Macavity116

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I already figured out Mira was Aku in Chapter 3.That was rather obvious...

Hmm... you are right about Princess Aku being impersonated, but you've got the wrong impersonator.

Hint: Given enough makeup and practice, a young person can easily pass themselves off as being middle-aged... and as of right now, Whetu Kealoha and Yukiko Takahashi are both unaccounted for.

I'm planning to post the new chapter around 5:00pm Eastern Daylight Time, (gotta get some screenshots) and I've just now added an extra line of narration to it that should give away which member of Kendra's government is being impersonated by Mira. You, the reader, should be able to spot Mira by the time the chapter is over, even though she won't be unmasked. Happy hunting! ;)
 

HistoryDude

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Hmm...If I had to,I’d go with Yukiko but only because I think Whetu would be using her special Psionic power.
Speaking of which,are the readAARs ever going to learn what Mira’s third power was??
 

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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Speaking of which,are the readAARs ever going to learn what Mira’s third power was??

Mira's powers are exhausted, so the readers won't get to see it used in-story. I did assign her one, though. There was going to be a scene in After Everything where she used it, but I ended up cutting it out because Chapter Five was getting way too long. (50 pages, 21,188 words)

All of the Gifted main characters in my stories (both written and unwritten) have a Unique Power. I have to keep a list of who has what power now so no one accidentally gets a repeat power. :p
 
Chapter 4.3: The Levakian Confederation

Macavity116

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Chapter 4.3
The Levakian Confederation

November 14, 1928 A.D.
LVK Shieldbreaker, Airspace above The Mangaia, Kingdom of Partoga


“Oh, Tantomile... I’m so sorry.” Rhassa said quietly, holding back tears. “Your mother... our Empress...”

“We’ll get emotional later.” Empress Tantomile said coldly. “We’ve got other issues.”

“We’re flying into a trap, aren’t we?” Rhassa asked.

“Yeah.” Tantomile replied.

“Hostiles gonna greet us on the ground?”

“Definitely.”

“Levakians or Partogans?”

“Levakians.”

“Emerdon?”

“Most likely.”

“What’s our play?”

Empress Tantomile looked from one lion to the next. The entire bridge crew of the Shieldbreaker had recovered from the initial shock and were now growling angrily. Everyone was clearly itching for a fight. The new Empress raised her voice and roared!

“SOUND GENRAL QUARTERS!”



The Shieldbreaker began pulling up and away from The Mangaia, ignoring transmissions from the ground the whole time. Screaming through the air, the Marine Frigate broke free of Partoga’s atmosphere and started retreating back towards Tantomile’s mercenary fleet... except...

“What the hell!?” Tantomile gasped, “Where’s my fleet!?

The space above Partoga was almost completely empty. Aside from a small cluster of lights that was a Royal Navy Task force in the distance, there was no sign of Tantomile’s mercenary fleet.

“We left them in this orbit and inclination, right?” Tantomile said, “Where is everyone?”

Rhassa got on the radio.

“This is Shieldbreaker calling any fleet vessel in the area. Acknowledge and respond at once.”

No answer. Rhassa pulled up the sensors manager.

Just barely detectable via long-range sensors, both Tantomile and Coricopat’s fleets had scattered across the Trecta Star system, escaping in all possible directions at maximum speed. Rhassa pointed down at the sensors manager and said,

“I don’t believe it! They’re all running away!”

Tantomile flicked her ears, showing how agitated she felt.

“Running away? From what!?”

Rhassa scanned the screen, looking for something that could have spooked two heavily armed mercenary fleets. When she finally spotted the cause for alarm, her eyes went wide.

“Tan- uh, Your Highness... We’ve got a Hyperspace Signature twenty Kios off our bow! It’s...”

Rhassa paused while she tried to interpret the data.

y4mLyqWepAs6_eXjR3JpCTgpgOhhJrAjvQQmptHO3uE4PDGtCndXIhXKapldB8tYW9uEVoKyTlc62ENtT7q7NfynHwxY0I26un9pcpAonushEa_oZglkzQabT9Q4u5F0zJ-xJcBIlZiFBhEP-mDDDO13ddMTPrsftUIOA9Ftnb3geQhqFSbRHvl-DNEp7zPeOZRmWROwBGEcfjDFMqlXOuFIg
Caption said:
The HMS Queen Lucy exits Hyperspace directly in front of the Shieldbreaker.

“A fleet! A Partogan fleet is dropping out of Hyperspace in front of us! I count one Mothership, two carriers, two heavy cruisers, five destroyers, one missile destroyer, and about forty Frigates! They’re all moving towards us on attack vectors with weapons hot!”

“Which Mothership is it?” Tantomile asked quickly.

“Looks like the HMS Queen Lucy from Task Force Ussal, but I’m not sure. One of their transponders is squawking the “hijack” signal, but the other two are reporting ‘normal operations.’”

Before Tantomile could respond, a painfully loud burst of microphone feedback squealed out of the communications system. Momentarily stunned, Tantomile could do nothing else but listen to an unfamiliar voice as it began to speak.

“Attention LVK Shieldbreaker. This is Task Force Ussal Flagship Queen Lucy. Shut down your engines and depolarize your armor. Your ship is to be seized and interred immediately. I repeat, shut down your engines and-”

“RHASSA!!” Tantomile roared, “ENGINES AHEAD FLANK!! POLARIZE ARMOR AND CHARGE THE HYPERSPACE MODULE!!”

The Shieldbreaker tore out of orbit and began fleeing towards the outermost edge of the Trecta system. Behind her, the Queen Lucy and her fleet began to give pursuit. On the bridge, Sebakhira gripped the back of the Captain’s chair and said,

“How long does it take to charge the Hyperspace Module?”

“About eight minutes.” the new Empress replied. “I need you to do a run-though of decks One and Five, make sure both of the turrets are crewed and ready to fire. Hey Rhassa!”

Rhassa looked up from her station.

“Get a closer look at the Queen Lucy.” Tantomile said, “Tell me anything useful!”

Rhassa ordered one of the other bridge crew lions to scan the Queen Lucy while Sebakhira exited the bridge.

“Oh, no.” Rhassa moaned. “I see weapon impacts all over the Queen Lucy’s hull. Lots of pockmarks from Mass Driver Cannons, a few Ion Beam punctures...come on, where are they... I know they’re there... There they are! Your Highness, I can see five Infiltrator Modules attached to the dorsal side of the Mothership’s hull. That ship’s been commandeered!

“Oh, you’ve gotta be kidding me!” Tantomile yelled. “Keep pushing for the edge of the system and plot a Short Jump to Nithascal. We’ve gotta get away from that thing!”

“Your Highness!” called out another lion, “Six ships just launched from the Queen Lucy’s hangar bay! I see two Assault Frigates, one Ion Cannon Frigate, one Gravwell generator, and two Salvage Corvettes!”

“They’re gonna capture us!” Rhassa said.

“Not if I’ve got anything to say about it!” Tantomile said. “Put me on the radio, wide band! Make sure everyone can hear me!”

The Shieldbreaker began to broadcast on every possible frequency, allowing Tantomile’s voice to be heard at every receiver in the system. Mining stations, Fort Daxia, the Queen Lucy, and every competent radio operator on Partoga itself picked up on what happened next.

Queen Lucy, this is Shieldbreaker!” Tantomile transmitted, “Disengage, repeat DISENGAGE! We are friendlies!”

No response.

“Enemy vessels closing!” Rhassa reported. “Five hundred Kios off our stern. Thirty seconds until they’re in weapons range!”

“Spool up the Mass Drivers!” Tantomile commanded, then she transmitted again, “Friendlies at your front, Queen Lucy! Break off your attack now or we will be forced to defend ourselves!”

The Shieldbreaker shot past the planet Kiwa, Partoga’s closest neighbor in the system, and continued to make a beeline for the edge of the system.

“Hyperspace module still charging!” Rhassa reported, “We can jump in four minutes!”

Sebakhira came back onto the bridge.

“The crew is ready to fight!” she said. “What should I do?”

Tantomile took a quick peek at the hostile force arrayed against her.

“Get to a Radiation Shelter.” She said. “We’re gonna jump in a minute.”

“They’re in weapons range!” Rhassa yelled. “They’ve target-locked us!”

“Lock’em back!” Tantomile ordered. “Mayday Mayday Mayday! LVK Shieldbreaker is buddy-spiked! Anyone who can hear us, we are Kadin One! Repeat, KADIN ONE IS UNDER ATTACK! SEND HELP IMMEDIATELY! THE EMPRESS IS ON BOARD! WE ARE KADIN ONE!

