto his feet as he rolled back his shoulders, wincing as he did. With an agitated and pained expression amidst heavy exhalations, the Tā warrior approached the door, shambling with a somewhat unsteady demeanour as he reached his mechanical arm towards it with a slight twitch.
- Hachiman - ... S-Since nobody's done it a-already...
The door, made of a heavy wooden material, was pushed open with some effort, revealing an empy corridor with another door at a T-section at the very end. Hachiman groaned, leaning his head back to release a loud exhale, before walking through the doorway he had just opened up and slowly moved through the empty corridor.
- Hachiman - G-Goddamn... E-Either that's blood in my stomach a-and I'm about to t-throw up or t-this is what being a martyr feels like.
- Iovera - Tyraz, here we come.
Yarda stood up from her sitting position, allowing the blood to return ot her legs after a long session. She gave a conceited smile to Tyraz. She reached her hand forward as a sign of congratulations, to which Tyraz, with firm reluctance and heavy hesitation, accepted.
- Yarda - It seems I have been bested. You were an effective opponent, Apostate.
- Tyraz - My worth extends beyond the mere sword-driven hand; many soldiers have I guided and with a clear mind and tactical approach I have led them always. ... You, as well, are familiar with the realm of guidance and counter-approach. Too familiar.
- Yarda - I was trained well. I promised to make your incarceration more comfortable and add a sense of familiarity to it. I shall stand by my word.
- Tyraz - Hmph. Familiarity, you speak of. ... The only thing that appears familiar now is the spite that drives my nemeses. So long a prisoner I remain, "comfort", as a concept and definition, remains alien to me.
- Yarda - Then you can feel free to judge my gift to you.
Yarda snapped her fingers and a wall dissolved to reveal Uriel, Davius and Jerkon in separate cells. All three of them could see him, and Uriel, stripped of his armour, ran up to the wall and placed his hand on the material, eyes widening with guilt. Tyraz stood to his feet, his own eyes glimmering as he saw the three men trapped behind the wall, and rushed to it impulsively, his breath taken from him as he analysed Uriel, Davius, and Jerkon systematically.
- Tyraz - ... W-What... What are you doing here...?
- Uriel - Tyraz...?
- Iovera - TYRAZ!
- Jerkon - A less than pleasant meeting. Greetings, Tyraz. We were to be your rescue party.
- Yarda - A shame I could not keep the rest. But I made a deal in order to acquire them for you.
- Jerkon - They are better off your hands, demon follower.
- Tyraz - ... What foul bargains and trades have you established with that damned Kolossus, Yarda? What are the terms of this "deal" that you speak of?
- Yarda - You are mistaken, Apostate. I did not strike a bargain with my father's creator to have the three of you. But those I did bargain with come now.
Crashing into the room to fall flat onto his face was Hachiman, tired and exhausted from the trials that had faced him, as he barely caught a glimpse of Tyraz before his eyes were drawn to the Draconizane aristocrat's bosom area before he hit the ground. Crispy followed behind him, maneuvering his arm to snap the other, less functional one back into, albeit painful, mobility. Herquie charged, his bladed knuckles primed as Koluap roared in, guns blazing, firing incendiary shots at high speed and stomping on Hachi's back in the process.
- Koluap - Die you bloody animals!
As the group rushed in, Yarda was quickly surrounded by six Taskmasters, one of which staggered from Koluap's shotgun blast. Yarda rolled her eyes and clenched her fist, telekinetically crushing Koluap's shotgun in an instant.
- Koluap - Oh. Well screw you too, guy.
- Yarda - Pathetic.
- Koluap - Tyraz! This is all your fault! Now not only did they take Jerkon but they also broke my shotgun!
- Tyraz - K-Koluap... Ever glad am I to once more be graced by your presence... I find it difficult to comprehend that... you would come for me...
- Koluap - Shut your damn snout before I shoot you next... if I could!
- Yarda - More of you survived than I had anticipated. No matter, take the Apostate and go.
- Tyraz - ... You are allowing me to take leave?
- Yarda - The Zazane made a compelling offer. You can leave as you escaped my labyrinth. But my new prisoners stay; those were our terms.
- Iovera - ...What?!
Crispy walked ahead of the group, a smile upon his face; rolling his shoulders, he stepped over the fallen Hachiman as he struggled to stand up and walked past Tyraz, who glanced towards the charismatic enigma with an expression of shock and confusion; his political archnemesis had shown himself here, with the men and woman that had come to rescue him from the binds of the Draconizane. Folding his arms, Crispy tilted his head.
- Crispy - The Dominion access-points into Onuris if you would be ever so kind, dear Yarda.
- Herquie - What's happening here?
- Iovera - Cease. - Iovera lifted Crispy in the air, her eyes burning in anger - We are not going anywhere without Uriel. Or Davius. ... ... - Iovera looked at Koluap - ...Or Jerkon.
- Jerkon - Good to see I am that unimportant.
- Crispy - Open you ears, dear Iovera, for I have yet to have you enlightened. Were it not for my deal with the Draconizane princess, none of you nor Tyraz would have been graced with the light of day beyond now.
- Iovera - So many fancy and empty words - you would make an excellent Theosophian. But I have yet to hear any reason not to break your neck.
- Yarda - I could easily have tossed you into prison cells the moment you all collpsed. Are you all...refusing my generous offer?
- Koluap - Eat demon shit!
Yarda growled and without warning Koluap was launched backwards across the room into a wall. As he was flung, he could be heard screaming "My point staaaaands!" until he crashed into the nearest wall. As the dust settled, Yarda tensed her msucles, clenched her fists and snorted steam from her nostrils.
- Crispy - ... I am a difficult man to anger and your ignorance is driving me to it. Yes, I established communications with Yarda and had betted your lives in trial and game, yet were it not for me, there would be no trial for us to have attempted; all would have been executed or imprisoned upon the very spot we stood as soon as we penetrated the grounds. I assured our survival.
- Iovera - You have my gratitude. And my apologies.
- Jerkon - If that is the case, I demand being executed. Because I dislike you too much.
- Crispy - Now...
- Iovera - Apologies. For this.
Iovera lifted Crispy high up in the air, until his horns almost touched the ceiling and then slammed him on the ground with uncanny force, before doing the same thing several times over, until the Zazane finally lost consciousness - all with a pleasant grin on her face.
- Iovera - Thanks for your good will, madam, but the rules of the game have changed.
- Jerkon - ... Nevermind, I am too scared of dying that brutally.
- Koluap - Holy shit, lady, I'm your fan now.
- Tyraz - ... Did the damned fool truly put Uriel's liberty to sacrifice in exchange for mine?
As everyone looked in shock at Iovera's bout of violence, the room began to rise in temperature as wisps of steam began to rise from Yarda's scales, her golden eyes shifting slightly to red as she breathed heavily and furiously with clenched fists, her teeth fully exposed and in view of everyone. Tyraz turned to her and narrowed his focus, throwing an arm to his side as if to shield his colleagues from Yarda's incoming wrath.
- Tyraz - ... Explain, you shall, of the deal you had made with the fool.
- Iovera - The deal was thus: we find you, he gets slammed against the floor, and then we leave. I suggest we proceed with the third step.
- Tyraz - ... Uriel, Davius, and Jerkon remain imprisoned. Unwilling am I to leave until I know and understand what has occured between the Draconizane and my foe as per why my friends should take my place in their custody.
In her rage, Yarda's voice had become more demonic.
- Yarda - It is simple. The Zazane was brought to me, he agreed that if any of you survive my labarynth they are free to go and take you as well while I provided him with a means to return to your pathetic domains. Those who failed would stay, and if the Zazane failed, he would have sworn fealty to me.
- Tyraz - ... That means Uriel had failed survival within the confines of your game. Crispy had not offered his life at all; the lives of the Paragon, Davius, and the Marechal were left to chance.
- Iovera - Yes.
- Yarda - Those were the terms he agreed, and I was about to live up to my end before you rendered the fool unconscious!
- Sarec - We are not leaving without the three of them.
- Yarda - Then perhaps I could find use for your souls instead.
In a flash of movement, Yarda slammed her fist into the ground, sending a shockwave that sent everyone off-balance, her eyes were now burning as she channeled her rage into her arms. Hachiman was flung from where he had just been able to stand as Crispy's unconscious body knocked into him, launching him into the nearby wall, while Tyraz merely stumbled off-tilter in place as he stood before the might of the empowered Draconizane hierarch. Iovera held to her staff, pinning herself to the ground telekinetically as as to remain standing. Sarec staggered backwards a few steps before slamming his feet into the floor, cracking it and stabilising himself. Yarda then turned to her Taskmasters and shouted at them.
