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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

jasondroth24

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So after reading it all over and seeing it isn’t quite what I wanted it to be and what with the advent of Stellaris: Apocalypse soon to be released I decided to reboot Children of the Sath’ka from scratch. I realised as I looked over it, my style is changing and the story is a bit of a long rambling tale without to much clear direction and it doesn’t show the Tor’van in the way I wished them to be seen.

Aside from the game mechanics making wars extremally long winded, awkward and all in all rather dull, I noticed that the government type I had chosen for the Tor’van was not at all the way I had ended up playing them nor the way I had gone on to write them. What I think I moved into was a very bizarre form of dictatorship (which was meant to be oligarchy) and my attempts at writing it as something different seemed a rather ad hoc and ill thought out result.

Some people like writing AAR’s just as a sort of narrative to the game, I like the game to provide more of a skeleton for a narrative and I really feel I lost that with my first attempt. I also wrote the Tor’van as having a militarist ethos and yet never really explored it whilst also being unsure how to work the concept of the Sath’ka into the tale as we went.

So here goes, we shall start again. Apologies to those who liked the original story and the adventure of Kettril, but I hope this new reboot will sit better…..the Clonisia, Groll, Kapala, Rathnor and Tokkai will still feature somewhere along the line but there are other races added in and some that have been edited, I hope you enjoy reading and I hope more over I myself am happy with what I can create.

Chapter One: The Beginning that is also the End

The Royal Balcony of the Celestial Lance, Hoffmar System along the Eastern Rim, -4,000 years


Five thousand voices rose up from the streets below, throat ripping cries let loose to the heavens in defiance of the endless dark. What utter nonsense.

Odranus turned away from the cityscape before him, his father Kadamos, shaking his fists and raising the peoples anger with a fiery blast of oratory that would set most men’s hearts soaring to heaven. What complete and utter nonsense. He began to ascend the stair, leaving the All-father to address his people.

Seleneus gripped his arm gently, a smile breaking softly on her face “You are his son, you should stay. Let the people see you.” Odranus simply smiled in reply as her hand let him free.

“They have seen me, they have heard me, they know my mind” he knows my mind, ‘What I offer them they do not want and so this war will go on and he will lead them to their doom.’ He began to move further up the great stair toward the palace doors, he knew she wished to stop him, but she did not try again.

This place held nothing for him anymore for he had no wish to dwell amongst the shadows waiting for extinction to take them. Two others broke away from the group, slipping quietly up the steps after him, they too obviously tired of hearing these endless cries to battle that only ever led to them falling further into defeat.

Hellas leapt three steps bringing himself alongside the Prince, “Have you finally decided it is time to leave?”

My friend I decided that along time ago, only now am I ready.

He nodded solemnly ‘Indeera is right, we should have left with her there is nothing left here but ghosts and dead men waiting to die.’ They passed through the door into the inner chamber just of from the royal rooms. Dahamara joined them moments later pulling his electric blue cape around himself as if cold.

“It is over isn’t it? The house of Ka’vos is ended?” the words hung in the air, lifeless and cold as all three of them realised the truth of it. Near four centuries had passed since the Sat’kor had taken to flight, their home world swallowed by the shadows in the stars but despite the time and the ferocity of the war that had waged since, few had been willing to heed the calls for peace, fewer still had accepted that this war had marked the beginning of their fall.

The Prince smiled meekly at his companions ‘My House has fallen yes and our people will fall with it, but that does not mean it is over. We will go to my sister-wife, we will heed her call and help her sow seeds into the ashes and then maybe we can fade into memory and into myth knowing at least that we did not die quietly.’ I could weep, but what would I be weeping for. Another colossal roar went up from the crowds outside, thousands chanting the name of the All-father, desperate to believe the time of their people’s rebirth was on its way, blind to the fact their doom had already come and gone. They all turned for a moment, regret perhaps pulling their eyes back to the door before Odranus pulled himself up, straight backed and firm, ‘We should make haste, it is a long walk to the ships stern, four hours even at a brisk pace.’

Hellas burst into laughter for a split second, though his Princes gaze silenced it within moments. ‘Walk? To the end of the ship? She is the size of a planet my Lord, it would be easier to use the jump drives?’

He shook his head, his eyes still fixed at the doorway ‘I would say good bye properly’ his gaze shifted, taking in the beauty of the royal rooms, the crystalline pillars sparkling with the souls of their ancestors trapped within, he thought for but a few moments more, considering his friends advice ‘we shall walk the streets one last time, we will never see the like of her again I am sure.’



The Celestial Lance, Two hours later

“Be at peace with it brother, it is a necessary evil” the Prince gripped his friend Hellas’ shoulder as the young soldier whipped a tear from his eyes. The vibrations could still be felt in each of their steps and far up above a colossal aura of fire and elemental gases was dancing along the Celestial Lances shield matrix. You would have thought you would have grown used to it by now.

“Every time…..every time it happens it feels like my heart will burst with the pain. Surely, we could have researched or refined a better way than that…for a ship of such wonder, her methods are brutish at times.” Sadness sounded in Hellas’ voice as ever it did.

A ship the size of the Celestial Lance, colossal in scale to the point where it could dwarf whole worlds and moons, required an incredible energy source and not content with the slow steady recharge of solar panels and ever fearful of anti-matter technology the Sat’kor had designed an ingenious method of feeding the star-breaker class vessel. Its name is not given by chance.

Her bow was shaped into a mega-lance which when her course set into a stars heart, the engineers would drive her through the pulsing, scorching core of a systems star, bursting its heart and draining from it every scrap of solar energy that the ships collectors could rape from them.



