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Alpha 1

Found 15 results

  1. The following is the creative work of Firestorm a graphic artist and member of the Dark Star Imperium on Dual Universe. Starting off will just be chapter one, however as the weeks go by more chapters will be added. The possibly of minor edits is an option so if anyone has suggestions on anything I might miss let me know, so stay tuned. This is the story following a young man by the name of Ryker Telemachus Omi and his journey from civilian to full fledged citizen and member of the Imperium Marines. Please follow his story as this seasoned young officer is thrown in the midst of a new and strange enemy. DSI Discord: https://discord.gg/2vkazux <— reach me here Chapter 1: Beginnings https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p4bIiuEFxA6N0ph2cO6xmjv9qiO3E2VyqQ_aJw97TpE Chapter 2: Signal -TBA- Chapter 3: Discovery -TBA- Chapter 4: Conflict -TBA-
  2. Greetings all, and welcome to Lazarus. Regards, Devious_T Lazarus-Prologue.pdf
  3. " It's been a while and it's certainly taken more time than it should have, but The Aether's history is continuously being unearthed... Necessity begs that the dear readers are reminded: everything you will read as concerns The Aether is true and real. Without further ado, gentlemen and ladies, let us explore the choices and events that have shaped The Aether into the marvel she is now. A Preface is in order. Alternatively, if downloading the Preface in .pdf is not to your liking, you could view the Preface here. More will follow. Stay frosty. " Preface.compressed.pdf
  4. camelund

    The Broken Man

    It's true what they say about pivotal moments becoming burnt into your mind. Some moments are filled with joy, like the day I got married, the day my son was born, even the day I got my pilot license, or the day I landed my first job. Other memories are tarnished with pain, like the day the authorities showed up to tell me my whole world had been destroyed in the blink of an eye. I remember opening the door and them asking for me by name. I remember being concerned that they were here to arrest me and that maybe my last job hadn't been as successful as everyone had assured me, but no, they were here to inform me that my family was gone. Tragedy, industrial accident, no amount of safety regulations could have foreseen, it was an unfortunate accident wrong place, wrong time. The outcome to me was the same, wife and son killed, by a runaway mining drill. I thought about the possibilities, the what-if's, the if only's, for what seemed like an eternity. What if I'd of driven them myself? What if I'd of paid for the more expensive security conscious hopper, one with reinforced plating in front and back? Would they still be alive? I sat for a long time after the statements had been taken and I was given the reassurance that they would investigate 'just in case', but the way they had said it, made me realise that this was never about comforting a grieving father and husband, but more about trying to prevent a claim before it began Life took on a bitter taste from that day. As if the water I had been sipping from for so long had suddenly become tainted. Friends and family tried to console, tried to heal, tried to pick up the shell I had become and fill my life with something, but truth be told I had always been more of a lone wolf and many of those friends were more Holly's than my own. It was draining for me as much for them, I just wanted to be left alone and eventually I got my wish, as soon one by one the close friends and family become more distant, the personal visits become less frequent, then replaced with vid comms and finally no contact at all, and I was left alone in my anguish, guilt and pain. My job was mainly freelance, so I had no boss to chase me back to work, our home had all been paid off thanks to some speculative lucrative trading, so equally no banks came asking for money and payments. So the universe continued to dance around me, the same waltz it had before, but with me sitting on the sideline isolated in a protective vacuum of nothingness. I was dreaming again, I knew it was a dream because Holly was in it, she standing side on about 10 feet from me holding Ben tightly to her chest, they were both facing away from me and looked so at peace. I'd had the dream many times, and knew the ending so desperately tried to wake myself from it before it could continue further, but it was no use. In the dream, I started walking towards them as if to catch them up. As I reached out a hand I was screaming stop, this was the part they turned and I saw their disfigured faces and bodies, only this time as they turned something was different. They looked like the Holly and Ben that I knew, the one's I had shared my life with. It gave me an enormous sense of tranquillity, but also wonderment. In the dream, Holly seemed to pick up on this "Time heals John. Even in dreams. It's time you healed yourself." She turned and lowered Ben down to the ground. The whiteness we had been shrouded in morphed into a beautiful clearing surrounded by deep lush forests and mountains in the distant. Ben turned and looked at me, a vivid life displayed upon his smile. "Goodbye Daddy, I'm going to go play" His smile grew deeper and the joy showed in his eyes, I wanted to stop him and hold him, but my mind was giving me a gift I didn’t want to wake from. Ben ran off into the distant spinning and singing gleefully as my wife turned towards me again. Her smile appeared forced and I knew it well. Many a time she had given me this smile and then scolded me away from prying ears when the time was right. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Your love for us is a wonderful thing, but it serves no purpose John." "But I…" "No. Listen to me. You need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. That was your mantra, that was what made me love you. Your natural resilience, there wasn’t a thing that could ever beat you. You would move mountains with your head and shear determination if you needed to. But now look at you. Where is the man I loved? Where is he John! He appears to be as dead as I am." Holly turned her head slightly away from me, and a lone tear formed in her eye and glided down her check. I instinctively reached out to wipe the tear away and my hand past through the offending tear and face as easily as passing through a cloud. She reached up and dried the tear with the sleeve of her jacket before she continued. "We don't have much time John, you must listen to me. What I am about to say is going to hurt you, but you must hear it, and you must become the man you were. Are you ready John?" She looked at me, and I nodded. "Our deaths John, they were your fault, just not in the way you think." It was as if life was playing a cruel trick on me, showing my wife and son in glory and then giving me a sucker-punch of blame to take it all away. I shook my head, devastated by the news, it confirmed all my fears and my mind started going overdrive, I could see Holly growing concerned. "It was no accident John. It was Terran Union, they were after something you stole. Something they wanted back. We weren't the targets John. You were." I could feel my heart start beating faster, the dream started to fade as if going through interference, it started to fade to red which matched the rage I was feeling. In the dream I started to glide backwards and Holly started to run with it, trying hard to keep up with me and the elastic force that was gaining momentum pulling me back to reality. "Answers are coming John. Be open to them. Be the man I married. Be the Father your son deserves, and know this John. We don't blame you, we only love you." I felt an enormous force yanking me on my back as if pulling a -10g high-speed manoeuvre and I felt wind rushing past my face and hair. I screamed for them, only my vision was no longer of the forest clearing, it was now back to my bedroom wall. I was sat bolt upright in bed, my body dripping in perspiration and my breathing laboured and heavy. The dream remained vivid and clear, and I replayed the conversation through my mind as my heart rate normalised. Was my subconscious trying to tell me something? Had I missed something? Many of the statements rang true, my last employer hadn't named the target as TU, but the label on the package had clearly stated it, along with strictly confidential and priority 1 clearance only, but how could they know it was me? And if they had killed my family why? Why not kill me? One thing I could not deny was that I was no longer the headstrong unstoppable force I had once been. I had been sailing through life at speed and with purpose, like an asteroid that did not deviate from the mission it had been assigned and smashed through any obstacles with either guile or brute force whenever the need arose. That mission that purpose seemed to burn new life within, if there were answers to be found and if they were coming, then I better be damn ready to receive them when they did. And if Terran Union had indeed killed my wife and son, then a whole lot of pain was going to be coming their way. For the first time in a long time I felt alive, as if the chains that bound me had relinquished their hold and I was free to move again in whatever direction of my choosing. Free to live, free to die, sure, but my freedom would be focused on the pursuit of the truth, and if TU were behind this, then I was also free to start a war.
