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Tim0307

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And then everything went wrong.. what a cliffhanger! Still an exciting chapter regarding new discoveries and science although the 'wrong' team is using it.

Congratulations on your million plus word count!
 
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Midnite Duke

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Congrats on 1M Words! :cool: Someone has watched too many episodes of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel. The letting of the corpses go to deep space was very touching. What if instead of a line or a closed circle, time is a spiral? Most Important News: PLUTO is a Planet!
 
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Macavity116

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And then everything went wrong.. what a cliffhanger! Still an exciting chapter regarding new discoveries and science although the 'wrong' team is using it.

Congratulations on your million plus word count!
Thank you. With just two chapters left in this story, I'm hoping I can end this prequel on a high note!
Congrats on 1M Words! :cool: Someone has watched too many episodes of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel. The letting of the corpses go to deep space was very touching. What if instead of a line or a closed circle, time is a spiral? Most Important News: PLUTO is a Planet!
Many thanks.

The brief scene of Akira relasing the Hiigarans is meant to be a final confirmation that Akira was lying (or at least enhancing the truth) about her own backstory during Faith in Chaos. When she told the story of encountering Hiigaran corpses to Mira in Faith, Akira's dialoge suggested she was very callous and cold with S'jet's body. We now know this is false.

Akira might have taken a turn for evil at some point in her life, but she does still have a soft side. It's just hidden very well.

I do love time travel stories that make use of spiral images and symbology. The video game Life is Strange instantly comes to mind for me.

I am just old enough to remember being taught "Pluto is a planet" in elementary school. I was in 6th Grade and I thought I knew everything. Then I went to middle school and realized I knew absolutely nothing, including the true nature of Pluto. It was a strange time. o_O
 
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The 1M Celebration, Part one

Macavity116

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So here we are.

The Stormbreaker Universe, a collection of childish stories I first made up out of boredom in class nearly two decades ago, has grown and expanded beyond all reason. There were dozens of disparate and disconnected tales, each one linked together and interconnected by only a single detail: a nameless evil time-traveler, motivated by selfishness and greed.

Then I started writing things down in early 2018. I wrote three epic stories that merged my own imaginary universe with the worlds of XCOM, Homeworld, and Stellaris. If you removed all aspects of these three games, you would be left with The Legend of Whetu Kealoha, My Father’s War, Childhood Memory, and scattered bits and pieces of Faith in Chaos. That’s the world of Macavity116.

I really thought I could end this series at The Stormbreakers. But users like @HistoryDude and my friends from the battalion couldn’t let things die there. When I completed The Stormbreakers, roughly 40% of my universe had been preserved in writing. Now we are in the final act of All Our Sins Remembered, and nearly 70% of the story and worlds I’ve invented has been posted to the internet. This week, I’ve reached a milestone I never would have thought possible just one year ago…

The Stormbreaker Universe has officially exceeded an overall word count of…

One.

Million.

To give you an idea of how utterly massive the Stormbreaker Series has become, I looked up the longest pieces of literature in Human history. Did you know somebody has written a Lord of the Rings fanfiction that is over five million words long? People are capable of writing some utterly massive stories, and now I can count myself among those people. As you can tell, I’m feeling very proud right now.

For reference, the Stormbreaker Universe as a whole is now longer than the following published book series:
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy plus The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  • The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
  • The Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card
  • The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy franchise by Douglas Adams
  • The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
And by the time All Our Sins Remembered comes to an end, just a few weeks from now, this series will come within spitting distance of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise. (she wrote 1,084,170 words about a certain boy wizard) Right now, I predict I will fall short of Rowling’s benchmark by a matter of about 30,000 words, and then immediately blow past her number when I start writing The Last Heroes, the next and true final installment in the Stormbreaker Universe.

Numbers alone do not make a book series great. Narnia, Lemony Snicket, and Anthony Horowitz’s Power of Five come to mind as examples of excellent series with shorter installments. (If you’re willing to briefly ignore the legendary, yet massive, final book in the Power of Five) Since The Legend of Whetu Kealoha, I have been attempting to make the individual chapters of my stories shorter. Have you noticed how long it’s been since I’ve made you sit through 20,000 words at once?

But enough about numbers. It’s time to celebrate! Here’s my agenda for the festivities:
  • The Origins of the Stormbreaker Universe, plus the original version of the Akira/Jericho conflict.
  • The original ending of After Everything (As requested by @HistoryDude almost a year ago)
  • Character trivia, cool details about the characters that didn't make the final cut
  • FANART!
  • Preview: The Last Heroes
Because I’ve got so much planned, I’m going to break up the celebration across multiple posts. We’re going to have ourselves a small party in this thread because I feel like I’ve done something awesome and I want to share my happiness and joy with you. Let’s get started!
 
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The 1M Celebration, Part two

Macavity116

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The origins of the Stormbreaker Universe and some earlier versions of the story​


So, let me tell you a little about how these stories got from my head to these forums, also what the earlier version of this universe looked like:

As I’ve said a few times before, my little sister and I made up the majority of my characters and the base storyline for the SU roughly between 15 to 17 years ago. Back when I was young, I spent so much time daydreaming in class or drawing maps of Trecta (my fantasy world that eventually became Partoga) that a few officials at my school were worried that I might be suffering from a learning disability. Before I was ten years old, I remember being screened for ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, and some kind of personality disorder by the school’s councilor. Once the term “Maladaptive Daydreaming” was coined, people started throwing that one at me too. But I was never diagnosed with anything. I just had a hyperactive imagination and was generally an out-of-control child.

When I was in First Grade, I was the first student in the class to learn how to read fluently. All of the other kids struggled with pronunciations and syllables and context clues, unable to get through picture books without help. Meanwhile, I was in the back of the room blazing my way through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, having the time of my life. I loved reading so much that my parents built me a small library in our house.

There were two books in particular that are directly responsible for the creation of the Stormbreaker Universe. I read them dozens (and possibly hundreds) of times and still have the badly battered copies on my shelf today: The Kid Who Ran For President and its sequel, The Kid Who Became President, both by Dan Gutman. I absolutely loved those books and constantly daydreamed about being in those stories. Over a couple of years, the fantasy changed. I imagined my dad being elected President, and I pictured myself going to the White House and having similar adventures to the eponymous kid in Gutman’s books. Those fantasies were the earliest iteration of My Father’s War.

Back in 2006, only about twenty of the core characters existed: Blake Robinson, Princess Asami (who later became Chihiro Tachibana) and their core families existed in the “World of World War Three”. Only a select few of the incidental characters existed. These characters predate just about the entire Stormbreaker Universe. For the most part, the earliest version of My Father’s War was populated with characters from The Kid Who Became President.

It was around the same time that I started creating the fantasy world that would eventually become Partoga. Back then, my sister and I were both intensely loyal fans of BIONICLE, a story-driven toyline produced by the LEGO Company. Over the ten years the series ran, Bionicle developed such a massive and complex story that its lore could be considered a mythology nowadays. A key aspect of Bionicle is that the story took place on an island, and the story was filled with references to the culture of the Maori people. Many of the characters in the Bionicle story were named after words in the Maori language, as were locations and certain titles.

Starting in 2005, the LEGO Company started encouraging fans and amateur builders like myself to start creating our own Bionicle legends. My sister and I set to work right away. We built over fifty of our own custom Bionicle characters and drew up maps of our own islands. One such island I created was called “Trecta”. About three years later, I redesigned Trecta Island and made it into the world of Partoga. (Or more specifically, the Western Continent of Partoga) Here is the very first map of Trecta I ever made, all the way back in 2005:

y4myCQOIJKca3c3FHta8E3eWlJbHTJX1ISd9D4g-vYaLati4T84PNb81hRP3jQvktSegZSji5VNoHydsjhO8D8MNJdAgrzgKMfSlGk4ILSvMpuOMqVIrjnLgR35SJ-kyPCeyYTF3eiIrtf9uxsWJJCko4uF_Xw2MYnNfY3ApUXDdY8xMZUlCpanazWFuOol5aAE

I’ve been holding onto this map and its companions for 16 years now. Quite happy I finally get to share them. Trecta was the world I loved and enjoyed creating. I created Levakia around roughly the same time, but that island never really held my interest, and I abandoned its map without ever finishing it.

y4mNpWlJcngVFrGGWCdlyX_kmyU5TWa4t8Y1_T_86jOHvDbLqPwVB4SzGGvVR5BSxtHzPKmMfgXDNmNyvgWZ4jcnYs1WtKBKtYtjl_rZJz1fxwiF-oOZm71rBj8k-Ea7VapOeru7NmkO4g_raEgc_0jzlHxEcl-XFQ7-QDaV5hZ3TLjZo0TvMMEfJH_g_30CnY7

Eventually, though, I did marry the two maps and create the greater world of Partoga in the spring of 2010. If you’ve read Faith in Chaos, then you’ve already seen this map:

y4m5R8pl1KdeNiBxHE0fQtDDDFDSwMNBV2pBNWvwPQ9o8SOhdAkeyri5VwI4bt_W5SxKfWRtnzR94HJKnZYpbMjF_JaLzHTflQAZP5vqMvMUNajbORU8ZgpnT-haOb8kXXyI05qgYx6vglEtUdIXFj3ojF30I9cJOK0xUCT2br8WfH8fxINHOEIhTkDW8Y8RZMU

For years, I would just keep adding to the world of Trecta/Partoga, creating characters and places, but not writing any stories in the sense you and I would think of. I created a history of the world, to explain why certain places were where they were, or how certain characters came to live in which town or whatever. Out of fealty to the Bionicle mythology, I preserved the tradition of basing the culture of my island people off that of the Maori. Sometime around 2015 is when I stopped modeling the Partogans after the Maori and decided that they just were Maori after all.

