This is the story of the Theian Technocracy's arrival to the gigaquadrant in 2786, their arrival was mysterious and their origin even moreso. But records were kept, the final days of it's predecessor the Theian Dominion and the rise of the technocracy.
Prologue - Rise of the Fireweavers
For two decades before the launch of the TEA Alvaleth the Theian Dominion had ben fighting a losing war an odd entity that had been codenamed "the Fireweavers". The entity had spread from the outer rim, scouring any lifebaearing planet it encountered. Leaving behind a barren hellscape. In the final months of the war they had reached the core worlds and the dominion's fleet dedicated what was left of it's armada to the defence.
Apocolypse on Archalia
The core world of Archalia was famous as the site of a series of archeological ruins dating back to the time of the mythical Seven Starr Alliance. Develani Thranga was visiting the planet to discuss terms with Magistrate Voramelin on providing an increased level of support. Negotiations had not gone well and she felt desperate. As she sat in her chambers the holoemitter signalled that she had a call. Sitting up from her bed she put her book down and walked over, gently resting her finger on a frosted glass pane which activated the transciever. Emerging was Gerden Kole who smiled gently and she smiled back. Her heart began racing.
Gerden - It's good to see you again.
Develani - You as well, will you be able to visit one day?
Gerden - I.. I don't know. High Command is paranoid about which world could get hit next. Trust me if the crisis subsides I will be all yours.
Develani - You're such a charmer.
Gerden - That's why you like me... Right?
Develani blushed while Gerden puckered his lips and gave her an odd lock. The air was filled with an awkward silence.
Develani - Of course
Gerden - Look I have to go, I was only allocated so much time. Keep the bed warm alright?
Gerden's holographic image dissolved and Develani was once again alone, she picked up her book and scanned the page for her place. She returned to lounging on the bed, her mind kept trailing back to the mental image of Gerden's face.
That night she was in her room meditating, she had just recently talked with Archaelia's magistrate with little success and had felt drained. As she sat i nthe middle of the room she began having sudden mental nighmares, the sky cracking like glass, theians screaming, the very ground melting. This was enough to force her out of her trance and she fainted to the floor. The nighmares persisted in her dreams, but there was little clue. One nighmare showed the magistrate's spire melting and a horrid, chitinous face flashed itself before she came to. As she struggled to get up she heard a knock at her door.
??? - Mistress? Hello, mistress? Are you awake?
Develani - Urgh, I'm awake, let me get the door.
She used her hands to help herself up and then staggered to the door resting her hand on a glass panel next to the door which opened it to a Theian wearing a gold-trimmed military outfit. Commandant Gravlis stood at the door.
Gravlis - Everything alright mistress?
Develani - Fine, I had a rough night. That's all.
Gravlis - Are you sure--
Develani - Yes! What is it?
Gravlis - The Magistrate invites you to a banquet. Apparently he's reconsidering your request.
Develani - Oh that's good, give me a few minutes to tend to myself.
Gravlis nods and walks on. As she washed her face the flashes returned and she briefly saw the face in the mirror. This startled her and in her shock she staggered back. Resting her hand on her chest to feel her heart racing. After a few minutes of deep breating she regained her composure and removed her dressing gown to wear a crimson-sequined and gold-threaded dress.
She entered the dining hall where the MAgistrate sat at the opposite end to her entry point on a circular table. They were alone and lavish foods had been prepared by the chets. He stood up, smiling.
Voramelin - Lady Thranga, it is such an honour.
Develani - Your invitation was rather abrupt, magistrate.
Vormalin - I wanted some time alone with you. I confess i have been acting somewhat stubbournly. The Dominion is still a force to admire and to deny my faith in it would be someting of a stupid move.
Develani - Of couse.
Vormalin - But politics is not what I invited you for, have a seat.
Develani sat comfortably next ot the magistrate. She was served delicacies native to the planet but as she ate the facce flashed once again. Devleani reeled in shock with the magistrate to hold on to. A look of worry filled his eyes. A feeling of pressure engulved both of them but Develani had felt it more severly. Bot of them had heard stories but realised what was going on.
Vormalin - Fireweavers... No... no not now!
A soldier ran in with a look of panic spread across his face
Soldier - Magustrate... the sky is shattering!
Develani - Shattering? Oh no no no...
Develani was in shock, her nightmarish vision was coming true. The bulding began to shake and when the three ran outside, escorted by more soldiers. They looked up to see the sky tinged red with currents of black energy weaving across the sky to give the visual appeal of shattered glass. Screams permeated from the streets as people fumbled from the feeling of pressure. Others simply stood. Lightning struck the ground as the city sat under an intense thunderstorm. Panicking the soldiers escorted who they could to the spaceport.
Vormalin - Where is the comamandant?