Dahamara strode past them at pace, his feet merely glancing along the glass floors ‘Can we get a move on, the reaping will give the ships dimension drive a boost so we can cover more ground’ they both lengthened there step at the wise ones words, for he was right, the ship twisted reality around the main jump stream allowing its citizens to miss whole streets and levels in a heartbeat ‘but if we are still here by the time she jumps we will never be able to reach Indeera’s fleet.’

They went on a little further, moving at speed before Odranus stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes glazed over and his face ashen for a second. Hellas and Dahamara turned to him curious, the young soldier looking concerned ‘The All-father?’

Their prince nodded, his hands reaching up to remove the circlet from his brow, its little blue stone glowing sharply. He tossed it over the side of the platform into the cavernous depth of the city proper, light returning to his face as he did so, ‘He is looking for us, he knows we plan to leave I am sure.’ You will not stop me this time father.

Turning on his heel, Dahamara gripped the Princes arm ‘Then we must make extra time, or else we need not worry about being stranded here, you father will have my head and yours if he believes we are abandoning him.’

Off they flew, down the long gangway, passing shops and houses as they went in a blur, the reality stream projecting them along their route.



The Gateway of the Celestial Lance, One hour further

Pulse shots blasted the stone work along the opposite wall into a thousands shards, five guardsman stood in the door way, their spears lowered taking aim, one lay prostate on his back. Mercy be yours.

Odranus and his two companions raced across the hall and as they moved the Prince noted the female figure stood by the console, her hands connecting with the gateway by a coursing thread of electricity rising up from the panel and merging with her flesh, she turned to them, it was Selenus “BE QUICK YOU FOOLS, WE HAVE TO GO!” What are you doing here, the Prince turned to Hellas, who offered a reluctant smile as they ran. “Vor’ka stop them” the Princess waved to her body-guard and his men who were even now returning fire toward the doorway.

“Cousin” he gripped her upper arm tightly yanking her away from the console ‘What are you doing here? You will not stop me?’

She smiled at him again, yanking her arm free ‘I have no desire to stop you, I am coming with you’ he looked at her in astonishment as she continued her reply ‘The gods have fallen, I will not fall with them.’ They all ducked down low as a blast of blue lightening hit the gateway.

‘We must go now my Prince’ Dahamara raised his own hand to the console, closing his eyes for but a moment to feed the co-ordinates into the vessels system. In but an instant the liquid metal cover of the gateway began to melt and morph, pouring itself down into two huge basins either side of the ramp ‘It knows where we are going, now quickly! Get moving!’

Hellas did not need telling twice and with a heartbeat he had hold of Selenus pulling her through the swirling vortex at the heart of the gateway, with a nod seconds after Dahamara flew from the console, up the ramp and in a flash, was gone. Odranus turned to the door they had raced through, seeing more guards appearing “VOR’KA? QUICKLY END THIS AND COME WITH US!”

The old warrior turned, smiling at the young Prince, resignation on his face and then he spun again his fist punching out into the open air, a shockwave of kinetic energy laced with red fire projecting forward and bowling over three of the royal guards. They lay there twitching a moment as the old man turned back to his Prince, he thrust out his free hand sending another pulse of energy out that cast Odranus hurtling through the air and through the pulsating energies of the gateway. “Good bye my Prince”
 

Nikolai

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A most fascinating (re)start.:)
 

jasondroth24

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Chapter One continued: The Beginning that is also the End

The Rooms of Princess Indeera, the Bright Star Cruiser- Odranus

The tall muscular man strode past the young Prince, his eyes hard and searching, the crystal lights casting eerie pictures across his red plate armour as he exited the chamber. Odranus stepped forward a little approaching the table and the woman sat with her back to him. Through the huge view screen before the table he could see other ships surrounding the Bright Star Cruiser, other members of his sister-wife’s exiled retinue. “I see Kalesis is as loyal to you as ever” he paused a moment, waiting for her to turn toward him, ‘he still looks at me as if I were some hapless youth come to ravage you on a whim.’

The female figures shoulders shook a little and the sound of faint laughter came to his ears. ‘I though perhaps you would have been waiting for me at the gateway, but I see you are too busy for that?’

Her head turned ever so slightly, he knew she would not turn to look at him, but it was some kind off acknowledgement at least. I don’t know what I expected I guess, its been a century at least since you smiled for me. He stepped forward again, placing his hand on her shoulder looking down at the table.

He felt her warmth, though it was only bodily warmth, there was little affection there. Her fingers did not once take themselves out of the holographic D.N.A strand that was projected before her, she was tweaking at it, moving the alleles around, lengthening the strand, reshaping it, playing it like an instrument. ‘Will you not speak to me at least? I am your husband and your brother I deserve at least some words of welcome.’

She stopped her work for a moment, placing her soft silken hands onto his, though she did not turn. Her voice was light though he felt the tension in her shoulders grow, ‘Is the hour so very late? Is our end so close that even you run, the Mighty Odranus?’ with those words he withdrew his hand almost instantly as if burnt, scorn thick on her tongue.

‘IT IS LATE INDEED SISTER! And here you are skulking away on the edges of nothing meddling with insects and rodents, guarded by warriors that our father could use against the enemy.’

She laughed aloud, turning on her stool to look at him, her eyes cold and her laughter colder ‘Are there still worlds left for him to burn? More blood for you and your ilk to spill before you realise all we can hope for now is to leave something behind us worth leaving?’ Harsh my sister, to harsh.

His head lowered for a moment and then he gazed back out of the view port, striding past the table ignoring her as he took in the assembled ships cruising slowly through the asteroid belt. ‘I will spill no more blood sister-wife, no more will die by my hand. I have come to make amends and to heed your call if you will have me? Hellas, Selenus and Dahamara have come to.’