“They’ve opened fire!” Rhassa said, “Incoming Mass Driver rounds!”

Whunt!

The bridge lurched at the Shieldbreaker was hit! Tantomile dug her claws into the armrests to stop herself tumbling out of the Captain’s chair.

“Superficial damage!” reported the ship’s weapon’s controller. “They grazed our armor!”

“Return fire!” Tantomile commanded, “Aim for their bridge!”

Both of the Shieldbreaker’s Mass Driver Turrets spun 180 degrees and began to spit fire towards the oncoming warships. The enemy Ion Cannon Frigate pulled ahead of its escort and fired a bright blue beam of charged particles at Tantomile’s ship! On the bridge, the new Empress and her comrades braced themselves for another impact, but none came.

“They missed!” Rhassa reported, “But not by much! Hyperspace Module will be done charging in one minute!”

“This is it!” said Tantomile. “Everyone get to a Radiation Shelter! Rhassa, set the Hyperspace Module for a sixty-second delay!”

Every member of the Shieldbreaker crew left their posts and moved to one of the six Radiation Shelters scattered around the ship. While Tantomile, Sebakhira, and Rhassa vacated the bridge, a serene computerized voice spoke over the ship’s intercom:

“Emergency Hyperspace Jump in-sixty-seconds.”

Tantomile, Rhassa, Sebakhira, and nearly thirty other lions crammed themselves into the Radiation Shelter just beneath the bridge and slammed the heavy lead door shut while the Hyperspace Module began to power up, flooding the Shieldbreaker with lethal gamma radiation.

“Emergency Hyperspace Jump in... fifteen, fourteen, thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four... Hyperspace Jump failed! The Quantum Wavefront has collapsed due to outside interference.”

Tantomile and Rhassa looked at each other in horror.

“The Gravwell Generator!” Rhassa gasped.

“Everyone get back to your battle stations!” Tantomile ordered, “I want that Gravwell Generator destroyed!”

It took about thirty seconds for Tantomile to scramble her way back up to the bridge. When she got there, the viewscreen was filled by the starboard profile of a Partogan Assault Frigate.

“We’re surrounded!” Rhassa reported, “I can't see the Gravwell, it might be hidden behind the enemy frigates!”

“Fire at those frigates!” Tantomile ordered.

y4mMKoGy-mNlLMU4unzYoFg2P5pbg8ko_2sCbxCCXuiqr0BseBvKney6jUvrfcEax0-2wfJgqbO9XG1YYTBpOUg6L0jdhRocIRKW5wKT3k2tBoM1Yx5wYBhFKbJpSKsTVK--0E4tuDNGVAGoTgaC0zDwXU7EU7TCH5dkvup9jtSTgTyX4rSaEt5MjfYwv_asb3vUzjFLCF-Vg_CAD5tXSgwiQ

Caption said:
The Shieldbreaker is attacked from all sides.

The Shieldbreaker’s two turrets swiveled frantically to keep pace as three enemy frigates flew in confusing circles around her. Then the enemy opened fire! The Ion Cannon Frigate kept itself trained on the Marine Frigate at all times and raked the ship from bow to stern with its main weapon. The Assault Frigates brought all of their turrets to bear and began to pummel the Shieldbreaker!

Tantomile was thrown out of her chair and across the bridge by the force of the blasts! Rhassa screamed as sparks fell from the ceiling and caused her tail to catch fire!

“Multiple hits!” The weapons controller reported, “Hull breaches across decks One, Two, and Three! Deck Four is venting to space!”

“Ninety-degree axis rotation to starboard!” Tantomile roared, “Make us a smaller target and fire the dorsal cannon!”

The Shieldbreaker and its foes danced around each other, looking for an opening. In a battle of maneuvers, the Shieldbreaker held the advantage, despite being outnumbered. This was because Tantomile was actively trying to exploit a design flaw found in most Partogan warships:

Their weapons could only face forward, leaving the flanks and rear exposed.

The Shieldbreaker possessed a pair of Mass Driver turrets that enjoyed a 360-degree firing arc both above and below the ship. The attacking Assault Frigates could only engage targets that were directly in front of them. Swerving around one of the enemy Frigates, the Shieldbreaker brought both of her turrets to bear against the vulnerable flank of the Ion Cannon Frigate.

“Gunners! Light’em up!” Tantomile ordered, “Concentrate fire on the conning tower!”

Dozens of Mass Driver rounds slammed into the enemy frigate, imparting their kinetic energy and forcing the entire ship to spin out of control. The bridge crew of the Shieldbreaker didn’t celebrate, as to their port, an Assault Frigate lined up for an attack run.

“Fire the Aft Maneuvering Thrusters!” Tantomile yelled, “Hard-a-starboard!”

The Frigate swung away from the incoming attacker like a door, only to be knocked back in the opposite direction by another weapons impact!

“Armor’s ruptured on Deck One!” Sebakhira yelled, “We’re venting air!”

“Drop emergency bulkheads on all decks!” Tantomile hollered above the noise, “Seal everything off!”

The Shieldbreaker was hit again! All of the lights on the bridge went out for three full seconds, the viewscreen flickered, and the ventilation system made a terrible chugging noise.

“Slow our speed to one-third, start banking us in a sharp turn to port!” Tantomile ordered.

“I can’t!” The helmsman replied, “Internal Gyroscopes are damaged! The steering won’t answer!”

“Salvage Corvettes! 500 Bios!” Rhassa yelled,

Two small unarmed vessels were speeding towards the Shieldbreaker, their grapple arms locked and ready. The Marine Frigate was paralyzed, unable to change its course.

Tantomile’s claws had now utterly destroyed the armrests of the Captain’s chair.

“Override the maneuvering thrusters!” she commanded, “Start spinning the ship along the latitudinal axis and keep firing at those Corvettes!”

Revolving like a top through the void, the Shieldbreaker sent volley after volley of Mass Driver fire towards the two oncoming Corvettes, but it was all for naught. Unmolested at last, all three hostile frigates turned their weapons against Tantomile’s ship with impunity. The first impact was so severe that Tantomile and Rhassa were thrown up and hit the ceiling before crashing back to the floor. Smoke belched out of the air vents and began to fill the bridge.

“Fire!” Sebakhira yelled, “Behind the Weapons Control Station!”

Two Levakians pulled fire extinguishers off the wall and attacked the brilliant orange and blue flames now licking the back wall. Tantomile ran over to one of the bridge crew who was lying unconscious on the floor and pressed her paw to his face, checking to see if he was alive.

“Where’d we get hit!?” Tantomile had to yell above the hissing gas and blaring alarms.

“Dorsal side!” Rhassa choked, waving smoke away from her snout. “They got the dorsal turret! It’s gone!”

“Powerplant calling bridge!” a male voice spoke over the intercom, “The Nuclear Reactor is overheating! We’re gonna have a meltdown if we take another hit like that!”

“Rotate us! Do a 180!” Tantomile ordered,

Then another series of devastating weapon impacts brought absolute chaos to the bridge. As debris, smoke, and flame few around the compact little space, the lights, computers, and viewscreens went down for the final time. The bridge fell into darkness, illuminated only by sporadic electrical fires. Looking around, Tantomile saw that the flames were no longer shaped like... well... flames.

The fires which took hold around the bridge were now shaped like little hemispheroid blobs, tightly hugging whatever surface they had started on. Pieces of wire, chunks of plaster, and broken glass drifted lazily through the air, occasionally all changing course in the same direction as the ship moved around them.

“Artificial gravity plating’s gone.” Rhassa coughed, “Which means life support is on its way out, too. Your Highness, I hate to say this, but we’ve been beat.”

Panting, Tantomile stood up and looked around. The bridge was a wreck. None of the stations were usable, and four lions were down, including Sebakhira. Rhassa shook her by the shoulder cautiously.

“Uhg... is it over?” The old lioness moaned.

Tantomile felt her paws gently leave the floor and she hooked a claw on the Captian’s chair to keep herself from floating away.

“The ship’s moving.” Tantomile said, “I think the Salvage Corvettes got us.”

Rhassa gulped nervously.

“They’ll drag us back to their Mothership, then board us in the hangar bay.” the huntress said. “They’ll have superior numbers and weapons. It’ll be a hard fight.”

Tantomile shook her head.

“It won’t be a fight at all. We have to surrender.

Everyone looked at Tantomile. She took a deep breath.

“Stand down, everyone.” She said quietly. “There’s nothing else we can do.”



Tantomile her crew waited in silence for nearly three hours while the Shieldbreaker was slowly dragged back to the hostile Mothership. The new Empress wasn’t sure which part was worse, the trip itself, or the slow boarding process.