Soldier - We don't know, he was transferred to orbital command a few minutes ago. Spysat reports state that was one of the first buildings hit by lightning.
Vormalin - It was shielded, they should be fine.
Soldier - Apparently the building is... melting.
Vormalin - By the ancients... Any reports of survivors?
The soldier shook his head, they jostled through crowds to reach the spaceport and their ears were deafened by the bustling noise of the panicked crowd. Above the main entrance the holographic billboard was flashing an alert message. The magistrate had a private shuttle docked in his personal hanger and from what they could tell the orbiting fleet was unaffected. Develani looked outside to see glossy chitinous creatures teleport to the surface. They were grabbing citizens and taking them to pods that had crashed into the city. The people were screaming and the psychic backlash had almost overwhelmed Develani. She was carreid the rest of the way by a group of soldiers and rested on a bunk in the back of the ship. More creatures teleported into the hanger, firing particle beams from their arms. The pilot sat in his chair, merging his consciousness with the ship and using the rear-mounted turbolasers to destroy the attackers. As they reached orbital velocity the Guardian League's fleet was waiting and fighting a losing battle against ships plated in shiny black metal. Particle beams were tearing the ships apart along with all the shuttles trying to leave the surface.
The magistrate's shuttle crashed inside the hangerbay of an orbiting cruiser. The crews within the cruiser were quickly told to warp to sector command. Develani woke up from her blackout and after hearing the news almos burst into tears. tightly closing her eyes hoping it was all a bad dream. Out of the five billion that had once lived on the planet, less than 4,000 had escaped. What happened to anyone that was captured remained a mystery.
The survivors were taken to the Kihraldian system where the fleet met with officials aboard habsat-5, a Standord-Torus space station in the system's outer rim. When they docked the survivers were checked and questioned. At the docking gantry Develani met with Commandant Giraven who looked at her solemnly wearing a smart military uniform. She walked up to him and bowed with grace, tears had streamed odwn her face and the skin they had stained glistened in the artificial light.
Giraven - Magistrate, It is good to see you alive.
Develani - As much as you are pleased, I just watched an entire planet get vapourised by the fireweavers. And--
Giraven - I want to know what happened with you, before you arrived the governor said you had collapsed and that you had screamed hours before.
Develani - Oh... I see. Is there somewhere private we can talk?
Giraven nodded. With an armed escort the two of them took a high-speed maglev to a secure building. Develani was taken downstairs to a plain interrogation room. Giraven pressed his hand against a clear plastic panel which opened the door. When they entered he pressed his hand on a panel on the inside of the room which glashed red after the door closed.
Giraven - I want you to recall what you saw, what did you see before you fell over in shock?
Develani told him of the visions she saw. She told him about the chitinous face and the scenes of destruction. He listened to her intently, they spokae for a full two hours before the face flashed again in Develani's mind. She froze, prompting Giraven to ask her if something was wrong.
Develani - Evecuate everyone you can.... NOW.
Giraven - What? On what--
Develani - They are coming, they want me and I don't want more to die!
Giraven nodded. Standing up from his chair he escorted her to the train. Sirens blared throughout the station and warned of fireweaver attack. When they reached the spaceport Develani was dragged to the next destination. She struggled, asking what was going on but the guards refused to answer. They headed for the third docking port where she was greeted by a pale blue skinned pilot.
Soldier - Take her to Alvaleth station. Travel quickly and payment has been wired to your account.
Pilot - I'll treat her like royalty.
The pilot grabbed her arm. She looked back at Giraven who tilted his head downwards, folding his arms. When the door closed in front of him she turned back to her pilot. When aboard he sat her in the quarters at the back of the shuttle and they took off. Looking out of her window she could see other ships turning tail as she looked out the face flashed once again, prompting her to fall over. For the remainder of the journey she sat in meditation, all the time she had the distinct feeling something was watching and following her.
Develani continued to sit in meditation, the visions still plagueing the back of her mind. As she the shuttle closed in on Alvaleth station she could feel the prescence of millions of other Theians. The sensation felt like a coastal tide gently rising into a sandy beach. The sensation washed away her thoughts on the chitinous face. A smile crept across her face. This sensation wasn't new, she would often feel it when visiting a populated world but this time it was different. Millions who were coordinating together. Their thoughts crept into her mind, the muttering echoing gently like a calm sea breeze. As her shuttle approached the docking port she opened her eyes gently, rising up fro mthe floor she opened the door to her quarters to check on her pilot.
She entered the flight command zone deep in the hear of the shuttle. She saw her pilot sitting calmly inside a berth with his head firmly against a cushioned chair. The padding hid the prescence of cables emerging from his body. As she walked around him a voice echoed in the room. She recognised it to be the pilot and smiled.
Pilot - I see you are mobile miss Thranga. We will be dockng soon, is there anything I can do?