Indeera rose from her seat and came alongside him, ‘You finally see we are beyond salvation then? You must accept our time is over if you are to stay here, the corruption of our father and our fall has gone to far, you must come here with an open mind and with a desire to do good my brother-husband? No more talk of empires and glorious revivals!’

He glanced at her sidelong, YOU ASK MUCH SISTER, BUT I KNOW YOU ARE RIGHT. He nodded slowly, turning his eyes back to the fleet passing through the dark void of space. He drew a breath, counting the ships and noting their classification in the back of his mind for future use, ‘They will come for us you know? If not father then the shadows in the stars, sooner or later they will come.’

She slipped her hand softly into his own, squeezing it tenderly, a small tingle of psionic energy pressing against his mind, tears welled in her eyes, ‘I know.’



The Gene Halls aboard Heavens Fury, Indeera’s Fleet, five days later

The vortex snapped shut behind them, where the jump from the Celestial Lance had felt like hours, the short step across the void of space from Indeera’s flagship to the vessel they now boarded had taken but a heartbeat.

Odranus looked around at the assembled nobles, some of whom he recognised from his fathers court; exiles and deserters all. He turned to his sister-wife, the two of them arm in arm and whispered “I hadn’t expected it would be so formal?”

She smiled broadly, though her eyes stayed fixed ahead as the two of them walked forward, “You should be used to being the centre of attention, it has been many years since they have had a royal Prince among them.” She nodded from side to side accepting the bow of the scientists assembled and following at a polite distance the leading gesture of one of her followers.

They were led without escort for a considerable distance into the ships heart, the scientist directing them silently all the way down the long winding corridors, the two spoke few words even to one another, he knew already she was trying to read his thoughts, her fingers still resting on the top of his hand were feeling for tensions in the muscle that would belie his emotion. Curious you did not mention the dimension drive? These corridors have overlapped three times now. Still don’t trust me!

Before much longer, aided no doubt by the ships twisting reality they passed through another door, their guide leaving them and through the small portal they went. A vast chamber stretched before them, magnificent to behold, its tiered gangways stretching upward for nearly a mile or more and on each level rolling out before them was lined with bio-tubes of various sizes. Odranus immediately let go of her hand and moved to the nearest wall, standing before one of the tubes.



Inside it, a tall lithe reptilian with long arms and an even longer neck slept peacefully. Odranus pushed forward his thoughts, passing through the bio-tubes exterior and probing at the beings’ mind; it was sleeping but it had no dreams or thoughts yet of its own and so he withdrew. Curious, it has potential.

Indeera moved up next to him, her hand brushing gently over the tubes console, a holo-graphic data profile flashing up before him, “These are Clonisa, reptilian in basic design…their core sample showed incredible promise and their intellect was already considerable, but I have improved it” you hope you have improved it, he took in as much of the data as he could, tucking it away. ‘I have already set a number of individuals at their liberty on their home-world, I have high hopes for them and the speed of their advancement.’

‘And their purpose?’ he eyed the being in the next tube, a stout, muscular, fur clad creature encased in time.

‘I was hoping if the adjustments run through that they rise up to a level of discovery similar to our own, they have the potential if only they can reach a level of development where they understand their capabilities.’ She flicked through the data file and Odranus offered disinterest as he moved along the row of tubes, each on filled with a completely different specimen. She watched him closely, ‘I hope in time that each one will learn its purpose and its place, each species connected by genetic link to one another, they will develop independently and find their own direction, but then I hope they will find one another and unlike ourselves they shall not seek to dominate but co-operate.’

He eyed her warily, smiling a little ‘You think in time that they will form a new galactic empire? One drawn from all of their talents and that that shall bring peace?’ Ambitious as it is foolish. She simply nodded accepting his observation as he moved ever further along.

Stopping before another bio-tube he held out his hand, drawn to the creature within, ITS THINKING – DREAMING? It was around five feet in hight, reptilian, blue scaled and its frame strong yet refined. I like it, not to ostentatious, but proud. ‘And this? What is this species name?’

She peered into the tube, her hand bringing the consoles mainframe into activation, details of its genetic structure and home-world flashing across the bio-chambers front ‘They are the Tor apparently’ she flicked a few pages of data over, ‘they need a little work but they show promise, their home planet is three jumps over, its not perfect but with some adjustments they could be interesting.’

‘Interesting? You branded yourself a goddess, sowing life across the galaxy just for the sake of interest?’ you always were a whim sickle female, arrogant even my love. He himself shifted some of the data rolls, looking closely at their physical structure.

‘Genetically they are what we need, they are strong, robust, their life span is adequate for the tasks I have in mind, but their society is fractured and their home world is not exactly conducive to swift progress, so yes they are interesting at best and waist of time perhaps at worse.’

He peered at the lifeless form, probing its thought patterns, it was aware of him, he felt its mind pushing back; interesting indeed sister-wife. ‘We shall visit them perhaps? Dahamara will know the changes their home requires and if an education in civility is what they need, let the lessons begin.’

 

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Came in too late for the one before. You're building a nice myth in this reboot, if it ends on a sort of CK2-inspired note ;)

Plus, you're providing beautiful visuals.
 

Nikolai

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Indeera is quite confident in her own god powers. I wonder how that will go...
 

