Chapter 23.1 – United.
The four gather in the warm motel room. The discussion had been considerable, however a decision had to be made, and none of them wanted to be responsible for doing such a monumental thing on a world wide scale. The television light flickers across the ceiling and walls as the occasional channel still operating shows the rapidly changing social climate of the world.
In a matter of hours military industries and dictatorships had fallen. Other’s had risen. However civilians who had long suffered at the hands of radical policies that promoted oppression and the invasion of people’s private lives had chosen to rise up against it. Many buildings that housed oppressive divisions of government burned or smoldered, the riots still going in many capitals. The cascade evolution had reached nearly every person on earth. The four were still happy that the effect of the third attack hadn’t pressed more people into the gold levels. Many who made it to blue still suffered, but ideals and families had managed to temper many catastrophes. Jason sat watching as a mob burned down the United States CIA headquarters, four of its top leadership were strung with rope to giant crosses as people threw food and trash at them.
Many people had used the new found powers to break in and get answers. The answers they wanted were exactly what they expected. This sudden thought struck Jason heavily.
“I have to do it. These mobs, these uprisings, they’re rising up to stop the corrupt. These people went in hoping that, what they believed was unfounded. They hoped their fellow man wasn’t such a terrible person, but those aren’t the majority of people. Most people are good.” Jason exclaims getting to his feet and pacing in the room.
“Yeah, but transferring that kind of knowledge on such a grand scale.” Sophia says.
“If not now, then when? How much damage, how far backwards are we going to go until we have to repair this and move forward? He didn’t transfer this knowledge to me just because I might fancy knowing what happened to his people. I walked the same path he did. Now I can show the people of this world what can happen if we don’t band together. Not out of fear, but out of moral good.” Jason responds.
“I don’t want to go back to the world we left behind.” Amelia says getting up and hugging Jason.
“But what of the data from the Coalition member you received.” Ryan points out.
“That is of no use if we don’t stop killing and exterminating ourselves. It’s settled. It has to be done.” Jason says breaking from Amelia. Jason walks to the side of the room placing his hands together. He pulls in white, black and gold energy in massive amounts as he opens his gate to 130%
“It’s so vast.” Ryan says.
“I’ve only seen it twice before. He destroyed a whole planet to try and save one of our refugee ships. A day later it was ambushed and destroyed while we were out of range. The next time we teleported back in time.” Amelia says staring at Jason. The orbs stop as Jason arranges all he had gathered.
“The complexity of it is.” Sophia say
“Unimaginable.” Ryan finishes Sophia’s thought. The orbs finally line correctly. Jason closes his eyes arranging all of the thoughts and those of the Ianal man into a stream of consciousness that would be easiest to understand. He avoided words as much as possible focusing on thoughts, ideals, and dreams for the future. Hope to drive mankind together. He activates the ability sending the thoughts out. The orb expands imparting on each person it passes the knowledge Jason wishes them to have. Each person see’s the fighting Jason went through, the loss of family and friends. Having his own child sacrifice himself to save him during an attack. The constant attacks by the Coalition as humanity refused to fight together, and what it cost the people as they were picked off by hunting squads.
The camera man stops as the orb reaches their location, the mob in the background quieting as they relive all of the experiences. They look around each realizing that what they were doing wasn’t helping. The mob begins to disperse as some sit and cry, others resolved to make a better new world. Amelia and Sophia hold each other crying. Ryan stares at the back of Jason, his mouth wide open.
“You saw me die?”
“You were more powerful than me in the beginning, more spiteful I guess, you lost a lot more than I did at the outset, both your children, your wife, all your family really. You saved my life, but weren’t powerful enough to save your own. I swore when I came back that I’d make sure you were powerful enough to never lose like that again. You still aren’t there yet, but I’ll make sure you are.” Jason says as he turns to stare back at Ryan.
23.2 – unravelling!
“Take this.” The man says dropping a gold disk with black lines etched in it. Hocdin picks up the foot wide disk from in front of the Ianal man. The disk shimmers for a second before a holographic displays pops up from the center of the disk.
“What is this?” Hocdin asks looking down at the man.
“It is nearly 2000 cycles of thoughts, observations, events, knowledge. Keep it safe. I suspect if anyone knows you have such an object there isn’t many places in this galaxy you could go to hide.” The man answers.
“Why trust it to me?” Hocdin asks a bit flattered.
“You are the last one I will see, and perhaps the best one.” The man says. The hum in the distance ends but now it is replaced with an odd sound of explosions in the distance. Hocdin looks up but the bright light from the mirrors and the cloud cover would prevent anything from being seen. The man looks up a bit entertained by something. He looks down to stare Hocdin eye to eye. “You must go. I think, now that I have been found out, I am relieved to have finally decided what will happen.”