Develani - No, I am fine pilot. Bring us in.
Pilot - Of course.
When they docked at the station Develani was greeted by Gerden Kole wearing a tight dress uniform and accompanied by four armed guards. He nodded to her and reached out his hand. She extended hers and rested her fingers on his, they both smiled after the long journey but through contact he could feel that something was amiss in her. After exchanging formalities he journeyed with her down through the station. Looking around her eyes caught a glympse on a holographic screen of a huge vessel nearing completion. She stopped walking to look at it and Gerden, noticing this stopped and accompanied her.
Gerden - So, what do you think of the Dominion's biggest secret?
Develani - It is... Magnificent, whay build such a thing though? What purpose does it have?
Gerden - You may want to see this.
Gerden gently closed his eyes. With a thought, information on what had been dubbed "Project: Ark" appeared on the surface of Develani's retinal HUD. She felt amazed - an enormous starship equipped with a prototype wormhole drive and billions of cryogenic freezing chambers. Develani's jaw dropped at the information.
Gerden - A decade ago a few magistrates were paranoid the war could not be won, they secretly funneled resources into building these at various sites across the galaxy.
Develani - How many are there?
Gerden shrugged in reponse.
Gerden - No-one knows. Guardian Comamnd states it is so the fireweavers don't find out about all of them at once. The magistrates, the guardian League, even the A.I. collectives are considering this as a last-resort.
Develani - ...Have they?
Gerden shrugged again, he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and they continued walking down the hallway.
The corridor was sparsly popualted and after a turbolift ride they arrived in a blank corridor. Through enhanced vision Develani could see the room behind the door had been marked for Gerden's use. When she walked inside she looked around to see the comfortable surroundings the general had been given. She was impressed.
removing his jacket, Gerden walked over to a dispenser and poured himself a glass of clean orange liquid and sat down on the sofa near a holographic window. He flicked his hand beckoning to come over and she sat udner his arm. She felt safe around him, and for that brief night all her troubles; the Fireweavers, the political disputes, everything seemed to dissapear. For that one night she felt that everything was right with the universe.
Gerden - I wanted you to know; I was one of the reasons you have been brought here.
Develani - You were? For what reason.
Gerden - I pulled some strings with Guardian Command. if the arks are ever launched, you would be joining them. With me. You were considered, I jsut helped them out with deciding. There were only so many places that could be filled. Develani - You are asking me to leave everyone behind Gerden - I know waht you can do Develani, the magistrates may have influence but you have conviction and a goal. Even with our level of awareness sometimes one person can take priority over many.
Develani - I guess. I just hope this war can be one.
Gerden - Don't worry, you're not alone on that front..
Develani rested ehr head on Gerden's shoulder. His proposal seemed extreme but at that time she kept up the hope that it would not come to leaving everything behind.
Develani spent the next few days aboard the station. While Gerden was studying security recordings (as was his assignment) Develani would sit in her room in meditation. Other times she walked about the station, admiring the ship udner construction. One day she watched a news report on her retina about how another three mid-rim worlds were left dead by the Fireweavers. her heart sank when she heard reports that three colleagues she had trained with under the Adept programme had been on one of the planets when it was attacked. She headed to her room and sat in meditation, bringing her energy centres into attention. She slipped into her subconscious within the hour.
Something was not right. She found herself standing in a ruined street. Dead Theians were scattered about while others stood as shadows. Their prescence discomforted her and when she looked up into the burning red sky she saw a large chitinous face, identical to the face she saw a few days ago. It descended from the sky in a cloud and stoped right in front of her face. her heart raced as it spoke in a hushed, unearthly and chirping voice.
Develani was shunted back into her room with a gasp. She felt disoriented as she stood up and stumbled as she headed for the door, stumbling through it and into Gerden's arms.
Gerden - Develani. What is it?
A silent conversation between them revealed all. He could sense the panic within her tone. Upon understanding he rested her on the sofa naear to a screen acting as a window. He used telepathic communication to contact the security office and warmed them to get everyone aboard the ark. Develani's eyes lit up.
Develani - Gerden. How exactly--
Gerden quickly turned to her and embraced her in his arms.
Gerden - Develani. I want you to trust me. A security detail is coming, that ark is your only hope.
Develani - But--
Gerden - I will join you. But you. Have. To trust me. You won't be alone on the ark, Develani.
She nodded nervously. The door opened to a pair of officers in light armour in the form of skin-tight armour plates. Gerden stood in the middle of the room and looked at Devlelani as if to say "Do not worry about me. Go". She looked at him and went with the security detail without any resistance.