It wasn’t until 2008 when I started creating “Partoga stories” in earnest. About a year after I started creating the islands of Levakia and Trecta/Partoga, I joined my school’s concert band as a trombonist. We participated in a sight-reading competition in the spring of 2008 and we were given “Straight 1’s” by the judges. (the highest possible score)

For those of you who don’t know, a Sight-Reading contest is when musicians are challenged to perform a piece of music they have never seen, read, nor heard before. During this competition, the song we played was a concert piece called “Regenesis: Song of the Planet” by John Higgins.

I absolutely fell in love with the song, not just because of the melody and tone, but because of the movie that is supposed to accompany the music. As we performed the song, a video played for the audience, showing a slideshow of images of Mount St. Helens National Park. The pictures were taken before, during, and after the volcanic eruption of 1980. The music started out happy and cheerful before growing ominous and dark. Then the "cataclysm" occurred. The song ended on a theme of hope and rebirth.

I was especially enamored with the final two sections of the song, "Void" and "Renewal," which depict the devastation and eventual restoration of Mt. St. Helens National Park. I remember that I wanted to see some kind of story that took place during this kind of event. I wasn't interested in seeing the actual disaster. I wanted a story set during the aftermath. That's how I got the general idea for The Legend of Whetu Kealoha, the first of many stories set in the world of Partoga. But the story wouldn’t come together in a way that I can recognize for another three years or so.

And in a nutshell, that’s really how the seeds Stormbreaker Universe were sown. I just kept adding things on top of what was already there. I got into videogames at the age of six, and I was playing Homeworld by age 8, so I don’t remember exactly when the Partogans and Levakians became spacefaring Homeworld factions, but it was definitely before I turned twelve.

XCOM and Stellaris came much later. Around 2017.

I also want to shed some light what I consider to be the central three elements of the Stormbreaker Universe.

All three elements kinda happened at once, but I can’t tell you when they were added because they were kinda always there. In fact, one of the centermost elements of the Stormbreaker Universe predates the SU itself:

The three elements are:
  • Time Travel
  • Jericho
  • The Paradox
When I was young, I grew up with a lot of science fiction, and Time Travel was a constant feature in the media I was consuming. I watched every episode of Star Trek: Enterprise as the show aired, and I loved the concept of a Temporal Cold War, with sci-fi warriors using history itself as a battlefield and the future up for grabs. In my own stories, I imagined a very lopsided Temporal Cold War, where only the evil side had access to a time machine and the heroes had to play a really long game against them. That’s kind of where the Paradox came from. She started out as a nebulous enemy with no face or voice, acting from the shadows to change history until one of my heroes noticed she was active and took action.

In each and every story I made up, there was always a moment of interference, where the Paradox would somehow show up and cause the plot to take a turn. The first thing she ever did in one of my stories was interfere with a love triangle. She intercepted and got rid of a boy who was rivalling Blake Robinson for Asuna/Chihiro’s affections. Sometimes the Paradox would be present for only a short while, making her changes and then disappearing. On other occasions, she would be present from beginning to end.

The Paradox got her face and personality before she was ever named, and for that, you can blame my dad. When I was in elementary school, he bought me an educational computer game called “Jump Start Adventures Third Grade”. All you need to know about this point-and-click adventure for children is that it contains the character who directly inspired the Paradox and her modus operandi:

y4m7tx46-7FLFKmudGPpBO7fu_whK-8vQt4fXHk3IapCRLOgJ3GmwVK0MW-Aql6xGVjnTHKEuvkec6NiDrSEbpns_7S8viyJE1Uc7WVj03O2bOCFhohWE41sxWFrVu_4wZst0g4GYICi8DLcp6FABqc-9RCrQinZTDL_dFaW_mJ96-movvp28JwU16O-81c5YUw

This is Polly Spark. She was the game’s main antagonist. Of course, this was an educational game for kids, so she’s nowhere near as bad as Akira. However, she does use a stolen time machine to re-write the past so she could get a passing grade on a history quiz, which is pretty awesome and instantly qualifies her for the role of “supervillain” in my mind. And who doesn’t love an eight-year-old supervillain!?

Selfish, kinda petty, prone to snide insults, and harboring a complete disregard for everyone except herself, this was the innermost core of Akira Robinson’s character. Everything else about her was built on this template. When I first created the Paradox, she was a middle-aged woman, but I eventually reduced her age to make her more similar to Polly, taking the Paradox all the way down to her teenage years.

Akira got her name from the 1988 anime movie of the same name. In fact, a very large number of Japanese characters who appear in my stories are named after anime characters. I’m just a fan of the art form.

As for Jericho herself?

She was added to the story around the same time as the Paradox, and I always intended for her to be the messianic savior of mankind; kinda like a futuristic female Christ-like figure. To that end, I wanted to give her a very meaningful name, so I looked up a list of the oldest cities on Earth. Eventually, Jericho was named after a town in the West Bank of Palestine that is allegedly 11,000 years old.

The earliest version of Jericho was radically different from where she is now, but there is one detail that is more important than all others:

Jericho and Akira were supposed to be sisters.

Yup. Let that sink in.

Jericho was going to be Blake and Chihiro’s daughter.

The dual characters of Asuna/Himawari were created explicitly to replace Jericho after I removed her from the Robinson family. That’s also why the Ray and Robinson families have an identical makeup. (African-American man marries a Japanese woman, has a daughter who goes on to do incredible things) I built Jericho’s new parents to match her own ethnicity; which in hindsight may have been a bad idea, because two of the central families in the story are now indistinguishable.

Jericho and Akira were originally going to be twins, and Jericho’s name was going to be Asuna. I originally planned for them to be the “Great Nemesis” pair, with their battles against one another being a main part of my own Temporal War. Ever noticed that on the rare occasion I describe Akira’s outfit, she always seems to be wearing white? The twins were supposed to be color-coded:

Akira, thinking herself to be a hero, always wore white and acted as though she was the most morally upright person in the room.

Asuna (Proto-Jericho) would dress in black and behaved like an anti-hero. Some small vestiges of this early version of the character can be seen in The Stormbreakers if you know where to look. (Doesn’t the final version of Jericho seem slightly anti-social to you?)

The characters of Jericho and Asuna were separated from each other when I decided to change Jericho’s lifespan. Originally, Jericho and Akira were supposed to be born during the final minutes of the War in Heaven, and then meet their destiny during the Rescue at Cape Canaveral 50 years later. (This is the only major battle of the SU that has not been shown in one of my stories yet)

After I decided Jericho and Akira weren’t going to be twins anymore, Jericho’s youth and messianic adventure were moved to the Second Hyperspace War (2015 to 2036) instead of the War of the Paradox. (2084 to 2086) And don’t worry dear readers, you’ll get to see the War of the Paradox and its epic final battle, the Rescue at Cape Canaveral, during the tenth and final installment of the Stormbreaker Universe: “The Last Heroes

Oh, and I know that there’s a very high chance @HistoryDude might ask this question, so I’m going to head him off at the pass:

How was this early version of the Stormbreaker conflict supposed to end?

I was planning for the tale to end with an epic Star Wars style showdown in which Akira and Asuna/Jericho fought in a massive Psionic battle that destroys everything around them. Finally, with the fate of the Galaxy in the balance, both women would simultaneously strike and kill each other to end the war.