Sebakhira and Rhassa had gone room to room throughout the ship, ordering the crew to stand down and surrender to whoever was about to board the ship. When the two of them came back, Tantomile learned that of the Shieldbreaker’s original crew of 110, only 40 Levakians were still alive. Most had been killed during the final volley of weapons fire, which had caused the Nuclear Reactor to melt into a formless radioactive blob.

The floor heaved and lurched one last time, and everything that wasn’t secured suddenly fell to the floor. The Queen Lucy’s artificial gravity plating had taken over from the disabled Shieldbreaker.

There was nothing left to do but wait. The sounds of yelling and footsteps echoed up the decks of the Marine Frigate as it was boarded by an armed force. Tantomile took a little relief at the absence of gunshots. When the boarders were just down the hall from the bridge, Sebakhira pulled Tantomile aside.

“Listen to me.” Sebakhira said quietly, “This is going to sound very strange, but I promise you it will be helpful sometime in the future. I’m going to create a Psionic Link between us.”

“A Psionic Link?” Tantomile repeated cautiously,

“Yes.” Sebakhira responded. “I will be able to see and know everything you see and know. The reverse will be true as well. This is a very complicated and difficult bit of Psionics, so don’t try to do this yourself until you’ve mastered the basics. Right now, I think we can use the Link to our advantage.”

“You’re right.” Tantomile said, thinking very fast. “Whoever’s boarding us will probably try to separate us; question us separately...”

“I like your quick thinking.” Sebakhira smiled. “Worthy of an Empress. Now hold still and look into my eyes. Don’t blink... just focus on me.”

Tantomile stared hard into Sebakhira’s tired old eyes... thinking of nothing else... and after a moment Tantomile suddenly realized she was staring at her own eyes... from Sebakhira’s point of view!

“Woah, okay.” said Tantomile. “That was... unexpected.”

“You’ll get used to it.” Sebakhira reassured her. “Don’t worry. I do have a trick up my sleeve that involves the Link. We just have to wait for the right moment to use it.”

There was a loud banging on the bulkhead door.

“Open up in there!” A male Levakian voice called out from the hallway.

Everyone on the bridge held their breath nervously as Tantomile slowly approached the door.

“Don’t shoot!” Tantomile said loudly. “We surrender!”

She grabbed a lever and wrenched the bulkhead door open. Someone must have been trying to help from the other side because the door opened much more easily than it should have.

Almost thirty Levakians armed with Slugthrower rifles stormed into the bridge. Since everyone was already compliant, there were a couple of raised voices, but no real yelling. Chained and muzzled, Tantomile was marched down the ramp and off of her ship.

The hangar bay of the Queen Lucy was very brightly lit compared to the near pitch-darkness of the disabled Shieldbreaker, and Tantomile had to blink several times to get used to what she was seeing. As she’d predicted, Tantomile was quickly separated from the rest of her crew and forced to march partway across the hanger, where seven lions were waiting for her underneath a Partogan Vako-class fighter, which hung from an elaborate scaffold just a few Bios above the floor.

Kings Emerdon, Shinkansen, Tumeric, Tanaris, Raduan, Manasaka, and Admetus all looked away from the battered Shieldbreaker to watch as an armed guard forced Tatnomile to sit on the floor in front of them. Even though she was muzzled, Tantomile let out a very loud growl, turned her ears back, and thumped her tail on the floor; all the while locking her eyes on King Admetus.

Admetus shot Tantomile an apologetic look, but she still directed nonverbal fury at him. Tantomile was outraged that Admetus had betrayed her like this, after everything she had done for him and him for her!

If she ever got the chance, Tantomile would kill Admetus with her bare paws.

King Emerdon sat down in front of Tantomile and gave her a smile she didn’t like.

“First of all, Your Highness...” Emerdon began, “You have my deepest sympathies. The loss of your mother was tragic and unfortunate. But I must also congratulate you. I’ve never met a huntress more worthy of the title of Empress.”

Tantomile raised her hackles and growled as loudly as she could. Her tail thumped the floor rhythmically.

“Now I know you’ve already met my fellows. We are your Kings. It’s our duty to protect the Levakian people, and lately, Empress... you’ve made our job rather difficult. You don’t know how upset we were when we discovered your... friendship... with the Taihara Queen. For a time, we thought you might be a Partogan wearing a lionskin. Imagine how disappointed I was to find out that a member of the Imperial Pride and heir to the throne was telling the Taihara Queen how to find our bug-out points. Your reign is off to an embarrassing start, Your Highness.”

Tantomile gave the most intimidating snarl possible through a muzzle.

“Luckily,” Emerdon went on, “I’m here to fix that. Don’t you worry, Empress. I will make sure that your people are safe and protected.”

He put one paw on Tantomile’s shoulder.

“Do I have your permission, Your Highness?” Emerdon said slowly, “To protect our people to the best of my ability?”

Tantomile lunged upwards, snarling loudly and pulling against her cuffs. Unable to bite or scratch Emerdon, Tantomile chose to headbutt him in the face as hard as possible. No sooner had she struck Emerdon than three of his guards grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her back to the ground again. Emerdon wiped blood away from his nose. He gave Tantomile another infuriating smile and said,

“Thank you, Your Highness, for giving your permission. I won’t let you down.”

Every King except for Admetus burst into laughter. Then Tumeric touched Emerdon on the shoulder and said,

“My friend, look over there! There was a witch aboard her ship! This day just gets better and better!”

Emerdon and Tantomile both looked in the direction Tumeric was pointing. A guard had separated Sebakhira from the rest of the crew and was bringing her over to the seven Kings. Emerdon stood up and inspected Sebakhira, looking over her face and body carefully.

“Not perfect.” Emerdon said, “But close enough for our purposes. Put her with the other one, and take the Empress to her new home.”

The guards forced Tantomile to stand and were about to start forcing her to march across the hangar floor again when Emerdon call them back.

“On second thought,” Emerdon said, “Tranquilize them both. It’ll make things simpler for us.”

Tantomile felt the initial stab of the syringe into her neck and then the hangar started to swirl around her. Thanks to the Psionic Link, Tantomile felt Sebakhira lose consciousness first, then returned to her own mind just long enough to see the floor racing up to meet her...


November 14, 1928 A.D.
The Royal Palace, Partoga City, Kingdom of Partoga


As soon as she disembarked from the Royal Star Yacht, Queen Kendra ran at top speed across the landing pad and back in the palace. Kuhina Nui Mihaka followed close behind. A group of Royal Army soldiers, heavily laden with weapons and equipment, followed the Queen into the Palace at a run. Nya Ririnui outpaced them all and entered the palace first. The Acolyte clutched a slip of paper that contained a handwritten list of instructions for her to carry out.

As soon as word got out about a space battle taking place in orbit above Partoga, Queen Kendra had been evacuated from The Mangaia and returned to the Royal Palace. During the 45-minute flight, Kendra had stayed in front of a television screen, watching with horror as one news agency after another had picked up the story:

Empress Jemima had suffered a serious complication while giving birth to her cub, resulting in both the death of the Empress and her cub. At the exact same moment, a flotilla of Partogan warships had ambushed, fired upon, and captured a starship that had claimed to be carrying Tantomile, the new Empress of Levakia. Within minutes of the news being broken to the public, both Partogans and Levakians alike were accusing the Partogan government of ordering the attack.

Queen Kendra slammed the door to the war room open and stormed inside.

“WHAT’S GOING ON!?” Kendra hollered, “Which of our ships just pulled that damn stunt up there!?”

To her absolute surprise, no one answered. The war room was filled with military officers, all of whom were talking, shouting, and working with a kind of frantic intense energy she’d never seen before. Almost immediately, Kendra realized that some kind of military emergency was in progress, and that whatever had happened to Tantomile was just a small part of a bigger puzzle. Kendra launched herself into the war room. It was time for Kendra to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Armed Forces. She’d put the puzzle together as she went.

Vice Admiral Maui Patariki, the commander of the Royal Navy, was clutching a Hypercomms receiver to his head, desperate to hear the voice on the other end.

“I need to confirm, sir. Is this real-world or exercise?” The Vice Admiral asked,

“Negative, this is not an exercise, not a test!” said the voice on the other end.

“Right,” Maui replied.

The Vice Admiral put down the receiver and ran to the other side of the war room, yelling at another Admiral:

“Hey! Hey, hey, hey, hey, seriously, real-world!”

Queen Kendra picked up the receiver and listened into the conference call that was still taking place:

“Major Karawana, this is Master Sergeant Whiu from Fort Odina.”

“Go ahead, Master Sergeant.” Replied Major Karawana.