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Came in too late for the one before. You're building a nice myth in this reboot, if it ends on a sort of CK2-inspired note ;)

Plus, you're providing beautiful visuals.
CK2? My CK2 is paused momentarily with apocalypse coming :D I can only do 20 chapters or so before I need abit of a chill from each narrative

Glad to have you onboard with this one......Hope you like the Sath'ka so far :D
 

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Came in too late for the one before. You're building a nice myth in this reboot, if it ends on a sort of CK2-inspired note ;)

Plus, you're providing beautiful visuals.
Those ship classes obviously want make it to the main game.....but they are pretty lush aren't they
 

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Well I liked the first version as you know. So great to see the reboot. As you say, what better way than to begin with the Sath'ka
 

jasondroth24

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Well I liked the first version as you know. So great to see the reboot. As you say, what better way than to begin with the Sath'ka
It just drifted for me the original.....as you may have noticed the chapters varied in constant directions that didn't necessarily correlate, the depth of their species felt a little flimsy and the game mechanics of war time make conflicts at present into an all or nothing situation for very little game..............u essentially have to annihilate an entire empire to claim one world.......unlike in CK2 or Europa were little wars are as interesting as huge wars of conquest.

This time I have learnt myself as well as far as AAR's are concerned.....I have a lot of material to pick up with my CK2 AAR and I shall do, but I have let it rest in a good place atm on the walls of Bolougne, but I find my brain and creatives juices need to flip genre every so often to keep the material fresh
 

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Chapter One continued: The Beginning that is also the End

The Sat’kor Home-world, One hundred and fifty years previous- Indeera

“Princess come, we must leave now the a palace will fall within the hour” Kalesis yanked at her arm, trying to prize her fingers from the balconies rail “PRINCESS PLEASE, there is little time.”

TIME? LITTLE TIME? TIME HAS ENDED!

She gazed up at the heavens, it was mid-day and yet the sky was near black, the light of the sun was gone, the only light to be had was cast by the unnatural lightening that now split the sky and the fall of fighter jets plummeting to the ground in flames. Her blood was cold and her mind usually so sharp was trapped in horror.

Great black jaws, like the Great Beast told off in the ancient legends had swallowed the stars light, clawing black tendrils wrapping across the surface of the two moons. This darkness was beyond anything she had seen before, and it tore at her mind, clawing at her soul. Screams and wails rose up from the city streets, weapons fire and death rising in ferocious symphony.

A huge explosion burst into life a mile or so off, the flames licking the skyline, even from this distance the heat of the blast could be felt. THE HOLY OF HOLIES, THE TEMPLE OF ALL GODS!! IT IS GONE! THIS IS OVER!

Princess I beg you’ his voice was low, soft and imploring, her lifelong guard wrapped his arms around her waist yanking her from the rail and pulling her toward the doorway ‘WE MUST LEAVE, NO HELP WILL COME NOW.’ She did not fight him, there was no strength in her left, no fire or love; My people, my people….

They moved inside the palace, the corridor cold and dark like the skies outside, flashes of lightning casting shadows from the window, the weapons of the enemy ripping the very air itself apart and forcing nature to rebel. Gunfire rang down the corridor to the left and Kalesis pulled her to the right, shoving her without care down a side passage, his solar rifle slung over his shoulder.

A woman’s scream echoed in the darkness, cut short.


The Sat’kor Home-world, One hundred and fifty years previous- Indeera

Her feet felt light upon the cold stone floor, rubble passing with little notice beneath her soft feet as her friend pushed her onward, passing from a corridor out into a wide open plaza. Palace guards filled the open vista, hiding behind fountains and benches, their weapons firing at the door way on the far side, as return blasts of purple electricity sparked.

A guardsman fell, his cries engulfed in a charge of raw power, his skin peeling from his bones as the centre point of the blast swallowed him. She could not see the oncoming enemy, but the dread in her stomach told her that the beasts were close.

Kalesis held her a moment, pushing her back against a pillar, his body covering hers. Volley fire rung out and the screaming did not stop, but the shrill whooping of the enemy triumphant chilled her. ‘Be calm Princess, be calm and all will be well, the jump portal is not far and we will be safe.’ She shook her head in reply, though she knew not why, she had no power over herself at this moment and she knew all to well her life depended on her friends skill as a soldier rather than her own gifts.

A boom rang out some way off, an the darkness retreat as the ground shook beneath them. ORBITAL GUNS, THEY WILL DESTROY THE WHOLE PLANET BEFORE THEY ARE DONE! Her eyes met her friends, they both understood that death was near. Nothing would be left before the day was over. Her father was far out along the northern rim, the royal armada no doubt oblivious of the doom about to befall their home.

What have you done to us father? Why could you not see this is how it would always have ended. She tried to push her mind out, across the endless void of space, searching amid the death cries and passing souls for the mind of her father; for all his cruelty, for all his misguided desires and dreams of conquest, he was the only one with the power at hand to stop their doom.

The Sat’kor Home-world, One hundred and fifty years previous- Indeera

Tears did not come, not a single one despite the image before her. Her wrist was gripped tight and Kalesis pulled her onward, leading the way, his solar rifle blasting a field of fire before them, its bright white light searing to ashes one of the enemy troopers.

She turned for one last look, her feet offering the feintest resistances for but a moment. Her mother, Parvati lay dead, one of the dark ones stood over her limp body, holding it by the throat. Parvati, God-Empress, the All-mother was dead and Indeera’s heart was oddly glad her mother would not see the depth of night, when her people would be cast into exile and oblivion. The long death would not be hers.

The portal waxed before them both, the Princess oddly reluctant to leave though she had no desire to stay, she wanted to live, she longed for life but to see a whole world dying, to feel a billion souls and more passing into the shadow made her see the welcoming side of death. Kalesis obviously read her thoughts for he spun her on the spot as if she were a child once more, gripping her cheeks as he gazed into her eyes, ‘NOT TONIGHT PRINCESS, WE DO NOT DIE HERE!’