I think it goes without saying, but the less I say about the movie Batman v Superman, the better.

Thank you for joining my discussion of the origins of the Stormbreaker Universe, and I hope you enjoyed this look at what could have been.

See you tomorrow for the original ending of After Everything!
 
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Macavity116

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I feel so childish that I gave personalities to my wooden blocks and read encyclopedia articles instead of creating worlds.
My middle school music teacher had a pet rock, and she expected us to take that creature very seriously. So I say there's nothing wrong with doing childish things in many different ways.
 
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The 1M Celebration, Part three

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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So here's an offering with a story behind it. When I first wrote After Everything, it took approximately two months for me to write the final chapter. This is because I threw out the half of the chapter and re-wrote it from scratch. Occasionally, I made reference to the lost ending in comments, and once The Stormbreakers wrapped, a user named @HistoryDude asked to see the original ending. Sadly, by this time, the ending was lost to time. So, to celebrate one million words, I sat down and attempted to recreate the original ending of After Everything completely from memory.

This recreation is far from perfect and is about 5,000 words shorter than the lost ending. The plot is compressed and some of the finer details are probably gone forever, but I think this captures all of the important parts of what could have been.

Dear Readers, please consider the following:


After Everything – A Stellaris Story

An attempted recreation of the original ending



“Long live Emily! Long live the Queen!”

The celebratory chant was taken up by all of the surrounding soldiers. Their voices, their chants of “Long live the Queen!” echoed powerfully off the walls of Archer’s Canyon, rebounded across the pulverized slopes of the Unnamed Mountain, deflected off the dense ceiling of smoke and ash before returning to the blackened ground that had once been Fort Miranda.

Amidst the celebrations, Mira felt her strength waning again. She knew that she was probably going to collapse in a few minutes. Mira wasn’t sure if she’d ever wake up again, and there was just one thing left to do before then.

While Maki started organizing messengers to spread word of the armistice, Mira slipped away from the group and climbed into the wreckage of the old chapel. Despite the loss of her powers, she seemed to know what was waiting for her inside.

The End of the Cycle was curled up on the floor near the altar like a hibernating beast. It stirred as Mira approached. She was expecting whatever had happened to Manaaki to happen to her as well. When the seconds ticked by with no Void Rift appearing, Mira felt confused.

THE END IS ALREADY HERE.

The monster rose to its feet and regarded Mira one last time.

THIS IS YOUR RECKONING.

And then it was gone, leaving Mira filled with a rapidly growing sense of paranoia.



A loud noise and some yelling outside the chapel caught Mira’s attention. She looked away for a brief moment to see what was going on, but when she looked back, the Whisperers in the Void had disappeared.

“Mira! Mira, where’d you go?”

Maki burst into the ruined chapel, two of her bodyguards behind her.

“There you are!” said Maki, clutching her chest and panting, “Don’t run away like that. What are you doing?”

Mira instinctively padded down her pockets. She was getting the strong sense that she’d lost something important but couldn’t remember what it was.

“Don’t worry about me. I’m just looking for a ride back to the Midak. I, uh… I think I left something on board.”

Before Maki could inquire further, Mira stumbled out of the ruins and started making her way back to the Monarchist base.



The next day, after the Unnamed Mountain woke up, the remaining members of the crew of the Midak gathered together outside the spaceport in Wanaka District, a region of urban landscape on the southern side of Partoga City, where the mega-metropolis bordered the toxic jungles of Rahkshian. Of course, the one thing the crew really wanted to do was sleep and rest following their harrowing ordeal. After the twin battles of Nithascal and Archer’s Canyon, most of the Midak crew just wanted to sleep for days on end.

But the military crew still had military obligations. Now that the mission was over, Captain Rangi insisted everybody report to the spaceport for a final debriefing. Perhaps out of mercy, Rangi did allow the men and women of the Midak to sit down in the grassy lawn in front of the terminal. Moana Ranginui and Tai Whiu arrived separately, both looking upset. The duo pushed past several of their crewmates to reach the captain.

“Rangi!” Moana called out. “Have you seen Mihaka?”

“No, afraid I haven’t.” Rangi said. “She must be running late.”

“No way she’s late.” Tai said. “Last night, Mira said she had a nagging feeling she left something important on the Midak, and that she was going to talk to you about going up to the ship in the morning. We thought she was already here, talking to you.”

The Captain was dumbfounded.

“No, she definitely wasn’t here.” He said. “Are you sure she left before you?”

Moana, Tai, and the Captain had themselves a back and forth for several minutes, trying to figure out where their friend had gone, but their conversation was abruptly cut short by the wail of sirens coming from the spaceport behind them. The officers and their crew looked around to see what was going on, just in time to hear the roar of engines. A Corvette-class starship rose up and away from the spaceport while two uniformed men carrying assault rifles yelled into their radios:

“Call headquarters! Code red! A starship was just stolen from Wanaka Spaceport. Suspect is a middle-aged woman with grey hair and an eyepatch.”

“Grey hair?” Moana repeated.

“Eyepatch?” Tai breathed.

Moana reacted first. She sprinted away from the group and grabbed one of the soldiers.

“Sir! That suspect, who stole the spaceship, was that Mira Mihaka!?”



About fifty Kios above the ground, and getting higher with every second, Mira pushed the control column up, nosing her stolen ship towards the orbit where the Midak had been abandoned. She had to blink her one remaining eye a lot because she was feeling dangerously exhausted, and it took all of her concentration just to stay awake. Even so, she mumbled and whispered to herself as she piloted the ship.

“Doesn’t make any sense. Can’t add up. Need more data.”

There was a crackle of static as the radio console came to life, and the voice of Moana Ranginui came out of the receiver.

“Mira? Mira are you there? Answer me!”



Down on the ground, Moana, Tai, and Captain Rangi were standing on the bridge of the HMS Dervish, where a communications officer was helping them call Mira. The man twisted a dial and pressed his headset into his ears, focusing intensely.

“Got her.” He said. “She’s got a hot mic... either that or she’s just holding down the talk button... but, this is weird. I think she’s talking to herself. Listen.”

The officer flipped a speaker switch. Mira’s voice was piped onto the bridge for everyone to hear.

“Call’em back later.” Said Mira’s voice. It was soft and quiet, barely more than a mumble. “When I’ve got the answer.”

“Answer?” Moana repeated. “What answer?”

“The answer.” Mira muttered to herself again. “I just gotta know. The answer. Answers. Gotta know.”

Moana moved away from the comms station.

“And just what are you doing?” Captain Rangi asked.

“What does it look like?” Moana said. “I’m going after her. Are you gonna help, or do I have to commandeer this ship!?”

Minutes later, the HMS Dervish leapt off the launchpad and screamed into space, chasing down Mira’s stolen ship.



Racing away from Partoga, the battered Assault Frigate couldn’t accelerate as quickly as Mira’s little Corvette. No matter how hard Captain Rangi burned the engines, there was no way to beat Mira to her destination. All the while, Mira continued muttering and murmuring into her microphone, seemingly unaware of the fact that it was transmitting.

“Answer’s out there... gotta find the answer. Need to find the answer.”

Tai got on the radio and called out:

“Mira! It’s Tai. What’s this answer you’re looking for? Tell us the question, and maybe we can help you!”

“The only answer...” Mira wasn’t really talking. Each word she spoke came out as a sigh. “There’s only one question... just one answer. Gotta find it... answer’s out there somewhere...”

“She’s lost her mind.” Moana breathed.

“I don’t think she’s totally insane yet.” Rangi replied. “Would a person with a broken brain be able to dock a starship?”

He pointed to the sensors manager. Mira had reached the Midak. The science vessel was badly damaged from its run-in with the Green Guard, but was still intact. Mira’s corvette rotated along its longitudinal axis and smoothly connected to the Midak’s ventral docking port.

“There’s a second docking port on the port side!” Captain Rangi said. “It lets out on Deck One, so we’ll catch her as she goes for the power plant.”

The Dervish maneuvered around to the Midak’s port side and docked on the first try. Because the Midak was powered down, the airlock doors had to be forced open, which took a few extra minutes, but Moana, Tai, and Rangi finally forced their way aboard the science vessel. The Midak’s bridge was dark and cold.

“Power’s still out!” Tai said, teeth chattering.

“Good!” said Rangi. “That means we can stop her from spooling up the ship!”

The trio raced down four decks to the power plant. Mira wasn’t there, and Rangi theorized she was still trying to force the airlock on Deck Four. Tai and Moana posted themselves by the door, ready to catch Mira and try to talk to her, but the opportunity didn’t come.