“Sir, I’ve two more hijacked spacecraft are heading towards the Hyperspace Gate. Destination unknown. Was wondering if you could send up some missile destroyers here to help us out... maybe send them from Shipyard Nynrah?”

“Do you have transponder signals from the two ships?” Major Karawana asked, “Are they squawking the hijack code?”

“No sir, neither of them.” replied Master Sergeant Whiu, “They’ve turned their transponders off and won’t talk to anyone, so we’ve got them on visual only. We’ll have to take control of the missile destroyers from here and guide them to the targets.”

“You want to control the intercept?” the Major sounded alarmed,

“Sir, we have to.” Whiu replied, “Until you can pick them up on better sensors, all I can do is give you their general location.”

A sudden noise surprised Kendra, causing her to drop the receiver. A loud voice was talking over the war room’s intercom, overpowering everyone else:

“This is Rakinui with an active air-space defense scramble for Partoga City! Dayword word is ‘Hau.’ Command word is ‘Akaku.’ Action word is ‘Kakama.’ Scramble immediately HMS Ihiko and Toangia into geostationary orbit above Partoga. Contact Fort Daxia upon arrival. All parties acknowledge!”

Two Royal Navy Captains stopped what they were doing and started half-jogging, half-running towards the exit.

Ihiko on the way!” The first Captain yelled,

Toangia leaving now!” Called the second Captain.

Kendra grabbed General Oku Ranginui, the Commander of the Green Guard, and forcibly turned him around.

“What’s all this about hijacked spaceships!?” The Queen asked,

“It started happening about thirty minutes before you landed in The Mangaia, Your Majesty.” General Ranginui said quickly. “We started to receive reports of Partogan warships being boarded, hijacked, or outright stolen. A very large and well-organized enemy force just stole half of our navy!”

“And they’re using it!” Kendra told him. “Have you seen the news reports? They’ve just assaulted and kidnapped Empress Tantomile!”

“We know that.” General Ranginui said, “but the entire Galaxy thinks you ordered the attack. We listened to the whole exchange between Tantomile’s ship and the Queen Lucy. Whoever commandeered that Mothership was pretending to be genuine PRN the whole time.”

“Who’s doing this?” Kendra asked, “Who the hell’s going after our navy like this?”

“We don’t have one-hundred percent confidence yet,” the General replied, “but all of the evidence so far suggests Levakian rebels, your Highness. Only the Confederate Army of the Separatist Movement could coordinate something on this scale.”

“What are our losses so far?”

“Moderate,” the General answered, “But keep in mind all of this only started two hours ago. New information is still coming in. For the moment, it looks like the Levakians stole one Mothership, the Queen Lucy, and they might have made off with at least three of our carriers. They definitely took fourteen Super-Capital ships, too. To make matters worse, a lot of those ships were in drydock, which means there were gun battles across many of our starbases. Shipyard Hewkii is completely disabled, and we haven’t been able to contact Shipyard Krekka, either. We think it’s been destroyed. Right now, confirmed fatalities on our side are in the triple digits and expected to rise.”

Queen Kendra felt sick. This was a lot of bad news to take in, not to mention a lot of unpleasant implications for the future.

“What about the hijacked ships near Partoga?” She asked. “Where are they?”

General Ranginui asked the Queen to wait for a moment, and he shouted at the top of his lungs:

“THE QUEEN WANTS AN UPDATE ON THE HIJACKS OVER PARTOGA!!”

A young officer quickly darted across the room, gave Kendra a quick bow, and said:

“Your Majesty, I’m Colonel Tamati Akarana. Most of the hijacked fleet, including the Queen Lucy, is moving off to the edge of the system and spooling up their Hyperspace Modules for a jump. However, two Corvette-class vessels have broken off from the fleet and are coming back into the atmosphere. One is making a landing approach at the Mangaia Palace, and the other is heading towards Whakaari Prison.”

Kendra had finally heard enough. She started to take command.

“Okay, General Ranginui, I want the skies over Partoga cleared.” The Queen ordered, “I mean the entire damn planet. Force every spacecraft and airbreather to land, I don’t care how many ships you need to do it, just get it done. Lieutenant Akarana, I want every spaceport on this planet occupied and secured by the Royal Army. The people inside don’t get to leave until they’ve been thoroughly questioned.”

Then Kendra pushed the Lieutenant aside and yelled at someone she’d just spotted over his shoulder.

“General Kopunui!”

Just a few paces away, General Waiano Kopunui and Princess Aku Mihaka were having a rapid conversation. Kopunui broke off and Princess Aku left the room, carrying a thick binder full of papers. Then the sixty-year old General turned to look at Queen Kendra... or rather, her left eye focused on the Queen while her glassy and lifeless right eye continued to stare off into space like it had done the first time Kendra had met General Kopunui.

“General Kopunui, you and your staff are going to be the only ones allowed through the no-fly zone. Get over to Shipyard Nynrah and lock it down. No one in or out, under any circumstances. You’re also authorized to use lethal force to defend any military assets at Nynrah.”

General Kopunui scooped up her things from a nearby table and left the war room, taking a couple of aides with her.

Kendra spotted her Kuhina Nui entering the room. Kuhina Nui Mihaka looked completely disheveled. His bald head glistened with sweat and his long beard seemed to be tangled up with his clothes. He was followed by two members of the National Assembly and Nya. The Acolyte quickly broke away from him and ran up to the Queen.

“Your Majesty. I’ve got the Queen Lucy on the Hyperwave now.”

“Kuhina Nui Mihaka! General Ranginui! Both of you come with me!” Queen Kendra yelled.

Together, the Queen, Acolyte, General, and Admiral left the war room and moved to an upper floor of the Palace, where Queen Kendra’s personal Hyperwave Relay could be found.

“I had to commit a serious causality violation for this call to work.” Nya explained. “The Queen Lucy is really far away right now. Technically, this conversation won’t happen for another three hours or so.”

Queen Kendra ignored Nya and turned on the viewscreen. The sight that met her eyes was nothing short of alarming:

All seven Levakian Kings were standing shoulder to shoulder on the bridge of the Queen Lucy. Behind them and to the left Kendra could see the Gazania Throne sitting on an elevated platform and partially concealed behind a sheer white curtain. The silhouette of a white lioness was just barely visible on the Gazania Throne itself, obscured by the curtain.

In the middle of the formation was King Emerdon, looking nothing short of triumphant. Shinkansen, Tanaris, and Raduan stood to his left, while Manasaka, Tumeric, and Admetus held his right flank. Admetus, King of Paku Nui, was the only lion who did not look happy to be there. He looked away from the camera and kept his face turned away from Emerdon, almost as though he were embarrassed to be part of the same rebellion as him.

“Kendra, Queen of the Partogans!” Emerdon said in an overdramatic tone. “By now I’m certain you’ve noticed the military actions we have taken against you. I’ve instructed all of my forces to withdraw from combat so that we may negotiate a peaceful settlement.”

“You talk like you’re holding all of the cards.” Kendra said coldly. “You shouldn’t do that when I’m still counting my dead.”

“Regrettable encounters.” Emerdon said in a voice that dripped with false sympathy. “Our hunters simply did what was necessary to protect their people. I’m sure you’d have done the same.”

“You can’t begin to know.” Queen Kendra hissed. “And if you don’t want to find out, then you’d better put Tantomile on the line. She’s the Empress of Levakia, and you are subordinate to her. I’ll only negotiate with her.”

Emerdon, Shinkansen, Manasaka, and Raduan all laughed.

“That’s where you’re wrong, Majesty.” King Raduan said, adding a huge amount of sarcasm to the last word. “As soon as she became Empress, Her Highness Tantomile came to an agreement with us.”

“The Levakian Government has been re-structured, you see.” King Shinkansen explained. “All seven Kingdoms, from this day forward, will stand united in a grand Confederacy. Together, the Kings will rule with one collective voice, for the benefit of all Levakians.”

“The Confederate Council of Levakia is now the supreme government of the Levakian people.” Emerdon finished. “And you’re looking at all seven of its members.”

“You don’t have my permission to reorganize your government!” Kendra said, “You’re out of order! In contempt of the Emerald Throne and the National Assembly!”

“You still don’t get it, do you?” said Emerdon slowly. “Today, in a unanimous vote, the Confederate Council of Levakia voted to declare our people’s independence from Partoga. There will be no more oaths of vassalage. No more subservience.”

Emerdon leaned into the camera, coming so close that his hot breath caused the bottom half of the screen to fog up.

“The one-sided relationship between Partogan and Levakian ends today.” Emerdon growled. “All that remains is for you to accept our Declaration of Independence. You’ve already seen that we’re willing and able to fight for our freedom, Queen. Now what do you say?”