- Yarda - The two Zazane I want alive, the rest are disposable!
- Koluap - Do something!
- Tyraz - Please, relieve your stress, Chessmistress, for I come to you with a proposition in regards to my liberty and such of my allies if you shall allow me the dignity to attempt such.
Yarda turned her head slowly to gaze fiercely into Tyraz's eyes, she clenched her fists tightly and growled. Within the moment she had turned her gaze, the Zazane warlord's hand wrapped itself tightly around one of the horns that swirled and adorned the Draconizane's head, before he utilised the strength within him to ferociously maneuver himself in a semicircular motion; he launched the towering Draconizane, in all of her enraged state, towards the side of the room.
- Tyraz - The proposition I come to you with: Fuck. You.
- Iovera - Spoken like a true Zazane.
Yarda roared in a fit of rage as she scrambled up and ran at an astonsihing speed. Within her hand a red cloud expanded and formed into a brutal-looking two-handed battleaxe, which Yarda easily held one-handed as she charged for Tyraz in a blinded rage. The Zazane did not move himself from his stance, opening his arms as he braced himself for the combined impact of the momentous mass of the Draconizane woman and the weapon she clasped between her fingers - all the while, he stood ahead of the wall which segregated his friends from the rest of the rescue party. She did not realise or care where she was going, tackling whatever she hit with such immense force that it caused the transparent wall to explode in a shower of debris, while she continued on and slammed herself into another wall, with unlike the previous wall now stopped her. Protectively, her taksmaster bodyguards readied their weapons and approached the rest of the group, their initial volleys deflected by a hastily-timed barrier thown up by Sarec.
Knocked to the floor, Tyraz, having somehow endured the extent of the mass and power that had charged at him, swiftly yet unsteadily rose to his feet and roared out with as much breath as he could muster, while Hachiman managed to step over the fallen Crispy and prepare himself for the onslaught of the Chessmistress' Taskmasters.
- Tyraz - Uriel! Jerkon! Davius! ... Go!
Uriel and Davius nodded, using the moment Yarda was disoriented to run from their cells with Jerkon opening his wings to go after them, but as Davius crossed the threshold, he found himself flying right back though a force beyond his own work towards the Chessmistress, who slammed him into a wall, another wall and then drew him into the grip of her fingers. Uriel turned around and beheld the situation with horror, watching as Yarda's fingers constricted themselves around Davius' throat, with every breath she denied him sappping the life from his body.
- Uriel - Davius!
- Yarda - Your punishment...Is his damnation!
As Tyraz attacked the Chessmistress, Iovera kept her minions at bay, creating torrents of psychic energy that coursed through their enhanced bodies. Meanwhile, Herquie spun behind the Draconizane forces using his agility to get past them as he leaped at Yarda from behind, charging his blades with dream energy as he delivered a blow at the arm holding Davius while Tyraz looked on with exhaustion, having made a futile attempt to summon his Firesword all the while the Bonio acted. Yarda screamed as the blade came down, gouging the flesh and cleanly severing her forearm from her body. She roared as black demonic blood poured like a fountain from the stub that she quickly covered with her other hand. Once Davius fell to the floor he pried the fingers from his thorat and ran to join the rest of the group.
- Sarec - Everyone to me!
- Tyraz - Let us take our leave! ... And part from this wretched realm.
- Yarda - ZR'AN'KAR DAMN YOUR SOULS FOR THIS TRANSGRESSION!
- Koluap - Get me out of this dump of a universe already, I've not taken my meds in weeks.
Tyraz leaped backwards towards the direction of the rescue team as they finished off the the elite Taskmaster force that had accompanied Yarda, and turned towards the group as a faint, brief smile overcame his darkened face and a glimmer appeared in his eyes.
- Tyraz - ... Y-You came for me... All of you...
- Jerkon - We may discuss this in a safer location. At the moment, an evacuation is required.
Upon returning to the vessel, Sarec appeared tired from the ordeal, while Uriel promptly moved to tend to Davius. He looked up to Tyraz, and with tired eyes that flickered from his membranes, he smiled. Hachiman had collapsed atop of Herquie following the teleportation, while Crispy's unconscious form was left to its own accord upon the ground, with Tyraz standing just a meter or so from the group as they rematerialised within the vessel. Herquie grunted as he shoved Hachi off of him, while Koluap immediately went over to Jerkon to tend to him.
- Hachiman - ... L-Let's... Let's n-never do that... ever a-again, alright?
- Jerkon - You are not required to repeat yourself.
- Uriel - Is...is it all over? Can we finally return home?
- Tyraz - ... We have all with us, as far I can observe. Yes, let us leave. ... And thank you all. Uriel, Koluap, my dear... All of you...
- Iovera - Had you expected us to do any less?
- Herquie - This is what allies are for.
- Koluap - Keep your gratitude to yourself.
- Sarec - Koluap, is that any way to behave to one of your closest friends?
- Tyraz - No, no... Fine it is, dear Sarec. The fault is mine for the dragging of you all, Koluap especially, into these infernal lands. ... I had not expected you, dear Koluap, to follow after me but... my gratitude is yours, as are my apologies.
- Koluap - I'm not your "dear". We are not "close friends". If I knew all the bullcrap I would have to go through to get to you... if I knew your incompetence woud place Jerkon in danger like this, I would have NEVER joined this team.
- Iovera - ...Koluap.
Tyraz' eyes looked sorrowfully towards Koluap, the glint in his eyes becoming one of tearful sadness rather than joy, and he slowly - reluctantly - turned his sight away from the Spinker veteran, taking in a deep inhale as he came to terms with the feelings shown to him, while Hachiman watched in silence at the two's conflict.
- Tyraz - ... Of course, as you will, Koluap. I... I placed us all in the path of death and harm, I cannot deny such claim. No excuses can I formulate, no lies am I willing to spew... The fault is mine, as it shall always be.
- Iovera - ...Tyraz.
Iovera snapped her fingers, creating a small, weak burst of electricity that hit Tyraz in the cheek. Tyraz weakly touched his cheek and stood upright, looking away from the rescue team as he snorted faintly.
- Tyraz - ... Come. No further harm shall we be posed the sooner we take our leave.
Wrath of the Emperor
Indricas had been summoned by his Emperor's voice to the eternal palace on Alcanti. The voice had called hin to the royal chambers, where he was surrounded by some of the most lavish decorations within the expansive estate. These particular reaches were privy only to the divine family and their most honoured of servants and commanders, but it was a part of the palace that Indricas was largely familiar with as the Emperor's Witness. Indricas felt a cold, mortal chill travel up his spine as he made his approach to the Emperor's quarters, his hands clenching and releasing at his sides in such an erratic fashion that no pattern could be made of it in order to attempt to channel and restrain his composure to remain with him; while he was, as an Emperor's Witness, a dear and valued friend to Kordan, he nonetheless feared his wrath as much as any other did - mortal or immortal. His exterior largely hid his wracked nerve, yet his eyes were those of a scared and worried man. His ears could hear his master's baritone voice though the walls as he approached. The tone was self-evident that he was not pleased. But another, softer voice accompanied his, getting clearer as Indricas approached. The Emperor's Witness felt a certain, familiar calm overcome the concern in his chest as his ears chanced upon the second voice; that of a woman in her prime, her voice lighter and softer-spoken than that of his master, with a more innocent and almost angelic composure - Indricas would even go so far as to claim the voice as naturally, and fittingly, maternal.
- ??? - ... Most girls of her age allow their feelings to best their better judgement, Kordan. All youths are impulsive and are unaware of what is best for them... Was it not the same for you--
- Kordan - The life you assume I had, I did not. All my scions grew up in pampered luxury compared to what I had.
- ??? - You know Mithra would never intend to betray us - or you, rather. ... She is still young and is approaching her time to make her own decisions without her father looming over her shoulder. She is bound to make mistakes.
- Kordan - If her mistakes involved a diplomatic altercation or mis-handling a natural or social disaster I would have understood. Our daughter went against the wishes of Zr'An'Kar....I thought I-- we raised her to be mindful of what that would have meant.
- ??? - For her, she was bidding against the wishes of her father. ... Just as Kragh, Yarda, and surely Vetarion have done when they were youths. She was not to know.