Lights started clicking on all over the ship. Air cycled through the vents, and a gentle hum-hum-hum started to sound from the engine room one deck above. The ship was powering up! Behind Moana, Tai, and Rangi, the Midak’s power plant (a pressurized water nuclear reactor) began to make a very loud noise as it ramped up to full steam.

“What the!?” Rangi gasped. “How did she start the reactor without touching it!?”

“Telepathy.” Moana groaned. “She must be using those Human gauntlets.”

Then there was an absolutely massive crash, followed by the ship jolting violently from side to side. Everyone screamed:

“What’s happening!?”

What happened was this: the Midak fired up her engines and accelerated to flank speed. The Assault Frigate Dervish wasn’t ready for the sudden maneuver, and the stresses of the sudden acceleration caused the Midak’s docking port to fail. The Dervish broke free of the stricken science vessel and tumbled away while the Midak made her escape with Tai, Moana, and Rangi still on board.

Further compounding the problem, the damaged docking port caused part of Deck One to depressurize. Emergency bulkheads slammed down and locked, shutting everybody into whatever room they were already in. Moana, Rangi, and Tai were suddenly trapped in the same room as the power plant, and Mira was presumably locked in whatever part of the ship she ended up in.

Yelling in fury, Captain Rangi ran for the nearest computer console and started trying to override the bulkhead door controls. Meanwhile Moana grabbed Tai by the shoulder and said:

“Hang on, if Mira’s using her powers again, that means she can hear our thoughts.”

Moana closed her eyes and focused her mind.

“Mira.” She said to herself. “We don’t know what’s wrong or what’s happening, but we’re your friends, and we wanna help you. Please... is there anything we can do?”

A few moments later, the emergency bulkhead door unlatched and opened, allowing the trio to leave the power plant.

“Nice one, Captain!” Tai said.

Captain Rangi looked up from the computer console.

“That wasn’t me, Whiu. Mihaka opened the door.”

In fact, Mira had opened two bulkhead doors. She allowed her comrades to leave the power plant, and she’d also given them access to...

“That’s Radiation Shelter number three!” Tai said, pointing to one of the doors in the next room.

“It’s the only door that's open.” Moana said. “I think that’s Mira’s way of saying she’s going to do a Hyperspace jump. We should get in.”

Moana was right. As soon as all three crewmates clambered into the shelter with lead-lined walls, the doorways slammed shut behind them and the Hyperspace alarm started to sound.

“You know what this means.” Moana breathed. “She’s inside the Hyperspace module again.”

Tai and Rangi both shuddered.

“What the hell happened to her in there?” Rangi wondered.

“The Hyperspace module must have scrambled her brains.” Tai said. “She was different after touching it the first time.”

“I guess there’s nothing to do but wait.” Moana concluded. “Settle in, everyone.”



Using her powers, Mira induced the Midak to perform a Hyperspace jump. Moana, Tai, and Rangi saw the wall of purple light pass through them as the Midak was swallowed and then released by the Quantum Wavefront. Strangely, though, the shelter doors didn’t open. Tai almost panicked. Slamming his fists against the lead-lined door, Tai yelled:

“Hey Mira! Are you gonna let us out!?”

The answer, apparently, was no.

Tai, Moana, and Rangi had no choice but to wait inside of the Radiation Shelter for something to happen. And after nearly half an hour of waiting, something did indeed happen. There were many loud groans and creaks of metal, as though the ship was being pulled apart by a pair of giant hands. Rangi cursed.

“Is this really how we’re going to die? I thought we were past this!”

Then, just as suddenly as it started, the groaning stopped. The shelter door finally unlocked and opened, while at the same time, Mira’s voice spoke up in the minds of all three of her crewmates:

“I’m on the bridge. Come to me.”

The trio moved cautiously up the ladders, returning to Deck One. Mira was indeed on the bridge, but there was more to see than just her.

The viewscreen was lit up, showing a view from one of the cameras mounted on the Midak’s nose. The ship was in a region of space filled with light, so much light in fact, that most of the stars were obscured and hidden from view. A massive ring-shaped object hung in the sky some distance ahead of the Midak.

Mira herself was standing in front of the viewscreen, and she looked even worse than she had during the aftermath of her fight with Manaaki. Her grey hair was now so frizzy, it looked as though she’d been electrified. Mira’s one remaining eye was very bloodshot. She hadn’t been sleeping. Mira was also swaying on her feet in a very unsteady fashion, like a sailor on the ocean who doesn’t have their sea legs.

Moana quickly raced across the bridge and hugged Mira. Tai hung back to look at the strange ring in space, while Captain Rangi brought up a sensors manager and tried to figure out where the Midak even was.

“Mira!” Moana cried. “What’s happening? What’s going on? Why are you doing this!?”

Mira’s one eye was glassed over and unfocused, when she spoke, it was in a far-off, dreamy kind of way. She wasn’t fully present in the moment.

“There’s an answer I need to find.” Mira breathed. “It’s out there somewhere.”

She raised a finger and pointed to the screen. Thousands of Kios away, the gargantuan ring loomed in space, just hovering there, motionless.

“It’s there. I have to go.” Mira mumbled, “Find the answer.”

“The answer to what?” Moana asked. “What’s the question?”

“Not a question you can understand.” Mira muttered. “I barely understand. Might be beyond me, but I need to know. I’ve gotta find the answer.”

“Where’s the answer?” Moana pressed. “Where are you trying to go?”

Mira pointed at the ring on the screen. Meanwhile, Captain Rangi had figured something out:

“Uh, Ranginui. I think I know what that thing is.”

He tapped the screen of the sensors manager.

“It’s a Hyperspace Gate.” Rangi explained. “Built by the old Progenitor Empire, roughly fifty-thousand years ago.”

Moana and Tai both looked at one another in shock. They remembered their history lessons from childhood. The Progenitors were a powerful race who invaded, conquered, and then ruled over the entire Galaxy roughly one million years ago. Then, a mere ten thousand years ago, the entire Progenitor species died out in a very sudden fashion. All of their ships and technology were left behind, and Progenitor ruins were scattered across all of creation.

“This gate...” Mira muttered. “Progenitors made it. It goes to Balcora. The answer is in Balcora.”

Captain Rangi clicked a few buttons on the console and brought up a star chart on the screen.

Balcora was a cluster of supermassive black holes, located near the very center of the Galaxy. This particular star chart contained a two-hundred-year-old note that said the region of space surrounding Balcora was totally uninhabitable. Moana took one look at this note and then grabbed Mira by the shoulders, saying:

“No! Absolutely not! You can’t go there, you’ll die!”

“The answer’s in there.” Mira mumbled. “Gotta go. No choice.”

Mira reached into the pocket of her coat and produced a tablet computer. Then, for the first time since yesterday, she had a moment of genuine lucidity. Mira’s red eye suddenly unglossed and looked directly into Moana’s eyes. Mira spoke in a clear voice:

“I’m gonna be fine, Moana. I have... something to do with my powers... that’ll keep me safe. I’m gonna go in and come back. Please, please, hold onto this for me until I come back. I swear to you, I will come back.”

Frightened by Mira’s sudden return to clarity, Moana hesitated, but then she took the tablet and nodded. Mira gazed at Captain Rangi and Tai in turn, then she left the bridge. The trio followed her as she travelled down four decks to the ventral docking port. All the way, Mira started to mutter to herself again, and Moana realized that Mira was losing her mind again:

“Go in, get the answer, come out. Too easy, should be quick. All I have to do is find the answer. Just gotta do that one thing. In, then out. The answer... that’s all I need. Just have to find then answer.”

Tai, Moana, and Rangi could only watch in stunned silence as Mira stepped through the airlock and entered her stolen Corvette. She sealed the docking port, powered up her little ship, and then undocked from the Midak. The trio raced back up to the bridge and used the viewscreen to watch Mira’s Corvette fly away. Mira’s ship passed through the ring of the Hyperspace Gate and vanished. She was gone, and knowing Progenitor technology, she had already rematerialized in the Balcora region, surrounded on all sides by some of the largest and most dense black holes in the Galaxy. Moana, Tai, and Rangi could only wonder what kind of answer could be found there... if any at all.

“Now what?” Moana asked. “Do we wait for her to come back?”

“I don’t know.” Tai answered. “But I want to wait for her. If you want, we can take this ship back to Partoga, and I can get another vessel.”

“No.” Said Rangi. “She’s still our crewmate, and our friend. I’m willing to wait right here, if you are too.”