Kendra took a step closer to the camera. She imagined the little lens to be Emerdon’s snarling face.

“Let me talk to Tantomile.” the Queen said, “I want to hear this from her mouth.”

The smirk on Emerdon’s face faltered.

“It-it’s not necessary to bother the Empress.” he said. “The Confederate Council is more than capable-”

“Tantomile.” Kendra repeated. “Show. Me. Tantomile. Pull that curtain back.”

Emerdon and his allies looked at one another, allowing nervous looks to cross their faces for the first time. For the shortest, briefest moment, Kendra could have sworn she’d spotted the shadow of a smile appear on the face of Admetus before vanishing. Emerdon tried again.

“You... you really don’t need to talk to her. We can settle this ourselves.”

Kendra said only two words.

Wrong answer.

Kendra terminated the call, then rounded on her military commanders.

“Mobilize the Royal Army and put all military installations on high alert. Lock down our borders and hyperlanes. Any ship that doesn’t follow orders gets turned to ash, am I clear? Every soldier and ship still in the Taiidan War Zone comes home tonight and gets redeployed. I want troops on the Mangaia border and ships at every Hyperlane that goes into Levakian space. General Ranginui, you still have that list of suspected Separatists and sympathizers?”

“Yes, Your Majesty.” Oku answered.

“Arrest everyone on that list and move them to the Deep Space Blacksites.” the Queen ordered.

“Everyone!?” The general stammered, “Your Majesty, there’s nearly two million-”

“ARREST. EVERYONE. NOW.

General Ranginui said he needed to go to Fort Miranda. The Queen allowed him to go, while she took her Acolyte and returned to the war room.

y4mqQ58zM7fXKQejYTVy9LKkhwGHknrHtJr__zZQvf_mxGDxYoBy6ULtV1wljEfghypZ7U9E7V598T-iwmb9BIuUyIRN8FQ_25lpHDbqv5QhUDZeNEHmLEt5dfjt4bFvXsAhg0bkIT0FK9anGF6p04-pQOjbl8X0IFm3QK0Gp0pok0wseJ_eS_S2Uae7pcs7REOq_A7oYgEdZLzUPMn056GMQ


 
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HistoryDude

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Oh,sh**.The reckoning is already here. Also,your cliffhangers are annoying.
Whelp,I know who Mira is impersonating now…
Also,what was Mira’s third power?Just curious.

Also,ominous quote:”Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

I have a weird feeling…that Admetus will betray the Separatists at the most opportune time.This will send the entire house of cards spiraling down,and ultimately,it will end the war…and the Cycle.
 
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Macavity116

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Also,what was Mira’s third power?Just curious.

Copy-pasted directly from my master list:
  • Mira Mihaka
    • Astral Projection
      • Mira's spirit temporarily leaves her body and moves about the universe freely. Mira’s body will go limp and appear to be dead until her spirit returns. Mira’s spirit can inhabit and control unconscious bodies.
 

Vilhelm

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Whelp,I know who Mira is impersonating now…

Me too! I haven't really been paying attention to where The Paradox and her henchmen/women are, but the glass eye and age made her stick out like a sore thumb.
 

stnylan

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This time the bodily waste products really have hit the rotary ventilation device and are spreading in all directions with some impressive celerity.
 

HistoryDude

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Hmmm,I wonder if making Tantomile the figurehead of the rebellion is such a good idea…
Also,Mira’s third power is kind of overpowered... and given what it is,how do we know Mira #114 is actually dead (assuming “Unique” Powers are the same across cycles)?
How,exactly,did the Levakian Uprising end last cycle??
 

Macavity116

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Hmmm,I wonder if making Tantomile the figurehead of the rebellion is such a good idea…
Depends on who came up with the idea. ;)

Also,Mira’s third power is kind of overpowered... and given what it is,how do we know Mira #114 is actually dead (assuming “Unique” Powers are the same across cycles)?

Akira claims Mira #114 is dead. Her word alone should not be trusted, but it's all we have to work on at the moment. It's also highly unlikely the disembodied spirit of the 114th Mira could have survived the end of the 115th Cycle.

And yes, Mira's Unique Power is considerably overpowered. The same goes for the original Manaaki and the Alternate Akira who appeared in After Everything. Jericho (the main protagonist of Stormbreakers) and Akira Robinson both take the cake, though. Mira and her powers are like an insignificant insect compared to the immense powers Akira and Jericho posses.

Unique powers are the same across cycles. The Gift itself, however, is not. Either someone has it or they do not. This is a reference to XCOM: Enemy Unknown players (like me) who save-scum the Psi Labs, hoping for a certain soldier to be Gifted. One very specific character who was Gifted in the previous cycle will not be this time around... and that's BAD. (For more about this, see the answer to your next question)



How,exactly,did the Levakian Uprising end last cycle??
Be aware, nearly all of this information comes from Extinction and Stormbreakers, two of the unwritten stories I made up when I was younger.

At the Battle of Aoraki, the Partogan Royal Navy was severely crippled and forced to retreat by the Levakian military, losing all but one Planet-Killer. However, the Partogans inflicted devastating losses on the Levakians before escaping into Hyperspace, making the Battle of Aoraki into a Pyrrhic victory for the Levakians. A few days later, the last surviving Planet-Killer was destroyed at the Battle of Paku Nui. Enraged at the attempted destruction of Paku Nui, the Levakians embarked on a genocidal punitive campaign against the nearly-defenseless Partogans, killing millions in the span of a few days. Empress Tantomile herself was strongly opposed to the genocidal campaign and wanted to negotiate peace while Levakia held a military advantage. With the help of some friends Tantomile overthrew her own government and started trying to make peace with Partoga.

Throughout the peace process, there was no ceasefire. Armies and Fleets continued to fight while a Levakian runner made their way to Fort Miranda carrying a peace offer to Queen Kendra. Sadly, the runner was shot to death by Partogan guards outside of the Fortress walls. Unable to communicate with Tantomile via radio Kendra wrote a reply to Tantomile's offer with pen and paper. Her letter contained detailed instructions on how to establish constant radio contact with Fort Miranda, then she ordered Nya Ririnui to carry it (on foot) from Fort Miranda to The Mangaia.

Nya's military escort was killed by Levakian soldiers as soon as they reached the front lines. Using her Gift to survive and remain undetected, Nya ran through hostile Levakian lines and the equally hostile Rahkshian Jungle, carrying Kendra's letter in one hand the whole time. Nya was intercepted and confronted in the Rahkshian Jungle by the Paradox herself. The Paradox tried to stop Nya from delivering Kendra's letter. Nya's powers were useless against the vastly overpowered Paradox, and she would have been killed in the fight. However, Nya was found and rescued by Tantomile and Coricopat, who forced Akira to retreat after a hard-fought battle. (They were searching for Nya but didn't know the Paradox would be there.) Akira and her team terminated their operation and withdrew from the entire historical era at this point.

When she got to The Mangaia, Nya was so incredibly exhausted from running such a long distance that she collapsed and died on the Throne Room floor of The Mangaia Palace. Tantomile used Kendra's message to get in touch with Fort Miranda and accelerate the peace process. Kendra and Tantomile negotiated and signed a ceasefire agreement over long-distance comms without ever seeing each other. While this was not a true peace deal, it did bring the fighting to a stop.

Because the Levakian armed forces had attempted to commit genocide against the Partogans, the Levakian Confederation was universally condemned by the Galactic Community. No one was willing to support their claim to independence, and several Galactic superpowers such as the Hiigarans, Taiidan, Assurians, and Micore offered to help Partoga reconquer Levakian territory. Faced with an unwinnable battle, Empress Tantomile had no choice but to offer Queen Kendra her unconditional surrender. Despite winning every battle of the war, The Levakian Confederation was defeated and slowly re-integrated into the Partogan Kingdom. Empress Tantomile was forced to abdicate her throne and give the title "Empress of Levakia" to Queen Kendra.

Over the next ten years (pretty much the rest of Tantomile's natural life) Kendra and Tantomile worked together to reconcile Partogan/Levakian relations and transform the mutual hatred between their species into a respectful (and peaceful) relationship. As time went on and the National Reconciliation continued, Levakians were awed by Kendra's commitment to forging a lasting peace. Some lions began to call her "The Peacemaker Queen" and the name stuck for the rest of Kendra's life.