Before the Eternal Emperor could retort, his Witness let a shaking hand knock against the material of the door with a jovial tune, allowing a quiet exhale as he brought his arm up in order to alert the inhabitants of the royal chamber to his presence on the outside. An alien attendant greeted him from inside the chamber with a wordess welcome, nodding slightly as they recognised the Lord-Taskmaster before them. From inside the room, Kordan turned his head to look in the direction of the door. He lifted up one of his arms, a mass of scaled flesh that was sculpted elegantly over the bones of his arm to form a physically attractive muscle shape to the living eye. He beckoned the Lord-Taskmaster in. His brow furrowing as he read his Witness's face. Indricas walked, upright in his stature as he faced his Emperor, before bowing his head to both him and his dear mistress - the Imperial Consort, Khesta.
- Kordan - Lord-Taskmaster. You appear...distressed.
- Khesta - What is wrong, Indricas?
- Indricas - ... My liege... and m'lady. You would be correct in your observation, I am afraid. ... I come with perturbing news.
Kordan held up a hand and walked over to Indricas. WIth the hand he called his Witness in, he rested his large fingers against Indricas' head, closing his eyes and scowling. WIth his other hand, he began to clench his hand into a fist. The attendant, watching the scene, began to look uneasy and had taken a step towards the door.
- Kordan - My dearest Khesta...I do not wish to worry you with the news Indricas brings. You may leave if you so wish.
- Khesta - For Indricas' sake, I will not. I am far too aware of your state when you are frustrated; I do not wish to see poor Indricas bullied.
Kordan opened his eyes and exhaled, glaring at Indricas.
- Kordan - Is she in a safe location?
- Indricas - As safe as I could assure. I spared no expense in guaranteeing her security.
- Kordan - This satisfies me.
Kordan lifted his hand from Indricas face and lowered the arm to his side. The hand it ended ith however, belied his satisfaction as it closed up to accompany and mirror its brother on the other side of Kordan's body. Indricas sighed while Khesta approached, batting an eye at Indricas' state before glancing back towards her husband.
- Kordan - First Mithra, now Yarda. Is this...Apostate turning my kin against me?
- Khesta - Or mayhaps you are allowing your doubt and mistrust to best you into paranoia.
- Kordan - Yarda treated one of the Apostate's allies like another political asset she could use. But in the end the entirity of this rescue party escaped.
- Khesta - ... And how is Yarda herself faring?
- Kordan - She is recovering. For now.
- Khesta - So long as she fares well, then the day has not been an entire failure. ... We always have an opportunity to bring the Apostate back under our fold.
Kordan brushed his consort gently, taking a moment to observe her beauty before turning his gaze directly into Indricas' eyes.
- Kordan - Follow me. I have a solution to our resistance problem.
- Indricas - ... Surely you do not speak of it, my liege?
- Kordan - What better tool against what is quickly becoming the most infuriating Zazane I have ever crossed.
- Khesta - ... No, you cannot. There must be an alternative. ... That thing brings out the worst in whoever's hands it happens to fall into.
Kordan led indricas though the palace's corridors. Now out of the presence of his consort he made it more visible in his body language that he was infuriated. His frustration manifested as long confident strides though the corridors towards a large set of doors. While normally it was etiquette for door guards to open the way, Kordan shoved the doors aside, throwing both of what appeared to be two tonnes of weight aside as if they weighed little. Revealing an ornate great hall filled with large glass cabinets.
These cabinets contained all sorts; exotic weapons, vehicle parts, even bodies both sapient and animal preserved in some form of stasis, making them appear as fresh as the day their horrid fate fell upon them. Kordan briskly waked past all of these to a cabinet in the centre of the room, though the glass was the thing the very gaze of which chilled every fibre of Indricas' mighty being. The Lord-Taskmaster approached with caution, eventually coming to a halt some meters away from where Kordan stood with the cabinet, almost as if he were physically incapable of bringing himself closer - he shook in his boots, the pressure of the blood in his veins increasing with each moment his eyes chanced upon the central component of the hall.
- Indricas - ... My liege... I won't deceive you when I ask that I feel you should reconsider.
Kordan turned his head to look behind himself, turning just enough so Indricas could see the determination in the corner of his liege's golden-white eye.
- Kordan - We are being shamed by a Zazane, Indricas. What better method of putting the upstart in his place by branding him with the very weapon of the revered ancestor that was slain. ...The very ancestor whose blood I feel burn in my veins.
- 'Indricas - Must you confront him with such a weapon? ... I hold confidence your power alone is enough to ruin him, my liege.
- Kordan - I admire your loyalty, Indricas. And for that, one day you may transcend death as your ancestors have. My decision however is made clear: From my hands he shall see Zagdala's blood, and know from a single gaze what he is challenging.
Indricas huffed loudly as Kordan paced briskly up towards the cabinet, taking some steps back from the cabinet as he observed his master's actions; the Lord-Taskmaster's uneasy expression contorted into an evident frown, feeling himself becoming queasy from contact the baleful, dark aura that radiated from the very heart of the room. From the contents of the disfigured, seemingly mutated cabinet of otherwordly glass. His master took one last look at his right-hand soldier before he returned his gaze to the cabinet. With a stern exhalation he opened the cabinet's front doors, exposing the room to an even greater aura. Even with countermeasures in place, whatever power coarsed though the material of the dark artifact was so great as to not be fully contained. And both Draconizane warlords could feel it.
Kordan extended his arms to gently slip around the blackened wood of the handle, moving with care as if it were made of glass He took one last observation of the weapon before he tightened his grip; in his palm, it felt as if He were clutching igneous rock rather than wood, yet at the same time, he could feel the oddly organic properties of the weapon caress against the flesh of his hand. As he came to wield the weapon as his own, the aura that appeared to radiate from the archaic blade condensed, becoming concentrated around the Draconizane demigod's own form, allowing Indricas to resume a less strained breathing pattern in the presence of his lord - there was a sudden, brief silence.
Upon embracing contact, it was as though Kordan's hands were being burned. He grated his teeth as he struggled to control himself, allowing two enormous wings consisting of nothing but plasma-state shidium to erupt from his back as a pair of wing-like flames to bathe the room in an eldritch purple light. The moment he touched it, there was a flash and a change in what Indricas could see. For a moment, his master took on a mythical form of Zagdala Breek, as horrible and intimidating as the legends made him out to be, before just as briefly returning to Kordan's own visage. The alien emperor standing with his back to Indricas as his wings illuminated his features with an indigo light. The Lord-Taskmaster's brow furrowed and his eyes squinted, as if briefly overcome with the newfound twisted magnificence undergone by the Eternal Emperor, before bringing himself to step closer to the seemingly new being that had been birthed before him. As he approached, Kordan's head turned to gaze upon Indricas with eyes like stars and a faint glow from his mouth, both of which began to die to a less intense degree as time passed.
- Indricas - ... You can still control it...?
- Kordan - ...It resisted, Lord-Taskmaster. But yes. The presence, the entity within the weapon, it has yielded to me.
- Indricas - You are playing a dangerous game, my liege... You could break the Apostate in two with your bare hands, yet you would feel it necessary to conjure this... this beast?
- Kordan - Your praise is noted, Lord Indricas. However I wish to take no chances. The Apostate and his allies have bested you, my daughter and our finest Taskmasters. If he is to die for his defiance, then I will see to it that all the odds are against him.
- Indricas - ... Then I cannot argue with you. The Apostate and his allies have proven bold and cunning, so this... This shall mark the end of their streak of luck - of their lives. ... My liege, for all of our sakes, I hope you remember how to stave the influence of the bastardous creature within the blade.
Kordan turned around fully, revealing the full extend of his transformation and laid a large hand on Indricas' shoulder, looking down from his height to smirk and nod at Indricas' advice.
- Kordan - It barks constantly for blood. As any good houndmaster, I shall dispense discipline if it should ever rise to behave unruly.
- Indricas - ... I shall consult with our admirals and prepare them for our next offensive. I presume that my liege wishes to bring his own dreadnought to the fray, alongside his venerable escorts?
- Kordan - To bring forth anything less magnificent... Such would be a disgrace.
- Indricas - Then so shall it be. ... The Apostate should consider himself honoured. His last moments, I am sure, shall be glorious.
The next few days were quiet for the group as their comandeered cruisier sailed quietly to one of the known passageways back to the Onuris universe. As they passed a remote star system - a decision made in the hope of avoiding Dominion patrols - a dark presence could be felt thoughout the ship, coming from outside. While it did not appear on the crusier's sensors, he could feel it, and he ran into the dormitory everyone was using.