“I’ll wait.” Said Moana. “I owe her that.”

“Agreed.” Tai said. “We’ll wait.”

And so... the trio sat down in the various chairs around the bridge, patiently checking the life support systems and preparing themselves for the long wait. Moana, Tai, and Rangi were determined to stay put and wait for Mira to come back.

They would wait for their friend to return.


THE END.
 
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The 1M Celebration, Part 4

Macavity116

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There are literally hundreds of characters in the Stormbreaker Universe; (upwards of 350 at this point) and not all of them get their time in the spotlight. The ones that do take an obvious backseat to the seven main protagonists of the SU, meaning you, the reader, don’t get to learn as many details about the supporting cast. I’d like to take a moment to fix that.

First off, as I just said, the SU has seven main protagonists (in order of creation):
  • Blake Robinson (2005)
  • Whetu Kealoha (2005)
  • Toa Wahine Mami Tamihana (2006)
  • Inez Espinosa (2011)
  • Jericho (2015)
  • Akira Robinson (2015)
  • Mira Mihaka (2018)
So I won’t be talking about any of the above characters today. It’s the smaller actors I wanna drum up. So, from the beginning to now:

  • After Everything – A Stellaris Story
    • Commander Anika Aranui was being impersonated by a member of Akira Robinson’s crew. Specifically, it was an alternate version of her from another timeline. Throughout the entire book; you, the reader, never actually met the real Anika. The real Anika Aranui has never appeared in any of these stories. Since I did not start describing people’s physical appearances until Faith in Chaos, there is no way this one was ever going to be discovered.
    • Manaaki Ranginui was originally going to murder his own puppet, the false Queen Aronui, and then try to defect over to the Monarchist faction in order to save his own skin. The Eater of Worlds would have been the one to exact final justice upon him in this scenario.
    • Kaia Patariki was supposed to be the last living member of the Patariki family, one of the three powerful clans who constantly warred with one another for control of the Kingdom of Partoga. (The other two are the Mihaka and Ranginui families) I simply forgot to include this bit of worldbuilding in the book.
  • Faith in Chaos – A Stellaris Story
    • Sebakhira was originally named Bombalurina. All of the references to the Broadway musical “Cats” were getting kinda numerous at the time, so I changed the character’s name about ten hours before her introductory chapter was posted.
    • Queen Marie the Scholar was murdered by Akira Robinson. @Kylia Quilor predicted this one, but she got the perpetrator and means of murder incorrect. The method of Marie’s death wasn’t really important to the story. All that mattered was that she kicked the bucket. The 16-year-old Queen was not poisoned by the Church of the Mountain, she was repeatedly subjected to Psionic Insanity by the Paradox over many months. Eventually, her heart simply gave out.
    • Enutanga is a stage name. The Galaxy’s biggest pop star hasn’t used her real name since becoming a solo act. Her birth name was “Hina Mihaka”. She is named after a goddess in Maori/Partogan mythology who (depending on what source you look at) is either the sister or wife of the demigod Māui.
    • Irirangi Ranginui is the original villain of this story. When I first made up the story of “Extinction” back in the late 2010’s, Irirangi was the central villain, not Akira. She was secretly the architect of the Levakian Uprising, manipulating King Emerdon and other lions. Ultimately, Irirangi would have used the war as a way to dethrone Toa Mami and take her place as Queen.
  • My Sistership – A Short Stellaris Story
    • Ahorangi Mihaka was the mother of Manako and Makara Ranginui, and the youngest child of Toa Mami. She was also the very first member of the Mihaka family to marry into the Ranginui family, creating a bridge between two clans that have been feuding and fighting for over 500 years. I intended her to be a sly reference to Shakespeare’s character Juliet Capulet, who also crossed familial battle-lines for the man she loved. Ahorangi died in childbirth and never met her twin children.
  • Childhood Memory
    • The (Unnamed) US Secretary of War who talks about the fall of Communism in Europe is Donald Rumsfeld. In real-life, Rumsfeld served as Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2006. There is no difference between the fictional Rumsfeld and the real one aside from their job titles and the President they served under.
  • The Stormbreakers – A Stellaris Story
    • Alexis Alexander is a character from the video game Command and Conquer Generals – Zero:Hour She’s not the only C&C character who appears in the Stormbreaker Universe, but she’s definitely the one who gets the most attention.
    • Lee Chong-Il used to be my own alias. In 2013, my school’s Model UN team represented North Korea at a big conference in New York City at the real UN Headquarters. When I attended the conference as a delegate of the DPRK, I created a North Korean persona for myself. Throughout the whole Model UN session, I would only answer to the name Lee Chong-Il and I won an award for staying “in-character” the whole week.
    • Wendy Carter is descended from William Carter. In this universe, we assume the player chose to spare William’s life at the end of the video game The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Considering that William canonically has a dead wife and son before the events of the game start, I’ll leave the story of how his line continued unsolved. There’s a lot for that man to unpack.
    • Violet was added to the story after it already started. She is a major antagonist from the game XCOM Chimera Squad, which was released three months after The Stormbreakers started. To make matters worse, that game takes place after the events of the book, so Violet is one of the very few characters in this story to have genuine plot armor.
    • Erin Hyatt was meant to be an easter egg for myself. Remember, when I first started writing The Stormbreakers – A Stellaris Story, I wasn’t planning to write The Last Heroes at the time. However, even though I wasn’t planning to actually write the story and post it to these forums, I had already made up the tale of The Last Heroes and I had most of the plot and characters figured out. Hyatt is a major player in that story, and I created the character all the way back in 2011. Truth be told, Hyatt is one of my favorite characters in the SU, and once I started writing The Stormbreakers, I decided to fudge her date-of-birth a little so she could appear in the story. (Originally, she was born after the War in Heaven) I guess the easter egg is a retcon now. :p
    • Duane Gardner and Yutaka Yamamoto were seriously toned down. Like, you have no idea. Occasionally in the past, I’ve made references in the past that I am constantly tempted to take the story in very dark directions, and that I engage in self-censorship on a very frequent basis. These two characters were both, at one point, in a romantic relationship with Jericho. BOTH of them treated her in a very controlling and abusive way. Trust me when I say that behind closed doors, those two men were the worst monsters Jericho ever had to face.
  • The Legend of Whetu Kealoha
    • The Levakian Empress was originally named “Grizabella”. Again, this is a reference to Cats. Just like Faith in Chaos, I was trying to reduce the number of blatant references to one of my favorite musicals.
    • Mamru Kealoha single-handedly assured the continued existence of the Kealoha family line. Whetu Kealoha’s brother used his newfound status as the sibling of royalty to bed many women. Even though the Kealoha family name has since died out, the warrior clan’s bloodline is very prevalent in Partogan society, to the point where a sizable percentage of the Partogan population can trace their lineage back to this guy.
  • On the Crossroads of Past and Future
    • UN Secretary-General Pascal Etienne is based on Andrew Johnson, who was President of the United States from 1865 to 1869. Etienne was not born blind, but rather he lost his eyesight at a young age due to an illness. During his tenure as Earth’s ruler, Etienne oversaw the installation of technologies that made the UN government much more accessible to blind people.
  • My Father’s War
    • Chelsea Daniels, June Syers, and Pete Guerra are all characters from the book The Kid Who Became Presidentby Dan Gutman
      • Chelsea is similar to her book counterpart, but in my story, she is not as self-centered. She does, however, retain her incredibly good looks and her aspirations to become a model.
      • June is also Vice President in Gutman’s book, but in his book, she becomes President upon the resignation of her predecessor.
      • Pete has been promoted in my story relative to Gutman’s. He has a high-profile job as a TV journalist in My Father’s War whereas he struggles to get out of zoo stories while working at a newspaper in The Kid Who Ran for President.
    • Irisha Kimoto is Irina Khakamada. This character is completely identical to the very real woman who is a current member of the Russian government. Kimoto and Khakamada have the same backstory and similar family histories.
    • Christopher Wright is named after the forum user @HistoryDude, who has left more comments on of my stories than any other person. Throughout the story, Wright is referred to by the nickname “The History Dude”.
  • All Our Sins Remembered
    • Rafi Bakir, Emanuel Espinosa, Ingrid Tsiajotso, Pascal Etienne, David Sepulveda, and Scarlett Freeman are all characters from The Last Heroes, a story I’ve been dreaming up for the past ten years. I’m planning to start posting The Last Heroes to this forum within the next five months.
  • The Last Heroes
    • Scarlett Freeman has had her physical appearance changed more than any other character. Her hair, eye, and skin color fluctuates during her time as Director of the Internal Security Office; it should be noted that this is mostly because of her work as a spymaster. Without any makeup or holograms, Scarlett naturally has platinum-blonde hair, green eyes, and white skin.
    • Cassandra Espinosa is the only Gifted character left in my universe who does not follow XCOM rules. After I married XCOM’s version of Psionics to my own, all of the Psionics you see in the Stormbreaker Universe have been modified to follow the rules laid out in those games. Cassandra herself predates the modern XCOM series. When you see her using the Gift, she will be following the rules laid out in the original “Magic System” I made up a decade ago. She will have far less control over her powers than what you’ve seen in previous installments in this series, and her use of Psionics will be far more chaotic than what you, dear readers, are used to.
    • Varian Robinson was supposed to be transgender, but I got cold feet. When I originally created this character, the plan was for Varian to start out as a man and slowly transition to a woman over the course of the story. But then @JackGoose posted a Stellaris story called Trancendental Spaces. That story prominently featured a trans character and did the subject matter true justice. I was worried that if I brought Varian into the story, I might be accused of trying to piggyback off @JackGoose’s hard work. So I decided to drop the trans part of Varian’s character. But I really liked the idea of having Varian struggle with his (or her) gender identity. So Varian remains vaguely androgynous. Also, if Varian was wholly male, his name would be Victor. If Varian was wholly female, her name would be Victoria.
    • Corder Leang is my attempt to include a genuine anime-style catgirl in the series while attempting to avoid making reference to catgirl tropes and stereotypes for as long as humanly possible. Of course, now that I’ve said something, I have to restart the clock.
This was fun, thanks for joining me.