Leaving the Old World Behind
Gerden sighed as Develani was escorted to the Alvaleth. He took one last look around his apartment as the station was bathed in a deep blue hue; a sign that evacuation had begun. He walked into Develani's bedroom and looked around. Noticing something on her bedside table he gently picked up a figure bound togethr with planet fibres. It's legs and arms were stumpy and it's head was grossly oversized. He touched it gently, feeling the soft velvet it was covered in. As he felt lost in the memories he could sense from it he felt a sensatinon from his communicator.
Gerden - Command? I was not expecting you.
Command - General we have a situation over the homeworld. You might want to see...
Gerden accpeted anda screen emerged on his eye impants showing the Theian Homeworld. it was a small dead rock surrounded and layered with several sphere-like structures composed of of triangular landmasses with each sphere being many tens of of thousands of kilometres in diameter. The landmasses each had their own biopsheres and several contained wholly-urban environments with large parks. these magacities covered millions of square miles. Gerden gasped as Fireweaver ships beyond count surrounded the planet. What remained of the Dominion's fleets waged a desperate battle and the world's own defences were engaging the Fireweaver ships. It was clear, however, that the entire battle was in vain as the Fireweavers vastly outnumbered the Dominion fleets.
Gerden - Command. When did this happen? What is the delay.
Command - No delay general. The Fireweavers are destroying the homeworld as we speak.
Gerden - Then I suppose there is nothing left.
Command - How many survivors do you have?
Gerden - 70 billion, sir. More than enough to rebuild. It is time you told me command; are there any other arks?
Command - That is still, classified General.
Gerden - Command if you hadn't noticed the trillions living on the homeoworld are dying!
Command - That is classified. I will not say anything more general only that you are to stick to the plan.
The conversation was terminated. Clenching his fist with rage Gerden thew a flying punch at the wall, denting it. He panted out of frustration. he once again picked up the figure and looked at it. He felt calmer looking at it. The blue hue of the station then flashed orange.
Warning. Fireweaver prescence detected.
This was Gerden's cue to run to the ark. WHen he arrived a oen of the gantires there were still evacuees boaring the ship. He pushed his way to the front where an attendant was checking names. The attendant looked to the frantic general.
Gerden - Is Develani Thranga aboard?
Attendant - Yes sir. Deck 120, section 50 pod 599713-C.
Gerden - Hostiles are on their way. Inform the other attendants that we need to finish up before the station is hit. Attendant - General I have to run through--
Gerden - Right now procedure is likely to get us all killed.
Attendant - ...As you wish sir.
Geden pushed through onto the gantry and boarded the Alvaleth and one of the fist things he did was head to the pod where Develani was already frozen. he wiped the condensation from the window to see her resting rather peacefully. As he looked at the pod the ship shook as outside the Fireweavers began attacking the Alvaleth. He ran through several deck to the core of the ship where the A.I. greeted him. It materialised in the form of a Theian covered in circuitory.
A.I. - Greetings general. What is it that you require.
Gerden - Override boarding protocols and activate Fireweaver protocol 34.
A.I. - Understood general.
Sirens blared throughout the station and panic ensued as the ship cut itself broke off from the station. He could not feel the rocking caused by the fireweaver ships because he deep inside the AI core. The Alvaleth slowly left the docking gantry. Gerden rested his hand on a circular panel distinct from the rest of the console. This panel allowed him to connect to the system and he interfacing himself with it. He could see the console's interfacing systems from the implants within his eyes and activated the cannons that had been fitted to the ship to buy the Alvaleth some time.
Gerden - Alvaleth, activate the wormhole drive.
A.I. - Please specify dimensional coordinates.
Gerden - Dimensional?
A.I - We were designed for temporal navigation. Parameters for the horizontal, lateral, vertical and temporal coordiantes were defined within our system.
Gerden - Temporal? You mean this ship can travel in time?
A.I. - Yes. We were desgined to traverse the temporal parameters in the event that leadership decided that it would be impossible to hide from the Fireweavers within the present timeframe.
Gerden - Well, anywhere is better than here!
A.I. - We warn that inputting random or undefined coordiantes is inadviseable due to the realspace hazards that could be present at that location.
Gerden - Set for dark-space, that should keep us away from anywhere dangerous, and away from any objects.
A.I - Parameters set for darkspace emergence. We still require a temporal parameter.
Gerden - Somewhere in the past, anywhere will do and somewhere far from those fireweavers!
As he spoke a laser broke through the AI core. it managed to narroly miss Gerden as he desperately looked about for somewehre safe. he noticed an unoccupied cryo-pod and climbed inside, narrowly missing a beam and the pod activated as soon as he cloed the lid. As wires extended into sockets in his back he could feel himself slipping into unconsciousness. Outside the Alvaleth opened a wormhole and barely made it through as the Fireweaver ships relenteleesly attacked the hull. As the Alvaleth passed through the wormhole the gate closed behind it and the ship emerged somewhere in dark space, badly damaged. Fortunately for everyone aboard the ark none of the Fireweaver ships made it through the womhole before it closed, leaving the Alvaleth alone and drfting in a completely unknown location.