Neither Queen Kendra nor the Former Empress Tantomile would live to see the day when Partogans and Levakians finally became true allies... but Kendra's successor, Queen Miranda the Second, would do just that during the final twenty years of her life as the Second Hyperspace War brought former enemies together in a blood-forged alliance. The Levakian Confederation would remain a satellite state of Partoga until both nations were destroyed during the final year of the Second Hyperspace War. Only Partoga would rise from the ashes.
 
Last edited:

HistoryDude

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Whelp,Nya probably isn't gifted... Whoops!!
I'm assuming that this means Paradox and co. succeed,and all 116 cycles repeat,exactly as they did before...infinitely.
This also makes the terms past,present,and future meaningless.
Depends on who came up with the idea. ;)
Akira claims Mira #114 is dead. Her word alone should not be trusted, but it's all we have to work on at the moment. It's also highly unlikely the disembodied spirit of the 114th Mira could have survived the end of the 115th Cycle.

And yes, Mira's Unique Power is considerably overpowered. The same goes for the original Manaaki and the Alternate Akira who appeared in After Everything. Jericho (the main protagonist of Stormbreakers) and Akira Robinson both take the cake, though. Mira and her powers are like an insignificant insect compared to the immense powers Akira and Jericho possess.
Unless her soul was on the Ark Angel...just saying.Well,then what were their unique psionic powers (Akira + Manaaki)?
*Thinks making Tantomile figurehead was Admetus's idea,and Admetus is,erm,not fully loyal to the rebellion*


Also,ominous quote #2:"They make a desert,and they call it peace."

And I'm still getting Nietzche vibes...
 
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Macavity116

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I'm assuming that this means Paradox and co. succeed,and all 116 cycles repeat,exactly as they did before...infinitely.
There are 12 chapters left in this story. It ain't over yet. ;)


Well,then what were their unique psionic powers (Akira + Manaaki)?
Manaaki Ranginui tried to use his Unique Power once in After Everything. It didn't work out for him.
Chapter Five of After Everything said:
Opening her eyes again, Mira saw that Maki and Aronui were still stubbornly arguing and making no headway with each other. She also saw a translucent bubble of Psionic energy expanding out and away from Manaaki very slowly. It bulged and deflected away from Mira. She wasn’t the target after all.

Manaaki was trying to do something to Maki.

Drawing on the power of the End of the Cycle, Mira pushed back against Manaaki’s silent assault, shielding Maki’s mind against the Holy Father.
  • Manaaki Ranginui
    • Mass Mind Control
      • Manaaki can Mind Control multiple victims simultaneously. The more people he controls, the harder it becomes to maintain control over the entire group.
  • Akira "Paradox" Jaqueline Robinson
    • [REDACTED]
      • See Interlude #4
 

HistoryDude

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So,wait 2 and a half weeks?I guess I will then...
 
Chapter 4.4: Sight Beyond Vision

Macavity116

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Chapter 4.4
Sight Beyond Vision

Location unknown.
Date and time unknown.


Damp, cold air.

Dull light and cold concrete.

Unnatural silence.

Tantomile didn’t want to open her eyes, but she knew she would have to at some point. Refusing to face the moment, she held her eyes shut tight, willing herself back to sleep.

Keeping her eyes closed, Tantomile listened to the eerie silence around her and felt a twinge of fear as she realized just how alone she was. Then, quietly at first, and growing louder with each passing second, a voice spoke in the back of her mind:

“Tantomile... Tantomile... are you awake?”

Is that Sebakhira? Tantomile thought, opening her eyes the smallest amount.

“Yes, it’s me.” Sebakhira’s voice asserted itself in Tantomile’s mind. “Glad to know you’re finally awake.”

Even though she had no idea where she was or what was going on, Tantomile couldn’t help but feel a little relief at Sebakhira’s voice. The Psionic Link between the two lionesses was clearly still intact.

Where are you, then? Tantomile thought. And where am I, for that matter?

“I don’t know where you are.” Sebakhira replied telepathically, “I’m certain you’re not that far away from me. We’re definitely on the same planet, at least. Psionic Links get weaker over great distances.”

Where are you? Tantomile found it took little to no effort to project her thoughts into Sebakhira’s mind.

I’m... well... you’re going to find this very interesting...”

Sebakhira opened her eyes and allowed Tantomile to see through them. Sebakhira turned her head and looked around, showing Tantomile everything there was to see.

The old lioness was locked inside of a windowless luxury bedroom. Big enough for a large lion like Kaiako to have slept soundly. Daylight streamed into the room via a glass skylight and made the orange and yellow wallpaper seem like it was on fire. Very few Levakians would have recognized this place, and Tantomile was one of them.

You’re right... Tantomile thought. You’re inside one of the guest rooms in the Mangaia Palace. You’re on the floor below my old bedroom, actually. Can’t you open the hallway door?

“Blocked from the outside.” Sebakhira responded. “There are two guards as well. They’ve been taught to recognize the signs of Psionic attack. They can resist me.”

Partogan or Levakian guards?

“All Levakian.” Sebakhira answered. “The Palace is occupied by a large force of lions loyal to Emerdon. I’ve listened into a lot of thoughts... I’m not the only prisoner here, and I think I know why.”

I’m not going anywhere. Tantomile thought. I’m just gonna keep lying on this floor. Talk to me.

“There are five other Gifted Lions here.” Sebakhira began, “All female and somewhere between my age and yours. They’re all locked up in the rooms adjacent to mine. Only one of them seems to have found her Gift. The other four are powerless.”

Tantomile was just starting to wonder to herself why Emerdon would need to capture so many similar lionesses when Sebakhira answered the question.

“Body doubles.”

Huh? Tantomile was confused.

“Body doubles of you, Your Highness.” Sebakhira relayed the information Psionically. “I intercepted the thoughts going through the mind of one of Emerdon’s couriers. Emerdon might resort to creating a fake Empress if he can’t get you to publicly support his war effort. Your double will then rally the people of Levakia to support the uprising.”

So, he’s actually... Tantomile didn’t finish the thought.

“I’m sorry to tell you he has.” Sebakhira thought, “I found out the Confederate Army started moving against the Partogan Royal Navy just before we arrived at Partoga. The whole Kingdom is on a war footing now, splitting down the middle as everyone picks a side. There have already been several skirmishes and gunfights at the Equatorial Border.”

“Damnit!” Tantomile shouted out loud!

Immediately, voices reached her ears. Real voices.

“She’s awake.” said a voice through a wall. “I’ll tell the Warden!”

“I heard that!” Sebakhira thought. “You’re about to have visitors. I’ll keep listening. You be careful!”

Don’t have to tell me twice. Tantomile thought.

Loud metallic noises forced Tantomile to open her eyes at last. She took in her own surroundings for the first time.

Tantomile was lying on the dusty floor of a tiny prison cell. The space was so cramped that while her whiskers touched the far wall, Tantomile’s tail and backside were pressed firmly against the door. All of the amenities and comforts of home one would expect from a prison cell were crammed unceremoniously together in one darkened corner.

She didn’t have long to appreciate the tiny living space. The cell door opened, causing her rear legs and tail to slide out into the hallway. At once, someone deliberately and forcefully stepped on Tantomile’s tail!

The Empress roared and turned to lunge at the doorway, only to be grabbed by both Levakian paws and Partogan hands! She struggled, snarled, clawed, and bit anyone she could reach, but the fight was over before it had even begun. Once again, a tight muzzle had been secured across Tantomile’s face, her claws rendered harmless by thick plastic coverings.

Armed Levakians and Partogans forced Tantomile out of her cell and marched her along a dark, narrow corridor. Looking around, Tantomile noticed that the walls, floor, and ceiling were unusually clean and sterile. If not for the poor lighting and armed guards, Tantomile would have thought she was in a hospital rather than some kind of prison. The hallway was lined with cell doors similar to the one that had belonged to Tantomile. From a metal peg on each door hung a clipboard with what appeared to be a medical chart attached to it.

What kind of prison puts someone’s medical information on display? Tantomile thought to herself. Sebakhira’s voice re-entered her mind:

“Not the kind of prison you want to be in right now.”

Tantomile was brought to the end of the hallway and made to enter a small conference room. The plaque on the doorway said: “Warden Toa Nanui Ehau – Conditional Release Officer”.

A Partogan man dressed in an odd-looking uniform was sitting behind the desk as Tantomile entered. He said nothing as Tantomile was forced to sit down in front of his desk and her muzzle was removed. The guards (3 Levakian, 2 Partogan) then stood together against the back wall and waited.

Tantomile stared across at the man now watching her. He was a short and stocky Partogan with a short buzzcut, yet there was a kind of threatening aura around him that the Empress just didn’t like.

“Hello, Empress Tantomile.” The man said. “My name is Toa Nanui Ehau. I am the Warden of Whakaari Prison.”