  5. Devious_T

    Selection - Fiction

    Hi all, Been pretty busy recently with uni and stuff, but this is something I've been writing alongside 'The Young Ones' and my novel. Just the beginnings of things here, but I know roughly where its going. Its a bit more like my 'Left Behind' piece. Hope you enjoy, and as always feedback is encouraged and appreciated. DT Selection.pdf
  6. Devious_T

    The Young Ones

    Hey all, This is something I've come up with over the last few days. It's a little different, and as you will soon realise the language is tailored towards the perspective of children (or at least, the perspective I want for these children). I just thought I would try out some different techniques. I'll keep this going over the next few weeks I think, until it comes to a good conclusion. Feedback, as always, is most welcome. Hope you enjoy, DT TheYoungOnes.pdf
  7. Hey all, Some of you may recognise me from the ongoing Novawrimo contest, but if not then let me introduce myself. "I'm a guy who likes to write! Hiii!" But anyway, weirdness aside, I've just set up an Org called 'Writer's Guild' and would like to invite anyone who is interested in continuing to write some fan-fiction for Dual, or fiction in any form, to take a look. I'm not an amazing writer, but I've been doing it for a while, so I would like to offer my help towards any that want it, and encourage others to do the same. What I hope for is a close-knit group of people sharing and writing and reading each others work, providing good feedback, and growing as writers and individuals. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. Thanks for your time, DT
  8. The Founding Fathers Political Science Ye fail to recall our hard earned triumph. Faded from your minds is the Vale of Blood! Men of no faith that tremble at the Nymph, How can ye with war, defeat the Horde? Ye will all perish, slaughtered at their hands! Come, preserve your lives and conquer your foes, Listen to me, and you will keep your lands. Ye are naught but, weak and that your foe knows. Give yourselves to him and beg for his grace, Please him before you bring death to his face. 3 Acts of the Lambent Chapter 14: 22-23. The Kalnian Books. Mercifully, it did. Once I got back to Olympus Ariana—I hate that name…I wished my sleep had lasted longer. I am not and never will be a religious person, but I do recall something about the Devil never sleeping. Looking at what Eidolon and Mistral had achieved in eighteen hours, I just might qualify for the post of a demon hunter. It was nothing short of a hostile takeover and Devil Eidolon was pushing the limits of “takeover”. Of course, the title of an exorcist would be the next thing I would aim for. Metal shouldn’t have a soul anyway. I was summoned to an emergency meeting that Shiro had to drag me to. Who summoned me? Eidolon the Devil and Mistral its right hand demon. “But, I don’t want to go…” I whined. “If you don’t go, she’ll take your place. You want that?” She whispered quietly as a few people passed us on the stairs. “I couldn’t care less.” I muttered under my breath. She stopped climbing the stairs and looked down at me. There is no living thing that can survive a thirty-second stare battle with Shiro and hold its will. “Fine. I’ll go.” Shiro moved aside and let me pass. “Don’t do anything stupid in there.” She cautioned me with a smile. “I’ll be a good boy.” I retorted with just enough sarcasm in my voice to make her roll her eyes. Four guards stood at the door, looking like wilted cactuses. Nonchalantly, I passed by them and opened the doors by myself. The revolting sight of thirty-eight people around a black marble conference table with Eidolon at the head made me gag. Dear heavens. The devil has returned… “Welcome, Satoru. We didn’t think you’d come.” Mistral said with a smile that would have made Dracula’s blood freeze. “...and he’s brought demons with him this time.” I announced. “What are you talking about?” Hartmut asked, trying to read my mind. I acknowledged his curiosity by returning his gaze and his interest vanished as he looked at the table like it was a work of art. At least he isn’t possessed. Mistral pointed at the seat opposite Eidolon. “Care to sit?” “Nope.” I said and stood at the door. A man with an egg for a head, yawned and asked: “Why?” I grinned at his reflective scalp. “I’m glad you care so much about my comfort. Tell me, do you rub oil on that, or is it naturally that shiny?” From somewhere in the room, I heard Kurotou’s stifled chuckle. “Egghead’s” face turned red. “How dare you?!” I hushed him. “Eggs don’t talk much. They break easily under pressure.” He jumped to his feet with considerable effort. “You son of—“ Eidolon broke in. “That’s enough, both of you.” Egghead needs to cool down though. I don’t like boiled eggs… I took a glass of water and splashed it on his face. For a second, he was confused. Then, he went insane. “You bloody rat!” Sigh. He’s overheating now. With that amount of oil on his head, I wouldn’t mind scrambled eggs…. I walked over to the empty seat and closed my eyes, while the Devil tried to calm down Egghead. After five minutes of ranting and other members of the meeting throwing in their digressive personal opinions, the room became quiet again. Eidolon made the kind of sound humans do when they clear their throats. Only then did I open my eyes. “Now that that’s out of the way,” I glanced at the sizzling Egghead. “Mistral and I had this meeting called for an important reason. Satoru is unfit to be the Grand Architect and the recent events have proven that. We did him the courtesy of inviting him to the board meeting where the next Grand Architect will be chosen.” Nods and sounds of approval rose. I couldn’t help but smile. Shiro was right, after all. “Who is your candidate?” Kurotou asked. Mistral rose her hand. My smile widened on its own accord. Do smiles have souls? “What is funny?” A familiar voice asked from my left. Funny enough, Petrol-ski was part of the board meeting. “How can a smile have a soul? My smile keeps getting stronger with a will of its own.” I replied and leaned back. Eidolon wasn’t so sure. “Any objections?” I shook my head and whispers arose in the room. Kurotou had a confused look on his face. “None at all?” Eidolon asked, sensing some danger. I’ve got to give it to the AI. It really is perceptive. Kilo was shaking his head at me, warning me not to do anything I would regret. I don’t usually regret watching episodes of failed exorcisms. “User: Loki Torvald. Override firewall through port 5537. Eidolon, initiate and hold shut down. Block loop, count down thirty seconds, proceed. You know my voice.” They all looked confused, but I could feel Eidolon’s dark soul trembling. “What? How did you…?” “You didn’t think that I would let you run free without a back-up plan in case you did something stupid?” Its voice sounded angry, but I could detect a small hint of terror. “You can’t do this! I’m Eidolon AI. I am your advisor and the most important person here!” “Were.” I corrected, grinning. “You were the most important thing here. Until you cost me some sleep, yesterday. Ten seconds, AI. Want to do a quick virus scan?” It growled and I leaned towards the man on my left, acting as if I was going to whisper something into his ear. Eidolon flew at my head, just as the man moved towards mine. I will never forget the sound of metal hitting a human skull. The poor man fainted immediately and Eidolon looked perplexed for a moment, before the countdown expired and it shut down, dropping to the floor with a heavy thud. I used my foot to push the dead metal away and turned towards the silent people. Exorcism, successful. “I just killed the Devil. Any objections?” Some mouths were wide open; others were sealed shut. Some eyes were frozen, looking at Eidolon; others were full of fear, staring at me. I looked at Mistral and froze for a second. She was unfazed. The student becomes the master. The demon becomes the Devil. I gave her the best smile I could manage and turned to Petrol-ski. “Why are you here?” His confident composure had taken a serious blow. That much was obvious as he mouthed some inaudible words. I sighed. They are dumbstruck at the powerful dispossession; it would seem… “I can’t hear you…” I said in a sweet tone. He shuddered. “We…need to rally…our members. Allies…need to be forged.” I frowned. “What allies? You want to throw me out as well?” “No! I had no part in this!” “That’s what they all say. You are not a member of Oethe Inc., nor a person from Terra Ulterior. Eidolon was the reason you are in this room, as such you are its friend. That makes you my enemy.” The blood drained from his face, as I stretched out my hand towards Kilo and he handed me a polished pistol. “I came here, because I care for my people!” I grinned. “I’m sure you do.” And I pointed the gun at his chest. The man in him returned and he glared at me. “You can’t shoot me.” Kilo held his head in his hands and Hartmut closed his eyes. I fired, twice. His face froze and he looked like he died, before he realised that he was unharmed. “Say that again, and I will shoot you for real the next time. Now, I will send you with an ambassador. Politics is boring talk and we need to get your embattled people and the Earldom of Mercia clear on our conditions—whatever they are, anyway. Arkanos?” The young man on the far right answered. “Yes?” “You are the Menon for now.” Mistral spoke at last. “What is that?” “He’s in charge of politics. Did you not read the Kalnian Books?” Her smile faded as she realised where this was heading. “Thinking is burdensome, my dear. I prefer to live in the moment.” After thirty minutes of boring, unnecessary conversations, I screamed at them to shut their mouths up and leave. I hated talking with any person other than myself, Shiro, Kuro and Kilo (in that order), with the exception of a few old people. To be honest, I hated talking at all, and this board meeting had me completely pissed off. They left like a stampede, save for the unconscious man lying on the floor. “Kael.” I called and he froze at the door. “I need to talk with you about our research and development division. But first, Kurotou,” He looked in from outside as I signalled Kael to follow us. “Let’s walk. I need you to do me a favour…”