Adrift In The Void
For days after emerging from the wormhole, the Alvaleth broadcasted a distress signal that was picked up by a passing Apalos temple ship that was studying the intergalactic rift between the Bunsen and Andromeda galaxies. When the ship passed close it transmitted a signal to the ark in the vain hope that it would interperet and respond. After a few minutes the Apalos AI was responded to by an etheral voice thaat seemed to suddenly know Apalose. It confirmed that two-way communication was possible.
Apalos - Is it safe to scan your systems to determine the sites of damage?
The Alvaleth transmitted images and information to the temple ship showing where it was damage and the extent. Apalos did its own scan by budding off several smaller probes from the main temple ship which moved into place around the ark.
Apalos - Exterior damage confirmed. Are your exterior repair systems non-functional, or merely malfunctioning?
Alvaleth - Exterior repair systems are unresponsive.
This prompted the probes to take a closer look at the damaged regions.
Apalos - The local repair systems have been severely ionised, and there is insufficient redundancy to repair them. We are using nanoswarms to repair some of the damage, and will summon other ships to help deal with the large areas involved.
Alvaleth - We thank you, the passengers must be saved.
Apalos - We have detected cryogenic stasis pods around some of the damaged areas. A total loss in operation of two million, seven-hundred and ninety-one thousand, one hundred and thirty-eight pods has been counted around said areas. All other pods that we can see appear to be at full operation. We can try to revive the others, if you wish.
After a short while, more temple ships arrived at the scene and set to work repairing the damaged regions. Unfortunately many of the passengers whose pods had been damaged were already dead.
Alvaleth - We thank you, the stable pods were to be opened when we found them a new home. We have tried to keep the damaged areas habitable, but we lament for those improperly disturbed.
Apalos - Survival for some is still possible, but most have sufferered severe neural damage from radiation exposure. We have now repaired the exterior damage. Our probes remain within your interior to locate and repair internal damage.
Alvaleth - We thank you. We must continue what we were ordered, once we have been repaired can you direct us to a haven? Internal repair systems are still operatiing, we have been healing better than we have externally.
Apalos - Yes. There are many suitable nearby locations to form a base of operations.
Alvaleth - We seek more, we seek a home for the passengers. We have been running and we tire.
Apalos - There will be sufficient space and resources for the passengers should they wish for planets as their home.
Alvaleth - We thank you, is there anything we can do for you?
Apalos - No.
Alvaleth - We are eternally grateful for helping us, We and the passengers will not forget the kindness you gave us this day. We can offer you knowledge in gratitude, is there anything you wish to know?
Apalos - We are not in a rush for knowledge at the moment. There will be plenty of time for that in future.
Aleveleth - Of course. The future.
Apalos - We predict that you will be sufficiently operational within one hour. Although we cannot guarantee that any nearby galaxies are completely safe, we have located a suitable region within the outer galactic habitable zone of the Milky Way for you to make your new homes. We also recommend making full use of this vehicle. Refitting it as a worldship could provide a permanent home for several tens of thousands of passengers, should the need arise.
Alveleth - We thank you, once the passengers settle in their new home they will see about contacting you. You have saved all from genocide this day.
Apalos - We also feel it is our duty to point you towards the Milky Way Cooperative, should you choose to settle in that galaxy. For now, we will escort you to your new home, then leave you to work until you need us again.
Alveleth - Thank you. Apalos. None will forget this. But the Milky Way might be inadviseable, there is much sorrow to come. Passengers may be pained to return there.
Apalos - If you wish to avoid sorrow, this cluster of galaxies may be a poor choice. The nearest habitable galaxy that we would consider to be safe is Mirus.
Alveleth - We do not speak of the now, we speak of what is to come, the sorrow we speak of is why we are here.
Apalos - We understand. But we only have foresight with which to make recommendations, not hindsight. But avoiding sorrow in the present should be as important as avoiding sorrow in the future, if both can be helped.
Alveleth - We will find our own home, the sorrow to come will not be for a long time. But we fear we may have said too much.
Apalos - Yes, you may choose which galaxy you settle in, but I advise you that Cyrannus and its satellites will cause you nothing but harm for as long as Tyrómairon reigns as its Emperor.
Alveleth - We thank you for the warning. the passengers only wish for quiet with which to rebuild. We presume this is all?
Apalos - Yes.
Alvoleth - Goodbye. We can protect the self.
Apalos - Then we will leave you to your business.
As repairs were finished the probes were teleported back inside the Temple Ships. Turning away from the ark the ships left the region as the Alvaleth created a wormhole that led to the outer rim of the Bunsen Galaxy.