“What are you talking about?” Hocdin asks very confused as he looks around, the sounds becoming more numerous.”
“oh ho ho, no you will have to see for yourself. I believe I have one other bit of warning. A warning that is vital it gets to the right people. One such person is already making arrangements to bump into you. The warning, don’t trust the Farasha, Eiris or Ling. While they are friends today, they were enemies yesterday and tomorrow they will be just the same. The Shourou are natural enemies of the Neerkin and the Vino, they form one side of the triangle balanced in our galaxy. While they use you for their own ends now. When they have no more races to exterminate, they will turn on the Draia.” The man says his words shocking Hocdin, but in a few moments it passes and he realizes everything the man said was true. Hocdin nods to the man and goes to say something but the man stops him. “You have to get back to your ship and leave, now.” The man finishes forcefully. Hocdin turns and runs out of the central hall.
It was only at this moment that Hocdin realizes the orange mist that had permeated everything had dwindled significantly. Reaching the outer overhang where the old man had left his staff Hocdin realizes the cloud cover was completely gone. Looking up he can see a vast shielding grid being bombarded from space. Hocdin stops for a few seconds taking in the unusual sight. It was nearly impossible to see a shield from a gate user so vast but to see it being bombarded from space like it was left both a terrifying and sense of wonder. With the explosions of yellow, orange, red, and the occasional blue and purple, the sight was like a light festival all above him. Hocdin would have stood there mesmerized by the sight had the ground not started shaking. Realizing he was behind on time he generates black spheres teleporting most of the way down the long walk way to his ship. Reaching the rear of the ship the back door slowly opens giving Hocdin enough time to look back and see the top levels of the tower collapse. With the collapse Hocdin looks up to still see the shield there letting him know the Ianal man was still alive.
“Engines on.” Hocdin orders as he sprints through the cargo area of the transport. The dull groan of the old transport engines come on as he pulls open a storage pouch at the front of the cargo hold and puts the circular disk in it for safe keeping. He jumps into the cockpit as all of the display data illuminates his face and gear. Tactical display shows a full fleet in space bombarding the shield. Hocdin keys in a sequence of points around the planet. The ground shakes again violently forcing Hocdin to power the engines up to lift off the planet. He spins the ship around to face the tower. The ground shakes even more violently demolishing the remainder of the structure. There at the center the Ianal man still sat. Hocdin looks on his face one more time seeing a happy smile.
It hurts to do it but Hocdin presses the button to activate the escape route. The transport speeds up whizzing by the rubble of the tower. Only a minute passes as the transport makes its way over the surface to the far edge of the continent and away from the bombardment. Exiting the Atmosphere the mass of ships become more pronounced on the horizon. Hocdin checks his scanners but he is unable to detect any of the quarantine stations that had been in orbit. He is extremely confused but eventually the scanners are able to pick up debris where they had been. He keys in instructions hoping answers will come back.
“The fleet on scanners is not emitting any identification frequencies and the central combat command does not list any fleet deployment.” The computer responds. Hocdin knew immediately it was a hidden fleet the Supreme Commander had built some time ago. He wondered if the fleet actually housed the Supreme Commander, but he dismissed it. Stopping at the edge of visual sensors the computer finally shows a symbol on one of the two capital ships in the fleet.
“General Letum.” Hocdin says out loud, not entirely surprising to him that the lackey of the Supreme Commander would be the one leading this strike on the last remnants of the Valo Kal Horun religion. The quakes on the planet were soon so powerful that even from space the movement of the planet’s surface looked to be in a constant flux.
“Emergency! Unnatural gravity fluctuations emanating from planet Draenian.” The computer recites. Hocdin sits, his eyes not leaving the planet. Deep cracks form in the surface as rocks fly into the air, the fleet of ships spins and twirls as they try to retreat but even the few that are able to right themselves enough to push their engines to full are unable to move any further from the planet. Huge segments of the planet vaporize into large amount of black and white energy. A loud and annoying buzzer sounds in the cockpit of the transport, the gate sensor on the central display showing a bright gold circle with the numbers in the center saying 130%. Many of the less powerful ships in the fleet are sucked to the surface of what’s left of the planet creating giant clouds of debris from the explosions of their cores. The sight oddly reminded him of a black hole in its totalitarian approach of what was there. He wondered if the ships had tried to communicate for help but expected the Ianal man would not have allowed that.