Tantomile felt as though her heart had fallen into her stomach, her jaw fell open and she was paralyzed by pure fear.

“Wha-W-Wha-What!?” she stammered. Toa Nanui gave her a little smile... a psychopathic little smile.

“I see Whakaari’s reputation precedes it again, which means I can cut the speech short.”

The Warden stood up and looked down on Tantomile.

“Your Highness, King Emerdon has told me about how you’ve undermined our new Confederation by aligning yourself with the Taihara Queen. This cannot be allowed to stand.”

Toa Nanui produced a small measuring rope and walked around his desk, coming right up to Tantomile and wrapping the rope gently around the top of her head.

“You see, Highness,” Toa Nanui went on while measuring Tantomile’s head. “Here at Whakaari, we have a special program called ‘Mental Correction’ that ensures criminals sent to us never re-offend. It has an incredible storied history, and the program is solely responsible for the Prison’s reputation... and why no one has ever been sentenced to longer than a month in this place. Our Mental Correction program is only reserved for actual criminals. You are more of... a guest, let’s say. Therefore, for the time being, you will be excluded from the Mental Correction program.”

Toa Nanui finished measuring Tantomile’s head and returned to his desk.

“Per King Emerdon’s instructions, I will now offer you a choice, Empress. Emerdon has asked me to keep you here for a month, ‘give her time to consider publicly supporting the Confederate Council’ were his exact words. If at the end of that month, you still have not chosen to offer your public support for the Confederate Council and their war effort, Emerdon has ordered me to enroll you in the Mental Correction program for two days... which is more than enough time to force you to change your mind.

Tantomile snarled at Toa Nanui.

“You can’t force me to change my mind, bastard. Tell that to Emerdon as well.”

Toa Nanui gave her a very unpleasant scowl.

“Whakaari Prison has been correcting criminal minds for nearly three hundred years, Empress.” he said in low, threatening voice. “No one released from this prison has ever reoffended in that time. We stop criminals by breaking their minds... and I assure you, Empress... over the past three centuries we have become exceedingly good at it.

Toa Nanui pressed a button on his intercom and said loudly:

“Send her in!”

The office door opened again and a lioness was shoved into the room, followed by a Partogan man wearing medical scrubs and a Tuakiri Tattoo. He passed a clipboard to the Warden, who pointed to the lioness and said;

“Tell me, Highness. Does she look familiar?”

Tantomile looked the new lioness up and down. She had a dull brown coat of fur, multiple scars across her face, and a big bald patch on the top of her head where some kind of injury had been closed with many stitches. Tantomile did recognize the lioness. She’d seen her on the news.

“You’re Elemani, aren’t you?” Tantomile said. “The lioness who killed that Partogan kid at Base Camp?”

“Elemani?” Elemani replied, speaking very slowly and swaying back and forth like grass caught in the wind, “That’s me. I’m Elemani. Everyone calls me Elemani.”

As Elemani spoke, Tantomile suddenly noticed a detail she’d missed before. There was something wrong with Elemani’s eyes. They seemed to be glazed over and unfocused, as though Elemani was in some kind of trance. Tantomile looked up at the bald spot on Elemani’s head again, saw the stitches, looked back at the medical chart in Toa Nanui’s head... and then she put the puzzle together at last.

“You...” the Empress gasped, “YOU NERVE STAPLED HER!”

Toa Nanui smiled and turned the medical chart over for Tantomile to see. The Empress was right: Poor Elemani had been subjected to no fewer than three brain surgeries since she’d arrived at Whakaari Prison, each more invasive than the last.

Toa Nanui clicked his tongue impatiently.

“‘Nerve staple’ is such an unpleasant term.” he said. “We like to say ‘correction’ instead. You see Empress, criminal minds are not like normal minds. Me and you, our brains are not deficient like Elemani’s was. When a broken brain is allowed to grow and develop, it taints an otherwise pure mind with malicious intents and desires. It doesn’t matter how many times a criminal is locked away or punished. They will re-offend because it’s in their nature to do so. It’s just the way their mind is built. But...”

Toa Nanui picked up a pair of surgical scissors from his desk and snipped them through the air to illustrate his point.

“A cut connection here, a severed nerve there, and another cut over there... and before you know it, Tantomile, the defective brain is irreparably damaged; the criminal mind destroyed. Elemani will never harm a soul again for the rest of her days, and while some of her higher brain functions are gone, she is still fit for most manual labor jobs. She will be able to happily contribute to society and be a productive citizen for the rest of her days. I’ve lost count of how many success stories like her our institution has produced.”

Toa Nanui grabbed Tantomile’s face with one hand and pressed the surgical scissors to the top of her head.

“And if you don’t comply with Emerdon’s wishes, you will join the ranks of Elemani and her cellmates... and become my next success story.”

Tantomile didn’t say anything else after that. Realizing the conversation was over, Toa Nanui sent Tantomile back to her cell.



As soon as she was returned to her cell and left alone, Tantomile resumed her telepathic conversation with Sebakhira.

“He’s going to Nerve Staple you regardless of whether or not you cooperate.” Sebakhira told Tantomile. “I hope you know that.”

Kinda figured that out on my own, thanks. Tantomile thought.

She paced around the cramped little cell.

I’ve gotta find a way out of here. Gotta break out. I just don’t know how.

“Use your Gift.” Sebakhira suggested. “You’re in the perfect environment to try. Prison cells and Meditation Cells have a few things in common. Peace and quiet being the most important one.”

Is mediation really that important? Tantomile asked. She thought about the Meditation Cell her mother had promised to install in the Imperial Palace for Tantomile to use.

“It really is.” Sebakhira responded, “The Gift is best employed by a focused mind. Focus your thoughts on one thing and one thing only.”

What should I focus on? Tantomile asked.

That’s up to you.” Sebakhira responded. “It’s a little different for everyone. I know a lion who found his Gift while in a blind rage, another who found hers on the same day she won a Kohlii match. Focusing your mind on a strong emotion usually works, but you have other options. I like to think about my own breathing, for instance.”

Tantomile sat down in the middle of the cell floor and wrapped her tail around her feet. She might as well try to meditate since she had nothing else to do. She shut her eyes and tried to only think about her breathing.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Sebakhira, on the other end of the Psionic Link, was also meditating. She kept her mind focused on her own breathing, just like Tantomile did.

In... and out... and in... and out. In... out. In... … … out.

Tantomile felt a twinge of impatience. Nothing was happening.

“Focus.” Sebakhira commanded. “Focus.”

Breathe in... out... take in more air... feel it moving along your windpipe... feel your lungs expand, feel the muscles relax...

As if from a great distance away, Tantomile suddenly felt Sebakhira become very tense. Tantomile refocused her mind on the Psionic Link between the two lions just as Sebakhira began to have a very strange experience.

Despite her eyes being closed, Sebakhira began to see something:

A cold desert. Little brown plants sprouted from between rocks while weak sunlight emerged from behind a line of mountains on a distant horizon. In the darkening skies above, thousands of lights danced and darted around each other, blinking furiously.

Sebakhira blinked, at the image changed.

Dense jungle. The hot humid air was oppressive and overpowering. A brown muddy river snaked its way through the trees and vines, carrying driftwood and massive leaves to some unknown destiny. Turning to her left, Sebakhira saw five people. Two Partogans were standing side by side, pointing guns at a young Partogan girl. The girl wore a green and white tunic and had a piece of paper clutched tightly in her hand. The girl was being shielded by two rescuers, a brown lioness and a Partogan man, both of whom were armed as well, ready to fight.

Sebakhira blinked once more.

A corridor, dark and dusty. The sound of explosions rumbled through the walls. Two Partogans, one female adult and one female child, rounded the corridor and started talking to each other in hurried voices.

“Tamihana betrayed us!” the girl said, “We have to escape!”

“Don’t worry, it’s not over yet!” The woman replied, “We can still recover from this!”

Sebakhira opened her eyes and collapsed to the floor of her room, hyperventilating. Tantomile was alarmed! She’d never seen Sebakhira fall down like this before!

Sebakhira! Are you okay!? Tantomile projected her terrified voice into Sebakhira’s mind.

Slowly, Sebakihira calmed down and sat up. The old lioness shook her head vigerously and then lay down on the floor.

“I’m sorry you had to see that.” Sebakhira thought. “It’s been so long since my last vision, I wasn’t ready for this one.”

What!? You had a vision?

Sebakhira sighed.

“When you’re older, Tantomile, you’ll discover your Unique power.” Sebakhira explained. “Everyone who is Gifted has one: Some power or ability only you can possess. You just got a taste of mine.”