New Home, New Beginnings
The Alvaleth arrived in orbit of a world filled with thick jungle. When it arrived its sensors scanned the crust and the surface revealing that although rich in biodiversity there were no apparent advanced lifeforms. On the northern continent the Alvaleth detected a large cave network several kilometres underground. The Alvaleth deployed several probes that shot through the atmosphere and burrowed their way to the cave system. Upon impact the probes released nanomachine clouds that quickly converted the central chamber into something habitable, complete with artificial lighting and a ventilation system was already underway.
With the all green, the stasis pods were deployed to the surface. Following the path of the probes the pods travelled inside the planet in clusters and settled down in the cavern. The pods opened and hundreds of Theains emerged somewhat weary and greated by utility fog clouds that assessed their vital signs. They were all bewildered as they looked about their environemnt. Rising from the ground up the nanomachines had begun building habitats for everyone.
Up above the Alvaleth deployed THeians at other sites both on the planet and within the solar system. It was seeding the cluster with the 55 billion theians in storage.
Within the crowds Gerden and Develani looked for each other Develani felt someone grab her arm and when she looked around she saw a Theian adept which she looked at with curiosity.
Adept - Magistrate Thranga. The Tebvanur-Baldra whichis to speak with you...privately.
Develani - What do they wish of me?
Adept - They asked only that I bring you to them. Alvaleth placed them within a chamber not too far from here.
Develani - As they wish.
Gerden was working his way through the crowd when he spotted Develani travelling away with the adept. But he did not follow, through the group mind he was aware of why she was being taken. He smiled somewhat, believing that it was a great honour for her. Instead of chasing after her he ggave her a small message.
"You will excel, my darling Develani."
Develani was brought into a computer hub. The nanomachiens were adding the finishing touches but in the centre was a large computer core. Develani kneeled on a dais in front of the machine and filament wires rose up and around her body. As they set into her skin she saw six figures emerge. Almost instinctively she recognised all of them - previos magistrates who had donated their consciousness into a collective intelligence. Around her the scenery changed not because the nanites restructured it, but because the computer was overriding the implants in ehr eyes, creating an artificial landscape for ehr eyes only. It cahnged from a computer hub into a gazebo, beyond its bone-white boundary was a lush teal alndscape, flowing water could be heard fomr a stream running beside it. The six figures surrounded Develani as she stood up.
Develani - Rokior, Thorem, Derada, Thantha, Sorimella, Gornarv...
Gornarv - Welcome dearest Develani. We have been waiting for your arrival since planetfall.
Thorem - Tebvanur-baldra has sommuned you to be our next voice.
Develani - I am extremely honoured, great minds. But why me.
Derada - Because you have proven yourself.
Sorimella - You have presented courage and passion.
Rokior - And supreme will.
Thorem - We read your thoughts, we know you saw it.
Derada - But do not be afraid, child. If you did not resist.
Gornarv - You would not be standing here today.
Develani - I am honoured at your decision, great minds.
Sorimella - Come. Join us, become one with the tebvanara.
Develani looked around as the others joined hands. She walked up to a gap in the circle and reached out and took hold of Gornarv's hand, she then took ahold of Sorimella's hand and immediately felt a surge in energy. In the physical world she bent over in discomfort. Emerging form the filament were nanomachines that required the implants in her brain. it was being completely restructured in order to recieve the computer's signal. Eventually she collapsed, but she felt none of this inside the simulated reality. Within she felt the pwoer surge and gradually she heard the voices of the others.
She heard another voice crying out from beyond. THe reality aroudn her dissoved and she foudn herself being lifted up by the adept.
Adept - How do you feel?
Develani - Six voices, talking in unison... it is beautiful. So coherent, so harmoneous.
Adept - Indeed it is. You must be tired, would you like to show me to where you can sleep?
Develani - Yes... yes...
The adept took her to a room that overlooked the main cavern. Everyone was getting settled, it was still somewhat humble what the nanites had achieved within a few hours there was already accomodation for everyone, a testement to engineering. She spent some time lookingo utside, marvelling at the way the Theians had quickly adapted to their new home. After a meal and a light book she prepared herself for bed.
As she dozed off, entering a period of deep sleep, she found herself returning to the gazebo. This time, the garden was hers to wander freely.
It was paradise.
Months passed. Eventually the Tybusen Intergalactic Allied Federation. The Assembly had promptly decided to send a delegate to investigate the galaxy's new inhabitants. The delegate sent was Exxert, a diplomat who's ship was taken underground and landed on a pad deep below ground. The chamber's lighting made it feel like daylight was shining through.
After a few minutes, a pale Theian wearing a laminated silk ress entered the room. Her silver hair tied in pleats that rested over her shoulder.
Exxert - The Federation extends its most warm greetings.
Dalavi - Thank you, perhaps you would like to meet the Magistrate?
Exxert - Certainly. Our objective here is to establish diplomacy between our and your head of state.