A sob came but no tears followed it, there were to many being shed for the gods to grant her any of her own. He pulled her shawl around her, as if the cold was her greatest danger and with gentle care he led her up the ramp to the jump portal, its twisting energies reaching out to them both.

She turned one last time, looking upon her home. All around them it burned, bright flashes of red fire erupted and the bodies of the palace guard vanished in nothing as anti-matter weapon fire swallowed their every atom. Pillars fell and stone cracked as the orbital guns rained down on the palace walls. Over by the western door she saw her old tutor, running toward them, his robes ablaze, an acolyte trying to beat the flames away before he to vanished in a burst of light. Dahamara the wise, Dahmara the world-shaper as was, Dahamara the scorched as would soon be.
 

stnylan

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Defeat and disaster is never pretty, even when well depicted
 

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Don't ask me why, this brought to my mind images from Constantinople on the night of May 28th, 1453.
 

stnylan

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Don't ask me why, this brought to my mind images from Constantinople on the night of May 28th, 1453.
Very apt I think. I was thinking Troy and Aeneas, but it works regardless
 

jasondroth24

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Chapter One continued: The Beginning that is also the End

The Great Temple of Lo’dar, the Desert World of Carphelia, 27 years before the Fall

Kadamos mounted the great stair case leading up to the mouth of the colossal pyramid, the assembled ranks of the Vitori Sisterhood lined up above him, the High Priestess of Lo’dar alone at the centre. Below them in the city streets, the people of Carphelia watched with tear filled eyes the submission of their home-world to the All-Father and his legions.

He turned and cast his eye over the city and its soaring temple mounts, a jewel greater than almost any before that was now to be added to his list of conquests. The High Priestess was gazing down at him, sorrow filling her eyes as all about her the sobs of the sisterhood fell on the dry, sun scorched stones.

As he cleared the final steps the blue skinned, matriarch bowed low, her eyes cast down to the floor in apparent humility. Kadamos looked down at her with hungry eyes, she was beautiful in her own way; alien, exotic and servile. “I appreciate the warm reception High Priestess albeit you seem to have misjudged my intent.” Its not you that I want.



Her eyes flashed up at him, anger brimming “I know what you want All-father, I know what you desire over all things and I know why you are here” she extend her arm out to the temples dark looming interior, ‘You want the oracle….you could have just asked.’

He smiled at her warily, ‘I could have done, but the answer may not have been to my liking, this way with an army in toe I think you will be more agreeable.’ The Priestess did not take the bait, she simply rose from her bow and walked off toward the doorway and the All-father followed her into the gloom, into the cold dark of the temple.

She did not turn to look at him, she simply strode on ahead with her robes flaring out behind her as they took a flight of steps, dropping down into what looked like eternity. ‘Regardless of whether you come with an army of not, All-father my answer would have been the same and so the oracles will be to.’

Deeper they went down the long black stair, further away from the scorching glare of the sun above into what felt like the cold embrace of the grave before they came to a long corridor, illuminated just slightly by the glow of torches. Is it necessary to lock a child so deep down?

They stopped before a huge marble door and without word or gesture the great portal swung open revealing a space beyond. The High Priestess did not break her stride or stop her advance until she stood on the edges of a circle that filled the central space, Kadamos slowing behind her, his eyes scanned the floor, taking not of the bizarre emblems that glowed in the half-light. Surrounding the circle twelve silent sentinels stood, electrified pole-arms in one hand, sparking wildly.

At the circles heart, seated upon a thin iron chair, a young female with green skin was chained, her head drooping to one side. The oracle! The High Priestess turned to him, looking him up and down, disdain upon her face, “Speak Kadamos Star-Breaker, ask the oracle and she shall answer.”



He stepped forward with a slight hesitation, suddenly the words seemed silly. He eyed the guardsmen stood silently watching, their eyes focussed not on him but the chained figure seated within the circle. ‘Oracle’ came the words, but no answer came, no acknowledgment that she had heard him, but a gentle nod from the High Priestess urged him to go on, ‘Silence has fallen on the eastern rim, no psycher I possess in my halls or comm-link we can send seems to be able to breach the shroud that has fallen….I would have you cast your eyes to your sister in the east, I command you to speak to her and tell me what is happening.’

The oracles head moved a little and her body shook, words pouring from her mouth like a silent song but they were clear as day to the All-fathers mind, ‘The King of Tethia today falls and so begins the doom of all, the stars of the east will fade away and a Queens flesh shall turn to grey.’

‘What nonsense is this?’ he turned to the Priestess though her eyes were shut, ‘You speak in riddles girl and I need you to be clear.’

‘A beast made of midnight shall arise and bring death to the city in the skies. When Sat’kor see’s its final day so all hope will run away. To deaths door you shall come and then you shall see this battle can not be won. See the beasts of darkness and fire, the doom of worlds yourself made pyre.’ The young woman’s head lopped back, gargling coming through her throat as she trembled.

Kadamos turned his head slowly toward the Priestess, ‘This is not what I need! I want answers not more riddles…..’ he paused for a moment, taking in the smug expression on the females face, ‘MAKING HER SPEAK!’ His hand flashed out and he struck the priestess hard across the cheek, sending her flailing over the cold floor.

The Oracle leapt up, chains holding her in place……just. Her robes burst into life as if caught on an unseen gale, her fingers arching and reaching out. A blast from within took Kadamos of his feet, sending him flying across the room, a shrill shriek clawing at his mind. “OUT NOW STAR-KILLER, SOUL EATER, OUT NOW AS THE BEAST COMES! TETHIA FALLS” the oracle slumped back into her chair, her energy ebbing, ‘Tethia falls’ she looked vaguely lucid for a moment as if her mind and body had joined, clutching at one another ‘Tethia falls and it will come for us.’