Tomorrow should be just as much fun. FANART!
 
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RustyHunter

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I was wondering if the original ending of After Everything still had Partoga get destroyed, or did the Reckoning mean something else in that edition?

What made you decide to throw out the final half of the original ending?
 
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HistoryDude

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Well, Akira has killed now. Patricide, huh?

I wonder if Akira will keep her promise to her sister?

What went wrong?

Also, RED TEXT! YES!

Nice to know the original ending to After Everything. Not sure what the answer is, though.

So much worldbuilding! Yay!
 
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Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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I was wondering if the original ending of After Everything still had Partoga get destroyed, or did the Reckoning mean something else in that edition?
I'm certain Partoga still would have bit the dust in the original ending, Mira simply would have triggered the end from a different location: The Eye of Aarran at the very center of the old Progenitor Hyperspace network.

What made you decide to throw out the final half of the original ending?
I really didn't like how open-ended it was. I'm always willing to leave stuff open to reader interpretation, but ending the story on such a large unanswered question just didn't sit right with me.

I wonder if Akira will keep her promise to her sister?
She may have already honored part of Asuna's wish, if indirectly. Remember: Asuna herself does not exist in the current Cycle.

What went wrong?
Remember Interlude #2 of Faith in Chaos? Akira said she ran into something while attempting to travel past the end of time.

In Chapter 14: The Four Temptations, we're going to see exactly what obstacle she encountered.

Also, RED TEXT! YES!
Quake in your boots, old friend. For the first time in almost a year, the final chapter of one of my stories is written in red text.

You know what that means.

Nice to know the original ending to After Everything. Not sure what the answer is, though.
The way I planned it, Mira's mad quest for the answer to an unknown question was supposed to be a parallel to the quest for the "Ultimate Question" in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The plan was for Mira to gain an intimate understanding of Progenitor technology and knowledge, but she would have been left eternally guessing about what caused the sudden demise of the Progenitor Empire. Back in 2018 when I was first writing After Everything, I had the idea that the End of the Cycle was somehow responsible for the sudden disappearance of the Progenitor race, but that idea never got off the drawing board.
 
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RustyHunter

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I'm certain Partoga still would have bit the dust in the original ending, Mira simply would have triggered the end from a different location: The Eye of Aarran at the very center of the old Progenitor Hyperspace network.
I'll have to do some more reading to know what the Eye of Aarran is, but thanks for the answer!

I really didn't like how open-ended it was. I'm always willing to leave stuff open to reader interpretation, but ending the story on such a large unanswered question just didn't sit right with me.
That makes sense. I suppose the final ending was a bit ambiguous until you added the Afterword to it. I wasn't certain if all of Partoga was going to be destroyed by the Mountain's eruption or just another apocalyptic event that nearly destroyed everything.
 
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Macavity116

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I'll have to do some more reading to know what the Eye of Aarran is, but thanks for the answer!
No trouble. The Eye of Aarran is an element from Homeworld 2, one of the video games I added into the Stormbreaker Universe. The Eye is a Hyperspace hub that interconnects thousands of other FTL gateways across the Galaxy. You can briefly see the Eye of Aarran in one of the videos on my YouTube channel. I've set the video player below to the appropriate timestamp so you can get a good look at the Eye.

YouTube link: Homeworld 2 - Episode 15: BRING SAJUUK TO BEAR!

 
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The 1M Celebration, Part Five

Macavity116

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FANART!!
Okay, this one needs a short explanation:

So, back in the spring of 2021, I was on active duty with the US military. To summarize, our medical battalion was helping fight the pandemic in the Detroit area. About four months in, the Detroit city government was so happy with our work that each soldier got a signed certificate of appreciation from the city government. Military leadership piled on and started handing out awards and medals to us. I got caught in the shower of appreciation and decided that I wanted to celebrate in my own way.

So I logged onto my Reddit account and put out my request for fanart. I wanted some cool artwork of characters from the Stormbreaker Universe and I was not disappointed. I got just under a dozen responses. In the end, I commissioned several artists and received a few more artworks at no cost. Some of these artworks have already been retroactively added to previous stories in the series. You can see some new art in The Stormbreakers and The Legend of Whetu Kealoha.

So dear readers, please enjoy the results of my call for fanart:


Artwork by u/ace_pade

"Jericho" by Ace Pade

y4mw4fXZHcr7oNBw9H-lOIVlemcemuu--mEx2E7_JOYcsNYnXZXrkGH09jKH-3YXGgxXiVmdullTrgCn7z2otH2xBmTlATZqjj0An2oUcoH1EsjRZp4DTeMC4_GWqhA6_DKElHeEfNZFljRDBhW7FehqgpgK27Pk9lP-mCMeo2xPAaG92QjNpOcUjgOxZSRhRXC


"Blake and Chihiro" by Ace Pade

y4maJYGcjqQyDDdZBMFRAfA-SN3EO9dTRqRInH6p_5LAX-MzwRwYvQ5DbXI32iDKqcr-9_RGyNUGmY1CHbTziFpBCyw59dX2GvlAoRzZ2Jtd1jd1uNtLA5qCXri9h9pzqdSiTCJha16tTTJKrZxzMtGE19mrXNM6JabVsi5VoxuCluBEbVIWK7mFGQ3R_f7D9gW


"Mira Mihaka" by Ace Pade

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Artwork by u/eenakulot

"Akira Robinson" by Eenakulot

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"Enutanga" by Eenakulot

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Artwork by u/espionage_is_whatido

"Toa Wahine Mami Tamihana" by Espionage_is_whatido

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Artwork by Vitaliy Ostaschenko

"Battlemaster gunship" by Vitaliy Ostaschenko

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Artwork by u/theboltboy

"Chihiro Tachibana" by theboltboy

y4mGoN2iNcQMIIi3ItBlGbCiyJT3VOkox0E7eKYaV7yUCuHk7L5_xV0nlqX3QlB-BQZiTFg3neCtWo48yFg8rfO7v8Er-CLj8zGrejtww3vtwIA-celG117E__HrS8sP_IiTiQhCzUBPy-rnIEn84JZ2YLilo2aryqNVDygruAPB4lq0o5SUaiw7DBA_9TZTC8j




Artwork by u/happy_clover

"Whetu Kealoha" by Happy Clover

y4m4PffAb51U8DjvFRnzfCaLc_NDmUgSGJ6cI6xQ8W-G2PXqHmY7lukVpyHTJK4EXeNTrLTgxn6KNUsre3_Td_mtsWXf7aflKQ_qaDnIrSM3Y9NQf_4vWUgbUNvJ-njpzTo4aLa0Sq1UR9ukUn4XIJkaLCxjWy23Sx1_sn5i59oGgaIm5ZdfJ_8J-hiR3ctCjoU