Dalavi - I will take you to her, i hope you excuse the scaffolding but the city is still somewhat under construction.
Exxert - Of course. It does not bother me, in fact it reminds me of my childhood days when I lived by a construction site...
Entering the city itself, Exxert looked around to see curved organic structures surrounding her. Moulding, swelling and expanding into their final shapes. On the ceiling of the cavern was a giant screen projecting a simulated iamge of a sky that illuminated the entire cave. Exxert looked around, she was very impressed with the designs. People passed by and kept a polite distance from Exxert as they travelled through the city towards an ornate central building. There was even expotic plant life growing within the promenade.
Exxert - Impressive architecture. The Federation's finest architects would be amazed.
Dalavi - The entire city is a self-contained arcology. Several were established accross the planet's surface to accomodate the ark's population.
Exxert - If this is what your kind can construct within a few days of settlement... I cannot imagine how brilliant the completed structure would be.
Dalavi - I'm sure you would have been impressed with our old homeworld. We had to accomodate a lot of people in a short space of time, an ark is good for transport but not for long-term habitation.
Exxert - Indeed... But I will not dwell on the past, as it must upset you. How far are we from the Magistrate's offices.
Dalavi - Not far. her offices are on the upper levels.
They travelled through the lobby of the magistrate's tower.Dalavi placed ehr hand on a pad and the lift headed up towards the upper floors. THe elevator was quick and they arrived at an open corridor lined with ribbed structures that appeared to be made from a white material. Resembling either boen or whitewashed stone. There were carvings in the rock face that were difficult to make out.
Dalavi - Oh, i almost forgot, can your species see in ultraviolet?
Exxert - No, but we do have special optic equipment that allows us to see EM wavelengths.
When the delegates activate the optic equipment the walls become covered in beauiful curling and wave-like patterns that danced fluidly across the surface. Exxert's jsaw dropped in sheer amazement. As they looked about, Gerden Kole apporached from the end of the hall. Several robots, organic in shape and coated in a laminated grey plastic stand against the walls of the hallway*
Exxert - This is... beautiful.
Dalavi - Only the best for the grand magistrate.
Gerden Kole - What have we here? I take it these are the new arrivals.
Exxert - Your race must see in UV, seeing as you don't seem to need auxillary devices to see the decorations, am I right? And yes. I am Ambassador Exxert, pleasure to make your acquaintance.
Gerden - Likewise, and yes our vision scope does include UV.
Exxert - Very interesting... May I ask who you are?
Gerden - I'm general Gardan Kole. Commander of the 91st mechanised regiment.
Exxert saluted upon learning Gerden's rank.
Exxert - An honor, general. And do not mind the gesture; it is a cultural standard in the Federation.
Gerden - I can see.
Dalavi - The General is rather close to the Grand MAgistrate.
Gerden tilted his head back slightly.
Gardan - ...Must you tell them? I figured they deserved to know you better, this is technically a new universe to us.
Exxert - Do not be embarrassed, general, it is quite normal in our Federation as well to be somewhat defensive about...romance.
Gerden - I am not comfortable that some secret agent decides to harm the grand magistrate through their knowledge of me.
Exxert - Do not be worried, general, we are not secret agents here to cause harm to your head of state. We are here on diplomatic business to enact relations between our Federation and the Theians.
Gerden - Whatever.. Now, i have my duties to attend to - if you harm her in any way I will personally snap you like a twig!
Dalavi - General please...
The other envoys shot Gerden doubtful glances as he moved towards the elevator.
Exxert - Please, general, we are only diplomats, we have no intention of doing anything but our diplomatic duties.
Dalavi - Forgive the General, he is very protective over the Grand magistrate.
Exxert - I have no qualms, diplomat. I myself would be devastated if something were to happen to our head of state or our beloved military commander, Lorrelas.
Dalavi - Since arriving here we have become very protective of our own - every death would mark another step on the road to extinction.
Exxert - Understandably so, diplomat. Of course, the Federation has no population problems, though I understand very well a species becomes protective if they are endangered.
After a short walk, Dalavi presented them with an unassuming wooden door.
Dalavi - Lady Thranga is through this door.
Exxert - Excellent. Should there be anything we need to know about your Magistrate?
Dalavi - She is but a speaker for the Grand Circle - a collective intelligence and an archive holding thousands of personalities and memories. She is in telepathic communion with the circle so don't be alarmed if she says a few things... out of character.
Exxert - Ah. Then I will be careful with what I say lest I upset the Circle.
Dalavi - She still remembers grwing up in the madness we fled from so be careful if your mind is intrigued.
Exxert - I will not pry, for this is our first time.