The Royal Mausoleum of Tethia Prime, 27 years before the Fall

“PLANETARY DEFENCE PROTOCOL X81 INITATED” the voice was nearly a perfect replica of his daughter, the face a mirror image. Just a phantom of things long gone. ‘ASSIMILATION PROTOCOL PROCESSOR 19-11—44—2 INTIATED’. The clock had begun and even as the voice gave its acknowledgement to the programs it had been instructed to run, King Avo’cos wished he could think again.

A colossal metal panel began to descend over the Mausoleums great viewing port, its inner doors slamming shut one, by one, distant booms growing closer as the outer entrances and inner chambers ceiled themselves against eternity. How long I wonder shall we sleep? If you can call it sleep! If only when I wake this nightmare is over. Avo’cos stood silent and still, like the great mausoleum itself, unmoving as the final doors to the Eternal Throne-room slammed shut and the locking mechanisms signalled the ending of all he knew.

Snarls and low screeches came from out of the darkness that surrounded the vast chambers far reaching walls. The King felt eyes upon his back. In the darkness were beings locked in half-life, driven mad and forced into barbarism by the horrors that had descended upon Tethia Prime, millions of the poor and defenceless now haunted Tethia Primes cities, cannibalising one another, clawing at the doors to the ancient monuments. They would not live long without food in this place, though their cybernetic implants would grant them a little longer. Perhaps one day people will find your corpses and they will think you were our glory. Those that haunted the outside world however, they were the last sorry remnant of a people devastated by the Beast of Midnight.



But other eyes watched him, the hologram to his left, empty and vacant though they appeared as one he loved and then to the right, the lifeless and cold-red glow of two assimilator droids. He breathed deeply, the end is here is it not. No more running. God, I am tired.

HIVE-MIND SAFETY PROTOCOLS 91-H-ALPHA’DO INITIATED’ the hologram flickered, it was coming for him the deathless sleep and he braced himself as the two droids took him by the arms and led him toward the cold stone slab that would be his eternal resting place.

He turned for one last look at the projection, “Computer main frame, order select” his mind shifted using the frontal lobe modifications to flick through the main command protocols “Delete holographic library, title- House Ade’ca.” As the order was acknowledge and implemented the hologram blinked from existence, the Tethians were gone and so he let the droids move him forward, laying him gently down onto the slab.

A sharp pain followed as metal wires jutted into his down turned palm, the red-eyed droids leering over him, one sticking a clasping metal device into the side of his temple. His head swooned as the little object, shot a thin needle like tip into his cranium. Long winding iron clawed arms came down from the ceiling, removing his respirator mask as another set of steel wires began to coil themselves around his chest, pushing gently beneath the skin. Avo’cos would soon be no more, his head slowly swaying as a wave of thought past through that was not his own.

It came again, and again, and again, an again. Rings, inside rings, inside ring, inside rings. Over and over, and over and over and over again. Something was propping his mind, forcing his muscles to tense and his heart to pump harder, and harder and harder and harder and harder and harder and harder and harder.

Tethia was falling and across the planet millions of his kin, those unlucky enough to escape the madness of the ghoulish beasts were giving themselves up to cold adamantium, an eternal army, locked in slumber, one mind falling into the blackness.

The State of the Galaxy, 15 years before the fall of Sat’Kor

A thousand worlds had fallen, the skies to the east dimming as star system after star system fell first to a wave of pirates and slavers pushed ahead of the coming shadow and then they were consumed by a beast from the darkest void. Those worlds and people who survived the shadows passing, broken beyond recognition or repair, doomed to a slow death.

Whole worlds plunged into fire and ice, water worlds finding the warm currents slow and great sheets of frost spreading over them whilst other worlds, once lush with forests burned away to desert sand.

Death and shadow, unending, unforgiving.

The jungle worlds of the Gor’pi fought for weeks against hordes of space-born raiders. Before the walls of the Fortress City of Pi-gwan the Gor race fell, armies beyond number, a legion of savage beasts like an black flood throwing themselves against the stones. In the dying days their greatest hero, Mu-tak stood at the last door, surrounded by his most loyal troops fighting to the death as long black talons burnt away the sky.



On Vogos Delta, the God-Empress of the Jackat threw herself upon the mercy of the gods, her acidic blood claiming the life of the pirate fleets mighty Khandrake. The pink coloured oceans of her home-world, boiling away as the beast born in shadow, devoured the sun and moons.



Out on the western rim, the water world of Mercot was submitted to planetary annihilation the likes of which had never been seen before and an entire civilisation and its home were blasted from existence by the planet-killer guns of the Or’aki raiders.



Far to the south amid the already fallen ruins of the ancient Chepan cities, a mighty drake set the mountain forests aflame and the weight of its feet cracked the earth as it gorged its hunger on the planets heart. All that remained of the Chepanee fleeing into the under-dark to escape its fury, locked forever in bottomless caverns.



Only the Sat’kor and their near in dominatable empire stood resolute, the madness of their King and his ruthless fight the only defence against an army without mercy and a monster without a heart.






 
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stnylan

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Chapter Two: The Early Tor’van

The Neolithic Settlement of Orphea, Talos, Hellas System, 30 years from the Fall

Grains poured through Indeera’s like the sands of time, Odranus looked at her softly. What a beautiful smile. She lifted another lid from a basket, smelling the gentle aroma of the seeds within. He moved toward her placing his hand over hers and gently putting the lid back down, ‘They have done better than you thought?’

She let his hand rest on hers a moment, looking up at the solid beams holding up the store huts ceiling before she withdrew slowly, ‘They have indeed shown more promise than I imagined in such a short space of time.’