Only a few hand full of ships remained desperately trying to stay out of the planet’s atmosphere. The mass of energy that had been created from the disintegration of the surface of the planet flows around the remaining mass of the planet in circles. The flow moves faster as the remaining Coalition fleet ships are pulled inside its range. Hocdin moves himself to the edge of the seat preparing for anything. In a split second the planet and the ships disappear. Hocdin looks left to right, up to down trying to find out what happened. The computer searches for anything in the immediate area but could not find anything. He looks down at the display as the transport expands its search to the whole system eventually finding a hint.
Hocdin powers the ship up and pilots it to the edge of the system eventually seeing the orange tinted Draenian planet as millions of pieces, parts of it slowly being picked up by gravitational force of the system and being carted off into an orbit. He scans for survivors but finds no life signs or transmissions of any kind. After a few moments he finds a few pieces of wreckage that the computer identifies as belonging to Letum’s capital ship. Trace amounts of organic matter line the metal pieces. The stresses of the ability that destroyed the ship and planet also took care of the crew. A small piece is identified and categorized as part of the helmet visor of a Black Guard soldier.
The sensors beep wildly. Hocdin looks down then out as he sees a piece of the planet flips wildly in the center of the debris. On one surface the body of the Valo Kal Horun, his face still showing the entertained smile.
“Take me home.”
Chapter 23.3 – To corrupt?
The woman went wildly between anguish and anger as she was unable to control anything about the gate. As she closes her eyes the scene comes back of her family’s death, her flying through the air as she screamed. She opens her eyes again the vision of their four faces come back, the uncaring faces of those who took her family. She yells getting back to her feet and grabbing a spoon from a table, one of the few things still left not littering the floor. She heaves it against the far wall releasing some anger.
With the anger subsiding again she dips back into depression and sorrow causing her to fall to her knees and weep. The scream of the gate comes back into her mind as she feels something coming towards her. The door knocks lightly from someone outside. She growls angrily and shouts for the murderers to leave. Two more knocks come through the door angering her. She picks up a pot from the floor and throws it at the door as hard as she could. The door dents from the pot. No longer wanting to wait the door is kicked open, cold air gusting into the cottage. There in the door stood the tall thin frame of the Vino Kuren. She steps into the one room home looking unimpressed with the surroundings. She says something that the human woman is unable to understand. Two more Vino come in one flanking her right the other her left.
“I’ll kill you!” She says lashing out. The lightning had been a surprise but was easily swept aside by Kuren. She says something to the woman but she is unable to understand. Kuren changes the language but the human woman knows nothing other than her native language. The act angers Kuren and it’s obvious to the woman that the three begin to fight among themselves. Eventually Njecki is able to get Kuren and Durosis to agree. Njecki moves forward his hand out with the palm up. The woman becomes frightened by him coming closer but as he nods to his hand her anxiety passes a bit. She places her hand on his but it passes through in a second causing her to recoil in fear.
“Can *$# understand $%?” Njecki says.
“I understood some.” The woman replies her brows furled in curiosity.
“Please.” Njecki responds with his hand still out as he motions for her to touch again. She puts her hand on again letting it meld into his for a few seconds.
“Now, can you understand?” Njecki says into her mind. Her eyes go wide. Knowledge of the gate and abilities come flooding into her mind like memories she had already experienced. Njecki pulls back from her as two more Vino come into the room. One whispers with Njecki, while Kuren steps forward.
“We want you to join us. We can make you very powerful. Train you to be the strongest user ever.” Her tone was soft and sweet, very manipulative. The woman still filled with anger had no time for such a blatant exploitation of her power. Now that she knew how to use the gate she could feel how immensely powerful she was, much greater than those in front of her. Anger welling up in her she fires off a bolt of lightning hitting the Vino man that was still talking with Njecki. The man flies through the corner post of the cottage and lands 30 feet into the snow. Njecki turns, anger filling him. The woman generates a sphere of air using it to destroy the house. The four Vino jump backwards landing out of immediate danger.
“I have all I need from you! Now that I have this power I will exact my vengeance!” The woman yells as the snow moves around her. The fourth Vino cocks his head slightly.
“Vengeance, with that kind of skill? You wouldn’t even kill one of them. In fact you killed an unaware weakling from our weakest caste. Don’t think to highly of yourself!” The Vino man yells back. Njecki looks over furious at the man talking so low of the one who had been killed. The man pays little attention to Njecki’s stare. “Use two attacks against me, if I am even phased I will cede that you are better than us. If not you will join with me and I will show you how we get revenge for what is done to us.” She laughs wildly before generating a massive fireball at the group, the other three Vino teleporting away from them. The fireball hits a shield in front of the Vino. The steam from the fireball evaporating the snow clouding the vision of the Vino but he dismisses the shield regardless.