A TIAF envoy snickered, and was then smacked by another TIAF envoy. Dalavi appeared unphased and stood silently for a moment with her eyes closed. She opened her eyes and moved to open the door for the delegates. Develani's chambers overlooked thecity below, the surfacess and windsows of which glistened liek tiny crystals in the sand. The chamber was awash with royal blues and greens. Upon entering, the entire envoy group bows to Develani. Develani was looking out of the window, sensing the aliens in the room she turned around and bowed gracefully.
Exxert - It is an honor to be in your presence, Magistrate of the Theians.
Develani - My aide told me you were on you way in. A pleasure it is to meet you.
Exxert - It is a pleasure to meet you as well. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ambassador Exxert of the TIAF.
Develani - It is a pleasure to finally meet you ambassador. We must seem strange to you, appearing out of nowhere from a place almost inconcieveable.
Exxert - We have encountered an alternate version of our Federation from a parallel timeline. It was not completely shocking to the Federation.
Develani - We come from a distant time, far ahead...
Exxert - Interesting... Anyways, we have paid this visit as to strengthen diplomatic ties between the Theians and our Federation. I am quite impressed with what I have seen so far.
Develani - Our people are a shadow of our former selves. This arcology, the ark, the machines, they are all articles from our old holdings.
Exxert - What I have seen is beyond the standards of our Federation, I cannot imagine how great it will be when you return to your former glory.
Develani - We once dominated our galaxy, a power akin to this time's Galactic Empire of Cyrannus.
Exxert - Ah, I see you already have some knowledge of our universe. Well, let us hope that the GEC is not a replica of your old empire, the GEC is a terrible imperialist nation.
Develani - Our empire was one that sought to maintain order, we maintained peace through just means. We were the peacekeepers for millenia with one over-arching desire to transcend the physical world.
Exxert - We deeply respect those who keep peace through peace, though admittedly our own Federation has had to resort to war to keep peace alive.
Develani - My people wish to understand reality and we have come to the conclusion that to do that we cannot truly unserstand it unless we become completely uninhbited. The Grand Circle is a crude example, merely copying the thought patterns of the physical mind.
Exxert - Indeed, there are many things we have yet to comprehend about our own universe.
Develani - My people wish for two goals: The first is to prepare ourselves against the cataclysm to come, the second is to discovr a way to rtanscend into something more uninhibited. An intellect that is truly wonderous.
Exxert - It is impressive what technology can do, is it not, Magistrate?
Develani - Indeed, and with the right technology even reality itself can be understood. Communicating through thoughts, for example, is so much more liberating than with words or signs. Perhaps we can come to an agreement? We both desire peace.
Exxert - The Federation wishes to form a strong diplomatic bond with the Theians. In other words, an alliance. The Federation also wishes that a trade deal be enacted, but that is not a necessary point if the Theians do not wish to trade.
Develani - While we have the means to maintain a post-scarcity society, trade fosters unity.
Exxert - To further strenghten diplomatic ties, the Federation also wishes for a mutual embassy establishment, we shall construct an embassy of our own on a planet of your choice, and you shall place an embassy where the Federation deems suitable.
Develani - That seems acceptable. The Circle agrees with this.
Exxert - Excellent. Thank you, Magistrate. The Federation will be pleased, and I do hope the Theians are pleased by this exchange. May our relations prosper.
Develani - We are very grateful for your warm reception. As a gesture of our gratitude I wish to offer your people a gift.
Exxert - The Federation will accept it with gratitude. May I ask what this gift is?
Develani nodded and walked over to her desk. As a drawer gracefully slid out she gently picked up a storage unit in the shape of a bulging disk that fitted into the palm of her hand. She handed ot to Exxert wh oaccepted the gift with a smile.
Develani - As a gesture of good faith we offer you star charts we gathered of this region and of the Andromeda-Bunsen rift. The information is all stored here.
Exxert - Excellent, this will be useful to the Federation's future efforts here and in the Andromeda-Bunsen rift. I accept this on behalf of the Federation with great gratitude, Magistrate. May you live long and prosper.
Develani - Live long, ambassador.
Exxert - Thank you. Farewell.
Exxert exited the office and found Dalavi waiting outside. Dalavi knew what Exxert was going to do next and opted to guide her back to her ship.
Dalavi - I hope you hav enjoyed your stay.
Exxert - I have enjoyed it in its entirety. This citadel is certainly a work of art.
Dalavi - I am glad you appreciate it.
After arriving back at the diplomatic ship and with an initial service of exchange, the TIAF ships lifted off and left the planet. With the jungles below them they engaged theri hyeprdrives and returned to the heart of Bunsen. Develani watched them leave on a monitor. A slight smiel crept across her face, it was a new beginning for her species. But she wondered in the back of her mind what lay in store. She leaned abck in her chair and closed her eyes, letting the Circle's presence wash over her as she relaxed. Their myriad soft voices soothing her and guiding her.