A group of Tor’van females entered the hut, bare chested, their blue scales dirt marked and dusty from their labours, a small male child tottering about as they lay their loads down, totally oblivious to the ascended eyes stood among them. Odranus turned slightly to observe them and listen to their chatter. Still their language could do with a little refinement.

Indeera, gave him a gentle nudge, reading his thoughts ‘In time, everything takes time brother-husband, they have only just mastered farming we can not expect too much to soon.’ She moved off, careful not to touch the females laughing and taunting one another. A mother’s firm hand gripped the little child and pulled him close, as if she sensed the two phantoms stood in their midst.

What had been but a few years before a small collection of mud huts was morphing steadily into something that looked vaguely like civilisation. Odranus came up behind her, eying the little street that led to the central hall that had just recently been made the focal point of the settlement they had heard to locals call Orphea. ‘They could do with building some walls’ he gestured towards the villages frontier, were this little breath of civilisation gave way to the wild woods beyond. ‘If we have learnt anything it is to beware what lurks out of sight.’


She smiled at him, reluctant, both knowing the doom that had befallen their own home a half century earlier. ‘Perhaps you could plant the idea in one of their dreams, show them how to lay stone upon stone…’ she shrugged at the suggestion ‘There is granite bed some twenty miles away, it could be useful to them.’

They both turned away from the forest edge, moving toward the central circle ‘I might just do that, if you would let me rest for a night.’ A grin, laced with smut crossed his face and a spark of joy shone in his eye. They went on in silence passing by an elderly female weaving a basket from reeds and cord outside her little hut. Ahead of them stood tall and proud outside his home Li’eth, the man she was subtly coaching in the ways of rulership was stood amid a band of advisors admiring the raising of a new building.

He did not know it but over the past two years Indeera had been entering his dreams and intruding upon his waking thoughts near daily, shaping his choices and urging him along particular directions in order to realise the dream that was Orphea. Odranus inclined his head toward Li’eth, ‘You picked well with him, I was not sure at the time but he has ambition and drive that would twig even our fathers curiosity.’

She hesitated a moment, before turning away from the scene before them, ‘A pity history will not remember his name.’ her attention was drawn to the sudden flight of birds bursting from the tree line. They both scanned the edges of the woodland looking for signs of wild-beast, but none came, yet an odd silence descended for a moment before the trees began to shake, moving toward them. Seconds on and the sound of crashing baskets, an shrieking females erupted, the ground was heaving terribly.

‘Earthshaker’ came the guttural cry as they looked at each other nervously, they could feel the tremors and see the sudden alarm, though they themselves were in no danger at all. A loud crack sounded to the side and where the elderly female had been sat, a pile of broken wood now was as her home caved forward, crushing her in a heartbeat. For all its apparent idyllic beauty, Talos was a most unsettled world. The earth shook violently and without warning, whilst the skies and seas were prone to exceptionally rapid change that could devastate entire swathes of land in but a span of hours.

This was no Eden on which to nurture, a great civilisation.



Extract from the Tor’van Historic Archive (Property of the Institute of Sociology)
Author: Li-go Ti (Former Professor of the Sociological Society/ STATUS- EXPELLED)
RECORD: 90-3T NEO
REFERENCES: KOPA-TOR/ ORPHEA/ NEOLITHIC/ FOUNDING


“Whilst the temple manuscripts offer many curious reads relating to the creation of Tor’van society and the origins of our most sacred capital, I for one think a more logical and academic approach is sometimes needed to uncover the reality behind what the priesthood would wish to suggest is a simple truth.

I do not dispute that Orphea has a long and prodigious history dating back to approximately -3900 GC. However, I do dispute the notion set down by the priesthood and the cities elite that she has always been in the position she now holds.


During the late Neolithic age, Tor’van society experienced several revolutionary discoveries in an exceptionally short window of time. In the northern hemisphere, where the weather patterns were according to our simulations more stable a dominant umbrella culture group emerged known as the Kopa-tor or Seed-sowers.

It is from evidence gathered across numerous archaeological sites that we can place the founders of Orphea within the group. However, the Orethia tribe referred to in the ancient manuscripts were not the only people at this time belonging to the Kopa-tor culture and across the northern continent a myriad of settlements arose along the banks of major rivers, in natural harbours and on the edges of great forests were plentiful supplies of game, wild-fruits, timber and rich soil allowed the wandering tribes to finally settle and build their homes.

Made up of over nine different sub-groups the culture group however, shares a number of similarities regardless of population density including; basket making, grain harvesting, building structure and burial practises.

As the Neolithic age moved on into the ancient/classic age we notice an ever greater diversification off the Kopa culture as groups from further south migrated up into their heartland, bringing with them strong influences on religious practise, farming, warfare and tool making. Despite these changes though, the strength of the Kopa-tor settlements distinctiveness still holds on and we notice in the archaeological record a consistency in methods of construction and production. In fact, by the end of the Neolithic age around fourteen unique settlements have been identified physically and a further twelve can be vaguely located using ancient text as writing cultures came from the east.


The Rooms of Princess Indeera, the Bright Star Cruiser, 36 years after the Fall of Sat’kor


Talos loomed large on the view portal, a massive electromagnetic storm made of deep black clouding shifting across the eastern face of the planet. Despite the beauty of the scene before her desk, Indeera and her companion Dahamara’s eyes were fixed firmly on the task before them, a holographic simulation running itself over the desks surface.

Having stabilised the planets tectonic activity in the previous year and then quelling the solar storms coursing through the systems star, the two of them were now hard at work trying to find away to bring greater consistency to Talos’ constantly shifting weather patterns. Biting frost, freezing fog, monsoons and flash flooding fought in constant paradox with blistering fires, rapid desertification, sky-breaking thunderstorms and extended periods of drought.