A gust of air from an air pressure bomb blows a giant hole into the cloud of steam. There at the other end the woman smiles letting off a massive lightning strike from her hands. The Vino man stands there as it flies hitting him directly, the lightning arcs around his limbs until he finally pushes a mass of energy out causing the lightning to dissipate into the ground. The display had its effect on the woman as she stood there eyes wide before anger and hopelessness welling up in her. The vino man walks towards her grabbing her shoulder, his arm becoming translucent and melding into her body. As the two meld more of his experiences of loss and anger flow into her mirroring her own. Finally he shows her the attacks on the Coalition forces, the sense of accomplishment as he gets revenge for his family being murdered. With each Coalition death by his hands a greater sense of satisfaction floods the Woman.
“Yes, yes, yes yes yes yes!” She yells out.
“If you come with us we will train you, give you everything you need to kill all of them. Right now your abilities don’t even need me to guard myself and I am not as powerful as your adversaries.” The Vino says. Njecki looks on a bit disgusted by the man’s lies. Njecki could see the attack bouncing around the shielding he used that was just above the skin level. Something impossible to do if you are moving, but standing still it was easy for him to setup and pull off with her lack of experience. Njecki turns back to look at the body of the Vino she had killed, he had been there to greet him in the cargo bay of the fleet, and aboard the enemy fleet command room.
“I will join you, teach me everything and I will have my revenge for my family!” The woman yells. Kuren taps a few buttons on her wrist.
“An energy wave is coming.” One of the Vino says coming out of the transport as it touches down behind the group.
“We must leave.” Kuren says looking at the woman. The Vino man removes his arm from her body forcing it to become solid again then helping her through the snow to the vessel. Njecki goes to pick up the man’s body but Kuren grabs him and shakes her head. He looks back unhappy but moves to get on the transport. The door slides shut. The transport banks up and accelerates to exit the planet as quickly as possible. Njecki leans against the back corner. Five other Vino press their hands against the walls of the transport hiding it from sensors and gate users.
“Energy wave approaching.” A Vino says lunging forward to grab Njecki. As Njecki is pulled forward the clear energy sphere clips through the rear door of the transport. The sphere hits Njecki barely but imparts all of the sensations and experiences into him. Njecki falls forward from the Vino yanking him.
“Were you hit?” Durosis says looking directly down at Njecki. Njecki looks up a bit angry.
“No I was just pulled to the floor.” Njecki responds hostile getting to his hands and knees.
“I’m sorry leader.” The Vino who grabbed him says as he lays on the floor further into the transport hold.
“It’s ok soldier, you were protecting another.” Njecki answers, placating the soldier.
“Don’t protect me though.” Durosis says in a monotone voice looking at the Vino on the floor. Njecki shakes his head at Durosis before getting up and dusting off his pants.
“The strong one is tracking us. Your five are not powerful enough. We need you to help out.” Kuren says, her tone almost accusatory and with a sense of entitlement.
“Well there were six until one was slaughtered for a bauble.” Njecki replies angry at the demands
“This is no different than our assaults on Vesicia and Ashk, remember that.” Kuren answers back unhappy at him. Njecki puts his hands on the rear wall of the transport assisting the other five in cloaking them.
Chapter 23.4 – Surrounded
“Siszero, where have you been?” The booming voice of the Supreme Commander comes through the speakers.
“Busy training my replacement.” Siszero says knowing the answer would anger him. Siszero looks at the display of the Generals table at the central fleet station. Not waiting for a response Siszero continues. “Aldorin and I were out of contact with the station for some time. Is everything alright? I don’t see a lot of Generals there.”
“Siszero, there has been a lot of issues.” Quoris says his tone the usual calm and appeasing tone. Siszero had never taken him for the dangerous one he actually was, so he mentally makes note to watch him more carefully. The middle of the table illuminates showing a holographic display of the Coalition territory. A huge segment goes from gold to red. Quoris clears his throat before continuing. “Neerkin forces in response to our fight and acquisition of the weapon have started a full invasion of our territory. General Kirii responded to the alert signal by our watch stations. About half of her fleet was disabled or destroyed. An entire strike fleet was destroyed. General Kirii held her ground while her ship was boarded. Most of her crew escaped unharmed, but General Kirii suffered extensive damage and medical staff believes she will never be able to walk and may have paralysis on half of her body.”