Tantomile’s mind was racing at a million Kios per hour. Sebakhira had just had some kind of vision! Could it be-

Did you just see the future? The question slipped out of Tantomile’s mind and into Sebakhira’s.

Parts of it.” Sebakhira replied. “I’ve had this power nearly my whole life, but I still don’t have any control over it. I can’t choose what part of the future I’m going to see... I just see what’s already there. Sometimes the visions make sense right away, other times I only understand them in hindsight. The vision you just saw... it was one of the few that don’t make sense to me.”

So that’s how you predicted the Kharakan Genocide five years ago? Tantomile asked, You saw it in a vision?

Sebakhira chuckled,

“None of my friends believed me when I started talking about the Taiidan burning a planet. After it happened, I teased Kaiako about it for months.”

Impressed, Tantomile let out a low whistle.

Wow. I remember my mom talking about that. That’s how I heard about you in the first place, you know. By the way, how did you know you’d found your... what did you call it? Your ‘special power’ or whatever it was?

“I didn’t know until it happened for the first time.” Sebakhira answered. “Unique powers always seem to take their owners by surprise.”

Tantomile took a deep breath and started trying to meditate again, but she couldn’t focus. Her mind kept wandering back to those images that had flashed across Sebakhira’s mind:

A massive space battle raging in the night sky...

An armed standoff in the jungle...

And two Partogans fleeing a betrayer.

What kind of a future was this?


November 21, 1928 A.D.
The Royal Palace, Partoga City, Kingdom of Partoga


In the days since the beginning of the crisis, Queen Kendra had started to receive two military briefings per day. In the morning before breakfast, her generals would give her an update on the Royal Army and Navy’s efforts to hunt down and neutralize the Confederate Levakian Army. In the evening before bed, Kendra would get another briefing.

The vast majority of ground actions took place on Partoga itself, and mostly consisted of PRA rapid strike teams raiding known Levakian hideouts. No large-scale battles had been fought yet, as both sides were still mobilizing their main armies; but already Kendra was starting to see shadows of Emerdon’s strategy. Dozens of small-scale attacks had taken place all over Partogan territory as well as the Homeworld itself. The Levakian rebels had attacked military installations and warships, and they appeared to be ignoring civilian targets entirely.

Kuhina Nui Tapu Mihaka explained to Queen Kendra what was going on.

“This is called a ‘counterforce’ strategy.” He had said. “The Levakians are trying to cripple our military so they can force us to negotiate peace from a position of weakness.”

Emerdon’s counterforce strategy wasn’t working. With each passing day, warships carrying thousands of battle-hardened veterans from the Taiidan War Zone were pouring into Partogan space and redeploying to fight the Levakians head-on. Dozens of minor space battles had been fought, giving the Partogans crucial information on the exact number and type of Royal Navy vessels that had been stolen by the Levakians during the opening moments of the conflict.

Now, thanks to some rapid communication and hard work, those numbers were on Queen Kendra’s desk.

Eteka, Ango, and Rapati had worked together for a day and a half to put together a list of warships now under Levakian Control, and with a little help from Kuhina Nui Tapu Mihaka, they had written up a definitive Order of Battle for both the Kingdom of Partoga and the Levakian Confederation. While Rapati, Eteka, and Ango sat on the other side of Kendra’s desk in the Royal Office, the Queen looked over the Order of Battle datasheet her friends had made:

y4m86Ge-6Vih8_TAykjI5MVWWDFkT17uDND64RXarwJ9jaZ2QXOzgZDo5PLyWt0_3dEmgDE2gjj2jzythsNclOMiR304__BeVly820DkN37UmsJ4z0zgQMpVlEKMcSyOo5hNzh8xogUsT7FPi5m8CZ-wsDe2yAwjSTTLRAbR28rvDuWDVxWKjlnVd5-aOALadJACmkC-W6siR7Aj0NoiYJBZQ


“In any given fleet battle,” Eketa explained, “The Levakians would outnumber us, but that’s because they’re keeping their fleets grouped together. Our main advantage lies the fact that we have multiple Motherships and a supply line protected by nearly two dozen fully armed and equipped Starbases. We can replace any lost Super-Capital ships quickly, while the Levakians are vulnerable to attrition.”

Kendra set the paper down and held her head in one hand.

“I don’t want to bleed the Levakians to death.” the Queen said. “It’ll take too long and more people will die. Have you heard anything about Tantomile?”

Eteka shook his head.

“No one’s seen her. Even the Levakian hunters who got captured in that raid on Kaitaia say nobody’s seen Empress Tantomile since before the fighting started. Lotta Levakians are joking around that they’re being ruled by a ghost.”

Kendra sighed.

“Alright, thanks guys. You guys can send the Kuhina Nui in when you leave.”

Kuhina Nui Tapu Mihaka wasn’t alone in the hallway outside. When Eteka stepped out to get him, he saw the old man was chatting with Princess Aku Mihaka and her daughter Kaio. They both looked very worried.

“Everything’s happening in the wrong order.” Aku was saying. “I don’t know if we’re causing it or-”

She broke off when she saw Eteka approaching. He tugged on the Kuhina Nui’s shoulder to get his attention.

“Her Majesty will see you now.”

Eteka waited until the office door closed behind Tapu, then he turned to leave.

“Eteka, wait! Aren’t you forgetting something?”

Looking behind him, Eteka saw Princess Aku roll her eyes at him in a way that said “you almost got away with it.”

Kaio wrapped her arms around Eteka and gave him a really tight hug.

“I missed you, little cousin.” Kaio whispered in Eteka’s ear.

“For Miranda’s sake! Don’t call me little!” Eteka protested.

Eteka gave his cousin a big shove, causing Kaio to stumble backwards and nearly fall over. The smile on Princess Aku’s face vanished at once and became a scowl.

“Don’t-” Aku started to say, but Eteka cut her off.

“I’ll stop shoving Kaio when she stops picking on me!” Eteka said. “My fifteenth birthday is next month! I’m not little anymore!”

Aku relaxed and folded her arms, giving Eteka a scolding look. Kaio recovered from being pushed and went straight back to being her ususal chatty self.

“Hey, Eteka, guess what?” Kaio said, “Mom and I are going to be staying in Fort Miranda!”

“It’s not safe for us to go home.” Aku explained. “The Levakian population is too dense in E-Ena. A lot of National Assembly members are going to Fort Miranda until Her Majesty puts the rebellion down.”

“That’s not a bad idea.” Eteka said. “That place is probably the most secure installation in the whole Kingdom.”

Princess Aku finally relaxed.

“Uh, by the way... I wanted to ask.” Princess Aku said, “Do you know if Her Majesty is planning to deploy any non-conventional weapons against the Levakians?”

“Uh, no.” Eteka said. “I don’t think so, anyway. I guess she wants to defuse the situation before it gets totally out of control, you know?”

“Oh,” said Aku. “I guess that makes sense.”

She thanked Eteka for his time, and took Kaio away with her. Eteka’s older cousin smiled and waved at him until she rounded the hallway corner and vanished from sight.


 
Last edited:

HistoryDude

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Hmm…Paradox and co are actually good at this...
Wait,aren’t you posting early?
Is the next update Monday?
Everything’s happening in the wrong order?Will this make the plan change?
 
Last edited:

Macavity116

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Wait,aren’t you posting early?
Is the next update Monday?
Everything’s happening in the wrong order?Will this make the plan change?
Some real-life things have happened over here and I won't be able to visit the forums tomorrow, so I posted earlier than planned. Not sure when the next update will be, actually. Gotta put out this (metaphorical) fire first. Plan for Tuesday or Wednesday.

Akira's plan has already been changed once. (technically twice if you count Interlude #4) Depending on how badly things are going off the rails for her, it might change again. ;)
 

HistoryDude

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Also,Hakara betrays Paradox?Interesting…
Wait,why don’t Paradox and co take control of Sebakhira somehow?
 

Macavity116

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Wait,why don’t Paradox and co take control of Sebakhira somehow?

Sebakhira has learned to recognize the signs of mental invasion and knows how to resist it. As a general rule, Gifted individuals are much more difficult to place under Mind Control. Akira's team tries to avoid controlling Gifted people in general due to the significant chance of the victim breaking free. Powerless people can break free of Mind Control too, but that happens far less frequently.
 

stnylan

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Why do I get the feeling that imprisoning Tantomile and giving her this "choice" is going to be one of the worst things Emerdon (and the Paradox?) ever managed to do.
 

Vilhelm

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Well, I finally found out what "nerve stapling" entails. Somehow I imagined it involving actual staplers. I have to presume Kendra knew about this when she sentenced Elemani there.