  9. " The Aether wishes everyone on the Forums a splendid day. We have been writing backstories that have been focused solely on the Aether and in a few parts, the Aether's allies will begin to bask in the lime light. However, we feel that keeping the lore to ourselves is in stark contrast to our values and principles of sharing with others. As such, we have come to a general decision that the Aether backstories be modified to reflect all organisations and activities within Dual Universe (from a role play perspective, of course.) It has been delayed but, war with the Mad men has been long in coming and it will be arriving soon. The "Mad men" are coined from the power hungry maniacs that seized the area surrounding the Ark ship in Dual Universe's original lore; the first of which you can find here. It would be nice to see how the Aether handles some war in the lore, and it will be a thousand times better to work with as many organisations as there are to create a story that is made by the Dual Universe community, for the Dual Universe community and with the Dual Universe community. This is an open invite and we greatly value your response; it's irrelevant if they are positive or negative. Should you want your organisation to be a part of this, believe that we could use your skill and ideas, or if you just want to help us a out a bit, please make your opinion and decision known below. We will get in touch with all of you. Till then, we wish you all a wonderful day. "
  10. The Founding Fathers: Intelligent Protection They rode from the East, Blazing fires in their eyes. Behind the white beast, The sound of a million cries. The Griffin charged forth, Leading the armies of Light. Deserts faced their wrath, Fertile lands—the triumph of their might. 3 Acts of the Lambent Chapter 1:29. The Kalnian Books. Five hours more or a lot worse could happen than me slaying every human in a ten-mile radius. On my “suggestion”, the Oethe Inc. flag had been lowered and placed as gravestone for the dead that fell from the sky. Eidolon could only glower and threaten as I casually threw his glittery toys into the mud and rain. “You seem so willing to court Death. The wedding will be in no time, Oru.” Shiro noted as we walked in the forest while it drizzled slightly. We enjoyed the musty spring smell, stepping over wet and slippery roots, soggy foliage, fallen trees and passing dead and budding stumps. Small trees swayed slightly with their leaves from side to side while the taller ones stood upright whispering and shaking their boughs and branches at whoever was beneath. The light, low drone of tiny droplets hitting leaves, wood and stone was an ambient sound track` on its own. The fierce, howling wind blew gusts of cold air through my shirt and trousers, tugging, pushing and blowing them wherever it wished. The grey sky overhead had lightened up a bit, but the different shades of grey that swirled and moved still looked heavy. “I see no problem with that. Where you thinking of marrying him yourself?” Kuro asked from above, standing on a tree that moved and whispered as the wind passed messages through its leaves. All in all, the absence of any other voices and the ambient song of nature was all I needed to remain calm. But, my friends didn’t seem to notice that. She winked at him, flinging a loaded shell with flawless motion. It hit him on the head and he barely caught himself from falling six feet low. “He’s too much of an eccentric for me,” she looked at the time on her forearm. “to consider that option. We need to get you to sleep—fast.” I gave a tired yawn, stroking Haiiro gently. A few minutes ago, Eidolon was as mad as a March hare when I offered to relegate him to a lesser role. The AI threatened me with loud and tedious talk while I used sarcasm to reply it and mostly to entertain myself. I don’t think it found the repartee funny. “I’m moving Io out of the Defender’s position. Kurotou will do better there—for now at least.” “I would like to believe that you’ve thought this through. But, I’ve known you for way too long. Your answer is:” Kuro mumbled waiting for me to finish. “No.” He sighed and Shiro shook her head. “Why do you always do things like this?” I pretended to think. “Hm…Thinking is burdensome…I prefer living in the moment.” “Perfect. You had one enemy, now you have three. Eidolon is going to hate you even more, Io will turn into a lava-spewing volcano, and Kurotou will be so hot at the thought of working under you and replacing his superior. The heat he produces will be enough to keep the whole planet warm for decades.” I hushed Kuro and turned towards the camp. “I’ll stop by Kilo. If that will make you feel better.” “Believe me, it won’t.” Shiro shot back, casting a dark gaze on me before heading back to the Olympus Ariana. “You know she has a point there. I have a feeling you’ll be using Haiiro a lot more within Olympus Ariana than outside it. No thanks to the Mad men.” I sighed and nodded, yawning again. “I’ll catch you later, Kuro.” He nodded and left, leaving me alone in the woodlands. I looked towards the plains in the west. There between two shrubs, Eidolon hovered. The AI was watching me. Quarter an hour later, I found Kurotou with some guards. “What are you doing here?” Picking daisies for your mother. “Picking daisi— “I barely stopped in time. The other guards looked amused. “Do I look like a three-year-old girl to you, freak?” He asked, irritated at my presence, it seemed. “I came to apologise for what I— “ He cut me off. “I don’t want your apology. Get out of my sight.” I’m trying to be the good guy here, mate. Calm down. I swallowed and continued. “You know, it’s not really a job, because there’s no stated rules for labour protection and transactions. If you could at least— “ He moved up to me and pointed his rifle at my chest. His comrades didn’t look bothered. “You don’t seem to understand what it means to get out of someone’s sight, do you?” This was one of the reasons I stayed away from most humans. Almost every conversation went south before or as soon as it got a compass. “I’m trying to apologise here!” He sneered at me. “You can take that apology and stick it up your a— “ I sighed and slapped his gun away from me, bringing Haiiro to his head with my other hand. The other people moved a few steps backward. “They think me to be an inconsequential person. Do you know what that means?” I saw the cold sweat form on his face and gave an unconcerned smile. From his expression, I must have looked like the Grim Reaper. “You are Lhaeryon now. The Defender and the Defence Department is no more. I’m replacing them with you.” He didn’t answer. “It’s an offer. Take it, or leave it.” Research has proven that holding a gun to someone’s head gives better results on average than asking with a candy in the hand. “I’ll take it.” I bowed slightly, lowering Haiiro. “I look forward to working with you, Lhaeryon. Make sure you see me before the day is up.” With that, I spun on my feet and headed to Kilo. I found the old man polishing some rifles in the armoury. “Do you have some spare time, Kilo?” He looked up through bright eyes. “Not for you, Satoru. Except you’re going to help an old friend out here.” I smiled and picked a rifle from a showcase, grabbing a spray container and a cloth from the adjacent aluminium rack. “Compelling and old school as ever. There are machines to do this kind of thing.” I said, rubbing the barrel of the fire arm with the fabric. “There are certain things a machine can never do as well as a human…Eidolon inclusive.” Yawning, I gave him a low five. His smile faded. “How long have you been awake?” “I’ve got three more hours till I go crazy or find a way to dream.” He placed a pristine gun back on the rack. “Still can’t sleep?” “You know me. I like to show a little ginger when competition steps up.” He cleaned his hands and laughed. “Liar. You are more laid back than the ground.” He paused and looked into space. “What else do you have to do?” I leaned against the wall. “You tell me.” He threw me a rifle. “Eidolon’s got something planned. I hear the wind