A door opened to the rear and a servant entered the chamber drawing Indeeras attention from her work, “Is everything ready Maketh? Have all of our people cleared the surface?”

The poor male servant, hesitated casting his eyes out of the viewing portal to the planets surface. He smoothed his robes as he drew a deep breath, “Not all have returned yet Princess, though I have summoned them all.”

Dahamara turned to the servant, unamused by the disturbance “Who is still down there?”

Maketh paused a moment, looked at his lady for permission to continue and a gentle nod told him to go on. ‘The Lady Selenus my Lord is still on the surface, she has refused to answer.’
Foolish girl, why are the young so impetuous. Indeera rolled her eyes, taking a moment to look down at the planet, ‘Where is she now my friend?’



‘Our locator system shows she has been fixed in one spot for nearly an hour, she is to the south east in the territory of I think the Tel’vokai…’ he paused again, Indeera not bothering to look at him, what is her fascination with a bunch of wandering nomads I wonder. Maketh coughed slightly, obviously not quite finished, ‘Forgive me Highness but I did not think it appropriate to forcibly remove her from the surface.’

Indeera moved her head slightly, locking eyes with Maketh, ‘You are quite right my friend, it is not appropriate, desirable yes but quite inappropriate.’ She glanced at Dahamara, whose eyes had returned to his work, she could feel his exasperation, ‘You may go friend, I will fetch Selenus myself.’
She waited a moment allowing her servant to exit the chamber before rising from her seat ‘If you will excuse me Lord, I shall have to leave you.’

Dahamara waived a hand dismissively, obviously falling down into his calculations. Only he, only one so wise would dare to so off handily dismiss a Princess of the blood. No matter.

The Territory of the Tel’vokai Tribe, the South East Surface of Talos- Indeera

The corpse lay softly on the floor, a male Tor’van who looked to be in the prime of life, only the deep gash across his chest showed reason for death, though there were signs of another slice across his cheek it was hidden beneath ritual paint. A female was placing a necklace of shells and beads around his neck as to the left, four younger males were digging his grave with their bare hands.

Indeera stepped quietly up behind Selenus, “I trust he was a very dear friend to you, that you would ignore my orders to attend his funeral?” Dark storm clouds loomed of to the east, as the electromagnetic storm she had seen from orbit grew closer to them.

‘This group special and I suppose that means the dead one is special to. I could not miss seeing him put to bed.’ Selenus looked hesitantly at her Princess for but a few seconds before they shifted quickly back to the ritual. ‘They are not like the rest of them…these are different.’

Indeera moved alongside Selenus, glancing over the scene before her, I see not how? It is a standard format for primitive funeral ritual, what exactly is meant to be special about that? Her eyes wandered over the funeral wares, small baskets of seeds, a hunk of burnt meat, a few thongs of leather covered with feathers and beads, a flint axe. ‘Am I missing something?’ her irritation sounded obvious and it was not helped by Selenus smiling. There was one obvious chief mourner, who no doubt was his life-mate, six adult males of similar age, fourteen females, nine infants and three elder males, a large but rather normal nomadic group for all intents. ‘I do not see it at all, tell me what I am meant to think is so special.’

‘The crystals, look at the crystals’ Selenus pointed to a number of bright pink stones resting neatly beside the rocks that would soon top the warriors grave and the Princesses eyes lingered on them a moment before the younger woman then directed her attention to a sitting elder, who held one of the stones over his eyes ‘He can see us!’

Shock swelled in Indeera, her neck snapping sharply round to her companion ‘How on earth is that possible?’ she pushed out her mind, probing the elders thought patterns, wonder and amazement, fear, confusion, curiosity. ‘Where did they learn to do that? Tell me you did not show them?’

Selenus shook her head softly ‘They found them all by themselves, with no help from me. I don’t know how, but they can see us and more importantly, they can use the stones to hear us.’

More shock came to the Princesses mind, this was not possible these primitives could not be so keen minded surely, she had seen none of that potential, but as her mind walked amongst the little cortege she noticed a word that filled her with certainty, a word every single one of them was silently uttering; Sath’ka…. Not quiet right but still not possible for them to know. She thought a moment, taking in the possibilities. Lighting flashed of in the distances followed a few minutes later by the sound of rolling thunder. ‘ I must think on this a while, but right now I think it is time we left.’



Extract from the Tor’van Historic Archive (Property of the Institute of Sociology)
Author: Mat-che Tek (Former Professor of the Sociological Society/ STATUS- EXPELLED)
RECORD: 70-5XC NEO-TOR
REFERENCES: TEL’VOKAI/ MIGRATION/ NEOLITHIC/INTERGRATION/RITUAL


The Tel’vokai nomads formed a sub-cultural branch of the Tel’voran peoples of the Great Savannah and can be identified as developing around -3960 if not a little earlier. Archaeological evidence shows this particular group of our early ancestry stretching from the desert scrub lands of the Mecanet planes to the grasslands of the far south, Teth-lan peninsula.

Unlike many within their culture group, the Tel’vokai are easily identifiable by their heavy application of ritual practise, principally their burial sites, which are filled with artefacts including; jewellery, pottery, semi-mummified remains (albeit this is a later development), ritual sacrifice, animal and plant offerings and sets of semi-precious crystalline objects believed to be used as a method of communication with the divine.

In around -3700 the Tel’vokai nomads began to migrate into the temperate regions further north and west as pressure from extensive drought, fires and electro-magnetic storms stalled the development of their society as is evident from the limited number of established and later abandoned settlements.