- Sarec - Everyone brace yourselves!--
His warning did not come soon enough, as he was interrupted by the ship being rocked and alarmsblaring across all decks. Looking outside the ship it came into view: A dreadnought; a behemoth of a vessel with a skin as black as the darkness of space and glinting in the light of the dwarf star some astronomical units away. But its ivory skin was far from featureless, for most of its body was adorned with engravings the size of buildings, depicting battles, executions and ceremonies, stepping back, one could swear that if reptiles could, Uriel had was pale; that is, he would if it were possible for reptiles. Jerkon and Herquie's faces showed worry, though Koluap was nowhere to be seen, having remained separated from the rest of the group ever since they returned to the ship.
- Iovera - ...This ship... the aura...
- Herquie - ...It's like Marigrax's ship.
- Jerkon - I believe that would be too optimistic.
Hachiman glanced towards the visuals of the gargantuan craft and pouted, his brow narrowed as he laid a hand softly upon the hilt of his sheathed vibroblade, his lower lip quivering while Tyraz growled beneath his breath, having rendered himself in a meditative stance just minutes prior to recuperate from the trials that had faced him and his allies. Crispy, meanwhile, was also out of sight, having supposedly awoken from his unconscious state when no one had been looking.
- Hachiman - W-What the... How did they f-find us?
- Herquie - You can't hide from demons.
- Tyraz - Aye; the true question that rings is how did the feral beasts not find us sooner.
- Sarec - There is an entity on board Tyraz... He dwarfs you with his aura...
- Tyraz - ... Did you just claim me a dwarf? Size matters not, you should know as such.
- Sarec - Not in the physical sense, Tyraz.
- Tyraz - ... Blind I am not to this presence, Sarec. No, all too familiar am I with it.
- Jerkon - As far as my knowledge about Zazane biology goes, you are in fact under the average size of an adult of your race.
- Herquie - Not now, Jerkon.
- Jerkon - ...Yes, we must focus on not dying again.
- Iovera - Not with your arguments again.
Jerkon may have spoken too soon as the ship was rocked again by another blast. Sirens blared as an AI announced that the cruiser's engines had just been disabled. As well as announcing fires on several decks.
- Davius - We are no match for a vessel of this magnitude!
- Tyraz - A match we are not in most vessels by comparison to the titan ahead of us.
- Herquie - We get it, now how do we survive?
- Uriel - Those guns will tear us apart so I suggest evacuation.
- Hachiman - Evacuation to where?!
- Sarec - I noticed a planetoid nearby moments before the titan arrived. That's our best option!
- Jerkon - I will be informing Koluap to follow us through communications. He was apparently hiding in the armory, and his tail is on fire.
- Hachiman - Ngh... We're gonna get stranded, aren't we?
- Uriel - Would you prefer inhaling vacuum, Hachiman?
- Hachiman - ... Are you offering me drugs?
- Herquie - Bonaih's sake, hurry up.
Hachiman grumbled beneath his breath as he nodded to Herquie in acknowledgement and began to gesture for the group to move from their position, becoming ever more insistent as he watched walls exploding and Draconizane staff passing by while lit with fire, while Tyraz took a moment to stare towards the vessel before following behind the young warrior. Jerkon and Herquie followed suit, and after some moments, they were reunited with Koluap, who yelled out loudly as he ran faster than they could keep up. With Koluap was the awoken Crispy, whom had accompanied him to the confines of the armoury, and had selected a variety of weapons to equip himself with. Iovera followed last, clad in her chaplain armour and surrounded by an aura of energy, but wielding no weapon other than her royal scepter.
- Koluap - My ass is on fire!
- Herquie - Boy, it's like I'm back home already.
Uriel and Davius had managed to find themselves new equipment from within the armoury, and once adorned and geared-up joined everyone else to the escape pods.
Aboard the command deck of the titan, Kordan stood on a platform above the command deck's crew while observing the catastrophic damage spreading thoughout the cruiser. He turned to look at Indricas with a stern expression, the Lord-Taskmaster's head looking down to observe a panel attached to his wrist.
- Kordan - They are evacuating... Indricas, make sure their capsules land in one region.
- Indricas - ... And how should I go about doing that, my liege?
Kordan slammed his palm against Indricas' chest, sending a surge of energy though the Lord-Taskmaster's body. Indricas breathed heavy breaths for a moment, clasping ahold of the Emperor's wrist almost according to instinctive reaction as he looked to his superior after tearing his eyes away from his wrist-panel. Just as abruptly as he had acted, but long enough for Indricas to comprehend, Kordan pushed him away and smiled devilishly.
- Kordan - Guide them.
- Indricas - Y-Yes my l-liege... So I shall.
Turning from the Emperor and walking a few steps forward, the Lord Taskmaster's eyes hesitantly closed as he stretched his powerful arms to his sides and raised his head to look towards the ceiling; a roar bellowed throughout the bridge as Indricas found himself detached from gravity, levitating above the floor while sparks of energy flourished throughout his muscles and veins, black vapour emanating from his pores and orifices simultaneously. With access to powers untold, with mind and body he influenced the trajectories of his opposition beyond what barriers and defensive protocols they had instilled into their evacuation mechanisms while objects within the bridge were shoved and thrown from their otherwise stationary positions.
- Indricas - ... Witness... My... POWER!
The planet was an arid one, but its air was clear and refreshing as it filled the capsules, which had opened their doors to allow their occupants to leave. Despite the sophistication of their designers, the landing had still been rough, but everyone had landed within a few kiometres of each other, and before long everyone was reunited. Tyraz shambled across the landscape as he approached his allies, holding his head as he turned to his colleagues while Hachiman was left aching from a sudden headache that had appeared ever so abruptly. Crispy, meanwhile, appeared to the group with a blade clasped in one hand and a heavy-duty, modified assault rifle in the other. Jerkon, Koluap and Herquie walked over to them with tired expressions, while Koluap passed his hand over his tail gently. Iovera stepped carefully and very slowly, which was somewhat strange for her, while her eyes was half-closed - analysing and reading the essence of the land.
- Koluap - Boy, I wonder whose fault this is.
- Herquie - Shut up before I break your mouth, you damned maniac.
- Tyraz - ... While fortunate we have attained terrestrial contact so close to one another... the trajectory we followed was not our own. Feel, could I, an influence upon our path. A... burdensome influence.
- Sarec - I felt it as well Tyraz. It was also familiar.
- Iovera - Not just familiar. Worse.
- Uriel - I don't think we have time to take a breather...
Uriel's attention was away from the rest of the group as he was looking up into the sky. From a distance, it looked like a meteorite plummeting towards them. It passed overhead with a savage roar of friction before plowing into the soil a few hundred metres from them; a cataclysmic explosion they were protected from by Sarec, who had summoned another barrier that shielded them from hte shockwave and the debris. Potent as he was, his abilities could not protect them from the volume, which rang in everyone's ears.
- Koluap - What the hell?!
- Herquie - The demons are here.
- Tyraz - Garner strength for we shall need it, my friends.
As the dust settled, a familiar titanic silhouette emerged with pounding footsteps and the ominous rattle of armour, their figure broken up by a large billowing cloak that was steered by the swirling dust. Once it was close enough the giant was as clear as day: It was Kordan Rex, the Eternal Emperor who had fallen to the world they stood on. Clasped tightly in his hand was a glaive nightmarishly familiar to Tyraz. He, Sarec and Iovera saw something the others did not; for Kordan's form blazed with a terrifying aura that had combined with the aura that was emanating from the glaive. As the Zazane's eyes laid themselves upon sight of the weapon, Tyraz felt his chest pound with untold fear and rage; the Unifier's Edge, the iconic glaive of the late Zagdala - the primeval king of the ancient Zazane.
- Koluap - Oh boy. Big guy.
- Herquie - ...Shit.
- Tyraz - Kordan.
- Kordan - You have caused me a lot of torment, Apostate. You corrupted my youngest, you slip your bonds twice and your allies mutilated my most promising heir. Zr'An'Kar is very, very furious with you.
- Tyraz - ... Brought this upon your realm and yourself, have you, for it was by your hand and that of damned Kolossus that I stand within your wretched realm.
- Koluap - Take him with you, I just wanna go home.
- Kordan - No. You are all far too dangerous to let live. You have proved that to me, and the only logical course of action would be to make sure you never threaten me again!
- Koluap - But it wasn't me who cut your son's arm off, it was Herquie!
- Herquie - Shut up. You fight.
- Koluap - Bah.