whispering secrets of a girl your age.” “Hm.” I shrugged and cleaned the rifle. “It doesn’t sound like a romance story to me, if it was, I’d know. I was a real ladies’ man at your age.” “No. You were the pool wrecker and Knox Carter at bars. Remember how you broke a mahogany stool on the bartender’s head in Dortmund? Why did you stop fighting? I looked forward to meeting you at the bars back then.” He took the rifle from me. “It was getting expensive. And I’m an old man now. Why do you spend more time with old people than with your age mates, anyway?” “Shiro says I’m willing to court Death. I’d better learn from those who are courting Her.” His eyes grew wide with amusement. “Well then. Let me tell you something since you want to know as much as we do. Appoint that new girl Eidolon’s waking as the Head of your intelligence department.” “An enemy into a friend.” I noted. He grinned and pushed me out of the door. “Go on. Let’s see whether you’ll be as charming as I am.” I walked towards the AI’s favourite section—the one that had a few humans that were still in cryo-sleep. The drizzle had stopped now, leaving the air moist and the environment wet. Kilo was very much different from most humans—the same went for old people in general. Unlike the younger adults, they had common sense and invaluable experience. Since Earth, Kilo remained one of the few people I could call a friend and I hoped it would remain like that forever. Kurotou met me along the way. “Listen, I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot here.” I kept quiet. “But, it would really help if you could tell me what I’m supposed to do as Lhaeryon.” I casually climbed to the top of the Eidolon’s Section, and waited for him to reach me. Nine minutes later, he came huffing and puffing while I sat calmly at the edge. Once his fit of wheezing had subsided, I stood and pulled him to the edge. He stiffened immediately. Holding Haiiro in my left hand, I pointed at the left and moved my arm over the right. Beyond and all around us was Olympus Ariana. The sunlight was piercing through the grey clouds, bringing wide and bright golden rays of light that shone down on us. Humans engaged in various activities, machinery hummed, Nightelves landed and took off, crafts patrolled the ground and the skies. White Sections stood tall, reflecting the glorious piercing rays, while zephyrs moved the air and added a nice chill to everything they touched. “Protect us.” I said and looked him in the eye. He kept his gaze on the scenery. “That’s a lot to ask.” He whispered. “You think you’re inadequate?” The man kept quiet. “You are afraid?” “The Mad men will attack us here. Petrovsky wants revenge. The Earldom of Mercia is sending delegates. Our scouts report unrest near the Ark ship. The drums of war are beating.” “Let them beat. When the drummers are tired, they will sleep.” His look felt like daggers were thrown at me. “The Mad men are on the warpath. And so are we!” “We’d best get off the war path then. Let the Mad men pass us. When they walk down the warpath and meet no one, they’ll get tired and rest. Or they’ll get on another path.” I said, yawning. Surprisingly, Kurotou smiled. “You’re not half bad, freak. We might get along.” “Even if I’m younger than you?” “That doesn’t matter. Protect, yes? I’ll do it.” “Good.” I said and climbed down. “Figure out how to get down, Lhaeryon.” I said, delighting in his confused face. I snuck into the Section, and searched the rooms. The unlit lights and dark halls made it obvious that there was no activity in here. From deep within I heard something hissing. Quickening my pace, I moved upstairs and searched the rooms. There was a quiet, inaudible exchange of words and it grew silent as I neared the source. Slowing to a walk, I opened the door. Sitting in a white dress was—without doubt—the girl Kilo talked about. Behind her, Eidolon hovered with a victorious air around it. I looked at her and she didn’t lower her gaze. Something inside me shuddered at what it saw in her eyes. “I’m Mistral. Eidolon has told me a lot about you.” She said enjoying my unease, and refusing to break eye contact. I smiled, although I was pretty alarmed. “Then you know my name. You are now Adhonys. Intelligence is your responsibility.” Eidolon moved between us, cutting off our views of each other. “Will that be all, Satoru?” From behind him, Mistral giggled. “Satoru? You mean Oru.” I failed to stifle a yawn, but my mind was racing so hard, I was sure they could hear it revving. “Make sure you meet up with me when I wake up.” I said and stumbled out of the Section. A glance on my right forearm and I knew I had a little over two hours to find some sleep. I took a walk into the plains and laid down there. Hopefully, sleep would come now.
  11. For Blood "Through the darkest night, And the deepest hell, Past the raging winds, And kingdoms that fell: We stayed unbroken. We came as a flood, We left as wildfire. Why? All was for blood." --Recovered text from ancient Malahic Cult. “Suppressive fire! Vortex Three, I need two stand-off payloads. Eidolon, highlight the targets.” I ran out into the dark night, signalling the four soldiers that came with me to get our three diplomats to Vortex Two—the diplomats were of no use here. They nodded and took the surprised women and man to relative safety. “Vortex Two, where are my payloads?!” I shouted as an armoured hovercraft smashed through the make-shift barricade. Locking on the target, I fired a timed explosive into the offending vehicle just as its doors opened for the soldiers to get out. “Get out while you can. We’ll hold them off.” Aditi said, firing a short range homing missile at a jet that came into sight from the east. I nodded and told my brothers to pull back. Two missiles raced from the west, lighting up the sky with brilliant yellow light as they hit home. “Better late than never! Good job, Two.” We retreated to where Meera was impatiently hovering. If the Nightelves had hooters, she would be blasting them non-stop by now. “Hostiles are a quarter mile away. Should I engage?” The pilot of Vortex Three asked. I strapped myself into the co-pilot’s seat and stared down at the failing defence of the Resistance. “Provide support, Meera. Two, get to safety. Three, watch our backs. We’re going in.” We dived into the chaos of flames, smoke and angry screams. As explosion upon explosion rocked the ground, we answered. Fire for fire, rays for rays, death for death and terror for terror. Meera banked the craft hard and my eyes caught Aditi on the ground. Bloodied and bruised, her rifle lay a few feet from her and hostile troops were closing in. “Eidolon, the hatch!” I commanded, even as I unstrapped myself and rushed to the exit. As I jumped out, Eidolon followed me, shooting sporadically in all directions that enemies were. As I approached the ground, he grabbed me for a moment, dropping me hard to the ground. “What was that for?!” I asked, firing at the approaching soldiers. “Don’t expect me to come saving you like that again. I’m not your servant.” I didn’t have time to pick another fight, so I turned towards Aditi. Her eyes were open. “You are stupid.” She said, rebuking me in much the same tone as my mother would have. I shrugged and gently hoisted her onto my shoulder as Eidolon told me she suffered from no internal bleeding. “Meera, I need you to—“ I stared in horror as Vortex One came crashing down behind enemy lines. “Meera!” Jenz’s weak voice came online. “Get yourself out of here, Hisashi…” I left Aditi in the care of Petrovsky and turned back to look at Vortex One. The soldiers were cautiously approaching it, ready to fire at any movement. “Meera? Answer if you copy!” Her voice was slow and confused. “Whaa….?” I sighed in relief and reloaded my firearm. “Vortex Two, go Winchester.” As death rained on our enemies from above, Eidolon and I battled our way to Vortex One. Twice, I was blown off my feet by projectiles that Eidolon barely managed to intercept. For all our effort and the stalwart determination of the Resistance, we were unable to break through to the downed craft. A soldier picked up Meera from the wrecked craft and pointed his gun at her head. “No…No… Please don’t!” I screamed as I blindly ran toward him. “Hisashi, get back now!” It was stupid of me to run out of cover, but I didn’t care. Meera was the closest to family I had, if she died, I would follow in seconds. He paused for a few seconds as if considering whether or not to take her life. As our eyes met, I stopped and waited for him to drop her. In that moment of time, a message was passed. With a pull of his trigger, the soldier sent her to the afterlife and I blacked out. The first thing I remember my sane self doing was putting a laser ray through his forehead. That was the last thing I could clearly remember. I was berserk and flinging death like I had a Death Note with pages to spare. Eidolon was shouting something in my ear. I didn’t care. It was irrelevant. There were only two ways this was going to end. Either they killed me, or I killed them all. Nothing else mattered. They had killed someone of my blood. I growled, snapping a soldier’s neck backward. “For you, Meera. For Blood.”