Artwork by u/reppygoop

"Akira Robinson" by Reppygoop

y4mz-vH8YsS6Zt8Drr2lEOawiOdQ69qlRbLOFgradLm87sQt5Cjn3b7fvxruWnsclIAT0s_skidTNhhO_UgqrsENLzTMn2cVCJ2WHxERF_Gl30ifjA96N2d-bABkNjzIpcZPI4kC5TnLOysXYgVyokXMwguuiKnV3Y52J3C63APfkmDtBac7IJ8LfMike_eVgsq




Artwork by Annie Leon

"War in Heaven commemorative patch" by Annie Leon
y4m9WJxFan89ZkKTm3EiYalIBaFbcwZmStV61iZCIXkG87OpXash7pvpzIfVJc_cufm5mIURQyQ8YbTnGqflFvEBRpp9lsN6DjXZdlAGruM-3ql4E0SKmeS3xzEAFSq-jA4h8jTGcguo4jzI29KM9lskI8FSAsrs0zMaMuwfkurAp1dlvsoM7SAcT1AukYd--G-




Artwork by Carol Studzinski

"Sophie Ackermann and Sophia Kuznetsova" by Carol Studzinski

y4mPw3b7FNBzfiX_kceNnC5ygVWwLeFcPxiL51gK7x6438Nm4ilUhN5QA4D-GufHTlw16zuEznmrSW-zdJmsnipr-RDhBxV3IhhVMCtstIAfH82Za7mJ-w-4UsmM_H44Yx52S5eEJl6L5L_A7eRt17ZvnWqWcjaJ_562Yp0w3CwLSZCqyFzYhHA6zBac5g3amqD



"Jericho (alternate pose)" - ace_pade
y4md5PyFrCOzyY-RGhx-hS3CTamQ6BqaTw-XtDn1ttqY1C68SiJy5ZXGbW7-HTxfi2Z7-Qb73V7XF2ryqAa8N3Ra2fEl59QHKV1NVsdqpyze8QY55Hnx6Bs8gNfP0eZrYJa6rRqvlDn5h-IHJiiUHOAk-tuLUl0hnZNOYl3XwuYoUpiveUDtvtd_-_X9mBpQfbm


"Akira Robinson (line art)" - eenakulot
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"Enutanga (line art)" - eenakulot
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"Enutanga - flat colors" - eenakulot
y4mU4USTfz_X7X4zJD8uKe4EykyFUJjTQEKby-XRz8vHrgUh6oER6A-OEfE5Hi7sMcNxNaKR3engBvvHzmzVwRDxY7u-WZFfSv-KKIE09VPSGs3384I7Oj9HLSPogFV0sri7P3-baun4CG-CkyCWTrfZuEo6SRvXJU6M8iRb64nCQTDxnXOjYev4lc8uhWUJYAL


"Battlemaster gunship - frame and chassis" - Vitaliy Ostaschenko
y4mRqZebxm47nyE9O7CrFs5WXD1qtAs5TZjgPR5p7VUch6QM4ETY5sLA0uERX-Xa7yAlDPS4sr4mbc7tNb_OM_D6xyImVcCmFi7EKcWXND24knReV7PEc9E1SgjyY340VX1h9VIqDNzJclwIJ6bKPJTAm9h1FTTxpIvbV0dlzHbvjbRrQ_v3Jeuy1fdW4_4TejA


"Chihiro Tachibana (Hand-drawn sketch)" - u/theboltboy
y4mW4FkugWZDxS2XENqIEkkQs2C7eEi_8YzDOateIIQ1pCcPrf35Z_1aghyGViN_dnbO59cQcgLxQzOOdTvjpVgu1APbnStfag6zrdxBF-CiHqmWu1QEqkLzzgdkCKHF1RzPXAZQ7en7dGB6nqCnSsrJyOWWJ5DpWxbcu3InwRGwHbgM2AvzNgz5r-y4IlABxmZ


"War in Heaven commemorate patch (alternate designs)" - Annie Leon
y4mY7XEpnRfhgza9iUIpp8jzCKdQD3ceIas7Fy1Ub3z1D__5LiW_Yea3JQK3jgKIt7-3i8F0mbJTgLqymI9BJHZwJIQk2qOwyWwu1P-FpfVfhgRful_yvg2jpeQ8dvtIIjUXvGlXq2-5OPQluyOkPGd1LB4Xs6I3oND5QFRIuE3Fz-s--Y5MW_f9IbDQNBKNjti
 
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The 1M Celebration, Part five

Macavity116

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Dear readers.

I cannot begin to voice my appreciation and gratitude for your decision to read my stories, in part or in whole. As I've said countless times, I have no real expectations for this project. I'm just out here to have fun.

To thank you for sticking with me for over a million words, I wanted to share something special with you.

Please enjoy this sneak peek into the tenth and final installment of the Stormbreaker Series: The Last Heroes


The Last Heroes – A Stellaris Story
Overture: Fourth Movement

November 9, 2085
Berlin, Germany, United Nations of Earth


Berlin is a grand metropolis located in the heart of Europe. The city’s grand spaceport and vast urban sprawl made Berlin into a center of Human culture and transportation, yet it was so much more. Right in the very center of this city was a complex of buildings that made up the Capitol Complex of the United Nations government. The oldest building was the Reichstag. Once, it was the capitol of Germany, but now the UN Security Council used the Reichstag as their headquarters. On the western side of the Reichstag was the Palace of Nations, the residence and workplace of the UN Secretary-General.

Together, these two buildings represented great power and influence over the Human world, yet the most crucial structure here was neither of these. About half a mile away, on the southern side of the Brandenburg Gate, there was a most unremarkable building with boring walls, a plain door, and dull windows. A single security guard outside of the main gate was the only indication that this place was somehow significant.

This place was the headquarters of the Internal Security Office.

On the fourth floor, there was an office. It was from here that one of the most powerful Humans in the Galaxy did her work.

The ISO Director’s office looked out the western face of the Reichstag, granting a spectacular view of western Berlin. From here, most of the Tiergarten could be seen, and the Capitol of Earth filled the center of the window, no matter what angle it was viewed from. The office was very lived in, to the point where a simple futon bed occupied a far corner. The occupant was so engrossed in their work that the sight of disposable food containers littering the floor did not disturb today’s visitor in the slightest.

Professor Emanuel Espinosa, a middle-aged Human with wavy blonde hair and hazel eyes, knocked on the door once before entering. He peered around the heavily used office and realized there was no one to be seen. The desk was unoccupied and nobody was standing by the window. Cautiously, he called out:

“Scar? Are you in here?”

A mass of blankets and coats on the futon bed suddenly made a jerking motion. A figure sat upright and gasped;

“My love! It’s you!”

Director Scarlett Freeman was the leader of the Internal Security Office, the official spy agency of the United Nations of Earth. But in that particular moment, the casual observer would be forgiven for believing this statement to be false. This morning, Director Freeman did not look like a spymaster in the slightest. Like her husband, Scarlett was middle-aged. She had long black hair with bangs that came down to her piercing blue eyes. Under normal circumstances, Scarlett’s eyes would have been her most noticeable physical feature, but that was not the case today.

Scarlett Freeman was pregnant.

Very pregnant.

As she crossed the room to greet her husband, Scarlett carried herself the way a woman does when she only has a short time left until the big day. She’d given up on trying to wear a business suit and instead settled for a more casual cardigan. Scarlett gave Emanuel a bear-sized hug and an equally enthusiastic kiss in greeting.

“How do you feel?” Emanuel asked. “I let you sleep well past ten today.”

“Better, still not one hundred percent.” Scarlett admitted. “I stayed up late waiting for our agents on Aoraki to check in.”

“Any problems?”

“Not this time.” Scarlett said. “I’ve got a man so close to Queen Marka that I can have her throat slit whenever I want. She doesn’t even know she’s been outplayed. What about you? Do you have the test results?”

Professor Espinosa reached into one of his pockets and produced an envelope. It was unsealed. The look on his face also faltered.

“It's as I feared.” Emanuel said. “She tested positive.”

Scarlett put her hands on her hips, looked down at the floor, and swore.

“And the symptoms?”

“She’s symptomatic.” Emanuel replied. “And they match the records your agents collected from Aoraki. There is no possible room for doubt.”

“Why not?” a flash of anger crossed Scarlett’s face.

“Because when the test results came back, it triggered a silent alarm.” Emanuel said. “If your men weren’t in the lab, the World Health Organization would have been alerted, and we’d be up to our necks in Pandemic Response Teams. It was a close call.”

Scarlett walked over to her desk and slammed one hand on the wooden surface. She cursed again.

“How did we miss that!?” She exclaimed. “Wouldn’t the mother have shown symptoms too? We should have found signs on her first!””