- Iovera - Do you realise how many false gods we have vanquished before? What makes you think your crusade will be any different?
Tyraz growled as he laid an arm to his side, stepping ahead of the group as the glare of his dark eyes met with that of the fierce Eternal Emperor; the energetic vapour of Descension flowed through his body as once more he stood before Kordan Rex, this time on his feet and a man free of the clasp of his underlings. Kordan chuckled and spread his arms to his side, and out of the air around them materialised several Draconizane phantoms surrounded the group, who all brandished weapons and command over reality.
- Kordan - Behold the greatest of the Emperor's witnesses. Your executioners!
- Tyraz - Hmph... Brought your god to his wretched knees did I, yet you continue to humour the concept of you - a mere pawn - overcoming his nemesis for him.
- Kordan - Not a pawn.
With a swing of the glaive, Kordan summoned a slash of black fire that cut a swathe through the landscape, intending to strike a serious first blow against his opponents. Hachiman's eyes widened as he pierced the tip of the edge of his blade into the ground, causing a barrier of Dream energy to surround both himself and any that were near him in order to establish a defense.
As the phantom Witnesses approached, there were shots from behind, several Deicide soldiers, who had survived the destruction of their cruiser had reached the group's location and were now firing on the Taskmasters in order to draw attention away from the group and towards them. Kordan swung his glaive again, this time in a downward slash in Tyraz's direction. However, there was a loud, sudden clang as the blade of the Unifier's Edge was met with something tough and resistant, and Kordan felt himself incapable of bringing it down further; clasped in Tyraz' two hands was the fiery visage of the archaic Firesword. Jerkon, Koluap and Herquie kept to the side of the Deicide soldiers, giving them their support.
- Tyraz - My gratitude for having brought your ship into sufficient range. Without having done so, calling and retrieving my blade would have been... impossible.
Kordan snarled and while still trying to force the Unifier's Edge down, his tail swayed around and curled to bat Tyraz aside. Tyraz fell to a knee as he removed one hand from his blade to grasp the tail of the Emperor, lessening the resistance behind his blade and yet still managing to shield himself. While the two figures, both empowered by Descension, clashed blades Kordan could see Tyraz' scales being overcome by the shadowy fluids of his own energy. In feeling Tyraz's hand on his tail, Kordan smirked and the writhing limb tugged backwards violently and launching Tyraz into the air as if he were a projectile hurtling fro ma sling.
- Iovera - Your god is false. - Iovera clasped her hend and closed here eyes; energy was channeled through her soul and body and into her scepter, making it radiate bright purple energy, which she unleashed upon the invading legions of Witnesses; each blast turned into a thundering explosion as it reached its target. These explosions kept the Taskmasters at bay. - We have crushed more powerful beings before, and you will not be the last.
Tyraz was launched from his feet, although it took only a moment to regain his footing as he felt his head coming to ache and his thoughts becoming nulled; his veins began to flare and spark with fire while his blood boiled, and his eyes, absent of pupils, were illuminated by the crimson energies that flowed through them while his scales became as black as night. Hachiman, crossing blades with a phantom, watched the transformation unfold.
- Demon - ... Your death shall entertain me... Greatly.
- Koluap - Oh boy, here we go.
- Iovera - ...It begins.
Kordan tilted his head and grinned, grasping the shaft of the warglaive as he sprinted towards the newly-transformed Zazane warlord. The demon that now possessed Tyraz' body threw itself forward with the Firesword clasped in a single hand; instead of a defensive stance which Tyraz had assumed prior, the fiend was now aiming for the offensive, intending to strike with agility and strength greater than that which opposed him. Upon reaching each other, Kordan swung the Unifier's Edge into Demon's side, the edge blackening as Descension energy corrupted the head. The wicked edge engulfed in fierce embers, Tyraz swung the Firesword wildly now that he had stuck himself upon the Emperor's weapon and was within range, launching swathes of ethereal and otherwordly, accursed flame at Kordan while only enraged growls and roars escaped Tyraz' mouth.
- Demon - I... shall rend you... Apart!
Each blow assaulted Kordan and burned his flesh and armour, but he was only mildly phased before he yanked the weapon out and kicked the demon backwards. He followed the attack with a lunging blow into Tyraz's stomach. Suspended by the blow, Tyraz turned his attention elsewhere, glancing away from Kordan's eyes; the fiery edge of the Firesword was brought to slash at the length of the fierce warglaive in Kordan's hands, aiming to decapitate its head, which was now plunged mightily into Tyraz' innards, from its neck. As the blade came down however, the demon felt a paiful surge as electricity forked down the length of the Edge and into Tyraz's innards. Sarec looked over and, with worry called out to Iovera.
- Sarec - Tyraz looks outmatched, we have to support him!
- Iovera - You don't need to tell me that.
The Radeon priest-queen's sillhouette burst into flames; her skin began glowing from the inside as her eyes took an eerie purple tinge, as if they were two scintillating gemstones. Her body was held aloft, tendrils of energy surrounding her in a halo, while she glew brighter and brighter - almost angelic in appearance.
And then she struck.
- Iovera - Your people worship you as a god, you worship this failure of a Vyro'Ralza - you are all blind! You, your children, your idol - all naught - NAUGHT BUT DEMONS BLINDED BY PRIDE! THERE ARE NO GODS BUT SPODE, AND I AM HIS MESSENGER!
- Koluap - There are no gods by the way.
With her Isio'Nar potential fully realised, Iovera charged on, unleashing a blast of pure white energy - so bright and so intense that it would have blinded one if it was a thing of material plane. With unyielding force, the beam reached the Eternal Emperor, realising in a massive explosion of white and purple energy, sending Kordan backwards and ripping the Unifier's Edge from the demon's body. Tyraz' head leaned backwards as the piercing, unearthly scream flew forth from the depths of his lungs and bellowed throughout the arid landscape, while the contents of his body that were his innards poured grossly from the wounds he had been afflicted with, effectively disembowled by the ancient weapon his ancestor had once wielded.
- Hachiman - H-Holy crap, look at him! He l-looks like he's close to dying! ... We can't let that Emperor guy attack him again.
Narrowing his eyes and glaring towards the launched Emperor, Hachiman raised his vibrokatana and allowed Dream energy to flow through its materials, increasing its resistance and enchanting it with positive energy - a foil to the claim of Descension. In his metallic hand, Hachiman launched the sword, aiming for Kordan's head and upper torso. The vibrokatana buried itself into the Emperor's shoulder and he screamed as the mirrored energies burned at his constitution, causing him to writhe about with the Ta still on his shoulder, desperately writhing to shake him off. Now lodged firmly into the Emperor's armour and body, Hachiman, while grasping the handle of his blade, reached his organic limb and swiftly placed it against the dark titan's cheek, following with an immediate blast of Dream energy that had been dangerously poured and concentrated into the tight confines of his palm. The Emperor staggered and writhed as pain overcame his senses, he was about to grab Hachiman were it not for a well-timed pressure blast from Sarec, who threw more towards Kordan's legs. The giant toppled but reaching an arm forward he landed in a stable position, causing the ground to ripple like a pool of water disturbed by a miniscule drop of water. Unlike such a delicate scenario, the ripple along the ground uprooted shrubbery and cracked the ground, knocking over and engulfing Deicide soldiers.
Crispy, meanwhile, accompanied the Deicide soldiers at keeping the phantasms of the Witnesses at bay, passing a mere glance towards Tyraz as the demonic Zazane clasped ahold of his gut in order to keep his internal organs from becoming external organs while his healing factor slowly allowed itself to mobilise. Hachiman threw himself away from the body of the giant and clasped his katana tightly, his teeth chattering as he felt unnerved by the grace of the Emperor.
- Hachiman - You... Y-You're something else...
- Kordan - You are all...trying my patience! I have..no time...for these setbacks!
- Hachiman - Shouldn't have tangled with the Onuris Squad! ... I can call us that, right?
- Iovera - You can. - Iovera sent another wave of energy into the demon lord - Just as long as you keep fighting.
With gritted teeth, Kordan punched the ground, creating another shockwave as he weathered another wave. His eyes began to burn with a hellish light as the sky darkened to a bloody red. He held up his hand and the Unifier's Edge, which he had dropped when thrown was drawn back to his hand, sending a pulse of Descension energy up his arm as he gripped the shaft. The wounds that had been afflicted unto Tyraz sealed themselves faster now that the Zazane had the time to recuperate from his punishment and he stood upright, bones cracking as he watched the Draconizane beginning to prepare himself - an opportunity that the demon guiding Tyraz' form would be sure to spoil as it charged the Eternal Emperor, Firesword drawn wondrously.