  12. Reboot We are fallen and destroyed. O how we are trodden under foot! Our glory is naught, but void… Brethren, we must return to the Root: Our erred paths we will avoid. We will not chase gold, fame or the loot. We will round as the cycloid, And we will start over from the Root. Lamentations of Nazrole Chapter 12:13-14. The Kalnian Books. I have always had a problem with tedious structure. From profitable, but snot-nosed mega corporations to the tiny, but nervous start-ups, they just seem to be addicted to mega-bureaucracy and exhaustive order. Tsk. And I’m part of the crappy system. Here I was, simply wishing to make a complaint about some idiot who decided to pinch my trousers while I was on the roof. To make a complaint, I needed to verify my identity (can you believe these people?! They didn’t verify everyone that left Earth while we were still there?), record or type the complaint (not without stating tons of useless information, of course) then queue up at a mile-long line for four hours and check back in a week for progress, because they were still setting up and securing the wireless protocols. Ahou. I deleted the file from the makeshift tab I put together in a couple of days and walked off the queue. If these people were going to waste their precious time on an unnecessary process, I wouldn’t be joining them. I had more important things to do. Let the idiot that stole my trousers keep them. “Heading somewhere, Satoru?” Jonathan asked me, blocking my path while at it. “Yes.” I said and looked him in the eyes. He looked away. Why do people always look away? What in the world are they afraid of? “We need your help with something. Care to give us a hand?” Nope. “What’s it?” He held out a funny looking kind of bag. What in the world was it? It looked like a space backpack from the early 21st century. “It’s a kadpack.” “It sounds like it as well…” I muttered, feeling it. “Sounds like what?” “..and it feels like something only the UN can make: horrible! What is it?” He looked puzzled for a moment, but quickly regained his stoic “don’t care what you say” face. “It’s a device that compresses matter and allows us to decompress it in any form, using this:” He held out a tube. “Interesting. I’ll get to work.” I took the tube and “kadpack” to the roof of my home Section and decided to decipher it. “You found something to interest you, finally.” Kuro said, and nestled up to me. I smiled a bit and connected my gadgets to the UN-made or UN-affiliated device. The data readings were easy to understand and within a couple of hours, I was shaping monoliths and statues with relative difficulty. One of the outlaws from the proximal Novark area walked up to me. “You learn fast.” His accent was thick and Russian. Every outsider is from Russia these days. Should I answer him? Mother told me not to talk to strangers… I built up a mound near his feet, just missing him. “Stop it, Oru.” I complied with Shiro’s soft warning and looked the big Russian in the eye. He turned his gaze away as well. What is it with these people?! “You killed the Grand Architect, yes?” I asked him. He eyes opened like a punctured can of pressurised gas. “No!” “Pity.” “Why is that a pity?!” Shiro quickly jumped in. “He’s not on the best terms with the Grand Architect.” “That’s not true,” I retorted. “He just broke the first law of survival.” The Russian looked confused. “Never look for trouble in the Wild.” His eyes cleared up a bit. “He came to help us— “ “And he died. You killed him then. You couldn’t refuse his help and he couldn’t refuse the chance to be a hero. Both of you killed him.” From the looks of it, I was freaking this one out. “My name is Petrovsky. I’m the leader of the Resistance.” “…Outlaws…” I muttered under my breath. “Eidolon talked about you a while ago. He wants to meet you again.” Shiro gasped and gave me a pitiful look. “Good luck; you’ll need it.” She said and walked off. I shook my head and followed the…Petrol-ski. That what his name, wasn’t it? He tried to start a series of conversations with me, but after I ignored him, built up wood around his feet and shouted at him to shut up, I think he got the message. I wasn’t a hostile person, I just don’t like talking to strangers or people in general, especially when I’ve been awake for close to thirty hours. By the time we’d made it past noisy populated and windy sparse areas, through damaged grass and between machinery, the foreboding sky looked exactly like Petrol-ski’s face: there was going to be some heavy rain soon. He led me past armed guards and into a pristine Section where an AI ruled over and enslaved the men that contributed to its creation and continued existence. The room reeked of upper-class attitude and I could sense most of it was coming from a robot that shouldn’t even have emotions. The walls were whitewashed and the floor was overlaid in black marble. A silver chandelier adorned with over-sized diamonds and sparkling sapphires hung from the roof, amidst pearl lights that shined even more than it did. The e-textile seats looked way too comfortable for the precarious situation that we found ourselves in and I just had to wonder how full of senseless vanity these humans and AI could possibly be. “Satoru Masanori. It’s nice to see you.” Eidolon said, rising from the heavily ornamented white throne. Seriously, robots that fly need to sit on thrones, even if they don’t have legs? Laughable! I chuckled to myself and scanned the bewildered faces of the poor slaves in the over packed room. “You are to reply me when I speak to you, Satoru Masanori.” I would have looked this AI in the eye—if it had any eyes, and I could bet the Novark on this: it would turn its eyes away. An AI like this has many secrets to hide and it would need to hide some scars if it dared to address me in that tone again. “I decide when I’m to reply to a piece of floating metal with a circuit board in its head.” Jonathan shook his head and stepped out. “You are socially inadequate, Satoru Masanori.” “You are physically lacking in adequate humanoid body parts yourself, Eidolon AI.” I replied, trying to step out, until four guards blocked my path. Sigh. Not Io as well… I looked Io in the eye and he looked at Eidolon. “We are not done, Satoru Masanori.” The AI stressed. I spun back and hurled Io’s gun at the AI, hitting it squarely in the middle. “Stop talking, Metal Head!” The gasps in the room should’ve been audible for thirty miles round. Even thunder sounded its voice to add some dramatic noise to the scene. Eidolon was clearly not pleased, and to be frank, neither was I. “We were interested in your capabilities and intellectual capacity. We think you are what we need to move forward, in the light of Hisashi Susumu’s death.” Eidolon said calmly. To be honest, this was sudden… “You…want to make me the Grand Architect?” “Yes. You already did cause quite a ruckus with the Defence Department. It was you that left Olympus Ariana into the forbidden area, wasn’t it? You caused some people quite a headache and their jobs as well.” I looked at Kurotou, who glared at me. “I don’t like the “didi”. Is that a problem?” “Let me ask you a question, Satoru Masanori. Can I call you Satoru?” Eidolon asked. “No.” “Very well. If you were the Grand Architect, would you have gone to the Novark the way Hisashi Susumu did? Would you have intervened on behalf of the Resistance?” “No.” “Why?” “Why should I?” “Explain.” His voice sounded tired. “Intelligence should have gone first and scouted. The Resistance forces are simply being freeloaders with little to offer, no offence, Petrol-ski.” “His name is Petrovsky.” “Whatever.” I muttered. “Protecting and organising ourselves is our priority. Anything else can wait.” Eidolon turned back to the chair and paused. “You are not someone I want to work with. I don’t like you. Let me be crystal clear: I hate you, Satoru Masanori. However, you are what we need: your mind and skill is what we can’t do without in the leadership position. You aren’t the first person on our list, no, you are the last person I would even consider. Nonetheless, you will be the next Grand Architect—rather, you are the Grand Architect.” I whistled and smiled at a boiling Petrol-ski. Outside, the heavy rain began to fall. “Good. I have my first command for the lot of you.” “Oh? So soon?” Eidolon asked, clearly being sarcastic. “Yes. Reboot. Destroy and restart every single thing. Reboot from scratch.”