“There is a high chance that the mother was just an asymptomatic carrier.” Emanuel explained, “According to the Partogan records, the virus can be passed from mother to child during conception, gestation, and pregnancy. It looks like this is what happened here. You’ve got to remember; the mother was barely more than a savage. She could have caught the disease anywhere. But, regardless of how it happened, she has it. We can’t proceed.”

Scarlett balled her hands into fists. Then she grabbed a snowglobe from the desk and hurled it across the room. It smashed on the far wall and left a wet mess behind.

“We have to keep going.” Scarlett said through clenched teeth. “Get her prepped for the procedure.”

Emanuel recoiled a little. His voice shook.

“I... I just said we can’t. We’re already running up against several ethical boundaries in our experiments, but this crosses a line. The UN Government would never approve the procedure, even if you pulled those strings of yours.”

Scarlett let out a long, angry groan, clenching her teeth.

“I could have sworn that’s why we picked America for this damn project!” She raised her voice. “UN law don’t apply over there. You and your team should have nothing to complain about!”

Professor Espinosa was now looking thoroughly disturbed and uncomfortable. His voice growing weaker, he said:

“But... love... She’s Human. She’s one of us. It’s different.”

Scarlett whipped around and looked at her husband, her eyes wide.

“You’re right.” She said in a dangerous tone of voice.

Scarlett moved around her desk and sat down in front of her computer. Professor Espinosa watched in silence, unwilling to cross his wife when she did her work. He learned that lesson the hard way a long time ago. Scarlett’s fingers flew over the keyboard, then she pulled a small ID card from her pocket and inserted it into a slot in the side of her computer. Finally, she keyed in a few more words before standing up once more.

“There.... done.” she said.

Emanuel felt his heart flutter. He could see tears running down both sides of Scarlett’s face. He knew full well what she had just done. Scarlett stepped over to the window and leaned against the glass. When she spoke, her voice sounded like she was just barely holding back a true breakdown.

“Give it twenty-four hours, then nobody on Earth will ever believe she was Human. You can put her under the knife the day after tomorrow.”

Rooted to the spot, in awe of immensely dark and twisted thing his wife had just done, Emanuel breathed,

“It would have killed a lesser woman to do that.”

Scarlett choked back a sob.

“Takes more than that to kill me.”

Emanuel and Scarlett embraced by the windowsill and leaned in for another kiss…

THUNK!

Something hit the window so hard the glass splintered and fractured!

For the briefest moment, Scarlett and Emanuel could see a high-caliber sniper round embedded in the bulletproof glass. The tip of the bullet, mushroomed out from the impact, was facing directly toward Scarlett’s chest. Then...

THUNK-THUNK-CRASH!

Three more bullets embedded themselves in the window before it finally gave way! Scarlett screamed and fell to the floor. Emanuel dove for cover behind the desk. A loud siren began to sound over their heads while two more cracks of gunfire snapped through the now-open window.

“Scar!”

“I-I-I think I’m okay!” Scarlett gasped. “Stay low! Crawl! Crawl for the door! Stay in the shadows!”

The couple began to scramble for the exit. Two ISO agents came to the office door in response to the gunfire and shouting, they kicked the door open, guns drawn.

“Sniper shooting at us through that window!” Scarlett barked to her men. “Shut off all escape routes!”

As she crawled past her desk, Scarlett reached up to grab a portable flash drive marked “Prometheus” and take it with her. After a few seconds desperate crawling, both she and her husband were safely in the corridor. Agents flocked around them and started shepherding their boss towards the nearest exit.

“Ma’am. We’ve got reports of a disturbance in the train station across the river. Berlin police are moving on the scene now.”

“Lock down the city!” Scarlett ordered. “No one in or out. Stop all traffic at the spaceport and frisk anyone who isn’t a local. Get me Tsiajotso, Bakir, and Sepulveda on the Hyperline right away!”

“Do you want to take the call in the comms room?” The agent asked.

“No.” the Director replied. “Route the calls to my Star Yacht. Tell the captain we’re taking off for Cape Canaveral as soon as I get on board!”



A starship was waiting for Scarlett and her husband on the roof. The luxurious Star Yacht started to spool up its engines as soon as the ISO Director was in sight. Scarlett and Emanuel were rushed into a holochamber and asked to sit in the emergency jumpseats until after takeoff. Once they were seated, the Star Yacht leapt into the sky and sped away from Berlin. Once the vessel reached its cruising altitude, two Human Starfighters rose up to join the Star Yacht in escort formation.

Inside the holochamber, Scarlett stood up from the jumpseat and gave her husband a stern look. He nodded and left the room. As soon as the door was closed behind him, a serene computerized voice spoke to Scarlett:

“Incoming Holoconfrence request: Director Freeman. Your presence is requested by the following: Fleet Admiral Ingrid Tsiajotso, Colonel Rafi Bakir, and Central Officer David Sepulveda.”

Scarlett typed her ID code into the computer and accepted the call. At once, three holographic facsimiles appeared around her, and their environs were partially recreated around them.

Standing on the bridge of the UN warship Kurt Waldheim, Admiral Tsiajotso looked very alarmed as she said:

“Director Freeman! We just heard the news. Are you okay? Where are you?”

“I’m fine.” Scarlett replied. “Someone took a run at me, but they ran out of luck at the wrong time. I’m going to Canaveral. Central, are you already there?”

David Sepulveda nodded. As Central Officer, he was second-in-command of XCOM, a storied and famous branch of the UN military. At her words, Central Officer Sepulveda snapped to attention and replied:

“Yes, ma’am. We’ve doubled security around the Cape. Nobody’s going to move for a dozen miles around here without my say-so. We’ll prepare for your landing.”

Rafi Bakir was standing on the surface of an airless world, most likely an asteroid, and wearing a fully sealed suit of power armor. His features were hidden behind a closed helmet, and when he spoke, Rafi’s voice was distorted a little.

“Director, my field agents suggest the Stormbreakers may be active on Earth. If true, they might have had a hand in this attack. Give the word and my men will return home right away.”

Scarlett shook her head.

“Absolutely not.” She answered. “The Sentry Array is a much more important target. We cannot allow the Levakians to finish construction on that thing. Your orders are the same, Bakir. Destroy that megastructure at all costs.”

Rafi nodded.

“Yes, Director.”

Scarlett looked around at the gathered leaders.

“This is a wake-up call, people.” The Director said. “Someone got close to me, close enough to end it all. From now on, security is doubled everywhere. Double guards, change all the codes. Encrypt all transmissions. We cannot allow something like this to happen again. Understood?”



Later that night, Scarlett and her husband landed safely in Florida. As soon as the Star Yacht touched down, Scarlett parted ways with her husband and sequestered herself inside of a large hypermodern building just half a mile away from the legendary launch pad “39A”. Deep inside of the structure, Scarlett entered a laboratory filled with advanced technological equipment, Scarlett stood underneath a holographic projector that replaced some ten square feet of ceiling.

“Computer, show me Project Prometheus.”

A single hologram appeared in the air in front of her. A faceless woman stood before Akira. She had no features, owing to her body being made entirely of digital wireframe. The digital woman wore no clothes, but she did have an accessory:

The digital woman was wearing a metal backpack, secured to her body with grey straps. The backpack itself contained some kind of swirling power source that emitted a shimmering green light. From the upper right corner of the backpack, a dozen wires and cables of varying color and thickness snaked their way around the digital woman’s right arm before attaching to a large metal cuff wrapped around her right forearm. Just like the backpack, the cuff seemed to contain a kind of power.

The Prometheus Device consisted of these two pieces: the strange backpack and the strange wrist-mounted contraption. And it was Scarlett’s pride and joy. She had put so much of her blood, sweat, and tears into this invention, and it was her deepest hope that once this device was ready…

Everything would change.



Thank you one and all for joining me during the 1 Million Word Celebration. I'm so happy to have achieved this goal. Now it's time to get back to work.

There are just two chapters left until All Our Sins Remembered is over.

See you there. :D
 
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What's the Prometheus Device? And it's always nice to see samples of what is to come.

And I knew that Paradox and cronies had agents in the wider galaxy!
 
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Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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Mar 1, 2018
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  • Stellaris
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What's the Prometheus Device?
All of the signs from the previous Overtures suggest that Scarlett is attempting to develop a functional Psionic weapon, despite the fact that all Psionic energy was destroyed during the final chapter of The Stormbreakers.

And I knew that Paradox and cronies had agents in the wider galaxy!
Now we just need to find the Paradox, wherever she's hiding...
 
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