- Demon - I hunger... Once more!
With a spray of black blood, Kordan's hands were separated from his wrists, and with it the glaive he cherished, which fell to the ground with an echoing clang. Kordan fell onto one knee, his pain weakening his Taskmasters, making them more vunerable to the sting of mortal resistance. Kordan grimaced as he was momentarily weakened, the demon that drove Tyraz's every move. But as the demon approached it was not fear in the lowered titan's eyes, but rage. As Tyraz took one mroe step he was suddenly engulfed in blue flame, rushing with gale forces as it escaped Kordan's maw and into Tyraz's torso, sending the demon staggering back. Rising for mhis feet there was the horrid sound of shifting bone as Kordan's hands, the wrist wounds still burning from the edge of the Firesword that severed them, grew from the stumps. Rising ot his feet, the flame still rushing like a hurricaine of fire from his mouth, Kordan proceeded ot return the favour and began to savagely hurl his fists into Tyraz's body.
Every impact rung with the sound of cracking bone as Kordan struck his opponent's ribs, arms and head, his fists became a hard-to-see flurry as the titanic emperor seethed. WHen Tyraz managed to grasp one of the lightning-fast arms, Kordan returned the favour with a knee to the stomach and a blow with his own skull. Hachiman watched as his legs began to shiver, a solitary gasp as the battlefield echoed with screams of fury and the crack of bone. Holding his Katan atightly He drew a large breath and ran, bounding across the battlefield and weaving between soldiers with striding bounds toowards the titans locked in combat.
With a final bending of the knees, the Tā warrior was in the air. He held his katana closely, soaring with intent to return to the Eternal Emperor's back and continue what he started, but his ai mwas left naught as the emperor's tail, flailing like a headless serpent, rose from his side and made rutal contact with Hachiman's body, sending him away from the duo and soaring to meet not the corrupted hide of the Draconizane emperor, but the ashen ground. In this brief moment, Sarec turned his focus and saw with ppanicked eyes as his charge, his friend, soared gracelessly though the air. Vanishing in a blur of light he vanished, with pleasant surprise Hachi found himself meeting not the ground he had boudned from, but the arms of his friend. His head rank, his body still numb fro mthe impact.
- Sarec - Can you stand?
- Hachiman - O-once the u-universe stops moving...I think.
Sarec released a nervous chuckle, kneeling down to rest Hachi.
- Hachiman - Th-that Emperor guy. He just keeps going!
- Sarec - We have to keep up the pressure though.
- Hachiman - I don't think that'll be enough. T-Tyraz is getting his ass kicked and even without that weapon he's stil going.
Sarec nodded and sighed. He then tilted his head to see Hachiman's katana had plunged into the ground. Though advanced sight he watched as the blade still shimmered with Dream Energy. His concern changed to a smile and he looked back down at Hachi.
- Sarec - Your blade...That's it. We have our answer!
- Hachiman - My vibrokatana?
- Koluap - When you're done cuddling would you mind helping us not die?
Sarec jerked his eyes open in surprise as Koluap shouted i ntheir direction, his awareness returning to the greater battlefield, he then looked to Tyraz, who had finally gained a fair chance and was delivering returning blows with the Firesword and his fists. However Sarec was unlucky as for the moment he glanced he saw Kordan's crest meet Tyraz's snout, summoning more soudns of cracking bone. His eyes then darted around as he put Hachi down, and teleported to the rest of the group. He shouted for the rescue team to gather around him. In doing so they positioned themselves defensively, with the fight between Kordan, Iovera and Tyraz happening in the distance.
- Jerkon - This battle cannot go on forever. You have a strategy?
- Sarec - An emerging one.
- Crispy - What does it involve?
- Sarec - Herquie and Hachiman
- Hachiman - Okay-- wait what?
- Herquie - Excuse me?
Herquie and Hachi looked at each other, clearly not amused by this turn of events.
- Hachiman - I don't wanna be used as bait again.
- Sarec - Nothing like that. It invovles your energies.
- Hachiman - Okay. How though?
- Crispy - WHat are you planning Sarec?
- Sarec - So far only four people have managed to even scratch Kordan: Iovera, myself, Tyraz and Hachiman.
- Koluap - And?
- Sarec - Out of all of us, only Hachiman had hurt him with a weapon.
- Hachiman - What are you asking me to do again?
- Sarec - If we infuse our weaons with Dream Energy and confront him together, combined we might stand a chance of hurting him.
- Crispy - Or at the very least, we distract him to give Tyraz a few blows.
- Uriel - He is a Descended being. So if Dream Emergy is positive as you say, it will hurt him severely. Light against dark.
- Jerkon - Matter and antimatter.
- Sarec - Correct.
- Koluap - I'm still lost. What are we doing again?
- Jerkon - Dumb. Sarec is suggesting Herquie and the Tā infuse our magazines and blades with Dream Energy.
- Koluap - So...magic guns?
- Jerkon - Yes, we're getting magic guns.
- Koluap - Do we have to? I don't want my shotgun exploding on me.
- Herquie - Will you stop?
- Koluap - Not until we get out of this nightmare.
- Jerkon - Our weapons on their ow ndo nothing. This is our only option.
Koluap folded his arms and scoweled. Huffing in order to express his disappointment
- Koluap - Fine. But if the kid blows up my gun doing this I get to slap him.
- Herquie - I'll arcanise your weapon if you're going to be childish. Happy?
- Koluap - No but what choice do I have?
Herquie rolled his eyes while Sarec beckoned everyone closer for each person to hold up their weapons. He placed his hand on Hachiman's shoulder and nodded with confidence. Taking a deep breath, Hachiman and Herquie placed his hands on the magazines and the grips of each weapon, closing their eyes tightly and focusing. In the eyes of the supernaturally-inclined team members, each weapon magazine an dbladed edge shimmered with a positive and soothing light. But the team were not the only ones to notice; tossing Tyraz sideways with a fist to the side of his head, Kordna looked over with horror to see the enrgies radiating from the weapons wielded by the team. Hoding out his hand, the Unifier's Edge rose from the ground and drawn to his hand as if it were a magnet. A surge of power rose up his arm as the Eternal Emperor was reunited with that wicked glaive, an eager smile spread across his faace as he watched the team break off from the fight with his phantasmal taskamasters and moved straight for him.
- Kordan - So eager to die!
- Crispy - Now!
At that command a dozen weapons roared, singing towards their targets were bullets and plasma charges of all kinds racing to wards their target. Far from shielding his form, he stood proud as the discharged ammunition closed in. With a twisting of his body, the shots either curved around his body, or the casings were disintegrated inches from his form, burning him as the Dream Energy was suddenly made without host. In retaliation, he finished his twist with his foot impacting the ground, creatign another rippling groundquake that rushed towards everyone. Most of the group managed to dodge, but the ripple kept on, claiming mroe Deicide soldiers. Kordan then punched the ground, opening up the ground underneath Uriel and Koluap, who both in panic leapt out of the way.
A second volley was fired in his direction, but with his focus on trying ot hurt the team, he was not able to save al lthe shots, bracing himself as a shotgun volley infused with dream energy squarely punched hi min the chest. With a wave of his hand, Uriel, Davius, Jerkon and Crispy were tossed sideways to th ground. Davius and Crispy almsot missed the ground lifting up from beside the mand smashing them into the now-ashen battleground. Koluap, now determined more than ever t oconclude the battle, was firing shotgun blasts at short intervals for meach other, harassing Kordan until the titanic warlord reached out and with an unseen force paralysed Koluap. The Spinker felt his body compress itself painfully a moment before he was tossed into the ground, lifted up and tossed once more.
Hachiman now had his chance, while Kordan was distracted he ascended the goliath's body, using the tail as a support and landing on Kordan's shoulder once again. He prepared another dream energy blast when Kordan's head disturbingly snapped to look in such a way that Kordan was nwo looking directly into hie eyes. Immobile with fear as Kordan's mouth and nostrils began to glow blue, he felt too afraid to jump and save himself. But his hopes were answered when a plasma blast hit hi msquarely i nthe eye, causing hi mto roar skywards and turning aroudn ot see Uriel still aiming his plasma rifle. The Draconiane warlord, now ignoring the being clinging to his shoulder, raised the pike and in the blink of an eye stood over Uriel and plunged the glaive downwards, severing one of the paragon's wings and burying the blde's edge into his leg.