  13. Destroy You must have thought this was it. You must have said it’s the end. Listen…to my words, attend. Do rocks fall from the sky, And statues come from above, To land like a white dove? Rocks may shatter and crumble And you may think you’ve won, They’ll survive—not as one, But as small bits of the whole. Destroy all, if you may, We’ll live under the sun’s ray. Songs of Adrohen Chapter 149. The Kalnian Books. “He’s taking quite a while; don’t you think?” Kuro asked, moving silently beside me. “Yes.” I yawned a bit and paused to look at the stars. Olympus Ariana—for that is what we survivors named our little territory—was much too crowded and noisy for my liking. I skipped over a root and stared into the grassy plain beyond. With a final sigh and a quick glance at Shiro, I continued moving. I knew I shouldn’t have moved beyond the borders, but who cared? The self-proclaimed Defence Department was already laying down silly laws to “protect” us. They’d have a whole mess on their hands by the time I was done with them. “You shouldn’t go there, Oru.” There she was again, sticking to the rules. I smiled mischievously and turned to Shiro. “You want to stay behind? Sure. Kuro and I will be back soon.” I scratched Kuro’s head and he hooted. Laughing at him, I moved onwards; sure enough, Shiro’s light steps followed behind us. There is something about the purity of undefiled nature that makes it stand apart from anything else. The stars, the forests, the plain. Man knows nothing but to defile: a pity and a shame. My mind wandered to the Grand Architect and his mission to the Novark. “Feeling tired already?” Shiro asked, a few steps ahead. “Nope. Just waiting for your delicate lungs to catch their breath.” “Shut up…” She whispered, lying down beside a gnarled, but fruitful tree. I smiled, half yawning, half fading into the beauty of a silent night…I wished I could sleep, but it wouldn’t come, no matter how I lay on the waving, cool grass that stretched for miles around or how softly the wind blew under the serene starry night. All of a sudden, Shiro sat up, her white hair moving like silky crystal strands in the zephyr. Kuro stirred as well, looking in the direction of Olympus Ariana. “I think there’s trouble back at Ariana, Satoru. We should leave, before “didi” finds us here.” Kuro announced, standing on a low hanging bough. I moaned and sat up, glaring angrily at him. ““Didi” is a poor name for the Defence Department, stupid.” He hissed and started moving. Well, there go my plans for some mental chess matches. I followed, trudging along while he and Shiro moved swiftly to the outskirts of Ariana. As we got closer, I cringed at the noise coming from the camp. “Hurry, Oru! Something’s gone terribly wrong!” Shiro alerted us and disappeared into the crowd. I lost Kuro in the rush and found myself jogging past white three-storey tall Sections, abandoned camp fires, whispering circles of people and heavy machinery. A lot of people were walking around from place to place and scarcely a lip seemed to be still. As I got closer to the gathering, a series of loud wails came from somewhere beyond. A quick voice told me that there was no way I was going through this crowd. Instead, I looked at one of the Sections to the left and the Heavy Duty Excavator that someone carelessly left in the Civilian Zone... Tsk. Do they have to give names to everything? By the time I’d climbed up the boom and hopped from the bucket to the second storey of the Section, I could see Shiro’s feet swinging from the top of the Section’s sloped roof. Climbing in the Tang suit was easy, but not with the loafers on my feet. Kicking them off, I clambered to the top, thankful that Oethe decided not to make the sides of the Sections completely smooth. As I looked out and over the crowd, I ruffled Shiro’s hair a bit, until she threatened me with her rifle. “Hm. Another of the Nightelves has just landed. They lost one to the Arkship folk then.” I noted, sitting down. We looked down at the metallic landing pads, lit up by powerful floodlights that covered the area in an ambient blue hue. The technical officers were already repairing what damage the Nightelves sustained as the soldiers walked out of the craft. Other engineers and soldiers seemed agitated and quite pissed off. “Crap. That means the Mad men will get their hands on our tech.” I shrugged and looked beyond the laser fence into the distance of the grand night scenery the planet had to offer. “Perhaps.” Kuro found his way to us and panted for a while before staring me straight in the eye. “The Grand Architect’s dead.” Great. First day of contact with the fools and they managed to kill Hisashi. Kare wa bakadesu. “What? No tears from you?” Kuro asked bewildered, looking from me to Shiro and back. “Nope.” I answered, stretching. “Me neither. He was an idiot for going out to meet them like that. He should have let Intel. go first.” “You are hard people, you are.” He said and settled down behind us. By the sound of the “wailing wall” from beneath us, it was clear that the people below were quite the opposite. “Who’s going to select the next Grand Architect?” Shiro wondered, fondling her rifle. I scratched my head, trying to get my thoughts in order. It could only be one person—or thing as the case might be. “Eidolon.” Kuro grunted and we laughed. “I’m sure he’s not going to pick you.” Shiro chuckled, aiming at a flood light in the distance. “You kids! Get down from there!” “It’s Hartmut!” Kuro said and slipped down the other side. I looked over the edge of the roof at the annoying man and sighed. “Shiro, are you…and she’s gone.” I muttered to myself, after sighting her long white hair disappear behind the other side and I jumped off the Section. I barely made my landing on the bucket, before intentionally losing my grip and sliding down the boom, tearing my trouser in the process. With a hop and a step, I was face to face with the six foot German body builder. He stared down at me like I was a protein shake. “What were you doing up there, Satoru?” I stared back into his eyes, refusing to answer or break my gaze. You tell me. He lingered for a few seconds and turned his eyes somewhere else. Bingo. “Nothing, Hartmut.” I answered at last, checking my torn trouser. “Don’t tell me that. What were you doing?” “Perhaps you saw me grow fifteen limbs? Or do you have evidence that I contacted the Mad men? Maybe you saw me shoot down a few Sections that are still in orbit?” “Don’t—“ I growled at him and he backed off. “This is why people don’t talk to you, freak.” He spat and turned away. There. You did it again, Satoru. You just had to make him hate you. I sighed and picked my loafers that he’d neatly arranged for me beside the Excavator and walked to my Section barefoot. “Satoru Masanori.” A voice trumpeted as I bumped into something cold and metallic. I looked up and saw a battle scarred Eidolon facing me. From the looks of it, it was clear that I’d spent eight minutes walking into the crowd of people. How did I get here? “Are you or are you not Satoru Masanori?” Eidolon asked. I gave the AI a cold stare and replied. “I am.” “Good.” He lingered for a few seconds more as if he wanted to say something before turning away. The crowd followed him and some strangers that seemed to have come with him. “Who are they?” Kuro asked behind me. “Refugees.” “From the Arkship area?” I gave him a tired look. “From the netherworld, stupid.” He scratched my face and left in anger. I tried walking to my Section again and found it this time. Shiro was already waiting for me on the roof. I was there in a few minutes, after picking a silk shirt and a pair of trousers. “Tell me something, Oru.” I yawned and flexed my neck. “What is it?” “If you are made the Grand Architect in place of Hisashi, what would be the first thing you’d do?” “That’s sudden. I haven’t thought about it.” I lied and closed my eyes. I had already planned to do a total change of the Oethe structure once we landed, but making friends wasn’t my strong point, so I’d have to do things the labour intensive way. “You’re lying to me.” She said, smiling at her rifle. “You’re going to try to make it happen, yone?” Kuro slapped the back of my head. “He is going to do it.” I picked up Haiiro and the thin white ghost lights lit up from the handle, like a glowing liquid filling a cup, until they reached the muzzle of the pistol and the lights circled round. “Yes, I am going to do it: I’m going to destroy everything.”