The news catches Siszero off guard. He had heard of fleet conflicts with the invading Vino but Kirii didn’t deserve that. Of course many of the Coalition military didn’t deserve it. The display shows some of the tracking of the Neerkin fleets as they pushed forward eliminating bases, resupply points, and strike fleets.
“Is that why we lost communication?” Aldorin asks. Quoris looks from the hologram of Siszero to that of Aldorin.
“Yes, a Neerkin fleet advanced to this station. I was able to get my fleet and trap them. Their entire fleet was decimated. I believe it was their 743rd fleet which came to reinforce the Neerkin fleet that was in combat with General Kirii’s fleet. I will warn you Aldorin, your fleet has entered an area where we have seen two Neerkin fleets hunting. One was involved in the battle with General Kirii. We believe the General who commands that fleet was who personally led the assault on Kirii’s ship and ultimately defeated Kirii herself.” Quoris explains. The news showed a stark image of their condition.
“I’ve ordered all fleets back to our borders to deal with this threat. I’m sure the Neerkin believe things will go their way but this is not 300 cycles ago.” The supreme commander’s voice booms in the room.
“Where is General Letum?” Aldorin asks, partially afraid of what his absence can mean.
“He was sent on a mission to investigate what went wrong with the weapon you were using, however we haven’t heard from him since.” Quoris answers before looking up at the symbol of the Supreme Commander.
“We fear his capital ship with all crew aboard is dead. Draenian itself has been teleported to the edge of the system and now lies in pieces scattered, likely to form an asteroid belt.” The Supreme Commander says, his voice giving off an unusual sense of loss. A sly smile crosses Aldorin face.
“I grieve for the crew of his vessel.” Aldorin says. Quoris sighs before waving at Aldorin.
“What news do you have?” Quoris asks.
“Vino landed a hundred thousand Vesician troops in power assisted suits, along with three hundred thousand Vino troops. Mirhee attempted to keep his fleet out of combat with the Vino fleet which was almost equal in size and contained a number of our own battleships and carriers, likely commandeered from the quarantine fleet that was in orbit over Vesicia.” Aldorin says stopping to pick up a pad and skim through it. He looks back up and continues. “However Mirhee’s ground post was overrun by an advanced strike team while Ashkelris massed across the continent to crush every defense line and station. Estimates put it at a nearly two to one kill to death, however the defenses get thinner the more they pushed in to the territory. Nearly two million killed in action in the first half milli-cycle for almost four million Ashkelris dead. By the end of the milli-cycle we had at least five million killed in action, half a million wounded, and another half million missing. Though they are likely dead.
Mirhee is dead. He was killed attempting to escape the base after killing the Hoinok caste leader Kildeo while he was attempting that weird ability Kildeo liked to use. Mirhee’s adjunct pulled him out of the command building but Mirhee was struck a dozen times by weapons fire while they were retreating. The adjunct was killed after assuming control of the space fleet and engaging the Vino forces. At two milli-cycles, sensors say nearly 19 million Ashkelris, Vesicia and Vino are dead, mostly Ashkelris. However it means nearly ten million of our own soldiers have fallen as well, leaving nearly five million soldiers still on the planet when the last remaining commander of Mirhee’s fleet assumed control and ordered the full retreat. I met up with them and am guiding them back to the base, but the fleet is in shambles. No ship is without damage. We’ve had to offload personnel and abandon five ships so far. We will likely lose another two before getting there.”
“Is anything in that quadrant not in Vino hands?” Quoris asks. Aldorin looks down chuckling a bit before looking back up at Quoris.
“Earth.” Aldorin responds. The answer was unusual and not what Quoris or the Supreme Commander had expected.
“General Siszero.” Quoris says turning to look at where the hologram of Siszero would be. Nothing stood there. Quoris spins to look at the icon of the Supreme Commander. Quoris types into his console in the table pulling up the monitoring cameras in the transport that Siszero and Roark had been using. It sat empty. He rewinds the video to show them leave from the transport to another unmarked one.
“I guess, I’ll let you two talk.” Aldorin says ending his communication.
“Surrounded on all sides, out numbered, out gunned. Betrayal could be at any corner, just like 70 cycles ago.”
“Is Letum dead?” Quoris asks ignoring the Supreme Commanders statement.
“Yes, he led the black guard fleet as well. All of them are gone.” The supreme commander answers.
“Several members of the cult escaped Dakal. Their transport led our soldiers into a trap. We only got a single message back. It said they found a sect intact and that it was the largest one on record. Without the Black Guard fleet, I don’t know if we will survive a battle with a sect larger than the prime sect Rustin dismantled 51 cycles ago.” Quoris says.
“If we survive the Vino and Neerkin. Surrounded indeed.”