Helpless and immobile, Uriel became limp as Kordna lifted the glaive's head ot his level, smiling devilishly as sinsiter thoughts swam though his head.
- Hachiman - Hey ugly!
Kordan turned around, in that brief moment all he saw was a blue lump of fur and a metal fist, which burned his snout and forced hi mbackwards. Despite lightning bolts chasing hi mand rocks rising to crush him, Herquie weaved and danced between the obstacles and with his blades sliced a deep, Dream Energy-soaked gash into Kordan'd thigh, sending him to one knee. Hachi leapt off as Kordan fell to admire his work but things were not over as Kordan's healing factor battled fiercely with the Dream Energy now bleeding int ohis legs. With an earthquake-inducing roar the blue flame returned, engulfing the battlefield and incinerating Deicide and Dominion soldier alike. Sarec and Iovera had paired together to create a barrier to protect everyoen from the flame, but even with their ability the heat could still be felt. If the flames did not incincerate them, the heat would have exhausted them. Even whe nthe flames died the heat remained, now emanating frok Ordan's body as he struggled to stand.
Reaching for the Unifier's Edge once more, his face now burning from the Dream Energy, Kordan charged. Hachiman, who was now panting fro mexhaustion, took a deep breath and raised his Vibrokatana, dancing as he parried and didged each swing of the glaive and each trail of fire that followed it. He took the opportunity to get closer, managing to score a few cuts to the torso, but with al lthe volleys and the cuts it still wasn't enough.
A final dodge and rather than landing on his feet, Hachiman fell onto his face, turning around to see the Draconizane as he was about to spear him like a fish. As the Unifier's Edge came down, it was deflected by the Firesword. Standing over Hachiman was Tyraz, who growled with beastial ferocity at Kordan. And once mroe the two engaged in a hard-to-follow duel as the two clashed at beyond-normal speeds, with clashes of metal ringing though the air as the two eongulfed themselves in demonic fire and twisted steel. A twist of the blade and Tyraz managed to stab the gut of the emperor, tearing the blade out and, in a countermove to Kordan's retaliation of an executioner's swing at Tyraz's neck, swung the blade and severed the giant's hands once more from his body, following with a kick to his now-injured stomach and sending Kordan groundward. The Emperor gasped in pain as he looked up to the demon that had now bested him. He looked up at the demon in fear and disgust while cradling the stumps on the ends of his arms. Hachiman took a step back at the sight of the scene, watching as Tyraz stood ahead of the dismembered Emperor, and quivered in the legs; Tyraz, or rather the demon that took control of his body, raised a smile as it lifted a clenched fist and launched it forward, penetrating through the armour and flesh of the mighty Kordan until he could feel his fingertips wrap around the massive beating heart of the titan, all the while leaning his face in towards that of the Emperor, his wretched smile growing wider.
- Demon - ... Where... is your god now...?
- Kordan - I am being watched over by allies as we speak! What exactly do you prove by crushing my most vital of organs and extinguishing my life?
- Demon - ... Where... are your allies? They are not here... Not with you... Mine, mine are here... Your death, I do not demand... Your fear, your pain... Yes, what you sought from me...
- Koluap - I'm watching over him!
- Herquie - Shut the hell up.
- Kordan - How do you intend to punish me?
- Demon - ... Your failure to your god... Yes, if I cannot wrench the fear from your heart... then damned Kolossus shall do it for me...
With those words, Tyraz released the Emperor's heart from his clasp and withdrew his arm from Kordan's chest before swinging it once more and allowing his fist to collide with his cheek, knocking the Emperor to the ground. Tyraz stepped back as the black shadows that engulfed his form soon began to dissipate, and his eyes slowly ceased to illuminate. Far from fear, but still weak from his ordeal, Kordan began to laugh to himself.
- Kordan - I have failed to best you. My witnesses failed to keep your wretched companions at bay...but my witnesses... are many...
- Tyraz - ... Pursue me once more, Kordan, and they shall all be slain.
- Kordan - Perhaps...but not today.
As he lay limp in the ground, he sent but one thought to Indricas, who still stood on the bridge of the deadnought. One brief, simple, but dreaded thought."Tear the whole planet asunder"
Before long, the quiet that followed Kordan's defeat was harshly stirred as those that stood upon the surface of this world could feel their hair, if they had such, beginning to stand on end and their spines becoming unexplainably chilled. In mere moments, the arid landscape found itself bombarded, wracked with explosions as debris and projectiles rained down upon it from above, the black juggernaut that remained in orbit of the world firing upon the region where the rescue team met with the wrathful Emperor. Hachiman's eyes widened and he rushed to hang onto Sarec as the world around him was ignited with fire, Crispy and Tyraz exchanging worried glances in the moment where everything became fire and noise. Koluap screamed angrily as Herquie and Jerkon both made an effort to remain upright, though they were clearly worried.
- Crispy - We require an escape passage!
- Koluap - I want off this ride!
- Tyraz - ... Damn you, Kordan! Damn you and damn the merciless god that birthed you forth!
Kordan laughed with a sadistic glee as he watchedthe group come to terms with their approaching end. In a flash of realisation, Sarec quickly turned to Iovera.
- Sarec - There's not much time. Iovera! Its our only chance but if we combine our minds, will it be enough to summon a portal home?
Iovera nodded and the two Isio'Nar joined hands. They both closed their eyes as light shone from their eyes. There was momentary blackness after a moment of nothing before a flash of light turned into a gateway to another place in front of them.
- Uriel - Everyone in!
- Koluap - Why the hell didn't you do this before?!
- Herquie - No time, just get in the portal!
- Hachiman - Something about possibly killing one or both of the participants or something like that... A-Anyway, time to go!
Uriel and Davius nodded and ran for the portal as shots from above wracked the surface, showering everyone with ash and molten rock. Jerkon did not waste time to dive into the portal, followed by Herquie who dragged Koluap by a horn. Hachiman promptly followed, having been attached to Sarec for the whole time, while Crispy and Tyraz stood for a moment, exchanging glances before Tyraz looked back at the fallen Kordan, his face contorting into a sorrowful frown as he bent down and grasped ahold of the Unifier's Edge, pulling it from the Emperor.
- Tyraz - ... Strong you are, a stronger... more powerful man than I. Only if your damned lord had not bred the dark thoughts upon your conscience, allies - or friends - we may have been, Kordan.
- Kordan - Perhaps. But you knwo nothing of what I am.
Sarec - Tyraz, are you coming?
- Tyraz - ... Yes. Yes, I am coming.
The ancient warglaive in hand alongside his Fireblade, Tyraz bowed his head to Kordan before swiftly turning to enter the portal, attracting an expression of confusion from Crispy, who entered at his side.
The other side was very familiar surroundings to Hachi and Sarec; the portal the two Isio'Nar had created led them straight into the inside of the Arcadium. Initially pitch-black, lights softly brightened and consoles flickered to life as the Arcadium awoke from dormancy. ADIA's hologram materialised within the room, bowing graciously to welcome the team home. Hachiman let go of Sarec as he watched ADIA appear from seemingly nowhere and brought a soft, relieved smile over his face, now aware that - at last - they had finally made it back home as he collapsed onto the floor. Jerkon and Herquie both breathed heavily as they put themselves against walls to rest, while Koluap mumbled and subsequently fell on the ground, seemingly knocked out cold.
- Hachiman - H-Honey... I'm h-home...
- ADIA - Welcome back. I am relieved to see you are all alive.
- Jerkon - At last... Mission accomplished.
- Tyraz - ... It is over, I do sincerely hope.
Yarda and Mithra, the former having recovered from her mutilation, were escorted down one of the baroque halls of the Dominion's Grand Palace by Elite Taskmasters, who unlike on Somrillia answered only to the Eternal Emperor himself. Yarda had yet to forgive Mithra for her naivete regarding Tyraz and spent a lot of the walk glaring at her younger sister with dissapointment. Mithra, her head pointed downwards, had remained quiet for much of the trek throughout the Palace's hallways and corridors, only occasionally glancing back towards her elder sister before she mustered the courage to attempt and exchange of conversation.
- Mithra - I... I t-thought that... he d-didn't deserve to be i-imprisoned l-like that...
- Yarda - ..."Didn't deserve?"' Sister...the fool comitted blasphemy and we were told by our father he has opposed Zr'An'Kar several times. He wasn't a slave who was born to fight in Kragh's armies. He opposed our creator. Violently. WIth intent to kill.