  14. Don’t Save Me. "I have nothing left to lose, Nay, I want to lose nothing more. What is life but a ruse? What do I have left to live for? More time will bring only rue, More of life will leave me with less. I have family here, true. But, beyond, we’ll all suffer less." Kyle Susumu's Diary, last day of Earth’s existence. Somewhere along the line, I lost count of the number of people I was killing. I left Eidolon to do the job of protecting my back while I cut the strings of fate of every hostile organism in sight. Was I selfish? No. Was I careless? No. Was I a mindless beast? Yes. One after another, lives got snuffed out by my rage, my firearms and my hands. For all the bright flashes of light, the shouts of rage and terror, the sound of feet and ammunition and the stars that watched in serene silence, my mind was bent on only one thing: taking these bastards with me. “You are the most stupid fellow I’ve seen all my life!” I ignored the AI even as a shell blew up less than a score feet away from me. The unforgiving force of the explosion threw me into the air like a rag doll. My face was the first part of my body to hit the flaming frame of a destroyed vehicle. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t black out. I was no soldier, but I understood the benefits and dangers of passing out in the middle of a fire fight. As the pain coursed through my being, I longed for the benefits. Struggling to get on my feet, I spotted a soldier coming towards me. His uniform had neither the insignia of the Resistance nor the design of the hostile forces. I barely made it to my feet before something snapped and I fell down in a heap. A chilling, electric pain charged through my bones as I realised what just happened: my spine had broken. I couldn’t feel my legs and the rest of my body was in too much agony for me to lift a finger or call for help. All I could do was watch him through the rage that clouded my sight. Where was Eidolon? “Are you okay?” This guy had to be a joker. Did I look okay? A bullet ricocheted off the frame, reminding us both that the battlefield wasn’t a place to chat. Then, he made the big mistake of trying to drag me away. If I thought I couldn’t speak, I was right—I screamed. Startled, he dropped me abruptly and looked me over with concern. That caused me even more pain. The stranger laid me on my back and crouched on the ground. Something exploded a distance away from us, followed by the short scream of a combatant. “You have broken bones. Wait here.” I groaned and managed to get some words out of my mouth. “Don’t save me. Save them.” I looked towards the retreating soldiers of the Resistance. His face clouded. “I’m not with them.” I gave him questioning look. “I’m with the Earldom.” What kind of name is “the Earldom”? Probably some conceited people with enough hypocrisy to pretend they didn’t want to control everyone else. Vortex Two was trying to hail me through the communications device. After some quick thinking, I decided to answer. “Vortex Two, find Petrovsky and track my beacon. Come pick me up in ten minutes.” “Yes, sir.” I looked at the Earldom fellow one more time. “What’s your name?” “William.” He said, getting impatient. Talking was hard and I was pretty sure the warm liquid I felt under my back was blood. Whatever had to be done needed to be done fast. “Does the Earldom support these madmen?” “Do I look like I support them?” “You tell me.” He sighed and rubbed his face. “I don’t support them. Listen, we’ve got to get you to safety.” I was about to say something, when I saw a shadow on my chest. “Put your hands in the air!” William looked up and aimed at whoever was commanding. I could tell it was Petrovsky, although I couldn’t see him. “Petrovsky! This…man is not an enemy!” I almost choked on my blood, before William raised my head a little. The Russian came into sight, along with four other Resistance members. I knew there were more, but I couldn’t see them. Where was Aditi? “Where’s Aditi?” I asked him. He bent down and looked me in the eye. “She’s dead.” “What?!” I shouted before gurgled breathing reminded me that I was still going to meet her anyway. He looked at William and I answered the question. “He’s with us. Take my wrist band. It has a beacon in it. Take it and get out. Vortex Two will pick you up.” He sensed the message right away. “You want me to leave you here?” My eyesight blurred for a second and I spat out more blood. “I won’t be of much use. But you, you can help them. My spine’s broken and I’ve lost too much blood. You’re standing in it.” He looked at his feet and barely managed to hide his shock. “I will not leave you here.” William gave an irritated sigh. “Don’t save me. Save your men. I’m dead already. Get out: Vortex Two is searching for you and they already have the beacon’s signal. Don’t let them come here, don’t let them find me.” Whatever he wanted to say, he kept it and nodded solemnly. “You are too good to die alone.” He whispered and stood. My vision darkened five shades and I just had to close my eyes. “I’m not alone. They’re with me, they’re waiting. Go, Petrovsky: I won’t forgive you…if they come…” The sounds became distant, but I heard them leave. The explosions faded into muffled sounds as I tried to open my eyes one last time. All I could see where the stars, twinkling and shining. I had brought the legacy of Oethe to this planet. I had succeeded in my job. Did Eidolon know that I would die? Where was he? A crackled voice spoke gently beside me. It was Eidolon. “Goodbye, Grand Architect.” I grunted and caught a last glimpse of the stars. Kyle, Nora, Jeane, Meera and the rest would be waiting for me, I’d finally get to see everyone again. That was where I was headed now. My final resting place. My home among the stars.