- Mithra - ... People have a right... t-to guide t-themselves, don't you think? That... That s-sometimes, we have to... well, r-rely on our own decisions r-rather than what our elders think? ... Z-Zr'An'Kar's past is not ours... Tyraz didn't wrong us u-until we provoked him...
- Yarda - You've fallen for him sister, I can see it in your eyes.
- Mithra - ... Y-You're just as bad. Making d-deals with Tyraz' friends... Y-You had just as much part in h-his escape as I did, sister! You lost!
- Yarda - He wouldn't have been in my custody had you not snuck him out as a house servant.
- Mithra - Hmph! W-We took him from his home... his f-friends, his family... D-Don't you think that w-was enough? You think i-it was right to... t-to torture him?!
Elite Taskmasters opened the doors to the throne room and allwoed the two women to walk into the grand hall, where at the very end, Kordan was speaking to his two sons, Vetarion and Kragh. The three of them looked up from their conversation to see the two girls being brought in. As they approached, Vetarian made a noise that was most surely tutting. Kragh, however, bellowed a boisterous laugh and pointed a hand towards Yarda, prodding his fingertip against her cheek in order to further agitate her.
- Kragh - Never let a dumbass do a warrior's job! ... Or anyone's job, for that matter! Hah!
Yarda grasped Kragh's wrist in a flash of movement and threw the arm aside, snorting aggressively.
- Yarda - Like you'd not take the opportunity to use him. Would you not be tempted to toss him into one of your savage little pits?
- Kragh - Aye I would, but I still wouldn't let the little shit escape like you did! Hehe, for a strategist, Yarda, you're certainly not acting like one!
- Yarda - The black Zazane offered to make him suffer and eventually kill him. He merely required more personal circumstances than what I could offer.
- Kragh - Hah! Know what I would have done, princess? ... Take his black Zazane friend and toss him into the pits as well, not make petty offers with them that could, oh I dunno, potentially compromise my place as royalty!
Kragh would have spoken more had Kordan not shouted "Enough" at such a volume that it shook the room.
- Kordan - I can understand Yarda's frustrations, I understand that she knew she could still have won her petty game and I understand that she was doing it in order to expand our influence.
Kordan stood up out of his throne and walked over to Mithra. His expression changed from irritated to sorrowful. Lifting a large hand, he rested it against Mithra's cheek.
- Kordan - Why Mithra? You had a universe of suitors to choose from...
- Mithra - ... I... I didn't f-feel it was right... to torture T-Tyraz when you a-already took him... f-from his home and friends... He was so... b-broken, I wanted to... t-try and fix him...
Kordan retracted his hand and clenched it, taking a deep breath.
- Kordan - Mithra...
- Mithra - ... I'm s-sorry...
- Kordan - You all know my dedication to our lord. We were all entrusted to be his instruments in bringing justice to this apostate.
- Mithra - M-My dedication... i-is with the people of the Dominion. W-We want our people to be t-treated well, to show we are k-kind and... and caring. ... W-What happened to Tyraz was... it was abominable.
- Vetarion - Tyraz wasn't one of our people.
- Mithra - Tyraz didn't wrong us! Or our people!
- Yarda - He hurt our father. He hurt me.
- Mithra - Only... O-Only because we urged him to. We... drove him to it. He didn't hurt me...
- Vetarion - Are you hearing yourself sis? - Vetarion walked up to Mithra and glared into her eyes - He cut off father's hands, stole his prize trophy and one of his shitty little friends cut Yarda's hand off. For that I'd be happy to chase him down and shock him until his eyeballs explode!
Without warning, a thick, black-coloured mass erupted from the floor and wrapped itself around the legs and tails of each of the Draconizane royals. The chamber's lights went out completely as they lost all control of their bodies from their waist down, and in their center, Kolossus' true, wounded form emerged. His three eyes glared at them one at a time, until he finally spoke. His voice by itself would drive any mortal man into a panic fit.
- Kolossus - You let the Apostate escape! Explain yourselves!!
- Vetarion - I-It was the girls sir! They did it!
- Mithra - V-Vetarion! ... I-I... I...
- Kragh - Z-Zr'An'Kar! ... S-Shit...
- Kolossus - Damnation. Kordan, your wretched children ruined the entirety of our scheme. And if that was not enough, you were defeated by him. Defeated by the Apostate!
- Kordan - I only followed your command, my master!
Kolossus' form leaned into Kordan, his disproportionally long fingers grasping into the Eternal Emperor's head, his sharp nails digging into his scales.
- Kolossus - Have you grown soft with age? Where is the great warrior who defeated Zagdala and the Gruggysul?
- Kordan - Who were those aliens with him? Because among them I was facing a Draconis that could bend reality to its will!
- Kolossus - Hissss. Isio'Nar. Damn them to hell. There is much to explain, but I will leave that for another time.
Removing his hands from Kordan, Kolossus' body contorted to face Yarda, moving in stretching, serpentine ways as he locked his large central eye at her. She leaned back as Kolossus approached, unnerved by his sense of frustration.
- Kolossus - You were my favorite of this quartet. Yet I was obviously wrong about you. You thought it would be better to "play" with the Apostate rather than return him to me. And worst of all, you made deals with his allies and let him free!
- Yarda - I was-- I was confident that-- My "games" could expand the Dominion!
- Kolossus - By going against my divine will, no they could not. But not even you failed to the extent she did.
Kolossus' head snapped as he glared at Mithra. The young Draconizane would have stumbled backward were it not for the ethereal force that kept her body locked in place, her eyes glimmering with tears.
- Kolossus - You, girl... You failed me the most. You went against the will of the one who gave you the gift of life, due to what? Empathy for the man who attempted against my life? Would you try and save a man who tried to murder your family next?
- Vetarion - I-I was about to bring that up, g-great Zr'An'Kar!
- Mithra - ... I-I'm sorry... I knew I... t-that I was weak... I never w-wanted to guide or e-expand the Dominion, b-but to help its peoples i-instead... Yes, the A-Apostate wronged you, great Zr'An'Kar... b-but I considered he had n-not harmed us... or p-pursued us even after he had freed himself...
- Kolossus - Unforgivable treason.
Kolossus' head made more wet, snapping noises as it ripped itself open, revealing a mass of tentacle-like tendrils which grew out of where one would expect his brain to be. These tendrils grabbed onto Mithra's head in a circular manner, causing her view to become nothing but walls of sharp, serrated teeth, while the area where one would expect Kolossus' throat to be had a large, glaring, black eyeball. Mithra could only whine as she was brought to tears driven by sadness and fear, incapable of even making an attempt at resistance against the onslaught of blinding appendages which robbed her of her immediate sight.
- Kolossus - Be thankful I am not dissecting you right now!
- Mithra - I... I... I-I'm sorry, great Z-Zr'An'Kar...
Eventually, Kolossus let go of Mithra's head, digging the teeth of the tendrils into her face as he removed them from it, until the Traffphyd's cranium reshaped itself back into normal. He crossed his arms and closed his eyes, moving his head side to side negatively.
- Kolossus - You were meant to be perfect. Yet you fail the first task I give you.
- Kragh - Hrgh... I brought the Apostate into this world with success! It was because of these dimwits that he got away! ... I-I served you without fail.
- Kolossus - A failure at the final moment is still a failure. But you failed me the least, and so did your brother... surprisingly, considering your behaviour.
- Kragh - T-Thank you, great Zr'An'Kar! ... Wait a minute, let me think for a moment...
- Vetarion - Y-yeah...You are really great...
- Yarda - Zr'An'Kar could always kill you now Kragh, it will save you the pain.
- Kolossus - Which brings my next point!
The tendrils which kept the five royals in place tightened, especially on Mithra's end as Kolossus' voice changed into something far more violent to the ears.
- Kolossus - Do not fail me again! I made you! And I can unmake you!
- Kragh - I-I'll make sure of it! ... M-My lord!
- Kordan - You have my word, my master.
While the others had the strength to speak, Mithra could only cry and whimper at the sound of Kolossus' dissatisfaction and anger which radiated with his harsh voice, reduced to a sobbing mess before his presence. As moments passed, the masses which held the Draconizane in place vanished entirely as normal light returned to the chamber. Kolossus slowly faded away from their sight, but not before speaking.
- Kolossus - I have my own things in mind for the Apostate for now on. Whether you wish to proceed with the invasion of the other universe matters not to me. You are to go on on your own designs once again... But remember. Your Draconis and Zazane enemies are still out there... I tried to save you from dealing with the Apostate and now you know what he can do... When will he make his own move on you?
With this, Kolossus' presence vanished entirely.