  15. The Aether Backstory Part 2 "You Will Remember Us" "Row upon row, heap upon heap. This is our fate, left to perish. Stride after stride, leap after leap. All our glory, naught but a wish. Cry after cry, "Weep", I hear. "Weep." Terror fills us, as we vanish. You were our hope, our wish, our light. You let us die, by war, by blight. Know this traitor, alone you'll die. Screaming, shouting, alone. Goodbye." Graffiti writing on Terra Ulterior. Author: Unknown I couldn’t believe this was happening. Of all things to go wrong, why propulsion and why now? Gritting my teeth, I looked at the screen. The new planet’s gravity field was just over seven hundred and sixty thousand miles away and the ship was moving at 324,857 metres per second. I did some calculations in my head and sighed. I had just over an hour and fifty-four minutes to avert a catastrophe. “Eidolon.” I called, my voice shaking a bit. He materialised in front of me. “Are the retro-thrusters in good condition?” He shook his head. “Sixty five percent of the retro-thrusters can squeeze out a performance of thirty-three percent capacity. Thirty percent are working in good condition while the remaining five are all but destroyed.” My mouth twitched. Well, if around a third of the thrusters could work, my plan might be feasible. “Where are the majority of the thrusters located?” “At the rear—facing the rear.” I gritted my teeth again. For all the peace that the Aether was meant to offer, I felt none of it. This was going to be one bloody day in the history of Oethe—and probably it’s last. As I glanced at the grim looking AI, an idea blossomed in my head. “Can you to maintain the ship’s current course, while reversing its direction?” “You want me to spin the ship on its vertical axis?” Stupid computer. “Yes, of course. I can. It’ll take me no less than thirty minutes to perform that little trick.” I nodded. “Get to work.” While Eidolon began to slowly position the ship aright, I jogged down the barely lighted corridors, checking for information on the ship that would provide an overlay of the ship’s structure. Somehow, I had forgotten what the ship even looked like, although I was pretty sure I knew at one point. IO.EARS kept on trying to reboot and dynamically repair Section 53, even though it had failed to do so over two million times. My search ended up being nothing but a dangerous waste of time. Eidolon stated that the information was securely locked—another way of saying that I didn’t have the required access level. After thirty-three minutes, the axis manoeuvre was eighty-three percent complete. The most disturbing thing was this: I was completely powerless to do anything, but wait as I left a crucial part of the survival plan to be handled by a computer. Was this the punishment we had to face for leaving our fellow humans behind? I scowled at the idea, disgusted that anyone would even blame us for leaving. Our selection had been determined by the masses, billions of people cast their opinions for who should and who shouldn’t leave. In essence, we didn’t pick ourselves, the people on earth did. While fidgeting with the unease of imminent death, I wiped my wet hands on my shirt. Eidolon had just a few more minutes to complete this manoeuvre, or there was no way I was going to be able to make this work. “You will survive.” I remembered Nora telling me. She was the kind of person that’s a mother and a friend to a younger in-law. “You will survive. You’ll go out there and you’ll make sure that nothing goes wrong. You have no choice. You’ll remember us and survive.” “I will survive…” I muttered to myself, lost in thought. “Grand Architect, the manoeuvre is complete.” Eidolon said, pretending to be out of breath. I acknowledged him with a small grunt, and he growled. Ignoring him, I set to work. “How much fuel do we have left in the retro-thrusters?” I asked, keeping my eyes glued to the screen as the control interface rose from the floor. “Fifty-three percent is left.” My mouth twitched again. “Good.” Carefully and slowly, I pushed the rear-facing retro thrusters to half capacity, using the side retro-thrusters to stabilise the ship and maintain the course. Eidolon aided me by showing the simulated course and the jargon of calculations only a mad man would need at this time. Reduction in speed was minimal at first, but the structure began to slow…by 0.184 percent. “This is crazy…” I muttered to myself. The AI chuckled. “Can’t you even pretend to be bothered?!” I demanded in frustration. He shook his head. “No, my dear friend. I can’t. But, I could override IO.EARS and attempt to force the engines to start—ignoring any errors that could wipe us all out, of course.” I gaped at him, somewhat excited, more infuriated. “Couldn’t you have told me sooner?” He shrugged in a carefree manner. “You didn’t ask.” I dismissed him with one sweaty palm and wiped my face with the other. Ten minutes left and Section 53 finally came online, although at less than five percent capacity. With all retro-thrusters working overtime, we had dropped our velocity to 240,000 metres per second. Once we entered, the planet’s gravitational field, things could change drastically. For one, our gained progress could be nullified in mere minutes. An alarm blared, sending me out of my skin and I heard the structure make a terrible groan. “Eidolon! What did you do?!” “We have lost control of all the thrusters at the front of the ship. They are accelerating. I warned there could be errors, Grand Architect.” I was about to scream out my life on the emotionless AI, until I had another crazy idea. “Switch off the Section 53.” “What?” I shot him a sharp glance and turned off all the retro-thrusters. An hour later, we were moving at blistering speed of 417,087 metres per second and three-quarter of a million miles away from the planet’s surface. “Restart Section 53—at full capacity.” I said, lost in stupor. “You’re a mad man.” “Maybe so. But, I am the Grand Architect and you have no choice but to obey.” He nodded and brought the main propulsion online. The ship groaned in a terrifying manner, the stress sure to cause some loss in the structure’s integrity. “How many detachable Sections are there on the ship?” He acted like he was thinking and replied at his leisure. “Fifty-nine.” “The majority of the people are housed in Section 32, yes?” “No. The majority are housed in Section 39. Two hundred and ninety thousands of them.” I snapped my neck in his direction. “You were unaware that your batch was the smallest and by no means the only one. Oethe wanted it that way—and to answer your next question, there are over a million people on this ship; all of them housed in detachable individual structures that came together to form Terra Ulterior while all of you were in cryo chambers.” I felt like I’d been slammed with a planet. A timely alarm warned me that I was about to be. We were less than two hundred thousand miles away from the looming planet’s surface and our speed was still dangerously fast. “Looks like this is it, Grand Architect. It’s been quite a ride.” I shook my head and stood up from the Prime Seat. “Prepare for immediate detachment of all sections. When I give the word, you force one last blast of all the engines to drop our speed one final time. When I tell you to split the ship up, you do so on my word. Understand?” Eidolon gave a wry smile. “Yes, of course.” With that, I ran off to my Cocoon and activated it. “One hundred and twenty-thousand miles away from contact.” The AI said over the almighty blaring of alarms that engulfed the ship. I waited for a few minutes and Eidolon updated me again. “Seventy thousand miles, Grand Architect.” After a few seconds, I gave the word. “Now!” The ship groaned and jerked. Somewhere in the ship, a lot of things ripped open. “We’ve dropped speed to 298,800 metres per second and dropping.” I waited for hours, it seemed, while Eidolon kept telling me our distance to the planet. At a distance of two thousand miles, I gave him the command to detach. Our current speed was still 75,908 metres per second, but as individual pieces, we had a greater chance of reduction in speed. Once we entered the planet’s atmosphere, the friction would drop our speed even further and each Section’s retro thrusters and parachutes would provide a safe fall. “I have detected signs of human life on Alioth, Grand Architect.” Eidolon said as I felt my section jerk. “That’s a nice name, Alioth…” I thought back of Nora and Kyle. “I will remember you, and I will survive. I promise.” Darkness covered everything and silence enveloped my being. An eternity passed and finally we touched down on Alioth’s surface. Shaking, ecstatic and tired, I stepped out onto the lush surface. My space suit said the pressure was stable and friendly and from the looks of the landscape, there were miles upon miles of inhabitable land. A small spherical pod flew up to me and sighed. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Eidolon asked. I nodded. “Not the planet. Up there in the sky.” I looked up at the fiery debris burning up in Alioth’s atmosphere. Terra Ulterior had performed its first and last mission well. Oethe had nothing to fear: it would rise again. “The Aether is a dangerous place, don’t you think, Grand Architect? A single mistake and space would’ve been our grave.” I shrugged and turned back to catch the sight of the remaining Sections gracefully falling down in the clear skies and bright sun. “Whatever, it might have been, to the people that were on earth, it’s their hope and our home.”
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